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You were known. You were seen. You were here.

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“I think I’ve lost my life again,” I told her, twirling the stem of my wine glass as I talked. “That, or I don’t know how to be alone anymore. I used to actually be good at that.”

There it was, my chunk of honesty sitting square on the table between two heaping bowls of clams and pasta. I had to say it out loud. It was the kind of thing you say out loud or else you risk exploding from the inside out.

She just smiled. And said amen.

I wish we all had this kind of friend. The kind of friend where you can just word vomit everything you’ve been feeling and they don’t say much or tell you that you’re wrong to feel that way. They just show up with a mop. And they nod their head a lot. And you feel less alone, but like you’ve gotten something off your chest. You’ve finally told it to someone who holds these fragile secrets inside of you like fine china.

That might have been the only thing I needed to say all dinner. But I needed to say it out loud: I’m afraid of losing my life to things that don’t actually matter.

My best friend and I went on a short vacation this past week. We took two days to enjoy the sights of Raleigh, North Carolina, and then we attended a conference that serves as both a refresher and a restart button for small business owners.

Our trip had all the stitchings of the kind of things you know you’ll remember for years to come. A beautiful hotel right in the heart of Chapel Hill. Cookies when you check in. Long coffee dates with no email. Sitting on the hotel beds, surrounded by more pillows than what is really necessary for a single person, talking for hours about life. And dreams. And goals. And hopes. The chance to finally look around and notice things that seem too insignificant to really see when you’re slung in the muds of everyday life– the colors of mailboxes. The way the rain smells and steams off the pavement in Raleigh. The crooked grins of beautiful boys in blue polo shirts who park your car in straight lines.

The both of us wondered why it took so long. At that table with the clams, we wondered that. Why it always seems to take so long for us to just unplug and unclutter and look up to see that life wasn’t happening on a screen anyway. We get real good at convincing ourselves that life is everything that is happening in those screenshots and those retweets. But if you just look up for 5 minutes– if you catch the shade of blue in someone else’s eyes today– you’ll see that you were wrong to think that.

It’s hard to even imagine it but there used to be a time when moments were just moments. When you saw him from across a crowded room and he gave you a glance that only you could pocket and that one shot of a smile was yours, all yours. It wasn’t publlic. It wasn’t filtered. It was sacred. A connection.

I guess I don’t know what happened. I guess I don’t know how I lost my life to this– and how everything came undone and unbalanced. But I know it happened once before. Years ago, there was a time in the earlier stages of More Love Letters when I treated that company like she was everything. I was always connected. I was always scaling to-do lists. I was barely sleeping. I was living each day with a slew of wrecking ball habits and I was the one who crawled to the finish line of each midnight hour and wondered why I felt so empty. So drained. Unhappy.

And I wondered why– when it should have been so easy to just roll over and fall asleep– I’d keep the phone clutched in my hand and I would scroll and scroll and scroll through the thoughts and images of other people, absorbing their fragmented glimpses of daily life, like old hymns you read with the hope you’ll find yourself known inside of them.

I’d wake up and I wouldn’t even push the yellow, quilted blanket from around my legs before I was checking in and seeing where I’d been missed or mentioned the night before. Honestly, I don’t know how it happened but I guess that doesn’t matter if you know why it did. It isn’t that I wanted followers. It isn’t that I wanted numbers or another mention. I just didn’t want to have to be alone. I just didn’t want to have to sit by myself.

It’s like this vacant warehouse inside of me. I used to think it was a tiny hole and now I see that it is a warehouse. So much square footage. A hollow space inside of me that wants to be known. And seen. And valued. And I hate standing in the center of it alone.

So I look for things to fill that space. I look for the wrong things. Like social media. I let social media try to sooth the parts of me that whisper, “I want to be seen. I want to be known. I want to be more than just a face in the crowd. I want to be stunning. And lovely. I want to be validated for who I choose to be.” I try to let social media do that filling job for me. And then I wonder why I am surprised to find that warehouse inside of me feels more empty instead of full.

Because nothing about the life that gets lived on the screen is really real. Sure, from time to time it can be a blessing but it isn’t really quality. It’s just a lot of quantity. It’s just a lot of trying to fill the hunger on the inside with followers and emails that say, “please respond by tomorrow because we need this.” And so we do, because it’s nice to be needed. But it’s just a lot of empty measurements– a lot of empty measuring cups of false self-worth– that keep me spinning on my toes. And keep me singing out loud to the world, “This whole life revolves around me. It revolves around me. My life matters. Me, me, me.”

I think that’s what social media really does these days. More than it connects us. It claims to bring us together but I think we’re too distracted to see that it’s ripping us away from the one thing that really matters: each other. And how much we desperately need to show up for one another.

In the middle of the conference they had us all get up from our seats and find a space on the floor to lie down. Spread out our legs. Close our eyes. Don’t move. Don’t flinch. Don’t let our heads get cluttered with the “must-do”s for the evening. And they told us to imagine– to build a picture in our mind– of what we wanted life to be like in 5 years from now.

And normally I find these kinds of exercises to be cheesy. But I was exhausted. And laying on the floor of the hotel ballroom in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, I started to weep. And my chest was heaving. And they just kept telling us to dig deeper and see more details. What do you see? What do you see? Like a trigger pulled, I came undone.

Because I saw him. I saw us. Sitting side by side on a countertop, bare feet and legs swinging. There was no urgency in the moment. There was no other place to be. My head was on his shoulder. The only light in the room was the white lights of Christmas that we never bothered to take down off the windows. And my favorite song was floating all around us, it had come up randomly on a Pandora station. And I realized in that moment, he was exactly the kind of guy I always hoped I would fall in love with: the kind of guy who doesn’t say a word when your favorite song is on because he knows how much you like to try and live inside of every word.

It was just us. No phones. No notifications. No need to document that we were here because you’d only ever have to ask the other person in the room– ask them if it was real– for them to answer you with all the confidence in the world, “Yes, it was real.” You were known. You were seen. “You were definitely, definitely here.”

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A call on 20-somethings.

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My words are not a parachute.

They won’t soften the landing when that moment buckles your knees and breaks you down to the floor. My words, they’re not no cold bucket of water. They won’t extinguish the doubt that blazes heavy, heavy, like a fire catching to all the pretty things you touch. Nothing I write can prepare you for that moment.. maybe you already know the one.

It’s going to hit you at some point. It might meet you randomly. 2am. 4am. When you’re standing in the middle of a crowded campus or alone in your cubicle beside a cactus you keep forgetting to water. No matter where you are, it’ll hit you. And you’ll look up suddenly. And you’ll look around. And you’ll let these words slip out from your lips, “Why am I here?”

Why am I here? And what am I doing? And this? Well, this doesn’t look like anything I thought it would be. Why does my life matter? Why does my life matter? Why does my life matter?

