Saturday, November 21, 2015

365 days

I met Eric when he was 19 years old. That's an alarming thought to me, since my favorite guy will be turning 30 this year. When we met, we were just kids.

Katie (19), Eric (20)
Eric @ 19 years old.

This was before we made a documentary. It was before we ran a half-marathon. It was before we started working together.  It was before we traveled together to chase our dreams.

It was before Eric was a landowner.

It was before Eric became an amazing Uncle.

It was before Eric produced his first game.

It was before the Royals won the World Series.

It was before we became best friends.

It was before we fell in love.

We've shared over a decade of friendship. We've shared over a decade of fun, laughter, challenges and heartache. But of all the years and all the memories, these last 365 days have been the best. We've had a great time taking on life as a team and embarking on several new adventures. I've learned so much about myself and so much about the love of my life. Perhaps most importantly, I've watched Eric become the man I always knew he would be.

God willing, we will share many more incredible years. Since we are adults now, it won't always be the easy days of Well's Hall or sitting in my dad's driveway talking about our hopes and dreams for the future. But that's really where it all started over 10 years ago.  And I'll always be grateful for every little moment that got us here and I look forward to all the little unknown moments that we'll have in the future.

Happy one-year of official coupledom, Eric! Let's celebrate by running a couple miles. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Finding peace

Eric and I have been best friends for nearly a decade, and over the course of those ten years I've learned a lot about him. He's learned a lot about me as well. We've discovered  many things we have in common and several items that we just agree to disagree on. For instance, we can both listen to Willie Nelson all day, spend a day fishing, and eat chili every other day of the week. But he'll never convince me to drink coffee & beer and I'll never be able to get him to fully commit his heart to Garth Brooks.

I've discovered over the past year that Eric is a lot more laid back than I am. He's organized and diligent, but during crisis he remains mostly calm. I'm a bit more severe in my reactions to things (thanks mom and dad), but I'm also more process-oriented and efficient. Different things drive us crazy. I can't stand being late or understand how people can be so snide or disrespectful to each other in the work place. Eric isn't upset like I am if there is a change-of-plans or bump in the road, but he's easily frazzled by messes and broken things he can't fix immediately. He doesn't want to write all day and I don't want to spend time fixing the lawn mower, but we respect each other's talents and value our differences.

We love a lot of the same things and we love each other. We find peace in the same things, like a good book, good music, wine on the patio, a day at the lake, a hike in the woods, or a perfectly grilled steak after the longest day of work. We love our families, the peace of the outdoors, and time away from work and technology. We both have a desire to constantly learn new things and grow individually and as a couple. We both know the value of not trying to serve as our own Gods.

Last year, Eric and I started talking about what we wanted our lives to look like five or ten years from that day, and I wasn't surprised that our hopes for the future were eerily similar. It has always been a dream of mine to live away from the city with some land and space to create or learn new things. I've always felt a bit displaced in suburbia and at the end of hard days, I find no peace in busy roads, crowded bars, or long (very long in some cases) Netflix binges. Same goes for Eric.

However, I'm the first to admit that I've always readily taken advantage of every convenience offered to me. And I'm not upset about that. Eric has lived in downtown Kansas City for five years. Being his girlfriend, I spent a lot of time there and have no shame in the fact that I took advantage of every single thing that city life had to offer. I could walk to the grocery store, movie theatre, bar, the gym. I could order carry-out from pretty much any restaurant I wanted. I could either walk to get it or have them deliver it. Eric had google fiber which I imagine is how people felt when the microwave was invented. I had Netflix, Hulu, AND Amazon Prime. It.was.awesome. But there is no peace in it for me.

Unfortunately, instant gratification  can be pretty debilitating - at least for me. I would consider my self a very self-sufficient human being. I've been taking care of myself for a long time, but I feel like there are life skills I lack that my grandpa would be ashamed of. People used to have to grow food to survive. This year I killed four of five potted plants that Eric bought for his back patio (the tomatoes survived) No one and nothing has ever depended on me for survival, unless you count Garth - but let's be honest, he pretty much takes care of me. I just learned what the "broil" button controls in the oven, this year. For the first time in over 28 years, I have fully grasped North, South, East and West without looking at MapQuest, Google Maps, or asking my dad. This past year I had to start calling many people every day for work. I was ill-prepared to speak as a grown human being (business woman), because I've spent the past ten years firing off instant messages, texts, and quick, incoherent e-mails. I don't know what I was more mortified by, my ineptitude or the fact that everyone I encountered was just as bad off as I was. I'm considering having Garth take over my business dealings.

About three months ago, Eric found a beautiful house out in the country with 40 acres- some cropland, some pasture, a large barn, and a beautiful stable. We fell in love. I love nothing more than the idea of being connected to all the luxuries of modern living, but also having space to explore and tranquility to enjoy without the constant hustle of every day life. I watched Eric fight for the property on different levels. Last week, after a lot of waiting, turmoil, and moving woes, we got everything moved to the new place. I am a firm believer that you can make any house a home, but it feels like such a blessing to find the exact type of place we pictured our futures.

