The Gathering

Inspired by Bruno Pirecki’s debut novel Town Lawe as well as Ben Franklin’s Junto (which later became the American Philosophical Society), I decided to start my own communal gathering. Both the examples listed depict people coming together to discuss ideas and pursue wisdom. And that’s what I wanted to do.

As someone who naturally resonates with the lone wolf archetype, I am often drawn to self-sufficiency out of fear that the need for community is based in weakness. But ultimately humans are communal creatures, and the cultivation of a healthy community can be incredibly life giving. I reached out to some friends individually to pitch the idea to them: I wanted to start a weekly gathering to build community and to pursue wisdom through the discussion of various topics.

Some people attend once and others come every week; I usually provide a charcuterie board of sorts so no one needs to leave hungry. Through my commitment to set aside this time and space on a weekly basis, a small group of about three or four of us meet to talk, often late into the night, about our questions, observations, frustrations, and celebrations in life. Sometimes the conversation doesn’t go very deep; other times I find myself revealing vulnerable truths I wrestle with as I search for growth and healing. The whole process has felt like a necessary part of leaning into what it means to be human, at least for me.

And as I have sought to offer value to others, I have found that blessing returning to me as well. There have been times I felt exhausted, and a friend furnished and prepared the snacks for me so I didn’t have to. As I have attempted to cultivate an environment of trust for others, so I have found I am able to express more vulnerable parts of myself and allow others to speak encouragement into my insecurities. This, I believe, is part of what it means to pursue wisdom.

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Low Power Mode

“Low Battery. Switch to low power mode?”

This message appears on my phone all too often – a sign it’s getting older and will eventually need to be replaced.

As I’ve been learning to better care for my body and overall self, I’m realizing I’ve been living life in a sort of low power mode for a long time. I’ve spent so long hibernating, trying to preserve my energy, because I’ve had so little of myself to give; and even what little energy I did have became depleted all too quickly.

As part of my commitment to taking better care of my body, I recently received a massage that helped bring this concept home for me. It had been awhile since I had received my last full-body session (and as a massage therapist, it’s important to receive work regularly). I didn’t realize how worn-out I was until my practitioner stood by my shoulders, slowly and methodically working out tension my body had been longing to let go of. It was as if my body was saying, “I feel seen and heard. Thank you.”

Not only did I feel more calm and more myself after that session, I also felt excited to then go and help other people feel the same way. I returned home with a fresh vigor for life and a desire to serve. This I believe is a glimpse of what human flourishing looks like: having my needs met so then I can help meet others’ needs out of my own abundance.

The healthier I am (physically, emotionally, and spiritually), the better I can serve others. I want to remember this lesson as I continue my journey to living life to the fullest. Life is not meant to be lived on low power mode.

Welcome!

Welcome to my new website! I was able to keep WordPress as my blogging platform after all, which hopefully means a seamless experience for my readers who have been with me since before the change.

I have officially launched my website, KatherineHill.com, and am working on developing my brand as a massage therapist and holistic entrepreneur. My goal is to have a place to connect all my creative outlets into one cohesive brand, hence my Music page as well as links to my YouTube channels on my About page.

I want to thank my readers again for your following throughout the years as I have shared my journey of growth, healing, and ultimately learning about myself. I’m excited for this next chapter and to share how I’m growing in the process. Take care.

The Passion Conversation, Continued

I discovered a few years ago the idea of cultivating a passion instead of finding it. The article on the Minimalists website explaining this idea brought validation to the struggle I felt so strongly in college to find something I was passionate about so I could be like my peers. During one lecture in college the speaker even asked, “What are you willing to lose sleep over?” as an exercise to determine what we get excited – or passionate – about. But the silent answer I came up with was that I’m not willing to lose sleep over anything because sleep is important. It’s important to live a balanced, healthy life.

And so my journey of personal growth developed over the years. I still love sleep every bit as much as I did in college, and I become vexed if I can’t have my sleep. As I have explored in many of my previous posts, I have many interests and many things I love to learn about. However, I only love to explore them if I can do so in a healthy way.

As I’ve grown, I’ve realized I do indeed have passion within my being, just not a traditional, 21st-century type passion. My passion is not for a particular career or cause, but for life itself.

My Blog Anniversary 2020

In January of 2013, I began this blog as a sophomore in college. I was having trouble deciding what to major in, and I began writing as a way to help me figure out what to do, to help me figure out myself.

At first I wrote often – almost every week.  I wrote about things I enjoyed and things I wanted to learn more about. Things that confused me and things I longed for. I changed from declaring an undecided major to a bachelor of science in multimedia production, although I still didn’t know what I wanted to do with that. I chose a broad major in hopes by the time I graduated I would have it figured out, but graduation came and went and I still had no idea.

