Friday, August 13, 2010

Waiting for the hummingbirds..

It's another beautiful day in Charleston, South Carolina. It's sunny, ninety-two degrees and there is a breeze (thanks be to God!) that wicks away some of the humidity. I took Elleri to school this morning and while listening to the radio, I heard a song. The Band Perry, 'If I Die Young.' I'll save everyone a lot of time by just posting a few lines..

"Lord make me a rainbow I'll shine down on my mother
She knows I'm safe with you and she stands under my colors
Oh and life ain't always what you think it ought to be
No it ain't even grey but she buries her baby
The sharp knife of a short life
Well I've had just enough time

If I die young burry me satin
Lay me down on a bed of roses
Sink me in the river at dawn
Send me away with the words of a love song
The sharp knife of a short life
Well, I have just enough time"

Five years ago this weekend, I lost someone I love very much. A brother in almost every sense of the word, Brandon Lee Hubbert was a force to be reckoned with. With a ridiculous silver jacket and shoes he'd beat on you for scuffing, he was handsome and head-strong. He was smart and knew just what to say to tick you off or make you smile. Never one to be a fly on the wall, he loved being the center of attention. He fought with his dad unlike any two men have ever fought before, but loved him fiercely. He was his mama's boy and was always on hand to give her a squeeze when she was feeling a little bit discouraged. He had painfully blue eyes and could sucker any girl into darn near anything. He loved his high school sweetheart so incredibly much and would protect her from any harm that ever came her way. He was a best friend, honest and true. One who would say it like it was, regardless of what you wanted to hear. He was funny! So very funny and seemingly always in trouble with someone. He was an athlete. A magnificent runner and basketball player, and you could usually find him on the courts in housing playing a little ball before dinner. He drove really fast. He loved his dog. His drink of choice was Captain and Coke.. ew. He never let his hair get too long because he didn't like the little flip that his curls would do around his forehead and ears. He had the cutest ears. He loved professional sports and would smack anyone who ever talked down about any of his beloved Detroit teams. He had a really cute butt and he was painfully ticklish. He was a military brat and moved around a lot, but called Kodiak home (second, sometimes, to Detroit.) and his friends were his family. He got in trouble for jumping his dad's red Jeep Wrangler over by Northstar Elementary. (Little did dad know, I was the instigator of this whole ordeal!) He listened to Bone Thugs 'n Harmony. He secretly listened to Big and Rich. He drove his dad's mustang more than he was actually allowed to. He got into some trouble along the way and paid a great deal for all of it. He was a son. He was a friend. He was a husband. He would have been a father.

Five years ago this weekend, the hummingbirds stopped coming to mom and dad's house. Ruby-throated hummingbirds are abundant in Northern Michigan and they just.. stopped coming.

Five years ago this weekend, I lost someone I love very much. I was in class all morning, but my phone was blowing up with calls from Bryce. He wasn't leaving messages, until the thirteenth call. He said, "Kathryn. It's Bryce. Call me back. It's important." He knew my schedule, so for him to be calling this much and leaving such a somber message, I knew in my stomach something was wrong. I took a moment and called him back. He told me to go to a place where I could sit down and no one would hear me scream. Crossing the street between SWAHA and Cedar Chiropractic, I heard myself sobbing. He explained to me what had happened. I don't really remember much of that day. I know I somehow made it from the middle of the road to V's office. Doc gave me a ride home to the empty house. I crawled through the front door and went straight for Sarah's happy hippo, Carson.

Between trying to understand things myself and trying to book a ticket to Michigan, I made the phone calls. Nobody likes to be the Grim Reaper, but people needed to know. Eugene was the first person. Ty, Kelly, Michella, Joe, Paul.. And then finally, I called B's parents.

I called my mom and told her what had happened. I told her that I needed to get on a plane immediately and that I couldn't do it without her help. I was a student and could in no way afford the thousand dollar plane ticket, next day, from Utah to Michigan. But I knew I had to be there. She said that she'd talk it over with my dad and hung up the phone.. Only to call me back in less than a minute, crying. I was on the plane the following morning. Joe, Joe and Eugene picked me up from the airport and, after getting lost and almost crossing over into Canada, we made it to the house. I thought I was going to pass out. Joe and Eugene literally carried me into the garage, up the stairs and to mom and dad. We hugged and cried. I don't think that any of us slept that night. The funeral came and went, wake at the house in the garage with lots of food and even more alcohol. Somehow, without ever having heard the song before, everyone in the room knew the lyrics to 'Live This Life' by Big and Rich. We sang and ate. Laughed and cried. Danced and held each other.

