Posted in Books and More

Filling a Void

I recently realized that I have not read a book for recreational purposes in over 5 years; this realization devastated me. I love to read, I always have. What happened? When did I stop reading? I do not recall it being an active choice; however, I can remember that last book that I read and where I was when I finished it.

I suddenly could feel an emptiness in my chest, a hollow sensation that I needed to fill. The question now was, with what? I am not the same person I was half a decade ago. What do I even like to read? I was distraught. I turned to the internet for help. Much to my dismay, I had to KNOW what genre I enjoyed before I could even get suggestions.

I will join a book club. That should be easy right? WRONG. I needed a book club that I could attend virtually not physically as my current lifestyle does not include outings of one. I stumbled upon an Instagram run by Reese Witherspoon, Reese’s Book Club X Hello Sunshine. YES!

Her January pick was The Library Book by Susan Orlean. I hopped over to my B&N account to see what it was about. I read the free sample and fell in love! For the next 3 days I pined over this book, not really wanting to ask my husband to buy it while simultaneously waiting for him to order it. He waited until I had stopped starring at it in my B&N cart and last night, he presented it to me!

I have since submerged myself into this book. I could not sleep, I HAD to keep reading. I have not felt this emotionally connected to a literary work in ages. I was in 7th grade the last time a book had this much impact on me. The gaping emptiness in my chest was full once again.

This is a nonfiction book written about the biggest library fire in American history. I sobbed when reading the list of irreplaceable items that vanished in the inferno. I felt ill when Orlean began naming the copious amounts of libraries that are no longer with us due to violent acts of malice throughout history; the largest loss of literature in modern history, being the second world war.

This book truly a work of art, what begins as research of a devastating fire becomes a captivating account of the interworking of a world with infinite with knowledge and imagination. I have not finished reading this magnificent book and it has already deepened my preexisting obsession with books, libraries, journals, and all things literary. Orlean offers such a compassionate insight into the unremarkable value of libraries.

This is a MUST read!

Posted in Uncategorized

“Victory is Mine”

I have sat down to write this post with both sadness and rejoicing in my heart. I do not make a habit of pushing my religious beliefs on you guys but, today a message has been put on my heart that I need to share. As some of you know, my life the past few years has been quite the challenge and, on many occasions, I lost the battle; but, from where I stand today, I have won the war.

I was reminded today about a time in my life when all was right with the world. This was one of the rare times when I was sure of myself, I knew who I was and what I stood for. I was a child that attended church anytime the doors were open with my parents and sister, I was an active participant in Bible Drill and often received recognition at the state level for my achievements (along with many other children and youth at our church), my father played guitar with the worship team, my mother (with the help of “Aunt” Rachel) was in charge of the children’s church and all the events that tied to it from VBS to the Christmas program, she and our cousin Kay (sister to the pastor) taught the youth bible drill (boy, I couldn’t wait to be with them), this church was pastored by our cousin Robert Toney, “Aunt” Ann played the piano and “Uncle” Charlie played the bass, Cody was on drums, and every pew was filled with family (some blood and some not) but, we were all one giant family. This little church that sat on a hilltop, Zion Hill Baptist Church, was HOME.

To this day I don’t think that I have felt God as closely as I did on those church grounds; it had nothing to do with the size of the building, the color of the walls, or the size of the steeple, people are who make the church.

Some days that I feel hopeless like I am not worthy of even speaking the name of God. Today, was one of those days. I was angry with my daughter, overwhelmed with housework, my youngest is not feeling well, the oldest had homework and I was not handling any of it with grace. I felt unworthy of love, I felt useless, I felt lonely and powerless. I was talking to mom who is having roughly the same sort of kick the life out of you kind of day, we talked for a while and she told me about a show she had watched where a church was singing “Victory Is Mine” and we began to reminisce on the days when WE sang those hymns at Zion Hill. Pretty soon, even the baby was singing along!

Robert and Aunt Ann are both enjoying their Mansions on the Hilltop and taking A Walk with Jesus, they are both in rejoicing with the Savior but, are still missed very much! The sadness that was on my heart was not for them, it was for me missing them. There have been plenty of times that I wanted to call Robert and ask advice or just talk about things (he usually gave advice whether you asked or not HA!) As much as I miss him and Aunt Ann (who would beat my tail if she could) I know that I will see them again one day.

I truly believe that God put these memories on my heart today to remind of something.That something is the message that I wish to share with you all.

That message is this,

No matter how lonely or beaten you may feel, no matter what you have done or how far you have strayed, YOU are ALWAYS worthy of God’s love. God sent His Son to die for each one of us so that WE may sit beside Him one day.

