Have You Seen This Woman?

Who am I?  I have been asking myself this question a lot lately.  The answer really is I don’t fucking know.  That is the most truthful way I can answer.  I can really only answer the question in relation to who I am for someone or something else.  Yet, holding the mirror up blankly, I don’t really know who I am.

Last Winter, I was finally able to identify myself as a writer…as soon as I did that, writer’s block hit me like I was Hiroshima.   My writer’s block has been so great I have questioned if I should call myself a writer any longer.  How long do I get to go between actual writings and still get to consider myself an authentic writer?  I occasionally will whip out a bit of poetry or a mini thought…but something worth reading is coming few and far between.

I am a displaced woman.  That is what I am.  That is the only thing I truly know that I am as I sit here at my favorite Starbucks (I call it my other office.)  I watch person after person walk in…it’s literally  like watching a cookie cutter factory roll through.  Please understand, I mean a sugar cookie factory.  Here I am in the corner, earbuds in, blasting Biggie doing a hip roll.  I am not meant for small town Wisconsin.

When people talk to me about growing up I’ll say I grew up in St. Paul.  People will always ask “What part?”  I will respond with, “I’m a Frogtown girl.”  It always gets a reaction.  If anyone knows anything about the Twin Cities, they will know Frogtown was the hub of drugs, gangs and prostitution in the 80’s.  To me, it was just home.  I loved living there…so there was a drive by now and then.  My neighbor was dating a gang leader.  He was good to me.  There was always a neighborhood BBQ and I am not talking about mayo salads.  I mean REAL chicken, mac and cheese, collards…mmmm…I miss home.

My Mom moved me to the great white conservative fields when I was in high school.  I never really recovered.  I hated it.  I didn’t fit in.  I stuck out like a sore thumb.  My vernacular was different.  My music, my clothes…I didn’t like ketchup (country spice.)  When I left college, I took off to Manhattan.  I have never felt so free in my life.  I felt like I could be myself.  No judgement.  Culture.  Movement.  Diversity.  I came home for 5.5 days…all it did was remind me how much I hated small towns.  I took off to Miami.

Nevertheless, responsibility found me in the form of a little boy.  The chaos of a big city is too much for him and back to small town Wisconsin we are.  My heart longs to be in a place I feel at home.  While I am here I am constantly looking for myself.  I can not find it here.  I don’t know who I am.  I can not relate.  I can not find myself.  I am lost.



Dear Body

Dear Body,

It wasn’t just one day.  It was a whole bunch of days and a whole bunch of people and a whole bunch of words and images…they were all shoved at me.  They were all shoved at me and fed into my brain telling me that YOU were less than some of the other skin coverings walking around. They were telling me that YOU were not as beautiful.  They were telling me that YOU were less worthy of love.  They were telling me that YOU needed to change.  They were telling me that YOU would never be loved looking the way you did.

Dear Body,

It is not up to me to apologize for the people who touched you without permission.  I do want to say I am sorry for that burning sensation you get whenever a hand grazes your vagina in the wrong way.  I want to apologize for the way your heart beats without a chance of escape from it’s cage when you see someone who looks like them.  I want to soothe the mind that you hold when you wake up in a cold sweat from the memories that forever haunt you…but it not up to me to say I am sorry.

Dear Body,

I know I have been hard on you.  I am not talking about all of the times I fell down and bruised you.  I am speaking of the times I did not give you the nourishment you needed to thrive because I was willing you to be smaller.  The times I deprived you of the energy you needed because I so desperately wanted to walk in a different skin because I believed you were not good enough to contain the soul I was given.  The days and nights I stayed awake so I did not need to sleep in you knowing that when I woke up…my skin would still look like YOU.

Dear Body,

Please forgive me for all of the terrible things I have said to you.  I did not know the power you contained within you.  The power to carry me through illness that would of killed others.  The strength to hold the hands of others needing love they could not find anywhere but YOUR skin.  A tenderness, so soft babies beg to fall asleep against it but so resilient the broken beg for it to accompany them into battle.

Dear  Body,

Thank you for not giving up when my brain begged you for release from the pain in my soul.  YOU carried demons meant to release me from this world.  Yet, YOU told me I had work to finish.  I was not ready to give up.  YOU reminded me I was bigger than the pain that was plaguing me.

