Kathy Sebright

Writer. Speaker. Believer. Runner. Truth Enthusiast.


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Seasons change and so did I, you need not wonder why

I have this dream pretty regularly. I am running from someone who intends to do me harm but can’t get far enough away. I end up backing myself into a corner, in a dimly lit room with this beat up creaky old white door that doesn’t lock. On the other side of that door, they push and push trying to get in and I can’t hold the door closed. The intruder is powerful and strong while I am defenseless and weak. The door opens a little bit at a time and I’m screaming, using all of my force to attempt to close it but it’s just not good enough. The door opens wide and then I awaken with a jolt.

Now I’m sure some dream analyst would have a lot to say about the dream but that’s not really the point at all. The point is that no matter how many times I have this dream, I can’t change the outcome. That door is coming open whether I want it to or not. That’s kind of the way it works in the waking life too, isn’t it? Change is right there, pushing at our door while we waste precious resources of time and energy fighting it, hiding out on the other side of the door attempting to hold it back. Still it spills in a little bit at a time until its invaded the whole room and there’s no denying its presence anymore. IMG_7553.JPG

I have spent a lot of time looking for who I used to be to no avail. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t find her. I was so sure that if I just kept at it eventually I’d run into her; pun intended of course. Much to my dismay, she was gone without a trace. My endeavors were fruitless. She had blown away in the wind. Only I was left. There was no old me or new me; there was absolutely nothing. I had to start all over, rebuilding this person I only had a vague recollection of. I stood broken and full of despair for what no longer existed. I didn’t know where to start and the world felt dark and shadowy beneath my feet.

What I didn’t realize was that this was always the way it was going to be.  I was never going to be able to be the same person again. We are not supposed to be. We are supposed to change. Grow. Leave little bits and pieces of ourselves in yesterday. With every heart break, success, failure, and joy, we change. It happens whether we want it to or not. It’s hard to accept that we don’t really have a say in the process, especially when the change takes you by complete surprise and leaves a gaping hole in your heart. We can deny it or we can accept it but either way, it is happening. To accept it doesn’t mean you have to like it; it just means you don’t settle in that in-between space trying to relive out all the different ways it could have or should have went. You can accept something that you really, truly hate. It will be hard. It will hurt. It will shake you to your core. It will feel like the entire world is caving in around you at times. It will be a long process, one step forward, two steps back, and then again until you gain some traction and start moving forward but you can do it.

Tony_Robbins_Quote_Change_Progress-e1345880409149Maybe that’s an overly simplistic view of change. Maybe it’s all way more complicated than accepting what has happened has really happened. Maybe I don’t understand it at all. Or maybe I’m still too sleep deprived to tell if my words are coming out right. Either way, this is what I am going to do today. This is what I want you to do with me. Give up chasing the ashes of what wasn’t. Give up clinging to the hope of what truly can’t be. Extract yourself from the tangle of webs that have held you down and still for so very long. Stand tall and believe that you are capable and worthy of moving forward. Take that step. Just one. Just for now. Just for today. Take that step and know it will be ok. Maybe not right away, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but someday, it really will be ok.


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It was a baby, not just a miscarriage

The first time it happened was almost 6 years ago. I was almost 10 weeks pregnant when I woke up that morning. 2 hours later I was sitting in the emergency room of a local hospital. My husband’s hand was wrapped tightly around my arm as my leg bounced nervously while we waited. A young boy sat next to us with his parents and wailed. He held a twisted bloody t-shirt over his hand. There was one of those cheap, white styrofoam coolers at his feet with what can only be assumed the rest of a missing appendage I couldn’t see under the makeshift t-shirt bandage. He had been there when we showed up and now the nurse with a wheelchair was coming to get me already. The boy wailed louder as they pushed me away and his yells about how it was his turn grew more distant. My face burned red for surpassing this poor kid in line and I fought back tears.

The nurse closed the thin, multicolored curtain to my room. They took blood samples, hooked me up to monitors, read over my chart, gave me some medication, and then sent me home with a dying baby. If they were so sure I really was going to miscarry this baby, I just wanted to go home. I didn’t want to stay there or have any procedure. I wanted my home. I curled up on the couch that night not quite believing it. My baby was still alive so maybe the medication would help. Maybe he would be ok. Maybe there would be a miracle.

