On Singleness and Openness to Life

Monday, June 19, 2017

I have long been an advocate for life. It has been part of our family's culture. We've celebrated pregnancies and births, planned or unplanned. We've mourned when friends and loved ones haven't got to hold their little ones this side of heaven.

I've been to Washington, D.C., to speak for those who have no voice. My passion for life has permeated my professional decisions, as I felt that working with laboring women may help decrease fear surrounding birth.

But you know what?

It is hard to be open to life

(You probably already knew that).

I recently moved across town. The neighborhood is not one I'd even imagined choosing for myself. But the house and yard is great, and I really do think it is safe. The neighbors are friendly.

BUT GUYS. The kids in the neighborhood challenge me! I never would've thought that about myself. It's been humbling. I can hear kids screaming and playing and yelling, and sometimes (like tonight) singing sweet lyrics from Frozen. Probably challenging my love for quiet and control "LET IT GOO!" Initially when I began hearing these children, I was thankful that they were playing outside and not inside watching nonstop television or video games.

But the Lord has stretched me and challenged me. Am I really open to life? Doesn't that mean across the spectrum? I love the quote attributed (is it true? I'm not sure) to St. Mother Teresa who said, "How can you say there are too many children? That is like saying there is too many flowers..." I always agreed but now I'm realizing that I can't say I want the flowers over in someone else's garden!!

When I was growing up, I lived across the street from five of my cousins. We'd play football and hockey and cops and robbers and other culturally inappropriate games, I'm sure. We'd be sure not to run in our neighbor's yards, but I'm sure the noise level was still high!

Living in a neighborhood as an adult is showing me my frustrations with society... Our focus on independence and individuality. Lack of community. This is a thing.

BUT I'M THE PROBLEM! How many neighbors have I introduced myself to? (zero). How many times do I sit on Facebook and listen to the neighbor kids yell? (usually).

And how often do I think about sharing Jesus with these people, His children?

Delivery and the spiritual life

Friday, May 26, 2017

If you get a cupcake cake and don't blog it, did it really happen?

Today I saw my first delivery at my new job.

Can I just say that it's crazy that I have a job doing this? I don't understand.

I went into the room just as the patient was getting ready to deliver. I'm not sure how long she'd been pushing, but the OB was all set up and the bed was broken down for maximum positioning.

Before the patient started pushing for this final stretch (terrible accidental pun), the doctor said to her, "You are going to be pushing, and you are going to feel so much pressure, and it will make you want to stop and back away from it. This is when you have to push even harder."

And DANG! If that's not a description of the spiritual life, I'm not sure what is. How many times have I felt that "pressure" in some capacity and wielded to it when I was supposed to lean closer to Jesus? How many times have I felt that desire to skip prayer or finish early when I should have pressed on in my commitments?

I wish I could take my own advice and press on deeply in the faith, but small steps are good starts.

Photo spam.

The crew and me at my brother's graduation

My mama who taught me the beauty of birth.

unrelated obligatory nitro coffee pic


As we go on, we remember...

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

When I was living the Gem Life in all its glory in Statesboro, the team would frequently sing or hum Vitamin C's "Graduation" song.

Well, guess what.


obligatory family photo

Yes, yes I finally checked a long-term goal off the 30430!

Graduation felt special because a friend drove her 19-month-old 5 hours to see me! After spending the last ten or so years traveling to see lots of friends and attend lots of weddings, it was so special that someone was willing to drive to celebrate this special day with me! (I did receive many encouraging texts, facebook posts, and even mail, too!)

Anna and said 19-month-old. <3

Graduation was emotional because I've truly put my blood*, sweat, and tears into this degree. Nurses have a special "pinning" ceremony where you are truly a nurse when you receive your pin. In some programs, they let a nurse in your family pin you. My dad pinned me which of course meant that I cried. We are both the emotional ones in the family, and I think this program has made our relationship so much closer. We really have a special "nurse" bond now. He also talked me down when about 1 week into the first semester I wanted to quit and was crying because I'd failed a pharmacology test.

Becky, who talked about graduation from the start of the program, which really helped me feel like I had actually accomplished something at the end. 

*One time before I had beautiful wood laminate, I was getting ready for clinical simulation (fake patients, usually dying), I stepped on something SHARP which turned out to be a piece of glass from a wine glass (nursing school coping skills) that Gertrude rudely broke without telling me (I didn't see it blended into the carpeting). I called my instructor. I Facetimed a nursing school friend and she took me to get 3 stitches. Since I had been taking 400 mg ibuprofen daily for an injury, the bleeding was a little out of control during the procedure. I provided Hannah with an excellent learning opportunity.

