Fierce. (A Poem)

You are so much more
Than what you see,
Than what I see.

You are fierce.
You are a blazing, roaring fire
In a city of ashes,
Amidst a sea of flickering flames
Slowly surrendering to the shadows of night.

Refuse to let the wounds define you.
Refuse to let the wounded extinguish you.
Refuse to be tamed,
To dwindle down into a meagre, burnt-out coal.

Find a way to fuel your flame when no one else remembers to,
When no one else has the capacity to,
When your very being abandons you.

Because the world needs the light that burns within your soul.
The world needs the love that swells inside your bones.
The world needs you —
Your passion,
Your vision,
Your full and fathomless heart.

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All it takes for success is perseverance — and a bag of cheese puffs.

I started out my morning today feeling a little bit blah. Things in my life seem to be shifting constantly of late, and I guess I’m not coping with all the changes as well as I would like. I mean, sure — I have felt a sort of general incompetency at adulting these days, but who doesn’t at some point in time. When I learned of another change I’ll face soon — this time in my work environment — I decided to cure my blah-ness with a high calorie, high fat junk food smorgasbord from the company vending machine.

So cash in hand, confidence in stride – I make my way to the vending machine knowing that all that’s standing between me and success today is a bag of cheese puffs. “Vending machine is out of commission,” the workman tells me. “Come back in 15 minutes.” Minor hiccup. I can go with the flow. I can cruise. Let me show you my flexibility skills, people. I am flexing all over the shop. I did eventually get my cheese puffs. And I convinced myself that life would be okay.

Fast forward a few hours to lunchtime. I didn’t feel like driving anywhere, and in classic Mel fashion, I was a little indecisive about what to eat. I see one of my favorite food trucks in the traffic circle at work and head outside to order. Chicken sandwich with pimento cheese and French fries? Yes please. The rainclouds have been replaced with patchy blue skies and brilliant sunshine. Things are looking up. Wait a second, why is the ordering window closed? Why are the truck lights on? It’s only 1:05. Food trucks always stay til 1:30. Except for today apparently. Today, food trucks leave at 1:05.

At this point I’m hangry. Decision making skills have significantly decreased. Brain power is at a minimum. I settle on a sandwich place I’ve been to multiple times without hassle. Already in the car and halfway down the road, I decide to call in my order ahead of time so it’ll be ready when I arrive. The girl on the other end of the phone tells me they’re not taking pick up orders today. “No worries,” I say – practicing my mental flexibility skills – “I’ll just come in and order it to go even if I have to wait a bit.”

“We’re not taking ‘to go’ orders either, ” she tells me. “We’re too busy.”

“So you mean I can only eat there today if I’m dining in?”

“Yes.”

Okayyy. I see what you’re doing there, universe.

In a last ditch effort to prove I’m at least mildly competent at something like – oh, I don’t know – the ability to feed myself, I head to Chipotle because making any more decisions today about anything in my life might result in my brain spontaneously combusting in my head. Front parking spot! Yes. Maybe this was meant to be. But as I walk up to the door, I notice this guy walk out with his head down, looking like he’s trying to avoid me. Takes me a second, but then I realize he’s someone that I went on a date with a couple months back. We met at a food truck one day between our office buildings. I’m slightly confused at this maneuver – but, who knows, maybe my confusion is really just brain fog from low blood sugar or depleted energy reserves from being hangry.

I want to say to him: Hey man, what’s happening, how’s life. But since it’s clear he’s making this moment awkward, I just let it go. The weird thing is I thought we could be friends. I mean, sure, I only initially said yes to the date because he seemed nice, actually showed interest in me which men never do, and he kinda had this James McAvoy thing going for him. But even though I realized on that date that I felt nothing romantically, that perhaps my heart wasn’t as free as I had previously thought, we still had some laughs and interesting conversation. He texted several times and mentioned hanging out again – so at the very least, I thought we parted friends. Which, if I were being honest, was really all I was after in the first place. And I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt in this — maybe he didn’t notice my bright blonde hair and my bold yellow sweater standing a foot away from him. Maybe he was fighting brain fog of his own. Maybe.

After all that, I truly did expect to walk into Chipotle and have them tell me they were fresh out of guac and cheese and black beans and flour to make tortilla shells, but they weren’t. In the end, I found my success. It just took me a while to get there — and a bag of cheese puffs to help me along the way.

