Remember to Look at the Stars

Do you ever have bouts of anxiety that never seem to stop? You resolve one worry–oh I’m so glad I remembered I get paid tomorrow!–only for another to body-slam itself into the forefront–but what about that basement toilet that needs fixing? 

I seem to be the queen of these kind of thoughts. Especially nowadays with the COVID-19 pandemic, the general unrest of social media, and the doom-and-gloom of the news. If left unchecked, it’s the perfect storm for uncertainty and stress; a nightmare where everything appears to be falling apart at the seams.  

Last night, that familiar territory began again: Will COVID ever end? Is the US in decline? Will social media ever calm down? What if my novel never gets published? What will our future look like for our kids? If we start trying for a family now, will it be safe?  

Then I looked up at the stars.

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Everything stopped. I could hear frogs groaning, birds chirping, feel the coolness of the night on my skin. And I stared at the stars. They blinked down upon me. I knew that none of my worries mattered in that moment; they were insignificant. 

The anxiety stopped. It went to sit in that corner and think about what it had done. 

Sometimes we get so bogged down by our fears that we forget to listen. We forget that other humans are our partners, brothers and sisters, in this walk of life. We ignore the wise words of whatever Being we believe guides us. Unintentional, but it happens. I’ve experienced it many times, firsthand. 

So here’s my advice to you, dear reader: remember to stop and look at the stars. Take a breath, wave to a friend. (When COVID dissipates–because it will–make it a hug.) Step away from social media when the world seems too heavy. Read a book, watch a favorite show, play a game. Pet your furry companion, if you have one. 

We are all climbing this mountain together.  None of us are alone. 

“I was given something wonderful, something that changed me forever… A vision of the universe that tells us, undeniably, how tiny, and insignificant and how… rare, and precious we all are! A vision that tells us that we belong to something that is greater then ourselves, that we are not… that none of us are alone!”
– Jodie Foster, Contact. 

This Too Shall Pass

Here I sit, in my bed, typing away, on Quarantine Day 7.

Don’t worry. I don’t have COVID-19. At least I’m pretty sure I don’t.

For the past 24 hours, I’ve been having strange symptoms: a general unease mixed with a tightness square in the center of my chest that comes and goes. I saw a homeopathic doctor who told me I have bacterial bronchitis; not anything viral and probably brought on by the damp weather, mixed with allergies. Still, I’m doing to responsible thing and isolating myself from the husband and my mother, only allowing Boo a few head-scratches and Pippy to lay next to me. You know, just in case.

I’ve really been thinking about how much our mindframes have changed since that first case in Wuhan, China. How rapidly our world has become something akin to a disaster movie. Last week, in fact, I was being told that it would be my last day at the library “until further notice.” Looking around at my colleagues, I had become so emotional, realizing I didn’t know when I would see them next.

That’s what we’re all faced with: an uncertainty of how long this all will go on.

Today, I found hope. I rediscovered my strength. All thanks to a little book called Rediscovering The Saints by Matthew Kelly.

“We are capable of so much more than we think. You have no idea what you are capable of. None of us do. God is constantly trying to open our eyes to the amazing possibilities that he has enfolded in our being.” 

Whether you’re Catholic, nondenominational, pagan, or other, these are words to  remember in this stressful time.

Remember: you are strong. Believe that we’ll get through this. That, someday soon, all this craziness will be something in history books, a story we can tell future generations with an air of thankfulness that it’s finally over.

Trust in God, in the current of impermanence that flows in our universe.

This too shall pass.

The 2010’s: A Decade in Review

Well here we are at the crux of 2019 merging into 2020–and I’m lying in bed with a low grade fever. While others are celebrating a decade ending, I’m binging the final three episodes of Hellier season two. (If you haven’t seen this show yet, you should! It’s AMAZING!) Ah, well. I guess there are worse ways to welcome in the new year. And, frankly, I’d rather be sick on New Year’s than Christmas. Good ol’ stomach issues.

