I remember turning sixteen – way back when you had the dial-up tone on your internet – and thinking: “This is it. I’m about to turn into who I’m supposed to be.” Well, perhaps it wasn’t that direct, but I vividly recall feeling like I was on the cusp, right at the edge, of jumping into LaKase-dom. Various adventures lay before me, I was beginning my exploration of different universities, and I had finally grown out of that early teenage awkwardness. What was most exciting about that time was the intersection of certainty and chance; I knew what had to be done, but was excited by what could happen. I could love the journey, or hate it. I could fall in love with a place, person, experience, or face despair. My English Gothic Romance tendencies were in full swing back then! I imagine it was a bit like being a leaf on the breeze, or a dislodged seed – you know from the moment you come into being that you must dislodge, transform and move on, but where you land us up to the winds.
I find myself returned to that sixteen-year-old excitement, a little over sixteen years later. This is when I’ll turn thirty-three, as the leaves change, and other young people are beginning their own adventures, whatever they may be. In the past I believed life would be settled and certain at this stage, but I am so thankful to have been incorrect. Life, like a leaf on the breeze, is full of twists and turns, and opportunities to land where the soil needs it most. This month, my mood is turning toward reverie. I look forward to once again becoming lost in the enchantment of the unknown, even if I know it so well. Won’t you join me?
And last, but far from least, the song I’ve been listening to on repeat for the bulk of my thirty-second year: “Help Me Lose My Mind” by Disclosure featuring London Grammar
The fall months are when I feel most alive. To say that feels ironic as my corner of the world descends into a misty hibernation, replete with sepia-colored leaves and graying skies. Everything is turning inward as the veil between day and night becomes thinner and thinner, but I can’t help but feel this October season is an opportunity to discover new things about ourselves. We’re out of the warmth of summer, when we can brush aside duties in the pursuit of rest, and far enough past the beginning of the school year to have settled into a routine. Fall is our opportunity to confront ourselves in the most sedate of states to determine where to go next. Inward, it seems, is the answer I turn to most.
Now, why have I labeled this post as “ghoulish”? A ghoul is defined as an undead creature which torments the living with its flesh-eating and haunting. It comes from the Arabic word “ghul”, meaning “to seize”, but it has been expanded to include anyone who loves the macabre, dark, unseemly side of life. They are terrifying in tales of blood and night, but I think there’s something to be said for letting the ghoul out when need be. In modern terms, a ghoul can be defined as someone who stands beyond the boundaries of our normal lives. A ghoul is a little bit weird, a little dark, and a whole lot of unafraid. They straddle the line between acceptable and unacceptable in a way that is – dare I say – inspiring.
Therefore, this month’s mood is dedicated to the ghoulish tendencies in us all. Here’s to many days spent exploring the parts of ourselves that are bizarre, and to never giving into the temptation to be perfect. Enjoy!
Hello my friends! It has been a shamefully long time since my last post, but I am back with some lovely images which I hope will garner me some forgiveness.
Life, while exciting and full of opportunities to grow and learn, is a doozy. I have been engaged in quite a few projects that I can not wait to share here! In the meantime, I’ll be back to my regular schedule of writing about how I take care of myself as a creator, what creating means to me, and how to stay well as you find inspiration in the world around you.
Today’s mood is inspired by the freeing nature of creation. In stretching our minds, bodies, and egos we are able (if we’re lucky) to extricate ourselves from the monotony of daily life – yes – BUT we also learn how to free ourselves from that which would keep us afraid. I was terrified of beginning my novel, this blog, my videos, and other endeavors. Yet, after taking those first tentative steps, I found that nothing bad came out of the trying. I didn’t die. No one who matters laughed at me, and I lost far less sleep than I thought I would. Creativity is the way our souls expand. It’s how we arrive at a higher understanding of what really matters: the exchange of goodness. I don’t think you have to be particularly good at one thing to deem yourself a creative spirit; you just have to try.
So, in honor of the freedom which accompanies creativity I have made a photo series of some pieces of art that have me excited for the coming season. As the weather cools and we begin to turn inward this is a wonderful time to look beyond our limitations. Enjoy!
For more inspiration please follow me on Pinterest at pinterest.com/lakasemarie/
Spring is traditionally seen as a time of thawing, when the things we’ve buried in the snows of winter are released in the renewed warmth of the sun. Our bones creak out as we shake off the cobwebs of hibernation. We move easier, dream larger, and strive to complete the tasks that appeared insurmountable in the short daylight of the colder months. It is the dawn of our time.
I started this space one year ago, with a post about what self-care means to me, because there was a beating in my heart that I couldn’t ignore. It was the pull to create. The desire to make a space that felt good, and useful, and safe for anyone who stumbled upon it. So, I started doing the only thing that made sense – I wrote. It has been the best decision I’ve ever made.