Dear Body,

Thank you for knowing the beauty YOU had when my heart could not see it.   YOU could see the jewel held within my skin when my eyes failed to relay the message to my spirit.  While the world was telling me YOU were not good enough, YOU continued to create a landscape of peaks and valleys and lines.  YOU left a roadmap of where I had been and where I can go.  YOU saw the uniqueness that only this skin can hold.

Dear Body,

Although I can not promise you everyday with me is going to be easy, I can promise I will do my best to love YOU and treat YOU than I did the day before.  I will not let this world’s view on what and who they think YOU should be effect who YOU are.  YOU are amazing and I will not let ME forget it.

With Love,
KateJust Be You

Three Years

Very rarely do I ever share any of my poetry.  Yet, I felt like sharing this.  Take it for what you will.

Three Years

His pale white chest
Strawberry red beard
Light washed jeans
Holes in the knees
Thinning fabric in the left thighHe pulled up my tee shirt
and then my panties down
Stopping at the knees
I laid scared on the couch
“You don’t need to be afraid.”

I looked around the house
It was silent as if we were the only two
The ocean rung in my ears
His hands grazed my legs
Fingers finding themselves to the flesh of my being

My eyes just closed
My breath caught in my lungs
Heart straining to be contained in it’s cage
Tears begging to escape
Three years of life dead inside of my body.


“You have such a pretty face.”  Thank you?…I never know exactly how to respond to that statement.  I am never sure if that means I am pretty or if just my face is pretty.  Peter Paul Ruebens was a famous painter and considered the most notable of all French Baroque artists.  He WAS what captured beauty.  He painted beautiful full figured women.  THAT was what was considered beautiful.  Somewhere along the line straight silhouettes became prefered over curves.  Firmness was adopted as the sanctioned body texture of a woman over the softness.  Muscled stomachs and thighs are preferred over fleshy arms and backs.

Who is it that decides what is beautiful?  How does the standard change?  I grew up in the 80’s.  I was a chubby girl.  To be honest, I was a super tomboy!Thomas

Yeah, that little girl with the football and jean jacket, that is me (I had already started my jean jacket obsession…but that is another post.)  Looking at my body though, I already had broad shoulders, thick thighs and a tummy.  People were starting to tell me what I should and shouldn’t do, say and eat so the boys would like like me.  The boys already liked me though because I was awesome!

The older I got the more I heard that I wasn’t beautiful.  That smile faded.  I covered my body in layers and layers of clothes.  I was ashamed of my thick thighs and broad shoulders.  That tummy I had…that tummy I once so proudly begged to poke out of a bikini (I was denied because nobody wants to see a chubby girl in a bikini) never wore a swimsuit in public.  I never wore shorts in public.  It would be 90 degrees outside and I would be in jeans.  It didn’t matter how hot I was.  Somehow, I went from a carefree girl to a girl who was so ashamed of my body because of three letters.  F.A.T.

WHAT IN THE ACTUAL FUCK?!?!?  I let those three letters ruin my life.  I let myself be tortured by the expectations of others.  I was in high school during the time of “heroin chic.”  Go back and look at that picture of my childhood.  I expected myself to look like Kate Moss.  I was literally starving myself at graduation time.  I graduated in a size 11.  I was 179.  I drank 6 Mt. Dew a day and would only eat the crusts of bread.  Kate Moss.png

I thought I could look like this.  No matter what I did, I couldn’t.  This was an unreal expectation.  My body, my bone structure couldn’t look like this.  However, I was being told in order to be beautiful, THIS is what I needed to look like.

Recently, I’ve been learning to love my body.  My body, all 200+ pounds of it has held strong through multiple offender sexual assaults, depression, anxiety, severe autoimmune diseases, fibromyalgia, myalgic encephalomyelitis, two bouts of cancer, PTSD, 17 surgeries, MOTHERHOOD, miscarriages, being a caretaker of a disabled child…and the list goes on.  I need to LOVE this body.  THIS IS AN EXCEPTIONAL BODY.

I’m learning to be okay with my scars.  My curves…and yes, even my F.A.T.  My pretty face belongs to my fat and pretty body.  My body is pretty remarkable and I need to give it credit.  We are so busy worrying what everyone else looks like that we fail to look at ourselves and be thankful for the amazingness that we are.  So in my summer of self-acceptance.  I am going to accept, be thankful for and love THIS body.  Lump, bumps, fat and all.  This cute tummy is coming out again!Snapchat-398359321

Sustaining Survival.

