Authentic Living

What’s in a name?

Today’s challenge is to share a bit about why I chose Kari Keeps It Real as the name of my blog.

It’s pretty simple. I believe in being authentic. Good, bad, messy, real. Life is complicated and not at all as black and white as we may be led to believe growing up.

A compliment I get often is that people appreciate how real I am. I say what I think and I try to be as honest as possible about how messy life can get.

So I keep it real. I live as authentically as I can, learning and growing along the way.


All about me

I have had serious writer’s block. The obvious thing to do when you have writer’s block is not to just write but to procrastinate and do everything BUT write. 🙄 However while browsing Pinterest last evening as I often do, I came across a 30 day writing challenge that didn’t seem too difficult and may help kick my butt back into gear with the blog and some other projects. Here we go!

15 Things About ME

Summer 2018

1.) I drink my coffee with just a touch of sugar and cream.

2.) I hate writing from my phone. Yet here I am. 🙄

3.) I’ve had 7 surgeries in my lifetime so far.

4.) Cheese slice wrappers gross me out more than almost anything.

5.) I’m allergic to cats in a major way. #kittieswillkillme

6.) I’ve always wanted a pug but I haven’t had one yet.

7.) I have 3 tattoos. One on my lower back (I know, I know), one on my left wrist and one on my left shoulder blade. I didn’t cry for any of them.

8.) I despise the time of year known as “the holidays” as they induce so much anxiety for me.

9.) If I won the lottery, I would probably continue teaching.

10.) I consider therapy a form of self-care and go 1-2 times a month.

11.) I’ve always wanted to travel to Italy. I’ve only ever been out of the country once, nearly 10 years ago, to Jamaica.

12.) My dad died 4 years ago and it changed me in ways I never expected.

13.) I prefer Coke products over Pepsi.

14.) I never had a detention or suspension when I was in school.

15.) I believe in the restorative power of the beach and ocean.

Authentic Living



I’ve been missing but I’m still here. Life has a way of overwhelming you sometimes and keeping you from things that are important.  The end of the school year was a period of time like that for me this year.

But I’m back and I’m here to write.

There have been some heavy topics on my mind and in my heart lately.  Forgiveness has been one of them.  I’m a firm believer that we forgive people for ourselves, not for them.  Holding on to anger and resentment does no harm to anyone but the person feeling it.  It can be all consuming for some people and for good reason many times.  There are some situations however in which we need to learn to let go and forgive so we can give ourselves some peace.

You may think I’m having difficulty forgiving someone but that’s actually not true.  You see, I had what many people may believe to be some very good reasons not to forgive a person or two I’ve encountered in my life. Most recently, that person could have been my ex-husband.  However, it’s not me who is struggling to forgive anyone. I forgave my ex-husband the day he moved out.  I made an intentional choice that day – I could continue living as angrily as I had been during our marriage.  I sure had a lot to be angry about.  But I chose to forgive him because I was not going to start my new normal that way. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t an immediate cure for my anger.  But I let the negativity go for me, not for him. My kids and I deserved that gift and it made all the difference in how I navigated our divorce and our co-parenting relationship.  That, too, has not been easy because I don’t believe he’s forgiven me for the pain I caused during our marriage.  I understand. It’s hard to walk away from what you believe you have to feel.  However I am at peace with how I’ve chosen to move forward and that’s really all that matters.

Now you’re probably thinking it’s my ex-husband who is unable to forgive but that’s not the case either. (Ok, maybe it is…but he’s not who is on my mind this evening.) I have come to know a very angry, negative individual.  At first my heart broke for this person – what an awful way to live. I tried to understand the reasons for such a deep hatred and burning anger that you would want to ruin another person’s life but….I just can’t wrap my mind around it.  At certain points this person has even tried to hurt myself and my kids in order to get to the person they truly want to hurt and so that has made me angry and frustrated and needing to find forgiveness yet again. For the record, I’m not there yet. I’ve already forgiven this person and tried to lead by example after several incidents but they just continue relentlessly causing the need for me to at some point have to choose to forgive yet again.

I can’t comprehend this.  We have the gift of free will to make the conscious choice live our best life and find peace and joy in as many ways as we can.  This includes choosing to acknowledge the pain others have caused us and then work to release our anger and resentment so that we can live more peacefully.  It astounds me that some people don’t see this as a chance to live our best life. I struggle to understand how this person can still be holding on so tightly to such strong negative emotions after so many years. How do people end up like this?

