this body

Our bodies are always, in some way, a representation of our stories and our experiences, and as summer dawned and the heat coaxed my winter clothes back into the closet, I could not hide from my own weary body anymore. Denying the hatred of self that tempted me at every turn, I chose to explore all my body could experience and find gratitude in each touch.

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Gratitude: A Thought Project

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When I look at this photo, I can feel it.

I feel the warm sun on my skin. I feel my puppy, who often looks and acts like a small bear cub, pressed up against me. His fur fluffs between my fingers; his soft belly rises and falls with each breath as he playfully squirms and makes muffled grunts and growls in my ear. I feel my thighs, touching where they did not before. I feel my waist, expanding farther in my waistband than it did the previous summer.

I have heard many women express gratitude for their aging bodies because their changes represent their accomplishments. Stretch marks from the children they have borne. Extra rolls of skin and fat brought on by bearing and caring for their little ones. Wrinkles from all they have felt and expressed. Freckles from laughter in the sun. Sore joints from years of diligent work.

It is this same recognition of what shapes our external selves that brought on such distaste for my own changes.

Mine was a body that had recently been shaped by despair. Muscles weakened by the days I could not find a reason to get out of bed. Extra pounds gained from the weeks that I only had strength for one activity per day. If I remembered to eat, it was whatever could be obtained the quickest. My face, which I had become certain would show the cheerful squint of crow’s feet in the coming seasons of my life, was now fleshed out without a laugh line in sight. For long draughts my insides did not stir enough for happiness to reach my face.

A new set of people entered my life, and for reasons I may never understand their actions suggested they would have prefered to have never met me. They painted some horrid unfamiliar image and labeled it with my name. I stood bewildered. It seemed the harder I tried to connect with them, the tighter they clung to this image and the harsher they scolded me for it. I was met too often with cold glances. Repetitive rejection. Whispers of gossip that followed me in the streets and confronted me in places I did not expect from people I hardly knew. But heaviest of all was that daunting knowledge that each sin of those who had targeted me would be placed on my own head. I was the subject of blame for their every turmoil. Each hurt feeling or elaborated offense. Even when I paid no notice of them, and mustered the strength to go about cheerfully with my life, there was always that impending text or that next conversation, where our lives would again be interrupted so my husband could be informed of the depravity of the wife he had chosen. Things as simple as shopping, grabbing coffee with a friend, attending or not attending a party, were marked as bitterness I did not posses, vengeance I had no desire for or pettiness I did not wish to serve but was thrown on me nonetheless. There was nowhere I could go to be free.

On several occasions I found myself consoled to the point of tears when any random acquaintance would do something as simple as taking an extra moment to ask me about my day or invite me to an event. I remember hastily brushing away the joy. Since the cold bite of judgement is what had harmed me in the first place, I was afraid to be vulnerable enough to let anyone see how deeply their warmth affected me. My soul had been bullied for too long. It had slowly been beaten into one aching bruise.

I had never been warned that loving someone could provoke such persistent punishment. Maybe someday I will ask my children that, when they have chosen someone to pledge their devotion.

“Do you love them enough to stand by them even when they make decisions that are unpopular?”

“Do you love them enough to be blamed for choices that were not your own?”

“Do you love them enough to be hated?”

I hope they will be like their mother, in that, when their time is right, they will say yes and mean it.

And I hope, for their sake, that they will not be like their mother, in that the hatred cast on them will not cause them to wither.

Because for me, the hatred was too heavy. Whoever I had known myself to be before seemed to have disappeared. I could not find her. I was some tired husk of myself.

When I would mention my physical changes: clothes fitting differently, simple exercises no longer being achievable, etc. my family would insist I did not look that different at all. And in a sense they were right. A little extra fat here. A little less muscle there. That was all that could be identified externally. But to me, those small changes were unmistakable because they were the result of belittlement, discouragement and a newfound hopelessness.

Our bodies are always, in some way, a representation of our stories and our experiences, and as summer dawned and the heat coaxed my winter clothes back into the closet, I could not hide from my own weary body anymore. Denying the hatred of self that tempted me at every turn, I chose to explore all my body could experience and find gratitude in each touch.

Slowly, I gained courage.

I am grateful for this body. Its transformation, which to me was once a sign of my weakness, is now an indicator of my persistence.

It is a body that still feels the cold rush of water across its surface with each dive into the cold waters of my home state.

It is a body that rows canoes and balances on paddle boards and wrestles with the little bear cub in my arms when he has too much energy to play on his own.