Brave

Choosing to be brave is never a mistake.
But sometimes it will cost you every drop of strength you had left in your being.
And when it does – when it leaves your heart cracked, stripped bare,
And your soul a desert of wasted love and wilted dreams,
You’ll tell yourself that you were foolish.
Too idealistic. Too hopeful. Too bold.
You’ll tell yourself to be silent next time.
You’ll tell yourself it must be you.
But it was never you.
You, my dear one, are the brightest truest thing there ever was.

So write this on the chalkboard of your mind.
Scream it in the chambers of your heart.
Choosing to be brave is never a mistake.
Because in that choice, you honor yourself.
You honor humanity.
You honor life itself.
We were never meant to be vessels of unspoken words,
Of fear, of cowardice,
Of smothered hopes,
And stifled cries.

I know right now you feel trapped in the sadness,
In the fog of unanswered questions,
In the hauntings of self doubt,
But you are not trapped forever.
Because only in complete vulnerability can you ever be free.
And you set yourself free every single time you choose to speak up,
To step out,
To leap,
To love.

Wild heart.

A few weeks ago I sang a song called “Take Courage.” When I first heard the song, I thought to myself, wow – if anyone understands the meaning in these lyrics, I do. And yet, as beautiful as the song was and as much as I love singing songs that I personally relate to and songs that I think hit on such a deep level for so many people, I remember grappling with my delivery. For some reason I struggled to sing it with the power and passion I know I felt when I reflected on the lyrics – perhaps because they resonated within my being far greater than I anticipated.

Take courage my heart, stay steadfast my soul.
He’s in the waiting. 
He’s in the waiting.

I’m surrounded by change. Transition is necessary and inevitable in life, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt like hell sometimes. In writing a friend this week about this whole subject of transition, I said, transition is hard because it feels like death. In a sense, it is. Even valid reasons for change do not negate the fact that with change, just as with death, comes mourning. We mourn what was, what could have been, what we knew needed to end, or what we hoped to just begin. We mourn what’s comfortable, and safe, and familiar.

Familiar.

When I think of the word familiar, I think of home. I think of a place, or a person – someone or something that knows you so well that words are not necessary because your eyes speak volumes in a language that only they can truly understand. My life has been a constant search for home, both in a place to belong to and a person to belong with. Researchers say that this is a natural tendency or phenomenon of sorts for children who’ve grown up moving so much – especially back and forth overseas. They even have a term for us: “third culture kids.” We have never truly known a sense of home, because our home was the world. Our familiarity was not in a house we grew up in, or in friends we attended the same school with year after year, or in extended family gatherings every holiday. Our familiarity was in suitcases and airports and other languages and cultures.

It is perhaps no wonder why we end up with such transient spirits. And why I set off at 18 to find my home. I moved cities, and states, and eventually countries. I integrated into another culture again. I traveled. And changed. And left. And started over again. All in pursuit of this ever elusive place called home. And each time, each place, as challenging or wonderful as it was – I still felt like something was missing. I still found myself searching.

In seasons of transition, I naturally re-evaluate where I’m at and where I’m headed. And what I’ve finally realized is that wanderer hearts such as mine will always feel a bit restless — because I’ve tasted the world and I know the magic that can be found when you allow yourself to be brave enough to discover it. This restlessness will stay with me, pushing me to explore, to be curious, to seek new adventures. And that restlessness will both inspire me and irritate me at times, but it is mine, and it’s ok for me to own it. But in owning it, I have to acknowledge that as much as my restlessness and curiosity would have me believe the next destination on the map will somehow magically be the wonderland to my alice, I’m not quite sure I believe anymore that X marks the spot.  Because I’ve wandered the globe enough to know now that home does not exist in a geographic location, but in the person or persons waiting for you there.

So while I have nothing holding me back – words many have shared with me throughout my life – the sentiment that I have not been able to voice in response is that maybe I want something to hold me back. I fully believe in exploring possibilities, in finding yourself. People like to say that you can’t expect someone else to complete you. And I agree wholeheartedly. And that is why I’ve traveled, and tried new things. That is why I have dreams and why I still pursue them despite the odds. I’ve learned immensely along the way, and I know I will always have an explorer’s heart. But it’s not enough for me anymore. Even though I am enough, I still feel like something is missing. And feeling slightly less than whole without someone’s hand to hold is neither misguided or flawed. Because the universe is filled with pairings. The sun and the moon. Peanut butter and jam. One without the other is sufficient, but not superior. The fact is: while everyone is different, and some need and desire relationship more than others, we as humans are hard wired for companionship in some capacity.

