Thursday, May 28, 2015

For the Creators (Thank you and keep going)

Most days I feel really lucky to be a writer. Being a creator, in any capacity, is a beautiful, heartbreaking, soul filling undertaking. It can often feel like a solitary journey, as I spend most of my time in my room curled up in my chair writing stories that (for now) for the most part nobody will ever read. And sometimes I think I should stop, but my heart beats stories, and poems and lyrics and I can stop writing like I can stop breathing.
A while ago I had the privilege of attending one of the best concerts I've ever been to. This morning as I was curled up with my coffee, a good book and music created by my amazingly talented friend, I was reminded how much I need creative people in my life. The post I wrote then resonates with me now.
This one is for all the creative people, the writers and musicians and painters and anyone who creates in any capacity. Thank you for creating. The world needs you. I need you.

People pay for concert tickets to be entertained. I come to be inspired. I sit before the artist, hands open wide, holding out my heart and saying “Can you open this for me?”
 The best ones can. The best ones take a wild swing and crack open the rough exterior enough for me to feel something for a designated period of time. The ones that can’t allow me to walk away feeling disappointed, clinging to any and all belief that art is like a stripper of the soul.
As I sat in that chair, pressed between my mother and a stranger, hot, sticky and sweaty bodies crowding into a stadium the very size of an NHL hockey arena, nothing else mattered. At least that’s what I told myself.
 For the next 90 minutes I let the music flow through me like a drug, let it slip all tension from my veins into its medicating chill.
 I think rock concerts are a little bit like church. I think one of the ways I experience God isn’t when His people are gathered together singing His name, though surely in that too, but when hundreds of strangers come together to drink and laugh and celebrate good music.
 For the next few hours it doesn’t matter that I normally wouldn’t say hello to the woman on my left if I passed her on the street. It doesn’t matter that I’ll never see 99% of these people again. It doesn’t matter that when tomorrow comes the band will move on to inspire a new city of wanna-be-believers and the woman on my left will return to her dead end job she hates and the guy sitting in the aisle below me will still go home alone after breaking up with his girlfriend and the young girl over there with her hand’s in the air will go back to a school where she’s bullied day in and day out for being different, or that when tomorrow rears its head I will march with all the false bravery I can muster into a doctor’s office and pretend I am not scared to death. What matters is that we have tonight.
 Cell phone flashlights lighting up the stage and loud, off key, drunken singing and I want to know what it would be like to be an artist who inspires this many people. I want to make people forget about tomorrow and live in the moment, to truly feel something – maybe for the first time – and to laugh and kiss and make messes and make art and make babies (and how maybe all of these are the same thing).
 Tonight it doesn’t matter who we are before we walked in the door. We’re all united, coming together for one purpose. And I think that’s a lot like church. I think it’s every chapel and cathedral I want to worship in. I think it’s every mind blowing, good song that makes me want to believe in better things that I want to dance to.
 I want to play these songs blasting in the car on my way to work and remember this moment, and how alive I felt, and how nothing else mattered because I had right now.
Creative people inspire me.
 Their passion is contagious and their dedication infectious and their excitement makes me delirious. It makes me want to stay up all night crafting something that really matters with my own two hands that I can look at in the morning and whisper in holy reverence, “My God, did I really make that?”
 It makes me want to feel, and to capture that exact feeling on a notebook or a canvas or my kitchen wall.
 Creative people inspire me to create. They inspire me to feel, to be present, to live and laugh and love and not worry about getting hurt along the way because even a few bruises make damn good art.
 Their creative energy passes through them into me like it’s a form of osmosis, like a blood transfusion, and I know to them I’m just another face in the crowd but I want to grab the face of the lead singer and look into his eyes and tell him thank you for daring to create bravely.
 Because the world needs more people to come alive, to truly say what they think and think what they say and to let their thoughts and feelings be the lifeblood that guides them. Because I need them. I need more people awake and alive, daring greatly and failing miserably and then trying again bravely all in the name of good art. I need them standing around me continuing to create and inspiring me with words and pictures and lyrics and beats, because it’s like they are standing around me with hands up, keeping me safe and reminding me to do my thing.
 Us artists, we’re a special breed, one I feel honored to be among. I feel honored to be a part of the movers and shakers of this world who want more beauty and light and unity and feeling. The genuine souls, the ones that create bravely, are the kind of people I want to surround myself with. The intimacy created between you and a few thousand strangers, that’s what I want to witness over and over again, letting it change me.
 I want to be around people who birth beautiful things: even when it’s hard, even when the world says you should quit. It inspires me to keep writing my own birth story, to gently shepherd out this huge story blossoming inside my ribcage.
 I want my life to be this story, this art, this creation. I want every moment I am alive and breathing to bear witness to the fact that I lived and loved and maybe I failed but at least I tried.
 And with every broken bone, I swear I lived

