Manifesto: my heart broke loose on the wind

I don’t want the half-life

half-mast life

teeth clenched to another day

another chore

the prison march to mundane.

I don’t want the half-assed life

wearing the necktie noose of mediocrity,

shoulders hunched

slouching towards the pursuit of nothing.

 

Give me the full life or give me nothing at all.

 

I want the full life

the rich life

the mess and ooze of it

sink my teeth in it

fall in love with it

again and again and again.

To embrace the mystery,

to fully accept the fluctuating rhythms of life, of

moons and milk and windstorms,

And yes:

the crazy.

That which makes us human,

That which makes us ache and feel and the

light and dark and frays on the edges.

That which makes us magnificent,

standing on the edge and thrumming with joy,

light spilling up to the brim and burning over,

electric-charged, resilient, shaking, shimmering,

pioneers, vikings, resplendent.

That which makes us mortal,

A seeping mess of science and suffering,

blood and bionics

skin and scars and scrapes:

There is no cure for the human condition.

 

And yet–

 

Yet there is a cure for the half-life

And I want it.

I want all of it,

The full cup, the elixir, the balm,

filled to the brim and spilling over,

the light the dark the

edges rough and raw and frayed.

The open life, the spilled open life,

the one smudged with passion

rather than pessimism and defeat.

I would rather be bruised by loving life hard, than from

knocking against my own negativity.

The free life, unfettered, unhinged, cracked open

and filled with

gold.

 

photo courtesy of tumblr

photo courtesy of tumblr

And I, infinitesimal being,

drunk with the great starry

void,

likeness, image of

mystery,

felt myself a pure part

of the abyss,

I wheeled with the stars,

my heart broke loose on the wind

— from “Poetry” by Pablo Neruda

 

All You Need is Love

Last night I dreamt that I was pushing my nephew in a stroller around the mall. I would say to him, “I love you!” and he would say back to me, “I love you too!”

I woke up feeling drenched in love and the feeling has not left me.

photo courtesy of google image search — “surrounded by love”

As today marks the 11th anniversary of 9/11, I’m reminded of how short life is and how important friends and family are.

If you’re in my life, you’re there for a reason, and today, and every day, I thank God for you.

You are valuable.

Every moment we spend together is valuable, and I treasure your precious time, the present of your presence.

I think I lose sight of it sometimes, and I get so ensnared in pettiness and fears and busyness and I don’t remember what matters.

People matter. You matter, and without your friendship and your love I wouldn’t have much of a life at all.

I love you.

photo courtesy of google image search

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in)]

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

my heart)i am never without it(anywhere

i go, you go, my dear; and whatever is done

by only me is your doing,my darling)

i fear

no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want

no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

— e.e cummings, from Complete Poems: 1904-1962

I Have Found the One Whom My Soul Loves

To explain my absence from the blogosphere as of late, I’ll show you what happened to me one month ago, because a picture is worth a thousand words …

photo courtesy of Caitlin Ingles (http://caitliningles.carbonmade.com)

Needless to say, the past month has been a backwards roller coaster of emotion. To say I’m over the moon would be an understatement.

I have found the one whom my soul loves  — Songs of Solomon 3:4

Now that I have some time to myself to think and reflect and, like Mary, treasure these things in my heart, it’s amazing to see how God brought us together and the journey He’s taken me on leading up to this life-altering moment. As a girl at work (a newlywed) told me, having a semi-longish engagement (11 months) is perfect because it really gives you time to savour this new season and revel in the excitement of preparing for something you’ve been dreaming of since you were a little girl, and the ways in which God was preparing my heart this entire time …

Truth be told, being single wasn’t always very fun. I’d have moments of acceptance and faith in God’s plan for my life followed by moments of crippling doubt. Every time a Facebook friend got married and posted pictures of their wedding, I’d struggle to keep the bitterness and feelings of “is this ever going to happen for me?” at bay. I remember walking down the Escarpment last year, feeling utterly broken and lost. “When You Say Nothing at All” by Alison Krauss was playing on my iPod as I was thinking about my completely unattainable love interest at that time and I felt so lonely and low that only God could shine the light, meagre as it was, through the cracks of my brokenness.

I had to hold on to the memory of August in Scotland, riding the ferry to the Orkney islands, and feeling wind-whipped and so alive that I could cry and laugh at the same time, and God’s quiet assurance that He was orchestrating the details of my life and that I’d meet the man of my dreams very soon (5 months later, to be exact, although I didn’t know it then!)

