In some respects Rosemary Pierson is following the career path her parents would have chosen for her. It’s just that her path led to a different destination than they might have had in mind.
Rosemary’s parents were Lutheran missionaries; her father was a physician, her mother, a social worker and teacher.
“They were both care-givers and that’s basically what they wanted for me, too,” says Rosemary, a counselor and massage therapist. “And that’s what I offer people now through the kind of work I do.”
She received a college education in social work and psychology. Coming from a family such as hers she was naturally drawn to the ministry and wavered some time between attending seminary or beginning a secular career. But her indecision and a series of circumstances translated into a calling to the ministry Rosemary could not ignore. She decided to try seminary.
Seminary held a lot of challenges and rewards for Rosemary, and afterwards she came to Albuquerque with her fiancé who was also a recent graduate, both of them seeking churches where they could put their theological studies and faith into practice. He found a job right away, but Rosemary had trouble and she suspects it may have been partly because she was a woman.
“I had a conversation with a man who suggested I write a proposal to his church. Then he neglected to talk to his board about me – do any groundwork like he should have. And as for the church, they suddenly had a complete proposal out of nowhere from a woman wanting to be their pastor. That’s not usually how it’s done and of course if didn’t work out,” cites Rosemary.
“Another time, a woman at a church where I’d applied told me I couldn’t be their pastor because they needed someone they could look up to. A funny thing, about that though, I was at least ten inches taller than she was!”
When Rosemary realized she wasn’t going to find work in Albuquerque, she considered a church elsewhere, even though it meant leaving her relationship behind. She was offered a position at Peace Lutheran Church in Las Vegas.
After three years of ministry there, Rosemary felt it was time to explore her growing interest in healing and massage. She set off on a seven-month journey to Findhorn, Scotland and Auroville, India where she learned about alternative methods of making people well and began a process of transcendence in her own life.
She returned to Las Vegas more confident and full of options. She decided to stay and finish a master’s degree in counseling at NMHU. That was two years ago and she’s been in practice for herself ever since. Rheua Pearce is one of her massage therapy clients.
Rosemary’s life has been an example of inner development listening to her heart, doing what she felt was right with confidence that it would work out no matter the difficulty. She now lives very simply with her common-law husband, still preaching occasionally, but mostly finding pleasure in helping people in a way that also gives something very positive back to her.
“I love my special connection with people. It can be very spiritual. I believe in touching, in hands-on healing and it benefits me, too,” she says in her soft but fit voice. “I counsel people to listen to what’s going on inside themselves and to follow it. I believe that’s the best way to be really happy.”
Margaret Sanchez has a personal conviction so strong it determines all the important matters in her life: how she raises her children, what she does for her life’s work, how she treats everyone she meets.
“Everyone deserves respect,” she says. “It doesn’t matter who they are, whether they’re a famous person or the wino on the corner. Just being a human means that they should be respected.”
Respecting people, and helping them, is what Margaret does.
She works round the clock, sometimes for pay, sometimes not. She begins each day at 6 a.m. and five days a week she babysits young children in her home. She just recently went from full-time to part-time working as an answering service for Maes Plumbing, and once a week she does laundry for an elderly, former neighbor, and cleans her widower-uncle’s house. Every night from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. she sleeps at Rheua Pearce’s house across the street in case Rheua has trouble in the night. It’s also important to Margaret to prepare dinner every evening for her family, including her 84-year-old stepfather.
Born and raised in Las Vegas, Margaret had no brothers or sisters and her father was killed returning home from work at the Terrero Mines when Margaret was three. She lived with her mother and grandfather until her mother remarried. Her family was very warm and caring, traits they obviously passed on to Margaret.
Coming from such a small family, Margaret knew what she wanted when she grew up: to be a homemaker and have seven children, this in spite of her mother’s desire for her to become a pharmacist! Early role models for Margaret were her mother and the Catholic nuns at Immaculate Conception School, but there was another teacher who temporarily inspired her to consider other options.
“I loved Miss Kennedy. I thought I wanted to be like her. She was educated and she’d travelled all over,” says Margaret. “But I fell in love and got married instead.”
The marriage lasted 25 years and while Margaret didn’t have seven children she did have three: a daughter and twin sons, all of whom are now students at NMHU.
Now Margaret finds herself getting more involved in her community and caring on a larger scale for people and animals and the earth.
About her hometown Margaret says, “Times have changed here. They make changes without thinking them through and sometimes they’re for all the wrong reasons. I’m afraid Las Vegas could change for the worse if it goes on this way.”
