May 17, 2011

Interview - Tamra Hyde (Part I)

I sat down to interview my friend Tamra and was completely enthralled for two hours. She is beautiful, well-spoken, and full of life. I think her story is one that we do not hear enough, so I'm grateful she is candid and courageous enough to share it. I have over 8 pages of transcribed notes from the recording of her interview...and now I'm trying to figure out how to condense it without taking away from it! Stay tuned through tomorrow's installment because I decided to post a link to the entire interview if you wish to read it. I thought I could download the audio, but the recording is not that great and I'm apparently not that tech savvy. Thanks Tamra for your time and your heart and your wisdom. You have inspired me.

Tamra grew up in Memphis, TN, the 2nd of seven children. She currently lives in St. George, Utah where she has been working as an adoption advocate for LDS Family Services. This week she began a new job at Wingate Wilderness Therapy. 

What are some of the best decisions you’ve made as single woman?
I’m blessed to be single. Honestly, I would be more blessed if I were in a family, but I can do things that bless my life and others as a single person. I’m able to dedicate a lot of time to my pet cause, which is adoption. I get to do a lot of advocacy, which really enriches my life. I've often wondered if I didn’t have that, would I be content? Because it fills up so much of my life. Service is so important. I feel like one of the drawbacks of being single is, how do you not be self absorbed? You’re only responsible for you. You have to go out of your way and find something to get out of yourself. Find something that’s not about you.

My friend told me recently that she has realized that as a single person it's absolutely vital to have a mission, a sense of purpose.
I agree! It’s in my brain as well as outside my brain, "Tamra, be conventional. Be normal, sit at a desk, have yourself some health insurance." But there’s definitely a wanderlust inside of me. I’m constantly battling trying to figure out how to balance that. My parents always say that if I just stay still I'll have better odds--that someone will find me. I've done the conventional thing for the last three years--I've sat a desk, but I’ve got ants in my pants!

We don’t need to be shy about the good parts of being single.
Right, because I can do that right now. I won’t always be able to up and move, travel, change my occupation, have adventures. I won’t always be able to do that.

A few years ago you made a decision to work wilderness therapy and I remember our mutual friend telling me about it with a bit of surprise because you don't seem like the type.
I was the least likely candidate! I thought it was awesome and really admired my friends who did it. I wished I was that kind of person. I originally moved to Arizona with no plan--I had just heard good things about Mesa. So I had no job, no plan, no friends. And Anasazi kept crossing my path. I had had three roommates who previously worked for Anasazi (pretty coincindental for such a small company). I wasn’t finding work and one day I came across the Anasazi office. I talked to them and everything they said scared the fire out of me! But I decided to go through the application process even though I thought, no way! But I did it. Everyone who met me and found out I worked at Anasazi was like, “Oh you work in the office?”

It was very foreign to me. I hated hiking. I never really camped. But it appealed to me to do something hard. I was in a rut, and I had learned, particularly in placing my son for adoption, that to do a hard that’s a good thing will change you. It will build you. I had been in a rut and I needed to build myself, so that was the hardest thing I could think of. And it was really hard, but it redirected my course, changed my philosophy, changed my relationships. It was totally outside of my comfort zone and no one believed I would last. Neither did I honestly, but I prayed really hard and now I have a love for that work.

You've already briefly mentioned your favorite cause. Can you tell us more about how you became involved with adoption?
I got involved with adoption when I became pregnant at 17 years old. It was definitely not something I anticipated happening at 17, but I was not a person who exerted a lot of energy in my life up until that point. I really took the path of least resistance. I didn’t put a lot of effort into anything. Nothing was important, nothing mattered, I didn’t think I mattered. And I knew what was right, but it was too hard to change. That’s why Justin came through me. I needed something to motivate me to make changes, to heal from my poor choices and the abuse of my childhood. I never thought I would do adoption. I thought that was for bad people who would be bad parents, so I didn’t consider adoption for several months because I knew I would make a good parent. I thought that was for 13 and 14 year olds and that wasn’t me. Also, I thought that it would kill me to make that choice. I’d never done anything hard, always opted out. So I never thought adoption would be a part of my world. It was a very gradual process, the Lord chipping away at my pride and my misperceptions and myself. That was the biggest obstacle--myself. But everything started to look different to me because I had a really strong maternal instinct from the start. I think that was a little grace from Heavenly Father because I had never cared about anything, but I cared deeply. Almost the moment I found out I was pregnant, I cared deeply and I felt extremely aware and everything started to look different to me, because even though I didn’t think I mattered, I knew my little boy did. I knew I was responsible for him and I couldn’t screw that up.

To be continued tomorrow...

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