The Best of Who I Am

"When I got home I couldn't speak to anyone.  All I could do was watch garbage TV."  Dr. Kristi Hopfinger worked in Chicago as a clinical psychologist with athletes suffering from eating disorders.  Reflecting on her long work days and nights on call, Kristi stated, "I couldn't step out of it well enough; I couldn't compartmentalize."  Her husband also had a soul-eating job and they had very little energy at the end of the day.
When they found out she was pregnant, they decided to move back to Rochester where they grew up and still have family.  Kristi's husband found a family-friendly job in finance at the Wegmans Corporate office and she stays home full time with their two children.
Tyler is almost 3 and his sister Emmy, who is 2 months old, took a nice long nap while I was visiting.
 Kristi runs for a number of reasons, not the least of which is to have something to call her own.  "I was fairly successful with psychology but now I'm just a mom.  I am trying to keep running as my thing." 
Kristi broke into a huge grin when Tyler started saying, "Go mommy, go mommy!" from the sidelines. He learned to cheer for his mom at the Lilac Festival race.
Kristi has been running as long as she can remember.  She is a triplet with one brother and one sister and her whole family was athletic.  Her dad ran, she and her sister played soccer, and her brother played golf.  She realized that she was faster than some of the other girls on her soccer team and began to focus on running.  She has since completed two marathons and  two half marathons.  Now she goes on several  six mile runs and a few four to five mile runs per week, more when she's training for a race.  Eventually she would like to start racing competitively.
She also wants to set an example for her kids.  "I want my kids to see that I really try hard and practice a lot.  I want them to see what it means to run in races.  I want Tyler to see me as something other than his mom - as doing something for myself and not just for him."  Kristi's mom and mother-in-law take turns babysitting during nap time so she can train.  When her kids wake up she tells them that she was running while they were sleeping.  

When I showed her this image she said, "Yes!  That's what I dream of - Ty and I running together."
When I asked her if she felt like her education was wasted she said her job was so completely draining that it didn't feel like a sacrifice.  "Being pregnant and having babies protected me from questioning whether my education was wasted.  Either it was such a good decision I don't need to reflect on it, or I was in such denial that I didn't want to."  She was laughing but went on to explain that her last year working was a miserable experience and left a bad taste in her mouth.    "I haven't had the feeling that I need to go back... I was a good therapist but the best of who I am is to be with my kids."

Ty pointed out that Kristi doesn't play games on the swing like daddy.

Kristi is a very animated story reader.  For now, Ty really enjoys princess books.
This article is the second in a series about awesome women.  It was inspired by Chase Jarvis who said that photographers and other creatives need to have their own personal projects that are above and beyond their usual workload.  I'm traveling back to my photojournalism roots and writing some stories about awesome women.  Be inspired.

If you know someone interesting who you would like to see featured here e-mail
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