All My Relations

BalanceFinalLast month at the Bikram studio, one of my all-time favorite teachers, Ross Randall, made a slight change to his usual guiding principle of “Don’t be lazy, don’t be crazy.” In a new, by donation class experience he has created to benefit local non-profits complete with black lights, glow in the dark bracelets, and an accompanying soundtrack intentionally chosen for each posture in the yoga series, Ross charged us with an amended version of his motto just for the evening, “Be crazy!”

Welcome to Glowga!

I knew I was going to love this class, with two of my favorite things being woven together, Bikram yoga and music, but I had no idea the spiritual experience that was in store…

The class happens the second Friday of every month, and this second Friday was right before my birthday on September 17th – this particular birthday being the end of my Art/Synthesis year, the overarching Hierophant cycle, and the beginning of my Lovers year, Lovers cycle. I have been blogging about my growth year cycles for the past five years, which is pretty amazing to me at this point. You can follow the thread by clicking through the “Tarot Wisdom” category. The Lovers year is one where a person may feel the need to reassess relationships. They may feel drawn to deepen and expand some, shed others. For me, I feel this year is symbolic of an integrated embodiment of the Lovers archetype within myself.

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Zen Osho Tarot Deck

The back story – I returned to Bikram yoga after giving birth to my son with a clear intention. I wanted to balance my masculine and feminine energies. At the time, I was all feminine archetype – mothering, compassionate, feeling, intuitive. My body embodied this archetype. I needed the strong, structured container of the Bikram practice (masculine archetype) to support bringing me into balance. As I step into my Lovers year, I can feel inside myself and see externally this balance has come to fruition. The sacred marriage of the divine masculine and divine feminine within, giving birth to my Self, has been realized.

My consistent, dedicated yoga practice lay the foundation for the experience I am about to share. It happened, of course, in Tree Pose. In this pose, a person must first ground themselves into the Earth to feel strong and rooted, expressing the masculine energy. From this place, you then bring one leg up, balancing on the other leg, draw your foot up into your inner thigh, and use the opposing force to reach your energy up towards the sky and expand, expressing the feminine energy.

While practicing this pose, Ross played Aretha Franklin’s soul classic “You’re All I Need to Get By.” Listening to Aretha singing in the background, the tears flooded down my face. I felt a deep integration of the masculine/feminine energy within myself, an authentic self-love and self-approval I have never known. The soulful love song felt like my Self singing to my Self. It was trippy and beautiful and when it was over I laid down in Savasana and just let it all sink in.


Thoth Crowley Tarot Deck

As my birthday came and went that week, I reflected on this experience. I dedicate this Lovers year to All My Relations. In the practices I study, I am taught of the play of All My Relations – with Self, with other people, with the Earth and with the Divine. I am taught that my relationship with my Self will shape how my relationships manifest in the world. If this teaching is accurate, and this snapshot is the relationship that is happening with my Self here at the beginning of my Lovers year, than Wow I am excited for what is in store for this cycle of my life…

If you are interested in your current Growth Year Cycle, or personal Tarot Symbols, I would love to hear from you. Check out the Tarot for Your Soul offerings or contact me for a Tarot Profile at

And I’m curious, in the comments below, please tell me… Have you ever had a love song to yourself and if so, which song?

The next GLOWGA! class at the Asheville Bikram studio – Bikram Yoga class with music and blacklights-  will be Friday October 10th at 6:30pm. Maybe I’ll see you glowing in the hot room.

Walk in Beauty,

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Image: Leah Joy – Balance from the Reclaiming Beauty Wisdom Deck


Angeles Arrien: 1940 – 2014

In Memoriam: I am mostly a self-taught Tarot Lover. In 1999 I stumbled upon “The Tarot Handbook: A Practical Application of Visual Symbols” by Angeles Arrien in a funky bookstore in San Franciso, California. I have studied this book over the years to turn it into the torn, tattered and well-loved copy it is today. The author, Angeles Arrien, is a women I consider to be one of the most influential teachers of my life. Angeles Arrien died unexpectedly and prematurely earlier this year. I want to take a moment here to honor her and offer so much gratittude for the book she wrote that I discovered in that bookstore so many years ago, a book that has helped me create a lot of meaning out of the ups and downs of my life, and helped others to do the same.

I honor you, angel Angeles Arrien.  

It’s Time to Celebrate

katie daisy horse Hello Beautiful People!

