Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Transformation Tuesday - What THEY say

Transformation Tuesday is a thing! It's a thing I'm learning about as I navigate how to run an online business, for both our farm and my new coaching gig. I think Transformation Tuesday is an opportunity. It's an opportunity to tell your story, in a succinct, and powerful way. But for all my friends who know me well, succinct isn't really my thing.

I've been trying to find the right words to explain my latest transformation.
"A picture speaks louder than words," they say.
"Just use your before & after photos to show how you've changed," they tell me.

But the picture doesn't tell the whole story, and that's hard for me. Words have always been my friend. So, even though I'll continue to share my progress through photos, I'm going to take some time now, to put it all down in words.


"Why did you gain all that weight back?"

It was an honest question, from a then, acquaintance. It wasn't malicious or asked to invoke guilt. It was casual, as we walked on treadmills next to each other. It wasn't offensive, coming from someone I knew had faced the same struggles. But it did catapult me into a place of reflection that I had refused to visit until that point.

Why did I gain all that weight back? How did I lose 180 pounds and gain back over 100 of it? It only took a couple years. It was easy. That part I knew without thinking much about it. So, after taking the time to really think about this question, I'm ready to share my conclusion.

It was me. I'm the reason I gained back over 100 pounds and saw the scale, once again, roll past 300.

The reason I say this is not because I feel shame or guilt or sorry for myself. That is to say, I don't feel those things anymore, but I did. My life the past three years was built on a foundation of shame and guilt, that had me living in my cave of despair. I'm serious, folks. I've felt so, so sad. I say this because I want to help other people fight their own demons.

But Katie, you have SO much going for you.

True story. I one day, got almost everything I ever wanted. I married my best friend, my dream of a man. We bought a beautiful home on some amazing land. We started our farm, and watched our professional careers take off, after a million hours of hard work, sweat, and actual tears. So.many.tears.

The best way I can describe my state-of-mind at the time, is a cloud. I could not find a way to experience pure joy and elation, and without those moments, I found it harder and harder to take-on each day. The depression compounded when I reminded myself just how much my mood and unhappiness was affecting Eric. He started to experience the cloud, because no matter what he did, it was wrong. I was always upset, always sad, and nothing was ever enough to pull me out of the dark place.

So how did I do this to myself?

At first, I was high on my personal development in 2014. I had lost a ton of weight. I felt great. I had so many things I was ready to take on. Eric and I were dating. I had arrived, I thought. This is it. It's the life I've been waiting for. Slowly, exercise and eating healthy took a backseat to fun and adventure. Which is legitimately the right choice some days. But soon, having a bottle of wine with my sweetie more than one night a week, bingeing on delicious KC eats, and skipping my workouts after a late night concert, were the norm.

All of this would have been fine for a short time, if I hadn't started placing my personal self value on my weight. Once the scale started rolling, I started experiencing that guilt. Before I knew it, 10 pounds turned into 20, then 40, then 50 over a three year period. I felt so bad about myself then, that it only took another three months to gain another 50 pounds. Work was HARD. So hard. Money was tight. And my mind simply couldn't handle it all. So, I gave up.

I gave up on myself.
My regular head talk included a variation of this train of thought every.single.day. :I can't eat right. It's really too difficult. Work makes it impossible. I'm hungry. I deserve to have something easy. I just want ONE thing easy. I am just going to grab dinner on the way home. I just want to relax. I've worked 15 hours. I deserve to relax. I'm so tired. I'm tired of all of this. I need to clean the house. I'm too tired to clean the house. Eric deserves better. Why can other people do all this life stuff? I hate being so fat. I'm so tired. I hate myself.

I tried and tried and tried to lose weight, to get stronger, to FEEL better. But I failed over and over again. It all started with denial about how far I had fallen, which I'll save for another post. What I was doing before, wasn't working. For some reason, I wasn't strong enough to do it alone. My friend Lindsay reached out to me in 2017. I signed up for her free Beachbody group.

