Saturday, June 22, 2013


I've been thinking a lot lately about love, and bravery, and honesty. And my people, and who I am and life in general. It's summer and late night conversations and getting together for Starbucks seems to pull these kinds of things out of me, one following the other, like a magician and his scarves.
I've been thinking lately about how life is short. I mean, it's not, it's long and the days seem long and the months seem long but looking back there somehow wasn't enough time for me to say the things I needed to say before it was too late.
A few months ago, I made a promise. Under a March sky with the snow crunching under my boots and horse hair on my coat, I promised I would learn from my mistakes. Instead of thinking about the words I never got to say, I would do something about it. I would say what I needed to say because the only thing guaranteed is this moment.
I'm learning the value of relationships. Within the past few days I have had friends challenge me on the topic of honesty. And I'm learning being honest isn't a bad thing. Saying what you need to say isn't wrong. Even if you have no idea how things will turn out. Even if it changes everything, and even if it changes nothing. Honesty is brave and speaking your truth (over coffee or late night texts) is brave. Not letting a moment go by without letting the people you love know that you love them, that's pretty brave in my opinion.
Sometimes that's life. Standing on the edge of a cliff and jumping, even if you don't know what's waiting on the other side. I heard a quote once that said "You don't know where to go but you know you can't stay here."
And so you jump.
Even if you don't know what comes next, you jump.
You have to jump into people and trust they'll be there to catch you
Even if you blurt out your thoughts in a way that isn't pretty or neat or polite
Even if you tell them the deepest, darkest parts of your story
You have to say what you need to say and take that jump, trusting that people will catch you when you do.
You know what people I mean. They're my people. They are the people that accept my random outbursts with grace. They're the people who give me a huge reality check when I need one or tell me to get some sleep, saying things will look better in the morning. They're the people who help me remember who I really am. Sometimes they're the people who keep me from doing something really stupid, and sometimes they do the stupid things with me, things we can all laugh about years from now. They put up with me writing about them all the time. These are my people.
And I'm learning to let them in. I'm learning to say what I need to say and trust that, in the end, they'll still be here. Because they love me, not who I pretend to be.
So that's where I am: being real, being honest, being brave, loving wildly and fully and learning to trust that my people will be there even when...
I'm learning what it means to jump

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Voice of Truth

It is here I find myself.
The day before my final exam, before courses and summer vacations and life beginning at the end of my comfort zone.
I'll admit I'm feeling a bit vulnerable these days, a bit fragile, a bit tossed about.
Dealing with love and loss and letting go, I labor hard against these things that threaten to hold me captive.
I can feel them rising up under the surface, the words that I run back to when things get a little out of control, the words that have kept me tied up for so long that their shackles begin to look like comfort.
Unloved. Unworthy. Broken. Damaged.
The voice comes up within me: Who do you think you are?
It's so easy to want to turn and run back to that safe place.
I sit here, writhing around in my discomfort, and I hear myself say the words, "Love me. Love me so I don't feel quite so uncomfortable and stressed out and fragile. Love me because I need someone to prove to me I'm not this person I think I am."
Did you hear that?
Love me because I'm feeling insecure in myself, in my work, in what I'm doing and in who I am.
Love me because I need it.
It takes me a minute to realize what I've just said.
Not too long ago, I made a promise to a friend that I would never again use another person to satisfy my own desires.
And yet, when I am uncomfortable in my situation and insecure in my future and feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, it is that I want to run back to.
I want to throw myself into another person or another thing like one would dive off a platform into a pool of water.
Maybe then I would feel a bit more secure, a bit more stable.
And then I hear it, the tiny voice whispering inside of me, so quiet that I could miss it.
I love you.
I love you. You are whole, complete. You have everything you need in this moment. Look around you, my child, at this love letter I am writing for you every single day.
I still am unsure of what I am doing. I am still stressed out and overwhelmed and exhausted.
And yet the work I am doing is not unimportant. Even in this, I am loved. This, what I am doing in this moment, it matters.
Instead of focusing on the One, true voice that will lead me to Freedom, I get caught up in the lies.
That if I don't go to Uganda this summer I won't be important.
If I don't make him fall in love with me right now I somehow have lost my worth.
The work I am doing now is important.
This place of uncertainty but willingness, of loving with patience and trust, walking in freedom and truth, this matters.
My willingness to be here now, not going to Africa, loving with patience, it's not something to be looked down on.
Even this, this path that is uncertain and confusing, this is part of God's plan. This work is not in vain. Where I am, though uncomfortable and new and full of change, though not fitting into where the world says I should be or where my head screams at me I should be, it matters. He has chosen to use me in such a time as this, and even though I don't understand I will choose to trust.
I love you, My Child. This matters. What you are doing matters. You matter.
I will follow the sound of His love and promises out of slavery and into Freedom.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A semi-autobiography

