31 December 2015

The Year of Courage, 2015: A Year in Review

The Year of Courage, 2015: A Year in Review

"Let me be brave." - Clara Oswald, Doctor Who

It is the morning of December 31, 2015. I am awake at 8:30am. I am drinking coffee without the slightest of hangovers. I am snuggling with Igor. There is an amazing man still slumbering in my bed upstairs. I've been messaging with Ashley. Or, in other words, #blessed, #recovery, #lotsoflove #itsbeenalongyear, #ithasbeenanamazingyearforme.

Without a doubt, 2015 will be a turning point year for me.

I went from being a "her" to being a "me." Now, I know, this sounds crazy to some of you, but it is true. In the past, I always sat a little outside of myself, just off to the side. I wasn't connected to me, but rather, I saw myself as performing some version of who "Katherine." Like, I had double vision, where I was blurry, almost two blurry versions of myself...but little by little this year, they've come into focus. To become a singular me. But maybe even more than that, I am realizing that ME has value. I deserve things. I deserve good things. This also means that I'm far less apt to give my time to people who don't value me.

Yeah, I know....2015 has been like an exercise in self help.
But guess what, I'm happy now. I mean, most of the time.

#recovery is fucking hard. It is a daily battle. But, it is getting easier. Because, now, safety and trust and deservingness are becoming more of a habit. But there are some fucking days, I just want to pull the covers over my head or run away from this lovely man in my life or tell the girls that I don't want to talk. BUT, I'm trying to be brave. To be vulnerable and bad ass all at the same time. To put on my cape while also saying, "Hey, I'm afraid you might hurt me." And like Clara Oswald said, "Let me be brave." I need to be brave. Every. Single. Fucking. Day.

In review of the year, here's what happened:

1. Obviously, the DISSERTATION. I was reviewing what I wrote last year on this date and completing the dissertation was priority two. I'll get to priority one, which is actually quite sad in retrospect. I started January with a #31daysofdissertating. I started a habit of writing for the first two hours of the day. And now, it is done. I'm still in a little bit of shock that I'm officially Dr. Everhart. I'm still lost some days when I don't have to get up and pull up those files and try to hammer out two hours of writing.

2. It hasn't been all roses this year. The year started by my family losing one of our best, Brad Stafford. I remember that it was a couple of days after Christmas that we discovered that Brad had liver cancer. And it took a toll on the family. It was so hard on my mother. And it pained me that I couldn't be closer to her. I've certainly realized this year how much it means to be close to your family. Now, let's not get carried away here...I don't want to live in Charlotte. But I would like to be closer one day. That being said, when I was faced with the financial difficulty of trying to get back home to be with my family for Brad's memorial, I came to realize just how amazing my department here can be. Without my knowledge, they circulated an email asking people to donate to a fund to get me home. They raised enough money to buy me a round trip ticket home so I could be there with my mom. It still makes me weepy to think of that generosity and how supportive they've been. I think of Brad often. In my living room, I have a picture of him playing baseball as a child. He was so amazing. I think we will always miss him, without a doubt. If you feel so inclined, here is a link to my eulogy.

3. Health and Self Care. This was another resolution for 2015. And I must say, I've done a stellar job of it this year. I've started exercising again, even if sometimes that means drinking wine while riding my exercise bike. I started yoga, which has been absolutely amazing for my mind and body. I get a massage every three weeks with a really great massage therapist who just gets what I need. And, I mean, come on, y'all. BATHS. BATHS. BATHS.

4. THERAPY. I mean, seriously, y'all, this has been so important to me this year. I started therapy in July of this past year. Some sessions are rough, rough, rough. Some sessions make me feel like my therapist is giving me a gold star for being so brave. But this I know, my life has changed so significantly because of the work we are doing together. My therapist is kind and patient. She never judges me, even when I'm suggesting something so very far fetched. Because she knows, I'll get there. Maybe not tomorrow or the next day, but eventually. I tell my students often about going to therapy. Most of my colleagues think it is quite strange that I share so much of my personal trials and tribulations with my students. However, I have spent most of my life struggling with some of the same core issues. And I can't help but sometimes be a little pissed off that my life might have looked very different if I had started the road to recovery much earlier. BUT, in a typical Milan Kundera fashion, I dare not spend too much time thinking about my other lives. I mean, like Rami might say, "Nobody knowsssss." And it is true, BUT, the important part for me is to model to my students how I navigate all of this. To let them know that therapy doesn't mean you are a damaged person, but rather, it means you are so very strong. And that therapy is good for everyone, not just when you are the bottom desperately clawing your way back up.

5. Relationships. Okay, so I saved this for number five. Not because it wasn't as important, but mostly because it was a result of the items that came before. All the health, self care, and therapy drastically started to change my intimate relationships.

