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Not So Secret Rebel

Alicia Thiede

He looked at me and said "You don't have to be bad ass all the time."

It stopped me in my tracks and I allowed the grin to spread across my face in all it's Cheshire-ness.

I hadn't realized that he noticed or that he cared. I thought the badassness was sexy and comforting. If he noticed had others noticed too? Was this a charade I was playing only with myself.

It was then that I declared that this self soothing practice could come to an end. Should come to an end. This badassness was just a front, a lace cover up over my bikini-less body.

This rebel thing. It's not brand new. I picked it up some time ago. Just a baby badass then. Little moments of it. To disguise the sad, to deflect the glances. But that baby she grew into a wild willed toddler, then a teen and now a full on insurgent. Man sized.

It's like Little Shop of Horrors. Devouring.

It's covering too much and then again it isn't. Because if he saw through, who else can too. Who's not buying it anymore? Is that why the crickets are chirping when I make a declaration? It's just not me anymore and did the crowds see it before I did??

So I've decided to shed it, a little at a time. Jut to see how it feels. I'm exposing this softness underneath that only could grow because of the layers that protected it.

It needed this time. It needed to mend and regenerate and it needed that covering until it was the right time. This time. This pink skin underneath is lovely and new and I'm letting it peek out a little at time. Letting it be exposed in fragments of time and light. The bad assness standing by if I need it. Ready to cloak.

But I'm finding that I really don't. Need it. I have gratitude for all that it has kept safe. I'm just finding it's leathers too heavy for the now. For this golden hour.

Welcome the People

Mandy Steward

His Father-In-Law said, “He was always prone to this.” “This” being the overuse of legal drugs and the depression. 

My kids say, “But Mr. Scott was so nice. He would shoot hoops with us and throw the football.”

I tell them, “Something isn’t working right in his brain.” I tell them, “He isn’t able to think clearly,” but I feel like in saying it I am betraying him somehow.

His father-in-law said, “No one in their right mind would live how he is living.”

I think of him crouching by the side of the house he has now been evicted from, crawling through his grass, climbing his back fence and darting suspiciously around the perimeter of the neighbor’s home.

I can remember confiding in Scott one day a couple years ago, telling him about a manuscript I was working on in which I was thrashing around with my faith. Telling him I was a writer when he asked, “What do you do?”

Just over a year ago his wife had emergency surgery. She nearly died, they told me and she has a scar on her chest to prove the trauma. 

I would see the two of them walking to the mailbox, arm-in-arm like it was a high-priced fancy date. 

The last time I saw the walk to the mailbox it was just him and he was skin and bones, pasty, in a maroon bathrobe, his hair long and thinning. 

“I have called the police more in this home than any other home we’ve ever lived in,” I told my Love Interest. 

“That’s telling, huh?” He replies.

"Yes," I say. Telling of the ache of lives. Telling of how little this Secret Message Society Spy knows about what is going on around me. But I notice things, and I care, oh how I care. 

One of the single moms on my street comes over and asks me why the police have been showing up a lot on our street. She asks me, because she says “you know stuff.” Then she laughs wildly and says, “But you didn’t know I was pregnant, until I showed up with a baby!”

This is true. She really blew my mind with that one. But I do like to know who I am living around, even if I have got burned a time or two with being too neighborly. She wants to isolate, sequester, build a fence and hide. I’m not convinced that’s the way. At least not my way.

This street has taught me much about humanity which in turn teaches me about myself. This street is full of surprises: late night helicopter searches, a surprise backdoor visit when I am standing in my underwear, college age boys with matching big trucks who throw my kids’ stray balls into the woods to teach them a lesson, the red and blue of ambulance lights flashing night after night, and the crazy guy down the street that yells “F-YOU” about once a month to someone who drives away in a screeching car. 

This street is a street of rentals and save for one family that owns a duplex and has been here since the street was named, my family has now officially lived here the longest. We’ve seen a lot of people come and go, and the comings and goings have not all been pretty or pleasant or perfect. I find myself strangely sentimental about living here.

“You gotta keep your head down. Don’t help people out. Next thing you know you’ll be painting their house for them,” I had a neighbor here tell me once. And he was right. I did get in pretty deep at first, back when my whole life was based on giving all of me away.

(I think of him saying this every time a new neighbor moves in, like the two little new kids across the street who ride their bikes all day long with no sign of a parent, and rush over every time our garage door opens. Are they the reason DHS was here last week?) 

But he was also the neighbor that said, “I like to know who I am living with,” and could point house to house telling you the details he had gathered. For instance, he knew Mr. Scott liked to play video games rather than come out of his house and be with people. He was a spy just like me. 

I have made August my month of #WelcomeThePeople, which means not trying to change anyone or fix anyone or save anyone while simultaneously not hiding who I am. It is a welcoming of who we are, as we are, as humanity and that has proved interesting to hold space for this month. So I light candles, and I watch my prayer flags blow, and I believe that my vulnerable is just as necessary as my detachment. I spy on and feel myself grow softer and stronger.

"This is a tough planet to get a good night's sleep on."

- Shalom Auslander


Janae Maslowski

{A loving head's up, I am writing from the deep place of depression that resides within me, which I reside within at varying levels, at various times.}

<< >>

The years have stretched out into  y e a r s  and I am so tired.

This is me summed up in six: I fight hard, collapse, say Yes.

And in another six: I can't get my shit together.

<< >>

I've been pushed to the edge, to my edge, totheveryedgeofme


I dangle there,



all broken-up, alone and weak.


