Hi!

I’m going to put words here again. And I’m going to pick up the guitar I bought the eve of our wedding and play it again. To be completely honest with you, the reason I let it hang on it’s hook on the wall for so long, as a 25 year old woman, is because of something that happened when I was 12. I had just learned to play Green Day’s ‘Good Riddance’, my brother’s friend with Crohn’s Disease looked over and casually said, “I see you still suck at playing the guitar”, and walked away. I was devastated. In retrospect, no teenager with a newly diagnosed autoimmune disease should be super accountable for what they say. 

I stopped writing because I became a bit self-conscious of how much I was putting out there. I thought about how many good writers there are who know how to use punctuation correctly, and how many bad writers who screamed into cyberspace with bad data. 

My baby is one the end of this month, and I just finished Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions. I regret not writing more this year, and I think putting it off any longer, as rusty and uncomfortable as I feel, will only make things worse. 

So before I really dive in, some wise words from Ira, courtesy of my friend Hannah. 

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Whole

When I moved here I saw exactly in my head what my life looks like.

I saw a job I loved with kind people that was fulfilling and challenging and full. I saw a house with wood floors and flowers and light and a kitchen full of nourishing food, dancing, and good red wine.

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I saw yoga, dancing, reading, and pals.

But I didn’t see the part that was lonely and hard. I didn’t see the nights walking past laughing groups of friends and feeling for the first time the weight of being without people you feel safe to share your story with.

When I fell in love, madly in love, in love in a way I didn’t know possible, it was so much more beautiful than I could have imagined.

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It made me feel safe, adored, pushed to grow, loved for my wildness. I knew long distance was abstractly difficult, but I didn’t understand the physical ache of being far from your love or the coldness of a bed.

I am an idealist to the core, and I hope to never lose the part of me that sees my life in dreamy potentials, but it turns out, the hard, the struggle: those are the parts that make you who you are in the end.

I live in muck. I sulk on my way home after too many long days, I burst into tears when I try to assemble a dresser solo, I lose heart when I smile at a stranger and they scowl.

But in that muck, I feel more than ever the push to become a better woman. The kind of woman who deserves and can embrace fully the huge gifts I’ve been given.

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For as long as I can remember, I wanted to wait to become who I was. I wanted to wake up and be still, quiet, calm, composed. I would be the best daughter, partner, nurse, and I would be pleased with myself then.

It’s the same scarcity that makes us put a job, a number on a scale, a marital status before we let ourselves feel worthy.

But I’ve decided to stop putting qualifiers on my wholeness.

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There will always be room to become a better human, but that doesn’t detract from the one I am now.

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When you look close, there are parts that are barely holding it together, there is struggle, tears, harsh words, too little effort in important things, too much effort in absolute wastes, and there are certainly dishes in the sink, but that only makes it a sincere life, an honest story.

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When we decide to love ourselves in light of our scattered, oblong dots that unite to create our story: we win. We don’t have to pretend we have it all together, or that we ever will. We can celebrate all of it. We can love it all.

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Plans and Pace

You were sick, but now you’re well again, and there’s work to be done.

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I’ve always thought I had a proper handle on perspective.

I’ve always been a runner, and when you get up high and look down at your existence from the top of Mauka, or a new city you’ve jumped on a bus to, or into a dive bar with a catastrophically bad open mic night, things become clearer. Or so I was sure.

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It turns out I’m absolutely lousy at it. I have trouble seeing my relationships and self-concept clearly.

I’ve just never stayed still long enough to notice.

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Steady, quiet rest has incredible power to unearth truth, turns out.

When it became clear that things were going to move incredibly slowly in Hawaii, I fought. I ranted. I spent too much time on the phone trying to push everything through.

Once I stopped resisting, and found meaning and worth even when life was moving at a glacial pace, every aspect of my existence bloomed. My relationships became richer, my work more fulfilling, and my spirit more curious.

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Learning how to live a life that is incredibly meaningful, even when it doesn’t look like what it should, is the most important, beautiful lesson I’ve ever learned.

So now I’m off on this adventure, but with this newfound capacity for peace and joy in uncertainty.

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Thanks the most for being part of it, friends.

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Miso Soup, Christmas, and Debilitating Sadness

My Father ate nothing but miso soup the week before Christmas.