The moment, it’ll feel hollow.

Like all the insides of you have been scraped out. And suddenly the followers won’t matter. And the filters won’t matter. And all the digital things we share and tweet won’t hold much value at all. Something inside of you will be hungry for more.

You might cry. There may be many a’ ugly tears on your horizon. You might clench your fists. You might bite down hard on your bottom lip. You might pour a glass of wine and vow to forget it all by morning. But no matter what you choose to do, beware. That moment is gonna tidal wave you with all sorts of unanswerable questions and there’s only one thing I can promise you when it comes to that moment: you don’t need to have all the answers. They’re never going to arrive in one bundle like the back pages of a SAT prep book. You’ll never get all the answers so you can’t let that be the thing that keeps you from pushing forward into what’s next.

Someone got it into our brains that we needed to have every little thing figured out.

That some fairytale was going to greet us at the gates of adulthood. That life would look just like a movie. It’s simply not true. And if this is what it looks like to have it “all figured out” then we are living in some sort of coloring book where only half the pictures ever got Tickle Me Pink scribbled within their lines. We’ve got loans up to our elbows. We’re messy when we fall in love. We’re still trekking for the dream job or learning how to create it from scratch. We’re doing the best we possibly can within a world that started saying, right after two planes crashed into two towers, that we needed to make the most of this life thing. It was too short. It was too quick. It was unexpected at best. We needed to make the most of it.

We still want to be something really special and that’s not because the newspapers say our generation is the type that needs trophies for everything. We still want to be something really special for the same reasons that anyone, at any age, wants to be something really special: because it’s nice to be noticed every once in a while, even if it’s just by someone who has always taken you as you are. And in a world where it’s nearly impossible to get someone to look you in the eye instead of at the screen, it’s nice to be someone’s kind of Special at the end of a long day.

And we walked into the world and we were loud when we said we wanted to do something. I’d argue that we still do. We want to help people. We want to make some sort of impact. And that goodness inside of us, it never went away. It might have been covered. It might have been dimmed a bit. But if you’re anything like me then you still wake up hoping that this will be the day you will be brave and you’ll do something that matters. That’s all I really want if I am being truthful: To be brave and to do something that truly matters.

But the scary truth in all of it is that nothing in this world– not the magazines, not the networks, not the hyperlinks– will get us there. We have to be the ones to push aside the small talk and just resolve to be present, and connected, and intentional with one another. We have to be the ones to show up to this life if we ever want to do something that matters.

I didn’t want to turn this thing into a list.

Because the answer isn’t sitting in a list on the internet that someone wrote to tell you all the things you should and should not do with this 20-something life. And I know all too well that a list of things you “should” and “should not” do is never going to help you. Not in your 20’s. Not your 30’s. Not your 50’s.

So this isn’t much of a list. Maybe just call it the evidence I’ve gathered so far: I, personally, need to breathe more. Just because I want to have things figured out doesn’t mean I always will, so I really just need to learn to let that one go. Sallie Mae is an awful home wrecker but there is a way to live peacefully with her (after all, I’m the one who decided to stack these loans upon my shoulders). People will always have a lot to say about what you “should” do. Don’t entertain them if their aim is to belittle you. “Should” is a word that should be abolished from the dictionary.

You have to get out there. You have to feel life on your own skin. On your own terms. By your own rules. And maybe that’s the very first thing you need to learn to do– burn the rulebook and screw the boxes that other people want to put you inside of. Your life has nothing to do with tiny, little boxes that help you play smaller than you truly are. The point is to grow, not to shrink. But if you’re any ounce of human then you’ll always try to shrink before you grow.

Adulthood is a real thing but it doesn’t make much noise when it arrives. Heartbreak hurts but it makes you more resilient. Commitment sounds like an old-fashioned word but it will never go out of style. And it will always be a slow thing– a slow, slow thing– no matter how fast the world moves all around us. So commit to things. And get your heart involved. Take that risk, even if it means that something could break along the way.

If you are any bit like me then it doesn’t matter how much older you get, you still want to keep every person you encounter safe in your possession. But no, it doesn’t work that way. And you have to learn how to not be bitter when it comes to letting people go. I have to learn to loosen the grip a bit.

It’s beautiful to be young and innovative in the world today. And I will always fight you if you try to tell me that I am too old for Ringpops and sitting on counter tops while Jason Mraz trickles through the kitchen and the kettle hisses from the stove.

Life slips away quickly and unexpectedly– and time is the one, rare thing we always wish we had more of– so there’s really no time to sit here and write anything further when it turns out that life is actually everything that happens off the screen- unedited, unfiltered, and shared with others. It all comes down to other people. Other people are the lottery tickets of this lifetime that win every single time.

You get choices.

Every single day. You don’t get all the answers. But you will get those choices. Some mammoth and massive. Others tiny and seemingly minute. Each one matters though. Every single choice– every task that does or does not meet the to-do list– will ultimately stack up and answer one big question: whether you standing here– with gifted oxygen in your lungs– actually meant something.

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I can’t make you unpack your suitcase.

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When I unzipped the belly of the little red suitcase the book was sitting there.

It was sitting right on top. It was waiting for me. Two years ago, I used to think that if ever I sat down and finally read that book, it would probably be my favorite book. Maybe one day. Instead, I grabbed a sweater and I closed the suitcase shut. I checked the bag. I would see it in New Orleans. There’s never enough room for your second carry-on bag when they lump you into Zone 3.

Half of my life plays out in airports. The people who spend too much time in airports know I’m not saying that to sound romantic. It can be a tad whimsical. On quiet mornings. And when you aren’t getting a connecting flight in Atlanta. And when you get to fly into cute, little airports with baggage claim areas the size of your bedroom. But otherwise, it’s a lot of waiting. And watching other people wait for other people. And those scenes you used to watch in love movies don’t play out by the terminals anymore because security is too high.

And me? I’m always the girl who packs too much. I still can’t figure out how to pack lightly. It’s like a disease. I pack books I’ll never read because (let’s face it) I haven’t plucked them from my bookshelf in over two years so a trip to St. Louis isn’t going to make the cover look any more sexy to me than it did yesterday. I pack love letters for no apparent reason. I bring too many shoes. I convince myself I need a stuffed animal though I don’t and probably never will. And all the baggage I tuck and fold probably serves no purpose at all and yet I bring it with me because maybe it makes me think I can still be a person I let go of yesterday.

That’s baggage.

Baggage is anything that you still clutch onto too tightly with the hope that it will change or that you’ll change or that something will change. Baggage is anything you haven’t figured out just how to let fall off of you yet. Baggage is anything that does a poor, poor job of reflecting the person you were supposed to wake up and be today.

