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metamorphosis

Change flipping sucks.

I recently took the leap towards moving into a place of my own. During college I lived with my parents and then after I graduated I moved in with some family friends here in Naples. The opportunity arose to live with a close friend in an apartment and although I was hesitant given that it meant change, I took her up on the offer.

I remember a lot of my childhood, but I mostly remember the changes. My parents divorce, moves, my parents finding significant others, re-marrying, Cooper’s cancer diagnosis, and all the up’s and down’s that went with that. Every time something in my little world would change I would freeze up internally. I’d stay snug inside my cocoon, avoiding any chance of me becoming a butterfly. I had no desire to change, I just got comfortable as a caterpillar, why would I want to move on from that? For awhile I got away with avoiding the change or pushing the change away from me. But as we got thrown into a cancer diagnosis, change does not wait for you. Within 5 minutes of finding out Cooper had cancer, my mom and him were packing their bags to head to their new home, a hospital. Overnight my home went from a family of 6 to a family of 6 spread out between 3 homes. I didn’t get to accept the change, it was happening regardless.

I know that my experience of watching Cooper having cancer and holding him as he died was my metamorphosis phase, leading me into becoming a butterfly. But I’m pretty convinced we never leave the metamorphosis phase, because shortly after his death I’d crawl back into my cocoon hiding, but growing, from becoming a victim of a mass shooting. Maybe in some parts of our lives we are thriving, flying high and beautiful like the butterfly. Yet in other parts we are still in our cocoon’s not quite ready to reveal what change has does to us yet.

I am currently tucked away in my cocoon. Changing and growing. Some of the change I enjoy, and other parts are difficult. But nevertheless, I persist. Grief has taught me you don’t get to just stop life, it keeps going with or without you. That’s your choice, whether to continue on or not. Cooper taught me to always keep going, no matter what “cancer” your currently battling. He fought till the day he laid his hand in mine, and I’ll fight until the day I grab his hand in Heaven.

Maybe you need to hear how courageous it is to keep going. To get up every day when it’s hard to just be. As someone who’s been in the ring with death and in the ring with depression, I’ll tell you mental health is a harder battle to fight. It’s relentless, it never gives in, it persists even on the good days. So for you to get up, for you to make it through another day with all that is going on in that mind of yours- that is courageous. On the days when you’re still tucked in the cocoon, away from others, waiting to bloom- those are the days you’re the most courageous, those are the days that are preparing you to become a butterfly. So push yourself through the metamorphosis towards the day you’re to fly, because that’s what butterflies were meant to do, fly. And you my dear, that’s what you were meant to do, fly.

The sun will rise again.

Love your Internet bestie,

Kass

My List of Life

A few months into 2020 I got a message questioning why I was working through my bucket list. On one hand, it’s none of your business magical follower :), on the other hand I really wanted to answer from my soul. I do my best to always have the purest intentions in everything I do. I rarely do anything without a purpose or a larger meaning.

Marking things off my bucket list, creating moments that remind me how precious my life is, stopping my every day life to go do something crazy- it’s all taught me some of the most important life lessons. But the #1 thing I’ve learned over the last 7 months is that I am capable of doing absolutely ANYTHING.

I know, we all say it. Our moms tell us when were young, “You can do anything you set your mind too!” But do you actually believe that? When you look deep within you, do you actually believe you can do ANYTHING? I didn’t. I said I did, but I was lying. Until I jumped out of a plane, swam with sharks, took a road trip to the springs, and floated in a hot air balloon. Those moments taught me I can truly do anything I set my mind too.

We can prime ourselves to believe we can do things, but to prove it to yourself is whole other level of believing you can. It’s like that saying, “When people show you who they are, believe them” we are watching their ACTIONS. If you spring into action and show yourself you can complete the extraordinary, then you will finally believe that you can.

The other day someone asked me if I would ever do something that was wild and crazy and scary. I sat back and thought, “Well, I don’t know if I would want to do that, but I definitely know that I CAN do that if I wanted.” I can accomplish anything, I know this because I free dived with sharks when I thought that there was going to be a cage- but I did it. I know I can do anything because I jumped out of a plane, took a dance lesson, and gave some blood.

I know what you’re thinking, wait… you? Kassidy? Who has ran for her life during a shooting and battled watching a love one die just now figured out you can make it through anything? After jumping out of a plane? Isn’t it scarier to run for your life?
Yes, but sometimes the lessons life gives us doesn’t teach us the things we thought it would. I’ve learned a lot from my trauma, but it didn’t learn to believe I can do anything. That, is thanks to my bucket list.