And for people like me – the INFPs, the dreamers, the true, dare I say, hopeless romantics – that desire is perhaps stronger than it is for other types. We truly love love. So much of our culture teaches us to be self reliant – to go through life believing we don’t need anyone but ourselves. But this is not the way it was meant to be. And even I, the “lover of love,” the dreamer that I am, have to fight that tendency to go through life as the lone wolf. I hold so tightly to my independence, and yet on the flip side I can’t deny that if I were being completely honest, I’d have to admit that I want to need and be needed in return. And as much as I’ve tried to keep that part of my heart a secret, for fear of coming across too soft, or appearing weak or inadequate, I am starting to believe that the capacity and desire for love is not my weakness but perhaps my greatest strength. But that strength scares me sometimes, because I know it’s where I’m vulnerable – where I can be hurt, and have been hurt before.

It’s not easy for me to be open with just anyone. Still waters run deep with people like me, but I’m terrified that my deepness is too intense for the average person. I rarely meet people that interest me on a higher level. But when I find someone I want to be open with, I can easily care more than I should. Which is scary, and risky. And sometimes mind-blowing. I think I’ve built this impenetrable fortress around my heart and only I hold the key to the drawbridge; so when someone manages to slip through undetected past the facade and the armor I wear to appear tough, I’m left confused, and caught off guard, and yet somehow completely fascinated at the person who was able to pull off this feat.

I’ve crossed oceans, made my own path, started over, loved, lost, and loved again. And throughout all my journeys — as amazing and life-changing as they’ve been — all I really want is to come home to something familiar. To someone who can grab my shoulders and look me in the eye and say I know life is chaotic and challenging and confusing sometimes, but I am here and I’ve got you and this adventure is ours for the taking. I don’t need them to fight my battles or save the day, because I am a warrior – I have plenty of fight and fire in my soul. But there are moments I will need to fall, to rest, to let my guard down – and to be held when I do.

I feel like I’m just standing out in the field, arms outstretched, stripped bare in vulnerability with my childlike hopeful heart, and I’m waiting –  I’m waiting for you. I’m asking you to see me – to know me. To take a chance on me. To let me in. To let me care. I am not afraid to know you. Tell me your dreams and your hopes and your fears. Tell me your darkest nightmares and show me your scars. I don’t need perfection or prestige. I only need to see you as you are: kind and honest and beautiful.

And I don’t desire this because I’m weak, or broken, or somehow incapable of standing on my own two feet. I have stood on my own every day since I left home, and probably even before then. I am not inadequate without you. I am fierce, and brave, and stronger beyond what even I can see in myself. But I believe I could be stronger with you, and you with me. I believe that ultimately we were not meant to walk this earth alone. And I know that despite the warrior in my soul, the very essence of my being screams love. I do not know another way. We’re not guaranteed happiness, or fairytale endings. Life is full of mystery, and that’s what makes the adventure so amazing. So when you find me, know that I’m not asking you to complete me. I’m asking you to join me – for whatever it’s worth, for however long it would last. Because my heart is too full, too passionate, too wild not to share.

Vernazza.

An excerpt from my travel journal (which I unfortunately was not committed to keeping up) last year:

01 May 2015

Inspiration is everywhere.  Remember that.

Find beauty in the small details. Even when rain threatens, see the beauty in the chaos of the storm, just like you see it in the steadiness of the sun’s rays on a bluebird day.

I arrive in Vernazza to a rainy, gloomy sky. It’s hard to start adventures on days like this. I am trying not to dwell on it. I am tired. And hungry. I’m like the hulk when I’m hungry. It’s truly frightening.

The rain is expected to clear tomorrow, and I eagerly await the sun – I just want to feel its warmth. But today, I rest. And tomorrow, I can explore. Tomorrow brings new hope.

Vernazza is everything I could have imagined and more. I can’t wait to set out with my camera. Even in the rain, this place exudes a calm, local beauty. The sea quiets my soul. I saw this funny old man wearing a white hat with a red pompom on it. I love that Italian men are confident enough to rock white hats with red pompoms. He smiled at me and simply said, ciao bella. Hello beautiful. I wanted to capture his presence in a photo, but I am a bit timid still with my camera.

