Filling up

 

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Dear Girl with the big, wide eyes,

Once upon a time I thought I had so much to give. The way my heart used to swell up, so round and full had me convinced of that. There was always so much in there, pressing against the edges desperate for release. It became essential, the pouring out of myself, like breathing.

What do people need? I asked myself. People need love, and so love is what I gave. I stopped time and emptied pockets in order to lay hold of the last shreds of love in any given instance so it could be packaged and given away to a soul that needed it. Read More

Here, at this wall

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“There will be more watershed moments,” my counsellor said to me. Her firmness delicately draped in gentleness never ceases to amaze me.

I let the sigh that was trapped in my body escape, finally. My eyes were sore from weeping & my heart bruised. It felt heavy, too heavy for my chest. And yet deliciously warm too.

I smiled, my lips trembling, surprised they still knew just where to curve, that familiar feel of my smile,

 “Yes…but this feels big…this feels like it” I said.

She smiled back with that hint of wisdom shining in her eyes, “I know…this is important too.”

I could feel the ground beneath my feet, strong, stable, there. always there. Contrary to the rush of fear that invades our being when we hit a wall – the ground does not fall to pieces. It supports us. The foundation, if built correctly will stay in place. So we can shed as many tears as we need, we can throw off our clothes & lie naked on the ground, we can roll in the dirt like there is no tomorrow. And once we are finished with all the crazy things we do to sorrow, we can get off the floor, vertebrae by vertebrae & the ground will still be there, holding us, supporting us.

I met some people.

These people reminded me that I am black. That this skin that covers my body makes some of the world uneasy; that etched into it is a secret code unknown to me that validates their conviction that somehow my brain & heart are hardwired to this skin of mine. That blackness lives not only in my body but in my soul.

It made me laugh & cry all at the same.

So I was sitting in my counsellor’s office because I had hit a wall. It looked too big to scale. too impossible. too incomprehensible.

My perfectionism had come to collect.

I really thought I could tuck & pin the world into a perfect fold. With flimsy lace all around its edges. & sealed with a kiss. A kiss from my own full lips, from my heart—luxury at its best. I thought I could imprint myself on its curves without any question or doubt of my place in it.

I thought my love for humanity was perfect & could be returned to me when needed, in equal measure. I thought loving others was the only thing to do in this life.

But the truth is life falls apart when it is out of balance. As much as I love human beings & with the same gusto & sacredness, I should love myself. The voice that I use to defend the defenceless & pray for the broken-hearted is the same voice I should hold strongly for myself.

I knew this truth in the knowing of it but I denied its power in the living of it. I doubted & I doubted & I doubted.

And so here, at this wall, I’m laying down my doubt, I’m laying down my grasping & my perfectionism. You will not find it. Not here. Not in my body. Not in my house.

I will offer no more apologies for my existence in the world. I will grow into my skin, crawling deep inside until I occupy every delectable curve of it.

I will still love with passion & abandon but this time I will also build a sanctuary to myself.

I will still honour all human beings because my Papa taught me so & it is still a beautiful way to be in the world but this time I will also honour myself.

I will be raw. I will be shameless. I will be graceful. I will be strong. I will be perfect. I will be imperfect.

I will speak in voice, in syllables, ampersands & full stops.

Here, at this wall, I will be fully human. I declare myself so.

The wonder of it all

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Fill my cup with hot chocolate. Fill it to the brim. Let the rich, sweet & decadent froth run over. And I will sit here & love your face off.

We can sit quietly, hands on lap & listen to each other breathe. Or you can tell me what’s on your mind. It doesn’t matter how small. If it’s on your mind then it must be important to you. Put it on the table, I will listen.

I will trace your heart for you. Maybe not like Da Vinci with the Mona Lisa but I will be this way with you.

You & I walk the streets of the earth. Winding roads of pleasure & pain that burrow us to the edges of the world, winding roads that still bring us back here;- to this moment, sitting here, facing one another wondering what it’s all about.

We wonder why it hurts; why the fear finds a home inside our heads & we can’t feel the skin that delicately hangs over our bones. Somebody convinces us that there is room only for those who are good looking, thin or smart. We take their definitions & run with them – up & down the winding roads of the world & still we end up back here.

Staring at each other.

What if this whole thing is about you?

