Baggage

After two years of traveling solely around my home state of Alaska and the occasional trip to Seattle, I am well overdue for a REAL vacation. The kind that requires a bathing suit and sunscreen. The kind where I eat something other than chicken breast and spinach. The kind that involves quality time with family and friends abroad. Yes, the time has finally arrived to enjoy all of these things and more! To say that I am excited would be the understatement of the year. I am ecstatic! I am ready!!!

Well…almost.

Who else thinks shoes shouldn’t count as an additional carry on? They are part of the outfits stuffed away in the suitcase. It’s not my fault they can’t fit in that same suitcase. I can never choose just a few. What if I only have heels, but I realize I would like to do a bit of sight seeing and need boots? What if by some miracle I actually decide to exercise on vacation and do not have my favorite running shoes?! What if I need black peep toe heels for one dress but I can’t wear black with my coral dress and… Oy vey…the list goes on and on!

Somewhere between the 4 pairs of boots and the 5 different shades of heels, I said to myself ..”How ridiculous!” I realized I always over pack. Not only for travel, but in every day life. We carry so much on our minds, on our to do list, in our car, in our back packs. We shop and we buy more things to put on our minds and more things to go in our bags. More weight. Yet, we are always trying to “lighten the load”, lose the weight, relax more, worry less. Yes, how ridiculous indeed!

Today was costume day at my place of work. I must have had at least 3 bags, not including my purse, for ONE simple costume. One for shoes of course, one for makeup (because I have to touch up and make my cheeks an extra pink mid-day), one for the costume itself in a completely separate bag (because God forbid anything rub off on it and leave me with a stained Dorothy from Oz Nylon dress…), and then of course my purse, my work stuff. Please don’t even ask what is in my purse. I am that friend that can pull out a cardigan, antibacterial wipes, lip gloss, a wine opener and a full bottle of wine all at the same time!

While there is some good to being overly prepared, it usually backfires on us one way or another. We pack too many bags then stress out about losing them. We pack everything we didn’t need and forget the most important things! This happens to me a lot. Perhaps this is a great opportunity to lose a little weight. To simplify things. To just… relax. I have much less in my suitcase at this point and have narrowed down my shoes from 12 pairs to 6.

I’ll update you on how that turned out after I get back! I’ll be gone for about 2 weeks, returning with lots of pics and stories I am sure. Strange how those are the lightest things we often bring back with us from our travels, but they always seem to last the longest too.

xoxo

The Story Is The Same

We're all in the same game, just different levels. Dealing with the same hell; just different devils.

Wowza! I was very impressed with the response to my last post “A letter to my Ex-Husband”. I received several messages from people thanking me for putting this out there. It’s a good reminder that we are all in this life together. Even though we may feel completely alone at times, that is not the case. There is someone out there at this very moment who has gone through or is going through the same thing as you. Maybe the details and characters are different, but in the end, the story is always the same.

Some people ask me if I worry about sharing such private details on a very public blog. No. I do not worry. I’ve always been a little uncensored and if you give me a glass of wine, I’d end up telling you everything anyway. Trying to pretend that your life is perfect or somehow different from what you are actually going through doesn’t matter to anyone, especially yourself. To worry about what people think just because you have the balls to put yourself out there is about as pointless as worrying if someone can see your bra strap slipping. You still have to wear the bra, and at least everyone knows you have one on!

The blog is called Living Out Loud for that reason. I am proud of it. It’s not about followers or attention, I do it because it’s a way for me to speak when I have something to say and it’s a good way to reach people who might otherwise not know about my awesomeness or their awesomeness. YOU are awesome by the way, in case no one has told you lately.

If you are reading this, I am so happy you are here.

xoxo

❤ Kat

A letter to my Ex-Husband

So many women and men in my life right now are struggling with their relationships. They struggle with staying or leaving. They struggle to build trust, respect or just to find that love that used to be there. They struggle with feeling worthless and confused. It is for this reason that I am publishing the following letter. This is a very personal letter that I wrote today upon realizing it had been two years since I was where some of you are. I just hope this moves you, inspires you, or at least lets you know it’s not the end.

