Thursday, December 11, 2014

Tiny Fey Comes Out To Play

Day 26 with #30daysnomakeup!

Well here I am drawing near to the end of my #30DNM journey. What once started out driven by curiosity and enjoyment of social experiments has turned into much more. 

A "small" thing like make-up has led to a much bigger thing. A curiosity has led to a powerful conversation with so many. What is this really about I keep asking myself. 

Like my foundation, mascara, and lipstick falling from my face this month, the curtains have been pulled back on our culture and there are some things I straight up don't like.

I work at a residential treatment center for those struggling with eating disorders as a counselor as some of you may know. We have a documentary group and one day we watched one called America The Beautiful.  It covers a number of issues surrounding the extreme pressures of body image discussing things such as child models, plastic surgery, airbrushed advertising and dangerous cosmetics. 

Naturally, the cosmetic portion of the film really grabbed my attention. It had examples of women who were discriminated against for not wearing make-up and news reports of women who were actually FIRED from their jobs for not wearing make-up. This particular article shares a story about a woman who was pushed out of her job in sales for not wearing make-up. According to some research, "more than two thirds of employers admit they would be less likely to employ a female job applicant if she did not wear make-up to the job interview"

Ugh! This makes me sick. Talk about sexism! The message is clear for women. Your natural face does not make the cut. You are not beautiful as you are. You need to cover it up to accepted. You are not enough. 

It's no wonder I feel pressure to wear make-up. This isn't just some internal pressure of perfectionism I project on myself (which I most certainly do) but is ALSO entirely culturally conditioned. I feel angry thinking about these unrelenting standards society has put on women and young girls that has caused so many to fall into dangerous dieting, eating disorders, relentless and compulsive spending on the latest fashion, restricting of the nutrition their bodies crave. Not to mention the so-called "normal" things women should embody such as being hairless, having big eyes and perfect nail beds. Don't get me started…or Tiny Fey will come out to play….

Okay she's coming.

“Now every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits. The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes.” (Bossypants)

Alright so you get my drift. Tina is being hilarious but she's also SERIOUS. This is the expectation. 

Then you throw in the latest research on carcinogen city, toxicity and allergies on cosmetics and I almost feel like there is some undercover operation going on who is trying to take women out. 

ANYWAY…my point is not that make-up is bad. I think #30daysnomakeup has been a spring board for a really important discussion I've needed to have with my heart for a long time. How does it make me feel that I (along with my culture) have given me a message that the face  I was born with is not good enough for the world? It's not good enough unless I do this and this and this and this?! And isn't that the exact opposite of grace and acceptance and inclusion?

Obviously I can't change our culture today. But I can start with me. 

I can start by having a tender dialogue with my heart about my face. 

I want to be on my face's side. I am not the enemy of my face. I don't want to be hostile to it. I want to be gentle and open and kind and brave. 

And I haven't done this all alone this past month. I have been amazed by the support and encouragement I have been given by family, friends and acquaintances and fellow bloggers and those involved in the #30DNM campaign. 

You guys have encouraged me SO MUCH!!! Every time I feel insecure or sheepish about my face I always seem to run into someone who tells me they admire me for what I'm doing or someone sends me a note via social media. Gosh, you guys are seriously the best! I have been totally humbled by your kind reactions to what I am doing. Rather than judge me, you all have affirmed me! It's made me challenge my belief system that people would rather I cover my face. I can listen to the media or I can listen to a flesh and blood person who tells me I AM ENOUGH. I feel like that's the better option. 

Only 4 days left! Carry on #braveones! 

Monday, December 8, 2014

An Open Letter to the World

Well I've been listening to Christmas you guys, and I want you to know what I've been hearing.

Last night I went to our church's annual Christmas concert, affectionately called The Christmas Collective. They combined music, performance art, storytelling and altruistic shopping from global non-profits to help the City of San Diego experience Christmas in a whole new way. It's your favorite carols re-imagined.