That’s baggage. And there’s too kinds. The easy and tangible: the lip gloss, the passport, the camera, the walletAnd then there is the real stuff: The sometimes clunky, often misshapen stuff I really don’t like admitting that I still carry with me. Like a shadow. Like a fanny pack around my waist. Like a second skin. No, no one likes saying out loud, “Oh, I should have let that go a long time ago and yet I never really did.”

I sat down to tea with a good friend last week. I could probably write an additional 1,500 words about the pretty pink porcelain and the Christmas lights still strung up around the shop that fool you into thinking every evening is the kind of holiday evening where a tree and mistletoe are waiting for you back home. We had three cups of tea (it sounds even more precise and romantic to type three).

And, as it always goes with old friendships, we poured tea and built bridges back into the lives of one another with all the stories that happened between November and now.

“So tell me it,” she said. “I’ve been waiting for this one.”

I sucked in deep. I went to speak. The story felt rehearsed by now. I recited it word for word.  And I made certain things sound more poetic than how they actually happened. And I stitched morals along the way. And the whole thing didn’t really end so much as in meandered into this weird grey area that left me thinking, when I said the last line of a story I’d already told too many people, “Man, I need to tell a better story than this. Otherwise, this is just pathetic. Sad. Too broken. Womp womp. Cue the world’s smallest violin.”

It was within that frumpy, sad little story (with very little ending) that I realized– baggage grows in these sorts of things. Baggage comes out of these sorts of things. It gets clingy in these grey, unresolved areas. It grows enormous and wraps tight to our ankles when we don’t give ourselves the triumphant, sweet endings we so deserve. That’s where baggage comes from– the exact moment when you think you are called to play small when life breaks your heart.

It’s like every single day we get to tell the coolest little stories that could make other people see themselves better and yet we are so hellbent on making ourselves sound broken instead. It’s like we’ve been given a million and one chances to be violins with our own lungs and we’d just rather rip out the strings and cry instead.

I’m just going to play metaphorical for a minute, baby: I can’t make you unpack your suitcase.

It’s not as easy as typing “DEAL WITH IT” and expecting that you ultimately will. If it were that easy? Jeepers, we’d never hurt one another again just because others hurt us in the past. Maybe the only advice I’ve got is really no advice at all so much as it is a movie quote I heard in a dark and empty theater this week, but I think it could tell you everything there is to know about about baggage: “The past is just stories we tell ourselves.”

That’s it. That’s all. Just stories we tell ourselves. Over and over again. And we decide if they chain us up or free us daily. Just stories you could somehow rewrite and let go of and turn into better memories when you start searching the seams of “what happened” for morals that actually make you grow instead of shrink.

You lost. You got rejected. He hurt you. You hurt her. It happened once. It happened twice. You didn’t see it coming at all. Your heart closed up. You got real good at pretending. There’s a bunch of reason, baby. And it would really interested to watch you get real– like SUPA REAL– with the man at the gate to A12, where all flights seemingly meet and merge, when he tells you to take everything out of your pockets and remove anything that might cause the alarm to go off. You see, if life were as literal as a Beyonce song, you’d get to take one of those clunky grey bins and dispense everything– all the old love songs, the words he used to say to you, the fights from old friendships, and all the little stories that are still missing their endings– into that bin. 

You’d get to walk through security, free from it all. And you’d get to keep walking. Away. Away. Away. Like a gangster. Like a baller. You’d get to leave the clunky grey bin behind– full of all that crap that only pushes you down with not-so-victorious endings– as you throw up your deuces and go. Go, baby go.

That’s the thing about baggage.

You either carry every clunky piece of it with you, like costume jewelry stacked around your neck, and you stay thinking one day you’ll find a better burial for those things then right here, or you pluck the lesson out from the thing and you resolve to let the thing go. Let the thing go, let the thing go.

Walk away. Make a decision for yourself that will make Aesop and all his little fables proud as you take the moral of the story and you leave the rest. As you pack the towels but you leave the mess.

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Since some Mondays are worse than Sallie Mae, I created a little breakfast club/secret society to help kick Mondays off right. You are reading me right. Every Monday. Me. You. We roll out via email and your morning brew. I promise to meet you with only the good stuff. Highly recommended for movers, shakers, and original gangsters. No rules. You feeling me, boo?

click here to join the wait list for the Monday Morning Breakfast Club Email

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facebook. twitter. instagram. email.

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Joy, joy, joy & multiple forms of Hallelujah.

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Dear you,

I haven’t been around these parts of town much and this place feels sort of barren.

I’ve been in other places. In grocery lines. And homemade bunkers to shield myself from the New England snow. And shrouded in blankets. And running and dancing in Central Park. But I haven’t been here.

I thought I would come to you with handfuls of apologies but then I stopped, and I breathed, and I said to myself, “There is no reason to apologize. You’re growing up and you’re learning to be committed. And you can’t really apologize for growing up.”

I am committed to you. And I am committed to this blog. And I’ve wanted to write more throughout this season but I am doubly committed to a book that this blog made possible. I’m three weeks away from the deadline. I’ve been writing, writing, writing until my little fingers turn blue and I am just crazy about making these pages perfect for you. Maybe that sounds strange, but I think about you every time I sit down and try to lace another chapter through my bones. And keeping you in mind helps this whole process seem worth it. Gritty, but so worth it.

And this is what commitment looks like and I could have never imagined it would be this way 5 months ago when this whirlwind started. I didn’t know I would cry so much. Care so much. Learn so much. Heal so much. I didn’t know I would forget to eat. I’d forget to walk outside. I’d get so hung up on one single sentence that it was all I could say over and over again. I didn’t know this book would latch to my heart like a sloth, that it would grow me in the strange way that symbiosis works for other organisms. I didn’t know commitment looked this way. Void of fireworks. Void of pretty filters. Void of coffee always overflowing and laughter rolling upward to the ceilings. But joy, joy, joy and multiple forms of Hallelujah when you finally swing to the other side.

The skins of that word used to scare me.

On the surface, she seems fine. But commitment is the farthest thing from beautiful when you feel stuck in the mud, and the wheels ain’t turning, and you’ve got no choice but to keep going, and keep going, and keep going until you can make something move.

I guess I’m now starting to understand why commitment seems a little jacked up and flimsy in the world today. Because real commitment– hands all in with no hope of turning outward– is not always the picture-perfect, edited thing you’d thought it would be. A lot of times it’s tears. And it’s telling yourself you will get through something, even when you aren’t so sure that you will. And it’s lacing up your boots to get through these battlefields that seek to own you with doubt and insecurity and hopelessness.

And through all of this I’m learning that distractions are real. And distractions sounds like too helpless of a word that, at the root of it, means “an escape from what you are called to do”. The Facebook streams. The Twitter conversations. The filtered little things we peer through the lens of Instagram to find. The magazines. The Netflix. All of it could start as a simple distraction to you but grow bigger and bigger until you are stealthy in escaping through those channels everyday.

