Sunday, October 4, 2015

On the Coexistence of Faith & Fear

"Faith and Fear cannot coexist."

The quote's been given a variety of ways (and in a variety of memes on Pinterest), but that's the general gist. Faith and fear = oil and water. Never fear! Never doubt! Be of good cheer! That's the path to true happiness! Have confidence and buck up, kiddo!

I've seen it many times over my life -- clearly well intentioned to encourage and buoy people who find themselves grappling with a common human paradox. I believe the idea is even printed in a few scriptural canons, actually. But to be honest, even back in the most religious phases of my life, it has never not puzzled me.

Because I have felt both emotions. Many times. At the same time. is the quote wrong? Am I wrong? If scriptures and church leaders were always right, like I was always told, then I must have been wrong. Right? I'm feeling fear, so I must not have enough faith, right? I'm feeling doubt, so I'm not so good at believing and I'm probably making wrong choices.....right?

I'm going to go with wrong, on this one. For me, dead, bullseye wrong. And maybe it's not true for you. If you can slice your emotions that cleanly and precisely, I'm a) not going to get in your way, and b) in awe of your ability to do this. I think you've achieved magical unicorn human emotional status.

But every big decision I've made in my life came with a mix of these two emotional entities. A swirly, twirly cocktail of courage, doubt, strength, hesitation and confusion about all of the above. (I wrote more about that mixed cocktail of joy, here.) And I think it was considerably unhelpful to constantly tell myself that I was wrong for feeling those opposing emotions together. Not just unhelpful, but harmful, in truth.

Thanks to a stint of therapy a few years ago, I am a firm believer in a really important, crucial truth that is the anchor to my own mental health: no emotion is inherently wrong. No emotion is inherently bad. You feel what you feel. It's a chemical, biological, etc. reaction. It seems to me that the business of living is learning to cope with the inevitable reality of that. But it seems to me that the business of joy and peace is accepting that reality and not condemning yourself for it.

When I applied to college (and most recently, grad school!), I had faith that I'd get in. But, I also had fear that I wouldn't. When I applied to every job I've ever had in my life, I had faith and hope that they'd choose me. But, I also had doubts that things would ever work out. When I've began or ended every romantic relationship I've had, it was the same story -- faith that I was making the right choice, and fear that I'd regret it one way or the other down the line.

This is life. This is reality. This is truth.

I don't buy into or believe that the presence of fear or doubt always mean that a path is wrong. Quite the opposite, actually, since most big things seem to inherently bring those feelings along for the ride. But equally important, I also don't think hope or faith that something should or could be right always means that it is. I actually think there is extremely positive use to be found in fear and doubt -- because they are red flags. They are your brain's way of cautioning you. And yeah, the frustrating part is that mortality means sorting out the red flags and the hopes and adding a dollop of logic and deciding how best to proceed. And on top of that, having the confidence that the direction you choose for yourself is right, regardless of fear.

But the mix of emotions is inevitable. And it is not bad. It is life. It is reality. It is truth.

And coming from someone who formerly struggled much more than I currently do with having confidence in my own gut feelings, trusting myself and being stymied by fear and faith both in their own ways, let me tell you that life is so (SO!) (SO!) much better when you allow yourself to just feel what you feel and go from there.

Because for me, there is zero emotional or spiritual power to be found in condemning the contrary tides of my own heart.

^^not a real tattoo, but don't we wish it was?? just the one for now.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

So I'm Going to Get an MBA (feat. highlights from my admissions essay)

I wish the title of this blog could have said "feat. 50 Cent" or "feat. Christina Aguilera" like some important musical artist was sponsoring my educational endeavors and also dropping a beat somewhere in this post.

I have no idea why I picked those two artists but I'm not taking it back and you'll never make me. Also if any important musical artist does want to sponsor my education, I'll be here with open arms. Let's move on to the real substance of this post....


Found out approximately 8 hrs ago that I am officially accepted into the program at Santa Clara University. No, I'm not quitting my job. Night school. I love my job. I will love working full time and going to school at the same time. Sanity status pending evaluation.

