How it All Started (The Story Part 1)


On the left – with my college roommate May 2007

I’ve always felt a bit silly talking about my health struggles. In the grand scheme of comparison there are people fighting much worse, much deadlier health battles. My health experiences may not have killed me physically, but they ushered in death of another kind. In sharing teeny tiny pieces of my healing story on social media recently,  I’ve been reminded I owe the story I’ve been given a voice. For while it has become common everyday life for me, it may impact others in a far greater way than I imagine.

If you’ve seen any photos of my from say five…six…seven years ago, and then today, you may be tempted to think this is a weight-loss story. But it’s not. It’s not a weigh-loss story or new diet story or get-skinny-so-I-love-my-body story. No, it’s a health story. A story of becoming a whole healthy person. So with that disclaimer, I begin.

It hit me the day I realized that turning on and off the faucet had become a challenge. It was August of 2005 and I was preparing for my Sophomore year of college. I made an appointment with my doctor and it took him no more than a few minutes to refer me to a rheumatologist. A few weeks later, after much testing and countless questions, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 20.

I started some medications and began adjusting to living with chronic pain. It wasn’t ideal, but it didn’t seem unbearable. If nothing else, I suddenly could relate in a whole different way to my aging grandmother’s who both suffer with various forms of arthritis and lupus.

Then came January. I’d returned to school in Milwaukee after visiting my family in Minnesota to spend the last two weeks of my Christmas vacation getting ready for another semester and put in overtime with my volunteer work. By the time classes started two weeks later I could hardly walk. I think back to those days and honestly I can’t recall what I felt. My memory of those days exists much more in isolated vivid moments than a whole picture.

I can remember sitting on the couch thinking to myself “I’m going to lift my foot off the ground” and not being able to do it. I can remember getting in my car and having to lift my feet in one at a time. I remember my roommate returning and not really understanding what I had tried explaining to her on the phone until she saw me literally have to crawl up the stairs, pulling myself hand-over-hand on the railing. I can remember telling my parents about it and them being equally confused until I went to Minnesota a few weeks later and couldn’t get into my dad’s truck. 

One of my first phone calls was to my rheumatologist who tried to convince me I’d injured my back and pinched a nerve. I knew that wasn’t it. He fit me into his schedule immediately. And upon seeing me, immediately referred me to a specialist at the Medical College of Wisconsin. His blood tests had told him a lot of what I didn’t have, but not what I did have. The specialist was to do some more sophisticated testing including slicing a piece of muscle out of my thigh for testing. There was also a full-body CT scan and a mammogram to make sure I didn’t have cancer somewhere in my body. Yes, I had my first mammogram at the age of 20. The auto-immune arthritis I had been diagnosed with a few months earlier made me more susceptible to virtually anything else that could go wrong in one’s body so they were being thorough.

An already underway process to get a second opinion on my arthritis diagnosis at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN was expedited, and a few weeks later I was on a plane to Minnesota in search of answers and relief. 

The eventual diagnosis was given a different label by each of my doctors. One called it dermatomyositis. Another rheumatoid arthritis. And another a positive Jo-1 antibody inflammatory myopathy. All I knew was that I was in severe pain every day, had severe fatigue, and extreme weakness in my legs and upper arms.

The Year of the Comeback


Since I moved to Nashville 4.5 years ago, life has been non-stop change & growth. And sometimes growth & change can happen so fast that you feel like you lose yourself in the process – like you don’t know who you are anymore.

This time a year ago I chose revival to be my word for 2014. I had dreams of feeling alive again rather than in a perpetual state of blah. But a year later I’m left disappointed that revival hasn’t happened. What’s even more disappointing is realizing it was my own fault. “I just want to feel like myself again” I’ve been saying.

But, if I’m really honest that’s not ultimately the goal – I can’t, nor do I want to be, the person I HAVE been. 

When a sports team makes a comeback it’s because they have a “come to Jesus moment” & decide to work. They decide to push – hard. They decide to lay it all on the line, to be all in. They decide that knowing they gave it all they had is ultimately the greatest success no matter the outcome of the competition. And they start playing the game differently because they know different is the only thing that can change the course.

So, 2015 will be the year of the comeback – not going back to my old self, but simply being comfortable in my own skin again.

ps – This shall be my theme song for the year
pss – This is my favorite comeback story I’ve heard recently

Show Me Your Scars


Show me your scars. Tell me your battle stories – don’t hold back the details, I want to hear it all. The heartbreak and loss and grief. The hard times when joy was merely a discipline, not a feeling. Tell me of the times when you wanted to give up, when pure adrenaline kept you holding on. Be honest about your questions and your doubt. About the times when you had to reconcile faith with reality and the days when you weren’t sure if that was really possible.

