Category Archives: Big Dreams

Just a tiny dancer. A blue jean baby. Pretty eyed with a pirate smile.

large-1

The old legend goes that the gods of blogging strike down anyone who dareth post meaningful content on a Friday.

It’s treacherous. Unheard of. A day reserved for pictures of cats, nail polish, and playlists. Akin to wading into a swamp pit knowing full well that you will meet your demise. Surely, you will.

I don’t really understand that rule about blogging. Or any rule about blogging. And I don’t even play by the rules when it comes to you. You and me, we never needed no rules. And so it’s Friday and I am here. It’s Friday and I am curled up and waiting for you.

 

I come bearing no gifts.

You can search my pockets and see for yourself that I haven’t concocted anything perfect to say. I haven’t assembled any prose poetry to water your limbs. I am just here, almost like I am writing a letter home to you, almost like I am standing at your door in the middle of the pouring rain, banging on the side of the house hoping you will think to let me in. You know me, I’ll wait here all night.

I haven’t been in my blogging corner as much as I would like lately. Life has been busy and I constantly have to remind myself that this blog is a place of joy for me and I can’t apply the pressure when the inspiration ain’t hot. I’ve been writing my little heart out lately, working on a book proposal with my agent that is the epitome of my heart coming to live in your arms in the form of paper and words, and I am exhausted by what this past year has been.

Beautifully, beautifully exhausted.

 

Twelve months have come & gone.

I quit my job one year ago. I packed up my cubicle, took the letters down from the filing cabinet drawers, handed in my laptop and Blackberry phone, kissed and hugged people goodbye, and walked away from security to look for a life that fit me better.

The question of “What if I fail” suddenly lost its power when I released the pressure and walked away. Like the day those piggies wised up and built a brick house that wolf could huff & puff at no more.

And here’s the little secret behind that, friends: People will always, always, always ask you about failure but no one will ever think to turn their head, look you straight in the eye, and ask you how broken your heart would be if you never even tried. No one will ever ask you that question but you still need to learn to live within a life where “What if I never try” is plastered on the walls in red.

It’s an important question. I think you should ask it to yourself often.

For me, that question, and the thought of a child of mine asking me one day, scared every ligament inside of my body. Because there will never be a right answer for that that won’t teach them to be petrified, and worried, and so afraid that they decide to just stay in one place and look down at their shoes. All the excuses I could have mustered in my head– I’m too young, I have too much debt, there isn’t enough time, I won’t make it, my idea stinks– paled in comparison to the thought of never getting to tell a single soul that I am doing what I know I was created to do.

 

So that’s all I really have to say today.

No poetry. No ruffles. No frills. Just thinking about trying & attempting & doing instead of failure for once. Make a day to dream of it and let your mouth water over without hesitation.

And take a break sometime. Take a real solid break. Shut down your life. Pack a bag. Just leave. Buy a map. Learn to notice the trees on the highway.  Listen to poets laughing on a Friday night. Go somewhere where no one knows your name, and the things you’ve done, or the person you’ve become. Go there and trace your bones. Find wraparound porches. Hear more stories. Be young. Be reckless. Be bold. Be shades of red. And white. And blue. Be all the things Elton John sings about, and feel all sorts of eloquent for being only those things today. Not a worrier. Not a mess. Not nervous about the future or the way life will turn out. Just a tiny dancer. A blue jean baby. Pretty eyed with a pirate smile. A ballerina dancing in the sand.

Stop planning life long enough to just follow it. And see where it will be take you. Just stop thinking. Unclench your fists and stare up at the sunlight.

Let go of things. Big things. Little things. Clean out a junk drawer. Burn a diary. Tell him how you really feel. Clutch someone’s face and kiss them hard, as if smooches could give bruises. Have the courage to close the door. Cry, baby, cry. When it’s over. Because you thought it would last. And it didn’t. And I am sorry for that.

Forget the rules. Screw expectations. Just snap on a trucker hat and let your hand flap from outside the window. Deliberate hitch hiking… or not. Forget to take all of this so seriously and you’ll soon realize it wasn’t all that serious to begin with.

It’s been real folks but I am scooting down to Georgia with one of my best gal pals to sip sweet tea, love on people, sit on porches with a bible in my lap, and just be. And I can’t take you with me (unless your on Instagram. Then you can follow the madness here). Otherwise, I’ll be back to blogging in mid-July. My syllables will cry for you every night. And when I watch the fireworks I’ll sing Fievel Goes West songs for you. And we’ll be together one day soon, I am so sure.

And none of that made last paragraph made any sense. And it sounds kind of desperate. But I  going on vacation and that’s that and no one ever had a clue what Emily Dickinson was talking about all those years so you just go right ahead and interpret everything I just wrote how you want it. As for me? I’m peacing out for a roadtrip & some Chik-Fil-A.

9 Comments

Filed under Big Dreams

Walking away from 24.

Screen Shot 2013-05-13 at 4.09.47 PM

I spent my 24th birthday drugged up and crying as a dentist told me he would have to wait a week to give me a root canal.  I envisioned myself, within the folds of that one week, delivering my TED talk in New York City, slurring from the Vicodin and whimpering through the searing pain as I tried to muster up some sound sentence about connection in the digital age.

That dentist was a liar. He’s going to Tooth Fairy Hell (convinced!). And thankfully we found another dentist who would give me a root canal the very next day instead of making me stumble blearingly into New York City with a mail crate, a dream, and a toothache.

Tomorrow I am planning to wake up, brush my teeth good, and have a better birthday than last year. It won’t be too hard.

I turn 25 tomorrow.

