just to be remembered would be enough


“The girls need a break–tonight we’re gonna take / The chance to get out on the town / We don’t need romance, we only want to dance / We’re gonna let our hair hang down.” -Shania Twain

She was my first pool-side interview. We walk to the pool from her apartment, holding bags of towels and fumbling over flip flops. An interview near a pool? Why the actual heck not? I ask about her lyrics and she couldn’t make up her mind.

“Well, what’s the last song you listened to?” I ask her.

She laughs loudly, “I Feel Like A Woman by Shania Twain.”

I laugh with her. “That’ll work.”

It’s a Thursday night, late August and I’m dragging her off to do another crazy, uncomfortable thing. She doesn’t like talking about herself or her emotions and I’m always up for a stroll down emotional lane. She walks down the steps of the pool and tells me the water is freezing cold–meanwhile, I’m sitting crisscross at the edge of the pool, keeping my phone carefully away from the ledge. I begin the interview while she bobs up and down in the shallow end, trying to warm up.

We begin the interview and what strikes me is how she’s always herself, reminding me of sunflowers and the shade of cobalt blue that’s always been her favorite. She’s the type that loves laughing and has dedicated her life to being a drama-free zone. She loves weird music and comedies and colorful leggings and going for drives–one thing her and I have in common. What I find in talking to her and listening back to the recording is that a lot of people like to put up a facade and look extra impressive, but she doesn’t. She’s just herself.

She grew up in Greenville, just like I did. She has a cat she loves dearly. In her day-to-day life she wakes up on time every morning, showers, straightens her hair, puts on her makeup, throws on some scrubs, and grabs the lunch she made the night before. As a kid she wanted to be a ballerina and then a veterinarian, before finally deciding to major in psychology in undergrad. I ask her why she gave up on those other dreams, immediately correcting myself and asking if she had found something better. But she answers my first question anyway, saying she doesn’t see it as giving up–she views it as changing and psychology was something she found interesting.  Right now she’s a nurse’s assistant at a local doctors office, responding to voicemails from patients. “We’re basically the in-between between the patients and the doctors,” she explains. While it’s not her dream job, she views it as a means to an end.

“What’s the hardest part about what you do?” I ask. She answers immediately that the hardest part is talking to angry people frequently. “A little thing about [doctor’s offices],” she says into the recording, laughing, “…people are always angry. It tears my nerves up. I’m a very anxious person and I hate confrontation. So why I’m in this job, I don’t know.” The way she says it is so her–emphatic sarcasm paired with giggling in spurts. We laugh and she swims back away from the ledge. “I digress,” she says.

“That’s quotable,” I say, chuckling.

One of my favorite (although one of the most difficult) questions I love to ask is what each person’s five favorite things on this planet are–it can be anything, from objects to things that aren’t something tangible you can hold in your hand. For her, she loves hiking in her spare time, going on vacations to Virginia, and spending time with her family. “I guess I’ll throw those suckers in there,” she laughs, sarcastic, when she’s listing off her favorite things. The last two things on the list are her cat and living on her own. She likes the way being alone feels–like the weight and stress of everyday life kind of melts away when she finally puts the key in the lock and turns the knob to an empty apartment she’s proud to call home.

She’s always been the sort to feel a bit disconnected from her own generation, preferring to be around older people even as a kid. She tells me the story of how she used to walk down to an older neighbor’s house and they’d sit on the porch and talk. Even now, she visits her own grandmother as much as she can and they go to lunch. It’s one of her favorite routines–always checking in on someone who might need her.

In her day-to-day life, she feels like she’s seen as a pretty chill person, but the biggest thing she wishes people would understand about her is that she likes order. Though she’ll never ask for it, she wishes people understood how order functions. We chat about a lot of different things, her floating around and wading to the deep end because she thinks she sees a bug. “Oh, it’s just a leaf,” she laughs, wading back towards me.

We talk about God. He’s something we’ve both struggled with, but she thinks that God is everything. She says he always does what he says he’ll do, saying that if he says he’ll be with us then he will be. I nod and make a mental note that he’s a big part of her story, but we don’t say any more on the subject.

“And um, I’ve got just a couple more questions for you,” I say, looking down at my lap, searching through questions.
“Are we almost done?”
“Yes,” I tell her, laughing.
“You know I don’t like being serious,” she groans, swimming up closer to the side of the pool. “This is taking a lot out of me—I need to be alone,” she giggles, speaking directly into the recording again. It’s her fifth round with the recording, speaking directly into the speaker.
“Where do you feel safe?” I ask.
“Honestly, when I’m home alone. That’s the safest I feel. I feel like everything kind of just goes away—I could’ve had a hard day at work or a stressful something or whatever and then as soon as I get home it’s just kind of gone.”

