Saturday, November 11, 2017

lessons from my dear mama

I've been pretty bad (really bad, but I'm trying to be gentle with myself) at keeping up on my blog.

Today I was reading various publications I love and adore and pour over on slow mornings. Things like New York Times Modern Love, everything from The Rumpus, and Tin House. Anyway, I realized I created my blog because no matter how much I love all of these publications, I wanted my words to have a home that felt particularly cozy and without judgement. That was/is Life is This. And I'll try and be better about bringing the words home more often.

I woke up today with my mama real heavy on my heart. I'm getting older and learning how much I love her as a person. How essential she was/is to my becoming. How safe I feel knowing she just gets me.

She has taught me so much over the years. Directly and indirectly. Just by shining her light and loving me. She believes in me like no other. If I told her I was going to learn Japanese by tomorrow, she would say, "Oh, honey, I totally believe you could," and then, "Maybe we could go to Japan together someday."

She knows the ins and outs of who I am. She knows the weight of my bones and still cradles them when I come to her crying or overjoyed. Gosh, I adore her.

I was realizing this week that I didn't really know my mother until my parents divorced. I knew she was a daughter and then a girlfriend and then a wife and then a mom, but I didn't know that at some point, I would get to know her when she only belonged to herself.

Watching her switch from being someone's to being her own was like watch someone try and fly a kite- when at first there is no wind and it's bouncing on the ground and the string is caught around the wrist, and then frustration and patience are suddenly met with a gust of wind and the kite just soars.   My mom went from flightless to being the highest, brightest thing in the sky. And honestly, I could watch her soar through her life, her very own life, forever.

Here is a list of ten things she has taught me. They are the things I've journaled about over the years and when I re-read them I can't help but think, "the lady was always right."

1. You are the only person who can truly care for you. Hug your body. Be gentle with your soul.
2. The thing that gets you out of bed every morning has to be your own.
3. Flossing is essential. Essential oils are also essential.
4. There's a beating under your ribs and wherever that beating calls you, go there and live.
5. Living outside your truth is more painful than the feeling of disappointing others.
6. Find things to be okay in every moment. Do things that serve your being.
7. Black lace underwear should never go in the dryer.
8. Life opens up to those who are already standing with their face towards the sun, speaking "thank you's" to the world.
9. Maya Angelou can be quoted in nearly any situation. People's energy can just be "off." Sticking up for yourself is not the same thing as being a "bitch."
10. Dancing, giggling, baking things with "a whole lot of love" are all crucial to staying sane.

And for bonus, something she says to me that never fails to soothe like honey and hope: it all unfolds exactly as it should.

she's also just the cutest

My mama's wisdom has always been a favorite writing topic of mine, more posts here.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

15for25 // Stephanie

I met Stephanie while vacationing in Lake George with my family. Her daughters were playing with my littlest cousin, and as we started talking, about life, about dreams, about being a woman, I recognized (and deeply admired) a strength in her that seemed to be just so deep in her being. 
That was nearly two years ago. I still admire her, and after reading this list of hers, I realize meeting her wasn't a coincidence, but a happening that would lead me to answers I didn't even know I had questions about. 

Please, please take the time to read this. If you have ever felt sad, hurting, or helpless. If you are a woman or a man. Read this and hold it close. Thank you times a million for sharing, Stephanie. 

15 for 25, by Stephanie Cosentino 

I wasn't always depressed, but I have spent almost 20 years of my life barely living, but...alive; I WAS breathing after all, even though sometimes I needed help to do even that. The years passed and life continued to happen around me and to me, but I stayed stuck in a very dark place. I fell at the age of 23.  I went from five glorious and golden years to hell, where I was no longer who I thought I was and nothing was what it once seemed. When I write, there's little I can write about that doesn't in some way pertain to this depression. There are few, if any, memories that exist that don't, in some way, remind me of my depression, even if it's to say they happened "before I became depressed".
Without a doubt, I am currently no longer depressed. It took years of very hard work, focusing very introspectively, living in a my own world and finally, in this very year, the help of medication, to come out of my depression. But I did it. And here are the 15 things my suddenly depressed, despondent, and scared 25 year-old self desperately needed to hear.  