Hannah, who correctly diagnosed my foot as needing further medical advice. 

Nonetheless, graduation was surreal until I got my pin, which was the best part because I know my dad understood what I had gone through to get to this point. Also, so crazy that I was blessed to land my dream job which I start on Monday.

Jim pinning me. Of course, I was first and he was super nervous but I was just so happy. 

We were told we could decorate our caps, and since I hadn't done it for round 1, I made a decision  less than five hours before graduation to decorate it. Simple, simple (because I didn't want to spend much at Hobby Lobby).

When my parents lived in North Carolina, my dad worked nights. Before he would leave for work, my grandpa (my mom's stepdad) would say, "Dig 'em deep." I guess it has become our family motto for "work hard, no matter what you do." Although I did not know my Grandpa Paul very well (honestly most memories were trying not to bother him while he was reading or my mom making me giving him a hug, etc), I can say that he has had a profound impact on my life. This is through the strong work ethic that I have received from my parents and from the value of education which has been impressed upon me by my parents, grandparents, and extended family. 

And then we celebrated.

Alleluia. He is Risen. His mercies are new.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Lent this year had me feeling like quiet the failure, with I think all of my resolutions broken. Instilling the fact that I really cannot do anything on my own. So I basically got the point, I think.

This week I've been working a lot. Heck, these past two years I've been working a lot in a field I never thought I could enjoy. I've seen tragic heartbreaks, and I've experienced them myself. I've given hugs and prayed with people. I've cried. I've gone home and cried and cried. I see people wondering if today will be the day they say goodbye to their loved ones. I've seen how desperate people are for love. I've seen how broken we are.

Last night someone said they didn't know how we nurses (including myself here prematurely) did it. The heartbreak and sorrow and sad cases we see everyday. I didn't know how to say how humbling and rewarding it is. How much it means to know I cared directly and upheld someone's dignity that day. I've been humbled in seeing the Gospel being reflected in my work. Holy Thursday I didn't make it to mass, but I did find myself kneeling before someone and washing feet. These are the quiet simple moments where I sense the Holy Spirit working most.

This morning I went to mass at 0800 straight from work. Yes on Easter Sunday I went to mass in my scrubs. After a long, productive, growth-filled night, that was the best I had to offer. Easter Sunday is what I cling to in the midst of the sadness and heartbreak. The promise of the Resurrection. The promise that life is not over. The promise that this is just the beginning.

I tried so so hard to stay awake during mass, and I brought forward all my intentions and thankful heart to the altar. Just before mass, I received a text that my dear friend and her husband had found out they were expecting. On Easter Sunday. The promise of new life. Not a life without struggle-we can look to the Cross and see that's not true. But how powerful is the Resurrection.

Jesus is truly alive.

Here are pictures I stole from my mom's Facebook. These are just some of the people who bring me joy and new life. Thank you, Jesus.

My sister-in-law and me. She keeps me sane. I love her. 

My sweet mama and me. She's far too good to me. 

On being a runner

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

(not the athletic kind).

unrelated photo of my new pedi because I hate blogs without pictures

I've been a runner since probably as long as I can remember or at least definitely since about sixth or seventh grade. I'm a highly sensitive person (HSP) which means I'm deeply impacted by stimuli, both external and emotional. I'm also a melancholic-sanguine (crazy face) and I'm an INFJ/ENFJ, depending on the day. My earliest memories of being upset involve me crying uncontrollably and my parents saying, "Katelyn. Calm down. Stop crying." And I remember saying, "I don't..(sob)...know...(sob)...how."

In 7th grade I was convinced that I wanted to move to New York to pursue my acting career, although I really did like Chicago so it was still on my list. In high school I ruled out colleges that were too close to home. After hearing person after person asking me "What's your last name?" or "Who are your parents?" or even guessing my lineage by looking at me, I wanted somewhere where I could be anonymous and clear my own path.

I moved to Milwaukee.

This is where things get hairy.

I had a terrible terrible freshman year of college. I was homesick. I was dealing with raging undiagnosed depression. I called my mom every day and cried. I was in a very serious but unhealthy engagement. I wanted to be home with my fiance and my family.

I left Milwaukee that May and cried tears of joy that I had finished the semester.

But damn if things weren't already broken between me and my fiance, and my unhappiness in Milwaukee was probably just a symptom rather than a cause.

