“This is almost touching what the beauty is.”

A thing happened this past Friday.

I saw Kelli O’Hara on stage for the first time.

It was a real thing that actually happened.

For those who don’t know, Kelli O’Hara is my favorite voice. There is something about her voice that is so clear, calming and soothing to me. On top of that, she is a talented and passionate performer and has always seemed like a genuinely good human to me. As it turns out, I was right. She went above and beyond anything I could have ever expected.

When we were walking to the venue entrance before the show, we saw what we thought was an accessible path to the stage door. We all definitely wanted to stage door after the show, so once we went inside and were settled in our seats, Shimaali went to talk to someone as to how we could do that. They told her to come talk to someone in the lobby after the show and that was that.

Please note: Our seats did not suck and I was about to burst with joy everywhere.The excitement I had, had been building for years. The concert hadn’t even started yet and I was smiling like a big goofy kid with a heart full of wonder and magic. It all just spilled over the second Kelli walked onstage.

Newsflash to nobody: When Kelli O’Hara opens her mouth, the sound of the angels fills the room. It was like we were in this cozy cocoon of music for an hour and a half. My friends and I could have stayed in those moments all night. Everything about it was perfect.

The two songs that were the biggest highlights for me were “The Light in the Piazza” (The Light in the Piazza) and “To Build a Home” (Bridges of Madison County) – All I have ever wanted was to hear her sing live from those shows. During “The Light in the Piazza” I couldn’t believe I was finally getting to hear her sing from that show. I couldn’t look away. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard. On the other hand, during “To Build a Home” I had to look down and close my eyes. I couldn’t even look up and witness that this was happening in front of me. I NEVER thought I’d get to hear her sing from Bridges. I was bawling. It was stunning and transcendent. So much so that I came home and thanked Jason Robert Brown for writing music for Kelli’s voice. Seamless perfection.

The whole concert turned me into a giant ball of emotion, which is a surprise to no one. I still don’t have all the right words, the ones I’m using don’t seem like enough.

And then something completely unexpected happened…

After the show we went to pick up my walker and talk to someone in the lobby. They told us they were just going to see if it would be ok to just bring us backstage. We were cleared and a few minutes later we were in the hallway backstage with Kelli and all of her other guests.

You can guess what happened next… Yep. I cried. A lot.

I mean… I’d never seen Kelli. I don’t know her, she doesn’t know me. But sure… come on back and say hello, Kimmie and friends. What?! I still haven’t fully wrapped my brain or my heart around the fact that someone could just be that easygoing and kind.

So. I met Kelli. We all met Kelli.

There was a joke circulating between the girls that I wouldn’t remember my name. The last time I met someone who inspires me and has a piece of my heart, I couldn’t remember my name or even speak words. I’m proud to report that with the help of My Person text-chanting my name at me all the way from NY, I remembered my name. HA! Take that, overwhelming emotions!

Not only did I remember my name, I got to tell her that I’ve been trying to see her on stage since Piazza, in several shows, but for some reason or another, something always happened and it never worked out until this concert. I told her that this was the first time and it was more than I ever could have dreamed. She was grateful I was there. She asked me if I lived here and when I said yes, said she’d try to get out here more and when she does, I’d have to be there. Well yes, Kelli O’Hara, I will be there with bells on. And then I gave her a card I wrote just in case I had forgotten my words. She talked with Shimaali, Emelie and Bianca. We took photos. We laughed. She told us we collectively had the best hair she’d ever seen. We laughed more. It was all a beautiful whirlwind that I never wanted to end.

I hope this happens again. The joy I feel is filling my very weary soul. To say that I am grateful would be an understatement.

To Kelli: You are the warmest, most humble human being I have ever met in my life. Thank you for your unbelievable kindness and for sharing your time with us.  We’ll never forget this night. Those moments are everything. I will cherish them forever. I apologize if my note was a jumbled awkward mess, I had a lot of feelings.

To Shimaali: Thank you for doing the work to get our tickets and then making the night extra special for all of us. I never thought this would happen so I appreciate it more than you will ever know. I love going to things like this with you, we always have the best time.

To Emelie & Bianca: Thank you for coming with me. I’m so glad we got to share this together. It was something special.

I love all four of you.

To the VPAC house manager: You’re awesome. Thank you so much for making our night even more incredible than it already was.

