Best Case Scenario

Hola friends. I’m practicing my Spanish for when I go to Spain for my 30th birthday, so you may experience a few different greetings over the next year as I start to practice more. Starting off simple.

This week I have been feeling really strange… Like not bad, but not good either. A middle of the road feeling of uncertainty is how I might describe it. I don’t know if it is the changing of the weather or the idiotic time change thing we do that disrupts our sleep patterns or the political climate or the corona virus or that terrible finale of the bachelor- things just feel off. Recently, was discussing with a co-worker how we, as empaths, need to take care of ourselves. Basically, empaths have the ability to absorb energies around them. So, you can imagine the amount of anxiety that is being absorbed at the moment. All I know is that it is a lot to handle and I think my body is just like “what the f*ck is happening?”

My answer to that is I really don’t know. I don’t know what is happening and that feels scary. Yet, it is just a part of life, right? We never know how things are going to turn out. What’s around the corner? As Pocahontas so beautifully sang, “just around the riverbend,” ya know? As I’m writing that though I’m thinking that it doesn’t have to be scary. When I was a kid watching that scene I remember thinking how she was full of adventure and wonder and unclear if she should marry the man her father chose for her or take her own path. She was excited about things that could happen, about her story and how it might be written. And hey, it didn’t turn out great, her boyfriend was shot and all and her father almost beheaded him, but like they got through that. So yeah, maybe around the riverbend is something not so great, but also maybe it is something worthy of the movies. I’m trying to learn to explore more of both of those sides. That doom and gloom auto thinking is a hard habit to break away from. So, I’d like to put it into practice exploring that exciting side. How maybe just around my riverbend is something really beautiful. “They” say the best way to get what you want is to put it into the universe. Can’t hurt to try:

I leave this Starbucks today. The weather is perfect, because “it’s not too hot, and its not too cold, all you need is a light jacket” (Name that movie! *cough Miss Congeniality cough*) Due to this fantastic weather, I decide to go for a run. While I am running, I realize I don’t feel tired. In fact, I want to keep running. I meet my three mile goal today. I feel unstoppable. On my cool down, I see a dog and give it loves and the owner says ‘wow, she is usually not this friendly with people, but she really likes you.’ A compliment of the highest honor. My serotonin levels are soaring at this point. I then decide to keep walking around the neighborhood. While walking I see people holding hands, and birds are singing. I can’t help but smile at the way people are scared but still living their lives as best as they know how. My smile makes my serotonin levels even higher and I feel as though I am floating on a cloud. I finally go grocery shopping and get all the groceries I need, under budget. I put the extra money I saved onto one of my credit cards. My credit score goes up and I’ve finally made it into a new bracket. At 5pm, I post my blog. People are loving it. It’s relatable, its kitschy. My blog goes viral, but I don’t find this out till the next morning because I decide not to be obsessive about how many people are reading about what I wrote. I go to WW and we talk about our highs and lows of the week. We all lean on each other for support and encourage self-compassion. I then go get drinks with a friend. We have a lovely time talking about work, life, and all the things in between. Is my socializing over? Not quite. I then go on a date. He’s sweet. He buys me a drink and says that he likes the way my brain works. I like the way his works too. At the end of the night he gives me a goodbye kiss that is magical and I leave thinking ‘wow, I don’t know where this is going, but I am excited to see him again.’ I get to bed at a decent hour and wake up to find out that Ellen would like me to come on her show. I’m honored, blessed, grateful. I start writing full time and continue to do social work part-time. Now, it’s ten years into the future. I have published 2 books, with a third one on the way. I have two children, without a third one on the way. My partner is amazing and supportive and loving and snores too loud and I never let them forget it. We go for our yearly flu shot and corona virus vaccines as a family. Michelle Obama is our president. Betty White is still alive. Life is still scary sometimes, but every week I explore what good could be around the riverbend. My kids think its a weird practice and they tease me by saying “okay, millennial”. Then we laugh and laugh as our pet pig Petunia the second is resting by our feet.

