the same as mine.

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Some things fade.
They feel like my dreams, like each corner I turn is unfamiliar.

“I know this place.” I say to myself.
But sometimes, time is a lead pencil with a cheap eraser.

Places leave us, as we leave them. My heart bursts from all its creases, and at times, it still finds a way to save itself from ruin. If you’re still here, your heart is the same way — the same as mine.

I sat at a table and saw your ghosts. How you used to drink your coffee. I saw where I buried my pain and where I discovered my greatest joy. Yes it was in between walls but it was also in those creases of my heart.

It was where I discovered the truths of humanity shared — that people are the truest way to presentness.

That is rich. Like dark chocolate and butter and heavy cream — drizzled and smoothed over something that is already just too much.

I was heart sick for so much. To connect. To discover again. But mostly, to be back home where it is becoming more and more evident that my world exists in a tiny corner, of a tiny city in a state no one understands.

I find whatever all of this is, to be the sum of its parts. Maybe this is the beautiful stuff I will think about when I’m dying — when I’m wondering how life moved so quickly and how I became so stiff and filled with old memory.

What a story, I already claim. To have loved greatly and given so much of my heart — to know what it is like to watch it shatter and gather it, along with all the other broken things. I get to sit around with these people and watch them eat things I cook.

I get to watch them grow older with their person and I get to see their babies get peanut butter stuck in their hair or blow kisses to me as I say goodbye.

Your heart is the same as mine. Blubbering and wonderful. Our heavily flawed muscle.

You may not remember where the streets go, or what they turn into.
But I can tell you that it’s not forever lost.

And you are forever, a ghost, a place at my table

— a love with the heart that is the same as mine.

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you will.

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I think I often straddle the line of what I see as heartbreaking and what is beautiful.

Maybe I can dip my toes into both lakes because I know they always meet somewhere down the line. We are always in that meeting place. Of heaviness and both light that swirls infinitely between all of us.

We are the beautiful and heartbroken things. I see it more so, all of the time. The truth is I’ve been raw to it my whole life. Inflamed and swollen and exposed like a nerve. It’s taken me a lot of time to wrap myself in them good things. I keep them tight against my chest so I can feel them when I breathe; up and down.

Being single, officially, longer than I was in a relationship weighs heavy. Why I often weigh things in time is something I’ve developed over the years. All in all, I am so thankful for what I’ve learned in the chaos and in the calm.

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I think I wanted to write this to one person. It might actually be more than one. But they say to write to one person. So here it goes.

I have this card on my fridge from a friend that says ‘Your heart is the size of an ocean” — which seems like something that you’d get stitched on a pillow from the Hallmark store, but actually is a quote from Rumi. He’s probably one of your favorites, too.

But it is. And it is what I often want to grab you by the face and scream so that it finds its way into your heart so you know and so that you’ll know forever. The world is not always angry and misunderstanding. And that so much is birthed from pain. The world was created by melting rocks and hell and only became something beautiful because of time and pressure.

It’s geology. That’s really how we tell things are ground down with different pressures like winds and rains and the inevitable meeting of two souls who have moved and changed.

Your life is in fact valuable and grows more valuable by the day!

Your wounds won’t heal all the way. Most don’t. But don’t let it stop you from moving forward and living your days with intention and love and the power that rumbles in your belly.

It is the hardest thing you will do.

But like the earth you will moan and heat and cool. You will expand and host a world of thoughts and adventure:

5Ks and stiff drinks. Cheese fries and kids falling asleep sweaty on your lap.

You will wake up and breathe again.

And the knot in your stomach will dissolve.

I know it will.

And I know you will.

You will wake up and breathe again.

 

tiny worlds.

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Okay. Okay. Wow. Hmm. Okay. It’s okay.

Those were my thoughts on a Monday morning.
Two of my best friends, terrified and excited and worried and exhausted.
Their details, I won’t share here, but the circumstances had me holding back tears on the line.

“I need sides on 48 and 12!” I would holler out to my buddy, also cooking on the line.

I would pace back and forth, heart beating and trying to keep it together.

After things settle, and my heart is more at ease, I start focusing on my week, getting things tucked back in, like tapping a stack of misaligned papers on a table.

Tuesday, Work and Ramen night. Visit friends in hospital.
Wednesday, Work and Cater Captain of Zeus party. 13 hour day.
Thursday, Work and Prep for private catering gig. 13 hour day.
Friday, Cater private gig. Clean. 10 hour day.
Saturday, Record day of lunches at work. Cook gumbo for Mardi Gras event. 12 hour day

More often than not, I would say to myself, “Okay dude, don’t freak out. It’s going to be okay.”

