The Time Has Come

It’s been nearly 6 years my brother has been incarcerated. That’s 6 years of birthday celebrations, multiple holiday meals with family and many late night phone calls just to chat that have been missed. As he finishes out his “time” in prison, I have to say there are definitely some things I will not miss.

I’ve been in a court room to hear the verdict of my brother’s future as he sits across the room without contact in an orange jumpsuit accessorized with shackles and chains. I’ve been to visit 5 different prisons. I’ve sat behind a glass wall and talked to my brother through a telephone. I’ve been turned away from seeing him because I was 2 minutes past visiting check-in. I’ve missed calls from him in prison with no way of returning the call, just waiting until he gets the chance to call back. I’ve been turned away from seeing my brother because of what I was wearing (leggings and a dress). I’ve been patted down and have had to walk through metal detectors too many times to count. I’ve made a pit stop 2 hours out of town at Dollar General to get “appropriate” shoes because flip flops aren’t allowed. I’ve sat in a room full of murderers, child molesters, drug offenders and more just to spend a little bit of time with him. I’ve had to pay to take a picture with my brother. He missed out on my College graduation, I missed out on his High School graduation.

But in a mere 4 days, my family with be reunited with my brother. There are so many emotions that go along with this. I am so excited, it’s surreal! I am also nervous and anxious as in some ways, I am gaining a brother I lost to prison years ago. Life will be different, a lot has been missed but in this, there has been so much gained.

“God grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change, the COURAGE to change the things I can and the WISDOM to know the difference.” Through the years, I’ve experienced SERENITY, gained COURAGE and been granted WISDOM.

I share my story with you because I hope it gives you the strength to continue on your path and to continue with FAITH. I want to thank friends and family who have supported my family and I in this journey. Thank you to those who have asked how my brother is doing, who have prayed for him along his path and who have been there and will continue to be there as we all embark on this new journey.

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May light and love forever surround you my brother,

Kels (big sis)

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Wednesday Inspiration

Feeling inspired today so I felt led to write it all down. Each post I write comes from the heart, sometimes I literally feel like my fingers are guided on what to type next and to me this is the best gift of writing. That is why even if my posts are few and far in between, there is so much depth in each one. So here I am, I give my heart to you and I hope you can feel the light, love and inspiration to which I write.

Mom and I had an interesting conversation last night to say the least. Being the loving and caring mother she is she was naturally inclined to state her worries about me not being open and being so shut off with my “walls”. This is particularly designated towards relationships. I took it with a grain of salt and went about my way. Just so happens last night I had a very interesting dream. I was being cut/scratched lightly all over my body. Having an interest in dream interpretation mom and I did some research. The skin is a representation of the “cloak” of a human being which in turn protects the person from harm. Well, well well little did I know how significant this dream could be. My interpretation of being cut in the dream was the subconcious trying to get past the barrier or otherwise known as my “walls.”

I built my walls a long time ago out of fear in order to protect myself from feeling pain and sadness. Fear drove me to putting on a “cape” in order to dismiss my sensitivities in an effort to be normal. I struggled all the way through school until about the age of 20 (when I started counseling) college included, with confusion of being different but yet wanting to fit in. I’ve heard many people say “I would go back to being a kid any day, I didn’t have a worry in the world” and I’ve always thought WHY THE HECK… I remember at the age of 5/6 being on the playground, caring so much about fitting in and being accepted. Here I was a little girl just wanting to be loved. Every time I think about that age it brings tears to my eyes. Even at such a young age life is confusing. I don’t blame conformity on society because society only got there with the help of each and every one of us.

So after years living with the fear of pain and sadness it has resulted in successfully pushing many people away from me and if that was you, I’m sorry. I know I’m not the only one out there who has walls or “capes” that keep people out. Often we believe that being numb and pushing away the feelings are actually doing us some good but in the long run only does more damage. There are a number of different ways people numb themselves. Some could be a form of alcoholism, addiction, working too much, overeating, sleeping around and obsession with body image are just a few of the examples. I randomly listened to a TED Talk today that discussed the relation to being numb and pushing away feelings or otherwise putting on a cape, if that’s not a sign I don’t know what is!