There’s thinking you will do something and then actually doing it. The two are completely, completely different and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. And when you start doing it– be it putting your whole heart into a relationship or all of your lungs into this lifetime– you will want to turn back. You will want to run, run, run away to a time when it was easier and it was comfortable and nothing made you fearful or made you feel like something was crawling beneath your skin.

Stay.

Please stay. Stay until the words come. Stay until you know what you feel. Stay until after you figure out what it is that you feel and you decide that that feeling scares you half to death. Stay when it’s hard. Stay when something inside of you thinks it might just be getting to the good part.

Don’t just stay when it’s blissful. Blissful ain’t never built a life in the way the bricks of struggle & challenge & strife build out a character inside of you.

You might want to leave but maybe that is all the more reason to stay.

Even when the world doesn’t get it and they shut out the lights and they all go home. Are you following them? Are you following them home?

Stay. And be committed.

Only then, only then, will the breakthrough come.

 

All this to say, I’ll be back soon. I’ll write soon. I’ll swing to the other side soon, soon, soon. Until then– I am waiting on joy, joy, joy and multiple forms of Hallelujah.

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When 60 days could change your life.

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Dear you,

I don’t ever write about these things. If you’ve been a reader, you know. Someone will surely think my blog has been hijacked but I am over here, waving my hands in the air, and yelling, “No! It’s really me! It’s Hannah! I promise!”

This post is in lieu of the one I won’t be writing on December 26th when the trees get hauled out and the lights get packed up and everyone begins plotting what they are going to change for the year ahead.

I’ve never been a New Year’s fan. I get the point of it. I even have a tradition where one of my best friends and I pick a new coffee shop every New Year’s morning– one that is bustling with the sounds of plates clanking and kids laughing over pancakes sopping in butter– and we write letters to the person we hope will open them one year from that date. We set goals. We read the letters from the year before. We fold up the letters. We seal them. We hold them for one another until another 365 days passes through the fingertips and we kiss another year goodbye.

But something has always broken my heart a bit about New Year’s. How we celebrate so little because we’re just so fixated on starting over. The way we want to wake up in the morning and be someone different. And break all these old habits. And forget the person we were who messed up & failed their diet plan & made it to the gym until January 15th and then just gave up. And I don’t like the idea of waiting until a set moment– January 1, 2014– to change things. If there is something to be changed, shifted, or altered, then we should be starting right now. We should be starting right now.

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Yesterday morning I posted a list on Instagram. A 60 day challenge that I am setting for myself. I’ve set 6 goals. 60 is a relevant number for me because from December 1, 2014, I have 60 days until my first draft is due to my editor. I want to walk away from this process of book writing not feeling like I just survived something but that I actively made changes while in the writing process and I am walking out a different and better individual.

 

1. 60 minutes cardio + weights: Pretty self-explanatory. Hitting the weights hard. Getting back to a first love of working out and really working up a sweat.

2. 6 small meals a day: Paleo is back in the mix. I know the benefits of paleo and how it impacts my body but I am really curious to see how it unfolds in the amount of 60 days. I won’t be too strict but I definitely want to get into better habits when it comes to eating so that I am feeling energized by my food and not weighed down.

3. 60 minutes of email: This is only for a season of life but in the midst of book writing, I want to minimize my email time to 60 minutes a day. Email can be a bad habit for me. If I wanted to, I could live in my inbox. So the autoresponder is up and I will set a timer anytime that I dig in.

4. No social til 6pm: This is a big one. Social media is definitely a time-killer when it comes to trying to sit down and write. It’s an easy distraction. I am going to make it a point to touch any kind of social networking until 6pm on days where I am writing.

5. 60 minutes of quiet time: God. God. God. He probably should have the first one on this list but I know confidently that He kind of, sort of, governs this whole list. I want to be dedicated to quiet time. I want to stop focusing in on the mess in my head. I want to remember my place as a child of God. And I want to pray better prayers and believe for bigger things.

6. 6 glasses of water: Oof. I barely even consume two so this will definitely be a stretch for me. But hey, I have to start being better disciplined in this area sometime soon.

I want to be so clear with my intentions on posting this. I don’t tell people how to live. I don’t have any interest in trying to improve your life in 60 days. I just want to be very honest in saying that I, personally, am really hungry to get healthier and treat myself better. I am hungry for balance. I am hungry for a life that knows the distinction between work and friends. I want to figure out where my A-game is, not just in business or writing but in the everyday folds of this thang called life.  I want to feel like I’ve sunk my heels deep into a life I know I want. A life that fuels me inwardly & outwardly.

But… (there is always a but)… I am also super aware of the fact that when I try to go on journeys on my own, I often fail. And fumble. And give up. And I beat myself up when it was never supposed to be about that to begin with. This little journey of mine has nothing to do with measuring success. It has to do with trying to change something in 60 days, as I reach one of the most important deadlines of my young adult years, that will change my life for the rest of it. I can dig that. I can work for that. I can not be afraid to say I want that.

So you can be in or you can choose to be not in. You can set 6 goals or you can set 2. If you take on these goals, definitely consider custom catering them to you and your work/life. For me, social media won’t be on til 6pm. For others, it might be time to shut off at 6pm. You can make it look however you want. The goal is to celebrate change and progress instead of just thinking my life will magically change at the stroke of midnight in one month from now.

I am ecstatic about 2013. I am all sorts of over-the-moon for what progress was made. I want to spend this December being dang proud of what has gone down in the last year. I want change to be an exciting & momentous & powerhouse thing. I want to believe that I deserve this. I want to walk in 2014 already knowing I started the work it takes to be who you really have always wanted to be… inside & out.

I’ll be posting occasional updates on Instagram if you want to follow along. I’ll post things tagged as #60daystochangealife in case y’all want to set your own goals and post progress. I love a good team effort.

Ain’t nobody got time to wait for January 1. The gun just went off. I am going.

hb.

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Oh, not a day goes by where she does not think of you first.

Screen Shot 2013-11-27 at 3.20.13 PMWhen I was a little girl, Tragedy became real to me.

Real in the sense that it felt fleshy & alive. It took up oxygen in the air. It had footsteps & nicknames & places to be.

I wrote a story about Tragedy so that he’d have roots to trace back. I wrote about Tragedy as if he were an old man, with creaky limbs and cutting blue eyes. I planted Tragedy square in the middle of a seaside diner by the Atlantic City boardwalk.  I gave Tragedy a newsboy hat. I gave Tragedy a scowl. And always, always, Tragedy was a man who never liked his job description. Never did he like how he rushed in to cause the tears and rushed out before the healing ever came. He walked up & down that boardwalk, drank half a cup of coffee at the diner, made small talk with Ruthie, the waitress, and then rushed off to a slew of funerals & war zones for the day.

