Episode 94 – Pamela Kesling Shares Essential Wisdom

“From ‘Watch for Deer’ to Wisdom: A Journey of Creativity, Resilience, and Self-Discovery with Pamela Kesling”

Growing up in the countryside of West Virginia, my dear friend Pamela Kesling was infused with a creative spark that continues to shine brightly in her life today. Her journey is a captivating tapestry of creativity, resilience, and wisdom. It’s one that’s seen her wear many hats, from being a business development director for a law firm to the president of the board for Habitat for Humanity, and from being a writer and singer to a joy-seeker. We fondly reminisce about our shared country roots and explore how her childhood catchphrase ‘Watch for deer’ embodies her journey from rural life to her cross-country music tour, never losing sight of her beginnings.

As we delve deeper, Pamela authentically shares her experiences on how remaining soft and open can help to connect with diverse people, rewrite our narratives and strengthen our resilience in the face of life’s adversities. We touch upon her spiritual journey of self-awareness and inner peace, exploring her practices of reading religious texts, meditating, and journaling. Listen in to discover how Pamela’s insights on mindfulness, emotional intelligence, and the power of introspective moments can bring clarity and calm to your life. 

Get ready for an inspiring conversation with one of the wisest people I know, Pamela Kesling. 

Brief Bio for Our Wise Guest

Pamela Kesling is the business development director for Spilman, Thomas and Battle, a mid-sized regional law firm based in Charleston, West Virginia. She is also president of the board of Habitat for Humanity of Kanawha and Putnam. 

In her free time, Pamela is, by turns, a writer, singer, creator and joy seeker. 

Pamela has co-founded an online music festival, helped produce albums and performed on stages across the country. She also enjoys photography, but her real love is reading and writing poetry. 

She is mother to a 10 year old boy and a rescue dog and cat. 


Connect with Pamela Kesling on LinkedIn

Pamela Kesling on Instagram: @pamelalives

Pamela’s website for her shared creative works

Books recommended by Pamela, both by author Don Miguel Ruiz:

The Four Agreements

The Fifth Agreement


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Graphic Design Chloe Lineberg

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Episode Chapters

(0:03:55) – Growing Up in Rural West Virginia and “Watch for Deer”

Pamela Kesling shares her childhood creativity and wisdom on nature’s role in her life. The story behind her Tweet, an essential WV phrase that went viral

(0:7:30) – Making a Lifelong Connection

Serving coffee in a book shop, leading to a career in marketing and business development, plus a lifelong friendship.

(0:10:00) – Pamela’s Main Thing Wisdom

Pamela shares her journey to inner peace through reading, reflection, meditation and intentional joy-seeking. Her focus on being soft and open is key to letting go and being resilient.

(0:12:40) – How Not to Get Caught Up in the Swirl

Being present and pausing: a quick, in-the-moment meditation to become  centered and calm. Pamela discusses her journey to self-awareness and learning to trust herself.

Episode Transcript

0:00:58 – Skip Lineberg

Do you ever wonder why, when you meet a certain person for the first time, you feel like you’ve known them forever? It just clicks sometimes, doesn’t it? We’ll delve into that today with our wise guest. Also, what goes on inside the mind of a highly gifted, multi-mused, creative person? How do they choose how to express their ideas? Is it going to be a poem, a photograph, an essay or a song? We’ll discuss this topic and more today with Pamela Kesling.

Welcome back to The Main Thing Podcast. I’m your host, Skip Lineberg. Before we begin, let me tell you about a couple of extra ways you can benefit from our programming. You can learn more about our wisdom offerings and sign up for our twice a month newsletter. You can learn more about why we do what we do just by heading over to themainthingpodcastcom.

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Our guest, Pamela Kesling, is someone I’ve known for many years. We’ve been colleagues and creative collaborators. We always encourage one another in our hobbies and our creative pursuits. She’s incredibly gifted and wise, but nothing has been handed to her. Pamela has faced her share of adversity and I admire tremendously how she lives a simple, beautiful life–a life that’s not perfect and sometimes messy–and beautiful all the same. You’ll hear the authenticity and the resilience in her voice as she sahres her stories.

Today, Pamela Kesling is the business development director for Spilman, Thomas and Battle, a mid-sized regional law firm based in Charleston, west Virginia. She’s also the president of the board of Habitat for Humanity of Kanawha and Putnam. In her free time, she is, by turns, a writer, singer, creator and joy seeker. Pamela has co-founded an online music festival. She’s helped produce albums performed on stages across the country and enjoys photography, but her real love is reading and writing poetry. Pamela is the mother to a 10-year-old boy and a rescue dog and cat. Settle in and get ready, because over the next 9 minutes, you’ll discover why Pamela Kesling is one of the wisest people I know.