My whole life I've heard Christmas carols every year for 29 years. I like them in the sense that they remind me of Christmas, the smell of pine, and the feeling of glossy wrapping paper on my presents, but to say they have really impacted me would be a bit of a stretch. Well last night, way back there in the far corners of the San Diego Convention Center in downtown, I just wept listening to those oh so familiar songs.

Christmas is our anthem of hope and we raise this flag high. Often, though,  I find myself believing I am alone in a scary, hostile world. How many times do I put pressure on myself to save and be all that the world needs?

I wanted to write my church a letter but then I wanted to write some non-profits a letter and then I wanted to write some campaigns a love note and then I wanted to write my friends and husband and suddenly I realized I want to write the WHOLE WORLD A LETTER. So here it goes. Because you guys ROCK.

Dear World,

Wow World.


You stunned me last night. Thousands of people hearing the good news. The actual news, that is actually good.

World, you fight for what is true, good and right. I feel recovery in my sight as I look around and the army of love is brave and true.

It's not just me trying to help adolescents recover from trauma. It's naive of me (nay ignorant) of me to believe I am the only one educating those around me on the bondage of eating disorders. I am not the only who encourages other to love their face and their body for how it was created. I am not the only who stands up for the voiceless, and the oppressed. I am not alone in my devastation over what the pornography industry has done to our society. I am not alone in my fight to rescue those enslaved by the sex trade.

Last night, world, you showed me that I don't sing christmas songs alone either. I sing them along with thousands and not just in San Diego, but thrown across the space of our world. I sing them with humans who continue to reach out to San Diego, to people in need of a rescue. A world that desperately needs to know it's soul's worth.

All of you, #potentia, #centerfordiscovery, #fightthenewdrug #31bits #christmascollective  #onehope #floodchurch #momastery  #darling #30daysnomakeup  #vom #isanctuary #truckersagainsttrafficking #hollywoodprayernetwork #chisomoidea #ouranthemishope and so many I have not discovered are making this world more beautiful. And then there is YOU. Wow you. You are bringing it. People are bringing it. Heaven is here and I didn't even know it.

It's being made by you and me. The soul is finding it's worth this Christmas.

People are creating a holy night and a freaking HOLY DIVINE DAY.

We are loving each other and we are saying:

yes to inclusion;

and no to exclusion;

no to despair;

and a roaring loud yes to hope;

yes to enoughness;

no to scarcity;

yes to real;

no to counterfeit;

yes to equality;

no inequality;

yes to respect;

no to exploitation;

YES TO CHRISTMAS. You bring us hope.

Good grief world, you are bringing it. I am proud of you. When I think the world is too full of pain and tragedy and sickness and violence, I will call bull shit on this mantra. There is still enough GOOD in this world to go around. Always, always enough.

I say my prayers each night to One who makes our nets heavy with fullness and our glasses full with bubbling goodness. Enough fish. Enough wine. Enough of everything. The same One who came to see the stars from our side of forever, and showed us just how bright they could be.

And so we sing a hallelujah of this sacred and holy night.

That is our life.

Thank you world oxox

Love, your little human - Heather

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Listening to Christmas

Every year the holiday seasons rushes in with the speed of a cheetah and the intensity of a hungry lion. It is almost impossible to figure out how to slow the clock down. Black Friday sales just make me crazy as I feel insurmountable pressure to buy this now or it will NEVER be this price again and you will NEVER have this. THE END. 

I have done little small things to make the season go by more slowly. In October Scott and I figured out a budget for Christmas gifts. We decided to make homemade gifts for the vast majority of friends and family. I bought a couple extra things as well and then on November 28th (Miracles of miracles) my Christmas shopping was done. Check.

We also decided not to get a tree since we won't be here for Christmas but will be spending it with my family in Oklahoma. One less thing to do. The problem though is I LOVE Christmas. I love all of it. The cinnamon and peppermint smells. Reading the Christmas story over and over again. The cracking fireplace. Christmas cards coming in the mail. The cozy sweaters. The holiday parties. The shopping. THE GIFTS. I will be 88 years old and will love gifts like a 10 year old kid love gifts. Somewhere though despite my love for it all, I get utterly loss beneath the consumerism and the never-ending to-do list, and the cultural pressures. By the time December 26th rolls around I realize how exhausted I am and how desperately I need some time to myself.