I know, I know, I’m being vague but this is a situation I just can’t be entirely transparent about. I also recognize that some people endure some truly horrific things that many would believe justify such a deep anger, but I can assure you that that is not quite the situation I am thinking about. This angry, vengeful person didn’t get what they wanted. They are controlling and manipulative and when people do not do exactly as they say they lash out and aim to destroy.  They are unwilling to acknowledge their own role in the situation and there is no accountability for any choices they have made. They can’t see how many people they are truly hurting because they are blinded by their own anger.

This is on my mind because someone I love is the target of the antagonist.  My kids and I just happen to be some of the collateral damage, among others. All because of forgiveness.  Or lack thereof. This could have been such a different blog post if forgiveness played a part.

So for now I will focus on my choice. That’s all we can do. Make choices we are proud of, that we can live with.  I will always choose peace.


Authentic Living · Uncategorized

Being uncomfortable

My buddy over at Balanced Life Running wrote recently about how messy life can get. Messy might be an understatement.

Sometimes life can get downright ugly.

It can be excruciating, devastating, annihilating, overwhelming, catastrophic, disastrous to the point where you believe you just won’t survive, there’s no possible way.

And then you do. You do survive. You’re bruised, broken, crushed, changed. But before the transformation you need to be.


Very few people understand what it means to sit and be.  Before the butterfly emerges, she just is. She waits. And so should you.

As the world crashes down around us, it’s important to sit and feel it. We want to rush through or skip over the feeling part because that’s the uncomfortable part. We don’t know what to do with that part.

But the truth is, there is only one thing to do with that part and that is to feel it all, as much as we may not want to do that, because this is how we grow.

Growth happens in our discomfort.

We become who we were meant to be when our worlds break open and our hearts are broken.

The next time the sky is falling around you, just sit. Let it fall and feel the pain burn through you.  When it stops burning you won’t be the same but there will be space for you to grow.

Embrace it.

Authentic Living

Talk it out

‘Cause I’m tired of the fake love,
show me what you’re made of
Boy, make me believe…

~ Meant to Be (Bebe Rexha/Florida Georgia Line)

I hate talking. It’s probably why I find solace in writing.  Words are my thing, but only in print and when I have the time to really think them through.

I especially hate talking to people who know me.  I can never find the balance between saying too much and saying too little. While I want to be real, and I try not to care about what anyone else thinks, it’s impossible to be bullet proof.  So while at times I may talk a lot, I don’t really say much.

It’s difficult for me to feel things and talk about those feelings.  That’s part of why my marriage ended and I own that. On the occasions I did try to talk, I wasn’t heard. So I gave up trying. I own that too.

About a year and a half ago I got a handful of second chances that I didn’t deserve. At the time, they didn’t feel like second chances.  They felt like endings. Deaths. One of those was the death of my marriage. What I didn’t realize at the time was that when one thing ends, there is space for a beginning.  Acknowledging that wasn’t even an option then because I was focused on picking up the pieces of my life.

Unexpectedly I met someone who would end up being a game changer for me.  I have never met a man who was able to read so well between the lines of all I don’t say.  Tonight I had a chance to say to him about some things that give me anxiety and can be scary for me.  Direct lines that he wouldn’t have to read between.  Things that in another lifetime, with another man, would have brought judgement and blame and defensiveness from him and guilt and regret and shame from me.  I didn’t say anything earth shattering.  I said things like, “This is what I want in a relationship” and “I feel…” and “I won’t come second again.” (That one in particular was really hard.) However they were things that I needed to say at this point not because there is anything wrong with our relationship as it is right now but because I want to make sure we don’t reach that point.  We’ve both been there and it’s not a place we want to go again, not with each other.

I don’t know if he really heard me. I’m not naive enough to think that one really good, really real, really hard conversation can make a lasting difference.  But I felt hopeful. And I felt heard in the moment. I felt respected. I felt loved. And that’s not how I’m used to these conversations going. So I will take it. Maybe there’s something to be said for this talking thing. I suppose only time will tell.

Self Care · Tribes


“My journey has always been the balance between chaos and order.” ~ Philippe Petit

If that quote ain’t the truth.  I’m the kind of person who defines the “all or nothing” mindset. If I have a goal that I’m passionate about, I smash it. I will be the best. That’s just who I am.

That is not always healthy however because I am willing to go to any length to make sure I don’t just meet my goals, I exceed them.  It’s the perfectionist in me. The unfortunate (fortunate) reality however is that perfection does not exist.

