All posts by Karin Elaine

A state of overwhelming appreciation

If I were to describe Mr. Renzi in a few words, the first words that come to mind are humble, perserverant, hardworking, wise… and the list would go on. In fact, when I think of the kind of teacher I want to be when I begin my career, it looks kind of like him. But of course, me. I haven’t known Mr. Renzi since I was little, or even since fifth grade really, at least not the way I have come to know him throughout my high school years. To me, to many, he was that mean scary guy that only showed up at the big rehearsals and the concerts (unless you had him as a teacher in middle school, of course- then things would be different). Even Freshman year, he was still that guy. I remember my friends saying, “Karin, I’m scared to go tell him I won’t be at practice tomorrow, can you come with me?” In fact, I might have even said that a couple times. Each time it became funnier and funnier to me that we would ever think that. Mr. Renzi is not scary or mean at all… but he is a pro at guilting you. In fact, if he wasn’t good at guilting people, he wouldn’t have been able to recruit such wonderful students and families to be a part of this band. If you look at it this way, it’s one of his talents. Personally, I don’t approach Mr. Renzi very often about much, yet I wish I had, but I’ve come to know him just by being his student and seeing how he teaches and how he treats each individual. Mr. Renzi truly has a special gift for teaching. When he is frustrated, he might yell, but he apologizes and lets his students know he cares. When he is having a good day, he could just joke around all day with us. When someone is struggling, he takes time to help that person, and he is genuinly concerned and interested in what that student needs. When he isn’t sure how to handle something, he admits it. When he may not understand someone, he treats them with dignity and love. Each of these descriptions spark specific memories I have of seeing him in class or on the field, and I’m sure they could in all of you, too.

Another really unique thing about Mr. Renzi is his humility. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t know much about Mr. Renzi’s past until maybe even junior year. This man marched in the Caveliers! I can’t even imagine how proud he must be, yet he doesn’t brag, or bring it up for that matter. Something I really like about him is how he talks about his high school years- how he thought he could get away without practicing much, and how he was just like us, until college kicked his butt. I love how he relates his personal experiences to what we might be going through, and shares his wisdom with us.

Periodically during this past marching band season, I would get frustrated and question his judgment. I lost track of my place and my role, but when I was able to take a step back again, I realized that Mr. Renzi is so good at what he does, he never makes a rash decision. He has been doing what he does for years, and the amount of respect I have for him after working with him this year is immense. I’m sure he gets tired, heck, I got tired and I only had one year. I am so grateful he has been able to be here for us for as long as he has. I had the opportunity to talk to other field commanders about their band programs, and it caused me to realize that we are so blessed to have such a comitted and passionate band director, and a stable program. Most schools don’t have that- a class might go through two or three band directors before they graduate.  But we do, and its because this man sees us as his family. It’s more than just a career, its a lifestyle, a dream, something he loves. And that really teaches me the biggest lesson of all: if you want to bring passion and love to others, be passionate and love what you do. Mr. Renzi, you have taught me more than I knew I was in store for, beyond notes and rhythms, and you have inspired me, and all of us over the years, to work harder than we thought we would ever have to work, and never lose sight of our dreams.


Wherever we may be now

There she was. Dark hair and green eyes, unique features, a natural beauty. It’s as if our friendship was only a dream. We had our highs and lows. So close, yet so far, but yet somehow…closer than ever before. The year before it ended. We never really talked anymore. She’d come sit down in the row next to me, and get on her computer. I’d occasionally ask her something, or she me. But no real conversation. Nothing to talk about. Sitting behind me, she’d play with my hair or reminisce. We had memories. But they’re almost long gone. We parted ways, and that’s just how it was going to be. I can’t help but know that I will always feel the connection. And that’s just how it is.

There we were. Two peas in a pod. It was a tight fit too, not much room for breathing. Yet it felt so natural, and we were so alive. For a couple years, I was convinced we were soul mates. The best of friends that friends could be. And no matter what had broken us, it would only make us stronger. And for a while there, it did. But the hurt became too much. We never had the energy to heal. It never clicked back, and we drifted our separate ways. And now you go here, and I go there, and our paths cross every once and a while. But we don’t notice, or at least we try really hard not to. And I usually laugh, but then I cry. Because that’s just how it was going to be. I can’t help but know that I will always hear the memories. And that’s just how it is.