This magical summer has been winding down for me with lots of beautiful moments…

+ Joey started kindergarten!

+ I enrolled in the Bird’s Eye Business Planning class to make a plan for publishing the completed Reclaiming Book book and card deck – and the class starts on my birthday, September 17th, the beginning of my Lovers year/Lovers cycle, a very auspicious omen…

+ I wrote a love letter to my ex-husband genuinely thanking him for the lessons he taught me about seeking my own approval and offering sincere suggestions on how to be successful in his new marriage (!)

+ I fell in love with my day job working with middle school girls and fell in love with horses (it is the Chinese year of the Horse, after all)

And on and on…

I feel strong and steady and ready to move into a new phase of life, humbly sharing the lessons I have learned from a place of power.

In moments where I pause, I remind myself to take a deep breath, and celebrate the transformation that I have experienced in the last few years. I am so thankful to be on the other side.

On Thursday, September 11th, come celebrate with me. I will be offering free 3 card Reclaiming Beauty tarot readings at the Celebrate Every Body event. This “party with a purpose” is hosted by the Asheville Affiliates to benefit T.H.E. Center for Disordered Eating, a local nonprofit that mobilizes support and resources for individuals and families affected by disordered eating and related body issues. I will have a mock up of my Reclaiming Beauty Wisdom Deck so you can see a sneak preview! You can get more information about this event here.

Celebrate Every Body

Hope to see you there!

Walk in beauty,

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Image: Katie Daisy

Beautiful Alchemy


From the Zen Osho Tarot Deck

You are not going to believe this little tidbit… but I have never read Eat Pray Love. 

I have started it many times, and it has felt like a necessary book to have in my personal library. On Friday, June 27th I got to see the author of this delicious memoir, Elizabeth Gilbert, speak about her new book, The Signature of All Things, at UNCA with my dear friend Rebecca and I thought to myself, “Dang, it is time I read Eat Pray Love.” 

I am glad that I waited until my life story was a little more parallel with hers to take this journey with her, because her words are resonating with me. I just finished the first third of the book, telling of her journeys in Italy. I’d love to share the following exert, as I feel it speaks to the spirit of Reclaiming Beauty.

On my way back home I take a little detour and stop at the address in Rome I find most strangely affecting – the Augusteum. This big, round, ruined pile of brick started life as a glorious mausoleum, built by Octavius Augustus to house his remains and the remains of his family for all of eternity. It must have been impossible for the emperor to have imagined at the time that Rome would ever be anything but a mighty Augustus-worshiping empire. How could he have possibly foreseen the collapse of the realm? Or known that, with all the aqueducts destroyed by barbarians and with the great roads left in ruin, the city would empty of citizens, and it would take almost twenty centuries before Rome ever recovered the population she had boasted during the height of her glory?

Augustus’s mausoleum fell to ruins and thieves during the Dark Ages. Somebody stole the emperor’s ashes – no telling who. By the twelfth century, though, the monument had been renovated into a fortress for the powerful Colonna family, to protect them from assaults by various warring princes. Then the Augusteum was transformed somehow into a vineyard, then a Renaissance garden, then a bullring (we’re in the eighteenth century now), then a fireworks depository, then a concert hall. In the 1930s, Mussolini seized the property and restored it down to its classical foundations, so that it could someday be the final resting place for his remains. (Again, it must have been impossible back then to imagine that Rome could ever be anything but a Mussolini-worshiping empire.) Of course, Mussolini’s fascist dream did not last, nor did he get the imperial burial he’d anticipated. 

Today the Augusteum is one of the quietest and loneliest places in Rome, buried deep in the ground. The city has grown up around it over the centuries. (One inch a year is the general rule of thumb for the accumulation of time’s debris.) Traffic above the monument spins in a hectic circle, and nobody ever goes down there – from what I can tell – except to use the place as a public bathroom. But the building still exists, holding its Roman ground with dignity, waiting for its next incarnation. 

I find the endurance of the Augusteum so reassuring, that this structure has had such an erratic career, yet always adjusted to the particular wildness of the times. To me, the Augusteum is like a person who’s led a totally crazy life- who maybe started out as a housewife, then unexpectedly became a widow, then took up fan-dancing to make money, ended up somehow as the first female dentist in outer space, and then tried her hand at national politics – yet who has managed to hold an intact sense of herself throughout every upheaval. 