I recently ended a week. A very long week. An 80 hour work week between both jobs, grad school and an internship.  There was a brief sense of accomplishment in having given my all in those areas but…I rarely saw my kids. I didn’t make the time to really talk with my boyfriend this week.  My house was an absolute wreck.

It’s just about finding that balance.

I joked with a colleague this week about what I saw on Instagram below:


It’s the truth though.  And people will agree because we are all just trying to find balance.

There was no balance for me this past week.  There’s nothing I can do to change that.  This coming week though, I will be more intentional about finding the balance that I know I personally need to be at my best for those that I love. Because that is what truly matters.


Authentic Living

A kitchen full of messes

“I’ve learned that you simply can’t control those bad vibes.” – Kenny G

I have felt so uneasy and uncomfortable recently due to things that are totally out of my control.  For someone who thrives on routine and predictability, I don’t appreciate change as much as some others. It’s kind of my M.O. to run, isolate myself and focus on controlling what I can when this happens.  So that is exactly what I did this weekend.

Controlling what I can often includes one of my absolute favorite past times – MAKING LISTS! I’m a total nerd, I know. I prefer paper/pencil and bullet journaling but full disclosure:  I’m so lazy sometimes, mostly during the school year when my energy is sucked away by all the other things and people that need me, and the notes app on my phone makes it so easy to just stay in bed and list away.

So I made my lists and I was so productive today and felt very in control – which is exactly what I needed. Even if it is temporary and fleeting and I still can’t control the other bigger outcomes, I had today.

What did I do today? I’m so glad you asked.

I did a ton of work for my current grad class and principal internship.  That wasn’t any fun but it was fulfilling to get it taken care of.  I washed five loads of laundry, did dishes at least four times today, took the kids grocery shopping, cleaned out the fridge and did multiple other menial household tasks that needed to be completed but I had been putting off.  Still no fun, but never fear…I went back to another tried and true method for making me feel like I have some control over my life but gives me joy as well:  I TRIED NEW PINTEREST RECIPES!

A lifetime ago I used to blog under a different name when my life was a bit more simple. Married with two kids, both parents alive, belonging to a tribe…and I used to have such fun trying new recipes and crafts that I found on Pinterest because more often than not, they ended up as total FAILS.  It became quite the joke in my circle and brought lots of laughs and I loved writing about it because it kept me real.

Then my dad died. This will change a person in a way that cannot be described in words so I won’t try to do it justice at this time.  My marriage continued to fall apart and after losing my dad, I lost my marriage, and most unfortunately, I lost myself.  I no longer pinned new things to try because there didn’t seem to be a reason to laugh anymore…no dad, no husband, no tribe, no me…no fun.

It turns out I’m quite the survivor and while things are far from perfect, I’m more me now than even before my life took such drastic turns.  Which means feeling out of control is a perfectly good reason to mess something up in the kitchen.

First thing this morning, I made coffee and baked some yummy banana bread! My 8 year old son LOVES the banana bread I make so I try to do it every couple weeks for him. Thankfully, it turned out well yet again this morning!

banana bread
Fun Fact: This is not a photo of the actual banana bread that I made.

Mid-morning I took a break from my household chores and decided to challenge myself by making a pasta salad.  I mean, summer’s coming and everyone loves a good pasta salad at a picnic.  This one in particular combines the idea of macaroni salad and deviled eggs.  I like deviled eggs! I forgot that I’m not really a fan of macaroni salad. Whatevs.

So I made it.  And it’s not delicious at all.  Every time I open the container, it smells like someone crapped in my kitchen.  That’s why there’s no photo of it.  I can’t stomach opening it yet again tonight.  The good news is, it tastes…ok.  Like I can choke it down, but I’m sure not making it again.  I hate to throw the whole thing out though.  It feels like such a waste.  So I came up with a solution.  Since I’m such a kind person, I figured I could gift it to my ex-husband.  There’s a big bowl of it waiting for him to pick up tomorrow morning.  #kindnessmatters LOLOLOL

I also made BBQ chicken in the crock pot for myself for dinner tonight.  I used way too much BBQ sauce, (cooking for one is haaaarrrdddd), and while it wasn’t a Pinterest recipe, it ended the “Cooking with Kari” streak I had going on today.

I still have no answers but I’ve got half a loaf of banana bread, a bowl of what smells like pasta tossed in diarrhea, and some watery BBQ chicken. I’ve got no control, but I have my lists and my laundry is clean.  Sometimes, it’s those small successes that are all we need.