Art & Writings
Katlyn's artwork and writings reflect her keen wit and kindhearted nature. They include insightful observations of herself and the world around her. Behind those big, beautiful eyes that seemed as deep and as vast as the ocean, Katlyn possessed a brilliant mind and unique creativity that we were blessed to witness on a regular basis.
We share Katlyn's art and samples of her writings in the hope that they give you a deeper window into her beautiful soul and also inspire you to discover and fully express your unique creative gifts.
Becoming Part of His World
(Excerpt from Katlyn's writing called The Story of Me)
The car ride over was silent with anxious anticipation. I gazed out the window to a dark and ominous looking sky. The black clouds hung like heavy sacks ready to explode. Both the clouds and I were ready to show our true potential. To anybody else it would have seemed like a terrible day to go to the beach, but I was determined.
I had long awaited the day when my brother would return from South Africa and teach me to surf. Growing up I had spent many summers watching him surf, but it was always from a distance. I didn't like that distance and I was always searching for ways to be closer to him. I was, after all, his number one fan. He just never knew it. I watched his every move, I followed his every wave, just hoping to someday become a part of his world.
I always heard him talking about the impact surfing had on his life. To him it was an escape. When he stood up on a wave all the stresses and problems of his everyday life just slipped away. I too wanted to experience that escape. There is an eight year difference between my brother and me. I was always looking for ways to bridge that gap and become more connected to him. Learning to surf could very well be my chance.
As the car pulled up to the beach I was flooded with emotions. The sea looked fierce and the sky looked even angrier. It was high tide and the water engulfed all of the soft sand leaving only the sharp rocks exposed. I was filled with apprehension as I struggled to climb over the jagged rocks, board in hand, toward the sea. When my toe touched the paralyzing cold water I started having second thoughts, but with a reassuring pat on the back from my bro, I pressed forward. With one great running leap the frigid water engulfed me and there was no turning back. “Here's your motivation,” he yelled above the roar of the surf. “If you fall it’s gunna hurt!” With a few key instructions and those words of wisdom, I was ready to go.
As I lay on the board trying my best not to thrash around in the powerful surf, my brother pushed me onto my very first wave. I peered over my shoulder only long enough to glance at the monster of a swell that was to be my ride. I held on tight while the wave broke carrying me in its jaws. Months of anticipation all led up to this one moment, this one chance I had to prove myself to my most important critic, my brother.
The next thing I knew I was up. I rode the wave for what became the longest and proudest seconds of my life. I jumped off the board as the wave took its furry out on the rocks and gave a triumphant yell. My brother's face could not have been any prouder as he yelled, “My sister's a ripper!” and in that moment I knew that we were closer than we'd ever been.
A Life Altering Experience
(Essay written by Katlyn following a mission trip to Grand Bahama Island)
When I told my friends about the trip I was going on, many of them joked around with me saying things like, “You're going on a mission trip to the Bahamas, lucky! That's not a mission trip, that's a vacation.” When I arrived, it became clear to me that the Grand Bahama Island was anything but a vacationland. The island had been completely ravaged by two separate hurricanes. The already modest living conditions of the Bahamian people were drastically altered for the worst. In the aftermath of a disaster of such magnitude, you would expect to see much despair on the faces of the Bahamians, but everywhere I looked there were smiling, friendly people full of life. They had a resiliency about them unlike anything I had ever encountered.
As we ventured around the island, we saw it was in various stages of disrepair. These stages clearly reflected the lives of the families. As we started to repair the outsides of the homes and the church, we began to heal the insides of the people. Hope was being restored to people whose lives had been so battered in the past few years. Over the course of one week, the team worked on four houses, a church, a feeding center, built a boat, and offered a vacation bible school.
When I left for the mission trip I knew that I was going to make a difference in the lives of the people I would meet, but I had no idea the impact they would have on my own life. It's easy to say you are thankful and appreciate the things in your life, but how many people really mean it? When you take a walk in someone else's shoes and you look into their lives it changes you. I learned to appreciate everything and everyone in my life like never before. I saw people who had nothing and yet were as happy as if they had everything. The tiny broken down shacks we worked on were houses that people were proud to call their homes. I saw the poverty first hand but it was not the most shocking part. The most shocking part was the joy they had despite their circumstances. They seemed to know what was most important in life. It is not what you have, but rather the people you love.
My heart was touched in particular by a five-year-old girl named Alisha. From the moment I saw her we were joined at the hip. All she wanted to do was feel my arms around her. She didn't care to play games or sing songs like other five-year-old girls. She just wanted to be held, and feel my love for her. I could tell by the way she acted that she didn't get that kind of love at home. Despite everything Alisha had been through, she was an overcomer.
Whenever life throws me a curve ball and it seems like things just couldn't get any worse, I remember a day in the life of these Bahamians. I remember their daily struggles just to feed their kids and have a place to call home. My problems seem insignificant in comparison. I remember their optimistic spirit and strength and I find my own strength to persevere.
The most important lesson I learned is that I am the happiest when I'm giving of myself and making connections with people. I am not afraid to reach out to people anymore. They showed me what a powerful impact I can have. I now know the true value of the simple gift of a hug or a smile. The Bahamian people as a whole taught me the importance of being a part of something much bigger than myself. They helped me see past the vanities of this world and realize the things that are truly important in my own life. They showed me that kindness offered up by a stranger can have a profound impact on people's lives. Not only did I work to repair people's communities, but I touched their hearts, and they forever touched mine.
One in the Same
(Excerpt from Katlyn's writing called The Story of Me)
They say if you love something with all your mind, body, and soul it starts to become a part of you. For me that love is my surfboard and the connection I make with my board and the ocean. You can take me far away from the ocean, but the sea will always remain in my veins. It will always be a part of me. Surfing is my life giving bread and it's as necessary to me as the air I breathe. Surfing, to me, is not just a sport it's a way of life. I know few greater joys than when I'm riding a wave, or teaching others to ride one themselves. My board has become more than just a tool I use to ride waves, it's become a part of me.
My board and I are one in the same. We have the same build, slender and light. We move at the same breakneck pace leaving others in our wake, but we need somebody there to give us direction, or we become lost at sea. The tough experiences we have shared make us stronger, but a little rough around the edges. We at times feel a little beat up. We have a hard time standing up for ourselves and are easily walked all over by other people. This does not crush our spirit. We are resilient and stay strong even in the roughest of storms. We know how to bring fun and excitement to an otherwise boring day. Most importantly we are lifesavers for the people around us, giving much needed strength and support. We are not easily sunk. We can at times be stubborn and a little shaky when braving rough seas, but we are persistent. We can be counted on in times of need. To others, and sometimes to ourselves, we feel inadequate and always have to keep proving ourselves. Time and time again, we prove that we are strong enough to stay afloat. We are not easily sunk. Yes, me and my board we are one in the same.