Ahh, finally, something easy.
The truth? It didn't work. I failed.

In retrospect, if I would have done the workouts or followed the nutrition plan, or participated in the challenge group, I may have found that it was exactly what I needed. But I didn't. I wanted an easy button, a magic pill, or someone else to do the work for me.

"It's not really for me. Maybe another time," I told her.

I decided that I was just going to be morbidly obese. I decided that this was the life I was destined for. I had spent so much of my life like that, so maybe this was how it was supposed to be. Maybe this was actually what I was destined for. I was too tired to imagine any other way.

In April of last year, I made the decision to try one more time. This had very little to do with me, and more to do with my husband. I felt so guilty about who I was, and so sad that Eric didn't marry the same girl he fell in love with years before. And I'm not talking physically here (although that was part of it), but I had turned into a grouchy, sad, couch potato, with no real aspirations or goals for myself or my family. And my  misery was effecting Eric so badly, even though he was trying so hard to make things better for me.

So, I reached out to Lindsay again.
"Okay, I'm ready," I told her.
 I invested in what she had told me about months before. I took the leap into something that I had publicly shamed in years past. I started drinking the shakes, I started doing the workouts, following the nutrition plans, and checking in with my "challenge group" every day.

I lost some weight the first month, but more importantly, I connected with a group of people who desperately wanted to reach their next level of wellness, whatever that might be. I fell in love with the honesty of "I ate all the cupcakes today" and "I missed my workout again", and I found the courage to try harder through all their positive updates, "Killed my workout today" or "Day 5 of staying on-track with my food. Left the chocolate alone today, again!" They helped me feel empowered, and before I knew it, I was motivating myself.

Then I went from surviving to thriving, and I found the courage to do all the hard things that I left behind years ago. I started tracking my non-scale victories; walking a quarter mile, running a 5k, then a 10k, and then a half-marathon. I competed in triathlons. I found confidence at work and made a big-time sale. I watched Eric's life transform, as I took back control of mine. And then our relationship blossomed into something even more than it was before. The love has always been there, but when two people on a quest for wellness, re-commit to each other, the results are beautiful. So much laughter and fun, grace and forgiveness.

I stopped using the scale as a representation of myself, because it's not the only thing that matters. The scale is a tool, and that's how I use it now.

What's different than six years ago when I lost all that weight originally? Why do I think I'll be able to keep it off and work towards a healthier me?

Community, commitment, tools, resources, personal development, and the ideology that my health is bigger than me. It effects my family, my friends, and my relationship with God. Self-care is not shameful. The best me can serve those around me best, and I don't take that lightly.

Coaching will help keep me motivated. It will help keep me honest to myself. I don't have a desire to punish myself for binging or missing my workout anymore. I do have a desire to be honest about it. This is just life, ya know. For some people, myself included, this part of life can be particularly difficult to manage. But this part of my life has impacted every single other part of my existence. I'm stronger today because I finally succumbed to that knowledge.

This picture I'm sharing is me, at the same weight. One picture, I was on my honeymoon. The other picture is this past week, getting ready for a happy-hour. Same weight, completely different person. Non-scale victories, my friends. I had no idea what these programs would do for my body, the strength I would gain.

Muscle weighs more than fat, they told me. I guess a picture really is worth a thousand words. They were right.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Bringing home Mom

I dreamt about my mother last night. It was vivid, like it was yesterday when I saw her last. It was refreshing, since my memories are less intense, and more sporadic these days. On my way into town this morning, it dawned on me that I should really go pick up my mother’s ashes from my dad’s basement.

When mom died, we displayed an urn with her ashes on the mantle. Each one of my mom’s children received an urn. Friends and family suggested it was morbid that we had one on display. It made them uncomfortable. We removed the urn from the top of the fireplace and put it in a box with my sister’s share of mom’s ashes, before I moved away to college.

