On Pregnancy: From The Woman Who Never Wanted To Have Kids

 

“You’ll change your mind.”

“We’ll see how long that lasts.”

“Mhhmmm….”

 

I spent 25 years telling anyone who would listen that I would never, ever have kids. They stared at me with the condescending eyes of experience and usually sighed a painfully sarcastic, “okay.” Each response was ammunition in the arsenal of my stubbornness. Another year would tick by of my life without the weight or pressure of any biological clock. When my mother would ask when she will become a grandma, I’d point her to my older brother. I lived my life for myself– and I never, ever wanted to change that.

 

That was what my ancestors broke their backs in plantations and endured endless tortures for, no? So that I could live my life as carelessly and recklessly and selfishly as I chose. My life was the one they dreamt about when they were young but were quickly trained to not waste energy on. I was a reverie whipped out of them before puberty.

 

To me, motherhood was weakness. It took no special talent, no skill, no finesse, no luck. Too many people had done it, too often for too long. There was nothing unique about being someone’s mother– about sacrificial love. It didn’t interest me; not in the way a high-earning career did, or fame, or even romance. Motherhood meant settling, (an idea that probably wouldn’t have even made sense to my ancestors) and that was my greatest fear.

 

But the magic of feeling your son twist and bend inside of you was completely unknown to me, of course.

 

I have had a very easy pregnancy, in all truth. At least physically. Emotionally and mentally might be another story. But as I write this and consider the woman who had a baby that had a baby that had a baby that had a baby that had a baby to have me… I wonder if I dare even consider anything I’ve gone through during this pregnancy as greater than a minor inconvenience.

 

Pregnancy has been an unending unraveling of my mind. There is quite a difference between knowing there is a life inside of you and seeing that life on a screen and hearing that life’s heartbeat and feeling that life underneath your skin. Quite a difference. It’s spiritual, almost. In the same way that you know God because your parents told you about Him, but then you experience Him at some random age and think you know Him, and then you find yourself in the most painful situation of your life and truly meeting Him for the first time, for yourself. I haven’t met my son, yet, but I imagine it is the closest I will come on Earth to seeing my Savior.

 

Pregnancy makes you hyperbolic, as well.

 

It turns out that motherhood is not settling. Quite the opposite, I’d attest. It is the ultimate ambition, the grandest venture. Wanted or not, planned or otherwise, willingly or unwillingly– we as mothers have entered into an agreement with God Himself, the Earth He created, and every soul your child will encounter to be the best versions of ourselves, indefinitely, for the sake of this human. It’s a cause as noble as fighting for your country, as terrifying as death and as brutal as the life of my beloved ancestors.

If you are experiencing your first pregnancy, as I am, or thinking of becoming pregnant, or someone in my family that’s been dying to tell me “I told you so,” or just curious about me for some dumb reason– I have plenty of non-advice and anecdotes to share.

 

The First Trimester

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If you recall with me the scene in Cinderella where she twirls and gets bippidy-bopped into a blue-dressed-prom-queen, you’ll note how quick and seamless the transition is from peasant to pageantry. Pregnancy is the antithesis. Your “twirl” will be more like a slow spiral, and not only will you go from beauty to pure humility, you will go from a version of yourself you know very well and potentially came to love, to a total stranger. As your body becomes less of your own, so then do you. Words you’d never say slip off of your tongue, surprising you and whoever they sting. Moods you typically avoid nestle themselves into your everyday. Everyone’s patience wears thin with you, including yourself.

 

Pregnancy makes you pretty miserable.

 

It’s the same type of miserable as a hard workout or sitting in a chair for six hours to get your hair braided: excruciating, time-altering, but necessary for growth. At least, that was my experience.  The fatigue will encompass your entire life. The mood swings and the emotions will wreck you. The hunger and the desperation to feel or see any difference in your body will leave you in a perpetual state of doubt. Add to this getting rid of coffee and alcohol, and this may be the toughest three-months… ever. But you will survive. And a dance party is on the way.

I, the selfish, vain extrovert that I am, have a very hard time being told what to do. Not in the appropriate circumstances, mind you. If you are giving a TedTalk, or a physical trainer or saving me from a fire– certainly I welcome your direction with an open heart. However– be you my peer, my heart closes immediately. Being instructed by you, though well intentioned, I’m sure, sounds as if you don’t believe I am smart or resourceful enough to figure out whatever you are telling me on my own. The first trimester is a deluge of this type of communication. The unsolicited advice buries you. Any magic you feel at the loose grasp you have of this pregnancy is instantly squashed by the knowledge that absolutely everyone in your world has already done this, several times, and has something to say about how you should do it. If there is beauty during this time period, it’s a boombox that is constantly being turned down by a bunch of people telling you about how much better their music is.

 

My advice to you during the first trimester is no advice at all. Your doctor will inform you of what you need to do and not do. You will conduct your own research on the questions you have. I trust that you have a mother, sister, aunt, cousin or friend you trust to consult during your times of confusion. If not, do not seek me out, I have nothing positive to say to you about this time.