I look at the Augusteum, and I think that perhaps my life has not actually been so chaotic, after all. It is merely this world that is chaotic, bringing changes to us all that nobody could have anticipated. The Augusteum warns me not to get too attached to any obsolete ideas about who I am, what I represent, whom I belong to, or what function I may once have intended to serve. Yesterday I may have been a glorious monument to somebody, true enough – but tomorrow I could be a fireworks depository. Even in the Eternal City, says the silent Augusteum, one must always be prepared for riotous and endless waves of transformation. 

~Elizabeth Gilbert

from Eat, Pray, Love


From the Thoth Tarot Deck

And now today is July 27th… one month later. This past weekend, I have been reflecting over my year. Many of you know I pay attention to the ways my life lines up with growth cycles in the Tarot. Since my last birthday in September, I have been in an Art/Synthesis year. The Art/Synthesis year is one where a person is integrating all different parts of themselves to create the full artistry of who they are – weaving together what may seem like opposite forces – making art and alchemy from the polarities. This Art/Synthesis year is a big one for me, because it is also the end of a much larger cycle. In 2004, I began a Hierophant cycle, which is the cycle of  Family, Community and Spiritual development. In that year, I met the man I would fall in love with, the one who would gift me with my life’s greatest blessing, my son, Joey, and my life’s second greatest blessing, falling out of love with me, so that I could fall in love with myself.

Throughout my Hierophant Cycle, I fell madly in love, got married, went to graduate school, started my career, started building a life in a house in the woods, began working with women with eating disorders, had a baby, fell madly out of love, got divorced, grieved, wrote a book where I shared the lessons I learned, made meaning of it all, and healed.

No wonder there are moments I feel so dizzy.

On Saturday afternoon, I finished reading the second third of Eat, Pray, Love. In the second part of this memoir, Elizabeth Gilbert spends six months in an ashram in India, and one of the issues she faces inside of herself is healing the wounds related to her divorce. I was inspired by a spontaneous forgiveness ritual she described involving climbing up on a rooftop at the ashram. So inspired, in fact, I found myself getting in my car at 5pm and driving up the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I drove to one of my favorite spots, Graveyard Fields, and hiked up to the Upper Falls. Along the hike, I found myself reflecting on the various avenues I have explored in my life… mother, wife, divorcee, single parent, marimba player, music therapist, eating disorder therapist, child and family therapist, soccer player, singer/songwriter, yoga teacher, folk rock duo, tarot reader, writer, blogger, dancer… so many different aspects of myself… finding a place to weave together in a beautiful alchemy in this Art/Synthesis year. I found myself reflecting on what has come to be my favorite place this year; my yoga mat at the end of my practice in Savasana. Feeling dizzy from all of the upheaval and transformation, I love Savasana, when I can let all of what has been release and allow whatever wants to be emerge in the moment. I used to freak out in the face of that nothingness, and after the experience of this Hierophant Cycle, I find a lot of peace in letting go of the old ways of being, and trusting they will be woven into the tapestry without having to grasp onto them for dear life.

I hiked back down to the Lower Falls and pulled out my little book on Ho’oponopono. Ho’oponopono is a forgiveness and reconciliation practice from the Hawaiian culture designed to bring healing to relationships with ourselves, our family members, and the world. In this practice, a person offers a prayer and meditation of four sentences: “I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.” This meditation is reflected on over and over, or given as a guide for communicating the reconciliation intention with another.

I was feeling drawn to the Ho’oponopono practice because I have grown weary of feeling angry at my ex-husband. I was ready to take full responsibility for whatever my part was in creating the situations that unfolded over the past two years after my separation and divorce. In the twilight and under the new moon in Leo, I made a ho’oponopono, sang a beautiful song that my friend Jen taught me, and dove into those Lower Falls at Graveyard Fields.

Hiking back to my car, soaked to the bone, I drove down the parkway, heat on, windows down, in my bra and underwear. I felt like a new woman, transformed by the beautiful alchemy of an Art/Synthesis year.


Lower Falls, Graveyard Fields, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

Next stop… September 17, 2014, the wheel turns to the next cycle – The Lovers Cycle.


May I attract only kind and gentle life lessons and relationships (and lots of joy and passion.)

Gotta finish the last third of Eat, Pray, Love now! Another book I recommend for anyone working on Art/Synthesis themes is Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. It is a superbly crafted novel of interweaving stories about how life is never what we plan it to be and yet the beauty of life is about making meaning out of what it is.