1- Enjoy the destruction. I'm surprised I didn't get this concept then. I used to do one massive weekly housecleaning and on cleaning day, I'd thoroughly enjoy being a little destructive and not caring about being in a mess. A messy house is one thing, but a messy life was scary. Going from a 4-semester-Dean's-List-student at university, to failing the entire 5th semester scared me. Going from 5-day-a-week gymrat to a 5-night-a-week cokefiend scared me. Going from happy and optimistic to crying and miserable scared me. For years, I held on to my Golden Years, looking backwards and stuck, unable to accept they were over. So, yea, enjoy the destruction, really get into not giving a f*ck. These miserable, introspective years will end up being the source of your future strength. Enjoy the moment, whatever moment you're in. Even if you hate it, be present, because...

2- It's a phase. It will end. The good and the bad. Nothing lasts. Let things go gracefully. Let people go gracefully. I learned this with age, but mostly, I learned this from motherhood. Babies' overall growth is fast and furious in their first 3 years. Phases are everything. Transition is hard, but understanding that nothing stays the same will make it easier to keep from getting stuck. Change is the only constant, so it would be wise to stay in the middle of the wheel without getting attached to the ups and downs of the life cycle.  

3- It's ok to be superficial. There is a time to have fun, let loose, be silly, be light. For too many years, I focused only on all the "bad" things going on. 9/11. The Bush Era. The Kardashian freak show. Poison in our food. Disease knocking people out of my life. The climate changing. Poverty versus extreme wealth. Wars. I carried a cross and never let myself remember there were also good things to celebrate. I cried constantly. I felt hopeless. And one day, I realized that my misery and gravity weren't making the world a better place, only taking me deeper into a downward spiral, killing my light, the only thing that was worth anything. Laughter makes the world better, so laugh. If you find a pretty lipstick shade, it's ok to enjoy it. Don't be so serious. 
4- You can only change the world by changing your world first. I can't feed the multitudes of starving humans or bring peace to the Middle East and focusing on that cut off any power I potentially had. I can visit my sick friend. I can forgive my sister-in-law for hurting me and ask to be forgiven for hurting her back. I can mediate my brothers' feud. I can try understanding my boyfriend's point of view instead of just my own. I can donate to the local food pantry. I can run for local office and make my community a better place. It all starts with Me exactly where I am today.

4- You are so f*cking strong. You may be broken, but you continue to wake up every day to be better, to right your wrongs, to face the mirror and acknowledge your flaws. Not everyone can handle deconstructing their illusions. You're stronger than you know.   

5- Go slow. Focus on the flow. I spent years struggling AGAINST depression. Until one day, I realized I could sometimes stop and just be where I am and be a witness to my life instead of an actor. When you stop, you learn how to breathe, you gather your bearings and realize you can actually touch the ground. Life can be a struggle, but it doesn't have to be. Life can be chaotic, but you can always always find peace IN the chaos. In fact, finding peace in the chaos is the point of life. Nothing can break you when you're in peace. Not wars. Not cranky children. Not asshole bosses. Not unprepared presidents. Not ungrateful friends. Life is a journey, so go slow and focus on the flow.

6- Feel the pain. When my daughter was 2, she cried incessantly. Like 6-8 hours a day. I couldn't handle it after a while and I took her to a Dr. While, of course, I wanted her to be the happy baby she once was, the Dr. told me it wasn't my job to make her happy. It was my job to keep her safe, fed, clothed and healthy. Happy came after, maybe. Happy came if she wanted it to. So I created a safe place for her to feel her pain, a neat little corner in her room with crayons and paper and play-dough and paint. Now, my still somewhat anxious 8 year-old looks to her art as a release as well as a pleasure. So, learn to feel the pain because there will always be pain. If you run, it will catch up to you. If you self-medicate, the pain will still be there, underneath, waiting to reappear when you're least expecting it. Cry in your car, yell at the winter ocean, beat a pillow, fall onto the floor and surrender to it. Meet it face to face. It just wants to be acknowledged and then it goes away. It may be replaced for a while with other emotions. It will return. Feel. Release. Repeat.

