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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Political Jargon.


I hate politics.

I hate politics so much that I’m going to vote and never tell anyone who I’m voting for.

In fact, I may just write in a vote for ‘Kindness’ this election.

You’re all glaring at the screen right now, thinking ‘How dare you misuse your right as an American citizen! How could you let [insert your least favorite walking parrot here] into the white house!’

Honestly? I don’t care if you think I’m being ridiculous. Knowing most people, you probably think I’m misinformed, uninformed or too sensitive to stomach the political hate that is being spread around as ‘conversation’ or ‘healthy debate’—but you’re wrong.

I know my facts. I know my beliefs. I know where my priorities lie.

And honestly, I know my heart.

And what really breaks that heart of mine are the hate-filled and angry messages I see every day from BOTH sides of the political fence.

Why is it that every time I sign onto facebook I see at least three status’ that say something along the lines of:

“Well, had to delete three more people because they liked [Mitt Romney/Obama]’s page”

                                                            or

“If you’re voting for [Obama/Mitt Romney], please delete me from your friendslist…”

And, let’s just be serious, I've cleaned up the language and am making these status' sound a hell of a lot nicer than they really are.

What happened to being united? What happened to seeing past people’s differences to find the similarities? Why is it that people are so quick to throw away people simply based on political beliefs?

Why is it that it seems as time goes by, these political lines divide us even further as a human race?

What I love about our country is that we have the right to an opinion. We have a right to put people in power and even take them out of power. We have the right as citizens of this great nation to let someone into the role of authority, in hopes that that person will uplift our country for the better. Sometimes they do, other times they don’t…but this beautiful country of freedom was built on hope. Hope that we could be greater. Hope that we could join together in times of hardship. Hope that we could cry together in moment’s of sorrow. Laugh together in moment’s of victory and justice.

Can we, for five minutes, forget about politics and remember that behind the political beliefs section on facebook, is a history…a living and breathing human life that has, scars and hurts and joys…that has past and a future…they have dreams, likes and dislikes and stories…endless and amazing stories. Why is it then that we are so willing to give up the chance to grow in love with that person’s story?

So, it comes down to this. I will vote. I will secretly have my personal favorites, but when the day is over and the polls are in...regardless of who wins, I will celebrate. 

I will celebrate my voice as a woman being heard. I will celebrate my [re]new[ed] president. I will celebrate our FREEDOM.

Call me an idealist, but I want to believe that whoever takes the seat will do what they think is best for this country with a pure heart. And if they fail, well…I think sometimes people forget that that’s why they only get four years.

And if you want to move to another country because your politician didn’t get into the white house? Please, by all means…move to another country. Maybe you’ll see that all countries have their own political struggles and problems.


Monday, August 27, 2012

On grief, suicide and love.

Today marks the two year anniversary of my cousin’s passing away.

Who am I kidding. I really shouldn’t sugar coat it. I doubt he’d want me to lie…

Today marks the two year anniversary of my cousin committing suicide.

On paper, you’d never in a million years imagine that he’d take his own life. He had two beautiful children, a wife that cared deeply for him and a family that all around adored him. He was a hard worker and had joined the Israeli army to become the best soldier he could be, his goal to join the Mossad. He never reached that goal. Instead he returned to the U.S. and became an investigator for the New York District Attorney’s office and a then a member of the Florida Bureau of Investigation and SWAT team. He was passionate about what he did, and he was constantly trying to push himself to go further in his career. He was financially stable and, when I look back, I can’t really remember him without a smile on his face.

But two years ago, something happened. I’m not sure what happened. I’m not sure if anyone knows what happened…but there he was, lifeless, his gun by his side.

When I was a little girl, Jeremy was the one cousin I thought really loved me and my family. He never gave the impression that he felt obligated to care about us, or that he was only being nice…when he came to visit, we knew that he was taking time out of his already insanely busy life to see people he had to truly love.

He was the kind of guy that sat with me as I drew pictures and was more attentive than any twenty something year old I’ve ever met in my life. He was the kind of guy that left his cousin his car to use when he went to serve in the Israeli army and the kind of guy that asked my mother to pray for him, even though he didn’t share or fully understand her faith.

He was strong, bold and very handsome, everything a little girl dreamed of in a prince charming. He was more than twenty years older than me, but I can recall looking out of the window at night daydreaming about the next time my favorite cousin would come to visit me. I can’t help but remember daydreaming about him saving me from all the mean girls in my second grade class.

He really was my hero.


I hadn’t seen Jeremy in a couple of years. He had slowly dropped off our radar, and we knew that something was not good, but I don’t think any of us saw suicide in his future. I’d still ask about him, and I’d get the same response about not having heard anything recently.

My heart would drop a little, but, at a certain point, you move on and live your own life. You ask less and less about them, because you know that they probably haven’t called or written.

Three days before Jeremy shot himself, I turned to my mother and, completely out of the blue. said, “I want Jeremy at my wedding. I don’t care if he doesn’t want to stay in touch right now. Whatever he’s going through doesn’t matter. I love him so much. I just want him at my wedding.” She smiled, and most likely made a joke about my unhealthy obsession with weddings and that was that.

I look back now, and my stomach drops. Was that my subconscious, my soul, screaming for me to write him? Was my spirit telling me something was going to go terribly wrong? Was I being given the opportunity to say ‘I love you, a lot', before he left? I told myself, after I made that comment to my mom, that I’d write him an e-mail the next week, but next week came and went…and then he wasn’t there to answer.

So, here’s my message. Two years late.

All I wanted was for you to be at my wedding. All I wanted was for you to see me grown up, a beautiful and talented young lady. I wanted you to see me in a big Shakespearean production. I wanted you to call dad crying when your daughter was engaged because you didn’t know how to react to letting go of your own precious baby girl.

I just wanted you to overcome the pain that you felt.

You’re an idiot. You had dad, you had mom, you had me…you had God. You had the beautiful angel faces of your children, and the strong voices of your wife, mother, sister and brother.

