Category Archives: Live with intention

If I said there was something more… would you believe me, girl?

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Sometimes I wish you could be my Polly Pocket.

Not my blog reader, not my friend, but my Polly Pocket. I wish you could be less than an inch tall so that I could carry you with me always and you could see the world beside me and we could talk deep into midnight about all the things our little sockets of hazel and blue saw that day. And then we could wake up and do it all over again. You, and me, and your cute little plastic outfits.

I’d be so good to you if you were mine.

I would’ve propped you up on the dashboard of my car and let you man the Spotify stations as we drove and drove and drove until we lost track of the roads and street lights. I would have given you fresh Tennessee air. I would have let you nearly drown in a glorious vat of sweet tea. I would’ve sat you straight on the railing of a boat as we cruised out to the center of a lake in Northern Georgia and watched fireworks shoot up in the air. Together, we would have celebrated freedom and the summer air.

You’d get to watch the world with me. You’d see the wrinkles, and hear the stories, and I’d never have to tell you anything you didn’t already know. If you were always with me, we could process every bit of this confusing, wild thing in the flesh while we layed beneath a blanket of stars and tried whispering to a God who is both a knitter and a maker.

There is 860 miles between you and I that I don’t know how to tell you about.

It’s as if I traveled far away and came back different and I’m forced to try to explain to you this new skin I am standing in. I don’t know what to tell you. I don’t know where to begin. The experience feels too ripe to pluck just yet. It’s all still resting in single words that have yet to meet their sentencey soul mates: Goodness. Hospitality. Home. Sanctuary. Rest. Laughter. Chik-Fil-A. Peace. Rain. Contentment.

Before this, the first instinct was to share and share and share. And overshare. And add a filter to that. And nail the right angle with that. And to announce to the world that I am having a good time, and that I wish you were here, and too bad you’re not, but I am having a good time anyway.

And then life happens. And people get real. And stories get shared. And secrets get told. And hands get held. And tears get shed. And we all realize the thing we knew ten years ago in the middle of our gadgetless little existence– it was never about the networks. It was never about the followers. It was never about the approval of where you were and what you were doing or who you were with. But it was always about the relationships you could foster in the flesh far more than a fluid invitation into every moment that looked filtered, and pretty, and perfect on the screen.

 

“If I told you to pull back… if I said there was something more… would you believe me, girl?”

It’s almost like I could hear God speaking that single question into my ear over & over again as I soaked in the southern hospitality that only comes from people who learn to care about you before you ever even walk through their door. You’ve been a living prayer to them all along. You’ve rested heavy on their hearts for all eternity and a day. ( And yes, God sounds very much like the memes of Ryan Gosling in this moment but we can analyze that strangeness some other day.)

But I can feel Him pushing me. Pushing me to pull back into relationships that hold me together at the seams in a way I’ve grown nostalgic for. The kinds of relationships I don’t want to clutter or talk about too loudly. I want them to stay simple and true because that is the way they’ve always been to me. The kind of people who I keep in my grip because I am admittedly so, so afraid, in a partially unexplainable way, that if I look away they’ll be gone. I won’t have them any longer. I’ll be grabbing for dust.

The kind of people who take me for who I am and never ask me to be different. Because who I was yesterday was good enough always.

If it takes unplugging, and escaping, and driving down the coast to Somewhere Else for me to get back intact with that then it’s probably, certainly something I should have never lost to begin with. It’s probably really important. It’s probably something I should always keep in my eye’s view so that it never gets misplaced for too long.

Admitting that is a starting point. It ain’t no cut-me-a-piece-of-cake-and-call-it-easy-sauce alteration. It’s not the flicking of the light switch. It’s not the waking up different tomorrow. It’s a slow and steady process. It’s weeding things out of your life to keep and make room for others you hope will arrive soon. It’s shutting off more. It’s stepping back more. It’s being present more in a way that hurts when you can’t turn to the screen for comfort and escape.

It’s not pretty. It’s not sensical. But it’s like reaching the end of the yellow brick road, pulling back the curtain, and realizing Oz ain’t it. He just ain’t it. And yet you’ve been given the chance to click those ruby reds and start over again… you came this far,  it’s not too late to start over again, girl.

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Filed under Best Friends, Live with intention

The “Happily” left. The “Ever” got gone. But “After” always stayed.

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They said it was cancer.

One of those cancers with the long swooping names, packed tight with all the syllables you learned to say in grammar school. But boiled down the word was simple and yet somehow harder to say than most: cancer.

People began watching the clock. They began trying their hardest to treasure the moments or hoard them in corners where no would could try to suck them away. They filled conversations over coffee with things like, “No, not him. He’s a fighter. He’ll get better.”

