Hello, my name is Katara. I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend. I enjoy the circle of people I am blessed to call family and the variety of flowers I call friends. God has allowed me to combine all of my passions with my career experience and education. I am a writer, editor, teacher, youth leader and minister.
On this blog, I will share random thoughts, theological perspectives, cultural explorations, ideas on love, life, fitness, health, goals and many other areas of interest.

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My friend Clarence Waldron of CW Media and former senior editor at Jet Magazine tells the conference attendees what Maya Angelou taught him.

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I got to sign books after my presentation. I ran out of books!

 

Now that my first book written under my own name has been released and I am fully immersed in the marketing phase, I hear even more people say: “I have a book, too” or “I want to write a book, too.”

And since helping people bring their publishing dreams to fruition is a part of the company I started (esteempub.com) back in 2013 and dedicated even more of my attention to the business when I left my full-time job in 2014 (correction, I left my full-time paying job; I work more than full time now that I have turned into a freelance writer, author and entrepreneur). So, my goals are to enjoy publishing my own work as well as to help others bring their great ideas into light. I have that goal written as part of my screen saver on my computer. It’s what I love doing and I am very happy I stumbled upon this calling (yes, another few blog posts on that one—or maybe even a book).

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This week my very first book (written under my name) was released! And in my more than 20-something years of publishing, I’ve learned just as much this week (or leading up to it) that I learned in journalism school and working in the industry combined (well, that’s a little of a stretch, but the essence of the point is definitely true. I know a lot of people have a book inside of them and want to know how to get it out. I hope my reflections will get you started—or help you keep going—or make you rethink things (lol).

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Happy New Year!

Katara-photo

 

 

 

Happy New Year! How’s the resolutions or goals or new mantras going? Some people say they don’t make resolutions anymore, but I do think a fresh year gives us a time to reflect and ponder what we might want to do more of, do less of, do differently, etc.

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My Happy Light is one of the ways I get ahead of seasonal depression.

 

It’s that time of year…darkness comes earlier, the days are shorter, and if you’re like me, you feel like you sometimes just want to hibernate like a bear and sleep the entire winter away.

But, since I’ve been around the block a few times and am committed to living a healthier emotional lifestyle, I’m trying to get ahead of what can be seasonal depression. Some of the things in my tool kit include:

Turning on my “Happy Light”–it gives me more light on dreary days–especially now that I work at home much more.

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Dreams Road Sign with dramatic clouds and sky.

Just a quick post today–as I commit to posting more regularly about life and faith:
This week, I ran into one of the first people who paid me to edit a book “on the side.” It was great seeing him and reflecting on the fact that it had been more than 10 years since I edited his book. He still gave me rave reviews. In fact he said the book had no mistakes–even after several printings, he had not received one complaint about a mistake.
Wow! Anyone in publishing knows that’s a great feat. Even as an editor, I realize that things slip by the keenest eyes. But I was grateful for his compliment.
As I drove home, I realized that even 11 years ago I wanted to try my hand at freelancing, but I wasn’t ready. Instead, I took every opportunity to build a “side” business. It didn’t always feel like I was “building,” but I think God was leading me to the right people and in the right time.
Isn’t that what this faith journey really is all about: believing and trusting that God is leading you to the right people and in the right time.
So, no matter where you are today: believe! And maybe you can look back and see your dream being fulfilled.
Don’t miss it!

Weeping may endure in the night, but joy comes in the morning....this picture gives me hope!

Weeping may endure in the night, but joy comes in the morning….this picture gives me hope!

It’s no secret that our lives are busy. It’s as if someone pushed the “extreme” button in the new millennial and we started racing to the finish line. Is it technology—the smart (or not-so-smart phones), tablets, and other devices that keep us sooooo connected via all of the social networking sites? Is it the fact that we are minutes away from finding out any piece of information we’d like.
I’m not sure why we are so busy, but I’m trying my best to learn to enjoy the ride…to enjoy the moments that seem rather mundane and dull. Continue reading

 

balloonsFor the past 31 days, I’ve been counting down the days to my birthday by reflecting on what I’ve learned this year and throughout my 43 years of life. This is the last installment, thankfully!

