Article Published in RI Bar Journal

Hello, my friends!

For any and all interested, you can check out my latest article in the Rhode Island Bar Journal, entitled: Your Moral Imperative To Routinely Practice Self-Care, by clicking here.

It’s been a busy last few months for me, but I will hopefully be coming out soon with some new podcast episodes this summer.

Much love to you all!

Kate

Gratitude

By: Katherine Itacy, Esq.

Dated: April 25, 2019

 

Wow. Things have been busy for the last few months!

Yvens and I have been slowly moving into our beautiful new home:

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During which time I’ve encountered some….unwelcome guests:
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(That’s what I found at the bottom of the fridge as I was cleaning. Absolutely disgusting.)
I’ve had to travel for a continuing legal education (CLE) conference, and went to my first ever writer’s conference.
My health has really been suffering because of all of this, and I’ve had to find all new specialists in Detroit after having moved here from Rhode Island, requiring me to undergo a whole host of new, painful tests.
But despite how physically draining the last few months have been, I woke up this morning, the first morning after having officially moved into our new home, and I was hit by a fierce wave of peace and gratitude.
I describe my first encounter with a true moment of peace in my upcoming memoir, From National Champion To Physically Disabled Activist: My Lifelong Struggles With A Diseased Body, And The Lessons It Has Taught Me Along The Way, which is now set to be published by WiDo Publishing!
For anyone who has yet to experience such a moment, I can only explain it as euphoric. I’ve (thankfully) had a lot of moments of happiness, even bliss, but they really can’t compare to a moment of true peace and gratitude. It’s as if all is right with the world; like every tiny, simple good thing going on for you have joined forces and pushed their way up to the surface, blocking out all of your struggles or worries.
There’s a stillness in the air — almost as if you’re Zack Morris, freezing time:
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(Kids, if you don’t get the reference, ask your parents)
The moments will pass quickly, but will leave you with a lasting happiness in the hours and days that follow. And they’ll be there for you to conjure up, whenever you’re feeling stressed or tired.
Now, I’m not completely self-obsessed. I’m very aware of all of the horrible and troubling things going on in the world. I know just how much work we have to help better our planet.
But sometimes, you just need to sit back and count your blessings, and I’m not talking about once a year, while you’re sitting around the Thanksgiving table.
I might have had to endure forty-nine surgeries and medical procedures over a thirty-year period, go through a shitty marriage and an even shittier divorce, and lose the ability to continue practicing criminal defense (which I’d believed was my true calling in life), but ever since I’ve become disabled, I have learned and implemented the incredibly effective practice of recognizing moments of gratitude.
I don’t wait until the beginning or ending of each day (which, if you’re busy, may be the best way for you to start) — I stay aware throughout the day as to what I can be thankful for. And I honestly believe that that leaves me more open to these rare, euphoric moments of peace.
Non-humble brag, but I have to express gratitude right now for the fact that I have an upcoming article coming out in the Rhode Island Bar Journal; my book is set to be published, with the cover art done by an incredibly talented friend of mine; Yvens and I just moved into a beautiful new home in a wonderful neighborhood; I now have a beautiful new space to continue my writing (in addition to my new bedroom, where I’ll be spending most of my days and nights);
I am meeting wonderful new people from the greater Detroit area; I have incredible friends and family, who love me for exactly who I am, flaws and all; I, for now, still have possession of my mental faculties; and I have some exciting new projects in the works (the details of which will be coming soon!).
I am completely aware of just how blessed I am, and I couldn’t be more grateful for each and every positive thing I have in my life.
And I’m not trying to be obnoxious by posting this. I firstly wanted to express thanks for all of the wonderful things and people that surround me, and for all of the amazing things that are happening to me right now. But secondly, I wanted to try and express how easy it is to be grateful.
You don’t have to achieve all of your dreams or be rich to be happy. Recognize all of the good things you have in your life. Express gratitude for your life and everything in it. And please don’t wait until something life threatening happens to you or a loved one before doing so!
I promise you, as cheesy as it may sound, the more you appreciate your life, the more happiness and peace you will feel. Stop lusting after what you don’t have, and start taking note of what you do. You’ll realize how full your life already is. And you’ll leave yourself open to experiencing moments that will truly change your life.

