Kristine Holmgren is a lot of things. An essayist for the Star Tribune and MinnPost. A theologian with a masters in divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. A mother of two. What's she not is a corporate cog; she found that out at age 58. She had a job in marketing that she did well in but didn't like, so one day she up and quit — just like that. Only one thing: this was in October 2008. Not exactly flush times for the economy. Still, she was undeterred.
"I just knew it was time for me to move on. So one of my daughters picked me up that day and we went out to lunch and that was that," she says. "It wasn't until later that I realized that there might not be a lot of jobs out there for someone with my skills. That was a daunting moment."
She had some savings and was nearing the age where she could draw Social Security. She could have glided into retirement. But she didn't.
"I stepped back and said, This is a gift. I can think about what I want to do with my life," she says.
What she wanted to do was express herself creatively. She wanted to feel alive again.
"I've always had this great blessing of having an outrageous imagination, and I wanted to use it," she said, with a twinkle in her voice.
So she auditioned for a part in a play. She got it, and it was in that environment that she had an epiphany: She would write a play.
"I had never written a play before but I wanted to try it. So I started writing 'Paper Daddy,' which is about a woman reinventing herself after a divorce.
"It got a staged reading and was produced in Northfield and then it played in Missouri and I was off," she said. "I couldn't believe it."
She then wrote a second play, "Sweet Truth," which also played in Missouri, and then the Minnesota Historical Society commissioned her to write a play, which turned into "The Giving House," which opens later in the year. And now there's "God Girl," her first autobiographical show, about her time in the seminary. It opened at the History Theater on Feb. 7.
This all happened in 18 months. Holmgren is still a bit dazed about it all.
"It's all happened so fast. I feel very blessed," she says. "In a lot of ways I feel as if I'm returning to ministry through my plays. I can communicate with people and talk about issues just like I used to do as a pastor. I just love it."
She's found another home in the theater, and at a point in life where she can acutely enjoy it.
"Life is both long and short. It's long enough to do everything you need to do, but it's short enough that you need to pay attention every day to you who you are," she said.
"These are the best days of my life right now. I've never been happier."
Adam Wahlberg is the founder of Think Piece Publishing in Minneapolis.