Friday, July 30, 2010

Hope Everlasting: Part IV....


Princess Hope grew into a beautiful young lady. The memories of her past slowly faded as she grew closer to the King and Queen and felt protected and loved.  When the King found out what had happened those many years ago to his daughter, he immediately set out to find his brother and punish him for the years he stole from the Princess.

The Princess had explained to the King and Queen that the day she was taken, the evil Prince Malevi took her as far away from the land of Everlasting as he could.  At one point that day, they stopped at a small little village.  As the Prince was feeding his horse, Princess Hope began to look about and see if she could find any way of escape.  As she was looking around, her eye fell on something she couldn't quite believe she was seeing.  Growing amongst the weeds was the very flower that Prince Malevi had described to her.  She was sure of it.  She hadn't seen color before, but knew this beauty had to be it.  He had called this flower a rose and said that although it is extremely delicate and beautiful, it can grow in harsh conditions and defends itself with the thorns is grows.  The Princess carefully picked the flower and placed it in her pocket.  That same day, after having been put in peasant clothes, the Princess gave the flower to the kind old man at the tailor shop in hopes that he would be able to see past the lies of the Prince and see she was a Princess.

Shortly after that day, the evil Prince sold Princess Hope to a poor family in a far away village.  He told them that her name was Odessa and that she was to be treated as a slave in order to punish her for her misbehavior.  The poor family kept her in the pig pen for many years, but one day a Princess was driving through town and saw this poor little girl sleeping in the pen beside the pigs.  She was outraged and told the family that she would give them 20 gold shillings for the girl.  This Princess was none other than Princess Felicity, sister of the Queen.  When the Princess asked the little girl her name, with downcast eyes the little girl told the Princess her name was Odessa.  The Princess put her hand on the girls dirt covered chin and told her that Odessa couldn't be her name, because she looked more like a Rose.  The little girl looked up and smiled for the first time in years.

Rose was treated very well in the Land of Terra and was one of the most beloved maid servants of the Princess.  The day after Rose's 15th birthday, is the day that Queen Pillar arrived.  It had been many years since Rose had seen her mother, but one look at the Queen was all it took for Rose.  She made sure to try and stay away from the Queen at first because she didn't want to be discovered.  Rose felt so much shame for what she had done and for all the trouble and pain that she had caused her family.  The evil Prince had told her many times that it was her fault that her parents hurt so badly.  He told her that if she hadn't been so bold and stepped out of the kingdom and been laughing loudly, he would have never found her in the woods.   He convinced her that her parents would never forgive her for her behavior.  He told her that there isn't a King or Queen in the world that would want a dirt covered girl that slept with pigs as their child.  He wanted to make sure that Rose would never lift her head proudly again.  He hated her because of all she had and he wanted nothing more than to take it all away from her.

Rose couldn't help but grow close with the Queen during her stay.  She tried not to look into her eyes for fear of being discovered.  The day Princess Felicity told Rose that she would be staying with the Queen in the kingdom of Everlasting, it took all of Roses's strength not to run away and hide.  She feared being seen by her father.  She couldn't stand the thought of him seeing her as she was and rejecting her.  She was determined to keep herself as distant as possible from both of them and to never look them in the eye.

Rose was able to avoid her father, The King, even though sometimes she would see him looking at her with a questioning look in his eyes.  He was always very kind to her and never asked her to do anything for him or the Queen that was too much for her.  The day that the Queen announced that the Princess had been found and that the King was bringing her home, Rose was both sad and happy.  She was happy that her family would finally have the daughter they lost.  She didn't know how they found this false Princess or who she was, but that she must have never misbehaved or been too much trouble...and so she deserved the crown.  She was sad that someone would forever take her place in her father's heart, but she understood why he wouldn't want a lowly maid servant that had made her home with pigs as a daughter.  When the King arrived the night of the celebration she hid behind the thrones because she couldn't bare to have the King and Queen see her crying.  But her curiosity got the better of her when she heard the King order everyone to bow before the Princess.  She had to see.  As she slowly peeked from behind the thrones she was amazed to see the entire kingdom, along with her parents, bowed down facing her.  Even through all of the confusion and the many expectant faces, she saw the bright red rose that her father held high above his bowed head.  She didn't know where she found the courage and the strength to step up to her Father in faith that he truly loved her and knew her, and gently took the red rose from his hand....but she found her feet moving one in front of the other.  As her Father wrapped his arms around her she was so happy, but at the same time scared that once he found out what she had done and remembered all of the pain, that she would be back to sweeping floors and ironing shirts.  Her fear quickly left as he placed her crown on her head and carried her throughout the kingdom just like he did on the day she was born.  It was his favorite bedtime story to tell...the day of her birth and the celebration in the kingdom that followed.  As a little girl she loved hearing about how excited he and Queen Pillar had been to finally have her.  She loved hearing how precious she was to him.

After the day of her return the Princess and her Father had many conversations.  He told her over and over again how much he loved her and that no matter what she ever did, he would always want her by his side.  He told her that he had known before she was ever born that she was someone special, someone that would change the kingdom forever.  He explained to her the lies of the evil Prince Malevi and why the Prince was so jealous of the Princesses pure heart and beauty.  He told her of the many adventures and battles he had fought trying to find her and bring her back to the kingdom.  He explained to her that the love between a father and his daughter is stronger than any bad deed, mistake, or muddy pig pen.  He wanted to make sure that she would never regret or hide her boldness and sense of adventure.  He wanted to make sure that she never stopped laughing loudly and shining her trusting and pure heart.  She and her father would spent their evenings dancing together and laughing when they would step on each others toes.  Her mother would laugh along with them.  Some days would be hard for the Princess and she would push away from her father, but other days she would crawl into his lap and fall asleep as he told her stories of how he finally tracked down his bother the Prince and threw him in the deepest darkest dungeon never to be heard of again. 

Years later, the King decided to throw a ball for his daughter for her 25th birthday.   All of the kingdom's in the land of Everlasting were invited.  His daughter had just gotten back from three years of traveling throughout the land helping the poor little children.  She would teach them to read and write and ride horses.  She would tell them how special and loved they are by their King and how it is his job to protect them.  She would tell stories of his love and bravery.  All of the kingdom knew of Princess Hope and many Princes had come to ask her hand, and yet the King had chosen none of them.  His daughter was so precious to him that he refused to give her heart away to any man that wasn't a valiant, courageous, honest, and true man of honor.

On the night of her birthday party the Princess was so excited to be home and see all of her friends and family again.  The King and Queen had bought her a beautiful new gown as her gift.  It had been years since the Princess had seen that red rose, but almost every night she would try and remember the bright vibrant color.  She knew that her dress was beautiful, but wished that she could see all of the colors it had.  Her father had told her stories of how the gold and jewels used to have many different colors.  It was impossible for her to picture any color but red, but she imagined they were all amazing.  She asked her father to lock the rose away in a box so that nothing could damage it or lessen it's color.  She wanted to protect it and was therefore willing to go without color in her world.  She didn't have to see it everyday in order to know that it existed.

The Princess danced with her friends and her brothers and played games with the children.  As the night was drawing to a close her father asked for the final dance. She and her father began to dance together as they had every night after her return.  The he surprised her by walking her over to a handsome young Prince named Merit.  She had met him many times before when she lived in the Land of Terra and worked as a maid servant.  Her father had told her tales of how Prince Merit had joined him in his search for the Princess the very day he was old enough to join the Royal Guard.  Princess Hope recalled that whenever he could, he would stop to visit his friend, the Princess Felicity.  The first time he met Rose, he smiled and asked her why should would not lift her head to speak to him.  Princess Hope remember that day very well.  She knew that Prince Merit had been relentlessly looking for the Princess and didn't want to be found by him dressed as a maid servant.  Every visit to the Land of Terra he would ask to sit with Rose and tell her stories, hoping that one day he would get her to look at him.  He tried every joke he could think of just so that he could see a shy smile slowly form across her face.  On the day before Rose was to go with Queen Pillar, Prince Merit  rode to Terra to say goodbye to Rose.  He asked if he could visit her while she was in Everlasting between his searches.  She didn't answer.  He told her that if she would look at him, just once, it would give him enough strength to ride for months on end without stopping.  She slowly raised her eyes and met his.  Just as a smile stretched across his face, she turned and ran.