Lots of people asked Eric, "What are you going to do with that land?" or "Why would you want to live all the way out there?" There are plans for the future (nothing immediate), for a lot of things on this land, but for now I think Eric is just enjoying the serenity of "country living". I know I am. Not everyone can find their dream home before 30 and make it a reality. Eric was able to do that and I am so excited to continue our journey together. I'm excited for all the learning that will have to happen to maintain this beautiful property and all the ways we can utilize it in coming years. I believe that you can make any house a home, but I'm excited that Eric found a place to call home that can bring so much peace for both of us and hopefully any family, friends, critters, or future kids (goats and humans) that want to spend time out here.

Garth was really enthused about going to a new house. Eric said he could come, but Garth has the same feelings on moving as I do.

"I'll go, but I'm not packing anything."

Saying goodbye to Eric's house in the city was more difficult than I thought. It was there that Eric and I watched our dream of making a documentary come to fruition. We had fun painting the whole house and installing hardwood floors in the basement. 
It was at his house that he and Garth became best friends.
It was there that Eric and I decided we wanted to commit to each other. It's where we started our next documentary, started our new jobs together, and shared our first kiss. I don't want to say I cried when I said goodbye to it, but I did. It's just a house, just like the new one is. But those memories are important to me and I'll always remember them there - the way it looked, the way it smelled. But there is a new place to make new memories, and it was one of the happiest days of my life when I went with Eric to the house for the first time after he got the keys.
You can dream about something your whole life, knowing that it may very well never happen. That's how I felt about falling in love with Eric and that's how I feel about his new house. I dreamed of ending up with someone like Eric, but didn't know it would ever happen and that it could be everything and more than I ever wanted and needed. I hoped that one day we would find this house, but I didn't know it could actually be a reality.

Cheers to life's next adventure!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Or die tri-ing

Last year my friend Dena competed in a triathlon and she convinced me to sign up for it this year. For the low-low price of $115 , you too can become a triathlete. All joking aside, the event is really worth it. It offers just the type of encouragement that first time participants need and a lot of extra love that you don't see in other races. The Win For KC Triathlon is an all-women, sprint tri that requires a 500 meter swim, 10 mile bike, and 5k run. I can confidently tell you that I can complete each leg of this tri as a stand-alone event. That thought is so incredible to me. Three years ago, I was winded walking around Target or chasing my nephew around. But now,  even out-of-shape, I can muddle through  each of the legs individually. However, I was very surprised to discover how incredibly challenging it was to put them all together. 

I'm still struggling to find my groove in the exercise and diet routine. I have the same typical life excuses that everyone else does, and even though I've tried to keep a fairly consistent exercise routine, I didn't "train" to the extent I needed to. I didn't lose any weight to make strenuous exercise easier on my knees or re-train my lungs  to function for me during an endurance event. A week before the event I successfully completed the 10 mile bike portion of the triathlon and two miles of the run. It was difficult, but very doable. It gave me the little bit of confidence I needed to recommit to completing this triathlon, which is a huge point on my bucket list! Unfortunately, I still had that pesky swim portion to think about. 

Last Tuesday, I participated in my first "open water" swim. So basically I got in the lake, started swimming, and hoped I didn't drown before the teenage lifeguards  could get to me on my kayaks. Someone who is participating in an outdoor triathlon should probably do a lot of these swims before race day, but sickness, flooded lakes, and a busy work schedule left me ill-prepared and scared. The whole open water thing was a lot different than swimming laps at the YMCA. I couldn't see ANYthing. I can't walk a straight line sober, and I quickly learned that this same level of direction and grace applies to my swimming practices. But overall, I felt pretty decent about surviving the swim part of my first triathlon, only a few days away. 

On Wednesday I picked up my race packet. It included the timing chip that velcroed around my ankle. Oh, this is gonna weigh me down. I'll just subtract two minutes off my total time to account for this monstrosity. (Actual size...miniscule). It also included the complimentary t-shirt. Why is this so small? Did I order this size? Yep, I did. Oh, I thought I would lose There was also the race bib and bike tab. 868? I can dig it. And let's not forget the swim cap.

The swim cap had been giving me nightmares for a few days. I've never worn a swim cap and I was convinced I couldn't fit one on my giant noggin. And just like I expected, I put it on to discover that my humongous head was just popping it off like it does  headbands. I considered my options. I could back out of the race to avoid embarrassment, or I could use just my legs for the swim portion, while I held down my swim cap. Challenge accepted! Then I realized that my cap came with instructions and my mini-panic was all for naught. I had it on incorrectly. The swim cap fit just fine. I'm an idiot.

Before I knew it, race day was here. It was an early morning with a lot of waiting around before getting in the water. I had a few jitters, but mostly specifically to transitioning from one event to another. I've now participated in enough organized events like this that I don't fear them anymore. I was mostly ready for the challenge. 

I hit the water and I.FELT.AWESOME. I've always confidently owned my slowness. I mean for pete's sake, at least I'm out there giving it all I've got. I'm a slow biker, an even slower runner. I mean, I run slower than some people walk. And I know it's not important, but I wasn't the slowest person in the water. I found it strangely invigorating to be passing people. I felt powerful and it pushed me to swim even harder. I am not fast by any means, but it was nice to feel okay at something for a change.

