Category: writing

this moment matters

This will be short—another little blog post trying to answer unanswerable questions, or at least wrestling with the questions.

But I decided to do it publicly because there are people who might need to know that I am standing with them. That as events and scenes unfolded I can link arms and listen to their stories and begin to understand a little what they experience daily. Because we’re the same. We have arms and hands that clutch our little ones close, legs and feet that carry us great distances, lungs that breathe in the beauty and wonder in this world. We have hearts that beat for our little babies and ache to keep them safe in this big, wide world. What happens to all of us matters because we are united by our common humanity.

We shouldn’t have to fear that our children will be man-handled because of the color of their skin.

We shouldn’t have to teach our sons that shots will be fired before questions are asked.

My son and I don’t know that world. But I ache that many mothers and sons do. I see that it is so. I don’t know how I can help—but I’m trying. I see. I am here.  And I weep. I am mourning over the darkness that seems to prevail, for the unjustness and the corruption and the hatred that seems to be overpowering right now.

I chose to write because I couldn’t stay silent—there is too much at stake. I want my son to hold hands with yours. I want him to grow up knowing that he has to fight for the things that are unjust, that with his privilege—which wasn’t something he earned but was DNA and chance—comes an opportunity for empathy and a chance to help make the world better for all people.

So much has been lost that can never be replaced.

I won’t stand by while my generation fights for justice. This moment matters.

i am a writer

She gripped my hands firmly. Her blue eyes met my green ones with conviction and intensity.

“Say you’re a writer. Say it!” She demanded. I tried to look away, but her eyes searched mine out. I laughed myself out of the moment, shirking her mantle and her passion. I couldn’t say the words. They were words I desperately wanted to hear and experience, but I couldn’t say them for myself. Someone had to say them over me. I couldn’t just say I was a writer—that’s not how this worked. She let me go without me ever having to say the words and the encounter left me shaking.

Because it was my dream and it seemed cavalier to just claim it. I needed someone else to see it in me and to speak it forth. That’s when it would be real.

And when this same friend told me about Story 101 I decided to take it. I signed up late as I do all these things, hesitating until the last minute to take the plunge. The first fuze call was awkward…I didn’t know these women I was staring at across the computer screen. I listened and I wrote. And I wrote. And I wrote.

And then something began to shift. I began to see the term writer, not as a gift bestowed by someone else, but as something that I get to embrace. It’s a role, a function—how I process and make nonsensical things make sense for a moment.

In the syllabus there is a list of all these great books. I started reading books that authors had written about writing. Click. Things shifted into place. The way I encounter the world is through words. Journaling is so much more than a diary but can actually be practice. No words are wasted. I learned how to find my voice. I learned the people who read my words are the ones who needed to read my words, and to trust the process. I learned about rhythms and that there are times when the words run fallow—and maybe I’m reading more than I’m writing. And then there are times when I’m writing more than I’m reading.

I am not an author yet. But I am a writer. Story 101 was part of the journey which helped me claim what only I could claim. I became more confident in my expression. I learned that while I may write on the same topic as someone else, my perspective and my words will add a new flavor to the discussion. An invaluable piece that would be missing. I learned that numbers are less important than being authentic. And I learned how to streamline—what’s my underlying theme? What is my life and my writing pointing to? I write to wrestle with the tension of the wild beauty and the horrific mess that I encounter. I want to live and write in that tension—never sacrificing one to the other. I remembered I love fairy tales.

All of these elements came out of taking Story 101. I learned who I am as a writer, and I let go of some of the lies I had been clinging to. This world is so big. I won’t be the only one to write about something, but I learned to write anyway. I learned that my words matter. And I learned that there is enough room for all of us to share our stories.

That beautiful friend opened me up to a world of possibility.

Say you’re a writer…

Try it on. See how it feels. 

Say you’re a writer…

And if it resonates, think about signing up for Story 101 and letting that carry you for a little while. It carried me. I found women to support and encourage me. I found a community that welcomes my words. And I found myself. 

Click here to learn more about Story 101.

Housekeeping: The cost is only $127 because this is the last time Story 101 will be offered live. The registration deadline is August 29th at midnight. I’m thinking about taking it again–it was that good. 

baptized by water

IMG_0908I’ve been thinking about the corrosive force of water. In this space I’ve been invited to occupy the past two weeks there’s this amazing window. It backs up to some Alaskan wilderness—there’s a stream that cuts through the forest ten feet from the edge of the window seat. It has become my window. In the morning I hop out of bed and land here, greeting the sun that never sets, writing the words that have been churning in my soul, and sipping coffee. It’s been a happy place for me. I will be sad to leave it. It’s serene and peaceful and I want to package it up and take it home with me.

I’ve discovered that bodies of water call to me. Something about rivers, streams, and oceans soothes my turbulent soul. Even on the 21 mile kayaking trip that exhausted me beyond belief, I continued stroke after stroke because I could hear the water lapping at the edges of the boat around me. Once we were out of the water, however, I experienced a different reality that ended with Doug carrying me up the hill to our tent, helping me get dressed in dry clothes and leaving me curled up inside the sleeping bag where my body worked to generate heat.

I’ve been watching the water. I’ve been watching the way it cuts through the land. I’ve seen how it floods it’s banks, killing trees, forcing the land to recede when it needs more space. It will not be stopped or diverted. It is indomitable. Little by little, even this harmless creek that flows through my father-in-law’s backyard is carving through earth, forcing it’s way through. It’s not at all tamed or peaceful. It’s not safe. It’s a pretty picture—but it must never be mistaken for anything less than powerful. 