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Whales and Chicks

I read a story a couple of days ago about a man who hugged a whale.
The way he was positioned against the whale made it possible for him to feel her heartbeat as she lay in waist deep water, held up by strangers.
During certain periods in my life certain words hold special meaning, and for me the last few months have been about vulnerability.
I've been forced to become vulnerable and honest with myself and with the people I love. I can feel my body physically responding to the strong emotions my heart is processing, and at times I want to throw my hands up and admit that it's all too much.
I wrote after reading this story that I feel like the whale - 300. I'm almost ready to give up fighting. I'm tired, and my heart aches over stories I hear and can do nothing about and the act of caring literally gets inside of my body. I can't fight the injustices - on a personal or global level - on my own. And I'm psychologically tired as well as physically tired and the only thing I can do is surrender myself into the hands of those gathered around me, to be willing to be vulnerable and trust that these people are here to help me instead of hurt me.
But, I wrote, I also feel like the man. I am aware I am holding something precious in my hands, and I know that we are all connected and that this moment is a gift, even if it is disguised and disfigured at the moment.
Ever since I can remember my grandpa has gotten baby chicks. They are small and fluffy and fit perfectly in the palm of your hand. There are the feisty ones and the quieter ones, the scared and the brave. And this year as I knelt down to pick up a baby chick, all of them huddled together in the corner, I imagined how scared they must be, in a whole new environment and separated from their mothers. To them, I am just another giant shadow, another large hand scooping them up out of what they know. They don't know that I only wish to hold them. There was something almost victorious about the moment when one baby chick fell asleep in my hands.
The vulnerability expressed by that chick, that whale, it makes me wonder if humans really are the best in the animal kingdom.
Because even though I know now the benefits of being vulnerable, something in me is still hesitant. The idea of radical honesty, with others and myself, is still terrifying.
The past few months for me have been another journey into vulnerability. It's uncomfortable, and exhausting. I feel like 300, knowing in a way that the only way to survive the aching of the teaching process is to stop fighting it and breathe. I feel like the baby chick, knowing I must trust the hands that hold me. I feel like the man, knowing that we are all a part of something bigger than ourselves and in my hands I hold a gift.
If caring too much is the thing that is splitting open my heart, I suppose there are worse ways to be broken open.
So be it, Lord, may I be broken for love's sake