If you are interested in finding out more about your Tarot Symbols or Growth Cycles, contact me to schedule a Tarot Profile session or Tarot Reading.

Walk in beauty,

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You Don’t Have To Try So Hard


Ooooooohhh… I am so thankful for the opportunity I have had in the past year to teach a body image class to middle school girls. Middle school… these two words carry so much collective PTSD for many of us grown up women. It is a potent time to get the message across that body image = self-image, and to teach the skill to notice if your body image is crappy, and if so, ask yourself “How can I build up my relationship with myself?”

A tool I love to use in this group is bringing in songs and lyrics that carry a Reclaiming Beauty themed message. Earlier in the summer, when a dear friend shared Colbie Caillat’s song and video Try with me, I immediately brought it in to my body image class. I sat with tears streaming down my face, feeling honored to share this message with these beautiful girls. After listening to the song and viewing the video, the girls were fully engaged in a meaningful discussion about what they noticed. The curly haired girl was naturally straight… and the straight haired girl was naturally curly… and wasn’t the older women so beautiful… and how brave was the women who had no hair! They talked about all the messages they received about what they had to do and ways they felt they had to be in order to be liked, to be approved of, to be beautiful. They talked a lot about what they heard and observed from their mothers about these same messages. Then we talked all about the beauty of our natural selves.

The beauty of our natural selves is a topic I never grow tired of. We don’t have to try so hard!

Enjoy the song and the message, and then join the conversation.

In the comments below, name one thing you are willing to let go of today that you may be trying too hard to be or do in order to walk a little more naturally in your beauty.

Walk in beauty,

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Useful Desires


About one year after I left my marriage I was travelling down the road listening to an old favorite CD, Patty Griffin’s Impossible Dream. As track 5, Useless Desires, began to play over the stereo, the tears began to fall. I pulled over and released one of those cleansing, gut wrenching sobs. This song that I had listened to many, many times before had taken on new meaning as I pondered what at the time felt like useless desires that led me to leave my marriage. In moments of doubt about my decision, I would think to myself, “if only I had been more spiritual and less attached to having my longings, desires and needs met, then maybe I could have stayed and made it work.” In those moments, I would curse those useless desires.

But in the stronger moments, I would remind myself of the brave and courageous woman I was, to stand alone with the hope that a more satisfying relationship was possible.

The past two years I have poured myself into writing and creating from my experience, and have saved on my computer a complete and edited draft to accompany my Reclaiming Beauty Wisdom Deck. I am fueled by the dream to produce this deck and ignite a women’s movement, but again find myself overwhelmed with my desire.

Struggling with my desires, I found myself drawn to Danielle LaPorte’s latest book The Desire Map: a guide to creating goals with soul. I am grateful for this author and her philosophy about the importance of our desires. In her book, she explains that focusing on how we want to feel can create a life that we love. However, we still must remain unattached to the outcome as we focus on the feelings we desire as our guide.

Working through the book, I generated the following list of my Core Desired Feelings:












So as I ponder the next steps for my book and my business, I plan to focus on these feelings… Business Planning? Kickstarter? GoFundMe? IndieGoGo? Business Loan? Self-Publish? Finding a Literary Agent? Who to partner with to pilot the program? I’ll focus on JOY and go from there.

And when a wave of sadness washes over my heart, grieving the losses that came from moving toward my desire, I will remember this wisdom from my dear friend, Shelley:

Think of all you said YES to, when you said NO.

Join the conversation:

In the comments below, please share your relationship to your desires.

What core desired feelings are leading your way?

In honor of useful desires.

Walk in beauty,

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My Prayer Tonight

photo (3)-001Oh, Goddess…

May my life, my work, my Beauty Walk be an invitation to bravery for all whose lives I touch.

With gratitude and love,

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20th High School Reunion – Reclaiming Beauty Style



I know it’s been eerily quiet on the blog this Fall. This silence has been partly related to being in the final stages of my divorce process – an experience that has felt sacred and personal and not ready for sharing with the world. Another reason has been a renewed commitment to complete my Reclaiming Beauty Wisdom Card Deck. This fall I hired a writing coach/editor and swore off all dating until I completed my rough draft. This decision proved to be the best motivator ever –  3,750 more words to go before I will date again and widdling away fast!

Tonight, though, I must take a break from rough draft writing to share my experience going to my 20th high school reunion last weekend.

