Meet Patty Carmichael

Patty and Doug Carmichael

Pronouns: She/her/hers

When did you start attending Left Hand?
Before we had a name, and we were just a bunch of disenfranchised church souls hoping for more, meeting for dinners once a month at Jen’s house. I think it was summer of 2017!  

Tell us your story. What do you want the rest of Left Hand to know about you?
I grew up in Fort Collins, went to college in Boulder and met my husband there. We’ve lived up and down the Front Range a bit, but we’ve been in Longmont for most of our adult lives. We’ve raised our three kids here and taught in our neighborhood public schools. So, Longmont is definitely home.  

I grew up in the church, but I began having a harder and harder time attending churches that excluded friends that I valued as WHOLE people. Friends who were not in need of some magical cure or conversion. Friends who should be celebrated, not scorned, for being themselves within a church community.

I found the Left Hand community a few years after leaving churches that were not truly LGBTQ friendly, and churches that couldn’t understand (or tried to negate) basic scientific theories like evolution, climate change, environmental issues, etc. I love being at Left Hand because I am not expected to leave my curiosity, love of learning, appreciation of actual scientific principles, and acceptance of all people at the door. 

Why did I join the Leadership Council?
When I was asked to be on Left Hand’s Leadership Council, I wasn’t quite sure what that would entail, or if I really had the energy or anything new to offer! I grew up in the  church, serving in various leadership scenarios throughout my entire life. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a leader of anything again. Yet, my hopes for joining the Leadership Council in the first place and continuing to be  a part of the Left Hand community come from the same heart that’s keeping me here through such a rough season:  I want to continue to help people stay knitted together, to honor our diversity, and to create a space where people feel free to be completely and authentically themselves in a diverse community of friends, gathered together and able to worship without judgement or fear. 

What does Left Hand mean to you? 
I love that my Left Hand friends are ok with the mysteries of life, they  aren’t constantly trying to find the one perfect answer to all the unanswerable questions swirling around us.  People who like definitive answers to every mystery can’t usually handle being in my life for very long. 

In dealing with an on and off chronic illness, I’ve found that there are not very many magical right answers that work consistently for every problem that pops up in my life! Navigating life with an illness that comes and goes at unexpected times means I need people in my life who hold grace and space for me to be me, without judgement or some false expectation that they will finally be the one righteous person who is able to point me to a cure, pray me well, or “fix” me. For goodness sake, I have a well educated team of doctors who use science and empathy to put me back together now and then, I don’t need that pressure from friends.

I love having a community of friends that laugh and play and invite me along when I’m feeling energized, and give me the freedom to sleep and rest and check out for a while when I’m  feeling not so hot. There are no strings attached to the friendships I’ve found here, no pressure to be something I’m not. The people here just accept me and everybody else as we are. I can be napping in a pew or come in a room laughing and singing- and people are like, “Oh, that’s just Patty.” That’s being known. 

What special skills, talents or expertise are you willing to share with our community? 
Skills. Hmmm. I am a good listener and nodder and confidant at this point. You can share a story with me and I doubt it would rattle me, take me by surprise, or cause me to withdraw. I don’t know if that’s really a skill, but in a society that’s so divisive right now, I think we need to have more people that try to bring others together vs. tearing them apart. 

I used to play the flute pretty seriously. It was my major in college, and not many people in my life now know that  little hidden gem from my past. I still play and sing along (yes, sometimes quite dramatically) in my mind to many of the orchestral pieces I’ve played in the past when I hear them on the radio. And, yes, I still listen to regular radio in the car because:

a.) I’m old

b.) I  do what I want,  and

c.) I appreciate  the randomness of a well placed song that comes on right when I need to hear it. Unless it’s “Only the Good Die Young,” and I happen to hear that song randomly three days in a row right before a surgery. Then, I have the good sense to switch stations.  

At this point  in life, I’d rather be outside hiking or running, but I’m not so sure that’s a “skill” as I have also been known to gaze too hard at the scenery, and then trip and hurt myself going down. But I’m good at laughing my way back up to standing. So that’s a skill. At this point, I think that might be a life motto: “laughing my way back to standing.” 

But seriously, as far as skills and passion goes, I think after 15+ years teaching the same grade level at school and getting a Master’s degree in reading, I’ve gotten pretty good at teaching kids to read and solve hard math problems.

More importantly,  though, I’m seriously dedicated to loving kids through their struggles, and believing in them for as long as it takes for them to start believing in themselves. That is probably my biggest life’s work! Loving kids through the hard spots and encouraging them to wipe the dust off and stand back up when they fall down as well. We all fall down from time to time. I just want to be someone who helps people find their way back up. Or, lies down in the dirt with them from time to time, when that’s what they need.

Patty’s profile is part of an on-going blog series aimed to help Left Hand members get to know each other better. Over the next few weeks we will be profiling the volunteer members of our Leadership Council.