It is the body that hugs my friends and hikes through forests. That walks with head held high down mainstreet even when I have been told all too many times that I ought to be ashamed.

It is the body that makes my husband feel at home. The body that holds in it the hope of every future touch and sensation this life will bring.

It is a body that is weaker than it was one year ago, but houses a soul that is so much stronger.

 

Eye to Eye

me1Even in the most joyous of times, the world can drain a soul. Confusion breeds confusion and I question my mind into tangles. With quiet intention, I scan my life, looking to each set of eyes, hoping for answers.

In the first I see only darkness. Faint circles hang beneath eyes that would be lovely were they not so hollow. They sit in a face of skin that has grown gray and gaunt wanting flesh to soften the harsh lines of cynicism. She is bitter. She is cold. I try to make sense of her words but she speaks only perversion so there is no sense to be made of it. Any comfort I try to offer is promptly rejected, so we sit in silence. I stare longer than I should as her brokenness brings me down. Finally she goes away. Still stung by her envy, I search for another pair of eyes.

With great determination, I move along.

The next eyes are blue, bright yet sad. They are hopeful but they are weary. Tiny pupils filled with fear wishing to be brave. Cheeks rosy, lashes long. A face much prettier than its owner knows. There are moments bright and beautiful
before her, smiles so shining and new, but to her they are
tainted by the clinging past and daunting future.
me1 - Version 2Loved ones gather around her table warmed by a meal she prepares, but she misses the joy in their laughter as she questions if she got the spices just right. I tell her the food is perfection; she tells me I am wrong. Her dearest calls her lovely but she does not hear him as she wonders what everyone in the room thinks of her. Another flicker of fear lights her eyes and I do not want to look anymore.

I welcome the next eyes for they are familiar and kind. Gray like the skies they were raised under and the sea they grew up beside. He talks while the rest of us listen, smoke in the air by a tree I used to climb. Wisdom walks boldly from a soul that has seen much more than mine. Still, he always speaks plainly, eyes growing humbler with the passing of time. For every betrayal, I see no bitterness. Both pupil and iris are steadfast and grateful, fully loving of life. For every hurt I’ve had, he’s hurt more and every sin I’ve forgiven, he’s forgiven double. When asked how he loves the hateful when they hurt without having the right, he says, “Hurt people hurt people, so be understanding and always be kind.”

My grace may wear thin to the hurtful, but I’ll heal in a matter of time, for as I watch him loving the hateful, he builds up the grace in my eyes.


To My Something Blue

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue…

b2There is a girl with blue hair, blue eyes and a sometimes-blue soul who has always dreamed of living in a house with a blue door.

She loves her mother, her friends and songs for sopranos.

She hates harsh words, loneliness and April 24th.

Tomorrow is April 24th, and I couldn’t help but want to make it a little bit better for her.

So I will tell you why this girl is lovely. Why the world is better off with her in it. I’ll do that with a little story from not so long ago.

For a few years now, I’ve noticed strange things happen when a wedding is on the horizon. There is joy and happiness, squeals and winks and presents and hugs. There is also sometimes bitter-sweet talk, sadness and worst of all jealousy. Single friends sad to be losing another single friend to impending matrimony. Single ladies in particular feeling a prick of jealousy that their turn has not yet arrived. Sometimes even spite thrown from family members as one person or another clings bitterly to the past, disheartened to watch one of their own leave and cleave. There can be an ache brought on by the conflict of, “I’m happy for you but sad for me.”

The unfortunate truth is, when two people find true love (yes, twue wuv), some build that love up and others poke and prod at it for their own gain. This is the human condition.

In planning for my own wedding, it has been made clear to me that there is nothing new under the sun. Some rejoice in selflessness. Others, the opposite.

In light of all this, I must admit I was nervous to talk about my relationship to my lovely Something Blue. Her and I have been single together, not-so-single together, and burnt and bruised together. Things always seemed to line up so we could relate in real time, and we were always there to encourage one another in hope and strength.

Now picture February. I am newly engaged. My dear friend, the little Something Blue, is talking to me from across the state about the hurt in her heart over boys and loss and loneliness and all the things life tends to throw at us. As I comfort my friend, I fear that it will add to her sting that I now have what she someday wants.

bbBut then she says this, “I know this sounds weird since it’s your wedding, not mine, but it makes everything so much better that you’re getting married. I’m just so happy for you, that it makes me feel less sad.”

I don’t recall exactly how I thanked her then, but this is how I’m thanking her now:


Dear little Something Blue,

That. Is love.

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking…” (1 Corinthians 13:4,5) Love is powerful to a degree that is humbling. 