Last night, when I reviewed my journals from the past year, I saw that my first priority for the year had to do with Manny, my ex. I wrote that one of my resolutions was to learn to trust him more. For those of you that know about our relationship, this is #funnynotfunny. For those of you that don't know, Manny and I were in a long distance thing on and off for about three years. I'd see him maybe once or twice a year. It was good at times. And it was very bad at other times. When I look back on it now, I don't want to place blame. Though, I'm often still very angry. I think what is best to say is that we were two people very ill-suited for each other. We were two people with so many walls and defenses up that we were never able to really ever say what we needed from each other, but instead, it was an endless cycle of shame, blame, distrust, fear, and lashing back at each other in very aggressive and very passive ways. It was NOT healthy. As you know, I'm not someone who often regrets. And I don't regret my relationship with Manny. But I do regret that I let this cycle between us go on for so many years. It was incredibly hard to put an end to it. We had become habit for each other. But then, it happened. I wanted so desperately to learn how to trust someone else and for the umpteenth time, this was violated. It reaffirmed everything that I've thought about myself. And at that moment, I realized, "No. You have to stop this. This hurts too much." And I did.

I also went through an awkward tinder phase. It was entertaining. But ultimately, really unsatisfying.

And then there was...that one. When I first moved to Flagstaff, I felt crazy alone. I felt like I was out here on my own with little connection to my life back in Nashville. And there was this one man who helped keep me tethered to the world. He wrote to me every day, inquiring about my life here. I needed that. But then, it turned into something else. It wasn't my finest moment. And yes, in retrospect, I look back and realize just how flawed it was. But alas, this is what you learn in therapy. You start to pull back the layers and see something for what it really is. Undoubtedly, I've come to see him for who he really is, but at the same time, I want to recognize just how important he was for my growth. He was one of the first men EVER to call me on my shit. Because he SAW me. And then he asked me: "Why are you doing this?" A very emotional day in Nashville in June, this question forced me to see myself. I thought to myself, why AM I doing this? And then, I opened the deep dark recesses of my mind. And then, there was therapy. And then, there was a realization that this relationship was not healthy for me. And so, I have to thank him for that. Because I learned what it really is that I WANT in a relationship.

And it wasn't just amorous relationships...I stood my ground in my friendships too. I learned how to set boundaries with friends. I eliminated stressful and negative relationships.

And of course, now, there's a new relationship...more on that later.

6. The girls. The entire recovery process would not have been able to really happen without the girls. After that fateful day in June, my emotions were raw and terrifying. I was staying at Carly's place...and I was sort of dramatically flung on a bed crying my eyes out. My hands were shaking. I was starting to have some very huge realizations about myself. Really fucking scary realizations. And the girls reached out to me. We didn't have plans to get together that night, but they saw I needed them. Ashley picked me up and we headed over to Michelle's. We sat on the stoop and I let them see me, like REALLY SEE me. I said things I've never said to anyone. And they held my hand and listened and told me how proud they are of me. They realized I was about to embark on an amazing, yet arduous, journey. And it was really that moment on the stoop that propelled me to get better. We also started a group chat on Viber called "Trifecta." It is like this safe haven. No matter what is happening, we know we can go there, send a message and at least one of us is available. I am so thankful for this. It makes me feel like they are always close by, cheering me on.

7. Nicki Minaj and Beyonce.

8. Watching Baseball at Picazzos. Hell, just Picazzos in general. I'm sure going to miss Gilbert when he departs for a new adventure.

9. My road trips. There were so many last year. I've realized just how important it is for me to travel at least once a month. Last year, I spent time down in the valley for spring training. And subsequently, so many other baseball trips-- Las Vegas, Salt Lake City. Thank goodness spring training is just around the corner.

10. My newest nephew, Jack. I finally got to meet him at Christmas. And I'm totally in love with him. So absolutely beautiful.

11. #HolidazeRoadTrip and Rami. Yes, yes, yes, you know. You've seen. I'm all goofy and silly and swooning over a man these days. Yes, it is out of character for me. But perhaps, what is the most out of character is the man I've chosen to do this with. I told my therapist about him. She said to me, "So, what happened? Your picker must be off. You've chosen a man very different from all the others." And she is right. He is so very different. And exactly what I need right now. Plus, y'all, omg, he is soooooooooooo cute. But mostly, I love these small moments that we have together. Like, when we were on the road, it was about 8pm at night. Pitch black everywhere. No gas station in sight. We were on fumes in the rental car. It was 16 degrees outside. We were stressed. We were sitting quietly, both fretting. I think he was praying and I was just thinking, WTF are we going to do? I pulled off an exit where there was suppose to be gas. It was so dark, I wasn't sure where the road was...and we were both exhausted. Rami said, "Why you go this way? This is wrong! Turn that way!" And I yelled back, "I don't know where we are! How am I suppose to know?" I think we both wanted to strangle each other at that moment. We found our way back to the interstate. We drove in silence for another 15 miles, as the gas light blinked over and over again. Somehow, we made it. After we filled up the gas tank, we got back on the road. And within a few short moments, the two of us were laughing hilariously about how freaked and tense we were. Now, we keep laughing about it. And I think that's it....I'm pretty sure we could laugh our way through anything. But again, he's also reallllllllllly cute too.