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As I’ve mentioned, publication of my memoir, From National Champion to Physically Disabled Activist: My Lifelong Struggles with a Diseased Body, and the Lessons it Has Taught Me Along the Way, is forthcoming.

Keep tuning in to this website, my social media accounts (i.e., my Instagram page, Tumblr page, Twitter page, Google+ page, and LinkedIn profile), as well as my podcast in order to learn more about when the memoir will be available for purchase!

Any questions or concerns, feedback or suggestions for future blog or podcast topics, you can always email me directly at contactkate@katherineitacy.com.

Check out my new Medium article!

Click here to read my latest article on Medium, entitled: “Spoiler Alert: There’s No Door Prize For Prioritizing Pride Over Pain!”

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And remember, keep tuning in to this website, my social media accounts (i.e., my Instagram page, Tumblr page, Twitter page, Google+ page, and LinkedIn profile), as well as my podcast in order to learn more about when the memoir will be available for purchase!

Any questions or concerns, feedback or suggestions for future blog or podcast topics, you can always email me directly at contactkate@katherineitacy.com.

Best,

Kate

Listen to Episode 3 of the Hear Me Roar Podcast: “Tips on Book Writing” — Hear Me Roar – Podcast with Kate Itacy

Happy 2019, dear listeners! Thanks for your patience while Kate took a hiatus from the podcast. To start the New Year off right, Kate’s first episode of 2019 focuses on the insights and ideas Kate has learned about the book writing and publishing process. Given the number of people who’ve asked Kate about her research […]

via Listen to Episode 3 of the Hear Me Roar Podcast: “Tips on Book Writing” — Hear Me Roar – Podcast with Kate Itacy

How Much Talent is Enough for Us to Overlook Someone’s Demons?

By: Katherine Itacy, Esq.

Dated: January 7, 2018 

 

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I just finished watching the mini-series, “Surviving R. Kelly,” and the first thought that comes to my mind is:

Woof.

I’m all about the criminal justice system. I’m all about proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and not passing judgment until one is proven guilty.

Hell, I’ve represented a few hundred suspected sex offenders myself, and there were really only one or two who seemed irredeemably evil. For everyone else, while I wasn’t overlooking their wrongdoing (or alleged wrongdoing), I was still able to see and acknowledge their humanity.

Many of my clients were abused when they were young. Several explained to me that their victimization led them to have blurred boundary lines regarding what’s appropriate between an adult and a minor. While it’s not an affirmative defense or excuse, it does help explain why some adult males sexually assault minors.

All of that being said, the allegations made on “Surviving R. Kelly” weren’t just about sexual assault. They also involved allegations of physical and mental abuse, as well as essential kidnapping, brainwashing, and intentional starvation of his alleged victims.

The documentary was excellently done, and from the legal disclaimers made at the beginning and end of each episode, it appears as if the filmmakers attempted to get comments from R. Kelly’s team as to the accusations. So it’s not as if it’s completely lopsided in terms of telling the “full” story.

Each episode was heartbreaking and disturbing. The claims made by multiple women as to the very particular M.O. (modus operandi) Mr. Kelly appears to have had with his alleged victims (including immediately calling him nothing but “Daddy,” (Yuck.), restricting their movements throughout the home, studio, or hotel, cutting off contact with the outside world, starving them or slapping them when they broke one of his “rules,” etc.) are compelling. They sound strikingly similar to claims made by other victims (or alleged victims) of sexual assault, sex trafficking, and/or domestic violence. Indeed, preying on impressionable, sometimes ‘damaged’ children, is a very common tactic among those who commit child molestation.

So, the mini-series got me thinking about something Dax Shepard has said on his podcast, “Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard.” During one of his episodes, Dax questions whether we, as a society, should ignore a person’s wrongdoings if that person contributes significantly to the world.

That question really resonated with me during the mini-series, because you have many journalists and radio personalities on the program pointing out how we, as music consumers, seemed to have completely separated R. Kelly’s personal life from his singing career. For decades!

And it’s so true. Amidst public allegations of child molestation and the production of child pornography, he sang at the opening ceremony of the 2002 Winter Olympics. And who can forget when he secretly married a fifteen-year-old Aaliyah after his team procured fraudulent documents to claim she was eighteen?

