21 Secrets is Starting Soon!

21secrets_Spring2014_tara_wagner

I have a habit of saying Yes before I have the opportunity to say No…I don’t mean this in a bad way, like saying yes to things I authentically don’t want to do. (I don’t do that shit.) I mean I say “Yes” to big things that I would otherwise talk myself out of if I “think about it” first.

Quite frankly, I had about a million reasons to say no to Connie when she asked me to be her Wild Card in this spring’s 21 Secrets crew. But I listened to my inner guidance that said “Hurry up and commit” and I went for it.

And it was a challenge. I played for months with exactly what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it, especially since the whole topic was how to use art journaling when you’re in that place of processing and inner growth where words don’t come to you (even though you want them to). I got a little frustrated and I got a little overwhelmed. Then my iMovie decided to be a beyotch and mess up my first attempts and I spent a good day tempted to wallow in it all.

But then I decided that wasn’t helpful, chose to let those thoughts go (yes just like that; practice makes proficient), and instead reminded myself that I’m not meant to be or do or share anything other than what comes through when I sit down to play my part. So I sat down, rolled just the right reminders around my tongue a few times, and let it all pour out.

And it did, as it always does. The second attempt was better than the first, the words flowed easily, and I poured my heart and my own journaling process out in one take. I released all censorship and all self-judgment, and I shared what this gift has meant to me and exactly how I use it in conjunction with Digging Deep and my own spiritual evolution.

21 Secrets Art Journaling WorkshopBut the most beautiful part? How it fits in with the 20 other beautiful artists sharing their techniques, their passions, their secrets. I’m not an expert on How To’s and I can’t give guidance on techniques. But I know inner work like whoa and it felt good to let that compliment the beauty and skill the others are bringing to this paint-splattered table. And I do mean skill; I’ve gotten sneak peeks (from mandalas to self-portraits to symbolism!) and I have to say, I’m so looking forward to delving into this workshop with each of them. ♥

Interested in playing along? I’d love to invite you join us.
 
 
 

A Game of Gravity

[365] 121

hers is a game of gravity
of keeping each object
just beyond her fingertips
constantly orbiting the radius of those wounds

hers is the dance of a well-protected heart
the dance of push-pull
like the wrong end of the magnet
that wants to flip, attach
but erratically dances
under the grip of a well-trained hand

hers is the rejection of rejection
the compulsion of revulsion
the comfort of discomfort
that wraps around those shoulders
to maintain what has become
a wonderland within
reaffirming the story that she tells
that the tower is safer than the mote

and much more tragically romantic

[Photo Source]

Poem: forgiveness is a timid beast

timid beast

the hours moved around
and the moon changed positions in the sky
from left to right
but his arms never once
unwound from around her

such has been his ache
that now no amount of space
found between their flesh
could be understood, tolerated
as he absorbs her

his warmth becoming her warmth
his arm, her pillow
his joy in her arrival
and that there was no sign of retreat
being his comfort, his healing

but in the creeping dawn
as his palms and fingers wandered
so did her mind
and as his love grew
so did her discomfort

because forgiveness is a timid beast
revealing itself
its need
in the darkness of the moon
and in the light, shirking back again

Upside Down Makes More Sense

Epic Storms, art journal, www.theorganicsister.com

their story is a cautionary tale
a monsoon thunderstorm dropping a deluge on the desert
bristling with electricity

most storms move fast
this one crept over whispering,
“Some things you learn best in the calm.
No two storms are the same.
No two skies are either, so watch closely.”

so I let go
and found it all upside down
and suddenly making sense

Have you ever had that sense? That everything is upside and off from the ways in which you thought it should be, and yet – without being able to articulate a damn word of it – you knew it all made sense.

This is the fact of Life.

It all makes sense. Always.

But what throws us around is our ideas of what should be. Our thoughts. Our expectations. Our demands. Swirling and upheaving the whole delicate balance of Nature, of our Nature.

