All posts in Creative Outlets

Maya Angelou, 1928-2014

Maya Angelou

Today we have lost a literary icon, an American treasure, a poet, author and inspiration, Maya Angelou. In her honor, let’s remember her as only we can, in her own words…

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.


 Photo credit: Burns Library, Boston College

The Wait

Copenhagen 08

I stumbled upon this little vignette I wrote back in 2010 while I was going through old journals last night. It’s funny how things take on different shape with the passing of time, yet I can still remember exactly where I was when I wrote it. It is a complete just stream of thought, no editing, so don’t judge it too harshly!

The Wait

There she sits, a 20 something girl, black dress, hair pulled back, red lips – others around her wonder what she’s doing, scribbling in her journal, waiting on someone…but who? they wonder.

As she glances around the room, it’s early enough that it’s not yet busy. Though, there is a tangible anxiousness in the air. The clouds are looming overhead and the air is damp.

She, too, is anxious and a nervous excitement is building. It’s been a week since they’ve seen each other. With the weekend’s events hanging out in front of them, this may be their only chance to drink each other in 0 to shut the rest of the world out and to get reaquainted with one another.

The anticipation continues to build and that nervous flutter begins to fill her stomach.

Every person who enters seems to have deceptively similar features, though at second glance, they look hardly alike at all.

The waitress comes back to clarify, “Excuse me, ma’am, are you waiting on somebody?” “Yes, I’m sorry–he’s coming in from the airport. He should be here any moment…” the girl stutters back, trying her best to sound reassuring.

“No problem,” the waitress smiles back warmly. But behind her eyes, she is clearly skeptical.

The girl glances down on her water again. He’ll be here any minute she repeats to herself.

She catches the eye of the hostess who is clearly wondering where the other half of her party is. She gets the feeling the hostess is tempted to remove the girl from her table to seat someone else.

The room has somehow filled without her notice and there is a noticable wait now out front.

The nervousness begins to swell within her. These are not situations in which she thrives. The stares of the restaurant staff looking on, whispering about how she s taking up valuable real estate begin to weigh down on her. Up to this point she’s gone largely unnoticed by the other diners, but she’s starting to feel as though they are all sneaking glances at her as if they are thinking, “Poor girl, she’s being stood up but is holding out hope.”

As she nervously keeps checking her phone for an update as to his whereabouts she begins to wonder if maybe she got the time wrong, the location. Maybe he doesn’t actually get home until the next day. Just as she has nearly convinced herself this is the case, she grabs her coat to stand up and then

in through the door he walks. Relief floods over her and all she can do is smile. She knew he wouldn’t let her down…

photo by Roberto Trm

Monna Innominata (I Loved Your First)

I loved you first: but afterwards your love,
Outsoaring mine, sang such a loftier song
As drowned the friendly cooings of my dove.
Which owes the other most? My love was long,
And yours one moment seemed to wax more strong;
I loved and guessed at you, you contrued me
And loved me for what might or might not be—
Nay, weights and measures do us both a wrong.
For verily love knows not ‘mine’ or ‘thine’;
With separate ‘I’ and ‘thou’ free love has done,
For one is both and both are one in love:
Rich love knows nought of ‘thine that is not mine’;
Both have the strength and both the length thereof,
Both of us, of the love which makes us one.

– Christina Rossetti –

Happy anniversary sweets!


You're Dino-mite!

Sometimes, when you’re in the thick of it, you just need a little reminder that you are DINO-mite! The next month or so is our crazy busy season for my team at work and everyone, except me, has their major events in the coming weeks. There’s really no way to describe the frenzy that surrounds the lead-up to a major event–it’s exhilarating, but it also pushes you to right up to the edge of your maximum stress capacity. So, knowing what my ladies are up against, I thought I’d give them a fun little reminder that they can do it!

What better way than with the RAWR of a gilded dinosaur? A toy dinosaur, some gold and teal paint and a sense of humor can take you a long way in the crazy world of event fundraising. If nothing else, hopefully these dinos will at least bring a giggle to the surface in the midst of the stress.  After all, if we didn’t enjoy this craziness we wouldn’t be doing this job.


The 11th Hour


For some unknown reason, all of my best ideas (or what I think are my best ideas) seem to come at the absolute last-minute. And while it’s not like they are the plans to solve the great mysteries of the world, they never seem to be things that are just quick and easy to put together. I love to do little things for other people and so, when I get an idea, I am on a mission to make it happen. And then it starts. Rather than looking at what is really reasonable to accomplish with the time given, I get really stubborn and have to see it through to the end. Even if that means staying up much later than I should the night before I have to be up before the sun.

I say all of this not to be like, oh look at me I’m so dedicated and better than you because I’ll stay up late to get things done (believe me, I’m aware that that’s how this sounds). I say this because I have GOT to start doing a better job of planning ahead, thinking ahead and working on things further in advance.  This affects me in so many areas of my life. I am an habitual procrastinator. I think I do great work, but I can’t imagine how much better it could be if I would plan ahead. Or would it actually be the opposite? Is the last-minute time crunch an important part of my personal process? Or is that an excuse?