**And also, please note (PLEASE NOTE) that Santa Clara University is where my one true basketball love, Steve Nash, played college ball. The reason is fate. We're in this together now, he and I. (Nevermind that one time when he broke up with me. He regrets it, we chatted, there were some tears, he went down on the Lakers' dime, I'm fine he's fine we're all fine.)**

Anyway, I'll start school next spring and I couldn't be more stoked! I was going to write my thoughts on the why/how/what/who/quienes/quieres of the decision, but then I realized I already had -- in the ol' admissions essay that I submitted with my application! So, you get excerpts from that below instead.

Thanks to everyone who knew about the application shenanigans and encouraged me along the way. And specific thanks to Camille and Justin for writing my letters of recommendation. You're both champions and your blogs are real nice too.

First, this photo of me in my official college kid swag.

How, you ask, did I come to own this swag when I only received official admission 8 hrs ago? The answer might be that I bought it right when I applied, as a sign of confidence to the universe. Universe, thanks for playing along :) (Especially since now I don't have to awkwardly donate it to Goodwill or burn it in spiteful frustration.)

And now, them words.
The night before I moved to California, an email from my new employer appeared in my inbox. Due to funding, the company was eliminating my position. I had 12 hours left before leaving for Palo Alto, and I no longer had a job waiting for me. 
The next morning, I got in my car and I drove to California anyway.
The next few months were a whirlwind. My survival methods ranged from working part-time at a shopping mall to taste-testing popcorn for $80 in response to a craigslist ad. With college graduation several years behind me, working jobs similar to the ones I’d worked in high school was humbling. But, it infused an empathy in me that I don’t take lightly. In fact, I am now shaping my entire career around it. 
Prior to California, my career interests centered on writing. As I look back from where I’m at now in the recruiting field, I can see clearly that although I was funneling my time and energy into a creative career, there was always a strong people-focused aspect to everything I did. From building relationships with coworkers to taking new interns under my wing to instituting company culture perks (e.g. office olympics), it was always, in some way, about the people for me. 
When I was working full-time as a content writer, my team completed the Strengthsfinder 2.0 quiz. My results were telling of the career change that eventually lay ahead of me, as many of my top five strengths (empathy, developer, includer, adaptability and positivity) focused on my passion for people. 
These days, when people ask what I want to do down the line, my answer is simple: I want to help people be happy at work. I want people to love their jobs. 
(blah blah blah, thoughts about how the program and what concentration specifically play into my career goals, organizations I created and volunteered with in the past, I'm a special unicorn and I'm too self conscious to let the world read this part, etc.) 
I have considered graduate school for years, but could never quite put my finger on an end goal to justify the investment. After changing job fields and moving into recruiting, I finally realized what had been written on the wall for years -- my career needs to be about people. And after meeting people who work in [the types of roles that interest me], it finally all clicked for me. I am the type of person who often immediately knows what I want when I see it, and will then doggedly pursue it until I achieve whatever I’ve set my sights on. The convergence of my newfound career goal and my long-time desire to attend grad school finally put all the pieces in place for me. I am going to earn an MBA, and then I am going to immerse myself in a people-centered career where I can fuel change and make a positive impact on work culture and employee satisfaction. I want Santa Clara University to be the next stepping stone on my way to getting there.
....the end!

Thanks for reading along. And thanks in advance for joining me in the inevitable rambles over the next couple years as this whole crazy show goes down. Mazel tov to one and all!

Katie Elizabeth Hawkes, MBA. Let's do this.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Island Adventure Club // Visiting Angel Island

What every girl needs in her life is to belong to an Island Adventure Club. let it be written. It happened for me by accident, really. I just happened to have two island-related outings planned during a two-week span with the exact same five people. And thus, we are a club. Round 1 of Island Adventure Clubbing took us to Angel Island, which is located on the bay just a quick ferry ride north of San Francisco.

Angel Island is a historical motherload!

Known as the Ellis Island of the West, it served as an immigration hub for many years. Its history also includes native americans, spanish explorers, gold rush era settlements, military bases, cold war missile hideouts, and so on. These days you can camp and bike there as well -- we opted to walk the perimeter road around the entire outside of the island (about a 5-mile trip -- you can also bike this!) (if you're good at biking hills) (I'm not even good at walking hills) (man I hate hills).

