Own Who You Are

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It is a terribly tragic thing; the way a person can become so familiar with abuse throughout a lifetime, that even long after the escape, they fall so quickly back into the darkness at their very own leaping, as if their heart had never been dancing in the light before. 

Yet, how beautiful it is to be lifted up everyday by people who know you better than you know yourself. People who see you fall and help you get back up. How wonderful it is, to have someone call you out on your own shit. To remind you of your worth with an inside joke, a smile, a kiss, a text, a rose 🌹. Whatever it is, these people are your tribe.

I guess some of us really do get that lucky. If you are that lucky, thank your tribe and help them back up too. 

If you find yourself back in the darkness and you have not found your luck yet, may I take a moment to call you out on your own shit, and remind you how hard you have fought every single day before this one. How your track record of bad days is actually pretty fucking stellar and the fact that you keep forgetting that is the only thing making today even more exhausting.

You aren’t perfect and you don’t need to be. Stop trying to look and act like the rest of the world. For in your imperfections, you are MORE than perfect. You are a work of art, and this life is your very own canvas. A limited edition, by yours truly.

While you may not be able to leave this museum you find yourself bounded to by life’s etching, you sure as hell can paint it any color that you’d like! You can even break down a wall every once in a while and let in a little bit of light. 

After all, you do own the place. 

Xoxo 

Kat

Are we there yet?

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When I was a married woman, my life seemed to fit into this perfectly wrapped box. It was a package deal. All inclusive. The corners of that box were dented and rough along the edges, but the contents never changed. I knew exactly what was expected of me, day after day. 

The list: Get married ✔️, Finish college ✔️, Establish a career ✔️, settle down somewhere ✔️, buy a house (negative), have kids (negative). 

That didn’t all work out exactly as described in the package I purchased. After all, I was just 19 and the whole package was only $50, limo included. “What did you expect..”they say. “It’s Vegas!” Biggest gamble and lesson of my life by far. However, I can honestly say I’ve  never been more grateful for such a disappointment.

No, the white picket fence dream was never mine. It was never meant for me, and that’s ok. I know that now. I’ve known that for a while.

Today, I have the best friends you could ask for, a beautiful, warm home to live in, a car that still runs efficiently after 10 years, 2 college degrees ( and the loans to prove it). I’m even blessed somehow with an amazing man who treats me like some form of an endangered species! ❤

 I have a great career, one that I’m proud of and one that I could actually retire from. Yes, it’s exhausting but that’s because I actually care about what I do. I’ve traveled some, I’ve grown some. In all calculated aspects, I am pretty damn happy! Anyone who knows me at all knows that I have fought like hell to get here. Everything I have, I have built for myself, from myself.

So why do I feel so lost here by myself? Where am I going? Am I there yet…?

That’s the funny thing about once you get everything you THOUGHT you ever wanted. You are all packed up in the car and you’re just sitting behind the steering wheel with absolutely no other destination. You didn’t actually plan to get this far!  You just thought having all of the parts would make the journey complete. 

” If I could just get this one job….” 

” If I can just ace this last class…”

” If I could just find a place that feels like home…”

” If I made just a little more money…”

” If I found the perfect guy..”

Now what? 

Where the hell am I going and will I even know when I finally get there? These are the questions I ponder. These are the things I don’t say out loud. These are my first world problems. Is everything perfect in my life? Not even close! But then again, that’s what makes it mine.

Truthfully, it’s not really about where you end up is it? It’s more about the journey itself. Who we meet, who we become, what we learn along the way, the way we DO better once we KNOW better.

 I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m enjoying the sound of things not meant for me lost in the wind. I’m pleased with my present company, and excited for wherever we end up. I’m actually happily incomplete. 

So the next time you think to yourself; ” If I could just lose weight…” ” If I could just have a baby..” ” If I could just do more… be more..”. Imagine you have it. You have all of it. Now what? 

