might be a word with only four letters
but it feels so much heavier than that.
It carries a thousand weighted breaths and
teems with tears.
Can I begin to trust the universe
when I've been left before on the docks empty-handed,
standing agape at the magnitude of the waves?
Can I allow what I feel in the air around me---
salty and sweet, everything will be all right---
to be my truth?
Hope might only be a word with four letters,
but today it is my life raft;
I'll clutch to it until the sea swallows me whole.
What else is there to do?
I've done a lot of soul-searching in the last few months...brief hiatuses from social media, countless books read, and a great deal of quiet reflection. I'm having a bit of an identity crisis, as many people tend to do once they start approaching the age of 30 (or 40, 50, 60...).
I'm a writer. My blog, resume, and LinkedIn page say so. But what does that actually mean? Does it mean I'm required to keep up this blog? Does it mean that I'm supposed to be laboring to write the Next Great American Novel? Does it mean that I should care about any of this?
My research, which is not backed by any scientific or professional resources, tells me no.
My life is mine to design. Every aspect of it, including my activities and how I fill my very precious time, are totally up to me. There are no rules here, and certainly no one is enforcing them if there are.
Therefore, how I define myself is up to me too.
I've taken a few months off because, quite frankly, I was trying to decide if this was still worth it. Did I really need to be a writer outside of my full-time editing job? So I spent three months without writing to see if my soul still craved it the way it used to.
And after the first month, I realized that I need writing.
Like many introverts, I am buried in my head most of the time. I have thoughts and ideas that I don't know how to express unless it's through writing. During this time of quiet, it felt as if something was hiding inside of me that didn't know how to express itself. I shushed it and asked it for patience—maybe in a while I would let it come out. When the desire returned.
Today it did. I woke up, ready to resume my new Saturday routine of reading a book, drinking coffee, and watching questionable Food Network chefs on TV. But something pulled me to the computer and opened up a blank Word document, and then the words fell out. I looked and saw my heart on the keyboard, bleeding and pumping.
So yes, I'm a writer. I'm a writer in the respect that I will always need writing like a human needs air to breathe, or a bird needs wind to soar. I'm a writer because, without it, I'm left gasping for words in the corner, waiting for someone to pull them out of me.
In case you didn't know, today is World Poetry Day! Poetry is such an amazing, undervalued part of our society. If you're new to the poetic world and feeling lost, here's a great place to start.
Today you get—you guessed it—another sappy poem about my wonderful husband. Happy reading, friends.
Since we met, I've taken so many forms.
I've grown to fill the vessels around me,
and I've shrunk to fit.
I've touched the peaks of mountains we built together,
and sunk to the bottom of oceans
we didn't intend to create.
(The silt there is fine and feels like silver.)
How can you write a love poem to a person
who is a part of you?
Every breath you take moves my lungs too
and when you are hurt, I can feel my own heart breaking.
Our sun is a star, but it is also a source of
light that connects us even when we are apart.
My limbs are yours and I can use them
to climb to the top of the world and scream out
how much I love you--
our universal inhalation
moving as one.
I mean to say that,
without you, my dear,
I'm a bird walking on stilts,
unaware of how to fly,
unable to move in a straight line,
and I'm constantly in love
with the feeling of your breath under my wings
keeping me afloat.
I've been every shape since we met,
and so have you,
but my favorite is the one where I'm curled into your side,
nestled into you
like two moons in different phases--
perfectly concave at the right points.
Today on the blog, I'm introducing a new type of reading material for you—flash fiction! Flash fiction is an extremely brief story form, usually between 300–700 words. It's an incredibly succinct way to tell a story, and an even better story creation exercise for writers. I'll be featuring my original flash fiction works on this blog every once in a while; I hope you enjoy today's selection.
You’d think that, after being dead so long, Gerard would have just left him alone.
Francis sat in the basement, hiding behind boxes of musty books. He thought that, if he sat down there long enough, perhaps Gerard would lose interest and go away.
“He always was a stubborn thing,” he thought coldly.
Upstairs, items shifted as the dead man bumbled upstairs. Francis heard the shatter of his decorative plates falling to the floor—crashing, one after the other.
