Poverty and Popsicles

For those who do not know I got a second job for the summer working at a small community pool in Lufkin. When I first heard about the position I was interning at Impact Lufkin and working with wards 1&2 gathering information for the city to help and improve this part of Lufkin. As a social work intern, I began to fall in love with this area and everyone that was a part of it. Wards 1&2 were full of generational families and everyone knew everyone which made it feel like no matter where you went you were part of the family. But as I began to really become interested in the position I was given many warnings that I should think about finding something else.

Now me being stubborn and hard headed made me want to prove something to all of these people. This park that I have been working at one time was known as the place you could go to do basically anything illegal. It is centered in the heart of North Lufkin and is considered the “Gateway” to Lufkin. This community is also surrounded by poverty. These and many other things were warnings that made me roll my eyes and say that I was up for the challenge. I kept telling myself and others that if I could go on the other side of the world, not speak some of the languages of the countries I visited and ride buses and subways alone at night I would be able to handle a small 60ft pool in broad daylight.

When I went to my certification course my instructor found out that I would be working at this community pool and told me that he too had worked there the last time that it was open (over 4 years ago). He informed me of how the last time he worked there he watched a lifeguard get jumped and slammed into the concrete moments before he was pulled off the stand and jumped himself. Now me being the “bigger bark than bite” type of person I am I immediately came back with “I hope they try me”.

Now fast forward to today, July 1, 2017. I have been a lifeguard at this community pool for over three weeks now and the most action I have seen from all the warnings is a kid cussing my supervisor out after I told him to shut the fence after he left. That was two days into the pool being open. Every other kid that has come through my front gate has been some of the most amazing and sweetest kids ever! I have begun to remember names, get life stories and watch these kids interact with each other.

It’s amazing. The pool opens at 2 pm and by the time that I am pulling in they have recognized my car and will run over and want to just talk about their day and how much they can’t wait to get in there and swim. The kids have even gotten to the point where you can tell how much they want the pool to stay open so they will call the other kids out so that we do not have to.

My favorite part of the day I will have to say is when I see the kids roll up on their bikes when we open and getting in those first few minutes of “What’s Up!” “How’s it going?” “Where is so and so?” During the breaks, the kids used to go outside the gates but now they want to hang around us and talk like we have known each other forever! On days that I know that we will be slower I will bring in snacks for this kids because for some it is one of the only things they will get to eat that day. Today I brought popsicles and you would have thought I had handed them each $100. They were so pumped about those popsicles and thank the lord I bought 150 of them because they flew through them. It honestly brings joy to my heart to hear about these kids daily lives.

I write all of this because I feel for the first time in my life I am where I am supposed to be. Becoming a social worker is the right track for me and I know that because of these kids. I love getting to interact with them and I love being able to get to know them and to listen to their stories. I have lived at both ends of the socioeconomic scale so I am able to relate to these kids in some sort of way. I grew up with two very hard working parents who did anything and everything that they could to make sure that I was taken care of and I was able to live a normal life. Later on, I gained two more parents that continued to instill hard work and dedication. These kids have taught me that no matter what is going on in your life, the world or even down the block sometimes you just have to hang on, take a step back and take in everything that surrounds you because that is what makes up a happy life.

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Dear Future Self 

What’s up from the past! It is currently 2017 and I am hoping that when you read this some good has come out of this year. You grew up a lot this year and in the words of Kylie Jenner “it is a year of realizing things.” To start out you finished your first year of graduate school with a 4.0! You are halfway done with your masters! Please tell me that I didn’t go into more debt for nothing! I hope I am making that extra 6% like they promised. I hope that whenever you are reading this that we are successful in all aspects of life. You didn’t go into your profession for the money but to help people and to be a positive light in somebody else’s dark room. I hope you still believe that. In this dark world it helps to be one lit candle. 

Depending on when you read this I hope you’re happy. You could be dating, engaged or married (ha). You could be beginning to build your dream home or living in another country. I’m sure this terrifies mom but she knows you’re doing fine. I hope that your life has never stopped being an adventure full of laughter and memories. I hope you have learned how to manage your stresses and that you are living life to the fullest. Never letting anything or anyone hold you back from being the best you! 