And then the doctors said it and they all sucked in, bit down, and gulped. Six to twelve months. Six to twelve months and he’d be gone. And his keys would be in the ignition no more. And they’d light candles they never wanted to light. And cry because they never wanted to weep. And say goodbye to a someone who they only wished would get a rewrite of his story. “More hello’s, please. We just need one last hello.”

And then he was gone.

And the world got quiet. And they lit candles. And they wept. And they somehow learned to say goodbye. They learned the word but it never got any easier. And the Happily Ever After never showed that day or the next.

When they lost a love to cancer, no one rode off into the sunset. No one waved from their palace. No one danced in the moonlight in a little longer. They all just got quiet. And they forgot the words to their songs. And they stopped trying for a little while because no one really felt like singing.

Not a soul, not a shred, sighed a deep breath and found the Happily or the Ever or the After.

We’ve learned to hold tight to something that was never given to us– A Happily Ever After. We hold it tight to our chest as if it is a guarantee as we devour stories that end well. Stories that tie up neat and pretty with a big white bow. But stories don’t usually resolve. And characters we love cannot always stay. And there is an underlying hymn of heartbreak that follows each of us throughout this world–not because life is bad or cruel or something to always cry and moan about, but because this lifetime hurts. Over & over again, it hurts to watch the fleshy, broken messes of We love and lose and love and fight and love and break and love and let go.

It’s the After. That is where we all drag out fingers along the dotted lines of life and point to when we find ourselves missing someone so deeply.

After they were gone. After they left. After. After. After.

That’s the part of the story we forget to focus on. The After is never the thing we think about when our jeans don’t fit and there is gossip sitting ripe on the screen of the iPhone and we’re late for an appointment and we are trying, trying so damn hard, to just be someone who is “known” in this world. We never think, in all the clutter of waiting for life to grow sane and livable, that we should have already begun to crane our eyes towards the After.

A legacy. A legacy.

It’s time to find out if you have one. If it is already in the building stages. If other people have the bricks. If you’ve passed them out in just the right capacity.

If you have one, my dear, it will mean you thought to live your life with someone else in mind. You’ll be the warm spot in the memory of another. People will carry you in a way that means so much more than the carrying you ever thought to do of your own stories, and your own accomplishments. Yes, a legacy will mean you thought to make this place better as you came on down to this dirt and water and thought to make it home for a little while.

A legacy gets passed. To children. To friends. To lovers. To people you will never even know in this lifetime. And it does not begin when your eyes shut or your fingers stop playing on the piano at night. And maybe it’s time we asked, will mine be full and bursting with goodness? Will it be just the thing she needs to crawl out of the bigger black holes when I am no longer here to stretch out my hand and say, “hold tight.”
When I write this way, I already begin missing things. Like I am going somewhere. Like it is ending sooner than I hope. Is that crazy to even admit?

I begin missing the trees. I begin missing the kettle on the stove, hissing as I enter the house with the light always on in the foyer. But I try to remember, as hard as it can be, to always think like this. To think about the After.

Like tomorrow someone might not have you and you will want to know that you built them up with every little thing you always wanted for them. Dignity. Respect. Joy. Amazement. The ability to stop and realize how good we’ve got it right now.

And this thing? This thing we keep waiting for to start? When we are skinnier. When we are happier. When this test is over. When this week ends. It’s all we get. And it is rushing through our fingertips right now. And sooner, sooner, there could be an After. I cannot tell you when, dear. I cannot tell you when.

And so, while the rest of the world goes on writing symphonies about themselves and trying so desperately to just leave something behind when they go– a company, an empire, a name of sorts– you’ve got a chance to let someone know you came here for them. And you got all sorts of determined to make this story better for them. And this life better for them. And any bit you could, you tried to make it better so that they would get to dance in the Aftermath of your legacy.

After your laughter. After your words that could fill a room like the aroma of evergreens at Christmastime. After you dug your heels deep in the planet and tried to make it the least bit better off than when you first came.

After, After, After. Enough of a focus on that and you’ll never need utter these words again: will you still hold me when I am gone? Have I given you enough to hold just yet?

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Filed under Life Lessons, Live with intention

It’s on you.

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It’s on you.

That is where it starts. That is where it ends.

It’s on you and what you want, and how hard you are willing to hustle, and how relentless you are going to be when they tell you to give up. 

Because people will tell you to give up.

They’ll look at you with crooked faces. They won’t understand your drive. And they are going to look to bring you down because they don’t know any better. They haven’t had the guts to go for it themselves and so they will try to tell you no. Impossible. Not worth the time.

Forget them. In the nicest, sweetest way possible, forget them and all the little barriers and boundaries they try to place on this life of yours.

