dig in.

I smell the year’s dust burn off the coils and I am immediately put into my place.

The place where I dig even deeper for meaning and someone to share it with. It’s never easy but it’s always necessary. I don’t think it gets easier from here on out, but it certainly becomes more rewarding.

I will dig in, regardless. Another year placing my feet on the ground and putting on enough coffee for one. There is a comfort there that one only has when accepting yourself as loved and cared for because your heart is all yours and you get to indulge in it.

Maybe it is selfish. I don’t give up on other people. I still believe, regardless of how much we hurt one another, that they are the path to the bigger meaning of it all. Feeling selfless is a great feeling, but remembering to also love yourself is even better.

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It’s easy to let it get to you — to gnaw into your jaws and clench tight — but you can’t hold it forever. Forever is an awfully long time to let anyone or anything hold you down from who you really are. We’re all still figuring that part out, and some of us never will.

You know your own truths. The truth that maybe you believe cilantro tastes like soap or that you will inevitably love your pets more than your human most of the time. Love is the quietness and understanding, and also the rage within.

Pull it up from your belly and don’t forget to water it and watch it grow. Give it some sunlight and fresh air.

Cut it fresh so that it soaks it in, thirsty for what gives it life and for the knowledge that you will burst open when the moment is right.

And keep your feet warm.

Wear your favorite sweater.

Invest in a tea pot.

Love yourself, and your pets.

Feed and water and give love to both.

Read a poem.

Hug someone because scientifically it’s good for you.

Crunch some leaves.

Eat really good quality chocolate.

Let go of it all for a few moments a day,
wake up, and do it all over again.

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roma

I wrote in my notebook, “Maybe not all roads lead to Rome anymore” in an attempt to trigger some deeper meaning. Instead I started to think about all the reasons I was heading to Rome and had no idea what to say.

I know I didn’t want to write about it like a travel blog. Yes, the food was amazing. Yes, Rome was absolutely stunning and romantic and clean and welcoming. The people were so friendly and dealt with our lack of understanding at how their world works. Though walking around a place like Rome, you get the idea that when you’re a traveler there, you are walking on a different set of streets.

Here, you don’t just stumble upon the Coliseum. Or the Pantheon. The idea of “New World” enters your mind constantly. Italy is old, and carved up with war and empires. There is a sense, when walking around, that this place has learned to roll with what it’s given.

It is a state of mind. One that we just don’t have here in the states. I found myself at times, missing the hustle of my job. The “always wanting more” person conflicted with the “take only what you need” person.

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We also traveled south to Sicily and never stopped drinking wine.

Dinner parties going well into 3 and 4am.

I remember waking up to use the bathroom at 5am and hearing the loud thump of the speakers next door as a wedding party was still happening and all I could do was smile.

If you’re hungry, go to Italy. Somehow, some way. Meet together the holy and sacred and sacrament.

I thought about the blood of Christ and the broken body.

I thought about war and sex — the reverence and abundance of thanks seen in all of the streets known and unknown.

I am shaken, truly.

I’m trying to put together a lot of pieces and what that means for me here. Wishing again for the moment, a simple plate of food, cooked for me as though whoever put in the work, was doing so to capture my heart forever.

use it

This is a hard chunk of life.

It almost seems like grace isn’t enough for all of this. I don’t know what is enough for all of this. I could have a million words and it would not convince a person filled with such hate for another person.

I’ve been without my phone for a few days, which means I haven’t been keeping up with everything, all the time, everywhere. Some part of that is very liberating. But then I got home and turned on my computer and saw the things you saw and were already speaking out against.

It breaks my heart. I know it breaks yours too.

Your silence also breaks my heart. More importantly that some of you have that hatred in your belly, and while you don’t adhere to these practices, you live it all the time. Sometimes you teach your children or grandchildren the ways that you hate something and you plant an idea into their innocent bellies. No one is born with the knowledge to hate another.

So you are responsible for the love and hate you speak. Always, forever and ever.

If you are silent about injustice, you are not on the side of the oppressed.

No, you don’t have to hold up signs or go to rallies — but you can, with a small word or change of heart, heal something much bigger.

White folks — this isn’t about being a hippie anymore. It’s about doing what’s right. You love and pray to God for peace and for all things to be made whole?

Well guess what — it is up to you now.