How Gerard resumed animation baffled him. Once the dead were dead, they ought to stay that way.
Gerard’s rotting feet shuffled across the boards of the kitchen floor, inching closer to the cellar entrance. Francis thought he heard Gerard call out, but the voice was too muddled by his molding throat.
“The least he could do is speak clearly,” Francis said to no one in particular. The books looked at him silently.
Their relationship had not always been so contentious, back when they were both living. In fact, they’d been best friends growing up—playing together after the school bells chimed, spending weekends chasing stray dogs around Gerard’s family farm. They seemed inseparable.
Francis smiled warmly for a moment, and then frowned when Gerard’s green fingers appeared beneath the cellar door.
“Honestly, Gerard, can’t we discuss this like adults? Once you’ve calmed down, I think you’ll realize how silly you’re being,” Francis called out.
But Gerard didn’t consider this. For Gerard was dead and without a functional brain. The worms had gone after that first.
Francis rolled his eyes toward the ceiling and crawled to the farthest corner of the room. He supposed that, even without a soul, Gerard had every right to be upset.
Not even a week after his dear friend’s death, Francis awoke in the bed of the dearly departed’s wife.
“Gerard, I didn’t want poor Elise to be left alone once you had…well, once you had gone,” the shaken man explained, “It wasn’t right, leaving her in that drafty house. Someone had to look after her. So, you see, I think we can agree that this is quite a misunderstanding.” Stuttering, Francis looked toward the cellar door, where moments before, the Corpse tried to pry it open with disintegrating fingers.
The air shifted, moving dust particles along with it.
Francis heard nothing. The hearts of dead men no longer beat.
“Gerard. Come out and talk like a man—enough of this foolishness!”
The dead man looked around the room with one good eye, and upon seeing his traitorous friend skulking in the corner, descended upon him.
Francis closed his eyes, prayed to God, pleading to be saved, but when he opened his eyes again, all he saw was Gerard—poor, dead Gerard—sitting on the floor with him. He sighed, looked at his former friend, and rummaged around until he found a bottle of whiskey.
“Well, if we must be in this pickle together, the least we can do is have a drink—right, old sport?”
And the two ghosts drank in silence, letting their hatred fester unspoken between them.
Hell is full of words left unsaid.
The snow is falling outside; quietly, slowly. Dancing toward the ground as if taking part in a silent ballet. It has come down all day, and I’ve spent the afternoon in my favorite place—in my warm home with my boys.
I’m nestled on the couch between them, my head on my husband’s lap, my dog’s head on mine; our breath moves together, in and out at the same speed. It’s as though we’re all connected by a thread that none of us can see, but we all sense exists.
With busy weeks behind us, we relish in the stillness, knowing that our weekends to come will surely be swallowed up with dinners with friends, visits with family, social engagements that we’ll dread ahead of time but love once we’re in the moment.
Our house hums with few distinct but familiar noises—the dishwasher whirrs quietly in the kitchen; tires break through the fresh snow on the busy road just outside our yard; the delightfully cheesy theme song from Star Trek: Enterprise breaks through the living room every hour or so.
It’s a Sunday built specifically for relishing in the laziness; a day where sweatpants and dirty hair are mandatory, and popcorn seems a perfect lunch. My legs begin to fall asleep from lack of movement, and I wonder if they’ll eventually stop working if I never move again; it wouldn’t be the worst thing to imagine, dissolving into the couch and being a spectator to every future conversation in this house.
It’s a Sunday built for ambitious planning for the week ahead, at least mentally; I imagine the books I’ll read, the poems I’ll write, the goals I’ll tackle head-on—a matador facing down a bull in a scarlet outfit. I accept these plans will likely never be realized and will fade into memory as they do every Monday evening, after the determination has materialized into exhaustion.
It’s a Sunday built for daydreaming, building imaginary houses and decorating them with the beautiful plans I have for our lives together; the nursery will be space themed, adorned with sweet images of stars that I hope our offspring will reach someday. Cosmo will begin walking through the house more slowly, gray fur taking over his muzzle. His tail will wag with joy when he sees our children toddle into the living room, welcoming their entrance with a wet kiss. In my head, I see Evan pick up the smaller members of our someday family, his face growing larger with an overflowing smile. I can see it so clearly.