I’m sure I’m not alone in this, right? (Tell me I’m not alone! ha) How do you all manage your time so that you aren’t always pushing the deadline to the last second? I really need some tips here. So share!


photo by Martina

Mailing It In

I am blessed to have some of the very best girlfriends in the world, and one thing we all share in common is that we are lucky enough to call ourselves Sooners. College was such a special time in my life in that I really found the friends I know I will have by my side forevermore, and my friendships with my sisters really blossomed.

I’m always looking for ways to let my sweet friends know that, while we might not live down the street from each other anymore, they are always top of mind and mean the world to me. So while I was poking around online, I came across this post from Erica at Honestly…WTF and loved the updated version of a childhood staple: friendship bracelets!  And since our friendships all started at The University of Oklahoma, I thought it would be a nice nod to our history to make the bracelets in our school colors, crimson and cream.  Plus, who doesn’t need a new game day accessory?

Bear’s sweet baby sister also started high school about the same time so as a little “good luck!” something I made her a pair in her high school’s colors, blue and white. I mean, really, the possibilities are endless.

I will admit these took significantly longer to make that I thought they would, and I need a little more practice to really get the bracelets looking polished. But I loved working on them, hoping all the while they would bring a much deserved smile to the faces of my girls.  In fact, I think I’ll keep working at them through football season and maybe can add a few more to each girl’s wrist to eventually make a set.

Did you have stacks of friendship bracelets as a kid? What special things do you like to do for your friends to let them know you’re thinking of them?

Fashion & Words

So you might have heard there is a little something called Fashion’s Night Out going on tonight all around the country. I mean, in Dallas alone we have countless FNO events to choose from (here’s a good list if you want to see your options). And through all the excitement of said events, I somehow missed the memo that today is something else as well…

Chanel‘s Karl Lagerfeld in his Paris home | photo by Piotr Stoklosa for VIVA Magazine

Today is National Read a Book Day!

I truly love fashion, truly (it’s art, it’s a vision, it’s a voice), BUT I love books a little bit more. I only wish books got the attention that fashion does. So many media outlets are focused on who is wearing what, and what is on the runway, and who has great street style that sometimes it feels like our society is downright obsessed with keeping up with trends and a little like we’ve all but forgotten the importance of the more intellectual side of things. Have we failed to see how the intellect can influence the design? And I don’t say that because I think fashion design is not intellectual. Quite the opposite.

In fact, someone who might appreciate books even more than I do (if that’s possible) is the great fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld. His home is absolutely covered in books…it is essentially a library he lives in (it is said that he has over 300,000 books in his home!).

“Books are a hard-bound drug with no danger of an overdose. I am the happy victim of books.”            

-Karl Lagerfeld

So while I plan on partaking in a few Fashion’s Night Out festivities, I’ll be secretly eager to scoot out of the hustle and bustle of all that to get home a curl up with my book. How about you?

Change is a Comin’

The view from my seat at BLOGSHOP this weekend as the sun streamed into the studio.

As I previously mentioned, this past weekend I had the opportunity to attend an amazing workshop called BLOGSHOP here in Dallas. I think it’s fair to say that when you go into a weekend workshop like this, you don’t exactly know what to expect.  Will I be the loner in the back who doesn’t know a soul, and everyone else is fast friends? Will I be able to keep up? Or will I learn anything at all?

Well let me just say, I learned SO much about Photoshop and how to use it to take my blog to the next level.  I am really excited to start implementing some changes (slowly but surely, piece by piece) to make this space more visually appealing and professional.  I really want to focus back in on my initial desire to talk about literature and culture here (while not losing the self searching angle) and have some ideas for regular columns and fun features to do just that .

So the biggest change thus far is obviously a few new graphic pieces (header, buttons, etc) and a tightening up of styles to create a more consistent look. From there, who knows where this will go. All I can say is that I am so excited to start bringing you better content, and hopefully giving you more of what you like about Composing Kate, and less clutter and pointless noise. So tell me what you want to see here!

I also have to say I was so lucky to meet some talented bloggers from the area. It’s amazing the amount of creativity in this area! I’m looking forward to learning more from each of them through their blogging experience. (I’ll update my blogroll with links to their sites soon!)

Thanks for sticking with me as the blog continues to transform, albeit slooowwwwly. And let me know what you think about the changes and if you have ideas on what you’d like to see here!



Do you have something you do regularly as a source of catharsis? I love to paint but sometimes it’s just not easy to pull out all of the paints and brushes and canvas to paint for a little bit. I have found, though, that I can do a lot of emotional purging while I’m painting my nails. Weird, right?

