almost, not quite

There will not always be language for the things you feel. As a writer, I hate this. I want to bundle up every word I can find, lasso them into my arsenal, and pull them out whenever I'm in need. Historically, I haven't been the best at expressing my feelings. My most commonly used phrase as a child was "I don't know". 50% of the time this was true, but the other half of the time I just didn't have the words I needed to adequately explain myself. So I settled for a lot of "I don't knows". 

I wish it were easier, don't we all? But the trouble is, nuance exists. And most of the time, it doesn't make sense. It's odd to explain to someone that you are sad but also not. That your sad resembles something more of a disappointment but that's not it either. And that you're not really sure who or what you're disappointed with but all you know is that's the closest word to matching the real thing. The longer I write the more I realize that the English language is full of these not quite, but almost words. Maybe that's why we revert to "fine" or "I don't know". They are our catch-all words when we don't have what we need on our tongue to explain what's rattling in our ribs. 

These days I'm sitting in a lot of fine. Everything is almost but not quite. I'm sad, but not. Joyful, but not. I'm rushed yet slowing down. I'm grateful and still complaining. It doesn't make sense, and maybe it doesn't have to. Maybe if we had a word for every bit of the human experience we'd stop exploring. We'd stop digging and trying and writing. We'd stop pushing ourselves to uncover what these things really mean. 

So I'm going to keep trying. I'm going to struggle for the right words and not settle for fine. I'm going to grabble with the not quite, almost. And I hope you'll do the same. 

why we need to see more women braving it on their own

My sister and I, like many gals around America, watched the Gilmore Girls revival on Netflix this weekend. (FYI - spoilers ahead folks!) We revisited Stars Hallow, debated how it would end, yelled at the television (okay, that was just me) and convinced my sisters husband to watch the last episode with us (he was dying for the invite). 

And when our dear, not so sweet anymore, Rory, ends up pregnant, without a boyfriend or husband, my initial reaction was such disappointment. I could write an entire blog about my love for the fictional character of Jess Mariano and how he and Rory are meant to be, but I'll attempt to stay on track here. What I realized after giving myself some time to digest this surprising news, is that I'm always looking for the happy ending. I'm expecting these fictional characters to struggle through their mess and come out clean on the other side. And subconsciously, I'm expecting them to have a partner waiting on that other side. I'm watching this whole season waiting to find out who she's going to "end up with." And beautifully, she ends up by herself. And I have to say, I'm so happy. 

Yes, I'll always be #teamjess, but I'm way more team "you don't need another person to complete you." There is strength in being a woman, and when we give ourselves permission to be alone, whether that is for life or a season, we tap into parts of this strength we never knew existed. When we let ourselves be defined by our qualities and passions, and not another human, we can begin to experience the fullness of who we are. 

We get swept up in fictional characters and forget that life is terribly complicated and challenging, and no human alone will fix this. Don't get me wrong; I am incredibly grateful for the people who champion me on a daily basis, who push me to be a better person. If you're in a committed relationship, reach out to your friends who aren't, lend them some support, I guarantee they'll be thankful for the offer and probably the company. I'd be half the woman I am today without my phenomenal community (shout out to my married friends who let me crash their date nights). But what I'm realizing more and more is that being a single gal in her late 20's is a beautiful blessing unto itself.

A partner in this life is a gift, and so is braving the world on your own. The sacredness found in partnership is a wonderful addition to the privilege of living this life, but it's not the end goal. And we are in desperate need of more media that reminds us of this truth. Do not doubt your ability to do big things, new things, even if you feel like you're doing them alone. And if you do get lost along the way, don't fret, I'm sure I'll be a little lost too. 

when you're lonely and can't sleep

It's been a hard weekend. Lonely and long. Friends have been busy and my body's been fighting off some gnarly sickness. Like most people, my insomnia kicks in big time when I'm sick. I fall asleep at inconvenient times (hey 3pm) and wake up when it's dark outside. 

As a seasoned wide awake at 1am gal, I'm familiar with this space. I'm familiar with nights that feel endless and lonely, and how quickly both of those feelings become dangerous. Because when your brain won't stop running while the world is sleeping, it will run away to scary places. We're the biggest threat to ourselves when we think we're the only ones. 

