Heart Strings

Photo Credit: Rosie Kerr

Friend, the connections we form with the people around us are vital.

To many these connections may be merely visceral. Connections defined by an emotional response between two people. However, for me, I feel something much more substantial connecting me to you.

A strand, a sting, that runs from my heart to yours.

Japanese legend describes something similar in the story of the Red String of Fate. This legend tells that there is an invisible red string connected to our pinkie finger that stretches out to intertwine with the red thread of other people we are fated and predestined to meet in life.

These are ties that can be stretched, tangled, damaged, but will never be broken.

Friend, I don’t feel the tugs on my pinkie finger, but I certainly feel them on my heart.

When I visualize my heart I see it battered and bruised. The evidence of old wounds. There would be signs, also, of my attempt to protect it; an old broken stone wall forgotten, and a battered shield lying to waste.

However, your eyes wouldn’t focus on these things. Instead, they would see the sinuous fibers, an infinity of colors, running from my heart to those hearts of all of those that I am, and have been, connected to.

Looking closely, you would see there are some broken strands, dangling as if lost. These are reminders of injuries long past. Other strands pulse with a light that seems close to going out, still others have rotted and festered. For friend, unlike the legend of the Red String of Fate, I do believe that there are connections that are only meant to last for a brief time. To teach a lesson. To reveal a truth. While broken and severed the reminder of that connection will last a lifetime.

There are those other connections that pulse with vibrancy, clearly showing the strength of that bond. These are the connections that matter. These are the connections that last a lifetime. These are the connections that I feel so strongly in my heart.

A tug when I disappoint you.

A vibration when you’re hurting.

A warming hum when you’re happy and satisfied.

If I could draw all of this, you would see that you and I are tied together — connected by a string that runs from your heart to mine.

Quite possibly I don’t need to illustrate it for you.

Maybe you feel it too.

Always,

Your Trusted Friend ❤

The Curse of the Apology

When ‘I’m Sorry’ becomes the words we let slip

Friend, first, it is important for me to explain that the apology I sincerely believe is a curse is the unnecessary one.

For example, you laugh too loudly at a joke that only you seem to get.

I’m sorry, you say.

You get lost in thought, only to realize that you’re staring at a stranger.

I’m sorry, you say.

You get ‘too’ excited about something you’re passionate about.

I’m sorry, you say.

Our days are filled with these unnecessary apologies. The ones that suggest that there is some part of you for which you need to apologize.

Let me be clear, friend, there isn’t. Whomever you are, those qualities and idiosyncrasies. Those things that make you uniquely you. Those are not the things you apologize for.

Showing up late, forgetting a special event, breaking something, losing something. These are the types of things that may require an apology. Misunderstandings, arguments, again, apologize away, send flowers even.

There is something powerful in a genuine apology. An admission of a mistake, or imperfection can allow you to move forward and grow, and also shows that you’re human. There are things for which an apology is warranted, and even required. An apology can be a powerful tool in showing empathy and sympathy for another human being. An apology can open a door for further conversation and re-connection.

This is not the type of apology that slips from my lips and leads me to kick myself in frustration.

It’s the apology I make when I speak in an accent and note odd looks, or when I skip across the street and realize that I am on a solo journey, or when I laugh too loudly at my own jokes, when no one else gets the punch line.

I’m sorry, I say.

Why am I sorry? Why are these things for which I seem to think an apology is warranted, when — in reality — it isn’t? Or, how about when I arrive at the door to the Safeway at the same time as someone else… we have that awkward.. pause..walk…pause…walk dance.

Then we laugh and say, I’m sorry.

Wouldn’t it have been sufficient to just laugh and to document the moment as a silly coincidence of fate? Nope, we had to toss in the unnecessary apology.

There was a time when I didn’t feel the need to apologize for all my various ‘infractions’, I am sure of it. Maybe it was when I was two? In my humble experience, two-year-olds don’t care one iota about what others think. A two year old will sing and dance in grocery stores, walk up to a stranger just to tell him they like his giant handlebar moustache, and notice something about someone that makes them appear ‘different’ and unapologetically ask what happened without fear of any sort of repercussion, and then invite said person to their next birthday party.

