Wednesday, May 28, 2014

To the greatest teachers

In seventh grade, my teacher read us a story about knots. Don't ask me what it was called, or why we were reading it (But I believe it was for some kind of book report) but I remember at the time thinking there was something crazy about the story of this boy who had a fascination with knots.
I also felt like I understood this boy.
When I was little I would tie my shoelaces into so many knots, and then race to see how fast I could untie them. I pretended I was the most amazing knot un-tier in the whole world.
This morning I sat down to write a practice English diploma on a source we had just read, a poem. The question was about how situations shape a person's destiny, and the source was about a woman who referred to herself as tangled.
As I sat there in the computer lab, I thought of this story, and my seventh grade teacher. I could almost hear his voice in my head as I sat down to write.

My days consisted of tying and untying knots, always trying to make something beautiful with the strands of curled rope I found lying limp between my fingers. When my seventh grade teacher read us a story about a boy who untied knots, I knew I finally had a name for my turbulence. I called it tangled.

When I finished writing, I turned on my phone only to find the news that Maya Angelou had died. I'm not a particularly familiar with a lot of Maya's work, though I do admire the courageous steps she has taken to create space in the world for women and artists and I think she is a very wise woman.
But I thought of a time last summer, when I was going through a particularly rough season, and I turned on a documentary on Maya Angelou on TV. There was one quote she said, about love liberating, that has always stuck with me. At the time, it inspired me to write my own little piece on all the different places my heart was living at that moment, and how while there were a lot of people who weren't with me in the present moment I could set them free because I loved them.
Still, when I think back on that night, I remember that quote.

I never believed that I wouldn't reach that place where I would stumble upon myself and reach out with open arms, saying "There you are" like all this time I'd just been a little backwards in my directions

Since celebrating grad this weekend, I've experienced the seemingly inevitable low that follows an amazing event. There's trying to become reoriented with my life once again. There's been planning for the future, and a lot of who I thought I'd be by now. In light of the recent shooting that happened, I've been writing a lot, and thinking a lot, about feminism and triggers and mental illness and abuse and the kind of world I want to grow old in.
More importantly I've been thinking about the kind of person I want to be.
I remember something one of the speaker's at my grad said, which is "May you be kind, may you be safe, may you be happy"
And I've always said I wanted to be happy
But I also want to be kind
I want to be loving
I want to always learn and teach and laugh and grow and maybe even cry some and keep creating beautiful things as long as I live
I want to always stay a little bit of the girl that Mr. Brown thought I was, how he taught me to believe in myself even when I didn't feel like it
And I want to always be a bit of the woman I felt like watching that Maya Angelou documentary, which is always speaking the truth and living in love and overcoming the things that wish to overcome you
And I want to always stay true to who I am
In yoga we say something like "We acknowledge all of our teachers, and we acknowledge the heart, the greatest teacher of all"
I have been blessed with amazing teachers, in all different ways. I have been given a heart, which has become my greatest teacher
All that is left is to never stop learning

I am poetry and hot coffee, falling in love too easily and using my heart as a metaphor for too many things. I am still tangled, always tangled, but I’m getting better at learning how to untie knots. And I’m learning which knots to leave tied because these are the knots that point me towards my destiny. 
I am walking towards my destiny at full speed and face first. Even if it means entering the dark for a while. I know now something I didn’t know the first time I entered the dark, and something that has made all the difference.
I now know how to untie knots. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

"I think I deserve something beautiful"

“You know what I felt this morning, Delia? Nothing. No passion, no spark, no faith, no heat, no nothing! I think I’ve really gotten past the point where I can be calling this a ‘bad moment’… This is worse than death to me, the idea that this is the person I’m going to be from now on… There’s like nothing – I have no pulse! I used to have this appetite for food, for my life, and it is just gone! I want to go someplace where I can marvel at something, anything.”

A year ago I was sitting in my basement praying for my life to change. I wanted to marvel at something, to actually be alive and experience my life. I felt exhausted with the idea of my life.
I was watching a movie about a woman who goes to Italy in order to find herself. I'm a sucker for movies like that, where the main character goes on a journey and ends up finding out things about herself she had been searching for.
I decided to create my own Italy. I needed something risky and exciting and new.
I decided to enroll in public high school.

