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My Call To Public Service – Betsy, 57

Betsy KUEL
Betsy Selznick Harnage is the Register of Deeds in Cleveland County, NC. She discovered her call to public service later in life and is now living out her dream, real-time. She is an inspiration to any of us who are thinking of changing career gears in our middle years. Thankful to be able to share her Kuel Life story.
There is power in story telling. There is power in community. There is power in sharing. The more we know about one another; the more we understand; the more powerful we become.
We invite all of the KuelWomen out there to share their stories with us.
This is Betsy’s.

What are you pursuing now, after 50, that surprises you or might appear to others as if it’s come out of left field? 
 After years of working side by side my husband building our business, I switched to public service. Now I am Register of Deeds. I have always enjoyed lending service to my community—Girl Scout Leader, community service, founding board member of our county’s only public charter school, and now I can proudly say public service is my full-time job.

KUEL LIFE: What’s a typical day like for you?

BETSY: I am an early riser! Coffee, play with my dogs, and feed the cats and chickens is my favorite way of getting myself going in the morning. I start work around 7:30am-8am and am lucky to work with friends at my office as we file vital records, record deeds and/or send out requests. As the day wraps up you can either find me at a community meeting, in a training course, or out a local restaurant enjoying the night with friends and my husband.
KUEL LIFE: With what do you struggle?

BETSY: That is truly a tough question. I guess I would honestly have to say, transitioning from the private sector to the public.
KUEL LIFE: How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?

BETSY: I remember how important my position is and the people that elected me. I am here for the citizens of Cleveland County, NC and I want to make them proud of their choice.
KUEL LIFE: What advice would you give fellow women about aging?

BETSY: Take care of yourself and realize how fast life truly flies. I spent a lot of time in the sun as a youth. (I grew up in Florida) If I could go back in time, I would have defiantly used a good sunscreen instead of baby oil. We get one body to treasure and respect.
KUEL LIFE: What does vulnerability mean to you? What has the ability to make you vulnerable?

BETSY: I pride myself on being a strong woman. I don’t like feeling dependent on anyone. Recently I was in a car accident and couldn’t walk. The EMS Rescue Squad wanted to put me on a stretcher and take me by ambulance to the ER. I felt embarrassed that I couldn’t walk myself to the ambulance. I am used to doing things for myself. I guess I feel vulnerable to need assistance and help from others.
KUEL LIFE: What are three events that helped to shape your life?

BETSY: Three events that shaped my life were: First, starting a business with my husband right after we got married. We really got to learn more about each other from this experience and learn how to lean on each other. Second, having my children was (obviously) a big event that gave me so much pride and joy and motivated me to show them that a mom can work and have a balanced home life! Third, public speaking was something I used to struggle with and deciding to run for office finally pushed me to face that fear head on. That was a huge event that shifted my self-esteem and confidence in using my voice.
KUEL LIFE: Who influenced you the most in life and why?

BETSY: I have had many influences throughout my life.  My family is number one to me. From my earliest memories, my family has been the most important part of my life. Everyone has their own goals and it’s so inspiring to see everyone working towards their goals. That’s what keeps me going!
KUEL LIFE: What is the best advice you’ve been given from another woman?

BETSY: Say what’s on your mind, cause no one else can say it for you.
KUEL LIFE: What woman inspires you and why?

BETSY: I’m blessed to have MANY women in my life that inspire me. The ones that stand out would be…. My mother, she was a strong independent woman. My daughter is just like her. Strong and independent. Patricia graduated High School at 17, College at 20 and moved to NYC to start her adulthood before her 21st birthday. I am fortunate to have a wonderful extended family of 8 sisters-in-law, whom all are strong women and raised strong daughters, as I did. When it comes to politics, I would have to say Senator Debbie Clary. A dear friend, Sen. Clary started as a small business owner, as myself. Sen. Clary became a NC House Representative and then Senator. She is a respected staple in our community and supported me wholeheartedly during my campaign. I leaned on her for advice and guidance throughout my election.
KUEL LIFE: Are you grown-up?

BETSY: I hope not. My physical age may be adult, but in my mind and heart I am still young and have a lot to accomplish.
KUEL LIFE: What do you do for self-care?

BETSY: Oh, my goodness. I am trying to be more cautious of the foods I put in my body! I’m lucky to have a husband who loves to cook; so if I find a new healthy recipe, he will make it and it’s so fun to try something new!
KUEL LIFE: And last but definitely NOT least: What are the top three things on your bucket list?

BETSY: Funny, I think about a ‘bucket list’ often. Life is short and there is still so much I want to see and do. It is a tough question for me to answer. Anyday I can do or experience something new, I am grateful for ‘marking’ something off my bucket list.
If I have to name 3 things they would be (in no particular order):

  1. Continue finding new ways to serve my community
  2. Freely travel with my husband and learn about other cultures
  3. Convince my children to give me grandchildren SOON!

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