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We're All Lightning, Babe
This week, two precious friends of mine are moving. One leaves the desert dust for misty PNW fog, and the other leaves our familiar streets for a fresh new adventure six hours away. These strong and brilliant women are both navigating the path of change as the vulnerability of hope dances at their fingertips. I remember last year when it was me packing up and moving across the country, sorting old and new, trying my best to hold it all together and just get to the finish line. Each goodbye is so wrought with grief and gratitude, love and loss, it’s such a tender ache.
Thresholds of hello and goodbye, that thin space where who we have been meets who we are becoming. Change changes us every time. There is no avoiding it, no managing it, no manipulating it.
Sometimes the change isn’t so large and looming. Sometimes it’s a simple inner decision not to back down, or to soften and make room, or just to get out of bed and give the day a chance to woo you back to life. Change sweeps in like a monsoon storm, whether within us or outside of us, covering everything it touches with a deluge of undoing.
I was thinking of my friends the other night as a late night thunderstorm rolled over my Midwest horizon. Spikey flashes of lightning and rumbles of wall-shaking thunder. It was already past midnight and I was the only one still awake. Maybe it's my Arizona blood, but sleeping through a storm feels like such a crime. When I was little, we’d smell the creosote soaked branches on the air as a monsoon curved overhead and my mom would grin and send me running out into the warm summer rain. I wonder what the neighbors thought, a grown woman and a small girl dancing and soaking our clothes, hair whipping across our cheeks. I actually love my mom for not caring an inch what they thought.
Standing in the rain, bearing witness to the sacred gift of water in the desert, is deeply embedded in my bones. So as the rain fell heavy on the roof of my Illinois home, I felt that familiar itch. My skin prickled, my breath quickened, and my soul-body-being-self wanted only to step outside and lie in the grass-mud amongst the wild things. I cracked open the backdoor and slipped out, my sweater catching on the latch, a tiny thread unraveling much like my very self. Standing barefoot in the grass, rain mixing with tears, just me and the night creatures. Moss and earthworms and ancient sister trees waving overhead. I stood so still my feet began to sink, mud squishing between my toes, my hair damp and sticking to my nose and mouth. I looked side to side, darkness all around. I shut my eyes and inhaled deeply, the scent of wet lavender mixing with mint as I joined the wind in a whispered amen, though no prayer was uttered.
Love — real, deep, Self Love — stirs when we dare to stand barefoot in the wet grass as the rain soaks through linen, and we do not hide but dig our heels in, open our arms, summon ancient prayers, and settle into the deep goodness of ourselves.
I felt so connected to my little girl self in that moment in the rain as my mind flashed to those wild stormy childhood memories. The last time I was in Arizona, I landed late and drove straight to meet three precious friends for dinner. The neon pink sunset surged over purple mountains as I blasted The Chicks and sang along at the top of my lungs. The desert was on day 18 of a record-breaking heat wave, and despite running the AC in my car at full blast, I could feel my dress sticking to my knees and the sweat trickling down my back. The heat was standing her ground, and she was LOUD. I smiled and nodded. I see you, girl. Respect.
We sat around the table eating delicious plates of hummus and cucumber salad drizzled with spices and oil and I felt time slow down, as it always seems to do when I share space with these women. I watched the candle flames flicker as familiar laughter pealed across silver place settings and the retelling of old stories mingled with brand new ones. I felt a pang of warmth as I took the moment in. There was a time when I wasn’t sure I’d have anyone left standing beside me. When we speak the truth to power, and our defiance puts systems of comfort at risk, we piss off a lot of people. We also make a lot of people scared. I lost so many friendships after leaving Willow. Their abandonment still hurts, a dull ache that throbs when the skies fill with water. I had released my expectation to ever have new friendships again.
beautifully and tenderly,
like pools of mercury drawing back to itself,
look how we found one another,
deep calling to deep.
After we’d spent hours around the table and all the candles had burned down to their wicks, we stood outside and felt the air shift. The wind swirled a hot, dry dust up into the atmosphere and instantly the sky turned electric. We held our breath, willing a storm to come. Mel suggested we drive to her favorite hiking trail, and despite it being late and dark and stormy, we all agreed immediately.
As we picked our way over rocks and cacti, our small flashlights blinking, flares of sacred sister constellations shimmering through storm clouds, I felt something deep inside me crack open. Arizona. You gorgeous, steamy, unrestrained lightning sacred. Forever in my bones. An ode to our wild. Dust storms and such an unruly and unpredictable mind of her own. I love you. I love you. I love you.
I looked at each of my friends, faces mid-laugh, mid-story, mid-life, and my heart cracked even wider. I love you. I love you. I love you.
I’m not sure how that mountain didn’t crumble under the magnitude of us. So much energy surged just below our skin, veins blue and swirling like the flashing lightning above us. Did our heat betray us? Did anyone see the steam rising as the sacred in me recognized the sacred in them? Yet what else can be done when holy meets holy but to bow and breathe and perhaps let a howl of some deep reckoning bellow in a language unrehearsed? When we reached the top, we climbed up on a boulder and attempted selfies, and I lifted my fist toward the sky and we howled and laughed. I will never forget how it felt to stand among such towering beacons of With You Women under that wild desert sky. We have all shattered myths in our own ways. We know what it is to be blamed for the fallout of those broken illusions. We faced that flame and kept going. I love them each for this. Terribly. Wholly. Fiercely.
Sometimes, love is a place. And sometimes, it’s those who make room for us to be our whole, strange, and beautiful selves — wherever our feet are standing. When we embrace change, welcoming her to our table and choosing not to fear her thunder, we bear witness to our own evolution. Our retinas expand and we lift our necks and arch our backs and scream — regardless of where change wants to take us, she is always after the unfurling of our most gorgeous and wild selves.
Here’s to bearing witness to the truth-telling and the rain-soaked nights, to the nearly unbearable grief and hope of change, and to the selves we behold when we finally stop running from what scares us.
(with love for , , and … we’ll always have the desert. And Minnesota is lucky to have you,… we’ll always have Emmett’s!)
My friend(yep, the same one who is moving away from me this week) and I were recently talking about color matching and seasons. The famed 80’s trend started by Carole Jackson’s book Color Me Beautiful is on the rise again, and so of course my Five Wing was on the hunt for info. Turns out, I’m a Clear Winter and most of the colors I should be wearing are bright, unmuted, and entirely out of my wheelhouse. I wear black, and occasionally a tiny pop of color if I’m feeling extra. Leather, sequins, faux fur — all YES. Color of any kind? I am unsure what you want from me. Colors belong on canvas, right? Am I having an existential crisis in which I am learning to see myself as a work of art? We shall see. Here’s a link to a quick free analysis if you want to try it!
Speaking of colors, my grandmother has always told me she’s saving her heirloom turquoise jewelry for me, and during my last visit to Arizona she gave me one of her necklaces. Its so gorgeous and precious I can barely handle it. Turquiose everything forever. Grandmothers forever, too.
Finding out that Tiffany Clarke Harrison, the incredible author, writing coach, and my esteemed IG friend, has a book, Blue Hour, on President Obama’s Summer Reading List. She is incredible, as is her book, and you know we love to see another woman just absolutely shining!
It’s been said before, but I’m adding my voice to the anthem of the Barbie movie fans. It was supreme and I am already anticipating when I can go see it again. Have you seen it yet? If so, what did you think/feel/what parts made you CRY?
Mercy painted this sign for our garden and I am obsessed. She is the magic to my soul, the muse to my art, the love of my heart. LOOK AT THE FIREFLIES!