No such miracle came. I was in agony. Something they didn’t tell me was how much it would hurt. Not hurt in the emotional sense of losing a baby you loved and wanted, but hurt in the real physical sense of what is happening to your body. I was holding my pillow and crying, begging for it to stop but not really wanting it to stop because that would mean my baby was gone. It took a day and a half and then it was 3am and I was crawling down the hallway on my hands and knees. The walls of the hallway tilted up at me and I was sure I was going to throw up. A sharp stab of pain sent me scrambling again and I pulled myself onto the cool bathroom floor. I was sobbing so hard I couldn’t catch my breath. It hurt. It hurt. It hurt and then it didn’t hurt anymore. It was done. I was holding this tiny little baby, my baby not yet fully formed in the palm of my hand. It wasn’t just a miscarriage. It was my baby and now my baby was gone. Facebook-20150814-105806

Why would I tell you something so personal? Why would I share a moment like this? Why would I want to relive something that nearly broke me? Because I wish someone would have told me. I wish I would have known what to expect. I wish I had known that it was ok to grieve for these babies and it wasn’t shameful or wrong to love and miss someone you’ve never had the privilege of meeting alive.

It’s still quite taboo to acknowledge this baby and the one that came after and I don’t understand why. In this culture of oversharing, empowering, and talking about most everything so openly, miscarriage (and stillbirth/infant loss) are sorely under covered topics. It’s a devastating and isolating event that many do not know how to respond to. What made it even more isolating for me was the response by others, as if it didn’t matter and I was making a big deal about nothing. People told me there was probably something wrong with the baby anyhow. People told me I was young and could just have another. People told me to look on the bright side, at least it was early and I wasn’t attached. So many people just did not get it. The more overlooked the lives of my babies were, the more desperate I became to make them real and show the world they mattered. I tattooed them on my wrists. I talked about it. I organized a walk on October 15, national pregnancy and infant loss awareness day. I refused to let the world tell me they didn’t matter. They mattered to me very much. They still do.

Now is probably a good time to admit I don’t have a really good closing point. I just want to reassure you that you are not alone. I want to remind others to be gentle with their words to a grieving mother or father, even if they don’t understand. I want to fill your aching, empty arms with words of hope and love. They mattered. Your baby. My baby. Her baby. His baby. They mattered. Let your tears fall without shame for the love you have known and the love you have lost. It matters.


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The lies we tell ourselves

I used to think I knew what strength was. I even used to naively and perhaps arrogantly believe I was strong. I saw the road ahead of me so clearly, how my life would go, what would be next, and what I wanted to do. And then life laughed in my face. Life picked me up with its raging winds and dropped me in the middle of a strange and scary place. Like Dorothy, I was no longer in Kansas. I stood in this brand new place with the eyes of a frightened child. I didn’t know where I was, what I should do, or even where I should go next.

One day, I thought my little boy was healthy. The next day, I found out I had been wrong all along. All of my preconceived notions of strength fell to the floor along with a trail of my tears. I found myself crying and laughing at the same time in a neurosurgeon’s office, overwhelmed by all of these things I felt I needed to know but didn’t really want to know at all. I went through every emotion I never even knew I had. I was angry, filled with a white, hot rage that burned on the inside. I was terrified, frozen in place by fear at times. I was crushed, a hopeless despair that accompanied crying so hard I felt sick. I was all of these things and even more. Not once, did I feel strong. I looked at myself in the mirror and only saw a stranger staring back at me.

People were so sure I was going to stop “all that running” now that my child had this life changing diagnosis and an impending major surgery. I’m not sure why, maybe that would have been the rational response in most people. Clearly, I’ve never been most people. While everyone else still slept, I would quietly shut the front door behind me and take off running for hours at a time. Except I wasn’t just running, I was evolving. I was becoming someone else in this new place. I was becoming stronger from my brokenness. cracked-rock-background-1424232287GVz

Before my son’s diagnosis, I saw strength as solid and stoic. Unbreakable and unmovable. It was the refusal to cry at funerals or sad movies. It was the brave face, showing the world nothing could faze them. It was the ability to lock out all of the emotions that could hurt. It turns out, in doing so, that was just locking out all of the emotions that makes you human and able to experience the full spectrum of pain and joy in this world. I never realized that vulnerability could be strong but I’ve come to realize that it is. It’s so much scarier to tell the truth than it is to hide behind a smile. It’s so much harder to feel all of the pain than it is to just ignore it and let it eat away at you. It’s so much braver to admit how afraid you are instead of pretending you aren’t afraid at all. There was a time I wouldn’t have been able to read that, let alone think that, without rolling my eyes.

