on friendship and choosing to stay.

I've been thinking about friendship.

If you were to ask me to categorize my relationships these past few years, I would probably grimace and drop them into something akin to tumultuous. 

There's the cluster that was our adoption falling apart and the awkwardness of grief. I've never been great with verbalizing emotion. Because of this, those closest to us had difficulty knowing what to do with the bomb that just went off in the middle of our lives. For a few weeks, we heard nothing. After a period of silence, I sent emails to two of my closest friends at the time. I tried to make them as graceful as possible. Grief is weird. I know I didn't word them perfectly because I literally had no precursor to fall back on with this situation. 

They were the ones I sent pictures to when I got them from the birth mother. They saw the baby first — before our family. But in my stumbling around, I could not articulate the importance of them being there for us while we grieved.

One of those emails resulted in me sitting at a Taco Deli, crying while working through the messy middle of expectations and forgiveness. The other one didn't go so well. I wrote that I felt abandoned during a huge period of need, she responded she was busy with her new son. We volleyed back and forth until it ended with a puttered sigh of exhaustion that I would later realize was the death knoll of our friendship. Someone I once considered my person would eventually unfriend me on Facebook with no warning, and leave me to wonder where I could have remedied what was broken.

The truth: I unfollowed her feed long before she unfriended me, the pain of seeing her grapple with motherhood too heavy a weight to bear in the new silence between us.

And then there was the necessary breaking. The one who labeled me her Elora. The one who not-so-timidly grew to possess everything I reached for and considered. The breaking point came one night while I held her in my arms, her tears flowing freely. Suddenly she took a breath and screamed obscenities with such ferocity that it took every molecule not to push her away in fear. The words were directed at no one in particular, which made it that much more haunting. I inhaled and closed my eyes and swallowed against the whisper of my Spirit, "those words were directed toward you, love. Leave." 

Shortly after, she would speak darkness, and exhausted, I would stammer. To this day I wish I would have stayed a second longer to speak. Instead, wounds went deep and shrapnel flew. I knew I was done.

The cut was painful but exact. Root bound relationships are like that — the ending always takes a piece of you, but the healing is quick once the necessary is cut away.

This time though, the healing was marred by other relationships. Those who left when they promised to stay. Those who disappeared with nothing to explain. Those who cut me outside their own boundary line, for reasons of their own I'm sure.

This is why I think of tumultuous when presented with my relational landscape. It makes me want to run from any kind of intimacy, which is probably why I haven't confronted a close friend about blocking me out of nowhere. It's also probably why my hands shook when I hit send on a text asking someone why she unfriended me on Facebook. If these people left me at a moment's notice, what's stopping everyone else?

I know the answer to this, but I don't like it.

It's choosing to stay. It's the risk. Most importantly, it's recognizing who my people are by their willingness to dig in the trenches. These are not the ones who wallow in my vices and celebrate my mistakes. These are the ones who carry me from the battle field when I'm too tired to take another step. They're the ones who grab my hand and whisper, "where you go, I'll go" as I'm walking out the door.

It's my husband's hands on my face while I sleep, checking to see if I have a fever when I'm sick.

It's texting my best friend that I'm currently stuck in traffic and crying because I feel like I'm stuck in life and have no idea what I'm doing, knowing that she's going to say the perfect thing to get my ass back in gear.

It's talking to my sister about purpose and pride and the distractions that get in the way of all of it. 

It's changing plans for dinner with a friend in the midst of heartbreak. 

It's rooting deep, even when the fear of abandonment starts making an appearance. It's choosing to believe that leaving is not the norm, and that my people with me in the arena are just as bruised and broken as I am, but refuse to call it quits. 

And because they stay, I will stay.

Posted on November 7, 2015 and filed under The Memoirs.

the audacity of productivity

Every few months, I'm reminded of rhythms.

Usually the reminder looks like me staring at the computer while the cursor taunts me. Only then do I blink and think, "oh yeah. Rhythms. It's about that time, isn't it?"

Here's the thing — as creatives we all experience dry spells where our words feel as if they're falling on fallow ground. We can't ever be always on — always producing. Yet, every single time we brush up against our own humanity, we see those limitations as weaknesses.

"It's just writer's block," we reason. "It'll pass if I just have more discipline." And sure, there's some truth to the beauty of discipline and what it can mean for our creativity. But sometimes — most times — the pause in our breath is just that: a pause. We're filling our lungs with air in order to breathe again.

