things i needed to hear

you try your hardest to leave the past alone.
this crooked posture is all you’ve ever known.
it is the consequence of living in between
the weight of family and the pull of gravity.

you are so much more than your father’s son.
you are so much more than what i’ve become.

long before you were born there was light
hidden deep in these young, unfamiliar eyes.
a million choices, though little on their own,
become the heirloom of the heaviness you’ve known.

you are so much more than your father’s son.
you are so much more than what i’ve become,
what i’ve become

you pressed rewind for the thousandth time
when the tapes wore through.
so you memorized
those unscripted lines, desperate for some kind of clue:

when the scale tipped,
when you inherited a fight that you were born to lose.

it’s not your fault,
no, it’s not your fault,
i put this heavy heart in you.
i put this heavy heart in you.

you remind me of who i could have been,
had i been stronger and braver way back then.
a million choices, though little on their own,
became the heirloom of the heaviness we’ve known.
{heirloom, sleeping at last}

lately i have nothing to say.
nothing new. 

i avoid the stillness, the silence; i avoid looking within. i'm tired of the same old battles, tired of facing the same inherited demons.i think i've gotten away from my father & my past only to be slapped right back into place by a memory or a survivor skill rearing it's ugly head. i'm really ready for surgical procedure that removes ptsd from the brain. i'd be all in.
 i'm numb & i'm ok with it. skating through life on the surface.
//except i'm not. not truly. i miss depth. i miss putting words to pictures, giving voice to the aches & realizations & felt joys. i feel disconnected from my spirit. turns out, it's hard to have anything worthwhile to say when you've duct taped your soul. 

the barriers to freeing her are too many to name. my circumstances are one big catch-22; and so far every attempt to escape as been stymied. 

but seasons change. life moves forward. 
this heaviness is not my fault. i am so much more; and one day i'll be free to access all that "more" carries.  


life doesn't discriminate

"life doesn't discriminate between the sinners & the saints, it takes and it takes and it takes. we keep living anyway--we rise & we fall & we break and we make our mistakes; and if there's a reason I'm still alive when so many have died, than I'm willing to wait for it." 

this song, oddly enough gives me hope. (the whole musical has become something of a personal anthem but that's a bizarre twisting path deep into my heart and mind that i'm unable--unwilling to take others down at the moment).

it's true, life is indiscriminately harsh (with breaks of sunshine and rest). God directly alters at times, yes. but more often He lets the long long leash of natural law & free will play out.  as He works within the laws of natural science He created rather than bending them; just so in all of life--He enters our humanity & He's with us. but He works in and amidst rather than confronting. He redeems more than He rescues. He's not at odds with the patterns of life. He created it, and when the fall altered it He chose a quiet, slow, deep process of restoration.
it can feel unloving. it can look like abandonment from this side of the universe. we don't see much of the way He acts because it's through the mundane. instead of removing us or protecting us or erasing the struggle; He creates within it. the force of living crashes against our ideals and our faith. our mental framework is torn down, rebuilt, altered with every loss. every storm, every sunrise, every victory and defeat etch themselves into our psyche and become our stories. we are made into fighters, artists; our souls hallowed to hold deeper, weightier measures of both light and dark.

life; this living. it's as beautiful as it is achingly devastating. to struggle, to become; these are the essences of humanity. we keep fighting, striving forward to bring order into the messy chaos. creating beauty & joy despite the cracks & the pain. we wrestle with our doubts. we confront the dissonance of eternal promises colliding with earthly realities, find a way to melodize it. we dance with both the facts and the inexplicable, awkward at first until we grow comfortable with not knowing. these are the things that make faith a leap. these are the pieces of mundane that sparkle with meaning. our resilience and our frailty, our grit and our fears, our inability and our ingenuity are valuable. precious, even. because they are products of free will, of room and space to "rise and fall and love and break and make mistakes". to be human is to be "inimitable, an original."

it's worth it. living is absolutely brutal--but oh, is it worth it.


google has a black ribbon on it's homepage today

...and it's for my city.