If Robert could share the gospel to inmates at Angola that sat on death row and give THEM hope, who am I to feel hopeless?! I have my family, my children and MY LIFE to be thankful for, it took reminiscing on days past and singing songs of praise for me to feel the Spirit move through me again–a feeling that I haven’t felt in a long-long while.

Like Adam in the Garden, who was ashamed, I cannot hide from God. He knew exactly how and when to touch my heart. I want you to know that God sees you and He sees your heart, He knows what you have done and where you have been, but, most of all He knows what you WILL do and where you WILL go all you have to do is open your heart to Him; He wants to see you succeed, He has plans to prosper you, not to harm you; just listen.

God is knocking, will you open the door?

Posted in Uncategorized

The War is Ours to Have!

Tonight, I have mixed emotions, about myself and the life that has gotten me here.

I feel like I was robbed, robbed of the childhood that I deserved—the childhood that I almost had. I didn’t have two happy parents; I am the product of a broken home. I do not place my blame on either unit, more so to all those involved. The signs were there, the cries for help, yet everyone turned a blind eye until it was all too late, the damage was done, I no longer wanted to be saved.

I have spent an entire decade trying to go back and save the little girl that was left all alone to fend for herself because no one wanted to hear her cries. No amount of effort can change her hurt, the only parts of her that are left will be with me forever; I will always hear her cries.

That little girl just wanted to be happy, nothing more, that was all; but unfortunately, that was too much to ask. Life dealt her cards that many would have folded but she, she stayed and fought.

She played with the hand that she dealt, and she came out the other side. I picture that girl, so full of life, so innocent and sweet, yet so much had already been taken from her that her memory is bittersweet. I remember her laugh, her smile, the gleeful happiness that she had; yet not long after those sweet years her smile would be forever changed.

I’m here today because of her, because she knew that there had to be more, misery couldn’t be her story; after all, she wanted to be happy and damnit she would hang on until she was. Drugs and depression almost killed me, but she wouldn’t let me quit. That little girl that wanted more out of life was the voice that kept me here; when every fiber of my being was telling me to just give in, “it’s so easy don’t you see?”

She screamed and yelled and through a fit, she wouldn’t let me go. That part me that held on tight when I wanted to let go; I see her in my children—in myself sometimes too. She never gave up hope, that WE could be happy and even though she didn’t get the life that she should have had, she made sure that I stuck around give my children the life that was taken from her—the life that they deserve.

Through every pill, drink, depressive episode and drug, she held on tight and saved my life and that little girl—that little girl, she is finally happy; and now I’m not so sad, because I know we’ve won the battle and this war is ours to have.  

Posted in Uncategorized

I am proud to be “Just Kathryn”

Here’s the thing—being me, is hard.
People have described me as being;
“as mean as a snake,”
“as tough as nails,”
“not afraid of the devil himself,”
“angry all the time,”
“a bitch.”
All of those (plus some I am sure) and still,
the one phrase that ‘gets me’
EVERY SINGLE TIME that I hear it is,
“That’s just Kathryn.”
This phrase is what I am going to talk about.

I have to smile when I hear it, because, very few people—if any—know every life-changing, personality-altering, coping-mechanism-developing event that has gone into making me, “Just Kathryn.”
I will start with my early years. I was an only child, the first grandchild on both sides of my family, the first girl of my generation to be born on my dad’s paternal side of the family, the baby on my maternal grandmother’s side and have always been known to them as ‘Baby Kathryn,’ my maternal grandfather’s side—mostly cousins (also boys) once or twice removed, but family all the same—with whom I spent most of the time and, for the longest time even at my babysitter’s, it was just me and Christopher. I was never a ‘girly-girl by any means (even though all of ‘the boys’ still looked out for and protected me)

I thought that I was one of them.

It didn’t matter what side of the family I was with, if I was at church or at school, I learned to hang in with them. I can remember playing cowboys and Indians, trucks and dinosaurs, building forts in the woods, throwing footballs, riding four-wheelers and dirt bikes, digging in the dirt, and climbing trees. I had babies and Barbie dolls, but I preferred Hot Wheels and Tonka Trucks. I hated anything pink (I don’t mind it now) and I despised trying on clothes or shopping (I still do). I was never “treated” like a girl. I won beauty pageants and played baseball, I wore frilly clothes and shot BB guns, I was never told that I couldn’t do something because “it was for boys” or made to do something else because “it was for girls.”

I could be, Me.