Anyone who knows me is aware that this is the age I walked out of the womb looking forward to. It’s quite possible that my first coherent sentence at the age of three was, “Mom, when will I turn 25?” I have no reason why. There’s nothing that I deem to be extremely special about 25. I already had my “quarter-life crisis” at age 19 so that cannot be it. But I’ve just always wanted to be this age, I have just always thought it might be a really special year. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Always with birthdays, I always saddle this great pressure on my shoulders to share what the year has meant to me. To pluck out the pearls of agey wisdom.  Or tell you that the days were worth it. That I think the past 365 slivers of time were really, really wonderful.

And they have been. Of all the teachers in my life, the age of 24 might go down in history as one of the very best ones. She was hard on me. She was good to me. She definitely made sure my head kept spinning, and my feet kept moving, and my heart kept re-scripting its own beat because the slow, slow thud of a normal ticker could never match or mirror the quickened pace I felt all year as dream after dream came true.

24 was the year of leaping.

It was the year of learning that you cannot sit idly and wait for life to work itself out. When you’ve uncovered an issue, when you’ve found the dampened piece of the puzzle that no longer fits in the corner like it used to, you’ve got to cut something completely new out. Reshape it all, baby. You’ve got to point yourself in a new direction. You have to have the courage to go for something you said you always wanted.

Quitting my job, just one week after my 24th birthday, was the most unsettling and yet peace-driven decision of my life. I was walking away from a stable salary and benefits in to an unstable economy but I was walking in the full confidence that my dream job would only poke her head from around the corner if only I stepped out to follow her.

 

24 was a year of learning how to guard things more carefully.

My stories. My heart. My spirit in a world that will suck anyone dry tomorrow with lackluster routines. 24 was a year of learning that not every guy will offer the rose and not every man who shows up at the forefront of your life is deserving of your heart. You’ve got to be careful with that one. Once you go giving out pieces of your heart, it gets harder and harder to pull them back in.

24 was a year of learning that it’s ok to be single. There’s actually a single girl swag that comes out from hiding when you learn that you’re powerful on your own. You’re capable on your own. You’re a pretty flipping awesome person on your own and when a man comes along, and he’s lucky enough to have your heart, he will be the solid addition to someone who has already learned to be pretty amazing independently. 24 was a year of learning that settling can never be an option. The section it becomes an option, the second it slips closer to knocking on the door you’ve every intention to open.

 

24 was a year of testing faith and finding surrender.

It was a year that would have never been steady without faith bigger than my own body that a God far bigger than this tiny world would show up and push me where I needed to be. It was a year of giving things up for Him. Of letting “self” fall into the background to embrace a new purpose and plan. His plan was greater than mine. His hope for my life was more brilliant than mine.

24 was a year of falling in love and falling into rhythm with my own calling. I learned that anything– a passion, a job, a dream, a vocation– must be courted steadily. It must be tended to. It must be watered. It must be remembered. It will demand longer hours. It will cry to you late at night. It will push you, and make you cancel plans, and scream until it gets it way. But it will help you change the world. And it will instill you with a message that is far greater than yourself.

 

24 was a year of finding cheerleaders who never think to make you change or sacrifice who you really are.

At the start of November, I began the search to find a literary agent who fit me like a lace glove. On a whim, I queried to an agent I’ve admired all my literary life and she came back to me in two hours ready to see if we might be a fit. In the end, it was my writing style that never spoke to her and she told me, “You go out there and you find a cheerleader who is absolutely relentless for you. And I will be waiting to see your book on the shelves.”

I found that cheerleader. And she keeps me focused daily on finding the others to surround myself with who only have good intentions and bright hopes for me. They are the ones who challenge you because you are deserving it. And they keep you grounded and humble through all the longer days. 24 was a year of learning that I don’t have room in my life for anything but those people. Those people who don’t care about my success in the way they’re relentless for my heart.

 

24 was a year of breaking off.

Little by little, breaking off all the parts of me that no longer fit or no longer could serve the world. It was the year of learning that life is too short to stand around and pray that maybe one day you’ll wake up and be the person you’ve always wanted to be. That has to start with you. And in you. And it has to start sooner, rather than later. 24 was chipping away at the exterior with a chisel and refocusing on the the things of the inner: faith. decency. dignity. humility. trust. passion. forgiveness.

24 was a year of learning that things break all the time. And you’ve got to be willing to take a break when your body is spent and your soul is tired and your eyes are glazed over from looking at a computer screen for too long. Breaking is necessary for the refueling of your spirit and centering once again so you can better serve the world. & be a bright light within it.

25 will be a year of celebration.

A year of dancing in the aftermath of what 24 gave to me. 25 will be a year of hustling harder than ever before but sucking in the joy deep, like a curly straw stuck in the thick of a cookies & cream milkshake. 25 will be a year of breaking the rules (or at least the rules I’ve still left intact). It will be a year of testing limits. And pushing forward. And seeing more miracles than ever before. 25 will be a year filled with the spirit of relentless and oozing with the potential of greater things yet to come.

25 will be a good, good year. Just you watch and see.

20 Comments

Filed under Big Dreams, Life Lessons

You are called to be a brick.

The rasp of a storyteller stood in her voice.

We sat side by side, pursing cups of tea between long fingers as we watched the fire spit and swallow the shards of gold & yellow.

She choice valiant adjectives like strands of pearls to place beside the man she loved, the man she had always loved. A man who picked up a hammer for the first time to feed the mouths of his children. A man who dropped dreams like gum drops to come to grips with the one in the mirror.

“Everything that he once did, the things he was known for, were stripped away. And he really had to learn who he was,” she said.