Okay, that was way more fun than I thought it was going to be. It was also surprisingly easy to think of all the good things that could happen. I really tried not to limit myself, because yeezy knows I never do when I am thinking what bad could happen. I have found myself in some pretty dark holes, so it was really fun to be in really bright spaces. However, those bad thoughts didn’t shut down while I was doing this exercise. I still found myself saying, but also what if no one reads this and what if my date goes horribly, but for everyone of those thoughts I had a positive one to combat it with. It’s okay to explore both, but I know I need to be better at exploring more good. I can always tell you worst case scenario. I am really good at it.

If you find yourself always going to that space, I encourage you try this out. It’s really fun to think about what good can come your way. Plus, without restrictions you could marry your celebrity crush if you write your story that way. Then, according to “them”, the universe will provide. So, like I said, can’t hurt to try. Also, we have enough of the worst case scenarios just from turning on our TV’s. We deserve more best case scenarios out there.

You’d really be helping an empath out.

A[wo]men

i

can’t predict,

can’t guess,

can’t know-

how

exciting.

-what’s next?

Kitty Sopow: The Wish

Imagine you’re a child sitting in a field of grass; you see a dandelion and your eyes perk up. As you pluck it from the base of the earth, you think of the one thing you wish for most in the world. What was that young you thinking of? What did you whisper to yourself as you blew the seeds into space to take on a new life? 

For Kitty Sopow it was always the dream of her parents getting back together.

This week we will be exploring the brave and honest story from my dear friend, Kitty.

I met Kitty in a Target in Anchorage, which is strange because neither of us lived in Anchorage and neither of us lived in a Target, although it sometimes feels like it. Kitty had known my then boyfriend through Skype calls as they worked together on a project. As we were strolling down the aisle I remember him squinting his eyes and saying to me ‘I think I know her’. Then he said it to her, “I think I know you”. I remember looking at Kitty and thinking ‘damn… she’s cool.’ She had punk rock hair, 70’s fashion glasses, with printed leggings and an oversized sweatshirt on. She had a huge grin on her face as she finally got to meet her friend outside of the screen. I lingered back from the conversation, as shy people often do, trying to not embarrass myself in front of the cool kid.

“Kitty, what were your first impressions of me?”

“I could tell.. you were like ‘something is wrong with this bitch!’”

“HA All I kept thinking is… this girl is a badass!”

“WHAT?!?”

This is where I like to begin because this is where Kitty and I began. And, as I’ve learned many times in my life, first impressions are often *pardon my language* total shit. She said she thought I didn’t like her. She thought I was assessing her, trying to figure out if she was into my boyfriend or not. She shared that when she first moved to the island in Alaska for the summer, which is how we became closer than a Target meet and greet, she thought I was a “wet blanket”. RUDE. To be fair, she only knew me for five seconds and thought I was scared she was into my boyfriend- I can’t hold that against her. We all do it. Another commonality among the human race. And so, this was where our story began: Through thoughts not discussed, but impacting the relationship regardless.

As we continued on the with the interview, agreeing that we were closer friends by overcoming our preconceived ideas, I started to find a common theme- often the things we don’t talk about are creating the biggest impact in our relationships.

“Why do you want to tell your story? 

“Well, ya know, I want to support you. And I’m always the one recording stories, so [I thought] it would be kinda nice to reverse the rolls…”

Kitty just graduated with a Masters of Science in Applied Anthropology in August of 2019. This degree is what brought her to Klawock, Alaska and into my life. For her thesis she wrote about subsistence on Prince of Wales. She interviewed people about the role subsistence plays in their lives. I spent many nights with Kitty hearing her talk about her interviews and would see the way she lit up when she became a part of someones story. In a way, I think she influenced me to start this project of telling other peoples stories. Seeing the way she became so involved and immeshed in each persons way of life was intoxicating.

“What do you like about your role as the interviewer?” I asked. 

“You know, you just sit in silence and people just tell you what’s important to them and I think that’s really cool.” 

