Music has played a substantial part in my healing journey to health and well being. This blog is about how the New Kids On The Block helped to heal my inner child and teenager, who I affectionately refer to as “Little Kara.”
I was blessed to sit 4th row at the New Kids On The Block Mixtape concert tour. I was fortunate to also fulfill my 30-year dream of meeting them, thanking them, and hugging them. Everything I’ve been through led me to this moment. They are more than a boy band to me. They represent a time in my life that was joyful and carefree. Their spirit and music helped guide me through some very difficult times and inspired me to always honor Little Kara, no matter how old I am. Here’s how I got to this incredible moment in my life.
So let’s go back, waaay back. I’m about 6 ½ years old and I discovered this boy band called the New Kids On The Block. Their music and personalities make me very happy. I did not have a crush on any of them. I just really enjoyed their energy and personalities. They knew how to celebrate life by being their fun, wacky selves. I think that’s what attracted me to them. That and the fun music and dance moves! They had gifts I wished to feel comfortable expressing in myself. Music, performing, free expression, passion. I sing and dance to their music by myself in my parent’s basement. I mimic their dance moves; I have a knack for remembering dance moves and lyrics. I’m an only child and incredibly shy. No one knows I’m a rock star. One day my dad catches me dancing and singing their songs in the basement. I’m embarrassed. I eventually get over some of the shyness and openly dance in front of my parents and a few friends. I’m still ashamed of my voice and purposely make myself sound awful so I don’t have to sing in front of anyone else. Really, my voice isn’t all that bad.
I’m 7 years old now. I listen to the New Kids almost daily. I have posters and books and a huge Donnie button. Let’s not forget the trading cards that I eventually started collecting too! I’m pretty blessed to own these things. I’m listening to the New Kids in my uncle’s van while at my grandfather’s 75th birthday party. It’s a very happy time.
About a week later my happy childhood shifted to sadness. My family got hit with tragedy. My beautiful, kind, loving cousin is missing. She is 18 years old, recently graduated from high school ready to make some changes in the world. Our family and our community search for her for weeks. We were devastated when her body was found. She had been murdered. Our lives came crashing down. None of us would ever be the same, but we would survive.
I’m still 7 years old. The New Kids are touring and coming to Milwaukee. My cousin buys me tickets on the floor! I’m so excited! On November 11, 1990 we go to the concert at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee. The New Kids burst through the screen and I’m in complete awe! The screaming is so incredibly loud my sensitive ears cannot handle it. We move from the floor seating to the back of the arena. Still a fantastic experience, but the screaming was so overwhelming!
I’m 11 years old, still jamming to the New Kids. I’ve watched the reruns of the cartoon and I own the dolls, stage, and trading cards. Another tragedy hits. My beautiful mother gets diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She fights it, beats it, fights it, beats it, fights it, passes away. Now I’m 13 years old. I watched her suffer for over two years. It traumatized me more than I was able to process at the time. It was 1996.
In 1996 the New Kids were not as popular as they were in 1990 (they disbanded in 1994). My peers reminded me of this many times. I still loved NKOTB, their music carried me through some tough times so far in my early life. I never stopped listening to them and always told my friends, family, peers they would make a comeback. No one around me ever thought that was possible but I knew…
From about 1996-2001 I became known as the girl who loved the New Kids, pretty much. I even got roasted for it in high school my senior year. I never was offended by any of it, I was honored. Not many knew the reasons I never gave up on them coming back and why I still watched their old VHS tapes. No one really understood why I still had their dolls and stage up in my bedroom. Why I had their posters still hanging on my door. They were always there, like therapy for my inner child who was so traumatized by loss. Their music and overall essence reminded me of a happy childhood before tragedy hit.
After the year 1999, my health begins to deteriorate. My mental health was so severely disordered I could barely survive. Weird, random illness no doctor could figure out. Pain, no thought, just pure torture for years of my life. I never really had a good health run. If it wasn’t a chronic issue, I had whatever cold or flu was going around. My body and mind were put through so much for almost 20 years. I was so heavily medicated I didn’t know what or who I was anymore.