 

The Second Trimester

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Back to Cinderella. The clock strikes midnight. Her carriage “boops” into a pumpkin; her hair *bops* from an up-do to an up-don’t. She’s gone from a sleepy, romantic waltz to a full on sprint in the stroke of a clock. Prince Charming (or whatever his name is) is about to find out who she really is and she’s gotta BOUNCE. This is the instantaneous energy that comes from the second trimester.

 

For me, I didn’t wake up and suddenly have the energy of a thousand cold brews as the army of mothers from The First Trimester had promised. But the cloud of fatigue and moodiness either evaporated or became such a part of my life that I no longer noticed/was bothered by it. My energy was spent on things not of my nature– cleaning, organizing, taking better care of myself, etc. I found myself restless and desperate to “do,” which is in complete contrast to my non-pregnant personality of “treat-yo-self.”

 

This was a welcome change.

 

My advice to you during the second trimester is still no advice. The app you’ve undoubtedly downloaded will have more information than I could ever spit out. You will have identified the people you trust to guide you through your days. You will have become very familiar with your doctor and her staff by this point. Enjoy getting fat– it’s sort of fun.

 

The Third Trimester

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I am freshly into this time of my pregnancy. Very freshly. Barely 28 weeks. My son feels like an actual part of my life at this point. To compare him to God like I have been so blasphemously doing this entire time, he no longer feels like a random thought or daydream but my entire world. My physical world. Someone I walk with and know intimately. Time is moving quickly and slowly at the same time. I am anxious and content, tired and energized, ready and terrified.

 

I no longer feel like “myself,” (whatever or whomever that was) but truly just feel like Gunner’s mother. This is the epitome of why I opposed motherhood for so long. Dying to self was the biggest resistance of my life.

 

It took me a very long time to love myself. 20+ years. I spent so much time wishing (and by wishing, I truly mean crying out to God from the depths of my being)  I were something else: less black, blonde, taller, prettier, more black, thicker, smarter, etc. Once I grabbed hold of Kelsea and loved her, I never wanted to let her go. Like… ever. Hence the severe selfishness. But– to paraphrase CS Lewis— God has been “gutting the house” of me, if I may attempt to interpret His work. Removing load bearing walls and ripping up flooring. It’s been painful and ugly and, perhaps at times, traumatic, but I feel that I’m nearing the “walkthrough” stage. There is drywall and plumbing and maybe even electrical. I am nothing like the old house, though my bones are the same. I’m now a flip… anxiously awaiting my crown of shiplap and decorative lanterns.

 

My daily life can be marked by one word: discomfort. Lying on my back is a death sentence, lying on my side is a death sentence, sitting at my office chair is a death sentence. I die, daily. But I’m reborn again with every flutter and kick and stretch of my abdomen. The purpose I was called to fulfill– the me I have been meant to become– is also growing more and more uncomfortable. This is somehow… comforting.

 

 

 

My advice to you during the third trimester is, again, none at all. You are the very first woman ever in history to ever be pregnant with YOUR child in YOUR body but also take comfort in knowing that millions of women from the dawn of time have been doing this all over the world. You are a strong, powerful life-giving source and the most precious, delicate butterfly. This is the most euphoric and the most painful thing ever. Just be in it and experience it and write something down once and a while about it.

 

“It will all be worth it.”

 

 

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xo Gunner’s Mama

 

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I’m a rebel bride.

I found a song that used to be my anthem back in 2010.

 

Almost ten years ago.

 

Oh, if only I could go back and whisper words of wisdom to myself back then.

Kelsea Wiggins's portrait.

I think I would whisper to her the words of this song:

 

“If I made my bed in Hell, 

You’d come stay the night.

It matters not how far I run,

I’d still find You by my side.

If I used ten thousand words to

convince you that I’m through

You’d just call my heart a liar.

Cause I’m sick with love for You.”

 

Now that I’ve been alive for close to thirty years (oy vey) I’m noticing patterns in my relationships and in my spirit. I push people away. I always wrestle with an urge to leave, or escape. I’m often cold and selfish and independent. Defense mechanisms, you might say. Personality traits, perhaps. They help me in some areas in my life, but I’ve grown to know them to be flaws. They keep me from truly letting people all the way in. I can only imagine how much love I’ve missed out on in this life by just being a standoffish spirit.

But this song, (and the Psalms its written from), are a hug from my Mom telling me that I’m perfect, ya know? I can push God away as much as I’d like, but He will never stop being jealous for me. I could take up residence in Hell and He would still come to my rescue. He knows me better than I know me, and loves so completely and unconditionally. It’s overwhelming.

 

 

You are better at redeeming me than I’ll ever be at running from you.

 

xo K

Just believe.

Imagine with me that you are six years old. Your hair has never been more healthy because you aren’t in charge of caring for it. The same can be said for the rest of your life. It’s wonderful and carefree because it’s not your own.

Not to say that you don’t dream of what it will look like when it is your own. You do. But what do those dreams look like?