I have officially come to the realization, this is not how I want to live my life anymore, something has got to give! As scary as it may seem, being sensitive in a world full of opportunities to be numb and not giving in, is actually true strength! So I have decided to embrace the fear and go along for the ride. I tell you it sure wasn’t fun just standing in line in anticipation, the ride itself is much more fun! This doesn’t mean there won’t be ups and downs but like any roller coaster, being up is fun and going down is scary but most of us adventure seekers always enjoy the thrill 🙂

I am thankful for the hardships life has to offer because as long as we are learning from them, that is a life worth living! May life bring you peace and happiness in all that you do!

FEAR has two meanings

1. Forget Everything And Run

2. Face Everything And Rise

All my love,

Kels

A Look From Within

Hey everyone! Currently I am writing from my hotel near the London Heathrow airport, I arrive back to the states TOMORROW. Almost 3 weeks have passed of my time here in Europe and it is bittersweet to be leaving such a beautiful country, a wonderful host family and so many possibilities. BUT for now my venture is back home. I have made the decision to return home early for a number of reasons. As I know many of you are curious I will endeavor to put some of the questions at ease.

 

The past week or so I have struggled with numerous feelings and emotions; sadness, exhaustion, happiness, faith, thankfulness, and even fear. This trip has sure been an eye opener! Almost 2 months ago I graduated college, seems like just yesterday, what a beautiful time (even with all of the rain we had that day). Nearly 3 weeks ago I finally finished 7 credits of classes I had left to take when I walked across that stage. Given that I finished class 2 days before I came to Europe on a 6-8 week venture, life is just now catching up with me. What. A. Ride. The past couple of weeks in Genova, Italy have been amazing. My family is wonderful, Italy is beautiful and life is good. Something was missing though and I’m not talking about being homesick, this is something I could feel from within. Ah yes, exhaustion. Here I am in Europe babysitting 10 hour days and traveling on the weekends. YES this is very glamorous in many ways but at this time in my life it was just too much, I was falling apart.

Since the decision I made last Spring to move my graduation date up by a whole semester I had been swamped with classes, pre-sessions, summer sessions and weekend workshops. Good thing I work well under pressure 😉 BUT as I arrived to Europe in my first few days it hit me, I need a break! Here I am about to start a possible 2 month venture but I can’t even wrap my mind, body and soul around it. So after surrendering to all of the emotions I was having about cutting my time here short, I made the choice to honor myself and come home. For the first day or two I was so worried about letting my host family down, after months of Skype calls how could I explain to them why I wanted to go home?! The conversation with my host mom was great, she completely understood and honored my wishes. In the following days I helped find a replacement for the 2-3 weeks I would be missing in order to help my host family out. I found a wonderful girl from Canada and she showed up Monday ready to rock and roll! What a relief, she is awesome and my prayers were definitely answered. Leaving was harder than I imagined. Crazy to think in such little time I became a part of an amazing family. I will forever cherish my time with them!

Once I got past the worrying I noticed something else coming up. I was afraid of what people would think. I had been talking about this adventure for months in anticipation of a nice little treat after graduation. Many friends and family members expressed their interest in following along with me while I set out on many adventures. In many forms I felt a responsibility to help show others the world. Ultimately, I realized the worry about what people thought of me was nowhere near the fear of what I might think of myself. Was I giving up? Was I letting myself down?

In the past few days I have had a revelation. All of the previous became irrelevant. The only responsibility I had given up on was the one I owed to myself. With so many changes I was finding it hard to keep up and in turn I was losing aspects of myself. This made for one very confused Kelsey. After a couple of days struggling through the emotions I am once again back on track to taking care of myself. I have currently had quite the lovely day relaxing at my hotel, treating myself to yummy meals and then a movie date to Magic Mike! That movie sure was XXL if you know what I mean 🙂 For those of you who don’t the movie is called Magic Mike XXL lol, you’re welcome. I have a full weekend ahead! Tomorrow I get to see my mom, my kitties and a few of my friends. This weekend I have a Bachelorette Party for a dear friend of mine and then see my dad on Sunday. Somewhere in between this calls for a bunch of relaxation. I am happy to say I will be spending a couple weeks on a “stay-cation” or at least for the most part!