I'm looking forward to seeing the pictures as we exited the water (and then immediately deleting them), because I know exactly what I looked like as I came out on the boat ramp. 
I felt awesome and accomplished. So, I booked it! I ran past people walking to the transition area.I made it to my bike, dried my feet, put on my helmet and headed up the hill for the bike portion. One pedal, two pedal, three pedal, uh-oh....

I made it only a quarter of a mile before I felt really sick. I got off my bike on the side of the road. My heart was pumping, I could barely breathe, I felt light-headed. I had never felt like this before, but I dropped my head between my legs and drank water for five minutes straight. I was 15 seconds away from walking my bike back to the start and not completing the race. But I suddenly felt much better. I paid over $200 to compete in this. Screw you, body. I was going to complete this race or die tri-ing! (See what I did there?) I still felt winded, but I got on my bike and slowly started pedaling. It was an uphill battle (literally) and I took it as slow as possible so I could monitor my heart rate and avoid over-exerting my lungs again. The bike portion took me 30 minutes longer than it did only one week earlier. 

That was pretty devastating to me. But I should have listened to my sister, "Don't go out like an asshole". Doing well in something felt so good that I applied way too much effort in my first leg of the race. Adrenaline, sprinting between transitions, and not hydrating for the weather is probably what got me. It almost ended my race before it really started and it scared the living bejesus out of me. That 10-mile bike ride was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life physically because I used all my physical strength to build up my body just to get back on my bike. When it ended, the finish line seemed so near. But I still had the run.
Probably not ideal to take your pre-race photo in front of an ambulance. It's like I was asking to need a medic on the course!

I got off my bike and took it slow, drinking plenty of water before I headed over to the run trail. I started jogging and immediately experienced excruciating cramps in my side and legs. I walked the first mile of the 5k slanted to the side, trying to stretch the cramp out. Gatorade saved my life at the first hydration station. I was able to jog a bit for the remaining part of the 5k, but mostly I just walked-taking it easy to avoid any other medical issues. The running trail was lined with inspirational words from spectators. "You can do this! You are beautiful! Sweat now, wine later!" Every woman I passed had something sweet to say or a quick word of encouragement. That was unlike anything else I've ever been a part of.

Eventually, I crossed the finish line. I was last in my age group and only 20 people finished behind me. It didn't end like I thought it would when I started. I was pretty disappointed, but of course happy I survived. For not training like I should have and not taking care of my body, I should have been thrilled. I learned a valuable lesson about protecting my body during this race. I'm not invincible, but I am strong. I told my friend Dena that I loved her and hated her in the same breath. It was the most difficult thing I've ever done.

I took a few moments to reflect on the past few years after the race. Since 2012, I've completed two 5ks, one 10k, a half marathon, and now a triathlon. And I can't help but think that if I can do these things, anyone can. Not only that, but if I can do these things, what CAN'T I do? Pushing myself to do these things and setting goals has helped me form the confidence I need to take on my career and and other life challenges.

Sometimes you have to walk. Sometimes you finish last. And sometimes you put your swim cap on wrong. But being slow and looking stupid has failed to keep me from accomplishing my goals these days. I wonder what's next?
Realized I was going to see the finish line.

Look...a "gold"medal!

Post-race meal from my sweetie.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Tri Tri Tri

A little over a year ago, I ran a half marathon. Now it is close to impossible for me to put two miles in without having to stop to walk. My heart rate shoots up. I get winded before I reach the quarter mile mark. I'm out of shape. It has been depressing.

I've grown to dislike running as a sport. I've always loved what it does for my body, and how I feel when I finish a run.  But the physical act of running took a huge toll on my body the past couple years. It's mostly because I didn't make keeping my body healthy a priority. When you're training for a long run, you have to be constantly running. I had only a couple "off days" a week, and it never seemed like quite enough time to recover.

I started training for a triathlon recently. On July 25th I will swim 500 meters, bike 10 miles, and run a 5k. The biggest victory I've had so far is discovering that swimming is naturally protecting my body. I've incorporated swimming into my workouts at least three days a week. Quite honestly, nothing feels better than swimming after my harder bike rides and longer runs. Given, my longer runs are closer to two miles now than eight or nine, but I've still seen a major difference in how quickly my body bounces back after a workout.

I've discovered something else. I may always suck at running. I think I'll always run on some level because it provides me the greatest bang for my buck. But it is definitely still the most difficult for me out of the three. I'm pretty much at ground zero, struggling to find motivation on my running days to fit in a mile. I can do this though!

Biking is way harder than I anticipated. Slowly but surely I am making strides in that department. I guess I never learned anything about changing gears on my bike growing up. It took several grueling Smithville Lake bike rides for Eric to teach me the ins and outs of shifting gears. I think I've finally grasped that though. All I have to do is survive the hard rides.

The good news? Swimming hasn't sucked. I've found something that I want to become better at. I think if I continue working on my swimming after this triathlon is over, I might even become good at it. That's a really motivating feeling and it has inspired me when I've felt like throwing in the towel on this whole triathlon thing.

