with women.

"The word midwife means with women," she said. 

I think a piece of me always knew this, given the way my heart would constrict and find breath again every time the word was used. But something clicked in that moment, the resonance too large and weighty to ignore.

There are all kinds of meanings behind the word with. 

It can signal accompaniment, possession, attitude, and responsibility. 
It can mean walking alongside someone. 
It can also mean opposition. 

I haven't always walked with women well. 

I think I've always tried. But I don't think this is enough. I still failed. I still listened too much to the voices beside me instead of the one in front of me — the one craving space and rest. Slowly, the word with would grow fangs and rot into opposition and jealousy. 

She's too needy, they said.
...too weird.
...too zealous.
...too demanding. 

Be careful, the chorus chanted. She'll cut you when she's able.

.::.

I watch us. I watch me. 

I want to believe the only ones with knives are those who fear the depth of their own story. 

.::.

A friend of mine speaks of ladders. It's something that was told to her by a woman who knows her power. 

"We can be ladders, you know. There are women who will carry you with them as they climb." 

When she says this I wonder what it would look like if this were the norm. If stepping on fingers and toes wasn't necessary because we all held on to each other. 

I wonder what would happen if we let ourselves be rocket fuel for another. Celebrating and ricocheting stories of worth instead of pain and blame. Whispering tales of bravery instead of dropping seeds of hate and suspicion. 

She radiates life, they would say. 
...and hope. 
...and connection. 
...and poetry. 

That woman isn't on fire, the chorus would chant. She's a galaxy. A supernova. 

.::.

Midwife means with women. 

Most times, this gets messy. The birthing process is slow and hot and fierce and sharp with pain. Together though, we can move mountains.

Breathe, says the woman next to you, holding your arm up and rubbing your back. 

Speak, says the one on the other side, wiping your tears and lifting your chin. 

Posted on May 27, 2015 and filed under Soul Care.

A Good Woman.

I’ve learned sometimes it is enough to let yourself feel the anger. It doesn’t mean that you have to always act on it. Anger can actually bring a searing clarity, and moving through that anger can eventually bring peace
— Joy Williams

At first, it was just the pain. 

It felt like amputation, like a collapsed lung. I couldn't do anything — I was frozen. I stood in our kitchen and leaned against Russ' chest as I struggled for air. 

"Did I just ruin everything?" I asked between sobs.

"You ruined nothing, love," he answered, his arms squeezing me tighter for support, holding me up when I couldn't even stand anymore.

It was a decision based from the deepest places of my intuition and story. When it all came crashing down around me, I oscillated between stunned silence and sobbing into my pillow. Thoughts kept circulating in my mind like a stalled record — It wasn't supposed to be this way. The shrapnel shouldn't have spread so far. 

For weeks I walked around like a zombie, inhaling negativity left and right. I woke up anticipating the battles I would face that day, and fall asleep exhausted and beat, the tears still running hot down my cheeks.

Until one day, an email found its way into my inbox and as I read it, I could feel something shift inside. 

You are a wolf in sheep's clothing, it said. To this person, I was a reminder of the dangers of duplicity. 

There was more. But I couldn't handle it. My hands shook as I forwarded the words to my husband and dropped the email into a folder where I could forget it. I never forgot it, but I also never responded. 

I never responded because of the anger. The anger that came fast and hot and ready for war. 

.::.

I lay face down as she worked her hands up and down my neck, focusing on the spots that needed the most care. 

We were talking about life. Namely, disappointments. Specifically, the anger I kept feeling about everything happening around me. The problem? I couldn't hold on to it long enough before I would douse it with a healthy dose of good will and peace-keeping. That's what a good woman does, right? Close her eyes and move along, pretending not to feel? 

"I normally advise people to let it go, to not allow it time or space. But for some reason, I think you need to speak it. I think you need to be as specific as possible — naming what angers you — and allowing the space to empty on its own." 

I swallowed, the tears coming fast all over again. Nothing I said would be a surprise. She's one of my best friends and knows the roots of all my stories, especially the ones that bring me pain. I started listing them one-by-one, my voice shaking and my nose growing more and more clogged as I tried to hold back sobs. 

There was a long list. Relationships and jobs and adoption and faith and fear — it all surfaced. 

And then I remembered the email. My breath caught. I cleared my throat and whispered, "I'm angry this still holds power over me and my story." 