Learning to be more in tune with my body’s limitations has actually been a struggle I’ve dealt with since I was born. Blessed with something my family dubs “The Yankello Stomach,” I suffer from a sensitivity to high oils and fats. When balanced with a healthy diet of other foods–a bland lunch mixed with a rich dinner, for example–then I’m usually all right. But if I indulge a bit too much, then I’m stuck in stomach ache limbo.

Being more in tune with my body is one of the many goals I’m focusing on in 2020 and beyond. I mean, this is the only body I have so I better make it last! Right?

Looking back at this decade, I’ve realized it’s been one full of growth. I can see God’s hands–along with some other Beings–helping shape me into the person I am today. The one with family values, a fascination with the paranormal, weather, and travel, who loves to celebrate storytelling, and who always does her best to respect life and death. The person I was always meant to be. Through pain, discovery, loss, gain; a dualistic tango that led me here, right here, to this very moment.

As Dustin Pari posted on his twitter once:

All in all, I think it’s been a valuable ten years.

In this next decade, I want to focus on fine-tuning myself:

  1. To publish my novel: to hold a physical copy of my book for the first time, smell its pages. (Yes, I’m one of those bibliophiles.) And to continue my character’s stories.
    1. Note: I also want to produce more regular content here and on Youtube.
  2. To keep travelling: to visit old haunts and explore new places.
  3. To feel healthy. I want to feel capable of climbing a mountain. And, especially, I want my back to be stronger. I want to feel stronger.
  4. To learn more about our property: to always show it as much love as it shows us.
  5. To become more involved in the paranormal community: to be more verbal about my theories, my experiences. To help others as I have been helped. And to connect again to my sensitivity.
  6. And, of course, a big one–perhaps one of the most important things a person can do on this world: I want to raise a family. Which is equally excited and terrifying!

I hope you all have a happy 2020. I hope this next year–this next decade–is everything you wish it to be, but that it’s also what you need it to be. Even if it’s unexpected. May it be good. Plain and simple.

What are your resolutions? Your goals for 2020-2029? Let me know in the comments!

Welcome to 30!

Yes, oh yes! You’ve read that right: I’m 30! Long gone are my 20’s, now makes room for a whole new decade of adventure and discoveries!

There’s a lot of connotation about turning 30. In our society–especially in pop culture–it seems to be something to dread: our 20’s are at an end, the partying is done, now we have to grow up and be responsible.

My mom quoted an interview that Madonna gave when she turned 30. When the iconic diva was asked about turning 30, the interviewer probably thought “Oh. This will be so dramatic! She’s going to hate this question!” but they were shocked at Madonna’s response. “Frankly, I’m relieved.”

To me, that is exactly how I feel: 30 isn’t about being scared to turn old, it’s about the excitement of the decade to come. Sure, I have more aches and pains that I didn’t have when I was in my teens. But that’s solved easily.

No. On the eve of my birthday, I felt the distinct clap of a book being shut. To me, each decade is a new book in the series of my life. I look forward to seeing what I accomplish in my 30s, taking the lessons of my 20s with me. It was a hard decade full of many struggles and sleepless nights, whether due to studying abroad in England or the all-nighters taking care of my ailing father. I don’t take any of those experiences for granted. I’m proud of who I’ve become. And I can’t wait to see what happens! I want to get to the peak of my physical health, and, most immediate and important: becoming fully-fledged, published author.

I just need to get this book done first!

Speaking of, away I go to the cave. Radio silence initiated. See you guys on the other side.

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“Wedding, A Wedding, We’re Going to Have A Wedding!”

WELL that’s certainly something I didn’t expect!

Full disclosure: I just finished listening to my fiancee’s voicemail. He is entirely smashed, drunk, silly, and out of his mind! The only thing I know about this bachelor’s party is that it has been crafted as a Dungeons and Dragons adventure (he loves that game) and, at some point, I was kidnapped.

In this reality, I have actually been home prepping for our wedding in t-minus six days!

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YES!!

SIX

FREAKING

DAYS!!!!

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*breathes in, breathes out*

In six days, I’ll be walking down the aisle and taking this silly goofball, caring soul, and intelligent nerd of a man as my “lawfully wedded husband.” In six days, I will declare my joy “to have and to hold him, for rich or for poor, in sickness and in health.”