Two years ago today, I decided to let you walk away. This time, I nailed the door shut. I duck taped the corners so your shadow couldn’t peek through.

I didn’t give up, I had just had enough. Enough of begging you to stay, enough of watching you pack and unpack. Enough of being made to feel the way I gave you the power to make me feel. Enough.

You always told me I would be lost without you, that if it weren’t for you who knows where I would be. You used to say that you “made me” and “Just remember how far you’ve come…”, that was your favorite lie.

Well, we both know the only thing you ever made was a real fucking mess. You certainly made one out of me. I’m still cleaning it up. Nine years in a storm takes time to recover from, but things are looking brighter every day.

Truth is, you wouldn’t recognize me if I passed you on the street. You see… these days I walk with my head held high and my heels higher. I take care of my body, my mind, and nobody loves me as much as I love me. I laugh loud and obnoxiously. I sing. I dance. I love like crazy! I EAT. I SLEEP. I DRINK. I travel without permission and I fill my heart with things you told me I’d never have. My debts are paid, emotionally and financially.

Yes, I’m still always late for everything because of who I am as a person.I still hold open doors, give strangers a ride to the store and stop to feed those “bums” on the street. Not because I’m stupid, but because that’s how people SHOULD treat people.

Yes, I still struggle with anxiety and depression, but those things will always be a part of me and I love that about me too. There is strength in weakness.

I still go to church even though I’m not perfect, because God doesn’t need me to be perfect. He just needs me to be good, and I am good. I am beautiful, strong and growing. I’m growing into all the things you wouldn’t recognize in me. The things that have always been there in the first place, they just needed to be let into the light.

The best part of my life today is that I am never as lonely as I was with you. The thing about being dead is you don’t know your dead. I am not dead anymore. I am at peace and I have so much love from my friends and family that it overflows from my heart and it spreads into the lives of those around me. I am better. I am living. Ultimately, I have you to thank for that.

Thank you for the pain. Thank you for walking away. Thank you for the lies, the apologies, the tears. Thank you for breaking me down into pieces so that I could build myself back up again. Thank you for rock bottom. Thank you from the depths of my crazy, imperfect, beautiful soul. I wish you all of the happiness in this world.

Respectfully, 

The one you made.

katvaldez

Moving Forward

Earlier this year, I released my bucket list items with great hesitation. It seemed that I begin to fail almost as immediately as I started. Due to sustaining a minor knee injury, I missed the Reindeer run. My other plans to do the mud run didn’t work out because I couldn’t get enough people together to form the group like I had envisioned. In addition, I quickly realized my goals far exceeded my available funds and I wasn’t going to be able to do the Bahamas AND experience Denali park. First world budget problems, you know?

Instead of feeling completely defeated and giving up, I decided to set out to accomplish as much of the bucket list project as possible and stay focused on the main goal, to live life each day to the fullest extent possible.

One of the things I’ve always wanted to do since I moved to Alaska was hike a glacier. What’s this nonsense you ask? This is an adventure where instead of admiring this magnificent mass of historic ice from afar, you experience it like all the best things in life, from the feet up! Yes, it’s cold, it’s difficult and it’s absolutely one of the most magical things I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing.

