shift & settle

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The space next to me is familiar.

Right now, it is filled with the comforts of being alone. A book. A computer. Headphones. Maybe some of yesterday’s clothes.

For me, the idea of jumping back into the state of my singular mind is momentarily easy. The more I think, the sadness finds its way in, reminding me that it’s not that easy, and that finding someone you can really do life with is rare.

I have opened myself — and have poured myself between two glasses, back and forth. Spilling and making a mess and not ever having as much as I started with. That’s kind of what it feels like to care for someone when you are also learning what they need and what you need.

I feel a shred a failure.

More so, a deep crack in the state of my world, one that you build so strong when you’re alone for so long.
But I also think that maybe this crack is good. It allows things to shift and settle.

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Shifting and settling.

Maybe that’s what this is.
It does hurt. But most things that require growth require digging.

Digging and lots-of-tending-to, water and air.

Oh. And light.

So where do I stand now?
My brain immediately tells me to dive into my work. It makes things easier. Put it all aside and go back 100% into what works, and maybe what is easy.

Maybe you do this too.

There is no model or manual for heartache, there is also none for the baby steps of love. It is wobbly and scary and you fall down a lot.

You hit your chin on the coffee table and look at the person who was supposed to be holding you. How dare you let this happen to me…again?

Today, I will do what I can to be good to myself, and try my best to keep my bridges up.

Timing and life are certainly unpredictable, but to know myself is to let both of those things go.

Things take time.

And I’m letting it take me,

wherever,
whenever,

to shift and to settle.

 

 

knotted up

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I find myself lost at times, swimming through the waves of doubt and the mystery of countless unknowns.

I know that I am at the mercy of everything.

I find answers in the midst of treading through the hard things — the things that exhaust me the most. When I confront the world in front of me, I am reminded of simple truths, not that they’re any easier to obtain. Loneliness, being one. Loneliness is a thing that comes at us like a train, even when we are in a room full of people.

Our brains have a bad habit of being mean to us sometimes. It can create so much fear — fear of being unloved, unwanted and wasted.

My fear is that of letting others down. Not being talented or strong enough to make things work. I am often tired of the hustle that is keeping something above water. This includes relationships and business. We all wish it were easier to be human. Now we know it can be expensive. Tiring. Frustrating. Unfair. Polarizing. Painful.

My hope is that you don’t see this as too dark. I’m just exploring the hard things, as I have to do from time to time. I do not live in it. Sometimes that is a choice. Other times it is necessary.

Some of you have so much pain, here.
Here, in this big world.

I can hear the moaning, the gnashing of teeth. I see so much regret in the people that occupy my heart. I see so much in my own.

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What I want to say, is that you are free to explore. You are free to drop everything and be present for what is good and right in front of you. It is not easy to lay down weapons. It is not easy to lower your guard, especially as you’ve held it up most of your life.

I am learning that being vulnerable, and moving forward with a thing is worth the time. I realize that going through some of my most painful days, involved many of the people I love having to carry it with me. And I see it when they look at me, how deeply we are all tangled with one another.

I guess, what I always try to come back to, is how necessary we all are to each other’s survival. It is a constant thing — to love and understand the people you find yourself knotted up with — the menders of the broken Beloved.

This stuff isn’t easy. In fact, it’s the hardest thing in the world. You also have to remember your worth. That even though you are one of billions of people, you are still worthy of dignity and love and forgiveness.

That is what I want to say to you.

small.

poem

Drying out.

Or at least that’s how it feels when you go without.

(for such a long time.)

I have every reason to be terrified, skeptical, doubtful,
though I know none of those things are who I am, really.

More so, I welcome what may come. It may not be how I thought,
but it’s here, right in front of me,
the whole time.

I make room for the unknown; the wild.

I shift,

and lift my head.

The broken Beloved, right in front of me.

We sit with our failures like old friends,
reminding us of what we’ve been, what we don’t deserve
and maybe why we can’t move.

I’m telling you that you can,
and that you deserve to thrive, and have good things,
because there will always be a reason to doubt.

I challenge you to move.

six seedlings growing from soil

You’ve helped me notice words again. and patience again.

how easy it is to lose yourself in the lonely times,
to think too much of yourself and why you aren’t enough.

