Sunday, September 14, 2014

drop your coat

{via pinterest}
dear you,

you wanderer through the Valley of the Shadow
drop your coat.

you who haven't figured out how to process the change or the ache or the new or the rejection
drop your coat.

you who are finding yourself in the season of "no" or the season of leaving or the season of lots of taking and very very little giving back
drop your coat. 

// 

do you know what that looks like, to drop your coat and leave it there?

there is unspoken courtesy, ingrained in us from the very beginning. you do not just drop your bag, your coat, your shoes on the floor. not in another's house, not even in your own house. you pick it up. you find the hook or drawer or little nook. you hang it up. tidy, organized, everything appropriately tucked away.

even when the fabric is so heavy that it almost seems unbearable, this idea of crossing another twelve steps to the closet. even when the smile is pasted on, and the "let me take your coat" feels falsely cloying because you would just rather not lean into the pity (even though it's nothing more than your host being polite).

so I want to tell you something. I want you to look me in the eye.

I want you to rest. drop your coat. right there, in the hallway. shoes too. kick them off. let them thud against the wall.

I want you to find freedom. leave it there, on the floor, in a crumpled pile of soft fabric and silken lining. leave it there.

because it's not just a coat, is it, love? it's grief and heaviness and weight and confusion and a lack of knowing which direction to step next. and there may not be answers there between the hardwood slats. but there is a solid surface on which to rest. and sometimes that works better than answers. at least for now.

so drop your coat. leave it there. the world won't end while it lays on the hardwood.

dust washes off. you can use my machine.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

the blessing of more

{via pinterest}
"can you show me the sign?"

my own words hit me in the face as I asked my toddler daughter to recreate the ASL word for "more," tapping her tiny fingertips against one another. she was asking for another cracker, another drink of water. we've been teaching her these simple little signs since she was barely old enough to hold up her head on her own. and now here, as we approach the second year of her life in a matter of weeks, she still knows every gesture.

please. thank you. milk. more. 

that last one still takes my breath away.
let me tell you why.

::

I remember seeing her, sitting casually on a too-tall barstool, her tattoos clearly visible, her blonde hair fresh with pink and purple streaks. she looked like a vision of everything I wanted to be. there was about fifteen of us gathered around her, listening to her speak over us.

her words caught me off-guard.

I want you all to see me as more than just the founder, more than your coach, more than a published author. I want you to see me as more than just that. see me as me, okay? 

the concept was so foreign. it didn't feel right. surely she misspoke. because how could any of us do that? she was all these amazing things, this powerhouse badass of a woman who had come up gasping from grief + destruction + hardship. she was a phoenix. how could I see her as "just her"? that was a disservice to her greatness.

wasn't it?

and this thing of her -- just her -- being more. I didn't understand it.

except then I sat down on the couch with her and looked into her eyes.

// how are you? 
// how are you? 
// how are you?

and then it started to click.

::

"can you show me the sign?"

that simple little phrase knocked me back. as I watched my daughter's baby fingers form that word in the chaos of my lunchtime kitchen, I found myself breathing a blessing over her.

you are more, Daughter of Eve. 
you are allowed to ask for more
and that more is you. 
you are Lion-breathed, filled with wild Holy breath from the lungs of the Most High
what more does anyone need but 
just simply you? 
dwell in your muchness, your more-ness. 
oh my daughter, accept the blessing of more. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

for when there aren't many words left {#Furgeson}

{via pinterest}
as far as Ferguson goes, I've been silent. 
I mean that as literally as you can get. nothing on social media. not my Facebook or my Twitter or my Instagram or my blog. nothing. period. 

silence. 

and that, for me, is odd. there are very few social issues that leave me at a loss for words. this one, however, has done exactly that. 

I am at a loss for words. 

let me be very clear here :: I have not been silent because I am white. I have not been silent because I have an unpopular opinion. I have not been silent because I am afraid. 

I have been silent because it has been one of those moments where you are confronted with something so overwhelming that it leaves nothing behind. there have been so many amazing words shared already. {you can find a couple fantastic and powerfully gentle posts here and here.} there have been arguments on both sides, strong words flung and feet planted into the dirt. the Internet is good at controversy, after all. 

what could I possibly say? wouldn't I only be adding to the noise?
because let's be honest :: there's been a lot of noise. madness. tumult. 

all I can do is pray. 
and that's pretty much exactly what I'm going to do here. 

:: 

oh God. 
bring peace. 

oh Lord,
bring comfort. 

oh Jesus. oh sweet Jesus. 
bring clarity. 

Spirit of the living God,
fall fresh. 

oh Lion, 
breathe. 

oh mighty Father, 
sustain. 

selah. selah. selah. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

the one where I talk about sex {again}

{via pinterest}
let's talk about sex.
I'm serious.

it's everywhere.
I'm serious about that too.

but you know something else?
it's also a really big secret.
{especially in church}

I grew up in a world where gateway drugs weren't seven-leafed plants held rolled and drooping between teenage fingers. it was the fingers themselves that were the problem. because if skin touched skin, that was the start of a slippery slope...

