Esme Reyes-Brunner

Sunday, April 19, 2020


Maybe it's the COVID time, the extra thinking time, the vivid dreams, and conversations with friends who have been through similar experiences this week, but I didn't plan to post this for awhile because honestly...I am still processing and don't always want to talk about it - obviously, but this week, I was informed that it is National Infertility Awareness week...and a friend suggested to maybe just rip the bandaid off...because that can cultivate healing..and she always reminds me, we write for ourselves, but we post for 1 person to resonate and maybe start their journey.

So, I've always had an intuition from God - being able to read others and when something isn't right - MY GUT GOES OFF. I always know God talks to me through my intuition.

In the late Summer, during the busiest time of the academic year...I could sense my body was tired....And not just the normal beginning of a school year tired...My body just felt off and I started to bleed, but not the typical period blood. I scheduled an appointment with a Doctor just to be safe the very next day.

Glad I listened to my instincts because I had learned I was experiencing an ectopic pregnancy...I just remember almost blacking out when she was telling me...Everything was a blur...

Afterwards, I didn't even know how to process with Aaron - at the time our Doctor wasn't bilingual and explaining what an ectopic pregnancy was in English was already difficult. Being in absolute shock and then having to get a shot for this, I kept thinking - WHY DID I FAIL? What's wrong with me?! This isn't real...This can't happen to me..."I do everything with my all!"...Yeah...this opened up all kinds of internal wounds.

I felt so desperate and just not in control, I would take every pregnancy test until it came back negative - Because after your body registers, you test positive every time for awhile. I thought once I get a negative test back, this feeling I have will just be gone.

Well, I got my negative pregnancy test back mos later, and it didn't empty any feelings from my system, it FLOODED them. But by then, I had a Doctor that also oversees Aaron and he was able to grieve with me...life was going to look different from here on out, together.

Like every time I bleed, it's going to give me a little PTSD.

Every baby announcement was going to sting. We are thrilled for our loved ones, but it was also a painful reminder of what we wouldn't have in 2020.

And then the rabbit hole of, What if I can't ever successfully carry a baby to term? What if I can never meet someone who is biological to me? My birth Dad is dead - I had learned in January of 2018 in my birth family search. I don't know about my birth Mom or birth siblings. So my potential future kids - Is all I have left to ever really meet someone biological to me, and what if I cannot even have them? I speak miracles into existence over What If's, but on a bad day, I can stay a little too long in the What If's.

And then having to deal with people saying the most well meaning things, but doesn't quite hit right in grief...like..."Everything happens for a reason!" "Babies come after marriage! That's the right way!" "You're adopted, you can just adopt!" "You are 30, this happens in older women!" "Not meant to be!" "Many women have been through this, you'll be fine!"... Again well meaning sayings, just hard to hear when you are grieving.

And now? So many months later - considering we might have to postpone our October Wedding due to COVID19, and after having to cancel my birthday, our USA ceremony, and my Easter Sacrament of Initiation into the Catholic Church...It's just one thing after the next...and I look for silver linings & I am grateful to be working & have health insurance & food in the fridge...But at some point, every person has a breaking point.

Besides praying at night when I am thinking the most, Aaron's consistency in showing up, guidance from professionals, & a few friends that really understood what I was going through - The most useful coping mechanism for us was giving our loss a name.

Right before the holidays, we had taken some advice from a couple that said they named their baby when she miscarried. It gave the baby some personalization and it was like an open personal line of communication to heaven. I liked that idea...and after some thinking, Aaron and I had finally chosen Esme.

Esme. Meaning emerald. Emerald is the birthstone of May.

Perfect fit for what would have been the birth of our Esme in May.

So when I think of Esme, it gives me comfort knowing my Grandparents are cooking and playing games with Esme, and that some of my friends who left this life too early are telling Esme embarrassing stories about me....and Esme is probably playing with their other cousins who also went to heaven the same way they did.

I don't doubt that God's plan for my life is bigger and better than what could have been. And...it also doesn't make what Aaron and I experienced - a loss of life, any less painful, it just gives me peace when I need it most.