"I'm not checking out, I need to change"

As the weeks leading up to my dramatic re-entry into high school passed, I began to see this more as a bad decision and less of the something new I had been hoping for. All the unknowns seemed to be looming over my head. The what if's became big and daunting.
I entered my first day of classes fearful of this big new world I had been thrown into. I felt like a fish out of water.
So many times in that first month I remember crying because I was completely overwhelmed. I remember sitting and forcing myself to find the good things that happened in each day because otherwise I would be overcome with this sense of dread.
In September I remember thinking I would never make it until June.
And then something began to change...
It is now May and in a few days I will be graduating. I will be leaving this world and entering a new one. And the day that once seemed unconceivable is now here.
I would be lying if I said I was ready for it to come
This past year has been a challenging one. I have learned so much, about subjects like biology and history, but also about myself.
I have met so many amazing, incredible people, and made friendships that I cherish.
I have laughed a lot, cried a lot, stumbled and failed more times than I would like to admit.
But I have also succeeded in more ways than I can count.
And the thought of saying goodbye to all of this in just a few weeks terrifies me.
The place I was so hesitant to walk into now feels like home to me. The self discovery that has taken place inside of those walls amazes me. The people I have met are beautiful.
I went into this year searching for something beautiful, something marvelous, something new. I wanted my life to change.
And now, a full year after that incident in my basement, I can safely say that it has.
I have seen beauty. I have experienced love. I have learned lessons about biology and history, and what it means to be human and new experiences. I have laughed and cried and loved and been stressed out and sometimes I can only stand back and marvel at the wonder of it all.
In September I never expected the profound impact that this place would have on my life, and how it would shape me in just a few short months. I am walking out of this experience existing more than I did when I entered in.

"I will leave with the hope that the expansion of one person - the magnification of one life - is indeed an act of worth in this world. Even if that life, just this one time, happens to be nobody's but my own"

Monday, May 19, 2014

Music is what healing sounds like (The Melodic Caring Project)

I've expressed before how much I love the Melodic Caring Project
I'm proud not only to be a rock star and see what they do first hand, but also to be an ambassador for this amazing organization and help raise awareness
The people at MCP have become like a second family to me. They are so amazing, supporting me and sending me love.
So when I got the email after my 3rd concert with MCP asking if I would write a little bit about my experience, I jumped at the chance
The real problem came when I was forced to sit down in front of the computer screen and try to put into words just what this beautiful organization has meant to me
I managed to write a brief letter, which was recently published on their site.
I hope that it helps you see, just a little bit, how amazing this organization is
I could go on forever about how great this project is, and how amazing the staff is and about all the incredible artists who put on these concerts for sick kids. But instead I will just say I am one of the luckiest girls in the whole world to get to be a part of something so beautiful and life changing.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Eff you, guilt

I had a moment earlier
I was sitting in the third last row of a nearly empty movie theater, watching a beautiful, funny movie and crying
I was overcome with a feeling of being totally inadequate.
I was paralyzed by the idea that I was not enough
Because I am graduating in 5 days and that fact scares me
Because I have no idea what I want to do with my life beyond the next 5 minutes
Because I chose not to go to a party
Because I feel conflicted about things
Because I still struggle with depression
Because I don't have a book published
Because I'm single
Because I am not a morning person
Because I am not grateful enough
Because I drink too much coffee
Because I have issues
You get the idea
I was completely overwhelmed with this idea that I will never be enough.
And I sit here feeling guilty because I am not this ideal woman (like she even exists!) and I think of what my life would look like if I did have it all together
As I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed tonight, playing the comparison game, I saw a video from my friend Jen. She was talking about guilt, and how it's her go to place.
She said that she was tired of guilt. Eff you guilt, she said.
And I found myself agreeing
I'm tired of feeling guilty
I'm tired of feeling like I'm not enough, and that I have to feel bad for who I am or what happened in the past or the choices I make
When I got Jen's video, I needed someone to tell me that it's ok to not feel guilty
It's ok to feel what I feel and let that be ok
It's ok to screw up
And I know this, I do, but sometimes I forget. I forget that it's ok to just be human and that I don't have to be superwoman all the time
This is for the days when I spill coffee on my dress and trip up the stairs and bruise my knee and when I say no to going to a party and sit in a movie theater crying
I refuse to feel guilty about being human
I refuse to feel guilty about where I've been, or anything that has happened that has made me who I am today
Maybe I need this message every single day, because I tend to often go to that place of guilt and not enough and I suck when I'm stressed or exhausted. There is a land called passive agressiva and I am their queen. I become a not nice person when I am living from that place of guilt and fear and I suck and dishonesty.
And I'm tired of it
So maybe this message is for you. I know it's for me.
It's time to stop feeling guilty, and start living
I'll remind myself of this until I believe it

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Trigger Warning (Maybe I need you)

There will be days when the fear of disappointment will sit so heavily on your chest it is paralyzing
He says this is okay
It feels like anything but okay
There are days when you can't deny the undeniable craving to be close to another human being, to rest your head on your shoulder and let them remind you that you are not an island
I've been here before, forced myself to believe it so many times, but still it's always a little hard to swallow
I am not an island
I am not a metaphor
I am not broken
I am not unworthy
I repeat the words over in my head like a mantra
I am not...
I am not...
I am...