It’s terrifying to let go, to find ourselves “without control”, to consider the idea that Life might carry us away – to what? For how long? And what will that mean? Who will I be? And most damagingly, what will others think?

Our thoughts needs to be turned upside down, shaken up, shaken out.

And if we’re holding so tightly to them, we’ll find ourselves turned upside, shaken up, shaken out right along with them. But that’s only when we’re so damn attached to our thoughts that we can’t tell the difference between them and us.

What happened the last time you let go of the thought being shaken up?

Did you, like most of us searching for it, suddenly find yourself in a state of peace?

you’re gonna miss this

Still plays in the sand. #santarosabeach #florida

You’re gonna miss this
And I know how trite that sounds
When its not my kid
kicking and screaming on the floor

But please
Please listen to me
Cuz you’re gonna miss this

You’re gonna miss
when the worst case scenarios
mean picking them up and carrying them out
Because you won’t be able to do that soon
And you’ll have to help them find ways
to pick themselves up before long
And you’re gonna miss when you had the power
to hold them and brush your hand over the head
and sweep away their fears
Because it won’t be long until
they are confronting those things alone,
on their own,
because they know they need to

You’re gonna miss coming home
to their projects across the dining room table
and sprawled over the floor
and outlined in crayon on the wall
Because there will be a day
when the first person they call
when they are proud of their work
is their lover
and you rightfully fall second chair

And you’re gonna miss when their voices
carried loudly as they fought amongst each other
over who took too much and stole whose horsey
and who farted three inches from whose face
Because there will be a day
when your house falls silent and still
and the echo of them running thru the halls
has become a ghost you only see for Sunday dinner
and holidays
and God forbid if bad news brings them home.

You’re gonna miss this.
You’re gonna ache for every single opportunity you missed
to wrap your arms around them
because you were too busy being insistent and exhausted
to listen to those that walked before you,
too stubborn to learn from their mistakes
and too determined on making the same ones yourself

You’re gonna miss their little voices
and maybe not as much as their laughter
but yes, you’ll miss the whining too
Not because you love it now
but because you missed it

You missed it as an opportunity to listen
To show them you had patience on their worst day
To show them you were willing to put down your phone
and turn your body toward them
and teach them how much you value them
Teach them they are valuable
before someone tries to teach them that they’re not

You’re gonna miss the clues
that they needed you to lie down your history
and your fear of what that lady over there is thinking
and ask yourself
what you and this child think of one another instead.

You’re going to miss this
And I’m speaking to you as someone who knows
As someone who was told the same thing and thought
it was just the nostalgic postulations
of old ladies with fuzzy memories
and a pension for testing my patience
right along with this young one in front of me

But it doesn’t take an old lady to see it
You can see it right now

Remember when you took this amazing person
in your arms for the first time?
Remember watching her root for your breast?
Remember how tiny his fingernails were
and how impossibly overwhelming it was
when you saw the whole universe
in those dark blue eyes?

How fast has THAT gone?
How many gazes did you miss
because of laundry
and American Idol
and your news feed pulling you away?

How many tiny gaping yawns
did you not count
or how many sneezes
did you not get to smile at?

Right now in this moment
is one of those little things
A new word tried on for the first time
or a crooked upturned lip
or a sparkle that is telling you the depths of magic
that is occurring within the synapses of their brain

Right now
with a kicking screaming child on the floor
is a memory being etched into the corners of your brain
A memory that will make you laugh
when you see them walking down the aisles of their life,
turning pages
and writing stories with their foot fall.

I know it seems impossible, I know.