In the midst of all of the sadness, Brandon's son was born on August 16th. He was healthy and looked like his daddy from the second he entered the world. His eyes and eyebrows, his nose and lips, his ears and even his feet. His daddy's boy. I held him through the better portion of the funeral and I swear it was B's way of putting a baby-shaped band-aid on my wounded heart.

Most of the trip is recalled as though I didn't live it. It is in the form of film footage, like it was an out-of-body experience. I can remember every single moment of the nine days I spent in Michigan. Nine days. I was only supposed to be there for four, but Joe and I missed our flight. When we got home, we knew it was another message from Brandon. His mom and dad weren't ready to be alone yet. We went to the cabin. We spent nights talking and looking at videos. I confessed to the whole 'Jeep' situation. And on a beautiful Upper Peninsula day in August, a baby was baptized. Jaden James Hubbert was handed to myself and Ryan Kabke as we were called forward as Godparents. It was easily the proudest moment of my life thus far. Sadly, I've dropped that ball completely. I pray that Brandon will help guide me to making things right again.

Five years ago this weekend, the hummingbirds stopped coming. But, on that sunny Upper Peninsula day, in the backyard of a house, around friends and family, with a beautiful baby in my arms, I saw the hummingbirds. Two of them. Two little beacons of peace and hope, fluttering about by the birdhouse that B made for his mom. I know he sent them to us, to me. They were his little way of letting me know that he was alright, that everything would be as it should be in time, that no matter where I was, he'd find me. Brandon was a best friend, honest and true. He kept his word.

Five years ago this weekend, I lost someone I love very much. However, I gained a few things. I gained a mom and dad who were in desperate need of a child.. I pray that my presence and that of the others who were able to come up served as a miniscule buffer for them. I gained a connection with people that will never be forgotten. Though I don't speak with everyone often, nothing in the world will ever minimize the intensity that we experienced with one another. I gained a Godson. The most beautiful creature to ever walk this planet, he is his father's boy. And I love him. I also gained a series of days, August 14th-16th of every year, that stop me dead in my tracks and force me to contemplate who I am, where I am and what I am going to do about it. These few days serve as a slap upside the head for me. They shake me and give me no other option than to truly evaluate myself. I generally call them my 'dark days.' I used to spend them alone, communicating those who played such an integral part in this experience, and remembering my friend. Last year, I was en route to the biggest adventure of my life. Being on an airplane is meditation for me, so on August 14th, 2009 I spent hours in my head, thinking of B and how his life and death have driven me to do things beyond my wildest imagination. This year, I will be on Daniel Island, South Carolina listening to the man whose lyrics soothe me in ways that I cannot possibly describe. I will sing 'Salvation' under my breath and allow for the words to lift me up and place me in the open arms of my ever-present guardian angel. I will talk to our friends, to our family. I will look at photos and cry. My hand will go to my heart, my face to the sky, and I will ask him to watch over me through the next year. And I will wait. I will wait for the hummingbirds to come.

They always do.

Imagine yourself..

Imagine a woman in love with herself.

Imagine a woman who believes it is right and good she is a woman.
A woman who honors her experiences and tells her stories.
Who refuses to carry the sins of others within her body and life.

Imagine a woman who trusts and respects herself.
A woman who listens to her needs and desires.
Who meets them with tenderness and grace.

Imagine a woman who authors her own life.
A woman who exerts, initiates, and moves on her own behalf.
Who refueses to surrender except to her truest self and wisest voice.

Imagine a woman who names her own Gods.
A woman who imagines the divine in her image and likeness.
Who designs her own spirituality and allows it to inform her daily life.

Imagine a woman in love with her own body.
A woman who believe her body is enough, Just as it is.
Who celebrates her body's rhythms and cycles as an exquisite resource.

Imagine a woman who honors the body of the Goddess in her changing body.
A woman who celebrates the accumulation of her years and her wisdom.
Who refuses to use her precious life energy disguising the changes in her.

