A Girl Who Leaps

A Girl Who Leaps

I have planned for and imagined a spot in the Education Pioneers Summer Track Fellowship since I first learned of it at grad school orientation in Jan. 2016. The fellowship that would take the husband, the dogs, and my explorer's heart to another city for 10 weeks while I work with an education-based organization on a meaningful project. The fellowship that would breathe life into my newly born passion-career in education.

 

But the best-laid plans of mice and men and me are still just whispers to the future, shaky foundations upon which we all too often build the present. We're humans, and our blessed ability to creatively conceive things into existence is also our curse. 

One Year Ago

One Year Ago

It has been 365 days. They passed so quickly, yet you filled each one of them with acts of kindness, and I can only hope I've done my job of recognizing and thanking you for each of them. In our marriage so far, we lift each other up, sometimes by propping and other times by challenging. We laugh every single day, deep belly laughs, sometimes even in the midst of an argument because we never let frustration stand in the way of good humor. We seek to help others; in our way we try to give back some of what our tribe has given us. We have gone to bed angry (sometimes we have to sleep off the feeling of being right), but we never wake up angry. We let each day be a fresh beginning. We are learning each other - what makes us tick, what makes us ticked off - and we have this incredible harmony that we both strive to keep in balance. It's work, but we're working together so it doesn't feel like it. We're partners, never opponents. What we have isn't perfect, but it is special.

Finding the Light (and the Inappropriate Joke) in the Darkness

Finding the Light (and the Inappropriate Joke) in the Darkness

But we've stopped laughing at each other and with each other. We've become so serious. In light of all the serious problems in our world, we've forgotten how to take anything lightly. We've shed every child-like bit of wonder and curiosity and joviality and instead accepted the black-and-white, uncompromising ideologies handed down to us by the media.

Our Love Affair with Words & Knowing When to Leave

The thing about a love affair with words is it’s easy to think they love you back.

After all, we’re surrounded by words every day.

We take them to bed, we wake up with them. We can breakfast, brunch and lunch with them. We can fall asleep listening to their magical sounds—follow their elegant scroll across a page, taste them on our tongues, form them with our hands.

But they can’t hold us in their arms, wipe away our tears, or beg us to go on, to continue sharing our beautiful gifts with the world. They can’t cup a heart in their hands and soothe it into a state of grace. I may be in love with words until the day I die, but they won’t shed a tear when I’m gone.

The thing about a love affair with words is it’s easy to forget the responsibility tied to them.

With words, we can dissipate or create a rainbow of emotions. With words, we bind ourselves to commitments and forge bonds where there were none. With words, we are united in laughter, destroyed in hate, blinded, trapped, cherished, or set free.

Words are the fabric of rhetoric and rebellion, slander and seduction, propaganda and prayer.

Wield words warily—for with words we can wipe clean the slate of friendship or slash through a family leaving only severed ties. We can destroy as readily as we can create. We can inflict as easily as uplift.

The thing about a love affair with words is..

Read the rest of my article on The Elephant Journal here.

The Ex-Boyfriend Interviews: What we can Learn from the (Painful) Truth.

Image: Chiara Pinna/Unsplash

Image: Chiara Pinna/Unsplash

I’ve never liked bread crusts. As a child, I would nibble the bread part right up to the crust (or until the peanut butter or jam ran out on the edge) and then set aside the crust, much to my parents’ annoyance. Sometimes, when I was forced to eat it, I’d tell myself when I grew up, I would never eat a crust of bread again.

And I didn’t for years. 

I grew up, I bought myself the soft, mushy, delightful white wonder bread I’d never been allowed and I gleefully ravaged it with peanut butter, and every bite stopped just short of the crust. It was great; really it was so gay to be an adult and to be in charge of what I bought and consumed.

As I came across more things I didn’t care for, I would carefully carve those out of my life just like I carved the crusts off my sandwiches. People who didn’t treat me how I wanted to be treated, movie genres that made me queasy, restaurants, stores and places where I’d had an unpleasant experience, hobbies I’d been bored by….I carved and carved and carved and found myself a woman of 26 with preferences.

Oh, I had many preferences, and I wasn’t afraid to share them. I had preferences the way some people have freckles. They were as much a part of me as my skin, I had buried them so deeply in my identity.