Whoever is enough?
And then you learn it’s not about being enough.

it’s about the calm, and the fading of fear into small hopes,
small joys, small everything.

everything starts small.

and grows,

and grows,

and grows.

 

 

put together

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I am a builder of pieces.

They all come in heavy boxes with my name on it.

It is all familiar and part of the process.

I cringe.

I don’t really have time for this, I think. I whine. I get over it. I build the damn thing.

I pull all of the pieces out and lay them on my floor. I get my tools. I do have a few to my name. Then there are the pictures and steps and I begin the process of putting it all together.

It’s just a big puzzle, yeah?
I have become a student of deconstructed furniture. I know all the weird bits. I know that eventually it will become something whole. Something useful. Something that is mine, that will move where I move.

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I take a glance at a year that sits at my feet. It has my name written all over it. I see the pain. The pressure. The weird looking pieces that are all familiar now. The success, the failure. I think of all the lumps in my throat and the heaviness in my belly.

I’m putting it all together now.
Opening a restaurant.
Losing a friend.
Losing my mind (maybe not as much as I think)

Gaining a few pounds.
Gaining a few friends.
Gaining some peace.

Moving my small world. Transitioning from survival. To living. To thriving.

The phrase “zero sum” isn’t quite it. I don’t really believe in zero sums. Putting a number with human loss and gain is unfair. The truth is, you gain a little bit from any small thing that happens to get pushed into your orbit. You are an attractor of objects.

You and your many, many moons.

I’ve felt giant, and I’ve felt so incredibly small.

I fumble in the dark. I keep my eyes on a horizon. A sun and a moon. A guide to the great unknown and that which makes me hopeful about a new day. A new person. A new feeling. Or maybe something you used to feel, but buried it to survive.

I assemble it all in my mind. Thousands and thousands of pieces. Once scattered at my feet, I build into something bigger, something that stands on its own.

all put together.

standing on its own.

 

heat.

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It is cold and dark when I leave the house.

Achey cold. It is so hard to unwrap myself from my blanket and take the short ride to work. But I do it early this morning because I have to work a little harder on this day.

I open the kitchen door and turn on the oven and warmers. It’s a welcoming sound as I know heat is on the way. I kick the heater on in our dining room and try to organize my brain. It’s hard to organize yourself that early. That 6am sleepy dreamy scattered thing.

I work on the quiche and the grits and the soup. I decide I need music and for some reason Grimes is on repeat for an hour and a half. But I am by myself and she is fun and wakes me up. I put on a pot of coffee and I can smell it brewing through the kitchen.

A million things run through my mind (as they always do). What if we are too busy on this already busy and hectic day? I put it aside because the older I become the more I learn worrying is the art of suffering twice. I will still do everything I can to make a thing run smoothly, but I know as the day moves forward, so do more people. People are chaos, always.

And maybe it was a little bit of chaos. But I slip into it like a warm bath.

At the end of the day, I take out the trash and look at the new building we are moving into in a few months. I find it equal parts daunting and beautiful. Some days more beautiful, though. I am in a constant state of wonder how it ended up this way. How I pushed myself a little harder to be good at something, and it magically turned out to be my thing.

There is a certain level of luck and chance. I know the risks of this kind of work. Burn out and margins and hazards. I got it. I hear you. But I don’t often have the luxury to think too much about it. Unfortunately it has affected my writing and I miss it!

And I miss you.

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It has always been about cooking and writing. And I don’t seem to be growing out of it, but I am also a person who knows how to shed a skin and feel raw and stingy.

It all feels too big, sometimes. Like there is a version of me out there that is prepared to do it all beautifully and that version is so not me right now.

I guess maybe that’s how it always feels. But eventually, you do become that person.

I don’t know.

I feel as though I’m about to shed something heavy. I know because something big is on the horizon and I am steady on it and I know I cannot carry both.

It all feels so good right now. Showered and warm and about to crawl back into the blanket I will have to peel off in about six hours again. But it feels good, and I feel strong.

Ready to open the doors,
flip on the oven,

and do it all over again.

 

scattered

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Loving other people means you will often feel as if bits of you are scattered in too many places. But you are not broken, just in pieces.