 

Wake up. It’s your life.

You owned it yesterday. You gleaned the freedom today. Stop acting like the world runs you. Like the magazines run you. Like all of the folks who never perked their ears to really listen to you have a say in what you are going to do with these footsteps of yours.

It’s yours. You’re free.  Are you gonna start running towards it?

 

Don’t wait. Don’t stand in the corner waiting for the direction to reveal itself. Just. Start. Sprinting.  Peace will flood in when it’s right. But you have to move to find the peace. Peace comes through footsteps, I promise.

Think about what stopped you yesterday. Who was that person? What were they afraid of? And why did they govern you for so long? You’ve got one chance. You’ve got one shot. The world won’t cry if you never use it. It’s on you. Don’t make the universe regret you.

 

Look around. Forget “the box.”

Forget what you “think” the world is all about. Forget this, forget that. Forget the status update. Forget the selfie.

Here is what the world is really all about: Humility. People. People helping other people. People trying to make this hard thing, this impossible thing, more graceful for others. That is where the joy is. That is where the peace is. That is the beauty of every thread of life: we were never designed to go this thing alone. We were born with spaces in our fingers and you were born to go out and find the ones who fits in your spaces Oh So Well. 

Strive to do good. Strive to be the best version of yourself. Reflect. Learn from the Yesterday that made you feel weak. Stop letting people bend and break your heart. Play the music louder. Scream if you need to. Walk away from that toxic person who never had your goodness at the forefront of their mind. Walk away. Your goodness will be at the forefront of any mind that loves you fiercely, boldly, with no sense of tomorrow. You deserve that. The best of it.  You’ve got to learn to want that for yourself.

Learn to stand in front of the mirror without cringing. Throw off the chains of your secrets; don’t let them prison up your mind any longer. Let it out. Say the damn things that you have needed to say. Make them good. Make them worth someone turning their head to listen to you.

 

You’ve got a voice.

Most people would kill to have one. So learn how to use it. Start. Start small, start slow, start however you want. But start. Don’t go to the ground never having used that voice of yours for something good, something worthy, something that thickened your skin & buckled your knees & ramshackled your heart.

Screw December 31st and the resolutions you’ve stacked away in the closet for the start of a New Year and 12 bells clanking at midnight. It Starts Now. It should have started five minutes ago. It starts with a single question that turns out to be the answer to everything:

 Are you worth it enough to start?

24 Comments

Filed under Dating Amazement, Healthy Lifestyle, Live with intention

Let’s talk about lies. And how you still speak them more swiftly than Taylor Swift song lyrics.

It was the string pulled.

The string pulled to untangle years & years worth of lies that had been shoved & stockpiled in closets of the heart for nights just like this one. Waiting & waiting for nights just like this one; nights when the weatherman cried.

Sandy–her hurricane limbs and all the wickeder parts of her– hissed and moaned outside the window. The trees shook and shuddered. Leaves screamed for their mama branches.

I clicked through the document on my desktop anxiously, waiting for that triumphant gust of wind that would knock the power out and leave me by candlelight.

The screen would go black. I could walk away from the question. Sounded much like a plan.

“What is the biggest lie you have had to overcome?”

It stayed there on the screen.

The lights didn’t even flicker. Not flinch. Not a spark.

And all the hollowed crevices between the W and B and L within that question waited for me, whispered like witches in the glow of the moon, “Answer me. Answer me. Answer me.”

Let’s talk about lies. Like they were as fresh as pastry dishes. Globbed with apples. Glooped with cinnamon.

 Let’s talk about lies. And how you still speak them more swiftly than Taylor Swift song lyrics caught in the vocal chords of seventeen-year-old heartbreakers.

Of all the things I do, interviews are my favorite.

They open doors for reflection. For realignment. They are they like grace wearing shoulder pads for a girl who rarely knows how to cut herself off from a work load to just step back and marvel at what God can do with such a messy, messy life.  

I save the interviews for the nighttime. For the glow of the computer screen. For the third cup of tea with the foam of peppermint on the edges.

So it remains just me, clicking almost silently into the dozens of documents waiting to capture the story behind More Love Letters and lend it to their readers like dicey pocket change. Waiting to get beneath the skin of the girl who spends her days with her wrists sunk deep in piles of stationery learning to love wads of this earth by way of written word.

The questions are normally simple. True. Creative. Quirky. But never, no, never has a question stared me so hard in the face. Never so much as this one.

“What is the biggest lie you have had to overcome?”

Welcome to the Land of the Things We Never Really, Truly Talk About. This ain’t no bring-this-topic-up-at-brunch kind of question. No, I’ve never seen the clinking of mimosas and buttering of pumpkin pancakes as we swap stories of lies we’ve learned to tell the mirror and non-truths were grappling to just overcome.