And no, I’m not mad at you. I love you too much to be mad at you. But, yes…I hurt. Even writing this, I’m crying.  I wasn’t supposed to be at your funeral at twenty years old, Jeremy. And you know that.

Every day, I pray for your soul, for your family and children. I pray that we might meet again someday. In some ways, I wonder if your leaving this world was a blessing in disguise. That maybe in the next world, you have a clearer understanding of how deeply and truly you were loved. I just wish it wouldn’t have taken so much heartbreak, pain and tears to realize it.

You were the first person I thought of when I looked at the stars as a little girl. I wondered if you were looking up at the stars in Israel, thinking of the gift this life was as you were risking it every day.

Things change, and people move on. So now, I know you’re just another light shining brightly down upon me from the night sky. Being my every day reminder of how I should never take this life for granted.

If you or anyone you know is suicidal or depressed, please seek help. Suicide hurts everyone.

Lourdes: The History.


So much for doing a series on Lourdes in a timely fashion. I feel that I at least need to write something else on my beautiful trip. Honestly, I’ve tried putting into words my experiences, but they always seem to fall short.

This may not be the most coherent or well-written piece, but I'm trying to get back on the horse. Bear with me.

The best way to explain my time in France is through a song that I often hear at mass. Remember, I’m Catholic, so our songs might be a little less known or thrilling, but this one always hit a chord.

“Will you let me be your servant, let me be as Christ to you; pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant too.”

I arrived in Lourdes not knowing what to expect. I won’t lie when I say that I do better abroad than I do here in the states. Let’s be honest, I have nothing to lose with perfect strangers. My heart doesn’t feel that it needs to put up walls or that I need to be something that I’m not. It simply does what it chooses, and leaves all filters behind.  I’m a happier person with strangers, because I don’t feel that I’m confined in their judgments, though I’m sure judgments are passed constantly…but it hurts more when it’s by the people who are supposedly closest to you.

I digress.

Lourdes was a place where all people had to check their pride, selfishness, and lack of faith at the door. No one cared if you had been to church in the past year, not one person sat pondering on whether or not your beliefs matched up with theirs.

It was a safe and sanctified space for healing.

“We are pilgrims on a journey, we are trav’lers on the road; we are here to help each other walk the mile and bear the load.”

At first, I was exhausted. I didn’t know how I would be able to handle jet lag, and days that began at 7am and ended around 1am. I was worried that my prayer life would not be strong enough for those around me. That I would get bored or restless.

I guess, I got cold feet. I didn’t think I was worthy of being on a pilgrimage of this capacity.

I was happily surprised to find once my week began, I had no time to sit in worry. I was constantly moving and going and meeting new people.

If you have never heard of Lourdes, then here’s the shortest way to explain what it is. As a Roman Catholic, I have a strong devotion to many saints. Some saints were martyred, others led simple and humbling lives…but each saint had some sort of thing they were best known for. Saints are important to Catholics because they too were just like us. Humans, struggling to achieve the likeness of Christ in their daily routines…trying to be the best versions of themselves possible.

For St. Bernadette, her life exemplified humility and obedience—and most of you know from reading my blog that those two are tough ones for me.

St. Bernadette was a very sick young girl. She contracted cholera, which impacted her health until she died at thirty-four. She struggled with asthma, bad fevers and a plethora of things I can’t recall. Her physical illness kept her from attending school, where should would have learned French. Because the Catechism of the church was not translated into the language of Lourdes, but rather only said in French, she was unable to receive the sacraments of the church she loved so much.

Her life seemed bleak, yet she was known to always have a smile on her face.

 At the age of 14 Bernadette went out in search for firewood with her cousins. As they arrived at the river, her cousins ran across the water with no thought, but Bernadette didn’t want to get her only pair of socks wet, in fear of becoming ill. She told her cousins to run ahead and that she would find them after she crossed the river herself. She sat, loosening her shoes and at once she heard strong winds, coming from every direction. When she looked around, everything was still. Before her, in a grotto next to the river, a stunning woman stood, holding the rosary. Thus began Bernadette’s visions. This woman, who she would come to see quite often, would smile at her, but say nothing. When Bernadette would question her, ask her who she was, the lady would simply begin the rosary in French. Because Berndatte had simply memorized the rosary, she couldn’t understand the prayers she was praying.

‘Hail Mary…full of grace the Lord is with thee…’

Bernadette felt so at peace in the presence of this woman that she continued to visit the grotto each day in hopes of seeing her. Soon hoards of people began following her, and though they could not see this vision she proclaimed was visiting her, they saw and felt the change in Bernadette’s spirit when these visions began.

The woman asked Bernadette to do many things, to kiss the dirt ground for sinners, that a chapel should be built on the site where they spoke—many requests, but still no one knew who this woman was, and the lady would not answer.

The local priest did not believe this girl, and was often found scolding her for leading the Lord’s flock away from the church, but Bernadette persisted on begging him to advocate a chapel to be built on the very spot the woman had first appeared to her.

On March 25, 1858, the feast of the Annunciation, Bernadette’s sixteenth apparition, the woman finally revealed herself saying ‘I am the immaculate conception.’ Bernadette did not understand what she meant, but ran straight to the church to tell the priest what the lady had said.

One of the many miracles that the apparitions brought was that of the direct demand from the Blessed Mother telling Bernadette to drink of the spring. Bernadette did not understand, as there were no springs in Lourdes, but immediately she felt water beneath. Within a day there was a flowing stream, and soon after people began reporting miraculous healings after drinking the water.

The visions lessened over time, and St. Bernadette left Lourdes to go into the convent. Her greatest desire was to keep pilgrim’s eyes on the Blessed Mother and Our Lord rather than on her.

Lourdes has become the healing center for the Christian world, people of every stage of life and every denomination come in hopes of emotional and physical healing. It is a Catholic shrine, but there is something so much more universal about this holy site.

It’s a place for all to hope for something greater.

Since 1854, the spring has been redirected into bathes where people may come and immerse themselves in the healing waters.

