Kat Atwell is a freelance writer, blogger & stage presence telling stories that deliver laughs, validation & community.

Mental Health | Wellness & Self Image | Experiential & Reviews

Be present.

While looking for a quote to place beneath such a spectacular video, I stumbled across the fact that Queen Latifah wrote a book. I love Queen Latifah. In fact, here's what I found that she'd written:

Life is so much bigger, grander, higher, and wider than we allow ourselves to think. We're capable of so much more than we allow ourselves to believe.

I've been asked to go out on a limb regarding my future. It goes against everything I was raised to believe, and that's likely what's scaring me the most, but there's another aspect that kind of gets me excited. It's a double-edged sword, because allowing myself to pursue this opportunity has somehow broken the dam on all kinds of other projects I've ignored or talked myself out of due to their untraditional nature.

It's really, really hard for me to open myself up on here. I'm so accustomed to performing, and carefully controlling as much as I can of the vulnerability that seeps out, that I'm exceedingly nervous about writing what I want to write.

This afternoon, my family attended a wedding. My daughter was tearing around the reception hall with several other kids, overtired and full of bread and fruit punch, when she showed up at our table crying in a way that always catches me off-guard. It's loud, it's uncontrolled, and it upsets me when she gets that helpless.

What I always forget is that these enormous crying jags usually come immediately before or after an episode of vomiting. She launched the contents of her stomach all over me mere seconds after screaming loudly enough to draw the attention of practically the entire room. My kid likes to yak on my person.

Anyway, so there I am, covered in it, and trying to calm Lily down and get her to understand I'm not mad, and we will be going home, and it'll be OK, and eventually I take myself into the bathroom. I got the vast majority of it on me - 80-90%, easy. While in the restroom, this woman kept telling me about how bad she felt about me, and how embarrassed I must have been.


It didn't cross my mind for a second to consider being embarrassed. My kid threw up. You want to judge me about that, go right ahead. I think I handled it well enough to the point that I wasn't worried about anything than A) Lily, and B) Getting out of there as fast as possible so as not to distract from the newly married couple.

Sidenote: Lily is fine. Overtired and overexerted, but just fine once she got that our of her system.

I get embarrassed by my own behavior. Had I been the one to vomit, I would have been mortified. However, then I stop and consider the fact that anyone who would judge me for that sort of thing is undoubtedly not worth my time, either. They'd likely presume I was drunk. Maybe.

Now all I want to do is talk about vomit stories, but I've wandered way off track. My point was that my mortification rarely, if ever, is due to someone else's behavior. Hell, it's very rarely due to my own behavior. It's due to thoughts I have or assumptions I've made that typically remain stuck in my head. Do I think it's reasonable to hold myself to higher standards than I would anyone else? No. I want to write one of those letters to my daughter for her to read ten years from now, telling her what I've learned. But the truth is, I haven't learned it, obviously. I haven't hit that point where I can ignore that voice.

Working on it, though. Last week, I had a massive breakthrough regarding finances. Out of all of my fears, that's my biggest fear, and easily my largest source of shame. I hate facing bills. I'm obsessive about checking my bank balance. My husband handles all of our financial affairs - every single one. So, I panic about it all the time. I get mad when things don't unfold the way I want them to, but I can't get mad because I've accepted zero responsibility. With the help of a very dear friend, I'm going to sit down, and look at every absolutely petrifying piece of paper, and we're going to collect all of the completely overwhelming numbers and put them on a very straightforward spreadsheet. And I'm going to take some control over it.

Here's another one: I have paralyzing fear of getting the mail. I used to carry a lot more shame with that one, until I learned it's not that unusual for folks with anxiety trouble. So, if you're reading this, and retrieving mail scares you, too, you're not alone. Each time I do it, I'm proud of myself, but angry that the next time I go do it, the tightness in my throat is still there. Everything in due time.

To start my week, and consequently to end this post, I'll throw down with one more quote:

If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present. -Lao Tzu