I continued to write, though less often. Writing was how I processed my thoughts, and in many ways it felt easier to write than it did to speak. I found that in the act of writing down what I’m thinking or struggling with, my process feels more complete. I don’t stumble over my words the way I do when I try to express myself verbally.

At the same time I wanted to maintain a healthy boundary on expressing vulnerability on the internet, so I kept hand-written journals and would save the less private thoughts for publishing online.

Throughout my journey I sought other ways of processing life: therapy, yoga, walking, and connecting with friends. Writing became just one of many tools, a supplement to help me create balance and to live more holistically.

These days I continue to write as a form of self-discipline. I’m still figuring out how to balance privacy without seeming sterile. If I do publish something online it’s usually with minimal details of events and people, and with a greater focus on reflections and emotional process. Countless times I’ve heard the advice “write what you know,” which often doesn’t leave me with much to write about other than myself. And so my journey continues.

Comparing Classical and Celtic Harps

Countless people have asked me about the instrument I play – how it works, how big it is, what the little switches are at the top. So I thought I’d write a post to answer some of the common questions I receive.

In the US, there are two main types of harps people play: the classical harp (or pedal harp) and the Celtic harp (also called the lever harp or folk harp). There are many kinds of harps, but those are the two most common categories.

The classical/pedal harp is a harp used in orchestras. It tends to be big and loud, and is characterized by the foot pedals it has at the bottom. The Celtic harp, or lever harp, is usually smaller and does not have foot pedals. Instead, it has little levers at the top of each string. Pedals and levers both have the same purpose: to change the pitches of the strings.

Each string produces a certain pitch depending on the tension of the string. Just like a rubber band changes pitch the more/less you stretch it, so harp strings change pitch if you use pedals or levers to change the strings’ tension.

Quick summary: the levers and pedals on Celtic and classical harps are there to change the tension/pitches of the strings.

Here I will elaborate a little more on the differences between levers and pedals. In music, each note is named with a letter (A, B, C, D, E, F, G). If a note has a sharp (#) or a flat (b) next to it, that implies a pitch that is halfway between two letters. So instead of saying F 1/2, you say F-sharp (F#). The levers and pedals are what allows the harpist to have those in-between pitches. On a classical harp, a simple press of a pedal will change every F to an F-sharp. On a Celtic harp, there is one lever per string, so that means the harpist has to flip the lever on each F string to change it to F-sharp.

The simple pedal mechanisms on a classical harp make it easier to play more complicated classical music. The more complicated levers on a Celtic harp tend to encourage the playing of simpler, more folk-type songs.

I have yet to learn how to play a classical harp, although I probably should someday. But right now I’m quite content playing my little Celtic harp.

Confession of Anger

Forgive me, Father, for my anger.

And not for the anger itself, but for the depth to which my anger roots itself to my soul.

I have caressed it, coddled it like a child, raised it up to grow into a monster. Feeling blessed by my own self-righteousness I give way to bitterness, resentment, envy. They make me feel good. They are faithful friends who stay by my side, nursing my hurt and making me powerful. 

But this is not the way of Love. Love takes hurt into her arms and weeps. Her tears wash away the filth in my soul, melting the monsters I have grown to cherish. She puts pain in its proper place – acknowledging it, grieving it, transforming it – and letting it go.

Getting Debt-Free by Going Waste-Free

As I learn more about money management, I can’t help wanting to learn more about life management as well. And part of living a balanced life involves being mindful of what I consume and how I consume it.

One girl I follow on social media, Lauren Singer, has been my main inspiration for transitioning to a waste-free lifestyle. What does that mean? To me, that means learning ways to produce less waste and live more naturally – not because I’m turning into a hippie, but because being mindful of my consumption is leading me to a healthier way of living.

How do I do that? I’m starting by taking baby steps. After I’m finished with my current plastic toothbrush I plan to buy bamboo toothbrushes, which break down much faster than plastic. I am also using bar soap for my face and body. Bar soap requires less packaging than body wash or other liquid soap, and can also be more beneficial for the skin if it contains natural ingredients. A third step is changing out my plastic razors for a stainless steel safety razor. That is my most recent purchase, and I have to say I’ve actually enjoyed the progress of learning how to use it.