7- Never, ever chase someone who is walking away from you. The most important relationship is with yourself. When that is solid, everything else in your life falls into line. Love yourself. Forgive yourself. Respect yourself. Your life matters. Don't be selfish but don't be selfless. It took me 20 years to truly understand that my life matters. I count. Not more than anyone else, but certainly not less than anyone else.

8- Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. Then, breathe again. There are different ways to breathe for different reasons. Learn them. Use them. Stop and Breathe.

9- Look in the mirror. Say your name. Own your life. Take responsibility for your entire life. Did I fuck up? I did. Am I perfect? I am not. Can I do better? Yes, always. While it's easy to own our good deeds and characteristics, it's essential to own our dark side, because no matter how good you are, you have a bad side. You will hurt people, sometimes accidentally, sometimes on purpose. When you own it, you can fully apologize, you can fully forgive yourself, you can fully accept your consequences and you can fully move on. When you own your life, the control is in your hands. Your happiness is in your hands, as is your sadness. Your decisions are yours. Even if you decide to let someone else decide, that's your decision. When you let someone hurt you, that's your decision. Own your life. Say your name. Remember who you are. POWER. 

10- Don't procrastinate. Do it. Do it now. Do what scares you. Do what makes you smile. Do your obligations. Do what you say. Do what fuels you. Do it today.

11- Respect money, but don't worship it and don't hate it. I'll write it again. Do not hate money. Money is not evil, though it seems that way. Make money. Make lots of money even, but don't do work FOR the money. Being poor doesn't make you happy and neither does being rich. Spend more money on experiences than on things. Be smart with money. Educate yourself about money. Use money as an extension of yourself. Pay your bills on time. Don't abuse credit.

12- Pray. Pray hard. Pray often. Pray in the morning. Pray in the night. Pray for your enemies. Pray. And don't forget that when you stop praying, you must sit in silence, so you can hear your prayers being answered. 

13- Respect your femininity and exalt your womanhood. Growing up surrounded by 3 brothers and 3 very close boy cousins, all their friends and my old-fashioned patriarchal, misogynistic father I rarely considered females to be as strong or important. I thought I'd prefer to be a man in my next life, or even in this life. Then I became a mother. To 3 girls. Oh shit. The world needs women to be women. We have everything it takes to make this world a better place and it's our time to turn things right side up. My mother exuded a strength that didn't come from her protests, while I, even until I marched on Washington this past January, protested until I lost my voice. No need for that. We must simply accept our inalienable God-given rights with our God-given strengths. Watch out world. It's our turn now. Time for the Divine Feminine to take her place.

14- It's ok to go on medication. By 25, my depression had taken hold and I felt the shift in my brain. There were moments through the years when I actually felt my brain changing and I wished I could see what was happening. I wished I could map and see what parts of my brain were lighting up and sadly, which parts were shutting down because I knew something was happening. I knew a few of my friends were on medication, Happy Pills, they called them, but I didn't ask for anything. In order to deal with the changes in my behavior, I retreated and dealt with them mostly on my own. It wasn't until this year, at 40, that I knew without a shadow of a doubt that my brain chemistry has been altered and no matter the amount of yoga or meditation or therapy or exercise or proper nutrition or sleep or awareness could make that final shift for me, to be ok enough to go back out into the world. So, Me at 25, it's ok to go on medication. Just don't forget to keep working through the issues with the same tenacity. Don't decide to skip the hard work because you feel better.