They’ve lived in the basement of my father’s house, in a box marked “Fragile Mickie”, for the past 12 years. I know my mother’s spirit is not in that box. But I’ve struggled deciding where to take my mom’s ashes. I thought that time and space from her death would enlighten me. At first I had several ideas. Kauffman Stadium, Longview Lake, Wayside Waifs, plant a tree, take her on a road trip. Nothing really seemed to fit though. None of those things really made up who she was. We didn’t have a home that was special to us, since we moved every few years. I struggled feeling like I didn’t know my mother at all. Who was she if none of those places or things really defined her?

The longer I’ve waited, the more the memories have seemed to fade. Things are no clearer to me now than they were almost 15 years ago. But I woke up this morning with an unwavering feeling; I need to bring mom home.

I called my dad to let him know I’d be stopping by. When I got to my dad’s house, the box was sitting in the living room. There it sat. Fragile Mickie. I lifted the box into the back of my car, and headed toward home.

I changed the radio station at least 100 times in the first 20 minutes of my drive. I imagined having to explain to my mother the state of country music in 2017. I bet she would find it hard to believe that my students several years ago had no idea who Garth Brooks was. Instead they listen to songs about beer, “gettin’ some”, and fluff. Less subtlety.  Not as much heart or soul, no story or lesson to share.  “Kids these days,” she’d say.

I exited the highway and came to a stop. My car rumbled below me. It’s not fancy, but it’s gets us from A to B.  Eric and I paid cash for it after sharing a car for nearly a year. My views on money have changed a lot over the past decade, and I’ve worked hard to avoid unnecessary debt. Eric and I haven’t made a car payment in years, and while it seems minor, I’m proud of how far I’ve come. My mom spent money when she had it (and sometimes when she didn’t), although never on herself. Our Christmases were large. Our friends and neighborhood families were always treated by my mom, whether it was ice cream from Dairy Queen, or a new pet hamster. Giving gifts was one of my mother’s love languages. Everything she left that was hers alone fit in the box in the back of my car. Fragile Mickie.

As I continued my drive, nearing the gravel roads that would ultimately bring me home, I thought about the things I never understood about my mom. Time and experience have helped me understand.  I could never figure out why my mother always seemed so sad. How could someone so brilliant, funny, and bold not be happy? She was dealt many difficult cards throughout her life, but she was so loved and everyone’s best friend. How could she feel alone?

I know now what it is like to feel sad for no reason, to feel overwhelmed by the mundane, and anxious about the future. I fight a constant battle to stay positive and overcome my negative head garbage, and when I’m down, I’m healthy enough to stand up and face the day. I don’t remember my mom ever being healthy. I can’t imagine what that must have been like.

I turned down our gravel road. On our street you have to slow down to let the goats cross the road. Our neighbors wear rhinestones on their jeans and cowboy hats. “Coon”, from two streets over, is the neighborhood watch. He’s been watching these streets for 30 years he tells us. His friends call him, “Coon”. Lisa next door, drops off flowers while we are gone for us to plant in our garden. Kevin and his wife, South of us about a half mile, are quick to share with us the small-town gossip. Carl, two houses up, used to return the toys his dog would steal from our yard, before he was hit by a car. I miss that dog.  The cows get out from up the road and sometimes the horses. Tim hays our fields, and for a dozen eggs, buried a horse on our property when she suddenly died.

This is the exact life my mother talked about me having and the type of people she hoped would take care of me.

I pulled into our driveway and pushed Fragile Mickie through the basement door. When I opened it, there were two urns. I took them out so I could see what else was in the box.
Gawdy bed sheets, six shirts, a pair of jeans, a heating pad, and three candle votives. I let that sink in for a moment. That was it. That was all Fragile Mickie had for me.

I pulled the shirt I remembered her wearing, close to my face. That’s her. Everything in Fragile Mickie smelled like her. Somehow a plastic box had maintained the scent of my mom for the better part of 15 years. I wept into every piece of clothing as I pulled them to my face. Then I folded them nicely and put them back in the box.

