Author Archives: Katy

A Personal Note For The Weekend

Oh my goodness, you guys. This week has been a crazy year, hasn’t it? I remember joking that January seemed to go on forever, but then came COVID-19 and quarantine, and now peaceful protests and violent encounters happening every day across our country.

In the midst of everything, my uncle passed away this week.

I don’t talk much about my extended family, or really a whole lot about my family in general since the birth of my son. I wasn’t exactly close to my uncle. Growing up, I saw him for only a couple of days a year around Christmas. He used to make the best manicotti on Christmas Eve.

Even though I wasn’t very close to him, I know my family is hurting. This is my dad’s younger brother. My grandmother and my uncle’s two adult children are having to make difficult decisions this week, and I can’t be there in person to support them. Though I am supporting all of them from afar through phone calls, texts, and Zoom. It’s all just still very difficult.

Grief is weird. We grieve pretty much any time there is change or transition in our life. And there are a lot of people grieving right now for so many reasons. There is so much pain and sadness, that I feel tempted to put my own grief on the back burner to focus on others.

But the funny thing about grief is that it really doesn’t let you do that. When it needs attention, it demands it. I’ve felt that weight this week, physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s affected my ability to carry out every aspect of my life.

So, I’m going back to the basics this weekend of making sure I have space to grieve loss, grieve with others, and still manage to do the day to day (I mean, I’ve still got a toddler running around here, I can’t let it go to total chaos). I’m still committed to learning and listening. That’s not going to stop. So I’m taking the opportunity to slow down, to pay attention to what needs to be done right now and to listen to where God is leading me next.

Still Listening

Due to the climate in our country, I don’t feel like I can do what I normally do on the first Wednesday of the month and talk about what I read last month. I will move that blog post to next week. There are so many really great resources being shared right now that help describe and explain that Black experience in America, white supremacy, and systemic racism. One link that was passed around on Facebook and other social media sites was this list of various articles, books, and documentaries which is a great start.

Last year, I read two of the books that are being suggested (one of which is on the above list). I’ve already shared my thoughts on these books, so I will link those reviews here.

The first is I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown.

The second book I read last year was White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. I didn’t write a review for this book on my blog because I was taking a break at the time. I did, however, write a review on GoodReads which I will link here.

Both of these books are excellent. There are also some really good Black Fiction writers that I would recommend if nonfiction isn’t your genre. Tomi Adeyemi has written two books in her series, the first being Children of Blood and Bone which is based on African mythology. There is also The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and her second book (not a series but set in the same world), On The Come Up. And finally, If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson, which I read with the Life’s Library book club. It’s not her most recent or most famous piece, but it is really good. Her backlist is definitely on my TBR list.

Whatever you decide, I hope you enjoy a fresh perspective on the world. Diversity brings creativity and beauty to the written word. It can help us grow in empathy and understanding, prodding us on to action.

Say Something

If any of you use the Enneagram, I’m a 9w1, with a pretty strong wing 1 at that.  I abhor conflict and confrontation.  I don’t feel like I have anything to say that really isn’t already being said.  And, on top of that, I labor over the words I do say because I feel like they have to be perfect. And that keeps me silent for quite a while.

But you get to a point where you realize you need to speak up.

This week, I have read and listened to the pain that the Black community has experienced and is experiencing every day.  I listened to Otis Moss’s lament for Ahmaud Arbery.

I listened to the IGTV video of a conversation between Charlie Dates, a Black pastor in Chicago, and Beth Moore.

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#GeorgeFloyd #ChristianityAndRace

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I watched another conversation with Charlie Dates and Watson Jones, another Black Chicago pastor, as they reacted to George Floyd’s death and all the frustrations and anger that they felt.

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2 Pastors talk the tragedy of May 25, 2020

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And I watched the beautiful video from Nicole Walters, a Christian entrepreneur in Atlanta, who speaks of her life experience as a Black woman in America.

What has happened and is happening to Black people is wrong.  What happened to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Botham Jean, and the hundreds and thousands of other Black men and women who have been persecuted and died in the streets, in the stores, and even in their own homes is wrong.  It is evil.

I acknowledge that I have advantages and privileges given to me simply because of the way I look.  And I want our country to do better.  I want to do better.

I promise to continue listening and to promote the voices I’m listening to for others to hear.

I promise to lean into the discomfort.  I know I will get things wrong.  Even though I have felt pain, been isolated and ostracized, and know loss, I will not ever completely understand the Black experience.  I will only use my experiences to drive my empathy not to explain the experience of others.

Hebrews 10:34 says, ”Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated.”  Christ stood with the persecuted, the blamed, the outsiders, the oppressed.  And I want to stand with Christ.  So, I stand with them.

