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Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I believe that everything always comes back to love. A Greek word for love is tattooed on the back on my neck and in everything I do and everything I give my energy to comes back, for me, to love. The problem is that I have found it difficult to express to people what exactly I mean by love—love, you see, is used so often and in so many contexts that I sometimes wonder if, when I talk so fervently about love, people get my point. Here is what Martin Luther King Jr.’s definition of agape, the word for love that is tattooed on the back of my neck.

Agape is something of the understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill for all men. It is a love that seeks nothing in return. It is an overflowing love; it’s what theologians would call the love of God working in the lives of men. And when you rise to love on this level, you begin to love men, not because they are likeable, but because God loves them. You look at every man, and you love him because you know God loves him.

That being said, I do not necessarily align myself in the same religious tradition as Martin Luther King Jr (or anyone else, for that matter), but I do believe in the universal deservingness of love. The love I chose to hold within myself for all of humanity is pure expression of my beliefs and I think it comes from a sprit that is within each life (human or otherwise), that flows through us all, connecting us to one another. I cherish each life and therefore choose to love humanity. Humanity. That word, just today, became more important to me than ever before. It changed for me because I realized that fear and hate end in dehumanization, which in turn breeds more dehumanization. When we are taught to look at human beings as anything less than the LIFE and the SPIRIT that they hold, we run the risk of extending that dehumanization to more and more people, including even ourselves. That example encourages more people to dehumanize, creating a chain of hatred, fear and violence. The chain can be broken though by the simple concept I have written about before: choice. We are constantly presented with opportunities to makes choices and I just recently wrote about choosing love. But why? Why choose love? I mean, let’s be honest, it is hard, meaning it takes courage, but where does the courage flow from? I believe that courage comes directly from love for someone or something, something I am sure I will come back to at a later date. But love of who? Love of what? Humanity. Realizing that we all make up humanity, that we are all connected, valued, part of a universal community, encouraging feelings of solidarity within one’s heart—this, this is what gives us the courage to choose love each and every day of our lives.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

my mohawk.

I mentioned in my very first post, that if I lived without fear I would get a mohawk. Why a mohawk? Good question. It’s pretty weird and random, but I wanted one. Honestly, I couldn’t have told you why, but it was something I was drawn to that I now am beginning to understand. It’s weird how somethings just feel right. So, in light of a variety of things going on in my life, the need to shoot some positive energy out into the universe, the need for liberation, and in admiration of people in my life who are utterly true to themselves, I got my hair cut and have had my own little mohawk for two weeks now. Who cares, right? It is hair. Especially for someone who values the internal above the external, I am surprised by how much I do care.

First, I will tell you that it was in fact gloriously liberating to watch someone shave off the vast majority of my hair. It affirmed that I don’t in fact place my worth on my physical appearance because if I did, I probably wouldn’t want my hair looking this ridiculous. I literally felt as thought I could breathe more deeply than I have ever breathed in my entire life (which I think is exactly what I said to Starfish, who came with me). I felt like dancing and think I did in fact dance quite a bit that night. I felt joyful as if my physical appearance had become an expression and a celebration of, well, me. What has struck me the most, though, is how confident I have become in the last two weeks.

There is something that I avoid talking about at all costs. Okay, that’s a lie, but I avoid talking about how it relates to me, and that something is body image. I talk about it nonstop (what else is new?), but I don’t talk about how I feel about my own body. I don’t talk about it because I feel like a hypocrite. I believe in the intrinsic value of all human beings and I hope and pray that all people see their own intrinsic worth, but, when it comes to my body, I practice some major self-hate. Most people in my life are unaware, but I first became disgusted with my own body at age twelve—ten whole years ago. The severity of my disgust comes and goes, but I have not seen my body the way I wish all people saw their bodies for ten years. The times I was seemingly comfortable with my body, I was in dire need of affirmation; the times I was seemingly uncomfortable, I was literally ashamed of this miracle that has carried me around for 22 years. Knowing and admitting these things about myself is most upsetting because I know how hard I have tried not to see myself the way I do, but alas, it is an ongoing battle I fight within myself. I hide it behind my smiles, I hide it by directing the conversation to other people, I hide it with the confidence I do have, but at the end of the day, I can’t lie to myself and there it is, destroying my feelings of self worth.

How the hell did I segue from a mohawk to self-hate? Well, for me, I think my little mohawk is dispelling my self-hate. As embarrassing as this is, for the past two weeks I look forward to getting undressed in front of the mirror for the sheer reason that what I see is pretty dang hot. I think there are two reasons that I have this reaction to something as absurd as a haircut: first, I have nothing to hide behind. Second, when I look in the mirror, it is obvious to me that I am not trying to look like a beauty ideal. I look like myself. My physical appearance has become an expression of the internal and as long as I am working towards fully embracing my authentic self, my internal self, and all its expressions, are beautiful.