That’s what happens,  I thought. When hardships strike and the ship rocks, that is what happens. When suddenly the accomplishments on paper cannot cradle you soundly across the night. When you realize, for the first time maybe, that they never could carry you. But they could distract you. And they could make you think that they were the things–the very, very things– to fill you like watering cans with goodness & value & worth in this world.

I walked away from the coziness of our tea date thanking the gods of conversation for bringing us together to talk & whisper over the deeper things in life.

I walked into the darkness of the roadside, to fumble with keys, and buckle myself in, and think a little longer about who I am in this world. And what parts of me have I wanted to shed like skin. And what inches & angles of me would I be proud to tell a slew of children about one day. The Ones Who Call Me a Word So Sacred as Mama.

I felt the whispers closing in around me, catching my breath with their conviction. Know who you are, know why that matters. All the whispers I have never stayed quiet long enough to hear when Facebook can give me my instant validation & Twitter can remind me that I am worthy of followers. No, I never hear the conviction when I go to sleep with knees still soggy from trudging in the Muds of Other People all day, the ones who assure me that I have weight in this world. That I matter. That I fit. That I won’t float away tomorrow.

We need to know who we are in all of this.

And maybe I am being too pushy in including you with my sentences but I know that I need to know who I am in all of this– not what I do, not who I know, not the recommendations beside my name or the accolades that stack like ornaments on the stronger elm branches.  We need to be stronger than those things, fiercer in finding other things. We need to know who we are… and what that means to the world.

Like if tomorrow we are to drop anything we have ever done by the roadside. Like if tomorrow we are called to survive on who we actually are when the world stops watching. Like if tomorrow I will stroll right up to you and not think to ask, So What Do You Do? No, not that. But who the heck are you? And what does that mean to people? And does it make your stomach turn or are you grateful for that person in the mirror? And have you tried to change? And are you fixing things now? And what are you cluttering up your mouth with to keep from saying, “This is me. Broken, yes. Learning, yes. Trying, always. But this is me. And I wouldn’t want to slip into the skins of anyone else. Because there is a reason for me. Yes, there is a reason for me in this world.”

You see that last line? That is the hardest part. I am so sure of it. That is the hardest thing to declare in the whole of this world… that we think there is a reason to be alive in this world. That we believe there is a reason why we were created from dust & bones to bring something to this world that was not here before us.

You are called to be a brick.

When someone comes to you and asks about you, you are called to be a brick. In the knowing or the not knowing, it really does not matter. In the figuring or the finding or the falling or the failing, you are called to be the brick in the group. Not the walking resume. Not the one who hangs accomplishments in the air. But the brick who says louder than most that you don’t have it all figured out. That you will probably go to a rocking chair not having it all figured out. But that this life is real & fleshy for that reason. To fall a little. And get knocked on your face. And have dignity stripped. And have joy rush in. And that nothing in the span of this time on earth is perfect but you did not come here for perfection.

You came here just to fall & fail long enough and hard enough so that you could be the solid brick for when others fall on you & admit their failures to you.

And you are a layer of the foundation. An intricate layer of the foundation.

And you are a chunk, a building block of history that does not glean a repeat.

And you are solid. You are as as solid as my sureness that there is a mighty, mighty reason for you.

15 Comments

Filed under Big Dreams, Uncategorized

I’m in a relationship… I thought maybe you should know.

I.

“You write so many love letters… it is hard to believe you wouldn’t be receiving a few good ones of your own.”

She’s jutting at my love life with a plastic fork. I. Can. Feel. It.

She’s older and believes that at my age (24), I shouldn’t be so focused on business so much as finding a beau. It’s cultural. I get it. & so her eyes say it all to me– You should have met someone by now. There should be a ring on your finger if not a baby in your belly.  At least, at least, some inkling or trace of a love life. 

“Well, I am currently dating my blog right now and he isn’t clingy or jealous so I think I’m winning.” 

Fail, friends. You’d have deemed it the Epic Fail if you could have instagrammed the disdain on her face after that comment.

 Said. It. So whatchu gon’ do?

II.

It’s that awkward moment when you realize you are currently “in a relationship” with your desk… your work… your blog… HootSuite.com… brainstorm sessions that end with slugging 5 hour energies only to pass out on the floor 5 minutes later…

& that you love it. Every. Darn. Ounce. Of. It.

If I took this little “relationship” to the Land of Face & Book, I’d be the first one to break the “Like” button. Mark Zuckerberg would call me personally and say, “Darling, Hannah, do you need me to invent the “Love” button?”

Why, yes! Dearest Mark, you are such the gem.” And I’d proceed in breaking the “Love” button that Mr. Zuckerberg handcrafted for me.

Call me strange… or pathetic… but I deem it to be a beautiful thing when your work is a love story. When the moment you first sunk into it felt you should say straight to it, “Hey, I just met you… and this is crazy” (you know where I am going.)

Would I love some yellow roses on occasion? Who. Wouldn’t?

But my blog is very good to me these days. Perhaps a tad needy & not the best door holder but he’s clean and we neverrrr fight. Ok, I’m lying… we have some epic fights… like “I don’t how to quit you fights.”

Because that’s the truth, folks. If you are going to date something– a blog, a business, a boy or girl, a nonprofit, a project– you have to know how to quit it. How to shut off. How to have an identity that is just you. & you alone. 

You have to reach that point of knowing that when you reach out your hand to shake the hand of someone else that you would still have peace in being just you…. No titles. No big experience. No life-defining, making out all the time, I’m-so-in-love relationships to speak of.  Just you. (scary, right?)

Your. Bones.

Your. Thoughts.

Your. Actions.

Your. Decisions.

How you see yourself in the mirror.

When you allow yourself breaks.