What if what you think & do is what makes this world a littler darker or brighter? What if you mattered, in all the best & worst parts of you? What if I told you that you are the wonder of it all?

Don’t look away. I meant it. It’s just you & me here, you can take off the layers. I can take off mine. I will trace the beauty of your heart for you.

It means so much to God that you wake each day & try, that you don’t give up when the world is screaming in your ear to do just that. It means so much that you can see…at least the sanctity of your heart – that well-spring of all the stuff that makes you, you.

I will trace it for you –

There is no one like you.

This sounds cliché, as old as rags because it has been uttered & uttered for millennial. Motivational speakers beat it over our heads without mercy. Like you, my instinct is to turn away at the mere sound of it. It disgusts me, it fills me with nausea.

The words have attained celebrity status & have been milked dry.

But forget those people who have used them; people who are wealthy, people who are successful as the world defines success, industry people & experts, writers & young millennials, who have thousands of likes on Facebook because let’s face it – they can afford to say it. Forget them.

Listen to me – this girl who is nothing & has nothing to offer you.

There is no one like you.

As common & washed out as that sounds, it is true. It is so because this is how God designed it to be. We should not build towers to it, thrones or altars. Instead it should fill us with humility & gratitude that we get to live out an existence that is purely unique, purely ours; that we get the chance to be ourselves.

It should fill us with peace. That quiet knowing that all is & will be well because the One who runs the show is in charge. That we are not extras on a movie set – we are the cast, the real thing. This, is the wonder of it all.

Sit here quietly by me. Let me watch your beauty. Let me be mesmerized by it. Let me remind you that it’s there, that I see it, that I can trace it.

To me, you are like a cup of hot chocolate, my favourite thing in the world – rich, sweet & decadent. The wonder of it all is in the tasting of it, the outpouring of it.

She’s like moonbeams, she’s like September

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Ask me about being a woman.

I will tell you that it’s a celebration, an exultation. This is what I believed. Women in their big women’s outfits always appeared like god-like creatures to me. They seemed so right in the world. I was in awe. of the magnitude & depth of their hearts. of the magic & healing in their hands. And when they came together, the laughter that filled rooms could not be imprisoned by the walls & stories of love & sorrow crystalized in the air, an ever present well always to be returned to from that moment onwards. This is what I believed.

The thought of growing up into one of those god-like creatures rarely occurred me. Until one day I woke up & I had big women’s shoes & big women’s outfits. There was no training, no schooling. She just showed up & I had to open the door & let her in.  She said she was like moonbeams. She said she was like September. I didn’t believe her.

I tried to harness her. I tried to hammer her into shape, into the woman the world builds statues to.

The world’s take on woman is ridiculous, we all know & agree. And yet it is effective. When no one is looking save for that feminine creature with doe eyes staring back in the mirror, we apply the world’s standards to ourselves. We rub it in like sand paper, bruising ourselves like there is no tomorrow. I’ve done it countless times. I’ve felt worthless before, to the point where I’m not sure of the woman I’m supposed to be supporting & rooting for.

Becoming a woman has taught me that the enemy of my shame is my friend. She is like moonbeams & September. Ethereal. Whimsical. Fresh. Illuminating. Lush. Like a song strung with divine cords, delicate but yet raw, sturdy of heart & powerful. There is no designating corners around where her worth must be found. It does not sit in-between her legs or breasts or eyes. She is not just skin & hair. Even if you plucked her apart limb by limb, you will not find her worth there.

Her most striking loveliness is in how she expresses her heart, how the stuff that lives inside of her seeps through her smile, eyes, hands & feet moving her to be who she is. The sum of all the parts of her making love together, curving in, blending.

She is worth personified.

September is for new beginnings. Whether it be spring in Melbourne or autumn in Chicago, it is a start of a new season. She is as brave as she is vulnerable, running her course with dedication, exposed & tender. She reminds me of woman.

Womanhood is not something you arrive at, complete with a glorious entry, epiphanies & all. No, it is something you are & are constantly becoming. Part of feeling like a woman is knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are.

So to all of you women, mothers, sisters, grandmothers, aunts, god-mothers & friends whose hearts & stories are connected across sand & time, may this September be magical in what it brings to your door. May you be healthy & beautiful. whole & complete. You & all the men who love you.