My friends, so heavy on my heart, and so many other hearts.

I did what I always do to clear my head.

Clean.

After my private catering gig, my kitchen was horrid. Tomato sauce splattered everywhere from rushing around in my tiny space. Pots and pans stacked and my oven was a mess. After visiting with my friend, I came home and put on some music. I steamed my windows with the heat from the water and washed dishes till my fingers were wrinkly.

I get my steel brush and scrub the tomato off of everything. I remove my burner tops and scrub scrub scrub. I scrub it all away. I tear up a lot. I take deep breaths.

On my knees, I’m scrubbing my floor with a towel, enjoying how easily the dirt just washes away.

I take out the trash, let out a sigh and turn off the light to my kitchen knowing I will be doing this exact same thing again in 24 hours. I am okay with that.

I don’t mind cooking for people. You have to know that deep down, they will not know how much work goes into the food you cook. How much you have to clean up afterwards and how serious you are about your craft.

It is, at the end of the day, about the table we all sit at. That place I write about so often where we sit and talk about hard things that make our necks tight with fear and also the place we fall in love again and again with the people we share our tiny worlds with.

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I think about the breath of a new baby, and its cries that are as natural as breathing. Cries that make you believe in God again and restore in you that there is something bigger that ties us together, even in the midst of small nightmares and restless nights.

The truth is, you never know when the world will crack beneath you. You live in the terrifying moments and exhausted moments as you would when waking up next to a warm body, while the rain taps against your windows.

We live in all the moments, and we breathe life into each others worlds.

We are all, like I always say, small galaxies, floating infinitely, capable of such deep love and pain and beauty,

Birthed from the bellies of our mothers, and the mothers before them,

breaking water. breaking bread.

discovering again and always, the sacred life of the Beloved.

time and light.

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A few weeks ago, I read a story about a young woman who is choosing a physician-assisted suicide.

I read it a few times, actually.

She is choosing when and where and will be surrounded by her loved ones, after deciding the pain of her terminal illness was getting to be too much. I realize there is a lot in that, and what’s been on my mind, is not so much the politics or the religious aspects of such a decision.

More so, the power of her choice.

I think about how hard all of that is.

And yesterday, I felt pretty whooped — physically, emotionally.

Busy week in the kitchen, mixed with a whirlwind of everything else.

I sat in the deep sadness of this young woman’s situation. Her life, and having to choose something so terribly difficult before her peers and family.

I sat and wondered if I had one week to take all of life in, what would I notice?

I let it sink in a little deeper, and deeper. Until my eyes started to water, and I looked up at a blue sky, with a few scattered clouds. I thought about how beautiful and rich everything was. There were some birds involved, a slight cool breeze and the sound of crunchy leaves blowing against concrete.

I sat for a minute to take it in. To simply, notice.

I let in the good and the bad. My absolute joy mixed with my worst pain.

The faces of the poor and the sick, and the butterflies of having that first kiss.

Everything came flooding back into my world.
How lucky I am.
Though I find myself existing in all sorts of worlds, I think about the fact that I was able to live in such a great love, and to also experience the great sadness of loss.

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You realize that the world starts feeling like a t-shirt that has stretched beyond repair. And when you put it on, it is familiar but it doesn’t cling to you like it used to. You hold loosely to your attachments because time tells you that things come and go. That there are good years, and bad years and in between years.

I’ve personified time as my friend, as of late. I hold it close and thank it for giving me space in this little baby blue world.

I accept all these hard decisions. To move on in this world and the next, and to find that great peace we’re all constantly working to live in.

I think about her, and the fact that she’ll be surrounded by her family and loved ones. My heart breaks. But there is light all over when that happens, pouring into the cracks.

peace be with you, Brittany. sending my love and God’s love and warm and fuzzies your way. Thank you for your light.

 

beginnings.

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Days like today, I feel like I’m rummaging through my glove compartment looking for the manual.
Ideally, it would be called,

You Are Here Now. This Is What You Do:

But it’s not.

Well, shit.
All I can find is a VW manual, a screwdriver and a bag of sunflower seeds.
This is hardly enough to make it through.

I find myself scratching my head a lot, throwing in a couple of well-deserved sighs and owning up the fact that I am wandering around in the scary and exciting and confusing part of this transition.