I didn't know how much I wanted to be a Mother until I was almost one. I also know though, when timing and biology are in sync, I will have the best co-pilot in parenting. There is no better teammate than Aaron. That man loves, doesn't judge, and always reminds me God is in charge.

Writing has always been my best art. It's always been the healthiest outlet that I can do by myself, but I also have felt I've been in writing purgatory for awhile, and this was the most free conversation I've had with my journal in some time. It feels so good to feel like I am having the first real conversation on ink to paper this year. I didn't realize how much this experience blocked me from my usually most favorite outlet to remember, articulate, and document life - Writing.

I posted on my blog NOT for sympathy, pity, or for you to feel sorry for me. I can't stand none of that, ew please, just don't feel bad for us.

Like many people who have written about this very topic - We know we aren't the first or the last person to experience this. I hope that this can resonate for someone, make someone feel less alone, and even if our stories were different - Grief is grief...and I hope for the best in where you land in your journey. I also hope for people who say well meaning things, to be mindful in how your cause is not your effect and your intent isn't your impact. This goes for me too. I am the worst perpetrator of that, and I have a long ways to go in how I ask people, "If they are having babies"...I have a few mortifying stories in how I meant well, but that wasn't the impact.

So whether it's a miscarriage, infertility struggles, ectopic pregnancies, loss of life by other circumstances, the struggles of trying to financially afford adoption / the time it takes, I see you, my village sees you, God sees you. I hope you see what you need and take care of yourself 💗.

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After permission from the blogger, I am posting some posts of fertility struggles or miscarriages that I hope you can resonate with as well and their different ways of coping. 3 women I respect and admire. This is just a few of the dozens of women I know that share this experience and ways they've coped.

My cousin's miscarriage(s) and her narrative can be found on: An American Girl in Canada 

My friend and her husband's infertility struggles can be found on: Bethsaida Productions

My former supervisor/friend, and her narrative can be found on: Life as a Lee

Anew

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Reading my final 2018 post from a year ago (LINK) - made me laugh out loud. I was writing from such a space of quiet, solitude, calmness, no stress. Life was chill, and as I said "I am leaving room for the unexpected". Whatever God had for me, I was going to welcome it. I actually posted it 1 day after my first date with my Fiance.

So that room I created in 2018 was really filled to the brim this year...with things and people that made me experience a part of myself that I didn't know existed or a part of me that I used very little of. What 2019 taught me was to be grateful for when God answers my prayers....Because my prayers more or less looked like this - a lot of the unexpected.

I met Aaron in 2018 technically, but we started 2019 with our 3rd date and solidifying our relationship to bring in a brand new year.

In February, I loved getting to visit my bestie in Alaska for her 30th birthday!

I found rhythm at work. I was also promoted from Manager to Director thanks to my supportive supervisor.

This year I inherited 2 roommates - one future brother in law in January and another in October. I also got to meet my future sister in law too who is helping us coordinate for the Wedding.

My niece also lived with us for 6 weeks this Summer. My brother and his fam came to visit in August - I haven't lived at home for 12 years, and this was the first time he came to visit me, I really loved getting to hang with my brother as an adult.

I so happily got to officiate a friend's wedding - We've been friends for 19 years and met at Church camp.

I met my Fiance's Madrina, Tia, Tio, Primas, Sobrina, and Grandparents.

I went to Toronto, Canada for a conference and was reunited with old friends and I got to explore a new city, by myself - Oh how I value quiet time these days.

Made a 16 hour road trip to South Dakota so my Fiance could meet my family and so I could partake in my hometeam's annual 3rd of July reunion. We got to shoot firework, goto the rodeo, ride the four wheeler, and enjoy the best season in my home state. I can smell the yellow clover when I look at photos!

We got to explore Vancouver, Canada, twice, and my Fiance got to meet my cousin living there. We grew up on the farm together!

We had 41 visitors total since I've lived here - All whom we loved, adored, and made so many memories with. We cooked, we belly laughed, we toured Seattle. We love hosting people, and making people feel at home.

I am half way through my conversion into Catholicism and got to experience the Rite of Welcome in December.

I also started to learn basic Spanish.