My job in service of Mary on the pilgrimage was to help people undress, and enter the bathes.

The reason I have taken so long in writing this, is not because of a writing block…but rather because my experiences were so mystical and rejuvenating. I met so many wonderful people. There was so much faith, hope and love in such a small area.

I won’t go into further detail about my work in the bathes yet, but I will end this post with a story I heard while on the trip that I thought really captured the message of Lourdes.

‘There is a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mother that sits in front of the church. Did you notice that she is looking directly at the basilica, rather than away from it? It’s said that when the statue was first placed in that spot, the artist had her looking away from the church. Each morning, the people of Lourdes would find that she had been turned around to face the church. They kept trying to turn her back to the original position to make it more aesthetically pleasing. One night the Blessed Mother appeared to the artist in a dream, and spoke firmly “Do not turn my back on my son”…and so the artist made she was always looking at the church, at her son…the son of man.”

This trip was about throwing oneself into His arms, because the work we do...regardless of how amazing and beautiful, is meant to glorify Him, not us. 

Yeah, yeah. Who knows if the story is true…but it’s got a nice sentiment, no?

More to follow.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Lourdes: Just the Beginning.


The next couple of posts are going to be part of my Lourdes series, devoted to sharing my experiences from France. Bear with me. Hopefully I’ll have some wisdom to share.

Edith Piaf fills my ears as the flight attendant makes a quick announcement regarding our descent into Paris. My heart flutters as I think about all the things I hope to do in “La Ville-Lumière”, the city of lights.

As a little girl I used to watch Gigi, with Leslie Caron, Maurice Chevalier, and Louis Jourdan, on repeat, in hopes that I would someday be able to switch places with Gigi. More than anything, I wanted Louis Jourdan’s character to fall in love with me, to take me to Maxim’s and to the sea. To fall so desperately in love with me that he would be willing to give up his beloved freedom as a single man simply to live a life of joy with me.

Paris means romance, means love, means…everything I’ve ever childishly daydreamed of.

But on this day, Paris is nothing more than a connecting flight.

The smell of the Charles de Gaulle Airport is something like a mixture of body odor, cologne, roses and wine. It permeates the air, and while you run to ensure you’ll make your next flight, the magic of France seems to halt time. Each scent, each image, each face are suddenly etched into your memory as if you spent an hour gazing at each. Dior, Gucci, Armani…stores that we could only find on Fifth Avenue line this Paris airport like fast-food restaurants line ours. It’s hard not to walk about, mouth agape, as you sense the culture difference, but my mind was buzzing with something outside of this obvious decadence.

If this was the secular world of France, what was the world I was about to enter going to be like?

One plane and bus ride later, I am standing in front of the Maison St. Pierre et St. Paul, an old convent converted into simple-living rooms for volunteer’s and visitor’s that don’t have enough money to stay in a hotel. I don’t have to work to keep my eyes open, as the brisk air and beautiful scenery hold my eyes captive. My body, on the other hand, thinks it’s time to sleep. The time difference weighs on me, but the clock says it’s time for lunch and with no time to spare we drop off our luggage and begin making our way across town to the cafeteria where we’ll be eating all our meals for the duration of our stay.

As we begin our first walk through the bishop’s property, I can’t help but be in awe of all that has passed in just twenty-four hours. It feels as though weeks have passed since I said farewell to my parents, and yet I have only really met my destination in this moment.

Inhaling the cool, mountain air…I smile to myself.

The adventure may have only just begun, but my heart is completely at peace.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A time for change.

Life is chaotic.

It doesn't stop or slow down when you need it to. Likewise, when you wish things would pick up, more often than not, it will stay at the pace it's going.

Essentially, life is constantly teaching us to calm down and enjoy the moment.

For the past four months, I struggled big time with just 'enjoying the moment'. I felt alone, I felt let down, I felt lost...

But here I am.

I just finished my fourth year of college. I'm about to enter my fifth year as a senior in a top Acting conservatory program. I'm exhausted. I'm confused. I'm excited.

I'm depressed. 

I'm really mostly worried about my future, and what the heck I'm doing with my life. I don't want to feel this way. I used to have daydreams and hopes and things that I was excited about...but lately they've all be replaced with questions. Where will this lead? Am I any good? Is this what God wants me to do? Am I happy? Do I like the people I'm around? Do they make me a better person? ...and all the while I'm just trying to replace those fears and questions with a sense of new born wonder.

I try to wonder what will come. Instead of freaking out, I wonder who will stick around and who will disappear. I wonder who reads this and actually thinks I'm any good at writing.

I'm leaving for Lourdes, France tomorrow to volunteer at a very important Catholic religious pilgrimage site. I'll be helping people into bathes of what is said to be healing waters. Millions of people have come, thousands have witnessed miracles and even more have left with melted hearts.

I won't lie, I've been back and forth about how I feel with being thrown abroad to serve people I don't know from a hole in the wall, who I'm sure are on a lot firmer terra than I am concerning their lives. But the door has opened and I'm choosing to run through it.

My bags are packed. My heart is open. My life is about to change for the better.

I crave peace.

Spiritual awakening, here I come.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

My Disappearing Act.

I dropped off the face of the earth, and I can't apologize enough. You can call it stress or anxiety, but the truth of the matter is that I couldn't write what I wanted to write...

So. I just stopped writing all together.

Part of growing up is realizing when you must keep your mouth shut. Knowing when it is appropriate to share, and when it is more important to reflect in silence.

I've written the same story over and over to myself for the past month and a half. I write it in narrative form, in letter form, in bullet points and non-fiction sci-fi, but the truth of the matter is that it is not a story that I can share.

Silence is better than incessant chatter that means nothing, and so I abandoned my blog. I abandoned my pen. I stopped thinking in stories and morals and I simply immersed myself in everything that had nothing to do with me.

And, I'm stressed. And, I'm tired. And...my relationship with my faith has faded into the background of the blurry actions surrounding me.

It's time to start writing again. The silence was necessary. I protected myself and someone that I love dearly by learning the art of censorship, and now I can continue my growth as a writer and a Christian.