This book is a bit bloody hard to write in. I think pens are rather disagreeable. I suppose it’s a step up from the quill and ink of ancient times. Barely. But I digress.

My room overlooking Via Roma could not have been more perfect. Vintage, and cute – I love how every room has a window that opens out to the noise of the street below. And the streets are indeed noisy – locals and tourists bustling about. But I don’t seem to mind it. I can feel connected to the liveliness even from the solitude of my room. An introvert’s dream? Perhaps. ; )

I can’t help but think how nice it would be to have someone special on this journey with me. This city holds a certain romanticity that is hard to ignore. One day I suppose I’ll be back with my person. But for now, I am so grateful that I can be here to soak it all in. No schedule needed. Just simply be. Exist. Breathe.

Open your eyes, I tell myself. I am almost afraid I won’t be able to grasp the beauty in such a short time. Breathe it all in. This is your life. All crazy and chaotic and full of vibrance and mystery and wonder. Remember these moments. These moments are what you work for, what you live for. They are few, but they are wondrous.

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Foreigner

I move, I wait, I grasp, I pull back, I breathe, I hold my breath. Am I suspended in space between what I thought was real and some other world that I’m merely a shadow in? Is that why this feels so foreign? Is that why belonging is impossible?

I come and I go, an impression soon forgotten. This is how it is. This is how it has to be. I’m a decoration, not a fixture. Permanency is not attainable. Not for people like me.

People like me. The nomads. Wanderers. Truth-seekers. Home-searchers. The hopeful hearts with shattered spirits. I was once whole. I was once a believer. I am still whole, but somehow hollow. Too many goodbyes will do that to you.

I know so many. My world is filled with noise. Gatherings, and services, and work, and meetings, and events. But the noise doesn’t fool me. Marks on my calendar are not an indicator of true connection. Social media is the arch-enemy of intimacy. I know when I’ve touched something real. I can feel it. I can sense it in my entire being. And this – this isn’t real. This feeling of not being able to breathe is not a feeling that accompanies real. Wondering if someone will just answer, say yes, accompany, need, ask, desire, miss. Hoping someone will just embrace and celebrate every hidden piece of your soul – black or white – not out of pity, or out of some mandate to reach the marginalized, the outcasts, the slightly left of centers, but out of a desire to truly know and be known not just by a faceless entity, but by you. You. Your uniqueness. Your story. Your capacity for friendship. Your presence.

Real intimacy is awkward silence that isn’t awkward. Knowing spontaneity is possible. It is dirty houses, and last minute dates, and 1 am phone calls. It is ugly cries, swear words, tequila and cigarettes, doubts, fear, anger, and pain. It is also mischievous eyes sparkling with excitement or love, warm conversations, feasts of celebration, hope, grace, and incredible joy. Intimacy is all of these – all swirling around, jarring, colliding. And intimacy is you, never for a second, guessing that this entire spectacle is anything remotely out of the ordinary.

I am an island, surrounded by ocean. I can feel the water at my shore. Dancing. Singing. Swirling around me in collective motion. But I am not the water. As much as I would like to melt into its waves, I am simply not capable. Because islands are islands, and oceans are oceans. I don’t mind the island – solitary and strong and unmoved in its convictions and quest to embrace its own unique identity – but I never wanted to be an island. Or perhaps I did. Perhaps what I wanted was to be an island in the midst of an archipelago. But I am an island lost in a giant ocean, with the growing realization that perhaps the waters will never recede to show a hidden archipelago just beneath the surface – islands that had been waiting to anchor next to me, and with me, all along.

These are the best years, dear one. Youth and freedom and few responsibilities but your own. Embrace your freedom! But no one ever tells you that freedom comes at a cost. No one ever tells you there will be few like you. No one ever tells you the older you get and the more you travel there will be fewer and fewer like you, and fewer and fewer who understand people like you. No one ever tells you that one day you’ll look in the mirror and see a shadow of what you used to be – vibrant, spirited, full of colour and life. And shadows are scary for those not accustomed to the dark. Light is attractive. Light draws people in. Those in the light will see your shadows as some dark part of your personality that needs fixing – something that inhibits you from being able to fit in. But it was never you. You don’t fit because you weren’t designed to fit. And beyond that, life has not allowed you to fit no matter how much you tried to force its hand.

Forever a foreigner.
Both light and dark.
Whole and hollow.
Simple and complex.

