Home

I focus my eye on that spot on my ankle that I somehow always miss when I’m shaving. I watch so intently I think I can see the pesky little hairs grow. I watch because it’s simple, still and unchanging. I know exactly what to expect.

I try to feel the wave of breath as inhale turns to exhale, exhale releases and becomes the inhale. Inhale pause exhale. I want to be in the wave.

But we all know that’s just a thing I use in moments of desperation, the thing I want to say works all the time – The thing that cured the fire that lives in my belly.

I’m reality, we all know my insides are hot lava, my head is stuck in a groove in the record that was never fixed. I meant to take it in and get that worked on, it’s just that it played fine for the whole summer, when the weather was better and the seas refused to be stormy.

So I find myself in the grass, with sweaty legs and sweaty palms and a sweaty brain, if thats possible.

My stomach is in my throat and I swear I’ll never need to eat again. I’ll starve out this beast in my chest that tells me that nothing that’s gold can stay.

I pray for peace, which is a thing to do when you’re about to throw up. But god and I both know it’s not my chosen form of spiritual practice.

So, I stand from my ass print in the grass with itchy, shaky legs and I find all the courage I’ve got and I ask you to grab my hand because I want to be home.

I squeeze tighter and I ask you to keep loving my imperfect self loudly, that I hope to someday be a less frazzled version of me. You tell me you don’t want that version at all, that you want the one that’s here. That version is home.

We throw a housewarming party, because home is always better with family and flowers and a strange tool with which you squeeze your lemons.

Wild

A few days ago, Jenna took my picture for my Wanderlings bio.

I don’t know the last time I’ve had a picture taken of me, just me, without a prop or an occasion to give context to the photograph.

I’ll be completely honest, it sent me to crazy-town for a moment. It was somehow too intimate – just me, standing alone with my face and my hair and and my acne and my crooked smile. My instant response was to jump back from all of this, to recoil from the show of me-ness in its unapologetic roar. I wanted to be embarrassed, I wanted to criticize. I wanted to call my mother and reprimand her for not putting me in a helmet to correct my asymmetrical infant head, which I would wager to bet was a pretty linear path to my asymmetrical adult head. I wanted to tell her that I know my teeth were straight enough as a pre-teen, but I’m sort of pissed that we didn’t look more closely into braces.

As soon as I looked more closely, though, I started to see and feel something else. That need to jump back from myself, to be embarrassed and critical of the things that will keep me off of magazine covers, was not erased, but joined by a question I couldn’t quite articulate yet.

Going back for another look with an awareness of my ranting internal voice, I noticed first how happy I look. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic and I’m in my sixth week of sheltering-in-place… and I look happy? Then, I noticed how peaceful I look with the trees all around; it looks so normal to have me sitting in the dirt at the base of my dear green friends.

I started to note the peculiarity of this notion that I can celebrate your attributes that make you you and on myself, they’re flaws. I know this isn’t my fault, that we’ve been cultured to seek our imperfections and obsess over them, chastise ourselves for having them, make ourselves small because of them. The hard truth of this is that I don’t get to start helping define a new normal in this realm by exclusively honoring my little sister, my future daughter, or my best friends. Those celebrations are important but the real work starts right here.

I took another look through a new lens with the compassion I’d have for a dear friend. I knew that if I was looking at a picture of a friend, I’d tell her that I like her wild hair, which has never been tidy a single day she’s been alive. I like that it refuses to stay one color that would make it easy to categorize. I’d remind her that, as a person who lives to be outside, why would her wild skin not have imperfections and blemishes from the sun, the change of season, and so much sunscreen? These are her trophies of her wild lifestyle. I’d remind her that her body is wild and strong enough to run up hills and carry a human in some sort of emergency. I’d remind her that her eye color is hard to see because her smile is big and goofy, tending to change the expression of her whole face, and that makes her feel wild too – wildly connected, wildly loved, and wildly lighthearted.

I’d remind her that the wildness of her imperfect physical attributes are just as they’re supposed to be, even if she wouldn’t have chosen them all.

