Friday, February 27, 2015

Dear Mama: a post on love

I can’t read anything by Cheryl Strayed without feeling extra grateful for my mother. Strayed lost her mother in her twenties, and in all of her work, you see this giant, beautiful influence of her mother’s love and guidance.  If you haven’t heard of Cheryl Strayed, do yourself a favor and Google her name. She’s incredible.

I was reading her book tiny beautiful things last night, and the theme throughout the whole book is love.

Love is weird. Love can be so many things and carry so many emotions, and at the end of our lives, it is really all we have to offer.

My mom teaches me that everyday. She says it so honestly and humbly, that love is all we really need. She doesn’t sound like a worn-out Beatles record, but instead like she is letting me in on the biggest known secret of life. We all just need love.


I have always had an idea of how things should be. How people should act. How I should act. What I should achieve, where I should live, what kinds of grades I will get. What love will look like.

I have learned that love doesn’t have one appearance. Love comes in shapes we don’t have names for, and in seasons we have yet to experience. Love doesn’t need to be said to be heard. The emotion of loving is so often embedded in the most mundane actions. The way someone touches your shoulder when you say you are sad. Or when someone plays your favorite song when you’re driving in the car. When someone runs to get the door when you are balancing four coffees in just two hands, and the way someone lets you over when traffic seems to be frozen in place.

Love doesn’t have to always be mushy, exploding in Hallmark cards, and dripping with kisses, and littered in letters covered with x’s and o’s. Love is everywhere. Love in deeply intertwined with kindness, respect, and equality. It’s what keeps this world going, even in we don’t want to believe it.
I am someone’s child, so I feel like I kind of have a right to say this: the best thing you can show your children is unconditional love. Because not only does it make them confident, strong individuals, but it sends a heart out into the world that is capable of loving the way you showed them. A love without borders, expectations, standards, and contracts. It’s a love that never follows the words, “but”, “only if”, or the words, “if you love me…”
It’s the kind of love I’ve been shown my entire life by my mother.

The moments I felt the most love in my life were moments where the word ‘love’ wasn’t even said.

My mom would brush back my hair, moving my bangs out of my face, and sing Natalie Merchant, “... she will be one of the wonders, God’s own creation.” She would let me sing in the living room even if she wanted some quiet time. She would set up tea parties on my bed and always give me the last Nilla Wafer. She would share her lipstick, and always celebrate even the smallest of accomplishments.

My mom has always been a reservoir of love for her children, pouring into us even in seasons of drought.
My mom calls me everyday. She tells me I am bright, and special. She tells me I am beautiful. She tells me she is endlessly proud of me. She reads books about being the most effective parent she can be, and she reads articles about life, health, happiness, and shares them with her children.
She is the reason for so much of my happiness and I can’t help but think she was meant to be a mother.
My mom became a wife at 19, and a mother that same year. She has four children and has had many years as a single parent. Sometimes I wonder how someone could have been so young, and so capable to raise and care for children. Sometimes I hear it in my mom’s voice that she feels she hasn’t done enough, or like she isn’t enough.
We don’t get everything right in life. But  I think we get the really important things right.
Dear Mama, you have raised four children and poured enough love poured into their hearts to warm an entire nation. You have raised four children to believe that sharing our truth is the single most important thing we can do. You have been the constant light of my life, my compass, and my home. You have taught me how to appreciate the people who have hurt me, and you have taught me that I am important. You have let me wander the roads of life’s biggest questions, never forcing me to believe that your answer has to be my answer. You have.

Dear Mama, you have gotten all the really important things right.


Show someone you love them today. Happy Friday! xoxo

Monday, February 23, 2015

20 & grocery shopping

College years are meant to be ones filled with struggle. Money struggles, grades struggles, friends/family struggle, "What should I do with my life?" kind of struggle.

Grocery shopping is a weekly struggle. And it stands out among the rest.

Before I had a job that actually paid me decently, eating a meal meant having food that really should not be considered food. Freshmen year consisted of spoonfuls of peanut butter and jelly for dinner, and taking advantage of Del Taco's two for one taco nights.

I honestly don't remember what I ate half the time, but I do remember I had a lot of yellow rice, and attempted to cook chicken. Attempted being the key word, most nights were all about the yellow rice. The only vegetables I ate came from cans, or the carrot pieces in Cup O' Noodles soup (I'm serious).

This is totally okay to do when you are a freshmen in college because everyone is doing it, and everyone bonds over Ramen and overly salty foods.

But then this whole thing happened, a huge health movement among college students that had everyone doing the tree-pose or downward dog while eating kale and quinoa everything. And all of a sudden, every grocery store had a health section, organic markets are everywhere, and people are eating vegetables that look like over-grown weeds, and they are eating them raw, because if you are doing the whole "yoga girl loves kale" thing, you don't enjoy dressing.