None of it will make you anymore complete because most things we think that we need are only souvenirs, or small pieces to the big never ending map of life. Some pieces are huge! Friends, family, heartache, love, loss; everything else,we could live without and end up on the same journey, just a little less distracted by all the What Ifs…

Xoxo 

Reflection – 2016 Year End

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Earlier this year, I decided my word for 2016 would be “Present”, as in being actively present in life and all parts of it. The good and the bad. As a result, I believe 2016 has felt like one of the longest and most intense years of my life. If this year were a cocktail, I’d call it Crazy Mary. Yes, that is a Pearl Jam song.

“One night thunder cracked. Mercy backed outside her windowsill.
Dreamed I was flying high above the trees over the hills.
Looked down into the house of Mary.
Bare bulb on Newspaper covered walls. And Mary rising up above it all.
Oh… Oh… Oh…
Next morning on the way into town saw some skid marks and followed them around.
Over the curve, through the fields, into the house of Mary.
That what you fear the most could meet you halfway.”

That last line strikes a true chord in me. “That what you fear the most could meet you halfway.” Whether you are terrified of success or failure, love or heartbreak, what you know for sure and what you know nothing about at all; whatever it is, it could meet you halfway. That’s  both a frightening and reassuring statement to consider. It’s like saying whatever happens, it’s going to hurt eventually because it matters… but if you are willing to go for it, if you’re willing to really put yourself out there (balls to the wall), then it could meet you halfway. Isn’t that better than never having it? Never knowing? Living the same day over and over again like a bad Justin Bieber song….for the love, someone change the station!!

Oh wait, it’s you, you have to change the station if you want to experience something new. You may not like it, it could even be worse, but it will be different. Change is good. Change is always good because we learn from it and knowedge is infinite.

I learned a lot this year…. some things I had to learn more than once. That’s just me. I’m very thorough you see. I don’t make the same mistake twice, I like to make it three or four times JUST to be sure ! (As the saying goes…) I’m also very stubborn and I wouldn’t want to be any other way.

With that said… let’s re-cap the 2016 Bucket List

1.) Go to Prom – Check!

Not only did my prom date kick ass, but Salt-N-Peppa were there to help us dance the night away in the proper decade! This was an awesome night and proves some of the best nights are worth the wait.
salt-n-peppa

 

2.) Road trip in a convertible – Check!

We were so excited about cruising around in the convertible that I never actually took any pictures of the car itself. Note: It was a Ford Mustang and a fabulous addition to this road trip!

3.) Go on tour with Pearl Jam – Check!

What better excuse for a road trip than to follow Pearl Jam around for a week? Alright, alright… so I know that doesn’t classify as actually going on tour with Pearl Jam …but just let me have this one, because it’s probably as close as I’ll ever get!

From Miami to Tampa with 2 of my favorite girls and my favorite band.

These shows were E P I C as always. I love you Pearl Jam! I love you Eddie! #yourbiggestfan

4.) Complete a half-marathon – Check!

kat.halfmarathon

Anchorage Mayor’s Half Marathon, 2 hours and 38 minutes. I am very proud of this accomplishment and I’m even contemplating a full marathon in the future. I said contemplating… don’t get all excited just yet.

5.)  Go somewhere in Alaska I’ve never been – Check!

Homer, Alaska. Beautiful waters, great halibut fishing and good times all around.


 

6.) Find a rainbow Eucalyptus tree – Check!

Maui, Hawaii


 

While we were in Maui, I also checked off:

#7: Travel the road to Hana and #8: Visit a new island.

My friend drove the road to Hana for us and I have to say it wasn’t as bad as people make it out to be. However, if you are easily car sick, this is not the drive for you. With that said, it’s a fine ride with the appropriate dose of Dramamine and the right people. That is until you pass Hana of course, and then you are basically SOL in a rented SUV. The previous twists and turns makes what lies after Hana look adorable. We turned around a mile or so away from the Seven Sacred Falls. Some things just belong on a post card! Here’s a bit of what we did see…


9.) Publish first novel – Epic fail. I did not do this for many reasons. Did I finish the book? Yes, I did. I just haven’t figured out if that’s how I want to end. I’m just not done. I don’t know if I ever will be as what’s in this book is all a very intricately weaved web of days gone by and days not yet had. More to come…

I didn’t really have a number 10 this year. I was just going to fly by the seat of my pants and see where things took me. Here’s how that has worked out:

  • Started backpack initiative for keeping the homeless warm. Donations have been received to date for this project and distribution is in the works with a local charity.
  • Set out to lose an additional 10 lbs, only 25 to go! Yes, I gained quite a bit of weight this year but I’ve also never felt healthier or happier. You win some, you lose some. Not always in pounds.
  • Brought my sister to Alaska for the first time! It was so much fun to introduce her to my beautiful world. I love her so much and so glad she got to see where I call home.
  • Fell in love. ❤ He’s like Christmas morning. Every time I see him, I feel like I’ve been waiting my whole life.
  • Let go of toxic relationships. If people in your life are consistently handing you the scissors, cut the chord.

So that’s where I am in Living Out Loud. Where are you? Do tell.

It’s been a great year! I can’t wait to see what 2017 holds.

xoxo

❤ Kat

For what it’s worth…

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Quote by William Leal by LovelyDayFleur on Etsy:

When is the last time you remember feeling inspired? It is rare and far between for me these days. I’ve been drowning in bad politics, media cocktails, numb interactions, work, routine, petty first world problems. I’ve also been consumed with love, friendships, happiness, memories, the fast pace of it all so fucking familiar… so messy. I haven’t really taken any time to just absorb it. To just sit and breathe it all in. We’re so damn busy trying to catch up that we forget to sit down, shut up and just be still in this life we have created. For some of us, that seems impossible. For others, that is completely uncomfortable because it’s not the life we imagined.

It seems there should always be more. Why am I not where I thought I would be? Why am I not better? How can I be more, do more, live more? Expectations can lead us blindly into the land of never enough. There is no value to anything there because there is no gravity of the present. Even if you sold your very soul in a place like that, you’d get only a fraction of its worth. The sooner you let go of what could have, might have… the less you’ve got to lose. That’s not to say you shouldn’t keep reaching for your goals or working towards your dream, but wake up every once in a while and cherish how far you’ve already come. Respect the years traveled. Time is your most valuable currency.

None of us are living the same story, but the struggle I sense is the same. Maybe we fall in love with life and we start to lose sight of the things that kept us so busy before. The bucket list. The goals. The job. So, we beat ourselves up over it and get back to being focused, responsible, boring adults. Yet, isn’t falling in love with life exactly what we are all after in the first place? Isn’t that the very sparkle in the hopeless romantics eye? The universal language of hope, the endless search and reason. We actively seek it out. We listen to all of the songs, watch the movies and read all of the books. We dream of a world so promising that the poetry and lyrics remain damp on our lips as we sleep. Still, we can’t be bothered with the meticulous beating of our own hearts.

When you wake tomorrow, think of what a beautiful thing it is to be alive. Take a moment not to dread that it is Monday, because you are that much closer to another exciting Friday. Each day is so full of potential. Recognize it. Taste your coffee. Inhale and exhale consciously. Daydream. Wonder. Challenge yourself just because you can, with no end reward or list to check it off from. Maybe your challenge is a day without challenges. Maybe you just show up, do your best and the challenge is allowing that alone to be enough.

All I’m saying is, allow yourself a bit of grace when you have earned it.

xoxo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everything You Need

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You know how we are always on this mission as a society to find out who we really are and who we are supposed to be? Some of us are obsessed with it. We read all the articles, scan all the blogs, complete all 24 days of the 30 day challenges. We fail. We set ourselves up to fail by trying to follow some unrealistic goal to become this perfect robot of an individual. Yet, in trying to be perfect, we actually set ourselves WAY back. Maybe we try to sleep even though we aren’t tired because the perfect person gets 7-8 consecutive hours of sleep each night. We don’t eat when we are hungry because we’ve already reached our daily calorie goal, or we don’t eat at all because we are frustrated and then eat everything in sight! It doesn’t just apply to how we treat our bodies today but also to relationships. ESPECIALLY to relationships! The drama, the forced interactions, the people you don’t even like who you for some reason feel obligated to make unnecessary conversation with. When in reality, they probably don’t want to have the conversation either.

When we were all kids, we probably ate when we were hungry. We napped when we were tired. If someone was impolite or we just simply didn’t like them, we did not have to put up with that person unless they were an adult. When we were little, if it didn’t make us happy or satisfy our needs, we didn’t want it. We had no use for it. Kids are so smart!