Time does not slow down unless I make it slow down. What can I do to actually hear Christmas inside myself? Like actually hear the good news in my soul. This is why I decided to give myself a small but powerful challenge. I believe that the habits I cultivate daily create the kind of life i want often more then the big bang decisions that I so often look towards. Every day for the month of December I will dedicate 10 minutes of listening to Christmas.

What does this mean? This means no obligations, no productivity, no work and no hurry. I have a storage bench that faces out our bedroom window that I love. I will light my lavender lemon candle and  listen for 10 minutes. In my mind I thought,  / seriously don't have time for 10 minutes of stillness in December with all the travel and work and partiesI. That thought alone made me think, oh my goodness I need this 10 minutes!!! It's not a long time at all. But it's 10 minutes for me to be still and listen. To create a breathing room for myself that I can step into any time of day. Sacred and holy minutes.

I'm not sure what I expect to hear this month. My husband asked me what "listening to Christmas" means to me. I think it means I want to hear the bells, the reindeer, the snow fall (or rain fall in San Diego's case), I want to hear Santa and his ho ho ho. I want to cause time to S L O W down amidst this fast paced season. But really I want the message of Christmas to draw near to me. I want to know joy to the world is not a song but real life. I want to hear that hope is the voice of truth. I want to hear that love still wins. I want to hear a certain baby's first cry that echoes into my present with surprising tenderness.

This Christmas I will listen.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Naked Face

I have made it to day eleven doing #30daysnomakeup. I have been so inspired by the founders beautiful and authentic blog encouraging me along the way. They put this quote on their 30 Days No Make-Up Blog that really sat with me.

“The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.”
– Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart
This whole campaign has caused me to leave my ignorance behind and face myself with courage and respect. Some days my courage is small and more in the mustard seed genre, however think those are the days were I really grow. 
For Thanksgiving week I have been spending time with my husband's family in northern California. We are amidst the tall trees and cooler temperatures. As I write this I am surrounding by family and a cozy cracking fire in the fireplace.  I am really grateful to have kind and accepting in-laws. My mother-in-law totally supports me in my campaign and reminds me how beautiful I am even without the make-up. She skips the cosmetic ads on the TV because she knows how much I miss my make-up. It hasn't been as hard here. I don't have to go to work and feel the pressure to be on make-up. There isn't a lot of need to check the mirror here. We do other things like read books, make homemade food, go on walks and go shopping together for a 20 pound turkey at the farmer's market. We have quiet mornings of sleeping in and coffee. Here I feel like I can be a bit more gentle with myself and my face. (even though I have somehow created a monster zit right under my eyebrow: driving me nuts) 

Early this weekend though Scott and I were invited to a fancy exclusive club by his sweet and extravagant grandparents for dinner. There was a dress code: guys in suits and gals in dresses. We were not allowed to look at our phones. There was multiple courses and the wine flowed. The powder room was filled with women re-applying their make-up, hair spray and gloss. I was literally afraid I would be kicked out for not wearing make-up. I ran into a woman who "snuck" into the bathroom to check her phone so she could see if her kids were okay at home. She said it was her first time at the club. I said it was mine too and I shared about my campaign and how nervous I was. She was so inspired by this campaign and talked about how she chose not to wear make-up one day and that the world sees her real face now. I can't say I will give up make-up for all eternity but it certainly made me think. 
There is something intrinsically courageous as well as respectful and gentle to one's self to bare your real face to the world. Initially I thought, Is this disrespectful?! People don't want to see my real face! It's like I'm imposing my face on the public! But the more I think about it the more I realize how much it's an act of self-love. It takes a lot of guts as well as a TON of self-compassion to do this. I have to be on my side to do this and it's so much easier said than done. I can be very hostile to myself. I feel like this process is helping me be more gentle with me and in turn, more gentle with those around me. This Thanksgiving I am grateful for having people around me who encourage me and are kind to my face even when I snarl at it in the mirror. Besides no one needs lipgloss to fully engage one's senses in eating turkey! (or tons of mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and STUFFING) 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Unfiltered thoughts from an unfiltered face

Well hello there day 5.