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Modesty Debate

It's going around on Facebook again: the modesty debate. Different friends post different articles about modesty, each with their own valid opinion. And I'm tired of hearing about it. Honestly, I think it doesn't matter. Maybe that's not the right attitude to have. But last time I checked no one's salvation was hanging off the fact she decided to wear a mini skirt.
I remember reading the dress code for PRBI and complaining. It was something often discussed between girls in the dorm, something I sighed in frustration about to my friends and boyfriend when all I wanted to do was wear yoga pants and be comfortable, and something I personally never came to terms with.
I don't agree with everything written about modesty in the PRBI handbook. I don't agree with everything written about modesty in every blog post, news article and essay I've read.
So, if I don't think modesty is one of those issues worth fighting over, why am I writing a blog post on it? Mostly because I'm frustrated, and because these thoughts have been stirring up in my mind for a while now.
I'm more than willing to admit right now that my opinions could be wrong. In my mind whether or not I was on the wrong side of the modesty debate way back in college will not effect my eternal salvation. I don't think Jesus cares all that much if I decided to wear yoga pants to class one day. I think He's more concerned with my heart, and how I loved people, and how I served and how I lived my life.
I understand modesty. Growing up I was often told we didn't wear outfits that revealed too much skin in our house. I know the lectures about the first thing the eye wanders to, and keeping others from falling into temptation.
But I think the whole issue of modesty in our churches especially is contributing to rape culture. I believe that teaching girls and young women to cover up to prevent boys from stumbling is teaching her that her body is dangerous. Because she is told to cover up, she is told that her body is something to keep hidden, which can be interpreted to mean that her body is shameful. I got the talks where my parents and youth leaders and other well meaning adults tried to tell me that this isn't the case but as a high school and now college aged girl that's what I'm hearing. Instead of teaching a woman that she is a person of value with a mind, heart, soul and body, she is confined to the idea that she is a stumbling block. I heard it said from a secular perspective that when we tell a girl in class to change because she is being a distraction, we are subtly telling her that someone not being able to control himself is more important than her education. I believe the things we say to rape victims like "Well, what were you wearing?" only further pushes the issue that men cannot control their actions, and women are expected to cover up and show less skin to prevent unwanted advances.
Growing up my parents, sister and I occasionally had the conversation about why someone would want to dress like that. At least for me personally the answer is what I wear has little effect on my body image, self esteem... I wear shorter dresses because I like them and I like how I feel in them, not because I want to show anything off. And in terms of modesty what the length of my hemline or the cut of my shirt doesn't have anything to do with my relationship with God. I'm not less of a Christian for wearing yoga pants to the grocery store. I'm not more of a Christian because I wear long skirts.
One of the biggest arguments I've heard is that lack of modesty (however that is defined) is more of a stumbling block. I've talked about this with guys and girls, and I understand the perspective. I understand that for some people it's a really big issue, and they will do whatever it takes to help the "weaker brother." But during my relentless discussions on this topic with friends (guys and girls) I've heard this: "I'm tired of hearing that I (guys) don't have self control."
I've heard stories of girls (and been the girl) who were called out on the street wearing a hoodie and jeans. I think lust and stumbling will happen regardless of what a woman is wearing, and our thoughts should be more on what can we do to help work against rape culture rather than constantly criticize and comment on what someone is wearing.
In all honesty, I think the modesty debate doesn't matter. The world won't change because every single girl decides to cover up, even if it's out of love and genuine concern for those around her. I think the world will change when we start honestly telling girls that they are beautiful: mind, body, and soul. I believe the world will change when lessons on self control and respect are just as prevalent as those telling young women about modesty.

(While it's not a post specifically on modesty, I love Sarah Bessey's post on why she loves being friends with people who wear bikinis. I agree with a lot of her statements. That post actually inspired some of what's in this post. It's well worth the read. And I'm glad that I'm friends with people who wear bikinis too)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

"You were not saved to be silent"