My edge is more sky than earth, more howl than hearth. The irony being that my edge is comprised of the following: one roof, four humans and two cats {one dead, one alive}.

My edge is all, bhere now. {And I'm not talking about the sincere and soulful version crooned by Ray Lamontage ... I wish.} No, my bhere now is impossible and intimidating, terrifying and waywayway beyond the familiar, which has slowly made me beyond the familiar, beyond the rational or logical or approve-able. Which makes me feel weak, all I give up! and Yes and edge and what am I doing?!.

I try not to fight it, but of course I do. I want to be one with surrender, but I'm not. I hope to exist within a strong container of self, but over and over I am shown to be weak and without. And then I am rage. I am full of confusion and hate and impossible impossible feelings. And then I am terrified at myself and my inability, which resides alongside of my strength and ability to keep doing and living and loving and being on the impossible edge of every thing, which most often looks and feels like no thing.

blushing wild-child.JPG


He asked to have his cake and ice cream and sprinkles, and could he please eat it, too?

Yes yes yes;

have it and eat it and sprinkle it with sugar.

to stand alone and to feel quite normal

Teresa Robinson

To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.
— Joseph Chilton Pearce

I am an artist; I am a creative planner. I write what I know and about what I art-out and journal-through — what is expressed in the language of color and doodles and handwritten syllables. I write about the highs and lows of baby steps to live a life I love, to love the life I live.

Normality is the paradise of escapologists, for it is a fixation concept, pure and simple. It is better, if we can, to stand alone and to feel quite normal about our abnormality, doing nothing whatever about it, except what needs to be done in order to be oneself.
— E. Graham Howe

It has been my habit to utilize the words of others to affirm me in my most-alone moments of wondering why I feel so out of place — so raw and vulnerably different. Likely a degree of explanation for my book addiction? 

Always wondering why I was so "weak" to need said affirmation. Always grateful for the affirmations received as secret messages via serendipitous conversations, words-found like slips of paper in fortune cookies and sky views reminding me of The Divine.

‎Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.
— Anaïs Nin

Becoming is something I have faithfully embraced in spite of the judgments imposed by those who expect me to be otherwise. And the pressure of "going along to get along" because "that is the way it has always been".

Entire decades of my {living} have felt impossible due to a lack of normality of my personal and career choices; years when my heart and mind, intuition and reason, were in opposition. The seemingly constant yanking and pulling internally to free my-self — to live against of the grain of expectations and fitting in.

I learned there are no magic wands to grant wishes, only moment-by-moment decisions to abide or to act. I opted to self-medicate with art and solitude in order to cope with the distance between my wishes and reality.

Creativity, as has been said, consists largely of rearranging what we know in order to find out what we do not know.
— George Kneller

I rearranged — and resisted channeling Don Quixote and futile battles with imaginary windmills. I made an alliance with Vulnerability; I made room {next to the window streaming the light of Next} for what I did not know.

I decide — over and over — to resist shapeshifting when I don’t want to name what I am avoiding:

  •     being wrong {again}
  •     being told I am un-reasonable
  •     the screaming what-ifs to my decisions of
  •     terminating situations locked in a loop because
  •     surrendering to The Truth means good-bye
  •     accepting that no answer is an answer {}
  •     trying something new in spite of chronic challenges
  •     writing about this ... wondering if it seems like arrogance
  •     wondering if my recent physical "upgrade" is permanent
  •     doubts about my eclectic business practices
  •     insecurity regarding my health challenges to accomplish my heart desires 
Run from what’s comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.
— Rumi

Naming what I am avoiding is like punching Fear in the face.

I will be wrong; I wholeheartedly embrace un-reasonable! Reason has never been an ally for me. What-if's aid me in knowing what questions to answer and terminating what is unchangeable is liberating. The challenges to my wellness have created new career paths for me; and facilitated freedom to embrace my quirky way of honoring my philosophy of Life.

I am still in the boxing ring with Fear, it is a part of our process — the process of forging a collaborative relationship. Because Fear is a messenger of the lessons I need to know ... even when I fight it. 

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.
— Rumi

Love. I am learning how to recognize it and to receive it. I am learning love is not enough sometimes. Love is not enough to prevent people from believing false accusations steeped in their own fears. I am learning love is a word of many facets, and a feeling of many levels. 

Barriers. I am learning boundaries are not barriers when determined in Love. Love is not a reason to allow someone else's comfort to be given priority over my own. Nor is it a reason for me to hope {expect} someone else to aid my comfort. 

Love and boundaries allow each of us to discover the Grace for {living} ...

When there is no Grace we need not "try harder" because doing so will only create a barrier.

When there is no Grace it is time to love and to determine boundaries.

... full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror.
— 1 John 4:18


Love opens the doors into everything, as far as I can see, including and perhaps most of all, the door into one's own secret, and often terrible and frightening, real self. -May Sarton

what we do for the dream

Prudence Landis

I've avoided writing this post.  Now it's the Tuesday before my post is supposed to go up and the burden of avoidance is weighing just about here (touches that center space just above her breasts).  It's pouring rain outside and I'm facing the music and putting down the words.  Being open to my own vulnerableness.

There's certain costs when you choose to follow your dreams.

A lot of time it's money.  You find yourself skipping the latte line and instead comparison pricing toilet paper.  You know that in order for him (you) [both of you] to pursue the dream, it means you have to save money you were once more free to spend.

It's hard, this sacrifice.  When you want to be comfortable again.  When you want to be able to go buy a coffee without worrying if you really should be spending the money.  When you don't want to feel guilty for asking if we can go get ice cream or dessert or spending too much on that small vacation you're about to take because you want to be able to enjoy it damn it.