15- Depression is not the end. It really is the beginning and you're lucky it's happening in your twenties. You will come through it, stronger, better, more aware, more compassionate, more Lit from inside when it's over. You're young and arrogant. Beautiful and smart...on the outside. Your depression will humble you and you'll come out beautiful and wise from the inside. And one day it will be over. Look forward and move forward. First it will be inching, then it will be crawling, then one day you will stand up, wobbly, but you'll be standing. And then you'll walk and before you know it you'll be running. Depression is hard and it sounds bad, but it will be the best thing to ever have happened to you.    

This is an ongoing series on my blog, if you would like to read more, click here.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Graduation, here's to the next beginning

I didn't know if I would have time to write something before I graduated, but right now, as I sit in my room and listen to the dryer tumble and my breath soften and the stillness of this present moment, I realize it would be a disservice not to write how big and beautiful this part of my life feels.

Tomorrow, I receive my Bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in Professional Writing.

I get asked all the time what I will do with an English degree. Despite how silly I feel the question is, I have never felt the need to defend getting a Liberal Arts degree. I have felt the need to warn people- a degree in the arts reveals truths and depths that are often hidden at life’s surface. The choice to dive in is one for those who are a little daring, a little curious. I’ve learned more about what it means to be kind, compassionate, and human in these last five years than I ever expected. Reading and writing does more than improve your spelling and comprehension, it reminds you that these lives of ours are complex and complicated and never a singular suffering. I’ve learned some of the most difficult things to say are the things we write and read about. I’ve learned that pages can be bound with hope and we can clench words to our chest, knowing that they are our guide to freedom. I’ve learned years and years can pass but we read the same things because we have the same questions. I've learned we never, ever have to stop listening to the voice in us that begs to create something. If anything, your calling turns into a screaming when you step into the place you are meant to be.

Studying English Literature revealed that six-year-old me wasn’t aimlessly writing from her top bunk when her family was asleep on lazy Sundays- she was writing her story. She wrote because she had to. Writing is what I’ve done when I’m my most happy and my most not-so-happy. Writing has got me into the habit of erasing and editing what doesn’t fit. Making big, breathy room for what does. Letting things go. Believing in a beginning. Beginning again.

That’s the beauty of this whole life of ours, isn’t it? That we get to begin again. Whenever feels fit. The beauty is that there is a place and a space for all of us and whether it takes five years or fifty years to discover and pursue what we love, we get there.

The “getting there” has been my favorite part of college. Getting to freshmen year and studying the wrong things when all I could do was write. Getting to sophomore year and discovering there was a whole department that felt the weight of words and loved them like I did. Taking a trip to Bali, Indonesia (alone, like any good melodramatic 19-year-old does) and feeling so proud that I was the soul I get to care for. Getting to junior year and beginning an internship at the Las Vegas Sun, and then taking a semester abroad, learning to love and forgive myself in Pau, France (while eating my weight in baguettes and patisseries). Getting to junior year 2.0 and having the most influential academic year of my career. I can’t even sum up the magic that each of my professors brought into each lecture. And now I’ve gotten here, year five, and I realize what maybe I’ve always known: everything has been as it should. The missteps, the wrong turns, the questioning, the longing, the hurting, all of it. Because how else would I be here? It took all these years and all the compassion, inspiration, hope, and a whole lot of beautiful books and people to read them with. Every day I thought was just a mundane happening was magic lighting my whole life, and I am endlessly grateful.

I am in this place now where I realize I never uncovered my path, I simply unraveled it. Like a spool undoing itself but this one from my very core- the path I am on today has always innately been apart of me. Without all my incredible professors, friends, family, and roughly three cups of coffee every day, I don’t think I would have had the courage to walk it.

Thank you to all those who have supported me. Thank you specifically to my mom for carrying what was too heavy for my own shoulders, and reminding me I’d never have to bear the weight alone. She has always told me, “education is the one thing no one can take away from you.”

And here I am, year five, with my own suitcase full of knowledge and the overwhelmingly wonderful feeling that I have everything I need to go anywhere I please.

Here’s to the next beginning.