Y’all already must have known what a desperately strange child I was.

I was never the child who wanted sunlight. Never the girl who was amused by water parks. Never wanted to be stuck in the presence of other sticky children who hoarded aficionados for candy & cartoons. I only wanted to be left alone to sculpt stories & breathe life into my characters: Tragedy. Happiness. Envy. And the leading lady of them all– Love.

Love was a girl all wrapped up & glowing in a red scarf, a pony tail at the nape of the neck, and long fingers curled around a spiced hot cocoa. Love, she spoke so slowly, always on the verge of melodically. People would stumble over her before breakfast but she’d always speak her syllables out one-by-one like she was leading school children across the street. 

In a world where we’ve always wanted things to be neat & orderly, precise & predictable, Love has never truly fit in. She’s the rebel of the group. The mold breaker. The new girl in the cafeteria that everyone notices for her ruby-red lips and yet they all turn to go when it comes time to shake a hand or swallow a grin from her. Love can be an awfully intimidating thing.

Love has always had to fight a lot harder to win our attention.

Where Tragedy blows us over like little piggies with super power breath, Love has been the quiet fighter. Brinking for our hearts like the ever-patient hero.

The radio blares of her. The movies personify her. The books– embossed covers & classical endings– burrow romantic little holes into our bones. But we get so distracted, so cluttered with the Must-Do’s and the Should-Do’s, that we forget how old-fashioned of a place Love has always wanted to take in our lives.

We might stand in the longest, weaviest lines that snake through the malls on Black Friday. Go home exhausted. Rush through the motions. Frantically decorate the house. Shop some more. Bake some more. Stay busy, busy, busy. And never once look up into the heart of this season to see Love standing at the door, right beneath the mistletoe with her ruby-red lips, ready to tell you how many lines she waited in just to get to you. You’re worth it like that. Don’t you know you’re worth it like that?

“Don’t try to limit me,” Love would say. “And don’t think I’m leaving tomorrow or the day after Sunday. Don’t box me in. Don’t worry about me running out. I don’t run out. I only rush in.”

“Speak slowly when I am around. Let me go where I need to go. Unleash me to dance with the ones you so adore. Let me get all wrapped up in them. Let me get tangled in their hair. Above all, don’t be afraid to say that you want me– in every area, in every morning,  in every hour. Just let me be as I was made to be: Thick. Big. Overwhelming but Understanding. Overflowing but Underrated.”

She does not want the busy. She doesn’t care for the frantic. She aches to be trusted. Aches to know that someone, somewhere, will just let her spill over them, flood them, wreck them, rule them, keep them more full than any other emotion in this world.

And here we hide– behind text messages, behind rules we’ve constructed for our selves, behind barriers & past hurts, and “you wouldn’t really love me if only you knew this…” rhetoric. But not a day goes by where she forgets us or thinks less of us or does not survey the damage of the hurt and says, “How deep is the cut?  I promise I can fix that.”

Not a day, not a day in Love’s life, has she ever cared for the petty precision we use when we are trying to define her. And bottle her up. And control her. And make less of her. And keep her from doing the very things she has always, always, always been so good at. But only when we let her in. When we let her set the table.  

 

That is where I find myself stopping.

Wanting to put the pen down. Wanting to end this blog post. Afraid to go an inch further because I don’t know what it would look like to have Love set the table; night after night after night after night. Make that table so full that there’d be no room for Fear. No table setting for Anxiety, no wine glass for the Worry. No chance of Broken Bits of Bitterness scampering around the fringes of the tablecloth to steal biscuits from the bread basket.

Love. I think she sets a mean table. She cooks a raging turkey. I think she delivers a pretty sizable spread. But she demands the things that we are so stingy to give within a life that has monopolized us with shame & guilt.

When you sit at the table that Love sets, you let things go. You let old battles die. You roll up your sleeves and you release the anger you’ve harbored inside. It breaks her own heart to see you so bitter. You take down your flags of white surrender.

You admit that you’ve been wrong. You let her heal the parts of you that you swore were not so relevant. You stay open. You stop trying.

You dig in. You. Just. Dig. In. To what life could look like when Love is the ally– not the toxic home wrecker. When she whispers, “Babycakes, I ain’t skinny. I’m not no skinny love. Maybe that’s a pretty song but I’m so thick that I could push you flat like a rolling pin. Come on, child. Let’s eat.”

And your eyes might water. And your tongue might get dry. And you might say that you got this love thing wrong the whole time. It was never running out, it was always rushing in.

Love, love.

Her name sings like the last line in a poem. It sounds like bells, the kind they hook to horses when their hooves patter and pull the carriages through the snow.

Love, love.

Oh, not a day goes by where she doesn’t think of you first.

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The world isn’t about you, and love still wins.

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The post went viral.

Months after it had been written, a short and fun post I wrote about women, and gossip, and nude pumps, and leggings went viral. And it spiraled into the hands of people I could have never imagined. It may very well be the most popular thing I will ever write.

It was a post I didn’t think much of when I was writing it. It was an assessment of the funny & brave & integral lessons I have learned in my short 25 years of digging heels into this earthy soil. I didn’t claim to be an expert. I’m not a scholar in womanhood. I didn’t even proofread it, really. I just never thought thousands would digest it, and pass it on, and criticize it, and get their tears and snots all over it.

I have real control over the things I say and the messages I put out there in the world. A post gone viral has taught me that. Once you put it out there, once you release it from your hands, the control is gone. People get to take it and make it into anything they want it to be. It can be a ballad. A love song. A reason to get up every morning. A final goodbye. It could be so much to someone else.

Make sure you know what you are saying. I want to tell myself that daily. Make sure you are intentional when it comes out of you. Try your hardest to not want to take things back when you release them.

In the deep of me, I believe a lot of those things I wrote in that post. In the deep of me, I want to erase 23 of those things and just focus on one or two. Honestly, I could say something that would reach the world, it would never touch on nude pumps or tuna and barbecue sauce or leggings as pants. That’s not my heart. That’s not what I truly care about.

If I could say anything, it would be just this:

This world isn’t about you, and love still wins.

That’s it. Maybe that’s all.

The world revolves around none of us and reminding yourself of that on a daily basis feels a lot like freedom. And love wins. Over and over again. No matter how much we try to say that something else matters more than it, love still wins. We still want it most. She’s still the prom queen. She’s still the thing that keeps this broken world spinning. Somehow, somehow, she does.

I feel like I am drowning sometimes.

Drowning in a place where everyone wants to size you up and call you worthy based on the platform you have or the “likes” you gather in. Drowning because the world only teaches me to fix myself instead of saying quietly into the softer parts of me, “You’re whole. You’re not missing a thing.”