They’re boundless, right? The only walls around your dreams are really just your preferences, which are still being shaped, so calling them walls may not be fair.

But how do you achieve them?

Your mom, your teacher, Disney originals and the like all tell you:

“Just believe.”

Or…

“Dream big.”

Great. You’ve got that down.

Now, you’re eighteen and faced with a sudden thrust of reality. You have no idea what the rest of the tactical plan looks like. Your preferences are still not brick-and-cement-strong, but they’re at least drywall. You know you want to do something in X and that the plan is still to “believe” and “dream big.”

Life starts to move more quickly. The friendships that kind of just happened to you all of your life start to disappear. You didn’t know that you had to nurture them because you’ve never had to do that before. They just came to you and stayed and were great. Now they’re gone.

College, or the workforce, or whatever you’ve chosen at far too young of an age or brain-development-standpoint, is far different than you were told, as well. Now, it is more than studying and showing up to take tests and glue things to poster boards. (Or maybe letting your parents do your work for you.) Now it is learning how to think for yourself. How to think critically. How to make decisions for yourself with long-term implications. And it’s work. And no one told you that it would be work. Because it was never work before.

 

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Now, you’re twenty-six. College didn’t work out. Your parents got divorced. Your hair could not be more unhealthy. The phrases “just believe” and “dream big” mean nothing to you anymore. If anything, they are your sarcastic and satirical response to your significant other when they ask how you’re coping with stress. Oh, you’re also engaged.

Like… to be married.

You’ve never been that far in a relationship before. Any type of relationship, really. Even your friendships, which have mostly disappeared at this point. Because, again, you didn’t know you had to water them. And when you figured that out, most of them were dead. Luckily, there are a few succulents in your life that survived. But your fiance, somehow, always had that figured out. You resent him for that.

“College” has shifted to “career.” You weaseled your way into something you semi-enjoy. (Maybe you dreamed big enough?) But, alas, this is also “work.” And not just, “water-once-a-week” work, but “wring-you-out-to-dry” work. (You’re also super dramatic.) When you leave your “career” at the end of the day, you are so drained that you struggle to find things that make you happy. Disney originals from your youth don’t even do it anymore.

Where are those dreams, now?

When you close your eyes before you fall asleep, your mind instantly grabs a few low-hanging fruit. Hitting the lottery so you don’t have to “work,” anymore. Or maybe writing a best-selling novel that gets adapted into a movie. That’s work you’d enjoy.

But when you’re on the precipice of actual slumber, you feel safe enough to uncover your actual desires.

And there you are, standing in front of a mirror, rubbing a protruding stomach. Your chin is glued to your chest, your eyes to your womb. There’s a life in there. One that you have the glorious opportunity to set up for success in all the ways that you feel you were cheated. One that will be so much greater than you’ve turned out to be. Smarter, savvier, more resourceful, with a stronger, harder work ethic.

You’re getting closer to unconsciousness when you see the six-year-old version of the aforementioned baby-bump. He/she has super healthy, perfect, curly hair. You are asking him/her what they want to be when they grow up. They are rattling off a wild list.

You grab their precious cheeks that you had a hand in creating in your slightly aging hands and say,

“Just believe. Dream big.”

Where have all the books gone?

When you reach a certain age, in my case 26, you wake up early for things like a new bag of coffee and community garage sales.

 

It’s 8am on a Saturday. I am in an empty home coming off of a night of intense self-care. (Hair masques and face masks and teeth whitening and lots of water.) I am eager to be picked up by my married friend in her new SUV to hop around our neighborhood with another friend, scouring through other people’s things. I’m careful to dress myself casually, in my favorite long sleeve t-shirt and some leggings. I draw on my eyebrows so I look…. let’s say, approachably effortless. Manicured nails around a leather-bound thermos.

 

We go from house to house, street to street, in our semi-bare faces and artificially whitened smiles and tempered “Well, good morning!”’s. Most homes we encounter are raising money for charity, and not their own profit. We donate to these houses. It’s all baby clothes and kids’ toys and VHS tapes and very tired looking shoes that are no one’s size. And, of course, books.

 

Lots and lots of books.

 

My friend, Kara, whom I associate with reading among other noble, “I wish I did more of that” things, is the first of us to appreciate the books. As she is picking up works and scanning their back covers, I  picture her on her blue sofa with a coffee (Even though I’m not sure she drinks it. This is my imagination, okay?) reading something she just cannot tear away from. The way I cannot be torn away from a makeup tutorial on Instagram or The Handmaids Tale on hulu. (I was able to be torn away from the book, however, well written.) The thought makes me want to rifle through the books as well. Makes me want a blue sofa. And more coffee.

 

I flop through the titles. Mostly hardback books. They seem sturdy and interesting. Some seem nostalgic with their turquoise type and 90’s fonts. As seems to be the aesthetic of garage sales. An homage to “a time when.” Some are familiar, only because of the movies I chose to not see made in their likeness. Most are obscure.  I ask the homeowner how much for the books without looking away. “$0.50!” she shouts back. I’m wide eyed with astonishment and reach for the obscure.