So what if we all told each other the truth? What if we answered “how are you” with an honest answer? What if we banished the word fine from our vocabulary? What if we said something real out loud? What if we asked others with an intent only to listen and understand? What if we decided to be brave? To be strong? To be authentic? What sort of difference could we make in ourselves? What sort of difference could we make in those around us?

Dig deep and find your strength. Then, be brave and use it.


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“She put on a lot of weight”

I ran into someone I hadn’t seen in a couple of years on the fourth of July. It was hot and humid here. My sweaty hair was stuck to my face. My brave little boy was in my big yellow double running stroller, the strap tied a bit too tightly around my arm digging in. My oldest son was running behind me with my husband. I was surrounded by an amazing group of people out there representing the church we attend, showing love for our community by passing out a few thousand popsicles in the parade. My face was flushed red from the heat and the exertion of running to keep up while pushing a nearly 100 pound load and simultaneously handing out popsicles with one hand while the other steered the stroller. I handed this person a popsicle, smiled, and offered a short, but enthusiastic, “Hey there!” As I turned away from them to continue, I heard ever so faintly “she put on a lot of weight.” I felt my face flame up with embarrassment. My pulse quickened like it would for an impending physical attack. I was stunned for about half a second before I realized there was no time to dwell on this. I had to keep moving and stay with my group even though I wanted to know so badly if there was going to be more to this conversation about me. FB_IMG_1436225638817

I sat with it for 2 days. I didn’t say a word to anyone about it, not even my husband, because I was embarrassed. Because I felt ashamed. Because most of all they were right. I mean yes, they were right. But in those short few seconds they saw me, they didn’t really see me. They chose to see just one thing. My weight. Not me. They only saw my weight.

I wanted to go back and tell them. All the things they didn’t see, that is. All the things they couldn’t even begin to understand. All the things I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. All the things I have overcome to be here today, standing in front of them happily offering them a popsicle. All the times I almost didn’t make it. All the ways I have struggled and failed and got back up again anyhow, refusing to let that be the way it ended. So yes. Yes. I have gained weight. And it would be so easy to make excuses and justifications. This is what insomnia can do to you. This is what it looks like when you watch your heart and soul – your child suffer from unimaginable pain. This is what long term, chronic stress and worry looks like. This is what someone that has been on the edge one too many times looks like. But it wouldn’t be the whole truth. The whole truth is I have done this to myself. That’s the whole and embarrassing and painful truth. I have struggled and I have done the very best I have been able to over the years and this is where I have found myself. I have tried and tried and tried. I really have. And when all else has failed, when I have prayed and ran, and wrote and read, when I have cried and screamed and still felt the world spinning out of control in front of me, I have turned to food for comfort. And just because I have put on this weight does not make me any less of a person. It does not mean I am not worthy, not interesting, or not important.

I wanted to go back and tell them more. Like how I just ran 100 miles two weeks ago, for the third time. And while some would attempt to diminish these accomplishments because I was not “fast”, I stand proud knowing the truth of the matter. It takes a level of endurance and grit I never knew I had to run for a day and a half straight. It takes a hardened will, a determination to go forth despite the burning pain, the deep ache that settles in all of your bones, the beaten down body, and the discouraged mind. It takes dedication and passion. It’s all about heart. It’s a feat of strength, not just physically but mentally. And just because I have put on this weight does not mean I am weak, out of shape, or unhealthy.

I wanted to tell them all of this and more. I wanted to make them see how much more I am than someone who has put on weight. But the more I thought about it, the more ridiculous it seemed. Why does it matter? Why do I care what these people think of me? Why do I look at myself in the mirror more critically after a mindless comment someone made by the side of the road? Why do we let people do this to us? Who is anyone to judge you or me that way? Why do we dismiss a compliment so easily but let an insult stick to our ribs?