A lot of time it's time.  You sit at your computer and type out the words to form the sentences to make the chapters that will become a {{fingers crossed}} best selling novel.  You give up the time you would probably rather spend watching TV or browsing Pinterest or reading.

This sacrifice is hard too, as you stumble over your art.  You search for the words, the muse.  As you fight with your focus.  And in the face of your next goal try not to become weary in doing the work when all you want to do is be lazy for one night.

There's a cost.  Whether it's your dream or your spouse's or both of your own individual dreams that you both just happen to be chasing after at the same time.  You sacrifice because at the core of yourself you know it will be worth it, because you know that even though paying the cost is hard, it's what you know you're supposed to be doing.  Because you know your dreams are worth it.  Because the sacrifice means breathing life into them.

So I set the water pot to heat and fill the french press with grounds and appreciate the small effort of a delicious cup of coffee.  I pick my phone up and set it down, I just checked it 3 minutes ago, I doubt someone's said something profound on my last Instagram; and I put myself in my heroine's mind.

I pursue the dreams because I not only need to, I want to.

To the ones who still believe in dreams: Chase them. Chase them until you're out of breath. Then, keep running.

- unknown

How I'm Silencing the Impostor

alisha sommer

I should have been writing the content for another run of liberated lines. Instead I sat on the sofa browsing Pinterest and Instagram. I read yet another marketing book while drinking can after can of ginger ale. Every new idea that appeared in my head I quickly dismissed, convinced that I would be incapable of delivering on my promise to spark and inspire. 

Who am I to (insert dream here)? Why would anyone want to (insert dream here) with me? I'm not qualified to (insert dream here)!

And lately, it's not just with liberated lines, but with my online journal. And with the zine I've never started. Or with the workshops I want to run. Basically, with every new idea and desire. 

It's Fear mixed with Perfectionism and a dollop of Self-Loathing.

It's the Impostor.

What is the impostor? Well, it's the spot in my memory that never lets me forget any failure or mistake. It's the ear that becomes deaf to every compliment. The eye that is blinded to every accomplishment. When I sit down to sketch out my vision, it's the tape whose song says nothing is worth doing because, well, when you take a risk on a dream, you might fail. It's the voice inside who likes to tell me everything I'm not instead of celebrating everything that I am. But this week I put a finger up to her lips.


How am I keeping her quiet?

I'm remembering all of the exciting, soul-full and creative things I've done. I am thinking about my magazine. How I ran a successful Kickstarter campaign that funded the start-up costs. How 2 years later I've published teens and moms and fellows with Ph. D.s. I am thinking about how I've been invited to contribute my words to various places and spaces. I am thinking about how Robin and I started liberated lines with a seed of an idea that has now taken up roots and is sprouting and leaning into the light.

I'm finding my "why" again. The impostor is really good at making me feel like what I dream of doing is selfish. But the truth is that everything I want to do has a purpose outside of me. I want to be of service. I want women to find and stay connected to their creativity--no matter what form. I want to create sacred space for us to take that journey back to Self because I believe that when we acknowledge our desire for wholeness, and take steps to get there, we can light the path for others.

I'm taking action. Dreaming is good. I spend a lot of time trying to stay connected to the vision, to the feelings I want to experience, to the art I want to create. But at some point I have to take action. This week I dug out my planner, made my lists. I'm taking steps each day to get me closer to those dreams and the bigger vision. And it feels good.

For the first time in a really long time I have that of out-of-breath feeling. The kind you get before a date. The kind that accompanies sweaty palms and butterflies and a pitter-patter heart. That feeling of yes, this is all good. I am all good.




Do you have a little voice?

What do you do to keep her quiet so that you can keep creating?



Alisha Sommer is a writer living in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband and three children. She loves fresh-baked bread, laying in the sun, and the smell of the sea. When she's not knee-deep in laundry and lunch-making, she edits and publishes BLACKBERRY: a magazine, a literary magazine featuring black women writers and artists, and is the co-creator of liberated lines, an Instagram-based poetry course. You can find her at her favorite playgrounds, Instagram and Pinterest

Be Your Muchness

Cynthia Lee

Dear Braveheart,

I see you blaming yourself. I see you drawing in, containing, censoring. Once again, you have been accused of being too loud, too opinionated, too much.  Whether those exact words have been spoken to you or whether you have drawn that judgment against yourself based on years of accusations, you have grown dim. You have lost your muchness. In the face of trying to fit in, of trying not to offend, of trying not to overshadow, you have lost your muchness. You aren't shining in the way that I know you can shine.


It is not your responsibility to be less just so someone else can show up. Be all that you are. Let your muchness be as much as it is. It is not your fault that your light is so bright. You cannot sacrifice yourself, your gift, your voice just so someone else can feel safe, can feel enough. That is work that that they have to do for themselves. They have to find and express their own muchness.

But this is about you.

No more shrinking. No more shadows. No more shaking your head as you walk away. Feel the feelings. Say the words. Do your work in the world. Let us all experience the fullness of your muchness.  We need you.

Your gift is how you courageously stride forward into unknown territory and cut a path for others to follow. Lately, you haven't been doing that and we all feel a little bit lost even though we might not know what we are missing. You are a divining rod, revealing what lies beneath the surface. What is discovered there are the important things, for you and for us. Since when have you shied away from exposing the deep, dark things? from exposing the truth? We need that reflection, that illumination that you bring to the world. 

Please, please. 

Be your muchness. 


“You used to be much more..."muchier."

You've lost your muchness.”