And Then I Lived has pushed me to meet new people, discover new ways to take care of myself, and create the world I want to occupy. It has only been one year, but in that time I’ve thawed out a piece of myself that had been in hibernation for long enough. My space has a humble following, but if you are part of it in any way I want to thank you for coming along on this journey. I hope you’ll stick around for what comes next!
Today, in honor of Spring, I want to share some beautiful images which capture the essence of freedom I feel in the sunlight and when I’m writing. These monthly mood boards have been excellent tools for directing my goals and intentions. Organizing my thoughts has always been a struggle, but through this exercise I’m able to hone in on what I want to convey for the month. As I go forward with my space, I want this month to be focused on brightness, self-discovery, and fearlessness in any endeavor. I hope you find some inspiration among the images.
I think I say this every time, but today I mean it: December is the best month. Sure, it’s cold and seasonal depression often hits me and others quite hard, but there’s an air of magic that accompanies the wintering of the landscape. People seem kinder, almost like they want to emulate the nature of the season. Plus, there are so many holidays in the month of December that it feels like every day is a party.
When I was younger, Christmas time meant presents, cookies and no school. Now, I can’t help but think of love, peace, and family – things that (should) unite us all. Whether you’re celebrating a holiday, or happily enjoying days off from school and work, I hope you feel a little warmth this Decbember season.
Today, I wanted to share images that capture what December does to my spirit. Despite the cold wind and barren landscape I feel hopeful that the rest will lead to a brighter Spring, within and without. Enjoy!
This is the best month. Why? Because it’s my birthday month! Yes, I said month, because I am a burgeoning narcissist with delusions of grandeur. Gone are the days of my feigned humility! Long shall I reign.
In all seriousness, I’m working on exercising thankfulness for my life. I’ll be turning 32 this year, so instead of curling up and looking for ways to put myself down for getting older, I want to show a whole lot of gratitude for the time I’ve been given to do the things that I love! I think a healthy dose of pride is what we all need these days. Besides, if we don’t celebrate ourselves – as imperfect as we are – who else will?
This November mood board is all about yours truly! Things that I love, images that inspire me, or pictures that just make me feel happy. It’s a celebration of life, beauty, adventure, and womanhood. I hope you’ll indulge my self-centered attitude and I really hope you enjoy my round-up. Happy November!
Pumpkin pies. Ghost stories. Golden leaves. HOCUS POCUS!!!
October is absolutely my favorite month (followed closely by December), so today is a day of skeletal, pumpkin-spiced celebration! When I was a child, my little bro and I would go wild with the scary films and candy. We had The Nightmare Before Christmas playing on a loop while we carved pumpkins to decorate the house, hoping to scare the life out of a neighbor. Then, of course, there were the costumes, all made by my Mom – mermaids, witches, werewolves, princesses, and one year I went as a pair of conjoined chickens. Obviously, I was a strange kid.
The themes of Fall – the spookiness, the dying off of all the green, and other aspects – never frightened me. On the contrary, I found the possibilities of magic and wonder more exciting than anything my regular-degular life had to offer in Kansas. To me, a roaming vampire would infuse a little adrenaline into my town. I’ll always love October for those reasons, and I hope that never changes.
My mood board in honor of the coolest month is below. Enjoy!
When I prepare a mood board it’s usually done with the intention of reflecting what months, or various times of year, mean to me. December is a time for holiday imagery, October is solely for pumpkins, and that has worked great for me in the past. But what happens when you come to a month that has no easily assigned imagery? What are we supposed to look forward to without the road map of cultural practices to guide us? Better yet, what do we look forward to when the page of the mind is blank?
I’ve run into this conundrum with September. In my culture – black, American, raised Methodist – there’s really nothing. There are events that have been solidified into the mind like Labor Day and 9/11, but I couldn’t put a finger on what the month of September was besides the period of time before Halloween. Being a professional over-thinker, I started to explore what I wanted this time of year to symbolize for me. To start, I listed off all the things that have happened to me in September: I was married last September, ten years ago I survived a suicide attempt and recovered in September, and I love the fashion spreads that hit the shelves in September.
From there I looked a bit deeper, in the hopes of pushing away the words to get to the feeling in my heart when I thought of those things. The words that came to mind were love, strength, beauty, and freedom. Love kept me alive long enough to meet my soulmate, strength got me out of bed and out into the world to try life again. The beauty of the world, and creativity of its inhabitants, keeps me excited and enthralled in life. Last, but never least, I discovered that every day can be an opportunity to free myself from the darkness of my past, and that I am no less amazing from the days I might fail. Now it seems September might be the most important month of them all.