I ask a few more questions, digging to get to know her more. “I don’t know the answer to this,” she laughs. She goes on to tell me it’s not that she doesn’t like opening up, but that she honestly doesn’t know the answers to some of the questions because she doesn’t think about it. With her, what you see is what you get–funny, orderly, drama-free, and adventurous.

“That’s okay,” I tell her, “We’ll just end with what’s your favorite color?” She confirms that it’s blue, stating that it’s subject to change at all times but for right now it’s blue.

“Okay, and that’s it,” I say, shutting off my iPhone. I turn off the recording, forgetting my final question. “Wait,” I say, looking down at my notes. I ask her what her epitaph would be, if she were able to choose it.

She doesn’t know, though, what she’d want to leave behind as a legacy. “Honestly,” she says, “Just to be remembered would be enough.”

I nod and wonder if she knows how well she’ll be remembered for the kind, giving, fun-loving person she is. She’s already explained more than enough of herself and I know I have my story : the story of a girl who doesn’t know quite how important she is and isn’t sure where this ride is headed, but she’s here for it. The sky is a velvet blue, dotted with bright stars.  I do the only thing there’s left to do–I hop in the pool. We spend the next two hours floating around and chatting.

 

a loving + caring person


66b716ed-678f-415c-b600-24d22b874b9e

“Who are we to wonder where we’re going? Who am I to tell me who I am? Let’s take it back and take in every moment. Who am I to tell me who I am?” -AJR

I met with her on a Tuesday evening, the day that Starbucks finally released its pumpkin spice latte for the fall season. And I was completely there for it. But her? Not so much. Hers is a story of the life and times of a person who has been able to successfully trek through life without a co-dependence on coffee–something I’ve failed miserably at. I arrived first, grabbed a table outside, and pulled out my computer. I looked through questions while I waited, finally noticing her drive by, a goofy grin on her face. I waved, smiling back. She parked and walked over to me, a casual lilt to her step and a smile on her face. The traffic was heavy near where we sat, the sound of motors roaring constantly.

She’s always been the girl with a casual smile and an easy presence–someone well-loved by the people in her life and well-known for her personality, bringing life into every room she steps into. Her story begins, much like mine, in Greenville, South Carolina. She’s lived in this city nearly thirty years, only having moved briefly outside city limits to attend college where she earned a degree in early childhood education. Her favorite part about living in Greenville are all the different activities available and the growth of the city. And here in Greenville, is where she found some of her deep loves–mountains, music, connecting with friends, and even her young son who arrived in 2016.

Someone largely involved in activities during high school and college– to this day– two of her favorite things are learning new things and playing sports. Some of her best memories take place in Canada where she and her family would vacation every summer–swimming, fishing, canoeing, and playing card games at night. She loved the simplicity of those vacations, not having access to phones and being able to spend quality time with her family.

Currently she works as a teacher, spending her days herding sticky-fingered children and teaching them the fundamentals of the world they’re in. In the evenings, she takes care of her family, spends time with her son, and focuses on coursework for the masters degree in literacy she hopes to finish at the end of summer 2019. Her purpose in life, from her perspective, is split into a couple different parts–on the one hand, she believes part of her purpose is to be a mom and on the other, she works to be an advocate for children. Reading with your child, she says of parents, is one of the best ways to help them learn. And so she’s not just out to make that connective difference in her own child’s life, but in the lives of every child she can.

Advocating for children, she feels, is part of her job. In a broken education system where teachers are run-down and testing is placed on a pedestal, she’s looking to make a difference in the life of each child that walks in her classroom. One of the biggest things she believes needs to change is how content is tested, saying that the education system is doing a disservice to children by basing the system on testing. For her, she wants to see the education system work to bring in better ways of testing content–through projects and hands-on experiences.

As a teacher, with everything she does in an average day, she says that the hardest part of her job is having to battle between everything she knows from her own research and classwork, against what an administration does. Her principal from last year called her a devil’s advocate because of how much she argued the system, she says with a chuckle. The administration, though, doesn’t faze her as she’s looking to make a difference and build the confidence of her students, while making sure they learn everything they need from her.