Monday, April 17, 2017


When I was studying abroad and felt this overwhelming obligation to live my life to the fullest and recognize the sheer grace and forgiveness I had been granted, I wrote a list.
It started as little notes, things I wish I could have said to my teenage self while I was hurting, lost, scared, and searching. The list was everything I had learned and every bit of love and light I had picked up along the way.
I didn't know all the beauty that was coming my way and all the beauty that was already in front of me and was being overlooked. Sometimes reflection doesn't happen until the tough (and wonderful) moments pass us.
I was never sure whether I would share my list- it's personal on deep levels and feels very much "mine". But my struggles were not singular. They still aren't.

Here is my list: 15 Things I Would Tell my 17-Year-Old Self.

1. Say what will otherwise make you sick to keep inside. Holding back your truth will make you feel worse than it could anyone else.

2. Don't let insults and shame be rent-free tenants in your one and only home. You are enough. Say that phrase often. There is something you need that only you carry. (I know-that's complicated stuff). Loving yourself as you are will be the toughest and most rewarding job you have.

3. Make a list of what you want to be and I can promise you "pretty" and "skinny" won't come before kind, honest, empathetic, driven, adventurous, genuine, and brave. Make a list of people you adore and why you adore them and I can promise you "pretty" and "skinny" do not make the list.

4. Listen to your guidance counselors when they say you are important and can do hard things. One day, you'll know it to be true.

5. Enjoy the time you don't pay rent, bills, and tuition. Enjoy the time where you *think* you have cellulite and are clueless about W-2 forms and car payments.

6. I wouldn't change what is going to happen to you but I would be lying if I didn't say sometimes, it's too much for even our fierce frame.

7. That being said, there are moments I am so eager for you to sit in. I can't even sum them up for you. They are magic and forgiveness and radical love, wrapped into one. You'll get it when it comes to you but until then, I'll tell you: this life of yours is without a doubt the most beautiful gift you'll ever receive. Not everything has to make sense to work out in the end. Clarity and time will bring you understanding that no one was trying to hurt you- you can't expect someone to be your life raft when they are also drowning. (Can I tell you something? When you are treading water for what feels like years, place your feet down. The ground is closer than you think. Stand tall, my sweet.)

8. This year reveals what you have always known- he's sick. The apology doesn't come. The wounds from his absence don't heal in one summer. They don't heal while you stare at his empty seat the first, second, thirdfourthfifthsixth Thanksgiving. You are more than the glass in his hand. You are more than tiny white pills and decisions that shatter a family. Longing for someone and losing them are two heartaches you'll revisit often. The good news? You get stronger with every season.

9. When you retreat to your room to write and tell yourself, "it's just a hobby"- you're wrong. You are a talent. Sing praise to yourself like your mother does in your birthday cards. The voice you are hushing? That's yours, my dear. You are the goodness of your own story so write it.

10. When your sister is in the hospital and you stare at her wondering if you could lose her forever, when you wash her hair in the shower and hold on to it a little longer because the doctors said The Word, when you drive through Red Rock and stop at the overlook to scream at the top of your lungs because someone, somewhere has to hear you, my goodness, I wish I could hug you as I write this. Because everything will be okay and sometimes it won't. You'll spend the next few years holding your breath every time she hurts or gets sick. You'll learn about the fragility of life and the art of handling it more carefully. Lizzie proves to be everything that hope and redemption are made out of. So when she looks at you from her bed of tangled wires, beeping monitors, new scars and says, "Kate, I'm still so lucky" - believe her.  

11. In high school, you and your friends will have sleepovers and talk about dream homes with his and her sinks and how you'll have a sweet hubby by 22... I'm here to break the news: you don't get married by 22.
23 isn't looking so hot either. But, your early 20's are a beautiful adventure even with a ring-less left hand. (Also, Ryan Gosling gets married in 2014 so you can let go of that dream).