0:03:53 – Skip Lineberg
Pamela Kesling, welcome to the Main Thing Podcast. What a joy to have you on the show today!

0:03:59 – Pamela Kesling
Thank you, Skip. Same!

0:04:00 – Skip
Pamela, your creativity is abundant. It is diverse. You are very creative when it comes to poetry, photography, music. I want to know more about that. Like so, what inspires you? What ignites that spark that sets you off on a creative adventure?

0:04:19 – Pamela
It’s interesting because for a long, long time I never really thought of myself as a creative person. I thought I just have good taste and I appreciate everyone else’s creativity.

0:04:29 – Skip
I want to start with the phrase watch for deer. Could you tie that all together for us?

0:04:38 – Pamela
So, we lived way out in the country. Like gravel road Yeah there was like a about a quarter mile gravel driveway to my house And my mom was very nervous and she would never let us really go too far beyond sight of the house. So we were kind of in our own little world at the end of the hauler. As I got older, all I wanted to do was leave. I wanted to go to New York. I wanted to get into publishing. I wanted to get out of there as far as I could go.

0:05:04 – Skip
I get it.

0:05:08 – Pamela
And so back to the watch for deer thing. When I finally could get in my car and go when I was 17, 18, i was gone as much as I could, and that was, you know, mom’s parting phrase always is well, you know, be careful, watch for deer. And I heard that a lot for my mom. And then I noticed you hear that anytime you leave anybody’s house out in the country or anywhere that’s kind of…

0:05:39 – Skip

0:05:40 – Pamela
Yeah. “Goodbye. See you soon. Watch for deer.”

0:05:44 – Skip
Yeah. So, Pamela, that phrase caught on, didn’t it?

0:05:50 – Pamela
Yeah, it kind of went viral. So I was leaving my friend, a dear friend of mine in Jackson County, the next county over. Her father passed away and I had gone to see her at his funeral. And as we were leaving, she says to everybody as we’re walking out the door, “Bye. Thank y’all for coming. Watch for deer.”

And I was thinking about that on the way home, how … that really just is another way of saying, “Hey, I care about you… I love you.” “Thank you for coming. Be safe.”

0:06:18 – Skip

0:06:18 – Pamela
And so I just kind of put that thought out into the ether, Tweeted it, actually … shouldn’t admit this while I was driving.

0:06:31 – Skip
Oh, the truth comes out!

0:06:34 – Pamela Kesling
Watch for deer is West Virginia and for I love you. I think that was in 2017.

And then actually, another friend of mine, saw it. And I think when he Re-Tweeted it, I think that’s really what caused it to go viral.

It was between Christmas and New Year. I think people were not really doing anything, except for looking at their phones or maybe leaving holiday events. Then they’ve heard this a lot, as you know, “Thanks for coming to Christmas. We’ll see you. Watch for deer.” I think it just immediately resonated, so much with folks that it just became like a truism.

0:07:15 – Skip
Right. Yes.

0:07:16 – Pamela
Like it had always been there. I don’t think anybody even thought that this was a new idea or a new concept or anybody’s property, because everyone has said, “Watch for deer.”

0:07:33 – Skip
We’d better pull back the curtain for listeners. They’re wondering: how do these two know one another?

0:07:37 – Pamela
Long story short. I was working at Taylor Books, as kind of well, I need to make money somehow.

0:07:42 – Skip

0:07:43 – Pamela
And it turned out to be probably my favorite job I’ve ever had. It was just like hanging out with my friends every day, and you were one of those friends.

0:07:51 – Skip
We were growing our marketing team, and we needed talented people who would work hard, who were quick learners … who had great people skills. I just called you out of the blue. I was thinking: who do you want on your team if you could pick anybody you want? You were way up on the top of my list. And so I reached out to you, and it was good timing.

0:08:14 – Pamela
Yeah. And I thought: Well, I would love the opportunity to work for Skip. I think that I always had a lot of respect for you. I thought that it would be a great opportunity to learn and grow and do something different.

0:08:30 – Skip
And I’ll say work with.

0:08:31 – Pamela

0:08:32 – Skip
And we absolutely learned and grew–together.

0:08:37 – Pamela
Yeah, and I’m still there. What is it 12 years later? I have grown. I started as the marketing assistant, and now I’m the director of business development.