A couple weeks ago, we biked seven miles and then I told Eric I was going to go for a quick run. I lasted .10 miles. Why? Do you remember  moon shoes?
It felt like I was running in those. I almost fell on my face. A week later I did a four mile bike ride and then jogged a half mile. We will call that progress...I guess.

It has felt good to have a goal again. The weight is finally starting to come off again, but this time it's very slowly. I'm focusing on my training and looking forward to more mini-successes on my journey to my first tri!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The things we don't want to talk about

My first triathlon is at the end of July. I have to swim 500 meters, bike 10 miles, and run a 5K. I have to do all of this without dying (to be considered successful). I started my training about three weeks ago. The training has been new and exciting. It has been a rollercoaster of emotions as I've conquered days that I thought would kill me and struggled through other days that I thought should have been easy.

Yesterday, Eric and I rode our bikes around the downtown airport in Kansas City. It's a 4 mile loop with only a couple hard hills. I felt confident as we took off, but was soon discouraged as people raced past me. My stubby legs can only pedal so fast. My weak legs tried to propel me through the wind. I was mortified as I shifted my bike into it's lowest gear and quite literally inched up the one steep hill. Veteran cyclists whizzed past me, going up the hill. I felt embarrassed. I didn't want to do another lap once I reached the starting point, but I did. I had plenty on my mind to think about.

I've been feeling a little defeated lately, reflecting on years past and the constant abuse I put my body through for the majority of my life. Anyone that reads my blog knows that I've been struggling this past year to feel beautiful, working diligently to create and sustain a positive self image. But I was reminded this month how little those feelings can matter compared to overall health.

I've shared multiple times that I was put on blood pressure medication close to when I started my weight loss journey. I don't know if I ever shared that before that happened, it had been over seven years since I had been to the doctor. Sure, I cut part of my thumb off in college and had to go to the emergency room-but I always skipped those pesky yearly physicals. Why? It was unbearably embarrassing. I felt like doctors looked down at me and I didn't want anyone else in my life telling me I needed to lose weight. I'm fat. I get it. You don't weigh over 350 pounds and think, hmm...I wonder if I'm overweight? It's not like I needed a professional to tell me that. I lived it every day, felt it every day.

So, I stayed away. After I went to the doctor that first time in 2012, it was monthly visits to check my blood pressure. They did blood tests to check for other ailments caused by obesity. They didn't find anything too alarming, so they focused on getting my blood pressure under control.  It was only a year later and more than 100 pounds gone that I got to kiss my blood pressure medication goodbye. I felt vindicated. I felt like I stomped all those health concerns associated with obesity. I am not a statistic. Good blood pressure, good blood sugar, great resting heart rate. I had become an athlete and reversed years of damage to my body.

But here's the thing, you can't just fix everything just like that. Like a smoker who finally smokes his last cigarette or the alcoholic that takes his last drink- I felt new. But some health problems that result from over-indulgence in things like nicotine, alcohol, and even food develop over time.

I found out about a month ago that I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). For those of you not familiar with this, it's a hormonal endocrine disorder that puts you at risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer of the uterus, and infertility. Bummer. It can be caused by obesity and also cause obesity. Vicious cycle.I was sort of expecting this diagnosis, but it was still hard to process when the doctor called. The good news is, I have no signs of insulin resistance. Diabetes and high blood pressure are not even close to on the radar right now. This is probably because I now exercise regularly and try to eat healthy (though not always successful). I'm bummed because if I had never been morbidly obese- I probably wouldn't be facing this health issue.

The doctor said that as I lose more weight, I'll see more and more PCOS symptoms subside. She also mentioned that with PCOS, it's best to conceive all children before I'm 35 years old. With children on the future (but not immediate) radar, I find myself frustrated with..well...myself. There's no proof that my obesity caused my PCOS, but it's likely and I hope I can continue on my path to better me and better health so that I don't face fertility issues in the future.

When the doctor called to confirm PCOS I wasn't surprised. I was surprised when she said, "Your liver enzymes are elevated and I think it would be best if we did an ultrasound." My liver? I don't take tylenol.  I'm not a heavy drinker. What could possibly be wrong with my liver?

"It's probably fatty liver," she told me.

Is that the politically correct term? Do we have to call it fatty liver?

"But it could be lesions or something else so we really need to take a look. We want it to be fatty liver. You'll just live with it and probably have no complications. Very few people develop liver disease from it. Almost all morbidly obese people have it."

Two things stood out to me. "Very few people develop liver disease". Very few? Okay, that's more than zero which was my hope when it came to my chances of developing liver disease. Also, "Almost all morbidly obese people have this."

I'm not morbidly obese...

But I was.

I've never had an abdominal ultrasound. The technician scanned over my abdomen. She kept going back to the same spot and taking more pictures. I started to become nervous and then scared. I was crying by the time I left. I had a million things racing through my mind. What if it's a lesion? What if it is fatty liver? Will that be a problem? Perhaps most prevalent, what if it's cancer?

God. I'm not ready to die.