In high school Joey and Jordan started solo careers and I was pumped. I even skipped school, well my dad called me in sick, to meet Joey. I was excited to shake his hand at an autograph signing. I was still depressed at this time and the experience was just kind of dulled down by that and medications. But it solidified how much these “Five Bad Brothers from the Beantown Land” meant to me. I still had hopes for a reunion tour.
While I was in college I had more health issues and more tragic loss in my family. This time another cousin’s baby passed away at three months old. This hit our family hard yet again.
Then comes along Jordan Knight to perform a show at a local bar in my college town. The show was amazing and fun, yet kind of foggy because I was on so many medications at this point in my life. It was difficult to fully enjoy anything while attempting to grieve and having health issues constantly. His performance did bring me joy and memories of the time in my life when Little Kara had her mother and our family didn’t have so much tragic loss to process. Again, I still wished for a reunion with all the New Kids. Perhaps if they get back together again my life can get back to that happy childhood feeling. A time when I had amazing creativity, imagination, health, joy, and my mom and loved ones were all still here.
It’s 2008 and they’re touring! I knew they’d come back! I take my cousin to the concert to repay her for taking me to my first concert! It was so fun and while I wasn’t majorly depressed at this point, I was still heavily medicated so life in general was just dull and foggy. I knew one day I would meet them all and sit close, even if I had to pay a lot of money. I went to their Summerfest show a few years later with friends and it was a good time, but again still heavily medicated and very dulled down experience unfortunately. My medication would not allow excitement of any form no matter how hard I tried to force it.
In June of 2015 I hit the worst health crisis of all my health crises. A severe reaction to Prednisone that lasted eight months. I was also told during this time I have a genetic mutation (BRCA1) for breast and ovarian cancer. It felt like I had fire in my body. I came very close to dying. Severe Panic Disorder is the medical explanation for what I know now was a major, life-altering spiritual awakening. Of course, the doctors wanted to add more medications into my already weird mix of pills. I said, “No.” I then took control of my life. I found Reiki, and other alternative forms of healing and I spent two years totally diving into myself and all the shit that was there waiting to heal. I got myself off 20 years of medications over a period of two years. I was monitored by a psychiatrist, however I did the work. It was complete hell to go through. I am so incredibly grateful I took this difficult path because I am remarkably healthy now! It took some time to understand why I feel things so strongly off of medication, but now I have a very good grasp of myself and knowing what is mine to heal. I’ve gotten very good at distinguishing what is my pain versus what is another person’s pain. I have a supportive group of people to help me when I go through times of confusion or pain. I now view my depressions (hell) as a protective state I was in to keep myself alive, from being overwhelmed by trauma and loss. To me, anxiety is my body and mind’s way of screaming to get in alignment with my needs and purpose of this lifetime. I’m still incredibly empathetic, compassionate, loving, caring, understanding without letting it destroy my health like it did in the past. I worked through a lot of the trauma and now I use all I’ve learned to help others heal themselves. I totally enjoy my life. I would say, and all my doctors would say that I no longer have any chronic illness or mental health labels. I am healthy. I feel better than I have at any point in my life. Even better than Little Kara before trauma because I’m not afraid to be myself now. I am really starting to open up and share my wacky, awesome, healing gifts with the world. I sing and dance and don’t care who or what anyone thinks of it anymore. It’s amazing.
So, this brings me to what my 2019 experience at the New Kids concert was really about. This was my hell-yeah-I-made-it-through-some-major-shit-storms celebration! I healed myself and got off some heavy mind and emotionally altering medications! This was my gift to Little Kara who never felt all that comfortable being goofy, dancing, singing, living life. I let her know it’s more than OK and she can live it up every damn day for the rest of adult Kara’s life! It’s going to be an amazing, long, fulfilling life of health and abundance! It doesn’t matter one bit what anyone else thinks of me and how I choose to live my life. I love myself, past and present. The New Kids got me through a lot of shit. They helped to connect me to a time in my life that was happy. I’m sure this is what many of their fans connect them with, a carefree happy time. Our inner little selves. I’m sure many of us have stories like mine. Stories of success and motivation. Stories of hope.