At some point between two and… well… I am not certain when the apology curse first struck, but it did, and sometimes I long to return to the time when I could live without the curse of the unnecessary apology

The Power of Words

Art By: Courtney M. Privett
Instagram: @courtneymprivett

Friend, I want to talk today about words, for words have magnificent power.

They have the ability to create alternate realities and universes, to transport us to magical, unreal places.

People who love to read and write are readily aware of this very real power. there is a wonderful moment that occurs when you become so absorbed in a book that the sun will rise and set and you will be oblivious.

Those are wonderful moments, until you reach the end of the book and have to leave that world behind. This can feel like an extreme loss. That moment when you have to return to your reality of paying bills, doing the grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and doing any other number of monotonous activities.

We are all aware of the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Most young children hear this saying when they experience bullying for the first time. Friend, I think this is one of the lies perpetuated by our society and discredits the power of words.

If words on the page have the ability to transport us to different places, making us suspend our disbelief, then it stands to reason that words coming from the people around us can have even more of an impact, because they come from people who matter to us.

We forget the impact that we can have on the people around us, especially the magnitude of our words. A simple unexpected hello accompanied with a smile can have an instantaneous positive impact. So too can callous words spoken without thinking or with anger.

What is worse, is that often times we can believe these misspoken words. They start to become a part of who we are, and how we define ourselves.

Many will argue that you shouldn’t care what others say. You should only be true to yourself. While this is true to a certain degree, friend, it is impossible to live a life completely unaffected by the words hurled at us like torpedoes and I have had enough of clichés which completely fail to recognize the value of the spoken word.

Words can bring you joy and tears. You can be moved by a poem or a song.

Words work their way into the fibers of you, resonating in your skin, almost as important as the genetic code that determines your hair and eye color. Words are our descriptors. When we look into a mirror we hear these words shouted back at us through our eyes with ferocity.

It is not my voice that speaks the loudest, it is yours.

Always,

Your Trusted Friend ❤

The Girl Who Hated Hugs

Friend, I am stumped as to why we, as people, are so insecure and cautious around other human beings. We cradle our hearts and our minds, scared to let anyone too close, know too much, or see too far into us. As soon as we start to open up, our instincts tell us to cringe back — preparing to be struck. Afraid of the rejection we could, potentially, suffer.

Perhaps this is conditioned into us after pain and disappointment. Those we care about failing to fulfill a promise, leaving us with disappointment and heartache.

We crave connections, understanding, and for someone to love and accept us for who we are — warts, pimples, fears, insecurities, love handles, dimply butt and all. However, we don’t feel comfortable with letting someone close enough to see those things — and to accept us in spite of them.

When I was a teenager my closest friends made me hug. I hated it.

They would run up to me, excited to see me, wrap their arms around me in a warm embrace. I would stiffen up and pat their backs awkwardly in return. I don’t know why this is. It isn’t as though I was raised in a household void of hugs, but for some reason a hug made me uncomfortable. My friends didn’t let this sway them from enveloping me with numerous hugs throughout the day. Quite the contrary, they made it their mission to get me to hug without recoiling. This is one of my memories that I will always cherish, because it is an example of people not giving up on me — even when I may have seemed unlovable.

My inability to hug could have made those I cared about step back from me in an effort to preserve their own feelings. After all, who likes to be rejected? That is just what I was doing when I failed to hug back in return. No, I wasn’t consciously snubbing people I cared about, but it could very well have been interpreted in this manner. However, it wasn’t, and they didn’t. I am forever grateful for that, and so are all the people who have hugged me since and haven’t felt me draw back from them in terror (though they might not realize that they owe a debt of gratitude to my my childhood chums).

Maybe it was easier to take risks when we were young; to hug, despite knowing that it may not be returned — because our hearts were buoyant — not weighed down by prior mishandlings. All I know is that we, as humans, are weird. We want to be appreciated, accepted, and loved — yet we are so timid to put ourselves into situations where this could potentially become a reality, all because it isn’t a certainty.

