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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Little Girl

Little Girl, what do you need from me?

I need to feel safe. I need to feel loved. I need to know I won’t be neglected.

How can I make you feel safe? How can I make you feel loved? How can I assure you you won’t be neglected?

By holding space for me. By nurturing me. By continuing to show up and not leave me alone.

How can I hold space for you?

By listening to me when I need to cry. By rocking me gently back and forth. By helping me to breathe again.

How can I nurture you?

Tell me a bedtime story in the evenings. Greet me in the morning with a yummy breakfast. Let me wear bows in my hair and necklaces made of dandelion chains. Feed me when I’m hungry. Wrap me up in blankets during thunderstorms. Light candles when it gets dark. Let me dance and twirl and have tea parties and eat ice cream.

How can I continue to show up and not leave you alone?

Keep asking these questions. Spend time with me. Ask what I need. Take care of me.

Little Girl, how do you feel right now?

I feel tight in my chest.

Can you take a few breaths? Can you tell me what’s wrong?

I feel scared. I feel sad. I feel abandoned.

Why do you feel scared?

I’m scared I’m going to go hungry. I’m scared I’m going to be ignored. I’m scared I’m going to be laughed at.

Why do you feel sad?

I’m sad because I don’t feel cared for and that hurts.

Why do you feel abandoned?

I feel abandoned because I have been forgotten. I am overlooked. I am invisible.

If I take better care of you, do you think you can be visible again?

Yes, I think I can.

Little Girl, what is one thing we can do right now that will make you feel good?

Let’s cuddle up in blankets and fall asleep.

We can do that. Will that make you feel safe?

Yes.

Will that make you feel loved?

Yes.

Will that make you feel like you won’t be neglected?

Yes.

Okay, Little Girl. I’m here; I’m going to take care of you. I’m not going to abandon you.

Anticipating Summer’s End

Can you feel it?

The air shifts as the light of the morning sun softens to a honey-yellow, the early temperatures hinting at a release from the grips of summer’s stifling embrace. The seasons are changing once again; autumn is on its way.

In Gaelic tradition this shift is commemorated by the holiday Lughnasadh; in Christianity, Lammas Day; in astrology, the Lion’s Gate portal. Regardless of what we name it, this period of time is sacred, inviting change, anticipating something different from our current reality.

As with each shift and transition in life, it is during these days I feel drawn to look inward, to reflect on where I’ve been and where I’m going. I am not the person I was at the year’s inception, nor will I likely be the same at the year’s end as I am today. I am ever-evolving, stretching upward, yearning to grow.

I look to my inner child as a guide: What do you need to feel safe? How can I best provide for you? These seemingly simple questions have been the cause of much agony, forcing me to face my insecurities and past traumas in attempt to heal, to move on. Just when I think I’m “over” an issue, I find myself in the darkness once again, peeling back even more layers of myself that are asking to be seen, to be acknowledged, to be let go.

In the garden of my soul I uproot only what is needed to make room for what is to come, yet the uprooting process is excruciating. Still I tend to it, knowing that in due time my work will bear fruit.

I find this inner journey manifesting itself in external ways as well: the purging of my closet, the washing of windows; cleaning house to make room for the next chapter, whatever that may entail. Change is coming; can you feel it?

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.

A New Season

I’ve kept it quiet from most of the internet for awhile, but I think I’m ready to announce something I’ve been working on for the past year and a half.

In a few weeks I plan to graduate massage therapy school and start my own practice as a licensed massage therapist. I have been attending night classes after work for the past almost 18 months and this season of life is nearing its end. I can’t begin to express the depth of the challenges I faced just to keep myself going in the midst of balancing work, homework, and battling my own inner demons along the way. One thing my school has emphasized throughout my journey has been the importance of addressing my own inner wounds so I don’t project them onto my clients. They talk about Carl Jung and the shadow self, about setting appropriate boundaries, about keeping myself healthy so I can better assist my clients in their journey to wellness. I have learned many lessons on this road.

In a few short weeks I will have a whole new set of challenges to take on: that of studying for the state licensure exam, setting up my business, finding a commercial space to rent, marketing, and more. I’d never seen myself as wanting to be an entrepreneur, and yet here I am. I have no idea where this road will take me. It may turn into a side business while I pursue something else, or it may be my livelihood for awhile. One thing I am certain of, and that is I’m excited to be nearing the end of my work-school-work-school hustle. To say it’s been exhausting would be an understatement.