None of the “world has fallen/man has sinned/we are forgiven” excuses that make you comfortable in your recliners at night. We don’t have time for that anymore. But you do have time to speak love and teach younger more innocent things what love is and what love can be.

And if you don’t believe in a God, that goes the same for you. Being human is a real thing. And we are seeing the ugly underbelly that never rests. Truth is, it’s always been there. Always will be there.

But, you are a light and you are a voice.

use it.

use it.

use it.

 

boy_singing

lost and found

A lot of things hurt around me.

I see them all in their own little spaces — moving around somewhere between heaven and hell. I can’t quite put my finger on anything these days. I think getting older, in my experience, is showing me that everything is fluid.

Rights and wrongs used to be so much clearer and now I see more and more why we always go to war with one another.

Why is it that I always start off with this stuff? Ah, yeah.

“Write hard and clear about what hurts” — Hemingway said that, though I’ve never read anything by him or his famous friends. Whatever. What’s important to me is that I’ve settled down in the marrow. I feel what’s in my bones and for better or worse, learn a new way to move.

This life is harder in ways I could never imagine. You witness your parents getting older and softer among other things. You squeeze them and they almost disappear. You’ve had this same hug a million times before and each time it is the collision of lifetimes — of regrets and also victories.

What a thing it is to settle into yourself and feel the very cosmos itself pressing into every cell in your body.

In other ways it is hard. Learning to be kind to people. Learning how to discipline and be in charge. Imprinting on someone who is smaller and more innocent than you will ever be again. Or how does one spill your words into a friend when they’ve made you feel all sorts of ways. I think it’s okay, ya know?

I love hard questions. I want the truth and I want what you have to offer. I want to know if you think of the same things or if you’re also shitty at math and wish sex wasn’t always so damn personal.

But it is.

Everything is personal.
I know I am not alone, but this is why we feel it. Because it is all so new, regardless of what we are told to feel.

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Every life is a new force moving into something they’ve never known before. I think we deserve goodness and ice cream because that shit is hard. Maybe there are people that clock out at the end of a day and fall into their rhythm, but I am not one of those people.

What I am is a person who is selfish and stubborn and live in a lot of worlds. Not only do I live, I thrive! My only complaint is that I can’t see it all. I can’t know every feeling and that I am missing something or someone.

Most of the time, I want you. And I crave you.
That selfish part of me is the part that can’t have it.

I give thanks to the Great Mystery. For all it is that I know, I am thankful and glad.

I mourn for the things I’ve lost and I move ever forward,
heavy step after heavy step,

forever in the middle of what is lost and what is found.

 

 

scattered

Loving other people means you will often feel as if bits of you are scattered in too many places. But you are not broken, just in pieces.

This was the thought from my friend C, who lives in Oregon.

It stuck with me, like the best things do.
I think often about the struggle to hold such a community in your heart that is so spread out and wild and different. You would think I would have no North to look onto. More so as I get older, these people who helped shape me, still hold me.

When I sit alone at night, processing another life I hold them snug-as-heirlooms. They are, after all, my story. Anytime a person is curious of my spirituality or my story, they make their way through and I share how they cared for me and showed me different heavens in the midst of some hells.

There’s another part of me that wonders what it would be like to only know that a little bit of the world actually exists. Maybe if I didn’t meet people who took me to far away places for the sake of love and beauty, or God and truth (or maybe all-in-one.)

jim_campbell_scattered_light

My heart is big and it is always in pieces!

The truth of the matter is that it will always be this way. Like the presence of a family member or close friend that leaves you into a Great Mystery — they are always deep in there. You will laugh and feel sad about your memories of them and that is the realest thing.

I’ve always said that heaven is maybe all those people together, around a table. We’re not talking politics, but we are digging deep into one another. It is my favorite thing to do around a table. Perhaps that’s why there are so many pieces scattered about — left under rugs of old friends who have kids and better jobs and forget about how their words were so heavy.

You also surround yourself with big hearts. It is inevitable that you are going to smash up against someone who is just as achey as you and that is also super real.

I guess, what I’m trying to say, is that you’re supposed to be this way. You are supposed to wake up and help with the pieces that people have left with you.

That is being loved, and loving in return.

So many pieces,

scattered. (not broken)

pick them up!

they are all made in love.

all over again

sometimes I’m still angry.

— angry for all the things I think about now, and how it makes me so afraid.
It’s not all their fault. and I’m not going to be that person that makes everything one person’s problem.