-- lewis carroll, Alice in Wonderland


Cynthia Lee expresses her muchness at

Getting All WORKed Up

Mandy Steward

She has lost something dear to her and she hopes the fact that the thing has gone missing isn’t a sign. She tells me the sign would mean that she no longer gets to be herself. 

* * *

She rings her fingers and darts her eyes as she shares the dream with me and how it might play out, if only. It’s terrifying to birth a dream. She talks about it in the motion of a slinky tossing it back into the right hand of possibility and excitement and then forth into the left hand of foolishness and fear. She says God may be trying to tell her something. She’ll wait to see.

* * *

She stops me, hand to my arm, and says, “I wanna dress fun too. Teach me how to dress fun. I have boots, but I never wear them.”

* * *

I am of the achiever ilk. Sometimes I think I will truly die trying. Trying anything. Trying everything. Trying the next glorious obsession that I give myself to in a trance of passion. Last night the last thing I said before I fell asleep was, “You may be screwed this time. You have taken on more work to accomplish than time will allow.” Then I set my “I Am an Artist Living My Dream” alarm for 4:00 AM. Now granted, I hit the snooze button until 4:23, but that’s still a good jump on the day and by 5:21 I’m feeling like things may just be possible again. If I can get me through the next two weeks alive than I will really be celebrating.

It is work to live; it is work to be mySelf. And I like work, BUT I like the work of my own choosing. 

The things I want, the dreams, the desires, the “holy hell this is flaring up in me so hot I can hardly stand it” passions don’t get to wait on chance, or fate, or God, or time, or peer approval, or the proper interpretation of signs anymore in my life. If I want something I’m going to go after it. If I need a secret message I am going to creatively speak it into being. 

I am not speaking here of instant gratification. If I know anything I know the slow plodding of tortoise feet on the dusty path. I know the life of fits and starts.

I am not speaking here of name it and claim it. Or of positive thinking. Or of the law of attraction. I am speaking of work. Good old fashioned work. It takes work to be the magic. That’s my secret. I am always throwing heaping spoonfuls of realism into my Mad Scientist beakers, saturating them in the juices of creativity and then letting them boil over into the surreal. Magic kingdoms, Neverlands, Wonderlands, Hogwarts, Narnia, Middle Earth - they are all the result of someone getting WORKed up.

I am not speaking here of cold and calculated unwavering implementation of a strict, correct plan. Because this work I speak of has a free spirit and a soft side of surrender - letting go, letting go, letting go of the things that cannot be helped. 

I am not speaking here of doing it all. Wasn’t it just a couple of weeks ago I told a friend, “Some things feel as if they will have to wait for another lifetime because I can only focus on one life at a time, and I feel like there are hundreds of Mad lives within me.”

I get sick to my stomach when I see others throwing up their hands in surrender, giving their life away to things like the unwieldy hands on a clock or boxes on a calendar, or to God’s will and timing, or to the universe unleashing the magic wand tap at just the right time, or to anyone else, besides themselves, interpreting what their life gets to look like. I hate to see ability wasted or put on hold for some day maybe when the stars align. 

It is your life. YOUR life. It is the hardest and most rewarding thing you will ever own. So OWN it. I'm so hungry for seeing others working at doing and being exactly what they long to be doing and being. You know how to work it. Take the risk. Make the investment. Show up. Let us SEE you.

I am all for synchronicity making its grand debut, but when it does, it’ll find me working. And then I’ll gladly hike my skirt up and throw my foot overtop of it and ride that lucky dragon bareback in the direction of home.

"A rhythm cannot be found...Making good time doesn't work. You either make it or you don't: your watch just minds its own business."
- The Rider by Tim Krabbe
"But what are you doing here?...A stunt? An experiment? A secret mission? Are you studying something for some special purpose?"
"No...I'm earning my living."
- Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand

Flight Cycle

Beth Morey

I fret and I question, I thrash and resist and, at last, I stretch my palms wide to the sky and release the fistfuls of shoulds and affiliations and rules that I've been clutching.  I declare my dedication to my own soul, drawing a line in the sand with a gnarled branch and say that this, this is the one that I cannot cross.  And --

for one soaring moment, I am free, a magpied woman wings spread impossibly, inestimably open, and the sun is warm on my feathers.

But then somebody walks across my line, or maybe its my own feet obscuring that line, and suddenly I'm not flying but falling, a black and white cacophony of tears and desperation plummeting from the delicious heights I only got to feast on so briefly.

I hit the ground, human again, and while the fall doesn't kill me, I can't stop myself from gathering back up all the burdens I'd just cast aside.  If I could just find the right way to hoist them, I tell myself, then everything will be okay.  I'll can be free and fit in at the same time, I mutter, the words a lie.

Because as soon as I try to squash my roundness into the angled hole, I find I'm trading my self away, an eyelash here, a heartbeat there, and soon I'm less than I was.  And not a good sort of less, either; I know this no matter how loud others' protestations to the contrary might ring in my ears.

So then I must begin again, to burn my burdens anew, to piece back together the soul I rent with my own two hands.  I'll fly in magpie glory once again, and maybe this time stay flying instead of letting the Icarus weight of my own loneliness burn my feathered strength into a limp and stooping nothing.

photo by Jennifer Upton via Creative Commons

find the root.

Elora Nicole Ramirez

We're on Skype talking about chakras and finding language for our brand. It's how our conversations typically flow: one subject spilling into another spilling into another. I tell her about the rash that's returned after steroids and my yellow nail polish to strengthen my solar plexus chakra. 

"I don't need the sun, though. I go out in the sun and the heat makes my skin flare." I shrug. 

