Tag Archives: Katie Berger

Guest Post: The Truth About Therapy

Just the other day, one of my students asked me why I, a seemingly well adjusted adult who is the leader of her classroom, would ever go to therapy. She said the word with disdain – therapy– as if it was something to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. I chuckled, wondering just how much time I had to enlighten her on all the reasons why I do need it, and why I have been going to a therapist since college.

I’m an open book, someone who is not afraid to share her story or struggles with the general public, but I was not always that way. When I first started treatment for my eating disorder back in 2013, I was terrified about letting the world know that was what I was doing. I covered up my move to New York as a career move (I’m in the arts so it wasn’t a stretch), but the longer I was in treatment and the more I opened up to my therapist, the more I knew I needed to open up to the rest of the world. I needed the walls to come down, and little by little, they did. Now, I can’t imagine my life without being someone who shares what she went through with anyone who asks.

Because I am the passionate, go-getter individual that I am, when I started recovery I set a very high goal for myself. I remember saying the words out loud to my therapist. “I am going to love my whole self, 100% of the time.” She laughed at me. She literally laughed, and said, “that’s an impossible goal, Katie. I’m not letting you set that.” I was angry at her for doubting me. Hey, you barely even know me!! You don’t know what I’m capable of! But it’s true…I would be disappointed every single day when I woke up and looked at myself in the mirror and didn’t fall in love with the broken, changing girl in front of me. She was trying so hard. She also believed that therapy was something that you accomplished, and then you were done. Much like how I viewed recovery when I first began the process. I would quickly learn that, like almost everything else in recovery, it was not that simple.

To an untrained eye, I am recovered. I eat normally, I have restored my weight, I don’t have panic attacks daily, and I’m not a slave to my compulsions like I used to be. But I know that recovery is a lifelong venture that doesn’t end just because you aren’t in treatment anymore. Because of the nature of this ongoing journey, I firmly hope that I am always in therapy. It’s a safe space – a place that taught me how to be open to trying new things, how to speak authentically, and what empathy really means. Most importantly it showed me how to begin a conversation about mental health with anyone who asks, including my students.


Katie Berger is a musician, performer, and teaching artist based in St. Petersburg, FL. She is the writer and composer of Full the Musical, which details one girl’s battle with her eating disorder and struggles with childhood trauma. She began treatment for anorexia in 2013 and is so grateful to her treatment team and the people who supported her through the worst of her illness. She is a mental health advocate and an ear for anyone who might need one.

This guest post was inspired by BetterHelp, a website that makes professional counseling accessible so anyone can get help – anytime, anywhere. If you’re interested in learning more about online therapy , CLICK HERE.

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Don’t Hide Your Hustle: Katie, Reservation Specialist

Welcome to Don’t Hide Your Hustle, a new series on Finding Delight that explores the myriad of ways to make a living in 2017. I’m asking folks to share how they hustle over the course of one work-day (which usually extends far beyond a 9 – 5 situation).

Today, I’m starting close to home and bringing you my sister Katie’s story. Her official job title is “Reservation Specialist” but you’ll soon learn that her talents and passions lead her to wear many more hats, even in a single day.

katie-head-shot-4-0

Hi there!  My name is Katie and if you asked me what I do for a living, I would probably answer “I’m a professional actress and playwright” without blinking an eye.  If we are being completely honest with each other though, that’s not always how I make my living. I also work full time at an Italian restaurant in Downtown St. Petersburg.  My official title is Reservation Specialist (I even have a business card!  Fancy!). Since taking on this position I’ve had to learn how to balance my artistic endeavors while pulling a paycheck in a completely different industry.  It’s a lot, but I thrive on stress.  What follows is an account of a recent Monday where I had to juggle several facets of my career.  Come along with me and make sure you have had a LOT of coffee. 

9:00am – Up and fed and caffeinated.  I don’t have to be at the restaurant until 10am so I usually use this time to look at upcoming auditions, make my to do list, or write.  For whatever reason, I tend to write my best stuff after I just wake up. Today, I also update my acting resume for my auditions this evening.

10:00am – We open at 11:30am so I clock in, fill up my water bottle, put my stuff in the back room, and say hi to the day bartender, Jessica.  I start flipping chairs off  the bar and high tops.  The openers arrive and start cutting lemons and setting up the outside dining area while I check my emails.  I get through as many emails as I can before we open, while Jessica and I watch the morning news on the TV at the bar.  

11:15am – The manager on duty gives me the floor plan for the day and I make a copy of it.  I check in with the servers to make sure they’re ready to go.

11:30am – I unlock the front doors and seat the first few tables.  It’s a slow start today because it’s cloudy and gloomy.  It’s amazing how much the weather affects our business, but it truly does.