Sadly, he’s not the only talented person who’s been able to remain successful amidst disturbing sexual allegations. Think about Michael Jackson. Think about Elvis!

The mini-series did a great job of highlighting our society’s willingness to ignore the bad in order to consume the good.

I can’t deny my love for R. Kelly’s music. “I Believe I Can Fly” was the first song I sang along to that made me cry. “Step in the Name of Love” (I always preferred the remix, myself)? “Happy People”? His collaboration with The Isley Brothers on “What Would You Do?” I mean, come on!

I’m a R&B super fan. How could I not love his music? His voice?

But why? Why, as an independent, educated, strong woman, have I continued to overlook the damage he’s allegedly done to so many women, just because I love his powerful voice??

Why wasn’t I disgusted? Concerned about his female victims? Demanding more from society?

Why did it take me until this mini-series to really consider Dax Shepard’s question in a very real, personal way?

I’m educated on the devastating impact that sexual, physical, and emotional abuse has on a person, and especially on children. Why isn’t that the very first thing I think of when one of his songs comes on?

Obviously, humans have an incredible ability to compartmentalize. We can even compartmentalize trauma in our own lives in order to continue functioning on a day-to-day basis. The need to do that is completely understandable.

But we don’t need R. Kelly. And don’t hate me for saying this, but we didn’t need Michael Jackson. We don’t really need any artist.

Sure, they can make our lives so joyful. They can inspire us, pick us up when we’re down, set the mood. They can be part of the soundtracks to our lives. Music in particular can bring back ridiculously vivid memories of such wonderful events (weddings, family reunions, etc.). And one artist can completely change the course of a certain genre of music. I, as a music lover and student of the art form, can attest to that!

But if their talent is eclipsed by their personal wrongdoings, shouldn’t we do better to make it clear to the artist that those acts make them unemployable as a musician?

I learned that John Legend was the only other musician asked to speak who would agree to appear on the documentary. There were multiple persons who refused, despite their personal connection to R. Kelly.

Doesn’t that say something about the industry? About people being concerned about taking sides or standing out (and potentially upsetting their fans, thereby losing money by doing so)?

Thankfully, there have since been a lot of other musicians and actors who’ve come out publicly to denounce R. Kelly’s alleged behavior. But quite honestly, even with the #MeToo movement, there still hasn’t been enough in terms of famous/rich/influential public figures denouncing their colleagues and supporting the victims.

We owe it to the betterment of our society to do a better job letting musicians and athletes (and even sitting presidents) know that physical, mental, and sexual abuse will not be tolerated or ignored, no matter how talented or influential the wrongdoers are.

I’m really making an effort to look within myself and figure out why I’ve compartmentalized the actions of my idols. Why I’m not holding famous people to the same standard I’d hold any other citizen.

I’d strongly suggest that you all do the same.

While doing so, you can consider looking into the #MuteRKelly movement. We need to consider doing the same for other famous people whose actions aren’t deserving of our financial support.

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To read more about my thoughts on sexual assault and how we, as a society, can potentially help prevent certain assaults from happening, keep an eye out for my upcoming memoir, From National Champion To Physically Disabled Activist: My Lifelong Struggles With A Diseased Body, And The Lessons It Has Taught Me Along The Way.

If you like what you’ve read, feel free to subscribe to this blog. You can also follow me via FacebookInstagramLinkedInTumblrGoogle+or Twitter.

Traveling While Disabled (TWD)

My husband and I love to travel. In fact, one of the very first things that attracted me to him was what he featured on his online profile. On it, he explained that he loved to experience and better appreciate different cultures. Being Haitian and moving to the United States at fifteen years old, he was hungry to understand how others live, and to witness all of the beauty that the world had to offer. While I’m certainly not from Haiti, I, too, share that yearning to appreciate how others live; to witness the wonders of the world!

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Once we started dating, we traveled everywhere! We did road trips from Southwest Texas to Orlando, Florida; from Del Rio, Texas, to Las Vegas, Nevada. Over the last four years, we’ve spent time together in Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas, Texas; in Orlando, Saint Augustine, Delray Beach, Boca Raton, Miami, and Key West, Florida; we time at the Grand Canyon, the Hoover Dam, Salem, Massachusetts, New Orleans and Baton Rogue, Louisana, New York and Boston (among other destinations).