I feel like if I were a group of people talking about me, that is what they would say.

“That girl did a number on him…” or “I wish he would move on and let somebody else in”

The truth is I make all sorts of excuses, because there is always a reason to let someone good in. Someone who makes you something to eat, and laugh and to think about their lips or their smile.

But I bury it deep. Sometimes I feel like it’s cold down there, where I keep it all. Hoping that the freeze will make it move slower so that I don’t have to worry about it for another season.

My career is great. My back is shit. I worry about it. I worry about all sorts of things. I worry what you think of me. How I shouldn’t have kissed you. Or that maybe I should have. I believe that I am the asshole that pulled your heart in a place I shouldn’t have.

I am not going to write about dating being hard. Tell me something people for thousands of years have had trouble with. Connecting with another human being is kind of magic and do not ever take those relationships for granted.

I sit and spill my guts to my married friends who want to hear shenanigans, meanwhile they tuck their children in at night and we carry on.

Home is where it is often too quiet, except for the raccoons scurrying off the dark streets — a few cats here and there staying warm underneath car engines.

I put on my headphones and I drift away into something familiar. My dreams. My dreams of my own restaurant, and of having her beside me through it all or maybe not her. Maybe not yet.

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With a thousand sorries I scream before closing my eyes. For the ones I’ve let in and then pushed away and let in again (and push away again.) Sorry. Sorry. I’m so sorry.

I cannot put my heart in a stone box and I want to date and kiss and get to know. But that hurts too. It all just kind of hurts and we all just kind of hurt one another. I am open, some others not so much and that’s okay too. Sometimes my words get trapped, other times they are let free to dissolve into a vapor — like the way my father draws deep and lets out that sweet steam and breath — and it disappears.

Like I want to disappear sometimes, into the wild again. The cold wet trees and the darkest of nights lost in the mystery of one another. I wonder if I’ll ever get that lost again.

I will lose myself, eventually, in something else.

Cooking. Or a video game. A new show. There are millions of ways to get lost and it is so. damn. easy.

Thank God your heart is elastic and stretchy. Lord knows I’ve helped bend a few myself. And again I ask for their forgiveness for the ooey-gooey and stingy things I have said to make myself seem more human than not.

The truth, again, is that it’s hard to make decisions. To pick the fruit when it’s ripe or to wait and watch until it falls to the ground and rots. Luckily our souls are light things and move freely. Sadness is beautiful and happiness is being sun-drunk. All is there in the soul, taking sips from one another’s cup.

Maybe I’m not really angry anymore. Being angry made me move and I am feeling free to be me, but I am not there yet, nor will I ever be. I’m sorry.

I am tired now, and am going to go to bed. Probably tossing and turning until it gives out. My dreams will be light and I will wake up to the sound of a train or my own heart,

And I will start all over again.

kintsugi

I’m staring at my glass of iced tea. Half sweet, half unsweet — a wishy-washy southerner thing to do, they say. Oddly enough, it is so delicious and is covering the heaviness of a day spent running in circles.

There are the people that see right through me. I know they do. They’ve seen me change from quiet to awkward to strong and have helped me pick up more than my fair share of jetsam and flotsam.

I always love that picture in my mind. A shore, with the tide fading, leaving behind the things it decided to discard for a day. Shells and plastic bags and all sorts of shit.

That’s what it feels like.

In my heart there is a forever exhausted thing. That thing reads the news and sees the horrific acts of people.
God, I want to be stronger. Something feels wrong about this stuff just sort of, rolling off my sleeve like it’s nothing. It is actually quite something and it digs into me like some sort of awful animal.

Like anything, it is laced with hope and strong people pulling themselves and others out of the despair and brushing off their pants. “Let’s go again.”

Getting older, those truths are starting to settle in a bit more. My younger days of dreaming to be a wild revolutionary are fuzzy. I am conflicted with my own actions and the actions of those I used to see as heroes.

I am settling in the imperfectness.
The broken belovedness.

We had a tornado rip through a big part of our city a few months ago, and I found myself very close to it — hiding in the doorway of my bedroom and kitchen. It was loud and the trees were cracking and bending around me.

I was lucky, but hundreds were not, and lost their homes and peace of minds and routines.