12:00pm – 2:00pm – It’s a pretty slow lunch rush today so I have plenty of time to take phone calls and answer emails as they come in.  We are closing in on the holiday season so there are lots of big party reservations coming up!  There are already days that are completely booked, and I have started having to tell people we don’t have room for their parties.  

4:00pm – I go upstairs to the office but instead of printing menus, I have to print my acting resume because I have THREE auditions this evening.

4:30pm – I go back downstairs to gather my things and say bye to my coworkers.  I get plenty of “break a legs!” from all my friends.  I love these people.

5:00pm – I run to Staples to print my new head-shots!  I just got them done (thanks Beth!).  I go home and trim them and my resumes down to 8×10 inches, and staple them back to back.  I have done this so many times that it only takes me a few minutes to do 10 of them. 

6:00 pm – I drive to Tampa, where my first audition of the night is.  

7:00pm – I audition for A Skull in Connemara, a play by Irish playwright (and one of my favorites) Martin McDonagh.  It goes pretty dang well.

7:15pm – I say a hurried goodbye to my friends who are also going in for the same role and drive back to St. Pete for my other auditions.  

8:00pm – I arrive at USF – St. Pete’s campus and check in for my St. Pete Shakespeare Festival auditions.  I’m auditioning for Ophelia in Hamlet and Viola in Twelfth Night.  Two different shows.  Two different directors.  Lots of words.  I read a lot of scenes with some of my favorite people and I’m the last person of the night to be released.  

9:30pm – I arrive back home, feeling great about my reads.  I say hi to my two roommates and get out my music binder.  I’m playing in the pit for Blake High School’s production of Full the Musical and I need to make my script and music a little neater and easier to read for rehearsal tomorrow.  (Oh yeah, and I wrote Full.)  I’m pretty hyped up from all the audition adrenaline, so I work on music until my eyes start to slam shut.  

12:00am – I set my alarm for the following day, which includes work at Bella, Full tech rehearsal at the high school, and helping my friend plan her wedding. Because why not.

Thanks so much for sharing your hustle, Katie! Do you guys have any questions for her? Do any of you balance creative endeavors alongside a 9-to-5?  

P.S. Are you a hustler willing to share your story? Let’s chat! I would love to know how you’re making money while following your dreams in 2017. Shoot me an email — ebeth.berger@gmail.com. Thanks!

In Defense of “Go Set a Watchman”

Today, I’ve asked Katie to share her thoughts on Harper Lee’s newest book, “Go Set a Watchman” and explain why she’s defending this controversial follow-up to a classic. Enjoy!


 

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.

scout finch

I will never forget the first time I read “To Kill A Mockingbird.”  I was in the 4th grade, which was, looking back, the most formative year of my reading career.  I read books that to this day remain some of my favorites – “The Giver”, “Walk Two Moons”, and “The Shadow Spinner.”  But most importantly, I was first introduced to my spirit animal – Scout Finch.  At the time, I had this quirky habit that ultimately led to me becoming an actress.  I would pretend with every molecule of myself that I was the protagonist of whatever story I was in the middle of (even if the character was a boy).  So for about a month when I was nine, I lived in Maycomb County, I had a brother named Jem, my father was a lawyer, and I signed every journal entry as “Scout”.

This particular book left a lasting impact on me, more so than any other story I had read as a young girl.  I remained Scout in my head long after I finished the final page. Harper Lee’s novel became my favorite book, and has remained as such.  I have reread it countless times, I have performed in the stage play (as Mayella Ewell), I have traveled to Monroeville, and it was even the subject my BFA senior project in college.  So, as you can imagine, when the news of “Go Set a Watchman” hit the mainstream media, I was more than a little excited.  I couldn’t wait to read the rest of the story.  In this installment, Scout was 26 (and being a 24 year old, this absolutely thrilled me).  Before I could even get a copy though, I was inundated with negative opinions (“What is this!! Atticus is a racist!!  MY WHOLE LIFE IS A LIE!!!”).  Now, having read it, I can honestly say that I believe it is an incredibly important part of the story.

go set a watchman

In defense of “Go Set a Watchman”:

  1. Jean Louise is the protagonist of this story.  Before we start getting our collective panties in a wad about Atticus losing his integrity, let us not forget who the hero of the story is and always has been.  Scout.  This is her story.  This is her coming of age.  This is her loss of innocence.  This is HER moment.  Throughout the entire narrative she has maintained her truth and defended what is important to her.  That is an amazing thing!!  One of the reasons I loved TKAM so much as a nine year old is because I could relate so much to Scout’s journey when she also was a nine year old.  But now I’m 24.  The world is completely different.  The same things that I stressed and worried about as a child are not the same as the things that keep me up at night now, but it is so comforting to read this book from a strong woman’s point of view.  She is still a major role model to me without having to look up to a nine year old.