Here are the Cliff notes:

I had some trepidation about attending my high school reunion solo with my current bio of divorced single parent. My two closet friends who had planned to attend cancelled at the last minute, which almost led me to chicken out. The day of the reunion I shared my anxiety on facebook and received some much needed encouragement from friends, old and new.

My main objective was to feel good about myself and my life just how it is, and to see and love old friends for their life just how they are. I guess I also wanted to walk confidently and radiate at 38.

I borrowed a black dress and black boots from my older sister for the evening. I told her I was nervous wearing the short black dress, since it showed off the small patch of psoriasis on my right knee. She said my legs were my best asset, I better show them off, and if anybody noticed the psoriasis then I was’t wearing the right bra. She warned me the zipper on the right boot often got stuck.

I went to Food Lion one hour before the party and bought black eyeliner, mascara and some mousse for my wavy hair. I was very satisfied with my party face and wild mane of hair. I felt good in my skin despite the inevitable changes of 20 years. I was ready for my 20th high school reunion, reclaiming beauty style.

I loved seeing all the old, familiar faces. I practiced using my Soul Vision superpower – seeing my peers for their true Self rather than physical appearance. Most people still looked pretty damn good and had much Soul beauty going on. I had several authentic encounters and conversations that were very meaningful to me.

I chatted with a friend who was at the beginning of a divorce process, and offered her some words of encouragement.

I chatted with a friend who I used to sing with, and had to stop myself from showering him with hugs and kisses. My heart was bursting with happiness to see him again. We both wished we had brought a guitar to the reunion.

I chatted with old friends from my high school soccer team. One teammate, in particular, I wished I could transport to Asheville so we could be close friends during this stage of life.

I chatted with a friend who had been keeping up with my blog and was touched by the ways she related to my sharing.

I chatted with two old lovers – one that did not seem interested in me at all, another who I was clearly more interested in, and that was okay.

A man who was my high school love’s best friend snapped a picture of me and immediately texted it to my high school love. We received a quick, underwhelming response – ‘Whoa!’ – and chuckled about it.

I delighted in other people’s remembrances of me, including a man from my high school physics class who remembered me being able to identify notes played by our teacher by ear.

I loved meeting the significant others of some old friends.

I spent a sacred moment looking at the list of classmates who are no longer walking on the Earth.

I only talked about my divorce with a few people. I talked about my son, Joey, to everyone.

I asked a lot of questions and fed my curiosity.

I got one picture to remember the occasion, the picture above. I don’t think I talked to my picture mate once in high school, but he was interesting – living in Austin – and had great hair.

There were a lot of people who I wished had been there.

I didn’t drink too much and danced just enough. At the end of the evening, I had only one tear of aloneness in my eye. My single tear-stained eye quickly dried when I returned to my parent’s house and saw my sweet, four year old son, Joey, tucked into bed. I kissed him on the forehead and gave thanks for the blessing I received from my marriage. Just like my older sister warned me, the zipper stuck on one of the borrowed black boots. I fell asleep cracking up at myself in a t-shirt and underwear, with one boot still on.

2oth high school reunion, Reclaiming Beauty style.

I will go back for my 25th, and I hope more Tigers from the Chapel Hill High School class of 1993 will join me.

I would love to hear other people’s experiences of returning to high school reunions. Seems like the perfect testing ground for a Reclaiming Beauty Queen. If you feel inspired, please share in the comments below!

Peace out, my friends, I got some book writing to get back to… I don’t want to be single forever…

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Skills: Beauty Lost

From Contributor: Katie Kelleher

When did you stop experiencing your own beauty?

To stop experiencing one’s own beauty is to fall out of love with oneself and one’s own dreams. It is not dissimilar to a little girl parading around in her tiara and frilly white dress, swirling around and painting with the blurring colors of the world in her mind’s eye the perfect, magical wedding day with blossoming flowers, glass slippers and a prince charming; then one day waking up middle-aged and hung-over in a Las Vegas hotel room bound for life by the signature of the Undead Elvis himself to a guy who she can only justify must have looked better in his profile picture.

Okay, maybe that is a harsh metaphor, but is it not true that we could at once simply check in bright and bold crayon the “Yes” box on the “I like you, do you like me?” note-to-self without much care, and now find ourselves looking into the existential and legal constraints on a single-party divorce? What changed?