Kitty, still airing that ‘cool girl’ vibe even today, is sitting on her bed, morning hair falling every which way, as she paints her toenails a merlot red. Oversized boxer shorts and a fitted tank top sets the tone for an ‘I woke up like this’ conversation.

“So [Kitty] the other part of today, obviously, is talking about a story that you have that you feel like might connect with other people… Do you have a story in mind?”

This is where I started to see a different side of Kitty. Her words became a little more rushed than normal and I could feel her energy shift from confident to unsure. The cool-girl vibe still lingered but mixed with a story that she has been holding in for some time. 

“Can I cry while I tell you.. I think I know a story I want to tell…” 

Her eyes were watering and her voice began to shake. She took a deep breath in.

“When I was a kid, there were dandelions all over the place, obviously in the spring. And uh, and my Aunt told me if I picked one up and blew, when all the whispers went away in one blow your dream/wish would come true. And they would always say that stupid wish would come true, like, if you wish on the first star that you saw or, or like, *sniffles* you blew all your birthday cake candles out in one blow your wish would come true, but I never could… and for years all I did was wish my parents would get back together. And yeah… sometimes I sit here and I forget that for years I would just oh, I would wish so hard every night when I’d see a star, every year on my birthday, or every f****ing single breath in the spring I would wish that. And they never got back together and so… I would go from like being at my dads house with my step-mom who hated me, to going to my moms house with my step-dad who we hated.”

I could tell this was something she didn’t talk about often. This was a story that came through with most of her relationships, both platonic and not, but was never said out loud. It felt as though Baby Kitty was sitting across from me, still just wishing on her flowers, candles, stars and now blog posts for the miracle of a family that didn’t know the word ‘divorce’. I know she isn’t alone. I’ve sat with friends, clients, partners, you name it, who all dreamed of different family dynamics. My parents never got divorced, but I remember when things would get bad, using some of my own wishes on a desire to feel like the Brady Bunch. I didn’t talk about it for a long time though. Blood is thicker than water, therefore, it is easier to drown in. As Kitty took her deep breaths between sentences, it felt like she was working her way up to the surface. With each word that left her lips, the heaviness seemed to start lifting. She was no longer holding in the story that held her under for so long.

Kitty was coming up for air in front of my eyes. 

Kitty went on with how this whole situation impacted her choices moving forward. She, like a lot of kids that have difficult relationships with their families, learned to be independent. She knew as soon as she could leave their care she would; her ambitions fueled by the desire to be done with needing her family. That mentality, however, started to feel a bit bit blurry when she got the news that takes over much of the space in her mind today. 

“I was just like thinking you know, wow, like I spent years just thinking about that one wish, ya know? Now it’s just weird because well my moms got breast cancer… and I had to call my dad and tell him. And it was like, I’ve know for a long time that my moms had cancer like at first she had skin cancer, then had cervical cancer, and now its in her breasts and lymph nodes and my dad didn’t know any of this… and he was like ‘Oh, thanks for telling me.’ And I just thought that was, like, just weird. It’s so weird. What’s really weird, okay, is so my dad’s mom also has cancer. Everyone else knew that my mom had cancer but my dad didn’t and it was just weird. ‘Oh yeah dad, sorry, you’re the last one to know my moms had cancer for like a year… And its like, you know, I know my dad at one point had to have feelings for my mom… so, like, I wonder what he is thinking?… his mom has cancer, his ex wife now has cancer, I wonder if he’s thinking ‘oh my daughter is going to get cancer.’

As she said this sentence I could feel my body start to heat up, because all I could hear in that sentence was ‘oh, is my friend going to get cancer?’ My friend, that was so rawly telling me about the difficult childhood she had and her family’s battle with cancer, and the person that was there for me in some of my darkest times, would I see the day that she get’s sick? I tried to let the thought pass through, not letting it derail the conversation. 

She continued on about this strange dynamic that now existed and then it hit me, was my friend sitting there also wondering if she was going to get cancer? 

“You know [Kitty] you mentioned your dad wondering if you were going to get cancer, but is that something you’re thinking about?”

