Jeanie Divide, AKA Jeanie Winslow, with husband Mark Winslow.
Jeanie Winslow, AKA Jeanie Divide, finds it difficult to describe herself. There is no label that quite fits.
“It’s just like a bead,” Winslow says. “There are so many facets.
Winslow was born in Minneapolis and went to school in the suburbs. In 1984, she left home, venturing to Colorado to visit friends. She has always followed her intuition. Her plan was to move on to California, then to Florida. She would finish her tour in the U.S. Virgin Islands, because she had been there on vacation and enjoyed the locale.
But when she arrived in Colorado and began working as a waitress, she met Mark Winslow in Grand Lake, where the water reflects the silhouettes of mountains, and the sun rises late over their forms. In 1987, they got married and moved to Mark’s hometown of Corydon.
“I thought, ‘Wow, there’s a lot of corn here,’” Winslow says. “It was different from the mountains, and it’s a lot different from Minnesota. I had to find my way.”
As the years went on, she started taking art classes at Indian Hills Community College. After she got her degree there, she enrolled at Simpson College, where she had a connection—professor John Epperson is married to Mark’s twin sister. Winslow double-majored at Simpson in art and psychology. When she graduated, she took a year off. This allowed her to travel to Minneapolis and stay with her adopted father toward the end of his life.
Before Winslow left to be with her father in Minnesota, she applied to graduate school. She took the GRE psychology subject test and sent her score to Drake University. A professor at Drake at the time, Dr. Linda Nebbe, called Winslow and told her she was impressed with her application, and strongly encouraged her not to give up.
Winslow had no intention of giving up. She went part-time to college, so that from Indian Hills to Simpson to Drake, it took her 10 years to get a Masters Degree. She graduated from Drake in 2003. After that, she started working at the Center for Behavioral Services (CBS) in Centerville.
“When I got my degree, Dr. Nebbe said to me, ‘now you can learn. Now that this part’s done, now you go learn to do it.’ Well, I wish she hadn’t said that. But she was right. You learn as you go, and you learn what works.”
While she was studying psychology at Simpson, Dr. Keith Garber of Wayne County Hospital was her family physician. He became her mentor.
“He was the first one who really pushed me to go into counseling,” Winslow says. “He explained that when he started out, there just weren’t any mental health services in this area. Then he and several others got together and started the Center for Behavioral Services.”
Garber told Winslow the story of a patient of his that was suicidal. They had nowhere to send the patient. Garber made the man promise not to hurt himself that night, and said that he would find him a place to stay. Garber saved the man’s life.
“And that story stuck with me. I thought, ‘you know what, we need more mental health counseling here.’ So that’s why I went into counseling. I had thought about being an art therapist—that would’ve been more schooling, and I was so tired of driving. I was commuting to Des Moines. At the time, I was working at The Inn of the Six-Toed Cat, running that place, so I was working full-time, going to school part-time, driving—it was crazy.”
Garber was a man of few words, but he was always supportive of Winslow.
“He never told me what to do or where to go. The day when I told him I got accepted at Drake, he said, ‘Hallelujah!’ He never did that before. He was very stoic.”
Garber was on the board of the CBS. When Winslow was ready to start her internship there, he told her, ‘We’re going to send you over to CBS and you talk to Dr. Hameed.’ Dr. Hameed was the medical director. She drove to Centerville for an appointment at nine a.m.
“There were a couple other people in the waiting room, and Dr. Hameed came in and said ‘Nine a.m.?’ and pointed at me. I followed him and sat down, and he said, ‘Alright, now how can I help you today?’ And I said, ‘I am not your patient. I am your intern.’
“I worked with him until 2006. One day he said, ‘How is it you’ve come here to work for CBS?’ I said that this was planned long before he had even heard of the CBS.”
Winslow enjoys her work as a counselor. After CBS consolidated with another agency, she moved on to Lucas County Health Center in October of 2010, and has worked in Chariton since then. But she still maintains her small business on the west side of the Corydon square, the Jeanie Divide Bead Studio.
Her passion for beading began in the early 90s, out of boredom. During one of her trips to Minneapolis, she wandered into a bead shop on Lindale Avenue. A woman there showed her how to make her first earring.
“I was hooked,” Winslow says, no pun intended. “I started buying beads. I started going back to that area and researching everything I could.”
As an infant, Winslow was adopted, and when she met her birth mother, she was able to find out specifics about her nationality, and discovered that she was from the Leech Lake Indian Reservation.