And now, at the last dance of the night, she finds her father handing her off to dance with Prince Merit.  Her father looks at his daughter and says, "You have spent these many nights dancing with me. Trusting in me, believing that I will lead you.  Tonight, I give to a man that has loved you since the day he saw you bravely step out of the city gates when no one else was brave enough.  That day while your brothers ran to get me, he ran through the woods searching for you.  From that day on he has looked for you.  I remember the day that he met Rose.  He came to me to confess that he felt guilty.  He felt guilty for feeling love for someone other than the Princess.  He would continue to search but always look forward to the moments he spent with Rose.  On the day that I asked all of the Royal Guard to report to welcome the Princess home, I saw him looking forlorn.  As we rode toward Everlasting he told me that although he was happy to see the Princess again, he was going to miss having a reason to see Rose.  That same day when I revealed that you were in fact the Princess, his heart was overjoyed.  All those years his heart had in fact been true.  He did love the Princess and he did love Rose...because they were the same person.  While you felt shame, he looked upon you and saw a Princess.  While you hid yourself from him, he longed to know you more.  And now, it is my greatest honor, to give your hand to him."

The palace was filled with tears and cheers!  The Prince bowed before her and pulled from behind his back, a single red rose.  The Princess was shocked.  A smile formed across her lips and she asked him how he had gotten the King to release the flower to him.  The Prince replied, "Princess, this is not the same flower that you passed to the old man in the village.  The day that your father met with the old man, I was waiting outside the tailor shop anxiously awaiting good news of your whereabouts.  As I was nervously pacing I looked up to see something I couldn't quite identify.  Like you, I had never seen color before.  I walked over to a group of weeds and found this.  I wasn't sure what to call it, but I carefully picked it and put it in my pocket.  Moments later your father came out and showed me what the old man have given him.  He explained to me that it was a flower, called a Rose.  It's delicate beauty reminded me of my Rose, so I felt it was a very fitting name for such a thing.  Later that evening when your father revealed that my Rose was in fact the Princess, I was overcome.  I waited all these years until the time was right to tell your father of my love for you and ask his permission for your hand.  I knew that you needed time with your father, in order to heal.  I knew that you needed to see how strong and courageous you really are.  I knew that I had to wait....and you are very much worth it.  So please, Princess Hope, please take this rose as a sign of my undying love for you."

As Princess Hope reached out and held the rose in her hand a gasp fell throughout the crowd.  Hope turned around to see what the commotion was about and that is when she saw the most beautiful sight in her whole life.  COLOR!  All of the color had been restored to the Land of Everlasting.  The curse of the jealous Prince Malevi had been broken forever.  The Princess and Prince Merit danced beneath the sparking gold ceilings of the castle hall.  All of the colors of the rainbow danced throughout the room as the firelight and candles lit up the gorgeous jewels on her ball gown.  Love restored the kingdom and restored her heart.  Unending love, and Hope everlasting.....


Written by: Princess Kathryn McNemar

Hope Everlasting: Part III....

The kind old man slowly opens the wooden box.  The King reached into the box and held up the treasure.... a bright, colorful red rose.  The King hadn't seen color in so long that it took him a moment to realize what he held in his hand. He couldn't understand how it had kept its color and life for all of these years. 

Tears streamed down the King's face as his heart filled with the knowledge that his Princess was still alive.  He knew where she was.  He had to ride home immediately.

The Queen had just gotten word that the King was arriving and had wonderful news.  He has requested that all of the kingdom be invited to the castle tonight in order to celebrate the return of his long lost Princess Hope.  The Queen was so excited that she could barely focus on the preparations.  Her sons and all of the knights of the kingdom were called back to the kingdom for the celebration.

King Paladin arrived just as the final guests had assembled in the great castle hall.  The King entered the courts to see his Queen bedecked in the finest gown he had ever seen.  She looked more beautiful to him on that day, then she did on the day of their wedding.  As he approached the thrown, the Queen stood to welcome her daughter, but quickly saw that Princess Hope was not with the King.  A look of sadness crossed her face as she realized that the message must have been mistaken.  The Princess was not found.  The King kissed the hand of his Queen and asked her to join him as he addressed the people of his kingdom.  She could barely stand with the weight of disappointment upon her, but she reluctantly joined her King.  The King's voice boomed as it reached across the silent hall.  "Thank you to all you of for coming tonight.  You have not only stood by us as we searched the Earth for our daughter, but you also helped in the search as well.  You have gone to the ends of the Earth seeking our daughter in hopes of restoring not only our hearts, but also restoring the beauty back into our world.  This was to be my last journey.  Many years have we searched but it was not until this day...the day I was about to stop my search....that I finally found my Princess.  Please join me in bowing down in honor and Princess Hope of the Land Of Everlasting."  He took his Queen's hand and turned on his heels toward the empty thrones behind him.  He bid his Queen to bow beside him as he hit his knees.  He dropped his head and in his hand he held out the bright red rose.  As the room of people, bowed down, and silently watched.  The shy and quiet maid servant Rose stepped out from behind her hiding place beside the thrones and picked the bright red rose from the King's hand.  His eyes lifted to meet hers as they both smiled.  He picked her up in his arms and spun her around.  The Queen was both filled with joy and confusion and she realized that the girl that had been her maidservant for these many months, was in fact, her long lost daughter, Princess Hope.  The kingdom erupted in celebration.  The King wouldn't let Princess Hope out of his arms the entire night.  He had brought with him new royal clothes from the old man's tailor shop that he had his maidservants put on her immediately.  She was adorned with the finest jewels and gold.  Queen Pillar and King Paladin were overjoyed.  The celebration went on for days, then weeks.  The entire kingdom rejoiced at the return of their lost Princess...

To Be Continued....

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hope Everlasting: Part II.....

Ten years had passed since Princess Hope had gone missing, but the King refused to give up his search.  He knew in his heart that she was still out there.  His sons had joined the royal knights in their search throughout the kingdom's and wilderness of the world.  No stone was left unturned, no mountain was too treacherous.  Nothing would stop them from finding her.

The Queen tried to encourage her King and her sons, but as the years passed, she began to give up.  She decided to take a trip to see her youngest sister, Princess Felicity in her homeland of Terra.  Felicity was so excited for her sister's arrival that she planned a wonderful welcome dinner for her.  She had her favorite maidservant  fetch her the most beautiful gown in all of Terra.  When the Queen arrived she was overwhelmed by the welcome party and overjoyed to see her sister after so many long and painful years.  Felicity wanted nothing more than for Queen Pillar to relax and take her mind off of her troubles.  She gave up her favorite maidservant, the young and shy Rose, to care for the Queen during her stay.

The sisters filled their days with horseback riding, games, and story telling.  Queen Pillar would be known to suddenly stop right in the middle of a laugh and gaze off into the distance.  The memory of her precious Hope haunting her as she tried to enjoy her days.  The Queen was finally not able to bare being away from her kingdom and decided to journey back in hopes of seeing her King and receiving tidings of good news.  Princess Felicity could barely stand to see her sister in such distress, and knew no other gift to give her other than to send her maidservant Rose with the Queen in order to keep her company along the many days journey.  The Queen and Rose had taken quite a liking to each other.  Rose gladly did anything the Queen asked of her, sometimes even before the Queen could finish her sentence.  Rose would sit in the hall outside the Queen's bedroom as she told stories of her daughter to the children before they went off to bed.  Rose was the same age as Princess Hope, and at times on their journey, Rose would see the Queen staring at her with tear filled eyes.

When the Queen arrived back to the Land of Everlasting, she was greatly comforted to be greeted by the strong, loving arms of her King.  She wept as he told her that they had yet to receive any news.  The King assured his wife that he would go to the very ends of the Earth to find his lost child.  Nothing could ever prevent this most powerful King from finding her.  The King, fearful to leave the Queen alone, asked Rose to stay in the land of Everlasting a while longer as he set out once again with this sons in order to seek out his precious daughter.  Rose gladly accepted his request and sent word to the Princess that by request of the King, she would be further delayed.

As the king was just about to give up on what was to be his last journey he ran into an old man walking down the road.  He offered the man a ride and told the man of his search.  The old man excitedly told him that he had once seen the little one he searches for, many years ago.  He told the King that a rich man who said he was from the Land of Calumny had brought the young girl into his fabric store.  The rich stranger asked the old man to make the girl some peasant clothes and destroy the royal clothes she was wearing.  The old man tried to object and asked the rich man, why he should do such a thing.  The rich man explained that the little girl was a peasant from the village and had broken into the Land of Calumny and stolen the dress of a young princess.  He was under the orders of the King of Calumny to have this girl dressed in her rightful peasant clothes and sent back to the village to live amongst the hogs where she belongs.  The old man consented to make the clothes, but never destroyed the royal dress.  King Paladin asked the old man to take him to his store so he could see the dress.  The old man revealed the dress that he had kept all those years and the King immediately recognized it as the dress Princess Hope had been wearing the day she was taken.  The King asked the man where the Land of Calumny was, or if he could say where the village might be.  The old man looked down in shame and admitted to the King that he had found out days after that strange visit that the Land of Calumny had never existed.  The rich man had lied to him.  He was just a poor uneducated man that didn't know of far off lands.  When he heard of the search for the missing Princess Hope, he realized what he had done and tried to get word to the King, but all of his correspondence had been intercepted.  As the King hung his head in despair, the old man told him that there was one more thing that he had kept that he thought might help him.   The old man looked around to see if anyone was watching and then went into his back room.  He returned with a wooden box.  Before he opened the box he told the King that before the little girl left his shop, she smiled kindly and warmly at the man, curtsied,  then shook his hand.  As her hand pulled away, the old man found a treasure left in his palm.  He couldn't describe what it was to the King, so he opened the wooden box to show him.....