There we all were. Laughter and constant silliness, stupidity really, filled the air. We really lightened up that heavy air. And they did more than we did, but when we did… those were the best days of my life. I wouldn’t say we were the closest. But we were close. We laughed and cried together a few times. That’s close in my book. And we could really get along, and I could really trust us, and I could really count on us to brighten up my day. But then that day came when you went there, and you went here, and we went there. And so maybe we stayed close, but we drifted apart. And that’s just how it was going to be. I can’t help but know that I will always miss us. And that’s just how it is.

There we were. Or maybe here we are. I can’t really tell anymore. We became such a part of me, I almost feel like you are here with me anyway. But if you are there, and I am here, and that’s how it’s going to be, then I want you to know that all the other “we’s” and “us’s” in my life… well, it won’t be as heartbreaking as me without you. You promised me you’d try to be here with me, and maybe you are, but if you aren’t, I miss you, and I won’t be able to do it without you for a while. But when I get used to me… without you… I want you to know that I am a person. I am so real, and I can do it. I’m not helpless, and I’m not spastic, and I’m not worried, and I’m not anxious. I am content. I am happy. I lose my temper on occasion. But I trust, and I know everything will be okay. And all the other parts of me that I miss, and that I remember- well, I cherish those parts of me, and I smile upon them. I don’t talk to them anymore. I don’t talk to you anymore. But that’s just how it was going to be. And that’s just the way it is.

To surface all the pain

It is hard for me to believe that it took me this long to realize that you taught me an important lesson that day. When you lashed out at me for canceling our night. I shrugged it off, thinking, and maybe even saying at some point, “oh, she’s only a freshman, she’ll have to learn that not everything is worth an emotional reaction.” Well, that was awfully prideful of me.

I should have been humbled by your reaction. I can learn from it, you know. I can sometimes be the queen of pushing my emotions aside, and they build and build, and right now I am ready to explode. I have been for a while. Not at you.

So thank you for reacting. Really. If you had simply said, “It’s fine! Don’t worry about it!” like I tell her all the time, and she tells me, you would be so ready to just strangle me right now. But you let it out and you told me how you feel, and now I really hear you. I’m finally listening.

So here it goes:

When we were on retreat, and you started complaining about how people hurt you all the time, and it doesn’t seem fair because you’ve “never hurt anyone before,” THAT upset me. Because you have hurt me before.

Because when I promised you I would go to Cotillion with you and then he asked me, you got upset and so I changed my mind and hurt him too, but I would have been happy for you if someone asked you, because we still could have gone together.

But then you turned around at prom and went with him, who means nothing to you, and he means a lot to me. And it was all because of peer pressure. You’re not good at that, by the way. And you didn’t even want to go with my group. Ouch.

But the thing is that so far, you have only hurt me and her because you only love me and her, and now I know that the pain is a blessing. Everyone else that you talk to between class and hang out with sometimes- those are the people you have never stepped on. But you don’t even love them.

I am getting extremely anxious, losing sleep, feeling sick, crying in advance…because I told you that if you lead me on and we dream about our future together, and you end up making another choice, I will be hurt worse than I’ve ever been hurt before. And not because you chose what you chose, but because you did what you did, when I even told you not to, but you promised me it would be okay. And you told me day after day “I’m not gonna get in anyway. There’s no way” and I said “Yes you will. I know you will” but then you actually convinced me you wouldn’t. So when you told me you did, I got angry, and I couldn’t even pretend to be happy for you. But in the end, it will probably end up exactly how we planned. But that doesn’t take the pain of the past away, and I should have never had to go through it.

And so if you ever see this, these are the big hurts. And this is where the pain is coming from. So every other little thing you do, like never coming to my house, even if I say I’ll come to yours, or not doing your part of the work for things I count on you for- those things REALLY get to me. Because there is so much more inside. And I should’ve let it out. But I don’t know how, and I think maybe I just did. If you ever see this, well, I guess the ball is in your court. And the game might be over. I know I can’t change you, and you will never be perfect for me, but a lot of things about you are perfect for me, and I want to be able to cherish that. I have been blinded by a lot of pain, and I am desperate for healing. Maybe…  we can talk about this?