We finish talking education and start talking life, me digging into some deeper questions. I ask her what one thing is that people typically misunderstand about her. She’s got a kind of far-away look in her eyes when she speaks, like she’s trying to reconcile who she’s always been with who she needs to be. “The misconception is that I’ve got it all together because I’m doing so many things and I’m one of those people to where I break privately and so nobody sees the break and so it becomes this thing to where a lot of people think that they can expect more from me because like, ‘Oh look, she’s got everything under control. Here!’” She widens her eyes when she says this, holding out her hands in a half-joking manner.

“That’s very, very true,” I agree. “Because nobody wants to look like they can’t handle things.”

“Exactly,” she nods, “I want to look like I can handle everything you throw at me and do it perfectly well.”

“Exactly,” I look at my page, writing out some notes, and we move onto the next question. “What is the hardest part about being you?” I ask, watching as she laughs loudly.

“Do these questions get harder as we go?”

“Um…” I look down at my notes, “No.”

She takes a minute to think before saying slowly. “I have made a choice in life to not be open. I have made that choice—it has been a conscience choice and it has caused me to be almost isolated in a lot of ways and to where I never felt like I could share my struggles and therefore my struggles would become more and more overwhelming. And it also made it hard to make those truly deep connection with friends and the older that I got and the more life changes and life stages that I’ve gone through, the more distant I’ve gotten because the less I felt like I could share. The problems got more serious and the bad thing about it is, the problems got more serious and it made me feel like I could tell people less, even though I was struggling more. And it’s like I chose this and it’s a path that I, you know, went on, but as things keep going down these paths it becomes harder I guess.” She goes on to talk about growing up with brothers, how they’d told her they’d trained her to be the perfect woman–with no emotions. They hadn’t meant anything mean by it, she explains, but she wonders about the affect it had on her life. She’d always been friends with guys and had chosen to be the crazy, silly friend, she explains, “But the crazy, silly friend doesn’t tell you about all her problems–the crazy, silly friend doesn’t break down.”

We go on to talk about our moms, how the need to be less emotional tends to trickle down from them. She agrees, saying that she thinks her own mom always wanted to be strong for her family. “And that’s what a lot of us women are—we always put our family above our own needs and so we don’t want to show that we’re struggling, we don’t want to show that to our family because we feel like we’re the rock and we need to stay the rock. And I don’t necessarily feel like that’s a bad thing, but we’re also doing a disservice to our kids if we’re showing them that you deal with struggles by bottling them up and never opening up to anybody about them. I don’t think that’s a healthy way to handle things. I’m never going to be somebody who goes and tells my problems to the world, but I do feel like you need to find at least one person —one or two people— that you fully open up to.”

Nodding my agreement, we wind down the interview and I ask for the lyrics she picked out. I always ask the person I’m interviewing to bring lyrics because I think lyrics tend to say more about a person than sometimes even the person can say. In her case, that’s not the case but I ask for the lyrics anyway.

She says the song’s a little bit silly, but the true purpose of the song is what draws her to it. “We have these moments that define us, but we’re sitting here trying to define ourselves and create our idealized version of ourselves and pushing that out on people like, ‘This is who I am, look at this idealized version of myself,’ and what it does is it stops us from reflecting on the whole. And I feel like I’ve done that a lot—I choose to forget all the bad that’s happened. I choose to forget all the flaws and everything and what it does is it limits my perspective of myself and I lose an understanding of myself, of why I think the way I do, why I make the choices that I do, why I react the way I do. And while I do believe, obviously we do have choices, in who we are because our actions do define us, we also need to have the understanding of who are we in our innermost being too. And I don’t think we’ll ever understand that, but we’re sitting here trying to define ourselves by only our best qualities, it’s not the true version. Who am I to tell me who I am? I am because of everything that’s happened to me—I don’t get to choose what’s happened to me in my life.”

Well, dang–that’s good. I nod and jot down final notes, turning off the recording.

“Oh, wait,” I say a minute later, turning the recording back on after realizing I’d left off a question. “How do you add purpose into the mundane?”

“By being present–in the moment,” she says immediately, talking about how easy it is to get caught up in big-picture thinking. I ask what that looks like for her and she tells me it’s about being focused on who you’re with rather than zoning out, going on to say it brings a better appreciation for who she’s with and what the moment brings.

We left the table that night and she went off to prepare for a day full of teaching and raising the upcoming generation and I walked off to my car, feeling like I’d met a new person that night. I’d met someone compassionate and thoughtful and driven–someone with both eyes on the future while still holding onto the hands of those around her.

