Sunday, September 22, 2013

Paradise Valley

Sunday morning, the first day of fall. I keep the window open, crawling under blankets to ward off the chill and enjoying the smell of the brisk air.

John Mayer’s music floats through my morning as I pull on and off clothes, trying to figure out something to wear that fits the person I’m supposed to be today.

And I think maybe it’s time to start over.

I was thinking last night about how nobody ever gives you permission not to do something. You get permission to be angry, permission to hold on to all of this stuff. But nobody ever gives you permission to let go of all that. Nobody gives you permission to not hate the person who took everything from you. Nobody ever gives you permission to let go of all of the things you’ve been holding onto.

For a few years I was stuck in a place where I was just gathering up things and holding them close. I really drew into myself and then in a matter of six months or so everything that was inside of me poured out. And it was a hard six months, and it was a time where I had to start over.

The call this year to go out and to go beyond myself hasn’t been an easy one, at all. I get anxiety and these moments where I’m just paralyzed and I sit there and go “I can’t do this. What do I think I’m doing?”

I got my heart broken and I was trying to be this person who I felt like I should be. And at this point in my life, I think I’m learning that I need to give myself permission to do the things that no one gives me permission to do.
I guess in these past few weeks I’m giving myself permission to feel things a lot more than I did before. I’m giving myself permission to not be angry and to drop this and to drop that and to admit when I’m in over my head. And it’s hard, and it’s exhausting, and sometimes there is that paralyzing moment when I have no idea how I’m supposed to do this and I’ve probably cried more in this past little while than I have in a while.

But I’m giving myself permission to feel and to say No, that’s not working for me and to change things and to let go of things and add things and mix and match and mess around with my life. And I think that’s what makes an artist.

I can tell you that in the past few weeks, I’m making a lot more art and writing more and making more music than I have in a really long time, and its stuff that I’m actually happy with. And I’m writing about love and getting your heart broken and I’m answering some of my own questions and I’m getting inside of myself and I’m just feeling. I’m messing around with things and I’ve really been pushed into this place of figuring out what works for me and what doesn’t.

I think I’m more connected with myself than I have been in a while, and I’m also more outside of myself. And I’m figuring out what works for me and what doesn’t and what I need to stay sane and what I don’t need that I thought I did and I’m discovering stories and seeing people and seeing myself in a way that I don’t think I could have before.

I’ve gone through a lot in my life, and I think that for everything there is a price. And I used to think I was broken. I used to think that my heart and soul were broken beyond repair. And I do think that those four or so years of my life did cost me something. Parts of my relationships and my intelligence and control and ideologies that I had. But I’m realizing now that I didn’t lose my soul.

I think right now I’m more content than I have been in a long time. I’m on a bit of a learning curve and I’m dabbling in things and trying this and walking away from that and I’m figuring out what works for me. And it’s hard, but I’m learning what it means to fall in love again.
 And I have a feeling this next little while is going to be one where I figure out who I am and what works for me and what doesn’t and maybe breaking some rules and giving myself permission and just being. And I honestly feel somewhere inside of me that this is where I need to be.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

All You Need Is Love

She set her head on the desk and leaned her cheek against the smooth surface and closed her eyes, for a brief minute falling into a world where nothing hurt.

 The legs of his chair banged against the floor as he moved to sit as close to her as the plastic surfaces they sat on would allow, wrapping his arms around her waist and resting his cheek against her shoulder.
And this moment was like a drug to her, like an intravenous drip running into her veins restoring her faith in humanity and kindness and beauty and the world slowly and all at once. And his arms around her were like a shelter, a fortress that when the winds raged outside of her windows and the rain beat against the panes and the world was carrying on as if it was in the middle of a hurricane, kept her safe and dry. And inside his arms the world made sense and sometimes when the world is hard all it takes to give you that push to keep going is knowing that someone is on your side.

It’s a pair of arms to go home to after a long day and it’s the hand to hold as you walk through the hallways of a place where everyone is trying to convince you to be someone other than yourself. And it’s those eyes that return you to your center, even when you feel as though you’ve lost your island and you’re lost in this storm with the raging winds and the rain. It’s having a person, someone who believes in you when you don’t quite believe in yourself and someone who reminds you of all the reasons why you’re worth loving when you seem to have forgotten them.

And it’s the harbor and it’s coming home and to her, he was all of that. And as he wrapped his arms around her and ran his fingers through her hair and kissed her pale skin, he was reminding her of the million and one ways she deserved to be loved.

And sometimes the world hits hard and the raging storm becomes a hurricane, a force of nature like no other, and it’s all anyone can do to stay standing. And sometimes the harbor cracks under the pressure and it just becomes two children lost in a storm. And so she cradles his head in her hands, pouring back into him the strength he infused into her. She moves her hands in small, meticulous circles over his ink black hair and her lips are moving but I can’t make out the sound and all of it appears to be like some kind of secret promise. Because when the world hits you hard and knocks you down and it’s all you can do to get out of bed in the morning and still believe in the good and the beautiful, you find safety in company. And where his heart was jaded and broken fit perfectly with the scars and jagged edges on her own and as his strength bore into her, her strength poured into him and it was this dance, a tender game of give and take.

And she sat up and looked him in the eye and she lifted her fingers and placed them on his chest, in the very spot his heart is. And his heartbeat pounded against her hand and in these life giving beats she was reminded of how beautiful life is and of the fragility and tenderness of being tragically human and how sometimes all it takes to believe in yourself is having another person believe in you.