I call this relentless pursuit the audacity of productivity. We get so focused on continued creation despite exhaustion and rhythms that we fail to see what we're finishing around us. There's no gratitude. No letting things go completely before moving on to the next project. No allowing white space to rejuvenate us. In fact, a few months ago, as one of my best friends worked on my back and wrestled with the knots firmly tangled in my muscles. she asked me this question —

I'm wondering if you have any idea just how much you've produced lately. 


I breathed through the release of tension and chuckled. But then I took a breath of surprise because somewhere inside, somewhere deep, something clicked into place. I squeezed my eyes shut and let the tears fall as I remembered everything I've built and completed this year. "There's something to that question," I said. "I don't — I don't think I have any idea. I don't think I've let myself rest in those accomplishments."

And isn't this the way? Don't we always want to work-work-work and produce-create-write-produce until we're breathing our last? I wonder what would happen if we breathe. I wonder what would happen if we flipped that audacity on its head and thumbed our noses at expectation and said instead, "I know my worth. I know my creativity. And right now, in this moment, I rest in that." 

Posted on November 3, 2015 and filed under Soul Care.

how to invest in your creativity

When I worked full-time as a high-school administrator, one of the most difficult things for me to learn was that investing in my creativity was just as important as creating a daily rhythm. It just wasn't a priority. Maybe a huge piece of this was because I was exhausted the moment i walked in the door, but also it was because I couldn't see myself as a true artist yet. 

But once I started to take my art seriously, things fell into place. It's more of an equation than a magic pill. More investment = more production. Little investment = little production. 

The Investment of Cash

I'm going to go ahead and get this one out of the way because it's pretty much where our minds run to when we hear the word investment. Someone once told me that we hold more value over something we purchase. Especially with the online market, I find this to be true. 

This past fall, I knew my creative side needed some help with branding. There was a well-known eCourse going viral on Facebook that was completely free. I signed up fast for that opportunity, and then never made it to a call. However, around the same time, I found Hey, Sweet Pea and fell in love with their message and signed up for My Own Irresistible Brand, their online branding school.  This was instrumental in me owning my voice as a creative entrepreneur. It took a calculated investment on my part to carve space large enough for this to take priority. (No really. The day I signed up was the day my husband lost his full time job). But I did it. For half of October and all of November I hunkered down, watched the videos, and completed the worksheets. What you're reading is a result of those moments of investment. 

What this could look like: buy books on topics you're wanting to research. Some of my favorites on creativity are When Women Were Birds, Manage Your Day-to-Day, Bird by Bird, and Walking on Water. Purchase the necessary supplies to paint that canvas collecting dust in the corner. Sign up for story-coaching.

The Investment of Time

Creativity means nothing if we're not willing to spend time on it. This goes for whatever stage of life you find yourself. I've known people who write books in ten minute increments, between soccer practice and dirty diapers. I've also known people who write books in one fell swoop, digging deep for a period of a few weeks in order to knock out the words. 

But this is more than just producing a product. For me, the investment of time looks a lot like whether or not I'm art journaling. Am I creating just for me? Am I taking the time I need to remember why I love paint on my fingers or words on the page? If I'm not, the heavy-chested feeling is close behind and threatening to take over my busy schedule. 

What this could look like: take a serious look at what information you're consuming on a day-to-day basis. THIS TAKES TIME. How much time is spent on Facebook? Twitter? Pinterest? Netflix? What would happen if you flipped that time and used it to jot a few notes down in your journal or fling some paint? Maybe you could read some of the books you purchased in an attempt to invest cash into your art?

The Investment of Emotional Attachment 

This is a big one for me. Without an emotional attachment, I can't get anywhere with my creativity. I have to want to write. And in order to achieve that want? I have to believe it's worth it. That I'm worth it.

Spoiler: you're worth the investment in your creativity. 

One of the biggest reasons it took me so long to begin to consistently invest in my creativity is because I couldn't make the mental shift from my creativity is a habit to my creativity is essential in how I live. Once I made this shift, investment was easy. I recognized the inherent need to tell stories and work my thoughts out through paint. Even if I'm focusing on cleaning the apartment, I'm still investing in the aesthetics of my living space. 

What this could look like: in writing, it's simple. Do you want to write what you're writing right now? If not, why? Write what you want. For everything else — consider your motivation. Are you painting so you can post it on Instagram and get lots of likes? Are you writing so you can pay rent? (Ha!) Are you starting a business so you can be rich? 

Or can you not help but write? Do stories find you? Do you spend time daydreaming about white space? Is the texture of paint on your fingers one of your core desired feelings? 

Most of all, believe that you are worth the effort. Let the words I am an artist or I am a writer or I am an author roll around your tongue. Do it until it's second nature. 

And then create. 

Posted on October 1, 2015 and filed under Soul Care.