I broke off the engagement and our entire relationship the day before I moved to my alma mater (I left Milwaukee for rural Missouri). THE DAY BEFORE. Because I'm a runner. I thought a clean break and I'll be okay. 

After college I moved to Florida. I hated it. I moved to Georgia. I loved it. I moved to Illinois. Missouri is next on my list.

Meanwhile, I found myself back in my hometown, where patients figure out who I am. Where I've been in the confessional and I have watched the puzzle pieces fit together as the priest remembers who I am and who I dated.

Today I listened to a podcast. Twice.

Fr. Mike Schmitz talked about Brene Brown's (can't figure out the accent mark, so sorry) work on shame and guilt. I realized that I tend to run from things or places because of shame. I easily find myself succumbing to this idea that, "This is who I am. This is how people see me. I cannot change it." Guilt, however, is more productive and enables me to say, "I chose wrong, but I have the ability to choose better. I have the power to choose. I have the power to change."

For so long when I've seen or been in my hometown I've felt at odds with myself. Though my circumstances have changed I've found myself succumbing to the idea that I am still who I was when I left my fiance almost eight years ago. The reality is that I am not the same! That was a long time ago! People don't actually care very much about my dating history! and most importantly: I have the power to choose. I have the power to change. It's okay to plant some roots and to let my guard down. It's okay to like who I am. I'm not who I was then, and I have nothing to be ashamed of. 

Rising Strong Trailer from Brené Brown on Vimeo.

PS Shout-out to my sweet parents who have had their hands more than full with this complicated first-born and (probably thankfully) only girl. We're all still trying to figure me out, and that's okay.

I had my last clinical.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Self portrait.

Things with school are wrapping up. From the outside, I have accomplished so much. Two years ago I knew next to nothing about the human body. My knowledge regarding the reproductive system was up where it was supposed to be as a result of my natural interest in babies and my perception of womanhood.

Today I had my LAST CLINICAL! I will still have a day next week where I take care of robot patients and probably all of them will die but that's okay because THEY ARE ROBOTS.

This was me before clinical. It was windy but bright and I had done my makeup (mascara + lipsense + snapchat filter) for once in my life.
8 1/2 hours and four patients later in the rain... don't be fooled by snapchat filters, friends. 

My first day of clinical almost two years ago I spent 4 hours trying to get my vital signs done and convincing someone to take a bath. One person! Four hours! This week I took care of four different patients and gave them all medications and did all sorts of things. I'm growing up.

I'm getting over school. I am having such a hard hard time convincing myself to do my homework and to finish strong. I feel like I've run too hard for too long. I have a couple significant items to cross of my list for graduation and if those items don't get done then I don't get to become a real nurse! So why am I avoiding them?

Somehow over the course of the last two years I have become somewhat comfortable with my current situation. I am competent in my job. I know how to do school, as much as I complain. There is stress and anxiety but it is expected and normal.

Mandatory College Round 2 Field Trip


Still continued! 

And there is unknown stress and anxiety ahead! A couple weeks before I graduated Round 1, I wondered if I had made a poor decision in joining FOCUS. I wondered if I should have gone straight to grad school or taken a job where I knew I'd be in the same state or time zone as my family and friends. This round, the majority of my classmates have accepted jobs at the same facility. And I didn't! I always kind of have to do things my own way, but there is always a moment where I panic and wonder if I made the wrong choice.

Nine years apart, and we are both graduating this year! He'll graduate high school and I'll finish College Round 2. 

The advantage is that now I kind of know how I work. I usually take a long time to ponder things in my heart... or I make an impulse decision on something I just know is right. For these sorts of decisions, I spend months being excited about it. When the event draws near I become nervous-I have built it up so much in my head. Onwards and upwards! Things are getting closer.

She ran

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Lately I've really been having a hard time understanding the Father's Love for us and encountering Him there.

Last week for Spring Break I went to Florida and then Georgia to visit friends. Jess and I drove to Georgia, and it was my first time being there for almost two years.

When we got there, we decided our old roommate, Helen, was possibly in the (locked) church office. We rang the doorbell and peered through the glass doors. By this point, I had experienced a 16-hour drive to Florida (solo) and then a 3ish hour drive to Georgia. Helen came into the hallway completely on the other end.

She saw us.

And she ran to us.

One of us made a comment about the Prodigal Son coming home.

I don't remember the door opening up, but I do remember Helen embracing Jess and me at the same time.