(A note about the Valley Performing Arts Center: This may be one of my favorite venues I have ever been to from an accessibility standpoint. There was no fighting with stairs. EVERYTHING from the grounds outside, to the lobby, the house and the walk backstage was flat. The doors were wide. Our seats in the orchestra were incredible. And the accessible parking was right outside the front entrance. When we were leaving, I desperately wanted to walk through the whole building again filming a video with my phone to show other venues how they SHOULD be doing accessibility. Maybe it was because it was a college campus, but even still, venues like this seem to be rare and I appreciate them all the more when I can get around in them without stress or frustration. If anyone else I love ever does a show there from this point on, I may just have to make the trek to be there.)

To my friends & family: Those of you who, over the years, have made plans with me to see Kelli, those who have sat with me and made travel plans, those who have tried to get me tickets to shows, those who got tickets and then something happened for it not to work out – I thought of every single one of you on Friday night. I wished so hard that you had been there with us too. You were there in my heart. Thank you for always reminding me when I was sad that it would happen when it was the right time.  Given the state of my world, now was definitely the right time. I love all of you.

My heart needed some hope. Right now hope is all I have and I will hold onto it for as long as I possibly can. Music heals what’s broken, if you let it.

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Dear Friend: A Note On SHE LOVES ME

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My life is a mess. Changes are happening faster than I can keep up with them. Most of these changes have and continue to be extremely difficult for me. I’ve had to detach from the majority of social media to be with myself, to meditate and pray through every turn life seems to be taking.

For now I’m going to put aside my messy life and the added devastation over the state of the world, to talk about something that brought with it more joy than I ever imagined possible.

Last year for my birthday, my Gramma handed me a check and told me to “go have an adventure with it.” I was completely shocked. My Gramma has never done anything like that. In true “me” fashion, I got on a plane to NYC as fast as I possibly could to be with my heart family. This trip was truly the most magical I’ve ever had in that city. Maybe one day I’ll write about it in more detail here, but right now I need to discuss the power of theatre.

On May 1, I went to see SHE LOVES ME at Studio 54 with three of my sisters. Let’s be real here, I went to this show in the first place because number one, seeing Laura Benanti on my NYC trips has kind of become the thing that My Person and I do together. Number two, the accessible seats are in the front row and I desperately wanted to hear Laura Benanti sing “Vanilla Ice Cream” right in my face. This is a thing that actually DID happen, but I was not prepared for the experience I was going to have in the theatre that day. I wasn’t prepared at all.

Leading up to this day, this particular trip had been pretty hard on my body physically. The flight was harder than usual. Once I was there, I was in a constant state of adjusting to what felt like a million different kinds of pain. Never once did I complain, because I was with my family, in my city, I was taken care of and loved. Real love means someone sits with you through pain and breaks out funny Benanti videos to make you laugh through your tears and get you pumped for the next day’s joy. (Thanks Diana. Love you.)

And joy was had that day, indeed.

From the moment we got to our seats, the excitement was shooting out of my face. I was smiling all the way up to my eyeballs and I don’t think that smile left my face for at least a week afterwards. I held My Person’s hand and as soon as the show started it was like I left the theatre and was taken to another place. There are many kinds of transcendent theatre experiences and SHE LOVES ME is transcendent joy. (Well, aside from the part of the end of Act One that depresses you right before intermission. Thank goodness for a later happy ending. It is a “romantic-ish musical comedy” after all.) There was a moment in Act Two when Zachary Levi sang part of “She Loves Me” on the steps of the stage right to me and Janice and I melted into my chair. I was pretty sure I’d never come back from that. It was the most perfect moment.

That said, this cast is wonderful. Laura went above and beyond for me when she did not have to.  My heart will remember her small act of kindness, that was much bigger than she’ll ever know, forever. Then we were escorted to the stage door where Nick Barasch was adorable, Jane Krakowski and Zachary Levi were both equally kind.

There was tangible magic in the air as my sisters and me walked away from 54th Street. We were goofing off and singing our conversations to the tune of “Vanilla Ice Cream” and practically skipping in the rain. If real life were a musical, this has been my favorite scene in mine without question.

It was hardest it’s ever been to say goodbye when I left the city this go-round. I got home to LA and was doing everything I could to try to get back to my family and this show before it closed in July. At the time, I didn’t know that it was just a “see you later.”