My real retreat experience

The most amazing things have happened to me in the past two days.

I went on retreat, reminding myself to keep my heart and mind open, convinced that this would bring life back to my heart, and inspire me to be who I am created to be. For me, this was going to be self-healing and empowering. But when I got my small group, and met with them, I realized that I felt very uncomfortable. Two of them I went to grade school with, three of them were good friends of friends I had in middle school, and one of them was one of my best friends. That wasn’t too hard in itself- but then, my small group leader was too comfortable. He knew all of them except three of us. He was very excited, and talked often of things they used to do or people they knew. I felt somewhat excluded, but even that wasn’t too bad. Open heart. Open mind. Not until he said the one thing I regret the most: “I’m not really into that God shit. We don’t really have to talk about that.” Immediately, before I even had the chance to share with them my deepest self, the deepest part of me was shut out. My heart closed up without me even realizing it, because I wanted to keep myself open to the hardships and happiness of the others in my group, and the friendships that could be formed. But I didn’t share much. Retreat went well. I enjoyed it. But I didn’t get out of it what I thought I would, for myself. Instead, I was asked to be there for others, and sacrifice what I needed.

So when I got home, I fell apart. I felt drained. I didn’t get what I wanted. I felt like something was taken from me. I was just plain upset.

But that night, when I went to bed, I finally had time to think. I finally got to reflect on everything that had happened to me on retreat, and find meaning in it all. And then I found the rosary that I always have with me, the one I forgot to bring on retreat, and I felt this overwhelming peace in my heart. This relief washed over me, and I felt calm. My mind was clear again, and suddenly I started seeing how everything happened for a reason. I realized in that moment how much I rely on God’s love in my life, yet I take it for granted every day. Being away from God for 24 hours was enough, and I never want to take God for granted again. I am so thankful for the doors that were opened for new friendships and truth, and I am so glad I had the experience I had.

Today, I went to confession. It was different from any other confession I have ever been to. Before he said anything else, the priest told me I had such a bright smile. He started asking me about college plans and then home life, and I just started talking to him. It was so unlike a confession I was used to, and when he asked me to say my Act of Contrition, I almost said, “For what?”

I hadn’t confessed anything! Yet, I felt more forgiven and lightened than I ever have! He truly inspired me to bring joy to those around me, and taught me how to listen to others and be patient with my role in my communities and family. But even though I had prepared myself to confess my sins, maybe I needed that instead.

These experiences have taught how to be open. I guess I never knew before. It is okay to have expectations, and to prepare myself, but if things go a different way, I have learned to accept it and be open to it, and find meaning in it. This is what brings true satisfaction and happiness to me.

Trust in God completely, because He will always exceed your expectations. Know that God really does always have a plan, and sometimes He throws a curve ball, just to see if you’re paying attention 😉

A letter to the band

Dear band, guard, directors, my family and friends:

I cannot tell you how lucky I am to have the privilege to stand in front of all of you- to listen to and watch everything each and every one of you has worked so hard to learn. Seeing the performance last weekend, and watching our performance again in class, I finally realized how amazing it is that we have come this far together. Thinking about my personal growth- and how far I’ve come, is amazing to me, and knowing that each of you has grown just as much- this is a powerful bond between us, and it allows us to create something meaningful and compelling.

I like where our focus is this year. The amount of communication on the field was incredible last week. Because we chose that as our focus, and reminded ourselves of the word many times throughout our practices, in just two days we were able to master it. And still, we can do even better. That’s the beauty of it.

There have been times this season where I have felt lost, afraid, unsure, disappointed, hopeless, frustrated, tired, weak, small, and so many other things. But last weekend I finally felt completely content. You saw me smile. I want to feel that way again, and again, and again. There is honestly nothing better. It hit me the other day that these next weeks are a few of my last, and without everything you’ve given- your cooperation, hard work, talents, good attitudes, and fun- I wouldn’t be disappointed that we are already halfway done.

