Twenty Five Days Later

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Sometimes opening up your mind to “What else is possible?” will take you down roads you’d have never even imagined.

And sometimes, on the day that part of your world seems as if it’s falling apart, it’s also falling together.

Last night, as the America I have always loved broke my heart into a million pieces, I was on the phone with someone who broke my heart wide open and made me realize those million pieces were pure and innocent sparks of love.

The contrast of last night still has me reeling. So much pain, so much negativity, so much fear. And all the while, I was also experiencing joy and acceptance and love beyond anything I’ve ever known.

I learned one thing very clearly – love wins.

Have hope, dear ones.

Our broken pieces are pieces of love. Those pieces of love will scatter in the winds of fear and hate… and they will heal. They will comfort. They will bring hope. They will bring joy.

Beauty in Chaos

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My hair is still wet from being down at the water this afternoon. I went because the storm is violent and angry, and I needed peace.

Yes, you read that right. Peace while the storm rages, peace while I get soaked to the bone with windburn on my cheeks.

The remnants of Typhoon Songda hitting the PNW this weekend mirrors what is going on with me internally. Chaos. I have a moment here and there of being more settled, and then the chaos reigns once again.

It’s almost unnerving how this storm hit at the exact same time my chaos did. It’s like the universe planned it. I’m not quite certain yet if I like that thought or hate it, but I know that I have to ride it out nevertheless.

I went down to the shore tonight because if I’m going to ride this out, both the storm outside and the storm in my heart and soul, I’m going to go all in. I’m going to stand in the middle of it and scream at it, letting the wind whip my wet hair into my face as my voice carries out over the crashing waves. I’m going to invite it in and let it push me and shove me where it will. There is no use fighting it.

For there is also the knowledge of an ending. Somewhere, at some point, the storm will cease. We may not see it while we are in it, but it will end. Slowly, gradually, the wind and rain and clouds will roll away.

Just as I know that about external storms, so do I know it about internal ones. As I lay on the floor and heave from throat wrenching and wailing sobs, I also hold tight to the knowledge that the sobs will eventually turn into exhausted silence. The pain will subside… even just a little bit. Breaths will become easier to take in… and push out.

And, as my dear friend Amy told me – the largest and most demolishing storms will always produce flowers in unexpected places. It’s the violence of the storm that lifts the seeds and places them in areas they were never in before. Areas where even we could not have placed a seed with our own hands.

So live your storms. Don’t fight them. You may think that they are blowing everything away, everything beautiful that you held dear. And they may be. However, they will also clear out the neglected and old things that needed clearing out. It may be the most painful thing you’ll ever have to do… and you may have to scream your way through it… but always remember:

The sun will appear when the clouds roll away. Flowers will grow. Beauty will come back. And this time, the beauty will be new and fresh and unexpected.

This I promise.

(photo taken by me as I was out this evening)

The Dance

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I’ve been thinking about vulnerability and intimacy this morning as I’ve been getting ready for work.

They’re elusive beasts, aren’t they?

There are four people in my life that I can be totally vulnerable and open with. Four that I trust with everything that goes on inside of my mind and my heart. Four that I can speak totally freely with. Of those four, three have come into my life within the past 6 years or so. Three are platonic friends, and one is… well… dancing with me.

In the beginning it is a dance. Especially when that person touches those super-sensitive and vulnerable places within us. It’s a dance of “I’ll tell you something about me that I’m ashamed of or embarrassed by, and I’ll see how you react to it”… and then if the reaction is positive and makes you feel safe, you’ll do it again. If the reaction isn’t what you expected, and makes you feel unsafe, you won’t do it again. Or at least you’ll wait some and then see what happens from there. If you find someone who can meet you in the dance, someone who will dance with you, it’s a chaotic and scary thing – yet it’s the most beautiful thing you’ll ever experience.

You’ll bump into table corners, you’ll bump into each other, and you’ll even stumble at times. That’s okay.

We all decide who our dancing partners are. We all decide when and if we want the dance to end. Sometimes it ends abruptly, stopped by both partners. Sometimes one partner stops dancing. Sometimes the dance goes on forever. It’s a risk, and a scary one at that.

And yet, if we’re brave, when we meet someone who touches those places in us, we just can’t stop from asking them, “Will you dance with me?”.

And sometimes, they do.

I’m Still Learning

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I’m still learning.

That’s the one sentence that I have to keep repeating to myself on days like today. Days like I’ve had all week. Days that include migraines, rabid emotions, and so many doubts that I can’t even see straight. Days where I want to crawl into my self-made isolation cave and not see or talk to anyone.

I’m still learning.

I’m still learning how to love.

I’m still learning how to be me.

I’m still learning that it’s okay to stand up for myself.

I’m still learning forgiveness – toward others and toward myself.

I’m still learning that mistakes aren’t always considered failures.