She tilts her head and tells me to consider the root.

"You speak often of wanting to feel rooted. So maybe it's a thing?" 

I nod my head and write down some notes.

"Maybe." I reply, fighting against the urge to reach down and scratch the itchy-spots on my legs.


It's said that in order to heal your root chakra, you need to take off your shoes and touch the earth. 

Remind yourself that you are supported—rooted—loved. 

I hear this and I tremble. I hate walking through the grass with my bare feet.


I have pictures of me as a young girl, arms and legs splayed out and reaching toward an unseen figure. I'm crying, eyes pinched and face red. 

I'm sitting in the grass. 

My parents have talked about this with a slice of mirth, their own eyes crinkled from laughter. 

"Remember how you hated the grass, Elora? Remember how upset it would make you?" 

I don't remember. But I feel the memory.

It comes back with itchy skin and bug-bit legs and a feeling of anxious breath I can't control. 


I wonder how you heal something so deeply broken. It's no surprise one of my core desires is feeling rooted. It's been the driving force behind much of my decision-making. For about a year, I've been drawn toward trees. The big ones with roots inching deep into the earth. I want to know what that feels like, I think. 

I need to know I can touch the earth and still see the sky.


When I'm angry, I want to pound the cement with my feet. 

I walk it out or throw my arms sideways in punching motions, the ball of fire inching closer and closer from my pelvic area to my throat. 

"I just want you to fucking see me, dammit!" I yell to no one and everyone in particular, the flames lapping dangerously close to my heart, the seat of my dreams.

No wonder it burns when I try not to cry. 

"Stomp your feet furiously against the ground, feel the earth beneath you and try to push as far as you can go." She says. I'm watching her on a video and feeling the familiar tickle of flame against my chest. 

There's something here, I think. 

I close the window and swallow the tears. 

I can let them flow tomorrow. 


It's later, hours have passed since the text asking for a five minute brainstorming session. 

It's how our conversations typically flow.

"There was something I wanted to say at the beginning of the call and I forgot—you had a hard summer last year too. And if there's one thing I remember from seminary it's that our bodies can hold on to memories of difficult times. Things started getting a little haywire around June right? The anniversary of the adoption?" 

I scrape my teeth on my bottom lip and stare out the window.

"Mother's Day." I reply. I turn and look at her. "Everything starting getting hard around Mother's Day." 

I reach and scratch at a spot on my neck.


Sadness gives you the chance to be still with the most tender place of your being - Danielle LaPorte

I am not a chakra healer. I do not know the hidden secrets behind pieces of us that are open or shut or locked-behind-steel-cages. But I know what I crave. 

I know the burning I feel on my forehead usually happens when I'm not listening to my intuition. 

I know the closest thing I can come to bare-feet-in-the-grass is succulents lining my windowsill and yoga poses where I'm reaching toward the sky, taking the shape of trees. 

I know the tears that threatened to spill when I watched the woman stomp her feet reveals a part of me that needs the attentive care of one who is not afraid of anger or the rhythm of the haka warrior, blood and purpose pulsing in their veins.

And I know the lure of breath—the subtle nod toward going soft and falling into the embrace of a Divine Mother—often looks like days spent not hustling to get stuff done, but allowing myself to remember the flow. 

Because love, the tears may not come tomorrow. And in their absence, you'll feel the heat of a creativity stuck in motion, a cemented piece of time lodged right in the middle of your gut and stretching to your throat, where your words used to rest. 

So find the Root or She'll find you. It's beautiful either way, but there's one in which the cement must be broken before growth can occur. And no one ever really enjoys a breaking.

What do you need to grieve? 

Close those eyes. Breathe in the air around you. Where do you feel the weight of a thousand yesterdays settle in your bones? How can you let something go in order to feel lighter

impending outcomes

Teresa Robinson

She was experienced with her emotions

She knew them to be the path she choose to wander

But the path had become so overgrown

So thick with brambles and thorny vines

Wrapped and twisted from a lifetime of reaching


Don’t tell her it is part of Life

Don’t tell her it is all for good

Because she won’t hear

Her heart pounding so hard, beating so loud

Pulsing Life faster than it has ever before


She knows what she knows

She feels what she feels

In her solitude


She celebrates living everything she ever dreamed

She mourns losing relationships she still longs for

She accepts what still believes is unacceptable

She loves spaciously and with reckless abandoned

Acknowledging her delusions for love


She loves what she loves

She mourns what she lost

In her solitude


She creaks open the pages of her journals

In her solitude


Where she expresses the inexpressible

Translating what she feels into color, squiggly lines and pasted words

In her solitude


Because she knows Life will never be the same again

So she documents what she wants to make space for

And to remember


She knows it is time to give and to allow for her-self

what she so freely gives and allows for others

Because what cannot be was never her fault either


She knows what is to be will be Divinely guided

So she knows she will not walk the path alone

And she knows she has all that she needs

It has been a summer to remember for me. Unseasonably cool weather, months of many firsts, as well as many final chapters to my books of Before. Next is uncertain as many more chapters await reading; but I am assured these pages of my {living} are already written {awaiting my doodles in the margins}.

Grace for the moments of impending outcomes to what is in-motion at this writing will be granted in those moments. But right now breath is in slow motion and focusing upon Now is so difficult to do because my gaze defaults toward Next.

Becoming is a precarious business. Writing is third person centers me in the midst of change and events needing closure. Third person journaling is a practice that allows me to see my life as an observer. It facilitates perspective and softens the urge to minimize and dismiss the realities of my one, wild and precious life.