Sounds crazy, but I met K in January of 2012 and was engaged on my 27th birthday. For some reason, back on that ferry ride in Scotland, I felt so strongly that 27 would be the perfect age to become someone’s wife, and I will be 27 on June 8, 2013. Our wedding day.

photo courtesy of Caitlin Ingles (http://caitliningles.carbonmade.com)

Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things — Kay Warren

Last night, after a day of wedding dress shopping and high emotions, I went for a restorative walk up the Escarpment along Ridge Road (which is actually quite close to our venue, and a part of my town I’m very drawn to). It was around 8 p.m. and the sky was blazing red and gold. Twilight has always been my favourite time of day, and the loveliness of walking in a magical dusk in late August when the perfect music is playing on your iPod is absolutely healing.

In the beauty of that moment, with a bluegrass hymn in my ears, I spotted three deer in the meadow. I stopped and marvelled at them, taking my earbuds out and simply being. Two deer scampered off, white tails shaking, but one stood and stared at me for what seemed an eternity. Immediately I thought of the verse:

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you — Psalm 42:1

photo courtesy of google image search

This past week, K has been gone across the country to his home province visiting his mom, and despite initially being grateful for a week “off” from wedding planning and errands, and despite speaking to him nearly every day, I’ve been lethargic and without appetite, like a character in a Jane Austen novel. I longed for him, a bride-to-be longing for her future husband. What God showed me was that marriage is a reflection of His love for His people, His bride, and how we long for our Bridegroom’s return.

And, just because God is awesome and it is so evident that He delights in blessing the tiniest desires of our hearts, when I was walking back I saw two monarch butterflies fluttering by and playing with each other.

I have been obsessed with butterflies since I was a little girl, and K custom designed my engagement ring with two butterfly details. The deer and the butterflies just couldn’t have been a coincidence …

photo courtesy of http://www.weheartit.com

Remember in January, when I declared 2012 to be a year of the dragon and the lioness? I also quoted this verse in Habakkuk, where there is also the image of the deer:

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord!

I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!

The Sovereign Lord is my strength!

He makes me as surefooted as a deer,

able to tread upon the heights

— Habakkuk 3:17-19

I am grateful that I can share with you a condensed version of my story, dear readers. I urge you all, no matter what your circumstance, to hold onto hope even when things seem hopeless. My story is evidence that your wildest dreams really do come true …

Living the Good “Chai”

Chai is the Hebrew word for life, so let’s celebrate it. Let’s raise our glasses to us, to ourselves, to each other, and drink deeply to the good chai and all its daily wonders.

life is a gift we can choose to unwrap

The only ones for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars …  — Jack Kerouac

Here’s to the dreamers, the seers, the believers and deep sleepers.

Here’s to secret keepers, weepers, sighers and wishers.

Here’s to the pioneers, the forerunners, the trailblazers and groundbreakers, the innovators, the strivers and succeeders.

Here’s to the thinkers and feelers, the followers, the resolvers, the carers and creators and supporters.

Here’s to careerists, to workers, to healers and helpers and everyday heroes.

Here’s to the inbetweeners, the 9-5ers, the punch-in / punch-outers, the stepping stoners, the mobile phoners, the just-get-byers and one-more-dayers.

“you and me and five bucks”

Here’s to the cafe lingerers, the hummers and singers, the coffee spoon clinkers and fresh air drinkers.

Here’s to the ones that wake up, back to sun, already undone as the alarm sounds their impending day.

Here’s to the ones that jump out of bed roaring, ready to attack the invaders of peace.

Here’s to wallflowers blossoming in corners.

Here’s to late-bloomers who make the sweetest flowers.

Here’s to the broken who are just on the mend, and here’s to the soothers with honey in their hush.

Here’s to dwellers of the Land of Someday, the citizens of Maybe and the clairvoyants of Tomorrow. Here’s to the keepers of the Past, and the ones that live on the high mountain of It’s Possible.

the best time to celebrate is whenever you can

And here’s to the moments that make this life rich and wonderful and, well, worth rising for.

Here’s to:

Evenings you could drink in a cup, the sun setting in resplendence, the trees lush and green and waving good-bye to a day fully lived.

Hundreds of hands raised and swaying like sea anemone in the strobe lights at a raucous concert and everyone nodding yes and music pumping in hearts and stomachs.