I think there is something about the process of giving myself a great manicure. From removing the polish, trimming and filing to buffing and painting, the whole process takes a little chunk of time when you can’t do much else than focus in on the job at hand (oh those puns…). You can’t think about the drama from the day, or the big project you have to tackle in the morning, you get to just throw yourself into a truly menial task and I get such a great sense of accomplishment when it comes out well. Pathetic, perhaps, but I think there’s something nice about having a little bite-sized project that doesn’t take too much time but has the ability to clear your mind.

And since this little cathartic exercise always has me on the lookout for great polish, I’ve become something of a polish snob. Some of my favorites…

1. Deborah Lippmann: Glamorous Life 2. MAC: Impassioned 3. Essie: Over the Edge 4.  Essie: Sand Tropez 5. Zoya: Ruby 6. OPI: Glitzerland 7. China Glaze: Four Leaf Clover 8. Chanel: Mimosa

…so what is your catharsis? Speaking of, my nails are looking a little ragged. Maybe I should give them a fresh coat…



Best Party Ever

The stage was set and ready

Now, I’m not one to toot my own horn (very often) but we threw one hell of a party this weekend. And we have some of the most badass friends and family in the whole world.

With my 29th birthday on the horizon, I’d started thinking about all the stupid, silly little things I wanted to get done before I turn 30 and one of those things was to sing karaoke. Lame? Maybe. Perfect excuse to throw a party? Most definitely. And with Bear’s birthday being the Friday before the party, there was no reason NOT to have a party. I went back and forth as to where and how to throw this karaoke party and settled on the fact that for this to really be a great party, we should just do it at Bear’s house.

Adrian & Arica rockin’ the mic.

We sang a duet.

Even my dad sang! You can’t go wrong with some Bob Dylan.

I couldn’t have been any happier with the way the party turned out! And it really was all because we had an amazing group of people come out. We had family and friends come in from San Antonio, Austin and Longview. We had work friends, who are now good friends, and new friends who we hope to see more of. I was worried people wouldn’t sing and it would end up being kind of a dud of a night, but after Bear bit the bullet and sang the first song, I don’t think the songs ever stopped. In fact, after three hours of non-stop karaoke, we scrounged up more money to keep the party, and songs, going. There were solos and duets, show tunes and hip hop, group songs and Disney songs. It couldn’t have been better.

All the boys

We are family! (even if those are the only words of the song we know)

It’s an Adrian Sing-off

A little sister Sade singin’

The ACS girls…er, Spice Girls!

Thank you to everyone who came out and graced us with your lovely voices.The Lord said make a joyful noise–he never said it had to sound good! I was definitely filled with joy Saturday and will carry that with me anytime I think of that party. The best party ever.

…and thanks, also to Adrian & Arica Espinoza, and Abby Richards, for letting me use some of their pictures here! I clearly was not on top of my photo-taking game Saturday.

…AND if you ever need a DJ, karaoke or just general, I’d definitely recommend Sick Spins in DFW. They were so nice and accommodating. We loved having them out!

alone by Thomas Leuthard


It’s been a long time since I’ve been here, in this space. And it was a little scary to come back. Truth be told, my life has been overwhelmingly crazy busy of late, but there was a time when that crazy chaos would drive me right here–to work it out through writing. But for some reason, I just couldn’t come back here. I knew I had already neglected this outlet and it seemed like actually opening it back up would only lead me to realize just how badly I’d failed at tending to the audience, however small, and the voice, however weak, I’d worked to build.  I’d let it go and to think that I could come back and reclaim this space seemed almost presumptuous.  I know so many insanely creative, and overwhelmingly busy women who I admire greatly who somehow manage to keep up with the space they have been given and they consistently put out inspiring pieces of written and/or visual work. What reason could I have to not keep up with it as well, even if in some bastardized version of “creativity” or “voice?”  There didn’t seem to be a reason good enough.

But I did it. I came back. And I can’t promise that I’ll consistently churn out amazing, inspiring, moving pieces of thought or writing…in fact, I may never churn out anything amazing, inspiring or moving…but I have to at least put something of myself out there. I’ve missed writing in a way I didn’t know I could.  I’ve said it a million times here, but I am not good at verbalizing my thoughts and feelings, but for some reason my fingers can really bring my inner thoughts and feelings into some sort of something that makes sense, at least to me. And for that reason, because I need a place for my innermost self to be at home, I’m giving this yet another go.

So feel free to stay or leave, it’s up to you. But I thank you for letting me just be. Even if it’s just me here, talking to myself about seemingly insignificant things. I like it here. And maybe, just maybe, you do to.

photo by Thomas Leuthard.

The Joy of Books

My friend Taryn posted this video to my Facebook page after seeing my profession of love for the special medium of books.  It is just too cool not to share! There is just something about it that really captures the magic of the many worlds held within the shelves of bookstores, and the magic that they bring to life.


Pretty neat, huh?

I think it would be the most amazing thing in the world to own an independent bookstore.  Oh to dream…

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