#22 back again // here for the first time

Here we are.

Back again.

Only this time it's unlike all the others. Our new selves.

Not replaying seasons past. But creating something undefined. Unrefined. Unheard of.

It's not for them. It's of us. For Him!

//////////////////////

May I give as much grace as I ask others for.

May I bend to the unfamiliar when it asks me to take on a new shape, rather than filling in the thoughtless space I've already formed for myself, long ago.

May I not default to the past. But constantly reform. Repeatedly be quiet.

And when I fail. When I break. May I have the strength to recover and mend.

I can't hear anything over my own voice. I can't see anything when I'm looking at everything at once.
.
.

I'm still working on getting over myself and being myself in the very same breath.

Screen Shot 2017-09-02 at 10.21.25 AM.png

Back again.
Here for the very first time.

#21: steadily, slow

 

Slow yet steadily
moving,
so I may
breathe it all in fully --
exhale freely,
and not miss a
moment between
breaths.

Oh how I long,
when I so easily forget!

The slower I move
the more steady my motions.
The more sure my heart.

///////

Hold back.
Give it out.
Give it up.
Let Him lead.
It's an act (that takes action).
Yet it feels so foreign some days,
so natural others.
Some days it flows.
Others it falls apart.

I still fall apart.

/////////////

Some days falling apart is all I need
for Him to put me back together.

#20: CHOICES

CHOICES are all around us. Every single day. Some feel big. Others small. Many go unnoticed. 
All of these choices together dictate our journey, our experience, our story. 
The following is an excerpt from CHOICES, featured in "Just Being Honest" -- our book.

...

Then again maybe we're not that different.
We are each masterworks
with our own details and imperfections.
It's these imperfections that define our story
and design our beauty.
Until we can see,
we stay convinced we're bound
when really we've never been more free.
What am I doing with my freedom?


No one tells you
these choices you must make will happen quietly.
They tiptoe through the night.
You might wake up one day and realize
you've already made them, unknowingly.
Or by default.

These choices, to me, feel like life or death.
When I see them for what they really are,
I remember they are a privilege most don't have.
I realize we are bound by nothing.
This isn't the case for most.
But it is the case for us.

I run from the status
the noise
the appeal
the rules
the norms.
But how do I escape my own selfishness?
My own entitlement?
That's another journey entirely.

The choices, they never end.
Choices, if I don't make them,
they'll turn me into someone else.

////////

CHOICES (painting + words) was shown at ArtFields in Lake City, South Carolina last month.

----

"JUST BEING HONEST" // our first book

CHOICES is featured on the final pages of our newly completed book "Just Being Honest." All 100 pages are filled with words + visuals that speak of and from our souls to the souls of others. If you have found yourself connecting with any of the words shared to date on Sarah's Shorts, or connecting with Andrew's paintings, I believe you will find a bit of yourself in this book. That is why I'm mentioning it here. In this book are the most honest words I've ever written for the sharing. These words are made far more powerful intentionally paired with Andrew's paintings. This work was meant to live together and be shared. Our book is an effort to do just that.

#19: show up! show yourself

Showing up
doesn't mean
walking in,
saying hello,
saying all the right things.

It doesn't mean putting on a face,
or begging your own face to smile.

Showing up
means being in,
all in,
every day,
of your life,
your story.
Fighting through every fearful,
and every tearful,
moment.

Refusing to hide or escape to comfort.
Giving yourself the space and the permission
to let joy in,
to feel it all,
all the time.

Showing up,
is opening the hard conversations,
opening your heart,
to all the love,
and all the pain,
that comes from being all in,
that comes from being alive.

If I'm not showing up
as my honest self,
for myself,
for my family,
for God,
then, my God, who am I showing up for, or showing up as?
What does she have to prove,
by hiding the messy parts?
[...nothing.]

There's a lot you could lose by showing up,
but you will lose yourself, if you don't.

////////////////////////////

I've grown to love her -- this girl.
I believe in her, in me,
when I can see her,
when I can hear her,
when she's bold enough to show up,
as the real,
the imperfect,
self.

I'm still working on showing up.
I'm still working on showing them the real me.


///

show up! show yourself.

#18: where have you been?

//////////////


Where have you been?
I imagine they say.
Have you been here, there, and everywhere,
out and about,
on your way?

Who, me? Why, I've been right here all along.
You see, I've been working on writing, a new kind of song.
One with a slower tempo and far more breaks.
No more clashing and crashing.
Just a steadier rhythm,
a stronger melody
and far more space.

/////////////

I've been learning all about her,
the she that is I.
I've been taking the time to look hard,
to stare straight into her eyes.
Seeing the soul buried deep underneath
the movement of disguise.

/////////////

Growing softer still, every single day
while she works with her fears.
Coaxing herself out of her shell,
letting herself hear the loving inner voice,
she so needs to hear.

/////////////

This voice ignites a rebirth within --
a glowing courage
a mighty song.
The confidence to boldly uncover
what she knew was there all along.

Where have you been?
I imagine they say.
Who, me? Why I've been right here all along,
slowly finding my way.


