Can you hear the reckoning? It's time. It's time to become a generation of warriors.
Don't let the high school lunchroom label follow you into adulthood because nice girl, mean girl, sleep-around-girl are baseless and unimportant and you are going to shake the world - bring it to its knees, and I'm really [not] sorry here, but
you just don't have time for it.
And not like be good and mind your curfew and cross your legs and laugh in all the right places.
I mean be THE good. Hold hands with the lonely. Walk with the lost. Stand next to the silenced. Feed the hungry. Be generous and gentle and love Jesus.
Don't you dare forget how to stand and square your shoulders and bite back though, baby. Sink those teeth in. You are the result of your grandma and her grandma and even her grandma. Every single woman you have ever met courses through your veins and your marrow and use their voices as your rally cry when you have forgotten your own.
Create. You are the damn sun and you were born to do hard things and that means you are here to use your hands to create something. The cracks in your hands are not filled with mediocre. They are filled with extraordinary. Use those hands to hold up what you've created and show the world how good you are.
Find what you love. Chase it to the exclusion of all else. There will be days that you'll need to stop and rest and that's okay. Just don't ever stop putting one foot in front of the other.
Women are powerful, holy beings. The hum of the strength vibrates under our skin. There will be days when your pure and graceful fire will terrify you. And there might be days, months, years even, that you find yourself laying dormant. And it will be then - the moment you rise - that you'll realize that the entire time you were only gathering strength for your roar.
For your battle cry.
My God, the world needs to hear it.
Don't you dare ever forget it.
I told him I wanted it to be extraordinary.
I told him to turn around and walk away if it couldn’t be extraordinary.
I told him that if he didn’t know what extraordinary felt like, or looked like, or walked like, then he needed to turn around and walk through the door.
I’ve had ordinary.
I’ve had plain.
I’ve even had boring.
I’ve had broken, betrayal, and bruised.
I’ve never had extraordinary.
And listen - there are only a certain amount of days on this earth that we’ve been given. That we’ve been blessed with. That we’ve been granted.
We’ve only been granted a few.
So I told him if he couldn’t give me extraordinary, then he needed to walk away and try with someone else.
And he smiled. And when he smiles it’s sort of crooked, but even his eyes crinkle. He smiles with his whole face like his momma and his sister. And damn if I don’t fall in love with him all over again.
This is a win I want marked in my column because not only did he smile, but he stayed.
He is a complicated, messy man.
I’m a self-conscious, half-crazy girl.
We’re walking through this world promising each other that it can be extraordinary.
If that doesn’t feel like a holy prayer, or a deep breath - I don’t know what does.
Someone called me fearless the other day, and I laughed a little.
And snakes maybe hiding in leaves that I haven't dealt with since November.
And not enough sunscreen.
And just not being ... enough.
An entire lifetime ago, BFF Suzy gave me a magnet that reads, "Every day, she takes the wild dare," and it's in my classroom.
An entire lifetime ago, another friend gave me a wooden sign that reads, "Be a go-giver and not just a go-getter," and it's on my desk.
An entire lifetime ago, I framed Christopher Poindexter poems and hung them on my bedroom wall and one of them reads, "There are mountains in your skull, oceans and chaos," and I'm never going to take it down.
I laminated my goals for the year and they're within reach on my desk. They're divided into quarters because that's what responsible adults seem to do or whatever, and it's now quarter 2.
I didn't meet some quarter 1 goals.
And a quiet voice sneaks up the back of my spine and whispers violently in my ear that I didn't finish.
I'm four and my dad is in college and his giant desk is covered with graph paper, mechanical pencils, and he coaches every single one of my activities. I steal the pencils and the paper and I draw. He sits me on his knee. "You can be whatever you want to be when you grow up." His massive hand motions across his desk. I believe him.
I'm in fourth grade and my new teacher with wild red hair and mismatched earrings tells my mom at parent-teacher conferences that I talk too much. "She needs to settle down a little."
I'm in the tenth grade and scrawled across the bottom of one of my papers is messy handwriting. "You'll never be able to do *this* with papers written like *this*."
I'm a freshman in college and we're workshopping our creative writing pieces and I have three in front of me. I stare at the words. "These two are okay, and this one is weird." I glance up. My professor says, "Let's talk about the weird one."
I'm in the middle of my Master's Degree and it's the middle of summer and I sit at my desk crying because a document won't save on my computer and there is no time to take a break.
I'm in the middle of Year Five in my marriage, and the dog leash is in my hand when a truth slips out of his mouth and maybe Mrs. Sutherland was right in the fourth grade - maybe I do need to settle down a little.
I suppose my parents always knew it would happen this way. I suppose they always knew that when I put my head into my hands at the end of a long day, their wisdom - like bombs of rationale - would float to the top.
- If one of is us working, we're all working...
- We're always on your team...
- You only have each other...
- Stop half-assign it...
- Spring always comes...
I close my eyes and pick the one that best fits the moment and paint it over the problem.
I think one of my biggest faults -
I think one of my biggest assets -
I think one of the heaviest things I carry is that I charge forward.
I suppose that can be misconstrued as fearlessness, and Ulysses by Tennyson is one of my favorite poems because
"I am a part of all that I have met,"
"Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."
I carry all that I have met in my back pocket so that when the slinky snake named Failure, named Rejection, named Never Enough slides back up my spine,
I can defiantly whisper back that
I'm not done yet.
I'm just ... not done yet.
And neither are you.
I sometimes feel like we should all wear signs. Maybe yours is orange and hers is yellow. Green like money or black like loss. Dark red like lust. Blue for empathy and grey for apathy.