This being my first New Kids meet and greet I had to learn what to do going in. Organizing a group of 10 was slightly stressful, yet it all worked out! I didn’t realize we were taking the picture so soon after I hugged Donnie and thanked him, so I hugged Jordan next! Donnie actually pulled me back and said, “Where are you going?! You can’t leave me yet!” That was just another highlight to the night, for sure! I mean, what true Donnie girl doesn’t dream of hearing those words from Mr. Donnie Wahlberg?! Like I said earlier, I never had any type of crush on any of them, but WOWZA that was awesome! I just hugged him again and said, “Oh, I’m not leaving you Donnie!” I just didn’t realize the picture was happening right then!
I am so grateful I was able to hug each New Kid (Donnie and Jordan more than once!) and said, “Thank you.” They probably had no idea the amount of gratitude I put into that thank you, but it completed something for me. It healed me. I even asked Donnie if I could give him something. He said, “Sure!” I reached in my jean jacket covered in New Kids pins and huge button with Donnie on it and gave him my business card. To be able to hand him my card to what I’ve built out of a lot of pain and trauma was just a monumental moment for me. This was my own knowing that I had made it, I had healed my inner child’s spirit. She and I can dance and sing freely now. I don’t need to ever hide that again.
The guys were amazing, the show was amazing. Epic, phenomenal, out-of-this-world are better ways to describe it. We even made some new friends. Having Naughty By Nature, Salt-N-Pepa, Tiffany, and Debbie Gibson there made it even more amazing. I am also a huge 90s Hip Hop fan! Sitting 4th row was the best concert experience I could have ever hoped to live! The energy NKOTB brought to that arena was a gift. Donnie pointed at me and others, he blew kisses to the audience. He loves what he does. It’s very clear to see that. He has always loved it, one of the reasons he was Little Kara’s favorite. That’s why I wanted to stand by him for the meet and greet photo. It was all part of living Little Kara’s biggest dream. I’m so grateful to Donnie for helping that come true. I’m grateful to all the guys for doing what they have done the past 30 years.
For the first time in my life I was able to fully enjoy and experience a dream come true. I never once had a worry pop in my head during the VIP experiences and show, never once did I feel unreal or not all there like in my past. No pain and no fear. I felt that experience with every molecule in my body, every fiber of my being. Nothing was suppressed. I’ve never enjoyed anything as much as I did that concert and meet and greet VIP experience. All the work I’ve done to heal and get off the medications brought me to this moment in time. I worked for this and I created this, I know that. I’m so grateful for my loving and supportive husband. I would not have wanted to share this with anyone else in the world. I’m pretty sure his presence at the meet and greet made our close-up picture with Donnie possible. That and well, my continuous belief that this would all happen. The Universe had no choice but to work this out for me. I never give up.
So, thank you Danny, Donnie, Jordan, Joey, and Jon. You helped me through some shit. I actually said that to Joey when I hugged him during the meet and greet photo. His facial expression was classic when I said this, it just came out of my mouth. It was straight up truth. I told each of them thank you. Each one seemed a little thrown off by it, like they don’t hear that often or it was an unusual thing to say. It was from my heart and soul, I meant it. It was the simplest words I could say to try and sum up what I wanted to tell them all. Donnie was always my favorite as a child, he still is. I can’t lie about that. He’s just fun. But each one of those boys mean a lot to me. “I’ll be loving you forever.” I’ll also be loving me forever too. Thank you. To quote another New Kids song, “I am Thankful.”
If you would like to contact Kara, please Bounce on over to my website, alwaysBEhealing.com. Confidentiality always. It took me 30 years to really share why the New Kids On The Block meant so much to me! It took me even longer to start opening up about myself and things I’ve been through. We share what we share on our own terms. No one has the right to decide that for you. BE you. BE you and all that means for you regardless of what you’re going through. I’m finally figuring out what that means for me. Watch out world, Kara has a whole lot of singing and dancing to do! Let’s call it what it is to me, healing. And so incredibly fun to heal this way!!! Music ignites my soul. I wish for everyone to find what ignites their soul.