It's cool because we just kept stumbling across various historical things -- old abandoned buildings, housing/internment camps (which stomped on my heart a little and made me feel heavy about war and racism and xenophobia and how damn hard immigration is for people), various nature and wildlife sights, views of the bay and Golden Gate Bridge (which was crawling in fog the whole morning). All in all, it's a nice mix of nature, history and stuff that makes you think. Totally my jam.

I think it's easy to look at historical things (e.g. immigration issues from a few decades ago, the civil rights movement from the 60s, etc) and forget that those things are still happening NOW. When historical movements....well, MOVE me....I'm trying to be better at turning those feelings into something productive now, instead of just viewing it as a sticky phase from the past that's all sugarcoated and wrapped up now. Because it's not. And I want to be continually fueled to awareness and compassion by the whole of it.

I'm no professional photographer (iPhone for liiiiiiiffffe), but if you are, you should definitely go to here. Angel Island is ripe for photography, especially if you're really into cool old buildings (raises hand high).

If you live in the bay area and want a half-day trip, I suggest making this happen! If you're visiting SF and want to mix things up and get out of the city for a bit, I also suggest you make this happen! The weather was nigh unto perfect when we went so I suggest always going on exactly September 26 if at all possible. Ha. Just don't accidentally step in the ocean like I did, but if you're going to go for it, I suggest wearing moisture-wicking socks. You may have worn them only because none of your regularly preferred socks are clean, but you will feel very lucky when the sea tries to attack you later that day and your foot is dry very soon after. ("The sea was angry that day, my friends.")

And now on to them iPhone photos! Stay tuned for future installments of Island Adventure Club, brought to you by the number....something....and the letter pizza. That about sums it up.

 ^^it was laura's birthday eve. so we hugged trees overlooking the ocean.

^^this park ranger just walked up to us holding this little guy 

^^...naturally, i wanted to hold our new little friend as well. we bonded immediately.

 ^^the clouds were killing me that day! like a field of fuzzy sky freckles

 ^^couldn't stop singing the Jurassic Park theme song as our boat pulled up to this fog-laden forest island!

 ^^Island Adventure Club, in the flesh!! (plus I'm still holding the praying mantis)

 ^^the striped wood colors in this old church were perfection! they don't hold services here anymore but, fun fact, you *can* get married here! you know who to hit up if you need over-experienced bridesmaid services on Angel Island (

 ^^the colorful leaves framing these windows were filling me with heart eyes emojis!

^^clearly a very zoomed in photo, but the best shot I got of the bridge from the island when the fog finally cleared a bit!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Aruba (Jamaica, ooh I wanna take ya) Dinner in the City

Well hey there!

It's Friday night and my work is on pause and I just straight-up downed Indian food while watching Mindy Project so you could say I'm feeling miiiiighty fine right now.

But let's talk about a few days ago! I had the opportunity to attend a dinner in San Francisco earlier this week, hosted by Aruba Marriott and Diamond PR. (When an invite involving food arrives in your inbox, the answer is yes. Always yes.)

And for good reason! Because that food? Daaaayyyuuummm. I enjoyed the meal from start to finish, Pretty much from the time I had the first appetizer in my mouth it was game on for my tastebuds. AND had the chance to make my own ceviche! Look at me being all culinary. Or something.

The dinner was hosted in the the coolest kitchen loft space: the Cookhouse. It's a cozy yet airy little setting with windows overlooking the city street (and the sunset was such a treat that night! it made me miss Arizona skies.) If you have the chance to attend an event at this venue, jump on it! (jump on it, jump on it!) (It's Friday and I want to sing about things.)

And also, the people at this event! I felt like such a small fry to be surrounded by all these world travelers (we're talking full-time travel bloggers and writers, yo). I left there feeling so inspired to visit so many places and do so many things! The travel bug is hella contagious. And also now I want to go to Aruba just to have more of this food. I also found someone with a tattoo like mine -- tattoo buddy picture below!