2019 was also filled with a lot of the hard stuff - illness, medical concerns, racism (interracial relationship, culture shock (adjusting to difference in cultural norms), learning to let go, dealing with people who feel entitled to my life, adjusting friendships and our normalcy with my new normal...it's been a year full of heartache too. But it's what made the other memories so healing, and so sweet.

Each passing year, I grow more comfortable and confident in where my values are. Who I love, who I respect. What I do and what I don't do. What I am not willing to say yes to if it wrecks my peace, and when to 100% say yes, I'll do that with a joyful heart.

For 2020, I chose to focus on the word Anew. I chose Anew because although my heart is the same; my roles and priorities have had to evolve. In 2020, I will be starting year 3 at DigiPen. I will have been with American Pageants Inc. for 22 years. I am getting married to my person. I will become officially Catholic, I will be further learning Spanish.

My life, in many ways feels different from the inside out, but my values, my hometeam, all the things that keep me grounded and blessed are still the same.

This season - Anew - is about rebirth of my self - Spiritually, physically, emotionally, and relationally. It terries me with how many changes have happened, and on the other hand, the adrenaline has completely fed my lust for adventure. Old me would be job searching and looking for my next city to move to. This me, Washington me, is looking at what can I do right in front of me. What does it look like to love fully the life given to me here, even when so many things were unexpected - Good unexpected and tearfully, unexpected too.

My old roomie and friend - We had a day to do vision boards. 2020 - My inspiration for what's to come!





Widening the Margins

Thursday, September 26, 2019

My last season of life, I was choosing margin. 

Choosing to have few connections, few responsibilities, so that my heart could feel at peace. So I wasn't over working. Or over performing. Or over doing everything. I wrote about it HERE in February.

But after every quiet season - usually comes the season of what you've been preparing for.

And I have felt that in every minute of the day. It's the season I am in now. AND IT IS SO FULL I MISS HAVING A BORING LIFE. It’s a cycle, inhale and exhale years…and I swear they alternate every other year.

This Summer meant widening the margins back in my life. Opening the curtain, getting back to reality from my soul/mind/heart vacation. 

And LOL…Actually nervous laughing…

It's been an adjustment, and that adjustment came into full effect this Summer. Starting off with officiating a friend's wedding who I met at Church Camp from 2000, getting to room with my other friend from camp who I also met 19 years ago, and then getting to meet Aaron's sweet relatives in Southern California on this same trip.



I finally got to go to a new city – Toronto, for a conference and it was one of the most diverse cities I’ve ever visited. My heart felt so full there, and maybe my stomach too ;)

Because this year has been so different for me, not familiar, completely new territory, that I am glad I got to keep some sacred traditions like going back to South Dakota for the 4th of July. There is nothing like the 4th in small town South Dakota. Rodeo, fireworks, bar life, carnival, four wheeling, gravel roads, starry skies...it’s everything a Summer has always been to me. Aaron got to meet my parents, my family, and friends I’ve had since grade school.

We were also lucky this year to have my niece come back and live with us for a month! Living away from my family, the worst part is being a long distance Aunt. So, having her come with us for an entire month made me so happy, and we finished Summer with my brother, his wife, and kids visiting…the first time in 12 years that my brother came to visit me where I lived – Ike, I know you love me :D


Then, came August…Notoriously known in higher ed / Housing that I don’t exist until SEPT. DigiPen has been such a blessing in multiple ways, but I appreciate working there because of the students and people. I also feel heard and advocated for. Enough so that I was promoted.

I feel like I am typing a Holiday Card recapping my year, but I am just reiterating that if life seems slow, quiet, and forcing you to calm down…Maybe you should listen to it. Normally, I’d ignore it. I’d busy my life up so much to the point I’d be exhausted before I got started.

Now? I am so happy I listened to my gut for the first time, and took the calm season to actually relax. It helped regulate my pace for this season of busy and full. I arrived in WA last year, unsure if I made the right move, sad from a break up, never thought I’d be a Mom or a Wife because I was so over relationships and people, didn’t want to take any risks, or talk ever again to anyone….and a year later….this is where I am.

Planning a wedding in Mexico, learning Spanish to speak with my Significant Other’s family, converting to Catholicism, making new connections, and y’all…even keeping some plants alive!


