Posts filed under risk

let's be writers.

It was a few weeks ago on a Friday night. I had just gotten off the phone with my now agent, and my head was swimming with the possibility of what-could-be—I'd gone into this whole self-publishing thing hopeful. I'd seen what could happen when a story found its niche and audience. I wanted it for me, wanted it for my writing, wanted it for my characters. 

That evening, I felt alive [the gin helped].  

"How are you feeling with everything?" My phone buzzed with the text from a friend.

I giggled. How was I feeling? High. Euphoric. Scared shitless. Hopeful. Insane.  

"Good!" I responded. "I just got off the phone with an agent interested in my work and I'm really excited about it...."  

We talked back and forth for a little while, each talking about our hopes and fears with publishing [her book comes out next week]. I told her that the deeper I sink into the possibility of writing books for a living, the more my heart feels at home.

The reply came quick.  

"Oh Elora. Let's be writers. Let's really be!" 

I smiled, because this is her. Declarative.

The next week, I received a letter in the mail. It was from her, and it was a card with her font scrawled across with black ink -- 

 let's be writers 

 .::.

I have this card now perched on the wall in my office. It's within my line of vision as I type, and so every time I glance up I see her words and remember.

This is what I want. It's what I've wanted. Forever.  

.::. 

I taught myself how to write. Driving with my grandma to her aerobics class, I would remember letters off of signs and copy them on paper as I leaned against the wall—my own babysitter free within those empty pages waiting for my own scrawl. Every night, I'd show them to her. 

"What does this say, grandma?"  

"Well darling, that says STOP."  

And then I'd categorize it.  

I did the same thing with our books, the many thrown about our house. After the first few hundred times my dad read me One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish I knew it by memory. If I knew by memory, I could study the way the words curved into each other. How they bounced together and created a rhythm all their own. 

From there, I wrote on everything. Paper. Fisher Price kitchen set. Highlights Magazine. I wasn't satisfied with just any story. It needed to make my breath quicken and my arms heavy with longing. It needed to make me break into a grin or a shout because I couldn't get to my journal quick enough. 

In elementary school I'd write plays with my friends.
In middle school I dabbled in short stories.
High school brought the angst of poetry. 

For me, words—in whatever form—became my safety.. 

 .::.

A month ago today, Every Shattered Thing released. It's been a month of crazy highs and crazy lows. 

But really, it's solidified one thing: there's nothing I want more than to write.  

I think for writers, putting our work out there brings a level of vulnerability we aren't prepared for—no one ever tells you or sends out warnings about the review process. HINT: don't read them. But, as much vulnerability is required, there's nothing like seeing your work alive and breathing and in the hands of others. It's your work. Something you created out of nothing.  

That's nothing short of magic. 

And regardless of whether you believe those words came to you via Spirit or Muse or Creativity, there's one commonality: nothing scares the shit out of you more than thinking of writing another book, and nothing makes you feel more alive than realizing you get to do this for the rest of your life.

Let's be writers?  

Yes. Let's really be. 

Posted on September 27, 2013 and filed under risk, books.

100 days of brave.

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She asked me a few weeks ago, before my month blew up a little in my face.  

"I'm doing this thing on my blog for 100 days. You're more than welcome to join me. " 

I smiled and nodded and went and read a post, and then shut the browser to pack for my sister's bachelorette party. 

.::. 

I went without stopping for three weeks. Sister's bachelorette party. Sister's wedding. Retreat. Idea Camp. Best friend's bridal shower. One-by-one these events passed and the only thing I could really do is jot a few sentences down in my journal. I think there's maybe three posts for the month of September here on the blog, and in my art journal, usually my first-stop for word spilling, I only have four spreads for over three weeks of living. 

.::. 

And then I read this post on Tuesday and I remembered what it was like to craft words just because I love it. I remembered the quick-breath-intake of hitting publish and knowing the post will land where it will land. I am a fan of timing—of the study of time and knowing when something is good vs. great vs. perfect. Reading the post, noticing the challenge, feeling the yes rise up in my bones, I knew I would be taking part in the challenge. Even though others have been counting down for some time, today is my day one.

.::. 

My word for the year is RISK.  I'll be filing my posts under that category since thinking of doing-the-brave-thing for 100 days is a bit of a risk and makes me shake a little internally. In a way, these posts will be like my morning pages, reminding me what it means to sit my ass in the chair and write. I may write bravely or I may write about something brave I did or who knows, really. If I've learned anything this year it's that plans have a way of making a fool out of all of us.

But I can dream. And in 100 days, my dream is to be a little softer around the edges. 

 

Posted on September 26, 2013 and filed under risk.

here i raise my ebenezer.

I usually feel them coming in the core of my chest. It's a tightening. A shortness of breath.  

When the relief doesn't come, when I don't sit and write and find out what it is I'm supposed to be saying, the pressure takes to my throat.  