  2. It teaches a lesson we all must learn in our twenties.  Which is that coming home after being away for a while is hard.  Whatever you consider “home” is not a golden, safe haven where your problems disappear.  Your parents don’t always have the answers.  Your responsibilities are still there, waiting for you to attend to them. I believe that everyone has that moment where they realize that their childhood home and the people that shaped them are not actually as idealized as we make them out to be in our heads.  It’s what we do with this new information that makes us who we are.

  3. Atticus has always been a little bit racist.  Maybe I have a skewed perception due to that time I delved so deeply into the psyche of Mayella Ewell that I will always hate Atticus just a little bit (I got something to say and then I AIN’T GONNA SAY NO MORE).  Of course, he’s very polite about it in TKAM, but it’s there.  He even jokes about relating intensely to a white supremacist senator who was involved with the klan. It is Scout, not Atticus, who ever pushes against racial or class distinctions.  Is Atticus a villain?  Absolutely not!  He’s a product of his time and place.  We as readers viewed him through the rose-tinted glasses that Scout herself was wearing, and as she matured, so did we.  His flaws were brought to light, and yet Scout was able to transcend that.

While “To Kill a Mockingbird”  will remain my favorite book, my favorite college experience, and the subject of the best paper I have ever written, I truly believe that this book is an incredibly important part of Scout’s story.  She is the hero, which makes me even more proud to have named the protagonist of MY story Harper Jean, a direct allusion to TKAM.  While I understand that sometimes it hurts deeply to see someone we have idealized for decades become someone we can no longer trust, let us not forget that the protagonist’s integrity and kindness has remained 100% intact.  I will be forever indebted to Scout Finch for teaching me the wisest lesson of them all…

 “I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.”

The 365 Sentence Memoir Project

Recently, my sister Katie told me about a genius project she is undertaking and I wanted her to share it with you guys! She is a wonderful and creative recorder of her thoughts and history (a quality I deeply wish I possessed), and her newest take on journaling would be an awesome summer activity for those of you eager to get the writing juices flowing (or well-oiled if you’re on a break from school). Let’s learn more…

365 day memoir

For a very long time, I didn’t necessarily identify as a “writer.”  In fact, I would never say I was one.  I was (and am) a musical theatre actress.  Last December, when I had the first reading of the musical I wrote  there was a press release that said “Join Playwright Katie Berger as she shares her original musical.”  My thought process went like this: “Playwright Katie Berger?  That’s me?  Oh, yea that’s ME!!  Of course I’m a writer!  I literally write all the time!  It’s one of my very favorite things to do in the world! I wrote a musical!”  Anyway, since then I have been asked numerous times for advice and even though I feel very unqualified to give tips of any kind I always say “Make sure you write every day, even if it’s only a sentence.”  Thus my newest project was born.  Every day for a year, I will be writing a one sentence story.  By the end of the year, I will have a 365 sentence long memoir. A year is a while to wait though, so here is a peek:

 

4-22

She found herself hiding in every single song on the radio.

 

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It wasn’t exactly that she was heart broken but the rain relentlessly fell on her umbrella and she was definitely glad it wasn’t sunny.

 

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She loved them so much that she absolutely would, without question, stay trapped in a mine if it meant she could hallucinate from lack of oxygen with them, and she took great comfort in the fact that they felt the same way about her.

 

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He could make her smile harder than just about anyone.

 

4-26

Let’s get married if we both aren’t, she joked, and he said earnestly I would jump at the chance.

 

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Sometimes it’s nice to have someone hand you a beer, crank up the show tunes, and dance the night away with.

 

4-28

She looked down at her flannel shirt and her polka dot skirt and her knee socks and boots and pushed up her thick rimmed glasses and chuckled at the fact that after so long trying to escape the manic pixie dream girl trope here she was delivering a handwritten letter to a boy trapped inside his own anger and when she got back home she would probably play her ukulele and dance by herself to her Ben Folds a cappella cd and she thought maybe it’s okay to be a walking stereotype because this is exactly who I am when no one is watching.

 

4-29

She realized that starting tomorrow she will have spent more time on this earth without him than with him.

 

4-30

She laughed so hard she couldn’t breathe and maybe it was because everything always seemed a bit absurd on the anniversary of her dad’s death or maybe it was because she felt slightly feverish but it was probably because the response she got from her handwritten, heart felt letter was “my chinchilla chewed the paper.”