Angela and I

Angela and I

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Random Thanks

It's that time of year again folks.  Thanksgiving is coming up and before we know it it will be December.  This week my Mom is coming to town to celebrate the holiday with me and I couldn't be more excited.  I definitely need some Mom time, especially since the world is getting more and more like an Onion article every single day.  But before I write a post about the big, obvious things I am grateful for, I want to write one about the little, awesome things.  I think they're just as important.

I am thankful for books shared between friends.

I am thankful for a pair of jeans that fit me and that I like to wear.

I am thankful for finding friends in people who I've known for years, connecting over something we never knew we shared until a few months ago.

I am thankful for the smiles and laughs shared between piano and uke players this weekend.

I am thankful for the feeling of laughing so hard you forget to breathe.

I am thankful for coffee.

I am thankful for the surreal feeling of seeing 50 kids all wearing a shirt you designed for the musical you wrote.

I am thankful for my favorite songs and the buzz they put inside my body.

I am thankful for group text messages.

I am thankful for feeling happy for no reason...okay that's silly.  I have plenty of reasons.

I hope you have a wonderful week, my friends!  I am thankful for all of you.

Peace, Love, and Mega-mixes

Monday, November 14, 2016

The feelings are so real to her....

This evening I got all hunkered down at my neighborhood Starbucks, coffee beside me, writing playlist blasting in my ears, with every intention to knock out about two chapters of the novel I'm working on for NaNoWriMo.  BUT ALAS, sometimes it's hard for me to write fiction when there is stuff happening in my actual life that I need to bleed out onto paper (or computer screen, I suppose).  These past few days I can't even tell you how many times I have been told, both in person and on the internet, both individually and collectively, that I (or we) need to calm down, shut up, and stop being afraid. These statements grate on the very core of my being, and I'll tell you why.

A few years ago, when I was first starting treatment, my therapist paused our conversation to gently direct my attention to the fact that after every painful thing I told her, I would laugh.  Even if tears were streaming down my face, I would chuckle.  I would talk about truly traumatizing things -- mainly losing my father, grandfather, and other grandfather in the span of a month, and how that undoubtedly led to my desperate need for control -- and for whatever reason I would just laugh.  She looked me straight in the eye and told me that this was a safe room, and a place that I didn't need to mask my emotions in order to prove to the world that I was okay.  It took me months to unlearn this behavior. Mainly because, when you're deeply entrenched in anorexia, you lose the ability to feel almost anything.  Sure, I wasn't truly happy, but I also wasn't ever truly sad.  Or angry, or disappointed, or hopeful, or agitated.  I just simply was.  It was during that time that I learned how to feel all of those things again, and let me tell you, it was overwhelming.  Imagine nearly five years of backed up emotions rushing towards the forefront of your being all at once.  It was a LOT to deal with.  I remember one day during this period of time a college friend I wasn't even particularly close with showed up at my work and I literally sobbed my eyes out in the bathroom.

Since then, my emotions have mellowed out.  I still feel things pretty deeply, but it's nothing compared to those first few months that I finally allowed them into my life again.  It was hard work letting myself be angry, letting myself be sad, letting myself be scared.  I am the first to say that I am truly grateful for my time in recovery, and I wouldn't go back and live a life in which I never got sick.  It made me who I am and definitely made me a better person today.  It allowed me to see the importance of allowing yourself to feel every emotion you experience, sit with it, and use it.  Something productive can come from every. single. feeling.  Don't you dare tell another human being how to feel, or to just stop feeling a certain way.  Don't you dare tell me to calm down, or to not be angry because of what is happening in the world.  And if someone has been directing this kind of sentiment towards you, I will fight for you.  I will defend you.  I will fight until I have no more breath in my body.  I am with you every step of the way.

Peace, Love, and Nasty Women,
KT <33

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Happy Places

Hi Friends!  How are you all doing?  I know I've gone through a whole range of emotions the past few days. My world has been a tense, confusing place due to...ahem...recent events.  I was lucky enough to spend the night of the election with three of my closest friends, but that doesn't mean I slept more than three hours or that I didn't sob my eyes out the following morning.  But you know me.  I'm a little sensitive.

Which brings me to the point of this post.  These past few days I've been consciously making the effort to put myself in my happy places.  Places where nothing, no bit of news, no political candidate, and no fear can touch me.   I'm not saying that I shut out the world and run away from the problems, quite the opposite actually.  These places I go are less of a fortress and more of a suit of armor.  They allow me to go through life ready to face whatever challenges I, or rather we, face.

My number one happy place is music.  Whether I am playing it, or at a live show, or writing a new song, or just putting in my earbuds while walking to work.  My roommates can probably attest to the fact that there is almost always music coming from my room (sorry girls).  I don't know what I would do without it.  It has gotten me through every single thing in my life.