So, in honor of those truths, those lovely feelings in my heart, I want to share my September mood board with you. Enjoy!
Each week we will feature the kind of everyday heroes you can look up to. They come from all walks of life, age groups and beliefs. We hope you’ll learn as much from them as we have!
Do you remember Chappelle’s Show ? It started airing when I was in high school and quickly became the only thing those of us with cable talked about. We pretended to be Tyrone Biggums, quoted Clayton Bigsby, and once DerekDixon showed up for Halloween celebrations painted completely white, as Dave had been in a “wife Swap” episode. I’m still not sure how we all managed to avoid suspension.
Katie Hunerdosse doesn’t look like the kind of person you would expect to quote Dave Chappelle (clap-havin’-Jezebel was the go-to), or spend time in my basement watching his episodes, but that’s part of what makes her so special: you can’t put her into just one box. Artist, mother, singer, dancer, teacher, wife, warrior, friend; the list could go on and on if she let me. Knowing Katie has taught me that life doesn’t have to be a clean line, with every step mapped out from cradle to grave. In fact, we’re all better off for the people who deviate from grid. Her interview, which had me alternating between laughter and tears, is below. I hope you enjoy learning from this remarkable woman!
What is your profession? Technically? I’m a substitute teacher. That’s my main gig, I guess. But, “on the side”, I am a freelance artist. Which means basically anything goes. Illustration for a children’s book? I’m here. Set painting? You got it. Need some nerdy jewelry to sell somewhere? I’m your girl. Also, I’m a mom to a two year old who has an appetite for destruction (mostly of his face), so there’s that too.
How did you break into your position? Well, I have a degree in art, which in itself is not a bad thing at all. However, I live in an extremely small town in Minnesota (we make SPAM here), so while this town does love its arts, getting a quality career off the ground is easier said than done. So, in terms of things that could pay me money and wouldn’t suck my soul out of my head, I decided that working in schools was the best option. I started out right after college as an art paraprofessional in an emotional/behavior disorder residential school, and after that, I figured I could handle ANYTHING. Unfortunately my health wasn’t great throughout my 20s, so I had a hard time finding a consistent job that wouldn’t penalize me for being sick. Being not easily shocked, I discovered that I could work as a substitute teacher whenever I was available to work. It actually has been great for me – I think a part of me loves being challenged by improv. From the freelance angle, I wanted to still be using my degree and doing what I love, so I got involved in community theater, which opened a lot of other doors because the people willing to set aside their dignity and get crazy onstage tend to be people also willing to make a difference in their community.
If you could change your life, what would you do instead?Why? Well, I think there are a few things I would change and most of those involve my proximity to a Target (because ours closed and the nearest one is 45 miles away! SEND HELP.) I do actually love my life and the people in it. There is a part of me – the former theater major – that wishes I would have pursued acting more seriously, but I really don’t mind not living that lifestyle, because I love hiding in my house, playing Skyrim and dancing to Michael Jackson videos with my husband and son every night. Oh, I suppose I would have loved to have taken dance classes. I could always manage to be more graceful and less apt to trip over nothing.
What are some ways you take care of yourself?
I have a lot of things that I need to do for myself, and it took me too long to realize that I shouldn’t come last. I am pretty open about not only having some mental health issues (coupled with very early diagnosed ADHD), so I know what I can handle and what ends up being too much for me. I can tell if I’m starting to slip into a bad place, so I typically keep all of my physicians aware of what’s going on with me. I have two friends from high school who are also parents and we chat all day long about whatever is on our minds and support each other; we even took a “mom trip” to Door County, WI, and drank a lot of really sweet wine and were the youngest people there (shout out to Mandy and Danielle!). Speaking of community, I mentioned the community theatre in this town and just want to express my gratitude for that. I have some amazing friends through that. And they’re all incredibly talented and motivated as well. Participating in theatre really does keep me sane and feeling like myself. Aside from being cognizant of my mental health, I’ve had some struggles with my physical health. I have stage 4 Endometriosis, which so many women unfortunately suffer through. I didn’t realize how bad it was until I 1) couldn’t get pregnant, and 2) was having episode of extreme pain and blackouts. I’ve had a number of surgeries to remove cysts and the like, but all that scar tissue makes my insides feel like I swallowed pea gravel sometimes. Despite living in Spamtown, I gave up eating most meat (other than fish and the occasional chicken, if I’m making pho ga for a bad cold), which seemed to help a lot. I also took up running. I’m not fast, but I wanted to feel like my body could do something powerful. I’ve run two half marathons and I’m hoping to run another one this fall. Although I definitely would not be fast enough to survive a zombie apocalypse.
Can you share a time or event you didn’t think you could survive?
