Julia Jackman: Immediacy and connection

As someone who has been involved with the Klamath UU Fellowship for many years, I’ve known Julia Jackman for a long time.  But interviewing her for our newsletter turned out to be a joy as I realized that, in a sense, I’ve hardly known Julia at all and was so pleased to be getting better acquainted.

Julia grew up in Santa Barbara, California and attended the University of California in Santa Cruz, majoring in environmental studies and minoring in politics.  It was in Santa Cruz that she met her husband-to-be, Bob Jackman after they had both graduated from UCSC. Bob was then accepted to medical school at George Washington University in Washington D.C., and wanted Julia to come along. However, when she was uncertain that she wanted to make that commitment, having known him for only six months, he just waited, another year as it turned out, until she was ready and they took a two-and-a-half month journey across the country to D.C., where they’d be for four years.

In Santa Cruz Julia had developed an interest in massage therapy, and completed a massage certification program.  In D.C. her primary goal was to work in the environmental field, but the first job she got there was working part-time at a massage therapy business. She then also got a job with a consulting company which worked for the Environmental Protection Agency, looking at ways to reduce greenhouse gases through increasing energy efficiency, and then after that at the International Institute for Energy Conservation, which sought to interest other countries in adopting more efficient technologies.  However, worthy as those jobs were, Julia realized that she really wanted to work one-to-one with people and so thought she might do a masters degree program in nutrition at Bastyr University in Seattle.  Bob was in the Navy, though, while in medical school, and the Navy decided to send him to Pensacola, Florida to do a residency in Family Medicine, (not exactly Seattle) and while there, Julia became pregnant with their daughter, Rowan, who was born in 1995. Fascinated with the process of pregnancy, Julia shifted her focus to pursuing becoming certified as a childbirth educator.

Next came a move to Mystic, Connecticut for four years, where Bob trained as an undersea medical officer, and their second child, Rylan, a son, was born in 1998.

In 1999 the family moved to Klamath Falls, where Bob did three more years of a residency at Cascades East. But, in considering the possibility of becoming a childbirth educator Julia realized that it just wasn’t practical. Bob was frequently on call, and as a childbirth educator, as well as a mom with two young children, she’d have to be on-call too, and so she decided against it.  The idea of pursuing a massage therapy career began to appeal to her again and “Four nights a week for nine months I went over the hill to classes in Ashland at The Ashland Institute of Massage and got my license.”

These days, “Bob is Associate Professor at Cascades East Family Medicine, so he is doctor to his own patients and supervises and teaches young doctors, oversees the clinic, and lots of other stuff. Rowan is in Portland now after a year living in Australia, and is trying to find work. Rylan is living in Salt Lake City and works as a cook/chef-in-training at a high-end restaurant called Table X. And I am a massage therapist. I love my work. I love the immediacy of it, and the true connection to people it gives me. I love being able to help people learn about and connect to their bodies, and of course it is so satisfying to give people some measure of relief from pain and discomfort.  It is almost magical at times.”

Julia finds a similar sense of “immediacy and connection” through “Spending time with my two doggies, Poppy and Bella (especially hiking with them, pretty much a daily activity!), and my horses Luna and Jojo. Animals are so basic, honest, uncomplicated in their motives, and so loving,” and other activities which give her a sense of connection to the physical world, such as gardening, walking/hiking, and cooking.

Her involvement with the Unitarian Universalist Church has been long and rich, beginning in Connecticut and continuing here in Klamath Falls as soon as the family arrived. “I was roped into being greeter for a future service by our founder Ben Kerns the first time I attended. He was charismatic and it was hard to say no to him! Over the years, I have served as religious education coordinator, secretary, president and treasurer (at the same time), briefly groundskeeper (I gave that up quickly as I could barely keep up with my own yard!), newsletter editor, and general board member. Periodically I tried to escape from these duties, but some crisis or another kept pulling me back in: after the fire, I couldn’t help but ask Rev. Patt and Phil if help was needed; Patt asked me to take on communications. Then more recently, when the great and honorable Sally Wells asked if I might take over her role as worship coordinator, I HAD to say yes…a person doesn’t say no to Sally!

“I have been both active participant in and observer of our Fellowship. I have seen it grow and diminish, and loved it and its people, and been frustrated by it. I don’t have a favorite sermon, but one of the best memories is of when we had the Tibetan Monks come and create a mandala in the center of our sanctuary. It was the most amazing and beautiful experience watching these souls praying, chanting and creating a beautiful and very intricate sand mandala, and then deliberately demolish it after blessing it with prayers of peace. That was a very meaningful lesson about the impermanence of all things. More recently, I have really enjoyed hearing Bill Martin’s services. Thanks Phil for bringing him in initially! 

“While I loved our old site and building, the fire was a blessing in disguise. We had become, in my opinion, more attached to the building and location than to the reality and potential of our fellowship. Caring for that building was ultimately a restriction to our growth; it was a lot of work and required more time and money than we could provide. Relocating to downtown has opened a lot of doors and opportunities for us. I like that we are sharing space with another faith community but I would like to someday see us have our own building again (an easier one to maintain, hopefully!). I have really enjoyed having Anya as a “leader” these past couple years. She has been so good for the Fellowship in terms of improving organization and professionalism. I am excited that we have finally made a solid connection to our southern Oregon fellowships. I have hopes that we will continue to grow and become more and more relevant and active in the community as a whole, both as a spiritual source and a place of hope, sanity and positive change.”

                                                                                                Carol Imani

                                                                                                January 29, 2019