Third person journaling is the theme of "She Journals," the most recent journaling guide for The Art Journaler. It is available for download here

We are young
So let’s set the world on fire
We can burn brighter than the sun
— Fun

pocket watches


you may not believe turn of phrases
like very important dates
storm and stress
ticking like a clock
a tempest in a teacup

and that's okay. really.

you can walk through, dash around, dangling to-do's and piles of lists
from a slender golden chain
while your hopping feet run and run and run

i'm just sitting at the long and beaten table
beaten by so many chains whipping by
dented a bit, old a bit, full of bits
of broken cups
because i'm waiting for the hatter and the hare and the doormouse
to jump up and stop you
hold you down
give you a spoonful of sugar
so you're wound-ness will counter-clockwise twist
untwisting the crick in your back
eyes big as saucers
when you finally begin the unbirthday dance
of steaming cups and rows and rows of cake.

more often than not, the hatter and the hare and that
sleeping, dozing, lazy mouse
do nothing
so i sip my squalls and refuse the same said sugar
letting bitter leaves cool to a frigid flurry
or else burn up on the stove top.

i like to think i'm the one waiting in the blue dress,
prim shoes, wondering at what exactly the hell is happening
and why no one can see what i see
hear what i hear
stomping off like a lightning crack to find the nearest stump to have a good cry
but when i cry
and the rivers fill
and the oceans gather
and the lakes overflow
and the clouds darken and darken still
that same said lightning at my feet
blazes bright enough to see the reflection peering back at me.

turns out i've got long ears after all.

if you find your alarms don't work your reminders fail to remember your pathway completely blocked or crooked or unfindable perhaps you could sit, breathe. let's draw a new map over a cup of tea.

if you find your alarms don't work
your reminders fail to remember
your pathway completely blocked
or crooked
or unfindable
perhaps you could sit, breathe.
let's draw a new map over a cup of tea.

You don't have to responsible for other people's emotions

Guest Post

Dear Braveheart,

I hear you. I know you. I see you. I feel you. You're a sensitive soul. So much so, that you didn't want to rock the boat, say "no," or step on toes. You would rather risk "it all" to keep the peace. Or at least that's how you were before. But that's not how you wanted to be or who you wanted to be. You became weary of constantly being "on" at the expense of yourself.

You defended others to the point of not feeling at peace. You let down your guard time and again yet it still wasn't received in the best of lights. (and no, it wasn't your fault). You were just doing what was in your nature, what you'd self-conditioned yourself to do through various life circumstances previously experienced. And it had worked in those experiences during your naivety.

Then you learned about a little something called "Assertiveness." It wasn't wrong to say "no" after all! It wasn't wrong to reply in a way that was honest, respectful, and true to yourself even when it didn't leave the person on the receiving end with warm fuzzies (and it wasn't your fault that they felt that way).

Something woke up inside of you. You were no longer responsible for the emotions of others. You released that burden and it became easier "the next time." You learned to decide what was and wasn't going to work for you. You decided what you did or didn't want to commit to. You listened to your own intuition instead of feeling the panic rise up inside at the thought of doing something, yet again, you had no desire to do or give energy to.

This transformation wasn't easy and still isn't. I see you struggle with the temporary finality of not having your entire family together a single holiday out of the year because for once you didn't try to be the sole peacemaker. I've seen your mother and father both struggle with the desire for peace in the family yet it not coming easily.

Your heart aches for them, realizing there's nothing left you can do without going down that drama-filled weary road again and sacrificing the core of your character. Because, you also ponder what legacy you are passing on to your own girls and the example you are setting for them.

You hold your family close, you always will, but you aren't the same person you were. And you are better off for that. You have healthy boundaries, awareness, and a self respect. You wouldn't trade that for how far you've come from the shy, sensitive girl who would cry at the drop of a hat when faced with conflict. And it's okay, Braveheart.


A Fellow Braveheart

Letters to Bravehearts are letters to self: past, present, future; of love and affirmation; reminders of insights and lessons learned.


Jamie Bonilla

choosing invisibility, hollowed out core;

i fall to earth again, wrestling my shadow

     - their shadow.


they were my definition, and now

i am learning to take my own shape.


but today, i am the consistency of smoke.


where will all my cells line up,

back into skin and muscle and organ?

what will i be at the end of it?


i can't tell

and that unnerves us all.

jamie bonilla is a newly-birthed poet-artist, who is being restored to her truest self. she lives in southern california with her husband and two boys, and a dog she’s learning to love. she is never happier than when she gets to be monkish and solitary with her cup of the-best-chai-in-the-world or holed up in her studio, flinging paint and finding poetry. she wrestles monsters of fear and shame every day, and writes about the process on her blog at

jamie bonilla is a newly-birthed poet-artist, who is being restored to her truest self. she lives in southern california with her husband and two boys, and a dog she’s learning to love. she is never happier than when she gets to be monkish and solitary with her cup of the-best-chai-in-the-world or holed up in her studio, flinging paint and finding poetry. she wrestles monsters of fear and shame every day, and writes about the process on her blog at

Whiskey, War and a Truce

Mandy Steward

“Stop apologizing for who you are,” she said, so I asked myself honestly and reflectively, “Is that, after all this time and work and surrender and allowing, what I am doing? Am I saying I am sorry I am me?”

But no, I’m not. I know for certain I am not. 

I don’t want to take the time to say to her, “I am not,” because I fear it will feel like the classic childhood argument of am not, are too, am not, are too and those sorts of arguments rile me and rob me of strength and dignity.

