What Do I Know? (The scariest, most honest thing I have ever written)

I’m scared to share this with you. It’s more open than I usually am. But, last night I was watching videos on Instagram under the hashtag “what do I know” and I was compelled to write my own. I knew I had to share it. I knew I had to be brave enough to be open. I don’t know why, but I know I have to.

So here is what I know….Here is my truth….

I know that grief doesn’t have a timeline, and will never fully go away.

I know that I will fight for everyone but I won’t fight for myself.

I know that loving someone does not mean that they will love you back.

I know that loss changes who I am at my core.

I know that I can’t be my best self when I am surrounded by chaos.

I know that I avoid my feelings because I’m afraid of what they will do to me.

I know that most of my decisions are based out of love, or fear.

I know that I am addicted to coffee, nicotine, and words on pages.

I know that I make lists so I don’t forget things, but also that they are the story of my life, and I’m afraid my life will be forgotten without them.

I know that I give wise advice to others but struggle to speak truth to myself.

I know that I fail a lot, but I can’t ever seem to give up on anything.

I know that I am afraid that one day everyone will have left me.

I know that I am responsible, and hard working.

I know that I hate resting because it feels like giving up.

I know that my love will never heal him, but that I still hope it does.

I know that I believe I failed my son.

I know that I try so hard to contain how crazy I really feel.

I know that I will give up my dreams to make sure my daughter’s dreams happen.

I know that the color black makes me feel confident, and comfortable.

I know that taking pictures makes me feel better.

I know that I will never stop pushing myself to be better, because I am always hard on myself.

I know that books are comforting to me.

I know that I am strong, but that I don’t always want to be.

I know that I have very little physical contact with people, and that most of the time that feels safe to me. But sometimes it just makes me sad.

I know that I am afraid to let people get to close because I think that I will always get my heart shattered.

I know that I have lived through more tragedy than most of the people I have ever known.

I know that I am always completely exhausted in some or most areas of my life.

I know that most of the things I am good at are not a result of talent, but of hours upon hours of hard work, and self discipline.

I know that my life is not at all what I hoped or thought it would be.

I know that I have a very hard time letting go.

I know that I see value in almost everyone, but I still think that I am worthless.

I know this list freaks me out because I know that I have a huge fear of being open, vulnerable-of being seen.

I know what it feels like to hold the hand of someone who just died, and to kiss their cold face.

I know how to plan a funeral for a teenager.

I know how to bake amazing cakes, and breads, but that I also very often forget to eat.

I know how to use tools, change a tire, chop wood, and stamp leather, but also how to plan a party, cook a feast, clean a house, and apply makeup.

I know how to comfort a child, reason with the elderly, and defend my peers, but not how to stand up for myself.

I know how to throw a punch, and how to keep the peace, when to be quiet, and when to be blunt.

I know that I am still learning how to not let myself be used by people who claim to be friends but only take.

I know that I really know very little, and I am still learning to say I don’t know.

Devouring Books

I need books. Books are the friends in the night that comfort me when I can’t sleep. They are the distractions I need when my mind won’t settle. They are the advice that I seek when I’m hurting or scared.

Books are our friends.

I have told my daughter this since she was young. Be good to the books, they are our friends. The older I get the more this holds true. When I say hurtful things, and I don’t want to forgive myself, books soothe my aching soul. When I’m alone, and loveless, and sad, books are the love that I crawl into bed with. When I am tired, and life is too hard, and I can’t get on my feet, books are the life that I need to escape a while, and then start again.

I have a fairly large collection of books, and they range far and wide in genre. Books on life, on health, on sickness, on the heart, on the mind, and the soul fill my shelves. Alongside them are books about detectives, and love lost at sea, and wars that were won and lost so many years ago. I may be a minimalist, but my books challenge my thinking. I got rid of many when I cleaned out my tiny apartment, but still several bookcases remain.

I have always turned to books. As a child, and teen I climbed up the tree and read. I hid in the bathroom in the middle of the night so I wouldn’t wake anyone when I read. Then in desperate times I would read in a corner by a tiny nightlight, which I now think is probably a large contributor to my very poor eyesight.

I’ve had bifocals since I was 30, and it is one part of aging that I have never tried to hide. I see it as a sign of the many books I have read. The many worlds I have visited on the many pages I have held.

I rarely read one book at a time, although I wonder if it might be more efficient if I did. I just can’t seem to stop myself from grabbing as many as I can. My library bag is always full of more words than I could possibly read in the amount of time I have. But I check them out anyway. I try to devour them as I hit renew, and grab more.

I had hoped that my daughter would love books as much as I do. She doesn’t. But I still hold hope for her.

I was emotional tonight. I felt things that I keep trying to push aside. I said things that I have never said, or even admitted to myself. I can’t sleep. It’s 1:21 am, and here I am wide awake. So I reach for my books again. I hope that I find something in the pages to heal the hurt I am feeling. I don’t go to bed alone tonight, the books go with me. Words of wisdom, peace, other places, and other lives, and hopefully just enough distraction to put me to sleep.