I think a lot of people with mental health issues can jump to any number of bad periods in their lives, but I really struggled with all of the baggage of infertility. It just seemed like an endless, hopeless tunnel. Everyone wanted to talk about babies all the time, everyone was having them, and I just wanted hide in my sweater. I ended up undergoing IVF (thankfully we lived in Illinois, which covered it under insurance), which is EXTREMELY taxing. The drugs you take are intense, you feel super gross, you’re always sweating and foggy, and there’s such high stakes. And, when I actually did get pregnant, I had spent so many years of thinking it wasn’t going to happen, that I couldn’t let myself be happy. My anxiety was relentless, especially at the beginning. Then, once I finally started to feel comfortable with our success, it turns out that I had a possibly life-threatening complication (full placenta previa, for those of you interested). Oh, and we decided to move ourselves and two crazy dogs back to Minnesota during this point. So, before my son was finally born (a month early, which required him to spend his first two weeks of life in the Infant Special Care Nursery), I had two major bleeds, two ambulance rides, and stayed a grand total of three weeks in the antepartum unit. It’s almost like I did everything the absolute hardest way I could.
What/Who pulled you through it?
I really like the guy I married. Jacob’s got a great sense of humor and has really good perspective when it comes to health issues because it runs in his family. He isn’t the type of person to coddle me (which can be frustrating), but when it comes to being a stable presence, he wins all the awards. He supplied me with endless puns and dad jokes until I was distracted from my brain long enough to relax. He spent weeks driving the 50 miles back and forth every evening during the Minnesota winter to visit me in the hospital, then did it again so we could visit our baby. His calm dedication was invaluable. He also is cute, even though he currently has a mustache (which I did not sanction but I won’t yuck his yum.)
How did the event/time shape the way you live now?
I really am not bothered by much anymore when it comes to life events. My son, Jonas, is two and a half now. He’s absolutely bonkers. But I love it. I really do. Everything he does to me is amazing because he’s like a scientific masterpiece, except when he creates his own “scientific masterpieces”, which are both underwhelming and gross. I also realized from this experience that I suffer from a lot more anxiety than I ever realized and that it’s not the way things had to be. It was kind of the point in my life when I stopped caring about what people expected of me and decided to live my life the best way I knew how.
What was the best/ funniest/ most memorable piece of advice you’ve received? My favorite advice is the parenting strategy my husband presented to me: “let’s raise our first kid like our third kid.” It sounds crass, but it’s actually fantastic. After that whole medical mess of getting this kid, we decided to stop sweating the small stuff. Is he growing? Good. Is he pooping? Good. Has he been washed in the last week? Excellent. Obviously he’s getting more undivided attention from all the adults in his life as a first kid, but I don’t panic if he doesn’t hit all of his milestones early or eats things that aren’t perfectly healthy or falls down. A few weeks ago, in fact, he actually broke his nose falling down our front stone stairs. Naturally it was terrible and traumatic, but he actually had a great time sitting in the ER, making friends with nurses and watching Dragonball Z. (His parents were less enthusiastic, but also very hungry). Having been around a lot of kids, I know that having a very panicky parent really affects kids, and I’m hoping that this strategy allows me to hold back some of my anxiety when interacting with my kid. Plus, there’s basically zero mom guilt, because it’s not like my toddler is part of a toddler fight club (although I wouldn’t talk about it if he was.)
When do you feel the most free? I feel free doing all the arts. ALL THE ARTS. I draw and paint and knit and make little polymer clay pendants. It gives me joy and gives me a purpose that’s separate from being a parent. Alas, I love performing on stage, specifically in musicals. I’m a huge musical theater nerd. This town has a pretty great scene for that. On stage, I get to be someone else, with very specific motivations, and I don’t have to recount every single thought I’ve ever had (which is typically how my brain works). It’s like a brain break, and it also challenges me in the best way. I’ve gotten to do things like learn how to use puppets for Avenue Q and moon the entire audience in RENT. Our summer community theater just produced the musical Chicago, and I basically had six weeks to learn how to dance convincingly (and not cause Bob Fosse to roll over in his grave). Pulling that off was a huge accomplishment (and there’s very little a room full of applause won’t fix, right?)
What do you want to be remembered for? Well, I can tell you definitively that I DO NOT WANT TO BE FAMOUS. Being that this is a small town, I’ve had far too many people stop me to talk about the shows I’ve been in, and that’s some that my social anxiety cannot handle. I guess I just like being part of the artistic process, making something that impacts people. I have always loved the concept of heirlooms, lovely things that are passed down in honor of someone who came before. I make a lot of tiny pendants and things because I like to think that they’re going to be what remains of me someday. Nothing earth-shattering, just a little bit of art to remind someone that I was here and tried to make the world a lovelier place.