Even though I’ve widened the margins, and allowed life to surprise me - I couldn’t widen the margins without choosing margin first. I am content that I took my unsure season as a time to train, rest, and believe whatever I’m training for, was to widen the margins of life – to gain what I’d been praying and throwing out to the universe. I hope if you are in that season, you do too. It’s not easy living in a culture where we are told to do MORE, be MORE, learn MORE, MORE MORE MORE. And just step back and say no, this is what I need and this is what I don’t need. To prepare intentionally, to break unproductive habits, and bad cycles.


Open Floor Plan

Thursday, December 27, 2018

San Francisco - Spring 2018

This morning, I looked at my half full closet and 80% occupied dresser...with much space for more stuff...but also feeling like I don't even need all the space I have. A sweet reminder of how much space I've created for the unexpected and how stuff really doesn't make me any happier.

2018 has been more than enough for me, and this is how it has shown up...

I am thriving in my own skin. I listen to my body, and I am learning to rest.

I am loving God and faith without constraints of what it should look like.

Writing. I've had so much time to write and blog, and co-blog with beloveds.

Continuing sacred's and rituals - cousin facetimes, bestie birthdays, 3rd of July reunions, pageants over Thanksgiving, 4th annual Giants game, and a yearly hello email to all my former student leaders and teams.

Co working dates, daily starbucks runs, and new happy hour spots.

Got to officiate my besties' wedding; Saw Drake in concert; Traveled to Mexico City.

Hosted 26 visitors between San Francisco and WA.

Walked through the streets of San Francisco after a rowdy rooftop bar night.

Went go carting on the gravel roads passing through my family's acres on a warm July evening.

Felt the worn out moving boxes holding my belongings that are mostly gifts and the art I feel connected to.

And with who I've become and what I've done, this is where it has left me into 2019;

I miss driving on the Bay bridge into San Francisco at night. The lights were bright enough to reflect off the water and warm enough to make me feel at home.

But the green and precipitation of the Seattle sound is enough to nourish my soul, and I know I'm blooming in a season of what feels like starting over, but really it's just a continuation.

Love really does exist.

I also learned what it meant to let go of someone you have love for because that's what that person really needs...and also hoping the absolute best for them.

I like my grey hairs and wrinkles around my eyes, and the stretch marks on my thighs. It shows a well lived body participating in the life in front of me.

My smile feels so real; My heart is a direct line to my smile.

Getting to see the fridge with my loved ones holiday cards on it - each one of them drenched in memories.

I like moons, flowers, reading books that I bought so long ago, but never had the capacity to indulge in. I love celebrating. I like cheering people on. I love all the things that make others feel good about themselves.

I'm operating this next chapter of life like an open floor plan.

My family is healthy, strong, and very happy. That's probably the highlight of this all.

Experiences over things.
Presence over presents.
Humanity over perfection.

& Turning 30 this year, and I feel like life is just getting started!

South Dakota - Summer 2018
Seattle - Winter 2018

Parents

Friday, September 28, 2018

Brunch with my parents over Labor Day weekend at my favorite restaurant in Redmond, WA - Woodblock

The more times the earth rotates around the sun, the more I recognize how valuable my parents really are.

I've lived away from my parents since I was 18 with the exception of when I broke my leg after college - HA.

And every passing year, it's always been a pain point for me to live so far away. I've missed Christmases, birthdays, Mothers day, Fathers day, anniversaries, and everything in between.

But South Dakota is my first home - I knew my neighbors. I was raised on a family farm. I knew my classmates. Teachers cared for us like their own kids. I knew my friends parents as well as my friends.

My parents gave me everything they could.

Even though we grew up extremely poor.

I remember having snow drifts in our house, or having leaks in our roof, all full well knowing we couldn't afford to fix any of those. We were lucky to have a working car that when we pulled into a parking lot, was often made fun of because it was that ragged. I grew up in a town that the average salary was between $11,000-$20,000 per YEAR, and that was a dual income.

But my parents made me feel like we had everything we could possibly have.

And I am so grateful and proud to be where I am from - An at the time 174 population rural town.

I love where I was raised. I love that my work ethic, my values for hospitality, and my love for my Faith are deeply rooted in how and where I was raised.