((this tragedy isn't truly mine. everything should be centered around the victims, their families and friends; and the close knit LGBT community reeling today. that's why i'm writing this on my private blog. i need to process, i need a safe place to sort myself out away from public eye. but i know it's incredibly inappropriate to claim this has hurt me personally when others have had the fabric of their hearts torn in shreds.))  

what? it feels surreal. Orlando isn't even a real city. i've often thought whoever taglined it "the city beautiful" apparently never traveled to cities like Washington DC, Savannah GA, Cardiff Wales or Vancouver BC, CA. it's always seemed like the kid brother who can't keep up with the big kids. trying to be cool with his untied shoelaces and popsicle-stained mouth, running after the vans-wearing teenagers on their skateboards. like "we've got the basketball team Shaq played for once!" "we're kinda close to Disney World, and there's a fountain in our lake. with swans!" "Our women's soccer team is brand-baby-new but hey--a World Cup champ calls it home!"
but now my little ugly city is running with the big boys and it's not fun at all. we're on the map for a horrific act of violence that has people in New York City weeping for friends they lost. the largest mass shooting in recent history. i think is what they're calling it. because that's what humans do when they grieve. put things in boxes with labels to keep our sanity inside and chaos outside.

now let's be honest: i've never really claimed this city until today. i spent the first 8 years of my life close enough to downtown that Lake Eola was the playground date of choice. but when we moved to the country, i embraced it whole-heartedly. at first i couldn't sleep: no gunshots, no sirens, no flashing lights or yelling neighbors? what if the bad guys were super sneaky and quiet out here? what if they broke in and nobody heard or came to help? eventually i realized people didn't steal the hose from your lawn or break into your house just for fun out here. i've been privileged to travel all over N America and the world; when people ask where i'm from in florida i usually say a small town you've never heard of. unless i think you'll never come to the states and find me, then i'll name my small town. because i'm proud of it. i love my community. i get annoyed when i'm traveling with people and they say Orlando (what? eww no i don't live there).

but today i woke up, and there on my tv was a swat team exiting a building i instantly knew. there was the next door dunkin donuts i used to swing by at 9:08 pm 2-3 nights a week after ballet class in my teens, surrounded by flashing lights. there were bleeding, hurting people being carried out of first gay club my brother visited. it took a few seconds of panic to remember he's moved out of state, he's safe. otherwise i would have been frantically looking for a text saying "i'm fine, we were at Ibar or Backbooth instead, don't worry." i thought of other names, faces; and hoped they were ok. i wondered if any of his old buddies were part of the carnage, or in the hospital. i worried if he was emotionally ok all those states away.
i imagined the chaos inside that hospital, the very one i'm about to start my own training in. the nurses and techs who were probably still working long after their 12 hellacious hours were over, the surgeons who probably hadn't had a break yet. i could imagine the less sick people in ER for a normal saturday injury seeing things we normally shield from them. because even in a level I center that trains for this, with 53 traumas, who has time to pull a curtain?
i tried not to imagine what the aftermath of 50 dead would be like. but i couldn't stop wondering how difficult it must be to find evidence and document deaths on such a scale. having the necessary detachment interrupted by all those phones ringing over and over and over as a constant reminder of the lives behind the crime scene.

i feel like i should have more words. profound words, words to offer hope or give insight into the wreckage humanity holds within that makes us capable of such things. but i don't. i only know that i owned this city today. it's not Paris or VA tech; it's home. i can give blood, i can be there for friends affected more personally. i can find something to do with these hands and this heart. i can be a voice--let's not use this as a battering ram. muslims need to feel loved, welcomed, safe. the lgbt community needs to feel embraced, needs us weeping next to them. the only sermon anyone needs to hear is the sermon of messy, honest, costly, sticking-around-when-the-media-gets bored and the people forget love. the God who became man and climbed into our messy hurting world love. Jesus chose the weak, the vulnerable, the wounded as his homeboys. His anger surfaced towards the people who through the first stone--don't be that guy.

here are some words from people better gifted than i:

this article

this relatable one

this personal insight  


He delights in showing mercy

You delight in showing mercy


it's not a duty, or a chore; you're not angry or annoyed that i need your mercy more than the earth needs rain.

you are not exacting, frustrated, judgmental. i live under this burden of exact cause and effect. this belief that every action can only add up to it's deserving consequence. that any good or forward motion must be earned and fought for with the absolute best you can give; but even then don't get your hopes up...because your best isn't always enough. there is no entitlement, life owes you nothing and fairness only comes into play when you screw up. punishments and consequences of mistakes always pay out--even though the rewards and fruit for hard work, diligence and effort don't.

but that's not life with you. it's a perspective i've been partly given and partly created. You are   g r a c i o u s.  i'm supposed to be free! not only from sin; but from this burden of fear & failure meaning the end of all things. you know me deeper than even i ever will. you hold my past. i am bound to this earth, to this space and time so that my history presses in and threatens to crush me. i can't escape it, i can't rewrite it. but you--you are outside space & time. you're above and beyond gravity and failure and this messy broken chaos. i can give you my past, my failures & mistakes and bad decisions. let them go safely into your hands. you can bring redemption. ha! all this realization over things with little moral weight, with mistakes bringing no harm to anyone but myself and regrets that only i must stare down.