Future self, I hope that somewhere along the way you have realized how to take care of yourself. At 23 you suck at many things such as saving money, getting up before 8 and folding a fitted sheet. I hope you learned to do all of that or are dating/married to someone that is good at all of that for you. From your past self to you I hope that all of your wildest dreams have come true. I know you were raised to dream big and then go a little further. Everything you dream is 100% possible with hard work and dedication. I hope that I (your past self) has made you proud and that I have made amazing memories that you are able to tell to anyone and everyone that is willing to let you take a trip back in time. I hope you are still the role model I attempted to be and that I am on the right track. 

Dear future self, 

I hope I did it right.

-K

That’s a wrap

Welcome back y’all to my pointless rambles. I have officially ended my first year of graduate school with one year left! I can tell you that this past year has been one that has shown me just how much I am willing to take before I completely crumble. If you ever want to test your strength turn off your No switch and be around people that need a ton of help.

This year I have earned 30 hours of courses, over 400 hours of internship while working at the print shop and losing 40lbs. To say it has been a struggle is an understatement. I wore out my phone with calls and texts to mom and dad saying that I was done and that I couldn’t take it anymore.

I swear grad school is no joke and I’m only a single woman working part time living off loans. I commend the men and women that do this with real lives and families! It’s astonishing!

Anyway this last year I have honestly learned more about myself than I could have imagined. I finally found the field that I am supposed to be in and the degree that I am truly passionate about. I will tell you at times I struggled. I struggled with essays, internship, and professors. I am still learning what will be an amazing addition to my resume and what would be a great time but would probably be better laying in bed watching friends. I am learning about balance and that being lazy on the weekends is 1 million percent okay.

I have also learned that I am growing my voice! This semester I have been given multiple opportunities to share my story through different advocacy programs. I’ve spoken to college students, middle schoolers and even high schoolers about anything and everything they want to talk about. It has been amazing! I love public speaking even if I’m not that good.

This summer is going to be jam-packed with school and work but I am so excited for a quick week long break. After the year I’ve had, I could use it!

Until next time

-K 😘

Umm. Yeah. 

Come on May ’18! 

These past few weeks have been filled with exams, 20+ page papers and internship events. I have been busy speaking at conferences and volunteering with other organizations. My favorite one so far has been becoming a sexual assault advocate for the east Texas area. 

I am about half way done with my certification hours to become an S.A. and I could not be more excited to be finished. I am not excited for the reasons I will be advocating for but knowing that someone is there for you during your time of need is a feeling that I hope to give one day. 

Being a voice and advocating is something that has really driven me through these past two semesters of my masters program. Even though I have a year left I have been looking into crisis centers in and around Erath county. I really wanna be the voice for the voiceless and I feel that finishing up my degree and becoming a certified advocate will get me one step closer! 

Sooo anyway just a quick update before I get back to studying for finals! So far I have 2 down and 3 to go until I am finished with my first year! 

Welcome Back!

Hello Hello!

So it has been a while (say 8+ months) since we last talked and let me tell you so much has happened. Last time we talked I was overseas in the most beautiful city surrounded by a million people I didn’t know. It was amazing. It has officially been one year since I landed back stateside and since then I have done a few things I said I would never do.

Let’s just start from the beginning.

Last April, I came back to texas and went straight to bed. I am pretty sure that I slept for 15 hours straight because jet lag. I was only home for about 4 days before I decided that I wanted to move to Dallas and attempt to find a big kid job considering I was weeks away from graduating with my bachelor’s degree. Needless to say, I ended up working at Ulta for the summer because I convinced myself to become a professional student. I began my master’s degree on August 22, 2016. Yes, Master Degree! Who would have thought I would have wanted to put myself through two more years of torture.

I started my new social work degree and instantly fell in love! I had never thought about becoming a social worker because I, like many others, thought that being a social worker meant that I was going to be a “baby snatcher” or that all I wanted to do was work with poor people.   I have found out that this is not the case at all! I never realized just how much a social worker is able to do. We are there for people from the day they are born until the day you die. It is pretty amazing especially because that means job security.

Anywho, before this post gets too long, I am almost done with my second semester of my first year as a masters social work student. I have written over 150 pages worth of papers and assignments, interned over 400 hours at the most amazing placement in the world, and have gained the knowledge and experience that I have only read about in books (yes I read now!!). For the first time in my whole life, I am a 4.0 student as well as an honors student! I was just inducted into the Phi Alpha Honors Society here at SFA. I will try to stay updated more and more because this is supposed to be my place that I can come back and remember all of the fun times. Catch you on the flip side!