During the last month or so of school someone I love dearly said to me in a casual conversation, “So you’re a feminist then?” I’ve used the word to describe myself on numerous occasions, but this was the first time I’d heard the word used in a way that wasn’t entirely positive.
 And I am, and before that moment I would have proudly used that word to describe myself, but in that moment I hesitated. And I wish I hadn’t. I wish my response had been a loud and roaring yes. Yes, I’m a feminist because I believe women are people. I feel the reality of sisterhood all around the world inside of me and I can’t silence it, or look away. Women are being mistreated, abused, violated and wronged every single day and I can’t look away, or pretend it isn’t happening, or go back to my daily life where I eat lunch and drink coffee and am not profoundly moved in a deep way that all around the world women are being mistreated simply because they are women.
 And maybe I have some radical views on women in the church, and marriage and motherhood, rape culture and modesty. Maybe that makes me wrong. But if this is wrong, I don’t want to be right. I don’t want to stand by while women are being victimized all over the world. I don’t, in any way, want to bring myself to be part of the problem instead of part of the solution.
 Right now blog posts by amazing women authors and teachers and leaders who I respect are filling up my newsfeed, talking about ISIS and how it is brutally violating our women. And I can’t go back and eat my lunch and drink my coffee after reading about 9 year old girls being sold for as much as it costs to buy a pair of shoes, or mothers being separated from their children. My heart screams that we must do something, because when will we realize that women aren’t property but people? When will we stop destroying our most precious and valuable? When will we stop telling women that unless they are with a man they are nothing, that the only worth they have is the worth he assigns them?
 Years ago a fire was lit in my heart, a fire that burns bright and strong with a passion for women. I became determined not to live the rest of my life as a victim story.
 My dear friend wrote a post a while ago about how she’s gotten to where she is today only because she stood on the shoulders of giants. She wrote that she didn’t know why she got to be one of the lucky ones, but she did.
 I never thought of myself as one of the lucky ones. I know firsthand why we need feminism, why our world needs to adopt a way of thinking that reflects the idea that women matter, and I know the devastating consequences that it can have when even one woman believes she’s not worth it. But sitting here today, surrounded by so much love, finally thriving in my life and not just surviving, in my little house with my coffee, I realize I am one of the lucky ones. My life was never easy, but I made it. I am continuing to make it every single day.
 And with privilege comes responsibility. And I refuse to be silent about the things that matter, about the injustices happening around the world and in our own neighborhoods to mothers and daughters, sisters and friends and human beings. I was given a passion for women, and their stories, born out of the depths of my own story, and I refuse to sit down and do nothing.
 I feel things too deeply. And I feel this strong and steady like a heartbeat. My heart beats for women, for precious and valuable human beings for whom the world doesn’t know their worth. My heart aches and weeps over the injustices happening all over the world, and just down the street, to my sisters.
 I want to be a part of the people who shine like candles in the darkness, making a difference and speaking out about the things that mattered. I may be taking his words a little out of context but a teacher of mine this year always said “You weren’t saved to be silent.” I was not rescued from darkness to sit and let others stumble around in theirs.
 If I could go back to that conversation with my friend, when she asked if I was a feminist instead of hesitating I would say yes. I would say yes loudly and clearly because I believe women matter. If I could go back to every moment in my life where I didn’t reflect that thought, I would. I want to live out a life that reflects the idea that people matter.
 It all started with the radical belief that I mattered. And now I hear the heartbeat of people all around the world echoing my cry: We need to know we matter. We need to create a world that treats people like they matter.
 How can we be silent?
When we don’t belong to each other, we participate not only in the devastation of the world, but a desecration of the image of God"

Sunday, May 17, 2015

What love looks like

I've been hesitant to write much about my relationship publicly God knows I write about it everywhere else, extensively. If you're my friend, or my hairdresser, or some random person who approaches me and asks what's new in my life, chances are you've heard about it. I've never been one of those people who is good at keeping secrets, or loving people quietly. I'm a writer, which means its kind of my job to take every feeling and analyze it. So why haven't I written much about my current relationship? Maybe because a part of me still fears what people will say. By not writing publicly about it, it still feels small and private, like I can protect it. Like anything I write that's super personal, it's scary to let it out and let other people think what they will about it. But I'm also trying this new thing where I stop living out of fear and start living from a place of love, and truth. So, that being said, I wrote a little something on love...

Love looks different now then it did a few months ago.
It looks different then it did 4 weeks ago and it looks very different then it did in January and in just a few short weeks it will look different again.
Did I mention I'm not a girl who likes change? Did I mention that every time love changes ever so slightly I slip into this place of freaking out and thinking everything is ending?
I know a lot of people who could probably write this post better than I could, people who have been in relationships longer than I have, people who understand how love changes better than I do.
But I'm not called to write about other people's stories. The only story about change and love and God I know how to write is my own. And it is my own story that I am deeply, profoundly grateful for.
For a while love looked like sitting on the couches. After meals, before his PWE or after mine, in the stolen moment we carved out in the evenings.
Love looked like card games (or more accurately, one card game played numerous times) and country music
Love looked like long drives down back roads with Starbucks in one hand and his hand in the other.
Love was awkward, learning new things, feeling so happy I couldn't contain it and ended up with a pile of girls huddled together in the dorm bathroom late at night wanting to hear how it all went.
And then he left, and love looked different. And my inability to lean into change left me wondering if there was any way I could do this.
Because they say long distance is hard, but I thought they meant for other people. I thought a few months apart couldn't be that bad. I clearly underestimated how all this change pushed at me within the span of a few days would cause me to spend hours curled up in the fetal position feeling rather hopeless and wishing the summer would just end already so I could return to being surrounded by spirituality, my friends and my 'easier' relationship. I quickly learned that, among other things, long distance is hard.
Love began to look like text messages with spelling mistakes and phone calls that lasted for hours every Tuesday night.
Love was the hours I stayed up praying when he was wrestling with the tough questions, and the times he texted me continuously when I was having a rough moment and crying in a closet somewhere.
Love became "I can do this without you but I'm realizing I don't want to."
Love looks different now than it did during the long college days. And in a few weeks, when he comes back, it will look different again. And once school starts again in September we will enter yet another season where love looks a little different.
And there are moments when all this change is enough to make me curl up in a ball convinced there is absolutely no way I can do this. Someone picked the wrong girl. I never signed up for this hard.
But it's the this hard that is changing the way I look at love. The this hard is making me grateful for the lingering days of less hard we had. It's making me look forward to the future so much more. And the this hard, it is totally and completely worth it.
Because love looks different now, but that doesn't mean it's not there. At least that's what I'm learning.
Learning to love is a crazy journey, one I'm honored to be on. And maybe its just me but I want to be learning to love for a really long time.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