The risk of being damaged and hurt just doesn’t seem to be worth the reward of being found desirable and longed for. However, this is an illusion perpetrated by our insecurities and fear of rejection.

Friend, I think if we take the time and think of the important people in our lives, the people we love and have loved, we will see that it is worth it… for all those relationships started with one step… and I bet it was a scary one.

Always,

Your Trusted Friend ❤

To be a Colossus

Colossus of Rhodes

Friend, our existence is full of rules – all the shoulds – that never ending list of things that we’re supposed to do, or be, or have.

Gradually it begins to make us feel inadequate and lost. As though we’re wading into a pool teaming with razor sharp claws hell-bent on ripping us apart, pulling off all the hopes and dreams, the things seen as insubstantial, thus leaving us feeling small.

I am tired of feeling small, friend, of feeling that my efforts are not enough and that the things that I pour my energies into are going unnoticed or unappreciated. I want to be seen as mighty and powerful.

I want to feel like a giant, a Colossus.

However, as my legs are stretched between all the things that are required of me, and the dreams and hopes I aspire to, I can’t help but feel shaken and damn near collapse.

Even the great Colossus of Rhodes collapsed one day, shaken by a mighty earthquake.

So too, could I.

With every criticism, every raised eyebrow, with every veiled insult I feel the tremors.

Perhaps there are some who are automatically geared to want to tear people down, to test the fortitude and perseverance of the dreamers. For, while my heart may ache with the harsh words, I can’t help but want to try harder to be more.

I strive to be firm and resolute.

Unwavering.

There is a danger therein, when one becomes so firm and resolute so as to be stubborn and unmovable.

“In flood time you can see how some trees bend,

And because they bed, even their twigs are safe,

While stubborn trees are torn up, roots and all.

And the same things happen in sailing:

Make your sheets fast, never slacken — and over you go,

Head over heels and under: and there’s your voyage.”

Sophocles, Antigone

Perhaps this is why we were not meant to be giants, or Colossus’s. For this goal leaves us in danger of collapse. Of falling under a heavy burden we are not meant to carry.

Friend, we only need to be big in the eyes of a select few. The close ones that see us and our accomplishments, though minor in the eyes of the masses, as amazing and wondrous.

Maybe this is what each of us craves?

To be special, important and worthy.

A Colossus to one.

Maybe, just maybe, I need to harken Haemon’s words from Sophocles’s Antigone and be flexible. Perhaps that is why there I are times when I feel so shaken.

Because I want to be seen as great to all.

Instead, I need to appreciate that there are people in my life to whom I am a giant, in whose lives I live large, whose lives wouldn’t be the same without me.

There is is a little one that is my heart, and to her my kisses heal wounds.

There is a girl that gives me joy, and to her I am an ear that always listens.

There is a girl that is my muse, and to her I am inspiration.

There is a girl who is wild abandon, and to her am a trusty side-kick.

There is a girl who is strength and resolve, and to her I am whimsy and fun.

There is a family who is my core, and to them I am their pride.

Friend, we need to stop trying to live large in the eyes of everyone… trying to please and satisfy and be everything to everyone. This will leave us exhausted and broken.

Let’s be conscious of the fact that the people whom we really let see us, the people who become our friends and family, those are the ones in whose hearts we are a Colossus.

Always,

Your Trusted Friend ❤

To See

Photo By: @brienne.kristen.photography

Friend,

Today I saw me.

One wouldn’t think that this would be any sort of revelation, but for me it was. Today I saw the me that I’ve left behind, the me that I used to be, and I realized with a certain amount of awe, what a stranger she has become to me.

So often I am able to see the events behind me for what they are, experiences that have become a part of who I am, melding together to form the me that I am today. It is even difficult to look back and remember that girl that I was, for I am looking through the eyes of the woman that I am today.

Due to this I’ve been able to look back on those things I once saw as failures with a new appreciation. The hurt of being left behind by a loved one, the devastation wrought by betrayal, and the sense of not being enough in so many ways, has plagued me.

However, I am constantly reminded that it is all about perspective. It all comes down to how we see ourselves, our experiences, and our journeys. This, and only this, is what determines how those things impact and affect us.