 

“Fifty cents,” I say in my mind, imagining myself shaking my own head. They wanted ten dollars for a vase that I would have to clean and spray paint and thirty for a shoe rack. But the books are of no value to them. Perhaps they’ve already been read, or perhaps it is understood that they will simply never be read. Maybe they’ve already been downloaded onto a tablet or the audio version has been already worn out on their last road trip or during their commute. Maybe they purchased these books at another garage sale giving their profits to charity in an attempt to soothe their guilt ridden conscience. `

 

Maybe they were just desperate to be rid of these books. Maybe they’re all just terrible, terrible works of literature.

 

Either way– they’re mine now. All four of them. For two dollars.  The only other thing I was able to get for fifty cents were candles, which, by contrast, are menial. Burnt and then gone forever. Lit once and then invisible after that. Their fleeting sense (scents?) of tranquility nothing but disposable.

 

But can the same be said for books? I’ve only reread a few books. All C.S. Lewis works. All essentially self-help in some way. But they exist, still, on a shelf somewhere in my house. I call on them when I can find nothing else to call upon. Oh, and of course, The Bible. That gets reread with every wave of spirituality that overcomes me. Usually once every few months. Never sequentially. Both works are parachutes in some crevice of my mind that get pulled in times of despair. Never for leisure. Never for recreation.

 

So would I ever forfeit my Bible or my Mere Christianity or my Problem of Pain at a garage sale? For two quarters? Never. But perhaps my Eat. Pray. Love. or my In Defense of Food. Actually, you could just have those if you wanted. No charge. They’re taking up space at this point….

I know what happens at the end of both of those…
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It’s 8:30am on Monday. Today.  I am combing through Twitter Moments as is my source of relevant news. I come across two trending articles. One, a work of devastating beauty by Ta-Nehisi Coates about Kanye West. The other, a piece on how Barnes & Noble is heading for Blockbuster status. Both are TL;DR, but, alas, I read them. A sacrifice I make for the sake of feeling superior. For being able to publicly praise them accurately. For being informed. I read them for free and with the click of a tiny “x” in an upper corner of a browser, dispose of them.

The Ta-Nehisi Coates essay inspires me to no end but also makes me feel so inadequate as a writer that I stopped writing this very post about three times. The Barnes & Noble headline evokes little emotion, but does makes me say, aloud:

“Well of course they’re going under. I can get a book for fifty cents at a garage sale.”

 

Both.. make me want to buy more books.

 

Two Years Later

In the grand scheme of things… ya know… life… two years is not that huge of a deal. In fact, it’s more insignificant than it is significant. Do you really remember much difference between ages 13, 14 and 15? You’ve probably had the same cell phone for two years. Probably had the same car. Probably lived in the same town. Maybe even the same house/apartment/condo. Your friends and your job and your hairstyle probably haven’t changed (much) in the last two years.

 

When you take a step back, two years is nothing.

 

But, today…

 

I want to take a step forward.

 

Zoom in.

 

Because, two years is actually everything.

 

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Two years ago I was living with one of my childhood best friends in a condo we were renting in Hilliard, OH. It was a really cute condo. Two bedrooms, one and a half baths. The full bath was updated, the laundry room had a brand new washer and dryer, and I had the master bedroom. (I’m assuming because my closet had a chute to the laundry room. That’s master-esque, right?) We were friends with our neighbors. We had to drive the rent check to our landlord’s house every month. We sat and sipped wine and watch Private Practice together on weeknights. We argued about the dishes. I decorated and redecorated and rearranged. She tolerated it all.

 

Two years ago, she was in a serious relationship and I had just sworn them off for good.

 

I spent my free time figuring myself out. I had just decided to start playing with my hairstyle– discarding my lifelong routine of waking up two hours before I had to be somewhere to flat-iron my natural curls into submission. Now, I rolled out of bed ten minutes before it was time to go. I arranged my waist-length box braids in the way I wanted. I did my makeup and put on an outfit and left. That was it.

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Two years ago, I was the Happy Hour queen. I worked in downtown Columbus and very much felt a part of that culture. Social. Worldly. Mature. Sophisticated. Busy.I yelled at people that drove too slowly. At every pedestrian I encountered. I drank coffee every hour of the day. I attended everything I was invited to. I opted for the more expensive of the drink options, the bougiest of the bars. I was overdressed, over caffeinated, over confident.

 

I prioritized my career and my image above all, two years ago.

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Two years ago, I was also guarding my heart.

 

Derek was someone that had piqued my interest the moment I saw him. Digitally. On a screen. Underneath a ridiculous straw hat.

 

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It was his smile. Er… I guess you could call it a smirk. But there it was. Looking right at me. Speaking my language. Saying my name.

 

Over-confident, two-years-ago-Kelsea thought well enough of herself to pursue that smirk.