Matanuska Glacier is between Palmer and Glennallen Alaska. It is approximately 26 miles long and 4 miles wide.

matanuskaA

You may think a glacier is just a giant block of ice, but there is SO much more to it. Our tour guide described it best as a “block of swiss cheese”. For example, what may appear as a tiny puddle of glacier water is actually a very deep sink hole that you could drown and freeze to death in, all in a matter of seconds. This is the reason we hired a tour guide! You think you know, but you have NO IDEA. The image below is a picture of a “Moulin”, also known as a glacier mill. You can actually hear the water running through it. It was so peaceful and such an intricate part of the glacier itself. There are several of these throughout the glacier.

matanuska2

Every single inch of this glacier is magnificent.

matanuska3matanuskamatanuska5matanuska4

If you are considering visiting Alaska near the Palmer or Anchorage area, check out Mica Guides for a similar ice trek tour. Their guidance was invaluable and we would not have had the same experience without the knowledge they shared. We hiked up to a high point of the glacier and actually tasted glacier water from a small water fall. Shortly after having lunch on the glacier, we did a little ice climbing practice too! No extra charge. How’s that for a bucket list worthy?

Glacier hiking

After the Storm

Flirty QuotesToday, while I was at the gym thinking about how everything probably taste better than skinny feels, I saw a commercial for a documentary titled, “KATRINA…10 years after the storm”. It took my breath away for an extended moment.

You all remember Hurricane Katrina because it was one of the most destructive storms in the history of the United States. I remember it every single time I introduce myself or write down my name. Now, while I had absolutely nothing to do with this disaster… it should be no surprise that this is why I often go by Kat for short.

I remember the day this storm hit the gulf coast on August 29, 2005. I had just been married to a man I barely knew 6 months before and I was living in San Diego. I had relocated there from Tampa Bay, and I was truly okay with being just a little further away from the coast as I watched the shocking aftermath that followed. Little did I know, the irony I would now find in that moment when I look back at the last decade of my own life.

The storm took the gulf coast into its mouth by the very roots and swallowed it up whole. Thousands were suddenly lost, homeless, dead or injured. Just like that, everything was gone. In the midst of this tragedy, an entire society was left with nothing more than each other. Our government even seemed unprepared and unsure of what to do, which meant as a people, we all felt sudden fear and helplessness. We also felt the need to reach out and help. Several charities were opened, people sent food and supplies, many even volunteered on site. The need for resources was constant. It didn’t take just months or a few years to recover, but nearly a decade and billions of dollars. It seemed impossible.

As most of us have experienced in our own lives at one time or another, storms do not always arrive in the form of weather. Sometimes, the disaster is completely unnatural. Sometimes, it comes from the very world we have built around ourselves and we never even see it coming. We find ourselves lost, swallowed up whole by emotion or the lack thereof. We are unrecognizable, and yes, we feel at times, impossible. However, if we reach out for support through family, love, God, hope or whatever it is your heart tells you to reach for, then everything will eventually fall back into place. No, it may never be the same, and that is not always the worst that can happen.

I am amazed at how much has actually been rebuilt from the storm as of today. Furthermore, I am humbled by the stories from this documentary and the people who stayed when they had every reason to leave. Despite everything, they were determined and successful in rebuilding new cities out of nothing, from nothing.

Mostly, I find myself inspired.

Change

you're not the same individual you were a year ago, a month ago, or a week ago. you're always growing. experiences don't stop. that's life

You know the great thing about lists? It’s easy to edit them. In fact, did you know that you can erase a list at any time? It’s the most refreshing feeling!

Although no one has actually noticed, I have erased my entire bucket list for 2015, as well as every post I have ever written. Why? Because I can.

That doesn’t mean I give up or that I don’t still have some of the same goals. I’m just allowing myself the flexibility to modify my bucket list as a whole project instead of a set in stone list. I’m making room to grow, adapt, change. These are all the reasons I started the bucket list project in the first place. So, as far as I can see, I’m still on track!

I’m still planning to visit the Bahamas this fall and swim with the dolphins. I’m still dabbling in my Spanish and I’m working towards overcoming my fear of writing that book. I’ve started a new job and I’m still actively working on writing projects. I’m also planning ahead for 2016 bucket list achievements that include some of the ULTIMATE travel destinations of my dreams!!

In other words, the list is under construction, but I’m doing well. I hope you are too.

xoxo

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