We decide this. No one else. We decide to wallow in the filth left behind, or to pick ourselves up, dust off, and move forward.

When I truly observe my past, the experiences and people that have had a hand in creating the person that I am today, I am able to look at the people around me with profound appreciation and to, also, be thankful for the former wounds.

My wounds have created empathy, common ground, shared experience, wisdom, strength, confidence, love.

Everyone has their own story. The true human experience is full of sorrow, joy, and the boring bits in between. Omit one and you cheat yourself from being made.

Our experiences make us.

My past has made me.

Now I see me, friend.

Can you, also, see you?

The miraculous ways in which you’ve grown and changed?

The ways that your former sorrows and wounds have shaped and created you into the person that I see before me today?

I do, and I am amazed.

Always,

Your Trusted Friend ♥

The Lessons of Pain and Failure

Failure is scary, friend, but it doesn’t have to be. For through failure and pain, there is always a lesson.

Worry, anxiety, and fear are emotions caused by either a real or a perceived threat to our well-being — often something outside of our control.

Being out of control, I think, is the at the root of many of our hang-ups and contributes greatly to our overall sense of failure.

We create these well thought out plans for ourselves, often determined by what we perceive we are supposed to do, and when things do not go as we’ve predetermined we can often feel that there is something wrong with us, that we’ve failed by some degree, or that we are a failure.

At the age of 25 I felt old to be unwed and with no prospects on the horizon. I had measured myself against the people around me. I had watched as, one by one, my peers got married. I was the last one standing. Alone.

Which was very reminiscent of waiting after school for my mom to pick me up. I’d, inevitably, be outside in the rain (it is Washington)  — at first the wait would be pleasant, as I’d be playing with other friends who were also waiting on rides —  however, real fear would set in as the friend group gradually diminished to just me. Waiting for my ride. Alone.

There I was, 25 waiting for my man. All alone. To remember this now seems like such a ridiculous notion. I was raised to be strong, independent, and not need anyone to make me happy. It baffles me to think that I got caught up in this desire to be wed and felt any less about myself because I wasn’t.

I did eventually meet someone that I married. I thought I’d done everything perfectly. It was a shock when, after being married for two years, I arrived home from a business trip to find that he had packed his things and left. He wanted a divorce. He’d fallen in love with with my best friend. My carefully laid plans were in tatters, and I was completely out of control of the proceedings in my own life.

My initial feeling was a sense of utter failure, and I wondered how I was going to tell the people that mattered to me. How was I going to tell my friends and my family what a failure I was a marriage? How was I going to go to work and pretend that everything was normal? I couldn’t help but feel that there must be something inexplicably wrong with me for me to be left in the way that I was.

This was one of my first adult lessons in pain and failure.

There have been many others from that point to now, but this was the first time I felt my soul ripped to shreds. Where I doubted myself and my self worth, and I seriously questioned my desire to go on and my ability to get through the intense rejection and disillusionment that I’d suffered.

With the pain, I was advised to slow down and feel it. Let myself experience it in order to be able to let it go. What I learned from pain is that for it to be worthwhile, it has to serve a purpose. Pain can force us to reevaluate our values and priorities, and help to discover strength and wisdom we’d not known we possessed.

“Allow sadness to visit. allow sadness a temporary tour, allow sadness to come by and give you a few lessons, but never allow sadness to stay. once you’ve felt everything it’s had to say, and once it’s taught you everything you need to know, leave the door open for happiness.”

iambrillyant

Failure, while a bad word for so many, is really just one step along the journey. No success is gained without first failing. Through failure comes lessons. Failure can be the redirection needed to realign with the path we are supposed to be on. Failure, along with pain, teaches lessons meant to be learned. For failure to serve its purpose, we must lean into it to improve, grow, and become the best version of ourselves.

Life is a constant journey of self discovery and growth. For this journey to be complete, unfortunately, it cannot be without pain and failure.

Additionally, friend, we can survive any pain and heartbreak, even the darkest of moments when we feel we’re standing alone.

Always,

Your Trusted Friend ❤