Daily Blessings

First came the glorious pack of discount colored pens. Felt tip. Vibrant by nature. Mmmm satisfaction.
I was blending and swirling ink as soon as I got the chance.

20150209-143550.jpgNext came a gift from my favorite person:
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THE DAILY SKETCH JOURNAL. I like journals… and sketches. I like them daily.
Needless to say, I kissed my favorite person a lot that day. Then again, I kiss him a lot everyday.
And now here I am, pen in hand, sketching away. I love lines that are bold. Thick. Black. Unflinching. I also like cute owls and girly designs…. So here’s day 1 & 2:
20150209-143537.jpgIt’s amazing what a blessing it is to add ink to paper. My mother used to tell me to count my blessing when I was sad, or homesick, or simply needed something nice to think about as I fell asleep. Pretty much, I was encouraged to always count my blessings.  There are far too many to count, but for now, I’ll name just a few:

Paper, pens, love and a boy who encourages me to take hold of these blessings daily.

Grade Me

I am the best student at that which is not in the classroom. If puddle jumping were graded, I’d never miss an assignment, although the best part about puddle jumping is that it isn’t graded at all.
Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 1.09.37 PMIf there were tests on how to adore another human, I’d already have my degree. If homework were kisses and laughter and love, I’d be a straight “A” student. My studies would be textbooks pushed off the table that we only use to entangle. Human anatomy learned by my own hands, eyes, lips, legs. Graded papers stacked only to be used as stands for coffee mugs, leaving circular stains as perfect picture frames.

Use your red pen to critique how I sing lullabies and never miss the sadness behind a fake smile. Give me a grade point average for diligence or dedication, patience or passion. Crunch the numbers. Put it on a transcript. Measure my worth if that is what you insist on doing.

But when you find it doesn’t fit on a transcript, that the numbers don’t add up, define me by my score in the classroom, because that is the way things are done.

 

Show Your Blue

She had blue skin,
And so did he.
He kept it hid,
And so did she.
They searched for blue
Their whole life through,
Then passed right by–
And never knew.
💙Shel Silverstein💙

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Show your blue.
The sad, the strange,
the unbroken unchained,
the playful, the wild,
that zealous inner place.

It’s not a blue made only for you, so love it and share it in all that you do.

They won’t like it, you see.
Most of the others.
Too much blue makes you strange.
Amidst the beige covers.
You’re thinking too much to stay still like the rest,
And loving too deeply
All this blue in your chest.

And for every day embracing your blue,
The others uncertain and wary of you,
You only grow stranger and more like yourself.
Blue bounces off cupboards and ceilings and shelfs.

There’s too much blue to hide anymore,
So you scramble for shards of masks on the floor,
But another soul that’s been there all the while,
Shows his blue too and two blue just smile.

Ladies, Love Your Abusers

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Fellow women.
Anyone who’s been mistreated.
This is important for you to know:
Bitterness can’t save you.
It’s not just that bitterness can’t save you; it’s that it can’t save you from anything.

Nothing at all.

Broken heart?
Weakness?
Physical harm?
Being manipulated?

Bitterness can’t rescue you from a single one of those things.
I see this far too often: girls who have been abused, cheated on, taken advantage of emotionally or physically, abandoned (which leads me to throw in a little side note- boys who make “girls with daddy issues” jokes: You’re not funny.)… And what’s the defense these girls choose to guard themselves with in the future? Bitterness.
Not only do they choose bitterness, but they are consistently encouraged to be bitter. Girls love a good bitch-fest when it comes to boys. It’s somehow viewed as having a higher level of girl-power than the meek if you can seethe enough poison and plights of victimhood.

In a way this philosophy almost makes sense.
If a boy has broken your heart, surely hating him will ensure that he never does it again, right? Right? Better yet, be cold-hearted and aloof enough due to former pains that no one ever can break your heart again.
Well it doesn’t work that way. A frozen heart will eventually shatter. It pretends to be strong in its hardness but truthfully it is brittle and prone to cracks.
And to be bitter towards a boy who has broken you does not keep him from breaking you again. It allows him to break you every single day, over and over.
Only broken hearts hate. Hearts that are whole and healthy love without ceasing.
So love him. Or her. Or whoever it is that harmed you in the first place.

If he spoke unkindly,
Love him.
If he made you feel small and worthless,
Love him.
If he hit you,
Love him.
If he used you once, then twice, then a third time,
Love him.
This is called forgiveness.

Without forgiveness in this world, there is no Life. There is no gospel. No grace from God. No Salvation.
Without forgiveness there is only death brought by the sins that were never washed away.
So forgive.

To be clear, forgiveness does not mean you have to let someone back into your life.
If a knucklehead shows up at your door begging for forgiveness, you would be fully justified to say with all sincerity, “You’ve already been forgiven. Now go away.”