Catch you on the flip side!

-K

Dear 15 year old me

Dear 15 year old me, 15 year old

Hello from 2016. You are living your dream of traveling the world and will be graduating soon! Since I am graduating I have been on a huge soul search to see who I really am and who I want to be. It has been really fun and difficult because not only have you been going through lots of pictures you have been replaying the fun and sad memories. With all of this searching I have discovered things that I wished I would have known back in 2005.

High school is finally here! Congratulations! Fair warning these will be some of the best and worst years of your life. You have grown up with the people that surround you so you will have friends in each class but by now you have already had some let downs that will soon be an answered prayer.

The first thing that I want to tell you is not everyone is your best friend. After graduation you have one best friend that has been through hell and back with you from heart breaks, drill team struggles, and hundreds of miles of distance from college. She is the one person that you can turn to with any problem and she will drop everything to be there for you. Be thankful for the few friendships that will actually last a life time.

Quit being afraid of everything. Raise your hand in class more, you are smarter than you think. Join the club that you have no interest in but will turn out to be your favorite after two years. Try an elective course like floral arrangement not because it will help you get into college but because its a random fact that you can build flower bouquets out of plants in your backyard.

Actually run the mile. I personally want to apologize to all the classes younger than me for making the mile in 8th grade harder. Apparently its not a good idea to run around the school once then hide behind the dumpster and then sprint to the finish line like you have been running the whole time. Running the extra two laps wont kill you. On the health note eat more rabbit food, drink way less soda and drink more water. You still hate it at 22 but you would be a lot healthier if you ate it every once in a while.

Take care of your skin! Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize!  When you make drill team (or any other sport) you will be outside for HOURS! Evans loved being outside! You thank her for your awesome tan but not the tan lines. Even though you love the color of your skin when your tan step back from the tanning bed. Sure the sticker outlines are super cute but all the freckles and damage you have done to your skin is not! Ask mom to get a spray tan or learn to love your paleness!

On the subject of mom, take a chill pill! You have put this woman through hell and the funny part is when you get to college she is your best friend. You text/call/FaceTime her more times than you probably should. Mom will always be there for you no matter where you are and will literally drive to the other side of Texas to sit through a football game that your team loses in the rain when she is huge pregnant. Remember she is your Wonder Woman and she has taught you everything that you know.

One other part of your high school life that you should listen to her on is boys. I know that you know everything and she doesn’t know what she is talking about but 9 times out of 10 you wont marry your first high school love. One thing that I would stress to you about boys is that they are just that, BOYS! Sure you have one that you date and think is going to be the best thing in your life but you will later find out that he is a way better friend. You don’t need a BAE you need those A’s! Focus on your grades because college is no joke!

My final part of advice would be to cheer up butter cup. When you are 15 you think that the world is out to get you and you’re super dramatic *cue Miley breakup anthem* but your life is just starting! College is the best time of your life so far and you will want to be ready for it! Take chances, sneak out and then call mom to pick you up, make memories that you will laugh about at your 10 year high school reunion. Just make the most of it. That is my biggest regret is that I could have done more than I did.

You will survive high school. Just 4 years until its done and you are wishing you could start all over.

See you on the other side,

K 2.0

 

Costa Coffee Catch Up

I have recently discovered my new favorite coffee shop in London. It’s not one of those mom and pop ones but a chain which is even better. Its called Costa! They have large and extra large lattes which I am all about. Shout out to Mikaela for introducing me to it!

Little coffee rant is over now for the update.

Well holy cow y’all! This has been such a ride and I cannot believe that we are almost at the end. I landed in London on February 4th at 9 am and now I am 20 days away from leaving this amazing country that I have called home for 10 weeks. My adventure has taken me all over this royal island (except for Scotland :() and even some other places in Europe. I have learned a lot and experienced more than I thought I could at my age.

I am not going to lie about 6 weeks in I called mom and dad and pretty much bawled my eyes out saying that I wanted to come home. I have had a breakdown or two with the worst FOMO a person could imagine and had a freak out or two about missing out on my last senior semester. But I can honestly say that after having mom calm me down and send me grape jelly  and Kraft Mac n Cheese I have calmed down and I now can’t imagine leaving.