Imagine a woman who values the women in her life.
A woman who sits in circles of women.
Who is reminded of the truth about herself when she forgets.


-Patricia Lynn Reilly

I have officially checked off two more items on my Charleston To-Do List!! Numeros 1 and 19!! Yay!

I was just going through a few older blogs (think Myspace... haha. Ancient history!) and found that I had posted this poem. It's funny because anyone who knows me very well knows that I have part of a Maya Angelou poem tattooed on my ribs.. "It's in the reach of my arms, the span of my hips, the stride of my step, the curl of my lips, I am a woman phenomenally, phenomenal woman, that's me." This is another one of those good 'I am woman, hear me roar!' poems and I just thought I'd share it with you.

For any of my sisters who are having a rough time right now (life, love, money, kids, faith, etc..) I hope you remember to tell yourself how phenomenal you truly are. Each and every one of you. You are the daughters of an EVER-LOVING God. Put your trust in Him and remind yourself that He doesn't make mistakes. Love you.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A few wrongs can sometimes equal a right..

As one could probably tell from my last post, I was pretty lonely last night. Missing my friends and family has become a constant issue of mine, one that has been bringing me down as of late. I can feel the desolation within me and how it has been diminishing my life light.

This will not do.

I have been bouncing around from church to church for the past few months. I thought I'd found the one for me on a few occasions, but there was always something that just didn't feel quite right. I'm a baby Christian and I am the first to admit that I don't know a whole lot about my Heavenly Father or His word. However, I am an eager student and I've been on a 'spiritual quest' for the perfect 'home' since leaving the BESTCHURCHFAMILYEVER at Grace Harbor.

I digress..

So in my bought of self pity last night, I began searching online for churches around the area. Honestly fearing that I would never find a 'home' like I'd found in Sitka's Grace Harbor, I was feeling pretty meek about my quest. I found one that looked like a winner and Mapquested the directions. Now, I can find my way through the woods like nobody's business. I can read a relief map fairly well and my sense of 'place' is generally pretty good. That being said, I got lost. Church was supposed to start at 9:30am and it was already a quarter til. I was reduced to tears.. again. Bowing my head in defeat, I turned around and headed home.

And then... it struck me. I needed pineapple.

I go grocery shopping pretty regularly. There are two routes to the store I generally shop at. One is the main entrance, the other drives me past the Church at LifePark. It is a beautiful building, one that I pass and think 'Wow. That is a beautiful building.' Anyway, it's relatively new in town, having just opened its doors... (wait for it..)... in March of 2010!! I just moved here in March of 2o1o! Had He put this church here for me? Was I simply missing the big picture? Driving past the building twice a week at least, and reveling in it's beauty, yet not going inside? C'mon now! Get with it, Kathryn!

I just returned from a service that rivals what I had back home. It was MAGNIFICENT. It shook me to my core and tickled me down to my roots. It kicked me in the butt. Just what I had been praying for.

I know the power of prayer. I know that the answers aren't always what I want them to be, what I expect them to be. I know that if I continue to be obedient and loving and am able to admit my wrongdoings, that I will be blessed with His love and the love of my family and friends.

I know that sometimes, more often than not in my case, it takes getting a little bit lost in order to find out exactly where you're supposed to be.

** Also!! Checked #13 off of my Charleston To-Do list!! Yay!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Footnotes and chapters..

In the story of my life, I pray to God that no one feels like they're simply a footnote.

I have recently (as in, over the past three days) gained the immense fear that I have not given the right amount of time to the people I consider special to me. I think back over the past twenty-four years and marvel at all of the incredible people I have had the pleasure of knowing. Some of those individuals will likely never know to what extent they have impacted me. I don't know if that is because some divine intervention separated us before I had the insight to their importance or if I just didn't take the opportunity to adequately thank them for all that they had done for me. Either way, this concept is frightening.