 

It started with jam sessions. Our love, that is. I would drive to Derek’s house on 5th avenue. (That was step one of the leaf turning. I no longer saw this house as my friend Colin’s house, or as the site of Colin’s business, Pallethouse Furnishings. I saw it as Derek’s house. Where I went to see and experience him.) I’d choose outfits that seemed inconspicuous enough, but I knew were subtly flattering. Like workout tights or a loose fitting tank top. Hoping he’d notice me as more than just a songstress. Hoping to be desrable.

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We’d journey to the “music room” in the house. Derek would grab a guitar off of the wall. I’d sit wherever I could find an open space. We’d awkwardly dance around the, “what song do you wanna do?” question. When we landed on something, I’d stare at Derek’s fingers gliding across the frets. Or wait for his smile to crack across his face when he messed up a chord.

 

I fell in love with his intention, two years ago. His discipline. How intently he focused on what he was doing. How gentle he was with himself when he made mistakes. How careful he was to consider me in what he was doing.

 

Jam sessions devolved, you could say. Our meetings were dominated by conversation. Derek would come over and “forget” the guitar. I totally forgot about those days until just now. I’d ask him where it was and he’d say it was in his car which was way too large of an inconvenience to go retrieve. We would spend that time laughing, instead. I couldn’t tell you about what. I couldn’t tell you what we talked about either. I’m sure Derek could. He remembers all the cute details. I can only recall how I felt.

 

Two years ago, I was terrified.

 

Maybe it’s because our foundation was in music that made Derek’s presence feel so familiar. What am I kidding — it’s just his personality. I think everyone that knows him, regardless of for how long, feels as if he’s always been in their life. He has one mode for relationships: extreme loyalty. In those early days, every single one of his friends pulled me aside at one point or another to tell me what a catch I had in him. I miss those talks.

 

Back to the terror.

 

Derek felt so right, so familiar, so necessary– that I inherently rebelled against the feeling.

Like you, dear reader of this blog, I had been so sure about a relationship before. I had put all of my eggs in one man’s basket. I had invested years of my life, countless amounts of energy, love, experiences, etc. in someone that just didn’t work out. And it’s not the I was a crazed, heart broken mess. It’s that I knew that I had wasted precious time. And that after making that mistake, I had continued to just keep trying, again and again. Relationship after relationship. Loser after loser. Regret after regret.

 

So, two years ago, I was scared shitless that I was on the cusp of making another mistake. That all of this good was the precipice for another disappointment, down the road.

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The interesting thing about me (Maybe it’s not interesting. Whatever.) is that I am absolutely terrible at hiding my emotions. When I’m angry, it’s written all over my face. When I’m happy, I’m probably literally doing a dance. And when I’m in love… well… it just comes out…

 

Derek was leaving my cute condo, one day, two years ago. We had hugged and kissed or something like that. I had watched him walk out the door and waited for the sound of the screen door to slam a few seconds later. And once it did, I realized that I was physically clenching my mouth shut. I was biting my tongue. I was essentially telling myself to shut the fuck up. In my head were thoughts of, “you should’ve told him how you feel.” and “do you think he would’ve flipped out if you said it?” And with the slam of the door, my thoughts met my reality.

 

Two years ago, Derek wasn’t oblivious to where I was in my life. He knew I was fresh out of a disaster of a relationship. He knew that I had feelings for him. He knew that I was trying to guard my heart. He knew I was serious about my career and about growing the hell up and about trying to be smart.

 

So, I did the logical thing. I pulled my phone up to my face and sent this message:


“You know… it’s getting so hard not to tell you ‘I love you,’ when you leave.”

(Two years ago, I was a bit reckless.)

That lead to some other courageous moments. Like when I sent Derek a snapchat telling him that he’s dating a basic bitch. (Dating…???) Which, yes, still makes me cringe to even think about. But this ultimately forced me to stop hiding behind the fear of failure. To call it what it is. To say what was on my heart and on my mind. To leap into the unknown.

 

And that led to…

 

Well..

 

…two years later.

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If you’re reading this, my hope is that you find significance in your days. That the passage of time allows you to appreciate the evolution of everything in our life. That you let yourself think back to where it all started once in a while. I hope you remember everything you overcame and look expectantly to everything you will overcome. Two years is a long time, it’s a short time, it’s whatever. The important thing is that it’s YOUR time. It’s YOUR story. Write a damn good one.

 

We’re working hard on ours.

Stay tuned,

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Year in Review: 2017

What a year we just had. I’m happy that the entire universe hasn’t declared 2017 a dumpster fire like they did for 2016. It was pretty eventful for me, in retrospect. I started it in a far different place than I ended it, and there were more than few constants. Sit down, grab some coffee/tea/water/liquor and lets dive into the year that was 2017. (Well, for moi.)

 

The Best of January:

2017 started the right way, I would say. I spent it my first New Year with Derek, at the house the he still technically “lived in.” My brother and his friends and even Brittnee came to the party and we had an epic send off of the crazy year that was 2016. This month, I also began rehearsals for A Date 2 Remember which was a charity event that featured me singing and acting. (Ha! More of that in February.) So every Sunday for about 2 hours, I drove to a yoga studio downtown and practiced becoming and actress and singer. (And made some new friends.)