Hands fingering tall weeds and grass as you stroll.

A friend lovingly touching your hair.

Pink sky, blue lake.

Cities still sleeping at 4 am, lights across water twinkling.

Long stretches of road to be driven down, roads winding leading to stories yet untold, country roads with stories in the overgrown brush and untended fields.

Idling atop your car, looking out onto the world with quiet meditation and good music instrumenting what words cannot express.

Getting fresh air, getting fresh thoughts.

Hope spoken in ocean spray and whispering winds.

Teaching toddlers to speak Pirate and tickle the clouds with their feet on the swing set.

Soy lattes made with love by singing baristas.

The world made magical by sunshine, strength, and possibility.

All I was searching for was me

But if it just hurts too much, and you can’t see the sun for the clouds, and you feel like everything in your life is broken,

remember:

Keep your head up. Keep your heart strong.

Celebrate one thing and celebrate it anyway, and distract yourself with something beautiful, knowing that this too shall pass.

Love in Nuances

Will Ferrell and Maggie Gyllenhaal in "Stranger than Fiction" (2006)

As Harold took a bite of Bavarian sugar cookie, he finally felt as if everything was going to be ok. Sometimes, when we lose ourselves in fear and despair, in routine and constancy, in hopelessness and tragedy, we can thank God for Bavarian sugar cookies. And, fortunately, when there aren’t any cookies, we can still find reassurance in a familiar hand on our skin, or a kind and loving gesture, or subtle encouragement, or a loving embrace, or an offer of comfort, not to mention hospital gurneys and nose plugs, an uneaten Danish, soft-spoken secrets, and Fender Stratocasters, and maybe the occasional piece of fiction. And we must remember that all these things, the nuances, the anomalies, the subtleties, which we assume only accessorize our days, are effective for a much larger and nobler cause. They are here to save our lives. I know the idea seems strange, but I also know that it just so happens to be true

— from Stranger than Fiction (2006)

 

Fork in the Road

let's do this ...

At the crossroads between adolescence and adulthood, education and career … you’ve found yourself lost, marooned, rudderless, shipwrecked, aimlessly wandering and wondering …

But–not all who wander are lost,

and

not all who wonder are lost either.

I recently read a great open letter (via my friend Aly) addressed to older generations frustrated at under-achieving twentysomethings. Stop worrying and lighten up, Penelope Trunk says, because

[…] Personal growth looks a lot like being lost. Lost is okay. Who wouldn’t be with twenty years of schooling and no preparation for adult life? People grow more when they are lost then when they are on a straight path with a clear view of where they are going.

Whew!

Breathe in, breathe out and repeat this with me: We’re going to be okay.

Our diplomas and our degrees were not a waste, our years of cramming knowledge into our brains and then bleeding ourselves dry was not in vain. We may be bagging groceries, slinging lattes, and serving cold beers now, but it doesn’t mean we failed. So long as our passions haven’t been shelved, so long as we’re trying and experimenting and growing and searching and finding meaning and purpose and following our convictions, we’re doing alright.

Better to explore and figure things out now than years down the road when too many people depend on us to be stable, immobile. Better to have laughed in the face of howling winds, flung wildly into unpredictability and the mad dervishes of possibility now while our brains are impressionable, our limbs young and supple, and our worldview expandable …

I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die discover that I had not lived — Henry David Thoreau

and do it with your whole soul

Pursue your passions, because your passion is your purpose.

Without them, you’re an empty shell of a person.

Don’t settle for just okay or good enough or what’s-expected-of-you because then you’ll always resent yourself for settling. You were meant to live for so, so much more … Don’t lose yourself.

So take heart, fellow wanderers. I’m in the same rudderless boat. Let’s continue pursuing our passions, holing up in coffee shops until we figure out what direction we should take, sidestepping the beaten path and mapping our own journey. Let’s find our souls on country roads, suck out all the marrow of life, dance away the demons, paint the sunset, hug tightly, drink deep the precious beauty of the world and do it all with the knowledge that we’ll get there when we get there and everything’s going to be fine.

A Pearl of Wisdom

pearls are a girl's best friend

 I admit it’s tempting to wish for the perfect boss, the perfect parent, or the perfect outfit. But maybe the best any of us can do is not quit, play the hand we’ve been dealt, and accessorize what we’ve got

–Carrie Bradshaw