Overcome. Overcome. Such a strong word that I still don’t fully understand. When my knees feel weak and my heart is gearing up for battle against the soldiers in my mind, I don’t think I fully grasp what it means to overcome.

And be triumphant. And have complete control over destinies in my life, like I deserve that or something. Really, really, I have struggled to believe that. And instead  I might be tempted to lead the army of the Girls Who Got Used to the Lies. So used to the lies that they laid down on the floor, put their hands above their heads and shuddered like Germany when the second war ended.

“What is the biggest lie you have had to overcome?”

She worded the question as if to say that the lies were made for that. For overcoming. For pushing past. For speaking truth. For clearing out from the corners of our lives like cobwebs & clutter & clothes that don’t fit us in the legs any longer.

And I realize that I want to be just this: one who overcomes the lies. One who does not let the lies bind me or break me or keep me from moving into the plans I know are placed ahead for me.

How long have you been handicapped? I asked myself. How long have you felt unworthy? How long has it been since you last admitted it instead of saving face and pretending like you’ve got every ounce of this world together in your palms?

Could you be a wreck in front of someone? Today? Tomorrow? Could you name the lies that are knocking at the door? Scraping at the kitchen floor like the hurricane wrestled and shuffled inside. Take your shoes off, Sandy. Don’t bring mud in the house.

The lies we let sink deep into the mud of our souls fester and stir like hurricanes in the heart.

We don’t admit them. We don’t talk about them. We don’t give air to them in interviews. We keep them locked & keyed. We vow to be stronger in the morning. We hate ourselves deeper when the strength doesn’t show but the lies still arrive to ransom our spirits.

& they ravage. They pummel. They knock us down and convince us that we are not worthy of the day, not worthy of the light, not worthy of the goodness that this world is so capable of giving.

And so we grow so comfortable with just accepting the lies, welcoming the lies in my like house guests who demand candles & blankets & hot food upon arrival. And I forget the second part of the story. And you forget the second part of the story– the part of the story where you & us & we, we learn to overcome.

And you decide that you are worth something more than lies that only made you feel one fourth of alive. Lies that never kept your fingers warm like the old English mama at the bus stop in February, pursing little hands in her own until the heated yellow school bus came to take your back pack-toting body away.

And you decide that “to overcome” means something different than you’ve ever known before.

Overcome. A verb. One that requires strength. A strength you never knew you had though it has been there all along.

Overcome: to not be washed away. Like seashells in the supermarket on the days the oceans flood.

Overcome: to not feed. The hungry lies. The impatient worries. The parts of us that have never felt loved.

Overcome: to resolve that we are lovely. Worthy of love. Time. Energy. Joy. And we are getting better at believing that all the time.

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Filed under Live with intention, Love Yourself

You were made for mighty things.

You were made for mighty things.

You.

Yes, you with your fingers curled around the computer mouse. Your sleepy eyes hooked to the glow of the screen.

You, with the tired limbs & the half-faking-it kind of smile that’s stayed on your face since lunchtime. You, who might scroll through your newsfeed one last time tonight before giving it up and going to bed. Trying again for something better in the morning.

You were made for mighty things.

& I cannot go a single step more without you knowing that true. Not a step. Not a hop. Not a shuffle or a sashay more without you knowing that  your bones & every ounce of you exist for a reason much greater than this. Much greater than the fog. Than the pricks. Than the pains. Much greater than this moment that you already feel has closed up & in & all around you.

Darkness, darkness, you’ve felt it creeping in. You’ve wrapped yourself in blankets. Curled up in doubts. Listened to the hollow of the night and wondered what you’re really here for. You’ve started prayers but you don’t know to whom. The Whole of it feels awkward. The God feels distant. You swear He cannot hear you. & even if He can, you’ve been unforgiveable for quite the while.

You’ve wondered if you matter. If this hurt will ever go away. If ever, oh, ever the people would remember you if it came time to wear black tomorrow & bury your body deep in the ground.

Darling, darling, hear me good: The dark has stars that poke through the sky and the light, the light that pours on through, is thicker than you know.

Thick like the wool socks you fold over snow boots. Thick like the trunk of the tree in the yard in the back where the tire swing used to swoop & swoop– your hands gripping the rope; your laughter floating up to the leaves.

You were made for mighty things.

Though you swear  you don’t know the starting point just yet. You feel swallowed in just the thought of beginning.

Of trying. Of wandering out beyond the lines of the Things You’ve Known. The Things You’ve Known that you know have become the Things You Know Don’t Fit You Anymore & Don’t Fill You Any Longer & Don’t Quite Play Music Like the Days of the Jewelry Box No More, No More.  

