But…I can make my own decisions.

My grandma had a stroke a couple of years ago, but instead of affecting her movement it affected her brain. She had to relearn when her birthday was, her last name, the right way to say things (she would say things “I’m closing my shirt” instead of “buttoning”) and other things like that. But now we are seeing that one of the biggest changes was how her personality was affected. Especially in the last 7-9 months, wherein she has had a series of infections and even a hospital stay, she’s become less of the grandmother I used to know and more of a reclusive control freak. It’s breaking my heart.

Being able to study the personality change has made me realize something. A big personality trait of a control freak is making sure something happens on their own terms. My mother will call and suggest coming over the next afternoon at 3pm. My grandmother will then spend 20 minutes debating why this would or wouldn’t be a good idea, other times mother could come, and finally circle back and say “I know, why don’t you come over tomorrow at 3pm.”

She wanted the original suggestion, but she wanted it to be her idea.

I spent a couple of months last year job searching, until my mother finally wore me down because she wouldn’t stop talking about why a job would or wouldn’t (mostly wouldn’t) be a good idea, making vague complaints about how hard life would be for her if I had a job, and such.

Earlier this year, she came to me and complained about the fact that I don’t have a job and I should get one.

She didn’t mind me getting a job, she just wanted it to be her idea.

And now she gets to tell people how she’s “so proud” that she “encouraged” me to apply at the place where I did end up getting hired (a place where I was originally planning to apply anyway. Also, she didn’t encourage me to apply there. My brothers were applying to and she agreed to let me go to, while talking on about how she just knew they’d hire one of my brothers. My brothers that never even got a callback, much less an interview. I call bullshit, mother.)

Now, the past few months I’ve been dropping hints about moving out and all I’m getting from her is how terrible it is to live away from your family and how much I’ll hate living on my own. I’m afraid that once I do start making preparations to move out, she’ll pull a Chris Jeub “we never kicked you out” move on me.

After all, I’m just a dumb girl. If I want to make any big life decisions, they better come from my parents, and especially my mother. Right?

Wrong. So wrong.

(Shout out to Cynthia Jeub for pulling away the mask behind large, homeschooled, patriarchal families. She’s incredibly brave and I have the deepest respect and admiration for her.)

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learning and growing

We live in cities you’ll never see on screen,
Not very pretty, but we sure know how to run things,
Living in ruins of a palace within my dreams,
And you know, we’re on each other’s team,
I’m kind of over getting told to throw my hands up in the air,
So there,
I’m kinda older than I was when I revelled without a care,
So there.

– Team, Lorde

Dear Soul,

You have been learning so much this week. Most of it is training for your job, but there’s more to a job than just working and you are finding yourself growing and learning at a rapid-fire pace in many areas. Your daily interactions with the big world have changed and suddenly your days are no longer spent safely tucked in your room with occasional trips to the grocery store [and/or starbucks] with mother. Now you have to roll out of bed in time to take a shower, fix breakfast for the kids, and make sure that you are presentable for work. 

People are terrifying. And yet so lovable. When your boss decides everyone needs a break and not only goes around handing out fun sized candy bars, but also decides to have everyone play a game so we can all get to know each other better, it’s okay to be a little nervous. It’s okay to stand up there with your hands shaking as you explain all in one breath that you love being there for people if they need you, and yes that’s an open invitation to anyone in this group, and you love hugs – giving and receiving -, your baby brother has months left to live and that hurts, and yes, just to make you seem a little more human, your favorite color is purple and the way to your heart is through chocolate and good books. Because when you step back into the circle of coworkers, you’re going to get not one, but two hugs from two different people. And in the break room, you’re going to get even more love, and a coworker affirming “yes, I think we’re going to be good friends.”

People aren’t as mean as they want you to think they are. That girl who has pushed herself to rise to a higher level and thinks she is all that and a bag of chips because you’re new and she’s not, she does know how to smile, so don’t let her attitude push you away. That woman that comes across as all rough and tough? She’s just defensive because she’s a single momma recovering from a miscarriage while trying to take care of her wild son and ignore the haters because her child obviously has a daddy that’s a different skin color than the mom. Yeah, if you get her riled up talking about the ones dearest to her heart, she’ll start cussing, but it’s not you. It’s just her way of fighting her way through life. 