Because I’ve been there too,
biding my hours until the hardest yrs were past
But in just a few short breaths
you’ll ache to run your fingers
thru their fine and matted hair,
you’ll stare out windows
remembering their squeaky voice for hours,
and your hardest work will be over
Your role will be one only of observer
and encourager
and reminderer of how quickly it passes
and how much they’re gonna miss
what they don’t allow themselves to savor now

You’re gonna miss this
Unless you allow yourself to slow down
Breathe
Forgive yourself for being human
because that’s not helping anyone
And just observe
Observe the expression that dances across their face
And the way they approach life
with tenacity and audacity
and curiosity
Observe the way they reach out for you
and the softness of their squirrelly cheeks
And just listen
To their songs
and their endless relentless and exhausting questions

And you know even then
when you know you’ve done the best you could
You’re gonna miss this
It’ll still past too fast
And you’ll still be waving them off
as they jump into a crazy world
independent and daring and scaring you
As you recall every moment you slowed down
and savored the sacred voice and motion and electricity
they brought into your world

You’re going to miss this
no way around it
But hopefully you’ll do so
with a few more sacred memories to pull out
of shoeboxes and card files and dusty corners
To tell at weddings and baby showers
and Sunday dinners around that etched and splattered
knotted kitchen table

No matter what you’re gonna miss this
But will you be able to do so
with the full acknowledgment that you tried your damnedest not to?

Will you look back and say
you wrapped your fingers around single moment
that tried to slip away
between phone calls and cartoons and the exploding washing machine?

Will you know you did the most you could
to funnel every bit of energy
into nothing more than quieting your To Do list,
quieting your mind,
slowing down your breath,
sitting still and simply watching
what is shaping the stories you’ll someday tell?

Tara Wagner, March 9 2013

bursting at the Seems

you try to seem so poised
so graceful
as though you somehow got it all together

you try to seem relaxed
and comfortable
as though you somehow only care just enough

you try to seem professional
successful
as though you somehow mastered the game

you try to seem so patient
compassionate
as though you somehow never scream in anger

but your bursting at your Seems

holding in your breath to shrink your screaming ribs
and keep yourself
tucked in, constricted and unmoving

you can’t keep a charade like this
going on forever
you can’t wear a costume that doesn’t even fit

sooner or later your lungs are gonna burn
your heart will gasp
and all your carefully stitched Seems

will be torn open
leaving only
your realness to be seen

please don’t fear this day
this realness
assuming it will be ugly, misshapen, unloveable

it only Seems that way
so lumpy
and uncomfortable

but when you finally come apart
(or allow yourself to do the unstitching)
you’ll find what’s been cloaked there all along

softness, gentleness, a flowing in and out
ease
beauty, grace and real, honest comfort

allow yourself to be undone
unstitched
let the beauty of your form speak clearly

inhale so deeply, chest expanding
Seems bursting
so that your sweet and simple breathe may exhale easy

rain is only your perception

rain

Rain is only your perception
Clouds are only your ideas
Above it all the sun remains
Bask in what is always there
Soak up the energy of what cannot be removed
This too can be your source of strength

{A quick and gentle reminder for me and for you as the rains pour down and we seek to remember the sun.}

Art Journaling Addiction: Finding Truth Beneath My Fingernails

I don’t know why it’s taking me so long to blog about this, except maybe that I’m still making sense of it myself.

Making sense of how I could miss something I’ve never experienced.

Making sense of how it brings tears to my eyes to think of myself doing it, to recognize it in myself, to finally have given myself “permission to art”.

Making sense of how it’s drawing me closer to a dead father, a man whose artistic ability I never really knew while he was alive.

Making sense of how it’s bringing words – my ingrained and ever-ready art – to life with colors and lines and images.

There are so many of you out there to whom art or art journaling is already a part of your life. And so many more of you who ache for it in the way I ached for it, hungry for an outlet that maybe feels beyond reach. Many of you will understand why I’m feeling so deeply moved and some of you may think I’m just weirdly pre-menstrual to be attaching so much emotion to this experience.

I would’ve agreed if this experience hadn’t been doing this to me all along.

It was my beautiful friend, Heather, that introduced me to art journaling in October.

We had spent a gorgeous week with her and her family in North Carolina, and it wasn’t until the very last night that I asked to sneak a peek at her journal.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

No idea what it even WAS I was asking to see – I had just overheard a mention of it and was curious.