As I got older (6th grade stands out the most), I would ‘trade licks,’ arm wrestle (and win most to most), play quarters, and compete with the boys; I was friends with all of the girls, I was on the cheerleading squad and had a boyfriend but, still found myself being ‘one of the boys’ at certain times. One day, my cousin and I were trading licks in the hallway on the way to P.E. and a teacher reprimanded him and said, “We don’t hit girls!” I will never forget the look of bewilderment on his face when he looked at her and said, “That’s not a girl, that’s Kathryn!?”
That day I realized that to him (and many others) I wasn’t a girl or a classmate or ‘one of the boys,’
I was just, Kathryn; I was okay with that.

What I didn’t realize at the time was, that by embracing that role I would become a target for both sides of the aisle and not ever belong to either one. I was ridiculed by the girls and picked on boys; I never truly belonged. The 6th grade was the first year that I felt uncomfortable in my own skin, I was ashamed of who I was and embarrassed by how I looked. For the first time in my life, I felt alone. The friends that I did have, were fair weather at best; they would talk about me, call me names, reassure me that an outfit (that they picked or helped pick) was cute that I should totally wear it (when really, I looked a mess and they knew it) or one friend purposefully cut my bangs too short (on purpose–I heard her bragging) just so they could laugh behind my back or watch as other’s made fun of me.

I know what y’all must be thinking, “Why did you let them do that?”
Well, you see, the thing about being 13 (or close to it) is, that everything is new and scary, the girls are becoming meaner, the boys are becoming vulgar, the adults are less attentive, the consequences of mistakes are much more severe and all around, the stakes are higher. I wanted so badly to fit in–or at least not stand out; standing out meant being a target and if you were one person’s target, you became a target to everyone (everyone that wanted to fit in and not run the risk of becoming a target themselves that is.)

Very few people ever took up for or defended me; most of the time I was on my own. I began to adapt; I learned to hit back (metaphorically speaking—it was a mainly verbal confrontation, though there were a couple physical altercations). It was slow going at first, I got my feelings hurt quite often and found myself being the butt of most jokes.

Eventually, my responses got faster, and my comebacks got meaner. It wasn’t until after my high school graduation that I stopped retaliating and began striking first. Even in college—I had no true friends; I was always the first to be thrown under the bus or even targeted in hopes that I would get in trouble because it “was funny” to them.

I can count on one hand (and have fingers to spare) the people that would have my back no matter what the circumstances were.

I have been ridiculed, bullied, stabbed in the back, betrayed, stolen from, abandoned, called names, cheated on, lied to, slapped in the face, taken advantage of, victimized, humiliated, and even raped. The worst part of this whole list isn’t the things that I listed or even the fact that I endured them all; the worst part of it is, each action was executed by someone that I trusted—some that I called friend.

I had to learn a long time ago how to hold my own and how to turn off my emotions when things began getting too bad. I taught myself how to get back up after being knocked down, I got used to the pain of being kicked while I was down, I allowed people to treat me terribly most of the time and held on to the few moments of kindness or affection that they so sparingly offered. I sat and watched while “my friends” flirted with my boyfriends and I always forgave them. I thought it was my fault; if I were prettier, or skinnier, or maybe if I put out that they would actually love me. I believed that other’s trespasses against me were due to faults within myself.

By 14 years old, I could go shot for shot with people twice my age. I thought that if I couldn’t be accepted by my age group, that I could rise above them and fit in with an older crowd. I never really looked my age, I always looked older than I was and carried myself like I was older still. Before 16, I could pass as a college sophomore and by 17, I could walk into bars without being questioned. I could confidentially pass for 24 on any given day. As a result, I, of course, drew the attention of guys older than me and some men looking to snag a younger woman. I accepted the terrible things that happened to me as being “part of the territory” and a small part of me questioned whether I “asked for it,” if I had in some way caused them to think it was okay. I have learned to live with what happened but, I promise, that I have not forgotten.

I would party way too hard and not remember large portions of my nights or even know how I got home. I realized that I liked not feeling anything, I liked having fun, and I liked being free from my own self-doubt only for a little while. This began to happen more frequently and in larger quantities. After a while, alcohol wasn’t enough so I would take a few pills (someone always had pills) and continue drinking. I didn’t see an issue; I was just having fun. I began needing over-the-counter “energy pills” to shake the hangovers and those worked so well that I kept some on stand-by if I ever needed an extra “boost”. Again, no flags—they were sold at the gas station so, how bad could they really be?
I did all of this while maintaining a 3.6 GPA and graduated with honors.