I am halfway through a year of bucket list items and something tells me I am just getting started.

To the person who questioned my why behind doing this, I hope you find or create your list of life and get to it- maybe you’ll discover a little bit about yourself along your voyage.

I hope my journey inspires you to live your list of life. The list that when you accomplish things on it, makes you feel full of LIFE! It makes you feel more alive than you’ve ever felt.
You deserve to feel alive.

Feel It All

I lay in bed as a wall of sticky notes stares back at me. They read, “I am a runner! I am worthy! I am brave! I create energy! I am smart! I am a trauma thriver! I am beautiful! I am loved!” On the far right corner hangs the prepossessing purple sticky note that reads, “Feel It All.”

Feel It All.

Every emotion, every stab to the heart, every joyous laugh, every smile, every tear.
Feel It All.

I lay in my bed consciously feeling it all, every fervor of emotion that comes to me.
I feel the beauty that is in the sun shining outside.
I feel the pride of the year I’ve spent challenging myself.
I feel the heart break of loss, of both the dead and the living.
I feel the anxiety, of never doing or being enough.
I feel the depression, the deep sadness and NEED to be in bed, in my safe zone.
I feel the grief, of constantly wondering how to go on when Cooper is gone.
I feel the surprise, of life- the good and the bad.
I feel the disgust for the world we live in.
I feel the joy for the world we live in.
I feel trust, in that I know where I need to be- here, right here, in this moment.

Feel It All.

Feel every thing, every moment, every thought, every thing.
Friends, when you choose to feel it all, it doesn’t mean life will be easy- it actually means life will be harder. But you will be stronger for choosing to feel it all. For choosing to stand up to every emotion and say, “Here I am, here you are, together we are one.”

I never understood ‘being in the moment’ until I swam with sharks. You would think I would have learned this lesson from watching my brother die, but I assure you I could not be farther removed during that situation. When Cooper was passing my mind was so distracted about the ‘after’. After we would leave Cooper at the hospital, where would we go? How will our home be different? Does a little bit of me die too? Also, the social worker just handed me a pillow with Cooper’s handprint on it, is that all I’ll ever have left of him? I could barely focus on the moment I had in front of me, one last physical touch of Cooper.

However, swimming with sharks was quite the opposite. I HAD to be focused, completely possessed by that moment. One sudden movement and I would be choking on salt water all the while my body flailing in the water causing the sharks to FREAK OUT. The last thing any of us wanted as we floated atop their home. As I entered the ocean and looked below me, I realized I had just entered someone else’s property- a flood of respect washed over me. Thoughts consumed me as I rested atop the water. But unlike the stressful thoughts that consume me on land, in the water they simply told me to breathe, to stay calm, and to feel. Isn’t that all any of us need to do? To breathe, to stay calm, to feel? At the very basic level of being any sort of living creature that is all we need to do. What if instead of worrying about all of the necessities we deem to be important we just stopped and focused on the bare minimum? To breathe, to stay calm, and to feel.

Before I entered the ocean, a man gave me three simple instructions:
1. Stay Calm
2. Breathe
3. Always look the sharks in the eyes, it builds trust

I chuckled after that last one, really? Look the shark in the eyes? But he was right, it was our only way of communicating, me looking into his shark soul saying, “I am not going to hurt you, I am here to learn from you.”

Huge Thanks to Florida Shark Diving

I learned three important lessons that day in the water:
1. Stay Calm
2. Always breathe
3. Feel your feelings

The first two I learned from the man on the boat, but the sharks only reiterated his words. The third thing I learned was from the sharks and the ocean. ‘Feel your feelings’ the ocean taught me she is a big place full of wondrous things that we do not know about. The sharks taught me they are gentle, peaceful creatures painted only by dark stories. In that moment I needed to feel what was going on around me, I couldn’t make sudden movements, I couldn’t see what was coming behind me, and probably most terrifying, I could only see about 20 feet below me- but I knew there was far more feet beyond than that. My heart, beating into my chest a million miles a minute, skipped as I saw a shark come up from the unknown below me. She was swimming fast, and right towards me. I was nervous. But I remembered my instructions. Breathe. Stay Calm. Look her in the eyes. I did as I was asked and she swam softer, looking for the smell of food near by. I realized I was the last thing on her radar.