Welcome back, friends. Welcome back, Katey.

Let's write.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Check me out.

No worries, I'll be writing here soon, but I wrote a lenten reflect over at The Catholic Young Woman on judging people and I thought I'd share it with all of you.

This was sort of my main focus for this current season of lent. It was a struggle to articulate what I was learning, but I found that jotting down my thoughts helped articulate what wisdom I was drawing from God through prayer and observation.

Feel free to check it out.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What is a 'Soulmate'?


God works in the most amazing and mysterious ways. Thanks to one of my dear and beautiful friends, our many deep conversations on love and soulmates, as well as the scraps in my journal, have been formed into art...

Oh, my falsehood. Oh, my shattered boy. My best written work thus far was the letter addressed to you that spoke to my undying adoration for your unclean soul. And even when I ripped up my articulation, rearranged the letters in order from need to want, my words weren’t enough to compete with your pride which stood eye to eye with my selfishness and "why's?". I sat, pen in hand, salt running down my face as I tried to find composure amid the lack of comfort in the space, but I couldn’t help imagining myself standing before you—feeling as if my heart were on trial. I stared into the murky blue, wondering why I wasn’t enough for you. How could one give so much and be turned away without a whim or thought and then not feel shame?  The game of confidence that I played, shriveled up and died in my own hands, at the thought of your eyes piercing mine. You were my everything and my nothing, the gift that never gave and here I was, broken, at the very utterance of your name. 

So I ask...

   

And while sometimes I ache, so many months away from my letters of plea bargains and tears, I’m glad you’ve given up on this little soul long enough for me to know… You weren’t a soul mate or a friend, just a stepping stone towards the man who will be my true best friend.

Thank you, God.
 


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Seven steps to being blissfully whole.


Lately I’ve been trying to formulate a satisfactory and personal definition for the word ‘whole’. Many times, in the program where I am studying, we are asked to analyze and assess where we are in our own personal journey. This past week, I came up with the most simple, least wordy analysis of myself to date:

“I am broken, but whole.”

And you’re like ‘Wow, Katey…always gotta be a walking contradiction, dontcha?’

But here’s where I was coming from….I’ve been hurt in my life. Physically and emotionally. I’ve built walls around my heart and mind. I have latched onto defense mechanism after defense mechanism to keep me at arm’s length from the people that I see as potentially hazardous to my health. And in turn, I have hurt people. Perhaps not physically, but emotionally, more than I can count.

I am broken, because I am human. And as a human, I am flawed beyond repair.

Well, that’s if you’re looking at life without hope. My faith has given me an infinite amount of hope. And as a person of faith, I can finally say…I am finding wholesomeness.

I wanted to share the seven key points that are helping me heal, grow and find myself during these bizarre years they call one’s twenties. Who knows, maybe something will strike a chord.

1. Be your authentic self. My mother has told me this since I was a little girl. I never fully understood it until I was faced with the reality of how harsh the world can really be. More specifically when I realized I was losing my voice to the broken, cruel girls that were surrounding me and trying to make me someone I was not.  Sometimes we get lost in the fads, the trends and suddenly we are swept away into the world of pretend and make believe. Pretending to be cool and making others believe we’re the real deal, that is. But why? Is this satisfying? Is something lost when we try so hard to make ourselves something we are not? When we try to make others like us? Sometimes, I think in the growing up process we lose a piece of who we were as children, and in many ways…I think who we were as children is probably as authentic as it gets. I’ll be honest; I was bossy son of a gun as a child. I was the ring leader of the pack, and I loved to play and talk and dance around. If something didn’t involve laughing, it wasn’t worth it. I was an only child who knew how to interact with adults and had very little patience for schoolwork. But once the world got a hold of me… I became reserved, nice to a fault…hiding behind a wall of sarcasm and constant smiling to keep people from knowing the fun-loving little kid that was scratching to get out of my bratty little body.

No more sarcasm, no fake more smiles…it’s time to just be me.

2. Believe in something larger than yourself. Of course, as I’ve said many times, I am Roman Catholic. My faith means everything to me…but it’s fine if you don’t believe in God. Cool, believe in humanity. Believe in the earth. Believe in karma. Believe in anything that is larger than you. The point is, life IS larger than you. The world does not revolve around your story, and if you don’t begin to understand that you are part of a grand design, one that you are not at the center of…you will be an infinitely less peace filled person than those that do. Yes, there will, in fact, always be people that are better off than you, but there will also be people that are suffering far greater than you—and that means that every moment of your life should be spent being thankful for what you have, not complaining about what you don’t. Life is short, live it to the fullest…and if you want to experience true happiness: live it selflessly.

3. Fall in love with your own vulnerability. Vulnerability is a beautiful thing. Say it with me now: Vulnerability. Is. Good. Emotions are not the devil. Yes, we can fight that ‘We are not our emotions!’, but they are also not the enemy. Our emotional releases are our connection to the visceral and passionate core of our being. This part of us is not only animalistic, but is crucial to our spiritual beings. Weeping uncontrollably is not a crime, even screaming every once in a while is healthy. Falling apart, not having things put together, being a complete and utter mess every so often is not a sin. Because once those emotions are up and out of our body…that energy can fade. Tears can fade, anger can fade, pain can fade, hurt can fade. Shoving everything down and not dealing with the reality of life will not fade. Cutting yourself off from the natural and so uniquely human gift of release, will only make for more suffering. Vulnerability is the gift of healing. It is often made fun of, or belittled, but more often than not, our vulnerability is what helps us reach into the soul of another person to tug at their essence until they realize that we are brothers and sisters on this broken earth. Embrace your defenselessness, let people get close to you…and enjoy learning how to simply be present to something we all have in common.