And then somebody asked me, “What do you want more than anything?”

And before my mind could engage, my body answered for me, “To be married. To find true love and to commit to it.”

I surprised myself – during that phone call on a summer afternoon in 2013 – by confronting a great longing I had studiously avoided acknowledging my whole life.

There’s always a beauty in honesty, but there’s something purely magical about being honest with oneself. It sets into motion all sorts of unseen and intangible movements, rumblings, dominoes in the world.

Once I admitted to myself that, like other mere mortals, I too wanted to find someone whose soul I could curl up in on cold days and someone whose essence I could wear like a banner of pride – the next question became: Who do I have to be to attract the kind of man I want to marry?

I didn’t know that answer. Was I blind to my flaws? Perhaps; I had a suspicion that I didn’t see all of them. I didn’t know everything I had done to contribute to the end of past relationships; I just knew they ended, sometimes calmly and sometimes in a maelstrom. Even if the simple answer was I just picked the wrong guys, what about me attracted the wrong ones? And how could I attract the “right” one for me?

There was only one source who could possibly tell me what I did to be ineffective in romantic relationships: those who had been involved in them with me.

So I set about conducting The Ex-Boyfriend Interviews...

Read the rest of my article on The Elephant Journal here.

A Letter to Myself, at 17

Dear 17-Year-Old Me,

 

I'm (we're?) 30 now. It's less monumental than you would expect. At your age, I assumed 30 would feel like having "arrived" or achieved.

Well, turning 30 certainly isn't something I'd put on my list of achievements. And to feel as though I arrived would have required me to have a clear vision of what being 30 means. When you get to be old and wise like me, you realize that nothing means anything other than the meaning we assign to it. Frankly, I have no idea what being 30 means other than grad school, being married to a really rad guy, doing freelance writing and editing in my spare time and finally having the guts to charge what I'm worth, having a puppy for whom I am as vital as food and water (if you ask her), having more money and less travel than I've ever had, being more myself than I ever was. In other words, 30 is what I am and what I have and not what I expected to be or have at 30.

So, I guess I should impart some wisdom to you? For someone as used to handing out unsolicited advice to siblings, friends, and even strangers, I find myself unsure of what to say, but I'll give it a shot...

Do not feel ashamed for being an opinionated woman; never let a boy or man guilt you into sex; forgive yourself more often; don't ever date someone out of pity or boredom or for the ego-inflating feeling of being adored; always, always say yes to cake.

Learn to love exercise. Discover kale before 2009. You will watch the humans around you get larger and the nutritious food choices fewer. Also, give up milk.

I won't spare you one moment of gut-wrenching pain or confusion or fear by telling you how to avoid the challenges in your future. I'll leave the one-dimensional existence to paper people, and urge you to immerse yourself in the depth and breadth of feelings that only humans get to experience. All of the feelings, not just the glittery, Facebook-status ones.

Sleep more. It's not cool or special to be sleep-deprived. That quote you like to tout ("I'll sleep when I'm dead.") does not serve the life you are meant to live, and I blame it for the flock of crow's feet around my eyes.

Make trust a habit. Start with yourself.

Don't ever have a grilled portobello sandwich from Shiloh's in Cortez. That was the gnarliest case of food poisoning imaginable.

Be kind to Mom and Dad. When you're 25, you'll come to the sudden realization that you are older than they were when they became your parents. You'll realize how ill-equipped you feel at that age to raise a child. You'll realize you expected perfection out of two people who only knew what they knew and were doing their very best.

You'll realize a lot in the next 13 years and probably far more in the 13 ahead of me. That's what this life is for - growing.

Drink more water. A LOT more.

You're going to run a marathon one day. (I KNOW - the girl who hates running) Don't miss the final training run, because what you missed it for was not even kind of worth it.

You know, we've never lost that fleeing feeling, the desire to keep a suitcase packed in the back of the closet so if we ever want to, we can pick it up and be gone.

You will go. You leave for Ireland not knowing when you're coming back, and you'll learn more in four months than you had in four years of college. You fall in love with that green island and with a particular beach town in Italy that you vow to return to when you write your novel. You fall in love with life without a cell phone. You fall in love with solitude and silence and the anonymity of being a foreigner. You fall in love with yourself.