Monday, September 27, 2010


Having to decide what I want to do with my life has been a challenge for at least the past six years, if not longer, you know, just looming in my mind like a ticking freaking time bomb. People ask you when you’re little what you want to be when you grow up, and it’s cute, right? But when you ask someone inching towards graduation, it’s not even close to cute. It’s cruel. I mean, really, how am I supposed to just fit neatly into a box like that? How am I supposed to decide that one passion is greater than another? Or that certain people are worth that much of my time, energy, strength and devotion while others are not? My heart is tender and I easily give it to people, but I can’t fight every fight, so what to do?

In the early months of 2009 I decided that, logically, the right answer was law school. It would give me access to public policy, and so I figured, hey, if you want justice then get your butt in there and fight for it. I still think that, logically, this sounds great! But that’s the problem, isn’t it? I am not a merely logical being. Law school never felt right, but I had no other brilliant ideas, so I just went with it for a while.

In November 2009, just before taking the LSATs and sending off all my neatly packaged applications, I went on a trip to Fort Benning, Georgia to the Ignatian Family Teach-In and School of the Americas Vigil. During a part of the weekend, there were a variety of breakout sessions for us to choose from, and so I went to “Social Justice in the Theater” because, well, it sounded interesting! During the presentation, it became crystal clear to me that art can open eyes, change perspectives, raise awareness, and educate people about just about anything under the sun. I totally had a light bulb moment—you mean I can pursue my love for English Literature and still fight for justice?! And then I thought about it: what makes me passionate about particular causes? Stories. Stories I read, stories I hear, stories I have lived through, stories I tell—stories. Narratives. Lives. Art is human expression. And human beings have the power to affect one another. Human narratives can change lives. Now, this, this made sense to my head and my heart.

Shit, now what? I was six months from graduation and was having serious doubts about my perfect little life plan. The obvious answer was to go ask the opinions of my three favorite teachers, and here are the two things they said that gave me the direction I needed:

1) “I think about my job as what I get to do not what I have to do”

2) “At the end of every day, I feel like I gave all the love I have to give… and I wouldn’t have it any other way”

I needed to find what could make me feel this way. I asked myself what would do this for me for the remainder of the school year until I realized:

At the end of a good book, I dream of a different world—one in which every human story, every human expression, every human narrative, every human LIFE is valued equally. I don’t think that everyone who reads these books dreams my dreams, but I do think that art allows room for dreaming. If we really immerse ourselves, with our own narratives in the forefront of our minds and hearts, into another human’s expression, something new is born within us. The idea of creating a space for people to dream, not my, but their own dreams—I could never ask for more.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

My Courage, My Pride, My Self

When I started my first year of college, I was completely alone. The first thing I was told to do was to go to the school’s counseling center, and what did they do? They shipped me off to someone off campus; I was too “high-risk.” I was still suffering from depression and still cutting myself on a weekly basis. I felt like I had nothing going for me, so I would stay in my room, sleep all the time, and find random people to drink with just so I could feel like I had friends. I was not having fun. I would run to the bathroom and sit in there for hours on the floor or the toilet with a knife in my hand and gauze pads and tape, cutting at myself until it hurt, until I cried, until I felt that pain more than feeling unloved and alone.

Then at the end of my first semester, I met a girl that would I would eventually stay close friends with. She would become the person I first opened up to in college, my first real friend. She helped me in many ways, from just listening, to just being a friend, to giving me good words of advice. I thought she was a godsend, especially after she called helping people “her purpose.”


It’s like you awake from a dream
And everything’s in its place.

No empty sky,
No burning lye,
No bleeding thigh.

The magic in the air gives such a succulent moment of euphoria,
It’s almost as if you don’t exist,
But you awaken anew
To find the girl in blue
Tying her shoe
Making her debut.

The ball bounces a few times on the walls
And suddenly it hits you,
The answer to the question of how you will ever make it,
How you will ever survive in this newly built dungeon of hell
After the howling farewell
Where you lie as a blank shell.

Blue…Blue…Blue…it repeats in your head,
And you experience a sudden lack of dread.

You feel good,
Like you never knew you could.

Hair up, knee socks, and a face as cute as a button.
Not trying to make a pass, you insist,
And the chuckle around the room persists.

It was the answer from up above,
Another angel of God’s to love,
And she fit in your life like a hand in a glove.

Previously alone,
You find a home in the most unexpected places.

Now that I look back, now that I’ve had time to reflect on my life so far at college, I see that it was not a cosmic occurrence that helped me through my first semester at college. Most people would see my finding of a great friend as lucky. That could never happen to me. I’m not that type, I never make friends, people don’t like me…well…I used to think those exact thoughts. Then my therapist at the time told me some great advice; you have to go out and find and talk to people to make friends. Because if you don’t go out there and put yourself on the line and be your genuine self, you will never find a true friend. And so I did just that. This girl came into a room I was drinking in, because I felt alone and drinking was a way to cope. At that moment, the words of my therapist came into my head. I started thinking, she is nice, she is talking to me, I’m going to take that leap and talk back. I’m going to be me, be my funny self, not hide behind anything. I’m going to ask her to hang out. And so we met up again, hung out together, and started to become very close. And it wasn’t just luck, it wasn’t divine intervention, it was me. I built up the courage, broke out of my shell of isolation, and I made the step to make a friend. It was one of the best things I have ever done, and most likely helped me get through my first year at school. And when I think of that night, I become so proud of what I did and how I helped myself make a friend. And I am glad I’m proud. I love it.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

True, Fine Love

True, Fine Love

Do you ever feel like a huge LOSER?