I also dove into the Bible, began my love affair with La Croix, and found out I’d be going to SXSW in March. I was featured on the cover on Ready Publications, interviewed Wendy’s Social Media Team for the podcast I was co-hosting. (Hey Meredith!)

 

The Worst of January:

I presume, it was cold. Can’t pin point anything turrible about January. Thank God.

 

The Best of February:

February’s highlight was the A Date 2 Remember charity event I participated in. As previously mentioned, we put on a bit of a stage show at Hollywood Casino where I was “the Female Lead” and had a solo. The charity part came to flourish through selling tickets to this event, in which I sold the most out of everyone participating. My ENTIRE crew came, Derek’s parents came, even my brother and his friends showed up. I felt so loved and supported and special that night– it was a true standout for me.

Also: Derek’s goddaughter turned one this month, and I spent 8 hours in a hair salon getting my hair braided. LOLZ

 

The Worst of February:

I had a random, really fun night out with some old friends, Lauren and Nola, that actually bummed me out because I think this is the last time I hung out with them. 😦

 

The Best of March:

This was a big month for me. I went to Dallas and Austin, TX for the SXSW conference and ended up getting a tattoo, hearing some talks that just inspired the shit out of me, and doing a live podcast panel during the conference. Derek and I also celebrated one year together, so that was a big deal.

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The Worst of March:

This was the month I had the epiphany that… I wasn’t going to be a fit for the job/culture/environment I was in anymore. The next few months would be a lot of just feeling uncomfortable, panicking, and doing everything I could to make some changes, career-wise.

 

The Best of April:

APRIL was crazy. Hello spring. Derek and I were lucky enough to be a part of our friends’ surprise engagement in Athens, OH. (Video and blog post here.) We celebrated another friend’s pending nuptials with a bridal shower. Easter was spent in Perry County, and TRONFEST ruled the month. We spent 2 days in the wilderness, in a sweet-ass cabin, with all of our friends, having the GREATEST time ever. (Hot tub, anyone?)

Also, I got back into modeling part-time. Shoutout, my calf muscle.

 

The Worst of April:

I was still struggling, internally/silently, at work. Add to this that Derek and I had made the decision to move in together and started actively looking for places to live. In GRANDVIEW. I was stressed, stressed, stressed.

 

The Best of May:

It seems as the temperature increases in Ohio, so does our schedule. May was a good representation of that. I had my first, legitimate Athens experience for our friend Marie’s bachelorette party. That was an AMAZING weekend and one of the highlights of the summer, for sure. (I got introduced to my new favorite drink: the Hot Nut.) I attended The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio’s Keyholder event, I tried to start doing lunges with Derek (ha!), and I moderated a panel for the American Advertising Federation – Columbus Chapter. Oh, and more modeling, spent Lauren’s birthday exploring my old stomping grounds, and Derek and I found our current home! (Which we’re obsessed with!)

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The Worst of May:

This was the month that my career frustrations came to a head and I made the decision to leave my job. That was the best and hardest part of the year for me. I was terrified of transitioning but unable to continue to properly function under 24/7 stress. Happy to report that I’m back to being a normal human since leaving.

 

The Best of June:

Ready? Me too.

I dropped $80 on Hot Nut shots at a bar in Polaris for Steph’s Birthday because, for some reason, I thought Athens prices just transferred? (Lol, they don’t. But totes worth it.) Derek and I move in together, officially. My not-so-little cousin Morgan graduates high school. MARIE AND DENNIS GET MARRIED! (She was seriously the most gorgeous bride I’ve ever seen.) I get ombre braids, and the baby fever starts to bubble up.

The Worst of June:

I started my new job like on June 1, I believe, and was still transitioning out of my old job, so that was just a chaotic and stressful time. And during those times, I write.

 

The Best of July:

July meant lake days, grilling out, and the first party at our new place! I hopped on a pedal wagon to celebrate Rachael’s bachelorette party, went to the Columbus Commons to see Common perform, and continued with the modelling stuff. I also dove head first into my new job and was really starting to enjoy it. I realized this month what work/life balance actually means (thank God) and prioritized the things that make me happy.

Can’t forget the other most beautiful bride I’ve ever seen in my life, Rachael. Their wedding was amazing and beautiful and Derek even swallowed his 6-month-long-nerves and gave a Best Man toast.

Also, more modeling.

 

The Worst of July:

My lease at my old place expired this month, so Derek and I had to clean that place out, which absolutely sucked butt. But it also meant I was done paying rent at two places, so that was kinda good? Oh and we sold the kayaks. RIP.

 

The Best of August:

The modelling things starts to pay off when I get featured in an art exhibit called Ten by Three, that ultimately ends up in 614 Magazine. Wedding SZN continues with The Russel wedding. My brother and Derek both turned 29 this month. Derek’s birthday was spent at the Lake and also at Pins, which was a lot of fun. I think we may have attempted a Zoombeezi Bay trip this month, as well, and ended up getting rained out.