I had to wait nearly seven days for them to call me and let me know that the ultrasound looked good. They are going to do my blood tests again in a few months and see if anything changed. I felt relieved, and now I feel determined. If this is the life I have and the body I have to live it, I'm going to treat it properly. I know I won't always be perfect. I'll indulge. I'll skip workouts and sometimes eat too much. But gone are the days of treating my body like it doesn't matter. I can't just workout and eat right because I want to feel good about myself and look pretty. Those are great motivators, but my mind and soul will have no chance of succeeding if I don't take care of my body.

I've been seeing a lot of positive articles on body image in regards to overweight or curvy women. It's great. I wish there had been more words and imagery like that when I was younger. If I felt beautiful earlier on in life, I may have been more motivated to take care of myself.

But there are some hard truths we need to face. I don't want to talk about my health issues or battles I'm still facing as I try to overcome my demons and live right. It can be embarrassing. I sometimes still feel guilt for living like I did. It comes and goes. I'm starting to also feel victorious and accomplished for deciding that my life was worth enough to try...try to reverse some of the damage my body faced.

It's  great to feel beautiful, but healthy feels even better. I want to tell you something that no one wants to talk about anymore....

You can be beautiful and obese, but it's really difficult to be obese and perfectly healthy.

 I really wanted to ignore that fact and prove science wrong. Look world, I can be obese, successful, beautiful, and healthy. My genes have me programmed to be overweight and to support the extra weight. Larger heart, strong legs. I should be perfectly fine. But things aren't perfect, even though they are fine for now.

 I don't want people to look at the idea of weight loss as giving into some sort of societal expectation. When you're extremely overweight, eating right, working out, and losing weight is not saying to the world, "I don't feel beautiful how I am." It's about saying to yourself, I am worth it. I am doing this because I am beautiful.

The journey continues for me. It will be a lifelong journey of ups and downs. I hope my overall health will continue to improve. I'm going to try my hardest to not get embarrassed by my lack-of-speed or poor technique. At least if I'm out there...I'm trying. I'd love some company. If there is anyone out there ready for a change, big or small- just let me know. My biggest ally in all of this has been this blog and the people who have helped me through the difficult times. We can do this!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The day the world didn't stop

Dear Mom,
I thought about you on my drive home tonight. They are predicting storms all weekend and I drove through one of them tonight. I remember growing up how storms never fazed you. You didn’t care if there was lightning, thunder, or tornado sirens going off.  You would just sit there as I gathered up all the animals and all my favorite belongings (like my NSync cd and disturbing collection of furbies). I never understood why you didn’t seem to care. You’d just keep reading or writing or balancing the checkbook. Before you died, I dreamt of a tornado hitting our house, you refusing to come downstairs and continuing to do the dishes. I’ve had that dream since you died too.

Mom. I remember how sunny it was the day you died. Or was that the day before? Or the day after? It all runs together. But I remember standing in the driveway thinking, this is not how I pictured this. Shouldn’t it be pouring rain? Shouldn’t the world be flooding with tears? Why does this feel like I’m going to go to sleep tonight and actually wake up tomorrow? How is that kid still riding down the street on his bicycle? How are phones still ringing? Wouldn’t it make sense that when this Earth loses someone as important as you, the world just stops?

But I guess I was wrong about that. I learned that lesson the day you died. I learned it without you. I’ve had to learn a lot of things without you. I had to learn how to pluck my eyebrows and curl my hair. I still pretty much suck at both of them, but I can do it.  I had to learn how to talk to guys without sounding like a complete whacko. I had to learn to not be a complete whacko. I had to learn how to interview for a job, write a professional e-mail, and dress for success.  Although, based on the things you dressed me in during your lifetime—that last one might be for the best.

I’ve stumbled through all these lessons because I have great support. Kudos for having Rikki and I 17 years apart. Who knew we’d end up actually liking each other.  I can hear you in her voice and see you in her strength. I catch myself wondering what it would be like to have you both in the same room again. I think that every time I see Aunt Vickie too. It’s the way she tilts her head when she’s listening and that smile.

I’ve been dealing with a lot of things lately. They are life things that people just have to face as they get older, childhood becomes a thing of the past, and we move forward. I think I’m handling things okay, but it sure would be nice if you could be here. I’m afraid I’ll scare Eric off by word-vomiting everything that young women usually say to their mothers. I’m sure he’s tired of hearing about my cat,  the money I saved by buying off the clearance rack, and laundry. But seriously, I put a shirt in the dryer today that needed to be hang dried and it was super upsetting.

Eric has asked me before if you two would have gotten along. Frankly, you would have loved him. I’m fully confident that you would be one of those people that would break through to the best part of him in no time at all. He is so funny, witty, and smart. I wish you could see him smile when he’s really tickled about something. It’s the sort of thing kids write home to mom about. See what I did there? Write to mom about…I also know that you would have irritated the crap out of him by calling him unnecessarily and checking in with him regularly. I think that thought delights me the most, but only because it’s sweet in your own way.

I sometimes wonder if you knew your time on Earth was short. Can God communicate that in some way? Is that why every feeling you had seemed so passionate? Happiness, sadness, anger, and love. All of them seemed so intense for you. Is that why you never seemed fazed by impending doom? Perhaps, to you, the thought of sitting through a tornado seemed no more risky than walking out the front door in the morning. Maybe you knew the storm would pass.