4.Trust in providence. It’s as simple as this: If it’s meant to be, it will be. Don’t sit and worry about making a wrong move—because in God’s eyes, there is no such thing. Even people that don’t believe in God can recognize that there is some sort of rhyme or reason to their lives. Even if it takes them till they’re lying on their deathbed looking back, most people can see why they didn’t get this job or why they married their third girlfriend instead of their first. Things are constantly moving, changing and altering so that your life can be what it was meant to be. We all have a plan. We were all put on this earth to complete a mission—and even if that mission was just to compliment someone on Valentine’s day to keep them from losing it, or to be really good at doing math so that a building could be made without collapsing….or simply to touch one person’s life with something you wrote once upon a time on a stupid blog you started for funsies—we all have a plan. We are constantly influencing and changing the world. We move people to tears, to laughter, to love…isn’t that beautiful? Trust in that. Maybe it won’t be the life or mission you dreamt of, but who are we to judge the worth of our lives because something we wanted didn’t come to frution? Come on, we’ve all seen It’s a Wonderful Life. Let’s not make Clarence come to town to show us what the world would look like without our impact on it, because we all know we’d be shocked to see how much the simplest actions truly changed the world.  

Next!

5. Dress for success. Okay, okay…you’re probably like ‘Seriously? This is in your list of things that make you feel whole?’—but go with me on this. When I’m in a killer outfit, or I’m wearing make-up or I’ve taken the time to do my hair—I feel great! I feel like a million bucks with a little rouge on my cheeks, and my lips suddenly get more pucker-y when I’m wearing lipstick. I feel feminine and lovely when I’m wearing a dress that drapes perfectly around my curves. Whenever I’m depressed or down, you can most likely find me in my bedroom playing dress up, like a little girl. Similarly, sweats make me feel great after a day of heels and auditions! Dressing for happiness, comfort and success is a silly, yet simple and effective way, to make ourselves feel good. Maybe I’m wrong here, or it’s just a weird Katey-quirk,  but I truly believe that taking a little extra time to feel and look special on those days that you’re struggling to see your own beauty and worth, will make your day. And what better way to show people how in love with yourself you are than to dress up for no particular reason or person other than to put a smile on your own face!

6. Live in the moment. The past is a mere distortion of what truly was and the future is nothing but an idea of what could be. Why bother with things that are not real? This moment, right now—it's as real as it gets. Embrace it. Fall in love with it. Sink your teeth into it’s rawness. Life is as beautiful as you make it, so don’t waste it by living in another reality.

7. Reach and withdraw. This one is going to sound a little counter my  ‘Trust in Providence’ point, but I think it’s a good one, nonetheless. This mindset, in my life, usually comes up when I’m dealing with more intimate relationships and friendships.

When you like a person, as a friend or perhaps more, reach for them. Let them see that you care and that you exist. Do all you can in your power to see if they feel the same. Shoot them a text. Invite them for coffee. Get to know one another. And once you’ve made your intentions clear…let them go. When something is yours, if it’s truly meant to be, it will come back to you. I’ve found that many times our own desires and wishes can smother what truly is meant to be because we’re so eager, we suffocate the good.

 I mean, let’s be honest…you can’t send someone that you’re interested in twenty texts in a row without looking kinda nuts…

Sometimes people need space to understand what you mean to them, and sometimes that space makes them forget you entirely.  Regardless, don’t you deserve to know how they truly feel, without their feeling that you manipulated them into caring for you? Reach and withdraw. Let go; attachment is suffering. Let what will be, be.  


So, that’s it.

It’s as simple as you make it, really. Life is short, fall in love with yourself and your life, give all you’ve got to make others happy…and you will find your own definition for the word ‘whole’.

I guess, for me, I’m finally learning that being ‘whole’ doesn’t actually equate to being ‘perfect’….and let me tell you, it’s so freeing.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The gift of listening.


It is a great gift to be able to sit and listen to another person. To allow oneself to be completely open and present to another’s vulnerability as they share a story or a memory is an exercise that many people in our society struggle with. To many people it’s uncomfortable to let down their walls of stoicism and selfishness to be empathetic towards a person outside of themselves. It seems counter intuitive to take care of another person when you yourself were taught by this culture of domination to find the limelight and kick all others out of it…

And let’s be honest, that limelight is pretty addictive.

When I was growing up as an only child who liked to talk to adults and partake in conversations other children my age weren’t necessarily sharing in, I was taught the importance of being able to really take in another person’s words. ’It’s one thing to wait until your turn to speak, and another to listen carefully’, my mother used to tell me. Her words lingered in my mind, as I tried to understand the complexity of her meaning. It was hard to wrap my mind around the idea of truly listening to another person.

Wasn’t I listening when I heard the story? Wasn’t that enough?

But that’s not right, is it? She didn’t use the word ‘hear’ she used the word ‘listen’.

Is there possibly a difference?

As an artist, I can only vouch for myself when I say I love to hear myself talk. I can talk and talk and talk all day long if you let me. I used to babble on about absolutely nothing instead of searching for the most precise way to say things [in many ways, this terrible habit has leaked into my writing—as I’m sure you’ve noticed]. It wasn’t until I was forced to be around other artists that I realized how obnoxious this could be.

And so art school painfully taught me the difference between listening and hearing.

To listen was to embrace the person with every fiber of your being. To acknowledge, empathize and read between the lines. To listen was the gift of getting out of oneself to attend to another’s needs and wants without agenda.

And to hear? To hear was to take the words at surface level and move on.

We are so jaded. Being able to articulate your thoughts is a blessing, but how often are the thoughts that are being articulated worth speaking?

Perhaps I sound cynical because I’ve heard too many pointless stories or have met far too many people that like the sound of their own voice…but I’m beginning to realize how dynamic a relationship becomes when you simply let go of self and begin to truly listen to someone outside of yourself.

How many times have I been shocked to find that someone that I’ve judged to be ‘superficial’, suddenly bares their honest and beautiful souls once they are given the opportunity to be real— what a difference being attentive can make. Others who are seen as rough around the edges, melt as soon as they realize that they don’t have to be hard to be made visible. And sometimes people are so numb to not truly being listened to that they find they are uncomfortable when they’re finally given the space they deserved in the first place.

Funny how that works.