 

Now the big question, What’s next?

 

Well, stay tuned….

Kels

Italian Life

Hey all!! It’s been over a week since my last update but I have been a busy bee here in Italy. I arrived about 2 weeks ago and I just boarded a train to Pisa, about a 2 hour journey from Genova, so I have plenty of time to get everyone up to speed!

 

Most of my days are consumed with my cute kid, Filippo. We spend almost everyday together, other than my half days which fall on Monday or Wednesday and every Friday! A typical day in the life of Kelsey and Filippo consists of sleeping in until around 10 am, surprisingly enough Filippo usually sleeps longer than me! We then get breakfast ready, lately Filo (Filippo) has fallen in love with my scrambled eggs I make, personally they are nothing special but he just loves them. This morning for instance he bats his eyelashes at me and in his very Italian accent says “Can I please have eggs, the ones you sometimes make for me”. I am honored to say even in Italy my cooking is enjoyed, not that I do it often of course. The rest of our mornings are spent doing English homework, drawing or writing, and watching a movie/TV for a little bit. This usually takes us up until the time my host mom comes home and prepares lunch for all of us. We eat a lot of tomatoes, mozzarella, pasta and veggies! Other than when we go out altogether we typically eat at home, which is fine by me the meals are all wonderful! After lunch she takes Filo and I to the beach resort where we then relax, swim and play until the end of the day when we are picked up. The first day or two at the resort I got pretty burnt, shocker! I will tell you more about Italy and the beach resort later in the post. During the evenings I usually shower, lounge around, eat dinner with my host family and then enjoy my free time. I haven’t spent many evenings going around town because the town is actually about the size of Wichita, my hometown, and of course not driving makes it very difficult to get around or at least more time consuming. So I usually spend the weekends going around to different places and cities!

 

So far this has been a wonderful experience! A very busy one, but that’s pretty typical in Europe. I truly got blessed with a wonderful host family here, we have a great connection. The mom, Alessandra, speaks English very well and the dad, Tullio understands English a lot but is a little more uncomfortable speaking which I completely understand. My Italian consists of ciao and more ciao, that’s about it! Filippo understands English very well, he is sometimes just shy talking in English because he is afraid of messing up. I think they have thoroughly enjoyed working on improving their English, which is one of the main reasons for wanting an au pair. I really did get lucky, they are a very loving and kind family. I have talked to many au pairs here in Italy and have heard some horror stories about their families. So needless to say, thank you to my spirits, guides, and the Big Man for always looking out for me!

 

Fun facts of the day: (Please note the following are just general observations I have gathered about the culture of Italy and how different it can be from the U.S., plus I thought most of you would enjoying knowing some of these)

~Most Italians are very short, even guys. I tower over most Italian men and women by the long run. I have probably only seen 2 Italians over 6′ tall. Interesting eh???

~Italians love the sun and the sun loves them! I know this because I am the whitest one here and the sun and I do not have these mutual feelings towards each other.

~I thought bringing a one piece swimsuit to Italy would be very considerate as I would be around kids all day. WRONG, pretty much everyone wears a swimsuit 2 sizes too small and all of the guys wear speedos. I was not prepared for this one! YIKES

~Pasta is served as a starter course here, not a main meal as it is in The States. You then order a main course as well and don’t forget about dessert! WARNING: This does not include the gelato you will inevitably consume after all of this.

~I cannot stress enough how crazy Italian drivers are! Ultimately, I think this is a European thing because each city I have been to just blows my mind. I have yet to see a car accident or people being pulled over. We need to catch up America, what are we thinking?! There is no such thing as a speed limit or anything of the sort and if there is I have yet to see it being taken into account!