Onward.

The Sacredness of a Coffee Shop

The other day I was eating brunch in my favorite coffee shop when I noticed a couple of young women sitting nearby, one of them processing what sounded to be like a recent breakup. Not wanting to eavesdrop, I tried not to pay attention to the details, but from what I heard it sounded like the grieving woman did what she believed to be best by separating herself from her ex, and yet it was still hard to sever the connection.

I thought about my own anxiety that had brought me to the coffee shop: a need to get out of the house and process some of my thoughts on paper, working on planning out some of my financial goals for the next year. Somehow writing out my concerns, hopes, and fears helped me feel better.

I don’t know the story of the woman sitting near me, but I thought it a beautiful thing, how a place of common comfort – over lattes and cappuccinos – could become a place of common growth. She was working on her story, and I was working on mine. I’ll probably never know what will become of her. From what it sounded like, she was doing what she needed to be healthy, and because of that I’m sure she’ll be okay. And I think I will be too.

Finding Where I Belong

Stopping to Home was a book I enjoyed reading as a little girl. It was a story about a young girl and her brother trying to survive after the death of their parents, and it described the ache of the girl yearning for a place to call home.

I couldn’t understand why at the time, but stories of children whose parents died resonated with me a lot, even though both my parents were still living. Looking back now I think it may have had something to do with feeling a sense of emotional absence from my parents even though they were physically present. So even before my mother died I yearned for a place where I felt I belonged.

Throughout the years I have immersed myself in different contexts hoping to find a family, to feel wanted. Churches, friend groups, and cultural festivals drew me in with their appeal for a sense of belonging. I was fascinated with cultures outside my own American culture, because it seems to me American culture isn’t much of a culture at all – it’s a mix of everything. But I found I could just as easily remove myself from these contexts as I entered them, and none of them really seemed to “stick.”

It was only this year that I came to a realization that finally brought me peace for the time being. After much growth and healing I realized that where I belong is in the present moment. Right here, right now. If I can be fully present wherever I am, regardless of what church I attend or friend group I’m part of, I am right where I need to be. And that’s a comforting thought.

A Quiet Milestone

September 1, 2020 marks the official date when I became medication-free.

Having been diagnosed with depression and anxiety as a teenager, I have been taking some form of mood stabilizer for basically 12 years. The exception to that was when I was off medication for almost a year in 2013-2014, but needed to start taking it again. For the last several months now I have been feeling I reached a point where I no longer need drugs, so with the guidance of my doctor I have been weaning myself off my mood stabilizer. I took my last dose on August 31, 2020.

A combination of life experience, therapy, and personal growth I believe has led me to this milestone. I will not say I’m exactly “happy” all the time, but I do feel safe, and content, and strong. And when that’s not the case I have systems in place for taking care of myself and remedying the issue at hand. I still experience stress (and have had a lot of challenges this year), but I no longer feel crushed by my circumstances. I have the power to keep myself safe and healthy, and I’m immensely grateful for that.

This feels like a bit of strange thing to announce, and I’m definitely not as vocal about it as I was, say, when I finished paying off my student loans – I guess because to announce no longer taking medication is also announcing I was taking it in the first place. I am not anti-medicine, especially since I have first-hand experience on how beneficial it can be in keeping one well. But in my specific situation the medicine has served its purpose and I no longer need it. And after years of that not being the case, it feels pretty good.

On Solitude

I find it interesting that when I want to have an angry outburst there is no one to outburst to. The stressors of work, fatigue, hunger, anything that puts me on edge and causes me to want to express that frustration to someone – no one is there. It is then that I realize I am my own family unit. I am my own spouse, my own parent, my own child. Because those family roles have not materialized in front of me I become them to myself. I need to be self-sufficient, my own source of self-soothing and nurture because I don’t have the safety net of the nuclear family to fall back on. I am my own nuclear family. 

Really it’s a mercy I have no one to take my anger out on, because then the issue can come to an abrupt halt with just me, and no one else has to suffer for it. Perhaps you can call it the high road, the transcendent path that leads me to my most enlightened self. I hate it and love it at the same time. My solitary state has prevented the suffering of others and forced me to come to terms with my own suffering, and to take responsibility for my own healing. Oh it hurts. And I hope it’s not all meaningless.