NELSONVILLE, Wis. — In the small central Wisconsin town of Nelsonville, Paula Kramer has found inner peace. It’s something she’s still getting used to.
“Well it’s still so new to me. It takes awhile for me to sometimes figure out how to express things,” said Kramer.
She’s a collaborating author in a new book coming out in February titled, ‘Voices of the 21st Century; Resilience Against Stereotypes. For Paula, telling her personal story has been cathartic.
“Being able to get that story out, has taken away all the fear of putting myself in the position where more people could hurt me. I’ve been hurt a lot by all kinds of negative stereotypes,” said Kramer.
One story not included in the book involves a rocking chair that set her apart in college. When Paula was twelve, someone pulled a seat out from under her. The classroom prank left her with life-long spine problems. When she went to college at UW-Stevens Point, the classroom chairs were too painful for her so the university gave her a modified rocker.
“The chair’s cut down. Wheels are added so I can push it around,” she said. “The chair made me different. Stereotypes happen when you’re different. A lot of the other students, most of them, kept their distance because I was different.”
Different voices are welcomed by Laura Rubinstein of the Women Speakers Association. She works with the authors who collaborated on the book.
“A lot of these women are already published authors and some of them are brand new authors,” said Rubinstein.
The three previous editions have been number one bestsellers.
“It’s amazing what will mushroom out of that,” said Rubinstein. “Collaborations, book signings, speaking engagements. We are a Women’s Speaking Association so we love to help women get on more stages.”
Kramer hopes success from the book fuels her to speak more about stereotypes. She’s held onto the chair that isolated her in college and relayed a story of someone who helped break through that stereotype.
While sharing an elevator at school, a man inquired about her chair. Paula explained why she used it and they parted ways. Some time passed and a new semester started. Paula walked into the first day of a poetry class and recognized the same man, Professor Bill Lawlor.
“The very first thing he did, that first day of class, was to tell the rest of the class why I had the chair. It was the only undergraduate course I took, where every other student in the course treated me like just another student. It meant so much to me that I’m crying still and that was a couple decades ago.”
The book will be available in February and can be purchased on Paula’s website.