A journey that’s been solitary for far too long would leave even the bravest soul, the most independent soul, in search of something it lost along the way. Pain is bearable. Solitary pain is not. Loneliness is tolerable for a season, but not for a lifetime. The ones who are most adept at understanding this are the ones who have been on parallel journeys. And yet somehow they are the hardest to find.

Perhaps we are all out there, moving, seeking, shape-shifting into the people we believe we need to be to find solidarity in this foreign world. To find belonging. To find something that feels real again. To find someone to walk with. To find happiness, as ephemeral and erratic as happiness is. We do this because we know joy can be found – in the wild, untamable great unknowns we venture into. In nature, and travel, and music, and art. We do this because no matter how disillusioned we become over time, a tiny unadulterated childlike portion of our soul still believes that home, intimacy, realness, permanency, stability, and lifelong relationships are not entirely unattainable.

Such a grand adventure as life is not meant to be experienced alone; and in the words of Christopher McCandless, Happiness is only real when shared.

Our hearts may break in the process of searching, but we can never truly let go of the ideal, the dream, or the most hopeful of hopes – that we were meant for relationship.

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after the storm.

And after the storm.
I run and run as the rains come.
And I look up.

A storm rolled in tonight. And all that remains now is a sky full of blue and grayish-pink clouds sprinkling raindrops. Serene. Beautiful.

Life. I am still. The winds blew over, leaving broken branches in its wake.  Destruction. And ever so quietly, rebirth.

I typed paragraphs of thoughts, but I deleted each one. Deleted off the pages of this blog, but not the pages of my mind. What exactly am I trying to say in this post? I write blogs as I write songs – as I do most things in life – with this whirlwind of thoughts and feelings and emotions all jumbling and tumbling within me until I allow them to escape. That is the beauty of art. Not just self expression. Release. I’m learning to be more aware these days – to recognize feelings before they catapult into each other, join forces, and grow into this tornado of emotion that comes seemingly out of nowhere and surprises even myself.

My heart feels heavier this week than last week. I am fine. This is my response to how are you’s. Because I am. I’m as fine as I can be in this phase of my life. But fine doesn’t always feel ok. It just means this is my life, and I have to be ok with that reality. I am thankful – for my apartment and precious space to be free, for Europe 3 months ago, for little things. Like my adopted dog. And wine. And guacamole. For owls in trees. For friends, even though I don’t see them or talk to them nearly enough it seems – especially the ones who are so far away.

I know people who’ve seen my tornadoes think I must be crazy. I make jokes about it – “you know, that time I was normal, before my moment of crazy.” Sometimes they make jokes about it, which is a little interesting to process when you’re the presumed “crazy” one. But I think we use crazy to explain things we don’t ourselves understand. Your crazy might be my normal, and vice versa. The truth is, I have real feelings in response to real situations. We all have our stories, and we all carry pain, loss, sadness, longing. And we carry it differently. The fact that someone else might be able to handle theirs better does not mean I’m somehow failing because I appear to not be handling mine. Who can judge our burdens and the toll they take on us over time? Who can measure the support systems we may or may not have had to help us carry that weight? I’m carrying mine the best I can. We’re all doing the best we can.

Something I’m learning right now is to acknowledge my feelings, without judgment or guilt. I wear my heart on my sleeve, so everyone else has an advantage in that I can be fairly easy to read most times. Though I hide my feelings, my reactions to those feelings are out there, loud and clear. And sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes not. I’ve always preferred to let it all fly than to bury things – that just tends to eat away at you, but I get that my way isn’t always the best. 😉 So I’m learning to acknowledge these crazy elephants in the room called feelings. And through that acknowledgement comes understanding, and maybe through understanding comes a measure of grace for myself. My mind is a complicated and intense place sometimes. Writing helps lessen that intensity.

Hello feelings.

I feel LOST.
I feel like my entire adult life has been a balancing act on a tightrope of instability. Keep going. Try not to fall. Just get to the end. Wait, what’s waiting at the end exactly? Coming back to the place that should be my home – by birth and heritage alone – was unexpected. I am not sure I’ve come to terms with that yet. I appreciate so much of this city. But there’s a great big world out there. One more beautiful and wild than anything I could find here. My heart will forever be a little untamed. The heart of a wanderer. And yet, I am here. I have chosen it, for whatever reason. Perhaps I felt as if I needed to choose something – even if it’s only momentarily. Perhaps I thought if I went back to my original idea of investing in something beyond myself – the idea that brought me back to the US in the first place – then maybe I’d find favor there. Maybe the universe would see fit to add to my story the pieces I’ve been so desperately missing. But what if it doesn’t? What if I will never know stability? Or home?