Looking back I can recognize that was the twanging of inspiration vibrating in my ear. And when she pulled out her altered books, my heart broke open with the resonance of it. I want to cry right now thinking of it. How that one friend on that one night put me on a new course.

So she gave me a book, one that I wouldn’t mind destroying, and she gave me some tips to get started and we plopped down on her living room floor and I began to run my fingers through my heart and soul and smear it across the page. {I won’t even show you those first few pages. They are ugly and personal. They are all breakthrough and permission to fuck it up and space to just allow. Less self-expression and more cutting through the barriers that held me back from dipping my fingers in the paint and wipe it across a page.}

I haven’t stopped since that night.

The longest I’ve gone with my hands in my journal was 4 days – 4 long and uncomfortable days with an ache under my ribcage. The stint ended when I realized why I ached and found my way back to the page.

What has art journaling become to me?

It’s become a part of Digging Deep for me, a way to touch and see the places I’ve been holding, the barriers I’ve been hiding behind. Process, examine, heal…to get the Truth of it under my fingernails or up to my elbows or wiped across my nose by accident. To spend time with the intangible, the ethereal in a way that I can smell, with texture and color.

Sometimes the places within us don’t come with words and in those times I use to bang my head against the desk and growl at the sky wanting to know why I couldn’t access that thing that was just beyond the use of my tongue and the scribble of my pen.

But now I know. I get it, in ways I thought I understood about you “arty folk” before but really grasp within my own self now.

There are things that even us word junkies have no words for.

And that’s when the colors get to speak.

Art journaling has also been my permission slip.

Permission to try, permission to mess up, to scribble, to be imperfect, to play around…Permission to fail. Permission to express. Permission to discover more of myself. Permission to be an “artist” in the more traditional sense of the word.

All the things I logically knew have always been there but never really embraced for myself.

I never even realized I too had fallen victim to the public school art teacher and the rules and should’s and fear of messing it up so often unknowingly taught. I never realized I was keeping art out of my Realm of Possibilities, in the same way traveling was once outside that Realm, in the same way dreads or a shaved head or being in love was outside that Realm.

I was “a writer, not an artist”.

But now I know that’s bullshit.

I know it’s bullshit by the ache in my chest that I would ignore whenever I said those words.

I know it’s bullshit by the smudges of paint across my dining room table.

I know it’s bullshit by the tears in my eyes as I write.

I know it’s bullshit by the way my heart skipped a beat when a beautiful woman at the restaurant saw my doodling and asked if I was an artist, and the way my breath caught in my throat when I tried to answer through my smile and we ended up talking for 20 minutes about art journals and techniques and deep-in-your-bones joy.

And there’s one other thing I know.

This is mine.

Only mine. Not something I feel drawn to share. Not something I feel drawn to turn into a business or even use within my work now. {In fact that idea makes my skin crawl. Like a dirty betrayal to what my spirit is telling me she’s here for now. I’m not the beautiful artist who shares her work with the world. I’m the beautiful artist who shares her soul with the page.}

I feel at peace with it being only for me, a whispered secret I pull out of my cabinet and curl up on the couch with and hold my very heart within. A spiritual practice of Connection and stillness and depth and healing. A prayer to the Universe, the one that lies within me and around me.

Fucking. Breathtaking. this practice I’m discovering.

Heart-wrenching and tear-inducing in the very best of ways.

Like a long lost twin I unconsciously always knew was out there, finally come home to squeeze me.

Or an entire segment of myself that had been missing, had left a gaping hole – I could feel the wind whistling through it but hadn’t a clue it didn’t have to be that way.

Okay, Okay, The Practical Bits To Answer Your Qs

I’ve had a lot of questions lately about how to get started. What to use. How to use it.

The short answer: I haven’t a clue. Just dive in and figure it out. That’s part of the joy.

But I know how answers like that get received. Flatly and with that voice that says “I can’t” drowning out the permission slip.