And I’m totally excited!!

And nervous.

But not a bit apprehensive, for I do love my future husband.

All the freaking out I’m doing? Not in response to marrying him, no; it’s only because I have so much I want to get done in six days! Not all of them are wedding-related things: I have bookkeeping to complete, cleaning and packing to do, and three submissions I want to write to Chicken Soup for the Soul (Because I’m a complete masochist and writing is my life!)

*DEAL WITH IT face*

But in all honesty, I’m excited to be getting married. I love my future husband–more than I’d ever dream I could love someone–and I can’t wait to be his, or him to be mine. I’m eager to see what the future brings for both of us. I know there will be hard at times, but we will be able to get through it because we have a good support system in each other (and our families).

God bless all you married couples out there.

I will see you on the other side of the ceremony!

*runs off to complete more pre-wedding stuffs like a crazy person*

Let Me Handle The Rest

WOW! So, I’m 29! Wow!

A year away from 30. Wow.

I mean, I always knew I would reach my late 20’s, but when you’re a teenager, it seems like an impossible feat. Now, here I am: with a secure income, a wedding in the works, and planning out “grown-up things.” (Take a look, little me: it’s not so bad after all!)

This week was the way to start birthday weeks! For one thing, I’ve been slammed with job hunting. Then, lo and behold, by the guidance of God and my Guardians, I’m there! I get the call Monday that I have a job with the local library! The hunt can end! I can move on! The plan is set, the pathway is in motion!

F I N A L L Y!!!

Of course, as is the nature of life, there’s still concerns–some of them pretty major, such as my father’s steadily declining health. Yeah, that’s always on my mind and in my prayers. (Side note: if you all could pray for my family, that would be wonderful!)

But, as for me, myself, and I? I’m doing pretty all right.

It astounds me that all of this fell into place. Not even just for me, but so much more is continuing to settle, that has been years in the making. It all seemed to start after I heard the words of God and my Guardians in my head on Sunday, which had been a stressful day. However, I remain firm in this: it was a challenge because a lot of pent-up negative energy had to be released. It was only when that energy had left the situation that I heard the words:

“Are you doing the best you can? Yes? Then let me handle the rest.

It’s really hard to give the reigns of our life to Beings we don’t even fully comprehend.  That’s been the biggest challenge this year for me. Yes, we have to do the work. We can’t pray and expect gifts to fall in our laps, that’s not how life works. Truly, it’s scary to put your life–your livelihood–in the hands of something unseen, especially when you’re like me: a person who holds on to worry and stress when things are uncertain and wants to control all that she can.

Despite being a Christian and professing that we “put all our worries at God’s feet,” it’s still hard to do when it’s something that could make or break you. It’s hard to relinquish control.

But, really, truly, through all of this, I’ve been reminded that God’s got this. He’s always looking out for us, and molding things out of the paths we journey down; making the best of every situation and teaching us lessons we need to pick up along the way.

Additional lessons that I have learned, or expect to be learning in the near future:

  1. Realizing exactly how frugal I can be. And that’s something I’ve needed to learn for a while now.
  2. Juggling two part-time jobs, my social life, family activities, all while working on my wedding and the completion of my novel. WOO DOGGIE, that’s going to be a doozy!

But, with the help of God and my Guardians, I’ll take it one step at a time, knowing I’m being guided, by them, towards a better future, with more lessons to learn, and more life to experience. I’m looking forward to seeing all the ways I develop, and what new lessons I learn, in this next birth year. I’m going to work hard–I’m going to do the best I can–and I’m going to put my trust in God and my Guardians. They have the rest.

A Shack-Inspired Birthday Reflection

Ever since I saw The Shack this weekend, I haven’t been able to get its themes out of my head. Frankly, would I even want that? Nope. I think it’s great that the story sticks with me so much!

The Shack is a heartfelt story about a man, named Mack, who is lead back to life by God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Literally, they appear in a shack in the woods and spend the weekend with him. Whether you’re Christian or not, it’s a good story that can reground the best of humanity within you: being good to one another, forgiving those who do wrong against you, and spreading love.