To Be Continued....

Hope Everlasting....

Princess Hope was unlike any other Princess that had ever been born in the Land of Everlasting.  Her father, King Paladin, had been anxiously waiting a daughter.  He dreamed of her as far back as he could remember.  He had three wonderful and rambunctous little boys, but he knew that one day his opulent castle would be graced with the delicate, joyful laughter of a little girl.  The day Princess Hope was born King Paladin invited the whole kingdom to celebrate in her honor.  He served the best food and wine and proudly showed her off to all who entered his castle.  He named her Hope because he had always known that she would be the one to restore his kingdom.  With the birth of their daughter,  the King and his wife, the beautiful and loving Queen Pillar, felt like they finally had everything they ever wanted.

But there was someone in the kingdom that wasn't quite so happy that Princess Hope had been born.  In fact, he was incensed. Prince Malevi, who was second in line to the royal crown hadn't stepped foot in the land of Everlasting in many years.  Many years ago, Prince Malevi was once one of the most handsome and well known princes in all of Everlasting.  He and his brother learned from a young age that the first of them to marry would be the one who would inherit the kingdom.  Prince Paladin was known for his selfless love, and giving heart. But Prince Malevi was sure that his good looks and reputation would win him a Queen well before Prince Paladin. One day, Prince Paladin met the beautiful Princess Pillar of the land of Terra.  Her goodness and beauty were only met by her strength and courage.  They quickly fell deeply in love and married.  Prince Malevi was furious that he was not to be King and was jealous of their pure love.  Even though the newly crowned King appointed Malevi as head of the Royal Guard, he continued to get more and more jealous as the days went on.  He couldn't stand to see his brother so in love and preoccupied with his Queen.  As the Queen bore King Paladin three sons, and heirs to his kingdom, Malevi began to refuse to take orders from the King and even plotted with a few rogue members of the Royal Guard to overthrow the King and take the place he felt was rightfully his.  When King Paladin found out about the plot, he was deeply hurt and saddened, but for the safety of his kingdom and of his family, he threw Prince Malevi out of the Kingdom.  The day that Malevi was cast out of the kingdom, he cursed all the people in the land of Everlasting so that they would no longer see color. 

Since the day he was cast out, all Prince Malevi has done was try and destroy King Paladin's kingdom.  Malevi is unable to cross the borders into the kingdom, so when the royal subjects leave, he and his followers try and turn them from King Paladin and join in their plot to get rid of him.  He tries to convince them that they don't need a King anymore.  He tells them that it is the King himself who causes them to not see color.  The day that Malevi heard that the King's dream had come true and that a daughter had been born, he became enraged.   He plot to destroy King Paladin became his life.

Princess Hope, knowing nothing of this curse, was a happy, joyful little girl.  She never knew color, so didn't know to miss it.  She was courageous, and kind like her mother, and loving, giving like her father.  All of the people of the kingdom loved her and looked forward to hearing her running and singing down the streets.  She along with her brothers and the other children of the kingdom could always be found inventing games, laughing, and playing.  One day, she and her brothers invented a game in which they dared someone to step out of the gates of the kingdom and then see how long they would stay there until they got too scared and ran back.  Since none of the boys would go first, Princess Hope volunteered.  She skipped out of the kingdom gates and down the path a ways.  She turned around and waved at her brothers, laughing at them for being so scared.  As her brothers were busy figuring out who would go next, a man dressed in royal robes rode alongside Princess Hope as she stood laughing along the path.  The stately man hopped off his horse and smiled at the little girl.  Alarmed by the sudden presence of this stranger, Princess Hope staggered back a few steps and fell to the ground.  The man ran to her side and picked her up ever so gently and dusted her off.  He smiled and asked her if she had won the game yet.  A smile slowly formed across her face as she began to excited tell the stranger of her bravery.  The stranger tells her that he was just about to go in and see one of his dearest friends, King Paladin, but that he needed to get a gift for the lovely Princess Hope that he had heard so much about.  Princess Hope delightedly tells him that she is that very princess and that she doesn't need any gifts at all.  He tells her that he will concede to her request, but that it would be quite egregious to not bring a gift to Queen Pillar.  He told Princess Hope that he was just searching the woods for a special flower that grows near the kingdom gates so that he could pick it and give it to the Queen.  Ever since the curse, no one had seen any flowers, so Princess Hope was amazed as he tried to describe it to her.  He asked Princess Hope to help him search for it so as to not further delay his arrival. Princess Hope wanted nothing more than to please her mother, so she grabbed his hand and followed him into the thicket to the right of the trail.

Just as the young princes had decided who was going to be daring enough to go next, they turn around to see that Hope is nowhere to be seen.  They yell her name out from within the city gates, but there is no answer.  Fearing that they too would be taken if they left the safety of the kingdom, they decide to run as quickly as possible to their father.  When King Paladin hears that his daughter had gone missing after leaving the city walls, he is filled with rage and anger.  He knew immediately who had taken his precious daughter; his brother, Prince Malevi.  The King immediately gathers all of the warriors of his kingdom and prepares them to head out and search for his missing daughter.  Before one knight could lift a shield, the King was already riding off toward the gates.  There was no time to spare....

To be continued.....

Monday, July 26, 2010

All The Single Ladies....

I wanted to call this "Things I Learned From Watching The Bachelor", because I am 100% sure these observations I've made are something you find on that show.  But since I don't watch the Bachelor...I decided that really didn't make any sense.  However, that show is the poster child for some things that I've noticed lately as I've been out and about.

I have been observing the courting/dating/stalking habits of women lately as if I were a National Geographic explorer (I even wear the khaki shorts, vest with all the pockets, carry a camera, butterfly net, wear a floppy  awkward hat of some kind, and hiking boots...if I'm going to be taken seriously as a researcher then I better look the part).  What I have come to realize after having been stared down O.K. Corral style by 85% of all single females within shoot-out distance (more like 99%, but I'm trying to give some of them the benefit of the doubt and assume they are probably just suffering from symptoms of retinal detachment, or are trying to squint and see what kind of shoes I have on) , that they see me as a competitor in a competition I'm not even competing in (I just used multiple forms of compete in one sentence...if there were a competition going on here....I just won. Holla!)  It's ruthless out there, I tell ya!  I just want to wear a t-shirt every where I go emblazoned with "I don't want your man....I want my man!" or "I come in peace!" or "Make Friends, not War" and see if maybe that will cool things off a bit.  I am seriously ready for some crazy Sharks and Jets/West Story type stuff to break out.  (When girls fight we snap our fingers while circling around each other, dance, and sing.  And that's a scientific fact.)

I don't think this is just a problem in DC, but it's much easier to observe here...'cause well, it's a huge metropolitan city...a melting pot....and population dense.  DC is chocked full of single, driven, insanely gorgeous, incredibly intelligent, well-educated and cultured women.  DC also happens to be chocked full of single, driven, insanely handsome, incredibly intelligent, well-educated and cultured men. Having just started my research, I am not going to tout myself as the leading expert on the dating rituals of "single DC".  However, it doesn't take long to see what's going on here.

Picture it...Sicily 1943  Uncle Carmine was in the pizza shop....SORRY....didn't mean to go all Golden Girls on you. 

Ok, seriously though, picture it....

A group of single ladies want to find (hunt) themselves one of DC's most eligible bachelor's so they get their best "hunting gear" ready and they head out with the intent of capturing their prey...I mean, "date" (and I use this word extremely loosely).  The hunting gear of choice seems to be short dresses (kinda like the one I wore the other night...but that was for research purposes only),  perfectly styled hair, perfect "war paint"...or as the natives call, no rings on the fingers of their left hand at all....just in case someone might mistake one of them as a wedding or engagement ring (I went a step further and drew a big circle around my empty ring finger with a waterproof black Sharpie....), and the highest high heels allowed by the law of gravity (kinda like my "purely research based" heels that I wear in order to assimilate into the tribe and gain their trust).

