When you meet Kat Hill for the first time, you feel her energy and joy for life. It’s undeniable.
Kat lives in Portland, Oregon and was diagnosed with young onset Parkinson’s in 2015 at the age of 48. At the time she was the director of midwifery at Emanuel Hospital and had lots of action to fill her time – kids, family, and a career she had worked very hard to achieve. She delivered more than 800 babies in her time as a nurse-midwife.
Kat has since retired from her career as a midwife to focus on writing and speaking about wellness and striving to make lemonade out of lemons. Her refreshing take on finding joy is the topic of her podcast, called PD Lemonade. Now in its second season, PD Lemonade focuses on deep conversations about interesting Parkinson’s topics. As she says in her podcast intro, Kat has “chosen to focus on the sweetness she has found, instead of dwelling on the sour.”
Kat’s optimistic perspective is in large part due to her Parkinson’s diagnosis, which has helped her learn to focus on what she can do and not give up.
She and her good friend Nancy Peate, who is also living with Parkinson’s, have a wellness model they call the “Wellness Spiral”. It is a spiral with a narrow bottom and great expanse on the top, think tornado shape. The tight circular bottom is the rabbit hole of negative thoughts. Kat says, “The more we practice getting out of that mentally, the better off we are, the more expansive our lives are, and the more well we can be with intention.”
Kat and Nancy are about to release their first book, called Being Well: A Guide to Finding Joy and Resilience with Chronic Illness. The book is a self-help guide for those living with a chronic illness to help them find pathways to wellness. “This book is for anyone who is at a crossroads and wants to find ways to build resilience.”
Kat believes in doing something for her mind, body and spirit every day. She works out regularly, paints, and consistently is sketchbook journaling.
“I am not and never have been a big sit-arounder,” she said.
She and her husband, Ken, are also taking on a new project this year of selling their family home and hitting the road in their Airstream trailer. They will be documenting their journey on Instagram at @216PNW if you want to follow along!