Every time I read–or now watch–The Shack, I feel like a child again.

And, especially now in my life, it’s a message I need reiterated to me.

I have found myself, especially in the past, in seemingly hurricane-like chaotic years, not focusing on love–or trusting in God–as much as I really should’ve been doing. Since Choy, my beloved feline companion died, events have transpired that have shaken me. Frankly, they’ve taken me, unwillingly, a bit away from focusing on God. My belief in him has still been strong, of course. It always will be. However, I realize in hindsight that I was going through the motions of living a strong faith; specifically, I focused on my worries rather than putting my trust in Him. It’s amazing how we can get lost in our own battles, and our fears of the future, and forget to put our trust in God–to trust things will work out the best way they should.

Truly, it’s hard to put your trust in something you can’t see. And that’s the theme of The Shack: God is always with you, his love will guide you, just let him show you the way. (Or, for those who prefer, let “her” show you the way.)

This year, as my birthday approached, I’ve been feeling more emotional as of late. Last year, I spent my special day at Cleveland Clinic Main Campus, watching my father go in for melanoma surgery. Mom and I left my dad late that night, after we knew he was safe, settled and the surgery was successful. On the way home, we stopped at Olive Garden and I blew out a candle in an apple crisp dessert.

A simple, small, somewhat melancholic birthday that fell right in place with the rest of 2016.

But it’s not that specific day itself that makes me bittersweet about my birthday, it’s how the year went after dad’s surgery. That landmark moment seemed to catapult my family and I into a variety of stunning developments that grew me into a stronger Katie today. In part, I wish that some things didn’t happen; mom’s brain bleed last April, for example. But, for the most part, I’m happy for how much I’ve grown out of my shell. For example, I’ve found a hidden talent in bookkeeping that I could hone to subsidize my writing career and support my family.

All in all, even if my birthday feels a tad bittersweet, I still remain stubbornly optimistic to see the good that this new birth year brings.

I fervently aim to finish my book and get it out to agents by the time I go to New Orleans, but I am also, now, looking forward to pursuing this bookkeeping career. (If I’m being honest, I wasn’t entirely set on it until now.) I’m excited for Dan, the boyfriend, and I to get engaged and set our combined goals in motion. And I aim, with God’s help, to let my life–and the lives of those around me–be as little stressed as possible. (Especially after the taxes are completed! Hah!)

I impart this wisdom to all of you: hope is never gone, love never leaves, God never deserts you, unless you let it go yourself. As the infamous Dustin Pari says: “#NeverGiveUp!” 

 

The Best Journeys

If you’ve ever taken a moment to pause one of my YouTube videos, you’ll find I have a lot of sayings floating around my room.

Literally.

Roald Dahl’s quotation of “Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you…” perches on the wall to my left as I type, while Josh Gates and Tom Hiddleston sayings flash above my mirror in the early afternoon sunlight. And that’s only scratching the surface of my decorated four walls! Whether they’re artwork or sayings from TJ Maxx, paintings friends have crafted, or a mural pieced together by my own hands, each piece of decoration on my wall has its own purpose, its own story to tell.

God, I love being in my room. Some people have told me that it’s too cluttered; that it’s good to clear out some wall space. However, while I have had my purging moments and have been deeply satisfied, my walls are truly a reflection of me.

Heck, whenever I change rooms (or houses), I’ll probably cover those walls with quotes too!

This month, a box quote that occupies the windowsill behind my laptop is particularly reaching out to me. I see it every day; it inspires me not only in adventure but in life.

“The best journeys answer questions you didn’t even think to ask.”

This quote is what I would pick to describe my most recent years. There have been some good, adventurous, life changing moments… and some that have been absolute crap. But all of them have answered questions that I didn’t even think to ask in the first place.

Funny how God works, isn’t it?

This Monday, actually, was an anniversary for me. Two years ago, I started talking to my guardian angel (Zadkiel) and really opened up spiritually. And that’s when things started making sense. It was kind of like a puzzle; I found answers to some weird stuff that happened to me in the past, I gained more confidence in who I was–and in my soul and spirituality–and the pieces all clicked together.