Growing up poor, you need two things in order to sustain your survival.  You need to have food and love.  You need to have food, in order to nourish your body and love, to nourish your soul.  If you have those two things, you are able to at least survive.  You may not flourish but you can survive.

When I was growing up, I was poor.  I am not talking “I didn’t have the latest Nikes” poor.  I mean, “waiting on my government cheese” poor.  I can’t say I always had the two elements of survival at the same time however.  It often seemed I would have one or the other.  There were many nights, the song of my stomach was my bedtime lullaby.  I often clung to the neighborhood parents for the love I was so desperate seeking.

I grew up knowing in the succession of the love my family had to hand out, I was the crust of bread.  Crust of bread…not that warm crusty bread Grandma just pulled from the oven…no, the stale Wonderbread kind that is just starting to mold that Mom tells you is fine if you “just pull off the crust.”  That’s where I fell in line.  I grew up knowing I was a mistake.  I was often told, “I could have….If I didn’t have you” or “I gave up….if I didn’t have you.”  I was too loud, too fat, too old, too, too, too…

So what happens when you grow up?  Well for me, my love became sacred.  I love those around me deeply it is often painful.  Their hurts are my hurts.  Their joys are my joys.  I love with every inch of who I am.  Yet, I never say I love you lightly.  When I do it is because you are a part of who I am.  If I tell someone I love them and they don’t tell me they love me back, right or wrong…my heart breaks.  No matter where I am in life, I am still just a poor broken girl.  Never loved back.

Down The Rabbit Hole

I crawled out of bed in my short robe with my hair tied up as my girlfriend sat in my bed watching me load laundry into a basket.  She was getting to see something I let very few people see (and it wasn’t just the cellulite on my butt that was poking out.)  I turned to look at her and said…”This is my depression…this is what it looks like.”  With that sentence, I waved my arm around my bedroom, motioning to the heaps of laundry and stacks of dvds just sitting…waiting for someone to take care of them.  She nodded her head.  After several years of friendship, I knew she wouldn’t judge me and it was safe safe to let her into that space.  You see…when I start falling down the rabbit hole, the whole world can think I am holding it together but behind the bedroom door a different story is told.

Depression and anxiety…when you say them together you think they could be wonder heros like Batman and Robin or something like that.  I find that most who deal with one of these conditions are a wonder…when you deal with both you’re a fucking hero.  I had anxiety growing up.  I think it was a result of some of the situations and conditions I had to deal with as a child and teenager.  I found as I aged it tended to get worse.  It wasn’t always an overwhelming worry but more of a cement truck that would randomly decide to stop and back up on my chest slowly crushing me with all of its force.  I would scream for help begging to be released from the crushing weight but it would only be in my head.  Sometimes, my heart would be beating so hard I wouldn’t know why nobody else could hear it.  Everyone would be asking me to do something and their worlds would whirl around and nothing would make sense…I would do everything I could to get everything done with a smile on my face but every ounce of me just knew I was failing…and letting everyone down…because…that.is.what.I.do.

….and DEPRESSION…I am a happy person.  My nickname is Sunshine for fuck’s sake.  I never had depression growing up.   I was the girl who made everyone happy.  I had jokes. I would just get sad every once in awhile.  It is normal to lock yourself in the bathroom so nobody sees you cry.  Nobody wants to see the happy girl cry.  Sunshine can’t have storms.  Every time I would go to the doctor and fill out the depression screening, I was “fine.”  The more fine I was on the outside side…the more my body was screaming to be saved on the inside.

And one day, like Alice I fell down the rabbit’s hole.  I was the Mad Hatter, Cheshire Cat and Queen of Hearts rolled into one.  I learned quickly what it is like to feel like in a sea of darkness struggling to find any glimpse of light.  The only thing I’ve ever found I am really good at is being a Mom.  I’m not the fastest or smartest or prettiest girl.  I will never make a million dollars or be famous.  I am a good cook and can make you laugh but…I am a GREAT mom.  That being said my body is not built to have babies.  No matter how much I want them.  12 years ago today, at 1:14 pm my sweet daughter Elizabeth was born into Heaven.  My pregnancy tried to take both of our lives and the hospital thought mine was more important.  My placenta had ruptured and there was no way to save us both.