When you come back home, things aren’t going to be easy. Your mother is used to having you around all day and so she might act a little put off towards you. Yeah, you’re going to come home and find that your sister didn’t put away the laundry like you requested that morning and bread needs to be baked and more laundry needs to be washed and dinner needs to be fixed and…the list will go on. Just breathe. Fix some tea while waiting for dinner to finish cooking. Take time to write a blogpost and let all the thoughts jumbling in your tired brain leak out through your fingers. Get to bed at some point so you can rise again tomorrow. Text your best friend. Try to smile. Just try. You’re on your way to better days.  

Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve. 

– J.K. Rowling

the risk to bloom.

And I don’t know where I’m going,
But I know it’s gonna be a long time,
‘Cause I’ll be leaving in the morning,
Come the white wine bitter sunlight.

-beating heart, ellie goulding

starting when i was around sixteen, i would often tell my [now former] best friend that one day i was going to leave my parents house and strike out on my own.

that ever elusive “one day, someday”.

she asked me when that was going to be and i replied, out of faith in myself and probably God, that i didn’t know yet but when it was time i would know. she laughed this off – after all, i was going to stay put until i found a husband and then i’d live with him – but i never did. i have always and still do and will always trust my instincts. there is a time for everything, and when it was time for me to leave then somehow i would know. and it sure as hell wouldn’t be with a husband. sure, i told people i was going to get married, and sorting through that emotional damage needs to be its own post, but deep down i never actually believed i was going to get married. 

this year, at the beginning of april, i began to feel something stirring inside me. it’s a familiar feeling, and i began to prepare myself for whatever inevitable change i was sensing around the corner.

well, april brought a sharp downward spiral in relationships with a couple of my family members, as well as the realization that this desire to move out and live on my own was actually not sinful. i discovered the stay at home daughter syndrome and as i began to look around, i wondered if it might be time. i texted with a friend and vented about the crumbling relationships i was going through and she said “get out.” i called my cousin and told her where things were for me and my family and she said “get out”. 

hmm.

talking to a couple more people, they all said “get out”.

“get out, get out.” the words bounced around, echoing in my head. okay, but i knew i couldn’t leave until my little brother passed away and i was financially able to get out. one of the traps of a stay at home daughter is the “working from home” which, let me tell you, does not earn you a lot. and when it does, you’re pressured into handing that money over to your parents out of “respect” for them. huh. 

then my brother’s heath plummeted and over the next couple of months he kept getting worse as more problems arose, worsening his already terminal condition. the pediatrician told my mother that he guessed my brother only had about 6-12 months left – and that was only about one of the problems. there are others arising and we are looking at only a few months left. 

then i got a job. the callback was a complete surprise. getting hired five minutes into the interview was another complete surprise. and the biggest surprise is my mother telling me how proud she is that i was hired. [what. but hey, i’m blessed that she’s being supportive. it helps, it really does.]

then other things began to fall into place and i’m seeing now that, yes, now is the time. not to leave, yet, but to prepare myself to leave. god has shown up and is packing my bags. even the uncertainty of where i was supposed to move has been cleared up. 

i haven’t the slightest idea what the next few months will bring. hardship, uncertainty, fear, but also change, adventure, and new things, good things. i’m ready to begin wrapping up this chapter and start a new one.

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

-Anais Nin

time, radical notions, and storms

My birthday is in a few days. I wrote Lady Time a poem yesterday, pleading with her to slow down, but she won’t listen.

Ah, here comes the rain. The thing about summer is that despite the horrible, suffocating heat, there are thunderstorms all of the time. I can hear the splattering of rain grow more intense.

As much as I want Lady Time to slow down  before my birthday, I hope she decides to speed up afterwards because I’m off in a few weeks to go visit some of my dearest friends in the entire world.

Thank you, Hobby Lobby, for finally inspiring my friend Sky and I to get off the fence and start a feminist blog. Introducing: Radical Notions. Go check it out! We just started but will be making some “real” posts in a day or two. I think this has potential to get pretty big and I’m excited about that!

The stress and exhaustion of the past two months caught up with me last Friday night. My faerie friend, Kate, talked to me through the roar of anxiety pounding through my weary heart. The only “good” things about anxiety attacks is the rush of creativity that follows for a few days afterward. Since Saturday, I have been finding poetry everywhere and have finally decided [after waffling back and forth for awhile] to start an art journal.

Poetry is extremely cathartic, letting my mind freely dump itself into wild prose and stretching itself as I find the poetry hidden amongst the words on a page. 