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…reflecting on what I’m learning as I turn 43 in a few days (this has been a challenging task to keep up with!) One of the themes of this week: Where has the time gone? (Look at lil K at about 6 weeks at her first outing…and now, at 3.5 years old! It feels like just a short time–well, most times it does! We have to learn to love the moments…

 

August 24: There are just some moments where you sit back and watch and realize that the years are truly short; days might seem long, but then you look up and it’s another year…or 11 years later. That’s one of the many thoughts that ran through my head today as I watched my best friend and her husband host a block party.  (How in the world did we get old enough to really host these things?) I smiled as I watched her very handsome 11-year-old son sit and talk with my husband—it feels like only a few short years ago I watched my college pal worry if her little shaking newborn was okay ( my mom said he needed to be swaddled!). How did this little baby get to be 11? How did my friend’s 9-year-old get to be a surrogate big sister for my 3.5 year old (big sister pushed my girl on a bike, big sister  helped my Kayla  in the jumping jack and took pride in having a little kid to show around). Wow! Wow! Wow! I’m reminded today to enjoy the moments…the crazy ones, the hard ones, the great ones…because we’ll look up and it will be 11 (or more) years later. Enjoy this moment!

August 25: Today was an excellent day! I was especially touched at the simplest yet kindest gesture at church. A woman wanted to share something with me about parenting. She leaned in and purposefully grabbed my hand and spoke softly into my ear. Awww, refreshing and reassuring. I appreciate her gentleness and care in how she said those words…even more than the words. It’s hard for me to take advice sometimes…but I so appreciated that she took the time to make sure I understood her words were meant with gentleness and sincerity. Oh, if we could all deliver messages like that maybe our words would be better received. I’m learning…

August 26: I am so looking forward to a little break this week and weekend. Kayla is out of school so we will hang out a bit at the end of the week; I will then journey to New York to see my other bestie. I need a break. It’s so nice to have something to look forward to—this helps me keep going. I must learn to plan treats and things to look forward to—whether big trips away or small lunch breaks. Looking forward to something helps!

August 27: Staying the course regardless of the signs we see is so important. On this weight loss journey, I’ve been weighing in each week. For the past 2 weeks, I have stayed the exact same weight. Now, this is a good thing when you’re not trying to lose, but when you’re working out, tracking what you eat, trying your “almost” best, it can be frustrating. But, this week, I stepped on that scale and was down a significant amount (for a woman about to be 43!) It showed. My hard work was not in vain. And in life, I’m learning things work like that silly scale. Sometimes our hard work and effort do not show on the day we expect it to (or in the way), but if we don’t get discouraged, keep doing what we know works, evaluate what isn’t working, we can do it. I look forward to another loss soon…but I will also learn to keep working regardless of what one system shows as progress (or lack of) and know that I am making progress. We’re going for progress, not perfection, says one of our weight loss counselors. Amen!

August 28: I celebrated a friend’s graduation from seminary today…a few months later than we initially planned, but we celebrated all the same. It put me on the way back machine from when I was in her shoes—a mere 10 years ago. Seems like a very long time, yet such a short time. Again, weird how time does that to you. My heart goes out to her as she stands at a crossroads—filled with decisions and emotions. I, too, had many of those same feelings…and I’m thankful that 10 years later I am still moving—even when the path seems unclear. Walking by faith—especially when the path seems unclear. Learning…

August 29: Kayla and mommy jumped rope today. Oh, the life of a carefree child. I love it. And jumping speed rope is a great cardio workout. Whew. I’m thankful that although I had postpartum cardio myopathy (yep, heart failure), I am here to jump rope with my child (and live to write about it!) Thanking God! Thanking God! Thanking God!

August 30—I got a treat today! I got to visit with my cousin. She shared stories about my grandmother and her mother, who were sisters. It was nice to hear more about my grandmother and the “good old days.” I was reminded even more that there is nothing new under the sun. We’ve got to share our stories to help those coming behind us.

Part 2 of My Birthday Countdown…What I have learned this year (and week!)

 

One of my absolute favorite memories as a child...our trip to Disney; I'm with my two biggest influencers: mom and dad! They were married on 8/19/61.

One of my absolute favorite memories as a child…our trip to Disney; I’m with my two biggest influencers: mom and dad! They were married on 8/19/61.

August 17: (#8) I love being able to combine work and family time. A princess party for an author’s book and a 3.5 year old princess equals a fun (even if exhausting) day. And to think, when I accepted this job 6 years ago, I had no idea I’d be blessed to raise my own little princess. Thankful for God’s amazing hand (and writing of the script!)

August 18: (#9) Whoa…pace yourself, girl. It was a nice day in Chicago…perfect weather. After church, I immediately started to wonder: what will we get into today? My answer: Whatever it is, it has to be outside. Park, nap, pool, hairwashing…makes for a full day. I’m tired. Work may be my chance to rest this week, says every working mother. I didn’t know it would take this much energy to hang with a child; God bless parents, please! And help us learn to pace ourselves.