...a slope that led to bodies and skin and nakedness and words that were alluded to, but rarely spoken aloud. just in case there was someone listening. and the idea of it being mentioned in church? never. just in case God might overhear.

we talked about purity, of course. about guarded hearts and the mystery of a man with a woman and the way it should be for marriage. but what, exactly, should be for marriage? we were never sure. not really.

it was all a mystery. until churches and white dresses and rings slipped onto sweaty fingers and hotel rooms where the door shut with a heavy thump...

...and then it was still a mystery.

because it was a secret until that minute, except that everyone seemed to have forgotten the "sex kitten" potion that was to transform a blushing new bride and a nervously fidgeting groom  into ravenous sexual creatures. they forgot about what happened when the door closed and we stood there with shuffling feet and the acute awareness that there was nakedness under our clothes.

this is the part where I am supposed to present a solution.
the only one I have is for us to talk.

we have to stop making little words that start with "p" and "v" and "s" into dirty unrepeatables that linger like forbidden fruit squashed into pulp on tongues. we have to find that line and realize that it's written in the dirt, not carved into rock.

we need to talk.
with words, not euphemisms and "when you're married, you'll understand."

because it doesn't work that way.

we need to talk.
about sex.
about penises and vaginas and hormones and sex. hear me say it. sex.

because the most important thing is a heart.
not a hymen.

Friday, August 8, 2014

broken benches

{photo taken via VSCOCam :: by Rachel Haas}
writing is hard when you're writing.
you become a broken bench, in a way.

there are slats falling down
side
ways.
you're still a bench.
but there are holes and sitting


it's complicated.

writing a book is hard, period.
it's one of those things where you could jump up and down and pat your head and rub your tummy and walk across hot coals to bring back rubies clutched in your teeth

...and it would still be easier than getting those words down.
and yet we do it because we are it.
we are writers who write things.

writers who don't write things are benches made of fog.
you can see us
we just go away when you breathe a little too hard.

writing is complicated
with a lot of parts and pieces and bits and bobs
and upside down handstands.
and coffee.

and you can feel like a broken bench.
but you're still a bench.
when people fall on you, their hands connect with solid wood and scrappy frame.
you're plucky, you are.

they can rest there.
because broken benches are still benches.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

"somewhere between water and sky" by Elora Ramirez :: cover reveal

oh my loves. today I am so excited to be doing something new. something wonderful. something exciting. 

today I am honoured to be part of the cover reveal process for my beloved friend, mentor, and Story Coach Elora's new book :: Somewhere Between Water and Sky. 



Title: Somewhere Between Water and Sky
Author: Elora Ramirez
Release Date: September 18th
Cover Artist: Sarah Hansen of Okay Creations


About Somewhere Between Water and Sky :: 

I heard it said once that every human is a story with skin.
If this is true, paragraphs would be etched in the scars on my wrists.
Whole chapters could be written about the way my heart pounds when I startle awake.
And every single one of my tears could fill a book.
But stories, with all their promise, only leave room for disappointment. I don’t have room for that anymore. I left it all—the hope, the love, the promise—back in my old life with the ghosts I’d rather forget: Jude. Emma. Pacey.
Kevin.
This is how I dare to move forward and to believe in a new beginning. I let go of the old. I just grab the new and run. I don’t wait around anymore. I can’t.
Waiting leaves room for the voices.
Somewhere between water and sky, I'll find a way to burn these voices to the ground.