 

 

Monday thoughts & my love for you

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The day ran away from me. I didn’t see it come & go. I got lost somewhere in the middle. & maybe, just maybe this is exactly where I need to be today. Neither here nor there but suspended in between not knowing which direction to pull.

I want the things I like; the things I value; the lovely things that make me feel on top of the world. & those things which I don’t like, the things that reflect back my inconsistencies & failings…those I try to push far away. I’m a tender, vulnerable soul & on a scale of 1 to 10, I’m an 8. But even then, don’t give me vulnerability on the days I want to be strong, on the days I want to soar the heights & conquer. I don’t like being vulnerable. I want it on my time, on my terms. Yes, you’d say that’s pretty normal. It’s a human thing. & I’m human after all.

I feel human today. I feel my flesh pressing in against me. mortal in all its parts.

This means I’m looking in the mirror & seeing all the parts of me that shifted out of place. I’m seeing all the ways my yet to be worked-out stuff is spilling onto the world & onto an unsuspecting public. I’m also seeing all the ways providence is showing up to re-align me. I tend to be rough but He is gentle & kind.

I’m getting the message loud & clear – the past breaks at today. When you walk away, you walk away. You just walk away. because it’s time to. As much as you want to hold on to the feel of it in your hands, that soft, familiar feel of things as they were.

But the past breaks the moment today arrives. in all the physical, elemental ways.

Sometimes you wonder how you could not have seen it – this blinding clarity of who you are. that your existence is not conditional upon somebody else’s. that the space you occupy in the world is meant just for you. that your light is not my light, nor mine yours. & I curse every notion, belief & environment that has taught us to think otherwise & to subtly swallow fragments of these foreign bodies.

I fell for it. again & again & again.

I thought I lacked the strength to fight. to be anything other than.

I’m just a girl. I don’t know how all this stuff works – this everyone is important stuff – especially in the midst of all the mess we create as people. I don’t know how this puzzle connects in perfect colour & completion. But I do know that at the basest of bases every human being has precious & valuable in them somewhere. Sometimes it sits dormant in us suppressed by all the reacting we have to do to the fall out of a world that is not quite beautiful or mature.

Your loveliness is intoxicating & keeps me coming back…

here.

This is the part where I stop glancing behind my shoulder & focus on you – to shower you with my love. In the form of gratitude, to you, who walks into my space & meets me on this page. You allow me to work myself out in this arena. & you are witness to my undoing & my being stitched up again, my growth & metamorphosis. You are catalyst to the clarity that is ever expanding.

You are valued & treasured by this…this girl with big, bright eyes & a searching heart.

I hope my love meets you in a good & warm place today. & I can be for you what you are for me.

thank you.

 

Things falling from heaven

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She stood by the window transfixed. Afraid to move. This was the longest she had tamed her nerves. Everything in her had welled into a strange calmness. It was a gift and she was going to take it, no questions asked. Relief from the fiery questions, doubts & fears that plagued her day in and day out. she sighed. The sky was a transparent blue. She could easily get lost in that blueness just as easily as she had lost herself in Noah’s blue eyes. He had taken her by the hand and promised her the world. Who wouldn’t believe him when he stared at her like she was the most beautiful woman in the world?

She shook her head sternly banishing the thoughts. She knew exactly where these thoughts would lead – curled up on the cold floor drowning in her tears.

Her fingers’ grasp on the thin draperies tightened. The trembling seemed to start from the inside of her. It made her knees weak & her senses fill with nausea.

How did this happen? How could she have been so mistaken?

“I’ve never met anyone who understands me the way you do” he had said a mixture of shyness & excitement traced in every line on his face as he tilted his head to look at her. He was the most beautiful man she had ever seen. And he was here, saying these soul-moving things to her. She knew the moment was monumental, she could feel the electricity in her body & on the surface of her skin. & she knew then that if he ever touched her, it would be too much.

“You tick every box of mine…and…and I don’t want to go” he finished. She stared at him with no words or breath, her small chest constricting into its own. He made her so happy it hurt. This was the day she had been waiting for – the man she had chosen had chosen her in return. This is what they called love.

She shut her eyes to stifle the memory. The tears were running down her face and she lifted her face to the sky, wishing the blueness would just swallow her up.

