As a life coach, Lake Zurich resident Kathleen Kolze has a question she often asks clients when they feel stuck and can’t figure out what do next — “What if you made it up?”
“If you ask someone to make it up, they can do that, and they get great ideas,” Kolze said.
That coaching tool is the title of Kolze’s debut novel, What if You Made it Up? in which the main character, Eva, is also a life coach who asks her clients that same question.
That question is also a theme in the book as Eva ditches a lucrative career to make a new life in Bear, Wyo., determined to reinvent her life. Throughout the book, Eva sees clients for life-coaching sessions.
“I hope people have fun reading it and find it fun and interesting. I also hope they get the importance of really listening to other people. Coaching sessions are a place where someone really listens to you,” Kolze said. “The coach is there for the goals and success of the other person, to help them live their best life instead of just dreaming about it. They might be inspired to reflect on their own life. They might pause and listen to other people around them. A little bit of listening goes a long way.”
For Kolze, opportune career changes led her to writing a book.
Some 14 years ago, Kolze was working for GE in global leadership and doing a lot of traveling. Her children, Kent and Claire, were just 6 and 4 at the time.
“One day, around 3, I got a call at work from my neighbor that my 6-year-old son was standing at the door, because I was not home. He had his backpack on and, instead of staying at the afterschool program, he came home on the bus to an empty, locked house. I realized the choices I was making had an impact on him and I needed to do something different,” she said.
Kolze was fortunate that the leadership at GE was supportive. She stayed with the company, but segued into executive coaching, which allowed her to work from home.
Eventually GE sold the division for which Kolze was working to Swiss RE.
Kolze still works for Swiss RE, but at that time, she became insecure about her job and decided to write a book.
“I always wanted to write a book and thought it was the perfect opportunity to take all my thoughts and experiences and write a book,” Kolze said.
She started out writing a nonfiction book but realized that so many books about life coaching already had been written.
“It was OK, but I realized, ‘I don’t know if I want to read this,’ ” she said.
“I totally believe in coaching and working with an individual, and I thought, ‘I can still share that in a novel,’ ” Kolze said.
It took about 2½ years of Saturday mornings for Kolze to write the book and another 2½ years for the novel to go through editing. She quickly tired of trying to find an agent and going the traditional publishing route.
“I wanted to share it and I thought I could be doing this agent thing for the next three years,” she said.
Kolze was referred to a classmate from her high school in downstate Morton, Ill. Patti Bower always had wanted to edit a novel. As a result of editing Kolze’s novel, Bower started her own book publishing company, Diligent Editorial, and published the novel, in March.
Kolze is looking for opportunities with book clubs and bookstores. What if You Made it Up? Is available on Amazon.com.
Kolze also enjoys walking, previously with her two golden retrievers, Dash and Scout (now deceased), who are the only reality-based characters in her novel. She also enjoys cooking, quilting and ballroom dancing with her husband, Bob.