It’s also okay to admit that they were wearing some hideous shoes….

You were always free to walk away.

From the person in the photographs in your drawer. The one you see in mirror made by their words. The person you were at your twentieth birthday. The person who became a doormat in the name of devotion. You were always free to walk away from being that person.

Shake off the dust from the muddy soles that have walked all over you. Over and over again, you let the dirt from those footprints seep into your skin. You kept telling yourself that they would eventually stop in the name of love. But they kept going and it broke your heart. You’ve been angry about that and it’s okay to admit that. It’s also okay to admit that they were wearing some hideous shoes. (I mean, no one faults you for thinking that cheap platforms or clunky diarrhea colored clogs are repulsive.)

You are required to be kind, but you’ve got no business being fake. Fake is the biggest possible betrayal to yourself. Be cordial and benevolent, but under no circumstance are you to passive, idle or sidelined when it comes to your heart.

Break silence with your liberated laughter and be unapologetic about it. It’s what makes you absolutely stunning.

You sit on countertops, have been fluent in sarcasm since elementary school, love birthdays an abnormal amount, and started rocking flannel before it was cool—back when everyone else was wearing tube tops. (Thank God you never wore those.)

That’s just who you are. Never mind that they made you a doormat in front of your own home. Peel yourself off of that concrete and walk in like you own the place… cause you do. You’ve let lies settle into your heart for far too long. Kick them out and clean it up. Scrub every crack and crevice until it becomes all your own again. 

Home is that place where you kick up your feet, tie up your hair and make no apologies for using the sleeve of your sweatshirt as a napkin.

Your heart is your home and you’ve got to stop being the doormat burglars stomp on when they come to steal your laughter. They’ll crack open your ribs and try to swipe everything that reminds you that you’re free. They come to make your safe haven feel like a den of depravity. 

Well you’re not a doormat and you’re not without means to keep the thieves at bay.

Throw a party. A party in the core of who you are. Laugh, eat cereal, paint, buy ugly sweaters, buy someone a coffee, and dance. Dance like Susan Sarandon in a department store. Forget that her hair looked unbecoming (because home is a place where you can dance with a man like Richard Gere and he will love you with or without your hair looking discombobulated).

Make the home of your heart a place where you remember that you’re always free to walk away. To walk away from the lies someone told you about not being compassionate enough, or steady enough. From the fear of fighting back. Or from thinking that it’s your loyal duty and the fate of your commitment to become a doormat…all in the name of honor.

Being the doormat of your own home is not a sign of humility and it does not make a place for you among the saints.

Don’t forget that the invitation into your heart is yours to give. Don’t lay down on that porch and let thieves take what is rightfully yours.

Lock the windows when they throw rocks of shame, disgrace and contempt. Don’t let their cheap shots even crack the smallest piece of glass.

Don’t keep everyone out, but don’t let just anybody in.

Guard the heart that is your home and let not it be damaged by the likes of those who destroyed their own. This home was built for you and is far too exquisite to be handled fearfully or without care.

You were always free. To walk away from the person you became when you laid down like a flimsy mat and let their feet leave an imprint. Oh, you are always free to walk away from that which seeks to make your home hollow.


Maybe G was for Grace

I have been learning how to live without.

I’ve also been baking non-stop. If you don’t know me, then let me tell you, I ain’t the kind of girl that bakes.

But this week? Brownies, muffins, cookies, cinnamon rolls.

I learned a lot about loss when I lived in Apartment G.

My doctor told me I had to cut out sugar and white flour. I didn’t respond well to being told that I couldn’t have chocolate or pizza or cheesecake. It was a sad day when I was forced to break up with Ben & Jerry.

Now, here I am a year later. I’ve learned to do without it. Apparently, I learned to bake without it. I learned a lot about grace while giving up a lot of things I love.

Not just sugar or flour, I lost a lot more than food when I lived in Apartment G.

I am now seeing just how much these months have changed me. I am not even close to being the same person I was when my sister and I unpacked our lives in that little space.

In that time, grace grew me up to be steady. She taught me how to choose love when it seemed like a complete waste. She sat with me while I ate peanuts and tried to figure out how to dance through someone else’s sadness.

Her elegance and class kept me from saying all the things I held in my clenched fists. “Keep your head high, love.” Over and over she would whisper words like, “You’ve always been enough.”