'I don't deserve you'

Last night I cried
Big, messy tears that ruined the makeup I was trying so carefully to apply moments before I was going to walk out of the house.
I cried because I wasn't feeling heard, felt like his every word was a rejection to my vulnerable heart.
I've been feeling that way a lot recently.
Since leaving PRBI almost a month ago, my little heart has been faltering trying to keep up with the pace and more often than not I crawl into bed exhausted. Frustrated at distance and feeling exposed and rubbed raw at whatever God is trying to teach me these days.
This morning I woke up after a fitful sleep where I tossed and turned restlessly after falling into a heap of exhaustion after an argument with someone I love. I felt weakness inside of me, my heart feeling tender in this new, hard stage of life where the last thing I wanted to do was get out of bed and work my way through the to-do list and the rough feeling of not enough and failure that keeps creeping up on me when I'm not looking.
I felt like writing a sign with the same words I spoke last night in a text message I'd written in the heat of my brokenness, wearing it's big bold letters around my neck: Be Gentle with me.
Because my heart is aching and I don't even know why.
Because transformation is happening even when I can't see results.
God is teaching me to lean into His strength and to create new patterns and break away old ruts and to stop resisting the hard and instead be open to what I can be taught in this intimate, vulnerable time.
And it's hard work.
The words I've been furiously writing have been more of a prayer than anything else. I've been curled over the notebook as if I am sheltering the words coming out, writing and writing and writing until there is only emptiness and stillness inside of me, begging and pleading and reflecting and analyzing and turning each story over and over in my hands looking for the grace that appears.
And the change, it isn't happening as fast as I want it to. It's been almost a month and my heart still hurts over letting go, over the weight of the things I've learned in the past year and how they shaped me, began working at changing the ruts in my life.
 This morning I woke up early and stumbled out of bed. I had my hands deep in dish water when this song came through my speakers. And I paused for a moment, letting the sun coming through the window fall on my face.
It's easy to become focused on the hard, the painful, the uncomfortable, the stretching.
In my grumbling and aching and crying I've heard His gentle voice asking me, "Isn't this enough?"
Over and over again I am choosing to say yes.
It's not what I want, but it's enough.
And even this I do not deserve.
And I am grateful.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Taking Chances (& Creating a place to grow goodness)

