#leapfear Day 11 – Kate

Kate moves with effortless grace and poise.  Once I got to know her, I realized that this came from the inside out.  Kate shares part of her story below but what you don’t hear in her words, I think you can see in these images.

Kate is more than a survivor.  She has embraced every opportunity given to her.  She doesn’t look for silver linings, she is determined to find those platinum clouds in the sky.  But more importantly there is a generosity of spirit, a giving nature and a pure humility. She doesn’t mention it below, but she is currently studying how to help others navigate through grief.  Not only does she understand what that feels like, she also shows us how we can use it to live our lives with more purpose and meaning than we thought we could.

Since Kate is such a gentle optimist, I wanted to capture her grace, poise, and hopefulness in these images.

(PS.  I didn’t pay her to say that stuff at the end;)

Special thanks go to my amazing makeup artist Lindsey from BeYOUtiful Esthetics.  

What changed that made you realize you were living a life of fear?2016-02-11_0001.jpg

I grew up in a very small town. I went through the elementary years with the same small group of kids. Our graduating class had only 21 people in it. I did well academically, enjoyed learning how to play the violin, and loved spending time with my family and friends, but the social element of school was challenging for me. I dealt with a great deal of bullying and felt like I was never good enough. I have always been the tallest kid in the class; I was awkward and not one to try to fit in just to be cool. I was stubborn and tried to be true to myself. I was afraid that I might always be on the outside of social groups. I needed a change from the small town.

My parents separated the summer before my grade eight year and our whole family moved to London or my grade nine year. I was scared to start at a new (secondary) school in a new (bigger) city. It was a significant change for someone that takes a little longer with transitions! Even though I was nervous, I had hope that the move would be good for me and my family.

High School Musical came out during the summer while I packed up my childhood room. Part of me was hoping that I would meet my Troy Bolton and other nerdy musical friends. While my high school years did not turn out quite like HSM (big fan!), I did meet many new friends and we would occasionally break out into song. After having such a challenging time socially during elementary school, I was thrilled to make such great friends in high school. I truly enjoyed and appreciated the move to London.

Three months after moving to London, my dad died and shortly after that, my uncle. I realized that I would have to grow up without my dad being physically present and that scared me. The upcoming years would be filled with so many milestones that he would miss. While I would not say that I have ever lived a life of fear, I can say that the fear of some unknowns and dealing with significant losses over the years have helped me to realize the joy in life and to appreciate what we have while we have it.


Once you did take the leap, what did you have to let go of?

I am a leap in progress. I think we all are. I have to let go of my past, accept that it has happened, and keep moving forward. There is no closure following the death of a parent or loved one; there is only greater acceptance and peace that continues to grow over time. I find comfort in believing that while my dad is no longer physically present, he is likely watching over me in some way and saying “That’s my girl!” as I go through major (and minor) milestones.


Once you let go, what did you find on the other side that was worth taking the leap?

I found beauty. Beauty in myself, relationships, nature, music, and culture continues to inspire me to keep moving forward. I know what it is like to suffer and that has made the joy even brighter. Advanced green lights? The smell of a bakery? The wagging tail of a happy dog on a hike in the woods? That is pure joy right there.

2016-02-11_0005.jpgWhat would you tell someone whose fears are still holding them back?

Take baby steps. You do not have to overcome anything over night, just point your feet in the direction you want to go and start to lean forward. You will know what to do next. Talk to people, get to know their stories, look for teachers and inspiration everywhere, and be open to all that the world has to offer – good and bad. Being open to new, and possibly scary, experiences makes our life experience richer.


Is there anything else you would like to share with people on the blog?

I first met Anita when she was my grade twelve biology teacher. She made learning the Krebs cycle a (somewhat) fun experience! We learned so much more than biology in her class. We learned how to make learning and remembering easier, and we had discussions about social justice and current affairs. One such discussion was about the impact mental health has had on our lives. She was the kind of teacher where students were comfortable to share their stories. I shared part of mine and while I do not remember what I said, I do remember her finding me in my next class, talking to me in the hallway, and giving me a hug for what I had shared. She is one of those teachers that you remember years later.