How you allow yourself breaks.

All of that matters… for lasting, healthy relationships with WordPress blogs or Wix sites. With boys or beaus or babies.

III.

I left my full time, commute into work, be at the desk job one month ago. It’s been a long month of figuring it out. Making things work. Finding the balance. And re-finding me in the rubble. Re-finding to refine. 

And if you ask me one month out, what have you learned? I know the words by heart already: It’s hard. It’s different. It’s longer hours than ever before. It’s challenging–real challenging. It’s grinding. Hustling–yes, hustling. Kicking your own butt to make things work. It’s stretching. And pushing. 

It’s dating– yes, dating. Post-Honeymoon. After-the-first-fight, things-just-got-SO-real dating. Sacrificing.

Giving every ounce of yourself to it because you know, you absolutely know, that you will never have this time again… this chance again…and so it has to mean something. Just like the right kind of relationship will inspire others & grow others & make others want the same– this, too, must do the same. 

Be it boy or blog– it is a courtship. A constant form of maintenance. A dedication. A commitment.

It’s ensuring that the two of you will grow with the help of one another. It’s deciding not to walk away when times get touch or the HTML glitches are making you want to chokehold innocents waiting in line for their lattes.

It’s staying. When the honeymoon is over… finances are slim… dreams seem frail.

& it’s truly hard to find the words.

to be learning from the ones who’ve walking this path before… to be figuring out my own voice… & what she has to say to the world.

& it’s finally knowing…

that when I meet him–whoever “him” may be– I’ll know who I am at that first handshake. Won’t falter or stumble or need him to complete me.

I’ll just be me & he’ll think it’s really beautiful.

Darling little side-noter: I am excited beyond words to start up brew sessions via my blog. Check em’ out. Maybe you & your budding project ideas are a Cinderella shoe-fit for the services.  More. To. Come.

17 Comments

Filed under Big Dreams, Love Yourself, Uncategorized

My TED Story

Back in May, I was chosen as a finalist for the TED2013 Global Talent Search. I recently performed my glimpse of a TED Talk in New York City for past TED speakers & supporters. TED will be using the comments & ratings of viewers to make their decision on who from this talented pool of speakers will travel to the actual TED Talks in 2013. You can view the talk HERE.

I would appreciate the support  if you feel moved or compelled to act after viewing the talk. Thank you for always being a support to my trade. It never goes unnoticed.

The TED Talks are kind of like the slick discovery that the yellow brick road didn’t crumble into nonexistence at the age of twelve.

It’s all the feelings I would have opened my arms to if Dorothy ended up being real & she decided that she liked me so much that she wanted to take me out for Starbucks regularly and let me eat pancakes & sip mimosas with her and the scarecrow at Sarah Beth’s on Sunday mornings before trotting around Central Park with ToTo and cheering on the Lion at a divey comedy club later that night.

Sidenoter to the Strangeness I just piled upon you–I was a diehard Oz fan who put her memorabilia away in the attic when boys & gossip sashayed into my life at the age of twelve. Parts of me ached knowing that I couldn’t dec my locker out with flying monkey magnets.

Speaking at TED was like unearthing all the original 1939 treasures from the attic. All the autographs from munchkins I’ve collected (yes, I am sitting on a goldmine that my One Day, Some Day Husband & I will one day giggle over). The scripts my dad has bartered for at auctions. Unleashing all the ways it felt to collect my own parts of Oz and feel home among the poppies & talking trees.

It was a chance to don ruby reds and encounter people who are rocking out in all aspects of life. The chance to sling arms with people in the fields of science & technology, innovation & inspiration, and huddle under this one massive umbrella: Ideas Worth Spreading.

I’ll go back to April:

I first discovered the TED2013 Global Talent Search back in March. I’d been digesting the talks on a daily basis for the last year and decided I was gunning for it. Me & my Love Letters were going (I am grammatically incorrect but it sounds better this way… so I don’t care). I shot a short video. I was very awkward. I gave them the best 60 seconds of me that has ever existed & something must have worked.

I was asked to come into TED offices to live audition. Live audition to me meant a panel of 4 people, not a legitimate TED Salon in a divey + poetic pub in New York City packed to the edges with past TED speakers & people who have sung inspiration into my bones for the last year of my life. Yea… that often happens. Sure… Sure… Right.

The lot of them are brilliant. If you think the Talks are brilliant, you’ll be socked heavy with the reality that each of them are brilliant– especially the ones who whole TED together.

I met astounding TED worker bees, the ones who tirelessly give + give + give to keep the culture of TED throbbing with the passion & innovation it seems to wear so effortlessly like a leather jacket. I conversed with individuals who are literally leaking with good ideas. Yes, I was close to the brink of asking, “Can I hold out a towel for you, sir? You are leaking greatness all over the place and I think we should mop it up to wring out for later.”  I formed friendships. I even made a pen pal.

More than anything—I felt like I came home.

It is a very hard thing to strap words to, a feeling I haven’t called by name yet. But every instance of my TED experience–the onstage closeness, the feeling you were chatting over a cup of coffee with friends– felt as though the lights came on. As if I’d walked from the backyard through the screen door and gathered close around family, around people who wanted to chat about crazy ideas & fantastical ways of changing the world. As if you were the son who won the spelling bee for a moment and people just wanted to cheer you on, and support you, and hoist you on their shoulders and snake you around the room. As if I was suddenly submerged in this place where 15 year olds find the cure for pancreatic cancer & we all find a half-life & it’s sacred and beautiful. That I didn’t have to go home.