It’s a Sunday built for gratitude.
I sit in the comfort of this day, of this life, and I drink it all in like a warm cup of tea. There are moments when everything else falls away and you realize how blessed you are—the moments when the Universe asks you to pause for a moment.
And when you do, it whispers in your now-open ears: Trust me. I have your back.
All is well.
I am a warrior unbroken by time,
my weapon a pen scratching across this paper
as I write the anger of my people.
I have seen the best of us
drowning in rivers of self-doubt,
felt their souls die a little
as we struggled to break the surface--
lips so close to the top and we can
breathe the same air as the rest--
just a little bit longer and we’ll be there.
This vessel is a thing so beautiful and divine,
speaking of it, looking at it
is an act of holiness.
But we hide, thinking we’re not
(We are not without our scars.)
I can hear the drums in the background,
calling us to march forward--
don’t give up.
It beats in me, too, a song
pulling us toward the light
that I know to be true:
We are here.
We are watching.
We are waiting.
We are fierce.
It has been exactly two months since I’ve written anything. Not a blog post, not a poem—hell, barely even a fully composed grocery list. I just haven’t had it in me.
Much to the chagrin of every writer that ever existed, the urge to write is not an ever-flowing champagne tower that can just be tapped into. Eventually the waiter walks away, the bubbly stops flowing, and you’re left with an empty glass and no idea what you should be writing.
But then every once in a while, the urge comes back. You’ll be wandering through the store, block of cheese and bottle of wine in hand, and suddenly you’re itching to go back to the keyboard.
Today is one of those days.
I’d like to tell you that I missed every moment I was away. But the truth is, I didn’t.
I’d like to tell you that I felt bad for not posting a blog for two whole months, without so much as a warning to you all. But I didn’t.
You see, here’s the beautiful thing about adulthood that I’m just beginning to fully comprehend--I’m an adult, and that means I get to do whatever I want.
It’s a concept that I’ve always entertained but never fully vested myself in. Sure, I knew that, without someone telling me otherwise, I can wake up and eat ice cream for breakfast and never wear makeup again. But, as I’m slowly realizing, it’s deeper than that.
I’m an adult, fully in charge of my own decisions, but also fully responsible for my own happiness.
If I don’t want to do something, I don’t have to. Plain and simple.
And neither do you.
I temporarily left the blog and writing world, knowing that when the time was right, you’d welcome me back with open arms. I knew that, when it would make me happy, I would post again. And I will likely drop out again for a while and only post when I feel like it—and that’s totally okay.
If there’s something in your world that isn’t serving you or no longer makes you happy, then maybe it’s time to reevaluate your relationship with it. (Or with them, if it’s a person.)
No one is forcing you to do anything. And nobody else is ultimately responsible for making sure you like your life except for you. So, if you don’t, please do something about it.
There are too many copies in this world: be yourself and do what makes you happy.
Stop pretending to be someone you’re not. Own your flaws, your attributes, and all the things in between.
Speak up for yourself.
Demand respect for yourself and your time.
Honor the things you love.
The minute you realize, damn, I’m amazing, so will the rest of the world.
Hi, friends—it's been a while.
As I'm sure many of you noticed, I took most of November off from posting. It wasn't because I wanted to abandon the blog or I didn't love you anymore—I promise—I just needed a break.
This month has been rough in many ways I didn't anticipate. With a death in the family and the well-known results of the presidential election, it's been a gloomier November than normal.
For the purposes of transparency, my lovely audience, let's tackle this head on . . .
Although I've wanted to post about the results of this year's election so many times, the wound was still too fresh and my emotions too unstable to discuss it in depth. I can only say this—if you were someone who voted for Trump because you find him an inspiring leader for racist, misogynist, bigoted, or xenophobic thoughts, then I will pray for you to see the goodness in people different from you. There's hope for you yet.
However, if you voted for our new president-elect because you believed in his economic and policy positions, and truly are inspired by his message of change and sticking up for the little man, then I offer you my heartfelt congratulations on your candidate's success. I hope and pray that he will succeed and be a good President for the sake of the country I love so much.
