Reader Profile.
Nicole Farley

Welcome to the second in a series of profiles on unique and interesting Art of Doing Stuff readers.  

If you missed it, the first in the series was a profile on K.J. Konick who lives in a bus!


Nicole Profile Pic


What is a pastor? Is it different from a minister for instance?

A pastor is a minister is a reverend and sometimes a priest. Different denominations and cultures use different words for the same role – in my denomination, we also use teaching elder.

What religion is that?

I am a Presbyterian pastor. (“Presbyter,” from Greek, means “elder” in English, thus the teaching elder title.)

How did you become a pastor? Do you go to school like a decorator would? If so, for how long.

Every denomination is different in what they require for someone to enter ordained ministry.  As part of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) – there are other “flavors” of Presbyterians.

The region where I am required a minimum of  three years of seminary.  It’s considered graduate school because the degree conferred is a master’s degree – Master of Divinity.  I was also required to do a year of field education working in a church in an intern-like capacity.  We also spend time in Clinical Pastoral Education.  This means spending time as a hospital or nursing home chaplain for instance.

And finally I was required to pass five Ordination Exams: Bible Content, Worship and Sacraments, Theology, Exegesis (largely reading the Bible in its original languages and using your understanding of the translation to develop some form of teaching – a sermon, a Bible study lesson, etc.), and Polity (government of the PC(USA) in this circumstance).

I attended seminary part-time for the first year and then full-time for two-and-a-half years. I did my field education work during seminary  and my chaplaincy right after so, all told, the education process for me was four years.


Did you choose the religion you’re a pastor of or were you born into it?

Excellent question. I was born into a Roman Catholic family, was raised (actively) in that church, and was married in a Roman Catholic church. I knew by that point that there were things / beliefs / policies with which I disagreed and, when my husband and I attended a friend’s out-of-state wedding at a Presbyterian church, we thought it might be a better fit for us. Once we (eventually) checked out the church near us, we knew it was right.


Is being a pastor all you’ve ever done or did you become a pastor after you weren’t satisfied with what you were doing before?

The process moving from my previous work to this work was more of an evolution than a change of heart. I wouldn’t exactly say I had a career, although people who go to seminary after time in the workforce are considered second-career seminarians, but I spent ten years working a variety of customer service-oriented jobs. I was at my last company for six-and-a-half years and spent three-and-a-half of those years volunteering as an advisor with my church’s high school youth group.

I loved doing that and thought I would be content doing that on weekends and working during the week indefinitely. However, I began to feel an urgency to do more and began seminary part-time. Even then I figured I could continue working full-time and complete my degree in a part-time manner. Again a sense of urgency crept in and I was fortunately able to stop working and attend school full-time.

Do you have time for hobbies or is all your time spent, you know, reading the bible and stuff?

In the last few years, I’ve begun gardening. I began mostly with pumpkins and a tomato plant or two and some apple trees. Last Christmas (insert Wham! lyrics here) my brother and his girlfriend gave me “Gaia’s Garden,” about permaculture and the symbiosis of plants and I’ve become a bit obsessed so, as I can, I’m adding a bunch of complementary plants and things to attract more birds and bees.


Nicole’s garden put to bed for the winter.



The pumpkin haul.



Nicole’s asparagus bed.

Asparagus Bed


I’m a small-scale DIY-er – the biggest project has been an 8’ x 12’ treehouse, although having recently demo’d the soffit in our kitchen in an effort to try to figure out what to do with that room, I’m considering tackling building cabinets and floating shelves.

I love to sew…Halloween costumes – nothing that requires great precision or fancy serged edges. And the occasional Jimmy Buffett concert costume. I don’t make enough time for it but I really enjoy crafting with paper. I also loved to bake before gluten and I became mortal enemies.

What would others be shocked to find out about you?

Many know it, including in my congregation, but people who first meet me would be surprised, I think, to learn I have ten tattoos. That and the fact that I could listen to George Michael sing a grocery list. And I could watch / listen to (actor) Tom Hiddleston do anything. (If you’re a reader, Tom, sorry to be creepy.) And I have a pair of black cherry Doc Martens that don’t get nearly enough wearing. And I’m part of a pub trivia team called Captain McThunderstruck.


Some of Nicole’s tattoos.



(note from Karen … reading about “Captain McThunderstruck genuinely made me laugh out loud)


Of the topics I cover on The Art of Doing Stuff which are your favourites?

I’d say the posts I store away in my brain most are the decorating ones but I always enjoy ones that make me laugh – which are the great majority.


Nicole’s bedroom.