You feel swallowed, so swallowed, just by finding the shred or the starting line or the first little note in the symphony entitled, “How to tell anyone, just anyone at all, that you want to have meant something at the end of all this.” That you’ve wanted to be infinite for pockets of time. That you’ve wondered if there might still be time for you to step out and be something mighty in this world– you’ve done your wrong. You’ve hurt the others. You’ve thought out loud the lie you thought was always true: “I won’t be used for anything good, anything mighty, in the big ol’ world. Maybe her and maybe him but not me. Not me.”

There’s a whisper in the folds tonight,”You were made for mighty things.”

& so it is time to start. Not time to argue.  Not time to groan or doubt or fear. Not time to make excuses. Not time to shrink away. You say you’ve got tomorrow but don’t you know how fierce and fiesty a thing that Time be?

Time. She spits. She sputters. She flips out her hair and don’t guarantee no one a single thing. Not a measuring cup full. Not a week on the calendar. Nothing, nothing.  She only warns you– with her pointed finger in the air– to take the Today & the Tomorrow if she grants it. Take the Tomorrow if Time gonna bless your knees with it in the morning.

No time to reason. No time to know why. Only Time & the small of her back & the truth that ticks like the clock on the wall: As long as you are standing here, two feet on the ground, you’ve got the graces of a New Beginning in your palms. You can close the doors. You can clean out the closets. You can say goodbye. You can let it go.

You can uncover newness. You can climb a new rope. You can stare up at the sky. You can find that God. You can look in the mirror & you can partner with the one looking back. You can decide that you aren’t a thing with just fingers & toes– flawed & fleshy & unfit for unfolding plans.  But that you are a lighthouse. A lantern. A luminari. A flicker of hope. You are the bright spot in the day of someone else.

You are more powerful than you’ve called yourself to be. You are more worthy than you’ve ever claimed to be. But ain’t no one gonna grant you that if your hands aren’t open and your slate isn’t cleared and you can’t find a way to say– to the moon & the stars & the fireflies in the trees tonight– that you’ve grown tired of your Yesterdays & the smallness of it all &  you’ve decided to shift & shake your Tomorrows for as long as you have them. Shift & shake & give them away to the Someones scattered in the world that were made to see light pouring straight of you. You, yes, you.  

You were made for mighty things.

you make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out the dust. 
you make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of us.

 

 

11 Comments

Filed under God, Live with intention, Love Letters

The Tale of the Box: For the reader with clipped wings.

“What do you think it is?” he asks the girl and boy crouching on both sides of him as all three dipped their heads lower to the leaves to get a closer look.

“Whatever it is, it looks broken,” the little girl says, poking the metal contraption with a stick.

“A robot?”

“Probably a UFO,” the other boy answers, having remained quiet up until this point.

“It’s a box…” I tell them, coming up behind the Three Young Ones. “Or…at least it was a box.”

I take a knee beside them and pick the ramshackled piece of metal up from the casket of leaves in the ground. Weathered by the storm. Fragile.

I pick it up carefully. As if it were a broken-winged blue bird. Tiny & Delicate; It Used to Sing a Song of Mercy.

“Well that’s pretty boring,” retorts the little girl, standing to place her hands on her hips.

“You’d think so, wouldn’t you? But this box has quite the story behind it,” I tell them. “Maybe you won’t understand it just yet but later in life it will all make sense. 

Come, let’s find a place to sit in the shade and I’ll tell you everything.”

The Tale of the Box.

The Box formed many, many years ago. Long before iPods & iMacs or iHomes & iPads. Long before “i” was anything but a letter, a way to say Me with more assurance.

Long before automobiles or poodle skirts or sewing machines. For centuries– stacked upon one another like playing cards– living & breathing beings have stuffed themselves into this very Box.

“But its way too tiny,” the little girl interjects. “I couldn’t even fit my baby brother in that box.”

“You have a very good eye,” I say. “You see, they never got to fitting. Not a single one. They never found an angle to sit within it or a way to be comfortable between its four walls. And if you had asked them, when they were your size and just your age, if they’d ever squeeze into this Box one day, they would have told you ‘No.’ No, no, no.

But they got stuck. Trapped like Rapunzel High Up in Her Tower with Yards & Yards of Unruly Locks.”

“How do you get trapped in a box like that?” asks the little boy with red framed glasses.

“Good question. I can tell you that it happens very slowly at first….

A small pitter patter on the roof of the Box…

Should & Would falling from the sky.

Then louder…

Droplets of Mustn’t & Must

Then more robust…

Hail pellets of Cannot & Never

Then Thicker…

Disbelief. And Give Up Now. And Foolish to Believe You Could Ever Follow Your Heart.

