…And nothing else. 

I’ve spent the last few days with a knot in my stomach. When Ted told me he watched and liked the video (of me asking for help) I felt a flood of shame wash over my face. I thanked him, and changed the subject. It brought on a lot of intense emotions…joy for those who donated. I am always so moved when people affirm me in this work in particular. I believe it is because I am so unsure of myself. I am trying to feel a sense of competence and confidence, but to be honest I’m not there yet. So when someone else sees what I see, or just trusts in the clarity of my vision for my vocation, I am overwhelmed.

Conversely, for all of those who didn’t say anything about it I project my very big insecurities. Which…I am trying so hard not to. I won’t even give voice to all the things I’ve thought others must be thinking. I will simply say it’s not nice.

It is bitter work not to make either the good nor the bad projections say something about who I am as a person nor about my relationships NOR about my ability to create this space for myself professionally. I keep in mind the quote from Liz Gilbert never be ashamed of having your heart broken, it means you tried for something. Of course, that does require me admitting that my heart, is, a bit broken. I had hoped for a different outcome. And over the past few days I wondered if there was something I could have or should have done differently…or maybe I never should have asked at all.

But that’s not right. I prayed about it. And if what I’ve been given so far is all that I’m given, let the record show that I am still so grateful. Also, I am extremely proud of myself for not ripping the video down at the first sign of discomfort (which came immediately after posting it). This is a test in remembering who I am and not attaching my indenting to things that come and go, are fickle and may changed. Not even relationships, for they too

 deteriorate. All of that is ego.  I have to take a breath and I have to find that peaceful being inside with a messy ponytail sitting draped in white by a riverbank deep in meditation but smiling from deep within her roots. That is me..Self. And she is at peace, not embarrassed. She is grace, not frustration. She is love, and nothing else.

A story of worth AND An ask for help

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 10.38.05 AM

I must say this was a top 3 most vulnerable moment for me, but I had to just own it…Thank you all for supporting me as you have over the years and thank you especially to my friends who helped me to acknowledge that asking for help is OKAY and I don’t have to apologize for daring to believe in the power of my dreams. Check out the video, here. Love you all, sincerely.

Chocolate River Steamboat

There’s no earthly way of knowing
Which direction they are going!
There’s no knowing where they’re rowing,
Or which way they river’s flowing!
Not a speck of light is showing,
So the danger must be growing,
For the rowers keep on rowing,
And they’re certainly not showing
Any signs that they are slowing…
~Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

I’ve been a bit out of sorts lately. I have tried communicating it, but my attempts were feeble at best and not necessarily met with any real traction so I retreated into myself. Any spare moment I get, I sleep. Yesterday I worked from home, checking things off my checklist one after the other and when I was done it felt as though I’d run a marathon. I slept for four hours. I woke up, got a few other things done then was exhausted and ready for bed. I slept for 9 hours, missing my 6:00am alarm urging me to go to the gym.

I got to work today, early. I couldn’t find parking…story of the semester so far. I immediately started crying. Parked at the other end of campus and kind of fumbled my way across to my office where I willed my door to appear closed, though it was open. Why is it that we push people away when we need them the most?

I’m uncomfortable in my clothes. I hate what I’m wearing and I keep fidgeting with it. It feels too tight. I keep telling myself it fits fine, it doesn’t feel like that. I take my shoes off under my desk and search the ground for some relief. Do they make under-the-desk patches of grass?

I didn’t cry during my video blog but I did watching it back. I am so unhappy right now. I am stirring in it. I recognize that this would be a time to seek gratitude and find the things in life that I am grateful for…One of my old clients described depression as a dark and twisty figure who hid in the corner and waited for her, omnipresent. I can feel it reaching for my hand.

First of Sorts: Breakdown

Last night in the course of the two mile drive to dinner I got sick. All of a sudden my body ached, my head throbbed and my voice began its departure. Afterwards, arriving home to rest, the sweltering heat held me in a vice grip. It was the last thing I needed. I hadn’t slept the night before because of heats hold on me and I wasn’t willing to surrender another night. I left. 

Escaped my suffocating conversation and my roommate who wanted to talk to me, about what I had no idea or interest. My temper was low. I knew it was the elements and not anything in particular and yet somehow I still felt I’d done something wrong. I quietly wished I lived alone because I get exhausted having to explain my moods. They swing far and wide along the pendulum. And when I’m at the extremes I keep to myself. It always causes a problem. 

Leaving knowing I was abandoning a bid for connection I just wanted to sleep. Off to a friends house I retreated to her cool air and soft couch. I woke up every two hours. Still, it was the best sleep I’d had in two weeks. This isn’t good. 