“I had two questions for my birth mother. What time of day was I born at, and do you know how to bead?”
Her birth mother was not a beader, but that did not deter Winslow. While she went to school part-time, she began her bead studio. And she got a new name.
“That comes out of the continental divide in Colorado. We had alter egos—my husband was Continental Mark and I was Jeanie Divide. I thought that if I ever had a business, I’d name it Jeanie Divide. A lot of people ask me if that’s my maiden name, and I tell them, no, it’s my made-up name.”
Winslow began her business in the old Deflecta-Shield building, then bought her current shop, where she has worked since 2006.
“I like being here. It’s so peaceful. A lot of people stop in and talk to me. I really like living [in Wayne County] because of the peacefulness. At times I get a little cabin fever and need a city because I’m a city person. I travel a lot. My ways to experience life is to travel and enjoy art and music.
“There was a time when I first got here, I decided I was going to be a big part of my community. Because it was a shocker to move here. Different from any place I had lived before. I decided to volunteer. My professors at Indian Hills helped me understand the small community. I made a conscious effort to be a part of it.”
Marjean Poston became another mentor for her, getting her involved with the WAYCO Arts Council. Winslow worked with WAYCO for several years and served as president. It opened the door for volunteering in her community. She is proud of her time at WAYCO, as well as putting on motorcycle bike nights with Sharon Anderson and Angie Parham and bringing music to Old Settlers. Winslow’s dad was a musician, and she has always loved music.
When Winslow is not counseling or in her bead shop, she is in Wayne County East. Wayne County East, of course, is Winslow’s name for New York City.
When she first started her business, she migrated south to visit her sister in Scottsdale, Ariz. They toured the gem and mineral show in Tucson annually for around 15 years. Winslow realized most of the vendors she bought her beads from were out of New York. When she happened to go to the city for the first time on a tour, she found another home to love. She has been going back to Wayne County East twice a year ever since.
Winslow is also fascinated with astronomy. In the last year of the space shuttle program, she watched a countdown from eight miles away. She picked Cocoa Beach, Fla. to stay during this trip because she liked the sound of the name. She has gone down there several times on vacation and has dubbed it Wayne County South. She has also looked through the telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona.
“I follow any news about space,” Winslow says. “I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of the great distances involved. Right now, I’m reading the biography of Albert Einstein and trying to understand the theory of relativity. It’s a difficult concept, but I’m working on it.
“I’ve always been interested in the vast distances involved in the universe. I’ve always wondered about it. One of my desires, when I die, I hope that God lets me zip around and look at stars and nebulae up close. I remember telling some friends at the Des Moines Art Center—I looked around after I told them my dream, and I asked if that was weird. And they said, ‘No, it’s just that you’ll probably still be too busy taking a class.’ I was always taking a class of some sort.
“I don’t know if I believe in aliens or not, but I definitely believe in God. There’s just something—something as magnificent as the mountains in Colorado—and even here, too—when I drive to and from work, I keep my radio off. I just think in the silence, and I notice everything and I think, ‘wow, it’s really pretty around here.’ Just the richness of this country—and other countries.”
Winslow has been to Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and to Paris and the Eiffel Tower for one day, as well as Stonehenge. Her enjoyment is in the experience and contemplation of each site. She finds the age of cities and castles in Europe absorbing.
“You just don’t have that here. To see Roman ruins at the Tower of London. That’s interesting to me because I’m fascinated with time.
“There’s been indigenous people here for a long time, too. I don’t know how to say it—people conquered this country, and did it in a really bad way. And the same with [Europe]. There’s been so much bloodshed for a lot of different reasons. That’s a part of humankind’s history that is not so pretty.
“Again, it’s really interesting the length of history involved. That’s something that struck me.
“But I always come back to my counseling job. And then I have [my bead studio] for art therapy. I love coming home, I love to go on vacation, I love to go to work, I love to come here to my studio.
“One of the things that is important to me in my life is education. I believe education is the key to everything.
“Education doesn’t have to be at a college or a university. It can be living life and experiencing travel, finding a hobby and enjoying it, being a volunteer in your community—that kind of thing. I believe that there are all kinds of ways to live your life.
“One of the things that I learned in college is the psychology of the brain—how people behave in our society, how people behave in groups.