At this point in my 30daysnomakeup I'm feeling many different things.

Yesterday I found myself at the mall and felt entirely invisible (and utterly pale and like my eyes were going to shrink into my forehead). There was posters the size of garage doors staring me down. Air brushed and photo-shopped and perfect faces peered at me from every angle and corner. It's that time of year. The holidays. I love this time of year but the malls becomes progressively more and more crowded and chaotic. I feel like everything is screaming for my attention to consume. So many mirrors. The clothing department stores tell me I don't have enough. Never enough! The models plastered to every corner and square inch of space tell me I am not enough in my own skin.

My own skin.

My own skin is hard to be in. I'm embarrassed to say this is harder than I thought it would be. I often forget all about the fact I'm not wearing any make-up, until I look in the mirror. Rather than people being the ones who I fear to judge, I am the one judging myself. After all I don't feel the need to wear make-up around my closest friends or my husband. I never felt a need to wear make-up when I nannied Owen. I am beginning to observe the places and people I feel safe with and around. The little boy I spent years nannying=safe. My husband=safe. Dark Horse Coffee Roasters=safe. Library=safe. The garden outside of the monastery=safe.

I have never felt like "Oh I'm going to see Scott tonight, better put on some make-up or I want to head down to the library! Where is my mascara?!"

Nope. But when I am going somewhere I don't feel emotionally safe I want my make-up bag and I want all my Clinique make-up ready for action.  I am not talking about those times you get dressed up and put on make-up and you feel like a cool artist at work before a glitzy holiday party or a summer wedding or a work presentation. To me, those are fun events where I choose make-up as a form of creativity from my insides. But more often than not, I wear make-up as a barrier. It protects me from others. I don't have to let others really see me.

It's vulnerable.

It feels bare and uncomfortable.

And you know it's okay. Some people may have not earned my trust or respect enough to see the real me. The person behind the gloss. I think if someone doesn't want someone to see their acne because they feel nervous about what other people think that is understandable. It's normal and human. As a therapist working at a high-school I hear so much about bullying. I would never tell my clients to drop their shields if they don't feel safe. Maybe they need their shields.

Sometimes I need mine.

This month I'm observing what has sometimes been used as a shield in my life.

My hope for this month is that I can gradually come to love the woman behind the gloss, the paint, and the ever enticing mascara. She is worth loving and caring for. She is worth being brave for.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

30 Days of No Make-up

Yes. I have decided to join in on the fun challenge? I guess only the next 30 days will tell. As most of you know I am a huge fan of Darling Magazine. I found out yesterday on their online blog they are sponsoring a campaign. You can learn more about the 30DaysNoMakeup here.

The founders write, We are launching an open invitation to a bigger, personal conversation about identity and worth. It’s an experiment. It’s a curious, vulnerable, courageous offer to anyone anywhere who is brave enough to face themselves and the outside world for 30 days without anything on their face. It’s about observing what comes up for us, and remembering that who we are is enough. It’s an act of self-love"

The campaign lasts from November 15th-December 15th. Anyone can join at any time. You can follow them on Instagram (#30daysnomakeup) or on their online blog as well. I first saw the picture on Instagram yesterday and commented and tagged a friend telling her to do it with me! Literally 5 minutes later, to my surprise, one of the founders replied and told me to join them! 

I was totally called out. 

I rationalized a lot of things to myself such as I don't wear THAT much make-up. I don't want to look tired everyday. I don't want to be look unprofessional at work. I don't want to look younger than my age. I have definitely been addressed as a student walking the high school halls. It is WEIRD. I had other thoughts too like I am creative! I like art. I like to paint anything with or without a canvas. I paint my toes and nails. I will paint a purse or a drawer. I love color. And I love my make-up. I am a big Clinique fan. I adore the way it smells and the way it feels on my skin. I am OBSESSED with their chubby stick moisturizing color lip balm. 