0:08:54 – Announcer
Let’s be honest, it’s not easy to ask for help or talk about money. Hey, it’s Skip here And many listeners like you continue to ask me what do you need to continue to develop and build this show? Well, for context, it takes our team about 15 hours of work to produce each one of these packages of wisdom that we deliver to you and podcast form. Really, what we need is funding funding to cover our costs. So, in response, i formed a site on the Patreon platform where you can elect to become a supporting patron of the main thing podcast. Now, there are three levels you might consider, ranging from $6 to $27 per month. It’s all safe and secure And you can explore the options at patreoncom slash the main thing podcast. Now, how will we use the funding? funds provided by you and other patrons will be used to defray the costs of production, promotion and our recurring technology expenses each month. In short, you will be helping to keep this pipeline of wisdom flowing. Thanks.

0:09:55 – Skip
Pamela Kesling, what’s the main thing you’ve learned in your lifetime so far?

0:10:06 – Pamela
Skip, the main thing I’ve learned in my lifetime so far is the importance of remaining soft and open to whatever comes along.

0:10:19 – Skip
Remain soft and open. Yeah, take us inside that. Take us inside your wisdom nugget, and tell us more about it.

0:10:28 – Pamela
Well, I’ve been thinking… when I was young, I think I was very rigid. I wanted there to be rules. I wanted there to be the right way to do things. And I was the kind of kid that read my Bible every night. I did grammar workbooks for fun as a teenager because grammar had set rules.

0:10:38 – Skip
Uh-oh! Word nerd alert.

0:10:47 – Pamela
yeah, and I think I wanted that with social interactions, which may be why it took me so long to come to a core group of friends. I don’t know, but I always needed it, and I’ve learned over the years that none of those things that I wanted–that I was so rigid about or that I thought there’s a right way and a wrong way.

0:11:18 – Skip
Like black and white.

0:11:19 – Pamela
Yeah, none of those things ever really turned out to be really true. Even with grammar over the years, you find it’s really not prescriptive. It’s just a way that folks can understand one another, and language is changing and evolving all the time. I think that’s true really in any area of life. All people are different. All people are interesting in their own way, and I thought that there was a certain way my life was supposed to be laid out … or certain things that I had to do in order to be a professional or to be a proper adult. And none of those things really end up working the way that you think they’re going to …

0:12:12 – Skip
Thank heavens!

0:12:13 – Pamela
Right. When you learn to be softer, you can be much more resilient toward the things that come and go. You can let go of the traumas that you might focus. And you can rewrite your story, however many ways you need to do it.

0:12:40 – Skip
You take time to be present in the moment, in the scene, with the surroundings, and then you let that speak to you.

0:12:49 – Pamela
I try to do that. I notice that when I get really caught up in the swirl, and I become really anxious … and you know I’m not happy … I’m not healthy and I’m not joyful. If I can pause and tell myself, “Okay, you’re really anxious right now. You don’t have to be. You’re identifying as an anxious person right now. You don’t have to identify that way. You can identify as a calm person.” Then I can stop and take a breath.

0:13:22 – Skip

0:13:22 – Pamela
I can stop or slow the spinning out that happens occasionally.

0:13:28 – Skip
I just felt myself relax as you were talking us through that practice.

0:13:32 – Pamela
Yeah, it’s very simple and it’s short and quick. It doesn’t require 10 minutes of meditation or anything like that. It’s just a moment of saying, “What am I doing? What am I telling myself about myself? What would I like to be telling myself? Who would I like to be?” I can be that person.

0:13:54 – Skip
I love it! I get it. That all fits.

Pamela, when this wisdom clarified for you and, to use your metaphor here, the light bulb went off… Do you remember what was going on in your life at that time where this sort of came together for you as wisdom? That you embraced and you said, “Okay, this is a guiding force in my life.” Was it a trauma or some adversity, or was it just someone you met or something you read?

0:14:25 – Pamela
I think it has been more of a slow, incremental approach to this. I did have a pretty traumatic end of my last relationship, which really set me to take pause and reassess myself and get to know myself better. Then learn to be okay, learn to trust myself.

0:14:50 – Skip
There it is. Yeah, there it is.

0:15:00 – Skip
Pamela, this has been so wonderful. I’ve loved this conversation, every bit of it. I just can’t thank you enough for making time for this conversation and sharing your main thing wisdom.

0:15:14 – Pamela
Thank you, Skip. It’s been such a pleasure, and I’m so honored to be asked to be a guest on your show.

0:15:19 – Skip
So long for now, Pamela.

0:15:21 – Pamela
So long.

0:15:22 – Announcer
Wow, that goes by incredibly fast, doesn’t it? Time flies when you’re hacking wisdom. I hope you’re left wanting more.

Sync up with us again next time on The Main Thing, for nine more minutes of wisdom.

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