“I can provide people with the knowledge of how the brain works—mistakes in thinking—a lot of times mental health involves errors in the process of thinking. We can get in habitual, bad habits of thought. So it’s really rewarding to provide people with the framework for healthy thinking. And sometimes you see the benefits right away, where people get better—sometimes you don’t know. I’ve had people come back years later and say, ‘wow, you really helped me.’ I do the best job I can based on my knowledge. It’s a helping profession. I just provide information and act as a guide.
“If you asked me twenty years ago what I’d be doing, I couldn’t have told you. So my life has slowly ebbed this way.
“Mark’s from here, and he loves it here. This is his home, and this is where he belongs. And I believe I can live anywhere. At first I was a little lost because it was such a radically different place than I was used to. But I’ve considered this my home for many, many years.”
Winslow is staying in Wayne County for Christmas this year. It is one of her many homes. The family she grew up with in Minneapolis was the Kattar family. Her four siblings were also adopted. Winslow’s other family was part of the Ojibwe Nation, one of the largest tribes in North America. They are commonly called Chippewas, but this is a mispronunciation from anglicized French. When she did meet her birth mother, Audrey Banks—and five siblings from that family—Winslow discovered that they grew up within 20 miles of each other in Minneapolis. That family hailed from Leech Lake, and her adopted parents had a cabin at another lake near there.
“It’s kind of like I’ve been parallel to that family,” Winslow says. “When I was young, I gave a child up for adoption. And since I was adopted, even though it was a difficult time, I was able to do it because of that—because of the opportunities that I got.
“And so my daughter came back into my life two years ago. I have a daughter and she has a daughter, so all of a sudden I had a daughter and a granddaughter.
“The whole story of all these families—it’s so exciting and humbling. We met her parents on Thanksgiving Day, and I told them, ‘thank you.’ And they looked at me and said, ‘thank you.’ It was magical. Everything in my life has been family-people connections, even when things were really hard. Even when things were really hard here, people and connections and family always wins out. It’s because I ended up with the Kattar Family that I’m where I’m at now.”
Her parents, Al and June Kattar, were jovial people. They sent her to Catholic school for 12 years.
“I couldn’t wear plaid for a long time. My mom was Irish and my dad was Lebanese. I tell people I’m half Irish, half Lebanese and half Native American.
“Meeting the Indian part of the family—the Banks family—it was an interesting thing, because my love for Irish music and Native American music—particularly the drum, they’re very similar. When I heard the [native] drum for the first time, I said, ‘Oh, I know this.’ That’s one reason I love Ireland so much, because of the music—it just gets me.”
The day Winslow met her daughter, Rachel, she had to tell her that her grandmother was dying. Rachel wanted to meet her grandmother. There were four generations in the room when the family gathered for her passing.
“That was another circle. It was a chapter both closing and starting.
“It’s all the influences together that have got me here. And again, it goes back to the people, family and friends.
“One of my professors in college told us, ‘I hope you’re not here to get rich.’ I’m glad I get a paycheck, but I don’t do it for the buck.
“One of things that [psychology] got me to understand—it got me to understand the differences in socioeconomic statuses. It got me to understand generational poverty. It got me to understand at-risk populations. It got me to recognize it around here.
“I grew up in a city—you can look around and make judgments, but really working with people and living in a community that’s small, you can get a good idea about what’s going on. And so that’s a good thing that came out of it, was understanding and empathy for differences. Rather than making judgments about it.
“Now, I’m still outspoken. I don’t like criticism—I especially don’t like criticism of volunteer work. Why are you critical of something that people do for free out of caring?”
Winslow says she can’t be too outspoken.
“You can’t have your mental health counselor throwing a hissy-fit in the middle of the town square. It just doesn’t look good.”
One of the things that Winslow tells people is inspired by a Wally Lamb novel, She’s Come Undone. One character asks another why she is dropping out of school. The woman says, ‘because I’m going to be 26-years-old.’ And the other character says, ‘wait, how old will you be if you don’t graduate?’
“And that’s what I live by. I don’t want to not do something because I’m going to be old when I’m done. That’s silly talk. You’re going to be the same age you are, you might as well be doing something you want. You might as well start something even though it’s scary. I think that’s how I’ve got where I am, because I’ve been willing to get out and do it.
“If I can encourage someone to start back to school, that’s a great thing. It’s well worth it. It’s been worth it. We all do what we do. Sometimes you don’t know how connected you are.
“I’ve had a lot of great things happen since I’ve lived here. And I hope many more.”
Jeanie Divide will be spending this Christmas with her daughter, Rachel, and her granddaughter, Mika, and the many Winslows. She has an abundance of family, and each loved one is like a bead on a necklace.