I met a woman on the plane from Ft. Lauderdale to Las Vegas. She was seated across from me and one row up, but I could see that she was wearing a dress that I will forever covet and, what's more, she was reading 'Eat, Pray, Love.' Anyone who loves that book and what it stands for is a friend of mine. (And anyone who knows me at all knows that I can talk to ANYONE, ANYWHERE.) Well, I struck up conversation with her regarding where she was at in the book, as I was traveling with my copy as well. We chatted about how fantastically written it is, with so much voice and color, and resumed our journey into Elizabeth Gilbert's literary adventures. Every few chapters, I would poke her and see how she was doing. She gloried at the fact that the story was so relatable, almost an 'every woman's' story. After exchanging contact information, I bid her adieu and welcomed her to Sin City. I now have a pen-pal in the least likely of places and I couldn't be more excited to have yet one more person to share my life with.

I suppose my point in sharing that story is that I want her to know how important it was to me that I met her that day. I plan on sending her an email saying just that, in hopes that she reads it and smiles. And perhaps, on a day that she is feeling a little bit down and out, she'll remember that she impacted me and that she will always have a friend in the girl from the plane.

The friends that I have are so intensely important to me. My best friend from sixth grade, a girl that I have had a turbulent relationship with in the past, but love with all of my heart. Through it all, we have been able to remember that connection, which has been strong enough to overcome miles between us (both literally and figuratively). There have been days, sometimes months, that I questioned if we'd make it out of our arguments, but I never once pondered over the absolute and complete love that we have for each other.

My best friend 'Pants,' whom I met in a church in Southern Utah. We bonded over the name of a dog and the name of an island. I don't talk to her everyday, sometimes I don't talk to her for months, but I absolutely LOVE her. I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I could pick up the phone right this second and if I needed her, she'd be there for me... Perhaps even HERE for me. She's known to drop it all for people she loves, something that I adore and admire about her. She is objective and personal. She is completely phenomenal. Phenomenal woman, that's her.

Heath Ledger. No, not the actual Heath Ledger. Just a look-alike. She is super-human. She is the picture of resilience. She is a mother, a daughter, a sister, a student, a hard worker, a VW driver, a HOME OWNER (and she's only 23!!), and a friend. An amazing friend. A friend that I can turn to with the pettiest of situations and she will set aside time to listen to me as though I were confessing that I am actually an alien being (which, let's face it, I sometimes feel like..). She listens to me deeply and completely and never implies that I am being ridiculous, even when I know that that's the case.

My beast friend, my Homie. Over ten years of an unbreakable bond behind us and the trials just keep on coming. We have been through everything together and she knows secrets about me and my heart that I've only told my dog. The funny thing about best friends is that they see you for who you really are, but love you anyway. That summarizes us perfectly. Never any judgement, only someone to canoodle when the whole world seems to be falling down around us. And more than that, a smiling face and obnoxious laugh to share all of the good times with.

My six foot tall, Carson the Happy Hippo loving, red-stiletto wearing, coke slurpee enthusiast. She is constantly putting things into perspective for me. The little things in life that she appreciates end up being perpetual reminders that I need to, in all things, be grateful and rejoice. Easily one of the funniest people I've ever met, I can only hope that one day our Peruvian dreams will become a reality.

My beach bumming, popcorn and ice cream loving, Gilmore Girls addicted prior roommate. The best adventure partner that a girl could ask for. With moments notice, she'd never hesitate to climb a mountain or pick death berries with me. She led me to God. She supported me, literally held me up, through my journey to my ocean baptism. One day, we will be sister missionaries, riding on a pink scooter with a side car, singing at the tops of our lungs. She's also an incredible 'sock slider.' Give her a 10x10 foot room with bare hardwood floors and she'll put Tom Cruise in Risky Business to shame.

My CDub. I feel horrible, but I was probably in the WORST place of my life while forming my relationship with her. But steadfast and strong, she stood by me. One of the worst days of my life thus far was made a little bit better at the knowledge that I wouldn't be home alone as night fell.

My BossLady. Carrot Cake Day was made our own personal holiday. On my journey to find God, I stumbled upon the best job I've ever had. Her unyielding support and love impacted me in ways that I will never be able to adequately thank her for. I thank Him for hand picking my friend for me. I know that it is because of His will that she will be a lifelong friend of mine.

An animal-loving, IUD-child bearing, intensely creative, photographer friend who I've not spent more than 24 hours around in my whole life. She is the balm to my wounds. In an email that she wrote to me over three years ago, she pulled me out of one of the most terrible places I have ever been. If she didn't know that before, I pray that she reads this at some point and knows that I am alive, and thriving, because of her words.. Not just her words, but the intention I knew came with them. She loves me without even knowing me. And I love her for that.