Since graduation and a short stint in junior college, I have lived with friends, began dating the man that I eventually married, went to Hawaii on an all-expenses-paid trip with a man that I soon convinced into helping get my boyfriend (now husband) back, I lived and worked on a ranch in Tombstone, AZ. I got married, lived on an Army base in California where my husband was stationed for 3 years, had a daughter, suffered miscarriages, my husband and I took over raising my stepson. I joined the Army and got out of the Army on a bum shoulder. I have survived suicidal ideations, battled addiction, learned the hard way who my friends are. I have put my marriage through the wringer, my mental health is always an uphill battle, I am attempting to complete courses for my Bachelor of English online, I am also happily a housewife/stay-at-home mom.

I have become remarkably outspoken and opinionated in recent months (some thought that I could not possibly get worse–they were wrong.) I have no qualms about calling attention to someone’s behavior if it is needed. I have likewise stopped sitting back while people are rude or ugly to me or my family.

By no means am I perfect nor do I blame my past for my shortcomings. Everything that I have done, I have chosen to do; I have never had a gun to my head forcing me to do anything. There have been plenty of situations that I could have handled with more grace than I chose to, this is considered blunt. I have encountered confrontations that I could have walked away from yet opted to stay and fight, I reckon that makes me spiteful. There are statements that I have made that served only to be hurtful, I suspect that makes me mean. There have also been occasions that I knew I was wrong but frankly, I didn’t care–I gather that means I have no self-control. It is true, I have my faults (maybe even a few more than most); I am quick to anger also often impatient. I am terrible with forgiving and forgetting. I hold a grudge like it is my job; I figure that makes me vengeful. I can detach myself from hurtful situations and likewise from the people that continuously cause them; I suppose that makes me cold-hearted. On the flip side of all of these flaws are good qualities–believe it or not– that are often overlooked.

I have acquaintances, friends, moreover, family members that assume I am nothing more than a mouthy bitch with little to no self-control, a meanspirited person that enjoys a fight, an overgrown child that throws tantrums to get my way. They shrug this off often with a dismissive eye-roll, that’s just Kathryn.
What seems to not get discussed are the times I have defended those that would not do the same for me, the occasions I have squared up to grown men to protect the very women that looked the other way when it was me in their shoes, my loyalty to those who were busy betraying me, the times I have carried crosses for those that helped to build mine.

Yet still, I am regularly reminded that I am merely a bitch and nothing more. If I happen to raise hell about something that matters to me or lash out because I had enough of something, I’m simply throwing a fit.

Perhaps I am being crazy. This has taken years of mistreatment and abuse for me to belatedly begin to speak out against the wrong and stand up for the right.
It may come as a shock to some that I did not get this way yesterday; everything I have heard, seen, or experienced made me into who I am. I scarcely survived the majority of my life thus far;
Yet, instead of feeling accomplished about the battles I have won, I feel ashamed about who I have become.

I am learning to be proud of myself so if y’all see a grin come across my face when I hear the phrase, That’s just Kathryn, to you I’ll say, you bet your ass it’s me!

Posted in Books and More

Join the Club, I Did.

Book of the Month Club, I dove right in! I research a lot of the monthly box clubs and while ‘stuff’ is cool and one box was super intreging–it had gifts to open only after reading certain pages, it seemed super emmersive, check it out here.— I decided to join Book of the Month (BOTM) as sort of a ‘gateway box’.

If you are like me, an anti-social ball of anxiety, and hate the overwhelming choices at a bookstore, this is an awesome option for you. The BOTM chooses 5 titles, from which you choose the 1 that would most like to read. You may skip months and that ‘credit’ is rolled-over to the following month.

Here, check it out for yourself! If you want to join, use my referal code and receive a free book!

Trust me. I should know. I’m one of them. And if you are someone easily offended by foul, vulgar, profane language, this essay might not be for you. There is an amazing essay written by Jordan Schneider in The Chronicle of Higher Education that covers why swearing in class isn’t that big of a deal; […]

via Potty-mouthed Professors: Why They’re the Best — The Write Inspiration

Potty-mouthed Professors: Why They’re the Best — The Write Inspiration

Posted in Mental Health

The “D” Word

We have all heard it. You may have even said it. We try not to let children hear us say it, they would ask too many questions and try to use it with their friends. It can make conversations quite uncomfortable if used without warning. Some may even pretend it doesn’t exist at all. You may want to stop reading. . .

I’m going to say it. . .

Last chance.

Okay. Suit yourself.

I am talking about depression. There. I said it.

Depression is something that many suffer from, but few like to talk about. Personally, I never wanted to seem weak or lazy. I was hesitant to tell anybody what was going on, I thought I could power through it. Things got bad—that is a post for a different day.

