#108wordstories

The last time I saw myself in this mirror I was a senior in high school, self-absorbed, insecure, applying too much eyeliner. Getting ready to go somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be, the thrill of rebelling combined with the resentment of not having the freedom I wanted. Meeting a boy. Smoking a cigarette. Staring into a bonfire, everything distant. It used to scare me, how detached I could become. How I could know myself one minute, and become a complete stranger to myself the next. Everything feeling like it would never change, like we’d be stuck in a bubble forever. Somehow life brought me back to this mirror.

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#108wordstories

I sometimes feel like I’m in a shifting space, like time is flowing and paths are appearing and there are a million “maybes.” I’m much more cognizant now of what aligns with me and what I want from life, but there’s still uncertainty, doubt, and fears — of failure, or worse, stagnation. So I’m being intentional and brave – meditating on what I want to manifest in this life, reflecting on what feels true to me, and determining the steps I need to take to make things happen. Above all, I’m listening to my soul and to the universe and trusting that what’s meant for me will come.

[photo: Benjamin Voros]

[photo: Benjamin Voros]

#108wordstories

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Here’s the thing I’ve learned about being broken. The world doesn’t abandon you. You think you would be discarded, pushed aside for the pursuit of perfection, but this world doesn’t foster perfection. It fosters chaos, confusion, progress, and growth.

There’s an old Japanese art where broken pottery is repaired by filling the cracks with gold. This art form does not hide brokenness, it celebrates it. The breaks become a part of the object’s history and uniqueness, and make it stronger. Some collectors will smash valuable pieces of pottery so they could put them back together with gold.

They understand that brokenness is an opportunity for strength and beauty.

#108wordstories

My meditations lately have been on shifting what I’m feeling. Negative emotions can be beautiful things that deserve to be sat with, but when we’re ready for them be gone, it’s helpful to have tools to make this happen. There’s no need to feel like sh*t if it’s not serving us in any way.

There’s a guided meditation on @InsightTimer — “I Choose My Inward Dwelling State.” It asks: What are you feeling? NOTICE it. What do you want to feel? SAY it. “I am happy.” “I am in alignment.” “I am brave.” Breathe the words in, hold them, and let them come true as you exhale.

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#108wordstories

"Do you think about things people said years ago?”my acupuncturist asked as she placed needles in my neck. I imagined the release like a warm flood. “Do you think about things you said, and beat yourself up about them?" She had unknowingly summarized my last therapy session. I nodded, unable to look up from the table’s donut hole. "That's an earth trait," she said. "You need to practice release. Some people like to write on paper and dissolve it in water. But not you. You need to burn things. You have a lot of fire in you. Don't be afraid to burn things that need to go."

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“No, I just – got like hit with a bunch of emotions, or maybe not, because I actually didn’t feel anything, and then I fell against the wall and wasn’t able to stand back up for a while.” It sounded strange when I explained it. He came over and wrapped me tightly in his arms. We both knew now this was the best thing for him to do in these situations. Hold me, make me feel safe and loved, make me feel like I’m still part of this earth. I inhaled his musty, rich smell. Fresh deodorant and a sweet, underlying flavor that I could never quite name.

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#108wordstories

Sweaty shoulders and a dusky room. The day has been quiet, and its stillness melts into the evening.

My fingers spread wide on the mat, palms pressing down. I close my eyes. With each breath something opens and something softens. Something melts away. There are a few things in this world that make me feel connected, that lead me home. Yoga is one of them. The warmth of the room loosens me and I can breathe easier. For the first time today I notice the air coming in and out of me. It’s an easy cycle, going down into my belly and filling it, like a comforting meal.

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#108wordstories

I’m sitting at my dining room table, looking at the sun set over Atlanta. The dusty oranges and pinks and blue strike profoundly against the powerlines and graffitied walls. My hair is wet from the shower, my muscles are open from an intense workout, and I’m listening to music as I write. My loved ones are nearby and safe. We have dinner plans with friends tonight but right now everything is slow and delicious. I am so damn happy in this moment, and I’m letting myself completely feel that. I know this pure contentment won’t last long, but when it’s here, I want to completely melt into it.

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I have an irrational fear of sharks. I grew up in landlocked towns in Georgia where there’s more wheat than water. My first adult home was Atlanta, with freshwater ponds and swimming pools. Then New York, a city surrounded by water but easily forgetting that it is. Speeding taxis, falling debris, food poisoning – those were legitimate fears in NYC, not large fish with teeth. As an adult, my childhood nightmares stopped, but the fear was still there, vague and shadowy. I finally realized it was never about the sharks. The real fear was the unexpected disaster. The real fear was how quickly we can get pulled under.

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“You are beautiful,” said the Uber driver. “Thank you,” I replied and looked out the window into the night, my shoulders stiffening. I slipped my hand into my black leather purse decorated with palm trees, and at the bottom brushed against the nail file that doubles as a knife. As I palmed the cool metal, I felt safer but also sad. The driver seemed lonely, lost, sweet. Perhaps he was extending compassion, hoping to connect with another person. Perhaps he was a serial rapist. I couldn’t know, so I held the knife. Because I’m a woman, because I love myself, I can’t always be kind. And it sucks.

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#108wordstories

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There was frost on the car windows when I woke up. It splayed out, like fingers or abstract art. My dad used to tell me that Jack Frost painted the icy designs. I got back under my heavy comforter, pulling it up to my chin and latching my arm around my husband’s bicep, anchoring myself to him, to warmth and relaxation. He slept on his back, breathing softly. My face was cold where the bedroom air touched it, and I savored the contrast. It’s mornings like these that I wish time would stand still, nothing would change, and we could be happy and complete in this bed forever.