That I was the alternate ending for a Dorothy who thought Kansas had fit her just fine but that Oz was new territory she wanted to stick with for a while because it made all the parts of her no longer feel guilty for singing of rainbows & the Somewheres that lurked over them. There were miles ahead & she was ready for it.

& so she decided to never click her heels and go back.  

Other Talks to Straight Up Devour

Tania Luna

A Surpriseologist at heart, meeting Tania at the TED Offices was just that—the most pleasant surprise I’ve stumbled into in a very long while.

Poised with grace & a remarkable knack for storytelling, Tania lit up the stage & then pulled me out from my own nerves and head games. She led me to a vacant stairwell and, with tears in both of our eyes, she let me practice and soak in the truth she gave me: this was my story. My story. My story.

“Here,” she said, handing me a pendant. STRENGTH engraved in the silver. I tucked the good luck charm  of someone who was just a stranger yesterday into my pocket and marched onstage with my mail crate.

Kristin Pedemonti

She claims to give free hugs. So she claims. And yet, when Kristin hugged me, it felt as though she had been saving it up for years. As if she had hung it neatly in a closet for several decades before taking it off the hanger and giving it to me. Warm & Safe. Delicate & True. Not an ounce of fabrication or personal gain to it. She simply wants to give the world to other people.

Adrian Anantawan

I’ve tried to find the words for Adrian. Like a child scouring the fields for a lost earring or some other gem, I’ve looked for the words that will glisten in the sun enough for this man and the treasure he blesses each of us with. A talented musician and beautiful spirit—Adrian poured some sort of sunlight into my inbox the morning after TED and I haven’t been the same since. Adrian doesn’t know it yet, but I plan to lure him into violin lessons & coffee dates & maybe I’ll teach him to write a love letter or two (hi Adrian!)

Bless your day with his gift. Bless it, folks.

Make no mistake, every single person on the TED NYC stage was talented and loaded with a story only they could tell. You should watch every talk. You should cheer every & each of them on.

They are that good.

I feel that blessed.

My talk will be online and open for comments and ratings until August 31. I would greatly appreciate the ratings and comments if the talk moves you, if you think there is still more for me to deliver at TED2013 in February. Thank you + thank you + thank you.

4 Comments

Filed under Big Dreams

On quitting my day job and feathering up my dreams for flying practice.

I quit my job, went to Target and bought a box of Swiss Miss hot chocolate and a new planner.

They both seemed like legitimate “new chapter” purchases. I walked out of the department store feeling pretty good about the investment and the road ahead.

Now, yes, NOW is my chance to place into practice all that I’ve learned of what it takes to feather up your dreams and make them fly. 

I’m following my dreams, people. Twenty-four years old, two years out of college and suddenly barreled over with Opportunities & Prospects that may have never snuck into existence without a few risk & gutsy thinking (thanks to all who coaxed me into that mindset). A few “You Cannot Pass Me Up” moments that made think it was time to go, time to leave, time to be a quitter.

This is me saying adieu to the 9 to 5 salaried life to figure it out.

To follow leads. To try new things. To be a little reckless. To learn the art of living, really living, when letting a dream lead you in the waltz.

I’ve handed over the reins to Life and all the beauty of her & I am ready to see where the next steps will take me. Where this adventure that began Ten Little Months ago with 400 love letters will bring me next.

Turns out, the market might be booming for a gal who adores cowboy boots, prose & has the savvy to wedge “love lettering” into a legitimate business plan.

So I am a freelancer now. Free to take meetings at midnight. Free to turn a diner into my office space. Free to be that girl in the café who sits on her Mac Book Pro and people watches while sipping a cappuccino and musing about InDesign. Though I am almost quite certain my life won’t look a thing like that.

Certain that the next few months will be packed with moving & shaking & meeting & collaborating all for the sake of writing + loving this world a little better. That I’ll be working my face off because that is what you are willing to do when a dream seems so real that you can taste it & see it & call out its name to make it turn around. Don’t you know it true?

So this is a fresh start.

A new chapter.

The point where I say that the last year of my life has been completely & utterly crazy. That dreams sometimes stay afloat with the help of 5 hour energies, Christmas lights, moral support from Twitter and the craziness to believe that Yes, you could in fact do a few impossible things before breakfast.

But this is also a time for me to be honest with y’all and admit that there is reassembling & reassessing to do. That I want to do it a lot of here, on these pages, through writing & editing myself into a life that lends itself to a Greater Story.

That these next few steps ain’t the time to be defined by love letter writing.

It is time to figure out what this whole life looks like when all the parts of it turn paragraph to a love letter that is my skin, my heart, my interactions with others, my writings on this blog page, my matrimony to the world.

It is time to learn what a greater Seamstress of Syllables will do with me as I step out in faith, quit my safe & secure day job, and follow a calling that keeps me up at night & stirs a feeling deep inside of me that feels a bit like Christmas stacked upon the first day of school, mixed with a pinch of butterflies in the stomach and a first snowfall beside a first love.

It’s bound to be wild. Unpredictable. Hard & treacherous at times. But completely & utterly worth it already. More precious than anything if I make it exactly where I’m intending to be.

Have you ever stepped out in faith with all the angst & excitement of a prepubescent boy at his first middle school dance? Any tips & tricks for after the “first step”? 

Side noter: This Facebook page for the blog now exists… Woof… I just gave birth to it. I resisted it for as long as possible but I have retired “As Simple as That” and now need a place to update all of you on bliss & blog posts. I wish we could all be Facebook friends but I guess this will be our next best thing right?

29 Comments

Filed under Big Dreams, Uncategorized

To the Dearest Abby of Them All: Thoughts on Writing. & Finding the Words.

The following post has been alive in my head for nearly six months. Thumping. & Stamping. & Getting Born every hour. All since the very day that a young woman named Abby sent a letter my way.