Sure they go out in packs of "singles", but ultimately it is survival of the fittest.  Literally, the fittest. You never know how far you will have to walk, run, or crawl in order to get your man, so you sure as heck had better spend your non-hunting hours at the gym workin' on your fitness.  Stay hydrated, and fueled with long as that energy doesn't come from carbs....this is a no carb zone as stated in the "Single Girls Guide to Becoming Everything a Man Could Ever Want or Need: Or at Least Give the Illusion of Such Until He Gets to Know You and Finds Out That You're A Normal Human Being That Loves Pizza and Hate Football".  The group tends to start off as a close pack and then fan out in order to make sure that the man or men of choice can't escape...I mean, leave....without noticing their "hunting gear" and mating dance.  Once a target has been established they sound the equivalent of a duck call....this is known as...."women dancing with each other in a group" (something I participated in only to get a closer look....for my research).  Once the "singles" have their man hypnotized by this ancient mating ritual....they move in.  The pack begin to dance with the men in the group of choice.  If he tries to dance with a girl outside of the established pack then said "extraneous" girl will be challenged to a stare down or worse...extricated from the vicinity by one of the pack members.  This can be done with lethal and non-lethal force.  And by "lethal" I mean....the hair toss/booty shake combo.  No man can resist.  If you are "extraneous girl" and you find yourself between a man and a hair toss/booty shake....just the heck outta Dodge.  This girl is one step away from straight up taking your dancing partner by the hair and dragging him back to her cave...I mean apartment. I actually feel bad for single guys in this regard.  I mean, they are truly being hunted.  Every time I am around a single woman and she finds out that the man she is talking to is single...I picture that in her head she sees his head hung on her wall like a dead deer because she has found her new conquest.  She has found her new challenge.  She won't leave his side to even go to the bathroom just in case someone decides to hair toss/booty shake whilst she is away. She has found a new guy to run around after while the right guy is running around behind her wishing she would just stop and turn around.

Okay, okay, probably think I am being unfair and making sweeping generalizations.  And if you think that then you are obviously not still single or haven't left your house because you are allergic to air and sunlight.   But the reason I am writing about this is because it just plain bothers me.  If you have to hog tie your man to a chair so that he won't run after some other little filly while you go powder your nose, then MAYbe, just MAYbe....he's not the dude for you.  Listen, I used to compete, believe me.  But after years of chasing men around and trying everything I possibly could to be noticed....I realized something.  Why the heck am I chasing after them????  Do I really want to win this competition?  If the prize I win is a man that didn't think enough of me to pursue me, then what do I really have?   It's freakin' exhausting.  There are a million and one excuses we make. But, I realized that my "job" in the dating game isn't to chase after a man, no matter how wonderful and eligible he is, because you know what...if he's not pursuing me, then he doesn't want me.  And if he doesn't want me....then I am bound for heartache.   When a man is ready, he will be looking. If he isn't strong enough or interested enough to pursue you....then why would you want him?  This is why the show The Bachelor is so messed up.  Guys don't respect girls that chase them.  Period. Guys like the attention.  Guys like to feel attractive.  They might keep this girl around for awhile. Guys might even like the instant gratification they get from a girl that doesn't say no.  But they don't love those girls...and that makes me sad.  That's why I can't watch that show.  It's even more frustrating to see it live and in person to be honest.

So, I'll leave you with this:

Dear Single Ladies of the World,

Hi! I'm Katie.  How are you?  Love your shoes!  I am writing in order to inform you that I chose quite some time ago to bow out of World Wide Eligible Bachelor Competition XIVIVVIXXXXXXIIIV.  I thank you for your thinking of me as a fellow participant, but I just couldn't do it anymore.  I have found that if a man is looking to find someone more beautiful than me, smarter than me, funnier than me (as if), taller than me, more refined than me, etc...then he will most certainly find it in one or all of you.  So, instead of competing with you, I would like to stand beside you as we support each other in this difficult life we lead.  Instead of molding myself into what I think a man would want, I am going to allow God to mold me and refine me into who He wants me to be.  In His eyes, we are all contest winners.  We are all perfect.  We are all enough.  We are all the apple of His eye.  I can't compete with that.  I don't want to compete with that.  I ask that you join me in ending the exhausting chase.  The right man will find us smack dab in the middle of us living our lives.  I don't suggest we sit around like a bump on a log and hope that the pizza guy is the man of our dreams so we'll never have to get out there and take some risks.  I suggest we get up, get out, and live our lives to the fullest every moment of every day.  I suggest that we spread God's love and light wherever we go.  It's the light of God that the right man will follow while He pursues you.  Fancy clothes will go out of style, and makeup washes away...but the light of God will never fade.  I love you all ......single ladies of the world unite!  Our motto is:  R.E.S.P.E.C.T  find out what it means to me!!!! 



Let Go or Get Dragged....
(thank you Whole Foods card section)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Live Like We're Dying: Part II.....

The Dailies welcomes Julie back for Part II of her guest blog, Live Like We're Dying.

The purpose of the last post was to send a message that life can be short, far too short.  We all know this in the same way we know that we should watch our cholesterol, exercise regularly and not smoke.  But does knowledge really change behavior?  Do scary and heart wrenching stories of young people being ripped away in their prime really drive change in our lives?  The fact of the matter is, it probably doesn’t.  We read the post, we feel bad for about a millisecond and then your phone beeps, your computer dings, your boss knocks on your door and before we even realize it, LIFE is calling.  The quality of that life is what the post was written to question.  If Tiffany and Alex were here, if they had been given that opportunity they would be so thrilled by everything – by city-stopping, record breaking snowfalls, by oppressive humidity, by traffic, by the rude Starbucks barista, that they wouldn’t even notice these trivial things that we allow to alter our moods, our days.  And if our life isn’t a collection of days, then what is it?  Each day, each mood, is a piece of our individual book of life and only we are the ones with the power to write on the pages.  The purpose is to distract you from the beeps of the phone, the dings of the computer and the knock at the door and say - if you knew you had a short time to be here, if God’s plan was to take you now – WHAT would you do differently.  Give that question some thought and the post will have achieved its purpose.

Live Like you’re dying, but don’t play dead

The following paragraphs chronicle and unabashedly honest accounts of a girl who lost 2 of her closest friends.  Her pain, her realizations about life and most importantly, her mistakes:

March 3, 2004: A knock at my door.  My neighbor.  He had called about an hour before and said something about people being at a Mexican Restaurant. “I’m just gonna hang at my house tonight, thanks though", I said, assuming that was an invitation to join the crew at the restaurant. It wasn’t an invitation, it was a query to see if I was home.  He had news and needed me to be at my house to hear it.  The neighbor arrived with 2 beers in his hand.  “What part of I don’t really want to hang out tonight are you not getting”, I thought to myself.  He sits me down on the couch and explains that Tiffany had a car accident.  There was no immediate panic, just the slow dissolution of the remnants of my naivety.  It never occurred to me, even in that moment, that she was dead.  Never.  Not even for a second.  The he said it,“She died instantly”.  Confusion and panic waved over me in a concurrent state.  We can’t be talking about the same person. It has to another Tiffany.  There’s some other Tiffany that I’m distant friends with that I’ve forgotten about momentarily and when he clears this up I’ll be like “wow, sorry about that girl, but WOW, you scared me.” The sad and unwavering look he gave me confirmed that it was in fact “my Tiffany”.  I need my Mom was my immediate thought.  I grabbed my phone, but my fingers couldn’t seem to dial the number, I couldn’t breathe – I actually couldn’t breathe.  I thought that only happened in movies, but sure enough air literally couldn’t not fill my lungs, I would open my mouth and gasp but nothing… nothing.  No air.  Finally, my Mom’s on the phone, she’s crying.  She already knew.  The room was spinning around me and I didn’t know whether to sit, stand, yell.  I still couldn’t breathe.  This was all starting to get annoying.  I was willing my body to get air and it just wouldn’t happen.  I didn’t cry that night – in fact, I was very productive.  I called everyone that needed to know.  I even called my boss to explain I would be out for a few days.  I fielded lots of calls from other people and was starting to get a little short tempered with their sobbing.  The sobbing hadn’t come to me yet and I was filled with a mix of guilt and annoyance.  Some people say they can’t sleep when someone dies.  I slept fine.  In fact, all I did was sleep…for about 2 years.  That night, I went to sleep until my phone rang at 2:30 – a friend in Arizona on a business trip answering my Emergency message I had left on her hotel phone – “Julie I got your message, what’s wrong?” “Tiffany’s Dead – get the first flight back” and I hung up.  I still feel bad about that to this day, but I was on a different planet at that moment in time.  8:15 AM the phone rings again – a coworker who had gotten the news from my boss “Julie, I’m so sorry, I just heard that Tiffany died.” Her phone call had awoken me.  That horrific moment after something terrible happens and you wake up and realize its real.  The tears started and didn’t stop for 2 weeks.  I cried through everything – eating, showering, driving.  It became normal enough that I had to stop myself at work because other people weren’t as comfortable with the constant crying as I had learned to be.  My parents arrived at 11 AM, I had on jeans, a towel on my head and a robe.  I had a suitcase on my bed with one pair of white socks and a tube of toothpaste.  I looked at my Mom with complete confusion.  “I need a shirt, I’ve been looking for one, but … Mom, I need a shirt”  My mind was filled with far too many questions and thoughts, finding a shirt was just too much.  My mind literally couldn’t handle the overload.  It just shut down.  For 2 years, I lived in a constant state of being shut down.  I shut myself down from everything – I didn’t make friends, I didn’t date, I didn’t do anything.  I look at pictures of myself from that time and I genuinely do not remember any of it.  There were Christmases, birthdays, weddings, and I don’t actually remember being there.  I look at those pictures and all I think is – “when did I cut my hair short? And why on earth did I do it?  It looked horrible”  Two years later, for some unknown reason, the fog lifted.  I can’t say when it happened exactly, I just know that after 2 years I actually remember doing stuff.  Two years is a long time.  I see 23 and 24 year olds out around town and I think, gosh that should’ve been a really fun time for me.  I mean look at them, they don’t even care that they can’t sit down in that skirt.  Yes, losing Tiffany was a difficult blow, but what would she have said, the girl who lost her life to me as I gave up on life?