2015. You kicked my ass. But I love you for it. Because I feel #blessed today. I feel like I am being seen and heard, not just by the people in my life, but most importantly, by myself.

So, cheers to all of you. I hope you have an amazing new year. And remember, be brave my darlings, particularly, all the bad ass/boss ass bitches in my life. Because YOU are amazing. And you are what remind me to be brave, everyday.

20 December 2015

One Foot in Front of the Other: Katherine's 14th Annual Mix 2015

One Foot in Front of the Other: Katherine's 14th Annual Mix 2015

Pulling Back the Layers. 

I usually start out my description of the year by saying, "I don't know where to begin." But maybe for the first time ever, I know exactly where to start. 2015. I saw myself. I heard myself. And I started to realize who I really am, and even more so, what I deserve. Can I throw in a hashtag? #recovery

I won't lie. I had an amazing year. But also, I have to admit, shit was hard this year. First, I remembered who I was as a teacher. And my students responded resoundingly. Then, I remembered how much I loved the student movement at the University of Puerto Rico of 2010...and I finished my dissertation. But more so, and probably more than any of these achievements, I remembered who I am. Maybe it was less about remembering...and more about discovering. Opening the flood gates and letting me really be me. It hasn't been easy, as most of you have observed, but here I am. Exposed. Revealed. And finally, ready to let myself to be seen. By my friends. By him. By you.

In my next end-of-the-year post, I can review more what happened...but you should know this before I present you with the annual mix....I'm in love. I'm in love with happiness. I'm in love with pop music. And I'm in love with a man (though, this part scares the shit out of me).

Undoubtedly, you'll notice a huge departure in my musical tastes from the past years. I wish I could explain it in a way that would make sense to most of you. But I know I can't. Here's the thing. I got tired of listening to sad-bastard music. And actually, this happened because of a student. She wanted to do an independent study with me on the feminism of Beyonce and Nicki Minaj. I was apprehensive, but I thought it would be interesting. And she won. By the end, I was convinced. But more so, I fell in love with pop music. I realized while I was listening to the musics of these two women, I felt happy. I felt strong. I felt brave. And then I realized, I wanted to feel like this all the time. These women made me feel good. And so, I kept listening. And it is true, I feel empowered listening to their music. And without a doubt, my life has changed as a result.

No, it wasn't just the music (sorry, Nick Hornby), but it was the music in conjunction with so many changes that I MADE happen this year. Probably for the first time in my life, I'm recognized how much I can control what happens in my life. I can make my own decisions. I can say yes. I can say no. I know, I know, so many of you think, "Well, yeah." But for those people like me, who endured the traumas, this is a big deal.

So here is how you can find access to the mix:
1) On Spotify at: One Foot in Front of the Other Mix

2) On YouTube at: One Foot in Front of the Other Mix

1. Darlin' All I Ask: Jaymay
"How I loved you suddenly, it just totally scared me. That don't mean I don't take you seriously. And I love you terribly, its just ridiculous. All I'm just saying, is I want you so bad. I wanna love you like that, I wanna be your lover, why don't you just think about it?"

2. What's My Name: Rihanna (feat. Drake)
The first song he played for me was a Rihanna song. But when I heard this one, I realized it was about him. And when he called me that night and sang, "Uhhnahhna, Uhhhnahna," into my phone, I fell in love. Because, he listened to the song I sent him. He heard me. That's it.

"Hey boy, I really want to be with you, because you're just my type..."

3. Ex's & Oh's: Elle King
Now, let's turn the clock back. Those fucking ex's and o's.

4. Hotling Bling:  Ceresia
Sorry, Drake, let's flip the script. I'm sorry you feel left out. Ladies, we have to do our own thing.

5. Love in the Dark: Adele
Okay, so we need one song on the mix about the heartbreak of this year. Yes, I fell in love this year. The most fucked up part of it is that it was in a place in which I could never actually have it. Which if you know me, it isn't that weird. But, I'll dedicate this one to him. Because he made me realize so very much. He made me realize how much I was worth, despite the fact he couldn't give that to me. And with his words on that fateful day back in June, everything started to change.