Then it just feels like I'm constantly sucking back tears.  

Words have always been a way of release for me. When I was younger, I'd grab my journal and cry the tears of disappointment or frustration or confusion and write to my heart's content. And when I was finished, when my wrists were cramping and my nose was runny and I was choking back the halted breath of finding myself in the way words form, I would close my eyes and rest.  

But lately, I haven't wanted to go there. 

I have stories from these past few months, I just don't want to share them. 

Because if I share them? Then I have to go there. And I don't want to—I don't want you to see my messiness. I don't want your vision to hone in on the vacancy sign blinking in the background of some of my relationships. That's too raw. It's too broken and I've yet to find the holy.

.::. 

I sat across some friends these past few days and they listened as I hemmed and hawed about writing and voice and lack of wanting. 

"I'm so done," I said. "I'm tired of the fighting and the bickering and the pointing fingers and yeah...I'm just tired." 

A friend looked at me and smiled. "But you'll still write. You can't not write. I know this." 

.::. 

Grief bludgeons down the sharp edges.  

The vacancy sign will still blink and I'll have the ache in my chest of wanting to do something but the vitality is missing. The wherewithal to get up and move so friendships are salvaged goes where the sun don't shine and I'm left with wound upon wound because I'm nothing if not consistent.

And I think of the voices telling me I'm believing lies and taking them as my truth and I remember—faintly—the sassiness of maybe I have fight in me yet.  

But then I look at the closet stuffed to the brim with a crib and changer-dresser and swing and baby boy clothes and well...the fight just leaves because if I don't have the answers about that, if I was so wrong about that—where else can I be wrong?

.::. 

Grief tangles you.  

You think you're okay, and then you remember something and suddenly anxiety sucks the air out of your lungs. You can't breathe and you don't know why and you realize it's just your brain playing tricks because surely you can't be making such a big deal out of (fill in the blank). But yet you can't get a grip on things. No amount of baths, walks, journaling, painting or crying will help you level out. 

And when you do? When your heart-rate levels and your vision clears, grief is waiting.  

Because that's when you realize what really happened. Schedules don't negate the hurt. Vacations won't erase the memory. And you'll find yourself sitting in your therapist's office, heaving and snotting and exclaiming and sighing because what the fuck. Why. 

Why and how and when and all of the words but yet none of them because nothing really describes it or comes close to capturing the pain and confusion and messiness of this and that and the monster waiting over there. 

.::. 

And yet, with all the bludgeoning and tangling, grief has a way of refining. 

It doesn't always feel that way. Most days the manic laugh is right under the surface, waiting for the question of "how are you? It's been a month for you guys, huh?"  

But occasionally, and usually when you least expect it, you'll gain the moment of clarity.  

Mine came in a coffee shop across from a friend, when I realized I didn't fit the mold and I was more than okay. I'd rather be a warning on someone's lips than stuffed into a box where I can't even breathe. 

And here's where I wrap everything up and lay out my Ebenezer for you to see.  

You see, I'm learning to let the soft animal of my body love what it loves. And I'm embracing this skin of artist and mystic and I'm the happiest-yet-saddest I've been in a long while.

Here I raise my Ebenezer.  

Grief bludgeoned and tangled and burnt away all the pieces that just don't fit. And some of it still hurts. And some places will have scars.  

But I'm done being the poster-child for anything other than what I know He's called me to do. And so I'll write and I'll breathe and I'll love and I'll hope and I'll mother and I'll whisper push-push-push when it's time for your own words to have their birth.

 

Posted on July 19, 2013 and filed under risk, the {true} and the questions.

on embracing habits of being.

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I write it on my calendar so I won't forget.

Freedom. Flexibility. Healing. Beauty. Style.

Every day, a different focus.

I didn't start out this way. It's easy to forget.

In this year of risk, it's easy to remember the failures and where I lack.

But that won't get me anywhere. 

So I wrote down what it is I wanted and wrestled through the difficulty of owning my dreams. I saw the themes emerge - freedom from expectations, flexibility in work and providing for my family, pursuing healing in myself and others, chasing after Beauty,  finding my style and quitting the incessant need to copy everyone else or follow the status quo.

And it's helping.

Instead of worry, I focus on what habit I'm needing to fill. I lift it up, inspect it, turn it around and see where it's been bumped and bruised by the past week. I hold it close and breathe in the air around me and remember - today is for freedom. So I let it go and watch it make it's way back to me on its own.

I listen closer to these dreams He's asking me to follow. There are still moments it makes no sense - the moments I'm staring at the bank account and wondering when the tide will turn or watching the countdown to little lion man shrink - but I'm more equipped to stand firm when doubt creeps in (because he always does, he's relentless like that). 

Focusing on these habits have me all tilted. Or maybe I was tilted before and now I'm straightened out and fully stretched? Whatever the case, they force me to remember. To not give up pursuing the healing I know is out there. To continue to fight for Beauty and freedom for not just me, but for you as well.

