For those of you who know me in person, you know that my name is Katie Elizabeth Holt. Why then, do I write under the name Ellison Hartley?
The first reason is in honor of my family. My grandmother’s (mothers side) maiden name was Ellison. The farm I currently live on was originally purchased by my great-grandfather, John Archibald Ellison. He built the house I live in and the outbuildings on the farm. Some of which are still standing, others have long since fallen down. Before it was Dun-Pikin Farm or Holt’s Produce Farm, it was the Ellison family farm.
Hartley is my father’s mother’s maiden name. Gertrude Charlotte Holt was Gertrude Charlotte Hartley before she met and married my Poppy.
All of my grandparents are gone now. I was lucky enough that I didn’t lose my first grandparent until I was a senior in High School, Poppy Holt that was. I didn’t lose my Gramm and Grandaddy (Mom’s parent’s) until many years later. Granny Holt (Dad’s mom) just died in the summer of 2018. She made it to her 90th birthday. We went to a birthday party for her. It was wonderful. She lived in senior living housing, and even on her 90th birthday, she was surrounded by friends and the life of the party. Granny was a social butterfly (a quality that I did not inherit).
The Day Everything Changed
I have always felt so lucky to have the Grandparents that I did and to have them for so long. When I sustained my traumatic brain injury (TBI) on March 13 of 2018, I had a lot of free time. Too much free time. In addition to not feeling well, I was also upset and afraid that I might not ever recover from this. I spent a lot of time thinking about my Grandparents and how I wish they were still here, knowing they would know what to say to make me feel better.
The accident left me struggling with post-concussion syndrome (PCS) that caused a lack of balance and confident mobility. I spent my days inside watching TV, trying to occupy myself and journaling. Writing pages and pages and filled more than one journal with my thoughts of anger, frustration, and fear of the future.
I one day realized that I was just like throwing up negativity into these journals. I thought it was probably a good thing to let it all out, in hopes that I would feel better. It didn’t seem to work that way though. Everyone had been telling me to try to think positive. Which was of course hard since I was the one living through the experience. I realized though that I needed to try.
Comfort in Writing
It wasn’t until September (the accident was in March) that I was able to get out to the barn. I felt
I don’t really know when exactly, but I started writing articles about horses and writing. First, just for myself, then I started submitting them to some online horse websites and started my first blog website.
Searching for a Pen Name
The first time that I went to submit something to an online horse website, I wasn’t feeling very confident. Which is what led to me thinking that I needed a pen name, I didn’t want anyone to know that it was me that had written the articles. Not like many people on the big, huge internet know my name, but still, for some reason, I just didn’t want to put my real name out there. Any bit of confidence that I had, was stolen when I had the TBI and started struggling with everything in my life. Even things that used to be so easy and routine!
So, long story short, I wanted a pen name, but just couldn’t think of one that sounded good. I finally stopped trying to think of something and was about to say forget it, I’m not posting this! Then somehow Ellison Hartley popped into my head.
It was the perfect name. Pays tribute to my family and sounds kind of cool if you ask me.
Ellison Hartley is a TBI patient who is going to beat her TBI. She keeps a positive attitude, lives with gratitude for all the good in her life. She celebrates small victories and never gives up on the good things to come in the future.
Ellison Hartley is a farmer’s daughter and a park rangers daughter. She was raised in the outdoors. Learning to appreciate the beauty of nature and the importance of preserving agriculture. She is a horse crazy kid turned horse crazy grown up. Ellison spent years on her horsemanship journey, and there are no bumps on that road that are big enough to derail her. She is confident in her ability with horses, and ability to teach other people about them. She is the type of person that keeps on keeping on.
Katie Elizabeth Holt is all of these things too, it is just fogged up right now with the struggles of TBI and Post Concussive Syndrome. By becoming Ellison Hartley, I’m using my recovery to become the person that I always wanted to be. The person that I have always known I was capable of being,but for some reason just couldn’t figure out.
A woman more like Katherine Ellison Hyde or Gertrude Hartley Holt. In other words, Ellison Hartley is the person I want to be. They say that the best way to reach your goals and be who you want to be is to believe in yourself. Well, for some reason Katie Holt has an easier time believing in Ellison Hartley than she does herself.
This my friend, is how (and why) I became Ellison Hartley.