I can’t thank you guys enough for the work you do. You gave it your all last weekend, and it definitely made a difference. You make me so proud to stand up there in front of you guys. You are the reason for my confidence – to let the judges know that as a band, I KNOW we ARE ready. It is something I look forward to- to salute before the show with confidence, and after the show with pure joy. And it’s not because of me, and what I do, but because you guys have proven that you have what it takes to perform. If you can bring tears to my eyes, you can bring that emotion to the audience. I have no shadow of a doubt that we will work as hard as we can this week and next to bring our show to the top. The judges love what we have this year. They honestly didn’t have much to say, as I listened to the tapes. With a wider dynamic range, consistent communication, tone quality, and balance, we can leave them speechless. And I know this sounds like a lot of stuff, but have we not been taking it one thing at a time? My dad always used to help me practice piano when I was younger, and although I was eager to play a whole song right away, he insisted that I practice one or two measures at a time, and slowly build upon them, to reach perfection. This lesson has never left me, and never will. Take it one mistake, one goal, one focus at a time. At band camp, we didn’t tell you to march and play and learn drill on the first day. We taught you toe point, posture, roll step, step size, forward and backward march, direction changes, and before long, we were able to put it all together piece by piece, making it that much easier. I like the motivation this year; I like what we are doing. All I wanted, coming into this year, was to turn things around. I worried about how to go about it- wanting to jump in all at once- flip some kind of switch to make everything better. It seemed impossible for me to take on that task by myself. But I was never alone. Until last week I didn’t think I was doing a great job, but feeling and seeing us perform together so well, sharing our joy, reminding each other of traditions and spending time together- this has shown me that we all have a part in turning our band back around- back to where it belongs, back to its glory. I am so thankful to be a part of this amazing season, and again, it wouldn’t be the same without all of you. Thank you for everything you all have done so far to make this season great, and let’s keep it up until the very end.

Your field commander,


The truth is hard to hear

I want to tell you the truth.

You said to me “Just don’t bottle it up. Talk to anyone.”
Well, anyone won’t listen.
“Sorry. I ignored you. I was a jerk”
Yeah. You were. It left some pretty deep scars.
“I forgive you”
“Thank you”

I asked for help the other day.
Typical response. Eye roll. Sigh.
Here Karin goes again. She’s so weak. is all I can hear from your actions.

I tried to be around you this week.
Typical behavior.
Back to ignoring me.
So much for sorry.

So I tried hanging out with you this weekend.
At least we talked.

But here’s the truth:
I played this game once.
Actually twice.
And I worked up the courage to prevent round three.
So why is it happening.

I ask one thing of you.
Quit being so closed up.
I care about you, and you care about me.
I ran out of that house.
Typical. “Oh my God Karin”
Here she goes again. Obsessed. And crazy.
Im actually surprised you came to talk to me last weekend.
I spent an hour or two working myself up to even ask you to listen.
The way you reacted to me last night reminded me why.

You make me feel invisible and inhuman.
Sometimes I wonder if maybe it’s just me letting myself feel that way.
I’m hurt and I’m weak.
And I’m not Mr. Pride.
I can’t hide it. People know.
And especially you. You know.
The worst thing of all, the worst thing I have been through, is knowing how you must try so hard to just not care.
How much opportunity to reach out and be strong, that you choose to pass up.
I notice it.
I hate it.

And so all I ask is that you at least tell me the truth. The truth that is so hard to hear:
Karin, I don’t want care about you anymore. I don’t want to try.

Painfully In Love

Thought Catalog

When you love someone, it is not always going to be smiles and kisses and sunshine. That is the Hollywood bullshit that has been fed to us from the moment we were first placed in front of a Disney film. Real love is messy and painful and hauntingly beautiful. There were times I have been in love and felt elated, and there have been times where I realized I was in love far too late to rectify the faltering I had committed.

This is what I know about the painful kind of love,

When you’re in love you will feel out of your mind because after trying to be logical for so long, you’ll realize that you cannot rationalize this one feeling.