Her rhythmic motion paused for a split second before she let out a breath in solidarity. 

"I'm angry too," she said. 

I closed my eyes and let the air fill my lungs. My phantom limb wasn't throbbing anymore. Today, I had won the war.

Check out the song that inspired this post here

Posted on May 22, 2015 and filed under The Memoirs.

The beginning: a mosaic of color and syntax.

I started blogging in 2001. 

There are a lot of stories within the almost-fifteen years I've been online. I went through college, I broke up with a boyfriend, I started dating my husband. I graduated, taught middle school, got married and voted for Bush. I got a job at a high school. I stayed there for almost ten years. 

I got my graduate degree. I went to Africa. I wrote a book. I met my therapist. I moved to Austin, began the adoption process, and quit my job.

I started a business and wrote two more novels.

I am — and I am not — the same Elora who stepped foot in this particular space five years ago.

There's something curious that happens when you allow fear to become your editor. Your entire being becomes heavy with untold stories. You filter dialogue and take care with opinion. Eventually, you just stop speaking all together. 

This is me beginning to speak. 
This is me taking back the mic and starting over. 

I started deleting posts a year ago. I started from the beginning and if any post didn't ring true to who I wanted to coach or who I wanted to be, I copied and pasted it into Evernote and deleted it from the site. 

I wanted to be cohesive. I wanted my brand to be manageable and recognizable. I wanted so many things, but got none of it. 

In her book When the Heart Waits, Sue Monk Kidd says, "God didn't prioritize the parts of me. God created my emotions, my instincts, my senses, and my body as well as my spirit and my mind — and pronounced them all good." 

Here is the truth of it: I used to write about faith, and then I didn't anymore. A lot of it centers on my own beliefs shifting, the doubts taking the place of once firmly held ideals. How do you accurately describe what it's like to learn how to live within the questions? Some of it though smells a lot like me hiding under the guise of discernment. The core of this facade? 

Fear. 

The internet can be a beautiful place filled with authenticity and vulnerability. Some of my best relationships have been formed within the virtual walls of various blogs and communities and social media channels. 

But the internet can also be a thinly-veiled Monster. I know this because I've been part of it. The spontaneous lynch mobs forming among Facebook threads and Twitter feeds, the private messaging and private groups filled with gossip and slander, the dissecting and deconstructing of words to fit your own meticulously contrived opinion — anyone can fall into it. 

And anyone can fall prey to it. 

I tried to write about myself for a little bit. I brought back the personal narrative and wrote about risk and what it felt like to go soft. But last year something happened. It was all mostly internal, but my focus shifted. I got tired. My inner circle got too large and I lost perspective. The fear took root and I decided to just stop telling stories. According to a few around me, my emotions were getting in the way, and so I shut them off. 

That's when I focused on the sale. 

I'm not proud of it. I think the entire time I fell into this rhythm, I knew I was flailing. I was a fish out of water. I knew I looked as desperate as I felt. But I didn't know how to stop. It's a vicious cycle when we try to grow numb to the stories happening around us and to us and instead we focus on getting. Usually, this means we're forced to live someone else's story — taking and mimicking their narrative and pretending the ill-fitting plot fits us perfectly. It's the most uncomfortable thing in the world to live as a character in someone else's story. 

It's equally as vicious and violent when you break yourself free. You know that saying about being the average of the five people you hang out with most? It's true. And if who you are aligning yourself with continually questions who you are and what you stand for, you better believe you'll begin to question yourself. 

You'll question your purpose, your story, your decisions, and your intuition. The very thing you built out of love and tears and hope becomes a mirage in their shadow. 

I broke free. I broke free and it hurt like hell. But somewhere within these past few months, the slow steady beat of my heart has returned. This is what happens when you allow yourself to let go of everything that doesn't align with your own internal rhythm — the one that speaks of purpose and strength and calling. 

I'm remembering the rhythm. 

I've archived the flailing. I saved it in a folder on my computer to remember on the days I'm feeling lost. I'm starting fresh, and I hope you'll join me.

Tell your story, the heart whispers. Tell all of it. Every fracture — every pin prick of light. 

I remember the parts of me — the shards that merged together create a mosaic of color and syntax. And so I open my mouth, take a deep breath, and begin.

Posted on May 16, 2015 and filed under The Memoirs.