So I’ll tell you what I did and what you might do too:

  • Get “permission” from a friend: It’s always easier to step into something new with a sister to guide us the first few steps. Call your girl, invite her over, make plans to be messy. There is a special place in my heart forever to Heather for showing me how to open this door.
  • Grab a hardcover book: One that you don’t hate – you won’t want to look at those words every time you crack it open…or maybe the healing will be in destroying them? – but one you don’t mind upgrading. {My little cousin just about shit a brick when she saw I had “destroyed a book”. But I take pride in breaking silly rules.}
  • You’ll want gesso: If there is one thing I’ve found it’s that gesso is on the Most Used Supplies of every art journaler out there. It preps your page and covers those words if you don’t want them showing through.
  • Stop overthinking it: Just get your hands in there. No way to make a mistake; if you really don’t like it you can pull the page out or cover it up or call it an expression of frustration. Permission to art, people.
  • Learn to forgive yourself: This is one the journal has taught me. I will mess it up. It won’t turn out like my head envisions. I have no idea any techniques and even if I did, my mind is on a whole ‘nother plane than my hands. That’s okay. I can forgive myself the outcome and still love up on the attempt.

Things I’ve found I love:

  • I usually do some regular journaling or Digging Deep first. I get to the core of what’s happening with words still; that’s Who I Am and how I work. But I work through that core now with the art journal. So the Digging Deep is my examination and my journal prompt, and the art is my release, my affirmation, my breakthrough, and my healing.
  • I love acrylic and watercolor and doodles the most so far. I’m drawn by the complexity and frustration of mixed media. I have no idea what I’m doing in any of those but I keep trying anyway.
  • I like dark and rich colors that contrast. I like simple designs. {Maybe that’ll change as I learn more complex techniques.} I like trying to put images to my words.

My inspiration:

  • Pinterest is king and queen of inspiration for me. It’s like Art Journal Foreplay for me. All I do is meander through, pin what grabs me and then set off to create something similar or completely different. Almost 400 pins in 7 weeks. Boom.
  • Instagram is also great, although I can’t easily save the inspiration for later. But it is where I share my images (the ones I care to share publicly). And anytime I see an image that inspires me, I just pick the Instagrammers brain on how they did it. 😉
  • Some inspiration I’ve enjoyed: One Minute Muse // Balzer Designs {especially here, here, here, and this recent one} // Art Journaling on Ning // Doodle Diem // @EmilyLagore // But mostly it’s Pinterest and a healthy dose of putting on blinders to anything but my own page and my own messy, unpredictable process.

Seriously though? If this is something that piques yours interest?

Be all like Nike and just do that shit.

Use cardboard and bind your own book. Use the children’s book your toddler has already taken upon themselves to liberate with crayon. Break out the old scrapbooking kit and go to town. Try paint-by-numbers, for goodness sakes. Just do it.

There’s a reason you’re aching for it. A reason you’re mildly interested. A reason why you think you can’t that deserves to be shown otherwise.

Stop judging yourself. Stop limiting yourself.

You make the rules.

You don’t get permission from anyone but yourself. Just grab an old book (or pick one up for .50 at the library) and give yourself authority to scribble out a page. To give your school librarian hives, and your old art teacher who always told you what you were doing wrong the middle finger.

To give yourself the space to play and the means to touch and smell and see what you don’t have words for.