Learn something from every relationship. This masterpiece of a marriage you're building? It takes materials. A lot of materials. Materials you weren't born with, ones you uncover from the rubble of past relationships, shards you dig out of your skin and hold up to the light to see that they are glistening lessons for you, gifts to make you the wife you will need to be.

You make enormous strides in healing our broken family, you know. And it remains one of the greatest things we've ever done, you and I.

You're going to have a beautiful life. It's messy, it's fast-paced, it's small and insignificant in the grand scheme of humanity, but you make a difference in people's lives every day by who you are.

This barely skimmed the surface of the last 13 years. You must have a million questions for me. But, dear 17-year-old self, if you really were able to read this letter,

I wouldn't tell you a damn thing.

That in itself would tell you how valuable this life is to me….how I wouldn't risk the ripple effect of one tiny revelation that might shatter my present day life. Nor would I give you the specifics that would cause you to rush through seeking the good times (and you know you would, impatient girl).

Just know it's all worth it and that even at 30, it feels like it's just begun.

Love,

You

5 Reasons Being a Marketer Prepared Me to Be an Educator

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I've said for years how desperately I want to get out of marketing, but as my time in the industry dwindles, I realize more and more:

Being a marketer has ultimately prepared me to be an educator.

Here's why...

1. In marketing, you learn to follow your ideas down the rabbit hole. Sometimes they lead to a dead end; other times they generate a hair-brained campaign that actually produces results. Some of my least analytical, most creative and - by far - most successful blogs and lead generation campaigns have come from leaning back from my desk, kicking my feet up and letting my mind wander.

Creativity is not manufactured. Creativity arrives when you give it the space to show up and stretch out.

Creativity may be a hallmark of the marketing industry, but it's really a habit, a practice that will allow me to innovate solutions - quicker and farther than others - for the education system. When what's happening in education isn't working anymore and everyone feels like we've exhausted all the options, creativity will be the tool I reach for to come up with just...one...more...idea.

2. Speaking of ideas, marketing teaches you to never stop generating them. The old "throw everything at the wall and see what sticks" cliche exists because that's exactly what marketing is. A marketer may have 50 ideas; 10 might be good, and one might be exquisite. I can make predictions and run numbers and survey audiences, but in the course of a marketing plan, some ideas will fail and others will succeed. The key is to always have another idea lined up behind the one that failed. 

Similarly, in education, certain methods will not reach every student. For some students, nearly all methods won't work. Instead of fitting the child into a box that will suffocate his or her desire to learn, educators must line up another approach and another and another. The only failure is in the giving up too soon.

3. Marketing is results based. "I tried really hard" doesn't mean anything.

Did your outreach and social get visitors to the page? Did your content convert them? Did your emailing marketing and re-targeting net the lost conversions? The numbers don't ever lie. What you did either worked or didn't. 

Some people may think this is a cold or harsh approach. I think it's liberating.

When you're a results-based person, you are freed from being victim to other people or your environment. I think of it like the vignette setting on photo editors....you darken out everything on the periphery and only your desired result is illuminated. You will hit obstacles, but they won't derail you. You'll keep pressing forward with your eye on the result.

4. Leaders focus on the end result and don't stop until they've reached it. Marketing taught me a lot about leadership.

There are many obstacles in education. There are standardized tests. There are funding issues. There are uninvolved parents. There are political parties using the industry as vote bait. There are children being left behind, let down and lost. The education industry needs leaders - leaders with their eye on the end result of educating children and eradicating ignorance and illiteracy. Leaders who can't be bought, swayed or convinced that the children aren't the most important objective.

5. Marketing is no longer just about creating an ad and influencing people to buy. It's about starting a conversation and listening.

Marketing (especially to a Millennial audience) has shown me that people can spot superficial a mile away. The audience is looking for realness, an invested company or brand that is willing to listen and be held accountable to their customers and the community.

During my second yoga class at Fort Collins Bikram Yoga, my instructor asked if I was a teacher because I listen well. I said not yet, but one day I hope to be a teacher of teachers. She remarked that the first and most important skill of teaching is listening

She's right.