Like two children in a storm they huddled together, creating their own force of nature, their own shelter from the incoming hurricane. With broken pieces and jagged edges and the jaded fragments of themselves that didn’t belong, a safe harbor was built.
With his heartbeat under her fingers and his arms around her waist, she found the courage within her to calm even the deadliest sea. She found a thread called beauty and a string called hope and a piece of ribbon labeled love and she used them to stitch up whatever had been inside of her that had broken.

And I guess they had been right when they said all you need is love.

Sometimes you have moments when you lose yourself. Among piles of homework and crowded halls and the lack of sleep and the infection that is taking its toll, you become someone you didn't know you could be a few months ago. Instead of thriving you're merely surviving and life becomes a gauntlet run of sorts, an obstacle course, something just to get through.
I woke up this morning not wanting to wake up. I hit the snooze button a few too many times. My stomach was in knots as I sat in my first class, untying the knot that had been made of the apron strings.
And in these moments, when life becomes just another task to check off your to-do list, you can forget about the beauty of humanity and the beauty in the world and all that has the potential to stir something within you and make you scream "Yes! I felt that. And I am more than just a collection of cells and tissues, I am a person."
I was sitting in the library, looking at a text book I wasn't reading, when I saw them. Two people sitting a few yards away from me. And inside of me they sparked a story.
They reminded me of the most beautiful thing, something I had forgotten as I paced in the trenches and was tossed around by a life that feels like you're juggling too many plates and sooner or later something is going to come crashing down.
They reminded me of the beauty in being tragically human, in being vulnerable and being fragile. And I felt something stir inside of me, something that reminded me that I, too, am a part of this human race and within me is the potential for that kind of beauty and that kind of love.
And life is hard and exhausting but it is also beautiful, if you look.
And I want to look. I want to see people that make me stare, unable to look away, and that make me fall in love with the world all over again, that stir within me stories and feelings that remind me that yes, I am human, and yes, this is what it means to be alive.
Sometimes, in the middle of an ordinary day when life seems un-ordinarily  heavy, people come around who spark within you a fire that you can use to warm yourself and regain strength. They remind you that life is beautiful, and they make you fall so in love with the world and these people and this moment and this feeling that you can't even breathe.

So, to the couple in the library, thank you. Thank you for reminding me of the beauty that still exists, and for lighting a fire of strength and passion inside of me when I felt like I was slowly losing (myself, this battle, my hope, passion, strength and love).
Sometimes, if you open your eyes and look up, people will surprise you. There will be beauty, enough to remind you that you are human and of the reason that you do this day in and day out.
Become a beauty seeker and see love, and be love, and let it penetrate your being and then reflect it back out into the world.
Because sometimes all you really need is love.

I was asked to do a guest post for my friend Crystal's new blog with the topic "Keep Walking." It was published today, and you can check that out here

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Year One

If you would have told me a year ago that I would be here today, I wouldn't have believed you.
Because a year ago today my world was shaken and I found it just a little bit harder to breathe. I was just a little bit broken.
Because there's no hiding from the truth when it looms before you on a prescription pad, glaring evidence of everything that went wrong.
I fought to get here. I was broken and, at one time or another, during those very dark first few months, I thought my situation was hopeless. I got angry, I cried and screamed and lost it and some days I didn't want to get out of bed.
There was overwhelming guilt, and the frustration and agony that comes with not understanding what is going on inside of your own body and being responsible for your own downfall. Those first few months were agonizing. I spent days and weeks and months trying to define for myself what this new life would look like, because I didn't know how to live anymore. I had to find, and speak, my truth, and I had to learn how to be authentic in a world where everyone was telling me who to be and how to act and what I needed to do.
A year ago today I got the news that changed my life and my world caved in and I fell into the depths of it for a while. Some days I didn't want to live in the dark abyss my life had become.
5 long, trying, exhausting months later, in a church pew, I finally broke. I was buried in an avalanche of guilt and fear and exhaustion and sickness and pain and grief and I basically told God that if He wanted me to live, He better do something because I wasn't going to live like this.
And, obviously, not too long after that, my life began to change.
So I'm sitting here today, in a place I never thought I would be. I'm rising up from the ashes, like a phoenix.
And while some days are still unspeakably hard and my heart is still scarred, I made it through my first year.
On this anniversary day, I do think back to what could have been. It's hard not to think about what your life could have been like or should be like or...
But the what it's don't matter. All they do is make it impossible for me to heal.
So I'm looking back on the past year with gratitude, and maybe a bit of sadness for the girl who took so long to figure out that you get to choose what defines you, and that sometimes terrible things don't break you, but save you.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Feeling Of Found

The feeling of being found is not something I take lightly.
I fall in love with words.
Stories whispered so quietly they barely reach my ears in voices dripping with mystery and promise, stories that are so beautiful that even reading them feels like an invasion.
I've never met the person who wrote me this beautiful story and left it for me to find, like pieces of treasure blown by the breeze, and yet I have fallen in love with the way that reading simple words on a page could stir something inside of me that has been dormant for so long.
I fall in love with feelings.
The feeling of being found in a crowded room, of how you said my name like it was some exotic and beautiful thing. The feelings I didn't know lived inside of me anymore until you spoke my name and made me beautiful and breathed life back into these tired bones.
In these days when everything feels so new and overwhelming and foreign, when its so easy just to get lost, the feeling of being found is not something to be taken lightly. I've fallen in love with the feeling of being found, in whatever form it finds me.

“Brigan was saying her name, and he was sending her a feeling. It was courage and strength, and something else too, as if he were standing with her, as if he'd taken her within himself, letting her rest her entire body for a moment on his backbone, her mind in his mind, her heart in the fire of his.
The fire of Brigan's heart was astounding. Fire understood, and almost could not believe, that the feeling he was sending her was love.”