And in my humble opinion, if all teachers and mamas are like her…I’m a little less worried about the next generation.

she cared + she loved


dcd9766d-064a-4e09-9d95-7a4d35a45ff0

“What it all comes down to, Is that everything’s going to be fine, fine, fine, ‘Cause I’ve got one hand in my pocket, And the other one is giving a high five.” -Alanis Morissette 

She’s the sort of person who would hop on board immediately after even just a short description of what it is I wanted to do with this project I’m working on—where my goal is to interview 100 people and ask them virtually the same things about their lives. The questions are open-ended and point to the true answer I’m seeking: tell me who you are and tell me why you’re here. And, reader, I’ve thought through what this project should be called and have thought up a couple different themes or titles but in my gut I know this project isn’t something I’m naming, but rather it is constantly being named and renamed by the people who are brave enough to let me into their worlds. So this project is called, simply: The Anonymous

It’s an hour and a half until her grad-level stats course and I find her in the middle of a Starbucks with her head bent over her work. I approach the table and she looks up, a smile on her face, and suddenly the attention has shifted from work. I extend the greeting and take my end at the opposite end of the table, asking her if she’d like to grab a table outside where there’s less noise. She agrees and grabs her book-bag, following me to a table under some war-torn umbrellas.

I explain the process, confirm the anonymity of this interview, snap a photo of her hands, promise we can take some more pictures at the end of the interview after we both frown at the results, and press the record button. Prior to the interview, I’d asked for her favorite lyrics but she hadn’t been able to make up her mind. “Okay,” I say easily, “What did you listen to last?” And the song was an older one, sung by Alanis Morissette, called Hand In My Pocket. She tells me she loves the first verse because it represents how your physical state doesn’t have to affect your emotional state, that you can still hold out your hand even when you’re going through tough times. As the interview unravels, she shows her full self to be someone who is both creative and curious, both intelligent and kind, while holding a determination to leave a mark on this world she’s proud of.

Her childhood was split into three parts, she explains. She was born in Kentucky and then moved with her family to Illinois, finally landing in Missouri where she lived until her early teenage years. With those childhood days, she equates freedom and a lack of expectations–something she believes is difficult to bring into adult life. “When you’re an adult, everyone expects you to be something,” she says, “When you’re a child, other kids just expect you to be you and so when you meet up with another little kid to go play they’re just like, ‘Hey, what’s your name?’ and after that everything is accepted. You know, as an adult everyone expects something of everyone else. You come in with preconceptions, you know, they’ve already locked you in a box before you even started talking. ” Expectations, she says, are something that’s difficult to not deal with as an adult, oftentimes feeling the pressure to achieve.

These days she lives in Greenville, South Carolina with her husband and cats–three of her personal favorites. She works as a registered behavior technician, working with children on the autism spectrum to help improve their quality of life. On top of maintaining a work life and a home life, she spends her evenings taking courses for her masters degree in Psychology with a concentration on applied behavioral analysis, which she intends on completing in early 2020. Outside of school and work, some of her favorite things are spending time with her husband, when the fall weather becomes cool enough for her to bring out her sweaters, and grabbing coffee with friends. But her favorite place to be is with her own thoughts, holding a deep love of music and expanding her knowledge as much as she can. Being alone and processing her own thoughts, she explains, is how she recharges so she can be present with her loved ones and give them her full attention.

We get through the basics, with her explaining her work and me jotting down notes and writing in numbers from the recording to go back to and direct quote. I ask her what she’s here, on this planet, to do.

“What am I on this planet to do?” she repeats the question to me, allowing a brief second to think. “Help people.”

“In what ways?” I ask, looking up from my notes. She looks off towards the parking lot when she answers questions, like she’s searching for the words to articulate exactly what she believes.

She expands, “Help people to heal, [be] loved, and cared for and when I come in a room I want people to feel like it’s good to be there with me. And I want to help improve quality of life. Like if I were to just disappear off the planet I would like people to think that their lives were better because I touched them in some way.”

But the road to being someone who helps others isn’t an easy one. Working 8-10 hour days in the presence of extreme emotion can be emotionally draining at times, she says, explaining what it’s like to need to be the calm during those moments when emotions and behaviors can become extreme. “When someone’s in crisis mode, the tiniest bit of extra chaos is going to send them to a whole other level of chaos. So you have to make sure that you are the antithesis of chaos –you are placid, you are a calm lake to their storm because the minute you bring that calm it’s going to deescalate the behavior immediately.”