No, it’s just me.

OK, well I’ll share my thoughts.

I recently volunteered for a psychological interview. I was going strong until we got to the relationship portion of our shindig. At which point I realized I have never had one. The letters FML immediately popped into my head. I was sitting there in a small, scolding hot, white, four walled room, a nice looking gentleman staring straight at me, and I found myself verbally stating that I have never had a boyfriend (something I don’t like to mentally state). We’ll just say that this psychological interview put a damper on my day, making me even more unstable.

But after conferring with a friend, and by conferring I mean shouting very loudly into my phone, I realized this whole not having a boyfriend thing might be for the better. And here’s why: I have never defined myself based on the person I was in a relationship with. I’ve always been myself. I’ve never had to worry about not making the right choices for myself, because they wouldn’t be the right choices for my partner. Basically…I’m free.

Sometimes we need time to find out who we are. This period in our lives is jeopardized by what society tells us. What I have learned from society is that I need a boyfriend – immediately. And that isn’t the case. I’m fine on my own. I have dynamite friends, who I know love me for the person I have become on. That person was made without the interference of another person.

I’m not saying that I wouldn’t like to find me a true, fine love. But I don’t think that not having a boyfriend makes me an invalid – it also doesn’t mean I am going to turn into a cat woman. I’d rather be myself than be with someone. If I’m the only one who feels this way, than YAY! for me – but I have a feeling I’m not alone in my views.

At the end of the day be you, not who someone wants you to be.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Two weeks from yesterday, October 6th, will be the two year anniversary of my best friend’s suicide. There were four of us. Three freshman boys and a junior girl; we hung out and did almost everything together. We had four very separate and distinct personalities; you wouldn’t think we’d get along. Our bond was so strong we called ourselves “The Tribe” we even went on a spirit quest together to find our spirit animals, and we called each other by those names. I was Owl, I thought I knew everything, obsessed with politics, history, and was all about my American Indian roots. He was Squirrel, Rasta man, rapper, owned his own turn tables, loved to dance like a maniac, and he would jump into a philosophical discussion at the drop of a hat. The other boy was Rooster, a former jock who discovered his talent for music and love of marijuana during high school. He got his name for always being “a little cocky”. Then there was the girl, Raccoon, champion water polo player and yoga master. So, the next year, when we had the opportunity to move onto our school’s environmental campus we snatched it up as soon as we could. We got a four bedroom farmhouse on the lake and we were sooo stoked. By this point Rooster and Raccoon were dating which was awesome but they were often together which led Squirrel and I to get even closer. We would swim or paddle out to the island and smoke and talk about philosophy and life. Sometimes we would camp out there. We would have family dinners and parties with our neighbors. Every week there was dancing at the barn when the whole community would come out. They were some of the happiest moments of my life.
Raccoon was graduating that year and by the middle of spring term it became clear Rooster and I were not happy and we weren’t going to come back to school the next year. One night, Squirrel, Rooster, stayed up all night talking about our lives and where we were going. It was during this moment; sitting around the kitchen table at 4am, I knew I was sitting with my brothers. They were my family. The music was playing but there was a very long time when we held hands, trying to just appreciate each others presence. We wanted to accept that moment knowing there wouldn’t be many more like it.
The next year the four of us went our separate ways. I went to a farm in New Hampshire. Rooster lived in Maine with Raccoon for the summer then moved to Colorado. After the summer Raccoon went to Costa Rica to teach yoga. Squirrel stayed at school sharing a house in town with a few of our other friends. The last time I spoke to him we were making plans to visit each other.
I got the call a week later. The next few days I spent much of the time on the phone, friends and acquaintances were calling me offering condolences and sharing information. Rooster, Raccoon and I got back in touch and made plans to go to the funeral and we shared a hotel room. We shared our favorite Squirrel stories and took a picture of us to be buried with him along with a dream catcher we made and his favorite guitar pick.
After that, Rooster, Raccoon, and I promised to keep in touch with each other no matter what. This past winter we lived together in Vail, Colorado. Summers we make sure we have time to get together, and we always take time to remember our brother Squirrel. Rooster will say how he swears he saw him dancing crazy at a funk show he went to. Raccoon saw him swimming in the ocean in Costa Rica, and I saw him last week, driving his tiny black car, bobbing his head, blasting his crazy music for everyone to smile and dance to.
-Three Feathers

Thursday, September 23, 2010

You Will Overcome

Over these next few weeks, I would like to talk about how I became who I am today. I wasn’t born like this. I wasn’t born knowing that I wanted to help everyone I saw in pain, and I wasn’t born with the love I now feel for the world. It took me years to finally find myself, and I am still not exactly where I want to be, but I’m okay with this place I find myself in everyday, because I know it to be glorious. And I love myself enough now to feel happiness for the first time in what has seemed like my entire life.