But I do want to look at what the difference is between what I am doing (being Me) and what I used to do (apologize and try to stop being me). I do want to allow myself, and by extension, allow others, the antithesis of a calm, cool and collected experience all the time.

Sometimes being myself does actually look all raw nerves and sound all racing heart thumps and feel all sweaty palms and pits. Sometimes being myself is caring, caring, caring for people and the world they live in and the rules that world requires of them. Sometimes being myself is meeting them there, even if I am saying, as Buddy Wakefield says, “Though it is good to be here with you tonight I'm still running."

I am in no one place for long.

I fumbled around with self-edits last night. I chased them down with a me-size glass of whisky on the rocks, two chocolate chip oatmeal cookies and a fearsome card game of War with my daughter that ended in a truce of climbing into bed together. But I honored my need to sit with the possible self-edits. Don’t you see? We can’t be all badass and put together all the time. Well maybe you can, but I can’t and I’m the one who is not lying. I am vulnerable, and this is how I like me even if I hate the helluva lot of pain that comes with it. 

Who told you you could love without hurting?

There are a lot of liars who don’t realize they are lying. They walk around and pat each other’s backs because it feels good.

Being me doesn’t always feel good, like last night when I pondered if my me had gotten too rough around the edges to waltz into and out of other people’s worlds. I don’t want to cut you just to see if you bleed, but if you invite me in, should I warn you, you might get cut? Even Edward Scissorhands watched where he pointed the blades, but it didn’t mean he was apologizing for being him.

I think there needs to be space for holding the ache that being me entails. I am not a robot. I need to catch my breath. There have to be comfort moments of whiskey, cookies and war and retiring to bed early in a truce because two worlds are colliding that just don’t fit well together. To gloss over the tension of that and call it “being damn sure of who I am” is great and all, but at the end of the day, I would really feel like I missed the opportunity to root in deeper to the truth of what it takes to be me. I’m not sorry for my Mad self showing up, but I am aware when it makes things awkward. And being aware hurts sometimes. And feeling that hurt is okay. It’s not self-harm to acknowledge and allow all the feelings to move through. I am strengthening mySelf to be able to continue showing up. 

"Tell me I won't lie the next time I see myself."

-Buddy Wakefield


Janae Maslowski

I've come so close to my body, to the waters of me, only to find myself peacefully far. The close-knit is detached, the detached is so very embodied. Paradox. Paradox is a holy She. She is a word that begins with P. With all the force of pop, she bursts into your life and laughs and smears and disregards and astounds and amuses and muses all the way to the X, to the ks ks ks, to the rattle-y, shattering, hissing ks that she exits on, only to pop back, laughing at me, at Herself, at you and you and you...

Someone said,

the more things change, the more they stay the same. 

I say,

change-same. same-change. change-change. same-same.

flight of illusion.JPG


I'm coming to terms with silence. It has been {silently} banging at my door for some time now. Not the silence that is all zen and chill out man, but the silence that begs/demands a pause when the world is screaming, when you are screaming, when the merry-go-round of your life


and still silence looks on and asks that you go there.

David Whyte cuts to the deep-sorrow of me with these words,

No one told me

it would lead to this.

It's true, they didn't tell me and they don't, can't, won't tell me, because they don't know. Denial. Its self-denial they live in first, which creates all other denial; which makes for a lot of people who just push around their lives as though they are detached objects to clean and admire, like dogs or cars. Denial. So much talktalktalktalktalk, everyone is saying so many words, but never the words needed: the scorching-words, the whisper-words, the bleeding-words, the needed-words.

Back to silence.









I'll say it, I'll take it from David's throat and from my broken-heart and tell you,

It will lead to this.

It will be a motherfuckin' mess. You will burn and die and shake your head as you watch your head explode and not explode all at the same time as the world continues to spin and people ask stupid questions and you slowly realize they don't see the gore of you, the exploding/not exploding life of you. They ask and smile dumbly and you think you've gone crazy. And you have and they've finally numbed themselves enough to be able to be innocent in their stupid pleansantries. Either way, anyway that it happens to you, Yes.

It will lead to this.

blur clear.JPG


… but it’s in this endless space between the words that I’m finding myself now. :: Her


Not what it seems

Teresa Robinson

Photo Credit: Randy Yang

Photo Credit: Randy Yang

Like when you know you have something in your eye, but nothing is visible. Like when you are sure you wrote something down or saved something as a memento, but cannot find it. Like when you are convinced she meant harm by what she did, but you only retaliated instead of talking to her about it. 

To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself.
— Søren Kierkegaard

Life is a series of unfortunate circumstances. How we decide to move through the majority of those "varyingly-devastating" events determines our {living} — whether or not we love the life we live. Loving it without conditions and learning to find light in the darkness, to lead when we dance without waiting for music or a partner.

Otherwise we become wrapped tighter and tighter in knee-jerk cynicism and exemplify the face of The Joker in our denial and constraints of “positive-thinking” and “forgiveness-pretentiousness” — rendered embittered and incapacitated with insecurity and a chronic sense of rejection.

Living free from "doing the right thing" {what people expect us to do} is not without its emotional flare-ups, meltdowns and agonizing isolation. But living free can become rather addictive once we begin to befriend the dragons of blame and rejection sent to destroy us.

The dragons name names and offer their own lessons in how to be strengthened by the false judgments of our {living} — of being single-minded and intentional about being true to our-self but also being wise about contact with chronic victims and abusers.

Tenacity and a defined sense of self are outcomes of each proverbial turned cheek and deluded hope for different outcomes. Situations in which we are falsely charged, convicted and politely ostracized instead of given the opportunity to openly discuss the issues.