This was the thought from my friend C, who lives in Oregon.

It stuck with me, like the best things do.
I think often about the struggle to hold such a community in your heart that is so spread out and wild and different. You would think I would have no North to look onto. More so as I get older, these people who helped shape me, still hold me.

When I sit alone at night, processing another life I hold them snug-as-heirlooms. They are, after all, my story. Anytime a person is curious of my spirituality or my story, they make their way through and I share how they cared for me and showed me different heavens in the midst of some hells.

There’s another part of me that wonders what it would be like to only know that a little bit of the world actually exists. Maybe if I didn’t meet people who took me to far away places for the sake of love and beauty, or God and truth (or maybe all-in-one.)

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My heart is big and it is always in pieces!

The truth of the matter is that it will always be this way. Like the presence of a family member or close friend that leaves you into a Great Mystery — they are always deep in there. You will laugh and feel sad about your memories of them and that is the realest thing.

I’ve always said that heaven is maybe all those people together, around a table. We’re not talking politics, but we are digging deep into one another. It is my favorite thing to do around a table. Perhaps that’s why there are so many pieces scattered about — left under rugs of old friends who have kids and better jobs and forget about how their words were so heavy.

You also surround yourself with big hearts. It is inevitable that you are going to smash up against someone who is just as achey as you and that is also super real.

I guess, what I’m trying to say, is that you’re supposed to be this way. You are supposed to wake up and help with the pieces that people have left with you.

That is being loved, and loving in return.

So many pieces,

scattered. (not broken)

pick them up!

they are all made in love.

kintsugi

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I’m staring at my glass of iced tea. Half sweet, half unsweet — a wishy-washy southerner thing to do, they say. Oddly enough, it is so delicious and is covering the heaviness of a day spent running in circles.

There are the people that see right through me. I know they do. They’ve seen me change from quiet to awkward to strong and have helped me pick up more than my fair share of jetsam and flotsam.

I always love that picture in my mind. A shore, with the tide fading, leaving behind the things it decided to discard for a day. Shells and plastic bags and all sorts of shit.

That’s what it feels like.

In my heart there is a forever exhausted thing. That thing reads the news and sees the horrific acts of people.
God, I want to be stronger. Something feels wrong about this stuff just sort of, rolling off my sleeve like it’s nothing. It is actually quite something and it digs into me like some sort of awful animal.

Like anything, it is laced with hope and strong people pulling themselves and others out of the despair and brushing off their pants. “Let’s go again.”

Getting older, those truths are starting to settle in a bit more. My younger days of dreaming to be a wild revolutionary are fuzzy. I am conflicted with my own actions and the actions of those I used to see as heroes.

I am settling in the imperfectness.
The broken belovedness.

We had a tornado rip through a big part of our city a few months ago, and I found myself very close to it — hiding in the doorway of my bedroom and kitchen. It was loud and the trees were cracking and bending around me.

I was lucky, but hundreds were not, and lost their homes and peace of minds and routines.

I sat there and wondered what it might be like to lose my life here. Alone, in a funky green and brown cottage. I still think about it. In a way, sort of gambling. I questioned my life in the midst of a storm and I think that is all it ever actually really is.

Being a human is painful. There are nerves and bones and water. We are always being pulled by someone, somewhere. Then there is that pain of being pulled by a human into the very depths of their soul. It is a heaven and sometimes it is a hell. A pure and good example of human love — and when that love ultimately shifts, that separation can feel much like its own hell.

Love anyone, and you will know this.

So, you take the broken pieces, and put them back together. Never as perfect as it was, or will ever be. Your hopes of keeping this whole piece yours and safe is gone.

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Kintsugi is the Japanese art of embracing the damage of an object. When cracks are mended, they are highlighted in gold. I’m sure you’ve heard of it before. It is hard to lose a whole piece of something, especially when it’s so important to you.

Sometimes it breaks and you store it away in some dark corner of your life.

And sometimes, you choose to bring it out and examine. The hairline cracks, leading on to the bigger breaks that ultimately brought you to your knees. Repairing an object is acceptance. It is knowing that it will not be the same as it was.