you can show me mercy. you know that my best doesn't look like what i think it should. but you're ok with that. you love me anyway, and you delight in bringing things i didn't ask for, didn't earn. you can change my endings. mercy. there is grace. there is no fate, no set in stone consequences. i can change the endings. i can rewrite this chapter. i have room and time for movement forwards.

thank  you.


saturn // sleeping at last

the courage of stars...
how light carries on 

how rare & beautiful it truly is 
that we exist 

i'd give anything to hear, you say it one more time

the universe was made
just to be seen by my eyes 
-saturn from space II, Atlas project by sleeping at last 

(( if only i could couch my thoughts & ideas & emotions in such a vehicle as this. grateful for right-brained artists whose hearts beat out into words. so the left-brainers like me can say "yes! that's my heart, thank you for giving it wings." ))
all the things i want to say, but can't.

the stories i've drifted into for a few sentences, the moments another soul hovers between life and death.

the people i could have helped more, the ones i reached deep down and found a level beyond "all" to give from; and the majority in the middle whom i strove to do my best for.

family dynamics. loneliness. sometimes the deepest loneliness includes family surrounding you and sometimes it's a singular pronoun for days. the brokenness of wounds that aren't physical but often seem to damage deeper than the physiologic ones i'm treating. the peace that real love and true family brings to chaos and pain and suffering.

so much i've witnessed...but i have no words. or rather, i have no way to free them. the hawk of my high school days that used to beat around in my chest cavity longing for freedom seems to have returned. i don't know where to begin. i don't know how to put stories that aren't mine to pen.
well i guess in part they're mine. i enter for a sentance, or a paragraph; and then the rest of the story sails on without me. to the ending of the epic or just that chapter. the book is uncharted waters to me. all the build and swells of previous climaxes are storms i didn't weather. waves i never stilled.

what i'm trying to say is this practice is creating a tension of story inside me. the science and the art of practicing medicine collide within and leave me here. here being a place with a full heart and mind creating a desperate need to write. but trapped with an inability to arrange letters in ways that do justice to the hallowed space i'm allowed into. maybe it's something i'll grow into. maybe one day the stories will find their way out.

for now, i have to figure out a way to exist in this no man's land. a little tangled.


fractured thoughts because my heart is aching for my friends and few will listen

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” --Atticus Finch (to kill a mockingbird)

I find few things more frustrating than if I open my mouth about my experience as a woman and a man jumps in to point out all the reasons my reality isn't valid. I shut down faster than an open submarine hatch; but it's not because you're convincing. It's because I'm quick to realize you can't listen. you'll never find empathy when you're more concerned with changing my mind so i don't see you as some sort of monster just because you're male. FYI, if I'm being honest I probably already figured out you're not...See, I have brothers, cousins, best friends who I know are good honest men because action proves character. I've also had men I thought were friends who proved to be the kind who view every woman's body as something made for them. So my judge of character has been honed as if my life depended on it since some day it might. Do you know what that's like? No more than I know what it's like to be a man, surrounded by toxic hyper-masculinity & culture's pressure to stunt and hide your emotions.

Is this how my friends of color feel? Aren't they surrounded by the same voices, the same invalidation? By people who can never *truly* understand their struggles and lives drowning them out with "logic".

It's hard to hear about white privilege. It's hard to swallow that racism still exists. that we don't all experience the same america, the same culture; that equality is still an ideal in so many ways. But the ideal is there, it holds true. It's waiting for us to flesh it out. Waiting for us to define it further, with justice & compassion & liberty. I think if we really wanted it, we would try. I think what most of us really want is the world to re-frame itself to our perspective. To believe easy, softer, false half-truths defined by our own experiences and people like us.
Isn't it better to see reality? Even if it turns out to be yet another perspective; aren't the ideals of equality, justice, our fellow humans' safety and comfort; worth bending for? Worth facing a harsh paradigm shift?
But doing that means stepping back. shutting up. Being willing to be uncomfortable. Yes, we've all experienced trauma. Yes, white people can be at a disadvantage compared to other humans. but. THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU. There is a time & place for your story. The systemic inequality? We know nothing of it--and it's time for those who do to have center stage.

I want to have the moral courage to go against the crowd, to stand with the marginalized like Atticus. I think a lot of us want that opportunity. I think we have ideas of what that looks like...if we were honest? The opportunity is here. It's now. If Atticus was a real man today? I think he would do a lot of listening & have courage to ask hard questions. When his black brothers and sisters spoke about their experiences; I don't think he would be quick to jump in and rephrase their voice.

just some of my own thoughts, as my heart bleeds with my friends.