A Day In The Life

I have been obsessively watching Vanity Fair Does In A Day videos on YouTube. It fascinates me how celebrities and even average people choose to spend their day. Especially in this time of quarantine. So, I thought I would share a typical day.

I wake up between 5 and 6 in the morning. I get in a Bible study, wash my face, maybe shower if I didn’t do it the night before, and basically get ready for the day. If I have any time left over, I usually scroll through Instagram and check email. And if I have time after that (which I usually don’t but there have been unicorn moments) I will read one of the current books I’m reading.

Then it’s breakfast and outside activities (which include tending my garden) for most of the morning unless it’s raining. If it’s raining, then it’s usually reading books to the boy or doing puzzles or board games (there is an entire brand of board games that are mostly geared towards two years old and up. Check it out at Amazon here).

Lunch usually happens in the 11 o’clock hour, and then nap time directly afterwards. This is the time I get to really read, watch one episode of a show or part of a movie, do some laundry, maybe tidy or organize an area, or nap. Naps usually take precedence.

Then when nap time is over, it’s more time outside or maybe even some tidying up and light cleaning (especially if it is raining). There is some independent play thrown in there that allows me to focus on something else (like writing a blog post or doing some light planning like summer bucket lists or TV show/Movie bucket lists). But for the most part, it’s just play time.

Dinner prep starts in the 5 o’clock hour, depending on what I’m making. Most of my meals are pretty much either dump and go or they take about 15-20 mins to make. Sometimes I even get some toddler help (like when I make homemade pizza).

Dinner is around 6. This is when the husband is home and has some father/son bonding time. So, after dinner I either go on a run or a walk (doing the couch to 5K presently) or I clean up the kitchen. Then, if I exercised, I will clean the kitchen and do whatever else I need to do to prep for tomorrow. If it was an off day for exercise, I catch up on a video that I missed from Modern Mrs Darcy book club, or catch up on Marco Polos, or do some yoga or read or scroll Instagram or YouTube. Usually it’s some combination of a few of those. Then, I do the bed time routine with my husband and son.

Once bed time routine for the boy is done, it’s about 8 or 9. The later it is, the less I do. Lately, I’ve been taking my showers at night. I usually put on an overnight face mask after the shower and get ready for bed. Then, I will read and try to stay off my phone. And then it’s lights out.

This is probably the most typical day. There are a lot of interruptions. Sometimes my attention is desired more. Sometimes I don’t have a lot of focus. But I do give myself a lot of grace, and I wash my hands. A lot. (I use this brand of lotion to help my hands from cracking, after I dry my hands off). And of course, I didn’t include every detail of my morning routine or bed time routine or even every detail of my day.

Hope you are all finding ways to find rhythm and sanity in your schedules. Until next time…wash your hands.

How I’m Surviving Quarantine

One of my recent blog posts really got me thinking about how similar my experience with pregnancy loss and pandemic has been.  So, I started brainstorming about what really helped me during loss that might also help me now.  As always, I disclaimer this with “give myself grace” which brings me to my first point.

  1. I’m not going to do everything right.  I’m going to mess up.  A lot.  I’m going to think things will go one way when they will go in a completely different direction.  I’m going to have all the ideas and plans and goals, schedules lined out nicely on paper, only to wake up with anxiety or a headache or my period or a screaming toddler who is having a bad day or a husband who didn’t sleep well because of said toddler, or all of the above.  And that schedule is going right out of the window.  Or maybe I just lose all motivation to get anything done for no reason at all.  It happens.
  2. But I still need hopes, dreams, goals, and plans.  I need something to look forward to each day.  Maybe that’s a special face cream or mask after my shower.  Maybe it’s a bag of chocolate I break into every day at 2pm.  Maybe it’s watching Mrs. America on Hulu every Wednesday (loving that show, btw).  For my son, it’s seeing the garbage man pick up our garbage each week.  Maybe it’s looking forward to something coming to Netflix next month.  Or a long walk on a day after it’s been raining for a week.  Maybe it’s a hobby like baking that actually leads to a special treat each day for a week.  Whatever it is, whatever it may be, it helps.
  3. Reaching out has never been more important.  When I grieve, I tend to close up in person.  Being introverted, I don’t have a lot of energy to interact with a lot of friends without feeling overwhelmed.  I tend to spend a lot of time alone.  But I still make it a point to write a blog post.  To text a friend, or respond to a text, even if it is a few days later.  I talk to a professional.  I talk to my husband. Even when feelings are hard to unravel, I try to stay present and focus on the feeling I’m experiencing in the moment, even when I can’t find the cause right away.  Even though I’m not working my social muscles extremely hard, I’m still finding ways to stretch them.
  4. I stay as present as I can but give myself grace always.  I didn’t really realize when I lost my second daughter that I also quit my job just a day later, and looking back, I can see how a multitude of factors played on my grief, not just the big one of pregnancy loss.  Right now, so many people are experiencing various types of loss at the same time.  This is hard stuff.  It’s a lot to process, even if we don’t realize exactly how much we are processing.  And I didn’t learn how to slow down and stay present until I was well into adulthood.  I still feel like I’m taking remedial courses in it!  But that word, grace.  It is something I hold on to fiercely. 