When you told me you were dying, you held my hand, and through tears told me, “I’ll always be in your heart.”

 I wanted you to know that’s true. You must have known it was when you told me. I wanted you to know I’m doing just fine. I’m making it through this crazy life. And thanks to other great moms and a lot of prayer, I’m learning the things I need to. There are days I wish you were here in person. Days I wish you could hug me and tell me everything is going to be alright. There are still days I wonder why the world didn’t just stop the day you left us.

The sun will come out tomorrow (or the next day). The phone will ring (likely before I want to wake up). I’ll ride my bike (I’m training for a triathlon , ya know). Life on this Earth will continue. But I’m happy to say that I know, you’ll always be in my heart.

Happy Mother’s Day.


Sunday, April 26, 2015


Yesterday, I woke up to a work phone call around 8:00 A.M. There was a problem at one of our events. I spent the rest of the day dealing with the issue off and on. I rearranged my day to be certain I'd be available to receive and make phone calls. I called my dad in the middle of the day. We exchanged small talk, but I was close to tears when I told him, "I don't know how you've been doing this for over 30 years." I was talking about his job, but what I really meant was, "I don't know how you've been doing adulthood for over 30 years."

 I've spent this entire year trying to balance everything...a serious relationship, my career, our documentary, my health, friendships, finances, and perhaps most importantly...laundry.  I've failed miserably at the laundry part and I've struggled with balance and the serious fight to remain a child when God and the world has catapulted me into adulthood.

I think you become an adult somewhere between 14 and 43. This is just based on my observations over the past 28 years. It doesn't happen overnight and a person dressed in adulthood may look very different from the next person. There are some things about adulthood that no one prepared me for and other facts of life that adults warned me about but I didn't believe...

The struggle to decide where to eat on date night is REAL
At first it was cute. Let's spend two hours going back and forth about letting the other person pick a place. You get to pick because I love you so much. It wasn't long before this little game turned dark. Hunger quickly turns to HANGer when you're trying to make it through a day.

Eric:"Where do you wanna go?"
Katie:"I don't care babe. You pick."
E:"No. You pick. Anything sounds good."
E:" Not tonight."
K: "I will murder you."

The desire to cook actual meals with real ingredients
I don't know what the going rate is for a Lean Cuisine meal these days. I haven't had a frozen dinner in over a year. I made macaroni from a box a few weeks ago. It tasted like heaven. But most days I legitimately enjoy cooking. I like looking up new recipes and experimenting with spices. I'm delighted and saddened that I just used the phrase "experimenting with spices". I learned words like "blanch"and the purpose of "clarified butter." I also learned that baking soda is more than just an air freshener for the refrigerator. As I type this, I have a red sauce simmering. It will be finished in about three hours. It will take us 15 minutes to eat.  This will be my biggest accomplishment of the day.

The desire to share photos of my meals made with real ingredients
Seriously, though. I spent four hours making this sauce. I want to share it with you, but since you're not coming over, please experience it through social media. I don't have kids, so posting pictures of these food babies seems only appropriate...mostly because my cat, Garth, has only so many angles. I don't want you to get tired of snapshots of him.

The need to post pictures of my cat
You can't stop me from doing this. I'm sure even Eric enjoys Garth posts while he's gone. It's good for the world to know what he's up to, like which way he's stretching while he sleeps. But seriously, when I get a free moment in life, I like to spend time with him. He's my kid, and he looks best in the Valencia filter.

Taylor Swift stopped writing songs about me
"I don't know about you, but I'm feeling 22!"
Just...No. I'm waiting for her release of, "I don't know about you, but I'm feeling 82. Let's eat dinner at four and be in bed by seven."

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't long ago that I was jamming out to songs about being young and 22, and falling asleep reflecting on lyrics like, "But she wears short skirts, and I wear t-shirts. She's cheer captain and I'm on the bleachers..."
You understood me Taylor. I felt your pain.

But I woke up one day and Taylor and I weren't on the same level. These days I leave work thinking, "Give me two pina coladas. I need one for each hand," and fall asleep thinking, "Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers." Garth Brooks is officially my music soul mate. I've been waiting my whole life for this moment, but damn Taylor Swift's music is still so damn catchy. I'm willing to adjust my allegiances to the first person who writes a song about cooking a 4-hour spaghetti sauce and posting pictures of your cat.

The excitement associated with saving a buck
If I had been half as concerned with my finances as I am now, in college, I'd be a lot better off. We aren't putting blueberries in our smoothies this week because raspberries are on sale. Blueberry smoothies are my favorite, but do you know what else tastes good? The sweet flavor of financial freedom. Every dollar counts, because I may give up a lot of blueberries this year, but I'll also get to travel to my favorite lake to fish and be able to afford my student loan payments.

How I'm totally okay with watching TV in my free time
I work a lot. I know I'll look back 30 years from now and think I worked too much. But it is what it is right now and part of who I am. Something I won't regret is using free moments of my life to put on sweatpants and watch Law & Order: SVU. I used to pride myself on using free time to go out and live it up.I never watched TV or spent time reading. I never stopped. It was exciting. These days, I'm most excited by being able to breathe and sometimes that means watching a lot of Mariska Hargitay (Bonus if it's the Christopher Meloni episodes) or reading about World War II or triathlon training.

