A Letter To The Universe From A Girl That Should Probably Not Be Taken TOO Seriously Because She Used To Have Mushroom Hair

“Make Yourself Necessary to Somebody. Do Not Make Life Hard to Any.”

-Emerson (He’s so freaking quotable)

~

Sometimes I wonder if I am letting my year of service slip away. Sometimes I also wonder if I am heading in the right direction. I worry that I have wasted too much time on this and that when I should have been focused on the grand scheme of things, the bigger picture of existence, the greater good of the human race. The days of this past year have slipped by so quickly as I find myself constantly consumed with those little distractions that buzz like flies around the interior of my life.

I have less than 2 weeks before I head off to Graduate School in Tuscaloosa. The stress and anxiety that comes with any life change is starting to affect my heart, mind, and body. Hence waking up at 4am and feeling an intense need to blog and make frantic, irrational to do lists with things like “Figure Out How to Fit Bulky Things in a UHaul ” and “Call This Random Person About That Thing.” I linger between letting go and letting begin. I am excited but very nervous that quite frankly the universe will not unfold as it should. So many tedious tasks that need to get taken care of before I begin. I feel I’m running after slivers of time, desperately trying to utilize each moment for some productive purpose but then only collapsing in mini fits of exhaustion and worry.

Furthermore, beyond my own bubble of a life, there are the larger conflicts brewing across this country and world that rub against my heart like sandpaper. The recent shootings remind me not only how our lives hang in a delicate, fragile balance but also reveal to me the raw pain that can fill someone’s heart. The tragedies also caused me to ponder all those deaths that do not fill our television screens or newspapers. Their realness remains. I suppose as a journalist I will do my best to tell a story. The story of everyone struggling to simply be, to exist, to believe, to defend, to fight, to love, to mean something.

If I look back to some of my New Orleans blog entries, I find myself expressing similar sentiments. I dislike being a broken record but it is the cycle I find myself spinning. This balancing act of fighting my own small battles while also feeling burdened by the more desperate battles of those around me and the strangers I will never meet. It can be overwhelming to take on the world, attempting to fix it, heal it,  mend the brokenness. We are each born with select ways of being and we let experiences leave marks on us, changing us, erasing us, building us. It is no great wonder that achieving such a mass movement towards peace seems impossible. But there is enough good in this world that gives me hope to power through another day without chugging multiple 5 Hour Energy shots. Those things scare me.

I can start with myself. And I choose to move forward with love. I know I worry that I do not do enough, that my time is not being used for the right reasons. But every interaction is another chance to spread love. It is not easy or even fathomable to make everyone happy. Perhaps, that is not the ultimate goal. I can make myself happy and let that happiness spread to others.  I can hold myself to higher standards. I must continue to be thankful to the extent there is no room for anything but appreciation for all those around me.

I am not positive on the point/theme of this post. These thoughts are just the ones that keep me awake at night as I try to compartmentalize my life and prepare for a year of school. I am honestly just another person trying to exist while hoping, praying that it will mean something in the long haul of life.

KT

And just a few of the people I’m thankful for… 🙂

Love and Finding It. Where I’m at With That at The Ripe Age of 24.

A summer of weddings. Everyone’s permanence fades into my backdrop.  I dance, float, smile and laugh, light as a feather to the world but harboring a heart that hits the ground like dead weight at the end of night. “Why not me?” I hear myself whisper as I crawl into bed underneath a sky that feels bigger each night.

I am continually putting a large amount of pressure on myself to find the right person at the right place at the right time. There’s a naive longing inside me to live my life as a movie full of those right times with an overall comforting feeling of knowing that it will work out in the end because that’s what people want to see. However, my real life is filled with confusion, unexplainable feelings, and no safety net to ensure a happy ending will in fact happen.

Dating in my 20s feels more like a twisted game of musical chairs than an actual journey for the right person to join me for the grand production that will be the rest of my life. I feel I’m not the only one living with that unspoken fear that any minute the music will stop, and I will be knocked to the ground with nothing to show for myself. Or. What If I find out the chair I’m sitting in is a completely wrong fit? As people pair up around me, I start to feel the loneliness inside ache like a pinched nerve.

I hear that voice in my head laughing, “You are so young. What’s the rush?” After all, I’m still figuring it all out. Or at least that’s the blanket statement I use for my life lately. However, there’s also the worry I’ll be the little, lonely elderly woman squinting over her TV tray in her recliner thinking, “Hey, what’s the rush?”  Time can quickly slip away from under us while we make excuses and false promises to ourselves that each situation or experience will be different and better than the last.

I must remind myself that life is surprising. Surprising in ways that can hurt but also in ways that can powerfully uplift, uproot, and transform a person.