In a way, the bashful, the fearful, the introverts, the loners, the modest, the sheepish, the wary, the unresponsive, the unwilling and unsocial…those who may be seen in this society as not speaking up, could be seen as the pioneers in the world of truth and intentionality for being given the gift of listening. Many of them have the innate ability to listen, while others have taken it upon their shoulders to learn how. And while we hope that they teach us every day by example, one can only wonder. What of their story? How many people ask them questions about themselves? Surely their stories are just as rich, if not more, than those who love to talk? Who will listen to them?

My new goal is to truly listen to someone I’m not close to each day. I feel that this is the time in my life when I am being asked to learn to speak only when necessary, and even more so…speak volumes with silence.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

So much to say, so little coming out.


I’ve been having a hard time putting my thoughts into words as of late. As an actor, I often find myself speaking other people’s words. Because of this I unintentionally have moments where I mimic the way my favorite author's write. There are seasons in my life where I can't come up with something of my own, because I am so in sync with another's words, I can't seem to express my own journey without their coloring my images. Perhaps that’s why I have an obsession with quotes—why say something worth quoting, when I can find another person’s words that better fit what I want to express?

But for someone who considers herself an artist, a storyteller, and sometimes a writer….it’s frustrating to feel like I can’t articulate all that’s buzzing through my brain.

I wrote once last month. Just once. Granted, I know I don’t normally write that often and that my voice and story isn’t necessarily impacting the masses…but only once? I’m disappointed that I didn’t take the time or make the effort to share myself. To share my head and heart. Because it’s so full…full of joy, full of sorrow—Full of life!

I want to share with you who I am. I want to make you smile. I want to create an atmosphere of understanding and trust. Where people can simply breathe and not sit in anticipation of the judgment that might pass.

I want to do so much in my lifetime. Part of me wants it to begin with my own words, but here I am…struggling to get past the wall that I have built around myself.

Oh God, I am broken.

Is there strength in silence?

Is discretion important?

When does life begin? Or has it already?

Why has God given me this path and not another?

Who am I?

Are my words important?

How can I help people?

When is it my turn?

 I have so much to offer the world, and yet there are days that I feel so frazzled…I don’t even know where to begin.

So I write my thoughts down, and hope that I will find peace in each breath. 
 
I pray for happiness to make me sweet, trials to make me strong, sorrow to keep me human, and enough hope to make me smile.
 
Until all is clear, it’s in His hands.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

My Agape Valentine's.


I was not yet in love, yet I loved to love...I sought what I might love, in love with loving. –St. Augustine of Hippo

Love is in the air, tainting our fair city of Chicago. Red and pink hearts seem to plaster the window displays of each storefront I walk past and I can’t help but notice all the adoring couples walking arm in arm…cooing and cuddling till their little hearts content.

It’s also left an unsettled feeling in the pit of my stomach. Bitterness seems to scoff at these joy filled couples—and no matter how many streets I walk down, for every happy couple...it seems there are two people who feel they are not worthy of love.

My spirit of lust for love totally understands and empathizes.

When the first person you’ve ever been ‘in love’ with breaks your heart, everything changes.

Whoa, whoa, whoa people. I can hear you judge me through the computer, groaning, ‘Thank you, Captain Obvious!’…but cut me some slack here!

See, prior to that first love, I had certainly been broken up with…but it never truly hurt. And if it did hurt, it only lasted a day or two and soon I would find myself moved on to the newest flavor of the week. Of course I’d felt the pangs of losing a friend, or suddenly being deprived of sweet texts, phone calls, physical touch, compliments and words of affirmation. But…I’d never really lost a piece of my heart.

It’s one thing to watch the movies and pretend to know, and it’s another to stare at the pieces lying on the ground in front of us. We never truly realize how much it will actually change our lives until it happens.

Of course it comes in stages and waves. First, the colors of life drastically change. Things suddenly become more or less clear.

Over night, the compliments from that classmate you really care about are something you take to heart. In an instant, you realize how important it is to stop taking for granted the people in your life who are willing to sit with you when you’re depressed and weeping. You are amazed, awed and ever grateful for the friends who have the strength and conviction to force you to go out dancing when they know it’s time for you to move on, but who also have the wisdom to simply sit in silence with you when you need it. It’s in these moments that you realize who your true friends are, and you find the strength to let the unhealthy acquaintances go.

When your heart breaks, it’s easy to see what is true and what is false. They say hindsight is 20/20 and I’m sure we’ve all experienced this in our love lives. We suddenly see the red flags, the bad habits, the lies that we were spoon-fed to keep us indoctrinated by the ideal of love until our partner determined whether or not they really were in love with us.

We’ve seen it time and time again:

People are immature. It wasn’t meant to be. C’est la vie. We move on.

So, if it’s as simple as this….why do I ache?

Around this time last year, I thought I had found the one that I was going to marry. I had given him my heart, my soul…and was even ready to give up my hopes and dreams to simply serve him under the glowing title of ‘wife’.

I was in love with him.

No, I was in love with the idea of him.

No, that’s not right…I was in love with love.

Essentially, I had lost my marbles for a guy that was the last person I should have been falling for. Go figure.

A year later, and I can officially say I haven’t been asked out since he hung up the phone that night he decided he wasn’t in love with me anymore [Yes, I just said hung up the phone…]. I haven’t been hit on by a sober male since…well, I suppose the same amount of time. Since then the only crushes I’ve had are on people who probably see me as their sister and the only bells I’ll be hearing for the next couple of years will be the alarm clock that tells me it’s time to stop dreaming of romance.

My heart has been aching a lot more as I approached the one-year anniversary of my heart being shattered into a million pieces. Perhaps because I know he’s moved on. Perhaps because I know he never really cared to begin with. Maybe because I feel foolish for having been so care free with my heart when I had the opportunity to protect it.

But…today, when I simply want to scream…

‘AM I NOT WORTHY OF BEING LOVED?!’

I start wondering if it’s just all the Valentine’s day crap loaded into each window display I pass.

What is with this hype?!

First world problems, right?