So how did I adapt? I became the girl that loves kale and yoga, the girl that spends way too much money on food but loves having her organic chia seed granola and "green smoothies" (with enough spinach in them to please Popeye).

So now the grocery store struggles include me trying to justify spending $8 dollars on granola, (by the way, that can't be justified, it's crunchy cereal and berries.) Or me trying to figure out what a good eggplant looks like, and also how to hide my anxious expression as the check out girl rings up my food. Seriously, how is food so expensive? Followed by the question, why do I eat so much?

This morning I was at the grocery store, buying my weekly apples, spinach, mixed green salads, peppers, still making room for things like Annie's cookies, (the healthy version of chocolate chip), and I found myself feeling grateful that I can indulge in these things. That I am over the nights of microwavable pizzas, burritos, and yellow rice.

Being a successful grocery shopper is like a rite of passage into adulthood. There's issues like "Will I really finish this flax-almond-chia blend milk before it expires? How much Greek yogurt does a girl really need?" I stand up for myself when the discount price doesn't show up at check-out and I tell the clerk, "I swear, those apples were on sale." And when I am over being the girl that eats things rich in alkaline and low on the glycemic index, I stop by the Del Taco drive-thru.

Where the freshmen-girl comes back out to celebrate with 2 for 1 tacos, and what the heck, throw in your 50 cent nachos, I've got a big kid job now.

Happy Monday, lovelies.

Stop by Emily's blog,, and share what you are grateful for today.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Very Yes

I am still trying to figure out a schedule lately that fits in everything from school and work, to writing and spending time outside and with friends and family. 

I have yet to find a schedule that works and allows me to sleep more than four hours a night. Lately, I've been getting frustrated with myself for not being able to do it all. 

Yesterday, I was going through photos from my trip to Bali, Indonesia in June. I started to get emotional as I went through pictures of sweet faces and stunning views. I remembered that nearly a year ago, I boarded a plane by myself with no real plans, no maps, no one to comfort my jittery hands and stomach of butterflies. But I boarded the plane anyways, and I wandered, and I discovered. And even in my moments of fear, I was okay. I learned that I was stronger than I ever thought I was. I learned that my bravery and sense of adventure had been buried under fears and limitations that I had allowed myself to believe were true. 

Bali taught my to appreciate my life. This life filled with a million things I feel I must do. Bali taught me the beauty of simplicity, and the grace of forgiveness. Bali taught me that sometimes keeping track of time is overrated, and the most beautiful things are discovered in the most unlikely of places. Bali showed me that we are all just flawed human beings looking for something that makes us feel whole and connected. 

I am blessed beyond measure to be able to act upon wanderlust, I am blessed to read whatever book I want to, I am blessed to have food, shelter, clothes, love, and never worry when any of those things will come next. I am even blessed to feel overwhelmed and stressed at times. 

As I push myself these past few weeks and tests my limits with school, work, and time for passions, I find myself always tired and worn down. As I flipped through photos in Bali, I realized everyday I was balancing multiple things, just like I am now. The difference was, I encouraged myself instead of undermining myself. 

I realized in Bali, I spoke to myself as a friend. When I found a safe place to stop and get food, I would say, "You are doing so great, Katie!' (Obviously, in my head, I didn't want people to think I was crazy.) I would wander, and say, "You are strong, you will be guided." I would make a new friend, and listen to their stories, and say to myself, "You are love, you are kindness." Each waking moment I validated myself. I didn't wait for someone else to, and I never let an accomplishment slip by without sending myself some self-love. Everything was just a push past fear, everything was to be celebrated.

My first day in Bali, I meet a young Indonesian girl who was 17. I was scared. She could tell. I said, "Do you think it's safe for me here?" She said, "Very yes."

Do I think every moment is going to be easy as I try to find balance in my life? Absolutely not. Do  I think I am capable of finding the balance, and loving myself each step of the way?

I think of the local girl's sweet face and kinds words. I know my answer. "Very yes."

Wishing everyone a beautiful Sunday and week. Be kind to yourself. xoxo. 

fruit market in Bali

Local man dying fabric for scarves

Monday, February 9, 2015


There are some things I write in my journal and never share publicly on my blog. There are some things I write and read back over and I find myself astonished that I had felt that way, that I had felt so upset, scared, or worried.

As a blogger, it is so easy to share what it is that is making us happy. It is so incredibly easy to share what our favorite fashion trends are of the moment,  a great opportunity, a favorite trip, or a yummy recipe. All of those things make wonderful posts, but they are much easier to write than the hard stuff.