I have some announcements coming soon. Ones that have been burning in this heart of mine for a few weeks. I hope you'll stay around to hear and walk with me through the words. 

Want more? Maybe even my words in your inbox? Sign up for fresh content here and receive a free copy of my short story collection. I would love to continue the conversation and I won't ever spam you. Promise.

You can also find me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter. Let's meet.

Posted on April 8, 2013 and filed under risk.

when there's always another story.

Kyle Thompson

Kyle Thompson

And if you're still breathing, you're the lucky ones. Most of us are heaving through corrupted lungs - Daughter

The first five years of my marriage, I believed the incredible anger I felt during sex was normal - an annoyance. I never thought about how it normally happened when I was woken up out of a deep sleep or how the anger wasn't ever directed toward my husband. I just assumed everyone felt this way and I needed to grin and bear it so to speak.

Slowly, the questions started. Why did I hate sex? I waited. It was supposed to be amazing, right? We were supposed to have these incredible nights of passion. Friends would make quips about being married and enjoying the "perks" and I would smile, nod and join the conversation knowing I was lying. I didn't get the perks. I hated the perks. The perks made me cry.

I felt broken.

I loved my husband and felt incredibly attracted to him. There were moments in which he would do something that would set the mood perfectly. And then - and then - the brick wall. And for whatever reason I never thought I could say anything. It never occurred to me that I should mention, "Hey. Whenever you do this? It pisses me off and I kind of want to punch you. I can't explain why but this can't be normal, right?"

And let me say here, on behalf of my husband, this wasn't anything of his making.

It took five and a half years of marriage (and twenty-seven years) for me to understand some of the memories I have growing up aren't just memories of hiding things under covers and playing touch this and see what happens. Every single moment of manipulation, shame, coercion and secrets came rushing back and it all made sense.

But here's the issue. Before, I felt broken and couldn't explain it. Now? Knowing the anger and disassociation held roots in sexual abuse broke me. Every touch, every scent, every sensation - it sent me reeling. When I found out even my skin held memory, I lost it. Crying in bed, wrapped in my husband's arms, I never felt more incomplete and worthless.

I couldn't help but wonder: all those years I waited was a lie...

Now I knew why sex was the biggest hurdle in our marriage. I knew why I felt dizzy and anxious whenever the mood shifted as we headed to bed. And I hated it. I hated this story I knew was my own because how could I be the wife I knew I needed to be - the wife I was taught about in high school and college - if I couldn't offer my husband what he needed without falling into a frenzy of triggers?

I heard the voices - the ones telling me if I didn't "give it to him" he would run somewhere else. The ones warning against withholding sex even if I wasn't in the mood because it was my biblical duty as a wife. I heard them and I internalized them and I made them my truth...

...not understanding I was believing a lie,
...and that the safety I felt with my husband was true,
...and that sexual discovery with and for and beside my husband was worth celebrating, ...and that speaking up despite the pounding of my heart and the threat of misunderstanding that I just can't right now meant more for my marriage than any other speaker or Christian professional could offer with trite statements and over-generalizations.

You see, there's danger in a single story and this - please hear me - is the problem with the purity culture.

Growing up, I was told things in earnest. Don't give part of yourself away to someone else who isn't your husband! Your heart will be like these papers glued together and ripped apart! You'll always think of this person when you get married and have sex as God intended!

And this whole time, no one spoke of what happens when these things are taken. No one told me how to handle my body if I didn't feel as if it were mine to own. No one whispered how breaking the bondage of abuse would hurt like hell and the mess would spill over into my marriage bed. No one told me that it was okay, that I wasn't less than, that there was goodness and bravery in figuring out the dust of belief left over from His fire burning through the lies. 

So here I am, speaking it to those who were forgotten.

- If sex makes you feel as if you're drowning
- if you feel an anger radiate from within you for no reason
- if it's almost impossible to stay present and aware during sex
- if you feel dirty and conflicted and less than because of someone else's mistakes - you are not alone. 

I'm through with others trying to tell my story. I'm so tired of those who approach the table with a flippancy and an air of superiority thinking the answers are plain as day and fit everyone like a glove. I'm here to tell you this just isn't true and if it weren't for the incredible patience, understanding and gentleness of my husband - our marriage wouldn't have made it.

I waited but sex is still scary for me. I still hesitate when it comes to the perks of being married. I never know when my body will take over and initiate memories held too long on the surface of my skin but slowly - and through my husband's touch and the restoration of One who makes all things new - I'm beginning to experience restoration. There is electricity and heat and friction and messiness and holiness in the midst of sex - and it's for this very reason the Church must approach it with humility and awareness.

And for you who know - for you who hide - for you who wonder: there is hope and healing. Your story belongs at the table as well.

photo by Kyle Thompson

Posted on February 13, 2013 and filed under risk, the {true} and the questions.