Because I need grace.  I learned what grace is because of who God is.  God taught me grace in the story of his Son.  How Jesus interacted with people, saw their sin but extended forgiveness, told stories of hope, and stayed connected and present.

One of the great things about grace is that it allows the do-over.  It allows that letting go of the things I held so tightly that are no longer who I am or what my life is anymore.  Which allows me to explore the new space of my life as it has become with the hope of a brighter and better tomorrow.  I may not be motivated today, but today isn’t forever, tomorrow is a new beginning.  With a piece of chocolate and a face mask to help me get through the day, of course.

What is helping you survive?

Weekly Updates

Every day is pretty much the same in my world right now. I mean, I make different things for dinner and there are a few things that happen each week that change things up a bit. But I literally woke up today and for about 5 minutes had to really think about what day it actually is.

I’ve learned a few things from this time in social distancing and staying at home. Slowing down and being present has become so important in the survival of my relationships and my parenting. It has gotten immensely easier to be self-aware. Of course, I’m still learning how to give myself grace when I can’t distance myself from making mistakes.

I do tend to stay away from the news a lot more than I did at the beginning of all of this. I realized that my mental health needed to take priority, especially when my entire day is centered around caring for a toddler. It’s funny how the term 20/20 means to see clearly, but this year has been anything but clear.

Out of all of my hobbies, reading has managed to survive. It helps that I carry my books with me throughout the house and will read a sentence here and there as I find a moment or two. Everything else has been put on hold.

I hope you all are finding moments of joy in your day, embracing the present, and giving yourself grace. I am so thankful for this community of encouragers. To be transparent, I struggle with what to write and when to write my weekly blog, but I know that reaching out each week truly helps me stay connected. I hope this also encourages you to know you are not alone, even if you are isolated right now.

And as always, wash your hands.

April Books

Well, it finally happened. I knew it was going to happen, and it finally did. I forgot what day it was. So, this book review of the books I read in April is going up a day late. And I’m okay with that.

And I somehow read 5 books this month, which was back up to the average I was reading at the beginning of this year. I think it is a sign that I’m finding my rhythm in this new normal (my husband says not to call it a new normal because it is temporary, but aren’t all new normals temporary to some extent?).

So here are the books I read in April (plus a few more):

Born in Fire by Nora Roberts – This was my first foray into the romance genre. I didn’t really enjoy it as a romance book, though I did like the sweeping descriptions of Ireland, its people, and some of the other relationships in the book. This book was written in the 90s and it has some very dated ideas about relationships and romance, especially in the “me too” era. I can see why she is an excellent writer, and I will try the romance genre again at some point, but this book wasn’t really for me. 3 stars.

The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar (not pictured above) – This was the April book for the Modern Mrs Darcy book club. It was a heartbreaking, but the relationships were fascinating. There are also a lot of triggers – rape, abuse – both verbal and physical, abortion and loss. It is set in Bombay and follows the lives of two women in different classes, and the limitations and freedoms they find in their lives. 4 stars.

The Night Country by Melissa Albert – This is the second book in the Hazelwood series. This series has been either loved or hated by readers. I enjoy the story which is based on a series of dark fairy tales. It follows a girl named Alice who, in this book, is really trying to figure out who she is and what sacrifices she is willing to make to save the ones she loves. 4 Stars.

The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black – The final book of the Folk of the Air trilogy. I was really hesitant to read this book because there have been a lot of people in my circles who did not enjoy it. But I actually liked it better than the other two. In this finale, Black closes all the loose ends and completes the arc that transforms the main character, Jude. It addresses themes of power and love in beautiful ways. 4 Stars.

How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen by Joanna Faber and Julie King (not pictured above) – Since I’ve been on lockdown with a toddler these last couple of months, I should find it no surprise that I’ve started gravitating towards my parenting books again. This book is divided into two parts. The first part covers various tools and the second part uses these tools in common situations. I wouldn’t say it’s the only book a parent would need, but it is definitely a great resource when you feel like you have run out of options (or tools) in parenting. 4 Stars.

I hope everyone is staying healthy and safe. If you want to know what I will be reading in May, be sure to follow me on Instagram at katyslifestory!

What did you read in April? Let me know in the comments!