I sat looking at the two urns. One, my own. The other belonging to my younger sister, Carmen. I prayed for Carmen in that moment. The past 15 years without Mom to wrangle my sister have been difficult. My dad has done everything he can. I struggled with guilt for many years, not being able to save my sister from herself. I wondered if it’s the one way I have failed my mother. I wondered if she could have made a difference. But God has reminded me time and time again, that love and forgiveness is all I can offer. I learned that first when Mom died.

Fragile Mickie sat below the table full of wedding supplies. Mason jars, burlap runners, and twinkle lights. Everything prepped and ready to make its way to the venue for the biggest day of my life, only two months away. Mom won’t be there. Neither will Fragile Mickie. But the clarity about who Mom was and where Fragile Mickie rests, will be in my heart.

I picked up my urn and took it upstairs to the back deck. I sat it down to pet my pup, Walt, and held him close. My mom would have loved my puppies, and kittens, and chickens, and ducks. She would have begged me to name the bunnies and I would have let her. She would have been so happy for me.

Fragile Mickie is just a box with the physical remnants of my mother. My mother didn’t have a lot of hobbies. She didn’t hold on to jewelry to pass down generations. There was no place she ever talked about visiting time and time again. She left nothing of value for anyone and no instructions on what to do with her ashes. She didn’t care. But the people who loved her stubborn, brilliant, fighting soul miss her always. So did the animals she left behind.

My mom made it to where I always dreamed she’d go, and Fragile Mickie has finally made it where she needs to be.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017


As I stood at the counter tonight, cleaning, drying, and divvying up our chicken eggs, I tried to reason with my 10-year-old hound dog.

"Roxxie...how many times must I tell you that barking to go outside so you can bark to come inside, is not an appropriate use of our time this evening?"

As I tried to negotiate with my dog, I finished drying the egg in my hand and opened the dishwasher. For a brief moment I thought about where the egg goes in the dishwasher. 

The egg doesn't go in the dishwasher, Katie...

I'm tired, after a restless night of sleep, a full day of work, and all my household chores and projects. Which begs the question, how in the heck do any of you have any time for anything? I'm looking at you, mom of two with another on the way. I'm looking at you, budding business-woman with meetings that run from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM. I'm looking at you, full-time teacher, coach, and marathon runner. I'm looking at you, entrepreneur engaged in non-stop business planning. I'm looking at you, full-time farmer, with a family and community to feed. 

Someone please prove to me that you're not all robots with steel hearts, manipulating time in your favor. I know social media is often-times a series of highlights in peoples' lives. I know I'm guilty of this as well. In fact, this weekend I posted pictures of Eric and I fishing with our pup. It was a feel-good moment in my day. I was feeling grateful. I wanted to share. I even posted a new profile picture that probably gave people who don't know me the illusion that I can get my hair to stay curled for more than six minutes at a time AND that I always do my makeup before leaving the house.

These moments were real. These moments were beautiful. But I don't think it makes me any less grateful to say that most moments don't look like this.

I asked Eric today what makes him jealous. What makes me jealous is people who seem to have managed their time so efficiently that they are able to accomplish everything they want in each day. I DON'T UNDERSTAND.  Meanwhile, I'm over here wondering how long I can let this avocado clay mask sit on my face before it starts doing more harm than good. It's supposed to "purge your pores of all dirt and oil". Seems nice.  It said 10 minutes, and even though it's been about 30, I think I'm still okay.   

Anyway, I often feel guilty voicing frustration over my long days. I am living an overly-blessed life, as are most of the people I surround myself with, even if they can't admit it. What gets me...what really irks me...is that this life has me wanting so much out of every day, every second. I think that's when I end up overwhelmed, under-satisfied, and jealous. 

So in the real world, this is what my day and night looked like. 

I slept less than five hours because I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about an event at work over 4 weeks away. But that got me thinking about the next thing and the thing after that and before I knew it, it was time to feed the animals, eat leftover tuna casserole for breakfast, and drive to work. 

Work was fine today, and by fine I mean I didn't cry, yell, or lose my mind. But I didn't leave the office until after six, so I got home after 7 PM.  I also caved to tacos (for the second time this week) instead of a salad. Woe is me.