But I'm also different - my life philosophies, career, interests, where I feel like I belong isn't fully possible where I grew up.

And reconciling that has been one of the biggest challenges of my adult life.

But I write this for the people who like to remind me that my parents are getting older and their unwanted advice or guilt trip of thinking I should, "quit my job, move back near my parents, and take care of them"....

YES. I know. They're my parents...and have you met my parents? If I even mention they're "old" you would have thought I told them that the earth was a triangle.

My parents visited over Labor Day and I asked them what they wanted for their kids out of life.

They said they hoped their kids had faith, family, and a good job. More or less I have most of those crossed off. And I thought that without saying it, those are exactly the 3 things that I visibly prioritize to this day.

I then asked them if they ever thought I'd move home...and they told me ever since I was a teenager and saw how curious I was about the world, that it was unlikely I'd ever come back if I moved.

I love my parents, the ones that gave me everything they could, and of course I honor them and celebrate them in different ways since I live so far away.

But they also raised me to be self sufficient. They raised me to explore, pursue my passions and my paychecks equally. 

They raised me to live my life AND to value family ties, and that the mileage between us was not mutually exclusive to do both.

And to be real, I actually tried moving back to South Dakota 3 times (When my Mom had cancer, Spring of 2016, and Summer of 2018)...and a job fell through EVERY time...I took it as God, the world, whatever was telling me, it's not time yet.

So for the next friend, "family member" (the ones that talk shit behind my back about what I post or what I believe, but will never have the backbone to say it to my face) or whoever has a judgement to pass that I don't live near my parents - stay in your lane.

I may move near my parents in a year, 5 years, or never.

And that will be my burden to carry, not yours.

And that decision is so complicated that you can never possibly understand. My parents are not your parents, clearly - Because my parents taught me to not intrude on other families' affairs.

My parents are high on my priority list.

But your opinion as what I should do as a "Midwestern woman" is not even in the top 1000.

The 2-4 times a year I do spend with my parents, is rich, quality time...Asking hard questions, loving them, treating them well, and packing in as much connection as possible.

Some families are built to be spread apart and come together....and some are built to stay in their village...and both and all options are good because every family connection is different.

Thank you Mom & Dad - For the life you've created for me and for the support you continuously give as I live my love affair with my own life. 

Losing My Best Friend

Thursday, March 15, 2018

I am so excited to feature this kind soul, Ryan. I met Ryan when I was a Community Director at California State University Monterey Bay when he was a Resident Advisor. Although I did not supervise Ryan, we bonded over loving San Francisco and once he graduated, developed a friendship where we are able to talk about life. Ryan's writing is a reflection of his personality - warm, eloquent, and energetic. Read about his relationship with loss and with his Grandma here:

Hi! My name is Ryan Haynes and I am so glad you took the time to read my post! Bios are always super hard, but I'll try my best to keep it brief and interesting. I currently reside in the Bay Area and spend almost all of my free time with my dog, Boo Boo! Boo Boo and I go on walks, hikes, to the beach, dog parks. When I'm not being an overly-obsessed dog parent I like to read, write, cook, spend time with loved ones, do anything drag related, and express myself creatively. I work as an Academy Assistant at the Academy of Art University. 

When I was younger I would look forward to summers because that’s when Grandma Eva would come to visit. When Grandma Eva was staying with us everything seemed better; I had my other half.

In the mornings we would sit at the kitchen table together. She would read the newspaper as I work on my newest creation; a drawing, painting, statue, play script. I would always ask her for help. I was in awe of her creativity; her ability to add exactly what my art was missing, to make it seem complete to me. In the afternoons I would perform for her. I would make use of my karaoke machine to put on a show; act out all the parts of my play, sing, dance. Then, we would watch a movie, The Wizard of Oz, more specifically. I would be sure to cover her eyes during all the scary parts and tell her every single thing that was about to happen, even though we had both watched it together the day prior. At nights, we would lay in separate beds, in the same room, and talk until it was far past my bedtime. I would tell her about my dreams, all my secrets. I remember specifically telling her once that I wished I could try on wigs, makeup, dresses, and that I would love to dress up for Halloween, but I knew my parents would never let me. To fall asleep I would have her tell me a story. Her stories were always so creative. It’s still hard to understand how she came up with the stories she did.