“Language, that most human invention, can enable what, in principle, should not be possible. It can allow all of us, even the congenitally blind, to see with another person’s eyes.”
-Dr. Oliver Sacks


bottle it up

Kyev, 2013

if i could bottle it up 

found a video tonight from 2012 of driving through Kyev in the middle of the night on a 10 hour trip to camp. lizzy & i were the only Americans at the time...background of mingled Russian & Ukrainian, the city lights blurring past, stupid american pop songs on the radio ("call me maybe"--we looked at each other & died laughing at what they would say if they understood it). lily & lizzy were talking about some deep philosophy: how people's souls have depths-- some are lakes, others oceans; i zoned away to absorb the moment. i have so many precious moments stored up in my heart. swimming in the river with abi & lily in the early morning, lizzy & lily & i singing on the dock by the old house, kolya & his guitar on a blanket with julia under the stars on the soccer field, watching the faces of children explode as they're praised. i wish i could share those moments with others. share the polaroids and videos stored in my mind, so they could understand.

if i could bottle it up, 

i'd have a stash in the truck, splash in my cup
it'd never get old

Honestly, i need Ukraine. i need orphan camp, family dinners, the selfless HFO team. i need to be pushed out of my comfort zone to do dance parties & sing on a stage & share a little of the darkest, ugliest parts of my story so others know they're not the only ones with shadows living in their scars. "i go to Ukraine to give back some of what I've been given" is what i used to say. & i meant it. But then my bucket was depleted and never seemed to fill again; i found you can be filled as you empty. 

one little sip, just a taste on my lip

i'd be taken a trip wherever i go 

i wish i could explain that Ukraine keeps my spiritual heart beating, keeps the gospel real & gives me enough oxygen to survive another year. it's the only thing that squeezes my heart fully enough for real circulation. i come alive, i awake, i am, i experience. fully perfused and oxygenated. bright, rich crimson blood of community & grace & Christ flows throughout all of me. the dead extremities wake up, tingling back to life. sure, my scars are still there. i have dark nights, bad days. i wonder what the hell i'm doing and see my insecurities in bright crayon everywhere. i fight the things i know i should do. _but_. i become so much closer to who God made me to be. i laugh. i have more freedom. i wrestle again, i'm authentic.

the thing which makes my heart ache so intensely is also the thing keeping me alive.

(bottle it up by sam hunt)


moon river

Because some days you have the mean reds something fierce and all you want is to curl up on the floor and watch Breakfast at Tiffany's. But homework & studying (who don't know that you had 5 hours of sleep and a long day at work) are demanding to be done before any sleep or rest can come. Which is going to make for a long night, and tomorrow is an even longer day...So you watch YouTube clips instead and Audrey cheers you up.

thank you, Audrey Hepburn, for existing.


when recovery isn't what you thought it was

"...they were all very well meaning, but [...] they'd say was 'whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.' the problem with that was [...] I felt like I was actually broken. That things could happen in your life that would just break a man, that not only you wouldn't be stronger--but that you would never again have what you had before. And I felt that things had slipped in such a way that I would never be able to recover."

i was moved to the point of aching throat from tears unshed by this story. i found it after listening to the Ted talk "A Story of Knots & Surgeons" which was moving; but this version of the story was far more powerful. because it was relatable. It enabled me to identify my own pain, to remember that ( i am not alone ) & ( you are far from the only one walking through this ) are not empty words i tell myself. they're real. oh & btw, i too want to punch people in the face when they say "everything happens for a reason"--even though it's usually directed at my patients, not me.

i know this desperation. hitting the end of being made stronger -yet- still feeling broken. you just want a conversation with the universe: seriously life? i can't break down anymore. i can't even begin to get up again so enough with the curveballs, the endurance training, the building me stronger shit. because i can't duck anymore, i can't see from the black eyes and i'm now on life support so clearly this isn't working out. there is something about change forced upon you. it's one thing to realize you're not who you used to be because of decisions you've made or a natural progression of circumstances. life changes all of us; i realize that. it's an entirely different thing to realize you aren't who you used to be because of other's choices. trauma creates a black hole within you, it rips pieces away from you with stunning violence. there's no gradual progression.

