Darlings, I am going to give you some advice. Now, I know you didn’t ask for this, but after a conversation I had yesterday—I think it’s needed. And with Valentine’s Day coming up, I figure it can’t hurt.
If you’re single, it’s okay. Bad failed first dates—dates that lead nowhere? That’s okay. That’s not a reflection of you. If someone doesn’t appreciate you for who you are (not funnier, not taller, not prettier), then that person is not right for you. Period. You are not unworthy or less, if someone cannot see all the wonderful things about you. If you have to change yourself (physically or personality-wise) to fit into someone’s life/heart? Well, that’s not real love.
And let me tell you something about real love: it will blow you away, once you find it. It will lift you up, not keep you down and never keep you small. Crazy Muppet hair will be appreciated. All your humor will be endearing. Because finding someone who cares for you just the way you are? Man, it’s magic. And it will do your soul more good than a thousand empty, shallow relationships.
Because you are not a vague ideal of a person. You are not a silhouette. You are blood and flesh. You are years of gathered wisdom and experience. You are a person, not a human-shaped checklists of requirements. Life is too short to be with someone just to be with them. It’s too short to settle. It’s too short to be anything less than 100% bloody you. Because you are excellent, just as you are—rambling and nonsense included.
Find someone who loves your weird. Find someone who loves your flaws (spoiler alert: that person won’t see all the bad crap you see about yourself). Find someone who sets your soul on fire. Find someone who thinks your taste in books (or comics or movies) is fantastic. Who can match you Princess Bride quote for Princess Bride quote. Someone who encourages and supports you without hesitation or question. Because that’s what you deserve.
And me? I’m single. I may be single for the rest of my life, and that’s fine. I know what I deserve, and I won’t take any less. Sure, I’ve been on my share of bad first dates. And it’s rare than anyone gets a second. Does that make me a snob? No. I just know what I want. And I know what it’s like to be understood and appreciated. Anything less is…well, bullshit.
If someone wants you to be thinner or younger, blonder or more poised, or somehow more easy/manageable? That person is not right for you. That person is not worthy of you. Because real love can find you in the most unexpected place and the most unexpected time. And the secret is, even if it seems insane, it’s worth it. It’s worth all the crazy. It doesn’t mean you don’t have to put in time and effort. It doesn’t mean love isn’t work. But it’s the good kind, like pursuing a passion you love. Like doing something you can’t live without. For me, real love is like writing. I can’t breathe without putting words down on paper. If I don’t write for a while, I feel so off-kilter. So…un-me. Love is like that too. Not a need or a want—but somehow both. Easy, like second nature, an instinct.
Find the person who feels like art. Who thinks of you when they’re falling asleep. Who meets you for coffee and remembers how you take yours. Find the person who lets you in and asks you to redecorate, not the one who expects you to slide into what’s already that. Because love changes you, on both sides. And it should. But always, always for the better. It’s not that you aren’t whole to begin with. You are. It’s finding someone who matches you, step for step, without ever thinking twice.
Believe me, darlings, you deserve that kind of love. Nothing less will do.
I don’t believe in coincidences. There’s too much that goes into a moment—too many factors—to pretend that something means nothing. It’s not random. It’s not happenstance. There are a handful of things, at the very least, that aligned, which results in a Thing Happening.
Yesterday, on my way home from work, I drove past—literally—someone I haven’t spoken to in a while, someone I have been thinking about. Someone who I miss, for a million reasons. The person was in the lane next to me, and there was this shock of recognition, as I leaned forward, “Is that…? It is.” But then, I drove through the intersection, and that was that.
This person isn’t someone I ordinarily run across. But things like this have happened in the past, in instances where it should’ve been impossible. Or, at the very least, highly unlikely. And yet. And still.
That happened. This small moment, literally at a crossroads. And it really got me thinking, more so than usual. Because so much has happened lately, and some of it isn’t mine to tell, but they’re the blindsiding moments that take your breath away. Sucker punches to the soul, the kind of things that make you stop, force you to stop and think about your life.
Are you doing what you want? Are you doing what you love? Are you with the person you love? Are you allowing yourself to be loved? Are you open to it? Are you open, period? (If the answer to any of these is “no,” then that’s something to think about.)
There are no guarantees. There is right now. And right now, whether or not we know or acknowledge it, we’re all at a crossroads. Every moment is a choice point. Every second is an opportunity. Seize it.
Because everyone has that person, right? That person you can’t stop thinking about. Maybe your reminders are less literal, less in-your-face than mine. But when it’s quiet, when the world stops demanding things of you, when it’s just you and your thoughts: what’s occupying them? Who’s occupying them? That thing your heart and your head on settle on?
Make the choice to bring it into your life. Because there’s just this moment, there’s only right now.