Eric was working his second job tonight, so when I got home I went through the normal routine of letting Roxxie inside so she could run upstairs to go outside. There she holds our younger pup hostage and both the kidnapper and the hostage become quite hostile if their hangry needs are not addressed ASAP. 

After feeding all the furry animals, I started what I like to call "pretending to do laundry". It's where I take the clothes from the dryer and throw them on the guest bed to be folded at a later date. Maybe tomorrow, maybe a week from now. Then I move the clothes from the washer to the dryer where they tumble and then I pretend for 45 minutes that I'm going to take them out and fold them when the buzzer alarms. I took things a step farther tonight and actually tended to the clothes on the bed. By the time I was done with that, it was time for the farm duties.

I spent approximately 7 minutes searching for one of the two ducks that we currently have roaming our land. I discovered that one chicken was also missing. It wasn't too long before I realized that Gerget (the duck) was downhill in the chicken run, trying to fornicate with Juniper (our mama hen) against her will. Or maybe it wasn't against her will, but either way, the scene was unpleasant and it's not quite safe for the hen. I cut that romp short and then went on my way. 

I cared for the baby chicks and ducks. And by cared for, I mean wiped poop off their waterer with my bare hands because we were out of paper towels in the barn. They're still cute though so it doesn't matter. Then it was time for the scariest part of the farm duties, when I take the bigger tub of chicken food out to feed the chickens.

If you know me, you know I've had to overcome a pretty serious fear of birds. And I wouldn't say I've overcome that fear completely. When you take the can of food out, all the chickens start chasing you. I have to get the food a football field away before I'm attacked and eaten by my own birds. Some days are really touch-and-go. Today, Gerget distracted them by heading back down to the coop for round two. I broke that up again, locked the chickens in their run and worked on the next task. 

Trick the ducks into their pen is a fun game, that has many-times, brought me to tears. No joke. Sometimes those damn ducks are so naughty that they make me cry.  When you desperately want to sit down after a long day, chasing the ducks for 5-30 minutes can seem almost too much to handle. I owned them tonight though and the waddled in, even before dark.

When I came inside at 8:00 PM, I started to clean the eggs that we are going to take to work tomorrow to sell. This is when the negotiations started with Roxxie and our young pup, Walt spent some time going through the "clothes to be donated" bags that I put together last night. He has excellent taste.

I made sure to spend some time thinking about that salad I didn't eat for dinner during this time and contemplating whether or not I should just eat ice-cream since I already had the tacos anyway. These are tough life decisions.

Roxxie stole an egg for dessert while I ripped the Nashville souvenir from Walt's mouth for the third time tonight. Sidenote...I just had to google how to spell souvenir which makes me think that my student loan payment that is equivalent to a mortgage payment, really wasn't worth it. 

I spent so much time during that egg-cleaning session thinking about how I'm going to accomplish everything this week that I want to and also have time to sleep and eat, that I decided I should come write about it. I want to see if being a robot is an option or if everyone else really struggles with adulting. Google is now telling me that "adulting" isn't a word. I've had almost as much as I can handle in one day.

I had to take a break from this blog to go see why Walt was silent. Turns out he ripped up one of our expensive throw pillows that Eric got me for my birthday last year. Then I had to call and tell Eric before he got home so I didn't have to see the disappointment in his face. Bad dog-mom.This is why we can't have nice things. 

Meanwhile, it's now an hour later and I still have this mask on. I'm guessing it's not going to turn back time and make me look 20 instead of 42 like I looked in my most recent photos, but a girl can hope. Eric just texted me and asked me if I wanted anything from Quiktrip. When I told him tea, he replied, "Caffeine? Will that keep you up tonight?" 


Now I need to go e-mail this birthday card to my friend Sara's baby girl. She'll be two in June and I want to make sure she gets this Happy 1st Birthday card before then.

Monday, December 26, 2016

I said, "Yes!"