And Heavier…

Why Try? Too. Small. No. Good. Worth. Less.

And before long, a heavy layer of all the reasons why the Box would be the safest & smartest & most logical place to stay poured out and covered the roof. And people stopped trying to break free. Or Break Out. Or Break the Mold. Or break anything but their own heart with the sound of dreaming slamming with the door. 

And they made Less Noise. And tried to take up Less Space. The Box became the very place where people learned to keep themselves holed up so that they never have to grow the Courage It Would Take to crawl out and seize the world by its lovely, lovely love handles.”

“It sounds very scary,” they whisper.“Very scary indeed.”

“Did you ever get stuck in the Box, miss?”

“Me?” I ask. “Well, sad to say it true but yes.”

“How did you break free?” They sat on their hands. They bit their lips. They waited for an answer, a resolution of sorts.

“I suppose I woke up one day and noticed One of Two Things or Two of One Thing:

One) My Spirits were Tattered & Torn but not beyond repair.

They could be fixed with a hammer, a few nails and some care.

Two) My dreams, still strong, had grown tired of me.

They would stand No Longer to not come to be.

They’d pack up their things and turn with a twirl,

hitch hiked the stars until they found a New Girl.

I would have spent a lifetime in that Box, or maybe even two, if I only used the carved windows for “looking purposes” and never decided they’d be my way to crawl from my own doubt and fear.

I could have spent forever with my hand to the thick glass, waiting for the voice webbed in my soul to whisper, “Climb out and join them.”

Climb. Out. And. Join. Them.

“I don’t think I’ll ever want to be stuck in that Box. It looks so tiny and lonely,” says the little girl, cringing.”

“And I hope you never do get stuck in the Box. It won’t ever be much of a home. And it won’t ever make you happy. The longer you get stuck, the harder it will be to break out.

Heavier Rooftops Pile Us In as Life Goes On & On.

So go on playing today, Loving the World through Little Girl & Boy Lenses. But remember this later, if your Little Minds Can Hold It Tight: Those dreams that stir you, the ones you paint on easels today and draw in crayon tomorrow, they are precious. And one day, they will come to you and say, “I want to come true now. I am ready to come true. So now what should we do?”

And that will be the question. The question that will either put you in the Box or Break the Box Right From the Hinges before you ever try to fit a body inside.

Break the hinges from the beginning, you won’t fit inside that box.

Break the hinges from the very start; you were made for things more wonderful than this.

17 Comments

Filed under Letting Go, Live with intention

Here is my promise: I’ll take back today.

At some point, the mere way you pour your coffee is going to convict you.

How you fold your clothes. & what you pack in that bag. & where you are going. & when. & when?

The things of the Every Day will bellow & boil with Bigger Questions: Why am I here? What am I doing? Is it making me happy? Or, is this all there is?

What happened to those feelings, those feelings I used to have that always made me feel like wearing  party dresses in July? Tell me, do those feelings stir here?

Me? Me?

I am just a girl who can promise you sound syllables & all sorts of deep cutting language. I can give you imagery that floats—like the birthday balloons gone running & away from their tied spot to the back of the lawn chair but I cannot promise you a lifetime. I cannot promise you joy in the grooves. I cannot promise you grasses thick with passion and a reason for waking every day. That, my dear, is a promise you learn to whisper to yourself when you first decide that you are worth it.

Worth the seeking. Worth the tougher questions. Worth the days spent soul searching in Central Park and doodling deep the images of a life you’d love live to one day.

Worth the day you declare yourself a hostess at your very own tea party and learn to usher Actions to the table: Changing with her hatbox. And Morphing with his drum. Letting Go with his somber smile & Growing with her long, white veil.

Rowdy party guests. Sure to shake the table and knock over the finer china. But they’ll make you better if you let them. They’ll make you better if you let them.

I lost a good friend nearly a year ago.

It is hard to believe in a calendar so cruel that will let June come, & then July & August, & then just a September before we sigh and say, “We’ve spent a year without his laughter in our conversations.”

Ask anyone who had ever known him and they’d claimed they lost a soldier. A bright light. A passionate seeker. A fighter. A friend who took you in on your best days and pulled you closer on your worst ones. A boy who made them feel that oxygen was a prize & they’d have gobbled up the air if they could have, because to be beside him breathing was so very good. & precious. & real. & we always seemed to know that this couldn’t last long enough.

But October took him.

The Skies took him.

And me? Well, he made me promise that I’d take back Today.

Take back Today and lose all sense of Tomorrow. Lose all sense of Later & Maybe & Someday. All the pitiful words that used to let me put things off were placed in a cardboard box to dust & stale & sell like crazy in a Tag Sale of Never Living.

