Her Story: Katie Peterson

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Today we have Katie Peterson gracing the blog for the latest Her Story! This lovely lady is such an interesting spirit that she is always my go-to person to interview for anything I’m working on. It was always a treat to see her creative writing and artwork during college, so I hope you’ll enjoy this snapshot of her adventurous way of life and views on the world.

KatiePetersonAge: 23
Hometown: Saratoga Springs, NY
Current City: P āʻia, HI
Occupation: Administrator and children’s art teacher at the Hui Noʻeau Visual Arts Center

What prompted you to move to Hawaii?
The short answer is that I came here to work on a permaculture farm with my best friend for a few months and ended up staying. The long answer involves a lot of disapproval, running out of money in British Columbia, and a lot of magical people who kept me chugging along. It hasn’t been easy, but every time I’ve tried to leave, something strange has happened to prevent me from doing so. When I visited New York in the winter, everyone tried to convince me to stay. By the looks of it I had really lost everything, and no one could understand why I would go back, but I knew in my heart that I needed to. I’m so glad that I did!

What is the biggest lesson in life you’ve learned so far?
The island has taught me that you can’t force things to happen; you have to let them happen. Maui has a very maternal energy – tough love. Once you stop trying to make things go your way, they fall into place. But if you take it for granted or act with a sense of entitlement, she’ll take it all away from you. A lot of people talk about manifestation, but really just mean that they’re sitting around, doing nothing, waiting for someone to hand them what they want. While I believe that you can’t force things into being, I also believe that you have to keep your feet pointed in the right direction. And if nothing else, follow your heart.

Biggest lesson in love?
It has something to do with getting lost in the woods together, and watching the red sun rise in the desert alone. It’s letting go. It’s discovering that alone-ness doesn’t have to be loneliness. It’s knowing that forgiveness does not mean that the person who hurt you was right; it just means making the decision to stop wasting energy on jealousy or anger or sadness, and using that energy to make yourself a better person.

Who has made the biggest influence in your life and why?
My beautiful housemates at 28 Livingston Street in Geneseo, NY – Lindsay, Bridget, Evelyn, Katie, Donna, Delia, and Hayley – all my back-to-the-earth farming kiddos, and Amy DeSeyn for helping to shape me into someone that I’m proud of. And my mom and dad. Even though I spent my teenage years trying not to listen to any of their advice, I clearly absorbed a lot via osmosis. I’m so thankful for everything they’ve taught me.

Describe a perfect day for yourself.
Waking up – naturally – with the sunrise, a cup of yerba matte, a go at the crossword puzzle, and a stroll around the garden. Some form of creation – guitar, mandolin, singing, drawing, painting, poetry – and some good ol’ fashioned weed pulling. And maybe it’s the island fever talking, but I could go for a walk in the mountains too. Ah yes, mountains would be nice.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
I’m torn between “He can’t love you until he learns to love himself” and “Sometimes you need to leave for a while to come back.”

What do you believe in?
I’m realizing that everything I feel strongly about – growing and eating organic food, natural medicine, the ethical treatment of animals – is rooted in the belief that we should live as though we are part of the earth and not the rulers of it.

What is something you’re most thankful for lately?
I’m thankful for family in all of its strange and beautiful forms, and that my friends are the most unbelievably non-judgmental people in the world.

What do you consider your biggest accomplishment?
Overcoming what I had considered a lifelong battle with depression; deciding that I could heal. There’s a kind of comfort that came with diagnosis, but it left me trapped. I wore depression like a badge. It became such a part of my identity that I held onto it for dear life, even though it was slowly killing me. I still have bad days – who doesn’t? – but deciding that I could heal was the single best (and most difficult) thing I’ve ever done. There’s a light inside of me now that I know will keep shining.

Thank you for sharing, Katie! If you enjoyed this Her Story, check out more here.

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Author: Rachael

Book lover + editor, feminist, California soul + New York state of mind.

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