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Autumn Theodore Photography

On the Brand-of-Kelsea front, the modelling continued and I ran a giveaway on my Instagram with some other Columbus bloggers that really ramped up my Instagram game.

 

The Worst of August:

Game of Thrones ended.

 

The Best of September:

Did you know that Wedding SZN never ends? Lol, jk. Had a great time at another friends wedding where Jackie and I low key peeped that Rachael was pregnant again, when she passed on the free wine. (We were right.) Speaking of weddings and Jackie, I decided to third wheel it to a wedding expo with her. That was very overwhelming but also very fun. But onto the pinnacles of September: The First Annual Grandview House Crawl which you can read all about here, and my trip to Santa Monica, CA, which you can also read all about here.

 

ALSO: DEREK AND I STARTED OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL!!! Our first, very cringey video is here.

 

Also ALSO: The modelling game went into overdrive in September. I did a stylized shoot with my friend Stef, continued working with Nuts for Ohio, and more! I even got invited to a blogger event hosted by Columbust Stories and Bexley Yoga. (It was legendary. Yes I have a video of it, here.)

The Worst of September:

I attempted to eat the ketogenic diet and 100 Days of Yoga. Why is this in the “worst” section of this month? Because I sucked at both. I did keto (and felt amazing) for probably around 2 or 3 weeks, which is just a little shy of how much time I devoted to my 100 Days of Yoga challenge. Ugh. I can’t commit to anything.

Also: as modeling and YouTubing ramp up, blogging dies a slow, painful death. That makes me sad.

 

The Best of October:

October was brought to you by an early birthday present from Derek: my Canon Rebel! This meant random photoshoots with my favorite photographer, Derek, and more YouTube videos than our very small channel could handle.

I also spent an entire weekend at a pumpkin patch. (Yes, really.) I did a photoshoot for Balm Skincare at Lynd’s Fruit Farm and the following morning went back to the same spot to have some fun apple picking and pumpkin picking with friends!

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Oh– and Derek was Post Malone for halloween, and I failed at making a LaCroix costume.

 

The Worst of October:

Derek and I go Axe Throwing and I suck so bad at it, it’s unreal.

 

The Best of November:

My Birthday Month! Thanksgiving! The greatest month of the year!

Derek and I take our first vacation together and hit up New Orleans, Louisiana. Here’s the details on that trip: blog and vlog. We spend Thanksgiving with both of our families, which was great, and went HAM on Black Friday.

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The Worst of November:

Derek and I both going blonde. (Actually, I kinda pulled it off. Derek on the other hand…)

Oh and I’m closer to 30 than I am 20. So, that blows.

 

The Best of December:

Girls Night in the Buckeye Vodka party bus, an Ugly Sweater Christmas Party, speaking at Tonnisha’s Respect the Hustle Event, and, oh yeah, Christmas! December was lit, for the most part. I had an amazing holiday season that was topped off with Derek and I hosting our first New Years Party together. It was a raging success, and, of course, we vlogged it all here.

The Worst of December:

We celebrated my birthday on the first weekend of December, and I was conscious for maybe 20 minutes of it. Let’s just say, I don’t think I’m allowed back in Grandview Cafe anytime soon. Yikes.

 

Honorable Mentions:

Speaking at OSU PRSSA, ALL of the great TV Derek and I consumed this year, including Homeland, Vice Principals, Stranger Things, Breaking Bad and WAY more, volunteering at TedX Columbus event (meeting Piper Kerman), joining the Bad Bish Netowrk (again, kinda), Tegan’s first birthday, The Girls on the Run 5k, passing out candy on Halloween, my Peer to Peer group, and all the new friends I made.

 

2018, whatchu got?!

6 Lessons for 26

Here’s the biggest lessons I’ve learned during my 25th year, and will carry with me into Year 26.

I do not get to tell anyone else what should or should not matter to them.

This is kind of an abstract idea that is hard for me to articulate. I think the very divisive political climate brought this epiphany onto me. Actually, the political climate brought a lot of these ideas to my forefront. I saw a lot of “groups” (That I would consider myself a member of. Political groups, race groups, gender groups, religious groups, etc.) clinging to causes/ideas that they saw as THE most important– or at minimum, more important than others. Obviously, moving through the world as a black woman, the sexism and racism happening in the world were paramount issues to me. But to others, those were not important issues at all. Do I get to run into their face and tell these people that they need to start caring about something because it is negatively impacting me? No. I can hope that they would see my struggle and empathize, but I cannot make someone, or even be angry with someone, for not walking through the world the same way that I do. Further, I would be livid if someone demanded I adopt their worldview.

It seems silly and simple, but it’s about identifying someone’s capacity to empathize. And vice versa. And recognizing that I cannot argue or force someone to empathize with me. (And vice versa.) I will continue to be as vulnerable as possible, so that you all can understand my worldview as much as possible (if you want to). And I would implore you to do the same.

We all have a choice in this, is what I’m saying. Which is what is so beautiful about it all. About our country, about our world, about this period of time. We all get to decide which hills we’re going to die on, for which causes. Freedom to decide. Freedom to investigate. Freedom to be vulnerable. Freedom to empathize.