On June 30, SHE LOVES ME was live streamed on BroadwayHD all across the world. History was made that night as it was the first show to ever do this. I am so grateful for this and I will never understand how it was THIS production that got to make this feat. All I wanted was to see it one more time. Instead for the last week and a half, I’ve gotten to watch it as much as I want to. (Don’t ask me how many times I’ve watched, the number is high, but the joy… The joy will never leave me.) On the night of the live stream, my sister Diana sent me this text:

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I am so thankful I experienced this show with human beings who understand the power of live theatre.

To the cast of SHE LOVES ME: Thank you. The time I spent in that place with you changed me. I can’t imagine another theatre experience being as special as this. The world is so dark and broken right now and you have been a light that has shone through the darkness. You all made the world better with the gift you gave to us through your hearts and passion every night.

To the Roundabout Theatre Company and everyone at Studio 54: Thank you for this show. Thank you for every single helpful, accommodating and kind human being who worked to make that one day extra special for me and my friends without being asked. I will never forget it.

And finally, to Laura Benanti: When I got back home, I wrote you a letter. I never do that, so I’m not sure if you received it, but in case you didn’t… Thank you. There’s nothing I can say to you that will ever be enough. You didn’t know me, but you gave me your time and that is precious to me. You made me feel appreciated for supporting you. I have a very sensitive heart and soul. I am big on human connection. I believe we are all here to uplift and celebrate each other in this life. What connected in my heart that day, opened the sky for me. You made me feel like I am worthy of something wonderful. You made me embrace my own humanity when I wasn’t really feeling it at the time. Thank you for being so real, so kind and so human. You’ve forever changed me. Your place in my heart has grown beyond a capacity I never saw coming. Just… Thank you. Please continue to take care of yourself and do your own thing. You make the world brighter just as you are.

She Loves Me ended its run today. My heart doesn’t even have room to break because the joy and memories are holding it strong. And yet, this isn’t goodbye. In November for my birthday, I’ll get to see the show again in a movie theater. I don’t know how things like this keep happening with this show, but I’ve learned not to question it at this point. My Person calls it a connected invisible thread. Nothing can break it. I know, I just know, it’s God telling me it will always be here and be a reason to believe in something better.

I love you, you beautiful, joyful little sweet show. Thank you for bringing out my joy face.

Big Magic (In real time) with Elizabeth Gilbert

“You have to be childlike in the pursuit of your life, but you cannot be childish.”
– Elizabeth Gilbert (from this interview with Marie Forleo)

As I mentioned previously, I spent a huge chunk of the summer writing a thing.  I wrote this thing and it did not go how I planned.  I was going to post it here just to… keep it somewhere.  Then I got my copy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book, BIG MAGIC: CREATIVE LIVING BEYOND FEAR and I started reading it after I wrote that last post and when my pal Sus commented about life and creativity informing each other and existing together, it was like this book was talking back to me through her words. (Thanks, Sus!)  So, instead of getting discouraged I combated the nagging idea of failure by going to see Liz Gilbert speak this past Friday in Pasadena.

Confession:  I love Elizabeth Gilbert.  There is no one whose words I love more than hers.  She is truly one of my favorite humans on this planet.  I was reading EAT PRAY LOVE when the first door to my own life opened nearly ten years ago.  That book changed the way I saw the entire world and softened me to the idea of letting the family in that I have now. I just become so empowered when I read her words that I run off a cliff without a parachute with my creativity and the intention to fly. It lights a fire, for sure.  So getting to see her speak? Forget it.  I knew I needed it and it was something else.

I have to say, it was the first time in my life that I sat in a room with a group of strangers and it seemed as though all of our brains were wired the same way.  It was the first time I didn’t feel alone as far as how I live and see the world.  My lovely Kyla calls me a “childlike wonder” because I can exist in a solid reality, but so much of my life is engulfed in magical thinking.  People tend to lose that as they get older, in this room there were the people like me, the ones who hang onto it for dear life, and we embraced the others who wanted to exist there with us.  I just… I went to a completely different place the other night.  For someone who loves words so much, I can’t seem to find the right ones capture what this night was.

