To my future daughter…

To my future daughter,

I want you to know that the world is beautiful.

It is here and nowhere else that butterflies are free to fly and elephants roam about.

The world is beautiful all around because it is here where you may always live in curiosity,

Because here you shall never be disappointed when you are striving to learn.

Little girl, the world is so beautiful,

Because it is here that flowers bloom every year and colorful leaves fall above you.

Baby girl, I hope you always see this beauty,

Because only here can you dance in the piazzas of Venice and stand in awe at the beauty of Paris.

My pretty girl, I will not lie, this world is not only filled with beauty.

It will hurt you, push you, kick you.

But this world is forgiving and this world is kind.

It will pick you up and encourage you to fly.

So, my beautiful girl, please listen to me now,

This world is yours to live in and yours to share.

Your beauty exists to mix with the butterflies and elephants and piazzas and create this amazing place.

To my future daughter, take what I have learned,

Dance in the rain and sing with the birds,

Because you are so beautiful and your world is too.

The disconnect between adults and kids

One of my biggest fears is that one day far in the future, my kids will be crying themselves to sleep at night and I will have no idea. It just seems to be such a common feeling these days – kids grow up thinking that they have no real support and that no one really understands what they are going through. We act as if there has to be some huge disconnect between adults and kids and I think that this divide is proving itself to be extremely emotionally draining.

In my generation, people are becoming much more open with who they really are. The LGBTQ community is growing each and every day as people come out, finally deciding to be true to themselves. Kids are getting into serious relationships at younger ages; it’s as if we have this instinctual urge to grow up quicker and experience real love earlier. We can’t help it though, that’s just how we are.

Adults, specifically parents, are in a very special place. They have the ability to build up a child’s self esteem or completely tear it down. They have the choice to emotionally support their child, which sadly, some parents refuse to do. Which is partly what has created this gap between kids and parents. There are certain choices that parents don’t have the right to decide – such as if your child is gay, or transgender, or if they want to date someone of a different race or a different religion or financial class or if they just want to date someone in general. No parent has the right to choose who their child falls in love with.

By the age of 18, we have a pretty good idea of what we like and what we don’t like. We know which foods make us sick and we know which school subjects we like the most. We also sort of know what career path we would like to take and what sort of people we want to surround ourselves with on our journey there. Most of us have picked a learning institution that we hope will carry us to success and many of us have had to figure out a plan to pay for it. We are considered to be adults, yet we are still treated as young children. This also adds to the divide between us.

There is such a simple solution to this problem though, and it amazes me that this isn’t universal knowledge. We both need to support each other. Parents should lift their kids up when they are down – no child should have to cry themselves to sleep feeling as though they cannot talk to the two people sleeping in the room next door. If your child comes out as gay, you should be thrilled that they had the bravery to do so in front of you, because it is a huge act of courage. If your child is in love with someone, you should wholeheartedly support that relationship. As long as no harm is coming to either party… there is no reason to separate them. From a kid’s perspective, it is so hard to live your life without support. Feeling alone while making decisions is so ridiculously stressful. We need help from those older than us, even though we will deny it to our grave. Just as those older need help from us, and we will be there to give them that.

We need to push to close the divide between us. It’s time for both sides to come together and to realize that there is no reason to not support each other. We both feel the same things – it’s time we respect that.

20 things I will do

I had a teacher last year who forced us to write 20 things we will do in our lifetime. Looking back, it was one of the best assignments I had ever completed. It was a list that made you really think about what you aspire to be and what you truly want out of the life you were given. I still have the sheet of paper that I wrote my list on – it hangs above my desk so I can read it each and every day. It is my inspiration to keep going; because of that, I decided to share my list with you. Here it is:

1. Ride an elephant

2. Eat a meal that I don’t think I would usually try, such as escargot.

3. Swim with sea turtles (COMPLETED!)

4. Study abroad

5. Be able to say “I made it – I’m accomplished.”

6. Change someone’s perspective

7. Have a son and name him Luke

8. Have a daughter and teach her what it is like to always love

9. Get a tattoo

10. Visit every continent, including Antarctica

11. Write a short story

12. Learn how to dance

13. Win an award

14. Fall in love with a man and have a ridiculously happy wedding

15. Have a chalkboard wall in my house and cover it with quotes that I love

16. Give my time to those less fortunate than I

17. Have a conversation with someone who is homeless; make them laugh

18. Go on a spontaneous trip with someone I love

19. Make enough money to take my Dad on a trip with me

20. Find a way to prove to him that I love him, and make him proud of me.

21. Adopt a dog from the humane society (multiple dogs are okay too)

22. Buy my mom and stepdad a very expensive bottle of wine, then sit down and drink the entire thing with them

I know I had a couple more than 20, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have a lot of goals! I encourage you all to write your own lists, and if you do, send me the link! I would love to read them. This truly is one of the best ways to really reflect and get to know yourself a little bit better.
  