“What we really need here is a recycling program! I save everything – I can’t stand to throw trash away. But some people don’t think it’s important. I know people who say ‘it’s not my problem.’ They’re not thinking ahead. We don’t have a choice anymore.”
Margaret knows that charity begins at home. She tells the story of how she began to do laundry for her former neighbor – a woman she’d only briefly met many years before.
“She fell down and broke her hip. She had to give up her home and move to a small apartment. After that, I’d look out my window and see her house and know she wasn’t there because of what happened. When things change like that it bothers me.”
“I kept thinking, there ought to be something I could do. I drove over to her new apartment and asked her if there was anything I could do for her. So I started doing her laundry once a week. She’s a very fair lady and she wants to pay me, but,” Margaret shrugs, “I don’t want it. That’s not why I do it.”
Margaret Sanchez is now a role model herself – a model of good values and of giving and of speaking up when things are wrong. She’s a rare woman whose motivation to work and provide for herself is over-shadowed by her kindness, her intense desire to help other people in need.
Crystal Rosser’s not as intimidating as she looks. It’s just the dark uniform. The serious set of her jaw when she’s thinking. And the lack of a ponytail that’s pushed up inside her hat.
At age 20, Crystal is one of the youngest State Police officers in New Mexico and one of only six who are women.
Her work in law enforcement is not the achievement of a life-long dream. Rather it resulted after trying a variety of jobs including a brief consideration of a career in banking “because I like working with people and I like working with money,” and goes along with the admiration Crystal has for her older brother’s military career. It was also a challenge she couldn’t resist.
“My mom has worked as a dispatcher and she suggested this to me,” says Crystal. “And I thought, ‘okay, I can try it.’ But then I started hearing things along the lines of ‘no female the age of 19 is going to make it to the State Police Academy and if they do, they’re sure not going to make it through.’ So I tried even harder to succeed.”
She did make it through an arduous application process, including mental and physical evaluations and a background check, and was voted to attend the Academy by a state review board which considers each applicant individually. But the hard part – 14 weeks’ worth – was still ahead.
Crystal explains, “To give you a hint about the Academy: we started with 24 people; I was the only female. And we ended up with 12 people.
Now that she’s been on the job for more than a year one might ask if the dangers of her chosen field have become apparent and if they keep her awake at night.
“My mom explains it this way: In every job there’s danger. At least in my job I’m trained to handle it,” replies Crystal. “And that’s really the way it is.”
Tracy Seidman is real capable but she’s not real big.
“I could get a lot more done if I was 6’4’ and 250 pounds,” she admits. But other than that, she’s just as happy being a woman rancher – even on the ruthless Northern New Mexico range – as she thinks she could be as a man.
“No matter who you are, people respect you and do what you want done when they’re on your land. That’s just the way it is.”
Encouraged to go to New Mexico by her father and an aunt who “had seen too many cowboy movies,” Tracy took off in a borrowed car with a down payment clutched in her hand aiming to buy a ranch for the family. She was 24 with a 16-month-old son, armed only with lots of experience in East Coast graphic design.
“It was really rough my first year here. There were a couple of times I almost gave it up,” recalls Tracy. “My horse fell on the ice and I got a broken ankle. Then a horse that meant a lot to me had to be put down. I’d not experienced that before. My favorite dog, an Irish Wolfhound that had come with me from Connecticut ate some coyote bait left out by the previous owner and she died. So there I was alone, not walking, and with a baby.”
But she held on, learning about cattle ranching on-the-job, day-by-day, branding-by-branding and cutting-by-cutting. Alfredo Martinez had worked on the ranch for 40 years and Tracy credits him with much of the teaching, along with neighbors who were willing to let her tag along and observe their own operations.
Fifteen years later the Wagon Mound Ranch, still headed by Tracy, is doing well and the editors and artist reps of the illustration business seem a million miles away.
Professes Tracy, “Even if I was bone-tired the night before, I get up in the morning and step outside into the canyon and I know I’m in proper proportion to the rest of the world.”
To Karrie Williams, success will be seeing her two children grow up to leave home welcoming responsibility and being able to handle it. And it won’t hurt if she’s able to catch a couple of crooks via her news reporting along the way.
Karrie takes her job seriously reporting for a small town daily newspaper – she’s a sort of “public defender in print” for the community’s residents. Her favorite thing about her work for the Las Vegas Optic:
“I wake up in the morning and I have something to do, something to write about. And after being here ten years I’m at a point where stories come to me. I just make them heard and I love it.”
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