Addressed solely to me, she explained that she was in a college course entangled with sweet letter writing & that upon assigned to a write a letter to someone who had inspired her, she first thought of me. Abby asked for writer advice. I struggled. & wrote. & rewrote. Wanting my words to be perfect for a girl who has so perfectly helped me with my mission each & every day. 

Abby- Perfect does not exist. Slowly, I am learning this.  But here are Me & My Words trying our very best for you.

To the Dearest Abby of Them All-

I am a chronic notebook hoarder.

My bookshelves stay married to the thick collection of spines, spiraled & bound. Lined & Dotted. Composition & Some Sort of Sustainable. I collect them and, on occasion, I write.

That is the best piece of advice I would & would not give you, all at the same time:

Writing will never be about the place you put it in.

The longer you think it is, the longer you will avoid pen to paper. You’ll give birth to words so picky- so snooty- you’ll begin to think you only thrive on parchment paper. Gold tinted lines & Moleskin notebooks.

Harry Potter found his first stomping grounds on the napkins of J.K. Rowling. My very best character first lived on the back of a Chinese takeout menu and still, on some rare days, he beckons and we sit down together over a platter of chicken and broccoli.

A space to write that is both delicate & inspiring might never be a bad thing, who would turn down a temple for their most sacred thoughts? But walk around—always—with hands wide open. Ready to catch stories on subways & within waiting rooms. Fingers Spread. So words can fall like lemon drops & gum drops. Make you glitter like a vampire whose heart beats for a Bella.

Because Abby, dear Abby, the first mistake we writers make is to think for even a single second that our words are not traveling onward.

Away from us. Like gypsies in the night. Ready, always ready, to be transplanted the second we lend them out to Reader Eyes. Already, they are up & moving to the next dialogue… the next blog post they have inspired… the speech she needed to write—2am, 2 cups of coffee later, and a haphazard Google search of words like “love” & “heart swell” and she somehow finds herself kept up by the glow of her MacBook & your imagery.

Sung into spoken word. Propelled onto graffiti walls. Sewn into sleeve lines.

& oh, how boring, to think our words might only live on screens and within old notebooks.

Picture them printed out. Posted on walls- virtual & cluttered with Too Many Picture Frames. Living on printed pages & the front windows of bookstores.

For the second we start believing that our words only have one Home then truly we’ve grown selfish in our Unsharing.

We’ve cut our own potential off at the knees. We’ve doubted our words could be harbored in the hearts of many. That some people might need us for that…. Abby, dear Abby, what if you are alive for that? What if you are a living, breathing thing so that your words will shelter another in the storm?

We’ve needed that, we might one day say. We’ve needed you & your words for far too long.

People will always banter about the things that set us apart from other 2 legged & 6 limbed things… the things that make us so very Human. The way we hold. The conversations we beg into the café. Me? I’ve learned to ask: What other slithering, walking thing raises hands up high to describe the crashing of the waves? Wraps arms tight around the torso to talk about the dawn?

Storytelling. Living on page & keep us up at night with the memories of one another.

That kind of thing is in our bones. And sharing is the language we’ve all learned—the hand holder to anything we’ve ever felt. Or heard. Or dreamt. Or whispered.

& Writing—she is a marriage steeped in years spent swooping jars through the air to catch the words that lent the best light to others.

Marriage in the sense that it is hard.

Not always inspiring.

But that it grows with resilience & wisdom in years. Upon years. Upon years.

And there are them days, always them days, where you want to close the book…

Walk away…

& Give Up on scavenging the ground for words because the first “Falling in Love” feelings have faded. And words got tough. And you’ve decided it might be easier to say nothing at all. Right?

Put your pen there still. Put your pen there. & learn to wait as if the very seconds were an artform… Knowing this: some days it will only take words, they will come easier than you ever imagined. Other days- Pain. Some days- Joy. And on some random Monday in the month it might take tears. Tears brought back from a fight spurred on 3 years and 16 days ago.

But hold tight.

Stand by the door with the kitchen light on. Expect the words to come barreling through the backyard woods to find Home on your page. Expect them to come home for dinner—every syllable & stretch of line around the table to feed the hunger of another who finds hope in your writing.

Expect like that and they will always come.

10 Comments

Filed under Big Dreams

New York City. She’s a rare thing.

The morning you move to New York City will be as distinct as the day when birds first learned it was in their blood to sing.

Oh, can you imagine what happened in the trees that day?

You’ll delight in the sounds of traffic that clutter in your ear lobes in the sort of way that children pile into snow forts with their gum drop visions of an endless snowball fight in tow.

You’ll have packed up all your bags with the things that can be carried.

What will be left?

A few stray hair pins in the corners of the room and all the things that break our hearts endlessly, because they promised to be fierce while they lasted but unfit for travel bags: the way she stroked your head before bedtime, the way he met you at the bus stop with umbrella in hand.

All the memories that left you thinking you were growing too big for this place; you were needing something New. Something New, Something New, Beyond Borrowed or Blue.   

You’ll have slung an over-sized black bag on your shoulder and found the right pair of shoes but, of course, this will be before you’re struck by the easy, breezy way high heels can bully an innocent pair of soles that have only proved they are good & reliable to you in the last 23 years of walking. And you’ll have tucked a line of Mr. Blue Eyes’ anthem into your back pocket, enveloped between metro card and a twenty dollar bill.

You’re going to be a part of it. New York, New York.

 …

New York City. She’s a rare thing.

She’s the girl who boycotted the senior prom. Long legs that her mama always called “them weeds.” Towel dries her bright red locks and lets them rest wild, refusing headbands and hats.