Feel It All.
Feeling it all is a lot like that shark swimming straight up from the unknown. At first you are terror-stricken, unable to think consciously about what you should do next. But then, if you listen to your feelings closely you’ll remember you’ve been given the instructions. To breathe, stay calm, and look her in the eyes. To look your feelings in the eyes and welcome her, to say I am ready to accept all of you. I will no longer push you down, push you away, and avoid your presence. I will feel it all.

The sticky notes that line my wall remind me who I am and who I aspire to be. The sticky notes are the instructions, not actions. Choosing to feel my feelings aligns fully with who I want to be. Feeling it all is the action to feeling worthy, to feeling that I am enough, to acknowledging my beauty, my trauma, and my abilities. The action of feeling it all is what turns my wall of affirmations, my instructions, into my reality.

To the sweet friend reading this, choose to not only write your affirmations, but to BE them. To take action and be your affirmations.
Sister, FEEL IT ALL. It is time to acknowledge our hearts, to feel all the beauty, pain, joy, and anguish. To hold our hearts with grace and feel it all.

Feel It All.
Today.
Tomorrow.
Every day.
Feel It All.

#graciousandgrateful

Habit of Hope

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,

because there is no effort without error and short-coming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. . . .”
– Theodore Roosevelt

I first want to start off by saying if you have yet to read “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown, now is the perfect time! She even has a Netflix special called “Brene Brown: The Call to Courage” I HIGHLY recommend spending your quarantine diving into her content!
In her book Daring Greatly, she discusses in depth, the above Theodore Roosevelt quote about vulnerability. She talks about vulnerability in respect to being a CEO, a parent, and just your every day leader like you and I. I have recently finished Daring Greatly and ironically as I was finishing the book I was planning on starting this blog post about hope. During the last chapter of her book she briefly discusses hope…

“According to R.C. Snyder, hope isn’t an emotion; it’s a way of thinking or a cognitive process. Emotions play a supporting role, but hope is really a thought process made up of a trilogy of goals, pathways, and agency. Hope happens when:
– We have the ability to set realistic goals (I know where I want to go).
– We are able to figure out how to achieve those goals, including the ability to stay flexible and develop alternative routes (I know how to get there, I’m persistent, and I can tolerate disappointment and try again).
– We believe in ourselves (I can do this!).

Hope is a combination of setting goals, having the tenacity and perseverance to pursue them, and believing in our own abilities.”

“Daring Greatly” Page #239-240

In order to have hope, we have to 1. define hope, which I did for you in the latest blog post. And 2. we have to take action. We have to know what we need to do to create and instill hope in not only ourselves but hope in our current world as well.
As Snyder says, we need to set goals. Right now you need to be setting goals for yourself. We are all in a position of staying home to protect ourselves and our world, so here are some goals you can think about setting during this time to create hope.

  • Create a routine for your stay at home lifestyle
  • Decide you are going to read every day, exercise everyday, hold a plank 30 seconds longer each day- something that can create a habit
  • CREATE A HABIT! It takes 30 days to create a habit, you have 30 free days without obligations to start focusing on the next habit you want to work towards
  • Set a goal to commit to working on your dream for a certain amount of time a day
  • Set a goal to commit to working on relaxing your mind for a certain amount of time a day
  • Creating structure. By allowing healthy habits to form we are creating hope that the future will be brighter than the past

Snyder states that in order to instill hope we must figure out how to achieve these goals:

  • Again, developing a habit takes 30 days, 30 days that suddenly we ALL have available to us- the how should not be an excuse when time is FOR us at the moment
  • I believe writing out your schedule, dreams, gratitude, or even your to do list is the best way to stay on track with how you will achieve your above goals! Write everything down. I am a sticky note addict and cover my walls in anything that will develop a mindset of hope
  • PERSISTENCE, Snyder mentions this, but I think now more than ever we need to stay persistent with our routines and our goals. Given the scenario of being quarantined it is easy to choose sleep, food, or relaxation instead of pushing towards the future. While some of those things are needed, we need to be aware that we have to continue to push ourselves forward so that when life gets back to ‘normal’ we are better humans than we were before, that is how we grow- even in times of struggle

Last, but definitely not least, Snyder says we must believe in ourselves.