As adults, we spend most of our time trying to make others happy instead of ourselves. We spend time on ourselves only trying to fit into the perfect box instead of understanding we don’t belong in any box to begin with. It is an unfortunate pattern I see in myself and in others too often. A pattern of self doubt that infects our quality of life each day. We lay in bed and worry about tomorrow as if it is promised. Why am I here? What is my purpose? Am I enough? Imagine if we used that same energy to make ourselves happy, how that happiness would infect our life with entirely different results!

Turns out… you can learn a lot about yourself by just going for a nice long run…a 13 mile run actually.

kat.halfmarathon

When I first decided to register for this half marathon 6 months ago, I was doing what I always do. I was making  a list of things I have never done and never thought I could do for the year. I like to have goals for the year so I have a road map of where I’m going. The bucket list has been my sense of purpose for quite some time now. I love my list. I have also noticed I am a little co-dependent with the list. Over the last year, I have made the list more flexible. I have removed and added new things. I have allowed myself to edit. I have allowed for things not to get checked off. Honestly, I was really worried this race was going to be one of those things. How could I actually do this?

For those of you who know me or have been following my blog, you might know that when I first started running I could barely run 2 minutes without gasping for air. I still struggle with a steady pace but I enjoy the struggle when it’s over. So I keep doing it.  I trained, I ran my ass off and I am damn proud to have completed this particular race in 2 hours and 38 minutes. That so far is my best. That is not perfect. That is not above average. That is not below average. That is just my best and that is totally enough for me. I now have the satisfaction of checking this off my list and the desire to do it all over again! Crazy, right?!

My first thought when I finished this race was “I didn’t know I could do that”. I didn’t know I could run 13 miles. I didn’t know I could out run the guy behind me. I didn’t know how amazing it would feel to finish it! The feeling of accomplishment among other runners matched with the mutual sense of community and support you feel around each other is the best part of any race. Nothing is forced out there. We are all just trying to do our best. We are all tired at the end. We all wanted to give up at some point but we didn’t. We didn’t give up. For some of us, completing our run every day may just be the one thing we feel like we have control over in our life.

No, I didn’t know I could actually run a half marathon in under my 3 hour goal. I also didn’t know I could graduate college with honors. I didn’t know when I was 16 that I would learn to drive and travel all over the United States. I didn’t know I could survive immeasurable loss and heartache. I didn’t know I could go back one day and stare it in the face. I didn’t know I could grow into what people tell me is an amazing writer. I didn’t know any of it. Sometimes what you don’t know about yourself is everything you need to start the incredible journey of discovery. That’s what life is. It is a journey. There will be set backs. There will be unexpected detours, road blocks and sometimes it’s difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Keep going. When you reach your destination it will most likely be more than you expected. It will be better. You will be better too for having reached it.

I’m so thankful for what I have learned that I didn’t know before. I’m so proud of the life I have built and the things I have gone through that made the path to get me here. No, I didn’t know any of it was possible. I didn’t have a master plan. I still don’t! I am just winging it. List in hand, all sights forward and living out loud. I hope I see you out there.

xoxo

Keep Going. Everything You Need Will Come To You At The Perfect Time:

Letting go

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*The hardest thing is watching somebody you love forget they love you...* #alzheimers #dementia #caregiver:

We are raised knowing our parents will get older. We spend our teenage years rebelling against them and our early 20’s tolerating their need to still treat us like children. Sighing and rolling our eyes as they continue to remind us that the way we do absolutely everything is not the way they would do it.  Not even close.

The years go by and they complain we never call anymore and still remind us of the simplest things like… “wear a coat”. We listen, we sigh.We grudgingly wear the damn coat, even though we are sweating when it’s 75 degrees an hour later. All the while , we are fully aware that they will not always be around. That one day we are going to wish they were there to get on our nerves. Even though they weren’t perfect. Even though we aren’t always sure why. The day will come when we will want to give just about anything to help them get back into their email account… (for the 100th freaking time), or just to ask them what that one ingredient for a recipe was called that we can’t ever remember.