When I reached High School, Grandma Eva moved in with my family and our synchrony continued. As I made the decision to leave home for college, the idea of no longer sharing a bedroom with my great grandmother and no longer talking with her every day, terrified me. Although, she was always my biggest fan, and of course, told me I have to move out so that I can  discover myself and begin my journey, and so I did.When I was in college I would call Grandma Eva every few weeks and we would catch up. She would talk about the current state of the world, how her doctors visits were going, how my family was, how proud she was of me, and much more, and I would talk about school, work, my friends, and adventures. We would exchange books or readings that we thought each other would enjoy. I could feel her love for me through the phone.


In December I graduated college and moved to Oakland. I had no idea (and continue to have no idea) what I was doing with my life, but my grandma was so proud of me. She was so proud of all that I had accomplished in college and all that I had ahead of me. She was proud of who I had grown into; a strong, determined, loving, kind individual; someone she always knew me to be. She saw that I finally loved myself. I always knew my Grandma Eva was the one person that I would never have to come out to, because she knew all of me, parts of me that I don’t even know, so when I casually mentioned my queerness in an email I already knew how she would respond.

In early January my parents called me and told me that Grandma Eva was diagnosed with liver cancer. I called my grandma; I cried and told her that everything would be ok. She assured me that she would fight it, and I told her that if things don’t work out that way, that would be ok too, and she agreed. I told her about a new project I had started. I had started to create a podcast, a sort of “New Years resolution” idea I had to produce something creative. She was really proud of me and all the ideas I talked about, and I told her I would love to talk with her when I got home and record her for the podcast; she was really excited about this. I headed home to see her a couple days later and her state had deteriorated drastically. I recorded some of our conversations, but a majority of her days and nights were spent sleeping; she couldn’t talk long without losing her breath.

On January 18th, 2018 my great grandmother, Eva Harper passed away. I held her hand and laid my head on her chest, crying hysterically, as I felt her breathing become more and more delayed and more and more shallow, until finally she smiled once more before her pain subsided.

As I slowly move forward in figuring out my next steps in life, a life without my other half, I have been navigating in a different way. I think of my great grandma and what she would do, what she would say, how she would support me in these turbulent times. The adjustment to losing a best friend is not easy. Even as I finish writing this, I wish my grandma was here to read over it, like she did many of my college essays. As I toy with the decision of going back to continue my education or find a job I wish she was here. As I have been struggling with my mental health and have finally decided to begin medication I wish she were here.

My podcast, entitled Things We’ve Learned focuses on reflection as a place of growth and liberation. Each episode will feature the narratives of myself and others, as we discuss how we’ve grown and continue to grow in different topic areas. In each episode I will also talk about my great grandmother; what I believe she would have to say on the topic if she were here to still talk with me.


Ryan with close friends at Brunch


Email: thingswevelearned@gmail.com

Self-Forgetting by Katie Koho

Thursday, January 4, 2018

I wanted to introduce my first ever guest contributor Katie Koho. You can read about my 2018 blog collaboration HERE. If you'd like to collaborate, please email me at info@jaymealexis.com. Katie and I crossed paths as colleagues at San Francisco State University. She has taught me more about myself, exuding light to others, and reminding me to bring humor to the work place. Becoming friends with her this year was one of my 2017 highlights. Read her story about alcohol recovery:

Katie was raised for 18 years at the base of a dormant volcano, Mount Shasta, and moved to San Francisco in 2009 to attend San Francisco State University.  She completed her B.A. in Psychology, and is now in pursuit of her M.A. in Adult Education through SFSU's Equity, Leadership Studies, and Instructional Technologies program. When Katie isn't working (holler, SF State ResLife) or attending her night classes, she enjoys nature walking at a non-incline and attending various support groups in the Bay Area.

I was very young when I first heard the word ‘alcoholic.’  When my parents decided to have children, they also had the very serious discussion of whether or not to include their children in their recovery meetings.  They ultimately realized that it would be in our best interest, long-term, to expose us to the not-so-pretty-bits of human life, because they wanted us to learn empathy. 