She wears knee socks in the winter and black leather in the summer. She’s got freckles in hidden places.

She leaves a trail of whispers wherever she goes. Solemn whispers coming down the alleyways. And some days you’ll love her, other days you’ll grumble at her—but every day you should marvel at a city that never knew to grow her name so big.

Marvel at her roots. The way she captures people at every fold of her avenues. The way she’ll never coddle you nor cradle you—but she’ll make you stronger than Boise ever could. She’ll make you stronger than Denver ever knew how.

 …

People will say to you, Canal Street. Ellis Island. The Strand.

They’ll rave about the Ritz. Union Square. Rockefeller Center when she’s all dolled up with tinsel and blush on her cheeks.

Me? I’ll tell you Wall Street after the business men have slipped from their desks. Lexington and Madison in the hours before the sun starts kissing every building on the block like the girl in eighth grade, so eager for every pair of lips a Friday night party could offer.

Find New York City while she’s tucking Fifth into sleep and ask her to tell you of the days when Chicago, Paris and her used to huddle close to the radio at 8pm. Of the days where Daddy would adjust the antennae of the radio,  San Franny resting on his knee, and Mama stroked the heads of DC and London as they snaked around her ankles.

“One day, you’ll grow up to be Big, Big Cities,” their Mama told them.

“DC, you’ll be the place for those who ache for politics. And London, you’ll be a bright spot though you’ll know a lot of rain. Paris, you’ve got love all up in your bones and LA, Mama always knew you’d be a glitz and glamour gal. Little Chi, my Little Chi, you’ll be the birth place of a thing called jazz. The world is going to love you so. And New York City, you, my dear, will be the biggest of them all.”

The Little Cities—all wrapped around their Mama’s prophesy—will nod in agreement over Little New York. Because that’s what you do when you love someone very much—you want the very best for them. The very, very best for them.

“Now my Little New York,” her Mama did say. “I’ll warn you now… You’ll have the days when you’ll wake up wishing you were called to be a song writer instead of the world’s most famous city, so that you could script the words that float from Chicago’s saxophone on the days when you wish Paris and London could make it home for Thanksgiving.”

“And New York, New York—you will never be easy to leave but people will leave you all the same.

In & Out, In & Out They’ll Go.

But you, your strong enough to take it.

People, dreamers really, will come to you with the most marvelous sparkle in their eyes. They’ll hitch hopes to your skyline. They’ll dance in your avenues. They’ll decide to never leave you and then stitch your name right into their legacy.

You, my dear, will see dreams come true on a daily basis; you’ll be the strong pair of arms that holds a Tiny World of Dreamers close at night. Not just any city can do that, not just any city.

 No one will ever be like you, my Little New York. I’ve always known it so.”

6 Comments

Filed under Big City, Big Dreams

It’s as if we’ve been granted this Immense Potential for some Remarkable Storytelling, if only we use it right.

Some people only need to be lent a single sentence to captivate us for some kind of tiny eternity.

There are days when we find ourselves only two feet away from a body that will have us ripping clocks from the walls just two hours later, wishing we could chuck the ticking things from the highest of skyscrapers. Make Time Stop.

It can happen every day if we allow it to, if we believe the world is something to be entranced by, like the librarian with the purple-rimmed glasses.

Sitting Patiently. Legs-Crossed. Hands in Lap. Waiting in Awe for the Pages to Turn.

These Words. They are dedicated to One. One Who Captured Me With a Single Sentence.

She had a way of making her words latch on to one another like Children Atop the Creamy Clay Pueblo Storytellers.

“There are some books I cling to because they are indispensable…” It was all she needed to write in her tattered diary for me to know she was a writer, and a good one at that.

Her selection of favorite classics– from the Rilke volumes to Alice in Wonderland– left me wondering if my own diary had begun 60 years ago or so.  Her words made me ache. Her appreciation for life caused me to stare at the diary for ten minutes, every one of the 6,000 seconds scampering to the forefront, all wanting a glance. None wanting to find their Secondly Selves wasted.

I traced the outline of her black and white portrait and forgot for a moment where I was standing. In the middle of the United Nations’ Main Lobby. Surrounded by an extraordinary commemoration for the women of the Holocaust.  Lured by the life and telling of Helene Berr, a young woman who died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp just five days shy from Liberation’s arrival.

It wasn’t merely her knack for prose that swept me away from my afternoon’s work to sneak peeks at her not-so-private diary.

It was the reason she wrote that caught me. 

Perhaps the very reason why any of us should sharpen a pencil, open a new word document or pick up a pen and decide to Say Something.

She kept a diary throughout the Suffering Times of the Holocaust, during the times that some still don’t speak for, for an image she drew in her head of her fiancé, Jean Morawiecki, holding the book of her confessions close to him when he could no longer hold her.

She Wrote To Leave Someone She Loved With Untold Treasures of Her Heart. She Wrote Only To Leave Someone with the Single Story.

Helene Berr, she was no Anne Frank. She carried no childlike anticipation within her that the sun would come streaming through the fences of the camp and nest in her curls as the liberation came. She knew all along that she would not make it. And so, she kept that diary for the man who would still need something to hold after all the tragedy seeped into his hands.

She had this chance to make a mark. And so she did.

I have often taken for granted my mobility and potential to leave a mark on this world. With an age of the Internet where it literally takes less than five seconds to imprint something that will stay forever, I take it for granted that one day, if someone is clever enough with a Google search, they will be able to find me.