A few things I have learned are:

  1. Mastering the tube system!
    1. You give me a destination and some cell service I can get us anywhere in a half hour. Unless its outside of zone 1 or 2 then you’re on your own.
  2. I have learned the way of afternoon tea.
    1. This has always been a weird phenomenon for me because I am from america where we have every minute planned out and we don’t have any to spare. British people are not like that. If you are thirsty or like a muffin/scone then be prepared to sit down for hours.
  3. Cheers!
    1. This was an odd one for me. I was always embarrassed to say it because I felt like it was one of those things that only Brits say. Its like saying bye to a good friend but here almost everyone is your friend so you can say it to the CEO or a janitor. Its kind of crazy.
  4. Cookie and Biscuit are not the same!
    1. Dear Lord bless your heart if you mix those up. It will throw your whole taste bud system off!
  5. Stepping of the beaten path is the best decision.
    1. Some of the best breakfast I have had have been when we got lost down some back alleys and found a small cafe that sat 15 people. Since it isn’t on the main road you are pretty much family when you walk in the door which is an awesome feeling when you are away from your family.
  6. TimeOut is your best friend
    1. First off it’s a free magazine that tells you EVERYTHING that is happening that week! It takes you day by day and lists out what is happening around London, where it is happening and how much it costs. It will help you keep you in the know and keep you from being super lazy in bed in a beautiful city!
  7. Travel!
    1. Yes, traveling is expensive but you are also already over here so why not pay an extra $100 to fly to Rome for the weekend with your flat mates to live like Lizzie McGuire! It creates memories that will make your friends and family jealous and it will be something that you will never forget because you are able to see the world through the eyes of a local!
  8. Back ally pubs are the best!
    1. I can hear my Meme saying how dangerous and crazy I would be to venture to these pubs but I will tell you that my most memorable and fun night out was heading to the pub next to my roommates gym! It was super crowded and I think my roommate and I were the only women in the pub but we got to talk to some older guys that could have been our dads that gave us awesome advice and bought drinks all night! Rugby pubs are also the best because it combines the two best things in the world!

I think that if anyone has the chance to go on an adventure like mine then they better jump on it quick and not turn back. It might seem like a lot or that it wouldn’t be worth it to be away from your family for so long but the work and life experience that I have gained is way more than I would have gotten back home in Texas. I have made so many friends and connections through out the world that I wouldn’t give it up for anything.

coffee catchup

Ciao for now,

K

76 miles and no sleep

The past few weeks have been so crazy that I have basically forgotten I have a blog. So in the words of Al Roker “Here’s whats happening in my neck of the woods”.

Two weeks ago I went to the land of pizza, gelato and Lizzie McGuire’s love life. My flatmates and I hopped on a plane and headed to Rome, Italy. I actually boarded my plane at 4 am while they were lucky and boarded at 6. We saw the Trevi Fountain, the Coliseum, and the Vatican City. It was such an amazing experience and I wish I could go back and actually get to see the sights at a normal speed. The coliseum was my favorite part mainly because it holds so much history and it blows my mind that it has been around for thousands of years and I have stood where Ceaser and millions of other Romans have stood. In two VERY short days we walked a total of 15.6 miles and I ended up with two blisters and really dirty white converse.

Then I got back to Canada Waters and slept for 12 hours straight. I got back to work and let me just tell you how amazing my internship is. Not only do I work for the best charity in London but I am able to work for a team of people that are so much fun and just want to help people that they make sure I am enjoying every minute of it. Since I am writing a quick blog I wont elaborate but I will in another one. Basically they are amazing and they are showing me what London’s charities are all about.

In my short 7 weeks I have been to the Parliament 3 times, meet many MP’s, Lords and ladies, and I have explored a lot of what England has to offer. In the next three weeks I will be living like a Waldorf by going to a high profile charity event, go to Paris and see the Effile Tower and check out some more pubs. I still have a lot of adventures to take in just a few short days but I cant wait. I know I’ll get a lot of slack for this but I am so ready to be home. I miss Dr. Pepper, queso, Whataburger and pancakes. Hopefully I’ll have more of an update later this week but here is what I have for now.

Talk to y’all soon,

xoxo

K

But Why?

red x

As I sat down to lunch today with one of my intern companies Domestic Abuse advocates she asked me what my thoughts were on a certain subject. One that has been in the news and the press more lately than I have ever heard. She looked me in the eye and said the phrase I have been asked a million times, “Why do you care about human trafficking?” Now I have been asked this exact question a few different ways but they are all looking for the same answer. Why?