Another friend (Jessica) came over. Helen cooked us dinner (I am hoping she'll open a catering business or perhaps become my own personal chef in the future). It was so so good. I truly believe that she would've killed the fattened calf for us if she could have.

That salmon was probably the best I've ever had.

Jessica, Helen, and me (awkwardly snuggling)

The next day I spent almost 15 minutes meditating on that event. It's really beautiful when our stories mirror those of the Gospel. Maybe it's more beautiful when God gives me the grace to see that.

Helen didn't stop and ask me about the state of my soul or how often I had been praying or any number of things before welcoming me in and embracing me. Helen welcomed me in and cared for me and provided for my needs without me even asking. Without me having to worry. Without conditions being met.

Jess, Helen, and me on a late night walk. The azaleas were beautiful!

When God sees me He sees His daughter in the same way. As much as Helen knows me, God knows and loves me even more. He is excited for my future and knows my capabilities and loves me dearly just where I am. He knows how hard I am on myself and He knows how to be gentle with my critical self. He manifests His goodness and desires that I know and experience it. If God's gifts are this good, how much better must the Father be?

A little vacation...

Thursday, February 16, 2017

I was blessed to get out of the tri-state area for a few days. I spent time with all my best college friends and was able to spend some key time in prayer and reflection.

Unfortunately I still had a 10-page paper to trudge through before I was realllly free to chill. On the upside, this enabled me to visit a couple coffee shops in order to get away from my good friends.

Coffee and pastry from Post Coffee
This place was the definition of minimalism. I totally loved this sign. 

Blueberry lavender mocha was seriously magical.

This place is on point. Highly recommend if you're in the KC area!

It was in the 60's on Friday

Sweet little thing flying her kite
Miss Ceci with her Uncle Jon after mass. 
Spending time with my friends' little girl probably makes me sound crazy, but I really benefit so much from time with her. Seeing her loving dependence on her parents reminds me of the Father's great love and plan for my life. Her simple concern for my life is also precious to see and to sweet to experience. 

One night Ceci woke up in a frenzy worrying about her Aunt Katelyn and where was she and she missed her so much! I was on the other side of the room. :)


Monday, February 13, 2017

A couple weeks ago I was able to go out with my family and see my brother's new house. We visited his dog, Eliza Jeanne. 

I also was able to attend mass on the Presentation of Our Lord. The chapel I go to mass in has such great stained glass. Life is good.


Friday, February 10, 2017

In October two good friends, Jess and Amanda, called me from the road with a "crazy idea" to invite me to visit them in Jacksonville, Florida, for my birthday weekend! I thought this was a great idea. However, I had some previous plans....

I couldn't miss this day! 

Instead Jess and Amanda did some research, told me what flight to book (with their generous birthday contribution!), and also recruited my teammates from Georgia Southern to join! I was so so excited to go to Florida in mid-November and avoid some Midwestern weather.  A couple weeks before the trip, Blittany and I realized that we'd both be flying through ATL on the same day! Since she resides in TX and I in IL this was quite the feat. We had a 30 minute span of both being in the airport before my connecting flight, and Blittany graciously ran to my gate for a 2 minute conversation as I hurried back to the gate where the last people were boarding for my flight! Close call. So so worth it. 

recycled photo, sorrynotsorry

~UpDaTe~ I've been working on this post for over a month now, so I guess I'll just photo spam the rest of it....

This photo spam is about the people who have changed my life.

JAX Beach

Justin and I went to the beach without a plan. I picked him up from the airport and we drove without directions to the beach. Having a day without plans was so freeing and refreshing. We also got into a great conversation with the employee working at Rita's. When I lived in Georgia, every day was an adventure, and this was quite the reminder of that. We also walked more than a mile on the beach so I didn't feel so bad eating custard+Italian ice. 

It just so happened that the Young Adult ministry in JAX was having Friendsgiving, and we were able to see a missionary who had served at Southern as well as a Southern alumus turned mish! Such a blessing.

Edgar (Lil' Dawg), Jess (Fiatica), Helen (Hellie), me, and Justin (Flo Money?)
These are the people who have shaped my life in such a deep, gentle way. Their active growth in virtue eventually won me out to be a better person. I sincerely feel most myself when I'm with them. #cheesy

Museum in St. Augstine
On Saturday we went to St. Augustine. Justin, Jess, and I had flashbacks to a day trip during NST which involved Florida in June, our inability to effectively canoe (what should've taken 30 minutes probably took an hour), and Jess being instructed to pray a rosary to diffuse the tension. We then arrived at a deserted island where missionaries had died for the faith and had mass amongst the humidity and killer bees (my identification). Oh, and Justin is a allergic to bees so it was only a LITTLE stressful. that day trip was definitely a "storming" day for teamwork and while we worked through it with pleasantries I do not miss the stress. Or the heat. My sweat was burning my eyes. I thanked God that day that I was a missionary in a first world country.