  It had been over a month since I quit my medicine and simultaneously stopped having anxiety attacks. Until today. Just now actually. Crawling up the stairs barely making it to my bed before my body stopped entirely. Crumpled up and catatonic I had to lay there sobbing until it passed. It feels like hours have gone by in only the seven minutes. Can I go to work? The thought of trying to get myself together made my stomach turn. How many times today would I feel close to death? Even though I know you can’t die from a panic attack, the sensation has no such intelligence. My chest is heavy with the weight of every unsolved riddle in my life. How will I pay rent? How will I settle debts? Where will I go post grad? You need to get your website up. You need to make your video.  Will I make it to grad? Will anyone care if I do? Will anyone care if I don’t? Should I take a break? You can’t afford to take a break. Maybe you’re all hype and fanfare. Will any of this matter in the long run? On and on at five pounds each they stack themselves on my sternum.  So I sit here waiting. Crying. Writing. Praying. How can I go anywhere but here? 

So shall you be

A little over a week ago I got a tattoo. I’d been wanting one for a while and had been thinking for almost three years of the word I wanted to be the crux of the work. The word I landed on was divergent and I told myself it was a dynamic word I could both be and become. Not only that, it seemed to accurately describe my experience within systems and groups. I fit in, but then again I also always stood out. 

Are you a pauper or a superstar?

So you act, so you feel, so you are. 

–India.Aire “there’s hope” 

I couldn’t help but wonder if the open yet healing wound on my body marked me in a way that would suggest my endless enigmatic existence? Was I actually all that different or was I striving to be, willing myself to be and as a result of my questioning becoming what I naturally was not. The beginning of that inquirous thread was lost so instead I laid down in the pool of fabric and gazed upward wondering if any of it mattered anyhow. 

I’d been reading Rising Strong for the past few days. And by reading I mean listening to, although I sorely regret not buying a physical copy of the text because I find myself stopping the recording too frequently to take notes and write things down. One of the quotes that I’ve listened to four times now is: 

People who don’t stay down after they fall or are tripped are often troublemakers. Hard to control. Which is the best kind of dangerous possible. They are the artists. The innovators and the change makers. 

–Brené Brown “Rising Strong” 

  Me? Dangerous? The idea was funny. But wasn’t that the entire premise of the Divergent book and movie series? Those that would not choose a course and do as they were told were dangerous. They couldn’t be controlled and their innovation, curiosity, and fortitude made them an absolute threat to an otherwise stable system. I laughed at the idea of me being in anyway akin to the characters in this dystopian fantasy land…and then I breathed deeply into the knowing that it was true. 

Among one of the only thing I can remember about about myself as a kid was endless curiosity and a wild imagination. I made up stories about everything in my head. What if my name isn’t really Jessica and I’m really a fugitive in a witness protection program? I remember telling a kindergarten classmate this and convincing her that my real name was Michelle. Where did I get this shit from?Now I find myself making up stories but more about the how’s and whys of who we are as indivuals and a collective. Still, in some capacity, asking others to consider how they know WHAT they know about me (or anyone) is true? 

I’ve begun choose to believe the most impossible and improbable things about myself. Alice said seven impossible things before breakfast…I have seven 

  1. I will one day soon be paid (well) for my passions 
  2. I will earn a living good enough to pay for my sisters’ college education 
  3. I will travel the world and learn the stories of other women 
  4. I will have a social medium to be able to share those stories in a meaningful way that creates an active community 
  5. I will significantly impact the way women view themselves and their capacity to lead, globally 
  6. I will not do any of this alone, but I am the one with the vision–though it was incepted in me long ago at a level beyond my current comprehension 
  7. This is my last year with a semblance of anonymity. 

I told Latrisha just today that sometimes you have to begin before you’re ready…


One beautiful thing I’ve acquired in my thirty-one years on earth, and in particular the last five years or so, is a steady growing surplus of “no ‘fox’ given”.  If you understand what I’m saying…

It is like all those cliche internet memes suggest, when you finally know your worth, you find it increasingly more difficult to be around those who don’t understand or add to your value. I remember a conversation I had with Nick as he drove me to LA to catch my flight to Bali. I told him how I had such a hard time saying someone wasn’t good enough for me. Or that I was better than any one person. So I found myself giving people the benefit of the doubt more often than was comfortable for me. He told me–flat out–that I needed to get over that. And he was right. I had to reframe it, it wasn’t that I was better than anyONE, but certainly I was better than certain behaviors and actions. It wasn’t that someone wasn’t good enough for me, we all have the capacity for greatness, but I need someone who has knows his capacity for greatness and is actively working to realize it. 

Next came what was certainly the most difficult to own, and that was my certainty around being “okay” never being a bride. Not that I would remain single forever. But I’ve always dreamed of being a mom, not a wife. I’d made one conditional on the other, and I decided recently that that was unnecessary. This idea freaks people out when I mention it. As does my indifference to monogamy.  But the more I’ve become okay with my beliefs, the less I need other people to be okay with them. 