“I think so. I always thought I was going to die from suicide or cancer,” she shared as she was laughing through her nose.

Kitty uses laughter as a way to cope with the dark things in her life. It is something that I love the most about her. She continued to make jokes throughout the interview, saying things like “my mom is the one-percenter of breast cancer, so bow down, she is a one-percenter.” When I lived with Kitty we would spend hours laughing at everything we could. We would talk about our suicidal ideations like it was going to be the kickstart for our stand-up shows. No matter the topic we find a way to laugh together. But the good thing about knowing Kitty, even more after this interview, is that I know that between the laughs there are deep, deep pains that spill out with hard crying. This interview was no different, oscillating between laughter and tears. I could feel her pain and I could feel her trying to cope with that pain. 

She went on to talk about her two siblings who have gone through the same events, but how they handled it much differently. 

Kitty talks about her family through a lens of empathy, wanting to have a deeper understanding of the choices that were made as to lessen the pain and the way it impacts her daily life. She told me about her brothers and how much it affects them. She recalled the disconnect from her older brother as he pushed away from any sort of connection, which they have now started to rebuild. Then to her younger brother, who is still working on finding himself. As she then laughs and throws in “So, yes I am the middle, obviously.” Needing to interject some more comedy to help protect herself. 

All of this disconnect and hurt with her family kept her on the move. She winded up in Alaska in August of 2012. If there is one thing that Kitty has always made clear to me, it’s that Alaska held one of the most special places in her heart. 

“And so, do you think you’ll be in Alaska forever?”

“You know, I used to think that, until my mom got sick again. I’m gonna go home for a little bit. It’s not healthy for me to be there for a long time. I haven’t been home for more than 5 days in like 7 years. Yeah, I was thinking about going home for a month.” She was quick to note that she wouldn’t be staying at her families homes, she would be renting a place, still finding ways to keep herself safe. 

It felt as though Kitty was letting go of something as the interview came to an end. She was recognizing that as we get older we can take our history and rather than let it define us we can let it inform us. Kitty still cares deeply for her family, regardless of the unfulfilled wishes from her childhood. She is there for her mom and they are all working together to get through all the ways cancer derails their lives. Her wish now transforming into one of keeping her mother alive, healthy, and married to anyone, so long as she can stick around.

Kitty, who I see as a strong, bad-ass, presented me with very real vulnerability. I felt so connected to someone I already call a close friend. Hearing her story, I was humbled by the ways I didn’t know this part of my friend. It reminded me that whether you are sitting with a complete stranger or your best friend, there are always new stories to discover, so long as you leave space for people to tell you what’s important to them.

“Okay last question for you, Kitty. Is there anything you want to recommend to people hearing your story and have experienced or are experiencing the things you have experienced?”

“Uhm, probably just self-care and mindfulness and sometimes self-care isn’t a bubble bath it’s actually getting a f****ing therapist and talking about some shit. In order to have productive self-care I think you need to know a lot about yourself… Self-care doesn’t necessarily feel good. It can honestly be the most painful thing you ever do.”

Blunt enters the screen, another coping skill she has acquired over time.  

She continues, as she exhales from a deep drag, “my mom consumes every thought of mine right now. I’ve been crying a lot lately… Here I go crying again.”

“I wish I could hug you.”

Through the tears, “I just want to say that if my mom were here she would say ‘google how to do your own breast exam. And don’t forget to get your mammogram at dat 40’ and then she would cross her arms and give you the look.” 

Sound advice, I would say.

And I would like to add, never stop wishing on anything you can. As Kitty so perfectly demonstrated, sometimes hope is all that we have to get us through a difficult time.

A[wo]men & Kitty Sopow

* Featured image gathered from story-teller (From left bottom to right bottom: Joe, Terry-mom, Kitty, Pearce-dad, Bobby)

Vows, schmows. I don’t care.

Is it hereditary?

I really don’t know.

-Divorce by Kitty Sopow

If you or someone you know is interested in having their story told please fill out the contact form located on this website.

***For more information on the story-teller, follow her on instagram @sopowart