Experiences with Mama Ocean

I heeded the call of Mama Ocean and let her pull me in off the shore. Shivering and soaked, in the salt water and the power.

i didn’t even want to be there, at the ocean
i told myself

this tender space i was in was already too much
i had too many tendrils out in the world
and my heart was overwhelmed
and the only thing i knew i wanted was to not feel this way
sadness aching for unknown reasons
as my cracked open shell weeped a pain i didn’t have a name for

i had been in a space of spiritual healing
tucked away in my notebook
in my walks
in my quiet space to protect myself from the harshness of the world
i could breathe in that quiet space, could feel the ache subside
until i stepped into the world again
and felt it’s heaviness wrap over me

and so i didn’t really want to go to the water
out there in the world
even for the quick glimpse they all promised

but as we pulled into the parking lot
and i caught a sliver of the endless sky through the shrubs
i realized how much i had missed Mama Ocean
and just how badly i needed her
although i didn’t understand why

so i put my music in my ears and beelined for the shore
and stood at the edge of her waters
where the sea could lick my toes
where i could inch in closer, despite the cold
and allow her to wash my feet
and hear her calling me in

i stood with tunnel vision, just watching the waves
and feeling the rise of each like a pull on my chest

without words i could hear her
Mama Ocean
see her open arms, her readiness to take me in

it wasn’t really love or tenderness i heard
but power
and firmness
that i rationalized away

it’s too cold
my body doesn’t handle cold water well
, i thought

(but even as i said these things to myself
i felt the growing warmth in my feet
as they grew accustomed to the waves)

my lover came behind me
wrapped his warm arms around me
protecting my jacketless body from the grey dreary skies and cold breeze
and whispered something to me that i couldn’t hear
over the music in my ears
or the pounding in my chest
that was synchronizing with the pounding of the waves

and so we stood, watching the line where the ocean met the sky
and the sea lions that were breaking through the surface
and the waves as they continued to crash

i want to go in, i whispered to him
but i still couldn’t hear his response above the song that was playing

so i kept watching each wave
and feeling that magnetic tug from the center of my chest
as the ache within me tried to burn through
welling just to the surface, telling me i needed to release
to let go
leaving tears in my eyes and a sob caught in my throat
then ebbing back again to leave me watching the waves
and justifying why i couldn’t heed its call

and then i asked myself,
will this be one of those things you regret not doing?
will you wonder about this, about what would’ve happened?
about what mama ocean had to say that you never heard?

and as i asked i looked out to see one more sea lion
looking my direction, perhaps wondering the same

and the force of my movements welled up this time
and i said something to my lover
something like “i’m doing it” or “i can’t help it anymore” or “i have to go in”

because i was, and i couldn’t, and i had to

i couldn’t stop myself

i saw the look of worry in his eyes
as he watched me undress down to my bathing suit
(an earlier attempt at a beach excursion)
taking from me the things i stripped off, putting the music in his own ears
a soundtrack to my motions
and looking into my eyes to catch any glimpse of something he should stop
but seeing only that i needed it
and knowing only that i just had to do what i just had to do

so i stepped forward
that pull doing most of the work
as everything melted away
but the brief flashes of wild women i didn’t know before my eyes

then only Mama Ocean
saying “finally” in impatience
as i moved into water i’ve never before allowed myself to feel

up to my knees, and i was propelling forward
then my thighs, marking the deepest i had ever allowed myself to go
then she sent a wave crashing over my waist, washing my core
and the ache welled up within me again
and the sob i had held back broke free
and i kept moving forward
into an ocean that met me without compassion
with only the pounding of what needed to be done
of the battle she was ready to fight for me
not harsh to me, really
but to the heaviness i carried

the cold was aching in my bones, and i was still moving forward
watching each wave
looking up to the dreary sky

and as the water reached just below my chest
i pleaded a surrender i didn’t know had been waiting behind my tears

just take it. take it from me.