In turn, I started to see the magic in the world around me and I stopped wishing I was somewhere else.

Yes, I did actually have moments in my life where I prayed to God that he would whisk me away to places like Middle-Earth or other alternate realities where I could hang out with characters I loved. Where I could adventure, romance, and just escape the responsibilities of our world. Even at the expense of my own family.

But, now, in the present, I really do love our world, and I’m eternally grateful that I do. I love to explore it, whether through travel or spiritual work. (That’s where I find the magic; the best in human kind.) It’s not solely black and white. You can do something so much deeper than a 9-to-5 job and pay bills. We’re here on this Earth to do important; to love, to live, and maybe even to leave a legacy behind. God has put us all here for a reason, it’s up to us to find it and persevere.

The answers will unveil themselves as long as you’re open to them.

Elton Pope from Doctor Who said it best:

“When you’re a kid, they tell you it’s all… grow up. Get a job. Get married. Get a house. Have a kid, and that’s it. But the truth is, the world is so much stranger than that. It’s so much darker. And so much madder. And so much better.”

There’s so much to explore! There’s so many journeys to be had! We only have one life to live, what are you waiting for?

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Love, Katie

Castle: Good Remains in Chaos

Once upon a time, there was a twenty-three year old girl who had a cloud of technicolor dreams circling her head. She gazed at the blues, purples, reds, and golds, and as they swirled faster, her heart was encouraged. She laughed and raced down the campus steps, the doors opened to the freshly graduated girl, and she embraced the world, ready to share her dreams with it.

In case you haven’t guessed, that girl was me.

In 2011, I graduated from Otterbein University with a degree in Creative Writing, ready to share my stories with the world. And guess what? Within a year, I was professionally writing! It wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do, but it was a good stepping stone.

My true dream, however, was to be a novelist. And one of my favorite TV shows expressed exactly how I wanted my life to look:

In fact, I do actually want to be a mystery writer. Psychological thrillers and paranormal fantasies are my genres!

Life itself is a tricky thing; it can, at times, be synonymous with change, and chaos can be their little bundle of joy. That’s how it’s been off and on since 2011. For personal reasons, it’s been difficult–especially these past few months–to find time to write, let alone do other things I love (watching TV, going to movies, traveling), hence why I haven’t blogged since Easter.

Honestly, it can be challenging at times. I never imagined being in this situation five years since I graduated. But that’s how change works: it hits you right between the eyes, when you least expect it, and can be a good thing.

Take Castle’s unexpected cancellation, for example. About a month ago, over on Deadline.com, it was announced that Stana Katic and Tamala Jones were not coming back to season 9. I was among the Castle fans who was adamantly against this decision (I mean, who wouldn’t be? There’s no Caskett without Beckett!) Thankfully ABC decided to cancel the show instead of watching it go down the proverbial Primetime toilet and Caskett fans got to see Beckett and Castle live on.

For me, change reminds me of the realistic value of balancing my dreams with the reality I’m placed in. Yes, it might be excruciatingly hard at times, but I still wouldn’t change the part I must play here at home. I’m as stubborn about supporting my family as much as I am about becoming a novelist. I do believe that both will play out for the better, even if this tumultuous period seems to be clearing at an agonizing pace.

In any case, I still excited for the future; to see what it brings me and my family. I’m anxious to finish my first novel, get it seen by an agent and published. I’m anticipating a peaceful future for my family and I (really it can’t get here soon enough!). I’m curious to see what Andrew Marlowe (creator of Castle) comes up with next.

But those are distant, general futures. What I need to remind myself is to enjoy the stepping stones that bring those futures along, one day at a time. I need to be happy that I am able to write and produce YouTube videos again. I need to see the blessing in the lesson of time management. And I need to see the good in every moment here at the house, even during the bad times; there is always good!

Change happens. Life moves on. Impermanence spins the world into focus. Thank you, God, for the ability to endure, to adapt. Thank you for the gifts and lessons that life brings. And thank you for the joy that Castle has brought to so many lives.

Blessings to writers everywhere, the Castle cast and crew, and all souls that are going through hard times. It will get better. You just have to keep moving; one step, one word, after another.

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