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Then that damn tumor regrew, and with that, everything changed. We were actually in the middle of a reggae cruise to Jamaica when the first symptoms hit in December of 2015. I doubled over in pain while we watched a famed reggae singer perform, and Yvens helped me make my way back to our room.

In the three years since, my ability to travel without severe repercussions has plummeted.

Last year, Yvens and I spent the week in Florida in order to spend Christmas with my stepson, Eli, as well as the rest of Yvens’ family. Unfortunately, by the end of it, I had to be wheeled through the Orlando International Airport in order to make it to my gate. That week, I’d also had to miss spending time with the family so that I could rest up back at the hotel (and once, on his parents’ couch). Sadly, Eli knows (at seven years old) that his stepmom gets tired easily and can’t really walk or do much for too long.

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Worse still, once I got home from that trip, I had a severe bout of some sort of virus or infection that I’d managed to pick up from someone in the general traveling public. It laid me up for well over a week.

The chronic fatigue and immense pain certainly was putting a damper on our travel plans.

Then the amazing Dr. Petra Klinge of Rhode Island Hospital figured out that that evil tumor remnant had grown a tail, and a glimmer of hope started to spark. Maybe I could get some of my mobility back, or at least some relief from the constant pain and fatigue!

Alas, none of that happened. Yes, Dr. Klinge did an excellent job on the neurosurgery this past March. She managed to remove almost all of the tumor (save for the part that had managed to grow through my spinal cord). But my neurological deficits remain the same, and they are prone to get worse over time.

So what to do? I mean, it’s hard enough to travel with diabetes. Tack on the neurological disorder, and we’re in business!

So when my mom surprised me with a birthday cruise from Bali, Indonesia, to Sydney, Australia, a mix of absolute joy and absurd fear came over me. How could I manage all of the traveling and excursions with my current physical state?? As it was, Yvens and I had decided to cut back on even short trips that could lay me up for weeks to follow. How in the world was I going to manage a cruise on the other side of the world???!?

Imagine trying to keep your insulin refrigerated on a fifteen hour flight from Boston to Hong Kong! Never mind a four hour layover, and then another five hours on the flight to Bali. Thanks to the good people at Burger King, I was able to get a shit ton of ice to keep the cool packs a bit cool during the flights. That being said, it was absolute torture on my back, legs, and feet, even with the assistance of a back brace and an inflatable donut to sit on.

Well, I’m more than halfway through the cruise at this point, and while I can’t say that it’s been easy, it sure has been memorable! I’ve decided that while I may have to take my diseases and degenerative disorders lying down (small pun intended), and be in debilitating pain regardless of whatever I do, I’m still going to make some beautiful memories along the way!

Thankfully, the cruise we’re on is through Viking Cruises, which tailors its travels towards the elderly and infirm population. There are no children allowed as guests, and the atmosphere is very calming and serene. There’s lots of classical music and art aboard, as well as a book exchange throughout the common areas of the ship.

Take a walk to the main dining hall, and you’ll see a wide variety of canes, walkers, motorized scooters, and back braces (almost all of which are already in my artillery). Speak with almost any of the other guests, and you’ll find that a large number of them have had at least a few surgeries and/or grave diagnoses in their recent past.

Amidst ‘my people,’ I feel a little less guilty about my need to modify the cruise experience. I’ve already missed some of the excursions due to exhaustion, needed my cane more than I care to admit, and needed the availability of a yoga mat or two to do some deep stretches after the back pain became much too unbearable. It’s actually been nice to commiserate with the similarly disabled guests! They understand what it’s like to try and mask your pain; to feel weak or that you’re putting someone out if you ask for assistance.

Hell, I almost feel like a burden to our cabin steward, who is eager to clean our room at least twice a day. I feel like telling him: “I promise, you’re doing an amazing job, and more than most, I understand completely what it’s like to expect perfection from yourself in everything that you do. That being said, there’s no way in hell I can leave my bed today, so you’re just going to have to respect the “Do No Disturb” sign on the door for what it is, and try again tomorrow!” But alas…

So I might not be the easiest guest on the ship…I definitely appreciate the experience more than most! While most of the other guests are busy enjoying their retirement years, I’m just trying to suck as much out of life and this world as I can while I’m physically able to enjoy and experience it!

