Kaitlin Roig Q&A
YOU’VE OBVIOUSLY EXPERIENCED A GREAT DEAL OF SUCCESS IN YOUR LIFE. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT, AND WHY?
My daughter, definitely my daughter. They say all the time you just can’t understand being a parent or a mother until you are, and it’s exponentially true. She will be in 2 in June. Since she was born . . . there is no greater purpose than being a mom.
LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, LIFE IS NOT ALWAYS SMOOTH. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT A SETBACK OR TRAGEDY YOU’VE ENCOUNTERED, HOW YOU DEALT WITH IT, AND THE IMPACT IT HAS HAD ON YOU?
December 14, 2012, was life-shattering, and could have been for the rest of my life. It could have been a moment that was insurmountable, I could have sat down and said I can’t function any more, I can’t be productive, this is so awful.
But for myself, what happened in the aftermath of December 14, two things were really very much in play. The first was that I did not recognize myself, who I was, because, prior to that time I had been this intensely independent person, and I went from being that to not being able to go in public, not being able to grocery shop, not being able to be in my car alone, not being able to stay home alone. It was really infuriating because my whole sense of self was gone. The other thing was that I was really struggling with the why’s – – why our school, why innocent lives – – and what I came to realize, maybe a week and a half after the tragedy, was I couldn’t keep living like that, I couldn’t keep being terrified of everything and I couldn’t keep trying to answer questions that are never going to be answered. I am never going to answer why what happened that day happened, not today, not tomorrow.
So, I had to shift my energy to questions that could be answered. So many of us in our lives are confronted with a horrible situation, whatever that may be, and we spend so much of our energy focusing on questions that we are never going to answer, and I had to let go. And I had to shift my focus to questions that I could answer, questions that were within my control to answer. And for myself, there were two – – how do I make sure this does not define me and how do I get my control back. And the day I began to fous my energy on answering those two questions was the day that everything started moving forward.
Until that day I felt really stuck and really awful. I think that a lot of people go through awful situations and find themselves stuck, and a really important first step is to stop focusing on things they will never be able to answer.
DO YOU SET ASIDE “ME-TIME” IN YOUR CALENDAR, AND WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME TO RELAX?
I don’t set aside personal time on my calendar. Fortunately, the way my schedule works is ideal for me. Most of my work is during the fall and spring and the rest of the time I am at home. I work on my stuff at home, with my daughter, taking walks, going to the beach. I don’t find myself having to carve the time out to find time to relax.
WHAT’S THE MOST MAGICAL PLACE YOU’VE DISCOVERED WHERE YOU CAN GO TO CHILL OUT?
The beach, always my whole ife, and I am so grateful now that we live in a beach community and I can look at the water every day. The beach has always been my spot and now, having lived through something horrific, it just brings me that much more peace.
DOES PHILANTHROPY PLAY A ROLE IN YOUR LIFE, TO WHAT EXTENT AND HOW?
I think I was always raised with the notion that you are supposed to give back. My mom worked for a non-profit for 25 years, and my parents were very generous in terms of giving to causes they believed in. So I always understood that you are supposed to give back, and that you are supposed to understand that not everybody has the means to get the assistance they need at the time they need it.
In my adult life, starting a non-profit is something I never imagined. As an organization, our mission is to make sure that kids understand and care about one another. While philanthropy may not always be about donating money, it is also about giving back what you know. And I know about teaching and I know about kids, and there is plenty of room for change.
I can’t think about a greater gift, what a better place the world would be if we could all get along and care about one another.
WHO IS ON THE GUEST LIST FOR YOUR IDEAL DINNER PARTY, PRESENT OR PAST?
My father’s parents, who I never met. I was adopted, and my father’s mother passed away the morning they were picking me up. I would actually love to have dinner with both my sets of grandparents.
CAN YOU OFFER ANY WORDS OF WISDOM FOR OUR READERS?
I think that we all go through hard stuff. We all have these moments that feel life-defining or life-altering, and I would say that the things that happen to you do not have to define you. And you need to move forward with things you are passionate about, things that you believe are worthy.