For me, it was an affair with self-doubt. No matter where I was in life, everything was beautiful so long as I could still believe in the hopes and dreams I had for myself, and in my potential to claim possibilities. Somehow, the process became daunting, and I began to lose that faith, to see the beauty in where I stood and the direction in which I headed. Self-doubt slipped in, whispering in my ear, and began to feel like a safer partner, its sole charm being the reassurance that without the belief in beauty, there is no disappointment. I began to believe this more and more as I drifted further from my true self.


All parts are welcome and come together to create your unique beauty.

Long backstory story short, following a bit of a mental break, I spent pretty much the entirety of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 bouncing from one psychiatric hospital to the next, with brief punctuations of having a go at residential treatment centers and a few short stops home, perhaps granted out of mercy so I could wash my clothes and pay rent for the essentially abandoned studio apartment I was haunting.

As a direct result, I was “let go” from my full-time job (I imagine the scene in Titanic, stiff hand shaking me off and me sinking to the bottom with a face left frozen and emotionless from icicles and, perhaps in my case, a touch of electric shock therapy. But hey, who wants to be the dead weight on a life raft, I suppose). My savings quickly dwindled down to pocket change and lint, and desperation took hold. My daily pumping out of job applications turned from carefully selected qualified positions and respectful letters to desperate pleas and the scrounging of whatever basic skills I could tap into (I have two hands with only one crooked finger, can I do your yard work? I have been eating and feeding off plates I washed myself for 20 years with only one cat dead of mysterious circumstances. Can I scrub your dishes? And so on…).

To compliment some PRN work I eventually found at a substance abuse rehab and make up for what still lacked in the bill department, I took on whatever random opportunity presented itself. I even once was paid to help a guy with warrants escape over state lines, and another time made twenty bucks for showing up at a guys house, ringing the doorbell, throwing a shaving cream pie in his face (conscientious of any possible food allergies), and walking away. You can meet some VERY interesting people through Craigslist. Anyway, back to the point: my most recent gig is in making furniture. I take broken pieces of old furniture that has been discarded without any sentiment by the previous owner, broken hubcaps I find abandoned on the side of the road, scrap metal and wood that was set to be burned, empty or cracked glass bottles, anything really; I clean them up, cut or bend them into shape, put them together in some new way and create new life and purpose. I cannot even begin to tell you how humbling and rewarding this has been for me. To take something old, used, broken, discarded and forgotten and turn it into something beautiful has helped me regain hope and purpose, even for myself. It felt as if my very life and any aspirations had cracked and crumbled to a million broken pieces, then left abandoned in some psych ward or other as the world carried on. I lost my sense of self, felt damaged, unwanted, without meaning. But now I know I can be rebuilt, remade into something even better, more unique, perhaps made more beautiful than before because of the cracks and scars, the marks of life history. Your pieces can tessellate, and even the ones you believe beyond repair, ugly, useless are needed to make the whole. Every piece can play a role in your new life. I am beginning to believe in this, and I hope you can, too.

ThinkingKKAbout the Contributor: They call me Katie Kelleher, but my Native American name is “Hey You, Get Off Our Reservation.” The Chief  (of police) himself gave me the name, so I guess I am a pretty important person. It was just a little wordy for my now Asheville, North Carolina driver’s license. I am originally from New Orleans, and then landed in a number of other locations dotted along the Gulf of Mexico until attending college and playing soccer for East Mississippi. I transferred to Brevard College here in the mountains, graduated with a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science and Physiology, and have since remained in the area black-hole-suctioned by a love for the beauty of it and the exploration and recreation it offers. Since immersing myself into the depths of anatomy, chemistry, biomechanics, and late night coffee runs, I have since utilized my degree as a pretty little pattern of letters inked onto the tops of pages that go seemingly unread which I hand out to people from whom I want to earn money. Otherwise, my life seems to have taken me in a different direction, now having worked in disaster response and relief, at a psychiatric residential treatment facility for children of trauma, a therapeutic boarding school for girls, and a substance abuse rehab for teens and adults. A few more blind curves have recently led me to pursue art in many forms and recycled-material furniture making. And now, it is time perhaps for a little writing.