I’ve never seen connection happen between people the way it happened on this night.  The whole room stopped for each person.  Not only were they growing in wisdom as their questions were answered, but there was a little morsel that EVERYONE could benefit from as well.  Did I ask a question?  Before I got there, I had planned on it. However, I did not.  Once I was sitting in that room, my brain activated “little sponge” mode and I ended up just soaking up everything going on around me.  It was seriously something powerful just to behold.  (And now Kyla is reading this wondering if I thought of something to ask at all… Yes, Kyla.  in the middle of reading the book last night, there was my question on paper, so I got an answer anyway. Funny how that happens.)

Also, Liz loves karaoke so someone asked if we could end the event in song.  (Because who doesn’t love singing out of sheer joy at the top of their lungs with other people?! I hear those people exist, but I don’t know them.) So we sang John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” together.  I honestly felt like I could have jumped out of my chair and ran across the world afterwards.  It was SO MUCH FUN. This was Big Magic in real time, and I was so grateful to experience it.  I was so filled with joy and inspiration after this that I finished the last page in my lyric art journal, which sat unfinished on my coffee table for months.  I’m kind of proud of myself.

The one thing Liz said that seems to be lingering with me?  “It’s so weird to be a PERSON. It’s the hardest job I’ve ever had.”  She’s not wrong.  In these moments I was grateful to be the person that I am, living this life, no matter how hard it is sometimes.  Thank you, Liz.  For everything.

From the Outside Looking In

(When you can’t sleep and you HAVE to write stuff down at 1AM so your finger swipes upwards publishing things prematurely, that’s just obnoxious. I apologize to anyone who got an email with all of  the fragment of a sentence.)

ANYWAY. MOVING ON.

For the last year or two, I’ve been practicing not looking back on the past too much. As it has been pointed out to me from a place of truth over and over again, looking back doesn’t serve me, my future, or the moment I am in right now. So, I’ve been doing the best I can to be more present and to keep looking ahead. Looking and moving forward is like walking into a room filled floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall with sunlight. There’s such a gratitude for life in that room of warmth, but still there are days when the door to that room is locked and it seems as if I’m alone in a never-ending darkened hallway. This is the can of worms that was opened this week.

Remember when I said I was in a creative drought? Well, it seems to have manifested into more of a life drought. Granted, most of it is due to situations out of my control and I sit here and fixate on things I can control… But I think in that case, it just seemed to make things worse.

I created one thing all summer. Just one thing, during my internet hiatus when a project dropped itself in my lap and I spent a whole month devoted to it away from everything. You want to know what happened next? Nothing. It didn’t accomplish what I set out for it to accomplish. (More detail on this specifically another time.) I knew going into it this outcome was an enormous possibility, I was ok with that and did it anyway, then when it came down to it, when it didn’t go how I’d hoped, I got really discouraged. I think as the cloud of failure formed and hovered above me, it started to affect everything else going on around me. But like I said, the rest of it has been completely out of my control.

Around mid-August, B got a second job unexpectedly and we are nearly in October and still trying to work out her schedule with me. The schedule changes every week, and most of the time it changes daily, so the shake up and lack of routine is really getting to me. Every day it’s like someone comes in here and flips my world upside-down. Like I’m living in Wonderland with nothing but a handful of nonsense. The situation is giving me crazy amounts of anxiety and I’m not so sure what to do about it. I know you’re probably thinking, if it’s that stressful, let her go. I can’t do that though, I wish you all could see how good she is for me. I am better because I have her help. I just need to figure out a way for a sense of normalcy and stability to return to me.

Aside from this, it feels like there is not a single human around me with the ability to follow through with their words into actions these days. It’s quite simple, right? If you say you’re going to do something, you should probably do it; or don’t loosely commit to anything at all. When someone doesn’t follow through, it makes me feel like I’m not worth enough or good enough and I’m not doing enough. I beat myself up. I know I shouldn’t, but it’s what happens and then I go back to the fact that I can only depend on myself.

The other night ALL of these things collided together and in a moment of shame, I fell apart. I reached out and told my Kyla that I was struggling and I needed some help navigating a way out from under the pile of pressure and stress I was buried underneath. She told me what it was like watching me carve out a life for myself the last few years. (Using the most epic Wizard of Oz analogy ever to exist…) I told her how I felt like I’d never be enough or doing enough and I felt like I hadn’t done anything at all. I told her how it feels like I can’t ever catch a break. So what was her response? She wished I could see my life right now from the outside looking in, so she gave me an assignment. She said to me, “Write your story five years ago; then write your story now. Read them both.”