    i.            Words flow from me like a river. Warm in my belly they sit like soup. Gently, with butterfly like fingers, like soft, flowing ribbons they caress my insides. “Speak your truth,” They whisper to me. I barely have the ears to listen.  Like a river it flows from me, pain like a white, radiant light comes from my spine, my shoulders, and my hips. This pain transforms. It spins me like a spider weaving its web, stitching into me fibers of silver and gold. Stories balance precariously on my tongue and I soak up information, lapping it up like a dog, drinking it in like a traveler in the desert thirsty for a cool drink. Transformed, spinning in this web, I shift and change. Truths are spoken and tiny hands pick up each heel, pressing me onward. Their belief, this radiant form of love, it changes me. With a gentle spirit I open myself upwards to the sun, letting the rays and all their glory penetrate my very being. The babbling brook whispers my name and her laughter catches the wind. I have folded myself into this universe, wrapped myself in the golden rays of the truth. Wrapped in sunlight and silk from the spider’s web, I walk forward.

   ii.             The world is not my playground.  Thoughts spiral down, around, thoughts of love and loss and forever. I thought I knew what these things meant, once. But as it would seem, I am an impostor, lying in my own skin. I do not know the meaning of these delicately bound objects. Who does know, I wonder, as I watch the robin build his nest for the coming summer. I feel the sun on my shoulders, the grass under my bare feet. I have it hanging on my wall: love, and yet I am bereft to find the meaning. Because once I thought I loved you, and you were afraid and fled. And I understand, my darling. And yet I dreamt of losing you and I fought against time and space to save you. Your brow is knit tight, your lips pursed closed, and I wonder at your thoughts. I’d throw a penny in every wishing well for you to tell me your utmost desires. What is it that keeps you up all night? What is it that makes your heart sing? What is it, my love? What is it that makes you angry and what makes you at peace? But, like the robin, you are just beyond my reach. And so I will sit in silence, watching, marveling at the beauty that you are. I will watch as you fly away. And I will hope for the day you will come back to my tender garden. I will wait for the day when the beauty of a robin will finally be enough for my wandering heart.

  iii.            The memory of you is stored there. Right there, in the pocket of empty space running up my spine, from my tailbone into my shoulders. Some days I scarcely notice the ache from the absence of you. Other days it is all I can think of. The missing is not so much pain, not anymore. It isn’t joy either. I would say it is light grey, like the sun shining through the clouds right before they are about to break after a rainstorm. The world smells fresh and the earth is damp and if I sink my toes into it long enough, I can feel you in the rain. It is stillness. The missing of you is stillness. It isn’t a throbbing absence, not pulsating inside of me. It is more like this empty pocket of space, just there. Most days it doesn’t hurt. It just feels empty. And on those days I’ll put on your sweater, stand on the back porch and wait for rain.

     iv.            Soon this space will be too small. I push against the edges of this old box. Like toes in shoes, I am pressed up against the edges. I shift and make myself more comfortable in this space which I am rapidly outgrowing. I feel the tension from being pressed tight, no room to expand. So I must gain courage. I must walk in love, in truth. I must be willing to lose sight of the shore, becoming vulnerable and taking risks. It is there I will taste healing, savoring the taste of solace on my tongue, drinking in marvelous beauty, open to embracing creativity and my truth. With one final push this old rowboat is out to sea. My hands shake as I grip the oars, pushing myself farther and farther away from the shore with each stroke.
Attraversiamo – Let’s cross over.

v.            Something always brings me back to you. Like tangles in my hair and the blue heart drawn on the inside of my favorite pair of jeans. It’s a touch stone, I think. It’s like the universe holds it breath in anticipation for this moment, the moment I’ll come back. Because I always do. I’m a gypsy at heart but I can never stay gone for long. I tell myself I’m really leaving this time but we both know it’s a lie. I’m not capable of leaving. I will always come back, floating in on the wind. It’s because you’re a touch stone. It’s because, hard as I try, I can never look into my eyes without seeing the reflection of yours.

vi.            And so I wait. For love, for peace, for reunion, for words that last longer than a few moments, for a place my body knows how to stay. I build myself into people. There’s a piece of me there, right under your left ear, and that person has a tiny piece on their big toe. I toss my heart like ashes in the wind and hoping where they fall will be somewhere safe. That’s why I spend so much time running, I think. I’m trying to find myself. I’ve forgotten that here already holds the biggest piece of me.
vii.            I ask my empty hands what it all means. I ask myself what it means to love, to let go. I feel the empty space as I sit and I wonder how much longer I will feel the absence like the lack of fluid around my spinal column. I ask them what it  means. I ask them if this time I’m really letting go.
viii.            My hands have yet to write the answer.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Offering of Love