Also I am not anti-girly or anti-make-up. I have nothing against it. But do I have something against NOT wearing make-up? (hmmm double negative there…) I didn't think so… As I pondered this I thought about how awesome social experiments are and if anything they teach you more about yourself and those around you. Doing brave things isn't about doing the most comfortable things. When I am most brave I am usually my most anxious. Brave looks different for everyone too. So for some people make-up might not be where it's at. 

I thought about my creativity and how it flows out of a place of freedom, desire and choice. I thought about putting on make-up 6 days out of 7. Some days it flows from a place of creativity and passion and my artistic heart. Other days I literally feel like I HAVE TO wear make-up. I feel like "shoulds" and "have tos  and "must or else" REALLY stunt creativity. Some days I just wear make-up so no one asks why I look so tired/sick/pale/16. I don't want that to be my reason for wearing make-up.

I decided to do it and to simply observe and not judge myself or others in this nerve wracking process. I will try not to read minds and guess what others are thinking. I will be gentle and tender with myself during this time. These are my mantras.  I will try to blog so you too can observe my observations and hopefully find encouragement through it as well! Who we are is enough. Always enough. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Holidays: A Cocoon Blanket

I love this time of year. From September till Christmas I live in a state of pure joyous anticipation. I even like labor day weekend. Its the beginning of all the fun. The cooler season.  Orange and White Pancho. The holiday decorating and baking (YES. I baked those very difficult pumpkin muffins Trader Joes had) Halloween. Birthday parties. Thanksgiving. Christmas. Cozy pajamas. Holiday scented candles. The pumpkin spice latte. Vacations and plane flights to visit family. Festive parties with friends. Thoughtful gifts. Counting down days. Making lists and checking it twice  ten times.

The holidays and this time of year feels like a warm cozy blanket that wraps me up and carries me for the next few months. My husband, Scott looks so cute in the mornings when I have to leave for work early. He wraps himself up with all the blankets in our bed and tucks himself in like a little cocoon. (truly I think he is relieved because I am a cover-stealer... apparently?!!!!?…) He looks the way I feel during the holidays. I feel like I am in a safe, warm and cozy cocoon blanket. 

I like being busy, my life being fat, rich and full with holiday goodness. What is it about this time of year that makes me live in a smitten fog of joy that is not really grounded to reality? In my head everything will work out. I ride the train of the holidays gladly and happily. It feels secure here. My problems can be ignored by the rush and zip of holiday bliss. Honestly sometimes it’s good to take a “mental break” from problems. Besides often the more I obsess about my problems the worse they become. Often when I have a “brain break” I come back with more energy. I don’t necessarily have an answer but at least I can face it and tolerate my uncomfortable feelings. I feel bigger than my problem and that is a huge win.

Of course I come home from my family Christmas with presents and filled with happy memories. But I also enter January with no one to buy gifts for anymore and no one to send Christmas/Thanksgiving/Halloween cards too. There is no more left over Turkey (and mashed potatoes: YUM) and the apple cider has sold out. January is that time of year where the school year suddenly starts to feel mind numbingly long and since I work at a school I especially feel this. However I don’t look forward to summer as most teachers do because as a therapist I don’t receive a pay check in the summer and it is terribly and unbearably hot in our bedroom without air conditioning and I digress….

Because right now

Right now.

Right now is a tight cozy holiday blanket all wrapping me up and I cocoon in it and soak up it’s smell and goodness. I embrace now so that I can have courage for January.

Isnt’ that true with life? When the good times are here we have to soak up the joy. We can’t turn joy on mute. We need our joy to get us through those hard times that will come. 

I need the strength that comes with joy.

 Even if I do feel like a happy hedonist throughout the holiday season. So be it. The blissful fog is really alright. It’s okay to be happy. So much of life makes us feel guilty about being happy. We experience “forboding joy” as Brene Brown puts it.  We are terrified to feel happy because we live in a culture of scarcity and we assume the minute we feel anything good something, someone will come snatch it away from us. I mean maybe this is a little superstitious of us right? Like we are going to be punished for celebrating? Better not get too happy or else…. (stomp stomp, fe, fi, fo, fum…I smell happiness)

There is a myth surrounding the idea of experiencing happiness and it’s that it is innately selfish. I reject this notion. I’ve been reading “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin and she writes, “The belief that unhappiness is selfless and happiness is selfish is misguided. It's more selfless to act happy. It takes energy, generosity, and discipline to be unfailingly lighthearted, yet everyone takes the happy person for granted.