Image: Repurposed renovation by Katie Kelleher. You can find more of Katie’s art works of repurposing at Follow the Art Strings

The Importance of A Tribe


In March, I went to Vegas for the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals conference. I wish I could say it was a blast. I have been having reoccurring nightmares this year about defending my son and myself against an onslaught of tidal waves. Unfortunately, the tidal waves hit me hard far away from my everyday life, which made for a challenging trip. Getting divorced SUCKS, even if it seems to be for the best. So many losses are involved. So much to grieve. I still remember how I felt when I fell in love with my future ex-husband. It was electric and unbelievable. I saw a vision of our future in his eyes – the home, the family, the life we would build together. I know someday I will be happy for that memory. Right now it is down right painful. I just made a list of the things that infuriate me about him so when that longing hits, I have ammo.

The Vegas trip ended on a positive note, though. I went to see LOVE at the Mirage, the Cirque du Soleil show based on the music of the Beatles. It was breathtaking. And I spent the night at the tattoo shop of a friend of a friend, Sikink Studios Tattoo. I couldn’t come home from Vegas saying I spent the night in a tattoo shop and didn’t get a tattoo… So… at 37, separated and mother of a 3 and 1/2 year old… I got my first tattoo – the Kanji symbols for STRENGTH and BEAUTY.

photo (2)

It seems like one of the mot fun parts about getting a tattoo is telling people you did it. I knew most everyone I told would be excited for me, everyone that is except for my sweet, sweet mama. My Mom has never been a fan of piercings or tattoos. When my little sister, Becky, got her belly buttoned pierced in college, my poor Mom had such a struggle. She lamented, “You were such a beautiful baby!”

I was debating when to tell my Mom and Dad about my tattoo because I didn’t want them to worry that I had an emotional breakdown in Vegas and got manic and impulsive. My sisters, however, really, really, really wanted me to tell them as soon as I drove up to our most recent family gathering. It seemed a little strange that they were encouraging me so earnestly, but I just went with it.

My Mom and Dad were sitting out on my sister Katie’s front porch in Charlotte. My Dad was in the rocking chair, and I joined my Mom on the porch swing. I swiftly let out my confession: “Mom and Dad, I want to show you something. I got a tattoo when I was in Vegas.” I pulled up my sleeve and unveiled the still healing tattoo. My Mom looked a little shocked, but not as shocked as with what happened next.

My sister, Katie, unveiled her own “tattoo.” I’ll tell the rest of this story in pictures:

Katie: Strength, Beauty & High Heeled Shoes

Katie: Strength, Beauty & High Heeled Shoes

Becky: Strength, Beauty & Soccer Ball

Becky: Strength, Beauty & Soccer Ball



Matthew: All tatted up!

Solon: Yoda, Soccer Ball, Lips & Captain America

Solon: Yoda, Soccer Ball, Lips & Captain America

Levi: Heart

Levi: Heart

Mark: Mom

Mark: Mom

Brian: Sexy Beast

Brian: Sexy Beast

My Dad: I heart Chris

My Dad: I Love Chris

My Mom: Over her shock and smiling with relief that we actually didn't ALL get new tattoos

My Mom: Over her shock, a smile of relief that we actually didn’t ALL get new tattoos

This story is one of the many examples of how my family has rallied around me during this challenging Death/Rebirth year. The Reclaiming Beauty journey is no easy task. It is so important to immerse yourself in the love of your tribe when you can. I know I am extremely lucky to have found my tribe in my family of origin. For many, this tribe must be created through a family of choice. Whatever it is for you, never underestimate the importance of a tribe. Go soak up some love from yours RIGHT NOW. If you don’t have one, take one step towards developing some heart line connections. You never know how they will surprise you with their love. Mine got all tatted up to show their support for me.

Tattoo stories are amazing Reclaiming Beauty stories. Please consider contributing to the blog by sharing the story of how your tattoo symbolizes your Reclaiming Beauty journey. I just added “Tattoos” as a Category for the blog. Check out the other tagged Tattoo posts on the blog and then send your story in for us all to enjoy.

Looking forward to reading your Tattoo contributions!

With love from a virtual member of your tribe,

Blog Post Signature


Image: Leah Joy Numair


Some Mighty Precious Values


Skills: Gratitude, Make Beauty Not War, Recovery

from Contributor: Laura Eshelman

In the words of OutKast, every day is another [expletive]in’ holiday when you don’t have a regular job, but I still wanted to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day this year.  Since I missed the parade, I decided to do some individual community service by splurging a little on groceries and spend an hour or so distributing them in areas of Durham where the city’s homeless frequently gather.  With a big paper bag full of apples, oranges, and breakfast bars, I hit the streets near the main library first, hoping that I hadn’t bought more than necessary.