That love can get you through
I always thought that being single made me powerful and independent. I am woman. Here me roar. I think I found love at the exact time I needed it in my life. Life is funny like that and God is good. I'm not sure how I would have survived this year without Eric. Work has been an incredible challenge and the learn-as-we-go approach to life and adulthood has sometimes left us exhausted and upset, but at the end of the day, we get to say, "We will make it through this together." That is powerful. I adore that man and can't wait for our next adventure.

I've learned a lot more this year, but my sauce will be done soon and I haven't even started the meatballs. Thankfully, this Law & Order marathon will continue for another hour. Adulthood isn't easy, but I'm making it. I'm not positive, but I think the best is yet to come.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


I haven't been blogging much the past year or so. I was embarrassed because I gained back 30 pounds of the original weight I lost. And let me tell you was easy.

The other day my nifty little TimeHop app showed me a status of mine from three years ago.

"I added a little jog to my walk tonight. And by a "little jog", I mean one block. I like to remind myself that little is more than nothing. So if it's more than nothing, it must be something. And something is always better than nothing."

Three years ago, I couldn't jog a block. I still remember going down to the track and putting everything I had into jogging a whole mile without stopping, months after I had started working out. What a victory that was. I took a picture of myself after that moment.

May 14th, 2012 - My first mile.

I felt beautiful when I took this picture. It's hard to feel that way looking at it now. But I distinctly remember how ecstatic I was. I felt more beautiful, more accomplished in this moment than I did after I finished my half marathon this past summer (although that was pretty cool too ;) )

The other day I jogged a mile. It had me winded, but even with the addition of 30 pounds, I could do it without thinking about it all too much. I didn't feel accomplished when it was over. I didn't feel beautiful. I felt like a fat blob, a loser...ugly. Less than a year ago, I jogged 13.1 miles. How did I get to this point? As I stood there, examining myself in the mirror, I cried.

I am ugly. I am fat. Those are words that I've never used to describe myself before, even at my heaviest. So it quickly became less about what happened to my body, and more about what happened to my being in these several months that I would consider some of the happiest of my life.

Anyone that works with me knows a lot about how my mind functions on a day-to-day basis. I am assertive, aggressive in my work, inquisitive, fast-acting, but deep thinking. I also tend to live in a constant state of panic, worried about completing all my work effectively, pleasing others, and not failing. A lot of these attributes carry over into my personal life. I've programmed myself as an employee and also as a person to be like this (I'm my father's child).

Somehow, I lost sight of what was important on my road to health. A half-marathon wasn't enough, and the remaining 30 pounds I had to lose seemed just completely unreachable. How could I switch careers, make a movie, start a relationship, travel, focus on my hobbies, and lose that last bit of weight? Instead of stepping back and looking at the big picture, I let my anxiety and fear get the best of me.  And instead of finding balance, I sacrificed in every part of my life by losing control of the one thing I can have control of, my self-worth and image of myself.

When I stopped feeling beautiful and accomplished, I stopped pushing myself to be better. Eric was there reminding me how pretty I was and encouraging me to move towards my goals, but when you don't feel beautiful, you won't accept people telling you that or treating you like you are. It's a really sad truth that I think a lot of people (men and women alike) face at some point in their lives.

I think the times in my life that I've felt most beautiful are the moments when I knew that I was using everything God gave me to be the best version of me possible. Because striving to be better is not only a gift to myself, but an obligation I have to family, friends, and people who love me. This goes beyond weight, my new shoes, or the amount of make-up I'm wearing for the day. Beauty is a lot deeper than that, and the most beautiful people in my life are the ones who are living each day to the fullest, taking care of themselves, and striving to be good to people. Maybe those things shine through in the glow of their skin or something, but I'm not imagining that.

I've been struggling a lot with body image lessons lately. There are a couple shows on TLC right now focused on being "fat". One is about a woman who is 250 pounds overweight. She just wants to lose a little weight, but is happy how she is. The other is about a "healthy" woman who gains 40 pounds to prove she can lose it in three months. I turned the channel after she goes for a jog with the extra 40 pounds. She is nearly in tears. "It's so hard being fat." She weighed 40 pounds less than I do in this picture below.

Both shows rub me the wrong way. I'm not a fan of complacency if there are parts of your life that you want to change, and I'm also not okay with "fat-shaming". If you haven't run around the track at 300 pounds, you probably have no idea what you're talking about regarding the issue. But if you're 380 pounds, and you've been overweight your whole life, you probably don't know how different and wonderful it feels to stop carrying some of that extra weight, and what it means to be healthy. Why aren't we focusing on all the glorious and wonderful ways that God made us different and unique?Each comes with unique challenges and gifts. Why is beauty not more about how we use what we've been given to be better quality all aspects? I know for me, that's when I feel most beautiful. I haven't been using everything I have lately. I want to be better for me, for my family, for my friends, for my best friend and boyfriend. That's how this improved me started anyway (except for the boyfriend...I added him later. :) 

When I looked in the mirror the other day and felt ugly, it was less about that trouble spot or that new wrinkle. It was more about knowing I could be better, stronger, healthier. Giving up has never made me feel beautiful. I'm well on my way to balance now, which is what I've been searching for this whole time. I have great allies, and I can't wait to see what's in store for my new-found dedication. I made all of our lunches for the week last night, I conquered my DQ Blizzard craving tonight, and I got a 30-minute workout in. Tonight, I feel beautiful.

