Category Archives: imagine this world

If We Were Brave Souls

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Sunday nights will be the first to go. Then Monday mornings and Tuesday afternoons. That split second when you wake up before your alarm goes off leaving you no time at all to savor sleep. The space between making the Metro train and being way too early for the next one. Whipped cream that spills over the lip of your hot chocolate mug. The shush of the bus breaking in front of your stop. The icy shock of Memorial Day pool water. The moment after you find out someone you love died.

These are the things we’ll ditch on the side of the road someday, if ever we have the chance to pack our bags and leave behind all the anxiety and upset and uncomfortableness. All the fear and fatigue and failure.

We’ll ditch unopened emails with rejection letters. And we won’t have to sit next to our phones wondering if our smile was bright and our eyes were shining and we’ll get a second date, or a first kiss. We’ll stop pressing the lock button over and over, waiting for the response.

Whatever happens, happens.

We’ll kiss goodbye the goodbye kiss, the porch dawdling, the door closing.

A random act of kindness will fill us for days. A door held. Change in our parking meters. Extra fries in our fast food bags. A thank-you note in the mail.

Letters will begin with, “Before I say anything else, I’m glad you’re in my life.” And whatever else follows cannot be so bad. Whatever else follows cannot be such a letdown.

If we were brave souls, things would be different. We’d tell our loved ones that we really freaking love them, that the world gets loud and they keep the chaos from engulfing us whole. We’d tell them that daily. We’d whisper it and yell it and twirl around in the pasta aisle at Wegmans and say, “Yes, let’s make spaghetti and meatballs. Let’s make garlic bread with fresh garlic. Let’s grate our own cheese. Let’s stop worrying about the pounds on the scale and the weight on our hips and just be. Just freaking be.”

If we were brave souls, we’d stop having conversations in our heads and start having them out loud. We’d stop dreading Sunday nights because Monday mornings would start beautiful, glorious, fulfilling workweeks.

We’d change lives. We’d bake lasagna and deliver it to the homeless shelter downtown. We’d give a dollar to every man on the street.

We’d stop dreaming of better days and just live them. Not the kind of days the Hiltons or the Kardashians had, but the kind we find when our arms are tired and our feet ache and our hearts are full because we gave everything, every single thing, to that day and the people in it.

I want to be exhausted. I want life to wear me out. I want every inch of every day to feel like a gift, to wrap it up for someone else and hand them what they need.

When that happens, we won’t need to ditch anything. Every single moment will feel like stretching toward the horizon, arms to the sky, feet firm in the soil.

We’ll learn and learn and learn. We’ll grow and grow and grow. I want that for you.

More.

I want you to have more. More time, more hope, more love. More moments in your life that feel like gifts, hard as they may be. I want you to learn from each one, to hold your breath and count to ten when you’re angry. Give yourself time to realize this moment? It’s making you better.

Burned Out Stars & The Hardest Parts Of Growing Up

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I’ve been spending time with hollowed out souls lately. Each of them is falling apart in different ways, twisting happiness into a pretty bow that sits in shop windows on the streets of Manhattan, as if it is a thing to be ogled but never touched.

What a terrible lie. What a sad way to go traipsing through today, sure that tomorrow isn’t getting no better. Tomorrow isn’t shining no brighter. Tomorrow isn’t singing no sweeter.

They deserve a fire in their stomach, firmness in their step, a flush in their skin, a flicker in their smile.

They deserve to feel alive.

They deserve a ‘just because’ postcard from a forever friend. Footsteps before the knock on the door. Kisses on the forehead. Thinking-of-you text messages and thought-you-might-enjoy-this emails.

They deserve warm tea and diner booth conversations and hopeful mornings after train wreck nights. The payoff of an old, patient family recipe. Melty chocolate chip cookies. Days without alarm clocks and breakfast after noon.

I want so much for them.

I’ll tell anyone who asks and even the ones who don’t: I want so much for them. But nobody gave me a guidebook for how to tread lightly on the subject of self-worth, when your hands are empty and your bank account is dwindling and your days are looking like a remake of Groundhog Day because nothing ever changes. Those are the hardest parts of growing up.

I want them to see hope in new places and faces. I want them to brush the tears from their eyelids and promise they’ll never let adulthood weigh them down.

They are stars in my life, so bright for so long, burned out before I had a chance to realize. It took me too long to realize.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry. It took me too long to realize.

And so I can only hope they find happiness in moments instead of years, in hours and minutes instead of months, in the kindness of strangers who hold doors and wave you to make that left turn when you can’t quite see whether it’s safe. The crossed-off to-do list. The clean house. The freshly laundered sheets. The shoveled sidewalk.

It’s hard to fall in love with the way this world takes and takes. Harder still to find happy in the chaos. This life can feel like whack-a-mole, but I hope their moments are bright and their eyes are wide and their hands are ready to catch some magic in the mundane.

I want to tuck a story of hope inside their frayed shirt pockets. Let them feel it beating against their heart.

The Answers To Your Biggest Questions

Most days, this blog gets the saddest search term referrals Google’s ever seen. These are the answers to the questions you’ve been asking of me.

 

Things I Learned In College

Four years is a millisecond in your life. Spend them doing everything you can to make yourself happy + fulfilled so that when it’s over, you don’t glorify it as the best time you had but the beginning of something even more real, true, and messy.