August 19: (#10) During my morning walk, listening to the newly download Tye Tribbett’s lyrics: If he did it before, He’ll do it again…same God right now, same God back then.” I broke down. Slumped over in praise and honor and glory and grief (amazing how all those emotions can come at the same time). I was enjoying my time with God that morning…and then it dawned on me that it would have been Mom and Dad’s 52nd wedding anniversary. I thanked God that two people could come together and stay together (til death parted them), raise 3 children, teach us how to put God first, show us that they were not perfect–but that they tried hard to follow God’s will; our parents sacrificed, they trusted in God, they desired more for their kids so they pushed us and pushed us and loved us. Oh, I’m truly blessed by the union of Manual and Ernestine Washington on August 19, 1961. Wow, God was with them then and God is with us now as we navigate through life and work to love and honor and cherish our mates. I pray my brother, sister and I can always rely on the model we were blessed to see firsthand: to trusting in God to be the best parents and mates that we can be…and I pray that if you haven’t had that model, I pray God can show you the way (like he did for my mom and dad!)

August 20: (#11) It is sometime easy to complain about what isn’t right in life…I won’t even start. But, it is, in my opinion, our task to remind ourselves of all that is right. I once heard this referred to as “changing the radio station within your mind.” When you start to focus on the negative, the bad, the violence, the sickness, the lack, etc., change your channel and focus on what is good in your life: for me today—the five minutes of peace while watching TV with my child, the meeting with co-workers that was fun and did get one thing accomplished, traffic that wasn’t as bad as it can be, a mate who makes dinner (thank God!), etc. While this isn’t a prescription to ignore the things we are called to fix in this world, it is a reminder to focus our minds on those things we need to be grateful for!

August 21: I made Kayla’s lunch early for her Thursday picnic. I do think I was just as excited as she was. There are just some fun things about motherhood—things to make me downright giddy. And then there are other things to make me wonder how in the world we can possibly do it all. But, God is teaching me this day and this year to operate through His strength. Pray about everything. And somehow, someway, the still small voice reminds me: “that’s not important” or “do you really need to do that right now.” I’m working on listening more!

August 22: The picnic that was planned at Kayla’s school was canceled. I was sad to see the rain right about the time the little tots were supposed to be at the park, but when I showed up at the school, the teacher said, “we spread out a blanket on the floor and had a picnic inside.” And again, another reminder to focus on what we do have: blankets! Indoors! Creative teachers! And sweet little ones who are happy when you just mix it up a bit. No outside for them this day, but smiles and laughter and giggles as they sat on a blanket. Oh, God give us the heart of these sweet children to appreciate those special little things in life!
August 23: As I paid off some long-running credit card debt today, I wrote: Praise God on each bill. I was just so thankful for reaching some of our financial goals. Our spreadsheet for the past 3 years or so has been tight! I had written at the top of the spreadsheet, a few words of encouragement and our goals. And today, I got to check off just a few more of those goals. Thank you Lord. I continue to Praise God in the midst of reaching these goals…and learning the lessons of delayed gratification, saving, and planning…even at 43, I still have to learn these lessons (or be reminded of them!) And I’m thankful for a mate who is in agreement about debt reduction. We’re getting there, by the grace of God. I was also reminded of the day my mom sent the last bill for the mortgage on our home. She praised God that day. I vividly remember the grateful look on her face; I was too little to probably know the full story (had she missed a few payments? Been in danger of missing them? Certainly she and my father had tight budgets while raising 3 kids, but somehow, someway, through faithful steps, they paid off their mortgage.) I’m thankful for being able to witness this at a young age. Through rough times, dry seasons, and seasons of making goals, God is faithful. Today, I am thankful.

I'm celebrating my birthday by listing 32 things I've learned this year...countdown to my birthday.

I’m celebrating my birthday by listing 31 things I’ve learned this year…countdown to my birthday.