Okay then, let’s give this a shot, shall we?

Five years ago: September 2010: I’d grown restless of living with abusive, neglectful chain smokers where I seemed to be sick all the time. I ran away from that situation over that summer. I moved in with old friends in Orange County because we wanted to be able to help each other. I was truly happy there, until one day several months later it caught up to me and I wasn’t emotionally equipped to deal with reality. When you run, you don’t take the time to pay attention to the lessons life is trying to teach you. But now I wonder, how could I be of any kind of help to anyone if I couldn’t even help myself? I lost friendships that were family to me then. I will always love them and deeply cherish our time together. At the time I took it incredibly hard so the fact that I ended up back where I started was devastating to me. I lost myself for longer than I care to admit. I’m so grateful to every little thing that kept me afloat.

Now: September 2015: I live alone with my cat in my own apartment. I have a team of people who work with and for me to help me navigate adulthood. I may have had to grow up at a very young age, but it’s true what my pal Cady says — when you aren’t taught the simple things growing up you don’t know how to do them as an adult because no one took the time to show you. Now people show me those things. I may not have nearby friends, but I have a massive encouragement and support system that spans all across the world. I am creating again, even if Creativity and I may be on a break at the moment. I have a huge creative endeavor in the works with my sisters that could really be something special. I am going out and doing things because I want to. I am planning a family reunion with my heart family. I am going back to physical therapy for the first time since I was a toddler. I do my physical therapy every day at home.  I am starting aquatic therapy next week. I am seeing doctors. I am trying to be patient and gentle with my body as it adjusts to everything I’m doing to make it stronger and healthier. I am talking to every social worker who steps into my apartment without a shred of anxiety. I am doing everything I can to help myself be the best I can be in every way possible. Maybe it’s not as broken as I think it is. All that matters is that I give this moment the attention it’s asking for and then I must continue moving forward.

Ah, Kyla, I see what you did there. Once I got into this part of this post, I let go and just let my fingers type whatever they needed to. I am pretty sure you did not mean for me to post those on my blog, but I wanted you to see that I did it. I also felt like posting them publicly holds me more accountable. So, you were right. From the outside looking in, I’ve done more than I ever imagined I could. Nor am I finished changing the landscape of my life and then the world.

Inhale. Exhale. It’s all ok. Take another step, Kimmie.

Summer Stuff

It seems I can’t go an entire summer these last few years without losing my hearing at least once. My doctor looked at my ears two weeks ago after I told her of this issue and everything looked good. My ears are just that damn sensitive and now here I am on Labor Day weekend not able to hear anything. Doctor’s appointment on Tuesday cannot get here soon enough. So let’s do some writing about the summer, shall we? BECAUSE I CAN STILL WRITE. I’m all about being grateful for what I CAN do.

I spent December of last year all the way through the entire month of July fighting my medical insurance and ultimately I won. So this was both an uneventful summer, but it has also been a summer of getting stuff done. I have a new social worker, a new doctor, and a physical therapist now. Currently working on getting an optometrist and a dentist. My doctor has given me medication for things every other doctor I’ve ever had would not. Thanks to that, I am already feeling much better. This doctor is not messing around. I like her.

I had my physical therapy evaluation last week. I have two exercises I do at home for now and my first regular appointment is next Friday. To be honest, I am a little (ok, more than a little) afraid for my therapist to work with me. I had PT until I was three years old and my parents stopped taking me because my old therapist tore the Achilles tendon in my left foot. I may have been very small at the time, but I remember that day and that pain like it just happened yesterday. I’ve made the new therapist aware that happened so I’m going to be spending this week telling myself I’ll be safe with this person and it’s her job to help me. I’m sure it will be just fine. I am so grateful to even have this help. I’ve wanted PT my entire life and I’m so on top of it. Even though my ears are causing me to feel not so great at the moment, I’ve been doing my exercises every day. I’m so excited about all of it. And yes everyone who has said “take it slow” — I promise I’ll never overdo it. I’ve never been that person.