So I came to a realization and that is I need to be a better friend, to myself. The next time I look at myself in the mirror before I leave, I will not throw in a biting comment about how I look. The next time I am discouraged that I cannot zip up my favorite pair of jeans, I will not berate myself. The next time I hear a less than flattering comment about myself,  I will not let it take root in me. I will not give it the satisfaction. I will dismiss it the way it should be. I will love myself more. I will look at myself the way a friend would. If I would not say it a friend, I will not say it to myself. As we all should. I will cut myself some slack and acknowledge that I really have done the best that I could. I will believe my own words. I will know that I have not failed anyone and that I am not a failure myself.

I will honestly and truly treat myself like a friend would. That’s what I want for you too. I want you to see yourself for how amazing you are. I want you to see that it does not matter if you are a few pounds heavier than you want to be. It does not make you any less beautiful. What makes you beautiful is you. Who you are. Not some arbitrary number. Not the way your critics may see you, but the way the ones that love you see you. What an amazing thing that would be FB_IMG_1430562952849– to finally see ourselves the way our loved ones do. The way we should be seen. That is the hope. That is the goal.


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With words, I can make anything

As I shut my laptop closed late last night, I felt at peace. There was excitement and fear of course, but there was also peace. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be even remotely successful. It’s not that big of a deal I tried to tell myself. But that last part is wrong. It is a big deal.

There is an old Hemingway quote that many people know that I just love. It goes something like this: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” It’s a statement so profound (to me, anyhow) that I can’t possibly follow it up with any meager offerings of my own.

That’s all there is to it. Bleed your very heart and soul onto the paper or in my case, into the word document. Yesterday I sat with the cursor blinking back at me. It was looking at the unfinished rough draft for my very first book. And I want it to be good, of course I do. Who wants to write something bad?! But I’ve been worrying. I’m only 32, maybe I haven’t lived enough yet to write an entire book. I don’t have any sort of degree; I never even finished college. I dropped out when I ran out of money, terrified of going into debt and so I chose to walk away. What do I know about writing a book? Nothing. Aside from some chicken scratch in a few old journals and a couple of blog posts. I don’t know if I’m even any good. What if my friends and family love me so much, they can’t bear to tell me the truth and crush my dream? And who would even want to read a whole book on me?  I’m actually quite ordinary, I don’t have anything about me that sets me apart. What makes me qualified to pass down any sort of wisdom? Nothing. Nothing at all. Yes, I’ve been worrying quite a bit lately.book-and-letters-ipad-background

In a moment of doubt, I did something silly and a bit embarrassing. I went to Google for help. Now, Google doesn’t know me and Google hasn’t read anything I’ve written so far. Google and I aren’t really even that good of friends. But still, seeking validation I asked, looking for the cold, hard truth. I actually typed in the words “will anyone read my book” into the search bar. I clicked on a few of the results with little interest, but one in particular caught my eye. I scanned the words of some author/speaker/self-help guru and felt almost instantly better.

Do you know what it said? Well, because I don’t want to go and try and find it again, I’ll paraphrase it for you. It said do it. If you like the book, then that is all that matters. You are the one writing it and you are the only one putting the work in. If you think it is good, then that is all that matters. And your idea is good because it is yours, and it means something to you. In the end, if only one person in the entire world finds the book worthwhile, then that justifies your efforts. It doesn’t matter if that one person is your mom or your spouse or your best friend. A reader is a reader. And if you write something that nobody likes, you’re in good company. Many authors, even successful ones at that, have written things deemed complete junk by their hardiest of fans.

I felt better. How did Google know? Maybe we were friends after all. Maybe I really was going to write this book and it was going to be ok. It was going to be ok if no publisher was interested and I had to self-publish it myself. It was going to be ok if no one else liked it but my inner circle of 12 people that support absolutely everything I do, no matter how awful I think it is. It was going to be ok if only 3 people bought it. It was going to be ok if it was a total flop and a failure. It was going to be ok as long as I thought it would

And so I will continue on with these words, whether good and bad, making something that matters to me.