It is not that you shouldn’t stand up for yourself. It’s just that love provides stronger ground to stand on than bitterness ever will.
With love you will embrace how immensely valuable people are (including yourself and including those who have harmed you) and therefore you will know how people ought to be treated. You will not settle for anything less.

I have a friend who is an excellent example of this kind of strength in grace. She is tall and elegant, a fashionable and artistic girl who has always dreamed of being a writer. As she’s grown she’s become demure in a way I have not, consistently clean in both diet and vocabulary, refraining from penis jokes (although she’s never been above laughing when I make them), and is such an image of sobriety she could probably get drunk off of a thimble of strawberry daiquiri.

There was a boy who she had been involved with who did not value her as he should have. As a result, he hurt her ever-caring heart.
One drizzling afternoon at a coffee shop downtown, I brought him up in conversation. My friend softly yet pointedly placed her coffee cup down in front of her, looked me in eye, un-shifting in her slender blue dress, and said in the most matter-of-fact tone, “Kira, he is an asshole.”

I laughed, first because she so rarely swears and second because she said it in a way that was completely void of any hatred or angst. It was just an honest observation. Nothing personal.
Because of this observation she will never again let him kiss her or wrap his arms around her as she sleeps. She is free from him, resistant to any head-games or second-guessing about being away from him.

But she loves him.

Not romantically. She’s too wise for that. Besides, this kind of love is stronger than butterflies in your stomach.
It is a love that I would never doubt is there. Something too strong to fade by circumstance.
It’s not because he’s anything extraordinary that she loves him (Rumor has it, assholes are very commonplace). It is because she is extraordinary. She loves people not based on what they give her in return, but based on love itself. That is not only rare, it is strong.
One day she will be with someone who loves her as he should, selflessly and irrevocably. But even as she waits, she will not be weakened by the seeds of bitterness that others so often plant in their lungs. Seeds which sprout poison roots that choke out fullness of breath and fill voices with hateful ramblings.
This boy may have harmed her before but because she has forgiven him, that harm does not keep on harming.

I realize some situations are more severe than hurt feelings. Trust me, I know.
I’ve been close to those who carried abuse to its fullest: a grave for one and a prison-sentence for the other.
I’ve seen tears and bruises, blood and scars.
I’ve held a dear friend as she cried because a world where the boy she trusted the most is the same boy who raped her is not a world she wants to live in anymore.
And I have told her again and again to hold on for just one more night. And then one more night. And then one more night again.

Believe me when I say I do not want anyone to be unsafe. Do what you have to defend yourself. Really, do what you have to.

But do not be bitter.

Bitterness is not a defense. It is a handicapped. A constant grief. A darkness that spreads in tangles like ivy on forgotten sheds and broken window panes.

Forgive. Love.

If someone tells you that it doesn’t make sense to love someone who has abused you, they are probably correct. But there is a certain joy that comes from being what the world calls nonsensical.

This is a joy I will choose again and again ’til there is nothing left of me because forgiveness itself always has been and always will be nonsensical. It requires unfairness. It requires someone not getting what they deserve.

Anyone can stay tied to the past, breeding hate.

But to love one must be bold and to forgive one must be radical.

So love radically.

It will make you stronger than any abuser you could ever face.

//wander//

 

 


 

NOT ALL WHO WANDER ARE LOST

– J.R.R. TOLKIEN –

 


 

Idaho.

Forests, rivers, wanderers in pickup trucks.

A man with a cardboard sign stands on gravel across the road from a bar called the Plantation, a Chinese restaurant that smells like stale cigarettes and an unfinished church office, all on the same corner. My brain goes off on a tangent that I believe was caused by the Chinese restaurant. Something about how the one downtown is better because the manager is kind and pretty and the wonton soup tastes even better when it rains… Before I can continue on to puddles and wet hair and all the best things that come with rain, the truck jolts and I’m back by the bar, the Chinese restaurant and the church office. My dad is pulling over…

With a smile and a nod, the hitchhiker jogs up to our Ford.
“Hey, do you mind riding in the back?” my dad asks pointing to the bed of the truck.
“Not at all, man! I’m trying to get to McCall.”
“Alright, we’re headed that way, hop in.”
My dad gets out to help the man and his bike safely into the bed of the truck. I just smile and wave. Dad helping out wanderers is commonplace. Honestly this bearded roadside guy appears to have more figured out in life than I do. He can say with complete confidence that he would like to go to McCall. I can say with complete confidence that I would like to go… somewhere with coffee…? Or without coffee. I really don’t care at this point as long as I get somewhere.

There are a few things I learned about this man along our journey: His name is Steve. He had just completed biking the state of Idaho when he met us. He has a friend who is also named Kira. He likes the way she says, “Keep it real, always.”