I am only beginning to discover the freedom that comes with claiming your own titles instead of submitting to the ones forced upon you. I am going over my old dreams, shaking the dust off of them, and giving them second chances. For the first time ever I am going to sit down and write out a bucket list, a to-do list of adventures. Heaven forbid I find myself at the end of my life and regretting everything I could have done if only I had not stopped to listen to “reason”. I want to be a risk taker. I want to do the things that people say can’t be done. And even if I do find out that it can’t be done, at least I tried. More and more I am seeing myself stand up for myself and choosing what is good for my instead of letting someone else trample me.

It’s only a matter of time before this gets me into trouble. Storm clouds are gathering and it’s not just from the summer heat. I know there will come a time when I wonder why the heck I decided to free myself from the lies, because the truth is as painful as it is liberating. I know that when I finally move out, there will be times where I am homesick and wish I hadn’t left.

But right now I am blissful, right now I am free and cannot be stopped. I am head over heels in love with The Lion and when the sun shines on my face and I feel the wind wrap around me, I know that He loves me too.

Dare I say it?

Let the storm rage on, the cold never bothered me anyway!

rising from the ashes

This year is my renaissance. But in order to be reborn, I must die first. So I told a close friend that I was associating myself with a Phoenix this year and setting myself on fire so I can rise from the ashes.

After all, what better way to rise into my new self than from the ashes of my broken, terrified past?

This year is my revolution. I’m questioning everything and claiming titles I never dared to claim before.

Writer.

Feminist.

Poet.

Woman.

Yes, I’ve been writing since I was fourteen. Yet I never felt that the title was mine to claim. It was a “career” approved by my mother because, she told me, it was something I could do at home when I was married and had kids. Because to her, a mother and housewife were the ultimate – no – ONLY titles a woman could claim. So she claimed my title as writer and held it over my head. I could “claim” it once I was married…if my future husband approved. For now, since I was captured under my parents umbrella of protection [thank you, ATI, for that term], I could not accept praise for myself. I was a writer because my parents allowed it.

No more.

I looked at myself in the mirror and I straightened my shoulder and I gave myself permission.

You are a writer, and a poet, and it is okay to claim those titles for yourself. While you’re at it, here’s a reminder that you are a woman and hey, feminists aren’t evil.

I put on a new shirt the other day and found myself in front of the mirror again. And for the first time ever, I found the courage to admire how damn sexy I looked. Because no woman should be afraid to call herself sexy or even just good looking.

Yes. I am setting myself on fire and embracing these flames because they are paving the way to a new beginning.

I am giving myself permission to be whoever I want to be. Because yes, I am a woman, but no, that isn’t going to stop me. Why should my own gender provide a stumbling block for who I want to be?

So let me be a woman. Let me be a writer. Let me be a feminist, a poet, a traveler, a business woman, and whatever else I want to be.

linking up with marvia davidson over at the human impulse for real talk tuesday. join us? what do you need to give yourself permission to do?

//haunted//

She was

Haunted

By the ordinary.

Riches did not

Satisfy her,

But morning dew on daises

Were her diamonds.

It was a

Wild

And

Untamed soul

That made her blood run,

And she was in love

With magnolias

In the spring.

The wind keeps

Many secrets

And it knew

Her name.

For she was

Haunted

By the ordinary.

So unlike the

Rest of us

They could not

Contain

Her vivacious spirit.

So they

Spun

A web of fear

And let her

Run through it.

The ordinary

Haunted her

And in the end

The ordinary

Killed her.

//void//

What are words,

But empty mutterings

Flung into

The starving void?

There is no point,

No point at all,

To writing,

(or really,

creating at all)

If at the end of the day,

It is all

A feeble attempt,

To satisfy

The starving void.

 

So tell me,

Darling,

Tell me why.

Why do you write?

Why is there a

Ceaseless rhythm

That ripples through your body?

What is the point in balancing

That painter’s brush

Between those ink stained

And

Callous fingers?

You tell me there is no point,

Except to feed

The starving void,

But your actions say otherwise.

 

So pick up that pen,

Put your battered slippers back

On those weary feet,

And fling the paint

Any way you will.

 

Because even if

Your hopeless heart

Speaks truth,

And this is all for

The starving void,

The least we can do

Is give it something

Incredible

To demolish.

From frightened girl to brave woman.