This weekend I travelled to California with my sister, and after about an hour of being in Laguna Beach, she got really sick. Lizzie has been cancer and tumor free for over three years now. Three whole years, and I am grateful for every single 1,095 plus days she has had that way, but the rough days in between are ones I always worry about. Ones I hesitate to share on my blog.

She is weaning off medication right now, and the backlash of it is headaches that leave her completely immobile and terribly sick.

She would never come out and say it, but I know the look. Her face goes white, her body trembles, her legs bob up and down, and her eyes glaze over. I know the look so well because I have seen it so many times. It is hard to write this without big, teary eyes because as a sister that has only spent eleven months of my life without my beautiful Irish twin by my side, I don't know what the world looks like without her. I have an overwhelming fear of what would happen to me if I ever had to see the world that way.

Her headache got so bad that we had to drive home, and stop at a hotel where Lizzie got really sick, she was shaking, delusional, and threw up. During this medication detox, Lizzie cannot even have Ibuprofen, so she sucked it up, and tried to let it pass.

I tried to sleep on the bed next to her, and I just kept praying. I just kept reaching for her hand and praying that I could take some of this pain. She woke up feeling better.

While driving home, Lizzie and I talked about being sisters, about how we always have so much fun together. We hugged all day, and made silly jokes, and talked about our best memories, and what we will do as grown-ups. We finish each other's sentences, we belt out our favorite songs together, and we remember together. We remember how far we've come and how far we've got left to go.

Last night before going to bed, Lizzie gave me a hug and squeezed me tight, and I thought, who will ever know me like you do? Who will ever understand that because of you, I get to be the best version of myself, I get the best possible title in the world. I get to be your sister.

And through dark days, and sick days, through days where the sun just seems to shine on only us, and good days that leave us praying up at the skies, I've got you. And you've got me. Always.

If you want to read more about our sisterhood, click here, here, and here for some posts.
Link up with Emily over at Ember Grey and share what you are grateful for today.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Je suis éveillé

Written during my first week of school, after I realized I'm probably insane for taking on 5 classes while balancing a job, this blog, and well, life.

It’s after 1 a.m. and I’ve still got so much work to do. As much as I stare at the clock hoping time with stand still, it’s speeding past.

Currently, I’ve got no makeup on, hair unraveled loosely around my face and a weathered sweater on.

My apple cinnamon candle is burning, the heater is making a soft rumble noise, and I am surrounded by textbooks, thousands of words upon words, assignments, and a french study guide that I’ve been reading for the past thirty minutes.

I am tired. Je suis fatigué, (the french book is already coming in handy.)

This is hard. Staying up late, getting to school early, rushing to work the next day, fitting in time to study, do homework, see friends, family, get groceries, pay pills, breathe.

It’s hard because it’s worth it. It’s draining because it matters. Juggling what feels like a thousand things is never going to be easy, but I’m in the rhythm, and everything is staying up in the air.

I’ve had to read the first two thousand lines of Beowulf, a 34 page PDF on different aspects of technical writing, the first two chapters of my French book, a prepare for two quizzes. There never seems to be quite enough time.

I believe in what people say, that every moment matters. I do. I understand that people think school is a waste of time, or look at me and say  “why stay up that late, pay for tuition, to be exhausted and do the same thing, semester after semester?” “why do it when you could probably just do something else?”

Because amongst all of this mess, like my pillows gently propping up pages of notes, there is something I find so peaceful and calming about this chaos. There is something so empowering about what I am doing. You walk uphill for so long that your legs get used to the cramping, your breath finally gets into rhythm, and you just keep moving forward.

I feel most beautiful when I am learning something new. I have never felt stronger as I feel these new pieces of knowledge build upon my bones. I love learning, I love feeling challenged. I love knowing that I will never be the same person after cracking open a book, or sitting in a three-hour lecture. I only become a better version of myself.

Life is about pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones, being in classrooms with people that let us borrow their eyes and see things for a brief moment the way they do. Life is about learning things from novels we would never pick out for ourselves, and befriending the people who just like me are staying up late, pushing through with a bed full of books and loose leaf pages.

So, as my eyes grow tired, and I want nothing else but push aside these responsibilities and feel the pillow beneath my head, I keep juggling.

And I remember how my creative writing teacher said take time to notice how the shadows fall upon your shoes, and the way the sun peeks through the leaves, and tell about it.

And I remember how my women’s studies teacher said we must leave our closed minds at the door, and be ready to feel, experience, tell, and share. Education is power.

And I remember how my peers and teachers walk around speaking of their passions, and their dreams.

Je suis éveillé. I feel so awake.

If you haven't linked up with Emily this week for Grateful Heart, there's still time! Head over to her blog.
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