You’ll want to be a better person for them, and you’ll replay every mistake and over-think every flaw you have because you’re clawing at anything that will make…

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Marching Season 2013- Speech #1

Well here I am… I’m a big girl now! Getting up in front of my best friends and teammates, with some ridiculously profound words in mind to share with all of them. Problem is… I have, or had up until this moment, no idea what those words would be, and I am delivering this speech on Friday. But my best thoughts come to me when I lay my head down on my pillow, ready to doze off, which can actually be quite inconvenient. But sometimes the thoughts are just too important to put off, so here I am. And here I go:

Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else(Gal. 6:4 NLT).

I was sitting in theology class this Monday, staring at our first homework assignment on the board. The word “happiness” followed by the word “mystery” seemed to jump out at me. I had no idea what the assignment was yet, but the words got me thinking. The biggest mystery in life can sometimes be, what is it that makes me truly happy?

Part of the assignment turned out to be just that. We had to write down three things in our notebook that bring us happiness. So I wrote the obvious: family and friends. Thinking, what would i do without them? Even though they can get on my nerves. I decided I wasn’t satisfied with my thoughtless, go-to answer, so I thought a bit further. Ice cream! Yes, that’s it. Ice cream brings me joy, no matter what the circumstances. But then something real came to mind.


What… is… success? Success can seem to be a mystery sometimes. The way my friends measure success is so different than the way I do so often that I lose track of my own successes, and in turn, my own happiness. But I need not lose sight of the personal goals I set out for myself every day and the work I put into achieving them. Being aware of my own successes is a key source of my happiness.

So how does this apply to band?

How doesn’t it?

For a lot of us, band is very important and we value the activity and the people working with us in it. Because we value this activity, a passion is created inside of us to achieve greatness in the activity. The passion drives each of us individually, and all of us as a team, to set goals daily, weekly, and overall for the season. Our goals drive us to work hard, because we want to achieve them. And when we achieve them, we succeed. And when we succeed, we are happy. Not only are we happy, but we are happy together, and nothing could be better than sharing joy with the people you love.

So this season, I encourage all of us to set goals for ourselves daily. To write down our goals as a group for the week, whether it be to improve this set or that measure, or that visual. There is always something to get better at, and we can’t afford to lose track. If you forget the visual tonight, or you can’t seem to remember what comes next in the music… if you walk off the field feeling disappointed and hopeless, create a goal for yourself. Write it down as soon as you can! If we continue to focus on improving, we will never let ourselves down or feel like we are failing. We will never truly fail.

Tonight I want to succeed more than anything. I have no trophy to win tonight, but this performance sets the stage. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Success, and in turn, joy, does not come from being the BEST. It comes from being the best of yourself, and for us, it means being the best team we can be.  To be the best team we can be, we need to reach our goals together. My goal for tonight is to give it my all, focus in on everything I need to be doing, and do the best I can at what I know. If I do that, I will walk off that field with a smile on my face. This time and every time. Are you with me?

Here I go again. Take three.

I’m hitting that point. I’m falling. I’m sending him so many red flags. I’m creating apathy that doesn’t exist. I’m exploding and breaking inside as if.. Just because it happened last time, and the time before… It is bound to… And is… Happening again. I’m going insane. It’s all in my head. He still cares. He tells me. All the time!
Is it me? Do I still care? Or am I just trying to convince myself that I do?
I’m having a really hard time trying to figure this out.
If he were smart, he’d leave me, right now, before things get worse. But if he were smarter, he would push through and do everything he can to prove that we belong. I need him to help me be strong. But I’m losing faith.
Not again.

To My Husband, On Our Wedding Day

My Dear Husband,

Most personal letters seem to begin with the word “Dear,” and it may often be overlooked. Pay close attention. I mean every word. At this point in our lives, you are mine, and I am yours, to hold close for a lifetime. I am standing up here with you because you are very dear to me. You have spent countless hours by my side, laughing with me, comforting me, listening to me, sharing with me, keeping me company when I’m lonely. I hope we have many many hours to come. Thank you for being so patient with me, for being so concerned for me, for being so thoughtful of me, for being so supportive and accepting of me. You are my best friend. I want to spend my whole life with you. I love you.