So what do we do when the city is dark and your bedroom light is on? You start counting all the good. You take stock of the people you love and the ones who love you back, and let go of those who can't. You create something new. Write a blog (heyo!), edit a photograph, redecorate your living room, make a card for your mom (she'll love it) - do whatever you can that reminds you of your ability to bring something creative into the world. You clean your house. Do your dishes, hang your clothes up, use your night owl energy to beautify your space. Trust me, you'll feel better when you wake up at 7am to go to work (tired and groggy) and your kitchen is clean. 

Whatever you do, don't let the early morning hours get the best of you. Recognize them for all the magic they offer. For the stillness and quiet that the world is giving you. It is a special kind of gift. When you are mad at your body for refusing to sleep, take it as a sign you've got things to do and the world just can't wait for you to do them. 

your body is not an apology

"How long has it been since you've eaten?". I remember the conversation well. 19-year old me sitting across from the then, sweet and well-meaning boyfriend. It had been around 20 days. What started out as a spiritual fast from food had turned into a seemingly good excuse to not eat. This would not be the first, nor the last time I would see my body as the enemy. The traitor, the friend who had turned its back on me. I always wanted to love my body, but I had a hard enough time extending unconditional grace to others, much less myself. We got dinner that night, I ate a sandwich, I moved forward. The sun was brighter the next morning. We broke up months later, I revisited those 20 days. 

Over seven years have passed since that conversation and I've been working every day since to extend grace upon grace to this body. I've been working every day to never apologize for the way it chooses to move and grow and shift and change. And what I believe at the core of my ribcage is that this process begins with gratitude. With seeing my body as a beautiful contribution to this world. So I choose to say thank you. Thank you for the way my heart continues to beat no matter how raw its shattered corners become. Thank you for the way my lungs fight with fists of passion to keep my chest rising and falling, even on the days I would rather forfeit.

I am a constant teeter totter when it comes to my purpose here on this earth. It transforms into something new each week. Right now I have the privilege of working with women who are battling eating disorders and addiction. I get to be a part of their fight, I get to cheer them on and stand with them in the mud when the rain is too heavy to carry alone. I don't know where I'll be in a year or what job I'll have, but I do know this to be true: if my existence in this world encourages one woman to live, fully alive in her skin, then I have done my best. 

So sweet girl, I see you. I've sat in those dark twenty days, I've revisited them more times than I'd like to admit. You are not alone, and you are not flawed. Your body is not an apology, it is a conduit for creativity. It is a vessel of love and joy. Your hands have tenderness to offer, your voice truth to gift. So whatever you do, don't stop showing up. Even if it means you walk through the front door shaking and stuttering. It doesn't matter how you arrive, just that you do, because we need you.

So arrive, drink some water, take a deep breath, ask for help. The sun will be brighter tomorrow. And the world better, because you are in it. Alive and fighting. 

 

beautiful walking contradictions.

 

I sat at the top of Primrose Hill, watching dusk settle over London, and was struck with two overwhelming feelings: gratitude and loneliness. I was filled with a sense of gratitude for the amazing vacation I was on, the gripping view in front of me and the ability to live the wonderful life I have been given. Yet the loneliness sunk in like an anchor. I felt the weight of it in my heart in a way I haven't in years. I've been seriously single for the last 7 years. And these years have been pretty incredible, I honestly wouldn't trade them for anything. I've come into my own in a way I never would have if I was in a relationship. I've developed the sweetest of friendships, had the best adventures and struggled my way through some difficult days that strengthened me for the better.  

But as I sat on this hill, breathing in fresh air and watching London glow, I was faced with holding these two feelings at the same time. I felt guilty for being lonely, I have so much to be grateful for, why can't that be enough? My gut reaction was to push away the feeling, to not give it any heart space, but I knew that wouldn't make the situation better.

The reality is, my loneliness doesn't make me ungrateful and my gratitude for this beautiful life doesn't wash away the loneliness that creeps in.

I'm only a whole person if I give myself permission to feel all of my emotions. That means joy and fear and disappointment and gratitude and loneliness. That means letting myself sit and breathe and recognize what my heart is trying to tell me.

The truth is, we will feel all of these things, often all at once, that's how we were created. We are beautiful walking contradictions. We are highs and lows and full and empty and we are constantly shifting. And that is okay.