I sat there and wondered what it might be like to lose my life here. Alone, in a funky green and brown cottage. I still think about it. In a way, sort of gambling. I questioned my life in the midst of a storm and I think that is all it ever actually really is.

Being a human is painful. There are nerves and bones and water. We are always being pulled by someone, somewhere. Then there is that pain of being pulled by a human into the very depths of their soul. It is a heaven and sometimes it is a hell. A pure and good example of human love — and when that love ultimately shifts, that separation can feel much like its own hell.

Love anyone, and you will know this.

So, you take the broken pieces, and put them back together. Never as perfect as it was, or will ever be. Your hopes of keeping this whole piece yours and safe is gone.

kintsugi-12

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of embracing the damage of an object. When cracks are mended, they are highlighted in gold. I’m sure you’ve heard of it before. It is hard to lose a whole piece of something, especially when it’s so important to you.

Sometimes it breaks and you store it away in some dark corner of your life.

And sometimes, you choose to bring it out and examine. The hairline cracks, leading on to the bigger breaks that ultimately brought you to your knees. Repairing an object is acceptance. It is knowing that it will not be the same as it was.

That’s why it’s so powerful. Examining brokenness. Not only repairing, but highlighting. Saying, “THIS! THIS IS HOW IT’S BROKEN!”

You discover that brokenness is a gift that lets others see into your life, that they too can heal and mend and move.

We break, and we become whole again, all the time and forever.

Life and breath is forgiveness and grace.

This is how you are broken.
But your pieces are still beautiful,
forever and ever.

rage

cooking is rage, and it is everything inside of me.

I think about the days where I first started to learn,
and when I first started to learn her.

I hear that album by The National and it makes my stomach knot up.
Music in the kitchen was always something that was woven in between searing and braising; almost always with doing the dishes.

Romance. There’s romance there too. I’m mostly in love with every one, which means they all have the ability to break my heart with a reaction and with their spoons, digging into my side.

cooking is rage.

adult rage. love and doubt and sometimes divorce.

it is salty and fatty and exactly what you want after too many.

too many drinks or days or kids banging on your bathroom door when you just want to be alone for a moment.

More often than not it is given, and I give it all. I give my world and my peace of mind and stability so that you can have it.

I often wish I could dance. In fact I would give up a lot of my talent as a cook to have the energy and the attitude and the courage to dance in front of people.

But I suppose, if I’m being true to myself, whatever it is I do is its own little dance of time and heat and pressure. It goes straight into your belly and into your bones, and the bones of your children.

I am often alone. I crave a late night, at my table with a small plate of food and a person across from me that cooked it, and warmed it up for me because I was late to everything — to her — to our life — to bed, even when it’s been longer than we want to touch and breathe in deep and rest ourselves.

this is the rage.
the deep, fiery furnace-like thing in my belly that wants to have it all and wants you to have it all and in reality,

I have a day, and a day’s toils.

I clean my knives. I finish up the dishes.

There’s a few songs and a sweet picture of my nephew who’s growing up faster than I fall asleep…

after a long day, cooking and moaning, of drinking the salty broth,

I fall in love all over again.

gas-stove-burning-web

some dark (and some light)

Sometimes the dark is scary in the morning.

When you’re alone though, a lot of things feel more scary than they need to be.
I wake up early on so many mornings to open the shop. My hand stumbles around a glass of water half perched on a wad of grocery store receipts and loose change to turn on my lamp.

Sometimes the light stings and I wiggle around for a moment and think to myself, “I am totally taking a nap after work today.”

But it doesn’t matter. Waking up before 6am has always been rough. Perks of working in the coffee and breakfast industry. Maybe it’ll get easier the older I get. Or maybe I’ll finally go to bed before midnight. Something I haven’t been able to do since college.

I often wander into a dark morning. It’s quiet. Unseasonably warm, this time of year, so I don’t have to sit in an ice cold car before my small commute to work. Some days, when I feel like I need more assurance, I turn on my cell phone light, just to make sure I don’t stumble on roots that have decided to lay a home in my front yard for the past 80 years or so.

I don’t mind them.

I fumble around a few spider webs that hang their threads in between the same branches — they inevitably get destroyed by my large frame every day. Those who know me know that I don’t like spiders, and I don’t know any one who likes walking into a spiderweb. But, it’s something I’ve gotten used to with these low hanging branches and vines.