I have grown to own that for as different as I am, and as “out there” my beliefs are that at my core I am still very simple. I believe in kindness. I believe in helping others when you can. I believe in love and that it is everlasting and the most powerful force in the cosmos. I believe that who we are today is an alchemy of who we’ve been across lifetimes, which is why we are so much more socially complex than we were fifty or even one-hundred years ago. I believe that freedom is in authenticity. I believe that sex is among the most sacred spiritual experiences one can have, and that it is the truest expression of the truth of any coupling. I believe that children are magic, and adults terrified, but jealous we will never be that magical again. I believe that the most innocent creatures hurt the most because they feel too deeply. I believe the elements can heal most ailments. I believe in waiting for your cue. I believe in quiet exits and grand entrances. I believe in art. I believe that we have in us, the power to change the world. I believe we are terrified to own that power because we are too afraid of the responsibility and the accountability. I believe in saying ‘I don’t know’ when it is in fact the case. I believe that everyone knows in their heart why they’re here. And that our purposes are much bigger than the roles we play. I believe in speaking only when it improves the silence. I believe in a lot of silence. 

Full Out 

When I was a little girl, my mom swears I hated dance. I never remember hating it, though. In fact, for as long as I can remember I have been obsessed with dancers, form and line, and love to dance to nearly any type of music. So I laughed at the question when Colleen, who sat across from me giving me an I’Ching reading, asked me if I danced? I recalled my looking up adult dance classes and wondering if I had the nerve to show up to one. I remembered the conversation I had with Jillian only weeks ago about indulging in this latent dream of mine. Do I dance?

Days later Ted would sit across from me and explain how he felt a shift in himself, like a move from a prince to a king. The metaphor stuck with me even though I wasn’t so keen to call myself a queen. I was, however, very interested in what that transition meant. I called our trip his coronation. Fitting because “ceremony” was very appropriate given our place and company in New Mexico. And as I began to feel a similar shift in myself, I struggled to put language to exactly what it was I felt I was or what I was becoming.

“You know how when you make a decision that’s so spot-on you feel it resonate with your capital-S-Self and you just feel a weight lifted, almost like this great peace washes over you,” I asked Annie. She shook her head yes indicating that she understood where I was going, so I continued. “That’s how I felt when I decided that academia is not for me,” I declared. It still feels so good to say out loud I find myself mouthing the words even as I type them. Later with Brittany, I went on, “if I have to live on peanut butter sandwiches but I’m in love with what I’m doing. That’s worth it to me. Because at this point higher education feels like wool on my skin.” I’m dramatic. But that’s the point! I’m dramatic. I’m bold and outspoken and I can own a room if I choose to. I am a colorful spirit governed by freedom and I am meant to fly, not grow upwards from one place.

It is certainly not to disregard academia nor its constituents, after all it is the process of obtaining my doctoral degree which taught me best how much I do not want this life. “I’ve been holding back,” I wrote to Ted. Wanting to say so much more and tell him all the ways I had. The many struggles against hypocrisy I’d had which almost always boiled down to art over form. No one had a good enough reason of why we had to do things a certain way and I desperately needed to know, finding precedence an insufficient response. I deeply admire my teachers and professors who have found their own art within the walls of ivy towers; for many years my admiration of them kept me safe within the confines never quite fitting in but certainly mastering the ins-and-outs well-enough.  It is because of them that I feel confident in my knowing Knowing that my stay here is expiring.

When I am my truest self I find others in awe of me, much to my chagrin. I am not looking for admirers. I am looking for other daring souls to challenge me, push me, inspire me, and break me open. While certainly in academia there is access to absolutely brilliant minds, by and large there is still a great appreciation and reward for those who move through the system draped and fueled by tradition and western pragmatism. It feels so counterintuitive to me more often than not, to be obtaining a degree touted to mark the contribution of new knowledge in a specific field yet in a very particular and specific way. I am not meant for this world. Even my most favorite inhabitants of this world exist on the perimeter whether they would agree with that statement is unknown.  It is certainly subjective. And as I said the words out loud the weight of all my years of trying to fit, do what I’m told and be agreeable, lifted off my chest and I could breathe.

I’d been the nail who stood too tall, marking herself as a target for strike. If I was my most authentic, I was a complete anomaly. Systems, I’ve found, don’t too much care for the enigmatic. I still remember the conversation with my Chair: “People do not like to sit in discomfort.” “Maybe you should teach them how.” Do I liked discomfort? I wouldn’t assert such a claim normally, and I am not even sure of its accuracy at present. What I am sure of is that I do not like complacency. I like to push and prod at boundaries. I like to be told “no” and fight for my “yes”. I like questioning and uncertainty that catalyzes clarity and intention; the split second before disaster when it all becomes clear and you know exactly what to do instinctually.