12. You'll find your faith in the mundane. It's not always where you would think to look. You learn the most about words and the weight of them by living in a country where you don't speak the language. You will feel the power of forgiveness on damp cliffs of Ireland. You will share some of your most meaningful conversation drinking out of old pasta sauce jars with a new friend. Your mom's hugs will prove to be the safest place to retreat and rest. The little moments reveal the biggest truths.

13. Let go of what is too heavy to hold on to.

14. You spend so much time feeling too big for your body and too wordy for those who just stare blankly and too forgiving for those who reserve their apologies and too emotional for people who never cry. Just be. Be all those things because it's who you are. Be the girl that cries when a stranger is hurting, be the girl that forgives because you've been given radical grace and you know all are deserving, be the girl that doesn't judge because you learned a long time ago that people and their lives don't have to look like your own to be worthy. Be the girl that doesn't turn down a chance to listen. Be the girl that ignores the world when it claims you are a little "too" much of anything.

15. You are loved beyond measure so love back beyond measure.  Live in the blessings spoken to you. Be kinder than necessary. I wouldn't change a thing about this life of ours because *spoiler alert* everything unfolds just as it should.

Thank you for reading my novel of a list. If you liked mine, check out the beautiful, vulnerable women that shared theirs too,15for_.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Questions we can stop asking ourselves

Lately, life has felt big and constantly adjusting and weird. It has also felt equally wonderful and full and livelier than ever. I’ve been asking a lot of myself. I’m on the brink of graduating *gets up from computer and dances obnoxiously*, I’m interning for a company I really love, and I’m trying to do right by the six-year-old me who had these big, wild plans that could not be water-downed or altered by anything or anyone.

The only way I know how to get in touch with that six-year-old me is by asking myself what my life feels like when I am in my truth. Not what it looks like. Not if I'm pretty enough, put together enough, buying the best things, doing the right things, painting the picture that I have it all together. Instead, letting it feel what it needs to. Letting myself feel what I need to. Stopping to be gentle with myself and allowing the small and always necessary mistakes to happen.

Today, I decided I would stop asking myself questions that pull me further from the person I innately am. I decided to also write this blog post and make a list- because part of me is sure I am not the only one asking these questions.

 Let’s practice big love and self-care today, here’s to all of you. Xo.

Questions we can stop asking ourselves:

1. What’s wrong with me?
Nothing. Seriously, nothing. If you are asking this, it’s probably because you are either a) going through a tough time or b) giving yourself a tough time. Maybe something in your life needs adjustment, or a completely shift entirely, but that’s life. That’s not you being “wrong”, it’s you being human.

2. Do I/my legs/my arms/etcetcetc look fat in this?
Guess what? Clothes don’t make you weigh any more or less. Some make us appear smaller, some larger. But you are the same body proportions no matter what. Lamenting over something that I can guarantee no one else is noticing is a waste. Also, I LOVE this video and it’s a good watch for those who struggle with this:

3. Why is everyone doing so much better than me?
I recently started yoga, and my usual you-must-be-the-best-at-this mentality came out. I looked around and saw handstands, backbends, and limbs twisted in positions that hurt me just by looking. So this past class, when I felt my body ask me to please slow down- I did. I laid there. It was awkward for all of 28 seconds. People kept moving. When we got to savasana (fancy word for lying still), I starting crying. I couldn’t help but think as I laid still and quiet, “I so often silence my own needs in order to keep up with some expectation that literally no one is asking of me, but me.” We are only responsible to look at how we are doing and feeling, not in comparison or contrast to anyone else. We have an obligation to our body and our heart, and the care of it is ours and only ours.

from Frances Cannon

4. Why is this* taking so long?
*finding a job, finding a partner, finding the perfect home, figuring out life- the list is endless. And the answer is simply because (and because I have known this to be my truth and the truth of the oldest, wisest people I know): everything is happening in the time it should. Things that are meaningful take time to grow and flourish. Our lives are a giant, mysterious, and often frustrating unfolding and we’ve got to be patient and gracious with it. So enjoy the process of creating what it is you are seeking and you’ll love it all the more when it reveals itself.

image via Pinterest

5. Are he/she/they happy with me?
I mean, sometimes this is valid, but if you aren’t happy with yourself, this question doesn’t matter. You do the best you can. You show up and do things from a place of honesty and empathy and self-respect. And those who will be happy with you are happy. And those who aren’t probably spend too much time stressing on the questions listed above.