I struggle in a world that tells me the goal is to be known. To have a platform and a following, though I am not sure why.

If I am known, I want it to be because I solved problems. If I have a platform, I only want it to be because I opened my mouth to actually say something that added substance to the conversation.

And followers? They are a complete mystery to me. Followers don’t change the fact that you fail people. Or let people down. Or regret people. Followers don’t mean you’re not still the regret of someone else. They wash away quickly. They don’t show up for you at 2am. Don’t get so crazy about them. Don’t think you are so important. Just do something that is follow-worthy. Keep the focus on others. Make people think. Think more on your own actions. Above all, be who you say you are. Convince others that they are capable of things.

That’s powerful.

I’d follow that.

We’re trained to believe it is about us though. Me & Me & Me.

The culture we live in right now is a cheap party host. She’s not feeding us right. She’s giving us plates and plates of marshmallows and chocolate chips and Twizzlers and all these goodies that feel good & right & sweet for about 5 minutes. And then we are hungry again. And we want something more. And we crave substance. But it’s just more and more garbage that never grows us stronger or makes us better or opens our eyes up to the fact that a lot of things we focus on are petty & stupid & not worth the time.

But if you look her in the eye, and if you ask her why she feeds us this, she will tell you straight, “You asked for this. This was what you asked for. This is what you choose to shovel into your mouths and I am just showing up with the platters.”

I can say the culture is a mess but I am still listening to it. I am still in the thick of it. I am still attending the party. On a daily basis, I am forgetting the people I could be calling “brother” because I want a latte in a red cup, and I want to be skinnier, and I want to meet someone, and I want my business to thrive, and I want my writing to be good. And you might have just passed me on the street and I didn’t look up. I am sorry but I didn’t look up to give you something you deserved this entire time. My attention. I’m trying to be better. It’s a daily kind of thing.

We say we want more than this. And yet we care so darn much about the latest gossip from celebrities who will never touch us, or know us, or feed us, or kiss us, or care to ask us how we are doing. And we are angry over trivial things. And we give up on one another too easily.

It’s like that old computer game. Minesweeper? Was that it? Where it was only just a matter of time before you clicked and caused an explosion. That’s the world we live in today. Setting one another off. Good ways. Bad ways. Irreparable ways. Damaging one another and walking away.  There’s something wrong with that. We should focus more on remedying that than on lip gloss, or party favors, or what we are hoping he brings through the door this holiday season.

We say we want to be better than this.

We want to be good humans. We want to master this “randoms acts of kindness” thing. Kindness should drive you insane. It should hurt you deep because it’s hard to love people constantly. It should make you want to grit your teeth. You should sign up for those kinds of feelings every, every day. Kindness shouldn’t be the thing we turn on and off like a lamp switch or check off a list when we’ve helped some elderly woman across the road. Kindness is just Love without makeup. It’s just the basics. It’s just the starting point. It’s not some cute little word that implies love letters and babies giggling. It’s absolutely everything in a world that is starving for more of it.

To think we should only sprinkle love upon the worthy & on the ones who cross our paths & when it is comfortable and convenient for us is weak thinking. Love is the kind of thing that screams in your face, “Plaster me everywhere. Smear me on everyone. Cake me thick in your conversations. Don’t stray. Let me push you to meet the neighbors I have placed absolutely everywhere for you.”

“Make me famous,” Love would say. “Make me absolutely famous.”

There is a reason you are sitting up at midnight, eyes red & puffy, watching videos of humans being good to one another. Watching proposals that show a kind of love that can be enviable and extreme. Bursting at the seams.

You want it too. No matter how many times we twist and morph that word into something that gets flung around and pushed out and falsified and changed for the sake of cheap commercialism, you want it. You want to believe it is still out there.

You want someone to show up for you. Man. Woman. Friend. Lover. We might all need to learn how to take care of that delicate thing better. So it doesn’t break so often. So we don’t devalue you with our careless human hands. You might need to change things. You might need to grow more. Know your weaknesses and resolve to be better. Get help. Tell someone. But don’t go another day thinking you can’t have it. Or that you can’t give it away.

I want that kind of love. The kind of love that is awkward and uncomfortable. And it makes something inside of you want to explode. And it isn’t always pretty but it promises to make you feel alive. I want it. In friendships. In family. In relationships. All of it.

I don’t want the followers. I don’t need a grand proposal. I don’t really want the marshmallows anymore either. I just want that feeling. The kind that makes the tiniest hairs on your forearms stand up because you never knew you could mean that much to someone else.

I just want to hear someone stand in the doorway, or the hallway, or the bookstore, or the street, and say, “You showed up. I didn’t think anyone was coming but you showed up.”

You showed up. I didn’t think anyone was coming but you showed up.

That would be enough for me.

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When Taylor Swifting Ain’t Worth It.

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I recently received this email from a reader. I’ve decided it was a really good question. And so I wanted to answer it here. I would so appreciate the experience of other writers in the comment section. I think there is much, much, much to be learned from this topic.

Hannah-
I know you must get a quarter million emails a day. Mine’s short. It’s so short but it is so heavy. How do you do it? How do you write SO honestly about all this hurt and not allow yourself to be silenced by fear? Fear of HIM knowing it’s about him. Fear of your family knowing that you were/are so hurt. Fear of hurting those who hurt you.
I don’t want any of those things.
How do you do it?

Diana—

I’ll start off by telling you two stories.

The first one happened nearly two months ago when I wrote the following lines:

“My brother has struggled with the grips of drug addiction for the last ten years but he is still the most beautiful fighter I know. It is the only reason I embarked on a faith journey in college. I watched my mother tumble in and out of rhythms with her little boy and I envied the foundation she stood upon.”

Those weren’t the original words.

There was no original line about my brother being a beautiful fighter. I had originally written the sentence, “I am the writer of the family and even I don’t have any more pretty words for my brother.” I had carelessly sliced into someone I loved and published it quickly for the world to read.

My mother stood in the middle of the door frame to my office a day later.

“That hurt.” I knew what she was talking about. I knew those words, no matter how pretty I could make them or how delicate they could seem while standing against a crowd of others, were always going to hurt my mother.

“I know they did,” I said. “I can’t help it though. They’re true.”

“I know they are.” We both stared off into separate corners of the room, waiting on the breath of one another. She finally spoke. “I think that’s why it hurts so much.”

I tidied up the line when the Huffington Post approached me and asked to republish the blog on their site. I gave my brother a sort of redemption with my words. I didn’t want my mother to have to hurt on national platforms. And I know my brother is a fighter, a beautiful one at that.

The second story happened three years ago. The short of the long of it was that there was a guy. Maybe he still reads this page. He always said that he would but I’ve known what it’s like to just want someone to disappear so I wouldn’t blame him if he has let this blog slip from his memory.

