What I Learned from Whitney Houston

Written By: Kim - Feb• 12•12

News of Whitney Houston’s death hit last night. Details have yet to be determined in how she died, but police now report no foul play. Anyone who has followed her career knows she has has some great moments where she was on top of the mountain and some low moments when it seemed as though she’d never get out of the ditch. Like most of us, I was shocked and disappointed. I am honest enough to admit my first two thoughts about how she died were: heart failure from years of drug use or an overdose. Based on Whitney Houston’s family background, I shouldn’t even be typing those words in relation to speculating on how she died.

Like most people my age, I grew up listening to her sweet, soulful voice. This was before Mariah, Adele or Beyonce; before one-name singers were the “it girls.” She had a God-given voice that was instantly recognizable. She grew up in an extended family of singers. She had a megawatt smile and a stage presence that commanded your attention. Whitney Houston was beautiful and your parents approved of her music. As a teenager, it was all you really could ask. She was also a diva before the term was coined, but it wasn’t until much later in her life that she gave that title a bad name by having badly.

While she certainly could have started her drug use before she ever met Bobby Brown, she deteriorated severely while they were married. Like many people, I wanted their marriage to last and for them to be happy together. I also wanted them to clean up their act so they could live healthy and revive their careers. By the end of her life, you could tell that Whitney’s voice was not the same. Years of drug use or smoking will do that to you. Instead of that clear voice hitting all the notes, her voice was gravelly, soft and missed some notes.

Despite our occasional desire to be famous, it is not a status I would wish on anyone. I don’t want people commenting on my appearance, relationships or business decisions. And, now, star coverage is even more invasive than it was when Whitney was hot. She was raised in a practicing Christian family where faith clearly was part of her framework. But, instead of turning to her family or God to deal with the pressure of being in the spot light, she decided that drugs were the best way. Or perhaps being married to Bobby Brown, she thought, “If I can’t beat him, I will join him.” I know this is common in relationships where one person is either an alcoholic or drug user.

Famous people dying is not new. It’s been a tough first six weeks of 2012 for those of us who grew up and came of age in the 1980s. When people our age die, it’s a not-so-subtle reminder that none of us live forever despite the action heroes we grew up with. But, as a gawky, overweight teenager, listening to Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All”  she reminded me how important it was to love yourself. It’s an excellent reminder for us all — that learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.

I just wish Whitney Houston would have taken this to heart. If she had, she would not have endured a career collapse, rehab and she would still be with us.



I’m Just Not that Catholic

Written By: Kim - Feb• 01•12

Last week, on 23 January, the March for Life continued it’s annual protest of the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade. When I made it to DC’s Union Station to take the commuter train home, there were multitudes of crowds. I even ran in to a good friend of mine who was taking the bus back home to our parish. It’s not unusual to see families riding the commuter train back home from either a regular site seeing day or a protest/march. So, I stumbled upon a middle aged mom with four children who were enjoying a late lunch.

After we spoke briefly about the VRE back home, someone that she new entered in to our area. This mom and her three children had also been at the March for Life. This woman couldn’t have been more than 30 and her oldest looked no older than 10. She wore no makeup and an oversize poncho-type sweater. But, she was also pregnant so I will cut her some slack for looking like Betty Suarez did when “Ugly Betty” first aired. Except Betty had on makeup.

The DC weather in January is always sketchy. Who remembers when President Obama was sworn in? DC weather might be bitter cold, rainy, cold and rain, windy or a combination of all of these. Or, it could just be sunny and decent for winter weather. On 23 January 2012 it was mid 40s with rain. An icky day for a protest no matter the cause. But marchers show up regardless.

The young mother got in to a conversation about the weather and how the Supreme Court justices should know how dedicated the marchers were to seeing Roe v. Wade overturned because they always show up no matter the weather. Ok, I’ll buy that. Marchers and protesters show their passion for the issue.

But then she said something that I will never agree with: that God had allowed the rain so the Supreme Court justices would know how dedicated the Right to Life Marchers were about overturning this court case. She then inferred that the protestors were being punished via the rain. For what? Original sin?

I am sick of some Catholics bearing this guilt cross. Yes, I know. We can’t seem to let it go. It’s part of our culture; our dogma. Can’t we celebrate God differently? Yes. Should we embrace our roots, so to speak? Yes. Are any of us worthy of God? Not really. Are your children really suffering in the rain at at Right to Life March because Eve at that stupid apple? No.

How about embracing your walk with God in a positive way, not propelled by guilt and original sin? Although I attend church on a regular basis and try to walk with God as Christians should, I guess I am just not that Catholic. I don’t let guilt impact how I worship God.