I feel LOSS.
I talk about loss a lot. But the loss I feel now is beyond the loss of past experiences. Staying here was harder than I thought it would be. I’m not used to plugging into a place, or planting both feet on the ground – at least not without some sort of escape plan. All the years in Australia I spent working towards gaining permanent residency, and eventually citizenship. That goal kept me going through all the difficult moments, and there were many of those. And in the end, I came to love that country more than I thought I could love a place. The distance and oceans between me and the people I left there get increasingly harder to cope with each passing month. I’ve moved enough to know that the longer you’re away from people, the more likely they are to move on. I experienced this when I left American friends behind to live abroad. I experienced this as a third-culture kid. Life just seems to work that way – you flock with the people in your immediate surroundings. And that’s truly terrifying for me, because I don’t think I have it in me to keep starting over with people. I can meet new friends of course – but I need to hold onto some of the old ones. I need those relationships to ground me, like roots to a tree.

It’s hard to watch the lives of others around me move forward in directions I am not able to go of no fault or choice of my own. And the accompanying sadness isn’t just from the loss of dreams unrealized, but the chasm that keeps growing between my path and theirs – threatening to tear me apart from those I want to remain the closest to. What if we lose all common ground? What if my absence in their milestones and the lack of my own creates a barrier that cannot be bridged? I’m missing their weddings, the birth of their children. I’m missing the small things, and the big things. I’m just missing.

I feel LONGING.
I’ve never been so painfully aware of life stages as I am right now, and as I have been the past few years. I’ve watched these changes in my friendship circles since my early twenties. But 10 years later, I never would have thought I would still be here. Waiting. Wondering. I’m sure we all experience this feeling, as each one of us has hopes and dreams yet to be fulfilled. We all have things we wonder about – things perhaps we wished had turned out differently. I have friends who have struggled and are struggling in their marriages, friends whose marriages have failed, friends who are drained from chasing kids all day and never getting a moment alone to just breathe, let alone think. Friends whose dreams and plans didn’t turn out as they’d imagined. But their stories don’t make the longing in my own heart any less real.

I think when it comes to specific things like having kids, that longing is greater for women than it is for men. I mean, yes, there is this unconscious pressure in society that women’s great gift to the world is the ability to produce life, and if you’re not doing that, you’ve somehow missed your calling and purpose on this earth. But it’s not just about a ticking clock. When I was younger, I had two dreams: sing, and have a family of my own. Ok, maybe I wanted to be a jockey too (horses, not discs) – but that was a passing phase. ; ) And yet, I’m in my thirties and the last date I went on was in 2011. And to be fair, this is mostly okay, because 1) I rarely find men that interest me on that level for some unknown reason, and 2) I really hate dating – all that deciding what to wear, wondering if he likes me, blah blah blah – can we just skip all that drama and say what we’re really thinking so we avoid the nonsense of it all. Anyway, attraction is a mystery. But, I’m left to wonder if I’m ever going to meet someone who will see me – really see me, like the deep into my soul kind of see me – someone who I see at the same time. Preferably before I’m old and decrepit and have to wear dentures.

I feel LONELINESS.
With longing, comes this feeling of not belonging – of loneliness. I feel like the older I get, the less I have in common with my girlfriends who have families. The difference in life phases leaves you feeling like you’ve missed the boat somehow. Finding a place in that new world with your friends is really weird, and sometimes tricky. I’m sure it is for both parties. And how do you tell your girlfriends who are tired, stressed out, and frazzled how you feel about it all? Can they understand? And even if they could, they probably don’t have the energy of no fault of their own to understand. I’m sure some women think my independent, childfree life is like living a holiday in Maui. I have been told many times by moms how lucky I am – how I can do whatever I want in life because I’m not tied down. How I can’t possibly be tired because I don’t have kids and I don’t know what tired feels like. These comments may be well intended, but they are also alienating. No one’s life is perfect or problem-free. Nothing is as it seems. I wish we could somehow find a way to band together. Mom friends need to be reminded that they are their own person, apart from their kids – that they still have an identity that belongs completely to them. That their dreams are still possible. And I need to be reminded that mine are too – that my life is still important and unique and purposeful even though our stories have vastly different content at the moment.