My 'sister.' No.. My SISTER. In every way except for blood (and sometimes I even question if we aren't actually blood related as we look more alike one another than we do our own biological sisters!) she is my sister. My soul sister. (Enter Train song here.) I need her in ways that I have never needed anyone before. When situations in our lives posed problems and we were temporarily separated (again, literally and metaphorically) it was easily the worst eight months of my life. We've not known each other long, only five years, but the five most character forming years of each of our lives. I don't know who I'd be, where I'd be without her.

My mothers.. I have been adopted by some amazing women. But mostly my mother. My heart aches after two days without talking to her. She has been out at our family cabin for the summer and we've spoken a total of seven times in the past month and a half. Needless to say, it's been the longest summer of my life. I feel like the only time I truly know who I am is when I am with my mother. Easily the bravest and strongest person that I know, she has instilled in me some of my most favorite qualities about myself.

The Betty's, an unlikely group of friends to which I will forever be the fifth wheel.. But hey, five wheels have to be more sturdy than four, right? It's what I will continue telling myself until proven otherwise. The 'ita nighters... Margaritas, fajitas and senoritas. Even though it may seem like all fun and games, I cherish the one or two nights a year that I get to spend with this gaggle of girls. I laugh harder in those few hours than I generally do in months.

I cannot express, in words or otherwise, how incredibly thankful I am to have such amazing friends. Especially my female friends.. I'm seeing a pattern here.. I am blessed. Truly and completely.

I cannot help though, to look back at the relationships that I have had with certain people and wonder... Was I just a footnote? Or was I important enough to be a chapter? If given the opportunity, I could write pages about each person in this flutter of thoughts. And of the people who weren't named, I'm sorry. It doesn't make you any less important to me.

I travel constantly so to see the people I love. I don't make much money, but the money I make is spent on plane tickets and frozen yogurt. Sometimes, though it may sound selfish, I feel like I am not as important to everyone else as they are to me. I realize that everybody has a life outside of their relationships with me. Some of my dear friends have children and husbands and careers and mortgages. I don't have those things. My life, my single and alone life, doesn't cost much money to live, thus I probably can afford to traipse about more freely than others. However, it doesn't make me feel any less unimportant sometimes. Home should come to me once in awhile. Be that Alaska, California, Utah, Washington or anywhere else.

I am going to try and do better to make sure that the people who I love know that I love them. I am going to tell them, show them.. Do what I can to ensure that they are a chapter, or many chapters in most cases, in the story of my life.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pickin' up where I left off...

I cannot remember the last time that I wrote for pleasure.. Being a student again has definitely caused my brain to switch gears on me! However, following recent life experiences, I have decided to start writing again. I am so excited to relive the past few months of my life! It's been a wild ride..

In March, I relocated to Mount Pleasant, South Carolina after taking a job as a nanny. What a wonderful idea that turned out to be! Aside from the bouts of homesickness (which can sometimes be debilitating!) I am so happy here. The weather is nothing to complain about and I regularly taunt my Alaska/Utah family with photos of me laying on a beach somewhere. (I'm a good friend, I know!) The food is good. It's really good. I miss my fish (salmon and halibut) but I'm starting to really enjoy swordfish and grouper! Also, shrimp and grits might be one the greatest food collaborations ever. And I've been cooking more regularly, too. Perfecting real jambalaya, vegetarian lasagna, baked macaroni and cheese.. Hummingbird cake. Yes. Hummingbird cake. It's amazing! Though, my all-time favorite southern dessert still reigns.. Red velvet. Oh, the tasty deliciousness!

I've learned that my time with this family is limited, therefore my time in Charleston might be facing a near end as well. I took a few minutes to think about what I want to spend the remainder of my southern summer doing..