Show me your scars with pride because they are evidence that you survived. That you’ve fought hard and your heart is better for it. Your scars have made you resilient. They’re the birthplace of your courage. Signs of your humble strength.

Show me your scars – the dark places where light shines through. The emptiness now filled with connection. Show me your scars and I know it will be safe to show you mine.

Addicted to Adventure

IMG_8244 copy

My name is Katie & I am an adventure addict. Any personality test I take will tell you I thrive on the spontaneous. That I get bored easily. That I’m not satisfied with status quo but rather individuality.

And all of those tests would be accurate. But can I be really honest? I am suffering from adventure fatigue.  

Too often I feel like I am simply collecting experiences for the sake of experiences. Experiences are what shape & mold us, yes, but I’m beginning to believe that doesn’t happen without some curating. 

We live in a culture that has encouraged in us a fear of missing out so we say yes to everything. But I’m beginning to fear missing out in a different way – the depth of life I miss out on because I want to keep my options open rather than committing to something. 

I have a wide variety of interests & I’m a people pleaser. So naturally “no” is nearly non-existent in my vocabulary. But I’m wrestling with how to change that because my entire being is desperate to be whole. And I become more convinced that whole isn’t possible without saying no to a lot of things. A lot of good things. Maybe even some great things. All to create space for the best things – those I deeply value & am passionate about.

I am beginning to wonder what my life would be like if I became a curator of experiences rather than a collector. If I had an end goal in mind & those experiences were stepping stones rather than distractions.

But first, I have to do the work of figuring out what that end goal is. Endless adventure does a really good job of filling time, of keeping you busy & therefore thinking you’re achieving something. And while there may be small achievements along the wandering path, what do they really mean if they don’t move you in the direction of your purpose?

Making Honesty Contagious


It was about a year after I moved to Nashville. A friend tweeted me about a friend of his moving to Nashville. Just a few weeks later that girl & I were enjoying breakfast at The Perch on a beautiful Saturday morning & one of those “I feel like I’ve known you my whole life” conversations. 

Over the next couple of years, our friendship meandered down life’s path, as many do.  Then, one day last November, my dear friend Ashley asked if we could catch up for coffee. And she shared a dream. One of those “Oh crap, I just said that out loud, now what?!” kind of dreams.

Since that day, the manifestation of her dream has evolved. It has been refined & reshaped. And her passion in it has been tested & established.

That dream now has a name: The Known Project.

And it’s not just a dream. It’s a calling. I can’t quite articulate the joy that comes from walking with anyone, let alone a dear friend, through such a journey. From naming to logo to capturing video to the first event. Getting the opportunity to offer whatever small bit you can in helping another bring their dream to life as they live out their calling is a sacred gift.

The mission of The Known Project is simple: create a safe place for honesty in order to provide people a chance to be known, not just seen. It is a place where secrets whisper hope.

And I don’t know about you, but in a world where identities & self worth & purpose are lost everyday to hopelessness, I think we could use a little hope.

I would love for you to join us at a special event in November for The Known Project. It’s going to be a fabulous fall evening under the stars with live music, apple cider, yummy fall treats, & a community of people committed to making honesty contagious.

You can find more information here.

Dear October


Three different events in three different cities. October, I will reach your end exhausted. I can guarantee it. Over the last couple of years, you & September have been a marathon – one that requires several sprints to get to the finish line.

Yet, I repeat the same marathon every year. I say yes to the same projects knowing when they take place. And I say yes because, in the end, the exhaustion is sweet. It’s an “I’ve poured out absolutely everything I’ve got & I got to do it alongside some of my favorite people on the planet” kind of exhaustion. And so, the memory is always sweet no matter how painful the road is as I’m running, some days unsure I can take another step.

I want to fast forward & slow motion your weeks all at the same time. This year that is particularly true. I am exhausted already & my heart feels pulled in one too many directions.

But, I am resolving to savor you, dear October. Savor the long lasting relationships that are woven through your days. Savor the new relationships waiting to be birthed. Savor the fact that I have a job that takes me traveling this beautiful country. Savor the opportunity to have a small part in creating experiences that will forever mark someone else’s story just as they have mine.

I sometimes wonder how I possibly have the passion to pour so much care into so many different visions. And on some levels I still wonder that. But on other levels I see they’re different missions but a common vision of a world where people are inspired to live fully alive to their life, to their calling, to their own passion and story. And that’s a vision I can support all day long…even when I’m doubled over in pain at mile 23.

On the 24th it will all be over & I’ll be wishing I could relive some of the next 24 days. For now, welcome, October. Let’s do this.