 

How To Write A Letter To Someone With Cancer

how-to-write-a-letter-to-someone-with-cancerStart every sentence with “I love you.” Finish by telling them why. And in the middle, remind them of their strength. Even if they’re gone. Especially if they’re gone. Make yourself weep 15 years after the funeral with the honesty of words you know were true then and still true now. Cancer is the thing that wrecks us. Don’t let it wreck you preemptively.

 

What Happens If You Key A Car

The sister of the car’s owner has a blog. She Taylor Swifts you with a letter.

 

Fingers Keep Shaking

It is just nerves, my darling. It’s just the symptoms of being too alive in a numb little world. Find a back road + a reliable tune to drum against your steering wheel cover. You’ll be OK.

 

Writing A Stellar Cover Letter

Tailor it to the job. Be honest. Share a piece of yourself.

 

Pep Talk For A Daughter’s Breaking Heart

Come see me. I have too many words for you.

 

What Are The Most Important Lessons You Learned In Your Career? Answer

It. Changes. (The career and the answer.)

 

How Do You Know When You Are Ready For Something

readyforsomethingYou don’t. Oh, child. You never will be until it hits you in the face.

 

I Don’t Know What’s Going To Happen In My Life

Same here, kid. Same here.

 

How To Feel Better When You’re Not Pretty

notpretty-beautifulRemember that you’re beautiful. And that all the passion in the world is more beautiful than lined red lips and trim waistlines and perfectly curled ringlets rolling between your shoulders.

 

Important Lessons You Learn While Growing Up

lifelessons-growingupIt gets hard. You fall down. People die way too young. People die by accident. People die on purpose. People walk out of your life in the middle of drunken house parties and never come back. Sometimes, you’ve got to break your own heart. You are worth more than a 3 a.m. lonely hookup. Your fingers deserve to be held by someone who’s there when it gets hard to stay put. The last thing you want is a mother, but it’s the first thing you need.

 

Loving Yourself Is A Burden

Please hold. Have you met Eryn Erickson, yet? Didn’t think so.

 

Once In Awhile Blow Your Own Damn Mind Meaning

You’ve got to do things that frighten and push you. You’ve got to run forward with a little reckless abandon and kiss the scars when things do go wrong if ever you want to see the shine.

 

What To Do When You’re Not Pretty

Watch this video. Cry ugly tears. Look in the mirror and smile.

 

Love Isn’t Easy Why

Because none of us are alike, and when we fall in love, it’s at a split second in our lives where we are the most in sync with an otherwise totally dissimilar human being. And we wake up in love but afraid because we see the cracks and crevices where we don’t align and have to find our way back to that moment. We have to want to find our way back to that moment. Not everyone does.

 

Reasons To Apologize

You were wrong.

 

I Like To Tell Myself Stories In My Head

Good. Write them down. And then, find someone to publish it.

And if you are among the hundreds and thousands of people who find yourself searching for quotes about body image or love letters to young girls, I hope you’ll pull up a chair and stay awhile. Because I have so many words for you, lurking in the space between each and every post. Those are topics I have learned to hold in my heart. They make me sing.

Breaking Grandma’s Rules

My grandmother has two rules about get togethers: no religion and no politics.

You know, of course, that it takes but five minutes after the plates are cleared and our hands are drumming on the dirty tablecloth for something big to shatter our awkward tiptoeing talks, bringing an axe down on those topics.

Growing up the oldest child, a healthy mix of introversion and curiosity pinned me to the side of the table where these taboo topics made their debut.

The kids’ table was for mashed potato castles with gravy moats. The adults, though, paid no mind to my grandmother’s wishes.

For twenty-two Christmases and Easters, I sat obediently with the adults, half-listening to the rants about presidential elections and foreign affairs, new popes and old Catholic traditions.

This year, on Easter, two months shy of the Supreme Court rulings on DOMA and Prop 8, the conversation meandered down a path that, for so many years, had all but gone unmarked.

Gay marriage.

By then, I had seen the very real ache of a woman in love, raising three boys with her partner but unable to have the same benefits of a marriage between a man and a woman.

Their lives were fresh in my mind. And they were living much the same way my family was: happy, together, with love and care.

So when, emphatic, my grandfather all but spit on the very idea of a world where LGBT relationships had the same privileges as quote-unquote traditional marriages, I felt my whole body overheating. Literally.

I sat and started at the crumbs on that dirty table. I listened to him, so angry, so afraid to say anything for fear of what might happen if, for the first time in twenty-three years, I had words that didn’t fit neatly into the crayon box of matrimony.

I rubbed my neck. I strained my ears. I looked away as if disinterested. My mother threw a word or two in about how did it matter, really, what he believed about their relationship? It was the principal of it all. The equality of it all.

And finally, I said the one thing none of us had:

What if one of us, one of your grandchildren, were gay? What if we came over to your house to introduce our partner?

[Years earlier, I had been the first grandchild to bring my boyfriend around. But I was a girl + he was a guy + if he wasn’t Catholic, at least he was Christian, right?]

I cannot tell you what he said. I don’t remember. Only that the waters were forever muddied with that comment.

I went on to tell him about the women I knew who were grappling with grocery bills and rent payments and soccer cleats and hospital stays and how could he turn his head for them?

I’ll never understand. And I never want to live in fear that someone close to me opens their heart to someone only to be rejected because of their sexual orientation.

It was, for the first time, the hardest thing about being Catholic: that we were to love the world, praise the Lord, cherish our blessings, and question the equality of marriage.