I must admit that today I’ve had the weepies.

Not that I ever gave into this weird urge to let it all out, but more so would have lost it at the drop of a dime. And maybe I saw a video of a new mom kissing her baby and it almost happened. I blame it on the equinox, I tells ya.

This is my season of new beginnings.

It’s always been that for me. Not because I am divorced and moving on and living in a newly imagined life, but Fall has always brought me deeper into myself. I recognize the life in its metamorphosis. The fact that all things change in season. Not only do they change in this season, but they begin to also transform inward. It’s as though the things around us submit to the changing of times. There is no struggle, only the transfer of water and light and energy from the fruit, to their roots. There is a digging in.

Deep in, closer to where the Earth is warm. Them branches will see the worst of it, but deep down, there is that strong and fierce network of anchors. Quiet, but life giving. Holding fast, through the winds and cold of our new time here.

The weather, though. The taste of nutmeg and warming spices on my tongue. Seeing beautiful apples and pears replace the cherries and strawberries and tomatoes of summertime. This is the season of cinnamon and caramel and bourbon.

Brown. Yellow. And orange.

The brisk evenings that make my heart flutter.
(and I feel I am in good company.)

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In the midst of this great force, I still on occasion find myself in the mess of that glove compartment. Skimming pages. Checking indexes saying, “It has to be here somewhere! Surely there is an answer and it will be clear and it will solve my problem.”

I think maybe it got the best of me today. I felt thankful but sad and felt a break in my heart. Not so much pain, but release. There is a sadness in moving on. Ultimately, I am filled to the brim with the goodness and lightness it brings. But every now and then, it sideswipes and I’m left a bit teary eyed knowing that I’m moving on and on and on.

None of this stuff ever stops, really.

Sort of like this world knows what it’s doing as it spins and tilts.

‘Here, now. It’s time for you to settle into yourself a little more. Watch how this sun sets early and how the cold forces some things to draw inside. Notice yourself in these changes.’

I think that maybe I hear that from Her.

whisper-like,

when the branches move,

barely touching,

noticing each others movement,

sacred energy, and that sweet, sweet spirit

moving inside of me.

menders

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This has been a week of extremes.

Both ends of the life spectrum have flashed before my eyes, and I think that maybe this week has been about breathing. Thinking about first breaths and last breaths.

On top of all that, a nasty head cold that triggered me making a delicious bowl of noodles. (Recipe to come at a later time.)

But that’s not really what I want to say.

I still dwell in anger from time to time. I hate that so much of my energy is put into a place that will never change a single thing in the past. It’s insane how much energy we put into things that have already happened. And for me, things that haven’t even happened yet.

I’ve gotten choked up twice this week, for things at opposite ends of that spectrum I mentioned earlier. Things that had nothing to do with me, but have reminded me of this precious little life we’ve been given.

I recognize my place in the midst of it all.

Some of it is a balance of give and take. Like always, it seems that life is zero sum, and that the pendulum swings both ways. I don’t like to look at the world in such a way. Because the truth in my belly tells me that there is a great sum at the end of our lives. Yes, things are given and taken away, but we each become these little holy scripts, filled with words and pictures and memory.

I think about energy, too. That maybe the balance of things is thrown off. Too much crap. Too many people tapping on cell phones, heads down, tap tap tapping. Swiping. Not paying attention. I am guilty of all the above.

I had a day off this Friday, and soaked each tiny drop out of my slow morning. I made tea and ate breakfast at my little table. There, I read through my newest cookbook, “Roberta’s”, which may just be my soul restaurant.

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There was a spider hanging from a web. Most people know that I’m terrified of spiders. Usually, I have one rule, “If you don’t crawl on my face at night, you’re cool with me because I really don’t want to smash you with a shoe..”
This was a little spider. It was there because it was snagging fruit flies. For that, I cannot blame it. I became aware of my place in my tiny home. I noticed the power that I had over small and delicate things and for a moment, and humbled myself before its nature.

I watched the birds attempt to figure out my new bird feeder. There were a few squirrels burying things near my clothesline. On my wall is a print of the coffee shop I used to work at, that became my home in the midst of terrible divorce.

I was deeply aware of my place at that moment. Images of the painful things were flowing deep, but I also let them come and go. I had no expectations of myself, only to feel and release. Only to breathe and recognize and be still for a few moments.