Someone the other week asked me how I could possibly feel this way. How I could possibly love every single living creature. She started comparing me to Gandhi and such. And my friend and fellow blogger, mt, started talking about a similar situation that really opened my eyes into exactly what I am. To repeat some of what she wrote, she said a friend of hers called her such a loving person. And she responded by saying she was in fact not a loving person, she was a person who chose to love. Because when you think about it, everyone has that capability and my friend and I are no different from anyone. Everyone has that light, that beauty, that heart that allows him or her to open his or her eyes to a world of love. And it breaks my heart to see people who don’t think they can ever feel love. I know how they feel. I was there. I was the person every night that went to bed wondering if anyone would care if I didn’t wake up the next morning. I was the person who sat there counting the number of people who would cry at my funeral, and if I thought the number was good enough, maybe I wouldn’t think about ending my life. This is where my story starts. I cannot remember a time where I didn’t feel pain. I was always isolated, was picked on since elementary school, and had my heart broken countless times by people I thought were my “best friends.” So I withdrew, and told myself that no one would miss me. The world would keep fucking spinning, and no one would blink an eye, except for my parents, but they would move on. At least I wouldn’t have to cry every night and wouldn’t have to feel so unloved. I could stop the pain. This is my struggle. One that will stick with me I believe forever. But I am happy now, and that’s what matters. I beat the best of it with the help of some amazing people I met on my journey to becoming me. So here is a little bit of what I used to fight with, what I eventually overcame with love.

“InNeR TuRmOiL”

(I am Dan)

It’s coming—
I can feel it.
I always know when
The psycho’s about to step in
And I’m about to leave.
Buildup in my head…
My head…my head…
My head… … …

(I am Dan’s self-hatred)

Jha%sd!goijah$gkjh&asd uuahhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!

Fuck here goes the routine:

Pulling at my hair
Scratching till I bleed
Picking at my skin
Beating—beating, beating
Till bruises and welts and
Gashes register…they never
Register. I keep smacking
Punching, stabbing, hitting
Banging, banging—banging
Till I get it through my head.
I get it all too well…

(I am Dan’s psychotic self, in Dan’s pathetic little head)

Psycho: LOSER

(I am Dan’s conscience, wherever that may be)

Dan: No. No, no. Why, why, why?!
This isn’t fair
I hate this


Dan: No! Why? I hate my life
Why are they so mean?
Maybe it is me…it’s gotta be me…

Psycho: IT IS YOU

Dan: Not again. I’m a week clean
No one likes me
I can’t take this
I can’t take the pain

(I am Dan's unhealthy obsession: his self-mutilation )





Cut deep.

“Ouch! Fuck. Shit, fuck.”

The heavens open up and
It’s raining into the red sea.
It burns my leg; I like that pain.
It’s on the surface; I control it,
I know it, I see it, I am it.
I like that leg; it’s easy to hide.
I grab tissues,
Gauze, Band-Aids…

Shit I need more

White t-shirt soon to be garbage
Soon to be red
Soon to be drenched
Soon to be dead.
Wound is tied tight.


So I write down everything he said.

(I am Dan’s sick and twisted ways)

Just kill yourself
No one likes you
You’re a piece of shit
Go die

I add some more while I wait:

No one

No! That’s not me
It can’t be me…

The floodgates open again
The dam is broken,
My goal.
I let it all out.

That is me
I’m a Freak
Why am I here?
No one would miss me
No one would miss the Psycho

It seems dry enough.

(Sigh)…Here comes the other routine:

(I am Dan’s autonomic processes)

Gauze for some and tape,
Lots and lots of tape, and…


Neosporin…well look at the Fuck up
Shit twice? Really!? Ugh.

I’ll just get more scars—
Lost count a while ago.

(I am Dan's reflection: his self-disgust )

I’m back from Nam—
Psycho’s left
But never gone,
Battles scars to prove it
But those fake stories are useless.
There is a shortage of clothes so I used tape.
I can’t look in the mirror
I’ve seen it before
But I stare.

That’s disgusting—
I’m disgusting

I think of her…
How she loves me
How she puts up with me.

I don’t get it
Fat, beaten, tampered,
Garbage, psychotic. I look like a
Mutilated piece of meat.
So many scars

I want to hurt the psycho
Behind the looking glass
For doing this to me.
He is somewhere deep inside;
I know him, I see him, I am him, but
I just can’t control him,
So I think of ways to punish him.

(I am Dan’s perverse retribution)

I’ll show him
Showers, rubbing alcohol
Peroxide, make it burn
Make it all burn.
I’ll make him burn!

“Shit my mom”

(I am Dan’s third party)

It’s automatic—
I don’t even think.