For a person that has never experienced or seen depression, it can be hard to understand. When I first met my husband, even a while after we were married, he “did not believe in depression.” I am being serious.
Now, he is a believer.

The crazy thing about depression is not always laying in bed sobbing, it can be subtle; not painting your fingernails or not wearing as much makeup.
I am not a professional, nor am I giving medical advice. However, I urge you to reach out to someone, a friend or a doctor and tell them how you are feeling.

Your mental health is equally as important as your physical health!
Don’t be afraid of the “d” word, it is okay to talk about it.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit these suicide prevention resources. 
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

Posted in Uncategorized

How do you do it?

Do any of you have trouble keeping everything in your house clean and up to date? I do. My mom, mother-in-law, and grandmothers always seem to have it together. It is crazy how everything always seems to be exactly where it is suppose to be.

My bedroom at 10 P.M. last night.

I am interested in hearing how you all tackle the dreaded “to-do list”. I always feel behind no matter how much I do, something is left undone. Moms and grandmas out there PLEASE weigh in! How the heck do you do it? Is there a checklist, a system, a certain order to things?

I will make a follow up post to this next Wednesday; that will allow me time to read, respond and compare all of the tips and tricks that you guys submit.

Please, let me know how YOU get things done.
*Go to contact, put in your name and email, send me a comment. I know its a pain. . . I’m working on it.
Sorry guys.

Posted in Uncategorized

Just be, Mom.


Before I was a mom, I had this idea of what type of mom I would be. I thought that my children would listen to me and follow my instruction. I would be the awesome classroom mom that always brought the best cookies and hosted the most epic parties. My house would have all the awesome toys and there would be an infinite amount of the newest, coolest snacks. I would cook three meals a day, do laundry daily, and I was going to make healthy snacks and pack healthy lunches every single day. It would be amazing. I would be amazing.

As a first-time mom, I washed my daughter’s pacifier every time it fell from her mouth. I cleaned EVERYTHING, and I cleaned it all EVERYDAY. I thought this was how things were “supposed” to be. I stressed over every tiny thing. I was so worried about making sure she was reaching her next mile stone that I did not enjoy the trivial things that she did every day. I wanted to make certain that I was not “spoiling” her, that she was sleeping in her own bed, that I was not holding her too often or for too long. I was so concerned with meeting expectations set by others that I set myself up to feel like a failure. For the longest time, I did not think of myself as a “first-time mom”, I was a “fail at every turn mom”.

When my step son came to live with us, my daughter was only 9 months old and we lived in a tiny 2-bedroom apartment. I kid you not, the apartment was approx. 900 square feet. My kitchen had 2.5’ x 6’ of walk space and if the refrigerator door was open it blocked the doorway. It was an extremely small apartment but, we managed to squeeze two adults, one school-aged child, one baby, and a 50 lb. dog. I thought, “this is just what I need, another child to fail”. Things were super tense.

I wanted everything to be perfect. I wanted my step son to transition smoothly and to thrive in his new school. Well, eventually happened it just took 2 years. He hated me. I did not think I was qualified to be raising a 6-year-old. What did I know? I was struggling with a 9-month-old. I was dealing with milestones and obstacles that I had otherwise thought I had years to prepare for. Suddenly, I was a first-time mom with two children.

I got the hang of things-well, sort of. Things were going okay, but I wanted to move into a bigger place. We found a house for a great price and it was big enough. It was old, but we did not care. How soon can we move in? Within 32 days we had packed up and moved. That was 3 years ago. In August, our family grew again. I gave birth to a perfect baby boy! Our oldest plays every sport and our daughter is an aspiring ballet dancer/brain surgeon. HA! My husband and I are both attending Troy University. Life is good, but busy.

If I could meet “before mom” me, I would laugh in the face of that naive child. I am certain that version of myself would cringe at the baggy, food stained sweater and boxers that I have worn since yesterday. She would scoff at my floors and faint at the sight of my laundry room. However, as shocking as this may be, children are messy and being a mom is hard.

I still have lofty goals of organized closets, fantasize about uncluttered counter tops, and dread the thought of turning off the ceiling fans-the dust bunnies would invade. Guess what though? The world did not explode, my children are healthy, my husband is happy, and I still have a sliver of sanity left. It is okay to not be perfect. The sun will still rise, the laundry will be there and getting the dishes out of the dishwasher as needed has not ever killed anyone-to my knowledge. Start enjoying being a mom and stop stressing over being the best mom.

There is no “Best Mom”. Just be, Mom.