Tuesday, March 28, 2017

My Son's Passing March 28th

To Love is to lose. To lose is to Love. Having only today is part of what Love is. ~ Katie Jo

Journal Entry From this Morning:

Today, is the 14th anniversary of my son, Jonah's death.

This past week and last couple of days have been challenging for me in the sense that I "feel" it approaching. Today, though- it's simply here.

My story is significant but I resist saying it's special. We all face challenges and all of us will face loss.
Unless we live a life devoid of love, we will all at some point lose someone we love.
It will be that moment when life stops and the world seemingly betrays you by not stopping.

That day when your own world has been obliterated but the rest of life keeps moving like marching Ants and you alone stand still in the chaos screaming "STOP!!!!".......... and it doesn't.

To lose is to LOVE. To LOVE is to lose.

But without Love, to hold it back because of the hurt... takes the very MAGIC and beauty of life away.
To be hurt so deeply when loss occurs is part of the Game of Life. Yes LOVE is a terrifying Jack-in-the-Box experience. That's ALL part of it. Knowing that we ONLY get today. No attachments, no agenda, no "What if's" or "You Must's" just the opportunity to LIVE the LOVE we feel.

Knowing that we REALLY only have today- we only have this moment to say "I love you" and to SHOW it.
To buy the shoes, splurge on M&M's, to take the day off work sometimes, to sit on the front step watching the sunset in silence... and MOST importantly- to express Love in such a way that when you shake the shoulder of your child, your lover, your friend and they shiver their way out of slumber while you ask "Do YOU KNOW that I LOVE YOU?" they answer "YES."

This is the gift Jonah's life taught me.
To never take it for granted.
To never take tomorrow for granted.

Because I did love Jonah; with ALL I knew how to LOVE at the time- and I was a young, inexperienced Mom doing her best.
When that Jack-in-the- Box exploded and my heart felt as though a sledge hammer had made it ground beef- the days, weeks, and years after that; what haunted me MOST was/is "Did he ever doubt his Mother's Love? Did I truly do my best?"

The only answer is: I don't know.

The handle is rotating. The music is jingling along.
Eventually- all of us experience the end- LOSS.

Who am I today? How do I love today?
Because today is ALL we have.
That's the BEAUTY of it.
That's the POWER of it.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Camel Drum Story

In sweltering 120 degree heat we crammed into hot taxi's like smashed tuna fish permeated by the choking stench of exhaust fumes, and made our way through the hectic and chaotic streets of New Delhi, India.
May 2016

A handful of good friends and I were on a trip to serve and speak at an International Women's Conference. We had taken a break from the Air Conditioned, Luxury Hotel to battle the car horns, beggars, rickshaws, bicycles, and occasional cow pulling a cart through the packed and bustling down town.

Arriving at the 3 story department store, we were amazed and enamored by the scope of wares and bobbles available at it.
Linens and silks, Persian rugs, Sari's and shoes, bedding, Nick-knacks and Tibetan Singing Bowls were on every shelf, nook, and cranny.

It was like entering the book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, as we explored the cultural phenomena.
Incense burned, candles flickered. New and polished vases sat juxtaposed to 1000 year old antiques. Fascinating.

I had come along for the ride. I hadn't intended to purchase anything and laughed as my sweet beautiful girl friends twirled and spun in traditional Indian gowns and worked with designers to create their very own tailored outfits.

While the men in our group indulged in the limitless drinks that the sales people refreshed at no charge; I was content to play the sound bowls and peruse Taj Mahal magnets and leather bound journals.

Then..... I saw it.

A four foot in diameter Steel Base Drum.

I remember sticking my head out around a corner of the stairway and crying out to my friend upstairs  as I snatched a drum stick and pounded the leather rawhide drum head.
A resounding echo filled ALL three floors.
He heard the echo... and came running.

I asked the sales person what animal hide it was created from.... Camel.
(mind blown)

A CENTURY  old Camel Hide Drum.
Hand tied, Hand hammered base.