Marketing taught me to listen to what my audience is saying and also what they're not saying. What they would say if they were a little braver, a little more confident, or if only someone had asked them for their thoughts.

In the education field, I intend to listen more than I speak. I intend to ask the right questions and many of them. I intend to wring every drop of knowledge and experience out of my career as a marketer in order to be the very best educator and education reformer I can be.

Beware of Those Who Want You to Live a Comfortable Life

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Beware of those who tell you to just do what makes you happy, because they are afraid of you.

They're afraid of your brilliance, love. They don't want you to shine your brightest, because you'll overshadow their little lights.

Even those people know fire grows under the strain of rough winds, not in bubble. But they'd see you safe inside that bubble that you might stay small and kept. Instead, be mighty.

Seeking to only be happy doesn't leave room for the pain and the hunger that birth better than. Not better than others, but better than who you were before. Greater, faster, richer, stronger, smarter, kinder, more inventive, more generous....MORE. 

Often,

the greatest compassion dwells within those who have been knocked down many times,

the greatest wealth has been earned by those who've gone hungry, and

the greatest strength is possessed by those who've known weakness.

More, better, greater doesn't come from security, from easy, from safe.

Happiness doesn't taste sweetest when it's all you seek. It's sweetest when it is a byproduct of striving to be and do more.

Beware of those who tell you to only do what makes you happy, because they haven't learned that happiness can be found where ever you put it.

There isn't a rock it's hiding under or depth of a bank vault where it can be found. Your soulmate isn't holding onto happiness while he waits for you. It's not where you left it in your childhood, and it isn't around that future bend. It's where you choose to find it now.

Beware, sweets, of the path to happiness and those would would urge you to take it. This is a never ending path with no destination.

Buddhism teaches that there are two kinds of happiness, ordinary and enlightenment. Ordinary is attached to objects, to events, to circumstances. Enlightenment happiness is a mental state that is cultivated with discipline and exists no matter what objects, events or circumstances come into your life.

Beware of those who sing praises of ordinary happiness, of happiness attached to "when this" or "if this" circumstances. They would have you abandon enlightenment - or true happiness - for a fleeting chase.

Beware of those who tell you to only do what makes you happy, because they would have you miss out on the gorgeous spectrum of human being available to us.

Instead, my love, feel all of it. Dig out of sorrow with compassion, share the fear in your heart with bravery, sail a ship of kindness through a jealous sea, feel and seize it all. Leave the one-dimensional existence to paper people, and immerse yourself in the depth and breadth of feelings that only humans get to experience. Join the party; we're waiting for you, dear.

The Story of Grad School

Many people have asked me why I applied to grad school, what I'm going for and what I plan to do with my education. I think my entrance essay answers all of those questions...

Dear Education & Human Development Program Faculty,

When you’re 17 and every career assessment you’ve taken tells you to be a teacher, you do the natural teenager thing. You escape to the heat of the desert, where you learn to burn with an intensity that you cultivate on 60-hour workweeks while earning a degree in the inferno of growing up.

You spend roughly the next decade in the publishing industry and in online marketing. You discover how to convert visitors to clicks, clicks to clients and clients to dollar signs with just the power of your words. You spend your days making other companies money, crafting someone else’s dream, selling someone else’s idea. You are good at it. And you hate it.

So you garden to feel the joy of working with your hands; you volunteer to find your gratitude, and you write – furiously, fervently, freely – to exercise your bored marketing mind. You read every book you can get your hands on. All the while, you dream of a rewarding career, a passionate pursuit worth trading years of your life for. For several years, you talk to career counselors and mentors about how you could include your love of learning and drive to reduce illiteracy in a career that impacts thousands.

One day, during the 100th conversation about making a career change, your husband asks you pointedly, “If money didn’t matter, what would you do?” The word is out before you think about it.

Teach.”

Then teach,” he says, solving it with a shrug.

You think of a million reasons you can’t. You picture the downtrodden teachers you’ve spoken to, up against the standardized test and unsupportive parents and checked out kids. You hear the refrains of elected and would-be politicians about a broken system. You know there are real challenges impacting the learning environment, and you recognize you probably only know about a fraction of them.