So what about you?  What is your happy place?  It can be something super broad (like music) or something incredibly specific (like one certain episode of one certain show, and no you cannot prove that I am referencing the Slap Bet episode of HIMYM).  There's a lyric in one of my very favorite songs that says "When you can't get through it, you can listen to it."  But you can also roller-blade through it, or garden through it, or woodwork through it, or dog cuddle through it, or hula hoop through it.  THROUGH it.  Not away from it, not against it, not hiding from it.  We can get through it.  I know we can. 

Peace, love, and thousands of pictures from concerts I've been to

Friday, November 4, 2016

Why I don't post body transformation pictures.

The other day I was mindlessly scrolling through my "On This Day" feature on Facebook and I came across pictures of me at my very lowest weight.  I actually remember weighing myself that day and I remember the number.  There's a lot during that time of my life that I do not remember, but my weight (and the caloric value of all of my safe foods) is something that is branded into my memory.  Sometimes when I come across these shocking photographs, I make a little transformation picture to keep in my phone just for myself and for people I trust to look at and share the sense of pride I feel when I see the two pictures next to each other.  I never post body transformation pictures because, while I think it's good for me to see the transformation and LOVE the "after" picture way more than the "before", I don't think showing the world the bag of bones I was 4 years ago is productive in any way.

My "after", in the words of Sean Ryan Paris - "Sunshine and Happy and Hanson!" 

I will happily post transformation pictures of my hair, or my hands, or even my face.  But my body is off limits.  One of my worst fears is for someone out there will somehow get a hold of a sick picture and yearn for that body.  That terrifies me.  I would rather someone see the fact that my hair grew back or that my cheeks filled out and I got the life back in my eyes. I would rather someone ask me what the main difference is and see happy tears fill my eyes while I say "well number one I didn't die" (still not really sure how I survived it) "but beyond that I don't have an ever present chill in my bones and I don't have hair growing on my lower back in my body's last ditch effort to stay alive."  I don't need to remind the world how much my body has changed. You learn so much when you recover...definitely more than I ever expected to.  One thing you learn is that beauty has nothing to do with it. Nothing to do with it at all. 

Peace, love, and in an Mmmbop they're gone,
KT <33

Monday, October 31, 2016

Through the Cracks

If you're reading this blog you probably know me at least a little bit and if you know me literally AT ALL you know that over the past three years, recovery and discovering self love has definitely become my #brand.  It's hilarious now looking back at my very first blog posts, where I would very vaguely hint at the fact that I was maybe taking time off to fix something about myself, when now I will talk about my recovery at the drop of a hat.  Even though I am incredibly candid about my journey and how far I have come, I try to make it very clear that I have bad days.  I have clinical depression.  I have OCD (and no, not the kind you think you joke about having).  These are all things that I have not recovered from, but I have become pretty good at managing them in my day to day life.

My depression has evolved over the past few years.  When I was still deeply entrenched in my disorder and during most of my recovery it was pretty classic sadness.  It was messy and tear filled.  It was hours spent in bed and crying over my reflection and mascara running down my face and snot in my throat.  It was calling my mom three times a day because I was just so sad and having breakdowns over virtually everything and everyone.  

Lately, it's a little different.  It's dry and apathetic.  It's going through the motions and vacant stares and disassociation and watching sad movies in an effort to feel anything at all.  I had a spell of this lately, and let me tell you, I think I might even prefer the mess of a girl from a few years ago compared to the zombie who sits in her room and can't get excited about almost anything.  It's just...kind of terrifying to be honest. 

I wish that the whole point of this post was to tell you how I get over these periods of time, these depression valleys I have to traverse every so often.  But, it's (unfortunately) not that easy. I have a huge list of coping mechanisms and tricks I use to make it more bearable, but sometimes it's just a stay in bed all day kind of day.  But if this crazy thing called life has taught me anything it is that there is always...always hope. I use "cracking" imagery a lot in my writing and when I talk about stuff.  I say that when I'm inspired to write, something cracks open and it rushes out of me.  I say that my disorder chipped away at me until I was full of cracks, and that recovery was about putting the pieces together.  Depression doesn't feel different to me.  I feel like no matter how bad I get, there is always a moment where it cracks.  There's no other way I know how to describe it.  Something cracks open and slowly the light seeps back in.  I know that when I'm in the thick of it, I feel like it will never end.  And you have to work hard and take care of yourself, but something will always crack the steely finish of your sadness.  Whether it's a song or your friend's laughter or a blue sky or the hope of spring.  The light will inevitably always find it's way back in.  

Peace, Love, and Burnt Part Boys references,

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Passing the Torch

*Bob Saget Voice* Kids, in the fall of 2013, I wrote a song called "Black or White". 