I haven't been blogging much recently. I've been recycling old things I've written but never shared. I've been writing up a storm in personal word documents and in my journal, on the backs of napkins and in long winded text messages that I send to those I love far away.
But I've missed the aspects of blogging that mean community, sharing my words with people and receiving feedback, engaging in conversation with everyone out there who is listening to what I have to say.
It's on my to-do list for the summer, right next to actually keeping a plant alive and take a trip into town just to go to Starbucks.
Recently I had the privilege of writing a guest post for Nancy Rue's teen blog. I was asked to write on failure. I was asked to write wise words of wisdom on how to walk through a season of failure in the middle of what felt like my own season of failure.
And the words I wrote for these young women were the words I desperately wanted someone to speak over me: You are enough, you are loved, you are a blessing.
I wrote these words on the heels of a powerful Sunday where I skipped church and listened to a podcast in my pajamas with a mug of tea. I wrote these words desperately wanting to believe them true.
The response I've gotten from the girls has been amazing. I wrote the post to teach them, and they ended up teaching me. Isn't that how it always works?
This fall I signed up (with great fear and trembling) to be a Sunday school teacher. I am not the kind of person who teaches Sunday school. I never liked Sunday school growing up. I have this idea in my head that Sunday school teachers were nice people who liked kids and baked cookies and didn't want to teach grown ups.
I don't know how I ended up teaching Sunday school. It pushed all my buttons and every single week it demanded more from me than I thought I had to give and I often felt weak, like I couldn't do this, like I should be better, that if only I could be more like her...
Somehow I ended up with a class of sassy, spunky, crazy grade 3 & 4 girls. I swear they've taught me more than I supposedly taught them. They make me want to be brave and crazy and silly and sassy and not care about what people think of me.
Yesterday was my last Sunday teaching these girls. And I cried just a little bit.
I'm not so sure if I'm cut out to be a Sunday school teacher. But I do know that these girls changed me. And they'll change the world, if we let them. It was an honor to be their teacher this year, and to learn from them.
In the name of being brave, I'm doing some crazy things this summer.
I'm already doing crazy things.
I'm currently working at (working being the key word here) a long distance relationship, which is one of the hardest, best, most full of grace things I've ever done. It's teaching me things about myself and love and God that I never would have known otherwise.
I'm writing a book. I've been saying I'm writing a book for years but now I feel like I'm writing a book. I have a little word document with a few thousand words. It's a humble start but its better than nothing.
I renamed my blog tonight because it's been the same since I started this tender place and I'm ready for a fresh start. I'm ready for good things, open space to grow and become and create goodness.
I'm taking big chances on myself this summer. I'm listening to what I want, and need. And sometimes that feels reckless and stupid but sometimes it feels beautiful and brave.
I want to practice being honest
I want to keep learning more than I teach
I want to keep falling in love with people and places and things
I want to keep feeling things deeply
I want to keep taking chances
I want to be brave

Friday, May 8, 2015

They line up: various shades of colors all neatly organized on a beige towel spread out on the white tile of the bathroom floor. Pinks, greens, purples, various shades of tan and cream and bronze. Neatly lined up makeup brushes frame the disorganized masterpiece. It’s like a canopy, a fencing in, a box. Within it everything is concealed, closed up and contained.
I woke up in the morning, the sun playing peekaboo through the window shades, to a sizeable knot of dread sitting in the center of my stomach.
 Good morning, I whispered to the lump.
 Good morning, the lump replied, I’m scared
 I held the word close to my chest like a mother nursing her young, running my fingers over every aspect of its protruding evidence. I held in my hands the weighted memories of the months gone by, how each and every moment I’d held trembled within my grasp until it finally shattered into a precarious nothing.
 Whenever I tried to mend, I mutilated. Every broken relationship, broken dream, broken heart I tried to knit together between my palms resulted in uneven, jagged edges stitches, various staples, tape and glue holding together this scrappy mirage of what my life was supposed to look like.
 And the immense nature of this seeming failure weighed heavy on my shoulders and presented itself as a lump in my stomach that whispered good morning to me as I fluttered open my eyelashes upon the arrival of the dawn.
 Come, I told the lump, It’s alright to be scared. Let me hold you
I’ve never been good at being the warrior type. My swords are sharp words, my shield the practiced plastic smile. I hide behind the candy apple red lipstick and the gentle smell of perfume, turning myself overnight from victim to vixen.
 I spend too much time hiding under covers, crying in bathrooms, putting on a brave face for the world because once I was taught that showing emotion was a sign of failure and ever since then I promised to never let them see me cry.
 Everything became effortless. Life became alright. I didn’t ask because I convinced myself I didn’t need and if I didn’t need anything from anyone I couldn’t be cut down and left bleeding when they walked away because I wasn’t the girl of the day, or the hour, or the moment.
 I was a cadaver, an empty body reached for, a substitute, something, anything to distract from the present moment. I was an object of their lust, their passionate desire, their drunken denial that anything was wrong. I became parts of their stories but as quickly as I would slide into a role in their narrative I forgot the role in my own.
Get up.
His playful teasing, the way he refused to pay extra attention to my weak points, running over them with a fine tooth comb, obsessing about the details, it made me stronger.
 In a way, it was a ripping off the mask. It was looking at it the same time as he was looking through it, looking at me while he was looking past me.
 Little moments would come when I wasn’t paying attention, when I was walking to class or cleaning my plate or standing in the hallway. Little moments, like his eyes watching me, like the way he told me to wear a coat, all these little chinks in my armor as I was getting ready for class on a Tuesday.
And it unnerved me. Because I’ve practiced the smile and I’ve learned the right way to act so they don’t question and I’ve tried to distance myself from the world so it can’t hurt me and then there is this moment when someone looks right into you, a moment when you look into yourself, and everything shifts ever so slightly.
Not noticeably, not much, but one day it’s a Monday and you’re getting ready for class and you’re late or maybe you’re early and you forgot to brush your teeth or put on deodorant and you’re jumping into your shoes at the same time that you’re shoving yesterday’s homework into your bag and there you are.
 Standing in the mirror, this frazzled mess, but you see this girl and you know her. And your eyes hold hers for a moment too long and you realize that this girl in the mirror is not poised, not perfect. It’s only 7am and the day hasn’t had time yet to make her hard and she’s still soft and round, like a peach.
 And this girl is strong, and weak, and loud and quiet and curves and edges and soft and hard and it doesn’t matter. She’s not hiding behind the paper doll smile. She’s putting on her boots or knotting up her hair or applying that final coat of red lipstick.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