“What is an alcoholic?” I remember asking my mom.  She was a social worker and an educator, and she understood the importance of answering a child’s question about a sensitive topic. 

“An alcoholic is a person who has a disease of the feelings.”  She went on to clarify that they were empathetic people who had never been taught to intrinsically self-soothe or to set boundaries.  Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, these people transformed from people dependent on a substance to heroes who had learned to alter their habits by helping their fellows.  I continued to go to meetings with my mom until I was in third grade. 

Taking care of a family when you’re in fourth grade is no easy feat, but I assumed my role as my mom’s caretaker, my dad’s business organizer and helper, and my sister’s stand-in mother.  When I left that household at the age of 18, I had only known alcohol as a destructive force that made messes of peoples’ lives and robbed them of their mental sanity… and anyone, myself included, would be smart to stay away.  This worked for a bit with the help of being a Resident Assistant, where role modeling correct behavior permitted me a valid excuse to not go too HAM at parties, although, I’ll admit, there were two nights where I voided that rule. 


I allowed myself to experience my first drunk 9 days before my 21st birthday.  But there were still things to do, people to take care of, and people to impress.  In 2013, I graduated with a B.A. in Psychology (I see you fellow first generation college students), my sister was supporting herself and being a successful bada** at Sonoma State University, and I no longer had 60+ residents.  Yeah, why not afford myself some experimentation?  I fell into a deep, self-medicating, and harrowing depression.  At that time, I fueled my troubles and withdrew from people.  I remember very clearly one night drinking a whole bottle of champagne by myself in my tiny, San Francisco room and convincing my roommate to drive me all the way to Santa Rosa to see my sister.  Sitting on the swings in the rain with my best friend (extremely drunk) at 3:00am, while my roommate was in my sister’s house doing homework and awaiting our leave, I knew I was an alcoholic. 

“Do you think I’m an alcoholic?” I asked her.
“That’s for you to decide,” She replied.

It took me up until July 2, 2017 to walk myself to a meeting, where I am celebrated for being a wreck and am loved up by fellow women who share an identity with me.  They loved me until I could love myself (corny and cliché as hell, I know). 

Where I’m at today because I place my recovery first: I attend at least three meetings a week; they are my first priority and I cherish them.  Today is my six-month birthday.  It is not my first birthday in sobriety, but it is the birthday I am claiming today.  I have gained a higher power of my own understanding, as well as a community of people who, like myself, alter their habits by helping their fellows.  I have learned humility, forgiveness, and acceptance.  For anyone trying to find the courage to go to battle with one of your addictions… you’ve got this.  You are loved; you deserve healing; and your recovery matters. 

You might be sitting there thinking, heck no, Katie, I’ve done a lot of shitty things… nothing is going to absolve me now, but as someone once said to me, “No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.”


Katie Koho
Instagram: @KatieKoho

2017 Highlight Reel

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

You can read what I claimed 2017 to be back in January, and here is what it actually was...More or less I stuck with my 2017 theme. I used my year to invest in relationships, projects, and things I already had.

It was a year of reunions, sacred traditions, and internally focused. 2017 was about staying, rooted, rituals, and the adventure of consistency and steadiness. It was the year I needed; stay with me for my 2017 highlight reel...

Jayme Alexis LLC:
After working for a talent agency for 10 years, my mentors encouraged me to do my own thing. To not work based off commission and to go referral only. It's been a bumpy road, but I have made fewer, but stronger connections in my side hustle that I hope one day could be a full-time hustle.
Former client's Spring 2017 collection that was headed for NY Fashion Week
Miss Covina: 5 years with this program as a committee member, coming back to volunteer as Judges Chair felt like coming back to see family! Miss Covina is a preliminary pageant for Miss California.
Miss Covina 2017 court
28th B-day: Smorgus board of people. It felt like a Monterey Bay and Bay area reunion for all the parts of my life - work, church, pageantry, and the random people I dated (ha).
Canvas Small Group Crew
When your first set of students become your real friends...scary I know...
Family visits: My mom and 2 cousins came to visit San Francisco. I LOVE when my family can experience this city I call home!
Lands end with my forced best friends (cousins)
My wonderful Momma who has now been 1.5 years cancer free!
10 year High School reunion: Most people wouldn't be excited. But I genuinely liked most of the people I went to school with. The 4th of July is when everyone comes home to celebrate America's birthday and that is exactly what we did. We rode in our town parade, watched fireworks, and went to many rodeos. Two of my home team members (One from college, one from pageantry) also came to visit me during the 4th and it was the first time in years where half my home team was in one spot!
Class of 2007
Half my home team at the 4th of July Rodeo! Katie (College), Becky (Pageants), Caitlin (High School)
1 year at SFSU: I made it past 1 year at SFSU. I have been VERY fortunate to call my colleagues my friends as well and people I rely on and adore. I also am bias, but I have enjoyed working with SFSU students - they are fierce, much smarter than I ever was in college, and super extra and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Fall Training 2017!
Night out on the town. PC: J. Gomez
2017-2018 Tower Patch Kids