I love writing songs more than I love doing most things.  I love rushing home from work because I thought of a melodic line and a snippet of lyrics and if I don't get it down on paper that moment it might be gone forever. I love sequestering myself in my room and scribbling as fast as I can and strumming until it sounds right.  I love when I think of a perfect word that flawlessly conveys what I want to say.  I love when everything clicks into place.  For a while, I thought that was my favorite thing and my favorite feeling.  That was a high I thought could never be topped.  And then...we started rehearsing "Full" for the first time.  

I've now done this show...a few times.  Every time we start rehearsals and we add more people into our family, Blake and I take a few days to teach the music to the cast.  Once they have the music in their bodies and I hear them take ownership of the songs I experience something I (who I consider to be pretty okay with words) will always have trouble describing.  But let's just say that that is my very favorite feeling in the entire world.  When I first started writing the show, it was never my intent to be in it and it was definitely never my intent to play Harper, the lead role.  So when I joke that I wrote the role for myself, I actually didn't.  I never pictured myself on that stage.  This autumn, Blake High School is doing a production of the show and it is the first time I am not playing the role (aka not leaving the stage for 2 hours and going through the entire spectrum of emotions I experienced over the 5 years of my disorder and singing my heart out and crying tears of joy as I reluctantly but hopefully leave the stage as the final chord sounds).   I think the main reason I never cast anyone else in the role is because it's a lot to ask of a person.  It's a lot to take abuse from Emily for two whole acts and then somehow find the strength to belt out "Black or White" after everything else is falling apart around you.  Trust me.  I've done it a few times now.

On Thursday I had the honor of accompanying Emma, who is playing Harper at Blake at a cabaret performance of "Black or White".  It actually might have been the first time I've only played the music without singing along, and once again I experienced my favorite feeling on earth.  I love singing my music.  It's mine.  No one can take that away from me.  But I love sharing it even more. Hearing others take my songs and make them their own.  Taking ownership of the words and melody and finding truth in them from their own journeys. These are my songs, but they are also yours.

Peace, Love, and Colors ALL around,
KT <33

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Meet the Family

My name is Katie Berger and I have three beautiful children I would like you to meet.

Obviously, if you're reading this, you know Angela (she's the title of this blog, after all).  My Mom got me this beautiful concert soprano ukulele one fateful Christmas day and the rest is history.  I've told the story of why Angela is so important to me numerous times but I think it's pretty cool and it's been a while so there might be people reading who don't know!  When I was in treatment, my therapist tasked me with finding a "tangible object" that could, in some ways, replace the security blanket my disorder had become.  Easier said than done, of course, but I love homework so I went home that night ready to find something that would help me through the darkest moments.  Frustrated that nothing really made me feel safe or confident, I picked up my uke and practiced until I felt better.  It then hit me that my uke would obviously have to be my object.  Since that moment, I threw myself into music and it very much saved my life.  I always say that without recovery, my love for songwriting would not be anywhere close to what it is now.  I wrote Full on this instrument, and I pretty much still exclusively write all my music on it as well.

Oh and if you're curious, she's named after the unseen character in the musical Hair.  "Tell him Angela and I don't want our two dollars back, just him," 

Last Christmas I made it very clear that I wanted one thing and one thing only - a Tenor.  Mom delivered, as she usually does when it comes to Christmas presents (see above).  I was gifted with a new acoustic/electric baby, who I named Bobby Maler - after the unseen character mentioned in the musical Spring Awakening.  I love a theme.  

My newest child is a brand new Fender amp I got for my birthday this year!  I named her Penny because as soon as I ripped the box open and plugged in I started playing "Penny and Me" without even thinking.  Because...well...Penny and me like to roll the windows down, turn the radio on and push the pedal to the ground.  You know?  I can't wait to bring her along to gigs all over town in the near future (It's always Penny and me toniiiiiiiight).  

What have I learned in writing this post?  That Pam Berger is too good for this world.  
Peace, Love, and Ukes,

Monday, October 24, 2016

Back again for more.

Hello everyone!  Wow, I haven't written here in a while.  I've been a little busy...

What's more is that when I stopped writing here before, it was because I didn't need it anymore.  And that was honestly a great feeling.  Writing this blog was a huge help to my recovery -- it was therapeutic in a lot of ways.  I felt like I was slowly clearing out all the passageways blocked up from years of my disorder.  Untangling strands in my brain until this whole recovery thing made sense.  There came a point where I didn't need to do that anymore, so I stopped blogging, and started focusing on my playwriting and composing.

After getting back from New York, I have had so many creative ideas but not many have come to fruition.  I am in the ideation phase of creativity which is, unfortunately for me your text book achiever, kind of frustrating.  I just want to DO things.  I have so many things I want to write about!  So many things I want to say!  And because of this, I decided to dust off this old thing.  My blog before was successful and helpful to me and the people who read it.  I think that's awesome.  It's going to be a little different now.  A nice cocktail of music and writing and life post recovery and finding happiness even with all the crazy crap going on in the world right now. I hope you'll join usual, I have a lot to say.