Exclusive Excerpt:
I heard it said once that every human is a story with skin.
If this is true, paragraphs would be etched in the scars on my wrists.
Whole chapters could be written about the way my heart pounds when I startle awake.
And every single one of my tears could fill a book.
I watch the people sitting around me on the bus. The single mother with two rowdy toddlers, the older couple on vacation with cameras strapped to their necks, the boy rapping beats under his breath and writing in a journal—all of them breathe into this poetry of life.
Normally, I’d want to know their stories. I’d wait for hints of who they were inside, the poetic shifts that make us human. Now I just watch.
The boy rapping pauses with his hand in mid air and thinks for a minute. Breaking into a smile, he nods vigorously and lowers his hand to his paper. I frown. I used to have a piece of that poetry inside. It’s just all a little broken now. I don’t know how to fix the one thing that used to put me back together. The poems still come; I just don’t know what to do with them anymore. If I’m feeling particularly brave, I’ll attempt to scratch them into a journal.
Usually, I just write them with my finger on my jeans. No one needs to read them anyway. Besides, I can’t hold on to them for very long. The silence is on fire and the sentences and scenes that used to extinguish those flames do nothing but fan it hotter and brighter. I’m a new person here—no one knows anything about me. All of my journals are in various trash cans around the city. I fill one up and then throw it away, shedding the skin and finding someone new underneath every single time.
This is how I dare to move forward and believe in a new beginning. I let go of the old. I just grab the new and run. I don’t wait around anymore. I can’t.
Like clockwork
the words disappear at dusk
empty cans filled up
like dust.
Rapper boy looks back up and catches me watching him and then offers a shy smile. My fingers pause their lines and curl in to the protection of my hand. I flip my lips upward into a quick grin and then look away before he can strike up a conversation.
I don’t want to know his story.
 Stories, with all of their promise, only leave room for disappointment. I don’t have room for that anymore. I left it all—the hope, the love, the promise—back in my old life with the ghosts I’d rather forget: Jude. Emma. Pacey.
Kevin.
Something like grief catches in my throat and a small burst of air escapes through my parted lips.
I miss him. I miss him and I can’t miss him. If I give into these feelings…this emptiness…I shake my head and wipe the stray tear on my cheek.
This is ridiculous.
Reaching into my bag, I pull out my phone. One missed call shows itself on the screen and I frown. No one has my number. I swipe the screen open and scroll through until I notice UNKNOWN NUMBER in red font.
Red like blood.
I shudder.
After the life I’ve lived, I’m nothing if not over-dramatic. It’s whatever. I feel I’ve earned it.
With a few more quick swipes, I delete the notification and sigh the misgiving away. There’s no voicemail, and so there’s nothing to worry about yet.
No harm, no foul. No one knows your number. No one knows your number.
I’ve learned different but I’m choosing another way of living. I repeat these phrases in my head, tapping the rhythm of the words on my knee.

About the Author:
Elora Ramirez lives in Austin, Texas with her chef-husband. At the age of four, she taught herself how to read and write, cutting her teeth on books like Dr. Seuss and writing anywhere she could find the space--including her Fisher Price kitchen set, the pages of picture books and Highlights Magazine. Since then, she's grown to love the way words feel as they swell within her bones. Writing holy and broken is her calling, and pushing back the darkness and pursuing beauty through story is her purpose. She embraces the power of story and teaches women from all parts of the world how to embrace theirs. She has a knack of calling things out , the truth and the detail, the subversive threads that make a life a story. She loves hip-hop, wishes she lived by the beach and cannot write without copious amounts of coffee, chocolate, music, and her husband's lavender liqueur. 


Friday, July 25, 2014

krispie treats + grief

I'm grieving.

which conversely means that I'm in the kitchen a lot.

it's a thing I've always done. cooking is a sign of the placement of my emotional barometer. when I'm feeling things strongly, I bake and cook until the kitchen overflows and counters brim with goodness.

my grandmother is standing on the edge between earth's shallow pale and the glittering Holiness that is Aslan's Country. and she's ready to make the leap. and so we wait, wait for the appointed time.

I don't like to talk about grief. I really don't.
so I'll talk about Rice Krispie treats instead.

I'll talk about the way I stirred the melting marshmallows and butter together without thinking, a groove into which I fell so easily. because that's grief. it happens without thinking. it just comes and falls heavy and you find yourself doing the dance without understanding the steps. you just do.

I'll talk about the way I usually don't butter the pan, but this time, I did. because that's grief. you can't predict how you'll handle it, or if it'll be the same as it was last time or next time or the times before and after. when you find yourself bowing against it, you grieve your way. not his way or her way or your mother's way. you pour out in your own stream. no one else's.

I'll talk about the way I flung butter with my fingertips instead of neatly with a spatula. normally, cooking is tidy intricacies for me. little steps by little steps. but this time, it was just a little sloppy. a little haphazard. because that's grief. it's not tidy or ordained. we can try to make it that way, but it really isn't. it's greasy and slippery and creeps up your elbows and clings to everything it touches.

{via pinterest}
I'll talk about the way I burned my hand on the still-too-hot mixture of cereal and vanilla-aroma'd sticky goodness that poured from pot to pan. because that, that is grief. it hurts. even if you don't want it to, even if it was an accident and you would just rather not hurt at all no oh god no not even a little please...

grief hurts.

and I'll talk about the way it fell into the pan and filled in all the gaps. the way I used my hands, again, slathered in butter over the knuckles and over the little pale crease where my wedding ring normally sits. because that's grief. sometimes you just have to let yourself be buried in it, just a little, where you can still see yourself through the thin sheer coating that slips over your life. your hands are still there. just covered.

and then I'll tell you about the promise of deliciousness. I'll tell you about the way it seeps into my body through my tastebuds and fills me up with the knowledge that soon there will be treats. soon there will be sweetness. but there was burning and slathering and mixing and aching and weeping so that this particular pan of Rice Krispie treats might have a tinge of salt mixed in among the goodness.

because I know the ending. and oh, it hurts so bad that everything burns. but there is a promise. a whisper of what it will taste like when the door opens and I see it all, so clear and plain.

oh death, where is thy sting?
oh grave, where then is thy victory?