Wishing you all the best week filled with moments that make your life feel extra good.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Women's March: Las Vegas

This post is simple: I am feeling grateful and overwhelmingly proud of the way cities united today. I am hopeful that we can represent what America is: unique, diverse, blended, beautiful. I kept thinking of all the ways I can continue to live a life that makes all feel acknowledged and welcome- and staring at the women, men, and children around me today, I couldn't help but think they were doing the same. Below are photos from the march in Las Vegas. 

There is also a journal entry I wrote a few days after the election that I always felt shaky to share. Maybe it revealed to much about my sensitivity and heartbreak. But what are these lives of ours for if not to be vulnerable and open? 

I hope you enjoy the photos and the post, grateful for each and every one of you that reads this blog of mine! You are the vision and the hope I see for this world. 

This was my uber driver on the way to the walk, Delana. She asked me
march for her and her daughters. She was the kindest woman, who missed
the walk to work for her family. SO much love to this one!

10.10.16 Journal Entry: to those still crying, this is where we take our lives back 

You can cater your life to someone else. Let it rest for so long in their hands it no longer looks like the dreams, hopes, and wonders you had thought about the world. You can give up on the wishes you had said in a whisper. You can be compliant. Ignore the loud call of what you are, what you are capable of. You can hand over all you have, and then all you are yet to have, pockets out-turned and solely lined with lint. You can listen when they say you are selfish. When they hush you, rush you, make you believe you are small, feeble, insignificant. In your last breath of courage, you may say, “this is mine,” looking at the life they mangled, spit on, left unfed. You may play tug of war with what remains. Pulling back and forth, you can decide to fall to the ground. You could stay down.


You can get up on tired legs and bruised feet. You can hold so tightly what is yours. Hold your own life and cradle the bundle that could only ever grow in your arms.

And just because we’ve got it figured out now that our lives are our own, that we must be honest and loud about what we want, the work is not done. The work is never done. And the work left is making us fearful. Silence the fear with hope. Go ahead, let your hands tremble as you shake your fists. But shake them. Let your voice break as you use tears to reawaken empathy, compassion, union. 

Link your life with the ones who look nothing like yours. Do we have to speak the same language to feel like we can communicate? Do we have to pray to the same God to all live for something bigger than us? Do we all have to love the same way to know it is the one power to heal? Do we all have to keep referring to the color of our skin or our gender? Checking boxes that we never fit into in the first place?

No. No. No. No. No.

Say the words until the yes-ers finally get that we will never succeed as a nation by cutting the heels of those running with us.

So take your life back. Not just when it feels nice, light, like the sound of the first time you remember hearing your own heartbeat. Not just when it supports you, when what is going on around you doesn’t affect you personally. Take your life back when it’s heavy and the pain causes you to heave. When the weight sits on top of your shoulders and leaves marks of its magnitude. When everyone else is struggling and you realize, that when we said “liberty and justice for all” we didn’t mean that ‘all’ would come in chapters, last only for some, while others tried to hold onto the dust.

What are we supposed to do with all this time and yet so little of it? What are we supposed to do when we were so sure America would sing equality again and now it just lets out a broken moan? What are we supposed to do when the people we love have nowhere to go except to be alone?

We hold them. We hold them like the life of ours we took back. We help others take the oppression off their shoulders. We lift up, up, and up. And when those around us are trying to run with their heels cut and bleeding, we put their arms over our shoulders. We support the brothers and sisters that were never invited to family gatherings in the first place. We love them.