I spent last January entrenched in the stories of Holocaust survivors, cascading the walls of the United Nations. Some wrote books. Others, like Berr and Frank, had diaries published. But it is a generation of people who are falling away to Old Age. To Life Lived. To years that swapped youthful skin for the whispering of wrinkles upon the faces of those they passed. And I find myself sitting and squirming, praying that we will pick up these stories and push them forward. Because they are Captivating. Because they come Packed with Teaching Moments. Moments that Teach Better than Textbooks. Better than Technology.

I am praying that we are all learning and understanding from these testimonies. Using them as a foundation to draft our own. To take nothing for granted. To leave no page without remnants of dabbled ink.

We have this crazy, crazy ability to leave a mark that will stay. To Imprint. To Stamp. To Collect. To Tell. With a few single Taps on a Keypad.  To tell stories in a more permanent manner that those of the Holocaust, World War II and the Great Depression never had. And so it becomes our job to be storytellers, wouldn’t you say? To pick up stories that are close to being washed away by the tides of a paperback yesterday. To gear ourselves up with the Very Best Verbs & Adjectives to tell stories to the Next Generation.

It’s as if we’ve granted this Immense Potential. Immense Potential for some Remarkable Storytelling, if only we use it right. IIf Only We Use It Right.

It isn’t so much about sitting plugged into a computer all day concocting an internet persona that we envision will live on for lifetimes. It is plugging in after have lived it. It is going out into the world and doing Great Things, having Great Adventures. It is trying new things, being daring and excitable, wide-eyed like children seeking “Mama” in all the places around us.

Paying Attention to One Another. Staying Present to One Another. Not wishing away moments. Not always itching for the next chapter to begin.

It is living in the Here. Scooping up the Now. Finding ways to make the Present Moment blush.

And then recording it all for Our Children, for the Future. For those who will still want to hold us in the days when we can no longer be held.

12 Comments

Filed under Big Dreams, Family, Life Lessons, Live with intention, Simply Living, Uncategorized

Lady Gaga, she was born this way. Me? I was born for this.

If you’ve ever felt the love of another deeply, on the brink of fiercely, then I know you’ll pick up writing easily.

Easy like the slow ease that slipped through the cracks in the doorway to the bathroom as you stood beside your mother and learned the art of lipstick for the 300th time. Top lip. Bottom lip. Apply. Purse. Pucker.

That’s it. All I care to pass on after two years spent wedging words into this space.

Feeling the love of another so deeply, so fiercely, that you swear you could be the one to take that Same Love and groove it finely into someone else. That skill, that confidence… That will make anyone very good at anything they try.

If you’ve got that kind of Fierce Love, pick up a pencil and let it spill.  Or a brush and let it go. Or a spoken word and let it ripple.

It’s my secret.

I’ve never taken a writing class. I’ve never draped my name in accolades. I’ve only watched my mother make black bean soup in the kitchen. I’ve only watched my father pour change in a jar. I’ve only stood so close to a man playing the saxophone in Central Park, perhaps too close, so I could pretend for just a second that he wanted to teach me how to breath. With Fire. With Passion. That he wanted to teach me to Breath Breathlessly.

After two years of coming to this blank slate of a WordPress page, my secret to all the words is this: someone loved me good at a young age, good enough to convince me that I was worth breath & life & day, and that, if I had all these things, I would be ok. Tomorrow would be ok. And that if I was to be One of the Lucky Ones with this Rare Kind of Tomorrow that I’ve mistakenly used as a laundry basket for the things I One Day Might Do, then I should use it to make others believe the truth: that they too are all worth breath & life & day.

And that if I was here, standing here, then, it had to be for something. And I might as well explore and find My Something in this world. Because really, what else is there? I’ve believed in pennies turned heads up. In reindeer pawing  just above my turquoise shutters. And I’ve believed that we were all born for Some Kind of Something.

Do you believe it? I mean, do you believe it enough to look for it? To give up for it? To wade in waters until you find it? To wade & wait and actually believe that you were born for Something much Bigger than what fits in the palms of your hands?

Me? I was born for this. Born to be held on subways and cafes. Born to be cradled at the spine, clutched in waiting rooms, held tight by the last flicker of a candle burning at the wick. I was born with this unexplainable, untouchable turns intangible turns untamable, madness inside of me that has left me wondering how you and him said goodbye. Leaves me carrying her heartbreak, his loneliness, the old man’s elation and the skinny girl’s pride, shoveled into my chest until I can dump it on a page. And sit. Just sit there. And find a way to line up words like soldiers, line up words willing to speak for unspeakable things: like Tragedy, like Death, like Heart in the Throat, Late Night “I’ll Meet You Anywhere” Conversations that might just end in We Won’t Make This Work because Here Let’s Circle It On A Map, The Miles That Drag Us Apart that will eventually turn into Let’s Just Forget It Until Morning, Until You Board That Plane, Until I Cannot Feel You Any Longer And Your Sweatshirt Loses Scent. That is what I was born for. My God, I am a bundle of breath because of it.

I am so fiercely, madly born for this that it leaves me walking away from this page. Crying where I shouldn’t cry. Pawing at God’s door like a little puppy. Because I want it so bad, every minute, to just give every second of this Short Little Thing Called Life to letting you know that you’re worth it… In Similes & Metaphors, you’re worth it. In Anecdotes & Allegory, you’re worth it…

I don’t believe people when they try to tell me how to be a child of God.

A child of God? There is really a way?

I say, if you want to be a child of God then find that space of breathlessness within you and then death grip it. Don’t ever let it go. Let it turn up your chin with the sunrise. Let it rock you to sleep. Let it leave you failing to put your finger on it. And let it be the very thing that makes you believe that people who lead breathless lives are the ones who first say, I’m worth it.

9 Comments

November 28, 2011 · 9:09 pm