I’m not gonna sit here and believe that things happen for a reason. That pain makes us stronger, because it also makes us weaker. For that, I feel angry. I feel angry that there aren’t answers and that I can’t get my shit together as quickly as I thought I could. I’m sad at how people are taken away from us in painful ways. I’m sad that people leave and don’t give us instructions on how to work after they’re gone.

And then, life gives.

and gives and gives.

New breaths.

New skin.

I start to think that we are reborn a lot in our lifetimes. When things fall into our worlds that send us on an entirely different trajectory. There is always room for a new direction. And there is grace that fills the cracks.

Today, even though I still don’t have answers, I have the knowledge that I can still weave through life like thread, creating and mending.

I carry your weight.

And yours too.

Because I know deep down, you carry mine, from time to time.

That’s all I need to know, really.

 

 

 

walking with giants

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I am not afraid of your pain, dear one.

there is a wounded healer in all of us.

intertwined and tangled in the dark and light.

some days, I’m not sure which side wins.

 

if it’s even about winning.

more so, making room and acknowledging both sides exist

as do you,

and even though you think the pain is too much, which it will be from time to time,

you will grow, like a weed,

as you do.

 

I’d like to say I’m sorry.

for all of that hard and gritty noise.

It sort of bounces and echoes through our bones,

like screaming into a canyon,

and sometimes, I absorb it and it resides in me

 

but like I said,

I’m okay with the weight of your ghosts.

I’m not afraid.

Secretly, I am more afraid of my own depth

 

sometimes it starts as a trickle and moves into a great flood,

I think, “..even Noah struggled with the Arc.”

some things are lost. some things die.

what blossoms in spring, dies in the winter,

(but it’s not really dead, you see?)

 

it is your ability to create and move,

to nurture and grow tiny things.

that is how we rebuild

 

giving new directions a chance to grow on us

a chance for our narrative to take a turn,

like trying to sell a donkey, and in exchange,

a few seeds we don’t know are magic,

until they grow

and we find ourselves walking with giants.

 

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living in death (living in life)

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{It might seem as though I am writing about the death of a loved one. And this piece could very much be about the same thing. I am, however, associating death to the loss of a relationship. More so because it is how I associate at times with love, and love lost. No one close to me has passed away, but what I wanted to portray was the loss of an important presence in my life.}

We go through great depths to mourn those we love.

More specifically, the ones we have lost.

Let me be clear in saying, I have mourned a great loss. More so than I ever thought I would. You know this when someone you loves passes away, or leaves you too soon. The clouds roll in and all you see is dark. You wonder, “How will I ever rise above these dark things…when will the weight of their presence leave and set me free again?”

Right now, I am drained and exhausted. Talking till I can’t keep my eyes open. Angry. Sad. Alone.

But within my depths I see that horizon, and I am drawn to it like a lighthouse welcoming the weary.

I have been thinking of the incredible depths of human beings. I cannot escape the mystery of our redemption. Of our resilience. Of our fight to keep moving in the midst of great storms.

We are all full of such a deep, wonderful and terrifying brilliance. The fact that we are capable of love means we are also aware of the dangers that it brings. There is nothing more brilliant than being in love. It is crazy. It has to be crazy.

I reach down deep into myself and pull out this beautiful and fragile mystery. I examine it to see that it has scars. Residue of pain. Reach in to any heart and you will see this. For we have all loved and have been damaged.

But what I want to say is that we are endlessly human. That means, we have these pieces that make our hearts beat and that shoot millions upon million of electrons through tiny tunnels in our brain that allow me to type or make bread. It allows me to connect memories and to build experience and to learn and accept love.

It allows my soul to be endless.

What a journey it is to fight for this. To build upon it as though you are Noah constructing an Ark, in doubt of what the world is telling you to feel.

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You are endless and full of goodness.

And you can only live in death for so long.

As with everything, there is a time. The great thing about time is that it moves regardless of whether or not you want it to. Sometimes you want it to stop to recognize your pain. Sometimes you want it to go back, but it will not.

The clouds will lift and the fog will clear.

You will be met with life.

It will flow from your depths. You will find a great joy in your healing. Time will be your friend and you will feel so very strong, my loves.

Live in death to mourn.

Live in life to fight and be good and to make things better.

Your cup will run over, and there will be people needing what you have to offer. Give them what you can, but always, always, always, fill yourself.

Live in your depth.

because you

and you

and You,

are endless.