There is a line in a poem by Shane Koyczan that says "For all intensive purposes you were alone in the womb, there was no one there to tell you that this is going to hurt. And it did and it does but it still remains a fond memory for your parents"
I've been thinking a lot recently about the languages I speak most fluently: music and poetry and metaphors.
I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be a poet, to be a woman, to be a grown up, to be a human being. To be in love and what it means to be a mother and I'm trying to figure out this thing God made called a person.
I often feel like I am wearing my insides on my outsides.
Because of the things I've gone through in my life, I often feel a little bit fragile, a little bit out of sorts, always slightly disoriented like I have been looking into the sun for too long. There's always that part of me that seems to need the label Handle with Care written right across the front, alongside the words fragile and breakable
Because of this I often find myself walking into sharp edges and salty things and lemons and trigger warnings
There is no one here to tell me that this is going to hurt
There are days when it feels like the entire world needs to be labeled with a trigger warning. Every moment is a memory, and my heart is a little more fragile than it is on any other given day. I can't construct a shell big enough to wrap all the way around, can't find a way to keep it from falling off
There are days when I am so busy taping and gluing my heart shaped cast that everything else feels like work. I demand too much patience, too much grace, and can get frustrated easily.
Trigger warning
There is no one here to tell me that this is going to hurt.
There are days when it feels like my world needs a trigger warning
There are days when I wish someone was here to tell me that this will hurt more than you care to admit
That this is ok
That you are not a metaphor
You are not a poem
You are not defined by how he looks at you, or what she says about you, or disappointing either of them
You are not an island
You are not a horror movie, hate crime in recovery, bruised and bloodied victim the world forgot about
You are a human
You are beautiful
You are...

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

What I know for sure (You are loved)

There are days when I wish I could write a thank you letter to the world, sign it your not so secret admirer.
But if I sat down to write a thank you letter to every single person and thing that has made me happy over these last few days, I would run out of room.
It would sound a lot like this:
I'm thankful to my little group in English class, who makes waking up early and coming to school every morning that much better.
I'm thankful for the Melodic Caring Project, for making me feel like a rock star. They are a beautiful organization that I am so proud to be a part of (You guys should check them out. I just wrote my first piece for their blog, and I'll post the link once that's up)
I'm thankful for sunny days and good hair days and days when I get to go shopping with my mama
I'm thankful for poetry and Starbucks and dirty feet from walking barefoot
She asked me why I don't seem to get stressed, and something about the way she said it stuck with me all day. She said I always look so calm.
I told her I do get stressed, but just about different things.
If I'm being totally honest, the idea of someone seeing me as calm is a beautiful one, because it's taken me so long to get to that place where I do have these moments of serenity
It's taken so many sleepless nights, lots of yoga, lots of being still, lots of being loud, amazing friends, poetry and having lived through those dark days
And I'm not naïve enough to think that there won't be more
There will be
There will be days when it feels like my entire world is collapsing in and I cannot breathe due to the weight of it all
But I've also experienced silver linings, happiness in the little things.
Maybe if I was writing this right now from a place of depression it would sound a little different. But just having come out of one of those places, one of those periods of being so fully aware of your own brokenness it gets hard to breathe, I know that while the brokenness exists, painfully so, and it is overwhelming at times, you have to believe things can get better than they are now.
This is a letter to everyone who has ever felt broken. This is a letter to myself, because I need to hear it.
She said she's not so sure she believes in love anymore, and I've been there too
Just a few months ago I probably would have said something similar.
But right now I know love is the only thing I know for sure.
I so often forget, but there are days when I am overwhelmed by it.
Love is what I know for sure.
It is something I have to keep reminding myself of, something I don't always feel like I deserve. It's like the wind: I can't see it but I know it's there.
If I had one thing to say to my friend, it would be this: You are loved, more than you can imagine.

Saturday, May 10, 2014


This Mother's day I've found myself spending a lot of time thinking about motherhood
I've been writing poetry, not only about my mom but about other amazing mother's that I know, and what makes a mother, and different kinds of mothers, and the beautiful legacy left for me by all the strong, incredible women in my life
As I've wrestled through the concept of motherhood, and my own feelings regarding the subject, I also found myself faced with the question of what is womanhood?
It is something I am entering into, a road that has been paved for me by all the incredibly courageous women who have gone before me
Basically I'm trying to figure out what it all means
I have been lucky to have been surrounded by so many amazing women in my years who have taught me a lot about what it means to be a woman and also what it means to be human
And while this is still a journey I am trying to figure out for myself, and while these are still words that I need to find meaning to for myself, I have been lucky in having been able to see them so fully embodied by some of the people in my life
Because of the legacy left for me by these women, and mothers, I am able to begin my own journey, and have the courage to push off of their truths and find my own.
I am so thankful for my mama, and for all the beautiful women in my life who have showed me what it means to walk this journey
I am incredibly blessed