How Poetry Is Saving Me

Almost every young girl that sees herself as a writer becomes a poet at some point in her life. For me, that was 17, and full of emotions that I didn’t know how to pin down without rhyming. My poems were moody, and ever changing, but they were also an outlet for how I was feeling.

I am now 34, divorced after a 15 year relationship, barren, a single mom for a special needs child, a mom of two children dead, a questioning Christian, a striving minimalist, and a business owner. Life has not been easy, or kind, and poetry is again a balm for my soul.

I listen to spoken word poets, I read books filled with rhyming words that soothe my soul, and set it on fire. I sink deep into words that are comforting, and understandable. I never thought that I would go back to poetry, but now I drink it in again. I can see that I have become dehydrated by the struggle that has been my life, and I need to be quenched by souls that relate to mine.

I have always had a love for words. Growing up, I was likely found in a tree, or a corner with a new book every day. The world around me was not always kind, and I wanted an escape. Words were my escape.

After my divorce, I wrote all the time. I filled journals, and blog posts, and little papers scattered about with my thoughts, my dreams, my fears, and my hopes. Words came out in ink, and filled pages with the pain of reality, and the hope of fantasy. Lists became my life. I had a list for everything, and I do mean everything.

Then my son died, my words dried up. I didn’t know what to say. What could you say when your heart was bleeding so profusely? I tried to write. I tried to make words into sentences that I could hit publish on. But, nothing seemed right, or good enough. Nothing made sense. It wasn’t right, because my world was all wrong. When you love someone so deeply, marriage shouldn’t end. When your 17 year old baby boy dies suddenly it’s not right to never hug him again. When the little girl you begged God to give you spends more time feeling frustrated, and going to therapies than being a little girl, you think about how you should be playing at the park, instead of filling out paperwork for yet another doctor. And when your body fails to preform the way it should, your world is not right.

So my words stopped. Everything spins so fast when it’s all crashing down around you. When you feel like Alice, falling down a hole, you try to grab at whatever you recognize. There was nothing about my life that I could recognize. So the words stopped.

Poetry started showing up in my news feed. It was suggested in ads. It was there on the library shelves staring back at me. So I picked it up. I read a few lines, and my brain begged for more. Give me more words that feed my soul. Give me more people that understand. Give me more pictures in my mind of what I had been feeling.

I drank in the words, slowly at first. Then I searched for more. My soul is still twisted with all of the pain, but a little bit at a time, the words are saving me. And I am finding that the more I drink, the more I am filled, and I start to hope that one day my own words will come again.

I Needed A List For Comfort

When my son died I knew there would be nights like tonight. I was hoping I could avoid them. If only I could stay busy, work hard, read a lot, play with my daughter. But, nights like tonight still come. Nights when I cry, and curl up, and hope that something changes. Nights when watching what I ate all day becomes void as I slowly empty an entire sleeve of saltines. Nights when I stop answering my phone, and when it rings I glare at it because somewhere in the back of my mind pushing that green button could produce catastrophic results.

Then I make a list. Lists make my world feel a little more stable. Lists help me see the facts. To me, lists mean I can be more focused, and less of a mess. So tonight I made a list. What comfort is….it’s not a great title, but it is what I needed. I thought, just maybe, it might be what you need too?

What comfort is:

  1. A big, soft sweater pulled around your aching body.
  2. A fluffy blanket tucked under your toes.
  3. A pile of notebooks, and pens to take down your fleeting thoughts.
  4. A dozen or so books beside you to choose from when the tears have dried.
  5. A banana bread beer. It’s familiar taste from a date you went on long ago.
  6. A cowl, half knitted, waiting to be finished.
  7. A song, played on repeat to soothe your soul.
  8. Gorgeous pictures filling your Tumblr feed, to bring you back to a place of calm.
  9. Soup in your bowl, because you know that eating is part of self care.
  10. Lists that you make to help you feel like you have some sanity left.

Does Your Mindset On Failure Need To Change

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I live in a creative community. Sometimes the pressure to put out new and amazing work feels high. There are photographers, writers, painters, potters, jewelry makers, musicians, book sellers, craft beer specialists, florists, soap makers, knitters, and even an independent printing press. There are artist meetups, and mixers all over town. Events to showcase the work to everyone around town, and grants to assist new and upcoming artists.

I do what I can to stay connected to the network around me. I go to some events, I visit the shops, I chat with people when I see them at the local coffeehouse. It’s a necessary thing to maintain connections, even for an introvert. Then there are those crazy rose colored glasses that make everyone else’s work seem so much better than yours. Do you know what I mean?