Pants—“ugh ouch”—check
Hair—decent enough
Lick the fingers clean
Hide the cleanup crew
Put on shoes
Deep breath

I wish people knew
I can’t tell anyone
They would lock me up
Freak the fuck out
No one can know
I wish they knew
Maybe I’d get help
But not today…
Today I go on smiling


(I am Dan’s fake pathetic excuse for a life)

Ready to take on the world
Till the next time I blow


…I just wish I wasn’t so alone…

-With hope that you can see you are not alone, Starfish

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


In much of my life I depend on language to express myself. I mean, honestly, this really should come as no shock to you seeing as I depend on my words, unaccompanied by my voice, facial expressions and body language to express many of my core beliefs, values, thoughts and emotions right here on your screen. But even in every day life, I depend so much on words. I talk and talk and talk and talk. I stress about what I am going to say to someone and how I am going to say it. I don’t spend such an inordinate amount of time analyzing each and every body movement or the exact muscle movements of my face. So why words?

I noticed this about myself when I spent some time in a home for adults with developmental disabilities. One woman, Christine, could only say about six words—yes, no, doggie, pink, fine, and kitty—if I remember correctly. When we were told about Christine’s disability I was nervous to spend time with her because of the dreaded (and in this case inevitable) “awkward silence.” I mean I am a talker, but no one can fill that much silence. I told my mom about my nervousness and she said that in any human interaction, it is not the details of who said what that matter but the emotional response that one associates with another human being, the feelings one is left with. She told me I should focus on making Christine feel loved and bringing joy to our interactions. Love and joy—hell yeah, I am all about that, so I tried.

The next day, sitting next to Christine at the “arts and crafts” table, I decided to draw her a picture. I finished and handed her my ridiculous drawing of a stick figure with a puppy; she was overjoyed. Christine slapped her hand over her mouth to quiet the gasping noises she was making, smiled so enormously it was uncontrollably contagious, giggled with sheer, unapologetic delight, and, finally, threw her arms out to embrace me. Holy shit. I’ll draw stick figures all day every day if they can elicit a reaction like that one! Now we were friends. I spent the rest of the afternoon drawing Christine’s name in bubble letters in every color I came across and drew bunnies and kitties and doggies, too. I created necklaces out of pink beads and placed them over her head so that we all could admire how beautiful she looked. We shared the most pure love and unadulterated joy I have ever felt. She never told me that she loved me. She never told me that she was happy, that she liked my creations or that she was grateful I was making them, but the expressions of joy present within every hug, every smile and every noise Christine made were too raw for words anyway. They were genuine expressions of human emotion that even babies could recognize. They were Christine and they were beautiful.

Whenever I think about Christine, I rethink my silly daily concerns. Instead of speaking, I hug (tightly). Instead of saying hello, I smile brightly and look someone in the eye. Words are wonderful, brilliant, and necessary, but I think that there lies, within humanity, a different need for the raw expression of love and joy that words can never quite grasp.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I am lucky that I am surrounded by so much love. People affirm me constantly in my life and it feels freaking good. I often wonder though why I am the way that I am and I realize what matters most—I try. I try. Only I get to hear the thoughts that are constantly fluttering about in my head and feel every emotion in the depth of my heart. The world only sees what I choose to share and I choose to love. I used to think about love as an emotion and wonder how it was possible to love the whole world—I mean what if you just really don’t like someone? Then it hit me, in fact I do not wander around falling madly in love with anything that breathes, I just choose to see the good in, the human in, the worthiness of love in everyone I meet. I definitely don’t always do it, but that’s the beauty, I constantly get new chances to make these choices and these choices have come to define me as loving, as warm, as passionate, as me.

There are times that love makes me vulnerable. There are times that love makes me annoying. There are times that love makes me do incredibly silly things, but tomorrow, I will still choose love.

Quite a few times in my life people have said to me: Don’t throw your pearls before swine. But what if I don’t believe in swine? Jewel sings, “we are given to god to put our faith therein, but to be forgiven we must first believe in sin.” I don’t, in fact, believe in the concept of sin or in the concept of swine. I believe in love and I believe in choice. I believe in humanity. I believe in light and darkness and our capabilities to choose love. I do not think anyone is inherently bad or good, we are merely born with choice.

Two or so years ago, I was reading King Lear in an English class and, like so many of Shakespeare’s plays, King Lear includes a fool. My teacher asked us to define the word “fool.” People called out answers such as idiot or a waste of intelligence, which made me feel quite silly since the fool was my favorite character. He responded to the class by saying that Jesus Christ, by some, is considered to be the biggest fool. (Now who felt silly?) He explained—according to Christian tradition—Christ died knowing his death may or may not have been in vain; he in fact died in order to give people the choice to love and to live. He died in full knowledge that people who He loved so deeply would reject him and his love.