One year later… 

Alex and I were talking a lot.  I had emerged from my fog and needed a good friend, he was stationed in Tennessee and we talked for hours seemingly every night.  It was nice to have a friend again that knew me so well.  I had forgotten, during my time of departure from life, how much I missed talking to him.  We planned a trip for July 4th for me to check out his new place in TN.  We had a great weekend and life was finally back on track for me.  A couple weeks after I got back to DC, I get a call that he was sick and having emergency heart surgery.   What? I just saw him.  Which seems to be the token line when someone unexpectedly gets sick or dies, as if things can’t change that fast and it’s simply not possible.  After his surgery, he came home to Georgetown because he was too sick to live on his own.  We hung out a good bit when he was back in town, I’d stop by for dinner or we’d get ice cream and chat about all of the cool stuff he’d do once this silly heart thing went away.  Then the diagnosis came.  Rare.  100% fatality.  Absolutely no cure.  No chance of remission.  The words rang in my head and all I could feel was pure anger.  Are you kidding me God?  Are you freaking kidding me??  I JUST did this!!!  And now I have the awesome gift of having to do it again?!  Wow, thanks, super big thanks for you and all you do and yeah, I’ll be in the front row of church on Sunday preaching about what a great God you are – because you are so fantastic I just don’t even have the words.  In fact, I do have words, lots of them, but I also have just enough fear that I’ll be immediately struck by lightening that I’ll keep them to myself but you better know that I’m thinking them!!  Well that’s that.  I thought.  Not again. No way, no how.  I already lost 2 years, I’m not losing two more.  I can’t handle this.  I got short with him on the phone when he would be talking about all of these experimental drugs and treatments “why are wasting your time Alex, bad stuff happens to good people, it happens.  What part of 100% fatal are you not hearing.” (yes, seriously, I was that person, I understand if you stop reading because you’ve deemed me a wholly unreliable evil person and my evilness may filter onto you through this website)  Obviously, we started growing distant, the phone calls were irregular and the visits had all but stopped.  Eventually, we decided we needed to have dinner – clear the air.  Obviously he was mad at me, but why I was mad at him he didn't completely understand.  Neither did I, but for some reason felt the need to defend my angry disposition.  So I went to dinner, fully prepared to defend my actions in the same way I managed to convince retailers that an overpriced retail space in Gainesville was a solid move.  I could sell things, that was my forte and I was going to convince Alex why the way I had been acting was not only defendable but honorable.  Oh yeah, that’s actually what I was thinking.  “You need to surround yourself with na├»ve people who have never experienced death of a close friend that’s young because those people might actually buy into your idea that you’re going to beat this thing.” I said that.  Those words.  To a guy who still genuinely believe and NEEDED to believe that he could live.  I was MAD at anyone I could get my hands on.  Mad at God.  Mad at Alex.  Mad at Cancer.  Mad, mad, mad, mad, mad.  I wanted Alex to say screw it and go to Colorado with me and ski for 4 months and enjoy the rest of his life.  I wanted the time with him that I didn’t have with Tiffany, but I wanted it to be on my terms, not his.  I couldn’t bring myself to sit in a hospital with him and watch him have treatments and surgery after surgery after surgery the same way I couldn’t get a shirt that day after Tiffany died.  I just shut down and my brain and my body didn’t do what needed to be done.  After some time, I realized what a horrific person I was and tried, repeatedly, but to no avail, to contact Alex.  On May 25th, 2010 I learned he was being discharged from the hospital and sent home with hospice.  I planned to go to Delaware that weekend to try to see him and say goodbye.  If nothing else, show up on the doorstep and yell through the doorway, just so he knew.  Just so he knew I never forgot.  On May 26th he passed away.

Sometimes, life is awful.  Painfully, gut wrenchingly, awful.  But, it’s still life.   In and of itself LIFE and the opportunity to live is an amazing gift.   Live like you’re dying… but don’t play dead.

"You don't get to choose how you're going to die. Or when. But you can decide how you're going to live now." -- Joan Baez

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Live Like We're Dying.....

The Dailies is very proud to present today's guest blogger, one of my very best friends, Julie Cyphers.

Live Like We're Dying

What would you do if you were dying?  Who would you think of?  What words would you choose in your final prayer to God? 
As you answer these questions you’re likely envisioning a horrific crash; blood; a shattered windshield and a few brief moments to say your peace with your Creator and maybe a final plea to absent ears of your love for your family, friends, a spouse.
What if you had 3 years to think about it?
There’s good reason we don’t tackle these questions.  They’re hard and painful and somewhat inconceivable to those of us who are graced with health and youth.  We put these thoughts off in the same manner that we put off funding our retirement – they are issues that come with age, we reason.
Last week, I watched the second of my two closest friends be laid to rest.  He was 28 years old.  My first experience was with my best girlfriend, at age 23.  Two brilliant people, two families shattered beyond repair, countless lives altered in ways that may never be completely understood; two very different deaths. 
Tiffany died in a car accident, the paramedics like to call it instant.  You hear that on the news but it never resonates with any level of comprehension until it’s your person, ‘instant’.  How instant exactly is instant you begin to wonder.  How much time, even if in milliseconds did she have? Was she scared, did she pray, did she even have time know?  From a medical perspective, I’m not sure what instant means, but in a personal light, instant leaves a grey area that hurts you for them.  Partly you hurt because you wonder if they hurt, partly you hurt because you’re scared they didn’t have time to say what they wanted or needed to.
Alex learned he was sick in the summer of 2007 at the age of 25.  It took a little over a year for a world of doctors and by world, I mean that literally, doctors around the globe looked at him and his tests, before the hammer came down: an exceptionally rare and 100% deadly form of cancer.  No one had ever lived from it.  No one.  Their deaths were painful and their lives short.  He was 26 years old when he received his death sentence.  No one could tell him how long he had, all they knew is it wasn’t long.
What would you do if you were them?  You’re in the height of your twenties.  Finally, after years of acne in high school, broken hearts in college and missteps in the job world, you’re finally, finally getting your feet under you as a grown up and then it’s all gone, in an instant.
I’ll never know what Tiffany did, I’ve thought about it until my mind ached, but all I’m left with is my knowledge of her and how she handled life to try to grapple with understanding how she handled death.  First, she probably said “oh shit” and then she prayed.  It was a prayer of thanks for all He’d given her.  She’d made her fair share of mistakes, as we all have, but she made them with an unforgiving tone, a tone that said, “my blemishes make me who I am and who I will become, for that I have nothing to be ashamed”.  So, her final words weren’t of apology on a final day of reckoning, but words of thanks for all that she’d be given and all that she’d been enabled to give.
Alex had more time.  More time to wonder and worry and panic.  More time to grieve and beg.  More time to make promises and deals with God.   His initial instinct that drove him through most of his time of illness was one of arrogance and I mean that in the nicest of ways.  It was what made Alex, Alex.  Heck, he had a lot to be arrogant about –  he was wicked smart, hilariously funny, the best chef I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating their food, the most amazing skier that has ever graced the mountains in the state of West Virginia by a long shot and as if that weren’t enough he somehow also learned to play the piano like he was Elton John.  Alex confronted cancer with a degree of arrogance that ignored medical reality and reasoning.  He had a confidence from within that he would conquer this fight.  “Jules, you’ll see, when this is all said and done I’ll be in every medical journal ever written and they’ll be talking about how I’m the one, the only one that ever made it.  It’ll be awesome.  Just wait, Jules.  Trust me.”  And he meant it, from the core of his soul, he meant it.  He believed in the power of God and the power of prayer far more than the power of medicine and science.  His belief so strong that it didn’t matter what Ivy League medical school you graduated from, you had nothing on Alex and his faith in God and his desire to live.  It wasn’t until February of 2010, only 3 months prior to his death, that Alex walked into the office of his Priest and confessed that he was scared… and mad.  He was conflicted, really.  How do you, in the final hours of your life, ask forgiveness from the God that is the one taking your life away?  How do you ask him to be in your heart and confess your love to Him, when he’s the cause of your loss?  I think he accomplished it in the best way imaginable, he let it all go.  He handed his fight over to God.  I think he finally felt like, I don’t understand, and for the record I’m pretty pissed off about it, but it’s more than me now, I’ve fought all I can fight and I’m giving this to you.  His life span, following his diagnosis, was far longer than ever anticipated.  I believe God waited for him.  I believe he knew that Alex needed to fight.  Alex’s family needed the fight.  We all needed it.  It was too hard for it to be ripped away in an instant, he needed to have a chance so that we could truly believe that it was out of our control, even though, in reality, it never was in any of our control – not Alex’s, not the super unbelievably qualified doctors, it was in God’s hands from the beginning.  God waited for all of us to see that and understand it.   He left this world, not completing understanding God’s plan and why he dealt Alex the cards he got, but with a deep understanding that regardless of whether we get it or like it, God is our creator and his plans for us are so much more than we will ever be able to comprehend and that ultimately all you have to do is say “I’m sorry for my sins and am thankful for all you gave me and now I’m yours.” That’s all God needs and Alex learned for himself and for me in the process, that is all we, as people need.  We don’t always have to ‘get it’, we just have to recognize that our purposes and all of our fights, struggles and accomplishments are all His.  