I don’t know what the holiday season is like for you. It might be a difficult time with traumatic memories that lurk nearby. The holidays might not be “your blanket”. Your cocoon might rest in something else.  As much as my conscientious side tells me this is hedonistic; another part of me, the part where my gut and intuition lie, where the critic has no place, tells me that celebrating and encountering happiness does good for our souls and for the souls around us. It nourishes and self-soothes. It’s contagious just like anger, sadness and anxiety it is.

So blame it on me. Your fellow blogger. I gave you permission. Give yourself permission. Whatever you enjoy, do that this holiday season. Whatever gives you that cocoon blanket feeling, do that and do more of it. You are worth the celebration.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Big Bear Moments

 A few days* of goodness really does something for the soul. Even a few moments of quiet beauty does wonders. I know it’s said that for every negative comment, you need 5 positive comments to cancel it out. However I feel that for every stunning moment, I am given the courage to face the next week with eyes wide open.

For labor day weekend I traveled to Big Bear for the first time for a girls trip while Scott was away for a Bachelor party. I’ve been dreaming of this trip for some time now. My heart has longed for nature living in an urban neighborhood in San Diego. My soul has missed water living in the drought here and chlorine pools and salt water don’t just do the trick sometimes. I was raised on fresh water. Growing up, I learned how to canoe, water ski, tube and fish on fresh water lakes.
We stayed in a community called Sugar Loaf on top of the mountains. I could feel the altitude changing as my breathing became more thin. Trees on trees on trees as we slowly climbed. Our little log cabin we rented was from Air B&B. It was as quaint and cozy as they come. It was even smaller than Scott and I’s one bedroom apartment I think and that is saying something. The girls and I took shifts making dinner in the kitchen because it was so small only one person could comfortably stand inside it. There was a fireplace and a loft. These are my favorite things. First things first, I climbed up the log ladder onto the loft and overlooked our cozy cabin with dancing eyes and breathed in my surroundings.

 There is something about mountain air. It just smells so fresh. The trees smells of oak and leaves and must. The whole world smells like earth and somehow I feel like my soul belongs here. In nature I feel closer to God. I know that it’s not like God suddenly shows up as if he doesn’t hang out in the urban areas, I just feel it more. I can sense something divine and heavenly up high in the mountains where I am swallowed up in blue.

 Up here I felt released from my financial concerns as if making dinner every day and making my own coffee was how things were supposed to be. Cabin life made me feel like I lacked nothing. I didn’t wear make-up and I didn’t feel a need to shop for clothes. I felt safe in my own skin. I was with my safest friends and in an environment I have always felt serene and safe in. Growing up in the country, I seemed to find what most people deem as dangerous as friendly: specifically wildlife. I feel that bears and coyotes just want to be my friend. Thunderstorms are just there to remind me that everything is being made new. Jumping off and driving boats and climbing on rocks and jumping off of them are just part of nature life. I am not very realistic when it comes to fears as I’m sure most of you understand. For example, I am still deathly afraid of kidnappers. I am also afraid I will leave my journal in a public place…mainly like church. I don’t think they would appreciate my profanity.

The girls and I settled into an easy rhythm of sleeping, eating, laking and rom coming (chick flicking) In the mornings I had my coffee outside watching the trees sway to the breeze and hearing the pinecones fall with a thud every few minutes. We rented a boat and had a picnic on some rocks overlooking the lake.

 The moments where there is no need or desire to numb with shopping, drinking or restricting food. There is no need to numb by hiding how I really was. I don’t have to pretend with these mountains and with these friends. 

These moments change me. 

I can’t believe there is a place where I don’t need my vices to fix my anxiety.

I don’t need to mute my joy. 

It can just be.