You realize you have to go beyond teaching. You have to be a part of creating an education system that works. You immediately begin searching for a program through which you could gain the awareness to understand the current education system, the knowledge to give educators better tools and the data to improve the outcomes for those being educated.

 

That is the story of how I found the Educational Psychology program at University of Colorado Denver and why I believe it is the perfect foundation for my career as an Educational Consultant. Below, I discuss why I am an excellent fit for the program.

I am a fast-paced learner.

As a professional writer for businesses, I have researched countless new industries and produced content with subject matter expertise in mere days, industries such as personal injury, mass tort and family law, mortgage, higher education, financial aid, acupuncture and holistic healing and many more. I have not stopped at superficial knowledge but gained the in-depth understanding required to translate complex topics into marketing content for the average person. I frequently speak on behalf of experts within a week of being introduced to their industries. Research and the ability to learn quickly and thoroughly are skills formed by habit, and I have honed them over the years.

I am curious.

The School of Education and Human Development likely attracts many applicants with years of teaching experience. In some settings during my graduate school career, I may be the least experienced person in the room. I prefer it that way. That provides me the greatest opportunity to learn, to ask questions and to exercise curiosity, while I may provide the room with a fresh perspective. I am committed to learning, to uncovering what is already known about education in America and to exploring what we don’t yet know. I believe you cannot educate until you first learn to listen and observe with an open, inquisitive mind.

I produce results.

When I say something is going to get done, I am not a victim to circumstances that prevent completion. I am a leader who completes client projects ahead of time. As the owner of a content marketing company, my success is directly correlated to clarity of the objective, a high standard for deliverables, and measured, tangible results. In a small business, the bottom line depends on follow-through. Keeping my word is critical. I will be successful in your program, and I will successfully use what I learn to directly and positively impact students’ lives.

I am realistic.

I understand that my graduate studies in the School of Education & Human Development might be the first of many steps that qualify me to effect noticeable and lasting changes in the education system. I am seeking to begin this respected educational psychology program in an effort to equip myself with research skills, industry-specific knowledge, connections and awareness. During my education, I will take every opportunity to learn.

The many educators I've known have all taught me that there are many challenges and tough decisions in the career of an educator, but that the value transcends the trials. I’m ready to work tirelessly to ensure the value is also there for every student, teacher, district or organization I work with.

I am passionate.

I was a lucky student. Learning and test-taking came easily to me in most subjects. But I saw the struggles all around me. I graduated from a small high school in southwestern Colorado with a boy who could not read beyond a first grade level. I mentored fellow students who struggled with reading comprehension and grammar. I saw the price of one-size-fits-all teaching and also witnessed the illumination in a classmate’s face when a teacher used a different approach and the student finally got it. In my teaching experience, I was the most requested swimming instructor every year. Why? Because I taught the student, not the material.

I don’t claim to know everything about learning or teaching, but I am ready to join this program and learn everything I can to effectively guide educators to greater success with their students.

I take action.

Every year, I pick small ways to give back – “adopting” a family during the holidays, volunteering time to read to children at UMOM, running a marathon to raise funds for Team in Training – but my greatest contributions are to organizations that strive to bring about a cultural shift, like Basketball in the Barrio, PSI Seminars and Barretstown.

The School of Education & Human Development also believes in positively influencing the local, state, national and global communities. I appreciate and respect the opportunity to improve and increase my “give-back” through real-world experience in education both during the graduate school program and beyond in my career.

After a lifetime giving back only in small ways, I am ready to dedicate my career to the pursuit of a better education system for everyone involved. The first step in that is acceptance into the University of Colorado Denver School of Education & Human Development’s Educational Psychology program. In this program, I hope to cultivate the skills to understand human development as it relates to people of all ages, to develop my ability to make data-driven decisions and changes, and to learn to critically analyze educational programs and create solutions to improve student outcomes. The second step is to embark on a career as an education consultant whose success is marked by positive influence on educators, administration, policy makers and students and better learning outcomes in every program I touch.

Thank you for considering me for the Educational Psychology program with an emphasis in Human Development.

Jenna Lee Dillon

Motherhood, some scary shit

And yet, I’m terrified. Not of pregnancy or the birth. I'm scared of the death of all the things that have to die for parenthood to be born.  I’m afraid of my world getting small. Of the “pick up and go” part of me being smothered to death in diaper bags and spit up cloths and the baby’s napping right nows.

