“It’s something overwhelming and all-encompassing that fills you up, and you’re either going to explode with it, or you’re just going to disappear.”
This is what Florence Welch, of Florence and the Machine, had to say about her music.
That’s sort of what I’ve been going after with my work.
I want my words to electrify people. I’m not interested in persuading you. I don’t want to see a bunch of people who think like me, act like me, dress like me, ball the world up in their palms the way I do just to make the same exact sculptures as me.
No, I want to see you walk away from this feeling just a little more curious about your own mystery. More fully yourselves. Buzzing with a wild awareness of how you can wake up in a way that makes the most sense to you.
I hope that this 31 Days felt something like a good cup of coffee with a friend who kinda has a potty mouth but can listen as easily as she can talk- who is unaffected, sincerely compassionate, and unashamed of life’s imperfections.
Thank you all so much for following this series- for taking a seat on the couch next to me, kicking your feet up, and exploring what it means to free ourselves from the armor we don’t even need…the armor that never even protected us in the first place.
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He hunts. I read blogs about homesteading and knitting and cooking from scratch (even though I don’t actually do any of those things). And you should hear the way our kid pronounces “bath”.
I’d say we’ve earned an honorary country badge or two.
But we are, and will always be, city people.
We’ve lived in small towns and big towns, in a cozy house on several acres of land, and once just a short drive and a backflip away from the prettiest beaches.
We loved those places for all they were and all they represented to us. But nothing feels more like home than living in the city. This city, to be exact.
I don’t know what it is. We don’t frequent art museums or go to wine dives all the time. We’re not in the music scene, and neither of us belongs to a gang. We’ll probably spend most of our weekends in our own backyard with friends and family, undercooking chicken and making trips to Taco Shop instead.
No, this isn’t a high rise flat in New York City. I’m not the single, vegan, sophisticated author I had imagined I would one day be. I’m not even the gardening, chicken raising, homeschooling mother I later imagined I might one day be. I’m just Dani. And he’s Colton. And those are our wild babies.
There are shampoo bottles on the kitchen floor and there’s an empty sippy cup in the toilet. The oldest got sick on her bed last night and the youngest peed in ours. Our impractical family vehicle is parked out front and I’m not sure how long the laundry has been sitting in the washer. But this is our life.
And we’re in love here.
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She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.
(New Living Translation)
Without Armor is many things for me, but mostly it’s about not taking myself too seriously.
When I do that, I compare myself to people I don’t even want to be like.
I forget how to be joyful.
I become small, bitter, and scared.
I project that low energy onto the people I love and then I resent their bad moods because I can’t even deal with my own.
It’s no good for me.
The quickest way to drain the color from my cheeks, it is my lowest calling.
So I’m walking away from the faithless church that is perfectionism.
The one that makes no room for mystery…that gives me excuses to be fearful of my own.
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I went into social work and I write for one true reason: because people and their stories matter.
I don’t believe in good stories, only real ones. When they’re authentic and palpable. When they’re made of hope or love or sorrow or that subtle emptiness that can never quite be touched but is so, so human. That’s a story without armor.
They don’t have to be full of people who are brave or good or interesting. They don’t even have to make complete sense. Because life doesn’t and we’re selling ourselves short when we try to box it up that way.
This challenge began as a healthy distraction from the chaos of our big move from Louisiana to Kansas. We are 3 posts away from Day 31, and this has become so much more than just a creative outlet for me.
This is now my battle cry.
To live fully, brightly, lovingly, without all that extra crap that has to make my life seem insignificant in order to protect me. Because if it’s whatever for me then it’s whatever for the next girl and probably my own daughters and the women I look up to, and also that boy who feels lost and that man who can only stand to be in the world when he’s high. And everyone else.
Do you see?
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One of the silliest and also most significant reasons I didn’t want to move back home is because there are some people here I just don’t want to run into. I don’t want to be caught at the grocery store at 9am wearing sweats, no makeup, and two kids hanging on my legs- in other words, Without Armor– by these people. I want to go on pretending they don’t exist and I am unaffected by how they made me feel, or worse, how I made them feel.
Since I can’t avoid awkward social encounters I thought of how I could approach that uneasiness with an open heart.
In doing so, I came across this quote:
“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.” –Brené Brown,
I still believe compassion comes first, but, let’s face it…not everyone reflects that light back to us. Some people are not going to forgive you despite your sincerity, and others will expect your forgiveness to be hand-delivered to them in a shiny package with cascading ribbon on top just because they’re ready for it.
In that case, I also came across this quote:
“Don’t try to win over the haters; you are not a jackass whisperer.”
― Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
I think I’ve been one of those for too long, and it hasn’t been serving me well. Time to put down the kool-aid, and move onto something a little more life giving.
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I wrote this for my oldest daughter on November 29, 2010. The photo below was taken around that time.
She is the most unguarded person I know; courage guru extraordinaire and master of all things done brilliantly
Sound spirals through the room.
A glitter tornado,
Making yesterday’s laundry a distant memory
Body strong; face serene.
Twirling confidently along the angriest of seas
It is a song of hope
And I am certain the world can feel this love you possess
Blessed with my energy
And your father’s sweetness
Wise as though you’ve seen the future and it amused you.
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We walked into a freshly painted empty space this morning.
Piece by piece we turned it into a home.
A home for milk mustaches and tears to wipe and scratched furniture and tiny feet on the hardwood floor before the sun or mama and daddy are even ready to be up.
A home for fierce love and the general incivility that Jane Austen says is, after all, the very essence of love.
A home for belonging in a way that you’ll never understand.
Because the art of belonging is an imperfect one.
And so are the artists.
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