$1000 was reasonable when the dealer asked for it.
Drums this size in America are usually $2500-$4000
Another $800 shipped it via Freight to Salt Lake City, where- after 3 months of waiting; I hired a friend to get the crate back to my home in his truck.

We stood at Customs for a half hour while the Customs Agent tried to discern whether or not we were legally allowed to have a Camel Hide Drum in Utah.
(It turns out you can as long as it's antique. Phew)

On my way out the Agent asked "Waiting a long time?"
"Yes!" I sighed exasperated. "Trust me, I'll never buy anything again I can't smuggle in under my shirt."

The words at which, my buddy with the truck grabbed my arm and hauled me out of the office before they could do a "cavity search."

After all this, I FINALLY have the drum. AND... I was SOOOOO happy . AND I still AMMMM SOOO Happy.

My kids say it SHAKES the WHOLE HOUSE!!!

But- It's time for it to find another home.

I've enjoyed it for months and love it- but it's time that it lives somewhere else.

I'm posting it here for $950

(you saw my prices earlier- you know this is a crazy bargain)

I actually bought another "Grandmother Drum" the same size here in the States and feel like having TWO large drums is too much.
My loss is your gain.
Please message me on Facebook.

Thank YOU!


Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Romance of Abuse

"You cannot tell just by looking at a person whether or not they are an abuser. An abuser may be your next door neighbor, a friend, someone with whom you work, or a person whom you pass on the street. They may hold high profile jobs, be out of work, using drugs, or have a drinking problem. No level of society is exempt."  

Safe Harbors of the Finger Lakes, Inc.

Every year a gathering in February occurs called ONE BILLION RISING. 

This movement is a peaceful rise of awareness that ONE in THREE Women will be beaten, raped, or murdered in her lifetime. Each year, people dance, wear red, pink, black and hold rallies and flash mob dances to bring Empowerment and Inspiration to the world. 

"In the nation of Colombia, where I ministered last month, a woman is killed by her husband or partner every four days. The problem is so serious that sociologists have coined a new term for it: femicidio, or femicide." Charisma Magazine J. Lee Grady

Making it real... look to the left and right. If you aren't one of the women, it's one of them you see.

This is my friends story:

"I remember the first time Jeremy told me I was beautiful. We were at a hot springs and I was playing in the water with his and my own children. My hair was wet and slicked back. I caught him staring at me with adoration. 'You're so beautiful.' he whispered. In that moment, I felt cherished, treasured and so loved. Loved for just being me. A few short hours later- he had cracked my skull and strangled me." 
Mailee Valdez
This violent attack was heard by her children in another room who sat huddled together crying in fear. 

photo credit Katie Jo Welch

In my interview, Mailee continued to share with me how romantic Jeremy was. Often, abusers do what is sometimes called "Love Bombing," dramatic and over the top gestures of romance and love. Frequently, abusers are charismatic, dynamic and well spoken. Mailee shared of their weekend he planned in Las Vegas, including limo rides and helicopter tours, and a stay at the Trump Tower. She said "It was the best and worst." It was and is confusing for many women in abusive relationships understanding the Jekyll and Hyde experiences or the undermining comments that occur. 

An example she shared was window shopping together, holding hands, the flickering lights and circus type fun energy of Vegas all around them as they laughed and strolled. Casually, she glanced at a pair of boots and commented "Those are cute." 
Jeremy's demeanor shifted and he said "You're so stupid sometimes." 
By the end of the trip she found herself in the Emergency Room with a broken rib. This was the first time he hit her- the first time he beat her, all because she had ordered herbal tea. 

So, First of all let me clarify that NO ABUSE is acceptable. Not once, not ever. Second, that time and time again I hear stories like these. Stories of these men who are sensitive, loving, generous and tender who have a "moment."