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Choosing to live an unhealthy lifestyle is a selfish delusion.

This is a new revelation. I’m not a healthy person, at all. I’m lazy. I’m often tired. I eat out for every single meal. I’ve often saw this as “my” thing, and actually kind of funny. (Oh, I eat baconators everyday and I’m still skinny! Tehehe!) But here’s the reality of the situation.

  • There are a TON of diseases that I am genetically predisposed to that a healthy lifestyle will protect me from.
  • One day, in the distant future, I am going to have to pay for all of these baconators and drunken nights, and lack of exercise.
  • That same day, in the distant future, someone else is going to have to take care of me. Whether its my future kids, future grandkids, Derek, or whomever. It’s not going to be me.

So, making some lifestyle changes today, (I’m not committing to anything here. Like, minimal stuff. Like actually cooking my food sometimes, yoga a couple of days a week, drinking water, not drinking as much, not smoking, etc.) is an act of love to a bunch of people that don’t even exist yet.

Mental Illness is crazy.

I don’t think I’m like swimming in the waters of a mental illness, let me be frank about that. I do believe I’ve put on the bathing suit and taken a dip, though. And I hated it. But I also now understand how freezing cold that water is and can empathize better. Which is all i want to do in this life: empathize. Now, when someone openly admits to me about their depression, or their ongoing struggle with anxiety, my mind does not shut an imaginary garage door and say “Oh well idk bruh, sorry. Take a nap or something.” Now my brain flashes back to crying on our sofa, and Derek trying as hard as he can to make me feel better and it just ultimately making me feel worse, and this seemingly endless cycle of darkness and sadness and crying– and I kinda know what they’re going through. And I can say something a little more meaningful or offer a tiny sliver of advice or comfort. Now, I can empathize!

Saying “I’m sorry” is more important than being right, 99.9% of the time.

I haven’t learned this fully, yet. I’m aware. Derek has been involuntarily beating this into my head our entire relationship. I’m realizing that being in a relationship with me is a sacrificial, thankless job. He swallows his pride a lot, apologizes a lot, bends over backwards, etc., just for me to be pissed about watching The Cavs for the 18th night in a row. But, legitimately, every time we find ourselves disagreeing about something, every time my mind is going through the maze of how RIGHT I am and how WRONG he is… his mind is already on “I just want to not fight anymore” street. He apologizes first. I feel like an asshole, first. We get over it and that’s that.

As I’m trying to peel back my stubbornness to be more like Derek and less like my father, I’m wondering what other areas of my life would benefit from saying sorry first. And to tie into the above lessons, perhaps to those who see the world differently than I do, to those I’m quick to judge for their lifestyle choices, and to those who are suffering from illnesses that none of us can see.

 

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My identity shouldn’t be wrapped up in this exterior.

I was taught a lot of important lessons without my parents or teachers actually plainly laying them out. I don’t think my mother every explicitly told me “Go out into the world and knock it on its ass and be independent.” But the way she lived her life said that to me, everyday. In the same way, when I came home from 4th or 5th or whatever grade, crying my eyeballs out, because I realized I was ugly– she taught me that there was nothing ugly about me. That the things I hated about myself, I should be proud of– even if no one in my life looked like me.

This lesson isn’t to say that I should ignore the above lessons, or not be proud of my exterior. This is just to say that they shouldn’t define who Kelsea is. I am proud of being black and of being a woman and of being an American and of being a Christian. But I am more proud of my creativity and spontaneity and integrity and compassion. And if I focus, too closely, on the outside, the inside falls away.

So how do I combat that? Vulnerability. Empathy. Trying to see every person I encounter for the things I’m not supposed to see them for. What is this person’s intent behind what they’re saying? Why does this person like me? Why does this person not like me? What makes this person unique? How can I help this person? What’s the best way to love this person?

All of those answers will never come from anything on their outside.

Columbus, OH is the greatest city in the world, and my forever home.

I spent some time in Santa Monica, CA, Austin, TX and New Orleans, LA this year. All wonderful cities. All cities that made me wonder a lot of stuff. Questions like:

  • Should I have moved away from Columbus at some point in my life?
  • Will I regret having never lived somewhere else?
  • What have I missed out on by staying in the same city for my entire life?

Let me clarify that I lived in Lexington, KY for a year– but that kind of doesn’t count because I spent the entire time on UK’s campus. But, outside of that, this city has been my home for 25 years. I know it like I know the back of my hand. I remember what it used to look like, I remember desperately wanting to leave, and I remember falling in love with it again when I turned 21. Most of my family is here, my memories are here, and I believe my future is here.

How did I come to this conclusion/decision?

At the end of the day, Columbus, OH is a lot of things: inclusive, optimistic, gorgeous, exciting, thriving, fun. But it is one thing that no other city is: it’s mine. I drive past the hospital I was born in, weekly. I have memories from every stage of my life in this city. This city made me. It’s woven into the fabric of my DNA. And no other city could ever beat home.

 

What’s life if you aren’t learning?

xo K