and that was just the permission she needed
for in that moment a giant wave stood up out of the water right before me
as if it had been waiting beneath the surface for those precise words
waiting to crash over me
and sweep me under

it was only one small moment that i was submerged
my hand over my nose
my feet swept from under me
and the taste of salt water in my mouth
but it was a moment that held the whole universe within it
where the rest of life paused
holding its breath with me
and the presence of Spirit enveloped me fully
and i felt myself within something greater
tucked away and hiding from the world

i felt the fear of its power as it pulled me down
the moment of doubt if i would emerge
but an undercurrent of knowing i was safe
and this was right
as though i was within something sacred
baptized and held
but also…my body…ignored, small, powerless
just a witness to the ceremony
as i felt the entire ocean flood me
break me open
grounding the shards i had been carrying into sand
and pounding them away

i came up gasping in the cold
crying without tears
the taste of salt and weightlessness
my chest heaving with waves of gratitude to match her waves of power
and a total surrender waiting for another round that didn’t come
each wave that followed gentler than the last
telling me to breathe
and nudging me back to shore
to my lover who had stood watching
holding the bundle of items i had strewn on the sand
tears in his own eyes as he felt the experience from land
and watched as it washed the heaviness away

shivering
and laughing
i buried my head in his neck
as he held my drenched body
wrapping his arms around me again
and a sweet soul sister wrapped me in her clothes
and i tried to explain
but found myself just heaving out inadequate words and wet hugs instead
convincing them to take a turn and
joining in again

later that night
i fell asleep shivering against a hot water bottle
to drive the cold of Mama Ocean’s work out of my bones
and with the sensation as though i were covered in holes
where she had pounding away the pieces of my shell
leaving my still protected
but open in a million spots
where the cold air and the sea salt
and the light could enter
and escape
having no idea what it all means
to have had such a conversation
and an experience
with Mama Ocean
but feeling it all the same

© Tara Wagner
July 21, 2012

Right when we need to love each other most

Green and Red

You build with mortar the barriers around you
Going into shutdown mode
With robotic automation

And I pick up the slack
With my overwhelming frustration
An attempt to bulldoze your red brick wall

My mind whispers otherwise
Reminding me its compassion that tears down fences
That creates safe spaces that coax you out of hiding

But usually my ego wins
Responding from the fear recalled by my previously wounded heart

You’re not him
Any of those other hims
And I’m not the girl I was then either
Nor am I the person who taught you to withdraw

But still we slip into those places our experiences have created
Those places that tell you to hide
And me to fight for my life
That forget the safety we can celebrate in the other’s arms

And I’m thankful for those moments for two reasons.

One: that they never last long
That what used to be my entire experience of love
Is now merely a glimpse of a little girl’s fear that overtakes me momentarily
Before I remember who I am
And where I am
And who I’m with
And what we both need.

And Two: that they remind me of those things at all
Of who and where I am and with whom
That they offer the contrast of a previous life I thought was normal
And the wonder I still dwell in because I’ve discovered that its not
That those places are no longer comfortable
No longer the first place I go
No longer the last place I want to leave
That they no longer threaten me
Or you
Or us together
But that they merely happen as a glimpse of an old self
A history we get to rewrite
And not a destiny we’re doomed to repeat
That it’s never long before your arms are wrapped back around me
And I’m sinking into your heartbeat
And we’re smiling again
With the reminder that decades past is not our reality
Even if we momentarily relive it
For old time sake perhaps

Yes, I’m thankful for the times you trigger my old shit
(although you’ll never hear me say it in the moment)
Because I want to be the woman who loves you that fiercely
As to lean into compassion instead of bulldozer mode
Into love instead of my own fear
Into what you need instead of what I’m afraid to give
(Yes, I have walls of my own
Not the kind that go up in a flash
But the more insidious kind
That stay up all the time
And are made of clear glass
Giving you the illusion of openness
Until you face plant against them.)

And I’m thankful for another thing:
This sacred little space we’ve created between the two of us
Where you learn to open up
(and I learn to shut up)
Where I learn to be patient
(and you hurry up and get there already)

Yes, we have our moments of fear
That manifest as anger and disconnect and hurt
But damn, only moments?
(I’d call it easy if I didn’t remember how fucking hard it was there for awhile
and how much we worked at this
and how we almost didn’t make it work)

I guess what I’m trying to say
Is your damn sexy
Red brick walls and all
And I’m glad you think I’m cute when I’m mad
Because I must be breathtaking to you
Right when we need to love each other most.