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As we drive I glance at our wanderer in the rear-view mirror. He’s looking around, eyeing Idaho and all her beauty. She’s a curvy broad with her rolling hills in all the right places, flowers at her feet and birds in her hair. Staring at her is a given for anyone who is not blind.

The road continues on to the winding Lewiston grade. I think I’d be scared if I were in the back of a stranger’s truck, rushing past so many semis and clunkers turn after turn. But not this guy… If he ever had a worrier’s mind, he let it go a long time ago. He has the look of someone who’s known peace not just as a passerby but as a close friend.

When we drop him off in McCall, he still seems genuinely grateful, even though he just spent hours in the freezing wind, sitting on bark in a truck bed. What matters to him his that he’s made it to his next step. He’s that much closer to home in Oregon.

As less than inspired conversationalists, my dad and I speak to him briefly and without much intention. Then my dad shakes his hand and hitchhiker Steve walks out of the gas station parking lot and down the sleepy streets of McCall.

“Sorry I couldn’t think of anything meaningful to say to him,” my dad says to me as we climb back into the truck.

“I think helping him and saying nothing is better than saying the right thing and doing nothing.”
“Very true…” he replies, “That was deep.”
“Not really.”
“Any deeper and I’d need scuba gear.”
I smirk. The line about deep conversation requiring scuba gear is from another traveler he once met along the way.

“Keep it real always…” I say in my best Steve voice.

“Keep it real always,” he laughs.

And we wander on.

 

Boys in Laundry Rooms and Freckles on Faces

~October 2014~

“I don’t like my freckles. They make it too hard to memorize my face,” said the boy next to me in a lecture hall filled with obnoxious college students texting and snap chatting.

First thought, “I’ll memorize your freckles…”
Second thought (which only occasionally comes along to save the day before I speak), “Kira, you were far too intrigued by that sentence than you should have been. You know what happens when you over-think and your brain reaches a weird combination of poesy and cheekiness… Don’t. Say. A word!”
I listened to the second thought… Sort of. I think I either giggled or said something unmemorable or both.
I did however write his words down in my notes. That probably didn’t seem weird at all if he happened to see….

Now comes the part where I over-analyze a statement that was probably not intended to mean anything. Welcome to my mind. This is how it works. For the life of me, I can’t help it.
Here I am, next to a confident, practical guy. Former marine. Studious. Logical. Brown eyes, which is only relevant because… well, brown eyes.

Why would he say something as silly as, “I don’t like my freckles. They make it too hard to memorize my face.”?
I even inquired to clarify and he seemed entirely uninterested in memorizing his own face. Naturally it follows that what frustrates him is that someone else can’t memorize his face.
Why would that matter??
What relevance is there to someone knowing every aspect of another’s face? Every freckle!?
But it does matter. Maybe to Mr.Military next to me it only matters an off-handed sentence’s worth. Probably more. Either way it matters.
It matters to everyone. We all want to be known. We want to be recognized for exactly who we are. We want to be admired down to the freckle.


~January 2014~

A cot shoved in the corner of a laundry room. Warm, at least the warmest place to be found that January. Yellow post-it notes with disjointed ponderings on the walls. No door.

Scene set for the bedroom(?) of one of my favorite people I’ve met along the way.

Never one to say everything he was thinking (or much at all of what he was thinking). Witty. Personable. Blue eyes, which is only relevant because… well, blue eyes.

Repeat standard: person says something I like… I write it down.
A few days later he saw what I had written, and unlike with Charmer McFreckle-Face on campus, it didn’t make me uncomfortable. After all I was a frequent peruser of his sticky notes. Thought for thought I suppose.
What surprised me was that he cared that his words were written there amongst all the other doodles and thoughts. Left to my own I would have assumed it didn’t mean much to him at all. I can think of few things in the world that are as unimportant as my tattered pocket-sized notebook. No one reads it except for me, and apparently strange boys who sleep on cots. But he told me it mattered…

The only reason I can gather as to why a scribble in my notebook would matter is that it was a scribble that made him feel noticed, appreciated… known. If only just for a single thought, known.

If I imagine a world where something about me were to show up on one of his sticky notes, then suddenly I understand.


~August 2014~

Laundry room again. Different laundry room.
Boy again. Different boy.
He wants me because to him I am convenient. I am fun. If I never speak to him again it won’t bother him. I know this. And so I tell him nothing truly meaningful about myself. Only surface things. Only laughter from the throat and not from the belly.
He shows me his books and tells me about his hopes and ambitions.
He’s cute. I like him. Yet I do not want him to know my heart, my thoughts, things I write down in my little notebook when my mind gets too crowded to lock everything inside.