Are we ALL abusers? What is the definition of Abuser?
I know I have said and done things that I regret. I have said cruel things I didn't mean. Am I an abusive person? I find myself asking Who AM I when the chips are down? Who is that Katie? And do those moments of not being my best define me?

Kasia Merrill, Certified Social Worker answered my question by saying "When we go in to assess a situation we are doing our best to evaluate if there was just a 'bad day' where everything got out of control or if there is a pattern and the victim is in perpetual danger."

I feel like this is the same assessment that many women are doing day to day in their own relationships. Asking "Is this just a bad day, or will it happen again?" Also asking "What can I do to love them enough so those bad days don't come again?"

We like to see the best in people, the best in our lovers, our partners, our mates. In fact, we DO see these things.
We see the beauty and innocence of those Inner Child souls and love them, listen to their life stories, have compassion for their own childhoods and the pain they have suffered and see their magic and intuition and dramatic Light... in fact, I believe that that is what many of these unstable personalities are. Dramatic and beautiful... but just like Mailee's Jekyll and Hyde metaphor- too many times the pendulum swing is far and wide. Just like a child throwing a tantrum IS NOT the tantrum... there also must be consequences for their actions. 

The truth of abuse is also that the same Man who says he loves a woman, that she is beautiful, amazing, the girl of his dreams is also the Man who calls her profane names when he's lost control.
A woman finds her attacker the same Man who is the comforter. The source of not just her pain, but of pleasure, joy, tenderness and love.

It is confusing and undermines a woman's trust in herself and her partner. If the words "I love you. You are beautiful."  are true when he speaks, are the verbal beatings true too? Is this love? Does a man who attacks verbally and physically LOVE the woman he attacks? 

Sitting in the courtroom, next to Mailee, I remember the way Jeremy claimed to be the victim of a vindictive woman who was just trying to destroy him.
He truly sees himself as a good man who was momentarily pushed past the limit. Not only did he deny the extremity of his actions, but excused them as trivial. After all... it  was just a few lapses of his otherwise WONDERFUL character.

Routinely, a person who abuses will feel attacked and condemned for a brief loss of control.
The gap of understanding comes from the reality that the brief loss of control effects 100% of the relationship. Once a boundary is crossed and a victim now knows it can and will be crossed again, she is constantly aware, afraid and paranoid that it will happen again. Usually, it does.

Due to the beautiful parts of a relationship, many women (and men) in relationships DO NOT understand or recognize they are in an abusive relationship. 
Many men (and women) who abuse DO NOT know or acknowledge they are abusive. Many of our young teens, boys and girls are unaware of what abuse is and find themselves as victims or perpetrators without the consciousness that certain behaviors are wholly unacceptable and abusive. 

             photo credit Love Lambeth - Lambeth Council

There is a clarifying and enlightening website for teens that brings light just as to WHAT is ABUSIVE behavior. Teaching our teens, the boys and girls about phone safety, texting, controlling behavior and jealousy.
Research more about that here:

One of the TOP MYTHS about Abuse, found in an article by NEW CHOICES.org is:

"I never thought it would happen to me!" 
At a training at our shelter put on by Action Ohio – the trainer asked a question of the audience, "How many of you think you could be the victim of relationship abuse?" Not a single hand was raised. 

If you are not sure what characteristics of Abuse is, OR if YOU are being abused.....  here are two great articles by Safe Harbors to give you guidance. 

As I have witnessed media, movies, and marketing, I have been discouraged and disgusted by subconscious abuse messaging being fed to our society as well as our teens. Flipping through popular fashion magazines I'm routinely bothered by images of waif-like, stoned-looking young girls appearing in submissive or suggestive posing and photography.

photo credit Marc Jacobs S/S 2012

There is an inaccurate viewpoint that we would KNOW who an abuser is. So many times the "bad guy" on the movie screen is portrayed as the villain, we watch him and the despicable things he does and validate the illusion "I would NEVER be with someone like that. It would be easy to tell who the bad guy is."