For the following 4 months, I was sad but there were no storms for this Sunshine.  Then one day it got dark…and that darkness stayed.  It stayed for a long time.  People didn’t notice because I still was happy and I still cracked jokes.  Inside I was dying.  This is when I learned what my depression looks like.  My depression looks like lack of self care.  I stop painting my nails…because really…who cares if my hands and feet look nice?  I mean, I like it but I feel like shit anyway and it’s just one more thing to do.  My pretty simple makeup routine goes to just mascara and lip gloss…to just lip gloss.  10 more minutes sleep.  If I don’t get my haircut, I can just wear a ponytail.  I stop doing laundry for myself…as long as I have yoga pants and some sweatshirts to hide in.

I went from being joyous and outgoing to just wanting to fade away.  The world still saw a happy me but inside I was dead.  People would ask how I was doing…or if they hadn’t seen me in a long time how my baby was and I would politely smile and say I was fine or tell them there had been complications.  Inside I felt like a rotting tree…shriveling with each question.  I was sure the decay from any question would be the one that would take me to the ground.

Life started to seep back into my roots though. I had some rebirth.  There was a Spring.  The time came when I began to feel things and I wasn’t begging for sleep to come.  However,  anxiety and depression have attached themselves to me like those 5 extra pounds we always say we are going to lose after Christmas.  We are going to live a long life together.  We struggle with each other.  We fight.  We cry.  We are the bitchy roommates who leave nasty notes about leaving the cap off of the toothpaste.  The month of May, I always really hate them.  Nevertheless, I know we are going to spend our lives together.

The thing I have learned is I don’t have to always let them win.  I can fight back.  I can try to do everything I can to keep control of my life.  Right now, I am doing that by finding joy in the little things.  I am getting some laundry done.  I’m making sure I get to the doctor’s for the things I need to.  Find happiness where you can…chat up your baristas, snap silly pictures, go for a drive, visit a waterfall…find peace wherever you can…AND BE OKAY WITH IT.


Myspace, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Kik…and the million other social medias outlets.  They give us a space to create the person we want to be…in some cases, they let us be the person we are without others knowing it is the person we are on the inside.  We are able to sharpen our wit, let out our tenderness, filter our pictures so we are the beautiful girl we want to be.  Strangers fall in love with the person they see online.  The filters make us beautiful and charming.  We say the right things because our inner fear isn’t imposed behind a keyboard.  Our history isn’t staring at us through the screen.

What happens when real life comes along?  What happens when a screen isn’t in front of you and you can’t hit delete when the words come out wrong…when you can’t apply a filter to soften the features you aren’t so fond of?  What happens when your #ANXIETY becomes real life anxiety?  Why is it those things are beautiful and intriguing online and #NOFILTER is something everyone wants to claim but when faced with it in reality it becomes the most terrifying thing ever?

My last year of teaching my professional goal was to learn how to filter what I was saying and be more professional in my demeanor.   I tend to have a soft spot for calling a bullshitter a bullshiter and pulling no punches.  I have found that doesn’t always work well in the business world.  Expecting things to be above the table and out in open or #NOFILTER are not “business tactics.”  People expect a softer more tip toe approach.  We say we want truth however I have learned we only want truth when truth is advantageous to us.  We don’t want truth when it is going to upset us, when it isn’t what we want to hear, it is going to hurt us or goes against our beliefs.  We want #PARTIALFILTER.  This is in everything…business, family, love, health…you name it.

We boast about our #NOFILTER when it comes to beauty.  We are told to be natural…but throw on that corset and clinch it tight.  You know what would look great with that?  Thigh highs and heels…don’t forget red lipstick.  You can’t just wear red lipstick…you need to have cat eyes. Now, let me take a picture, turn your face, let’s adjust the lighting, sit up straight, put your hand in front of your tummy roll…no, of course your stretch marks are sexy…they just don’t look right in this picture.  Everything is perfect in this picture.  You don’t need a filter.  Of course there is a little cellulite but we can airbrush it…there still #NOFILTER.  Do you have on your most natural smile?

Tell me about you…I want to know everything.  Tell me your favorite movie…what makes you smile…what do you want to do in 20 years?  Don’t cry.  I don’t want to hear about the times you had nowhere to live or those men that hurt you.  I don’t want to know the bad parts.  I don’t want to know about the parts of you that don’t sparkle.  I want to know why you are Sunshine.  Tell me what makes you Sunshine when you are built of storms.  I don’t want to see your#NOFILTER.