“I don’t want to become one of your life lessons,” he said to me. “I don’t want you to turn me into that.”

Still, to this day, those are the hardest words I’ve ever had to hear someone tell me. It was hard because underneath those lines, I knew he was really saying, “I’m fearful.” Fearful that we’ll stop playing in the lines of one another’s stories. Fearful that the only way to move on from this will be to wrap the whole thing up with some big red bow and a moral and offer it up to the world as a lesson learned.

I couldn’t promise him that I wouldn’t search the ground for syllables as a way to explain how I felt when it was over, and I was alone. I am a writer. Writers write about the things of this lifetime they’ve learned to love. Win or lose, we write.

I marveled at Taylor Swift for a long time. How she so effortlessly flings the names of past flings into songs that become eternalized on the lips of teenage girls. Taylor Swift was a realization, to me, that words eternalize people. They’re constant. They’re forever. Placed with a rhythm or printed on a page, we all hold a power inside of us to break someone’s heart with our own writing. By placing their name of the page or even just their likeness, we hold that power. It’s scary stuff.

You have to be really careful with that.

I want to be a good writer one day. I am so hungry to be better.

I think the best kinds of writers, whether they see it or not, are the ones who give grace that expands on the page. The ones who understand that writing about the life of someone else—no matter how boldly they touched you or how much they hurt you—isn’t just the maniac workings of a Taylor Swift burn song. If you aren’t careful, the words you write on a page will leave very little room for redemption. And us, as human beings, were made for some kind of redemption.

We’re going to mess up. We’re going to miss phone calls. We’re going to do some pretty awful stuff to one another. And we won’t always be in control. At some point we’ll learn, if we have not already, that we actually don’t get to fix people or make them better. We actually don’t get to shield them from the world. We actually don’t get to live perfect love stories all the time.

But I think being a writer is far more than just writing about other people and then being fearful of how they’ll respond. A good writer will put their own feelings on the page– ugly or not– but never pretend to act like they can even sum up or begin to discover what another feels in that moment. Being a writer is no different than being purely human: We are entitled to feelings but it truly, truly matters how we refine them when we step to put them out into the world.

But you should own your feelings. You should own every little of shred of emotion you feel. Maybe it’s jealousy. Maybe it’s joy. Maybe you want to jump the bones of someone every time you see them wearing that sweater with the patches at the elbows. Ugly emotions or not, own the emotions and don’t shove them into a box that makes you sorry for having them.

Find the root of them. Touch that with your hands. Dissect them on a page. Understand why you are so imperfect and why that is actually the most awesome thing you’ve got going for you.

Explore them. Talk to someone about them. But please, don’t just throw them on a page when you’re angry or upset or you want to make a moral out of someone else. That’s a life. That’s a character in your story. That’s someone who can change at any moment. Just because they are a character, an integral someone to the someone that you are, does not mean you get to write their life story or that you get to eternalize who they are for the world to read. You only get to write about who they’ve been to you. I think smart writers slip grace beneath every door their characters stand beside. Because we all need so much grace.

The hardest part about being a writer, especially a nonfiction one, is that the whole, wide world becomes your syllables. You notice people. You memorize their dialogue. You carry them with you. You staple their hearts inside the lining of your sleeves. And you don’t know how to let people go sometimes, or wrestle with all the impact they made, other than putting it down on the page and walking away. Writers will always deal with the repercussions, with the realization that thick skin must be an attribute to ones who live their lives finding words for the stories they’re swept up into. People won’t always like it. People will not always appreciate the viewpoint. People will get hurt because we’re all sensitive, and scared of so much, at the very root of us. But how silent can you stay? How long can you edge around the words that you’ve needed to say for so long?

I’m writing about him. In my book, I’m writing about him. But first I needed to know my reason “why.” If ever my reasoning for putting him on a page was bitterness & resentment & jealousy, then it wasn’t time. I had to mature to a point where he became a staple in my journey. Where I knew he had changed me. Where I knew, without question, that the character who walks up to meet you on the first page and the same character who waves goodbye as she watches you drive away on the last would be different because of him. To burn him, to be bitter with him, to spit fire at him– all would be a selfish agenda that the world has never needed. The world is full of dagger-throwing, angry people; I’d rather my words be light. Not fire.

Here’s my final advice (and it might not be any good): Don’t write about people just to write about them. Don’t write about people because they’re juicy. Or because you think you need a love story floating on the page. Or because you want some kind of revenge. Write only, and only, if someone changes you. If you see the world differently because of them.

Write about the things that change you. Harvest the emotions. Don’t just spit words out like fire. Fire burns up the ground and destroys the pretty things that used to be. Rebuilding is so hard. So very, very hard. Figure out a way to grow from the people who have hurt you. No matter your age, choose to grow up. And don’t be so quick to place down a period and walk away. A good writer will write with a grace that sprinkles commas and semicolons around the story and says to the reader, “I’m not perfect. They’re not perfect. No one here wins or gets the final breath.”

Growing up means letting go. Giving grace. Owning emotions. Leaving room for redemption. Harvesting something for someone else. And then walking away from the page.

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The Forgotten Fairy Tale of Should’ve, Could’ve, & Would’ve.

Like any normal child, I started writing letters to my One Day, Some Day daughter when I was 11-years-old. I’ve been writing her into the margins of my diaries for eleven years now in hopes that one day she’ll find these books buried somewhere in the attic and know through the etchings of my messy cursive that I wanted the most for her. Even when I’ve had no idea what to want for myself, I wanted the most for her. The following post is for her– my One Day, Some Day Daughter.

To my One Day, Some Day Daughter:

This is a story made for the day when you wake up, hair all knotted by the pull of your pillow, and stumble straight into Should’ve & Could’ve & Would’ve: a trio of sisters that the world should call witches, for they’ll snatch up your dreams and scarf down your desires, and Fix You Up Pretty in a Too Tiny Box that God Never Made You For.

He made you for dancing—for words too eloquent to say with more than a whispered voice—for tinsel delicately strewn on the branches of baby evergreens—for icing, thick and sugared on the tops of every little thing you touch. 

But one day, one gloom-stricken day, you’ll stumble into a cottage with doors that lock behind you and windows that snap shut to find Should’ve herself waiting for you.

You’ll know her by the rings piled on every long, sticky finger. The Diet Coke she clutches in her hand. The mole on her face, right beside the curl in her lips caked with a color that Chanel phased out two decades ago.

She’ll look you straight in the eye and ask you where you’ve been.

“A little late to join the par-tay, Babycakes,” she’ll say, snapping her gum. “HA, HA, HA, bet you were off thinking you could make something of yourself. Like you could move, bah! Like you could make a difference, BAH! Hey, Could’ve! COULLLLDDD’VEEEEE!!! Where are you!!! Getttt innnn hereeeeee nowwwww! And bring the cat!”