Tomorrow might seem like a pretty thing, but what about now? This moment. This collection of seconds that should sum to the fact that we are trying to live better lives. And we are trying to collapse one another with compassion & strength. And we are trying to be more patient. And we are roaming through the halls of one another just to find understanding. And we are deciding this: that if we are unhappy then we are changing it. And if we are feeling Fake then we will pull out the flashlight and scavenge for Real. And if we have done somebody wrong then we are asking for Forgiveness. & if we’ve learned to wrong ourselves then we are willing to try Love around the shoulders with Amazement in our hands.

And if This, this Jumble of Life—this morning coffee order, this strolling to the office, this 9-5 job, this dinner conversation, this stream of Somebodies we are texting at night—if This is somehow broken then we are fixing…

Ever Fixing…

Our eyes on something brighter and our hands on a Happiness that is worth a sweet pursuance. A happiness that will one day pierce our skin with the wrinkles of Well Lived.

This post was inspired by a girl I’ll never know though I’ve reason to believe that we would have found ourselves sipping coffee together one day. Marina Keegan, a 2012 graduate from Yale University, wrote this piece just days before her graduation & died tragically in a car accident on Saturday. And so now we carry her words & the weight of them.  For her. We pitch tents out of her memory & burn lanterns with the light she gave to this world. Rest in peace, sweet girl.

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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.

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“She lived a breathless life…. A rare kind of breathless life.”

via weheartit.com

I wonder if she stood at the foot of the porch, arms crossed over her chest, and said out loud to the chill that stood in the air, “My daughter will be an undertaker.” 

I wonder if she debated rallying up the right bunch of words to tell a group of PTA mothers that her daughter was going to spend the rest of her life burying the dead. That she would be the youngest funeral planner this planet has ever laid eyes upon.

These are the very things I will never know if my mother thought as she watched me, stooped over on the sidewalk, poking a dead bluejay with a stick before fleeting into the house to find a perfectly-sized shoebox. Calling up my neighbors in frantic fashion, my tiny figure wrapped carelessly in the cords of the telephone, “I found another dead one! Let’s dig a hole in your backyard! I’ll bring my keyboard for the funeral!” 

I do know though, in all my days of  diary pages filled with fourth grade crushes & obituaries of dead raccoons pummeled by Toyotas on Belvedere Rd, she never said “no.” Or “stop.” Or “find another love.” Another passion. Another hobby. She just let her daughter go on, poking road kill with sticks before picking it up with kitchen tongs and burying it to an electric keyboard melody in the backyard.

She knew that her daughter Loved This Thing. This funeral thing. This burial thing.

And so she taught her daughter– her daughter with the dirty fingernails & assortment of black dresses in the summertime– that if you are going to love a thing then love it in a way that will make other people wonder if you sit on the Founding Committee for the Definition of Love.

Love the heck out of it. Love it in a manner that will leave others stretching to find the words to say, “I’ve never seen a thing loved quite like that before.” Love a thing truly. Love a thing madly. Love a thing purely. Intentionally. Whole-Heartedly. Don’t you dare go loving a thing if you only plan to love it halfway…. If halfway is your idea, then leave the thing Unloved for another to come along and Love It Beyond Ten Thousand Percent. 

I’ve only got 23 years of wisdom within me… some would say that is almost a quarter of a lifetime of “know-how” but I am willing to admit that I have at least a few more nursing homes to sit in, hearing the stories of my elders, before I get to the quarter mark.  But I am willing to gamble and lay the whole 23 years worth of wisdom down if it means you will read the next paragraph and take it with you today. Just please, try it on today. Imagine it be a dazzling peacoat with luscious brass buttons. Just at least see how it looks all buttoned up & handsome on you: 

Human beings are unreliable. They will always be unreliable ESPECIALLY when you turn to them and ask how to love. There will always be someone who tells you not to love this but to love that or to love him but not her. Always, always, always. Right Now, take your two index fingers. Point them straight out before you and take a good look at them. Don’t–I repeat–DON’T put those fingers of yours in your ears. It’s tempting to plug up against people but don’t do it just yet. Instead, go out and get yourself a little doctor’s kit, take out that plastic stethoscope, and plant those little ear tubes into your ears. Move that chest piece around until you find what Nicki Minaj would call that “Boom Badoom Boom, Boom Badoom Boom Bass.” And when you hear it, just promise me this: That You Won’t Forget It So Quick. That You Won’t Ignore It. That You Won’t Belittle the Beating. Gosh, there is an entire heartbeat dedicated to you, just you. And your passions. And your dreams. And your strengths & talents & visions. Now what will it mean if you never learn to listen to that beat? 