i too have hit this pivotal point of recognizing there is no returning. i've been trying to heal & move beyond & get over the abuse in my past because i wanted to go back. i wanted to be the person i was before i realized i had ptsd. the girl who had her own version of things, who painted with bright sunshine all over the dark, ugly sections of history. i view her as the best version of me--the one who my childhood self would be proud of vs this one that she would be horrified to see. but that isn't how healing works. the goal i've been striving for is an impossible one. not impossible as in challenging--impossible as in completely denies every natural law, impossible as in outside the realm of even theoretical physics.
there is no going back.
there is no going back. i don't get to relive my childhood the way i pretended it was. i don't get to view my father through the false lens i created to survive and not hate him, i don't get to forget and erase the once-hidden memories that now flasback on me all the time. i don't get to see my distrust of order as a thirst for adventure anymore; now i know it's a by-product of a child who never really knew what it was to feel safe. i don't get the first 20 years of my life redirected, i have to make do with what i have. come to terms with the gut-wrenching reality that my dad created this chaotic pain in my heart and mind. that it's not my fault; i couldn't have changed it. it's all on him.

so for me, i'm not so excited about being a new person. getting to the new part means sitting in the ugliness of the old. it means not walking in denial, but facing it. not rushing. giving time & space & voice to the emotions i still shutter so fast and still try to reason out logically so i don't have to feel them. there is nothing harder than looking at ugliness done to you by people who were supposed to keep you safe. i've walked through losses of every kind, chronic pain, disappointment, break-ups. nothing is harder than this--admitting it was intentional in part. admitting there were choices he could have made differently. admitting there is a place blame should lay and it's not mine.

i can see that i've healed some, there's progress. but being made new vs going back forces me to see just how much of myself is still shattered. so many tiny fragments, so much broken glass. i don't think it's realistic to believe any longer that they can all be put back together. i think moving forward means i have to re-frame wholeness.

wholeness that doesn't mean completed by all the things i lost, all the parts of myself that were ripped out me? that is something i don't quite have a frame of reference for.
but maybe i'll get there.


learning to dance

You taught my feet 
to dance 
upon disappointment 
Hallelujah, You are making all things new


not the first

"Come in and trade your tears
All worry and ease your fears
Your burden is not unknown
Don't run friend you're not alone
For all confined come be set free
For all the blind that long to see
Come and receive the perfect relief 
Come and believe He bore your grief
Rise up as the war has ceased
No bondage you have been released
Come all you weak and contrite
He'll strengthen and clothe you in white"
Relief--Wolves at the Gate

[ I am not the first ] whispered it's way into my mind along with the pressure to let go, to rest.
I'm not the first to be here, in this seemingly never ending winter-desert. 

I was crushed under the weight of all the people i have lost. as if memory were a blanket made of steel wool suffocating my heart. it's been a long time since I've felt so desperate for my grandmothers' prayers & laughter. my grandfather's steady safety, great-grandma's delighted treasuring, Aunt Phyllis' remembering, Uncle John whose far too young death still surprises my memory. Grammie, who shaped me more than I knew. the little brother we never held. my mom's best friend, the only one who knew her heart as a sister in arms. the list is too long. 
my old companions the stars hung in the sky like traitors, trading their usual comfort for mockery. they appeared to represent all my goodbyes: small farewells flung from this rock of Earth into the universe across a distance farther than that between the known galaxies. even though it's not forever, if the promise of eternal life I'm staking my existence on is true; right now it's too long away. too much, too far, too long. 

but I cling to this whisper--stories & songs & poems & art serve to remind me this ache is as familiar to the humans as our need for oxygen. I'm not the only one who has looked into the night sky and longed to fly away. or wished my lost ones were as close as a visible star. not the only one who has felt others' pain and carried it. not the first girl to think she can't go on. to wonder just how long she can hang on this edge of breaking. 

and we still keep on. we keep on living & fighting for truths & breathing & working for a future. we strive towards the light. some of us protect the tiniest coal of hope still glowing within. others use their own flaming abundance to ignite the cold hearts around them. always, always we strive towards the light. towards Hope, the Light above us with waves running farther, faster than any of our darkness. towards the smallest reflection within us, the sparks we see in each other's eyes that remind us there is Light above the clouds & beyond the galaxies. a flame that never dies. one that cuts deeper than pain, strong & pure & bright until even the deepest rending the human heart can endure is repaired. 

[ i don't know how to rest. i don't know how to let go, because when i consider relaxing my grip, i crack like this. pain seeps out messy & ugly. so shattering that i lock it away. i'm scared i'll fall into pieces so minuscule i never find them all. help me rest. help me be ok with collapse. promise you'll give me new pieces & make new seams; so i am not all left to jagged edges and missing slivers. ]