I feel like people don’t talk about this subject much. It seems there’s so many resources and books out there that focus on marriage or parenting – but what about everyone else? I can’t remember if I’ve ever heard a church talk about the struggles that come with living life alone – which is odd to me since Jesus himself never married or had kids. I guess that would have confused the whole Trinity concept if he had. Still – I know the grass isn’t always greener. I get it – being alone has its advantages. I’m definitely not looking forward to being completely sleep deprived or needed 24/7. I’m not looking forward to tantrums or lack of personal space or messes. I’m not looking forward to worrying and disciplining and guiding, especially in this crazy world we live in these days. My parent friends seriously have my respect. And I know that my mom friends wish they had more time – I know that being a mom is all-consuming. I just wish I could share in that journey, so we could deal with the highs and lows together. I may be a romantic in some sense of the word, but I don’t desire fairytales – just gritty, real, everyday life. Each phase of life has its own challenges. But I would take a day of arguing if it meant I could have a day of love. I would deal with distance if it meant I could have someone to come home to sometimes.

I feel LOVE.
I wonder if some who read these stories think the reason I’ve been unsuccessful in relationships is because I’m closed off, find difficulty in trusting, am emotionally intense – or whatever else my “flaws” may be. Although I’m a little unsure that I would deem them flaws. This wouldn’t surprise me, given the picture I show people. But the picture I show isn’t always accurate. There is more to me than I what I let others see. I have always had so much love in my heart – so much at times I feel I could burst from not giving it away. But the little things, the big things, the love given, and the love lost along the way have left me guarded. My exterior may be tough, but my heart is tender.

Of course I want to be loved. This fact doesn’t make me needy, or dependent, or weak – it just makes me human. Our inherent nature as humans is to desire love for ourselves. But beyond that, I want to give love. I want to be able to carry the person I’ll love through the moments he is too tired and too weak to carry himself. I want to listen to his deepest thoughts, his darkest fears. I want to support his dreams, just as much as I will need him to support me in mine. I want to tell him every day how extraordinary he is, how kind he is, how valued he is – because he will be all of those things. He will also be a person that drives me crazy, or makes me angrier than anyone else can – a person I will war against at times because I’m a bird who needs flight and a lion born to fight. I am fierce, but I am also small. I love this quote from The Hunger Games trilogy’s final book Mockingjay, What I need to survive is not Gale’s fire, kindled with rage and hatred. I have plenty of fire myself. What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again. And only Peeta can give me that. I feel a tad sorry for the person who ends up with me because I am not easy – I have plenty of fire myself – but I also feel like he’s kinda lucky, because easy is boring. And the one upside to being passionate and intense and fiery is that I love fiercely. And we all need a little more of that in our world.

And there will come a time, you’ll see,
With no more tears,
And love will not break your heart,
But dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

Right now I’m pushing “stuff” uphill. I’m avoiding more colourful language. But you get the gist. I’m not going to have a pity party about it. Unless there’s wine – then we can have a party, with wine, without the pity. Nonetheless, this is my reality, and I have to be ok with it. But I’m allowed to acknowledge my feelings. I’m allowed to feel them intensely at times. I’m allowed to feel weighed down by that intensity. My sensitivity to feel so deeply, as difficult as it is, is also a gift. It’s like my own private superpower. The trick is learning to harness that energy and insight so it’s instrumental for good. So it touches people. So it changes lives. I’ve acknowledged my feelings, but what do I do with them now?  What would I tell you if you had those same feelings?

Lost. Plant your feet. Attempt home. Maybe in the process, your presence will help someone else not feel so lost in their own journey.

Loss. Trust that not all loss is endless. That not all good things end. That beginnings are sometimes disguised as endings.

Longing. Hope for the best. And if aging becomes a factor, avoid dentures at all costs. (Kidding. Sort of.)

Loneliness. Reach out. Build bridges. Fight for your relationships. And hold on to others who might need you in their life even when you don’t know it.

Love. Love others. Love yourself. Just love. Sure, that love might not give you the same warm, fuzzy feelings romantic relationships evoke, but love is love. And there’s a shortage of that around. And truthfully, love may start with feelings, but it ends with a choice. So choose to love, as best and as big as you can.

I am navigating unchartered waters. I am trying to find my way through this storm. I know that there is beauty after the storm.

One thing I know about myself though:
I might have great failures. But I also have great comebacks.
And that makes for a very interesting story in the end.