It was August of 2005. I was sitting in a classroom at Wells Hall on the campus of Northwest Missouri State University. I was so nervous. It was my first Bearcat Update meeting. I was going to get my first assignment for the campus television station.

Steve Serrano came in and went to the front of the classroom to introduce his two producers. This felt big time to me. First guy was pee-wee (Bobby Taylor), who ended up being my roommate at college several years later. After his introduction, Steve introduced "Poop".

I had been immediately drawn to "Poop" when he walked in. He had on athletic shorts, a Northwest t-shirt, and ball cap that barely covered his head of hair. His chin-strap facial hair was so 2000 and so manly. He had piercing blue eyes. When Steve introduced him he cracked a smile that seriously melted me.

So, this is college.

I got to see Eric once a week for our weekly Bearcat Update taping. I could not get over how incredibly handsome he was, but I soon learned that he was also funny and kind, and super talented. Later that year we became friends. He would come over to my dad's house over the summer and we would "driveway sit". We talked about everything. School, work, future plans, religion, the girls he was dating. We actually called each other and instant messaged (because I didn't have texting on my phone). He became my best friend.

Then all of a sudden, every single Taylor Swift song seemed to be about my life. The unrequited love, the friend zone, dashed hopes and dreams. It took me a year, but I came to the realization that "Poop" was probably never going to love me the way that I loved him.  I professed my love through an instant message conversation sophomore year. "You know I love you, but I guess somewhere along the lines...I fell in love with you."

"That makes sense," he said.

That's all we ever said about it. Fast forward to Fall 2011. We spent a year making a documentary together and all the feels came rushing back. I wondered if I could ever find someone who could make me smile or make me laugh like he did. I wondered if I'd ever find someone else who could make me feel so safe and so whole. Like what if I just had to settle for less than whole and maybe I'd have to. Maybe God had other plans for me, and I'd have to be okay with that.

But something changed for him over the next few years. Like a movie, our love story unfolded into something I never quite imagined. Not all moments in time were out of a  fairytale, but they were always for better. I remember sitting up all night after a day hanging out with him, doing not much of anything, thinking...this was the best day of my life.

Then when we moved into our new house, I thought the same thing. I thought it again we adopted our puppy. I thought it again every time we shared Christmas with his family. I thought, "this is the best day of my life", day after day that we shared with each other.

I thought it again on Saturday when Eric asked me to marry him.

I can't really describe what went through my head as Eric got down on one knee, out here on our land, and asked me to be his wife. I also can't tell you what I saw because I was bawling uncontrolably.

What I can tell you is that it's never been easier for me to nod yes while crying every tear my body could hold and snotting all over the place. Eric is all the great things I wrote on a list of things I wanted in a husband when I was younger. He's a Christian, strong, funny, hard-working, and intelligent. But he's also a lifetime learner,  rugged country-man, uniquely talented, kind and giving. He  is so good to his family and it's been amazing to watch him with his nephew. He is constantly working to make himself better and he challenges me to do the same.

Eric is my best friend. I don't worry about living with him, I fear living without him. God has done some incredible things in our relationship over the last two years. I can't wait to see what new adventures await us and what challenges we will overcome together as husband and wife.

It was over a decade ago when I first saw him. Same head of hair, same captivating smile. If you would have asked me then if I'd be sitting here with a ring on my finger, typing this blog, I would have told you that you were crazy. But after 15 chickens, two ducks, two bunnies, two dogs, and a cat...maybe we

are the crazy ones.

That's okay. We'll be crazy together. <3

Saturday, May 7, 2016

A mother's legacy

My mom would be so mad if she saw how many times I'm going to refer to her as mother in this post.

My mother once told me that a sign of a great leader is that the leader's work continues and people continue to succeed, even when the leader is gone. My dad reiterated that to me years later, as I was leaving college. I think about that bit of advice almost daily, especially in my job.