Ya know, to be honest, I don’t know if I really buy this, but looking at Jesus as a literary figure and in comparing him to Shakespeare’s fool, what a freaking great way to live! What if we all lived our lives in utter love regardless of the outcome? When I really ask myself who I want to be, how I want to spend my time, how I want to use my strength, my time, my energy, I would gladly be a fool. If choosing love in full knowledge of my own vulnerability, annoyingness, and silliness makes me a fool, so be it. If my choice to love each and every individual I come across touches only one person, I would happily be a fool for that one. And wouldn’t it be worth it?

Monday, September 20, 2010

finding gratitude.

Someone once told me that finding God was finding gratitude. As someone who believes first and foremost in the absolute power of unconditional love and who prays not to any particular god, but to the spirit of love moving through the universe, I seriously doubted this. I didn’t realize how inextricably connected gratitude actually was to a life full of love.

In October of my freshmen year of college, I was sexually assaulted by someone I considered a friend. We both, along with thirty or so others, had started our college experience on a five-day, retreat-like, campus ministry run program and had become fast friends. He would jokingly flirt with me, telling me he would take me to dinner if I did his laundry and such, but I had entered college with a boyfriend of almost two years and made this fact as clear as day. However, my boyfriend and I broke up a few weeks into September, and I was devastated. My self-righteous, high-strung eighteen-year-old self had planned to marry this boy, and, well, this break up was so not part of the perfect plan I had laid out for myself. My new friends could see that I was a little too anxious for my own good and gave me advice to do what most people were doing: get drunk and hook up with someone. I had been drunk once or twice, hooked up once or twice, but this was not exactly my normal method of operation. I was a conservative, hyper-religious perfectionist, but this break up had shattered my perfect, little world and I was willing to give their advice a try.

So on this particular Saturday in October, I went to a daylong drinking event and proceeded to drink myself silly, at which point, I, being the wild child I was… wanted to go home. This is when I ran into a bunch of people from the retreat and was pulled aside by that particular boy. We chatted for a while, I suppose, but then he kissed me, and although I had instructions to hook-up, a friend had just told me she was crushing on him and I couldn’t betray her trust. I told him I didn’t want to kiss him because of her, but he kept telling me he didn’t like her, he liked me and she shouldn’t stop us from becoming involved with one another. He kept kissing me so I said I was going home with my friend, but he said he would join us. He told me I was too drunk and I needed someone to make sure I got home okay; I trusted that this was his intention.

He started pulling me through the crowd and down the street, leaving my friend stuck in the throng of people. I kept pulling back at him, begging him to slow down and wait, kept calling her and telling her where we were and asking her to follow, but he had a firm grip on my wrist and before I knew it we were seated in a cab on the way back to campus. He spent the entire ride home touching my legs, but everything was spinning and I didn’t know what to do except cross them and try to escape from his grasp. Once back in his room, I realized that what was happening wasn’t at all what I wanted and tried to stop mid-hook-up and the words he spoke to me are words that have played in my head a thousand times, words I will never forget, words that never fail to make my insides tighten and my head throb. He said: you can’t stop now. My immediate reaction to these words was to fight and so he tightened his grip on my head and on my wrists and, unable to escape his grip on me, I fell into numbness; I just had to get through this, pretend that it was okay until I could get away and go home. So I did.

I went straight to a friend’s room and told her everything amidst my tears and her shocked interjections. She stayed with me all night, but word got out because you can’t be that much of a disaster (not to mention that drunk) in a freshmen dorm and not expect people to ask questions. I, being the feminist I have always been, answered them with complete honesty. It was what happened as a result that still shocks me now (although perhaps it shouldn’t), almost four years later, as I sit and write this. People didn’t know whether or not to believe me. It was a big deal. It is a big deal. Being forced to do anything against your will is and always will be a big deal.

By the next morning, our freshly made friend groups were splitting down the middle, people were looking at me differently, speaking to me differently, treating me differently. Some of my friends were enraged; others pitied me; others hid an array of thoughts and emotions behind the furtive glances they shot my way. I felt like I wanted to rewind time and start the year over. I felt like I wanted to leave. I felt like I wanted to go somewhere that no one would know anything about me and maybe I could even leave it that way. I wanted everyone to leave me alone, I didn’t want to think about it anymore or talk about it anymore, I wanted to be normal. None of these things were really possible, so I, once again, let numbness set in and knew I just had to get through each passing day, week, month and year, finding refuge in those who didn’t know and who therefore wouldn’t ask questions.

Almost two full years later, I spent the summer, working at a camp in Princeton, New Jersey. I lived with twelve other people for eleven weeks, starting and ending my summer with a retreat. It was at this first retreat that I was told about gratitude. It was also here that I found out each of the thirteen of us was required to “tell our stories” to the entire group. We needed to do this, so we were told, for two reasons; the first was that bits of our stories would be used as witness talks during camp and the second was that we needed to get to know each other and understand each other more fully. I had absolutely no desire to tell any stories because at twenty-years-old, I had undergone some intense pain and I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t want anyone to know, I wanted them to know me as I was right then, not as a product of my past. In reality, I wanted to exist separately from my past, I didn’t want it to define me because I didn’t want it to be true. I freaked out and said I was afraid people would judge me, cried, refused to write “my story” down and found all sorts of ways to act like a child, but I still had to talk.