We had a come-to-Jesus discussion at Friendsgiving. Jess and I had to explain that Edgar, Jess, and I were the only actual GEMS on the team. But then we ate delicious Spanish food on Saturday at this GEM OF SPANISH RESTAURANTS and I had mussels and a yummy adult drink and wondered why people lived in the Midwest.

Apparently we weren't doing the arm thing. 
 Amanda might have pulled some strings to get a VIP visit at Our Lady of La Leche . This is us in front of the altar where the first mass in America was prayed!
Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche
 A massive storm AKA Hurricane Matthew hit these grounds but miraculously the interior of this sweet chapel remained beautiful. A giant crack in a beam did appear, but no water damage occurred. It's seriously like Our Lady of La Leche was like "NOT IN MY HOUSE"
Interior of shrine
So in addition to a great little vaca with my besties, we had a little spiritual retreat and were able to sing the Salve and I probably cried.

We also got popsicles but then people had to start leaving so I probably stopped taking pictures. I cannot wait for our next reunion! AMDG!

Guide for the bride(smaid)

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Last weekend I was in a wedding as a bridesmaid. I'm not trying to brag or anything, but this was actually my THIRD time being a bridesmaid during nursing school (not even two years), and my SIXTH time overall. So I'm basically a professional now. I thought I'd put together a list of the things that I see as important duties which may go unnoticed or forgotten.

Professional bridesmaid, at your service.
1. Plan to eat (and make others eat). I've taken the obligation of food on the wedding day, especially BEFORE the wedding, upon myself. A sandwich platter is a great and easy option to keep a bridal party from hypoglycemia. When my brother got married, we had planned food for the party bus after the wedding but not before. The bride said she was hungry, so I got on the phone and found someone to bring us cheap pizza. Eating pizza in her wedding dress was a memorable moment! The bridal party was so much happier afterwards.

I packed 3 of these in my day bag for the wedding day.
2. Do it or delegate downstream. What I mean is: if you need something done especially the day of the wedding, just do it. If you see a gap, fill it. If you can't drive to get pizza, find someone who can. BUT it has to be someone downstream, meaning, not the bride! or the groom! (okay, mayyyybe the groom depending on their responsibility level, haha), not the moms or the dads or anyone with a title. This takes stress off the family and still enables things to get done.

3. Bring booze (if appropriate) but don't be crazy. Mimosas as you get ready or a wedding party shot after the ceremony may be something fun to remember the day by! A recent wedding I was in had some fun groomsmen who invited us over for fireball shots before the wedding. It was a nice breather and everyone was sober walking down the aisle.

The groomsmen were also on baby duty.

4. Plan some alone time for the introvert in you. Weddings can be busy busy and I need some time away from other people's families and friends. This past wedding I got up about an hour before everyone else each day as some time for me to take a breather, creep on instagram, and process things by myself.

5. Go with the ~fLoW~. This is probably the hardest for me unless I have had a cocktail or ten. But wedding weekend I really try to put on my happy-go-lucky big girl pants and just go with the flow. I plan to drive or get an uber or do whatever I need to do to get from one location to the next. Take pictures, wear a sweater than doesn't fit, run around in heels! I'll do it! Be an hour and a half behind? SURE! In the end, these are the things that make the best wedding memories.

My only photo in my T-Rex sweater.
The beauty of a wedding with the mass is the ability to offer my prayers and reception of the Eucharist for that couple. It is a sweet sweet usually quiet moment that I try to take advantage of. It's also basically a great wedding gift if you are still in college (again) and are too lazy/broke to get a real present.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

I was in a wedding last weekend and brought home the sweet gift of a stomach bug.

I fell into a weird hole of the internet.

This was actually a video read by a robot and I could only listen for about 15 seconds. I read the video description and there was nothing helpful on the topic. Don't waste your time. 

Today I was blessed by some time in the boyhood home of Mark Twain, and I spent some time rejoicing in my freedom from the stomach bug. I celebrated with some sort of peanut butter bar delicious thing (snapchat said today is peanut butter day so it has to be true), coffee, and a great book (I finished it!!!). 

It was a good day.