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  • Writer's pictureMickey Carolan

Coffee with a CODA - Kate Fitzpatrick




Good Morning My Friends!


Welcome to Coffee with a CODA, a series where guest contributors will answer questions to provide insights and lessons to readers. 


This week’s interview is with Kate Fitzpatrick, a CODA artist and muralist.

Fun fact: One of her TTY paintings sits on my bookshelf!

Kate, welcome to Coffee with a CODA.


Q: Who is Kate Fitzpatrick?

A: I am an artist, a muralist, an animal lover, and a CODA! 



Q: What is the most common first question you get when people find out you grew up with Deaf Parents? And how do you reply?


A: How do you talk? When I was younger I'd give sarcastic replies: I just yell really loud and hope for the best! But now if someone asks, I'd say we use ASL. 

 

Q: What mental health advice would you give younger KODA/CODA’s? Conversely, what advice should they ignore?

A: When it comes to mental health, take all the help you can get. By that I mean - don't go at it alone. Find community (like other codas!), read books, seek therapy if possible, and consider medication if that's what you need.
I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety in 2017. For way too long, I tried to "solve" my issues without getting outside support. It didn't work!
Mental health is such a journey and sometimes it's really hard to get a handle on. So you need a lot of different sources of help and it's totally okay to need them. 
As for what advice to ignore...toss out any toxic positivity, if people are still spouting that. Good vibes only, your thoughts create your reality, just smile!!...it's garbage. Life is complex. 

Q: You’ve done some fantastic artwork in your career, what are some of your most memorable works?

A: The big swan mural I did in September 2023 immediately comes to mind. It was inspired by some frustration and sadness I was having around my Coda identity - not at being a coda, but frustration at some discourse that was happening online around codas along with some experiences I was having in my own life with hearing people not understanding the coda identity. I needed to remind myself that my identity as a coda ultimately belongs to me, and I know how rich it is regardless of whether anyone else validates it. 



Q: What is one leadership, life, or love lesson that you learned from your parents?

A: My parents are, at their core, two incredibly generous people. Not just with tangible things, but I'm talking about generosity of spirit. They genuinely want people to be happy, to be supported, and to be who they are. For instance, I'm an artist and have had an unorthodox career path, from working in wilderness camps to reality TV casting and now painting murals. And every step of the way my parents have shown me enthusiasm and support.
I've learned through the example they've set how wonderful it is to support one another and to see people as they are - without applying our own ideas onto someone else's life. 

 

Q: What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?

A: Yes To Life (In Spite Of Everything) by Viktor E. Frankl. It was published in 1946 and is still so relevant. Frankl was a holocaust survivor and a psychiatrist and wrote this book shortly after the war ended. This book has genuinely helped me regain some mental and emotional balance during difficult times. 
I am a big reader and could talk about books all day so I'm gonna recommend a few more of my favorites: True Biz by Sara Novic; You'll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey and The World Record Book Of Racist Stories, both by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar; and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
 

The Mom Dad Not Hear Lightning Round

The answer options are Mom, Dad, Both, or Neither


Q: Safest driver?

A: Dad


Q: Most flavorful cook?

A: Mom


Q: Most likely to join you in painting a mural?

A: Both!


Q: Deaf School?

A: Both


Q: Mainstream Public School?

A: Neither


Q: Lastly, please tell the readers where they can connect with or follow you.

A: I'm on Instagram @KateFitzpatrickArt and my website is www.KateFitzpatrickArt.com

 

Author's Note:

I'm a big fan of Kate's work and the messaging she shares on social media. In this interview, she struck me with her answer about identity. Everyone has an identity, CODA's in particular struggle with understanding that identity because we find ourselves in between two distinct cultures, Deaf and Hearing.


 

A Few Book Recommendations courtesy of Kate this week:


Full disclosure: I've only read one of these books, True Biz (10 Stars). But will be adding the other two to my TBR shelf for the future!



 

Visit www.MickeyCarolan.com to read Mickey's books or book him to speak!



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