Katie is an inner and outer beauty with a spirit that sparkles.
She's believes strongly in empowering other women in her work as founder of Inner Glow Circle, a life coaching collective and program -- and is a steadfast advocate for mental health. Working to end the stigma of mental illness is one of her family's goals in their non profit foundation, Bo's Effort, which celebrates the life of Katie's brother, Bo. According to the family, Bo "was a one-in-a-million" kind of guy and he was living with undiagnosed bipolar disorder most of his life. Bo died of an accidental overdose at only 20 years old. As advocates for recovery (from mental illness, addiction, or both for those of us with co-occurring), we know that turning to substances can often come with the territory of having a mental illness. Self-medication.
But it doesn't have to.
It's by recovering out loud, being allies and advocates for awareness and change -- these are ways we can have a truly lasting and positive impact on future generations to come.
I've had the pleasure of spending time with Katie on multiple occasions and I think she's just magic.
WHEN SOMEONE YOU LOVE DIES...
You're different. For a moment. For a year. For many years.
A loss like that is the most disorienting experience in the world. The world crumbles around you, as you stand frozen asking, "How?" "Why our family?" "Why me?"
And then again, but in a different sense, "Why me?" "Why was I left behind?" This new reality feels like a responsibility you weren't ready to take on.
"You were here, just yesterday." You say to him or her, to the trees, to the sky. "Where did you go?" "Are you coming back?"
You walk into the house. And right before you ask if he or she is out with friends, still at work or school, you swallow your words. And you remember.
"You're not here anymore. Please come back. I miss you."
People say it never goes away. The pain. The grief. The heartache. I say it's ever changing. There is collateral beauty. It can even shape you into a better person, if you let it.
And yet, there's a part of you that wishes you could die of a broken heart, just so you could be together again. But you stay. And you make promises to your loved one, to the trees, to the sky.
"Next time...when we get to do this thing over again, I promise I'll be better. I'll hold you more. I'll never call you names. I'll kiss you every night. I'll be better. We'll be better. And then maybe you'll stay a little longer. Next time..."
May 23 marks the two year anniversary of my brother's passing. He was 20 years, 2 months and 1 day. Thanks to our amazing friends, family and community, we're hosting our 2nd golf tournament and dinner (May 22) to celebrate his life and raise money for mental health. Bo died of an accidental overdose, peacefully at home. He simply went to sleep and never woke up.
I spent a lot of time with his girlfriend after he passed. It was my way of keeping him alive a bit longer. I asked to know everything. What was their love like? Why did she fall for him? Was he a good kisser?
She said the night before he died, he was so happy. He took her all over the backyard to look at the stars from different views. He was a child of the universe, and when I heard that story, I thought, "Wow, he must have known he was going home." I felt an unexpected sense of peace. It's a peace I believe we can all receive if we allow ourselves to be okay with what is.
Bo continues to do work here every day through his foundation, Bo's Effort. Last year alone, we raised nearly $100K to help provide better programs for kids and adults like Bo who struggle with mental health and often, substance as a result. Bo was an amazing kid, a bright spirit who made people laugh every day. Perhaps he knew his time would be shorter than most, so he chose a family who would tell his story and carry on his message to help others. We consistently get messages from people who say Bo helped them, their sister, their child. Connect with the right doctor. Find the right help. Get on the right medications. Stay clean. Get their life back.
My brother is a miracle worker, and that part is not sad to me. That is an honor. If you feel moved to donate, Bo's foundation gives to NAMI and AAMC every year. AAMC has begun planning for a phenomenal mental health facility and needs our support now more than ever.
I will continue to give, support and show up, because it eases the pain of missing him. Somehow it makes the pain worth something.
Don't sit back. From the depths of my heart, I urge you to do what you can to turn your pain into purpose. Of course, it's not everything, but it's something.