I started with stories of my brother’s abuse, continued with disordered eating and molestation by a friend, and when ending with the sexual assault, I started laughing. I just realized how ridiculous it all sounded. How could all this shit really happen to one person within the span of twenty years? I was so fucking angry that all of this had been dumped on my perfectly planned out, cheerful, little life that I refused to believe it. It was so ridiculous it was funny, a disgusting kind of funny that only comes from utter denial and detachment—from numbness. After I finished my story, someone asked me if I had ever gone to counseling to deal with the abuses; I said no. I had been to counseling when some boy I was dating started cutting himself and threatening to commit suicide because I couldn’t handle the pressure of being with someone who I was afraid, if I wasn’t perfect all the time, if I didn’t cheer him up every time he dealt with a episode of depression, that he would kill himself and that it would be completely my fault. Never had I gone because of my own pain because in my mind, I didn’t have any. The things that had happened to me were completely separate from me and all that I was. I was me, I was happy and I loved everyone. I definitely did not feel sadness.

My goal for this particular summer was to pick a cause that would be my own; I felt so overwhelmed by all the pain and injustice in the world and I knew I needed to pick something to focus on so that I wouldn’t fall into inaction due to my being overwhelmed. I was tossing around a few ideas when it hit me in the middle of the first week of camp. On Wednesday evening, a presentation was given to the high school students about social justice issues. It was quite a mentally and emotionally exhausting night because to be hit with the facts, with the staggering statistics and with the pictures of innocent yet pained faces is just too much to handle. It was my first time seeing the presentation, so I was basically holding back tears the entire time. Close to the end of the presentation, the man giving it, showed some information about organizations working to relieve in unjust situations to try to end on a more positive note. In this segment, he showed a video called “The Girl Effect.” (Go watch it.) It displayed statistics about girls living in poverty, but then followed the possible “effect” of taking just one girl out of poverty, of giving her education, of giving her a chance for a better life. It showed how much she could help her community; it showed that helping one girl could realistically help the world. It showed how much one person really can do, and it showed how much women matter. The tears finally broke through. I sat on the floor crying my eyes out, and I knew that I had found my cause, women.

I proceeded within the following weeks, knowing what I wanted to devote the rest of my life to, to find and purchase some books about the abuses women face from birth to death (as untimely as that death may be), and I learned how often sexual abuse occurs, in how many forms it occurs, how often it is blamed on the women, how often those women are then punished, the forms of punishments they received, and the cultural mind-sets that inspired gendered abuse. I felt like I was on fire. I mean, really, what the fuck? I was so mad, but I was also so motivated. I wanted to change the way human beings saw each other. I wanted to change the world. I wanted women to not only break free from the restrictions of poverty but from the restrictions of societies everywhere and from the restrictions of sexual politics. I found my passion, my calling, my reason for every breath I take. I found myself and I loved everything that I found.

One morning following my realization, I was taking a run down by the grotto at the seminary I was living at, my mind whirring with everything I was learning and all that I wanted to do with this newfound knowledge, when I had a thought. As sick as this sounds, my realization made me feel that I was (almost) glad I had been assaulted. I was grateful. I had found a way to twist the darkness of my life into utter light and in doing so I had learned to absolutely love and adore myself. In finding gratitude, I was able to see the light of that spirit of love I pray to inside of myself. I had found peace with all that had happened to me by means of utter gratitude.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

My Bliss

I figured I ought to reveal a bit more about myself in the interest of showing a bit more of where I am writing from. I love many things but two major ones are farming and the Greek Pantheon. Two subjects with seemingly no connection, but over the past few years I have reached a stronger kinship with both. This story happened during a very low point in my life, I had just dropped out of college and felt completely out of control and useless. It was during this time I discovered what I want to do with my life.

I want to be a farmer. I love digging my hands into rich, healthy soil. This is something I would never have thought remotely desirable shortly before I found myself doing it. After I left school I had no idea what I was going to do with my life or more importantly what I wanted to do with it. I was offered a position on a farm and I took it thinking it was a good in-between job because I had landscaped for years and worked briefly on a farm during high school; so I figured it was something I could deal with while I sorted things out. It was here I fell in love with the earth in the most amazing way. I always considered myself an environmentalist but it wasn’t until this time I felt the closest to the classical understanding of Gaia, the ancient Greek word and divine being of earth. I hadn’t realized what beauty there was in the cycle of plants and animals. I guess I always knew it intellectually but I hadn’t actually felt it until then. My boss and mentor’s philosophy was that we were stewards of the land. He showed me the patterns and the natural cycles taking place and when we let them take place we would benefit most. This meant considering and taking care of everything; including the soil and surrounding forest, as well as our plants and animals.