 I think this place might be inside all of us. It’s the image of God that tells us you.are.okay. I know life is hard but you don’t have to shield yourself from it, you can experience life. You don’t have to numb yourself from feeling it. 

It’s like I was naked and raw all weekend and it was beautiful. My sensitive brain and body accepted all of me. When I jumped off the boat and felt the shockingly mind numbing cold, I felt it. When I realized it was a 4 feet jump and I didn’t have the strength to do one more push up to get back on the boat, I felt small panic seeping in. When I drove the boat like a boss I felt sheer joy. When I inhaled the fresh air I felt relief. When I looked at my friends in our pajamas and fuzzy heads after a day of sun and lake I felt understand. I could laugh and cry, no pretenses necessary.  

          These are the moments that give us courage to face whatever is next. For me, it’s financial struggle. It’s the excruciating wait of that next pay check. This weekend took the edge off. My problems are not necessarily fixed. I was just given permission to let them be and to be scared. When I gave myself this permission I realized I could handle it.  I can face myself and be okay with it. God in me is brave. And me abiding in Him is strong.


* Written September 1, 2014

Monday, October 6, 2014

Love Difference

Sometimes I see red. Blatant, 500 shades, red.

Chaotic, throwing, ripping and shredding. 

It screeches with a capitol A.

Profanity strung in a neat row across the clothes line of my life.

It sinks; plummets like metal; like a ball of lead settling into the pit of my stomach.

My anger.

I was once told, “he never should have married her, she’s from a broken home...”

I was also told, “I can’t change in the locker room with all those other girls, my stomach is big and they are skinny.”

And this, “She didn’t do a natural home birth delivery??!!”

I’ve heard, “He’s a little off, he takes medication.”

I hear that Tiffany and Company was sued for racial discrimination and likewise now, Louis Vuitton, for a racial comment made by an employee. 

What seems to be communicated here is that being different is bad.

This is why I see red.

There my anger lays flat, wide and deep, I grimace and squeeze the pain, shut it out, close my eyes.

Now it’s black

My anger ceases to be helpful at this point.

Rage at everyone for hating what is different. For rejecting what is contrary to them. Fire spills over, black ash remains.






All those who were the catalysts and the perpetuators of the ‘isms’ of our world, I feel hatred pulse, pound in the dark.

I grasp for my air as black draws my knees to despair.

I wait.

I too, am afraid of differences. I too am scared of what I don’t understand. Scared that my husband will want pizza and I’ll want pasta. Nervous that our mild discrepancies are only symptoms of a greater disease.

In our world, we have different ethnicities. We are different genders and races. We have different cultures, backgrounds and traditions. We have different body types. We are different ages. We have different beliefs and values. We are from different places and we traverse different paths while pursuing different visions. And all of this difference has made us all crazy. It has scared the figurative shit out of all of us. We cannot tolerate the discomfort of being different. 

And so we are mean.

I don’t want to be mean.

But I don't know how to be different.

The black fades.

The red returns.

I see it again.

I see again.

A brilliant woman once wrote, “Maybe anger is like compassion, in that it can point us directly toward the place in the world we were born to help heal.1

Perhaps there is a little tiny part of me that can hold compassion for those who have started the “isms”. They were scared. They are scared. And so am I. They speak from a place of fear. Fear of different. I too am afraid of the different. 

I want to love different. I want different to be okay; not just okay, but good.

We need each other. We belong together. What we have in common is this, we are human, we have feelings, and we, all of us, have the image of God fluttering around somewhere in all the places we deemed lost. 

This is the power of our commanility. 

Our sameness. 

Our differences.

Our togetherness.

Eyelids flutter open.

The red. 

Red that was spilt because He was different. Too different to handle, to tolerate, to dwell in the presence of. 

I won’t try to take away the differences. 

I won’t clean it away, bleach out my red, I need my red. My anger reminds me of the pain that we all experience. My anger points me to a world marred by sadness, wildly searching for love and compassion. I need my red, I need this anger that ultimately fuels my empathy.

It bleeds scarlet, it permeates, it feels the weight. It tells me I am different, and that it is good.