If I step back and observe the world around me for what it actually is rather than what it is portrayed to be, I see love is not some predictable formula that happens at a certain time or rate. Our hearts could never be tied to such a measurable, rational rhythm.  People fall in love at 16, 25, 38, 56, 89 and every age in between. Relationships flourish beautifully, but they may also fall apart tragically. There is not one right time in our lives where we will be perfectly open and ready. People are continually evolving, thus love must be continually evolving.

Everyone is making their own timelines, writing their own agendas. There is no rational reason for me to constantly compare notes with the person next to me. It’s tempting to get caught in the fanfare of weddings, the sound of glasses tinkling to new beginnings with that surreal promise of forever. However, after the honeymoon suitcase hits the floor, life will unfold into a reality that may not be at all what he had in mind.   You just look beside you and make sure you believe in the person who is there to tough it out and laugh it out with you. Not this checklist idea of a dream bachelor or bachelorette. But a human being that made a commitment because they saw something in someone else that they simply could not forget or imagine living without.

For now, I resist the urge to feel hopeless, impatient, and a slave to the “Why Not Me?” philosophy. I choose to keep forging my own timeline, to keep digging inside each moment to find the person that I’m meant to be and the person I’m meant to be with. It may be tomorrow or it may be years from now. Love is no longer a light at the end of the tunnel or some cloud that hangs over me ready to drop. I see it as a journey of highs and lows that perhaps I am meant to appreciate rather than attempt to fully understand or question. Hope and faith are what I carry.  I’m a lucky girl with the life that has been dealt to me.  I need to remind myself of that at every turn.

Can’t help but think of this song “Love Like The Movies” by the Avett Brothers.

For now, I’m thankful for some of the loves already in my life pictured below. And these are just a few of them! 🙂

KT

The Year My Life Didn’t Look So Fabulous on Facebook.

So. Many months have passed since I wrote my first post filled with that new blog euphoria. I had every intention of regular updates. But like to-do lists and New Year’s resolutions, this blog got pushed to the back-burner of my life. A couple of worthy things have happened since October. I got into Graduate School for Journalism at the University of Alabama and will be starting in August. Roll Tide. I quit my retail job back in February and have since spent my days working at a local YMCA.

While my YAV year was challenging in that I learned to live with 5 strangers and serve the people on the streets of New Orleans, this year has been oddly tougher.  On the surface, living in my parents’ basement, working part-time, figuring out my dreams/goals/life purpose sounds like a pretty sweet setup.  However, over the past few months of minimum wage work and just hanging out thinkin’ I’ve found myself consumed with inner turmoil.

I recently read Meg Jay’s The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now. The title may sound a little corny and it’s not Bossypants  but this book has solid advice on understanding what the hell is going on in your brain, body, and heart during your 20’s. You hear a lot about the teenage years being filled with angst and drama and raging hormones, etc. You also get an earful about the wild, experimental college years. But I never heard many honest, candid discussions about navigating “modern adult life.”  Each year, graduates are shot like canons into a dating and job market that is as confusing and unpredictable as it is frightening.  Sure we were given “101 Things a College Grad Should Know” and cutesy cards with inspirational “Take the Road Less Traveled” type quotes. But what I personally needed was a card with the following message:

“Dear overly optimistic, slightly naive college grad proudly clenching that B.A in English: You are going to be lost and confused for a good chunk of time.  In fact, you are going to make some less than smart decisions. You’ll date the wrong people, you’ll make the wrong friends, and you’ll find yourself in jobs you aren’t meant for. But the right fits are there. And you’ll realize it. Just have a little patience. What you do now DOES matter 20 years down the road. Everyone will always seem one step ahead of you. That’s ok. You aren’t going to wake up one random, sunny morning and discover you are Tina Fey.  Although you are both hilarious and impossibly attractive.  Go ahead and reach for the stars but realize that might mean doing something less than dignified before you touch gold.  And oh yeah.  Please get off Facebook.”

Everyday that I hop onto Facebook someone has just become engaged, married, had their first child, been accepted into medical school, law school, found their dream internship or starter job at a promising company,  gone off to a beautiful foreign country, etc. Apparently this is the time where it’s all supposed to be happening and I am not sure what “it” is but it does not seem to be happening to me. Don’t get me wrong I am happy for my peers and I know lives are never as glossy and perfect as those cropped cover photos. But it’s hard to keep up hope that I’m heading in the right direction as I fold and hand freshly washed gym towels to overly good-looking men and women at a gym.