I'm not a mother. I'm not sure if I will ever get that opportunity. Only time and God will tell. But I've been thinking about motherhood a lot lately. My best friend had her first child this year. She lost her own mom, like I did, years ago. I was invited to the hospital to wait for her little one's arrival. I can't tell you the feelings that took over me as I stood in the hospital room, holding my friend's little girl for the first time. I was in complete awe. I was so proud of my friend and her husband, calm and collected, smiling and laughing as they introduced the baby to all the people that loved her even before she was born. It was such a happy moment.

I started thinking about my nieces and nephew, how much they had grown, how quickly time had passed. And as I drove home, I thought about my brother and my sister. How did they do it? How did they handle careers, kids, relationships....anything, without our mom? 

I wondered how long my friend's family would stay in that room with her. I wondered how long the baby would sleep that first night. I wondered what it felt like to be a mother. And in an instant, I was overcome with grief. My heart ached, knowing that my friend's mom couldn't be there. I wondered how she'd do it.

She just... did. I've watched her become an incredible mom over the past months. I've listened to the stories, seen the pictures, and actually cried real tears when they sent me the video of their baby eating solid food for the first time. Who doesn't cry at that?  I finally got to see them a few weeks ago. My friend wore that baby like a champ as we shopped, talked, and caught up. I thought many times, I'll never be able to be a mom like her.

I wonder if our moms thought about us becoming mothers? We were both young, but I assume it had crossed their minds. I wonder if they were nervous or scared for us? What I do know is they probably both expected to be here for these moments. That may be what hurts the most, still, after all these years.

But my best friend, she's incredibly strong, and despite the sad moments, she really has owned motherhood. And she's simultaneously helped me stay sane as I've battled a difficult year without my own mom. So.much.life.

My friend is lucky. She had a great mom, just like I did. I'm not a mother, but I wonder if being a great mom is similar to what my mom told me about great leaders. Like somehow my friend, my brother, my sister, and even myself have managed to continue to grow after my mother died. We haven't been perfect. We haven't always made the right choices. But somehow, after 13 years being gone, I still feel her love and still hear her voice when I'm making decisions. And that's the part of her that I know I'll share with my kids if I ever become a mom. Not the times that she fed me ice-cream for dinner, yelled at me for no reason, or picked me up from school an hour late. Because let's be honest, she had her moments. But does any of that matter if I'm able to grow, succeed, treat people with decency and just live...even after she's gone?

I believe that you make a lot of choices in life that lead you different directions. Some are good and some are bad. My mother is not the  person responsible for my success or failure. But she did equip me to be able to make decisions on my own (good or bad) and held the promise of unconditional love, even when she couldn't show it. I feel like that is what counts, so I can forgive her in the long run for forcing me to eat meatloaf that caused me to throw up at the dinner table.

I've been wanting to hear from my mom the past six months, even knowing it's not possible. I miss her. Thankfully, I have my family and my friends that are like family to get me through the hard times. I bet she wondered how I would turn out, if she had messed me up royally. I hope she can see where I've been and where I'm going. I hope she can see how totally incredible my brother and sister are. I am just part of my mother's legacy.When I get really sad, or think about the bad times with her, instead of the good, I pull out the letters she sent me at camp in 2002 that remind me what a good mom she was and how much I was unconditionally loved.

An excerpt:

Carmen actually rode the horse today. I didn't stay for the lesson, but I guess everything went okay. She's not dead of anything. LOL. She said the horse was slobbery. 

We got Grandpa a pair of shorts today to mow his lawn and your dad is going to give him enough money to pay for his upper dentures.

Larry and Julia are going to St. Luis this weekend. The Royals play in St. Louis. I hope they beat St. Louis in their own stadium--that would be so awesome. 

Aunt Vickie went crazy when I told her you aren't allowed to call. The more I think about it, the sillier it seems t not let you call home. They could have designated times for doing that. If you decide to go next year, then we'll have to talk to someone about that. 

Time to turn in. Wish I had something interesting to tell you. You take care and don't drown yourself. Hurry up and come home. Okay?


Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there. You're doing a good job.

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!