2016-2017 Area Coordinator Squad!

2016-2017 Tower Rangers
1 concert per year tradition w. Hive: I met Alex & Sondra (We missed Alli!) in my first professional job at Cal State Monterey Bay. They were like my big siblings and each year we go to 1 concert - Ingrid Michaelson (3 times), Jason Aldean, & Luke Bryan. I was so happy we carried on our tradition and kept it classy with wine in a canteen.

American Pageant Nationals: I have been affiliated with Miss Teen of America and its sister programs since 1998, but it was a full circle to become keynote and Judges Chair for this year's national program in Orlando. I also got to see my friend Cara Mund, current Miss America!
Miss America - Cara Mund
Judging Panel for American Pageants
2018 American Pageant National Titleholders

San Francisco night life:...I'd be lying if I didn't mention this year was wild...and one day when I'm 50 and can actually publicly speak about all the things that went down...I'll post it. It will make my future children very uncomfortable and I cannot wait. But to put it tamely, I enjoyed all the nights out partying in San Francisco this year that led to some....laugh until I cry stories...and also stories I cringe when I hear them being told by my friends.
Hip Hop Party August 2017
Village/Towers Reunion
Love life: Shout out to all the guys who loved me this year...and who spent time with me...and who they let me into their lives too...their families homes and let me make real connections with their closest friends. It takes courage to date in this day and age and share your life. To the ones I am genuinely friends with - cheers to finding what we want and need. 2017 brought some good humans into my world...and some not so good ones...and that's okay, I didn't know my heart could bounce back and be such a bad @$$.

Providence, Rhode Island

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I spent last weekend in Providence, Rhode Island for a conference. Although it was work related, the trip revealed so many positive relationships and things that are going on in my life. It's in these moments I felt loved, appreciated, and worthy of everything God has given me and given me the opportunity to earn.

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After 8 years, I was reunited with this friend who I met through pageants as a pre-teen. Although 8 years had passed, we spent the morning touring where she goes to school (Brown University), drinking coffee, and catching up over delicious crepes. She is such an enthusiastic and positive force, only good things to come for this girl! Here we are in front of the famous Van Wickle Gates!

Last year I spent my time working for this guy! He was like my 2nd Dad. I was fortunate we just both happened to be going to the same conference that normally not many people attend in our profession. My first and second supervisor in graduate school were Asian Pacific Islander...growing up in the Midwest I never saw people like me in Leadership. He along with my first year supervisor played a critical role in my ethnic and racial development as an adult.

Finally. This girl. This girl drove 400+ miles to spend 5 hours with me where we drank well crafted beer, ate good food, and explored the city of Providence together as much as we could. I met her during my Interview days at my graduate school my senior year of college. She ended up becoming one of my best friends at graduate school and I am grateful to have a daily relationship with her. I felt so incredibly loved by her. Everyone needs a friendship that would spend the time, money, and effort just to see someone for 5 hours!!!

Then, there was FALL :) Oh boy...how I miss the crisp fall air, the turning colors of the leaves, and layering in sweaters/scarves/boots! Providence was such a compact city that walking around was easy. So, when I went to visit my friend at Brown, I made sure to snap a few photos of the city. In addition, Providence does this event called WaterFire and they literally put little mini bonfires on the river. It's a beautiful event and you could sense the strong sense of a re-vitalized downtown community. Enjoy my taste of New England Fall:









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