I often get tangled in things I don’t understand.

light-in-darkness

I once met a guy in an anarchist community while living in Portland. He said something to me I’ll never forget.

“I embrace the dark as much as I embrace the light.”

I’m sure it meant something more substantial to him — but I was taken back a bit. Aren’t we supposed to run away from darkness? Isn’t light what we’re always striving to walk towards?

There is a lot of truth in that statement. The yin and the yang.

There is always dark, and there is always light. If you’re any type of human being, you have lived in both and if you’re reading this, have survived some of the darkest moments of your life.

I’ve learned about some of my greatest depths in the dark when I couldn’t see much further than the speck upon the horizon. But, life brings you there.

The guy I met in the anarchist community then invited me to strip naked and join their group in their homemade sauna to welcome the new moon, but I politely declined and took it as a sign that I needed to go home.

There is so much to notice, in the light and in the dark. You learn lessons in both, and often times the light is big, and other times it is small. But still, you move through it and wake up to another day and another world that’s always blending light and dark.

Sometimes, you just have to get tangled and know that even in the great depths of your soul, there is always a light on the horizon.

So get up. (Get tangled.) And get moving.

to love at all

Nothing sends me into auto-drive more than someone asking me why I haven’t brought any significant others to Christmas.

It’s no fault of theirs. They’re curious. They care about me. I don’t get mad or even aggravated. I just start saying things that I feel make sense so I don’t have to go overboard into anything I don’t want to.

On my drive home this past weekend, I started to question that. I looked at myself and my life and wondered why my answers felt so lazy. I’m not a fan of saying things that I don’t mean.

I decided to dig a little deeper, since I was on the road alone, with the windows down on our pleasant 75 degree day-after-Christmas weather.

I’m getting older and my answers usually fall along the, “Well, folks my age are just really cautious about things and it’s hard to tell if people are into you.” Or, “It’s just easier to be single sometimes.”

Both of those things are true in their own way. Some people are jealous of my single life while I am envious of their marriages, and their families. But, being human is being comparable. What does the other person have that I don’t? What do they have that I want?

What I miss about marriage, or should I just say partnership, is having one’s back. Sometimes I think all I ever did in a marriage was rant and have someone believe in me and talk through the things I needed untangled. (That wasn’t the only thing I did. But I think you get what I’m trying to say.)

It is nice having someone on your team! Or someone to cook dinner for, or look forward to connecting with — those are simple pleasures of partnership.

I started to get a little weepy. Some of that was a mixture of being hard on myself and the music that was playing.
I heard myself say, “It’s okay to let hurt into your heart again.”

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I didn’t think that would be something I’d have to say to myself. No one wants to be hurt again. But, speaking for myself, being hurt is just a part of being the Beloved. Being hurt allows us to heal and grow and is one of the most human things about, well, being human. Being single gives me the option to control {quiet fiercely} what I let in and what I get to give out. I have a better say on who I get to let in and what they can do with my feelings.

There is a quote attributed to C.S. Lewis about keeping your heart concealed in a coffin. There is safety in hiding away. You can keep a lot of the hurt out.

But to me, there is no life in maintaining walls. I spend a lot of my time working on myself in how to digest conversations and what other people mean and want from them. Most people don’t mean to hurt your feelings, it’s just between their mouths and your brain that a billion things can happen.

So, I let that feeling wash over me for a few minutes — the truth, that I have been keeping out pain, because it feels really good to feel good and that I need people. I value my vulnerability and it’s in all of that, that I feel most alive.

I felt things shift a bit as I welcomed in the ghosts of former selves and made amends with whatever I am at the present. With love comes hurt sometimes — among so many other things. It is worth it to take chances on people, I think.
When I think of a hard moment in my life, I often wonder what it might be like to have skipped over all that. The truth you know as well, is that you grew tremendously because of it.

That doesn’t mean you want it to happen again. As the old hymn goes, “…hard times, come again no more.”

My voice told me that it was okay to let hurt in again. I’ve been shaking my head at it for a while now and spoiler alert, the world wants more for me than to block off my heart.

So, I will listen. And it will probably hurt. That’s what we got, though. This is being alive on an Earth that is violent and heartbroken — we move forward though, and we always will.

Keep your heart open to listen and let things in. A concrete box is a cold, and dark place and that was never the intention of your life here.

To the New Year,

let’s give this thing a go.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

-C.S. Lewis