We’ve never been a good idea,
but good is relative
and despite appearances, I’ve never
quite been that –
not when it comes to wanting you,
or loving you,
or needing you – there’s no
getting over it, no putting it aside,
it’s too much skin
and not enough teeth, a mouth
full of ocean, an invitation
offered like new sheets:
crisp, but not without consequence,
is always changing.
Here is what I do not say:
I could’ve kissed a thousand men
and not wrecked a single life –
instead, I met your mouth
like a hurricane, knowing
full well what that means
for my heart – neither of us
are getting out alive, are we?
I can’t pretend
there’s no crossover effect, no
unfound bleed, no celebration
of sacrifice – I can’t outrun
you or myself,
and I’m offering you more
than just my throat –
give me a new rhythm
to move my hips
and I’ll give you a new religion:
if this body isn’t worthy of worship,
Love is not an alternative
for desire, and although time is always
a thirsty tide, it evaporates
nothing of this relentless feeling –
what miracle are you offering me?
Where is your tribute
made of thunderstorms?
Let us, together, hurl
all the ships from the sea.
Next, cross every ocean
in your heart, build
a bridge of yes between us,
and tell me all the ways
you love me –
like a dove
in a magic trick: action
built on instinct, passion
full of flight.
Find my mouth. Take this
body made of blueprints,
let me make a map
of all your curves, sighs
are more important than fingerprints
and I don’t care how this dance looks –
give me every chamber of your heart,
and when every god is asleep,
we will invent
new ways of praying.
Sometimes, we choose the wrong words. Even when it matters most, sometimes everything comes out in a tumble of moron. There are other times where even the right words (as much as words can be right) are ineffective. You speak, but nothing changes. Perhaps you aren’t even heard. Perhaps you find yourself shouting into the void. Perhaps you are trying to move a mountain with the wind.
What happens in a moment like that, in a situation like that? Do you keep talking or do you just…give up? Me, I believe in words. I believe in the power of words for so many reasons. Communication is a vital part of any relationship. That doesn’t make it easy, but if you can’t honestly talk to someone, even when it’s difficult, the relationship will die. And not quickly.
Everyone tells you what they need, if you just pay attention. This includes non-verbal communicate, the space between words, the particular way a silence hangs in the air. The stories shaped between the lines matter a great deal; they are often composed with the things we are afraid to say. I love you. I miss you. I need you. I’m sorry. I’m having a hard time. I don’t know what to do. Any of these things can be easily tucked inside a paragraph, sneaked into a sentence.
I wonder, though, what one does when what someone says directly contradicts how that person feels? How does one reconcile should with the heart? I don’t have the answer. I don’t know that there is one. But I feel as if that space between heart and mind is a dangerous, tenuous one. It’s where we either make beautiful decisions or harmful ones. Just as the secret to compromise is giving, meeting in the middle, the secret to navigating the ground between head and heart is this: don’t let logic strangle your passion, and don’t let passion overwhelm everything. To honor the heart, you follow it. And yet, to honor the mind, you sometimes have to ignore it. That seems counterintuitive, I know. But sometimes, our rational selves are simply a tool that leads us to examine a situation. That is not what should govern a choice or a situation. Our fears should never lead us. Our fears should never define us. Too often, I think, we mistake fear for rational thinking. And fear, darlings, makes us less brave — less true to ourselves.
I don’t always pick the right words when speaking, but I always speak from a place of love. (I mean, unless you’re being a jerk. Then I’m not going to CareBear you.) I may not always be an easy person to handle. I’m often more keen on feelings than any other things. The truth is that I don’t have shallow emotions. I don’t have tenuous convictions. I’m deep. I’m a river. You might think you’ve found the bottom, but a second later, there’s nothing under your feet. I’ve got a current. There’s a pull. But if you close your eyes and lay back, there’s freedom in that. And freedom, I think, is something we all want.
Yesterday marked the start of summer. And I don’t know about you, but spring was a rough season. For me, it felt uncertain, shaky, full of hairpin turns, and rife with doubt. It made me question a lot of things. There were times that I felt alone, perhaps misunderstood. There were times that I felt an odd sense of loss, too. But I’m not dwelling on those things, now. Yesterday began a new season, and with that new season, things begin to grow.
I may say that wrong thing. I may be a complicated person. But I’m ready for the sun, loves. I’m ready for all the promises that come with summer. I’m ready for logic and fear to take a backseat. I’m ready for the promises of passion and following my heart. Nothing grows in the shadow of fear. It’s time to step out of the shadows and leave all doubt behind.
As summer begins, follow love where it leads you. Give love what it needs to grow. Offer everything you have on the hope that it may be well-received. Expect nothing, give everything. Teach everyone who crosses your path a different secret about love in whatever form you choose. And above all, trust.