I’m afraid I might have lost you, so I’ll paraphrase Michael Pollan, from his book The Botany of Desire, in which he talks about how one spring he was in his garden planting potatoes, watching the bees take advantage of the blossoming apple trees. It was then he realizes that he is just like those bees. The bees don’t know or care that they are pollinating the trees and flowers, they assume they are getting the best deal; after all they are in it for the nectar. Just as the bees are in this larger system so are we. It is naive for us to assume we are ever in control of the earth, we are merely contributors to this larger system we may never fully see or understand. When we grow food for ourselves in the most beneficial way, we are promoting the rest of this system. So, It is in our own interest to be stewards, we need to stop removing ourselves from our picture of earth and realize we are children of Gaia.

One July night a few other farm hands and I returned from a bonfire party and decided to spend the rest of the night in one of our fields. Staring at the sky, being held up by the ground I had a major encounter with the infinite. The only way I can describe it is as a “holy shit” moment. When you are so overcome you can only put forth those very limited and unflattering words, even in your head. Laying on the ground with fellow “land stewards”, surrounded by living things we helped raise, it was hard not to feel the miracle we were participating in. I had found my bliss.

-Three Feathers

Saturday, September 18, 2010

My Word "Voiceness"

a voice of one’s own. What does that mean to me? To me it is a statement of truth. We all have a voice of our own, and that voice is one of the most beautiful things we have. It is your way of saying your thoughts, voicing your opinions, telling people what you truly believe in, and it is a way of standing up for yourself, for a cause, against injustice. But most of all it is a way of sharing, and helping, because spoken words are powerful and when heard, they can light up people’s hearts so greatly that they feel love. Voice is a way to spread love. And when I hear that word voiceless, I start to cry, because when I envision someone who is not able to share their feelings and who has their voice taken away because of injustice, stigma, violence, and hate, I find myself not being able to sleep. Everyone has a voice, and I hope that people can find the heart to break the silence about issues like sexual assault, depression, homelessness, mental illness, and countless other things that matter. Because if one person speaks, it opens a bridge to allow others to see that it is ok to use their voice they may never have known they had. And people will see voiceless as the false word it is.

A couple weeks ago, a very dear friend of mine was talking about what she would do if fear didn’t exist. I realized that I had many things I would do if fear didn’t exist. I would help more people, love and live more fully, and I would speak out about my own struggles to allow others to see they have a beautiful voice that can touch others’ lives. If I had no fear, I would say how I feel. I would tell strangers I meet they have a voice, and that I love them for it, for being a human being. I would announce, “I love the world.”

“I am a beautiful singer, aren’t we all.”
-Bob Hicok


If I had it in me, I would do—
Organize my life and my work
Into something of vivid color
For the world to witness and to
Explore and love and do with

If I had it in me, I would write—
Put the words on the page
That mean so much to so many.
For them to read so that it may
Open their hearts and minds and
Mouths to be alone in this world
No more, and obtain this contagiousness
I call creativeness and voiceness to
Explore and love and write with

If I had it in me I would walk,
For you and me and the world
I would walk.
And not be afraid of coming up
Short, or the look in your eyes.
For then we could
Explore and love and walk

If I had it in me I would speak,
To spread the domino effect of
Voices with thoughts people need to
Hear. To take god’s mighty eraser to
That frightful word voiceless and
Create a new vibrant speech that I give to all
so we may, in time,
Explore and love and speak

And if I had it in me I would live and I would love.
Thoroughly, wholly, brilliantly. So that
You will no longer see the man afraid of
Doing what his heart says, and
Writing down his heart’s thoughts, and
Walking with all his heart, and
Speaking straight from his heart,
But a man who can live and love and
Explore with the entire world.


Friday, September 17, 2010


So, in it being the Jewish High Holy Days, I would like to take the time to profess my love for Judaism. Now I will tell you right of the bat (mitzvah, get it?) that I am not Jewish – I just wish I were. We’ll just say a conversion may be in my near future. There is only one thing holding me back…and he goes by the name of JC.

Ever since I was a little girl I have admired the Jewish faith. I generally try to hide this fact because when it comes out, my mouth tends to run and I sound craaaaaaazy. I get uber excited. This reaction generally only occurs in the presence of people who are actually Jewish.

Judaism is a beautiful religion, culture, whatever you want to call it. I LOVE it. It’s great to feel like you are a part of something, to share the same traditions. I feel like I don’t have that in my life. I can’t speak a cool language (thank you Latin class), I eat boring food (no challah and honey for me), I can’t go on a birthright. Luckily I have made friends – who happen to be Jewish – who invite me into their homes to eat matzo ball soup and spin the dreidel. They have deepened my understanding and love of Judaism and to them I will be forever grateful.

I suppose you could say I have a tendency to love all of the world’s religions – Quakerism, Hinduism, Islam – whatever it is I will probably find it fascinating. I enjoy learning about different beliefs and practices because I have found that doing so strengthens my own beliefs. I remember being at my Aunt’s house (who is a pretty straight laced person), when my family began to joke about my love of Judaism and my need to convert. I thought my Aunt would be offended, considering she was at my Baptism, but she said to me “It doesn’t matter what you believe in, as long as you believe.”

So just believe.

-Ponyboy Curtis