Kris Allen - Live Like We're Dying: "Kris Allen"



Saturday, July 17, 2010

Dirty Laundry: The Chilling Saga Continues....

Yes...what you see above is real.  It hasn't been photo shopped or enhanced in any way.  That, my friends, is an empty laundry basket.  I finally got the guts up and did it!!!! your applause until the end.

There were 5 loads of laundry in that bad boy.  Well, technically there were two loads of laundry actually "in" the basket and the rest either delicately balanced on top or scattered throughout my closet (okay...and maybe some in the living room too).  I nicknamed the pile the "leaning tower of laundry"...not too creative, but I wasn't planning on getting too attached.

I know that you all can't wait to hear about what I found at the bottom of the laundry basket.  So, without further adeu, I will tell you all the sordid details (I swear, you people just won't be satisfied until you know everything about me, will you!?).  I sorted the pile starting with the perimeter and worked my way in.  I approached with caution.  I fired off a few warning shots before I got too close to the actual pile....I mean, it's DC....anything could have been in there.  It's been three and a half weeks...I could have found mice, rats, roaches, a  little old lady, a puppy!, Edward Cullen (what!?  It could happen!), anything! 

But to my surprise, when I carefully pealed back the edges of the (stolen) towel, I found that my clothes weren't really that bad!!!!!  Can you believe it!?  It's a festivus miracle!!!  All I found was that the very center of the wad had just a few little tiny specks of white fuzzy mold....I would have preferred a puppy, but at least it wasn't the hazardous waste I thought it was going to be.  In fact, instead of throwing my clothes away, I decided to wash them, and they turned out totally clean and fine!  It's like the prodigal t-shirt.  I was so happy to have the clothes back that I thought were unsalvageable, that I did all the laundry AND I ironed. 

YAY!....everybody loves a dirty laundry story with a happy ending. 

When I called my mom to tell her (brag) about finally doing my laundry without the assistance of a hazmat team, she reminded me of something.  She said, "Well, Kate (my family calls me Kate), it's probably because you washed them off with the water hose before you put them in the car."  She was right....I had already washed the chunks and muck off before I crammed it all into a ball and let it bake in my car for a few hours.

Okay, things are gonna get a little bit deep here for a sec...bare with me.

It was when my mom said this that I realized what God was trying to tell me (I know what you're thinking....Katie, you could put ketchup on your Cheerios and find a way to turn it into a message from God.  And you know what I have to say to that?  You're darn tootin'!  I look for God in everything and everyone and I ain't ashamed! )  Just like I sat here for 3.5 weeks avoiding my ever growing pile of laundry in order to avoid something I thought was disgusting, but actually ended up being pretty clean....I do the same thing in my life.  I'll use the example I used in my previous blog....Just like the crap thoughts I had been carrying around for years and was too scared too deal with them because I thought they might possibly be true....when I said them out loud to my friend...I realized that I already didn't identify with them anymore.  They didn't bring up any pain, hurt, anger, or fear.  They didn't belong to me.  YAY!  I can talk about my past as if I am telling someone else's story...and do you know why?...because I AM telling someone else's story!!  I'm not that girl anymore.

So, my point here is....if there are things in your life that you are too afraid to face because you think they are going to be too hard or too bad to deal with....have FAITH!  Believe that God has already gone ahead of you and taken care of it.  If there is sin or things in your life that you know you need to get rid of...give them to God.  Ask for forgiveness.  It's never as bad as we think.  God loves you too much to have you weighed down by negativity, sin, shame, and guilt...hence the reason for giving His son's life so that we wouldn't have to.

I think dealing with this pile of laundry was even more daunting due to the fact that these last few weeks have been pretty tough and work and in my personal life.  I didn't want to have to deal with that on top of all the other stuff I was dealing I just didn't.   I have been so stressed that I have locked myself out of my house three times (with a hefty fee each time), left my Jeep parked on the street for a week instead of in the parking garage (as anyone that lives in DC or has parked in DC for any reason will attest to that fact that parking fines here are no joke.  I now owe DC $1 million in tickets....I shoulda bought a condo instead!  lol!), and have just been all around blah-tastic.  Just when I felt like God must have gone on vacation (I hear Bora Bora is nice this time of year) and left me to take care of things all by my lonesome...something awesome and amazing happened.  I was standing at the water cooler at work when one of the ladies that works with me walked up to me, looking a little uncomfortable, and said, "Um...It is done."  I looked at her funny, because I wasn't sure what the heck she was talking about....had I forgotten that I had asked her to do something for me?  Then she reached out, put her hand on my arm and said, "Whatever it is that you are worried about, or that you are going through...God wants you to know, it is done.  It's already taken care of."  For just a little background....this wonderful lady and I don't really know each other.  We happen to work in the same department, but that's about the extent of it.  Can you imagine the courage it took for her to come up to me and say that to me, not knowing how I would take it?  Well, I'll tell you how I took it...I wrapped my arms around her and started crying.  Yep, I did. Right in the middle of the department.  I didn't care.  God was reaching out to me through this amazing woman and that is better than any gift anyone could ever give me.   So, God and I have been dealing with some stuff this week.  I feel like a new person!! AMEN!  We don't always have to have this earth shaking experience in order for God to renew us, he can do it in the blink of an's not about how we feel....but....just in case I was too stressed to miss it....God did shake the earth!!! (I had to fit a DC Earthquake reference in here somewhere, wink!)

Let the applause commence!



PS - Thank you to everyone for all of the amazing emails and comments of support, appreciation, and encouragement!  I can't tell you how much I appreciate your stopping by to check out my blog!  Blessings and love to you all!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dirty Laundry.....

Every year at the F.U.S.E middle school/high school church camp that my brother Kirk and his wife Dana run, they have a humongous food fight.  This happened to be the first year I had ever been a leader at camp, so I wasn't really privy to all the details regarding this annual food fight.....hence my participation in it.  Let me start by saying that I grew up in the country in WV....with pretty much all boys...I ain't scared of gettin' a little messy.  However, I had never experienced a food fight to such a magnitude.  The throwable foods of choice this year were cooked oatmeal, chocolate pudding, and canned peaches.  Did you know that when you combine cooked oatmeal, chocolate pudding, and canned peaches on your skin, hair, and clothes in 90 degree heat you get something equivalent to a yummy smelling, chocolate flavored cast?  I think when they say "instant oatmeal" what they really mean is "if used for anything other than eating and in large quantities, this oatmeal will instantly dry on your skin, clothes, and hair eventually immobilizing you".  We might have accidentally stumbled upon something here that will revolutionize non-deadly warfare.  First there was the plastic bullet thingys, and now....oatmeal.  Dare to dream.

Anyway, there is an actual reason that I am sharing this food fight scenario with all of you.  And what I am about to tell you is going to be shocking.  I am going to need to you sit down for this (really, you should already be sitting down, I would imagine it would be hard to read a blog while standing).   Because....I am about to air some dirty laundry.  If you have recently eaten, please wait 45 minutes before reading the remainder of this blog.  Everything you thought you knew about me is about to come crashing down....and I don't want anyone cramping up.  We're gonna get through this....together.