//////////////////////////////

#17: healing the great divide

It's been a week since the presidential election here in the U.S. Regardless of how you feel, there's a strong chance you have some form of feelings surrounding the outcome.

Whether you can see it in your own community or not, there is a great divide in our country right now. Hate is out there, haste it out there, frustrations are out there, fear is out there, racism is out there, bigotry is out there, anger is out there, doubt is out there.

What can we do about it?

Speak up for who you are and what you believe in. Raise your voice on issues that matter to you. Talk to people who look nothing like you. Talk to people who may look like you, yet totally disagree with you. Ask hard questions.

Listen to others. Be willing to not only hear their answers, but truly try to see their viewpoints. Understand what fears others may have and what drives them to form opinions and feel the way they do.

Discuss honestly and with a loving approach. Open the lines of communication for progressive and productive discourse. Discuss what compromises can be made, and come up with ways to act as a source of light and healing.

Healing takes time and great work, no doubt. Healing also takes both sides. It takes all people. I could rally to gain the collective momentum of people that look and believe and think like I do, but at the end of the day, it takes every single one of us to not only stand up for what we believe in, but speak up on behalf of those who do not have a voice.

I'm not sure this has ever been more crucial than it is right now.


/////////////////////////////


I don't know about you, but I know I've remained silent many times out of fear of conflict, or fear of how my viewpoint might be received if my words weren't heard quite as I'd hoped. I'm trying harder to speak from the heart, without resentment or haste. It's not easy for me, especially when it's about something that fires me up. I do believe it's possible. And it's the only way for real resolve to happen.
 

#16: there is no deed too small

When disaster strikes, I find myself wanting to help in the biggest, boldest way possible. I want to be in the thick of things.

Five years ago I went to Haiti for a week and learned the hard way, even when you're in the thick of things, it's a culmination of small deeds and people working together that add up to making a substantial difference. Many times the impact won't be highly noticeable, at least not in the way you envisioned. Even if it is noticeable, there is always far more work to be done. There are always many more needs to be met.

Hurricane Matthew hitting our area has been yet another reminder. When reading about need after need in my community it's easy to get bogged down with who needs what the most and what kind of help is needed first. In this I've been reminded, you don't have to act big to be of great help to someone.

Needs are not meant to be ranked, they simply need to be met. All needs matter. And there is no need too small.

It's easy to stay hyper-focused on our own survival needs, especially when we are struggling. Regardless of how much time or money we have, I believe, if we all designated a part of each day to think of one seemingly small way we could serve someone else, and then act on it, we would see a great big difference in our own hearts and over time, in this world (at least in our own corners).

Freely lending our hands to help another or acknowledging our own needs and asking for help does not feel like a norm in our society. I say we change that, starting by better living out the mantra: there is no deed [or need] too small

#15: dancing in the breeze

here in the studio                                                                                                                           standing on your feet
dancing in the breeze
sometimes I forget to remember
this is all we need

this life we live
this story we lead
there's no room for regret
if we want to be free

we can't hide if we want to be seen
Lord help me find the in between

dancing in the breeze
sometimes I forget to remember
this is all we need
 

#14: the things about storms

There wasn't really a storm last week. I mean there was, sure, but not here, at least not for us, not this time.

We drove south and spent the night with friends anyway. For safety, in part, but mostly just to be in the company of humans we love. Days before, we drove home due to a different kind of storm. Not the kind you can see or hear. But the kind you can feel, deep down. The kind that hits close to home.

That's the thing about life's storms. They're dark. And they don't always come with warning. They shake us, and can be devastating, but they also bring light and unexpected times of togetherness.

It's been a stormy summer...


there is always light
after the skies have parted
the calm is coming

#13: the "me" today

In the morning when I wake, only I have the choice to replay or renew. I can be the me from yesterday, or the me who is a little more self-realized, more self-loving. Replay and regret or reflect and renew. The choice is mine. And mine only.

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Much of my life has been lived in waiting... for someone else to give me permission to be. As I've grown up, I've learned, that person is me. And only me.

Artwork by Andrew Scott Wilson: @andrewscottwilsonart

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

#12: on my knees

On my knees I fall. In prayer. In guilt. In hope. In retreat. I ground myself to unearth myself. This vulnerable place I so quickly flow past. Here I need to stay. Quiet the fear. Strengthen the heart. Move past regret. Come into communion with myself and the one who made me. It's the place I feel most at home yet why do I resist being here? My human nature rushes me from moment to moment. I can live my life this way or I can fall and crumble here every day and return to the what is -- removing myself from the what can be, or the fear of the worst. Here I pray and cling to what's real -- and ignite the day.

#11: the art of sacrifice

There's a beautiful art to sacrifice. It's the very thing that makes art beautiful. It enables it to be shaped.

It moves. It cries. It bleeds. It feels. It overcomes. It speaks. It serves. It connects. It breathes.

When we are willing to abandon our own selfish desires for what we believe to be our calling, we embrace the sacrifice.

We move. We cry. We bleed. We feel. We overcome. We speak. We serve. We connect. We breathe.

We become the art we so long to create.