It’s sad that a hash tag on twitter was the slap in the face that I needed to wake up from my disillusioned state of wanting love. Laugh all you want, but these past couple of months have made me realize how incredible a gift it is to ache.

As Valentine’s day approaches…as I begin to call it ‘Single's Awareness Day’, out of frustration for my lack of a more dynamic relationship status on facebook, I realize that the only thing making me feel less joy filled in my singleness is a holiday that is actually meant to remind us to love and appreciate those who accept us for our authenticity.

Last Valentine’s day…I was so depressed I could barely move from my bed. But as I stared at the ceiling, knowing that eventually I would have to get out of bed, drag my butt to class and then rehearsal—I made the decision to make the beautiful day at hand, that so many of us choose to despise, about loving humanity and not about having a romantic someone. I bought two-dozen cupcakes at our local super ‘in’ cupcake store and gave them to my cast, crew and random people on the street. I made Valentine’s for my classmates and teachers. I gave notes to strangers and smiled at as many people as I could.

And yes, by the end of the day…I experienced the first ounce of relief since my heartbreak.

Why? Because I loved fully. Maybe not someone, but instead all.

I loved ALL my brothers and sisters in Christ.

And it was more fulfilling than any romance I’ve ever partook in.

That boy that I was so desperate to give myself to has moved on and probably forgotten about me. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he resents the fact that I didn’t ‘fight’ for a friendship after he left me bed ridden for weeks. But the truth of the matter is that he wasn’t enough for me. I was in love with love. I was in love with the idea of finding the perfect someone for me so that I could enjoy my Valentine’s day the way the media told me I ought to.

 I didn’t listen to what God was telling me from the start.

After a year of grieving, weeping, loathing, missing, wanting, needing, hating, loving, and hoping—I’m finally realizing that he was just a stepping stone, and no matter how hard he tried, he never would have made me truly happy in the end. He wasn’t my Prince Eric, my Cory Matthews, or my Link [#nerd].

But who cares? Who cares that I’ve yet to share a Valentine’s with a hunky someone? I am finally learning how to embrace and love being single without worrying about finding the right one! Why ruin that gift?

This season is about love, right? And, I’m sure we all can agree, love comes in all shapes and sizes—so let’s not neglect the Agape side of this holiday! Tell the next person you see on the street ‘You are loved!—You are enough!—You are beautiful!’

Who knows, you may just find a new reason to love.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Precious confidant: Sunflower seed bread and pizza.


Over the years I’ve learned the hard way how important it is to have friends that you can trust.  I’ve been stabbed in the back, dropped like a hot potato and deserted for size two’s enough times to write an award winning novel on teen angst. But, while I could write about all the unkind people I’ve met…for now I’d like to focus on a different kind of person…

She was sitting at the end of the long cafeteria table, picking at the piece of pizza that sat in front of her. She seemed shy and barely said a word as the girls around her chattered away about boys and class. I dreaded sitting down at the table as I looked at it from a distance. I knew I would get stuck sitting in the seat across from the shy girl. It always felt like such a chore to strike up conversation with someone who didn’t seem to have anything to say.

Slowly, but surely, I was led to the table [that would, eventually, become my comfort zone] and just as I had predicted, was instructed to sit across from this silent observer. Her big brown eyes looked at me, as she smiled.

I hadn’t anticipated such warmth.

“Katey, you and Carrie will get along great! She’s from Florida too!” one of the girls shouted to me from the other end of the table.

I faked a smile, and nodded as if this made me feel more at home…all the while thinking to myself ‘How many times do I have to say I’m not from Florida…I moved from Florida, but I am not from Florida. Is it really that hard to listen for five seconds?’

With this angst-ridden thought buzzing through my ‘new girl’ brain, I had missed the moment at which the shy girl, apparently a girl named Carrie, perked up.

‘You’re from Florida! Where did you live in Florida? Did you shop at Publix? I love their sunflower bread!’

I almost screamed.

Erie, Pennsylvania. A once booming industrial city, currently comprised of the most beautiful abandoned old factories, was in that moment my new ‘home’. My father had gotten a new job in the middle of my junior year of high school. So, I made the leap and transferred schools, in hopes of making friends before my senior year. It was either that, or moving up for my senior year without knowing anyone. Though painful to leave my theatre department, friends, memories [regardless of how painful or messy] and more importantly leaving my mother…I knew it was a wise risk to transfer early. I knew the Lord would give me the courage and strength to start new.

Not to mention, I was a little excited to meet new cute guys.

BUT, BREAD?! Really? Bread? My first conversation was going to be about bread?

I stared at her, and sort of fake smiled. I was appalled, a little annoyed…homesick as hell. I couldn’t stop thinking that there was no way this girl and I would ever be friends...

A week went by. Every day I sat at the table. Every day I got stuck across the table from her. Every day she ate pizza. I soon learned all she ever ate was pizza. Growing up in a household of ‘Organic’ and ‘NO MICROWAVES’ and ‘Vitamins! Minerals! Herbs! Oh my!’…the idea of a person eating pizza every day seemed foreign and a little weird.

I wasn’t being judgmental! I simply knew what worked well for me and what didn’t.

And she didn’t.

I mean…granted, I wasn’t super healthy, but her life was drastically different from mine. She was different from me.

We could never be friends.

Two weeks later. I was beginning to meet people, but there was a piece of my heart that felt empty. The snow was driving me crazy, the gray skies were depressing and I just wanted to be back in sunny Florida! I missed the smell of warmth, of the Gulf. I missed my stunning theatre, the stage that I had laid on so many times, staring into the lights as I dreamt of my future.

Conversations of bread, snowy weather for two months straight and the shy girl had not been what I had in mind when I planned my move.

But life is never exactly how we plan it, is it?

I concealed my heartache with my smile, and I thought eventually the cool kids would realize I was worthy of a little attention. But as we’ve already established, things never go exactly as we plan…And so, instead of being noticed by who I thought would make me feel significant, the shy girl invited me out to the art museum.