After the food fight, I was hot (and not the kind with two "t's", I'm talking 98 degrees plus humidity hot), crusty, squishy, and all around grumpy pants.  I couldn't remember the last time I felt so uncomfortable.  There were around 60 kids that were covered in goo and no one was allowed to take a shower because all the oatmeal would clog the drains.  So, they set up this huge industrial slip and slide.  They had huge tarps and water hoses going down the hill behind the church and they were having the kids go down the slide and get cleaned off.  Well, grumpy pants (that's me) didn't want to go down the slip and slide.  All my spoiled "I am used to being allowed to take a shower whenever I want because I am a grown up" butt wanted to do was just take off all my goopy clothes and get in a nice cool shower.  I mean, it's unhealthy to have chocolate pudding in your ear, right?!  I finally was able to hose off without going down the slide, but I was still in need of a shower.  I quickly abused my authority as a leader...and for once the advantage of being taller than everyone....and hopped in front of the girls waiting to shower.  Even their sad little goopy faces couldn't stop me.  I know...wrong, huh!?  If you are already losing respect for me....then you are going to be catatonic when you hear the grand daddy of all bad things I got comin' at cha.

After showering, I change into some dry, non-sticky clothes.  I had nowhere to put my goopy clothes to dry and since I was going to come back to DC that night after the bon fire,  I put them in the back of my Jeep in a towel that I "borrowed" (aka stole) from Kirk and Dana.  When I got home that night I transported the "ball of disgustingness" from my Jeep to my apartment.  Right when I walked in my door I placed the aforementioned "ball" in my laundry basket with FULL INTENTIONS of doing the laundry the VERY NEXT day.

Okay, now....I'm just going to say. ripping off a band aid.

THE BALL OF DISGUSTINGNESS IS STILL IN MY LAUNDRY BASKET.  Unwashed.  Still wrapped up in a stolen towel.  Who does that!?  3 weeks of rotting oatmeal, pudding, and peaches.  It's just getting more and more disgusting as the laundry piles up on top of it.  In fact, I haven't done any laundry at all in three weeks.  And all because I don't want to deal with the ball of nasty disgustingness.  My best friend from WV stayed with me for a few days and I STILL HAVEN'T dealt with it.  I knew she was coming, I knew she would see the excessively large pile of clothes in my closet, and yet, I decided that I just couldn't deal.  So there it remains.

Now you know.   Katie McNemar is a closet (pun intended) disgusting freak.  If you are still reading this blog, thank you for your show of grace and mercy.  God is giving you a high five right now. 

I wanted to keep it a secret, and deal with it whenever I could muster up enough courage and just never ever tell anybody what a totally disgusting human I really am.  It's not like I WANTED to tell this secret, but you know how God is....always tryin' to ruin my game by making me share every detail of my life with anyone that will listen....or has to listen because they are stuck in a fast moving vehicle with me.  But keeping it a secret has only allowed the days and hours to continue to tick by without anything being done about it.   I know you don't know, I know you know I know,  you know?!  I just keep piling on the other laundry.  I know that at the bottom of it all there is a seething beast of smellyness, but from the outside it looks somewhat okay, so I am able to continue to ignore it.  I am seriously not joking about this.  This is a true story.  If my parents have read this they are currently driving to DC to stage an intervention/fumigation, complete with NASA space suits and Ghostbusters proton packs.  (Don't cross the streams.) I have three weeks worth of laundry...and believe this hot humid weather you go through some clothes.  Every morning I step over the non-smelly "normal" laundry that is overflowing onto my path to the bathroom and I know at some point I am going to have to deal with it.

The reason that I am telling you this about myself is because apparently, I want to be single forever....Just kidding!'s because God showed me that this is what I do with thoughts and things in my life that I know I need to deal with and get rid of.  I avoid dealing with the yucky stuff.  This can apply to sin in my life, and/or wrong thinking I have about myself, others, and God.  We all have thoughts about ourselves or things we are doing in our lives that are equivalent to my peaches and mold laundry ball.   They need to be thrown out, but instead we hide them and try to cover them up with other things.  The worst part about it is, the longer I wait to deal with my laundry situation, the more the disgustingness is going to spread to all of the other clothes in the laundry basket.  It doesn't just stay where it spreads. 

Let me go ahead and give you another example of this in my life...since I'm spillin' the beans anyway.  Recently I have had to face the fact that I still have wrong/negative thoughts about myself and how people see me, even though I have spent years working on tossing out all of the negative seeds that were planted years ago.  These thoughts started as a small disgusting ball and then grew until these thoughts made me into a person that wasn't the real me.  These thoughts had me spending years striving to look, be, do, think, and say all the things that I thought would make people finally love me for who I was....but striving to please everyone and be what everyone wants or expects you to be, doesn't make you who you really are. All of your striving takes God out of the equation and makes you easily changeable and as unstable as a house that has it's foundation built on sand.  Striving to be the skinniest, funniest, the most fun, the coolest, the prettiest, and so on, only made me an empty shell who didn't know who she was or what she wanted.  No wonder no one loved me for who I was....who was I?  I wasn't "anybody"...I was "everybody". 

I believed the lies I was told about myself.  I let it spread. After making the best decision of my entire life and letting God come into to my life and show me who I am, I have finally found ME.  Over these last few years, God and I have been doing some house cleaning....laundry, if you order to toss out the falsehoods, and give birth to the true person I am and my purpose for being here.  However, what I was doing was just skimming the surface with some of these things, I wasn't dealing with the deepest, darkest, grossest thoughts down at the bottom of the "laundry basket".  It's not that I didn't want these thoughts to be false.  I didn't want to believe all of these awful things I was told about who I was and who I should be.  But I didn't do what I really needed to do, and that is to get rid of it all together.  I held on to these deep rooted thoughts instead of letting them go.  I was afraid if I brought them up out of the bottom of the laundry basket that I would be looking directly at a reflection of what other people saw when they looked at me or got to know me.  I have spent years trying to cover my "disgustingness" up so that no one would see the real me.  I have been afraid of letting people really see me because of my fear that they will look under all of the "stuff" and see me....and reject me.  But fear doesn't come from God.  This fear of letting people in because I am afraid I am broken has to stop.  I have to stop trying to cover up and keep people at a safe distance.  I have to face these thoughts.  I have to dig to the bottom, pull them out, and give them to God.  I couldn't really figure out for the life of me why in the world I would ever leave disgusting laundry for three weeks, but now I know why.  This was God's way of reaching out to me...okay, slapping me in the face.  He is trying to show me in a way that I can understand, just how much it breaks His heart that I continue to fear, hurt, and cover myself up instead of seeing how amazing I really am.  These thoughts aren't just inconvenient, they have kept me from God's promises.  When we hold onto these kinds of things, they separate us from God because it causes us to hide ourselves from him in shame and guilt.  God doesn't operate in shame and guilt....he operates in love, grace, and mercy.  He isn't scared or intimidated by our dirty balls of disgustingness.  He is the only one that can take the falsehoods and darkness from us, and replace it with truth and light.

I got the message loud and clear but I wasn't quite sure how to bring these things from deep inside me and get them out in the open so I could deal with them.  Obviously thinking about them all the time wasn't the answer.  So I decided that no matter how hard it was for me to do, I was going to find someone I trusted and that I knew would speak truth into my life, and I would tell them all of these secret thoughts I have about myself.  As I told my friend all of these years of thoughts I have about myself and how I think that people see me when they look at me or get to know me, she was shocked, hurt, sad, angry, and more than ready to tell me the truth and help me to turn them all over to God.  My fear that saying these things out loud would only make someone see them in me even more kept me from confessing all of the years.  I am finally able to say, "I love myself exactly how I am...right now....without covering anything up in fear".  When we view ourselves as full of darkness and shameful things, we are just like Adam and Eve in the garden after the "apple incident".  They hid from God when their eyes were opened and they saw their nakedness.  For the first time they felt shame.  But thank you Jesus for your sacrifice so that we don't have to cower in shame about who we are.  We will never be perfect in our own efforts, but in God's eyes we are perfect when we love him.  I don't have to cover myself in shame because there is nothing to be shameful about.  God has been waiting for me to see the truth and toss out the crap.  We all struggle with guilt, shame, and false ideas about ourselves at some time in our lives, but the key is to never allow yourself to get locked away in a prison that you have the key to.  I hope my confession today is helpful to someone out there.  It most certainly wasn't easy to admit or write about, but God has called me to have verbal diarrhea so that people don't feel so alone in their struggles.  I have sacrificed having mystery about me in order to share God's love that can move any mountain and soften any heart made of stone.  Writing about my struggles has helped me to dig to the bottom of my laundry basket and share with you all my fears.  Don't let your thoughts keep you from God.  Confess your struggles to God.  Ask Him to take them from you and replace them with truth.  He is waiting for you to let go of the side of the pool and swim into the deep end.