“If we listened to our intellect we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go in business because we’d be cynical: “It’s gonna go wrong.” Or “She’s going to hurt me.” Or,”I’ve had a couple of bad love affairs, so therefore . . .” Well, that’s nonsense. You’re going to miss life. You’ve got to jump off the cliff all the time and build your wings on the way down.” ~Ray Bradbury
This week, for me, seems to have a theme. Maybe two. It’s been all about perception and honesty. Sometimes, the smallest thing – a conversation, an offhand comment – can shift everything. It’s like someone turned on a lightbulb, and you didn’t realize you’d been sitting in the dark. Except, you were. And now everything is different.
Don’t get me wrong: illumination can be difficult. But nothing worth having/being/doing is ever easy. Anyone who tells you differently is a lying liar, whose pants are aflame. My point is that an honest conversation can change the way you see a situation. And sometimes, you pick up a clue you didn’t know you were missing in some unrelated event. This has happened to me several times this week. A few minutes ago, I stumbled across a quote from, of all things, Winnie the Pooh: Some people care too much. I think it’s called love.
That small, simple sentence just shifted a whole heap of things for me. Some things, I already kinda/sorta knew. Others, maybe not. But the funny thing is that I’m able to see something more clearly, which has been a constant development this week. It’s the emotional equivalent of finding money that you forgot about in a coat pocket. Surprise! Here’s the thing that’s yours; it’s been here all along, but you just now found it. Or rediscovered it.
And that can lead to a new reality. Finding things. Allowing yourself to accept that kind of happy, unexpected gift. Sure, it might’ve been there all along – but you can now embrace it. It’s yours. Do something with it.
It’s funny, too, the things you sometimes discover about yourself when someone shines a light in your direction. I realized, this week, that if I have one gift, it’s probably complete faith. If I am certain about something or someone (and I’m damn good at assessing people), nothing can shake that faith. If I believe in something, nothing can shake that. I have, I suppose, passionate conviction. There’s no “maybe” in my heart. There’s no room for it, anyway, because I’m basically chockfull of love and sunlight. All of this can surprise people. Especially since I am also the person who takes every kind of risk based on that faith. There’s no higher place to make a decision from than that. Decisions made from habit or fear are never healthy. Decisions made from a place of love and faith? Those are always inspired things.
That’s what I know. That is, perhaps, what I’ve rediscovered in my emotional pocket, tucked away. I know how to believe. And I know how to believe in the impossible. And god help anyone who dares to question that. Because…no. I come from a long line of stubborn, strong women. And faith is a strange thing when it’s unshakeable: it can move mountains, no matter how painful or difficult. It can also save you when, maybe, you didn’t even realize you needed saving.
If I were to give you advice based on what I’ve been lucky to learn this week, it’d be this: find whatever, or whoever, makes you feel like sunlight. It might be scary. It might mean radical change. It might cause you pain the process. But life is too short to sit in darkness. Find what lights you up and makes you feel happy and safe. In the end, it’s the light that matters. After all, it’s what chases away the dark, no matter how impossible that might seem.
“Some people are so much sunshine to the square inch.”
― Walt Whitman
“We must leave this terrifying place tomorrow and go searching for sunshine.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald
I’ve been giving the idea of time a lot of thought, lately. Specifically, how we choose to spend our time – and who we choose to make time for. Everything about the way you decide to spend your life is a choice. The fact is that we all have the same 24 hours. We all have to work at balancing our lives, dividing our time between this important thing and that important thing. No one ever said it was easy, but it’s necessary.
Yesterday, I had a particularly enlightening conversation that really drove home a few things I’ve been struggling with the past few months. One of the ways that we show people we can is simply by showing up – making time and being present. It’s that simple. Who we give our time to, willingly, is important. Because life is busy and tricky, and it’s often like trying to juggle an entire circus full of rabid, angry monkeys. In short: slightly terrifying and difficult.
The thing is, though, that people are not obligations. I repeat: people are not obligations. Yes, we make commitments to do things and be places. We have family and friends. And with that, certain things are expected of us. But there is, I think, a different between a commitment and an obligation – perhaps it’s all the emotional aspect. But you commit to a person – and that is a choice. You are not obligated to that person. The distinction, however tenuous, is there. It is never, ever okay to make someone feel like an obligation. In the same vein, one of the worst things you can do to someone is to make them feel inconvenient. Hell, I’ve been there a time or two, and it’s like falling into quicksand made of insecurity and guilt. Not fun.
That conversation, though, reminded me that I’m type of person who always shows up. Unless I’m bleeding or physically unable to get to you, I show up. Because the number one sign that someone loves you? It’s just being there. It’s being there without an attitude, without the feeling of obligation. It’s being there, because you want to be – not because you are forced, either by outside influences or some overarching sense of have to or guilt.