She may as well learn to love them wild.

And finally, I heard the questions loud and clear – Doesn’t the picture look just like me? Isn’t that enough?

Small and Obvious

I’ve been looking for the right words, but I’m only hearing music – some happy, some sad. Your big, bright, messy world has taught me that maybe that’s okay too.

As our seasons are changing, I hope you know that there isn’t a day I’m walking through without you.  You are an unconventional, inexplicable part of me.

You have made me the most creative, most playful, most patient, most adventurous, most intuitive, and most grateful version of myself I have ever known.

Three years ago, I would never have thought to dream of alternative career options for princesses, where the neighbors are headed at any given time, or what the mailman’s dog’s name is. I would have never named my feet or answered every phrase with a rhyme. I would have never understood why parents occasionally have wine for dinner.

I wasn’t prepared for what you would teach me and how much you were readying me for a world beyond my comprehension.

I didn’t know what I believed in until I found myself humbled by your occasional torrential rage but mostly, by your love.  Unapologetic. Relentless. Unconditional.

I hope someday you’ll grab the hands of my own kids, all of us with watermelon sticky fingers, and teach them to crazy dance at Concerts in the Park, enveloped by the orange glow of the late summer sun.   

“Thank you” feels inadequately small and “I love you” seems laughably obvious.

So, here’s to the small and obvious.

Another Circle Around the Sun

In three weeks, my 27th year of life will draw to a close. I’m generally not someone who hems and haws over aging or the passing of another year too heavily but be that as it may, I have found myself thinking about the past year a lot. It was a beautiful trip around the sun.

Here are ten things I would tell myself a year ago if I had the chance:

  1. Go ahead and laugh out loud (like, with tremendous volume) at what you believed a linear career path for you might look like. I’ve heard some people have one of those, but my experience in the “professional world” has looked and felt a lot more like a psychedelic board game that combines Frogger running across traffic, Mario jumping through tunnels, and being sent back to start by the giant Trouble clicking dome. Get used to this and welcome it.
  2. Stop buying clothes for the body you may someday have, whether that be smaller or larger than the one you exist in today. Yes, even if it’s an unbeatable sale and you love the item. You’re fine right where you are with what you have.
  3. Nearly everything gets better when you say it out loud. Your mind is a dangerous neighborhood to walk through alone and you are SO lucky that you have people around that care to listen. Be brave, speak up.
  4. Some of the people who think the most highly of you (and vice versa) have four legs or are two feet tall and don’t know how to pour their own milk yet. You should be proud of that.
  5. PMS anxiety and depression are real and they will kick your ass, but they will also always pass. Read that again.
  6. People are not mind readers. Clear is kind. (And for good measure, may as well say “I’m sorry for not communicating that well” while we’re at it).
  7. Boredom can feel uncomfortable, but it is NOT an emergency; it is an invitation. Let your mind wander as far and wide as it needs to go and follow it with a curious and nonjudgmental lens. You’ll be surprised and entertained by the dreams and worlds that live there.
  8. Your breath has always been and will always be your safest and surest road back home to yourself. Ancient wisdom, contemporary woo-woo’s, and now modern science are beginning to agree on this. Just keep breathing and keep listening.
  9. You have always known this, but it’s worth repeating for the year ahead: the sound and smell of the waves is curative, grounding, home. It’s an essential oil. It’s the best fix for when you desperately need to feel simultaneously small and empowered, surrendered and guided, relaxed and inspired, heard and taught. PS: As a deeply feeling and deeply thinking, perpetually moving human, it’s okay to need this often.
  10. You have already spent enough time on this earth looking out there for facts and ways to calculate, accelerate, idealize your growth, nutrition, fitness, body size, education, morning routine, relationship patterns, and anything else you can think of. It’s great to learn from others, but the reason you haven’t found the Magic Elixir of Bliss in order to do and be everything perfectly forever is NOT a lack of diligence or analytical research skills. You won’t find the answers you need out there simply because they aren’t out there at all. The teachers and helpers are out there, but so is a lot of extra noise. The truth you always needed was in here all along.