Tough, but good

Where I am in my life right now is someplace really, really good. I am in a place -- financially, emotionally, physically -- that I never knew I would have the privilege or right to experience, and I am grateful every single day to have made it as far as I have. It took a lot of work, and it took a lot of convincing myself that what I've done to get here is a big accomplishment. It's difficult to see it that way at times when I have this tendency to compare myself to others around me. But that's not fair. It's not about how I measure up to others, but how I measure up to who I was before. I am, and will continue to be, a work in progress, and that's okay. I have to remember that.

The good, and bad, thing about being in such a good place right now is that my brain decided, "Oh, okay, you're safe and happy right now, so this would be the perfect time to go through all those boxes up here you shoved aside when you had other shit to deal with." Cool. You know that quote by John F. Kennedy? "The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining." Well, the sun is shining, and I'm out on the roof.

Essentially, I spent a lot of my time growing up living in what I consider "survival mode." I got through each day, sometimes by hanging on by the tips of my fingers. I fought just to get through my weeks. So when something bad came up -- something that threatened to pry those fingers off the ledge -- I would push it aside to deal with later. I had to recover from this problem/threat first, and then I could handle that one.  I repressed, sometimes in the moment, so I could survive. But because I was always in this instinct of protect, survive, move on, I ended up collecting a lot of these problems, cluttering the back of my mind. When you're always in survival mode, there's no time to deal with anything but surviving. There's no time to deal with problem number two (or three, or four, or five...).

The Void, I've called it before. I put the problems in boxes and shoved them deep, deep down. And now they're resurfacing. Which is tough, but good. Tough to deal with -- but a good sign, because it means I'm safe. It means my brain thinks I'm capable of opening everything up now. One box at a time.

But it's hard, when there are so many boxes that I don't know where to begin. Or I don't always remember what's in those boxes. And that part scares me most of all, I think. I'm not sure how many boxes of trauma I've stowed away, and I have no idea what's going to happen when I open them up. What will I find?

One of those boxes sprung open this morning. I had the same nightmare, three or four times in a row. But it didn't feel the same as a regular nightmare. It was vivid in the same way that my nightmares tied to memories are. And it was exactly the same, each time it played out. I woke up in a panic, realizing this was not just a bad dream, but rather something from my past I was remembering. The details at the end of the scene I had to watch on repeat this morning are a little fuzzy still, but my brain is slowly trying to untangle it for me, in a way that I will be able to manage. Again: tough, but good.

I will take it one memory at a time. It's nice that I have someone who is always there to remind me that no matter what I find, no matter what I remember, I am in a better place now. I am safe, I am happy, I am so much stronger. This past Saturday I got my fourth tattoo to remind me of this. It's a little sprig of lavender blooms. It reminds me of growth, of fragility. Of grace, silence, and calm hope. I will carry it with me, always.


On my tiptoes to kiss you,
our hearts nearly side by side.
Hand on your cheek, 
I feel the start of your smile.
This is more than I
had any right to ask for.


You are my favorite form of punctuation. 
An open bracket for me to fill, 
a promising set of ellipses… 
 You are the semicolon I’ve been waiting for; 
you are the choice to continue a sentence 
we could have ended half as quick. 
The comma that begs more, the question mark 
that wants to know how and why? And--
it’s you, on the other side of every breath and pause. 
You are the excitement, the passion and energy, 
the joy and surprise of each exclamation point. 
But my favorite (my absolute favorite) is when, 
together, we lay and form a small but sure 
                                                quotation mark, 
 waiting to spill out our very own novel.

Dutch still life

Harwood, MD, USA
One year ago today I had the flu and got fake-married on a cold, beautiful farm in Harwood, Maryland. The project was the brainchild of Kelsey Mattson, who I worked with at the time. Her idea was to take the broodiness of Dutch Still Life and mix it with a Kinfolk whimsy, and Harwood Hills Farm was the perfect place to set the scene. I still look back on that day, even with how cold and sick and miserable I felt, with such fondness. It was exciting to see so much talent and work come together to create something amazing, and I am grateful I was able to be a part of it all. I wanted to finally share a few of my favorite pictures from that day. Read more (and get a cocktail recipe) from 100 Layer Cake, and check out a few more pictures below the cut.

Photography by Sarah Culver Styling by Kelsey Mattson Hair and Makeup by Caitlyn Meyer Wedding Dress from Wren Bridal Rings from Kaj Jewelry | Rentals from Something Vintage | Paper Products from Townley Creative | Flowers from Crimson and Clover | Suiting by Christopher Schafer

His shoulders

He carried the world on 
his shoulders 
as if it had been a gift, 
never the burden it was 
meant to be,
and the universe exhaled relief
that it had chosen

She traced his face with
careful fingers
in the restful blue of night,
memorizing every inch 
of privilege 
the stars asked her to protect inside
her two uncertain

And between
his shoulders,
and between 
her hands,
they sheltered--together--

It was not a burden.
Instead, a privilege,
a gift--far greater than 
the mind,
the stars,
the universe,
could ever hope to

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