I've been doing a lot of self reflection lately, more so than usual. I've been writing a lot of honest truths, most of which I don't share because they're too real, too vulnerable.
I wrote this months ago. I don't remember the context. I don't even relate to it in the same way anymore. But reading it I can still remember being in that place of honesty.

My body smells like honey.

 When I was 6 years old, my grandpa took me to a bee keeper’s home, where we wandered the rows and rows of boxes that provided homes for the bees.

 I was deathly afraid of getting stung, so I stuck close to his side, finding safety and shelter under my grandfather’s arm. At the end of the tour, the owner offered us some honey.  I enjoyed it on a fresh piece of bread, savoring the taste of it under my tongue.

 There are some things I am unwilling to say goodbye to. There are some childhood memories I hold on to with such ferocity the only way to pry them from my fingers would be with a crowbar. I have bruises on each of my knuckles from the whacks I have received as they have tried to pry my innocence from my grasp.

 My fingers are calloused from holding on, even in all the steely roughness that the past contains. My palms are no longer smooth and soft, but instead take on the form of a solider preparing for battle. I have a gun slung over my right shoulder, my face smudged with dirt, the smoke so stifling I can barely take in a full breath but still I gasp, hoping that through the fog some fresh oxygen will land on my lips and be a respite for my aching soul, a balm for when everything feels like a wildfire.

 I have lived my life in the trenches, learned from the best what it means to always be in control, have been taught to grow inward not outward, to hide my flaws and mask my shame. I still remember the whispers of the voices that begged me to never forget who I am, like long before I had a chance to discover it for myself my destiny was thrust upon me.

 Like a label that stuck, every word they said to me only made me more jaded in my pursuits, more vicious and unkind.

 Have you heard them recently?

 They say I am heartless.

 They say that beneath this steely shell there is nothing but unwavering nothingness, blackness that has consumed the core of me. There is nothing good left in this body, only manipulation and lies that have created my identity.

 If I was heartless the world would not carry so much weight that I would stumble under the load of it all. I would not care so much about this thing inside of my chest that beats, starts and stops, without logic or reason. I would not spend nights sitting awake because only the midnight sky understands what it’s like to be a soldier always running away from the one thing they keep pointing you towards.

 I am always missing the target. I am a bullet perfected for a mission, robot in my animations, cowardice in my courage.

 I have perfected my craft, become good at this one thing, and while it was what they asked of me they still have the nerve to stand before me and demand I change.

 They whisper that long ago I should have out grown my childish games and that I should change who I am, that a real lady is required to be seen but not heard, gentle in her pursuits, calm in her demeanor and never letting another see her sweat. She is an object crafted for perfection, a vision of beauty, a creation that, when held in perfect purity, is like none other.