Exiting the labyrinth I realized that all the answers to my question, “How could I best be of service to God?” We’re about my own self awareness and self improvement. Listen. Trust. Fly. Lean. Cry. Grow. Clean. Look up. They were instructions for me to live my very best life.  I could best be of service to God by being my best self because it is that being who can best fulfill her purpose. It was so clear it was as if I always knew it. Well, because I did.

So I told Ted, “While I do not resonate with the royalty metaphor, I have decided to live my life full out.” Like dancing full out, when you are encouraged to rehearse as you would perform which makes sense because this is it. This one life, this is the only August 7, 2015 I will ever get. I need to live it full out. Which means following my callings and indulging in that which truly nourishes me.

For far too long I have sustained myself by overindulging on things which required copious amounts because they were lacking in substance. In my life I was consuming spiritual junk food rather than soul food meals. No more. I cannot afford it, and now acknowledging the truth, it makes it that much harder to ignore. I need nourishment. Real sustenance. I need to be fed in a way that is loving and ripe and filling. And I mean this in all facets of my life. I need to be fed in such a way that reflects the appreciation I have for my vessel and my spirit. That includes literal food, relationships, career, hobbies, etc. I need to live as though I love myself. That is what living full out means to me. As though my life were on purpose and has meaning, because it is and it does.

after careful thought…

The answer to every question you have is right there. Just be quiet, and listen. 

Then move forward without hesitation or fear. Trust yourself. Your Self. The God that dwells within you. 

Disrobe your fear. Dress instead in faith accessorize with grace and forgiveness. 

Love yourself. Be in love with your reflection. It is essential to your survival and your thriving. 

All things in their time. And if never at all, trust they were never supposed to come to pass. 

Hold hands. Figuratively or literally. We are not islands and support is sometimes this most precious gift of all. 

Be kind. Speak love. Live so that tomorrow you can be just as proud of the person you were as the person you will be. 

Take chances. Your heart knows the way forward, your head only knows where you’ve been before. 

Smile at strangers. Play with animals. Hug children and kiss your loved ones. Leave this earth with seeds of your love scattered in all four corners.  

Be yourself. Speak your truth. Feel the sun on your skin every day. Take a deep breath of the wind to keep your fire ignited. 

Hold back none of your passion. In the end, be empty. Make sure you use it all. 

white flags

I am sick. I write the words with a heavy heart full of exasperation as they echo through my head. I am unwell. As much as I wish it were not the case, it is and after trying to stand up to it and fight, I now–body pained and exhausted, mind weary and strained–fully surrender to it.  

There’s a sort of relief that follows my admission. Letting the tide of post traumatic stress, and anxiety toss me this way and that. I have not come here to die, I quickly remind both the ocean and myself. Quite the opposite, I surrendered not out of force but of my own volition. It was time for me to make peace with my right now instead of trying to turn it into something else. 

So I lean back, close my eyes and rest up against my illness. There is no mistake that as I become one with it, it also must become one with me. So I will stop combatting its existence. I will acknowledge its presence and its power. But I also demand it acknowledge mine. 

I have come here to live. To survive you, I have to learn you. To learn you I cannot pretend you do not exist and I cannot underestimate your influence. Similarly, you must know I have no interest in you becoming my whole story. It is just that I’ve tried to fight you in every way that I could and lost. So now I surrender the battle and let the chips fall where they may. 

The war, however, that victory is mine. 

Stupid Girl

“Stupid girl…” I called myself as I breathed through a morning anxiety attack where I found myself missing you. “Do you miss me too?” The stupid girl in me asks that more often than I would like to admit. But do you? 

I would like to think that because of all the hurt and all the brokenness I would never go down that road again. But if you wanted me to? I would. Stupid girl. 

I thought about the scar on your arm. How you got it at that concert we went to in the park from a girl you were trying to help. You were pissed as she scratched you off of her. I laughed and hugged you trying to bring your mood back to the light. Somehow the scar from a stranger outlasted us. It’s so silly to be jealous of that. Stupid girl. 

I miss you and me. Chicken club toasters or stuffed clams with wedge salads that I hated. Your horrible love of top 40 and refusal to like R&B. The way you wore your clothes as if you knew what I liked, because well…you did. The moment you walked into the bar that time before Christmas with just enough of a beard to make my mouth water. Kisses you delivered to my hands and the insides of my wrist as I drove. Stupid girl…

It feels like a lifetime ago. But it wasn’t…have you moved on? Probably. But don’t answer that. I thought I had. I want to. Although truthfully part of me doesn’t and hangs on to the hope that we will fix things and be us again. I love you so much. And I just miss you……..