We pick ourselves up and run on the fierce frames they supposed were permanently broken. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

15 Things I am Still Reminding Myself by Taylor Burby

Taylor became a friend of my sister's, and then became a friend of mine, and she pretty much becomes a friend of anyone she encounters. She is kind and deliberate and hilarious. She will listen to anyone's life story and cast no judgment and encourage them to the end. She also wrote this wine-tipsy and then found some mistakes and texted me, "It's like I wrote this drunk or something (I did lolol)." Her heart is gold and you'll read her list and love her. (And possibly attempt writing your own 15 things a little wine-tipsy, clearly it stirs up all the important stuff).

15 Things I am Still Reminding Myself by Taylor Burby

1.       In every sense, you are the master of your own reality.
2.       Your Red String pulls strong---you are destined to meet the most incredible, inspiring people (that you will owe immense gratitude (possibly even your first born)) when you least expect it; a bus ride through the forests of Chile, sitting at Sambalatte across from an “Om Gnome” stickered laptop, a night of lantern lighting in Pai, a coffee shop near the Truckee River, high school.

3.       We are all living different stories. Stop comparing yourself to people on future pages or of different books altogether.
4.       You are not going to a Hell for your mistakes, but are completely capable of/will put yourself through Hell. (Mostly with sex and boys---two things you should probably chill out with, dude. You have a “great ass”, but you are more than a piece of it (PPS DO NOT DO A SINGLE THING EVER BECAUSE OF A BOY)).
5.       Stop looking; it/they will find you. (Especially tarot card readers and stray dogs).

6.       You will regret not showing up to their weddings, nights out, birthdays, graduations, etc. Say yes. Hold onto that yes with a vice grip and show your little face. STOP BEING A FLAKE (you will regret it).

7.       Happiness Pro Tips: Listen to Sunset Lover, practice meditation, hike volcanoes, learn to say no, stop being a doormat, hug your friends (20 seconds” reduces the harmful physical effects of stress”), stop trying to convince yourself you are going into a med program to please your dad (girl, do you remember killing your GPA with that bio grade?), “Be Brave”.
8.       Everything is occurring in good time, just as it should. Learn patience and acceptance.
9.       You’ll hit twenty-one and still make mistakes and feel these struggles. More trips around the sun is not equivalent to a disintegration of your issues, but a transformation of them (check out the conservations of mass and energy for reference). PS this “adulthood” you strive for and glorify is mostly what you are anticipating, but also nothing you could have imagined. The freedom is there and yes, plastering on that tight dress and crying because your heels cause you immense pain while you puke in a too-thin stall because you have the alcohol tolerance of a three-year-old creature and why are you even wearing these fucking things have you never heard of wedges? God damn dancing at a club is great fun, but student loans, empty bank accounts, nights on couches, and broken dreams are real, dude. Be ready for your struggle.

10.   You will not be able to change their mind. Stop trying. You’ve dug your hole deep enough, friend.

11.   KEEP JOURNALING; believe it or not, one day, you’ll be happy to read back and remember how low you felt. Pain that was so encompassing, every inch of you hurt---deep into your bones you ached. You’ll laugh and look to Old Taylor’s internal quarrels, flounders, and consuming anxieties with a love, forgiveness, and knowingness permitted only by time. These things pass and “the sun also rises”, sweet babe.
12.   “You will have a luck coveted by others” (first fortune cookie of 2017). Seriously though. Thank those lucky stars and the graciousness of others that you will survive on.

13.   Please, just go over there. Don’t wait until you’re breathing in the stale smells of death and disinfectant while she rests in that hospital bed, translucent skin tight to frail bones, too weak to speak past a whisper. Soon she will be gone and your regret will linger.
14.   Once you have time to breathe away from the suffocating weight of the people and air that both weigh heavy with beliefs contradicting to what your own heart bleeds, you will find that the discomfort you find in their words is meant to push you towards your own truths. IT IS OKAY THAT YOUR TRUTHS DO NOT MEET THE SAME STANDARDS AND CRITERIA AS OTHERS. 

15.   Most importantly: Ubuntu. We are one.

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