1. Walk the Cooper River Bridge without passing out
2. Run the IOP Connector without passing out
3. Tour Boone Hall Plantation.. Catch a butterfly on my nose
4. Take a Charleston ghost tour
5. See an alligator in the wild.. or at least on the golf course
6. Get IOP, SI, and CHS stickers (for the car that I don't own yet!)
7. Play in the fountains downtown and have someone take a photo of me
8. Go paddleboarding.. twice!
9. Kayak under the Cooper River Bridge
10. Eat fresh tuna at Long Point Grille
11. Play cornhole
12. See a sea turtle released into the wild
13. Go to a Southern Baptist church and sing praise to Him at the tops of my lungs!!
14. Do 1 hour of uninterrupted yoga on the beach
15. Drive to Savannah and take a ghost tour
16. Find a shark tooth in Myrtle Beach
17. Wear a big, white flower in my hair
18. Grill something super tasty
19. Buy local produce at the Tuesday afternoon Farmer's Market
20. Read a Nicolas Sparks book on the beach
21. Buy my own pair of coyboy boots
22. Wear a floppy brimmed sun hat at Folly Beach
23. Eat at Taco Boy... again!
24. Have a visitor from home
25. Ride a mechanical bull
26. Go skydiving
27. Ride a jet ski
28. Be a mermaid
29. Sleep outside
30. Catch a firefly

Now, I know some of these things appear to be a little bit unrealistic. I realize that I can't be an actual mermaid, but I am excited to get buried in the sand and given a tail and shell boobies! Riding a mechanical bull might be a problem, as there isn't one located at a bar around here (weird). Riding a jet ski will be slightly difficult as I don't know anyone who has one.. But I'm always making friends! I think that these are all things that can be done. I've done some research about prices for things and dates that classes are held. I'll do it, to it!

Monday, September 21, 2009

No school...

Got some more sad news today. Another baby has died. This time it was a four month old little girl. Her mama passed away a little over a month ago from full blown AIDS and the baby died from AIDS complications and respiratory illness. Another brand new little person is gone. I just have to keep reminding myself that she is in heaven now. I’m almost a little bit thankful that she left so young. At least now she doesn’t have to deal with the pain that living with AIDS in Africa causes.

The governor is in town today and work has been cancelled. Only two more days after this until we leave for Pemba! Wow! THE OCEAN! I am hoping I can find the last of my little gifts for people back home when I get there. I have a couple more things that I need to pick up. I’m going to sit and watch a movie with B and try to spend the rest of my day out at the village with the kiddos. Since there is no work today, we don’t have school, but I want to spend as much time with my little friends as I can before I leave.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Countdown Begins

Holy moly. My last Sunday in Balama. I am amazed at how quickly the month went by. I am beyond ready to get home. I mostly can’t wait to get back and tie up all of the loose ends. There is a lot in my life right now that is up in the air. School, a job, and my home. I need to get back and get my life into some sort of order.

We got news today that a baby has died. She was one month old. I’m not entirely sure what happened, but apparently she had been sick for a week and her little body couldn’t take it anymore. What is even harder for me is that my little girls’ twin brother has severe malaria. His mom brought him to us this afternoon. He was whimpering and totally lethargic. B gave him medication and we prayed for him and sent them home. I can only pray that we wake up tomorrow to a baby and not needs for a funeral. Scary stuff.

Church was amazing today! Not only did everyone dance and sing as usual, but they had a little ceremony for me! Different people came up to praise the Lord for my good heart and hard work. It was really lovely. Everyone came up for hugs and kisses and we all laughed and cried! It is so nice to be a part of such a transparent group of people! Everyone back home teases me for being too easily excited or quick to cry, but here everyone is like me! YIPPEE! I fit in somewhere!

Three people asked to have the Lord in their lives today. They stood up in church on their own and walked to the front and stated their testimonies. One was really intense. He had been raised Muslim and had been practicing his entire life. 23 years ago, he acquired rheumatoid arthritis and was unable to work. Less than one week ago, he had a dream that told him to go to the nearest church. He found out where Fred lived and requested to go to church with him on Sunday. Following his conversation with Fred, he awoke the next day with no pain! He had been healed! I know it sounds incredulous, but I talked to him myself. He came to the front of the church and told everyone in the room about how amazing he felt and how he knows it’s because he has Jesus in his life! WOW! I myself have never truly understood or believed in His healing power, but this is as much proof as any.

I’ve been very emotional all day today and I’m not really sure why. I have a ton of mixed feelings right now. I miss everyone terribly, but I don’t want to leave. I need to get home to start putting my life together, but none of that really matters if I’m not where I’m supposed to be. I am just feeling very unsettled. Time to pray.