That’s why it’s so powerful. Examining brokenness. Not only repairing, but highlighting. Saying, “THIS! THIS IS HOW IT’S BROKEN!”

You discover that brokenness is a gift that lets others see into your life, that they too can heal and mend and move.

We break, and we become whole again, all the time and forever.

Life and breath is forgiveness and grace.

This is how you are broken.
But your pieces are still beautiful,
forever and ever.

to love at all

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Nothing sends me into auto-drive more than someone asking me why I haven’t brought any significant others to Christmas.

It’s no fault of theirs. They’re curious. They care about me. I don’t get mad or even aggravated. I just start saying things that I feel make sense so I don’t have to go overboard into anything I don’t want to.

On my drive home this past weekend, I started to question that. I looked at myself and my life and wondered why my answers felt so lazy. I’m not a fan of saying things that I don’t mean.

I decided to dig a little deeper, since I was on the road alone, with the windows down on our pleasant 75 degree day-after-Christmas weather.

I’m getting older and my answers usually fall along the, “Well, folks my age are just really cautious about things and it’s hard to tell if people are into you.” Or, “It’s just easier to be single sometimes.”

Both of those things are true in their own way. Some people are jealous of my single life while I am envious of their marriages, and their families. But, being human is being comparable. What does the other person have that I don’t? What do they have that I want?

What I miss about marriage, or should I just say partnership, is having one’s back. Sometimes I think all I ever did in a marriage was rant and have someone believe in me and talk through the things I needed untangled. (That wasn’t the only thing I did. But I think you get what I’m trying to say.)

It is nice having someone on your team! Or someone to cook dinner for, or look forward to connecting with — those are simple pleasures of partnership.

I started to get a little weepy. Some of that was a mixture of being hard on myself and the music that was playing.
I heard myself say, “It’s okay to let hurt into your heart again.”

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I didn’t think that would be something I’d have to say to myself. No one wants to be hurt again. But, speaking for myself, being hurt is just a part of being the Beloved. Being hurt allows us to heal and grow and is one of the most human things about, well, being human. Being single gives me the option to control {quiet fiercely} what I let in and what I get to give out. I have a better say on who I get to let in and what they can do with my feelings.

There is a quote attributed to C.S. Lewis about keeping your heart concealed in a coffin. There is safety in hiding away. You can keep a lot of the hurt out.

But to me, there is no life in maintaining walls. I spend a lot of my time working on myself in how to digest conversations and what other people mean and want from them. Most people don’t mean to hurt your feelings, it’s just between their mouths and your brain that a billion things can happen.

So, I let that feeling wash over me for a few minutes — the truth, that I have been keeping out pain, because it feels really good to feel good and that I need people. I value my vulnerability and it’s in all of that, that I feel most alive.

I felt things shift a bit as I welcomed in the ghosts of former selves and made amends with whatever I am at the present. With love comes hurt sometimes — among so many other things. It is worth it to take chances on people, I think.
When I think of a hard moment in my life, I often wonder what it might be like to have skipped over all that. The truth you know as well, is that you grew tremendously because of it.

That doesn’t mean you want it to happen again. As the old hymn goes, “…hard times, come again no more.”

My voice told me that it was okay to let hurt in again. I’ve been shaking my head at it for a while now and spoiler alert, the world wants more for me than to block off my heart.

So, I will listen. And it will probably hurt. That’s what we got, though. This is being alive on an Earth that is violent and heartbroken — we move forward though, and we always will.

Keep your heart open to listen and let things in. A concrete box is a cold, and dark place and that was never the intention of your life here.

To the New Year,

let’s give this thing a go.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

-C.S. Lewis

rabid bits of time

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I’ve been processing time.

I think about it a whole lot. If you’ve ever read this blog, you know I’m always rambling on about brevity and grace and how messy all of this is.

There is so much going on in the broader scheme of things that worry me — that load me down and sometimes it feels like the light can barely get in. It’s an anxiousness. Perhaps even a restlessness that I feel — like a bad dream where you open your mouth to talk and nothing comes out.

This is the dark part. How people don’t recognize their dark parts is beyond me. I am in a constant state of sinking into my body and learning about myself in ways I wouldn’t if I didn’t allow myself to wander around.