Not all of the change is fun, however. In addition to using bar soap for my skin, I have also started using a shampoo bar for my hair. For the last six weeks, my hair has been one greasy mess as the residual silicone and chemicals from drugstore shampoo have slowly disappeared. In their place, my body is having to re-train itself on how much oil it produces to regulate my hair. One thing that has helped with this is rinsing my hair with lemon juice on occasion; it functions as a conditioner as well as a way to cut through the grease. Showering in the morning has also been very helpful, instead of going to bed with wet hair (although I’m usually a night-shower-er, so that’s really weird for me!).

The most challenging and probably most tedious next step for me will be reducing my food waste. I find it much more convenient, and often cheaper, to buy frozen vegetables in plastic packaging than buying fresh ones and cutting them up and potentially having to throw them out because I didn’t eat them quickly enough. I also don’t like cooking and meal-planning in general, so my journey with eating habits has always been a difficult one. I hope to remedy this by developing more consistent routines with meal-planning, and perhaps even utilizing the local farmers’ market more.

I still live pretty wastefully, so when I say I’m taking baby steps I mean really baby steps. I imagine it will take many months for me to transition to where I want to be, but it starts with becoming a conscious consumer and growing from there.

Debt Free Progress: Budgeting

I’ve never actually read any books by Dave Ramsey, but I would say I follow his guidelines for becoming debt free. A quick look around his website will show the baby steps to achieve financial freedom, from starting an emergency fund to paying off loans one at a time.

I’ve been budgeting for awhile. My “debt free” journey really began after I graduated college in 2015. Although I was on a 10-year plan for paying off my loans, I didn’t want to spend the next 10 years being tied down to that debt. My mindset soon became, “spend 4 years in college; spend the next 4 paying it off.”

One of the biggest things that has helped me is the app/website called Mint, which monitors and categorizes spending automatically. It also offers analytics in both circle-graph and bar-graph form to help me understand my habits and what is working or isn’t working.

As for paying off the actual loans, I did work several temp jobs the first two years post-college in addition to my regular job. Any birthday-, Christmas-, or tax return money I could spare I would put toward debt. I attacked the smallest loans first to get them out of the way, then slowly ate away at the larger ones.

The hardest part of my budgeting is food. I really don’t like to cook. Making something that tastes good cost money, and because I don’t want to spend money, the food I cook doesn’t taste very good. It’s a tricky balance to be able to eat well and spend wisely. I don’t eat well.

One final thing I tend to overlook (but that has a big impact) is the importance of surrounding myself with healthy people who uplift me. All of my most recent roommates have also been financially frugal. My friends may not be on the debt free journey the way I am, but they are working toward their own personal goals, and watching them progress helps propel me forward as well. And that’s just as valuable as any how-to guide.

 

Taking Care of Debt By Taking Care of Myself

As shared in my previous post, my goal for 2018 is to be debt free by December 1. Throughout the year I will be focusing not only on financial freedom, but also overall wellness. Taking care of myself will help me achieve my goals in a healthy way.

I am mindful of my health this year, since I want to put money toward debt rather than emergency expenses. As such, for the month of January I am working on developing routines to help keep my body healthy.

I have been doing 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene via her YouTube channel, and after January I am planning to continue a consistent yoga practice several times per week. It is not only great for improving the body’s strength and flexibility, but also for calming and focusing the mind. I don’t love working out, but yoga takes the focus away from working out and instead directs it to being well overall.

This winter, I am developing a nightly routine of making tea (it’s actually a concoction of cinnamon, honey, and hot water). These ingredients are loaded with antioxidants that help fight bacteria to keep the body healthy. I’m finding it helpful during the cold months. Plus it’s also a cozy way to end the day.

After tea, I do oil-pulling with coconut oil to enhance my dental health. Recently I began noticing some sensitivity in my gums, but the oil pulling has helped clear out any bacteria as well as eliminate the discomfort.

Before going to sleep at night, I wind down by doing a bit of reading. I’m aiming to read 15 books this year, and I keep track using the GoodReads app. It’s a lot of fun and I’ve discovered some interesting books. Reading helps keep my mind alive.

I still have trouble sleeping sometimes. I used to struggle with really bad insomnia, and I still awaken several times at night, but I am thankfully able to go back to sleep. I use a sleep-tracker app to help maintain an awareness of how I’m doing, and I will say that having a daily and nightly routine has helped tremendously.

As I start the morning, I usually drink hot water. I don’t have much desire for coffee or tea, but it is a welcome treat on occasion. I really do love the warmth of hot water in the cold weather. It helps me ease me awake as I begin working.

I’ve discovered that developing healthy routines has helped nurture a spirit of contentment in my being. And while I’m ambitious about the future, I’m also learning to become one with the moment I’m in. And it’s even okay if my plans or goals change, because I’m satisfied with the now. It’s all I’ve got, and I’m loving it.