I’m still learning that I’m okay. Just as I am. Right at this very second.

I’m still learning that I have the right to feel the way I feel, even if nobody else understands.

I’m still learning that others also have the right to feel the way they feel, even if I don’t understand.

I’m still learning that I don’t have to automatically feel guilty for all of my emotions. I’m just as important as everyone else.

I’m still learning how to apologize when I’m wrong. I’m still learning how to apologize even when I’m not wrong, but have hurt someone unintentionally.

I’m still learning.

We all are.

And that’s okay.

 

 

 

Gratitude and Grief

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I think of you often, my friend. Like right now when your song comes on my radio, and the sunset sky is so beautiful outside that it makes my breath catch. I wonder what the sky looked like the day you flew. Was it beautiful for you, or was it thick and dark because it was with you in your pain?

I also wonder if you come around when we think of you. I wonder if you can feel these thoughts, this touch of pain here in those who miss your gentle heart. I can imagine that you know. That you can tell when those your life touched sit in their grief, even if it’s just for a sliver of time when thoughts of you flicker through their minds.

I can see you smiling to yourself, that quiet knowing smile you always had, when you see how things have gone here since the day you flew. I can’t imagine that I’d even be on your radar, I’m merely just a distant friend who you touched with your authenticity and pain… but if you can see… if you’re aware… thank you. Our lives have intersected even more so since that day, haven’t they? It’s like the six degrees of separation became two degrees. Or no degrees. Or something weird and obscenely family-like in a spectacularly bizarre way.

It almost makes me chuckle. And yet, as the years have passed, look how things turned out. I know that I’ve done the work myself to make things happen as they have, but there’s a little spark of “I wonder if you had a hand in this?’

It’s totally something you’d do. If anyone could know what your leaving did to my heart, it’d be you. I can imagine you might work your magic to make my heart thaw and heal enough to let love back in. I can imagine your “no, no no” when you saw me with someone who couldn’t see me.

… so thank you, beautiful friend. Your heart lives on… your love and acceptance and innocence is still here among us.

Stories

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One of my dear Facebook friends posted this the other day, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I can’t get it out of my head.

I’ve lived so much of my life ashamed. Ashamed of the decisions that I’ve made, ashamed of the results of those decisions, ashamed of being too weak… too stubborn… too cold.

I’ve also been ashamed of following my heart. I don’t question it within myself, as I’m fairly comfortable in following my heart, instead I question what people will think about it.

That’s why this quote sunk in like it did. Yes, I’ve paid dearly for following my heart. However, I’ve also paid dearly for NOT following my heart. Why should I be ashamed of either? Why should I be afraid to tell my story? I’ve grown. And I’ve also learned what true kindness and love really is. I learned it the hard way, and the long way around… but I have learned it.

As I learned that the hard way, I endured more than most will ever know. I truly believed that I was broken, flawed, not worthy…

… but love found its way back in. Truth found its way back in.

I will not be ashamed of that. I will not be afraid of it. This is MY story and I will live it and speak it proudly. I’ve walked through the gates of hell, and I’ve walked through the gates of heaven. I refuse to let fear keep my from my heaven.

 

 

 

 

They’re just words.

I’ve been battling insomnia recently, and last night was an interesting one. I was thinking about why words have such power.

They’re just words. That’s all. So why is it that even if we hear a thousand positive words, the few negative ones we hear we hold onto so tightly?

There are a few sentences that have been spoken to me in my lifetime that I will never forget. Most negative things ease out with time, but with these? No. And every time I think about them, it takes me right back into the very same pain I felt the first time I heard them. I sometimes wonder why. Why did *that* certain sentence stick inside of me with it’s mean sticky tentacles and why can’t I let it go?

The only thing I can come up with is because it showed me something about myself that I didn’t like. Or… that I still don’t like. Maybe it’s because it bumped against the truth. Which, in a way, makes it even worse.

It makes me realize the power we have when we speak to others. For the most part, the ones who have spoken the most hurtful things to me will never know the power I let those words have over my mind and my heart. They will never know the doubt that I still carry about myself because of them.

Let’s use our words for good. Build others up. Be mindful of what we say, because we never know how many days, or even years, of pain we may cause with just one mouthful.

Sirens

Yesterday, the kids were over at our neighbor’s house for a birthday party for their little girl. The husband just got home from deployment. They have chickens that I can see from my bedroom window, and I laugh every time they run across the yard. They are the ones who made C’s Halloween sweet after a bitter disappointment.

This morning we woke to sirens, and within minutes, there were no less than ten emergency vehicles parked along our street. Three of the vehicles were ambulances.

Life can change in an instant.

I’ve been the first-responder on scene, and I’ve also been the one to dial 911. The latter is something that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. The chaos of this morning triggered some very serious and traumatic past memories for me, and over an hour later I’m still sitting here shaken, tearful, and anxiety-ridden.