These scenes in movies create a DISCONNECT, for those who abuse and those abused. Abusers don't identify with a chronic bad guy and women abused validate staying under the idea "See, it's not bad ALL of the time." The Romance of Abuse is that it's MOSTLY good. (Yes, I acknowledge that there are ABSOLUTELY CHRONIC abusers)

The REALITY is that abuse happens BEHIND closed doors. These are the parts of someone that most often NO ONE except the victim sees. These are the "well thought of", the prestigious leaders, coaches, church leaders, speakers and "Good Guys" who everyone loves. Only when their mask has fallen, only when their inner demons escape from their shackles does the monster come out- and when it has-the monster is quickly re-chained and smothered and hidden until the control is lost again so that NO ONE but the victim knows it exists. 

photo credit The Wrap

In the movie Dr. Strange, the Ancient One said “We never lose our demons, we only learn to live above them.” 
So, to any of us who has demons... FACE them, acknowledge they exist and be humble enough to reach out learn HEALTHY coping mechanisms, taming them.

If you are being abused, love someone enough to give them the space to face their demons and empower them to seek counsel and support. 
Have the courage and love to step away, allowing them the FREEDOM to heal these tendencies as well as the FREEDOM for you to heal the emotional and physical wounds.

If you ARE someone who recognizes in yourself the perpetuity to control, call names, or physically dominate another- recognize this IS abuse and that you are GREATER than these tendencies and that you can CHANGE them. It IS up to you.

OUR behavior is OUR accountability.
WE are all responsible for our choices. I have compassion for the FEAR, for the torture that must be inside of us to be so AFFECTED by outward circumstances that you lose control  of yourself. 
Ther is NO excuse for abusive behavior. 
It's UP TO US to SHIFT... and it IS possible. It IS possible to face inner DEMONS and to master them, to be IN HARMONY in relationships and to HAVE the INNER PEACE you crave. 

If you are someone who recognizes you are in an unhealthy relationship, reach out. There are hundreds of online sites, personal places, and support groups for you. We know that many of you DON'T want to leave and just want it fixed. There are places and people who are there to support you in your journey of healing your family and your heart.

For Utah Residents start here: 

Connect with One Billion Rising. Reach out to SheroesUnited for volunteer opportunities to be part of the CHANGE. 

We gather FEBRUARY 10th to take a stand and to RISE. 
Karen Gail Miller Conference center 9750 S 300 W, Sandy, UT
Our intention is to let those affected know they are NOT alone. 
Our intention is to break BOTH sides of the chain. To support the Victim and support the Abuser in Higher Choices and Healing.

Mailee's Story? 
In the end, Jeremy served 3 months in jail after a 2 year court process. He's set to be back on the street in a few days, with 2 current active protective orders against him (for other women). 
As for Mailee- she is a dedicated mother, achieved her Associates Degree, has a stable career, and is an advocate for raising awareness and supporting other women in understanding and leaving these relationships.

In closing, I would like to share that I believe and know that ALL of us here on this planet are DIVINE. We are ALL perfect and beautiful dynamic souls. We are full of LOVE and GRACE and MAGNIFICENCE.

As humans and divine souls I encourage both sides of the chain of abuse, the abuser and the abused to know that YOU are not these brief moments. You are more.

Let THIS be a turning point for the world. LET THIS TIME in HISTORY be MARKED with CHANGE and HEALING. 


One Billion Rising Video (may not be appropriate for all audiences) 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Ecstasy of Snow

Utah, specifically Payson, has gotten some serious snow.

As the Storm began to pile upon the city at NightFall I shoveled. 
There seems to be a silence that accompanies a snowfall- perhaps because people are hunkering down in their dens or the soft pillowy flakes that absorb some of the sound... but the world becomes subtle, and quiet. 

The light from the street lamp near me was my guidance and I laboriously worked. KNOWING that while the storm still waged... the driveway would be twice as high in the morning if I didn't work through the evening.