Your take on opening the wine bottle with a shoe remains a favorite. Of the decorating ones, there are too many favorites to name but I love what you’ve done with your Ikea Expedit, I have been yearning for antlers since I first saw yours, I always love what you do with the dining room, and I was inspired to make handmade tags for Christmas gifts last year (and will be doing so again this year – using one of the circus fonts).

Describe a typical day for you.

Wake up.

See the kid off to school (less than a year left to do that).

Check Facebook.

Read The Art of Doing Stuff (unless I was up after 11:00 PM Central Time, in which case I would have likely read it when it posted).

Get ready.

Drive an hour-and-ten minutes to the church, listening to young adult audio books or satellite radio.

Once I get to work it’s time for pastor duties!

As for the  pastor duties, every day is different, especially because I am a solo pastor – meaning, if someone is looking for the pastor at the church, it’s me. Today is monthly church newsletter day. Other days include leading a lunch-time Bible study; other days preparing for said Bible study. Yesterday I bought t-shirts for the kids to wear as part of their costumes for the Christmas pageant. Last month I took the youth to a haunted house. Some nights I have meetings. Some days I have coffee with colleagues. Some days I meet congregants for lunch or coffee or just a visit in senior housing.

The worship plans have to be figured out – prayers, sermons, songs. The list is much longer but that’s a sampling.

Drive home.

Have dinner with my family.

Watch TV / hang out on Pinterest / do work stuff, usually in some combination.

Go to bed and get ready to do it all again.


And that ladies and gentlemen is Nicole.  Pastor, mother, DIYer, gardener, Art of Doing Stuff reader.  If you want to find out if she’s a swearer, you’ll have to browse the comment section in this post.

Read the first reader profile on K.J. Konick here.



  1. says:

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  2. Beth says:

    Love getting to know more about you Nicole! Presbyterians rock!!!

  3. Barbie says:

    Ahhhhh the pastors life….something I understand well. I was married to one for 18 years …..15 yrs ago! 🙂

  4. Mary Jane Morrison says:

    Have been presby-curious for some time and mostly because of the respect the church holds for women. Are my Catholic roots showing? Nicole sounds like a real person and that’s what we need in our churches today, someone we can be comfortable with. I think I would really enjoy going to church with her.

  5. Erin says:

    Thanks for sharing Nicole (and Karen!)
    I’ll add my 2 bits in favour of Gaia’s Garden as well. It’s an excellent introduction to permaculture principals that anyone can apply. Best of luck Nicole in your future endeavours!

  6. Cheryl says:

    Nicole lives 45 minutes from me!

  7. Kathy says:

    This was really interesting! I love hearing about all the different career paths people choose and how they got there.
    I snorted out loud when I read about the pub trivia team called Captain McThunderstruck!!!!

  8. Nicole says:

    I feel kind of like I’m making an acceptance speech – thanks all for the kind words! I do love what I do and I’m surrounded by some pretty great people in work and the rest of life who make it that much more interesting and enjoyable. A while ago I decided I had better things to do than read a dozen (or more) blogs so I whittled my reading down to one – nothing else came close to this one. Karen’s posts are the biggest reason I read but the folks who comment are like the cherry on top. I am always impressed by the camaraderie I’ve found here, especially toward those who win the contests by those of us who haven’t. 🙂 Keep being awesome yourselves. See you in the comments!

  9. Jeannie B says:

    Nicole, you sound like a lovely person. I’m so glad to hear that young women like yourself, are answering the call to the ministry. Your life sounds very loving and peaceful. And you’re making a difference. I too, love your “library” bedroom and your very neat garden. The ankle tattoos are an added surprise.LOL

  10. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    You have quite an interesting life Nicole..Thanks for sharing it with us!

  11. Melissa says:

    I’m not going to lie, I didn’t know that women could be pastors. Not being of faith, perhaps my thoughts are outdated. So happy I learned something today!

    Second on how awesome Gaia’s Garden is. Toby Hemenway is local-ish in my area and I’ve heard him talk quite a few times. He’s great!

  12. Steve says:

    I’ve known Nicole for years and have been on the receiving end of some of her crafts! She’s too modest! She’s always ‘up to something’ and is one of the most competent and loving people I’ve ever known!

  13. Noelle says:

    KB you likely didn’t know that I considered the ministry as a career for a long time. In high school I wanted to become a rabbi, but thinking back that was likely because I had a crush on the (what I perceived) was an affluent lifestyle and rich culture of the Jewish community around us then. I eventually chose Hebrew literature and language as my concentration at college.. But then I met a natural perfumer in my college town and the rest was history. My grandfather was an episcopal priest and was one of the first black episcopal priests many people had seen in the community’s he worked in. He was well educated, well spoken and light skinned so he was moved all over the Midwest to help integration in the 50’s and 60’s including a parish in Evanston, Illinois. Nice to meet you Nicole!