I’m tired of living at the surface. I’m tired of one-dimensional stories. I’m tired of two-dimensional characters and tropes. I’m tired of conversation that talk about the weather or read like a “dear diary” entry. 

I want to suck the marrow out of life. I want to see beyond the pretty picture to the rapids and tides that flood the banks. I want to see how we’ve taken the lot we’ve been given and moved beyond it. I want something thick that I can sink my teeth into, something that forces me to pause and wrestle with the truth I’ve always thought I’ve known. The life-giving source is so much more than a river, so much more than a body of water. It’s all the terror and destruction found in this world. And I want to see it and know it. I want to see and know people.

So often I have settled for one or two dimensions. People get scary when we get close. When people exceed the boxes and boundaries we’ve put them in, it forces us to change—but that’s so hard to do. Often it’s easier to walk away, lest the world as we know it get carved up and redistributed. Self-preservation. We stopped seeing each other as people so that we could send each other to hell.

I don’t want the world to stay the same anymore. I want to see the world turned upside down. I want water to cleanse and baptize me so that I can be made new. So that boundaries are forgotten. I want relationships to have dimension so stereotypes dissipate. I want relationship instead of ownership. Water has become my theme, my metaphor. It speaks to my heart. It soothes and calms me. It beckons me to abandon the superficial and to go deeper. Always deeper.

leaning into the abundance

IMG_0827The bike ride was long and on a partially eroded trail. Trees reached out to brush against me on one side and a drop-off threatened on the other. I stopped often to get my bearings and breathe, walking when it overwhelmed me. 

“This path is too over-stimulating. I can’t take it all in at once,” I complained, ducking under another tree branch and falling off the bike for the nineteenth time.

We took a break when we ran into the rest of our group who had started an hour before us. They were sitting, enjoying the view and eating lunch. I walked down to the water. I needed to touch it, to feel it between my palms, cool and crisp. I kneeled over, reaching my hands out, testing my balance—almost falling in when a larger wave came and I was careless in my haste to get away from it. I laughed with delight and Doug laughed with me. I have been surrounded by mountains, but something about the water calls to me. It soothes me. I see it flowing by my window right now and somehow the words come easier when I pause to breathe and see—to watch the water curve away from me, carving the earth as it passes.

We climbed back up to the trail to continue the bike ride and it happened.

I did it again. That moment when I looked up and make eye contact with a stranger. I studied her. I weighed her. I looked at another human being and viewed her as competition. It’s not something I’m proud of—but it seems to be a visceral response when I encounter an unknown person.

I begin comparing her and I, wondering which of us has more to offer. 

Who will be more valued and loved? 

Who has the better story? The better life?

Who is more fit? Better looking? 

Who is more engaging and interesting?

As I walked up the hill I studied her, eyeing her. That look. The calculated one. I smiled at her, hoping to appear friendly and she gave me a half smile back. And I climbed on my bike and thought about what it would be like with her at the cabin for the next 24 hours. 

And then something shifted. 

I thought about what I had just experienced, the water and the fun and the breathing. The peace and the joy Doug and I were absorbing and radiating as we sat by the water. I saw us laughing and playing, taking pictures and embracing all that we are. 

And with different eyes, I saw how I would want to be part of that. I saw that it was attractive—and I experienced a moment of clarity—this is how people see me.

I embrace. I am warm. I am intuitive and somehow often manage to find words people need to hear. I am quiet and calm and peaceful. I am tender and generous. I saw me as my friends experience me. And those feelings of warmth and acceptance towards myself led me to want to breathe that over this unknown woman. I wanted her to feel her value. I wanted her to feel connection. I wanted her to experience a quiet joy. 

It wasn’t rebuke my heart needed—it was acceptance. I could have spent hours praying and repenting over the “sin.” But it was knowing I am enough and I am loved that did the heart-work. And this heart-knowledge led me from viewing through the lens of competition to viewing through the lens of connection. 

The weighing and the measuring were forgotten. Now my desire was to experience and know this person for the amount of time we would have together. 

I expect that I am still learning this—it’s an otherworldly response in a world that tells us there are a limited number of spaces. A limited number of resources. It’s a different lens, this idea of abundance—that I can take all the space I need and you can take all the space you need and there is more than enough. I don’t quiet know how to do it well yet, because I’ve grown up in a world were we fight like dogs for scraps under the table. But I’m loving this new freedom where I can champion and connect and rest, knowing that there’s room for me, too. I don’t have to weigh and measure and give side-eyes as I watch to see what someone’s planning to take from me. 

As a teenager, I experienced the vanity that all teenagers experience and wanted to have nicer things. So I spent my own money to buy higher quality shampoo and conditioner than what my mom would buy. I hoarded that stuff like it was liquid gold, carrying it to and from the showers and hiding it in my bedroom. I didn’t want my two sisters to use it, and I knew they would if I left it in the shower. Because I thought there wasn’t enough, I held onto it. I fought for it. I clung to something that I thought was precious. Where’s the shampoo now? It’s been washed down the drain a million times over. Where are my sisters? We’re still learning how to support each other because we didn’t fully learn it as kids. We spent too much time weighing and judging. We spent too little time celebrating and championing each other. 

I don’t want to go backwards. I don’t want to cling to my little world rather than getting to experience the wild beauty that surrounds me. I want to trust that there’s abundance. That there is room and space for all of us to stretch out and breathe, to dip our fingers in the water, to be fully present and enjoying life. I want a space where we don’t have to fight for scraps because we believe there is so much more. 

My heart is full today because I saw a glimpse of what that looks like for me.

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