After the event I walked a few blocks back to my car and the city was so peaceful, the moon was shining over the buildings like it was Gotham (minus any visible crime or caped crusaders) and my soul was as full as my belly. A little Tony Bennett "Left My Heart in San Francisco" via Spotify on my way home and the whole night was sumptuous perfection. I feel inspired to keep getting out there and living my life and doing things -- solo or otherwise! Soul-feeding things.

Anyway, what you're most interested in are pictures of the food. I know this. I'm dialed in. I've got your number. I'm with it. I'm down. I'm hip. I'll move on from this sentence.

Enjoy and don't drool on your electronic devices, por favor!

 ^^maybe my favorite thing of the night! tuna tataki

 ^^i made that thing!

 ^^no it's not a jello's CHEESE! with treasures in the middle. better known as keshi yena

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Ink on my Arm

After years and years of wishfully-to-seriously thinking about it, I've gone and done it!

Tattoo. On my left arm. Coordinates, to my favorite spot in Iceland. Please view:

And the Icelandic spot in question, Seljalandsfoss:

And now you get to hear me talk about why.

Well for one, I've wanted a tattoo for a long, long time. But I was never quite sure WHAT. Something floral? Song lyrics? Something artistic? Something with specific personal meaning? A little of all of the above?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: when I know what I want, I am a very decisive person. Once I see or think of something and my gut says "yes, that thing," I latch on and make it happen. It's been my way with many big decisions in my life. 

When I saw the coordinates tattoo, it was like that. It just clicked. On the surface, it communicates some straightforward things, like an interest in travel. Also, I love text. Also, it fit well right in the spot I already wanted a tattoo. Simple, subtle, but not hidden away.

As for Iceland, I'm never going to get over that place. It's a trendy travel spot right now so I'm not silly enough to say it's MY place when a lot of people probably think it's THEIR place right now. But sure, shared with a bunch of other people, it's mine :) The first place I traveled abroad. The destination I finally bought myself a passport for, at age 27, alone on Valentine's Day in city hall. I realize that could sound depressing, but that's the thing -- it wasn't! It was exciting and empowering and MINE. Much like yesterday when I went to get the tattoo done, I specifically planned to go alone. Because I wanted it to be MY experience.

The country is....well it's the best. I'm pro-America, I think we have our great things and our problem areas, but I don't want to be one of those people that is like AMERICA SUCKS, THIS OTHER COUNTRY DOES EVERYTHING RIGHT. But, Iceland does a lot of things really well! Extremely little violence, super pro equality/feminism/gay rights.....just a quaint, rugged little destination of "everyone's welcome here but leave your bullshit offshore" kind of vibe. And I can get down with that in a big way.

The waterfall itself, is stunning. Smaller than some of the other waterfalls I saw in Iceland, but breathtaking. Simple, subtle, but not hidden away. (See what I did there??) Holding its own.

Also that whole Pivotal. My Iceland trip (pictures here and here) came at a crux time when I was like FIGURE OUT ALL THE THINGS and my head and heart were like 23 levels of tumultuous. It felt amazing and symbolic to literally, physically take myself halfway around the world to this rugged, remote, peaceful, insanely beautiful rock of an island and just process some things. It felt free, and more or less marked the beginning of the next few months of cutting myself free of so many tangles and weights in my life. It's a time period I want to anchor myself to and always carry with me in many ways, and now I literally, physically do.

And for those of you asking the inevitable "did it hurt" question....well the best description is one I read online, which said it feels like an electric cat scratch! Stings in the moment, uncomfortable but nothing terrible, and then it goes away. A day later, it feels like a sliiiiight sunburn, which I'm told might hurt a little more over the next few days. Honestly, nothing to be scared of. When she started tattooing I was so relieved, because it didn't hurt nearly as much as I expected it to. Haha. Win.

So there you have it. The story of me and the tattoo. I'm a happy, happy clam!

p.s. My tattoo artist was Kristy at Black & Blue Tattoo in San Francisco. She was so nice, calming and talented. She also hugged me at the end. And the tattoo shop felt like a cozy therapist's office. Highly recommended!