Letter #1

For those of you who do not know, I am moving to Chicago this fall. With that, I have decided to do an installment of letters to members of my family. They will be somewhat personal, but I believe that many of you will be able to relate. So, here we go.

To my dad, the one that currently resides many, many hours away.

Thank you for teaching me the pain of distance. I know that sounds a bit aggressive, but I don’t mean it that way. Although you were not exactly there to raise me, your absence was able to teach me many valuable lessons.

After the divorce, I became aware that love does not always last, and therefore I should be cautious of the relationships I am in.

During our brief tradition of Wednesday night dinners, you taught me to never work in a job that makes me unhappy. It creates awkward silences and stress – a combination that no one should have to encounter.

When you left for the first time, you headed out to Thailand. You taught me that sometimes people need to get away to find out who they really are, and you showed that it was okay.

You went to Thailand a few times. Each time, I learned how to create a relationship with someone very far away.

When I told you I was in therapy during one of your trips home, your silence taught me that you don’t have to speak in order to understand.

When you left the second time, you moved to South Africa. That was when I learned that it is very easy to become disconnected with someone you were once very close with. I also learned that time zones are kind of a b*tch.

When you came back, I learned that it is possible to pick up broken pieces and put them together again. Certain relationships can withstand the test of time.

When you left for good, you moved away to California. When you broke the news, I learned what it felt like to have your heart shattered into millions of pieces. I learned that even when you are surrounded by people who love you, you can still feel alone.

Now that I am older, I know that it is not your fault that you had to leave all of those times. I understand that you needed to leave in order to discover who you really were and you needed to do what was best for you.

I know that you needed to hear this a long time ago, but I am proud of you. Both of us are human, both of us make mistakes, and I hope to see you back home one day.

Thank you so much for everything, even though you did not know what you did for me.

I forgive you.

Love,

Katelyn

My very biased opinion of Dr. Phil v. 16 year old Kristi

Hi everyone!

Fun fact: a girl from my school was on Dr. Phil last night. Another fun fact: I don’t like Dr. Phil.  I did, rather grudgingly, bring myself to tune in last night so I could watch him dissect a 16-year-old girls home life. Needless to say, it quickly turned into quite the comedy special. It wasn’t the girl, Kristi, that was the source of my laughter though – it was how ridiculously unprofessional Dr. Phil sounded throughout the entire show.

He started with the parents; there were no questions asked about how they feel about their daughter or what their family was like before she began having anger issues. Rather, it began with immediate criticism of them as people. Granted, they both needed a bit of a reality check, but it seemed that Dr. Phil wasn’t even focused on shaping them to become better parents. He simply just ranted on about how horrible of people they both are. There were no suggestions to help them deal with Kristi or fix their own marriage, he did not offer them any true solutions to put their family back together. This confused me because… isn’t that what psychologists are supposed to do? Find solutions? Help fix those who come to them? Be compassionate? No? Oh, okay.

Up next was Kristi. Here’s the deal: she has some serious anger problems, she’s disgustingly disrespectful, and does not seem to respect others or herself. I definitely think she needs some help. However, putting her on national TV with an audience waiting for something to make fun of her for and an asshole telling her every bad quality she has is NOT going to accomplish anything. Throughout the entire interview, he was in her face telling her how awful of a person she is. What made it even worse was that he did attempt to offer up a solution – he told the parents to ship her off to an isolated ranch in Utah, and to not allow her any say in the matter. This has to be one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard.

I’d love to have a chat with Phil. I’d do anything just to explain to him that kids cannot be treated like animals. Kristi obviously has problems she is dealing with, and yes, getting help would probably be very beneficial. This is a mental health issue though, and when it comes to these types of problems, a person needs to have a support team – which is usually his or her family. And yet it seems that Dr. Phil, master psychologist and world renowned therapist, has decided that shipping off a girl lost her own head is the way to fix everything.

Maybe he should spend some time in Utah.

I wish the best for Kristi and her family – I do hope that they learn to use compassion in order to heal each other. Rage and despair seems to be the only two emotions in that household. A family needs a base, one created from sympathy and care, and hopefully they find a way to work together and find that.