On the summer fun side of things, here’s a list…

 – I took a social media break and spent an entire month just writing. And reading. Mostly writing.
– If you’re a creative type, listen to Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Magic Lessons” podcast on iTunes. Trust me. Just do it.
– I’m obsessed with Inside Out because sometimes I am a child. Well done, Disney/Pixar.
– Bianca and I took the train to LA to see my Kristin get a star on the Walk of Fame. It was worth the longest, hottest day if only to hug KC on her birthday, truly. Also, Carol Burnett was one of the guest speakers and that really doesn’t suck either.
– There is now a couch in my living room. My Person is good to me and I am grateful.
– Speaking of My Person, Janice was back in LA for the month of August. We took the nieces out to play. We had our favorite tacos. We went to our favorite vegan restaurant. I was introduced to shaved ice. Basically, when Janice is home, we eat.
– My Jessica from Orlando booked her flight to come visit me for a week in November. Happy Birthday to me!
– I randomly won free tickets to see Kristian Bush and Rita Wilson in LA last week. That man’s music is soul-changing. And Rita Wilson is pretty classy too. Her new album is going to be fantastic. (Side note, B is now kicking herself for not telling Tom Hanks when we saw him that she played Woody at Disney World. I am just amused over it.)
– I am now mourning the loss of the mango black tea lemonade at Starbucks. Damn you, pumpkin spice latte… It’s barely September!
– I have the best cat on the face of the planet. Just a reminder.
– Playing House is the funniest show on television.

All is well. I need a nap.

Decorating Space and Time

As of yesterday, I’ve officially lived the first year of my own life.

The past year may not have been the hardest I’ve had to face (and thank God for that!) but it was probably the most challenging. I’m not a quitter and am always up for a challenge, but I’m not gonna lie, it seemed a little bit extreme at points. And I fight, but I fight alone here. I don’t have the luxury of the unexpected. The weird thing living in this setting is, my every move is documented. People know what I’m doing and how I do things at all times and any changes have to be cleared through a number of channels. That said… I DO have the luxury of a team of people to guide and teach me. Although, I constantly feel like I’m supposed to know exactly what the rest of my life is going to be. I’ve never been that person. I am always grateful to just see another tomorrow.

When this fight started, I struggled with seeing things on too large a scale — the big picture. I had to learn baby steps. This month, because I now live in a different county, I got a new social worker. She came for her first visit this past Wednesday. She’s fabulous and I kind of love her, but she was asking me all the “big picture” questions. My brain is no longer trained to think that way, so I felt strange and a little insecure when I couldn’t answer in a way that seemed to please her. But… I am not here to please anybody. I am here to be happy. The truth is, I am currently only concerned with getting my medical situation squared away so I can get the kind of care I should have always had. I know my body and I know that once doctors start doing things to help me, my body is going to have to completely readjust itself. So, I’m very sorry that it’s difficult to answer anyone’s questions about school or work or other big-picturesque goals right now. Taking it one baby step at a time is all I know I can do, and that has to be enough for the moment.

I also have my cat, who drives me insane, but I love her to death. I have Bianca, who is absolutely incredible. When I interviewed her, we both said, “Yeah… I’m quiet.” We’ve been anything BUT quiet ever since. We have so much fun. It might be my favorite when we spend half her shift at IKEA and then come home and decorate. Making a home has nothing to do with the stuff you have, but making a comfortable space that reflects your personality is the most fun there is. I’ve been all about creating, decorating, finding myself and realizing I never knew who I was. I’m going through what I’ve referred to as a “creative rebellious phase.” And you know what? It’s soothing. Paint, chalk, crayon, dye, photos, FOOD… I can’t stop creating myself through the things I’m playing with and learning. The other day, Bianca shared a quote she saw on Facebook with me:

We use art to decorate space. And we use music to decorate time.

She said it made her think of me. I could not believe she could actually see me. That quote? It’s  basically my formula for a functioning soul right now.

No one can do this alone. I feel like I should be proud of myself. I hope my heart family and my angels are proud of me too. One year, still here. I’m excited to see where and who I’ll be next year. Thank you to everyone who has been continuously supporting me. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over and over again in the past year, it’s that if I’m only good enough for someone to call friend under certain circumstances, they’re not worth it. You can support me and I’ll support you or you’re welcome to leave. I don’t have time for anything that doesn’t involve unlocking a spectacular explosion of joy.