When I was fifteen,
if you had told me that one day I would ignore the teachings that “men of God” were beating into my terrified mind,
that my best friend and I wouldn’t even be speaking anymore,
that I would be braving airports and bus rides to strange places to meet up with people I hardly knew,
I would probably start crying.
And the hidden message in those tears would be a great fear mixed in with a whisper of longing for the person I would become.

When I was sixteen,
if you had told me that one day I would confront my nightmares and it would be okay,
that it really is reasonable for women to have an education beyond high school,
that I wouldn’t always dream of a Prince Charming,
I would probably hide away in bitter denial.
And the hidden message in my bitterness would be even more fear mixed with a growing desire for those days to arrive.

If you had told me when I was seventeen, eighteen, nineteen,
that soon, so very soon,
I would have the religion rug pulled out from under my feet,
The feeble belief system I was taught to cling to would crumble,
And the umbrella of protection I thought was shielding me would collapse with the sound of a proud man’s laughter,
That I would call myself a feminist,
That I would believe things I never dared to hope were true,
That I would realize the Lord actually LOVES me,
I would be scared.
And the hidden message behind the fear in my eyes would be a battle cry waiting to break free with the heart of a frightened girl who wanted nothing more than to be a brave woman.

in which i take a {small} stand

I took a stand today. Today I put my foot down and said “This is my life, this is my time, and I will take charge of the situation so that it benefits me.”

Okay, well, that makes it sound incredible and awe-inspiring. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t.

My mother is a hostess. She is in her element when she can plan for company, be it someone visiting for a week or dropping by for an hour of conversation and coffee.

Her favorite day out of the entire year is my birthday. It’s the fourth of July, and down here in the southern part of the USA that requires an all-out celebration of FREEDOM and FIREWORKS and BARBEQUE. The fact that I was born on this joyous occasion requires inviting everyone and their mother that lives withing an hour-long drive radius of us and having a PAR-TAY.

When she was able to celebrate my graduation and my birthday on the fourth of July a couple of years ago, I am not joking when I say we had over one hundred people over all afternoon and evening. The party finally wrapped up around 1am and I’m pretty sure I was in some sort of introvert coma for days afterward.

That is my mother’s idea of a celebration and she figured that since I was turning 21, we would have a repeat of that. And, oh glory, my birthday falls on a Friday this year, so the church my family attends is planning a big picnic, which means we can do that AND a party the next day at my parent’s house! Not to mention, the entire church could sing happy birthday to me – TWICE!

Ahahahah. No. Please, dear god, no.

My plan was to go hide at my friend’s house for the day, drinking a concoction of tea and rum while watching Doctor Who and having deep conversations and pretty much not showing my face around my parents house until midnight.

I knew she’d have a heart attack if I even thought about it around her. But something had to be done; my introverted soul cannot not handle two big events in two days – especially if they will draw people’s attention to me.

So when she told me to make the list of guests {aka, a bunch of people I don’t even like and maybe three or four people that I actually did like}, I said no.

No.

Not this year.

I told her my improvised plan: have two families that I actually did enjoy spending time with come over, a young couple that I adore, and my friend that I was going to hide and drink with over for dinner.

These are people I love and it won’t drain me to spend an evening with them. Hell, I might even enjoy a day entirely focused on me.

We’re still going to the church picnic.

I might have the stomach flu or something like that scheduled for that day, but we’ll see.

Today, however, I won a small battle. Instead of dreading my birthday to the point where I actually get sick because I really DO NOT want to be surrounded by shallow people for half a day, I get to spend a quiet evening with people I know won’t go talking about the event behind my back and criticize my every move. Also, we’re still having fireworks, but I don’t mind a few.

And I’ll go toast to my birthday with my friend another day.

But in all seriousness, that was terrifying. Just speaking my mind and actually taking a stand against my mother was huge and it shocked both of us. I’m an INFJ; my mindset is that it’s never about me, it’s about the ones I care about. I’ll go for two days with only coffee and the occasional cracker or whatever, but then lovingly yell at a friend for missing one meal. My sole purpose in life is to take care of the small amount of people I love, and so to take a stand against someone I respect is HUGE.

I rather enjoyed it.

Tell me, loves, was there a time in your life where you had to take a stand; clear the battleground and stake the land as yours? Big or small, I think standing up for something is a pretty incredible thing. And by doing so I also decided that, in this matter, I was going to care for myself. Is that difficult for you, too?