Dr. Phil, however intelligent he may be, really needs to spend some more time with those who are internally broken. Maybe then he will realize how terrible separation is for a lost person, and maybe… just maybe… he will become compassionate himself.

The new generation

I live in a very populated area. To give you an idea, my high school has almost 7,000 students, there are five middle schools that feed into it, and ten elementary schools. As you can see, that’s quite a bit of kids. With this many people, I’ve noticed that it is easy to see the differences from generation to generation. My focus for this post will be on current middle school students.

I have a younger brother in eighth grade. He is your average sort-of teenage boy: he has a large group of friends, he is starting to have those awkward “I like you,” talks with girls, and he likes to spend his time playing sports or long boarding outside. Although that all sounds fairly normal, I can still very easily spot the difference between his generation and mine.

First off, the technology. My oh my do they have much more that I did. His friends and him are constantly on their phones, they are all connected through social media, and they never once had to deal with phones without a touch screen. I know what you’re thinking – technology is a great thing. I completely agree with you, considering I’m sitting in a coffee shop on my Macbook typing this right now. However, with this technology young kids have constant access to the internet – which is not always a good thing. I hear kids use more foul language than I do at the ages of eleven and twelve. They see pictures and videos of things I didn’t even know about at their age. They are being influenced by entities that were never available to me at that age.

With those influences, I have heard so many awful stories of middle school students getting involved with drugs and alcohol. I remember middle school vividly and having no idea what drugs were. When I was with my friends, the thought of stealing my parents liquor never crossed my mind. I knew that those things were not acceptable and I knew that they weren’t going to lead me down a successful path in life. I was fully aware that those substances were not good for me physically and that they would have horrible effects on my life in the long run.

I do have to admit that young kids have a lot more pressure on them than I did at their age. I see girls with full face makeup on in sixth grade – I don’t remember owning a bottle of foundation until late into my freshman year of high school. Girls are wearing short shorts and crop tops, looking skimpy as ever, and I have to wonder how parents are allowing this to happen. Even today, if I walked downstairs with a shirt that hardly covered my chest I know that my mother would spin me around and send me right back up to change. I don’t think I will ever understand who an eleven year old girl is dressing like that for – and if it’s for the same reason girls my age are doing it, then we have a much more serious problem on our hands.

With this new generation, we have to be more cautious than ever. It is up to us to be role models for these kids. We must pave the paths of right and wrong and lead them down the correct one. Parents need be sure that their kids are not being influenced negatively by technology and they need to be aware of current trends in society. Older brothers and sisters need to take responsibility and teach their siblings to learn from their mistakes or their peers. We must learn to adapt and to grow positively from this change.

Growing up a writer

Growing up a writer isn’t easy. None of my parents (I have three – mother, father, stepfather) have an out-of-the-box thought process, they don’t have that creative mind. So it can be difficult to get across my points much of the time, because I will be using concepts they don’t quite grasp. Being a writer has also turned me into an extremely emotional person. Not in the sense that I am too sensitive, but in a way that I can feel all things around me, I can understand others emotions. It is a burden and a blessing all at once.

With my parents being business managers, engineers, and IT computer analyzers, they weren’t exactly too keen on the idea of me being a writer, nor were they very fond of the fact that I was absolutely atrocious at anything math related. They wanted a daughter with huge aspirations who would go farther than they did, a daughter who would be a lawyer or a doctor. Well, I know for a fact I won’t be practicing medicine anytime soon, but I did consider law for a while. That’s when the burden of being an emotional person came in – I realized that I would become much too attached to those I would be working for, and the job would emotionally ruin me. So that’s not happening either.

But writing, oh my, I cannot express enough my love for it. The way letters flow together to form words which in turn create sentences and then come together to form a story… it is the most beautiful concept. One that most people overlook. Writers, however, they understand it, they see the wonder in it and use it to build their own stories. That’s what I wanted to do.

No one really believed me when I said I would grow up to be an author. I was always pushed away from the idea, and was taught how to do jobs in business or communications. My love for writing intensified when I found journalism. It was amazing to me, to be able to get out other people’s stories with my own words. I loved it. Yet it was put down very quickly by my so-called “support system” because journalists are not known for making money.

Now, I understand that my family wants me to live a financially stable life like the one I grew up in, and be able to have a family without worrying about how dinner will be put on the table. I get it. But writing is my passion, my first true love, and I cannot live without it.

I don’t believe I will go into college dead set on being a writer. My mind is open to what my career path will be, especially in business fields. If I could just find a job which combines writing into it, then I am sure I could fall in love with it. I will not give up the one thing I have had since I was a young child for the social concept of money. That is just not how I want to live my life.