Will the real Katie please stand up

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Random Ramblings of a Spotty Mind....

Man, I have had some serious writer's block.  And you know what that means.....POINTLESS RAMBLING TIME!!!  YAAAAYYYYY!

So, I joined a new gym.  It's right down the street from my apartment, and's awesome.  My beloved gym in the basement of my ancient apartment building apparently doesn't believe in air conditioning....or, yeah, I had to move on up.  My new gym has been there for a long time, but was recently bought out by a chain of gym's in DC and now it's a "training facility slash spa".  I remember walking by and looking in the window at the modern style, new equipment, and beautiful people, thinking to myself....that place looks too nice to work up a sweat in.  Now, some of ya'll folks that have grown up in these here fancy parts might be used to hoity-toity gym/spas, but I still find the gym/spa atmosphere to, different.  In WV, all we need is a garage or an out-building of some kind, throw in a bench, some weights, a jump rope, and maybe a thigh master, (but only to laugh at)...and bam! we've got a gym.  But low and behold....the new management ran a special...and there is one thing that Katie can't resist.... a ridiculously good deal (and the chance to refer to herself in the third person).

Anyway, so the new gym owner hired hotty mchotterson's to stand out on the streets of Glover Park (my hood) and hand out flyers for this ridiculous deal. After thinking it over for .000034 seconds I decide to go in and "check it out".  I approach the front desk and say that I am interested in possibly joining the gym and wanted to learn some more.  So, the lovely lady says to me, "WONDERFUUUUUULLLL!  Let me go get GRAHAM! I'll be RIGHT back, K!"  Dude, I thought I was annoyingly happy, but this lady took the cake....the happy cake!  Then it happened............Graham happened.  I'm not sure if this was their strategy, but I would call Graham...the Closer.  I don't know why they brought out the "big guns" (pun intended) before I even had the chance to say, "let me think about it", but...I guess they just suppose that it's best to seal the deal right away.  If you haven't already guessed, Graham was not only the owner of the gym, but he was obviously also a client.  In other words, he wasn't too hard on the eyes.  And to boot, he was sweet and funny.  When I could manage to actually speak, this is what I said.....okay, shouted.........."SOLD!  Where do I sign?!"  So, it worked!

That very same day I came back to the gym to work out.   I quickly begin to feel that maybe I have made a mistake.   I felt out of place.  This gym felt too "nice" to use.  Everything looked new and was so clean and perfect.  No one was running on the treadmills, they were walking.  They didn't have Nautilus equipment or big metal bench bars....they had rubber free weights and equipment with tons of different colored bands hanging off of it.  How am I supposed to workout without hearing some weights being dropped on the floor or banging together?  How am I supposed to run with Miss Universe 2010 "walking" beside me at a brisk yet relatively relaxed pace?  What if some of my sweat hits Miss Universe 2010 in the eye?  I'm a sweater. I sweat.  Maybe I should have read the rules....maybe there are rules about sweating.  Maybe that is why everyone looks so....relaxed in their workouts.  Oh crap....I'm already sweating just thinking about trying not to sweat.  And how exactly do you use those fancy band thingys?  Everyone looks too mesmerized by the light ambient techno they have going on to interrupt, so I just hop on the Elliptical and start observing.  I quickly learn that this gym is mostly hot guys my age, but for some reason that only makes things worse.  I don't come to the gym to "be seen"...I come to the gym to be smelly and get my workout on.  I come to the gym to "not be seen" actually.  Luckily none of the hotties have hit on me, or even glanced in my general direction.  However, the weird creepy guy that stares too long only took 4 days to work up the nerve to walk over and throw this gem at me...."WOW, you must be a gymnast to be that flexible!! (insert disturbing facial expression here)"  I tried the "I have my headphones on and can't hear whatever creepy thing you just said", but instead of taking the hint at my pointing to my ears, he just got closer and yelled it at me.  At this point, I kinda wished that this was a women's only gym....and that the "only" women that could join were people that did not compete in Miss Universe.  All this stress leads guessed it....more sweating.  (Why do so many of my rambling stories involve me being a sweaty mess around hot guys!?  Seriously.)  I decide at some point that I will no longer entertain thoughts that I am essentially a "gym crasher" and accept that this fancy gym is as much mine as it is Miss Universe's and by golly I'm going to sweat the hell out of it.  Hey...somebodies gotta do it!  Why not ME!?  And not only that....I'm going to partake in all that this fancy gym has to offer.

I called my mom and dad and told them all about my new gym.  I felt like I was describing Disney World.  I was telling them that there are pitchers of ice cold water with slices of oranges or cucumbers in them they have sitting out for people to drink, but that I refused to drink it because I was afraid that it was just there for decoration.  They immediately told me that I had to be wrong, why would anyone have decorative water?  Who feels the need to have their post-workout rehydration be cucumber flavored???  But they don't understand DC....they don't understand the ways and whys of the elitist upper class post-modern ideas of decoration and ambiance.  It's a fine line you gotta walk sometimes, people.....a fine line indeed.  I'm not even going to get into the debate as to whether or not to eat the free apples.  I'll spare you that much. 

So, I just go over to the boring ol' water cooler.  While I was at it I should have just put my water in a bowl on the floor and lapped it up like a dog because that is mentally the way I was treating myself.  It even took me a few days to go into the sauna because I wondered if maybe it was just for decoration as well.  My keen powers of observation had been at work for days and I had yet to see anyone drink the "infused" water, or go into the sauna.  I thought that there is probably some kind of fancy gym/spa etiquette that most civilized members of society know innately and I didn't want to out myself as the country bumpkin that I am quite yet!  I mean, it's inevitable at some point I am going to slip up and wear some cammo or start singing Waylon Jennings or something, but I was hoping to fend it off a while longer.

I felt like a thief that was casein' the joint.  I wonder if anyone noticed my shifty eyes as I slowly walked by the infused water, hoping, wishing, and praying that someone would take a drink.  But no one ever did.  My curiosity was killing me.  How could people not drink it?  Gorgeous presentation.  Cold water.  Come ON!  So I did it.  I cautiously approached the pitcher of cucumber water.  I slowly grabbed the handle and quickly looked up and darted my eyes around to see if the whole gym had stopped their workouts to observe the country bumpkin as it commits fancy gym crime #1....never drink the flavored's not for's not for's there for illusory purposes only.  In my mind I figure this is how they weed out the intellectual elite from the  hicks from hickville.  As soon as they are alerted to your "status" you are quickly escorted out of the gym by anyone other than Graham...Graham will have nothing to do with a cucumber water drinking redneck that doesn't know a decoration from a hole in the ground.   But I defied all logic and....drank the water.  And you know was delicious.  And you know what else.... no one cared!!!!! Can you believe it??  I was so pumped that I trotted right into the sauna and sat there sweating out my fancy cucumber water for a good 30 minutes.  Then, when I took a shower, I used their fancy shampoo and conditioner.  And when I got out of the shower....I even used some of the lotion they had there.  No one escorted me out.  No one looked at me strangely.  Heck, as I was leaving guess what I saw....someone drinking the freakin' fancy water....!!! That's right!!! Score one for the country bumpkin!!!  I bet that everyone in that gym has been DYING to drink that water, but they didn't want to look like freaks, so they waited for some sweaty mess to take the first shot and then it was free game.  I just hope that the lady in charge of the cucumber water infusing isn't too upset with me...I hate to have created more work for her.

Although my true story may have been exaggerated a tiny bit, don't we do this in real life all the time?  Don't we feel like all the good stuff must be for someone else?  That if we reach for it, we're going to be told that it's not for us?  Maybe we don't feel that way about flavored water, but maybe we feel that way about a job promotion, or someone we would like to date, or a new house, and especially our relationship with God?  Ah seems that my rambling story actually ends up being a great analogy for how we view God's gifts, blessings, and love.  I tried to not get all deep on ya'll, but it's all that fancy water I've been sippin' on....I can't help it.  Just like I felt I wasn't "fancy" enough to be a member of my gym, we tend to think that we aren't "good" enough Christian's to deserve what God wants to give us.  We are constantly comparing ourselves to other people.  We either feel like we have it more together than someone else, or that we are the dirt on the bottom of our shoes compared to another Christ follower.  We all really need to stop thinking that God's open outstretched hand is for someone better than, or more deserving than we are.  We need to stop thinking we need to steal our way through life.  We can't steal God's blessings because He gives them freely.  We don't need to look around and see what everyone else is doing.  Reach for the blessings that God has laid on your heart.  Start a trend.  Show the world that God is Who He says He is. Grab yourself a cup of cucumber flavored water and think on it. : )