The truth is that I’ve always been the type of person who doesn’t want you around, if you don’t want to be there. I’ve seen far too many people, and been in a few situations, where I’ve watched people do things because they feel as if they don’t have a choice. And, you know, it often turns that person into a resentful, cranky adult toddler. It’s not healthy for anyone involved, and it doesn’t even accomplish anything positive. Truly, there are times in life where it’s better to walk away from something, or someone, who isn’t bringing you joy – who, instead, brings you down quick than gravity, who causes you misery or simply makes you feel less. No one should ever make you feel that way, family or friend. It’s just not okay.
This morning, too, I realized that I am – for better or worse – the person who always makes time. It’s never inconvenient to me, because if I care about you, you’re my people. End of story. No questions asked. I’ve claimed you, minus the flag. (Eddie Izzard shoutout!) If you call me up at three in the morning sobbing, I will get in the car and come over. If you show up on my doorstep, because something happened and you need me, I will drag you inside and listen – and probably feed you. (Mind you, my dishes will probably not be done and my house will probably need a vacuuming. That’s life.) No matter what, I’m there for those who I love. It’s never an obligation. It’s a promise.
But that whole train of thought made me think about certain instances where people stepped up and showed up for me. Little things, even – like phone calls and emails. Or, even, big things – like physically showing up even though it was inconvenient. Because it means something when you make time for someone. It means something when you’re present. Because you’re making a choice – you’re choosing that person. You’re choosing that person when the circumstance isn’t ideal – and that has a kind of beautiful power to it. It speaks volumes about your feelings, too. Because it’s not an obligation. It’s a decision.
Time is a funny thing. It’s finite, though we never know to what degree. It’s important to show up, stand up, speak up, and man up (yes, even those of us with ovaries – we have figurative balls). Tell me who you love and how you show that love, and I’ll tell you who you are. Tell me who you are, and I’ll show you who you love. But in the end, who you love doesn’t matter as much as how you show that love. And you need to show it with time. That doesn’t cost a penny, and it means more than any diamond, darlings.
This has been a crazy year. There were good, bad, and bananas things. To say that I’ve learned a lot is an understatement. Because, honestly, if I’m not learning – I’m doing life wrong. Because life is about trying. It’s about making mistakes. It’s about putting yourself out there, in whatever fashion that might be. Making art, for instance. Trying a new hobby. Saying I love you. Traveling somewhere all by yourself. Meeting people.
To me, that’s the important thing about life: living it. Being present. Finding, stealing, and savoring moments. There are three things I couldn’t live without: love, laughter, and coffee. Let’s face it: no one wants to be around a non-caffeinated me. It’s not pretty. But, to me, those are such vital things. Without love, I’d cease to exist. I am nothing without my idiotic, somewhat spastic, completely willful heart. A sense of humor, too, is a must; there have been things, over the years, that I would not have gotten through, if it weren’t for a sense of humor. I’m not going to list them. You don’t need to hear my scars. Suffice to say, finding humor in the dark parts will help pull you through.
But I feel like I need to say thank you, here (feel free to skip this, if you’re easily bored or pressed for time). To my family and friends, who love and put up with me (even when I’m crazy…which is a lot). To anyone who has ever read something I’ve written – and even liked it! To everyone whose life I’ve been lucky as hell to be a part of, who has touched my life in unexpected, but beautiful ways. To the mad ones, who light up life like stars in the blue-black night sky. To my people, my lost witches, my Gilmore twin, my partners in crime, my Wonder Twin, my darling gypsy witch, and my best friend. To the agents who have blogged, tweeted, and generally been awesome. To my fellow writers and editors who live in this ocean made of words.
It has been a year, darlings. There are moments I wouldn’t trade for the world. Although it has been an especially crazy few days, I’m grateful. I keep thinking about this time, last year, where I was and what I was doing. What was I feeling? Like I’d lost everything and nothing would be the same again. I was reeling in a soul-deep, earthquake way. Since then, I’ve seen, been, done, and loved a lot. I’ve been true to myself. I’ve tried new things. I’ve been open, honest, daring, and probably a wee bit bonkers. I’m proud of everything I’ve learned over the past year.
I hope that 2014 is filled with so much joy, laughter, magic, art, adventure, wonder, love, and honesty. May you face all your shadows bravely. May you always remember you’re not alone. May you kiss someone with reckless abandon, someone who adores and cherishes you. May you make good changes. May you walk right out of your comfort zone and discover new things about yourself. May you laugh until your face hurts. I wish, for you, unexpected blessings, strength, and resolve.
In 2014, be good (and true) to yourself. Believe. Allow yourself to hope and dream, then act on those things. Wish and want, and then do everything within your power to attain those desired things.
For all of you who are in my heart, whether or not I’ve said it lately – I love you. Carry that with you in the new year. Tonight, I’ll be raising a glass to you and making wishes of my own.
*Title pilfered from the incomparable Neil Gaiman.