6. Hiding: Florence + The Machine
And the biggest part of the fuckedupness of what happened before was that I sought out therapy after the fact. I couldn't have done this without the amazing support of Ashley and Michelle. Whether it was the shame hotline, our group chat on Viber, or sweet notes of encouragement and support, these ladies really helped me find my way. And this song, well, I dedicate it to the little girl inside of me. I just want her to know that I'm here to protect her, even when she is too afraid to let me in.

7. Nicki Minaj Records "I Still Rise" by Maja Angelou Still, I rise.

8. I'm Out: Ciara (feat. Nicki Minaj)
'Nuff Said. For my ladies.   

9. I'm the Best" by Nicki Minaj
I listened to this song, over and over again, before my dissertation defense.

"To all my bad bitches, I can see your halo..." 

10. Feeling Myself (feat. Beyonce)
Ladies, anytime the self doubt creeps up, just turn this one up loud.

11. Only: Nicki Minaj (feat. Drake, Lil Wayne, Chris Brown)
Listen to Nicki's verse.  I fell in love with here with this song. I mean, seriously, duct tape, pop quiz, cutlet and seasonin'. Goddamn she's good. 

12. Birthday Cake: Rihanna
This was the song. He won me with this one.

13. If I Can't Have You:  Etta James
When I realized, that I need you. 

14. Compartir: Carla Morrison
"Quiero dormir y soñar, caricias contigo, 
Quiero reír y llorar, con tus ojitos,
Quiero compartir mis secretos y mis suspiros,
Quiero aprender a entender al mundo contigo 

Pero hay una cosa que te debo decir,
No es nada fácil, estar tan lejos de ti..."

15. You Da One: Rihanna
When you fall for someone hard, but rather, you realize you choose to fall for someone. Because you deserve it, and they deserve your love.

"You the one that I dream about all day
You the one that I think about always
You are the one so I make sure I behave
My love is your love, your love is my love
Baby, I love you, I need you here
Give me all the time
Baby we meant to be
You got me, smiling all the time
'Cause you know how to give me that
You know how to pull me back
When I go runnin', runnin'
Tryin' to get away from loving ya
You know how to love me hard
I won't lie, I'm falling hard
Yep, I'm falling for ya
But there's nothin' wrong with that..."

16. I'm Yours: Alessia Cara
 Alessia Cara is absolutely adorable.

"Some nerve you have
To break up my lonely
And tell me you want me
How dare you march into my heart
Oh how rude of you
To ruin my miserable
And tell me I'm beautiful
Cause I wasn't looking for love no
Nobody asked you to get me attached to you
In fact you tricked me
And I wasn't trying to fall in love but boy you pushed me
So all that I'm asking
Is that you handle me with caution
Cause I don't give myself often
But I guess I'll try today

Cause I've had my heart
Broken before
And I promised I would never let me hurt anymore
But I tore down my walls
And opened my doors
And made room for one
So baby I'm yours..."

17. Best I Ever Had: Drake
At first I thought that I only had one king in my kingdom, which was Idris Elba, but this year, I also made room for Drake. Not just because his dance moves, but because yes, he gets it. And yeah, there are some other fellas who might think this is about him, but this is about my one and only, because he is the best, the best I ever had.

18: Simple Things: Miguel
Yes, baby. I just want someone. I just want you. And maybe Miguel. Haha.

18. Flawless with Beyonce (feat. Nicki Minaj)
Again, to all my bad ass bitches, to my boss ass bitches, you are fucking #flawless. Every time I hear this song and watch this video, I can't help but think of all my ladies.

Yes, I worship at the altar of Queen Bey.

"Bow down bitches..."

"But tell them winning is my motherfuckin' protocol, ' cause, I score before I ever throw the ball, this bitches washed up and there ain't no fucking soap involved...mayday mayday, earth to bitches, slap these hoes like we birthin' bitches, the Queen of rap slaying with Queen Bee, if you ain't on the team, you playin' for team D..."

19. Can't Feel My Face: The Weeknd
What can I say about The Weeknd? Beautiful. 

20. All Eyes On Us: Nicki Minaj and Meek Mill
You heard us, we are the ill-est. I think he catchin' feelins. I can't wait to celebrate the New Year our counterparts, Nicki and Meek. 

21. Amen (feat. Drake): Meek Mill
The day after my defense, I listened to this one 873 times. And one of my favorite parts is when I forced Jennie Ann to listen to this song in the middle of the night. And she wrote me back and said, "I'm not sure I'm listening to the right song, this one is about church..." And I wrote back, "Listen more closely." Ha. I love love love this song. Wealth and health, y'all. Plus, how can you not love a song with Meek and Drake. What's good, Nicki, what's good?

"Plus I’m on probation, when they test me I just pee Rose..."