 

So…in an effort to make up for a pretty quiet blogging summer…I’m going to do 31 quick blogs leading up to my birthday! I used to celebrate my birthday the entire 31 days before the actual day. It started one year when my dad looked at the calendar on August 10 and said “It’s one month from your birthday.” He’ll deny ever saying that because he probably doesn’t want to take part in producing a narcissist. He tried really hard not to. But, I am who I am. And one thing I am is a celebrant (ever seen me in worship?). I like to celebrate good things. And, my birth, was a good thing (yours too…go ahead and make a list too!). But, more importantly than my birth on September 10, 1970 (yep, I’m owning it) is the many things I’ve learned in these 43 years…and especially this last year as I’ve worked tirelessly to juggle/balance life as a woman of God, a wife to Derrick, a mommy to the sweetest (sometimes) little 3-year-old, daughter to my daddy, sister to my siblings, friend to a host of great folks, co-worker…whew, I better stop.

So, I’m counting down the days with lessons I’ve learned at 42. Join me…add to the list…check back each week (or close to it…I’m not perfect)

 

August 10 (counting down): #1 That God’s word is fresh! This year I’ve been doing a devotion titled Jesus Calling (published by a competitor)…but it has so much good stuff in it. And, my favorite part is reading the scriptures referenced…actually reading the entire chapter of the scripture reference. My, my, my, my…have I been learning some stuff….even though I’ve been reading the Bible for a long time. It can still be fresh and new and convicting and comforting and challenging. Thank you, Lord!

August 11: #2 Mastering time takes practice. Lots of it! This was a quote from the devotion back in June…and it has stuck with me for a while. That’s a good devotion. I am trying to leave more time—especially to get my 3-year-old ready in the a.m. Gone are the days when I can dash out of bed and get dressed and out the door in 20 minutes or less (yes, I am that fast). But, now I have the blessing of caring for a precarious little one, who likes to wear dresses, who takes her time brushing her teeth, and often puts her shoes on the wrong foot. Being a mom requires PATIENCE! And the only way for me to be relaxed (and less…strong word, less, frustrated) is to allow much more time than I normally would. So, when I’m up in the a.m. I need to focus. I need to access how much time I have and act accordingly. Any optional tasks (like loading the dishwasher, picking up the lent on the floor that’s bothering much more than my unsightly stack of books (priorities, I know)…anything that isn’t about getting out the door needs to be done last, or later). And, as my bff and I laughed about…what’s the worst thing that will happen if I leave out of the door earlier than needed? I will arrive at my destination 5 minutes early…and catch my breath? Oh, that could be nice.

August 12: #3 Things really do work out….much better, in most cases, than I could have ever scripted them. That’s my family’s testimony during this season. I’m thankful and grateful and I couldn’t have written it like this neither would I really want to. I guess that’s why I’m not God…thankfully! My other bestie and I always talk about writing the scripts of our lives (can you tell she’s in the film industry!?) Well any way, we sometimes spend way too much time in our heads, planning out how we’d like our script to run. I knew this a while ago, but I’m learning more each year, it doesn’t happen that way. Sit back and enjoy life…quit reading from the script. Follow the real director, God, even when it seems vague and hard and unclear. Somehow, some way, it will work out. Oh, to really grasp this lesson for everything in my life…Now that would make for a wonderful birthday gift! (Let’s pray that for each other)

August 13:  #4 Sometimes sickness is good. I couldn’t do it today. I couldn’t move after I took my shower. Why? I felt sick and exhausted. I laid down, Derrick got K ready and off to school, and I had a day of checking emails from my bed and sleeping. It took a little while to feel better and I am probably not back to 100%, but what started off as a “bad” day where I didn’t want to be sick ended up being a restful day for me (and apparently that was much needed!)

August 14: #5 You really can learn from mistakes, sometimes more than from getting it right. I’m trying this weight loss thing for the last time…yep, I’m that determined to succeed (and I’m stating it publicly)…but I’ve been slowly losing and regaining the same few pounds for a month or so now…and I’m tired of it. So, this week I accessed what I’m doing and I’m making some changes. I’m going to see bigger losses soon. And, this thing is a process so I’m learning to make change while being patient with myself through it all….

August 15: #6 Not all signs need to be heeded. I tried to get to work early today. When I left (later than I wanted to) the sign said traffic was backed up and I’d be pushing it. Well, I got here with a few minutes to spare. Not all signs should be heeded. Reminds me of the good report in Numbers 13…God said one thing, the spies said: uhm, yea, but they have giants there. That was probably true, but that shouldn’t have concerned the Israelites. God had already told them what to do. So, while signs might point to this or that…I’m not worry about that. Not all signs need to be heeded.

August 16: #7 This is hard to write a week late. I’ll keep up better next week…and post more then! Counting down to 43 years of lesson! And there, a lesson in good intentions, procrastination, not writing down my thoughts day by day…

 

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