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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

Love yourself first

Love yourself first.
Above all, love yourself.
Even through insecurities, love yourself first.

I’ve struggled with acne for as long as I can remember. Besides the painful bumps that erupt on your face, the mental battle that acne brings is agonizing. Acne is a physical condition, but creates an emotional toll beyond words. It questions your worth, your ability to be loved. It makes you wonder why you’re on earth, if only to look so hideous behind something so beautiful.

I’ve grown to accept that some people battle acne, while others battle their weight, and others battle their relationship with food. All of us are fighting our own self worth battles. Just trying to make it to the other side unscathed from our own worst enemy, ourselves.

Learning to love yourself is the only way out of the vicious cycle of self hate. Love drives out hate. You have to learn to fill your mind with love instead of the destructive thoughts that come with insecurities. You have to drown yourself with love to empty out the hate. And believe me, it’s not going to be easy, loving yourself first never is.

When I am really struggling with my acne or mental health, my therapist always tells me to start simple. Don’t go all in to the personal development podcasts, books, videos. Why not just try to drink one glass of water? That is more beneficial to your body that overwhelming yourself with words your brain can’t take in that moment.

So lets love ourselves in the simple ways. Lets do the little things that add up to loving ourselves well.

Lets…
Drink some water.
SLEEP, maybe even take a nap.
Remember to eat throughout the day.
Take a shower, sometimes if you don’t have the energy to wash- just rinse. Just lay under the water and let it fall onto your silky skin.
Brush those teeth. You deserve a clean, beautiful smile.
Write three things your grateful for, no more, no less. Just three.

By loving yourself first you’ll be able to love your people better. Your cup has to be full before you can attempt to fill someone else’s. I’ve learned this the hard way over and over again.

Love yourself first, then love and be loved.

The sun will rise again.

Love your Internet bestie,

Kass

Naples Illustrated Magazine

Gracious & Grateful is honored to have been apart of the September 2020 Issue of Naples Illustrated Magazine. “Meet our 5 under 35 who are making a difference with hard work and Naples love.”

As a Naples local this is a great honor! I am so grateful to have been chosen for this issue of Naples Illustrated. I want nothing more than to be a light for everyone around me. My world has been dark, but there were always people lighting the way for me. People through my brother’s cancer diagnosis and people through the Vegas shooting. I would have never made it this far without my lights, I am grateful for each and every one of you. You are why I am who I am today. Grateful is an understatement.

Gracious & Grateful is meant to be a space of light, that’s why our logo is the sun. When you read the words I write I want you to feel love, hope, and feel inspired to give light throughout your day. To be the sun in a dark world. To remember your light never dims. I am honored God gave me this mission and not a day goes by that I don’t thank him for Gracious & Grateful.

I would like to take a second to recognize the brilliant minds behind the Naples Illustrated September 2020 Issue. Christina Cush, Editor in Chief of Naples Illustrated Magazine. Thank you for believing in my mission and writing the most beautiful, poised article about my life and personal work.
To Michael Caronchi of Caronchi Photography, the photographer behind the September 2020 Issue of Naples Illustrated, thank you for making me feel beautiful while hyping me up behind the camera. Your talent is endless and I hope to work with you again in the future, thank you for your time and energy. A big thank you to all who worked behind the scenes of the 2020 September Issue of Naples Illustrated Magazine, I am eternally grateful for your hard work!

The last thank you goes out to all of you, my Gracious & Grateful readers and subscribers. You have made this blog what it is and for that I am GRATEFUL. You’re support means the world and keeps me going. I will never be able to thank you enough for loving on me and my blog.

Remember, the sun will rise again.

Love your Internet bestie,

Kass