Could’ve will emerge, wearing a bathrobe. Could’ve is always one to wear a bathrobe with a hazard zone of red hair perched upon her head.

“Yea, yea, yea,” Could’ve will say, shuffling into the room with a fat orange fur ball tucked under arm. “What the heck do you want, Should’ve…. And WHO are YOU!?”

“We’ve got a guest,” Should’ve will announce.

“My name is….” You’ll start to say.

“Shhhhhh…” Could’ve will hush you and clench your cheeks tight. “We really don’t care! Names don’t matter in this place. Dreams don’t either. And certainly, certainly, not your silly little ambitions. Leave those at the door. Should’ve, get the remote. Judge Judy is on!”

From a corner of the cottage, you’ll watch Should’ve & Could’ve sink into the television, into a world they’ve always known. A world with no pushing, no pulling, no climbing. No maybe. No possibly.

With a creek and a slam, you’ll hear the front door shut, revealing a young girl with a bright green cape. Her fair complexion and midnight-like locks poking out beneath a hood that masks her real beauty.

“Where the heck did you run off to, Would’ve?” Should’ve will holler, not turning back to see her fair sister’s flushed cheeks. “We’ve got Doubt coming over for dinner in an hour and you gotta sweep the floors!”

“I was on a date…” Would’ve will say meekly.

“A WHAAAAATTTT?” Could’ve & Should’ve will scream out in unity.

“I said, a date,” Would’ve will say a little louder.

“With Whommmmmmmmm!?!”

“Try. I was out with Try again.” The name comes out short. Abrupt. You’ll feel the heavy gust of shame whipping through the cottage the moment Would’ve lets the name drop from her lips.

“Try!?!” Could’ve will roar. “You went on another date with Try? You stupid, stupid girl! What have we told you one million times before? Try does not go for girls like you.”

“I know you’ve said that but he’s charming and endearing and…”

“You are different, Would’ve! Can’t you see that? He will notice soon enough and then he’ll break your heart. People don’t try on a girl like you! Give him up….”

“You think you are special and you are not,” Should’ve will chime in. “Stop it already, Stop the Some Day, Stop the Day Dreaming. Stop the Special. Stop the Stand Out. You’ll only get hurt from boys like Try, he’s probably already forgotten your name.”

You’ll see it unfold. See the happiness seep straight from the bones of Would’ve as she stands in the center of her too tiny kitchen and tries to erase Try from her memory. Dismantle his name in some sort of fashion.

Boiling the T in the pot for the dinner made for Doubt.

Sweeping the R under the staircase beside forgotten cobwebs.

Washing the Y away in the sink after the dishes pile up.

She’ll forget the flowers that Try brought her. She’ll scrape away the times when Try showed her how to climb a tree and look down from the top. She’ll take to pushing the felt of the eraser across the chalkboard of the time when she and Try laid down in a pile of leaves and he took her hand in his.

“Would’ve, do you have a middle name?” he asked.

“Well, I suppose it’s Have. My name is really Would Have but people have always called me Would’ve for short.”

“Hmm,” Try said, “Have. It is a really pretty name. What does it mean?”

“I don’t really know. I’ve never really known it and I’ve grown up hearing from my sisters that I’ll never know it. I guess it is word that makes it possible to believe that if you want something then you could hold it, secure it, clutch it. All those things.”

“Are there things like that for you?” Try asked Would’ve, tucking a strand of black hair behind her ear. “Do you want things like that?”

“Well…” she hesitated. “No one has ever asked me that. I don’t really think about it.”

“You should think about it more,” Try said. “I like it better than Would’ve. I will call you that from now on. Have. Have. Have. My Little Have.”

She’ll forget that Try ever told her she was different in a good kind of way, special in a certain kind of way. And you’ll watch her Sink, Sink, Sink into a Stew of Sadness over the Try she’d never have.

And Would’ve, not quite the Have she wanted to be, will see you standing off in the corner, in the Shadows of the Shack where Could’ve & Should’ve rule and she’ll give you a look that stings and pricks with all its sadness, saying, “Go…. Go….Don’t stay here with us.”

And you better go then. You better go then.

“Before they notice you’re gone… Go… Go…”

And as you go, slipping out the door and away from the cottage, Would’ve will tuck a note into the crook of your hand. My dear, you’ll become a messenger for a girl who needs her Try.

“To my Dearest Try,

One day I may know you better, in a way where I am not so afraid of you and I am not so petrified by the good you could bring to me. Right now I am just the Would’ve, stuck beside the Could’ve and the Should’ve that I’ve known my whole life. And I am longing to know something different… longing to know what the world would be like if I could just be Have. Have. Have. Have.

One day, I’ll fly away. One day, I’ll fly away and find you out there in this big, old world. Until then, until then, I’m holding you closer than I ever thought I could admit.

Love,

Your Little Have”

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Meet me at the bookstore… A memoir is on the way.

I’ve wanted to write these words for a very long while.
I’ve wanted to write these words for a very long while.
I’ve wanted to write these words for such a very long while.

From the massive bum rush of emails from all of you, coming from each & every angle in the last week, I’ve learned that there are a lot of cheerleaders floating out there. A lot of brave hearts. A lot of fighters. A lot of you who make me feel like I’ve already learned the lines in your faces and the colors of your eyes without ever sitting across from you and slurping from our big, big mugs together.

It’s wild. It’s almost tangible. It’s confirmation that the internet is really just a slew of messy hearts sitting behind screens who would, if we possibly could, snap the digital cords to sit down with one another in real life, knees touching & laughter getting caught in the floorboards and windowpanes.

Some of you are my oldest friends. Without a word slipped between the two of us, we are already the oldest of friends.

 

And so what do we do with the oldest of old friends?

We share good news. We stomp our feet. We celebrate milestones. We delight in new things to come…So here it is… my news… News that has left my hands shaking & heart thudding & lungs full of breath that I don’t know how to release.

I no longer need to keep it a secret:

IT’S OFFICIAL! Meet me at the bookstore, babycakes!

A. BOOK. IS. ON. THE. WAY!

hannahbannouncement

Last week, I accepted an offer from Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, to write my book with Beth Adams as my editor. My memoir “If You Find This Letter” will be out Winter 2015.

The last three years of stories, beauty, letters, strangers, notes tucked on subways, faith (and every threaded struggle with it), all of the seeking, finding, dancing, doing, stumbling, learning, loving and living-- in all its messiest and most true forms-- is going to have a spine of its own soon. It’s my biggest dream come true and I am delighted to share all the goodness of it with you–the ones who read me every week.

Thank you for making this a reality. Thank you for reading me, for pushing me, for believing in me, and for believing in the story that lives inside of me. It’s finally time to write the whole thing down.

tying you closer,

hb.

 

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