And what is one thing she wishes she didn’t have to deal with? I ask the question, leafing over my notes and glancing up carefully. She tells me that she wishes she didn’t have to deal with the ignorance of others, either personally or professionally. For an example, she tells me a story of a man who approached her and a client at McDonald’s. “What’s that kid’s problem?” the man had asked, leaving her unsure of what to say so she just walked away. “That level of ignorance about people and how they’re different and how even if they’re different they can mean something in this world, really gets to me and personally, when people don’t understand the differences of others–we all look different, we all sound different, we all act different and when people don’t understand that and expect everyone to fit in a box it bothers me.”

Despite the frustration, she is still on a mission to leave this world better than she found it. Education, she believes, is the way to a kinder, more understanding world. One of the things she’d love to do with her time on earth is to help educate people on the variance of other people around them. “I feel like if people were more educated on diversity, I feel like everyone would be a little more kind to one another. There would be more understanding. And kindness and love are the two biggest things, I feel like, for someone to have,” she explains, emphasizing the importance of kindness in a world full of diversity. She believes judging other people based off of perspectives can’t be done because every person comes from such different cultural, neurological backgrounds.

I ask her what kindness would look like, how it would affect the world we live in.

“Kindness, I view as kind of a form of love,” she explains, “Kindness is loving someone no matter how they’re acting and responding in a way that even if you don’t understand them completely, you’re putting forth your best effort to understand.”

We chat a bit more about her ideas and the importance of a kind world, but with my final question I ask her what she would have as her epitaph, if she could choose it, and she thinks for a minute, looking back out towards the road like she’s accumulating all the thoughts she’s ever had into a simple sentence. It’s a hard question to answer, asking someone to summarize everything they want out of this life, but she comes up with her answer fairly quickly.

Her answer is simple, but profound:

“She cared,” she says, pausing briefly. “She cared and she loved.”

yellow bookcases, lemon crepes, + the art of waking up


img_4152

 “Even in my worst times you could see the best in me/ Flashback to my mistakes, my rebounds, my earthquakes/ Even in my worst lies, you saw the truth in me/ And I woke up just in time.” -Dress, Taylor Swift

You know, reader, you really are too freaking good to me. I can take a blog hiatus and still know you’ll meet me here. I can post a 4 AM ranty, insecure status and know that I’ve still got people who love me and are rooting for me. I can work on a project and it fail and I know I can still come back with better, more intentional work. It’s not something I ever want to take for granted, that I’ve been built up and loved on and rooted for. There are some people who don’t like what I say or the way I say it and I’m becoming fine with that because I’d rather create work that’s meaningful to me and a handful of other people rather than creating something based on what everyone else wants to hear. I’m grateful for the path. I’m grateful for the work. And I’m grateful for the people who reminded me that I have a blog that means a lot to a lot of different people when I fall down and get hurt.

And so, every time I come back from a hiatus (fancy wording for someone with SUCH an inconsistent batting average. Get it together, Russell.), I like to do a post that feels more like taking a map and zooming in on a trail. To me, hearing about what someone’s been doing in their day-to-day sets the scene for everything to follow. It’s true that I usually prefer telling the stories of my past because I’m still figuring that part of my life out, but for today I’m going to tell a different story: the story of where I am.  And so, reader, welcome to it. 

There are three things I’m finding some happiness in lately: the color yellow–like the bookcase I smeared with the brightest, happiest yellow I could find right before I moved out this July–lemon crepes, and the art of waking up. It is an art, ladies and gentlemen, and for a long time I didn’t think I could wake up but here I am. When I say wake up, I mean live my life on my own terms and not on auto-pilot.

It’s been 12 months now. 12 months of doing brave and uncomfortable things and conquering them and moving onto the next thing. It doesn’t feel like this is what I’ve been doing, but it is–I know it because when I sit down and think about where I was a year ago, it feels like I was that person years ago rather than simply months ago. Personal growth is a slow and grueling process and I may be the only one who sees it, but…I’m proud of me, reader.

It’s been 18 months since I’ve been paid to wipe down tables and wear a button-up blue shirt for a living–18 months since I’ve been required to wipe down the counters in the bathroom when I happened to be in there…and yet, here I am wiping down the counters in the bathroom again like I know I don’t have to any more. I take an extra paper towel and it’s a side-to-side sort of motion–cathartic, almost. Some things don’t change. Some parts of you stay with you, including the expectations placed on you.