I wish I was easier to understand, sometimes. I wish I didn’t speak out as much about things people don’t agree with or comply to the standards of my own name.

I sense the sins of a past. All I want to do is cover them in grace and move forward. Being stuck in that life is no way to live. I have made bad decisions based on being deeply emotional and full of that urge of wanting to be right, and wanting to feel good. We all do that. Then something happens. We change. They change. We get shot out of orbit and find ourselves once again, floating around something that is familiar, but altogether different.

We are not a graceful people. If anything, this past months shows us that there is a force pushing forward and another pushing back. (And I’m not taking sides here.)

I am opening my mind to everything, trying to see the most good, for the most people. To me, some things feel like they’re moving backwards. For others, it looks like things are going forward. This is where I get lost in everything. It’s when I feel the most chaotic and raw.

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God. I have no idea what to do next. Life is mostly simple sounding. We go to work and we come home. Some of us have kids that we take care of — and we do the whole thing over and over again. That is what life mostly is, spotted with bits of sadness and joy and vacations.

We get to have it, though. Just for a little bit. I am not built for changing governments or being in a trench. Truly. I support some people who are, but I’ve always said my place in a revolution is hovering over pots and pans and feeding bellies.

My heart for justice came first out of that. I know that I am not in Calcutta or Chicago anymore. But I am still feeding people, and giving them good memories. I am still caring more than I have to about a silly sandwich and maybe hoping my co-workers still believe in me enough to be a decent leader and friend. These balances are awfully hard.

Most of the time I write I do not come to any conclusions. I don’t have a sense of clarity or any answer that might turn on some switch in my brain.

I write to explore and to explore myself. My little galaxy spinning almost effortlessly in the midst of a vast sea of space and time.

We are moving in rabid bits of time.

It is impossible to know the next step, but we take them regardless.

So, keep pushing on and keep pushing forward. Time has an easier way of moving forward than back. Whatever it is you are hanging on to, it’s time to start loosening your grip. You don’t get a lot of time here.

You are your own little time machine and have the incredible opportunity to use it to the best of your ability.

Open yourself up. Wander around in your own truly unique humanity and let some the light in.

After all, it’s the only way to see where to go next.

becoming

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The cicadas have been loud lately.
I’m sure some of you have them where you live, as well. To me, they sound like home. I’ve been finding them on the small walk to my car, when I suppose they’ve given all they’ve had to give, their lifeless bodies and empty shells. Their wings, still shining and glossy and helping me to remember small beautiful things.

The acorns are falling as well. I hear them hit the tin roof of my small cottage every five minutes. More so, when there are squirrels rustling about. The perks of living under a giant Oak.

The pathway to my front gate is becoming over grown with things I know not the name of. My statue of St. Francis is still sitting out there — hopefully bidding some sort of peace to all the things that pass. I try to do the same.

It’s the changing season I feel. It’s hard to see where I am now, but I can listen to it. There is a small frenzy of things shifting. Some things are dying and some things are meant to harvest.

It’s always a season to reap what you sow — except now is when there is some quiet respect for what the Earth gives us and I feel the same.

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No doubt, the months ahead have me feeling a little weary sometimes. We are going to be busy at work and we’re going to be missing traditions to help other people hold theirs. Sometimes that’s hard. It’s my job, though — I don’t mind it in this season.

I have put other things on hold — not because I don’t think I can find it — but because there are so many other things I am having to give. And also, I’m doing okay. It might not fit your vision of okay-ness – but that’s not up to you.

Still though, I hardly recognize what day it is. Only now it’s “Who has a table at what time?  When do we have to be there to setup? What’s the menu? Who’s coming in today? Do we have enough celery until Monday?”

Maybe my mind will clear the clutter. Maybe it won’t in this season. Regardless, I am still open to the mysteries and uncertainties. I am letting go more, and more. I am getting to see the darker ghosts of my past disappear and I am shedding their weight.

The trees aren’t the only things that lose those heavier things. We do too. And sometimes when they fall, they are meant for different things. Things you may not ever see in your lifetime, but they are there and they are growing.

Do not fear the moaning and growing because that is all that life will ever be.

Letting go. Moving on, and growing ceaselessly into your own becoming.