Although Hillary's loss cuts me deeply, we must move forward. We must come together to find ways that we can make this country better—that we can make ourselves better—and inspire younger generations to become an empowered, informed, voting public.
We will always be stronger together than divided.
Merriam Webster's dictionary defines compassion as "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it." In the midst of our selfishness, I think many of us have left behind our fellow man. We have put our own wants and desires above others', and have forgotten what it's like to be on the other side.
Please remember that we are all humans. We are all in this together.
Hope and the capacity for love runs through all of our veins—no matter your race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Democrat, Republican, Hillary supporter, Bernie voter, Trump advocate—it doesn't matter.
We are, first and foremost members, of the same species, all seeking love and acceptance.
It is not an issue of Us vs. Them. This is about what we can do together, as Americans, to ensure that everyone has their voice heard.
So I ask of you, no matter where you stand politically, no matter your feelings on this election—please be kind. Move forward with love for others and hope for the future.
And as Martin Luther King, Jr. once said . . .
"I have decided to stick to love...Hate is too great a burden to bear."
Moments exist in life that serve no other purpose than to bring us back to reality: fights with your best friend where you clearly in the wrong; being rejected or embarrassed; a family member getting sick; a loved one dying.
God or whatever you want to call that Supreme Being above us is a big fan of humility—not in terms of humiliation, which is an entirely different animal, but reminding us that we are not perfect and we will falter.
But most importantly, we are reminded that we can get back up—that there are things greater than our struggles, anxieties, and misfortunes.
In times like this, when I've been knocked down and told to re-evaluate my situation, an overarching theme stands out.
Most of what you think is important doesn't actually matter.
Your job is important. But should you let the piles of undone work take over your family time or occupy your thoughts while outside of the office?
You may fret about your physical appearance. And yes, feeling good about you the way you look is worthwhile. But is it worth stressing over? Are those extra 10 pounds worth the self-abuse you heap on yourself?
You may worry about where you will be in 5, 10, or 20 years, but will that change the present?
Popularity, if you're doing enough with your life, what you eat, how you carry yourself, what your friends think of you, how much stuff you have, and how much money is in your bank account—the list of fascinations goes on and on.
But, friends, this is not the stuff that matters.
Sure, on a practical level, some of it is worth entertaining. (You need money to buy food, so keeping an eye on that bank about might not be a bad idea.)
But the point is, life isn't worth stressing about things that aren't serving you.
When you think about what makes your soul happy, is it really what you wore last week? Or if your friends laughed at your joke? Or if your boss likes you?
Your soul doesn't give a second thought to any of that stuff.
So where does humility play into this?
Humility reminds us of the importance of our life—as well as the experiences and people with which we fill it.
The love you give to your family and friends . . . this is what matters.
The relationships you foster and grow over time . . . this is what matters.
The generosity you bring to the world around you, taking care of anyone and everyone you can . . . this is what matters.
The way you nurture yourself, both body and spirit, so you can better give yourself to your passions . . . this is what matters.
So slow down: appreciate this moment, and remember that life is so fleeting and yet so full.
That is what matters.
Guys, Mondays are hard.
Even the best Mondays seem tortuous to get through, which is a bit of a conundrum to me—Monday's the beginning of a new week, a fresh start, a time to seize the day and run with it!
. . . that is, until you get to your desk, see dozens of blinking, unread e-mails, get buried under a mountain of paperwork and tasks, and feel general discontent that your beautiful weekend is already gone.
At the end of your work day, even though your home to-do list grows exponentially, the only energy you can muster is to sit on the couch with the TV blaring and your eyes gazing listlessly at the screen.
Sound familiar? We've all been there. And considering it's Monday night, some of us are still there.
But here's the question: how do we recover so that the rest of our bright, shiny week doesn't end in the same sad state of despair and laziness?
With this post, I mean to say one thing: you are important. The work you do is important. The energy you bring to this world is even more important. So, if you can do what you can to make your place a little brighter, a little more comfortable, then what are you waiting for?
Writer, editor, and storyteller living in the Twin Cities.