hope blooms

Hope. That (damn) thing with feathers. I see it in the trees coming back to life after a long winter. I see it in the clear blue sky after unending days of grey. I see it in springtime more than anytime. Hope.

The man wasn’t even speaking directly to me, but the words I heard him say bounced around the walls of my heart as though they were meant for me alone. “May your dreams be greater than your memories.” Even now, I can feel my chest constricting and my breath shallowing all over again. Because I’ve lived the last decade of my life with the very real sense that my greatest days are behind me.

I had dreams in my former life. All kinds of them. And when I lost everything, I lost not just my dreams but also, seemingly, my ability to have them. Even while I’ve embraced this new life of mine back on American soil, dreaming—hoping—remains elusive.

My realism and pragmatism seem to war against the notion of hope. I *want* dreams that outweigh my memories. I’m just not sure how to get there...

So I look and I listen and I feel. I pay more attention to the flowers at my feet, the budding trees above my head, the whimsical chatter of the birds, the blue skies and popcorn clouds, the wind rustling through my hair...

I watch springtime as it blooms hope all around me, and maybe—just maybe—also in my heart.


twenty years


Twenty years ago today, I moved to South Africa with a couple of overweight suitcases, $200 in my pocket, and a heart-cocktail of naïvety, faith, passion, and foolishness. I was only 19.

Thirteen years later, I moved back Stateside with even heavier baggage (both literal and proverbial), more debt than cash, and a heart-cocktail that had been diluted by life and loss and longing.

Even with all the complicated layers and conflicting emotions, Africa will always be my first love. I met her when I was just 15, and, in that way that only she can do, she swept me off my feet and stole my heart. She was my high school sweetheart, and she holds both the bests and the worsts of my life in the years we spent together.

Twenty years. How is that even possible? Two decades seem to have slipped through my fingers like the Kalahari sand...

My present life looks so different than the one I lived on African soil. It confounds me, really. Many who know me now didn’t know me then, which only widens the chasm I often feel exists between my former and current lives. And yet, I know, it’s all one. One life. One incongruently interconnected and magnificent life. It confounds me, really.

No matter how long I’ve lived Stateside, this day still feels beautifully and painfully significant to me. And so I stop to honor it. To embrace it. To celebrate and grieve it.

Happy Africaversary, love. Twenty years is worth dancing and crying over. So let’s do a little of both, shall we?

winter solstice

It’s December 21st. The winter solstice. The longest night of the year. You know what that means? Come tomorrow, the darkest days are behind us.

The darkest days are behind us.... for now. See, the realist in me is compelled to qualify that statement. For now. Because, as we all know, eventually the darkest days are ahead of us again.

Even still... This day, this night, this winter solstice — it echoes my word for 2018... It’s a word I have fought hard against for years. It’s a dangerous word — one I’d prefer to hide from than chase after. A word that stands in defiant opposition to my realism. A word I have long hated...


Just thinking about it makes me cringe and scrunch up my face and feel sick to my stomach. Hope chooses to embrace the “darkest days are behind us” moment even while knowing it won’t last forever. Hope raises its glass on the longest night of the year and smiles for the longer days on the horizon. Hope sees my “for now” and raises it with a “and that’s enough”.

And so, with tears in my eyes, a lump in my throat, and butterflies in my chest, I raise my glass. To brighter days, to shorter shadows, to present-moment joys, and to frighteningly beautiful hope... Salute!


on being

“It’s really hard to just BE.” As I said those words, I knew full well what a sad state of affairs they represented. But they’re true nonetheless. Before today, I have never spent a full hour doing absolutely nothing. And it felt unbelievably challenging. Just BEING is really hard.

I tried sensory deprivation float therapy today, and — I’m not gonna lie — it was a little trippy. No light. No sound. No gravity. (Well, the sensation of no gravity...) It was surreal.

Black as a starless sky, hearing nothing but my own breathing, for 60 whole minutes... As a chronic pain endurer, the weightlessness was magical. There are no words for how incredible my body felt, suspended effortlessly, on a high pain day like today.


But while my muscles and bones relaxed deeper into the water, my mind’s hamster wheel spun faster and louder. Left alone with my thoughts — literally JUST my thoughts — they raced all over the place. Quieting my mind to just BE for an hour was an impossible challenge for me. I hear that part gets easier with practice, but man oh man, it was tough.

I’m reminded how much of my life and even my identity is wrapped up in doing rather than being. I think back on some of my #OneWord365 words and see the threaded emphasis on learning to BE: Look... Enough... Wholehearted... Unapologetic.

THIS is my journey of being...

whether we want to or not

"I don't think you were made for an easy life."

Her words knocked the wind out of me. Tears rushed to my eyes and a lump lodged itself in my throat. Because I knew she was right.

I'd told her that I wished one thing in my life — just ONE thing — would be easy. I'd told her that I'm tired of everything being such a difficult fight.

"I don't think you were made for an easy life," she said, gently corroborating what my history has made quite plain.

Even now, days after our conversation, tears still flood my eyes as I sit in the harsh tension of this reality. And all I can do is remind myself:

I can do hard things. 

I turn those words over and over and over again, like a jawbreaker too big for my mouth. They are bittersweet. Uncomfortable. Choking. And true. 

So when the best I can do is set that phrase on repeat in my mind, while slowly putting one foot in front of the other, that just has to be enough.

Add in some whispered thanks for the trusted and compassionate people in my life who show up, sit in the mess with me, and give me strength to move my feet when I'm unable to on my own… Well, I’d say that’s more than enough. 

It has to be.

We can do hard things, friends. Whether we want to or not. 

We can do hard things.