Conversations in the Dairy Aisle

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I read somewhere that said the saddest things in life are death, divorce and moving.

I suppose they all contain a little of each other.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t dealing with a combination of the three.
And while I hate to start off writing on a somber note, it is all very real in my life.

All of these things require leaving. They require a shift in life. Whether that is something or someone cut off too soon, or a new beginning.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell.
Meanwhile, the world keeps spinning and I just want it to f*cking stop for a second. To let me catch my breath.

I tell myself this all the time, but I just want it to. For like a day. I’ll take ten minutes. Ten good minutes of stillness.

I want to be taken care of and held and loved on. But I know this isn’t reality. The world spins and grinds us down, even when we’re not ready. This is the way I thought when my Granddad died long ago. That somehow, the world would recognize his departure. That TV programs would stop and say something. But they don’t.

Miley Cyrus will continue to twerk.

Syria will be torn to pieces.

You will go back to work after a much-needed Labor Day weekend. (So y’all say, anyways.)

Because this is all happening at the same time.

All on this tiny planet begging us to slow down already.

So what do you do? What is the answer to life’s sadness? We all want to know. We feel like we deserve to know. The reason we are here and why we feel the things we do?

Why some of us feel stuck and restless and have to move in and out of other peoples lives. Why people leave us so soon.

Why we have to pull our roots for the sake of necessity. Because we can’t keep taking and not giving back.

Knee jerk reactions and dissonance. If I don’t think about it, it doesn’t exist. But what actually happens is that it festers like a sore. You will get sick from it if you don’t face it.

Today though, I will move with the Earth.

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Because I know it’s not slowing down for me.
I will catch a rogue breeze and begin to feel Fall.
And it might make me cry because it reminds me of someone.

Or I will do the opposite and laugh. Because sometimes, you can either laugh or cry and when your eyes are swollen, your heart could use a jolt of laughter.

For those out there, maybe experiencing these things with me, know this:

Face whatever it is. Look at it. Poke it. Move in it. Be terrified and say out loud how it feels like a nightmare. Because it is. Even in your own controlled world, it is. Even with whatever else is happening in the world, you are right to feel what your body feels.

And then, move.

Go to Target and walk around.

Take a drive into nature. (With some good junk food.)

Watch a movie.

Whatever it is, keep moving.

Because that conversation with the older lady at the grocery store about how she always forgets to buy butter; will often save your day.

It will make you realize that you are visible to the people that move in and out of your world.

And I will respond to her,

“Oh! Goodness. Butter. You can’t forget the butter…”

Spring (of death and resurrection)

Story

It felt right to talk about Spring.

Yes, the weather is crazy un-Spring like. But when is it ever as it’s supposed to be? As though flowers bloom and bees come awake buzzing while the air smells sweet of azaleas and wisteria. Well it’s not here.

And that’s okay.

It’s this time of year especially that western Oregon feels like an emotional wreck. Its huge wind gusts and sideways rain mixed with the  brightest and most naked sun. It’s odd. It’s messy.

It’s Spring.

Along with it comes the hope of new vegetables (Or should I say “in-season” vegetables). Likely in the form of stinging nettles — which you’ll see on almost every menu in Portland — and the hope of asparagus and watercress and artichokes when you’ve heard enough about all you can do with parsnips and beets.

I’m a sucker for nostalgia. Dwight Schrute says it is one of the main human weaknesses. (Along with the neck.)

Spring to me means the things a’bloom.

We are right to assume there is a lot going on now. Our noses are clogged. Our eyes are itchy. The way things shoot out of the ground like some ancient story. And yet it always feels new.

Along with nostalgia, I’m really into changing seasons and what it means for me. To work against this is exhausting. It’s safe to say we’ve done terrible things by manipulating the seasons. Food loses flavor. You become out of touch with how things are supposed to be. I would like to get back to that.

Spring in the Church means lots of things and is something I’ll always remember growing up in the Bible Belt. Death and Resurrection. I question most things I used to believe in (as we all do from time to time), but I am well aware of what this season brings. And I can still feel it in my bones, shaking the cold off as those furry creatures do waking up to a warmer day.

A season of death.

And also a season of resurrection.

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I suppose nothing feels more like this than the transition of Winter into Spring.

That great life force sinks into my skin and I am reminded again of why we can’t always have it all. Why some things die, and some things come back brand new.

Let it fill you up.

Mourn the passing of another season.

Because it’s Spring.

And because those old roots are filling with life again.