All I can say is this:

Life is short. Love strongly. Love deeply. Love without reservation.

We’re bound to get hurt. But in the end, we can stand up proudly and say to the universe – “I loved.”

Washing away the years

I’m not a musical person, but there is a musical soundtrack to my life. We all have that to some degree though, don’t we? We hear a song and it immediately takes us back to a memory.

A song came on my radio recently and took me back. It was Wash Away Those Years by Creed. I know, I know, everyone bashes Creed… however… there’s a particular album of theirs that means a lot to me.

A number of years ago, I had escaped a horribly abusive marriage with nothing but my child and the clothes on our backs. I was young, naive, and had to completely start over with a bruised body and a bruised soul. I remember nothing other the paralyzing fear of those days, because I knew that if I was found, I was dead.

However, after a while, I sent an email to my ex and informed him that I was going to be there on a certain day at a certain time in order to pick up some important paperwork that I needed. I told him to leave the house and to leave the door unlocked. What he didn’t know is that I was driving from California to Arkansas with a friend in order to get that paperwork, and then I was immediately driving back in order to get back to work on Monday… 52 hours of straight driving in one long weekend.

What he also didn’t know is that I was petrified.

When I pulled up to the house, it looked like nobody was home. However, when I tried to open the door, his mother opened it. I went in alone, and my friend took a little walk in order to stretch legs after the long drive.

It took me mere minutes to get what I needed and get out. When we left, my friend told me that my ex had been sitting up the hill in his vehicle watching the entire thing. For some reason, that is what got to me. I started shaking from anger, nerves, fear. I hadn’t cried, not yet, not for years. No tears.

On the drive home, we hit Oklahoma City, and I stopped for music. I was sick and tired of country radio, so I picked up what was then Creed’s new cd, as well as some snacks and other things for the road.

Back in the car, my friend fell asleep while I drove, so I listened to that cd as I drove. One of the songs was Wash Away Those Years. That’s when the tears came. The dam finally broke. I cried myself through part of Oklahoma, the top of Texas, and all throughout New Mexico and Arizona. I shook as I sang along with that song over and over… and over… and over.

When I hear that song nowadays, I go back to that weekend in the car. I can see the landscape of the southwestern desert in my mind and I can feel the release of years of pent up fear.

“Well I guess she closed her eyes
And just imagined everything’s alright
But she could not hide her tears
‘Cause they were sent to wash away those years.”

Yes. They were sent to wash away those years.

Bash Creed all you want. Go ahead. However, I won’t. Creed was my champion in those days. One of my best memories ever was being front and center at their concert at Staples Center about a year after that weekend. Oh, the healing of that year.

Nowadays, I’m starting over yet again. This song coming on recently was a message to me. If I could do it then, I can most certainly do it now. I’m stronger now.

Fuck fear.

Sound of Silence

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Recently I’ve been stuck on Disturbed’s cover of The Sound of Silence. It’s mind blowing, but then I’m also a rocker… and Disturbed has always been one of my favorites.

That being said – despite having a fever half the time, this past long weekend was one of the very best weekends of my life. (Which says a lot, I’ve had some damned incredible weekends.) I had some major soul-deep healing take place this weekend. Healing that was necessary, scary, and very very beautiful. It has caused me to be super introspective today, as I went back to work after some time off from the holiday and my illness. I’ve been thinking about my past and some decisions I made that weren’t… well… they weren’t very wise. (They were really really freaking stupid, truth be told, and I’ve had very serious regrets for 15 years.)

As I was thinking on my drive into work this morning, I was also listening and singing along to the earlier mentioned song. It got to this part –

“Fools” said I, “you do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”

– and I had such a strong reaction to it. It’s one of my favorite parts of the song when Disturbed sings it, it’s very powerful, but this morning it hit me a different way. It was almost as if I was singing it to myself…. but I was singing it to the me I was 15 years ago. The me who learned to keep everything inside. The one who lost herself over the years of keeping silent, and in turn lost the one thing she wanted and needed most. The me now was reaching out to that frightened insecure young adult, and telling her that it’s okay now. That the me now is learning that silence can be harmful at times, and that it’s okay to communicate wants… needs… desires. It’s okay to speak up, even if it’s scary.

In that moment in my car, driving through the pines as the sun came up, I was able to look back and not despise 25-year-old-Heather as I’ve done ever since that time. Instead, I held her close with compassion and forgiveness and hope, because she was unsure and scared at the time. She didn’t know then what I know now. She didn’t yet know that being true to yourself is more important that anything, and that sometimes being true to yourself doesn’t always look like it “should” look. And that’s okay.

Maybe we all need to look back at our pasts a little differently today. Offer our words and our arms to the us of years past… because we all need our own forgiveness and compassion the most.