These signs would hang around our necks and they would tell others our story before we even open our dry mouths.
A couple of words, scribbled on cardboard:
I am a liar.
I’m here to hurt.
It would just save us so much time.
It would just save us so much effort.
It would just
It would just
It would just save us.
You could stay away from the cheaters. From the slaughterhouses and the butchers with blood still on their hands.
You could stay away from the hurt. From the ones strangling, stuttering, and strumming on the stitches covering their still oozing wounds.
You could stay far, far away from the reckless. From the ones who tear apart happy endings like paper airplanes on windy days.
You could stay away from the apathetic. From the ones that are indifferent in a way that will leave you begging on your skinned knees.
And the thing about signs is that they’re not permanent. They do not define you because you can take them off. Untie the ribbon at the back of your milky white neck, and feel it glide down your cavernous chest, and
put a new one on.
It might be sort of freeing, you know?
It might be freeing to put
I am a survivor and I will teach you how to be one, too -
I’m here to help you shed that feeling of forgotten from your shoulders -
I’ve already lived all of my bad days and yes I am quite sure of that because I’ve decided so -
I carry around burdens like a bouquet of dead roses and please - won’t you carry some of this for me -
in bold, bright letters across your cardboard sign.
It might be freeing to write
I’ll show up for you.
With a big, thick sharpie that smells like fourth grade, you could loop your L’s really wide, and swirl your S like you’re just learning the feel for your pen again, and
wouldn’t it feel good?
Wouldn’t it just feel so damn good?
Would your sign call to the mistake makers, or
the harborers of hate?
The midnight runners,
Would it beckon the believers, or the
chasers of Freedoms?
And when the dust settles, and when the moon shines in the inky sky -
And when you take off the day, when you settle into a bath so hot that it burns off the remains of every heavy sigh, every piece of quaking anger, or every gritty piece of loneliness -
And when you lay in bed and pray for the morning -
It’s then. Right there in that Neverland-Peter-Pan-Magical-Hour of time when you realize that when the sun shines again,
You can put on whatever sign you want.
I get the same message a lot - most of the time from recently divorced women wondering when they’ll find someone. Wondering how long it takes. Wondering how hard it is. Wondering where their puzzle piece is, where their other half lives.
And the simple answer is that I just don’t know.
But tonight, it was different. She said -
“You guys make it look easy.”
For Craig’s birthday, I sent him a message every day. Something new every day. Something that I love about him. Something in him that I’m not willing to ever live without again.
For my birthday a month later, Craig - a man of very few poetic words - emailed me paragraphs. Important things, sweet things. Necessary things.
And what I didn’t really tell you, and probably because you don’t really need to know is that the weekend before my birthday, we sat at a restaurant for six hours. SIX HOURS. Our bill was like seven billion dollars, and I used every single free napkin four times for tears that randomly fell throughout our conversation.
[Sidenote: I cry at EVERYTHING. Grey’s episodes, songs, when my students sang happy birthday to me last week. All the things.]
Craig held onto my hand with some sort of death grip, and my palms sweated. My lip was raw from chewing, and I am so damn certain that there are moments in life where the blood leaves all parts of your body and rushes straight to your heart in order to force it into beating again, and again, and again.
In those six hours, we stood on a hundred precipices. A hundred ledges. A hundred decisions. Two divorced people who swore to never compromise again, softly, gently, slowly learning how to do it all again.
There’s this thing I’ve known about Craig the entire time I’ve dated him - I can’t tell him what to do. Example: In Year One, towels fell off the top of the dryer, and I told him to put them back on the dryer when he went to take a shower. And because landmines, and because scarred hearts, and because of everything-that-came-before-me, those words grated on him.
And so in those six hours at the restaurant with comfortable chairs, I said flippantly, “I can’t tell you what to do.” I’ve laughingly said it a hundred times in the years we’ve been together. But. This time was different. And in that annoying way that is also the very best way, he cocked his head to the side and slowly, carefully, calmly whispered, “Yes, you can.”
I shook my head, looked anywhere but him, basketball, the waitress’s ponytail, the woman to my right in the grey shirt. I chewed my lip. I thought about three years from now. Six. Ten. I thought about those damn text messages the week of his birthday.
When she emailed me tonight and told me that we make it look easy, I was tempted to laugh. I was tempted to tell her, “Noooooo, no, no. You were not there last weekend in the trenches. That certainly did not feel easy.” That felt like struggle. That felt like walking through soft dirt, or being lost in some suffocating wilderness.
At the end - when we’d both exhausted ourselves with deep, hard conversation, it was dinnertime. We left, my hand in his. His palms were warm, and I’ll be damned if that’s not one of the things I love most about him.
His hands are always warm, and they always reach out for mine.
Showing up for each other over and over and over again - even when it’s hard, or scary, or if you’re angry - the choice.
Showing up in the nitty-gritty.
Showing up in the yucky middle - the part where you're determined to get it right this time around even if it sucks for a second, even if it sort of feels like it's taking forever, or even if you have to take deep, deep breaths.
Every single time.
Choosing each other over and over.
It takes a lot of damn work to make it look easy.
. About Moi .
I love, love, love flannel sheets and I am really passionate about lists on post it notes and most of the time I'm sad that no one else is as excited as I am about Diet Mountain Dew. I also adore run-on sentences. And if you need an awesome virtual assistant, who is full of personality and really good jokes? Email me. I'm your girl.
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He saw her before he saw
anything else in the room.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
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