[Which I later came to understand was incredibly out of character for her to invite anyone out. Funny how God’s will moves us to do things so completely outside of ourselves.]

But once again, after an afternoon with her away from our comfortable little cafeteria table…I was sure we should never be friends! I was loud and ridiculous and silly…she seemed put off and confused. She laughed, but she seemed uncomfortable and when we parted at the end of our outing…I couldn’t imagine her ever wanting to spend time alone with me.

 When God truly loves us, He does not give us what we want…but what we need.

This upcoming January, my best friend Carrie and I will have known one another for five years. Through the ups and the downs, the doubts, the fights, the tears, the obnoxious phone calls at three in the morning…we have become sisters. We have learned one another’s hearts and come to understand each other’s quirks. We don’t have to do much to have fun. Sometimes it involves baking, other times driving around aimlessly while chatting about boys…sometimes we come together in prayer. But what makes us work so well is our willingness to sacrifice for the other.

Yes, we still have differences. We disagree. We fight. We don’t talk for weeks at a time…but we’ve pushed one another to be the best that we can be. Our friendship has been a clear result of Christ’s work, because had either of us been in control…well, let’s just say I really didn’t have a lot to say about bread.

 But, I for one, know I would have been a lesser person for having let her go.

When God was screaming for me to see how wonderful she was, I was too blinded by my own immature judgment to recognize an honest heart. I am so thankful that she was open to His will, and never backed down when it came to being my friend. I am thankful that she came to visit me for my birthday this year, and made it yet another special memory. I am thankful that the Lord knows our hearts so much more than we do, because I can’t imagine living this life without my best friend, my sister in Christ…my confidant.

I love you, Carrie—who’d have thought that after all these years, I’d give anything to be in a room with you, eating pizza and talking about bread.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Eucharist of Euphoria


In response to a fellow blogger who questioned why people loved their church, I have written a reflection on my relationship with the Eucharist. While I know that many people who will read this will not be Roman Catholic, I wanted to be completely honest with myself while answering this question. Why do I have such a devotion to the mass? Why do I love adoration? Why do I make sure I don’t miss my weekly meeting with my Lord at the altar? My formation in faith was greatly deepened by my relationship with my Love through the mass and time spent in adoration. I would not be as whole, as loving, as accepting, as warm, as strong, as devout or as child-like had I not spent countless hours in church and in the adoration chapel during my adolescent years. While this does not necessarily articulate the reasons why I love the Roman Catholic Church so deeply, it may shed some light on the relationship with the one others call Savior, and whom I prefer to refer to as my ‘Divine Husband’.

Thank you, as always, for allowing this to be a safe place for me to share.  


“Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed

I kneel, hands held tightly to my heart. I feel like a child who is anticipating Christmas morning. I feel His Spirit so gently beckoning my soul to come closer, and soon the waiting becomes unbearable.

First row. Second row. Third row.

My heart is racing. My face fights back the smile that so desperately wants to appear. My cheeks begin to burn:

I get to meet the most important and true man of my dreams at the altar once again.

During the week, I have such a hard time not feeling…disconnected from the world. Somehow I feel like I’m less a citizen of this culture because I live a lifestyle so outside of what might be considered ‘normal’.

And after a long week of being made invisible by the men that do not stand in the Light of Our Lord, I am reminded why I wait for the ‘right one’. This feeling that I get when I am in the presence of Him is overwhelming. This feeling of being full, of being complete…it’s worth more than anything society could promise.

It takes three for a perfect romance, and so I assume the Prince of Peace as my only spouse until my beautifully broken and earthly husband arrives to complete the trifecta.

Here, I am joy-filled in my singleness, knowing that one day a man will kneel beside me, as thrilled as I am at the prospect of meeting his Maker at the table of plenty.

I stand early. The people beside me are slow to rise and I find myself begging God for the patience and understanding not to jump over them.

“How can they be so calm?” I find myself thinking.

The Son of Man is standing in our midst! Our Savior is currently less than thirty feet from me.

How is everyone so calm…?

As we begin to move, I find my eyes gripped by the crucifix on the altar. The wounds I’ve inflicted on my Love. The lust, the pride, the envy, the rage, the profanity and disobedience. My sinfulness that drove the nails into His hands, and still He waits with arms wide open.

 ‘I am not worthy…’ echoes through the brokenness of my human frailty. I am not worthy of the love that He delightfully showers me with.

As a part of the body of His church, am I, too, His bride? Does He think adoringly on my presence as He watches me wait in anticipation to approach His altar?

His acceptance of His cross, His unwavering obedience and trust in His Father’s plan, and the very salvation that He seems to have given to me as a wedding gift… propels me towards His Divine body.

Before I can catch my breath, I realize I’m next. I bow, in hopes to find the right words to express my infinite joy when I approach Him, but I am overcome with emotion.

The priest raises Him before me and my Savior kisses my existence.

There is no way to articulate the complete and utter ecstasy of the initial impact that the most holy Eucharist has on my spirit. My physical being suddenly feels awake. My heart leaps, my body quivers and I am thrown into the most passionately sacred conversation with the great I Am. Each cell in my body dances and soon my heart is replaced by His. They beat in unison, and each beat is a hymn in adoration of His mercy and love for His children.

Our romance, our covenant, is one that is incomparable. In this moment of shared love, I want nothing more than to be His. 

I feel something warm drop down onto my hands still pressed tightly against my chest. Surprised at the interruption from my fervent prayer, I open my eyes to discover my cheeks painted with tears. 

Tears. Tears like those wept in the agony of the garden. Tears like those wept by our blessed mother as she watched her Son be persecuted.

Tears like those that a broken woman, who I most certainly resemble in wretchedness, used to wash the feet of the Son of God.

“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” Luke 7:47

Tears.

You, oh Lord, make me cry tears of joy.

Because you have taught my shattered soul to love, I am made worthy. Because you have saved me, I can rest in peace. Because you died that I might participate in this meal with You, I am made unbroken.

Love much? In your presence, my Divine Love, this is an easy request!