What Happens When I'm Left Alone to Think

I was thinking the other day

that the years of my life will tumble out of my hands

into your basket.

And you'll collect them,

knowing you hold everything I had to give.

 

I was thinking the other day 

that I will bear you a red-headed daughter.

That she'll be born in the sunlight

of this world,

and wherever she goes

she'll reflect joy

and ginger.

 

I was thinking the other day

that by the time you've composed me

a piece on your ivory keys,

our hearts will have filled a playbook

with the poetry of meeting and parting

in a rhythm more ancient than music.

 

I was thinking the other day

that our children will have my words on their tongues

and your songs in their fingertips

and that it doesn't get much luckier than that.

 

I was thinking

that we're going to fall down someday, 

catch ourselves with palms full of dirt and grit and small rocks.

We're not going to get up immediately.

But then,

you'll catch my eye

or I'll catch yours.

I'll remember the moment when I wrote this poem

my heart soaked in love for you.

You'll probably picture me naked.

And we'll stand up and walk forward together.

 

I was thinking the other day

that if you're my muse

- and you are -

you better do something wrong

Because I can't keep writing sappy love poems forever.

Honesty, an Expensive Gift (With Love From Me)

By that standard, I've been cheapening my wedding for the past two months.

I don't mean I've been buying decor on sale (though I have) or shopping around for the best deals (that too); I mean I've been cheapening it with my thoughts.

With hiding the date from the world.

With not sharing about this totally life changing, extraordinary event on social media even though I share about what I had for dinner or when I worked out.

With worrying about talking about the wedding in front of people I chose not to invite, instead of inviting them to at least celebrate and be joyful for the event in their own way.

I have been cheapening our wedding at the expense of honesty, because I've been afraid to say, "We're getting married in 5 weeks, and we couldn't invite all of you." I've been afraid that "You're not invited" will sound like "I don't love you" or "You're not important to me" though that could not be farther from the truth. 

The truth is, we are having a small wedding, and not every person we love was invited.

In hiding from what may be difficult conversations, I've robbed those people of sharing in our joy. In thinking I have to explain my choice, I've prevented those people from giving me the grace of understanding. In worrying over what people will think, I've wasted countless hours of our brief engagement, moments I could have spent enjoying the sound of fiancee in my ears and marveling that someone wants to spend his forever with me.

I'm finished with that. I owe everyone, including myself, the honor of honesty.

Marcus and I are getting married on September 6, 2015 in an intimate ceremony in Fort Collins. Even if you didn't receive a paper invitation, I invite you to be a part of our wedding and our marriage, because you matter and your friendship matters.

There's this dichotomy of weddings and marriage - that it feels so intimate and private, and it is actually a community event. The vows are between only two people, yet they stand together on the foundation of friends and family who will support the couple.

Though most of a marriage's moments will take place in the yawns of morning and the whispers of nights and smiles that share a thousand silent words, the wedding is a very public cry to the world, "I choose this man today, and I will choose him every day." Behind those words is the unspoken request, "And I may need my community's help on some days. I may need you to remind me that the difficult days are worth it, that it's better to build together, that though I picked him, I am not free to pick and choose what I love or accept about him." 

Marcus and I are blessed with a community of kindness, love and generosity. Our people will bravely hold up mirrors when we need to reflect, hold open arms when we need support, and hold us to the standard of the vows we will make on September 6th.

Thank you for being part of it.

 

*Thank you also to Kate Northrup's recent post Sick of saying yes when you mean no? for inspiring me to own my truth.

Magic

I spent most of my life steeling myself for the possibility that true love didn't exist.

If it didn't exist, then I wasn't broken because I didn't have it. As I came to realize I wasn't broken, I had to consider that I was probably wrong about the impossibility of true love too.

So I chose to believe in unbridled love, and believing felt a lot like looking for unicorns around the corner or waiting up all night to hear Santa on the roof. I felt like I was surrendering to a hopeless hope.

I surrendered anyway.

There was pain and uncertainty. But I blundered on, daring to believe - and it felt terribly daring - in forever love and unicorns and parking spot fairies, and getting so many signs from the world that I was believing in things that could never be.