Please God, she prayed. I need to know. Give me a sign. Anything.

Nobody had warned her that sometimes love is not true enough to last forever. & that sometimes people mean something else when they speak words of intimacy.

She had given of herself to him. The fairytale had ended as quickly as it had begun. He offered no explanation except;

“You are not the one for me…”

What about the beautiful words we exchanged? What about the promises…what about what was growing between us, the chemistry, friendship, trust, hope…

“I didn’t promise you anything. I was simply tasting…”

And so it ended there & the journey of her broken heart had began. Her dreams had been smashed into a million pieces & her hands were too small to gather all the pieces back together.

The tears came faster. Unbridled & bitter. The world did not take kindly to women like her – weepy over a man who had given her the wrong impression. A man who had dangled hope in her face and then retracted it as if it was something dirty. There was no sanctuary for this kind of condition. She had to toughen up & get on with life. Her shoulders convulsed in protest as her finger nails cut into the draperies. The cloud around her heart was thick & heavy.

Please God, she prayed again. I need to know. Will I ever mean more to a man? Give me a sign. Anything.

She swabbed at her eyes & that is when she saw the things falling from heaven. One, two, three and soon it was raining hope. The cloud melted. Her heart welled up and the laughter that escaped her throat was from that place deep down that she thought had died.

This was the sign. God had heard her prayer & even more so, he had breathed into her insides grace & compassion. She was not forgotten. She was not alone. The pain would pass & she would learn salvation in the process. This story ended here & its home was to be revisited no more. Hope had returned.

Falling in awe

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Inspired.

With no sound for the words that fail to intelligently form. Your lungs gently lean into the sweet air that comes pouring into your chest. You are captivated. spellbound. mesmerized. by the awe in awesome.

There might only be a few things that take you to this place – this place of unbelievable wonder. Life is not full of these magical things & moments. You don’t step out of your house & a unicorn greets you & whizzes you away to fairyland.  Instead we wake up to do ordinary things – making the bed, making breakfast, going to work, laundry, school work & the list is endless. & so we are inbred with this notion that life happens when we are on the A-list of something or on top of our game & that everything else that does not resemble this is an imitation, a sorry excuse for a life. Without intending to, we rear shame in our hearts because fireworks are not constantly going off in our lives. We are not winning business mergers, travelling the world or writing best sellers on a daily basis.

On the contrary, we are meeting the same people on the bus every day. We are staring our loved ones in the face every day. We are waking up alive & well every day.  I often wonder, how can we not show enthusiasm for these beautiful things that happen every day?

Because I am guilty as charged, for the last 3 or so years I have been on a mission to find meaning in the everyday mundane. It bothered me that I woke up every day holding out for the next day desperately hoping that something big would happen; that I would be discovered as a budding writer, sign with an agent & write a bestseller; that I would finally meet the one who would single handedly charm me to pieces & we would get married & spend an eternity together. But none of those things have happened. Not yet anyway.  Thank God, I woke up one day & decided I was going to live better. I was going to make every day meaningful, lovely & full of awe. The work continues to challenge & humble me.

On the surface the everyday seems monotonous & it is. But there is also a beauty present in the moments of each life as it ticks away – every second of every minute is & can be special.

It begins with perspective. realizing the tremendous gift of life & being in your flesh & blood. & that the only reasonable response is gratitude. Gratitude. Not that our lives are perfect for they will never truly be but that we have the opportunity to be here & make something of ourselves. to create beauty. of our lives.

It’s much more than living in the moment. It is hitching your wagon to a constant. & for me that constant is God. It may be something else for you. It is “looking as though you never saw and then you see”; falling in awe with the way your body & being are wired together to make you who you are. a one of a kind person.

Every day is precious & we have to see it like that for this to work. I used to bundle all my days together. Now, I fall in awe day after day of the mercy, grace & favour that has captured my soul. I can’t help but respond. Now, I live each day like I mean it.

I won’t lie & tell you that doing this is all hunky dory because it’s not. But it gets better & easier as I consciously choose to live that way.

You need your mind, heart & soul ready to do work. Hands-on dirty work, but pleasing & fulfilling in ways that make you cradle yourself in love & compassion. This is where awe begins; the realisation that you are not enough on your own but at the same time, you are. You are. You are.