And so, I push open the bathroom door. It’s a Wednesday and I’m 25 and the month is August. It’s the mid-afternoon feel–where you’ve had your two coffees and the center is all quiet, the monosyllabic feel of keypads being typed away at and agents talking in low tones. Will the lights flicker off for three seconds like they did the day before? Or will the members all suddenly call in at the same time? It’s 2 pm and no one knows what will happen in the interim between the quiet hour and 5 o’clock. I plop down at the large, leather swivel chair I finally traded up for, taking it from an empty desk near mine when no one was looking, and swing myself back to the two computer screens in front of me. I pause, looking at the screensaver for today–it’s a waterfall, redwood trees framing the photo. They seem sky bound, reaching up as far into the blue sky as they can. I click the screen, type in my password and reach for my headset. It’s quieter today, than what it’s been lately–armies of members climbing into our queue, demanding answers day-in and day-out. We are the policy guards, the keepers of the rules, the mediators.

I secure my headset and reach for my mint-green chapstick in my desk, apply it with an easy stroke and rub my lips together. I lean back in the chair and wait, stare up at the ceiling. The cord runs from the headset, stretched across the arm of my chair and connects to the phone on my desk. I’ve got my microphone pushed up, away from my mouth while I wait. One minute, two minutes, three minutes, seven. The phone rings and then beeps in my ear and I bring the microphone down to my mouth, breathe in,  and say in my perfected professional tone, “Thank you for calling—-. This is Amanda. Are you calling as an active or retired member today?” I press the mute button to clear my throat and then respond, “Okay, thank you.” I’m at work immediately on my case, copy-pasting information from one screen to the next while I confirm information with the members. “And, ma’am, how do you spell that last name?” I wait, my fingers hovering just above the keyboard. She clarifies and I nod, typing along. In this job, I’ve heard more “V as in Victor, P as in Paul, N as in Nancy” than I’d ever expected to hear.

The week pulls us along. I spend my evenings running from being alone with myself, eating dinner at my parents’ house, working on a new project, and swapping memes with my friends. I get home late, climb up weary stairs and try to stay out of everyone’s way. I charge the watch that emits electric shocks each morning to wake me up and toggle between episodes of The Office and Gilmore Girls to pass the time. We hit Friday with a sigh of relief. I look over at my desk-buddy and she says, “Just a few more hours,” with a laugh. I laugh with her–the joke is: it’s 8 AM. I sip at my latte and lean back in my chair, ready as I’ll ever be for a Friday. I daydream about all the apple picking and lemon-crepe eating I plan to do and wait for my first member of the day.

The next day, I pull into my therapist’s office, early Saturday morning when all the locals are out brunching or sleeping in. I find a spot on the gravel lot and pull out my makeup bag, my hair still damp from the 12 minute shower 20 minutes ago. Friday night was an Ihop night, hanging with friends over pancakes and coffee. The night before that was for storming out of my parent’s house and crying my eyes out in a Publix parking lot.  The weekend before was a night of burying my worries in unhealthy ways and lashing out. This life is a process–an amalgamation of dealing with past hurts while looking forward with both eyes open this time.

I walk up the gravel drive and push open the framed white door into my therapist’s building, climbing the stairs loudly. My dad always said I was like a bull in a china shop. As always, my flamingo mug is in place at the Keurig and a deep sense of belonging hits me as I dig through K-cups until I find my usual: Starbucks’ Breakfast Blend. I pop it in and press start. Three creams and I drizzle sugar into the blend, stirring it with a plastic spoon as I ease onto the couch.

“Well, I am glad to have you back,” she chuckles, asking me what happened with the other therapists she’d referred me to for exposure therapy. It had been my idea, getting help with the deep fears that grip me, but here I am sitting on her couch like we both knew I would be.  I explain the insurance situation, joking about how I have extensive plans of exposing myself to my own fears. We chat about everything–work, family, relationships, goals, self-worth. I head back down the stairs at the end of the session, after shaking the residue from the kinetic sand off my hands and grabbing my bag, and confirm the appointment for two weeks from now. We’re working through expectations and doing brave things.

You should know, reader, that I’m not perfect. Man. I’m so not perfect it’s insane. If I’d had it my way, I would live a yellow bookcases and lemon crepes sort of life–the sort of life you dream about growing up, all the while not knowing that the very same things you’re living is your life. That’s it. The moments that collect dust in the background while you’re reaching for more is your life. It’s not all daisies, man. It’s grueling at times. It’s heart-breaking. It’s traumatizing, even. But it’s yours, right? So it matters?

So, hello there, Coffee Beans. It’s just like me to come back to something in September, isn’t it? This month is all mine, this blog is all mine, and this life is my gift to sort through, build up, tear down, build up again, and give back.