 She is the unattainable, the desirable, the flawless and unclaimed.

 She is everything I will never be. I am learning to be ok with this.

 She is a pearl, and I am a bullet. Both crafted from something else but our paths never intersect.

 I was a pearl once.

 I was good, and noble, honest and true, pure and upstanding. I was the epitome of everything they want me to be and then some.

 And then they say life happened, as they shake their heads, like somehow changing and allowing yourself to be hurt by this world is a crime, that you are no longer as valuable as the day you opened yourself up to the world.

 Maybe I wasn’t made to be a pearl. Maybe the grizzly harshness of the war always intrigued me, always held a certain appeal.

 I tore my skin apart, ripped my body to shreds, to try and be who I thought they wanted, to be who I thought I wanted.  The dream was dangling in front of me and I would stop at nothing to get it.

 Skinner, smarter, faster, sharper, with less bold turns and razor edges. This is the girl who gets it all. This is the one they stare at as she enters the room because she is everything they ever wanted, a pearl in the highest regard.

 She is everything I will never be.

 A good friend told me that some women are just made for the war, their bodies less soft and round and instead sharper, built like a bullet as it flies from the gun. He recognized the wild passion inside of me and touched it ever so gently. He taught me how to be brave, how to be smart, how to protect myself, how to shoot. He ran his fingers over my casing, seeing me for all I was and not looking the other way. I never appreciated his fingers around my frame when I had the chance.

 They say I am heartless because of this, calloused and bruised, no longer a prized pearl but instead something of far less importance. I am not who they want me to be, and sometimes I’m not so sure I am who I want to be.

 This thing I call a heart that sits in my hand has notches in it from everything in this world that has ever left its mark on me. I keep it in a shell for safe keeping. Every once in a while I bring it out, thrusting it upon someone and asking them to hold it for a while. Most of the time I’m asking them not to break it.

 When it comes back, tattered and bruised, with the edges fraying, I gently polish it with a cloth, binding the wounds and putting it back in the box for safe keeping.

 They still have the tenacity to say I am heartless.

 I say come, inhale this smell that rises off of my body. It is the smell of everything I refuse to let go of, even if it kills me. It is the innocence and the gentleness, the soft nature and the calm demeanor that I refuse to let go of.

 I know it’s still there, tucked away into a secret corner of my tattered heart, because I can still smell the honey.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Lost Stars

I'm restless. Things are calling me away. My hair is being pulled by the stars again
I can never walk straight when the stars are out. My boyfriend always laughs at me because we'll be walking somewhere and he'll have to pull me along because I'm so busy staring at the sky I forget to walk.
I think I've always been enchanted by the stars. The twinkling lights know all my secrets, have seen my midnight tears, reminded me of the stardust in my own veins when I threatened to forget it.
Something about them has always seemed vaguely poetic to me, hauntingly beautiful. And during long, sleepless nights when my heart was aching the stars became my companions in the wee hours when the darkness threatened to overtake everything.

I have loved stars too fondly to be fearful of the night
In April I wrote 30 poems in 30 days.
I ended my first year of college, and said some of the hardest goodbyes I've ever had to say
I think I cried more in April than I have any other month this year: in closets and hallways, in the arms of the stars and the arms of the people I love, in malls and concerts and hospital rooms.
April is a strange mix of salty and sweet, of toughness and softness.
It's a month of writing, which also means it's a month of feeling.

Underneath the stars you met me and underneath the stars you left me, I wonder if the stars regret me, I think they'd like me if they only met me, at least you'll go of your own free will
I've been feeling slightly off balance these days. Sometimes I think I'm scared of the dark, other times its the light that leaves me afraid.
I feel the need to find myself again, to hide among poetry and under the night sky until I remember how to breathe, to curl my body around this ache until it subsides into something softer, something tangible.
I had a moment where I was crying earlier and the only thing I was able to say over and over again was "I want to go home."
And I realized in that moment that home didn't mean a place, or even in that instance a person. I think home meant to myself.
I'm ready to come home to myself now, home to the sky and the earth and the water and the fire and the breath.

The stars look like they would take such good care of you