Until it was. Until I found a world with him, and we soaked it in love. And then it was as if the real foolish thing had been believing this kind of love was impossible. The only fool had been me proclaiming I couldn't find my best friend in a husband and couldn't trust him with my weakest sinews and barest bones.

I have more patience with fools now. Because most fools are probably just people who are afraid to believe in magic.


I'm Marrying This Guy

I'm marrying a guy.

66 days after we stood on a mountain in front of family and friends and he asked, and I said yes, it's still a shock to me. Marriage. Love. Commitment. Partnership. Forever.

The thing keeping me from going absolutely crazy with shock is this guy I'm marrying. 

You see, I'm marrying this guy:

This guy who (super) loves football, and doesn't mind that I (super) don't.

This guy who loves me for being smart and sassy, instead of in spite of it.

This guy who has nicknamed nearly every part of my body cuz...Dat Ass.

I'm marrying this guy who calls me Little Spoon and melts my heart.

This guy who drinks all the vodka and puts the empty bottle back in the freezer and has no why.

I'm marrying this guy my family approves of and adores...cuz miracles are REAL, people.

This guy who is a total carnivore and yet - upon my announcement that I won't be eating animal products this week - comes home with all the ingredients for sofritas. That's tofu. Tofu is kinda creepy. But his sofritas were the best I've ever had.

This guy who went to a board game meet-up for board game enthusiasts, because that's how much he loves me.

I'm marrying this guy who actually thinks Velveeta tastes good. And spam. SPAM. For eating.

I'm marrying this guy. 

This guy who has a C-3P0 knife. Who bought me a Star Wars towel. Who makes frequent Harry Potter references. Seriously though, ladies, how was this guy still single?

This guy who sunburns while wearing 55+ sunscreen and a dad-hat...and a burka...at night...inside. Okay, maybe not at night.

This guy whose generosity of spirit humbles and inspires me.

This guy who can have an entire text conversation using hashtags. #hashtag

I'm marrying this guy with the world's best smile. 

Case in point.

Case in point.

This guy who, for some reason, wants to spend the rest of his life following me around the world, debating things nobody should care that much about, fighting off tickles and monkey bites, moving my library and greeting card collection from house to house because getting rid of books doesn't exist in my DNA, and spooning one complicated, imperfect woman every night.

I'm marrying this guy. I can't wait.

I Remember

I remember writing for the release of it. I remember angrily scratching my words into that journal with the tiny key as if I could etch them into me and preserve that adolescent anger.

 

I remember writing because I was in love with the craft. Enamored with finding the perfect order of words to convey a point, to achieve that perfect balance of harmony and dissonance in a sentence.

 

I remember discovering metaphors and similes and realizing our whole experiences are metaphors. That we assign a metaphor to every event, action and person so our comfort-seeking brains can categorize it. We don’t seek to understand, most of us, only to categorize and organize and fit this endless, complex world into something we can recognize.

 

I remember when words still revealed things to me, and somewhere along the way, I remember losing that. I remember when words became tiny boxes I was trying to stuff giant experiences into, mechanically, woodenly stuffing because if I couldn’t fit it into words maybe it never happened.

 

I remember when my baby sister became a far better writer than I could have dreamed of being.

 

I remember a very, very long time ago when I would write without crossing out, self-editing, erasing the authenticity for what sounded good or conveyed a lesson.

 

I remember when I realized I was no longer writing for myself, but instead was writing to this invisible audience. I still don’t know who that audience is, but I can’t stop writing for them, even now. Even now, I hear that voice telling me to read this whole thing before I publish it. It says, make it pretty. Read it 50 times thinking of every possible reaction to each word, and then edit it 10 more times after you hit Publish.

 

I remember when writing was a way to discover – not censor – myself. I remember when I delighted in learning a new word, because it gave me another chance at self-expression, at capturing and gifting the thoughts in my heart.

 

I remember when I could tell myself that I didn’t care what anyone else thought, and it didn’t sound like complete bullshit.

 

I am comforted by the fact that someone else’s authentic and bareboned writing can still move me to tears. I’m comforted that I can recognize and mourn the loss of my ability to own my truth.

 

I remember when I could shock myself. Maybe I still can.

 

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