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Macrobiotic diets are said to do wonders for cancer, and my family and I were hell-bent on keeping him alive by any means possible. He hated it, but just as committed to ignoring the eventuality of his death as we were, he slurped down his (measly) body weight in tofu.

I’ve been tense and uneasy this whole month, feeling vaguely bad and blaming it on a thousand external things. The cat woke me up. I look bad in these jeans. It’s always raining when I want it to be sunny and sunny when I want it to be raining. Anything to avoid facing the reality of this giant loss felt, especially around Christmas.

None of us are holiday enthusiasts.

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My Dad carried that torch alone, buying gigantic filing cabinets and super sized pillows to create a mass of presents around the tree every year. He loved Christmas deeply; from the sacred birth of his Savior to the incredibly tacky icicles he covered our Douglas Fir in.

I eventually broke down and admitted something that feels ugly and ungrateful: I liked our family so much better with him in it. It was kinder and sweeter and funnier. It was more balanced. He left this void that nothing seems to make any better. With his death this source of unceasing affirmation of love ceased to exist instantaneously. It stinks.

So in honor of grief, and fighting my self-imposed need to fit in and make sugar cookies and sing carols, I made a gigantic pot of miso soup and bawled.

Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals.

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Weeds (or how travel has the ability to wake up your soul and make you more in awe than you thought possible)

Roger, the sweet architect whose home we stayed in while in Rotorua, laughed as I stopped to gaze at the yellow flowers that passed as we ran through the fern forest, contemplating if they were too rare to steal.

“They’re weeds! Nothing but weeds!”

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He was right, those strands of yellow covered highways and fields and crept up between cement blocks all through North Island. As I pushed up through low chatarunga into downward facing dog in some field next to an abandoned van a few days later, half terrified I was about to get murdered and half exhilarated by the sounds of birds and still and the coolness that comes at dusk on a spring day, I met those flowers again, and burst into tears. For the first time in ages there wasn’t a hint of sadness to those tears. It was a pure and unadulterated whimsy. Life. Wonder. Joy. I felt entirely human. Broken and dazed and full of reverence for the baroque, untouched forest I found myself in.

I will travel this entire earth and my eyes will always find the weeds intricate sacred treasures.

Our eyes grow weary of the ordinary, and anything can become ordinary if we let it.

Travel has the ability to not only reveal to us forests filled with completely new species of flora and fauna, stunning mountain formations, and languages made of entirely different symbols, it gives us better perspective into the beauty of the places we come from.

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Dear Dad

You have been gone four months today. I have graduated college since then. I have lost thirteen pounds. I have kissed three boys. That scar I got the night I tried to jump the fence isn’t going anywhere. I have been talking to God again.

George Eliot said “Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them.”

I love that. Because I think about you all the time.

You are still the voice I hear when I get very scared or sad. I hear you saying over and over to me “It’s going to be okay.” I feel your eyes looking into mine with all the love that exists on  earth. We are on the bathroom floor. You are holding my face that is still cold from being pressed into the tile. I feel numb. I feel wretched. I hate myself. I want to die. I say those things outloud and you look weary. You shake your head. You hold my face. You look with those eyes and you promise it will get better. You say it so assuredly I believe you.

“This is the worst thing that has ever happened to me?” I ask you.

You nod. Ironically, I feel a sense of relief. I feel as if this means I’m not due heartache for some time.

Four months feels like a big deal because four months after that day on the bathroom floor you got diagnosed with cancer. And less then four months later you died. And four months from then I am all better just thirteen pounds lighter and three kisses later and you are in the ground.

And I’m so mad about it. And I miss you all the time.

I’m so messy. Like always, you know. But more than usual. I didn’t want to lose you. I wasn’t prepared. It’s been eating away at me. Even though all these good, beautiful, exciting things are happening, part of me aches because I still know you aren’t here.

Thanks for telling me so many stories. Thanks for teaching me all the good things.

But damnit Papa. I just miss you. I want you to roll your eyes at me for making decisions I know are foolish. I want you to convince me to eat ribs with you at midinight while watching The Sound of Music. I want you to correct my syntax and cover my papers with red ink. I want you to be around so badly.

But I’ll keep being thankful. I’ll look for the good. I’ll try my best.

Suz

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