She would grab my hand in critical moments, tuck my hair behind my ear and remind me,”You are better than the words you want to speak in your anger.”

Grace is the kind of girl who wears a dress to meet you at a diner. She orders coffee at 9 pm and settles in for the long haul. Grace knows how to love the bad, endure the imperfect, but grace looks for the beauty, the worth, in everything she sees.

Even after I ignored her, left her in the cracks and crevices of apartment G, she quietly followed me. She followed me back to my parents house, and hangs out with me in the kitchen while I bake.

Because that’s who she is. Grace tells you to do what seems impossible and then she teaches you how. When you can’t quite sing the words, she teaches you how to hum the tune. She teaches you how to live with less. She’s beautiful in that way.

Even in all of her elegance, grace knows about living with less. She knows how to make loss seem lighter.

Even when I was knee-deep in blame and anger, she was waiting for the day when I came back around. Always waiting with her wit, strong coffee, healthy breakfast and some endless laughter.

Grace is teaching me to do the same. She’s teaching me to be classy in my efforts, poised in my anger. She is teaching me how to stick around for the long-haul, even in the midst of terrible loss.

Grace addresses birthday cards that may never be appreciated for their sentiment and she never believes that it is a waste.

Grace knows Thursdays are for calling to say “I miss you” even if they don’t miss you back.

I’ve always known her, but we became good friends when I learned to pay bills and sweep my own kitchen. I think maybe that was fate because in these days I need her more now than ever.

Maybe G was for Grace.  Maybe those days in that tiny apartment were about learning how to stand alone when others walk away, about learning how to live without, with less and with loss.


Those Dreams

I’m not sure exactly when you decided to get a new dream.

Remember the old one? You carried it around in your back pocket for so long. Sometimes it felt like it weighed you down, but you knew in the end it would set you free. Sometimes after a high school football game, you’d go home and climb it to bed and pull that dream out. You would clench it in your fist while you waited for someday.

There wasn’t a thing wrong with that dream. In fact, I think that was your destiny.

The thing you wanted most, that you traded for what you want now? Yeah, THAT dream. Oh, that dream was gonna take you places.

You were well on your way to changing the world.

Remember all the endless conversations it created for you? Oh, how you used to fill up on ice cream, gum drops and peanut butter cups and describe all the intricate details of it all. It seemed so big. Your tiny hands could barely hold that tablespoon; how were they going to hold something as big as a dream like yours? But I knew we could do it. 

But then you grew up. We all grew up. And everybody got a new dream. We all got the white picket fence, 2.5 kid, wrap-around porch dream. So, you decided to box up the other one and put it in the attic. You couldn’t let either of them go, but your hands couldn’t hold them both at the same time. 

Because there are some dreams that just don’t have room for companions.

You really can’t have it all; at least, not right now. Let me tell you, Honey, you need to do some things before you grow a garden, buy an umbrella holder, put up a mailbox. You need to live a little. Maybe a lot. You got too discontent with waiting. God hasn’t brought the love of your life yet, so you’ve been going out to find them on your own. I wish you’d just be okay with the idea that your time hasn’t come.

There’s going to be plenty of time for wedding registries, tire swings and flower deliveries. But it seems YOU have other things to do first.

You need to follow the clouds. You need to get familiar with sprinting through the airport, spending your heart on adventure, sleeping in the desert. Get used to being broke of money and having a wealth of laughter. Be ready for coffee to fuel those late nights of painting the world. Know that when Celine Dion comes on the radio, you’ve got to blast that junk like it’s 1997. And that Ego waffles are still an acceptable dinner.

I just don’t think it’s time that we give up on those back pocket dreams. Not just yet. I think they’ve got a little life left in them. I think they can still take us places.

But I’m going to need you to trust me on this one. I’m going to need you to cut loose of the big white house, the Pinterest wedding, Scrabble in the family room. Because all of that is going to come. And some people have that life now; some people are living that dream and oh, how it is glorious. But the time for that in our lives, isn’t here yet. Before it gets here, before you begin a life that you will love, but that will bring new dreams; don’t lose hope or forget about those back pocket dreams. Oh, those dreams that followed you around in your trapper keeper and your bright green lunch box.

It’s not time to let them go… not yet.