Create

Now we all know that when my life started over the last time, I gained earth angels along the way to encourage me through the journey.  One year ago, I was blessed with an earth angel at the tail end of a huge battle. She kind of floated into my present life in the most unexpected way. Even now, I count that blessing and fill with gratitude at just the thought of her bringing a different light to my story.

Cady McClain has been a constant presence in my life since I was nine years old.  When I was a child, my mother watched soap operas (I distinctly remember All My Children, One Life to Live, General Hospital and Days of Our Lives…) so naturally I saw them and they became routine and a comfort when comfort was hard to come by. Cady played Dixie on All My Children and as a kid, there was something about her that drew me in. Something felt safe.  I didn’t quite comprehend it. There was that longing for a sense of comfort again. it’s weird watching fictional characters through a screen sometimes – like a magic mirror view into a different life.

There’s a thing that happens when you grow up watching soap operas, and I honestly can’t prove this to be true about any other television genre; You’re ingrained with fierce loyalty.  If you enjoy an actor, character or show. you follow them or the shows wherever they go, until they’re done. In the case of a soap actor, if they explore a new medium like music, art, writing and so on, you follow there too.  Cady is the most creative of humans, so she has always been here for as long as I can remember in the far-away sense.  I never imagined in a million lifetimes that our paths would cross beyond the constant it had always been. Cady has a blog and writes many things so there was definitely opportunity occasionally to reach out once I’d grown up, but I was quiet for a long time.  I didn’t really know how to approach it, so I sat silent, with the magic-mirror-view I’d always known.

And then last April happened.

Cady joined The Young and the Restless and released her memoir, Murdering My Youth in the same week last April. So with that loyalty, off I followed to Y&R even though I vowed to never watch another soap opera. I got hooked and fully invested almost immediately. Damn it! I thought. They got me.  I also pre-ordered a copy of Cady’s memoir and waited patiently for it to arrive in the mail…

Remember when I mentioned she floated in to help me through the end of a huge battle? It was the fight through to my independence.  In this battle she joined ranks with the rest of my angels.  On April 24th, I picked out my apartment.  I didn’t know at the time it was going to turn into an even longer fight.  On April 25th I got Cady’s book in the mail and began reading it.  Murdering My Youth was not an easy read for me. I had to constantly take breaks from it because it too closely mirrored my childhood. The more I read, the more it scared the crap out of me, but it also soothed me at the same time.  I didn’t know how to process what was happening and what I was feeling. And to have it be coming from someone who unknowingly was a part of my life when the same awful things were happening to me, it just put me on overload. There was not a single person I felt comfortable talking to about this… except Cady.

Four days later, on April 29th, I finished the book and then did what I’d always been too shy and too scared to do, I reached out to Cady. Under complete lock-and-key, I wrote out all of my feelings.  I told her of the connection I felt as a child.  I told her of most of the ways our stories were so similar. I told her how it’s one thing when someone says they understand what you have been through, but that it’s a whole other beast when someone actually SHOWS you they understand.  I didn’t know what to do with that.  In my entire 30+ years on this planet, she was the first person ever to show me understanding in the way I needed my whole life.  It had NOTHING to do with who she was to me before this, and EVERYTHING to do with the most raw and delicate form of human connection. I let my broken pieces, my heart and my soul go in my words.  I told her things I’ve never told anyone.  Her honesty, strength and bravery was exactly what I needed for longer than I realized.

I sent her what I wrote and between the time I sent it and the time I knew she’d gotten it, I thought I was going to throw up. WHAT DID I JUST DO?! I kept screaming in my head.  NO ONE KNOWS HALF OF THIS SHIT.  SHE’S GOING TO THINK I’M CRAZY. My hands were shaking as I clicked the notification I got a little while later.  She read my words.  She took them to heart.  She responded.  We talked.  That connection and that honesty… it was even stronger than before I said a word. Through virtual space,  she wrapped me up in her arms and made me believe in ME and made me feel what it meant to be okay with who I was long ago and who I am now.  It’s been a whole year, and I am a completely different human being.