But. BUT. Here’s the thing (finally making my point). This particular year has been a learning experience like no other time in my life. And while at first I considered this my “off year,” my “transition year” my “I REALLY meant to learn how to do my own taxes and cook outside the microwave year,” I now see it was actually full of mini revelations.  It’s funny how so often you don’t realize what is happening to you until after the fact. That was the case with my YAV year and thus is case of August 2011 until now.

I’ve learned:

  • I spend a great deal of time avoiding life rather than living it.
  • Sometimes you just have to do things scared.
  • Relationships don’t just require work but a desire to work.
  • Being somebody that can be loved is just as important as loving someone.
  • You can’t pick and choose the moments that you are a friend. You just have to be one.
  • Criticism is out there. Decipher what’s constructive and what will never matter.
  • Let family be your rock when things get out of control.
  • Life doesn’t have to be a rat race to some unidentifiable prize.  Just let it be about creating meaning one experience at a time.
  • 4-way stops are terrifying. I will never be good at telling who got there first.
  • Canadian Idol>American Idol

The twenties are for building a life that matters. I think I’m beginning to understand that even as my frontal lobe works through its final kinks.

KT

P.S- All incorrect grammar in this post is simply ironic. I did that on purpose.

Life in the Neutral Zone

I recently returned from a YAV Transition Retreat at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico, one of my favorite places in the world. The desert landscape is absolutely  stunning as you can see below.

Chimney Rock at Ghost Ranch

The retreat was medicine for my soul that I was not even aware I needed. In addition to the breathtaking atmosphere, I was surrounded by my fellow YAVS,  fantastic young people who have been around the world this past year giving the whole save the world thing a try. From Kenya to India to Nashville to Atlanta and beyond, we have experienced suffering and injustice at all levels, and it is often hard to make others truly understand what has happened to us. It was wonderful to be able to unite once again and share the feelings that were running through my veins.

We talked about getting asked the question, “So, how was your YAV year?” I have found this question nearly impossible to answer because it is difficult to combine everything I did and experienced into an accurate, short 10 second summary (any longer and the person will most likely wander away disinterested). What is “my story?” I don’t view my year as a separate chamber of my life. It was not “time off” by any means but rather full immersion into the realities of life and how does one handle those realities as a Christian, as a representation of the Church.

I left the Retreat feeling more comfortable with where I am now and more hopeful about my future. I have been feeling a little lost since I came back from New Orleans as it feels like everyone around me is racing towards a finish line that I cannot even see. But now I know I need this time,this calm wave amidst the crashing tide. This Neutral Zone as the YAV program calls it. I linger between Letting Go and Letting Begin. An essential stage that the fast paced American society chooses to ignore. This stage does not fit society’s expectations of where I should be and is most certainly not a common rung on the life ladder of upward mobility. However, I am perfectly content in this phase of my life. I have grown accustomed to the constant questions, “What are you doing now? What are you doing next? Do you have a plan? Are you going to go to school? What for? Are you going to get a real job?” The questions used to frustrate me, used to make me feel like a failure. But I now know that is far from the case, and no matter what anyway says, I am right where I need to be. God is with me and will continue to guide me to where I can use my gifts to best serve and provide for this world.

I would like to share with you a poem that my friend and fellow YAV Luke wrote about our community. It encapsulates the YAV experience beautifully and speaks to what is written on my heart.

This community will not be broken.
There is
too much love
too much compassion
too much hope
too much energy
too much contagious enthusiasm
too much life.
We are full of life.
This community is a living thing.
This community will not be broken.
We separate tonight
so many different directions
to many places
to endure many pains and sorrows.
We will struggle.
We will hurt.
We will cry out to God
and ask, “Why do you let this happen?”
But the community will not be broken.
We will lift each other up
in prayer and in action.
the kind word.
the loving gesture.
God has put us together,
a community that will stand in solidarity and partnership
with the poorest of the poor, the victims of
cultures
systems
societies,
prejudices
principalities
that would have us believe they aren’t human. Not worthy.
We will ache.
We will feel a longing for God’s love for all unlike anything
we’ve ever felt before.
We will cry.
We will yell.
We will break down.
Hit rock bottom.
But when we need someone
that very moment
when we feel we’re useless
powerless against forces so far
beyond our control
we’ll stand as a community
we will not be broken.
and we will change the world.

Blessings,

Katie

Friends, Romans, Countrymen…

Hello everyone. This is new blog of mine. I will post thoughts on just about everything. Poems, takes on current events, you name it. I’m an avid writer and want to try to make this a consistent thing. So stay tuned!
“It seems to me that the problem with diaries, and the reason that most of them are so boring, is that every day we vacillate between examining our hangnails and speculating on cosmic order.”  ~Ann Beattie, Picturing Will, 1989