~Not all Italians know English, especially in Genova. There is quite the language barrier for me here in Italy. I find myself speaking or responding in French quite often, I guess out of habit? I will admit this does make things a bit more difficult and a lot less fun when making friends is not so easy but it’s all about the beauty of the culture right!? 🙂

~Some of you may remember me posting about this in Paris. In Italy Coca Cola is served with a lemon. I finally found out the reason for this the other night when I was talking to my family about it. The acidity in the lemon helps with digestion, weird huh!?

For right now that is all I can think of! Will add more later. I will also post about my trip to Rome in a couple of days along with pictures. I am almost to Pisa so I better go! Definitely enjoying the view ❤

Train to Pisa

 

Good news!! I return home next week, about halfway through my time here. Why? Well as I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here thus far I am excited to get back home and spend some time relaxing. Life has been crazy the past few months, especially spending so much time working towards getting my degree and then graduating. So needless to say I am very sad to be leaving such a wonderful family and beautiful country but I must take care of myself and right now what I am needing is some quality me time and a bit of a break.

 

 

Love to you all!! Will post again real soon

Kels

I Have ARRIVED!

Well, we meet again! I believe my last blog was a little over a week ago so I will try and get you up to speed. The rest of my week went by quick as I finished the last class of my college career and began packing! Words cannot explain my excitement for this accomplishment!!! I. AM. DONE. My plans got jumbled around a bit as I was supposed to leave for Europe on Saturday. But I ended up hopping the pond Sunday and arrived in London Monday early afternoon. I must say, 9 hour flights stink but surprisingly enough I ended up getting 4-5 hours of sleep which really helped the jet lag. Got checked into my wonderful hotel at Flemings Mayfair Hotel and had a lovely stay. The room was very luxurious and the staff was impeccable which made for a very nice 24 hour stay before my journey to Italy. After a nice shower I ended up laying down and napping for 2 hours, I was exhausted. Dinner time rolled around and I forced myself out of bed to go explore London a bit. Unfortunately, I did not get to see much being that my flight left the following day, Tuesday, at 12:30pm and the airport was an hour outside of London. Arrived to the airport in the knick of time and caught my flight to Italy! On the way we flew over the Swiss Alps, absolutely breath taking!

Swiss Alps

 

My wonderful family picked me up at the airport with this

Welcome

 

We then came to their flat and settled in, hung out on the patio and rested before dinner. They took me for my first Italian meal and of course guess what I had…

Dinner

 

Followed by a wonderful fruit salad and then…. My first Italian

Gelato

GELATO

Where we got Gelato just so happened to be at Genoa’s famous beach! So beautiful ❤

Genoa

I was pretty exhausted between the jet lag and all of the change. But as we were walking back we came upon a crowd of people with telescopes. After some digging we found out that they were all looking at 2 large “stars” in the sky. These “stars” happen to be Venus and Jupiter, it was amazing!

Venus

Venus is the bigger dot on the bottom, Jupiter is above. HOW COOL!

After tossing and turning all night (time difference problems, Italy is 7 hours ahead of Kansas) Filippo (my little buddy) and I headed off to the pool/sea for the day. Being outside for 7 hours as the “introduction” to summer for my skin was not the best idea. I have the redness/burn to prove it! White girl problems..

Filippo

Isn’t he just the cutest?! Super fun and ornery!

Mediterranean

Feet in the Mediterranean

After some serious people watching I have come to many conclusions. I was the tallest and the whitest (pale) one at the pool/sea, also definitely the only American around, every male you see wears a speedo for a swimsuit (imagine that), not knowing much Italian extremely puts a damper on friendships lol but needless to say a nice, lovely day! My Italian mom came to get us at 6:30pm and I showered, lathered myself in After Sun and Alessandra (Italian mom) made a simple, yet wonderful tuna, mozzarella and tomato salad. Who would have thought?! Of course we then finished with gelato and a movie.

Now I am in bed, writing this blog and getting sleepy!

 

So on Friday I am off to ROMA! Will update after the trip with many pictures. Looks like it will be a hot one here…

Hope everyone has a wonderful 4th of July! Definitely will miss being on the lake this year ❤

 

 

Until next time,

Kels