3 years ago I was sitting in my HMS 200 classroom with Dr. Lumar. We were discussing family dynamics and how a family functions on a day to day basis. As she spoke she began to talk about the “tough” issues that families have to face all of the time. I say “tough” because these are the issues that make people shutter and walk away because it makes them upset. These are Rape, Assault, Trafficking, Abuse and any other word that has to go along with these subjects. We then began talking about families not only in our backyard but also around the world. I vaguely remember drifting off hearing these topics because at one point in time I too was one of those that turned my hearing off and tried to distract myself from the conversation. .

A few weeks later we had to begin working on our final project, a workshop that we would have to put on in our communities. It had to be something unique and had to be something that worked in a family dynamic. The first thing that came to my mind was divorce. Something that I know all to well and something that I would be able to get a lot of information on. Sadly someone got to it before me. I finally had to think out of the box. My mind went to a few children that I have known for a long time. I remember their stories and I knew I wanted to research something that had to do with child advocacy. As I went and began my research trafficking always popped up due to parents selling children.

I didn’t grow up sheltered. If I had a question about something I knew that my mom would answer it or my dad would buy me a movie or bring home pamphlets from work about it. Even though I had never been exposed to human trafficking as a name I had been told of Rose dale Lane in Dallas and why I should never go there. I had been told about the strip clubs along the interstate on the south side of Dallas and I have seen movies that I probably shouldn’t have watched as a 12 year old. I knew what was out there but I didn’t know anything on this magnitude.

I knew that I wanted to help people. I had done the research and presentations as well as witness abuse through my friends experiences at school and knew that there needed to be a voice for the voiceless. I have heard the quote a million times and I wanted to actually be the change I wanted to see in the world. I wanted to travel every square inch of the world that I could and help the victims of such a disgusting crime. I wanted to be the person that was able to save at least one life from prostitution or another type of slave labor. After researching and presenting my project to my professor I knew I couldn’t just sit back and let something like this happen.

Having been asked the question so many times I really wanted to give the background as to why I care about and advocate for the end of Human Trafficking. I hope that this has answered some questions that people have been asking me. I know that there is a lot more information that I could have shared but I didn’t want this to be longer than it had to be.

“We have two choices, do something or do nothing”- Tony Kiwan

Click ME!

Honesty Hour

Hi friends and welcome back! This past week has been such a roller coaster of excitement, grey clouds and a major sense of accomplishment. I feel like I have done so much this week but at the same time I have literally laid in bed for two days watching 3 year old episodes of Big Bang Theory and New Girl.

The first part of the week was super exciting because I got to see something that many others are not able to.I was able to see the inside of the House of Lords and House of Commons. It is a normal tour that you are able to take  but there are not many people that can say that they were taken on the tour by a Member of Parliaments aid and then met up with the MP for tea and biscuits. It was super exciting to be able to sit down and hear what she is wanting to accomplish as an MP. I was also extended an invitation to come and sit in on a meeting of the House of Commons to see what they have to say about the new events.

I will say though that I should really just stay off social media while I am over in my dream location. If I said that I wasn’t suffering from major FOMO I would be a complete liar! I have seen AMAZING pictures and videos of my gorgeous Delta Zeta sisters and then I have seen ghosts of Kaylee past popping up here and there but mainly good stuff. Since I see everything from college flashing like bursting light bulbs on my small 5in phone screen I now feel like all I have been wearing is DZ shirts/memorabilia, Driving Jacks sweatshirts and shirts and even a few SFA items thrown in the mix. I was warned that when I packed my escape and said peace out to nac that I would miss it more than anything in the world and Ill tell you that that is the absolute truth!

3 weeks has literally flown by and I cannot believe that I only have 7 more weeks to explore and see everything that Europe has to offer! As of now I have four trips planned for March and I am sure I will try and squeeze in a few more. Up first is a tour of the University of Cambridge, Bath, Roman Baths, Stonehenge and Windsor Castle. I am so beyond thankful for the amazing friends that I have made on this adventure that are just as ready to explore as I am! I know that this post has been long but whats an update with out a bunch of pictures right! As you will see I like selfies, landmarks and cake! I hope you are enjoying my blog and being on this journey with me! I’m glad that y’all are along for the ride with me!