This morning I was surrounded by love.
It started early this morning, before the rest of the world was awake, my room still dark. I got a nudge, and I'm learning that when God nudges you listen, even if it's 6am and you'd much rather be curled up in bed enjoying those last few hours of sleep before your morning class.
And so I did. As each name came to me, I prayed. As I prayed, I felt such gratitude for the people I was praying for. I remembered moments, moments that would seem small to anyone else, and I saw in them beauty, remembering vulnerability and strength. And I felt blessed.
I heard sounds I usually am not awake to hear. The coffee pot starting to brew upstairs. the morning songs of the birds, greeting a new day. I saw the sun creep into my bedroom window, lighting the room bit by bit.
And I was surrounded by love.
Later this morning, I was checking my emails and one message continued to come up: love.
"Love. Say it. Say it now. Don't worry about what happens next, just say it."
"What are you willing to do for those you love?"
"Offering yourself up for love. Allowing yourself to be used. You are the offering."

Breakfast prepared lovingly, set out on the table - an offering of love.
Conversations before work and classes began, sharing time and stories - an offering of love
Bird's songs bringing my mind to the beautiful early in the morning - an offering of love.
These offerings, so beautifully prepared, and I feel inadequate to receive such gifts. How am I deserving of these offerings?
And so I add my humble offerings, offering myself to love.
Text messages sent out to friends, whispering the words "I love you. I am grateful for you" - an offering of love.
The soft 'thank you' said to teachers as we finish out this year - an offering of love.
Taking a moment to write down these tiny blessings, and expressing my gratitude - an offering of love

On this Monday morning, in the last week of school, on the 9 month anniversary of when I got diagnosed, I am learning about love.
Each tiny blessing is a soft love song and on this day I have been given ears to hear it.
May, each day, we offer up and receive love. Love isn't meant to be kept, hidden away safe. Yes, there it is safe from harm, safe from being damaged and tarnished and ruined. But if love is kept sheltered, locked up, it can never grow. If not noticed, appreciated, offered and received, the heart cannot flourish and thrive, becoming beautiful.
Take a deep breath in and receive this love that has been given to you.
And exhale, offering up your own love, your life, who you are, and let yourself be the beautiful in the world.

The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love, and be loved in return.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Who Makes the Rules?

You don't have to put yourself in a box. Boxes are small. You can't breathe in a box. You don't have to label yourself. Labels peel off. They fall off in the washing machine. They itch and make us uncomfortable.

I woke up this morning and read those words. They felt fitting, and I couldn't help but smile to myself as I read them. Last night I was pondering some of the best advice I was given when I turned 16. It was this: be 16. I thought that meant something different than it really does. I thought of it as the stereotype, the driving and going to parties and being reckless and stupid. I thought those were the unspoken rules of being 16.
But reading that article this morning, and thinking last night, I paused to ask this question: who made the rules?
Who says that you have to be this one thing? Why does everyone seem to have this inability to accept something that is raw and messy and not at all neatly packaged and tied with a string... something that doesn't fit inside a box?
Not too long ago, I told myself I didn't want to make myself smaller for anybody. I don't fit into a nice, neat box. And why should I have to? Boxes are small, and you can't breathe in a box. Boxes are cramped and you get squished and there's no room to grow in a box. There's no room to push the boundaries and expand in a box.
I heard a part of this interview yesterday with Lenny Kravitz who was talking about how his life doesn't fit into a box. He is neither black nor white. And in school, when a teacher asked him to fill out a form and it asked for his race, he didn't know which box to check. "Black," The teacher told him. His mother said this, "You are both black and white. But all anybody is ever going to see you as is black."
I am not one thing. Neither are you. I am not easily defined, a label, something able to fit into a small box. And I don't think you are either.
I can be whatever I want to be. I can put as many things after "I am ______" as I like
You can spend your life living in that box, with no space to grow and push boundaries, no room to explore, or you can spend your life creating your own life, proving all those people who said you were only one thing wrong.
I am not only one thing. I am everything.
Just because the world has this intense desire to put you in a box and pack you neatly away doesn't mean you have to listen. Break the rules. Make your own rules! This is your life and it's time you started living it.
I'm not willing to make myself smaller to try and fit into a mold.
The best advice I ever got when I turned 16 was to be 16. And that doesn't mean one thing. It means everything. It means live your life, every single minute of it, because it's your life. Own it. Embrace it. Love it.