I needn’t have worried.  After I greeted a sizeable crowd on the curb, the bag didn’t survive a minute before it was torn apart and everyone divvied the contents among themselves.  Suddenly, there was nothing left for me to do but shrug, bid a happy day to a couple of people who thanked me, and figure out something else to do with my afternoon.

Even as I drove back to the “comfortable” part of the city (scarcely five minutes away), a growing discomfort eclipsed my Good Samaritan glow.  I’ve learned some cold realities through various interactions with people affected by poverty for equally various reasons, and thus wondered why it was at all bewildering to see those groceries disappear so quickly.  Reflecting on this encounter naturally brought up guilt about my own socio-economic privileges, but the shame seriously kicked in when I thought back to the breakfast bars I’ve personally consumed, only to intentionally throw them up afterward. “You’re an asshole,” I told the rearview mirror.

By now, I can usually dismiss the myopic rhetoric about eating disorders as “privileged illnesses” sparked by vanity.  To use them as a buttress for an argument about social stratification is, to say the least, misguided.  That’s not to say the criticism does not get still under my skin, because it does carry an icky element of truth: white, middle class women such as myself do make up the majority of those diagnosed with anorexia and/or bulimia.   Curiously, I’ve also met a number of such women through treatment who experience the same moral conundrums that rattled me.  They have doled out meals at soup kitchens, witnessed famine firsthand in Africa and Asia, and still fear the thought of pasta for dinner.

I guess part of me that day did want to get my jollies by proving that I am a “good person”, despite all the rotten stuff I’ve pulled over the years.  But as I continued to mull over this issue, I realized something else:  I also know what it’s like to be really hungry.  The visceral sensation of hunger blended with feelings of overwhelming sorrow and abandonment laced too many of my not-so-distant memories.  I left the library street corner with a recurring image of the first person I made eye contact with, a young woman whose seemingly flat stare couldn’t conceal the depths of the pain behind it.  It was a stare I became quite familiar with in the mirror a year ago when I had given up, impatiently waiting for my eating disorder to hurry the hell up and kill me off.  I do not know whether the woman was as resentful of her life as I was, but I did know enough to understand that as much as her body needed an orange, another part of her desperately needed a hug.

No one can quantify suffering. But an important variable in different types of whether one has the gift of choice to change their situation, whether they take the opportunity, and what they do with it.

Part of why I eventually revived my interest in social justice, once my thinking cleared up, is because my change in outlook forced me to find significance in my blessings:  a safe and quiet home, access to transportation, freedom from daily violence, a great education, indoor plumbing, etc .  I often compose little lists like this, but “food security” has always been conspicuously absent.  It’s not as if I don’t understand what that means.  Recent CNN footage broadcasted images of kids in Aleppo scraping the bottom of pots just for residue of food. Scores of Latin Americans travel for weeks and risk death to migrate to the U.S. for the sake of feeding their families at home.  In this same country, most states deny food stamps to many of the neediest citizens due to have non-violent criminal records for drugs, a trend with an alarming ripple effect on whole communities. In fact, Americans are the leading researchers in urban “food deserts”, a term describing zones where residents must cobble some way to get to the opposite side of town if they want to buy anything not found at a convenience or liquor store.

Before I turn this blog into a soapbox forum, what I am trying to get at is this:  by ignoring issues and behaviors that make us uneasy, we let fear override our inner wisdom.  The lesson I eventually contrived from my somewhat ironic act of kindness was that my set of values does not make good bedfellows with an eating disorder, and that peace with one of them precludes practicing the other to its fullest.  I finally got out my journal last night and wrote:  I AM GRATEFUL FOR FOOD.  Although the words did not come easily, I made sure they got out because someone with a much greater gift for eloquence gave me a push:

“My friends, all I’m trying to say is that if we are to go forward today, we’ve got to go back and rediscover some mighty precious values that we’ve left behind.”

~Dr. Martin Luther King

mauiAbout the Contributor: Laura Eshelman is a 2008 UNC Asheville alumna with a BA in mass communication.  She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in criminal justice from UC Denver and holds a master’s certificate in domestic violence studies.  Laura is an avid writer, political junkie, and an advocate for various social justice causes; at present, she is an intern with Witness for Peace Southeast and volunteers with NC Harm Reduction.  She enjoys travelling, cooking, hula hooping, and long walks up steep mountains.