As dawn broke, my neighbor and I waved kindly to each other as we simulataneously shoveled our parallel yards. The Snow Plows, having done their noble deed of clearing the roads had also barricaded our entire community in their driveways. The icy, gravely, chunks of road snow was thigh high... Most of us had the wisdom to dig a tunnel through it- my single-mom, late for work, across the street- neighbor- DID not.

In her forest green 10 year old Dodge Caravan Minivan... she chose to back out and try to shove her way through the barrier.



Within Moments- Like Ants gathering on a broken piece of bread- all of us (the neighbors) were at her house, shovels in hand, digging her NOW high centered and buried vehicle OUT of the snow. 
We laughed. Put Cat litter beneath her tires, pushed and pushed and pushed until she was free... AND VERY late. 
Then... without words... we went back to our own drives and continued our own labor. 

I was able to get to my own job, arriving at the Diamond Store... I found all the salt and pepper haired gentlemen store owners on Main Street, Small Town USA out working together. Coats, gloves, hats, snow blowers and shovels- clearing the sidewalk. Chatting, panting, periodically resting on the ends of their shovels.

It was noon before they were all complete. Many gathered at the local old fashioned Drug Store next door for hot cocoa or coffee to warm up again.

As MY own SUV was stuck (in a regular parking space on the road) My boss, my buddy Mike, and other good Samaritans dug me out too.

That evening, as I stood in line at the grocery store with 6 pairs of new gloves on the conveyor belt to be purchased... The two women ahead of me were in conversation about HOW HORRIBLE the day had been.

They shared the inconvenience of being stuck in the snow--- and having to have their Father-in-Law or neighbors dig them out... being late for work and the babysitter being late as well. They "WOE-IS-ME'd" for quite a while and I stood silently observing them and witnessing the human condition of perspective.

Strange that I felt my day had been so wonderful. 
I felt and FEEL So grateful to have been given the opportunity - through the snow storm, to watch people serve one another. Strangers coming together to assist one another. Even with my foolish Dodge Minivan Neighbor... there was no judgement or scolding... just rallying to dig her out and achieve the goal of freeing her. 

That day to me- re-ignited my hope in humanity and selfless service and love.

I am grateful. I am STILL grateful.


Sunday, December 18, 2016

I Called My Dad

Sometimes a girl just needs her dad. So I called him.

"Hi Katie."
"What are you calling about?"
"I don't know. I don't know if I have a reason. I just feel like I need to talk to my Dad."
"About what?"
"I don't know."

This was the beginning of the conversation.

I have a good Dad. I'm one of the lucky ones. 
I can count perhaps less than 10 conversations in my lifetime between just my dad and I, that lasted more than 10 min.

He was a good dad, is a good dad. We did family night and family vacations, he was engaged and supported our family... but there are 6 of us kids.
I don't remember One-on-One conversations with my dad growing up.
Most of what I've been taught by my dad is by Observing him. 
Learning from the way he lives. Working next to him as he taught me to run a lawn mower, use a power drill, power saw, build a deck, lay cement.
Over hearing phone calls he was on with neighbors who reached out to him for advice.
Sitting outside his office on a chair in company of his secretary, overhearing him with clients.
Watching him from an audience as he stood at podiums and spoke his truth.
Accompanying him to the widows homes in the neighborhood on the weekends for service or anytime it snowed to shovel their walks.
Hearing Other people talk about my dad... who didn't realize I was his daughter... and their words were respectful. 

My dad.

I'm sharing his words. They meant a lot to me.

"You are strong. Sometimes it feels like no one is seeing who you are, but they are. Sometimes keeping your integrity doesn't feel like it's paying off... but trust me- it is. Whether people say it or not they are watching and it will come back to you. Life isn't always easy- but hold your head high."