Luckily, if our parents have a sense of humor, they might try to help us prepare for this part of life by cracking jokes about their will or insisting they don’t need one. They will out live us after all… because they don’t forget their coat. They eat their vegetables. They wear sunscreen and go to bed early.

We kind of hope it’s true. This beautiful illusion we have that life will last forever simply because we love someone. Yet, we are adults and we know that death is just as much a part of life as birth.  We prepare ourselves for that day the best we can. We try to take care of them when they are sick, help them when they feel lost and soon the roles are reversed between parent and child. This, we can try to prepare for. This, we can plan.

The thing you really can’t prepare yourself for is the moment you realize you are grieving someone who is still very much alive, just no longer there. I could never have prepared for the person who taught me about life to forget how to live so completely. What’s worse, they forgot how to love anyone or anything. They become a shell and insist that you hate them, you must. But, you don’t. Not even close. You want to hate them. Hating them might make it easier. Loving someone who suffers from memory loss due to dementia or any mental illness is like watching them drown slowly in a room to which you do not have a key. You can’t pull them out. It’s not a lifetime movie. It’s not The Notebook. It’s a fucking nightmare.

This is not something I usually talk about. It has affected my life immensely. It matters because people matter to us. If your parents are still around to annoy you. If they tell you that they love you and that they wish you’d call them more. Believe them. The day you think you are preparing yourself for might be so much closer than you think.

“The trouble is you think you have time” – Buddha

xoxo

Kat

 

 

 

A letter to my Ex-Husband

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So many women and men in my life right now are struggling with their relationships. They struggle with staying or leaving. They struggle to build trust, respect or just to find that love that used to be there. They struggle with feeling worthless and confused. It is for this reason that I am publishing the following letter. This is a very personal letter that I wrote today upon realizing it had been two years since I was where some of you are. I just hope this moves you, inspires you, or at least lets you know it’s not the end.

Two years ago today, I decided to let you walk away. This time, I nailed the door shut. I duck taped the corners so your shadow couldn’t peek through.

I didn’t give up, I had just had enough. Enough of begging you to stay, enough of watching you pack and unpack. Enough of being made to feel the way I gave you the power to make me feel. Enough.

You always told me I would be lost without you, that if it weren’t for you who knows where I would be. You used to say that you “made me” and “Just remember how far you’ve come…”, that was your favorite lie.

Well, we both know the only thing you ever made was a real fucking mess. You certainly made one out of me. I’m still cleaning it up. Nine years in a storm takes time to recover from, but things are looking brighter every day.

Truth is, you wouldn’t recognize me if I passed you on the street. You see… these days I walk with my head held high and my heels higher. I take care of my body, my mind, and nobody loves me as much as I love me. I laugh loud and obnoxiously. I sing. I dance. I love like crazy! I EAT. I SLEEP. I DRINK. I travel without permission and I fill my heart with things you told me I’d never have. My debts are paid, emotionally and financially.

Yes, I’m still always late for everything because of who I am as a person.I still hold open doors, give strangers a ride to the store and stop to feed those “bums” on the street. Not because I’m stupid, but because that’s how people SHOULD treat people.

Yes, I still struggle with anxiety and depression, but those things will always be a part of me and I love that about me too. There is strength in weakness.

I still go to church even though I’m not perfect, because God doesn’t need me to be perfect. He just needs me to be good, and I am good. I am beautiful, strong and growing. I’m growing into all the things you wouldn’t recognize in me. The things that have always been there in the first place, they just needed to be let into the light.

The best part of my life today is that I am never as lonely as I was with you. The thing about being dead is you don’t know your dead. I am not dead anymore. I am at peace and I have so much love from my friends and family that it overflows from my heart and it spreads into the lives of those around me. I am better. I am living. Ultimately, I have you to thank for that.

Thank you for the pain. Thank you for walking away. Thank you for the lies, the apologies, the tears. Thank you for breaking me down into pieces so that I could build myself back up again. Thank you for rock bottom. Thank you from the depths of my crazy, imperfect, beautiful soul. I wish you all of the happiness in this world.

Respectfully, 

The one you made.

katvaldez