And therein lies the beauty and the curse of being disabled–you are well aware of the brevity of life, for better and for worse. While there’s a lot of anger, resentment, and fear mixed in there with appreciation, perspective, and awareness, I do feel fortunate that I’m making these memories now, while I still can.

I certainly have to pay for them later/during, but to me, it’s worth the extra physical pain and exhaustion in order to feel like I’ve really lived.

Traveling while disabled (TWD) certainly sucks. Trying to find room for my cane in the overhead compartment; trying to keep the ice in my bag from leaking onto the floor of the aircraft; having to stand up and stretch in front of other passengers at very frequent intervals; trying not to cry from the excruciating pain; looking crude and rude as I try and lie down on two-to-three seats at the gate that are without armrests so that I can give my back and legs some much-needed relief. It’s all rather humiliating and attention-causing, but you have to learn to live with it if you’re going to make it through the travel experience.

You just have to prepare. You have to be ready for TSA and Customs to question the amount of pills in your possession, as well as your insulin pump, cartridges of insulin, and pump supplies.

You get ready for the pat-downs and sequestration to separate areas of the airport. For certain countries, letters from your doctor(s) are needed, in which they explain how you’re disabled and just what you need for safe travels.

You have to be ready to hold the security line up as you remove your back brace, place your cane into the scanner, and explain that the device in your pocket is just an insulin pump. Get ready for TSA to ask you to rub the pump with both hands, then have them take samples from both of your hands to ensure that there are no explosive substances on the device or your hands. Be prepared for another agent to withhold your carry-ons from you in order to figure out what the hell those insulin vials and cool-packs really are.

TWD is tricky business. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart or the timid of spirit. You need to be okay with strongly requesting/demanding that each hotel room/ship cabin has, at the very least, a mini-fridge. Ideally, you want to request a fridge-freezer combination so that you can freeze your cool packs for the return trip while you refrigerate your insulin.

For pump users, you have to be prepared that if you swim in the enticing waters, you’re going to get your infusion sets waterlogged. If you don’t have extra to replace them, you’re going to be in trouble!

TWD sure ain’t easy, but I am oh, so thankful to be living in modern times. Besides the fact that I’d be long dead from the diabeetus and all its evil attacks on my various body parts, there are now so many different medical aids and inventions that make TWD a bit less painful on your body.

As an example, I met a woman on the cruise while we were docked somewhere on the Great Barrier Reef. She had a motorized scooter/wheelchair that she bought in order to travel, since she faces pretty severe rheumatoid arthritis. With just the touch of a button on her remote, the device folds into itself until it’s the size of a piece of carry-on luggage! Ingenius! Like one of those fancy prams you see all of the inexplicably rich couples in almost every movie nowadays! Anyway, I’ll certainly be looking into that scooter if I want to continue TWD, as I’m sure the need for it is in my very near future.

In the end, TWD is all about managing your expectations and perspectives. If you’re TWD, get ready for more than a few hiccups. As long as you’re ready for them, they’re not so bothersome. And do your best to see through the pain and limitations. Try, instead, to focus on the amazing sights, smells, tastes, and sounds that come with visiting somewhere new.

Appreciate that even while TWD, you’re able to experience the amazing grace that this world exhibits. Be thankful for advances in medicine and medical devices. Hell, using the insulin pump is unquestionably easier than carrying a cooler with insulin, as well as a bunch of sterile syringes in order to go anywhere!

I’m thankful to be able to TWD. Sure, it’s not what Yvens nor I envisioned for our lives. We’re almost certainly not going to be able to reach all of our desired destinations. But if you’re disabled and still able to travel, I encourage you to do so! You’ll make memories that will carry you through the painful days. It’s more than worth it to boost your spirit!

My love and best to each and every one of you!

Safe travels, and Happy Holidays!

–Kate

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To read more about my journey adjusting to and accepting my disabilities, keep an eye out for my upcoming memoir, From National Champion To Physically Disabled Activist: My Lifelong Struggles With A Diseased Body, And The Lessons It Has Taught Me Along The Way.

If you like what you’ve read, feel free to subscribe to this blog. You can also follow me via Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Google+ or Twitter.