He will know me on a shallow level. A skin to skin and no deeper level. I will think that I am safe because he did not get to see my heart. I will be wrong.
To be unknown by those who are closest is lonely. It highlights an emptiness.
But my sense of self is too worn down to put in the effort. Too tired to place things in the selfless and careful order in which they ought to go.

I think of his sweetness. His perfectly nerdy descriptions of novels and engineering and reptiles. His hazel eyes which are only relevant because… well, I guess to me they are not relevant at all. So I let him slip away without a word, and I’ve put in far too little to care that he is gone.


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Flattery

flat·ter·y

ˈflatərē/

noun

  1. excessive and insincere praise, especially that given to further one’s own interests.

 


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Flattery is poison. But some poisons are more lethal than others.

My mother once told me the most dangerous kind of flatterer, is the one who flatters who he wants you to be, not who you are.

“He’ll take one little piece of you and pinpoint it,” she said, “He’s not lying. It is there. It is a part of you, but it’s not all of you. It’s a tiny part that serves him best. Then he’ll flatter it and glorify it and remind you of it as often as possible, because he wants you to think that is all that you are.”

From what little I know, I know my mother knows more than I do. And from what little I’ve seen, I’ve seen that she is correct.

The man who desperately wants to run away with a girl, to have an affair with her, to do anything that only a man who wishes for a girl to rebel against her own heart and home would do, he will flatter her free spirit. He will praise her boldness. Anything she does that is pushing the limits of convention, that is creative or progressive, he will respond to these things with kisses that taste like honey and words that warm her insides. But her softer thoughts, her love of safety, her want to place discernment over frivolity, he never praises that.

The man who wants nothing but her submission, nothing but a passive girl who will let him rule in a rigid home, he will praise only her sweetness, the way she sits quietly when she reads a good book, the way she smiles politely when other girls get angry or frustrated. When she does these things he will make her feel wanted. He will make her feel “good enough”. But he never encourages her passion, the fight in her eyes, the sharp resilience of her backbone.

Well to the flatterer, don’t bother with me. Don’t act as though my wilder nights define me simply because that is the definition that suits you best. I may forget tomorrow by moonlight and chase after stars, but I will still have ambition beyond the thrill of a moment. I will still have discipline beyond my desires.

And don’t glorify me in my best Sunday dress when it is rigid and still untouched by windy afternoons. My heart is steadfast but the rest of me is always in motion. So don’t act as though I am best when I follow every rule and it is an unfortunate fluke when I go against the grain. If you don’t like me barefoot, you don’t like me at all. If you prefer I never let my hair down, I prefer you go away.

You may flatter my eyes

my mouth

the freckles on my nose

anything superficial enough that I might have enough silliness or vanity or insecurities to listen for awhile,

But flatter any fragment of my soul and you’ve already lost.

I watched the grownups play that game as a child.

I learned the rules before you even asked me to play.

 

~ w e a k n e s s ~

 

I would rather be kind to you at your worst, than think it is my place to judge when you deserve my kindness.

I would rather care for you when you do not care for me, than think for a moment that your worth is determined by your thoughts towards me.

I would rather give to you when you have already taken from me, than only give when I am given something in return.

I would rather look like a fool for helping those who hurt me, than look strong for refusing their needs.

I would rather lose every battle and come in last in every race, than surrender to the thought that I must love less to gain more.

The indifferent are filled with power of self.
I am too weak for indifference.
And so I will rejoice in my weakness.

Rain of blessings

 

 

Muse (1)

Be my muse so I can write a story about the way you burn toast and leave your socks on the floor. I don’t know if anyone else will think the story is any good, but it will be my favorite. I will write a chapter on how you can’t hold a pitch but I still love to hear you sing, a chapter on your blue car with a rip in the back seat, a chapter about your once red hoodie now fading to pink. You still wear it anyway because you like the way my nose crinkles when you take it off and throw it onto me.

Two chapters will tell about staying up ‘til dawn, laughing at all we’ve left behind. A chapter and a half to show that I was wrong when I ran away, wasting my time.

A page to retell how I knew you unequivocally, but only as a child when we went frog hunting in the pond.

A paragraph for your favorite book, which you read five times in the seventh grade.

A sentence for the tattoo you regret.

A word for when you close your eyes.

The story isn’t being paced quite right. Authors cringe and editors turn me away but I just keep writing because it reminds me of you and I never want you to go away.

So another chapter about when we debate never-ending subjects in the sunshine.

Two more about fist fights with your cousins in the snow.

Another about baking Angel Food Cake just so you could throw flour in my hair.

Then another for the laughter that sang from the ground up as I watched you get stuck in our favorite tree.

One more about scotch by the riverside.

Be my muse and I’ll write it all down.