I am humbled that there are souls who are so loving that merely the happiness of another would ease their pain.

You, little Blue, have a better grasp on love than so many of those who claim to know it so well.

b4It is sad that you are often treated with less than the kindness you show others, but do not let the darkness of the world overtake you.

For my wedding day, I am told I should have something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. You are the best something blue I could ask for.

Please sing for us. Celebrate with us. Join in every bit of joy and thanksgiving because it is meant to be shared.

And remember every day that all of us are so blessed that you are here. Blessed that you still sing, and laugh, and love. Blessed that you can smile and hug your sweet mother and make breakfast with your family on April 24th.

There are those of us who see you for who you really are and love you immeasurably for it. I hope that someday, you see what we see.

Until then, I will never stop praying that you do.

See you in June.

Sincerely,

Kira

bandme2 bandme

 

P.S.
You can still be my something blue even when your hair goes back to brown.
😉


To Write Boldly

20150417-123644.jpgOn a Tuesday, after a surprise spring storm (which my boss sent me running through to deliver what would turn out to be a very rain-splattered commission check) I had the joy of riding home from work with my fiance. Normally I drive myself and although the radio is decent company, Chase is always preferred.

While we were driving over the wet ground and under the bright sky, I was encouraged to hear that he had just been reading not one post, not two, but my entire blog. Then he proceeded to say lots of nice things that are far beyond what I deserve.

Since the beginning of getting to know him, it’s been clear to me that reading my blog was part of what inspired him to pop out of nowhere and pursue me with more determination than any boy ever has. In short, my writing helped Chase, well, chase me. (clearly it wasn’t my comedic genius.)

I have been asked several times why I started writing a blog.  If you look back far enough you’ll find that it started as a place to share my artwork for my senior independent study. But the writing, the part where thoughts and feelings are posted for anyone to see, that’s the part that has been questioned, not always in  a cynical light but often out of innocent curiosity.

Despite how things turned out, the purpose was not to attract a dashing husband. It was a much simpler equation: I love to write and I ought to write.

Before I could write on my own, my young and unreasonably small-for-her-age self would illustrate storybooks, then dictate to anyone who was willing the words I wanted on each page. Seeing as my mother was not a stenographer, she quickly became irritated with this and told me I had to write my own stories. Forced to battle spelling and grammar alone (because “How do you spell ____________?” every other second became equally as annoying) storybook writing became less of a game and more of a self-inflicted chore. But as a child who thought too much and spoke too little, it was a chore I was always determined to master. And as I worked at it, I became increasingly less willing to let anyone read anything I wrote. Even things that were trivial and impersonal had to be hidden away and guarded as a total secret. As a little word hoarder, nothing was quite so conflicting as the teacher choosing to read my work aloud to the class. Hurray! She thinks I’m talented…. Oh no! She’s reading it out loud.

While valiant efforts at “I don’t care what they think,” were repeated in my head, the only true comfort was in knowing that the particularly judgmental classmates couldn’t be bothered to listen anyways. My writing was still safe and sound. However, wanting something to be “safe and sound” can often just be a thinly veiled form of cowardice.

As someone who enjoys singing and acting, I know that the more those talents are preformed, the more they improve. Writing is much the same. I can spend my whole life scribbling on notebook paper then tucking it away in a drawer (Which I still often do. This blog is heavily censored by yours truly, not a journal.) but that will never improve who I am in the same way that saying, “Here is what my creator has given me. Let me share it,” has already done.

If every poem and painting I ever unfolded was hidden forever, I would still continue because I delight in creating art and I know God does too. But if I can further share this delight, I will.

20150417-122156.jpgJust as those who love baking ought to make cookies to be eaten and those who love sewing ought to fashion clothes to be worn, those who love writing ought to form stories to be read.

I have been so deeply blessed by the writing of others. And I know that those writers have been deeply blessed by sharing that which they have been given.

So to all the writers, write. If you are like me, you will become braver and bolder. You will not falter so easily under fear and intimidation.

And as an added bonus, a cute nerdy boy might recognize you and yell at you from across the street. But that is completely beside the point.

Still, you never know what’s happening behind the scenes while you are busy being who you were designed to be. 

She Keeps Her Butt Round and Her Lips Red

If she likes you, she’ll tell you.
If she’s hungry, she’ll eat.
No sugar-coated words or fake smiles from her teeth.
When her body craves motion, she’s quick on the move.
You know she’ll be dancing; You hope it’s with you.
American sweetheart with some spice to her sweet.
Apple pie on a Sunday where the fallen saints meet.

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