Here are other moments where I've felt beautiful, at all different sizes. My perception of these photos have changed over time, but I remember how great I felt in those moments.

Blast from the past. 

At our premiere.

Post - Run picture.

New Year's Eve a couple years ago.

Hardcore workouts.

A run with my sister.

The night after our half-marathon.

3 Weeks into working out 5 days a week.

First time wearing non-plus size dress.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Two Thousand Fourteen

So much happened in 2014 that I wasn't expecting. There was a lot of change, a lot of adventure, and a lot of growing up. I conquered my first half marathon, started my next documentary, transitioned into a new job, and fell in love. And even though it wasn't an easy year, it is safe to say that tradition continues and it was the best year of my life so far. 

In April, Eric and I ran a half marathon together. I can only describe the feeling as euphoric. I jogged through the rain and lighting, and cramped up the last quarter of a mile. But as I crossed the finish line, I could see Eric and my dad waiting for me. Eric had already drank a whole carton of chocolate milk and enjoyed his post-race chicken sandwich. I'm not fast, but I made it. I gave my dad a hug and then I cried in Eric's arms. It's a place I'd never thought I'd be, but there I was.

We started our next documentary, Break the Rock. Production has started slowly, but still we've worked a lot of nights and weekends as we've begun the process all over again. It is exciting and challenging. Finding and developing this story, is perhaps my greatest challenge to date. It is a long road ahead, but it's just the type of adventure and work I need in my life to keep me motivated.

During the summer, my role at work changed. I had to say goodbye to a really important part of my life, my first real job that had taught me so much about myself. I greatly miss Ann and the students I worked with every day.  But it was time I suppose and an opportunity I couldn't pass up. I was scared. I was put in a position that has pushed me over my limits.They were limitations I set for myself. I never thought I'd be the person who could survive or thrive in a job like this. It is constantly changing and evolving and quite honestly, uses all my brain power. Naps. I need more naps in my life because of it, but unfortunately have no time for them. 

Eric joined our office in the summer as well. We work side-by-side (no exaggeration...we share an office), and we work hard to make sure we don't kill each other. So far, so good. I've had to work a lot more closely with my dad in this new position, and while it has presented it's own set of challenges, it has been incredible to watch and learn from him what has made him so successful (a pure devotion to innovation, hard work, and the people who can put it all together...if you're wondering).

So, 2014 brought on a lot more work, but I somehow managed to squeeze every drop out of every second of this year. I found some time to meet up with old friends and time to develop new relationships with new friends. I witnessed a lot of nuptials, celebrated a lot of love, and explored Kansas City with people I care about most.

At 12:01 A.M. on January 1st, 2014 I texted my best friend. "It has been a crazy year. I hope this one is even better. Happy New Year!"

He texted me back at 12:04.  There I was, at 26 years old, anxious for a text back from a man that I've called my best friend for the better portion of a decade. He wasn't really a man when I met him though. We were kids, pretty fresh out of high school, trying to figure out just what the heck we were supposed to be doing with our lives.

We were kids when we met a few days before my first day of college at Northwest. We were kids, sitting in my dad's driveway until early morning,talking about life and love and happiness.  We were kids, sitting around filling out myspace surveys and watching youtube videos about how to properly tie a tie. We were kids when we tried to run the campus television station together. We were kids when we started our little production company when we graduated college. Then he bought a house, I got a real job, we made a documentary, I found myself. And all of a sudden we weren't kids anymore. We were adults, taking on life and facing adult challenges like actual human beings as the best of friends. But here I was at midnight on New Year's day, feeling like a kid again. Like, full on Taylor Swift-at-sixteen level of kid. 

I kind of panicked, realizing that I'm in fact, an adult and need to approach life as such. But I panicked more thinking about the all the love I had for him and all the things I all of a sudden wanted to tell him, all the things I NEEDED to say. So, I did what I do best. I word vomited every ounce of my soul into a less-than-eloquent speech that can only be rivaled by such other great oral presenters such as Abraham Lincoln, or Martin Luther King Jr.,..or Kanye. More toward the latter. 

We didn't fall in love at first sight, and our mutual realization that maybe what we've always wanted and needed was each other wasn't something we were going to just run with. A lot was at stake, a decade of friendship that neither of us wanted to sacrifice. But what it started was an incredible year of adventure, getting to know each other all over again. I'll save all the things I've learned about him, and myself, and us for a different blog, but it has been an incredible journey thus far.

Maybe it hasn't been perfect. I doubt things ever are. But it HAS been my type of perfect and I can honestly say that I absolutely can not wait to see what's in store on this road that I am traveling with my best friend. Somewhere along the lines, we fell in love and that has made this year...pretty much perfect.

I hope 2015 has plenty of adventures in store for us, my friends and family, and all the people I'll meet in this year to come.