  • Affirmations, use sticky notes! Every night before I go to bed I write down an affirmation on a sticky note and stick it to my wall. 1- cheap wall paper and 2- It is a constant reminder as to why I am great, awesome, super human, and also a bomb dancer
  • Consume media that makes you believe in yourself. Guess what? YOU ARE IN CONTROL OF YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA! Only consume those who lift you up. This is a great time to unfollow, block, or just mute those who do not make you feel like your best self. I highly recommend taking a moment to scroll through your feed and get rid of anyone who makes you feel less than
  • Spend some time with your thoughts. Quite your mind and see what genius or not so genius thoughts your brain comes up with and then evaluate them. Do they serve you? If not, then how can you rephrase the thought to something that does serve you? Decide to take the time to figure out how you can believe in yourself MORE

When I think of hope from a personal stand point, I think of all the things I’ve accomplished and all the moments of gratitude in my life.
I feel hopeful for our world when I remember all who survived the Route 91 mass shooting.
I feel hopeful for our world when I remember my 18 year old brother making the decision to go be with Jesus because he knew he WOULD be healed in Heaven.
I feel hopeful when I think about the hard work I put in for races that ended in a medal and times beat.
I feel hopeful when I think about how I finished college after going through my brothers cancer diagnosis, his death, and a mass shooting.
I feel hopeful when I think about moving across country, away from my family, to find out who I was really meant to be and to heal from trauma that would otherwise be buried.
I find hope in the courage it took to walk away from relationships, friendships, and people I loved so I could be a better version of me.

What can you find hope in? I know there have been times in your life where you have had to persevere, where you only had hope to hang on too. And I know you got through those times- so what can you do to get through these times? What hope can you harness within you to get you through this next phase of life?

Maybe, it’s just simply showing up. Every single day. Showing up for those around you- whether in person or on social media. Whether phone calls or grocery stores. Maybe if we all just showed up for our Country, our World, and our People, we could conquer this. We could come out on the other-side a more compassionate world ready to dare greatly.

“Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up.” – Brene Brown

I peed my pants

When I was little (and by little I mean a freshman in high school), I was TERRIFIED of moths. At one point there was a moth upstairs and there are only two bedrooms upstairs, mine and my sister Julia’s. So as I got Julia to attempt to kill the moth, it some how flew near me and I peed my pants.
No, I am not lying, I peed my pants because of a moth.

I was so petrified over that little guy that I urinated all over myself and the ground. Why in the world am I telling you this?
Because when I think back on that moment the truth is that fear brought me to peeing my pants. I was SO scared I could no longer control my bodily fluids… WOW.

Now I am at a spot in my life where if the thing I am chasing is not making me want to pee my pants, I am not chasing big enough dreams.
My whole life I was scared of moths, I let them torture me.
My whole life I was also scared of chasing my dreams, they tortured me in different ways. I would sit on the edge of what I thought would be a great idea and then I would talk myself out of it.

Do you ever feel like you’re dangling on the edge of something great?
But of course you’re not sure if it’s going to be great… or suck.

GRACIOUS & GRATEFUL THE SHOP

2020 is around the corner and I’ve got some big goals I’m THINKING of adding to my list. But if I’m honest, I’m scared- super scared. What if I don’t achieve the goals? What if they are TOO big?

Then I stop myself and try to remember, at the beginning of 2018 I wrote down I would figure out how to move across the county… and CHECK!
2019, I wrote down I would run a 10K after never running a mile in my life… and CHECK!
I’ve checked off every scary, pee my pants type of fear, I’ve ever wrote down on my New Years list… so if I’m going to the next level, what’s the difference? If I can do ALL those other things, why can’t I do the next thing that’s on my heart?

The only thing stopping me is me.
The only thing that is creating fear in me, is ME choosing doubt.

I have some LARGE, scary dreams I am going to accomplish in 2020.
But the first dream is choosing to believe in myself– choosing to set aside fear, be brave, and BELIVE that I can accomplish anything.

Because at the end of the day,
I am already a boss.
I am already a business OWNER.
I am already a runner.
I am already a great writer.
So I am already going to be great at whatever I accomplish next.

I’m not sure where I learned this concept but it’s stuck with me, “The only person who will believe in your dreams as much as you do, is YOU.”
No one, not your person, not your boyfriend, not even your parents- understand the thing that lights YOUR soul on fire. Only YOU will be able to remind yourself WHY you’re doing the thing your doing every day. Only you will be able to commit to chasing that dream every single day.

I’m dangling on the edge of something great, are you?
I’m going to accomplish that something great whether it’s today or next week or next year, are you?
Are you choosing to chase a dream that makes you wanna pee a little?

See it’s funny, the moth use to chase me and then I would pee my pants.
But now, I chase the moth HOPING I pee my pants a little.
Because peeing my pants only means I did the thing that scared me.
I conquered fear.
I crushed Goliath with a pebble.
I caught the moth.