  14. Melissa in North Carolina says:

    Awesome profile on Nicole, thanks for sharing her bio with us Karen. Thanks for all you do, Nicole. Please consider getting a few chickens. They woould fit in perfectly near that amazing garden plot you have. Karen, keep up the great work. You are amazing and thank you for all you do for us.

  15. Sarah says:

    Fabulous intro! Nicole, your work sounds nothing short of delightful; working with all age groups, on projects, building relationships, studying and planning, helping others, exploring, having fun with the youth, imparting knowledge. It sounds more like passion, rather than ‘work’, and that is good.

  16. Melissa says:

    I love this! I am a 38 yo mother of two…and a busy pastoral intern at my church. Working toward being a full pastor some day. I don’t have tattoos, but I have a little faux hawk. 😉
    This blessed me more than you know. Pastoring can be a bit of an old boys club. Very nice old boys, but still…sometimes being a relatively young, multiracial, stay-at-home-mom of two young ones, is a little lonely. I face challenges that the other guys don’t. I wonder: are there any other women out there like me?! THIS answered it. THANK YOU!

  17. Very nice to meet Nicole! That bedroom surrounded by books is just a dream!

  18. Mary Kay says:

    Karen I love learning about people – your get to know your readers is great!! And I am going to have to look into this Gaia’s Garden – My garden is put to bed but she is a messy sleeper.

  19. Thera says:

    Nice post and I too am going looking for that book!

  20. Beth says:

    I LOVE these reader profiles. I was worried that they’d gone by the wayside as I hadn’t seen one since the first bus story.

    I love them because your readership is a unique bunch (because of the sense of humour we all share) and when you gather a group of unique people, there’s nary a cookie-cutter life among them.

  21. Jody says:

    Funny I was thinking the other day “Karen should do another reader profile” and Wham there’s Nicole. It was a pleasure meeting you, Nicole.

  22. Erica Filpi says:

    So….. Tattoo’s, pub trivia team,doc martins, and you swear. You’ve just blown my mind. I have a strong feeling the youth in your congregation adore you, and the adults feel comfortable chatting with you. You’re awesome.

  23. Ev says:

    Good bio and she sounds very nice and fun and intelligent.

  24. debbie j says:

    Love the bookshelves surrounding the bed and am going to check out the gardening book at the library. Thanks Nichole and Karen.

  25. Merrilee says:

    I’m assuming it’s a Presbyterian sin to covet……but I want Nicole’s bedroom! Love, love, love it! Thanks for sharing and I will work on emulating rather than coveting.

  26. You do hang with the most interesting people Karen! Cheers to you Nicole.

  27. Adrienne says:

    Excellent Wham! reference.

  28. Rondina says:

    I like Nicole. She leads an interesting life and she seems to have just flowed into her occupation. That’s the way we usually find good jobs and happy lives.

    Look at all that garden space. Even if she had a tiny little bed, I would be jealous because she has so much open space. So Nicole, when are you getting chickens? That place is a sweet spot for a coop.

    I also like the bedroom setup. I wonder if some people think sleeping with your books is the same as sleeping in the same room with your office. That’s supposed to be disruptive to your sleep, but in the middle of a deadline, I just find it handy. I would think having the books you love around you to be handy also.

  29. Anita says:

    Hi Nicole,
    Nice to meet you! I used to live in Chicago several years ago. In fact, I met my husband when we were in the same new member class at 4th Presbyterian.

  30. Cathy says:

    Sheesh, her garden put to bed puts mine to shame. It looks like the bomb squad was 10 minutes too late. (Mine not hers!)
    Dear Santa: in addition to THE SMITTEN KITCHEN, may I also request a copy of GAIAS GARDEN book?
    Thanks, ever so….

  31. Therese Bourne says:

    Oooh I must go out and find Gaia’s Garden. Thanks for the inspiration Nicole!

  32. Debbie from Illinois says:

    Wow! Nicole lives not far from me.

  33. NikiDee says:

    How interesting! I have the Gaias Garden book as well. I agree with Nicole… Fabulous book & a real mind changer when it comes to gardening. You rock Nicole!!

  34. Marti says:

    I was a minister once. For a year. Didn’t require school. Or tattoos. Just a one-time payment of $90 on the internet. I’m guessing this is something different. 😉

    Great to learn more about your readers… the more talented ones among us. Those were great looking pumpkins, btw! Rock on!

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