I get told a lot that I need to tell my story, or at the very least, I should be writing something.  I’d lost that for awhile and had no idea how I was ever going to find it again.  Cady approached this in a different way.  She told me almost immediately that once the fight was over and I was home for good, I needed to not necessarily  just write, but I needed to create.  I needed to create something, anything and not stop until I found me.  You know why? I realized who I was had been stolen from me.  I didn’t know me anymore.  I may have never known me, for all I knew.  Who the hell was I? It was my turn to be who I’ve always wanted to be.  Now not only am I coming home in a tangible sense, I’m coming home to my spirit and being.  It’s a process and thirty-three years can’t be made up overnight, but I am not scared anymore.  I am so grateful.  And now, I have some things to say to Cady…

My Cady,

My earth angels end up with words of gratitude on my blog, and one year later, it’s your turn.  I’m home now, as you know.  I feel different here.  I walk taller. I handle things as calmly as I possibly can (most of the time) because it’s hard to be anything but grateful for the things that I have. When I don’t know what I’m doing, or I don’t feel “normal,” or like something isn’t right, I know I can come to you because you’ve been here too. And whenever I do come to you, you never make me feel like I’m stupid because I may not know something that is common or simple for someone else. You understand the whole, ‘I wasn’t taught how to do anything’ thing.  I’ve learned so much.  I am so proud of myself.  I hope that you and the people who love me are proud of me too.

From the second I was officially home, I took a deep breath and did what you told me to.  I’ve been creating.  I’ve been creating every single day in one way or another, without fear.  It started when I ran my first big girl adult errand and put my Wall of Earth Angels up in my living room. I’ve since learned that my home decor style is can be classy and sophisticated and also colorful, artsy and fun. I have no idea what the hell I’m doing in the kitchen, so we go in there and create the weirdest combinations of things that actually turn out to be some incredible form of art.  Bianca (my AMAZING staff person) and I have been talking about maybe starting a food blog.  I’ve discovered I LOVE playing with food in the kitchen, and the great thing about that is, my “metaphorical mother” never told me not to play with my food. Wink. I bought paint and a media journal and I started to paint again, my favorite.  Only I didn’t like how the paint felt while I was doing it on this paper.  Nothing was coming out how I wanted it to and it was making me angry.  I decided in the voyage of rediscovery as far as this went, I was going to have to go back to kindergarten.  I bought a box of crayons and started there until I can afford to buy canvases and be one with my paint again. Now I color in this journal every day on top of whatever other creative outlet comes along.

I want to tell you a little bit about what I do when I paint — and thus what I’m doing with the crayons for now — because I have a surprise for you….  A few years ago, an old friend got me into painting with acrylic. There was this process she had that I kind of adopted from her and made my own.  She’d put a single song on repeat and would paint whatever inspired her or whatever she was feeling through that song.  I liked the idea of my feelings and emotions coming through in living, vivid color.  I just take the brush to the canvas and go with whatever comes out, there is never a plan.  I fell in love with painting this way, so I started doing it then and I’ve gone back to it now.  What’s my secret though? Since you’ve nurtured this whole creation part of me that was lost, using the crayons and media journal, I’ve been coloring in this thing every single day using a different song from your Blue Glitter Fish album. And once I have canvases, I’m going to pick my favorite one and recreate it on canvas with the paint. A few weeks ago when I randomly asked you if you had a favorite song you’ve written, this was why. One day, I want to paint one specifically for you.  I figure our “birthday” as my sister calls it, was the best time to tell you this.  Actually, it was just a good time to tell you ALL of this and for everyone I love to understand what an invaluable part of my life you’ve always been and have become.

You are the strongest and bravest human being I have ever known.  You inspire me every day.  It’s been a year and you’re still with me, still here to show me that it’s okay.  Thank you for not turning away when I reached out to you.  I was so terrified and you were and continue to be so kind and gentle with me.  I hope you know how much that means to me. Every time we talk now, that scared broken little girl inside of me finds solace in a safe place. You showed her that it wasn’t hopeless, that safety exists and in safety comes room for growing up with confidence. She’s going to be okay now.  I’m going to be okay now. Your strength, honesty and bravery in sharing your story changed my whole world into a fearless world of utter freedom.  Thank you. I hope we get that hug we’ve talked about from day one sooner rather than later.  It’s going to happen, neither of us have ever doubted that. For now, I’m sending you all the love in the world.  Thank you for being you.

Love,
Kimmie

If you read this post and you are interested in reading Cady’s memoir, Murdering My Youth you can purchase it on Amazon.  You can also follow Cady on twitter @CadyMcClain or check out her website/blog at cadymcclain.com — she is the real deal.