If you do ignore it then no worries, you’ll still certainly have the chance to meander down Ten Thousand Different Life Paths…. but will you be ok with never living the life you were destined for all along?

A life that makes you feel full and alive.

A life that will leave someone saying, as they stand before a crowd of crying people dressed in black who wished you didn’t leave  so soon, “She lived a breathless life…. A rare kind of breathless life. She loved a thing deeply. I’ve never quite seen a thing loved like that before.”

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The Tale of the Box: For the Reader with Clipped Wings

“What do you think it is?” he asks the girl and boy crouching on both sides of him as all three dip their heads down lower to the leaves to get a closer look.

“Whatever it is, it looks broken,” the little girl says, poking the metal contraption with a stick.

“A robot?”

“Probably a UFO,” says the other boy, having remained quiet up until this point.

“It’s a box…” I say, coming up behind the Three Young Ones. “Or… it was a box at least.”

I take a knee beside them and pick the ramshackled piece of metal up from the casket of leaves in the ground. As if it were a broken-winged blue bird. Tiny & Delicate Sing a Song of Mercy.

“Well that’s pretty boring,” says the little girl, standing to place her hands on her hips.

“You’d think so, wouldn’t you? But this box has quite the story behind it. Maybe you wont quite understand it yet, but later in life it will all make sense.  Come, let’s find a place to sit in the shade and I’ll tell you everything.”

The Tale of the Box.

The Box formed many, many years ago. Long before iPods & iMacs or iHomes & iPads. Long before automobiles or poodle skirts or sewing machines. For centuries, stacked upon one another like playing cards, living and breathing beings have stuffed themselves into this very Box.

“But its way too tiny,” says the little girl. “I couldn’t even fit my baby brother in that box.”

“You have a very good eye. You see, they never got to fitting. Never found an angle to sit in or a way to be comfortable. And if you had asked them when they were your size and just your age if they’d ever squeeze into this Box one day, they would have told you ‘No, no, no.”

But they got stuck. Trapped like Rapunzel, High Up in Her Tower with Yards & Yards of Unruly Locks.”

“How do you get trapped in a box like that?” asks the little boy with red framed glasses.

“Good question. I can tell you that it happens very slowly at first….

A small pitter patter on the roof of the Box…

Should & Would falling from the sky.

Then louder…

Droplets of Mustn’t & Must

Then more robust…

Hail pellets of Cannot & Never

Then Thicker…

Disbelief. And Give Up Now. And Foolish to Believe You Could Follow Your Heart.

And Heavier…

Why. Try? Too. Small. No. Good. Worth. Less.

And before long, a heavy layer of all the reasons why the Box is the safest, smartest and most logical place to stay sits unmoving on the roof. And people stop trying to break free. Or Break Out. Or Break the Mold.

And they make Less Noise. And try to take up Less Space. The Box becomes the very place where people learn to keep themselves so that they never have to grow the courage to crawl out and seize the world by its Love Handles.”

“It sounds very scary.”

“Very scary indeed.”

“Did you ever get stuck in the Box, miss?”
“Me? Well, sad to say, but yes.”
“How did you break free?”
“I suppose I woke up one day and noticed One of Two Things or Two of One Thing:

One) That my Spirits were Tattered & Torn but not beyond repair. They could be fixed with a hammer, a few nails, and some care.

Two) That my dreams, still strong, had grown tired of me. They would stand No Longer to not come to be. They’d pack up their things and turn with a twirl, hitch hike the stars until they found a New Girl.

I’d have spent a lifetime in the Box, or maybe even two, if I only used the carved windows for looking purposes and never as a way to crawl out of my own doubt and fear.

I could have spent forever with my hand to the thick glass, waiting for the voice webbed in my soul to whisper, “Climb out and join them.”

Climb. Out. And. Join. Them.

“I don’t think I’ll ever want to be stuck in that Box. It looks so tiny and lonely,” says the little girl, cringing and shuddering.

“And I hope you never do get stuck in the Box. It won’t ever be much of a home. And it won’t ever make you happy. The longer you get stuck, the harder it will be to break out. Heavier Rooftops as Life Goes On.

So go on playing today, Loving the World through Little Girl & Boy Lenses. But remember this later, if your Little Minds can Hold it Tight… Those dreams that stir you, the ones you paint on easels today and draw in crayon tomorrow, they are precious. And one day they will come to you and say, “I want to come true now. I am ready to come true. So what are you and I going to do to make me true?”

And that will be the question… the question that will either put you in the Box or Break the Box Right From the Hinges before you ever try to fit a body inside.

Break the hinges from the beginning, you won’t fit inside that box. Break the hinges from the very start; you were made for wonderful things.

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Filed under Live with intention, Plans, Simply Living