Everything that kills me makes me feel alive
— OneRepublic

I have learned the futility of attempting to reason with people who look like The Joker, who dismiss invitations to discuss what happened as accusations of blame or personal ambushes. The last time I dared to hope for reconciliation via such a discussion remains a vivid memory with its own heartache and random flashbacks.

It was not what it seemed; like when you assume love is enough, but it isn’t.

Perhaps love is enough, except it simply has to be more about self-love than hoping your love will restore shattered pieces to a whole.

Love being a shield when you dare to lose your footing momentarily to extend your-self one more time. Love being a tall fence when you know boundaries prevent unpredictable, vicious attacks by those with smiling Joker faces.

Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more important it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey.
— John O’Donohue

It is not what it seems; like when you assume smiling faces and invitations mean you belong, but you don’t.

You never belonged. But decades of {living} facilitated moving through and discovering where you did belong ... finding love that was true and without conditions.

When you learn nothing is what is seems. And therein lies the serendipitous opportunity of living free — to choose love and possibility instead of blame and fitting in.

For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them. — Thích Nhat Hạnh // I have been taking selfies without smiles; abandoning views and loving; declaring independence and being dependent. It is messy, Braveheart. So.very.messy. But nothing is what it seems and I also get by with a little help from my friends. ♥

sometimes the want has left me

Alicia Thiede

Sometimes the want has left me.

The fragmented desires are scattered into glittery shards and there simply is no want left.

It is in this state the raw real me emerges. The mermaid turned phoenix. The girl standing in her torn slip with face turned up, heart full of surges.

It is in this state that the shifts occurs. That the string of the blinds is yanked and the light finally pours forth. Like wine at a wedding. Like love just blooming. Like cataracts removed.

It’s hard to remember. The phoenix, the lights, the shimmers. When it has all grown so very dark and even taking a breath causes such deep pause.

I wish that I could take a post it and write in the blackest coal sharpie, the reminders. The words of truth and sacred bedfellows. Lined up. Just for me. A kohl eyeliner turned sharpie to etch these words into my memory.

This state, it needs no introduction. It needs no My Name Is… because it is it’s very own thing and without it, I am invisible. Nothing. Hollowed out.

Sometimes the want has left me and for that I am relieved. Because in that want-ing comes such heaviness and duty. Obligations and RSVP’s. Straightened skirts and coiffed hair.

Dear Want, you may come and go as you please. There will be nights that I too will seek you out and sleep with you til dawn. There will be afternoons where I close the door and turn you away. Left alone with myself. Alone.

You think you may come and go as you please, but I will be the one opening and closing the door. Don't you see this want, it is what frees me from this place on the floor. 


Alicia is a mermaid child who slumbers and dreams best after a day in the sea. a soul priestess who has embarked into the great unknown and is content to never return. a question asker who grows restless in small talk conversations. a fire seeker who likes to sit closest to the blue flame. a moon lover who dances to Johnny Cash under the fiercest moonlight. but first of all she is a gypsy making her way around this country with her tribe and a few of her favorite trinkets. She spills her words at and offers up her love as a guide when you need someone to walk with you for a bit.

Where do you go to change and be changed?

alisha sommer

The summer before my senior year of high school my best friend invited me to spend a week with her and her family at their lake house. We drove her mother’s car from Saint Louis down and around the kind of hills you forget exist in the the Midwest and made our way south to the Missouri/Arkansas border. It was a small 3-bedroom cabin with one bathroom nestled in the woods with several other small cabins near by. The carpet was old and there was no television but it did have a clear view of the water. I woke at 5:30 every morning and drank hot Folgers from  cheap mugs on the front porch as the sun rose, the water glistening in the distance, noticing how the high hills slowly turned from black to green as light began to wash over them. The late mornings and afternoons were spent on the boat. I sat back and listened to music on a disc-man as I watched her father drink beer and steer us around the lake.

It was a quiet lake. And blue. So blue. Not the muddy green-brown I always associated with lakes. “Lakes are for people who have never seen an ocean,” I used to say to myself. “For if only they had seen an ocean, even the dirty Atlantic, they’d know there’s no comparison.” But here I was on this lake, soaking in its deep blues and emerald greens, riding solo on its glassy waters before the rest of the lake was awake. You can learn a lot about yourself alone on the water.


Every time I go to New Orleans I shed a skin or two. 

It's the thick air and how it coats your throat. It's the smell and the taste and the sound of old things that feel new again. It's the heat and how it makes you sweat through every piece of clothing. You don't fight the swelter, you melt into it. 

And I am looking for more places where this kind of magical transformation occurs. The kind of transformation that doesn't require you to do anything but just be. 


Where are these places for you?

Where do you go to change and be changed?


on beginning the next

Prudence Landis

Today is Day One.

For that I'm grateful.  I'm grateful that yesterday was also Day One, as tomorrow will be.

Life feels like a constant stream of Day One's lately; and sometimes I need more than one, because sometimes when what you wanted so much is handed to you, the gift scares you.  It takes your breath.  It makes you say fuck, when your husband tells you his job is being terminated.

Not because you are the verge of breaking down, but because within one breath, one phone call your life begins going the direction you wanted for so long.

You've left your comfort zone, and are now in uncharted territories, going places you've never been.  But if my history has taught me anything, it's that even the charted territories are not without fear.

And so we take a step - laden with a little courage and probably a lot more fear.  We say , "Yes, we can do this.  It's all going to be alright.  We're going to be alright."

We take a deep breath and let it go and take another.

We strap on our sword and give a roar.

now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before. - C.S. Lewis