My insecurities about my work have followed me well into my adulthood. As I am sure it has for many of you. First, there is the fear of failure. We all have it about something. In my case, it is my writing. I can admit that I’m a fairly good knitter, and I can cook, but my writing is where I doubt myself. What if I’m not good enough? What if I get laughed at? What if I never make it as a writer, and I just end up with a bunch of notebooks, and nothing to show for it?

I want to combat these insecurities. So I’m going to hit them head on.

What if I am not good enough. Well guess what, dear heart, you aren’t, and you are. There will always be someone who thinks you are not enough. You will never be good enough for them. Your work will always seem beneath them. Just make sure that person isn’t you. Because, if you are doing the best you can in the situation you are in, well then you are good enough. You are good enough for that moment. You are good enough for the work you have before. You are good enough…..fill in the blank. Again, if you are doing the best you can, you are enough.

What if I get laughed at. You will. Some people are not intelligent enough to know when something great is in front of them. But, if you are doing the work there will be someone who will think you are fabulous, so just ignore the rest! Seriously.

What if I never make it? You might not, and what is the worst that could happen with that? You think you will have wasted your life? All of the knowledge and experiences you had along the way, those were not a waste. You learned something. You fought to become something. You built something. That is worth so much more than I can describe to you.

You see, yes there are a lot of wonderfully talented people in this world, but you are one of them. You are needed to bring just a little bit more beauty to this world. You will fail, but there is something in failing that will help you become better. Use the failures to your advantage, and learn from them. Until one day you no longer fail. Don’t stay down. Get up, and use it to create something better. In your life. In your work. In your art. You can do it.

You are enough.

Dream Something New

I wanted to be a doctor. I wanted to go to Africa, and help the sick, the poor, and the oppressed. I wanted to write about it all, and be published. I had grand dreams. None of it ever fell into place though, and I reworked my dreams to instead include a husband, children, and living a life with them. We got married, and loved well, and filled our days and nights with each other.

Then it happened. Those dreams were gone too. He was done, and had already moved on. I was stuck. I moved out. I started businesses. I continued to home school,to work, to go to our son’s football games, and run our daughter to her appointments. I started building a new life.

This life was harder in some ways because I no longer had my husband. He was my friend, my confidant, and my lover. I had lost all of that. But, I did have the freedom to stay up late and work. I could be busy, and not have to think about how that effected anyone but me and my kids. It wasn’t an even trade by any means, but it’s what I had.

So I keep going. My kids are watching me. I work hard. I play sometimes too. I keep busy. I live in the life we have made, full of writing, and knitting, and school, and the never ending hustle. I work out. I try to keep my thoughts to myself. I avoid drama, and I march forward. Because that is what building a life again looks like. It looks like work, and relationships, and finding new adventures. It looks like trial, and error, and learning, and questioning, and exploring who you are, what you want, and how to get there.

I’m not a doctor. I rarely travel. But I am changing things around me. I am working to have a life that I am proud of and happy with. I am working to build something that I enjoy. I am building businesses. I am cooking, and writing, and creating. I am taking old dreams, and building new.

Just because your dreams didn’t come to pass does not mean your life is over. Keep going. Build something new. Go back and start over. Build something that you’ve always dreamed of. Just live.

In The Waiting

                                         waiting

I hate waiting. It’s hard, and it gives me time to overthink. Today, I am doing a lot of thinking, and overthinking. Things may be changing in my life again, and I hate waiting to find out. It makes my anxiety go crazy.

When I’m buried under so much anxiety I have a routine to keep going. I grab my schedule, and start working my way down the list. I answer emails, and make my posts for my businesses. I write, and I read, I work out, and I make plans. I put myself (as much I can) into a robotic mode, and I work.

Keeping set goals for my life helps me to function even in difficult circumstances. It provides purpose when I need to keep moving forward, and gives me an outlet for some of my feelings. When I pour into my goals instead of sitting in my worry I am doing something to better my life.

Bettering our lives is what I am trying so hard to be about right now. I have reduced the amount of junk in our home. I would now consider us minimalists. I have worked on healing my body, and making it strong through working out and eating well, and occasionally taking time to rest. I have taken a little time everyday to write for me personally. Some days that means I journal. Some days I write out plans for travel, or what I want my home to look like,or my future, or goals. Sometimes I just color, or knit, or do something that gets my creativity flowing.

Bettering our lives also means that I say no to things a lot more than I used to. I guard our time. I take things slower. I don’t take on the drama as much anymore. There are people in our lives that we have a mutual give and take relationship with. Then there are those who will just take. Those are the people that I just can’t live in peace with right now. So I make our circle smaller so that everyone benefits more in our relationships. I take more time to rest, and watch a movie with my daughter, or sit on the beach because those things are just as important as the work and goals.

I have spent years waiting, and not living. I am now trying to find a way to do both. I can’t change waiting. It’s a part of life. I can live while I wait. I can work. I can move toward my goals. I can learn to breathe in the space I am in. I can better our life, make a life, and live a life while I wait. Who said waiting couldn’t be active? What do you do while you wait?