Monday, May 5, 2014

Manifesto: You were made for something more

Hand holding, elbows brushing, hips swaying, feet stomping.
The world has come alive, awakening from it's winter, and I am awakening with it.
I can feel the revival stirring inside of my body, feel the rhythm as my heart beats in time, resounding against my ribcage
I want to be free
I don't know anyone but no one feels like a stranger
There is music, and laughter, and dancing, and the world feels like it has been lit on fire, and I want to be on fire too
I want to glow, emit the light that has been cooped up inside of me for so long
I want to shine like the sun as it peeks through the clouds, warming my shoulders, reminding me of miracles
The hot lemonade is warm on my tongue, but comfortably so. It tastes like honey, like promise and sweetness and hope. It is warmth and comfort.
We watch as people move like they were born solely to exist in this moment, like nothing else matters besides this awakening, and I can feel my heart awakening too
I am coming out of a long, cold winter
My bones are still rusty and don't quite remember how to dance but the echo of my heartbeat (sounds like a symphony) is a persistent partner, always inviting me to dance no matter how many times I step on his feet
She says my confidence is coming back, he says the light is returning to my eyes, and I feel it all as I am shedding extra layers
I want to experience what it means to be alive
I play a game of feeling everything, letting it be absorbed into my skin like it is medicine, letting it wash over me like the promise of hope
It makes me giddy
Reminding me what it's like to have a voice, to break free from the shackles of darkness, to grow my own set of wings
It reminds me of being seven, when I still fiercely held on to my light, when the whole world made me insanely happy
Ten years have passed, and I have become more jaded, hardened by the world, and yet I still feel that same awakening inside of me
the same hope and potential and possibility
this could be the start of something beautiful
And I want to fall in love with this moment, and these people, and myself and the birds and the trees and the hills and the sky and everything that seems to call my name, begging me, for this one moment, to be alive
I am poetess, story teller, belonging to the universe and the One who created it all, created to marvel and wonder and be fully alive in every moment while my heart is still beating like a drum inside of me
I was made to feel something more than the weight of the darkness as it wraps itself around my shoulders and calls itself warmth
I remember a few years ago sitting at a kitchen table in a house that didn't belong to me, writing on the back of a grocery list that I want to be enough for myself
I didn't know then that those words would become my cry as I wandered through these next few years of my life
I was, and am, searching for ways to be enough for myself
I am realizing now I don't have to do anything
I just have to exist
in wonder
in grace
in love
there is nothing I can do or not to do make myself enough, I just need to accept that I am
I was
And I always will be
I'm still learning what that means
I'm coming back to that place where I live in honesty, not belonging to another human being but myself, marveling at the world
Sometimes it's easy to write from this place
It's not so easy when you are lacking connection, when the pieces don't quite fit, when you spill your coffee and spend the afternoon in bed and stub your toe on your way out the door
I am learning this too is it's own kind of beautiful
If this is crazy than I want to be that. I want to fall in love with every moment of my one wild and beautiful life, I want to see heaven and God and the divine nature of it all in everything, I want to finally learn what it means to embrace my enough-ness and be free
I want to use these wings to fly

Sunday, May 4, 2014

I thought I'd be here by now

 I want to be free.

I thought of the words as I watched them dancing, carelessly and effortlessly like they existed for no other purpose than to be fully alive in this moment.

 I hadn’t been free in a long time, not since I learned that it meant to be conscious of my body, since I learned to become who they wanted me to be, fit into the roles I was meant to play, even if that meant losing myself.

 I imagine you have hit an all-time low when you are envious of the birds, with the way they soar unchained and belonging to nothing except themselves.

 I want to be free.

 Even observing their freedom made my heart leap with possibility, despite the part of me that insisted I remain in my seat, sit quietly, not out of place.  I watched with a strange mix of envy and desire, a longing inside of me to exist outside of myself.

 I want that I could only whisper, like a child in a candy store.

 Whatever that is, I want that.

 For so long I have belonged to someone else. I have made myself smaller, my edges harsher or gentler, pushing and pulling and tugging and stretching and simplifying.

 I am tired of being the person I am expected to be.

 I am tired of waiting for the answer to be yes.

 Tears stream down my cheeks, as they always do the moment I experience a gasp of fresh air only to find myself choking on polluted oxygen a while later.

 I have spent my whole life reigning myself in, letting fear hold me in place. I am tired of listening to the voice in my head that says I am never enough. That these scars I wear are like chains around my ankles, holding me in place.

 I want to be free.