"I'm proud of you. You are doing exactly what I would have wished for you, and trust in God. Everything will always turn out for the best, and if you need me- I am here. I love you." 

I don't talk to my dad often, there are some things we don't see the same way- but I know he loves me. I know he wants the best for me and is supporting me. He holds me in my excellence and encourages me to BE so. He doesn't require me to be perfect- but he continues to be an example of always learning, growing, becoming better and striving to LIVE the way I teach. And when I call him- he's there for me. In this way... he has taught me about God. 

Thanks Dad.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Climb the Mountain

Today, for the first time in years... I climbed the trail I've climbed many times before. 
Today for the first time... I climbed alone. 

I went through a myriad of emotions and self conversations while I climbed.

"Do I really want to do this?"
Imagine how you'll feel when you are done.

How many times do we face a challenge, a decision, a choice and want to take the easy road? How many times have I been overcoming something... Fill in blank: ___________
turning the other cheek
etc etc etc

and in those circumstances I had to ask this question "How will I feel after this decision?" "Will I be stronger, prouder, feel better? if I choose xyz?" It was the only way I climbed out of an eating disorder that lasted 16 years.
White knuckled I often had to ask "Will I be more or less proud of myself if I make this choice?" and one day at a time, one meal at a time, one pill at a time I climbed.

My legs burned today as I climbed and I found myself not even half way up the trail and angry. Angry at myself. Angry because 2 years ago I could reach the top of this same trail without even being winded. I put my head down and began to make each step focused... and then I began to relax. I realized I wasn't enjoying the hike. I also reflected there are times when we simply get to put our heads down and do the work as well.
Times when, as a single mom I get to put my head down and work, climb, get it done... but in this moment as the awareness dawned on me during the climb- I hiked slower, took each step more consciously and partook of the beautiful fall day around me. The view heightening- becoming more and more majestic.

I also, recommitted to myself to BE better. To give more attention to my health and stamina. Instead of being angry at myself at the depreciation of my strength- to learn and use this opportunity as a wake up call to get back into shape again- to recommit to being the best I can be and to make my health a priority- knowing that as I do; I can and will enjoy this hike again, more fully; un-distracted by fatigue and strain. 

I climbed. 

I remembered the study I read that scientists have learned that Oxygen at it's basic level is actually LIGHT.
As we exercise or meditate or BREATHE... we literally fill our cells with LIGHT.
I remembered this and remembered the way I used to carry a small notepad and pen with me when I jogged regularly. It seemed I would have epiphany after epiphany as I ran. In fact, for this reason I chose not to listen to music as I ran- I discovered it inhibited the "flow" of inspiration.
I breathed deeply, intending my lungs, my heart, my body to fill with Oxygen-aka LIGHT.

I soon noticed my resistance to resting.

You see, I have been accused of being competitive from time to time... and as I ponder it- I would say I'm driven.
I don't care about BESTING others.. I care about BESTING MYSELF. As there are other speakers, drummers, painters, salespeople etc. I AM competitive- but it's not about THEM... it's about their inspiration causing me to look at myself and ask "Have I done what I know I'm capable of? Have I pushed myself beyond where I thought I was capable?"

And..... I allowed myself to rest.
I recognized that I had this illusion in place in my head that IF I rested I was weak. After all- 2 years ago I could have easily jogged this trail.
But- I allowed myself to rest and I didn't judge myself for it.
I gave myself permission to be still, drink water, breathe. 

Ultimately, I reached the top.
There was no referee there with a stop watch counting my time- the only thing at the top waiting for me was the View.

I know that we each have a mountain to climb.
I know that we all have challenges.
I know that we all have the opportunity to choose to climb to grow to become more fully our divinity...or to turn around, to sit down, to accept less than the top.
I know we are all doing it different.

There are people we choose to climb with or to climb solo- but in the end we all face our own individual mountain.
We each take the steps, we each have the choice how we climb. 
To push beyond the valley, to grow, to overcome, to rise.