#10: focus is a lifelong practice

Focus is a lifelong practice. Practice is a daily action. Actions speak louder than words. Words can be used to heal. Healing takes time. Time is on our side. Side with yourself. Yourself is the only one you can control. Control what you can and learn to let go of the rest. Rest is crucial for the body and mind. Mind your manners, but don't hold back from expressing yourself honestly. Honestly, sharing is caring. Caring about yourself in a way that encourages self love is the best gift you can give. Give unto others but not until you give yourself what you need first. First pull down your own oxygen mask, then you'll be strong enough to save the others. Others can teach you a lot about yourself. Yourself deserves your utmost focus. Focus is a lifelong practice.


#9: it's strange to be a stranger

Sometimes I look at a picture of someone and I am sure they are a stranger. Only my mind tells me they were once more than that and if I stare long enough I let myself believe it even though I am so far from feeling it.

Sometimes when I listen to a certain song I feel a glimpse of... I'm not sure what exactly, but I think it has something to do with this, with them, with me.

Sometimes I wonder who sees me this way. A stranger in their story. A neutral party, or even a nothing, who was once a big something. It's strange -- the relationships we once carried with such weight. Relationships that helped shape us into who we are, yet now feel like nothing in the context of our story.

Sometimes I look at a picture of myself from another season of life and I feel the same way...a world away from her. My mind knows it is me but my heart can't get there. It doesn't need to. It's here now. And here is all that matters.

#8: shell games

The waves make certain noises as they move toward the shoreline. First, a loud crash, at their point of breaking, as if a warning they're coming quick, and closing in. Then they soften, they reform, they bring with them bounty in the form of shells, turning them over to the sand and the air.

The noise of the waves scraping over the shells that have already been delivered to the shore is a sound I find comfort in. It's gentle and quiet, yet it's a recurring noise of action as the water pushes, rolls, and shapes each shell against the sand.

When I'm not sure where the line of reality and imagination is drawn, and when my feet feel far from being grounded in the earth, I go to the shore and I remember this existence is much more vast than my story and what my senses can make sense of.

Here I am able to see He who made the heavens, when I hear the thundering of the sea and consider its dark depths that I will never reach. I am able to see He who cares about and connects with every single one of His people when I see how the ocean so gracefully and powerfully carries its shells home.

I am able to see He who carries me.
 
This short was inspired by recent nightly escapes to the shore, digging through shells in search of shark teeth. It also takes me back to a piece of writing I did some time ago, entitled, "I am a Shell." Click here to read.

#7: you are the one good thing

Had a bad day? Find one good thing they say!

From dawn until dusk, find the one positive thing that came your way, that lifted you up, that redeemed your day. Find the one good thing that makes it all okay.

I say, forget finding the one good thing. It's already been found. I'm here to tell you.

You are the one good thing.

And you are okay!
 

#6: jump, don't fall

Shaky legs.
Unsure footing.
Chilled air.
The fear of not jumping out far enough.
Thoughts of doubt raced through my mind as I stared straight down from the uneven rock ledge I was standing on, to the cold water below.

Andrew spoke calm words of reassurance and instruction from below. I hollered down with uncertainty, my voice as shaky as my legs. It wasn't until Andrew suggested I come back down the angled rock I'd climbed up using the rope and give up, my desire to conquer the fear within me strengthened.

"How far out do I need to jump?" I asked one more time. "Which direction?"

"Just jump as far out as you can," he responded.

Everyone else was gone except two men who had walked up and were perched on the rocks of the falls. "You going to jump?" one of the men asked. "That's the idea," I yelled. "I got up here and got nervous."

"Can I video it?" he asked.

"Sure."

I decided it was now or never. I knew if I hesitated I would slip on the wet rock. I took one slow deep breath, prayed silently, and jumped out as far as I could, yelling while free falling the 25 or so feet down.

A rush of weightlessness overtook me as I squeezed my eyes closed in time for the water to catch my fall. I surfaced as Andrew waded over to meet me. He grabbed my hand and helped me across the slippery rocks to solid ground.

When we got back to the car, he hugged me tight, and told me how proud he was of me. How he thinks that was important for me in unraveling some of my fears.

I smiled in agreement.

#5: life, off paper

Everything looks good when it's arranged on paper. It's neat. It's organized. It's sensible. It's pretty.

Off paper is where the living happens. 

It's the off paper living that's hard. You know, the real connection. The acknowledgement of all the human emotions. Embracing the honest truth that we are scared. None of us have it all figured out. Accepting that figuring it all out is not possible within the capacity of our human minds and hearts.

We started this existence as clueless babies, and we are now, here, in our adult body suits, growing, changing, and doing the best we can to ground ourselves in what's able to be seen, heard, and experienced, while trusting in a presence that far surpasses our own understanding.

It's easy to exist and be someone you like on paper. Presenting yourself in a curated way. Picking and choosing the parts of yourself to share.

Off paper is the real you. And the real me.

I want to be a better person, off paper. Because at the end of the day, how I've lived my life off paper is all that really matters. 

#4: love, that's it

This world is entitled.
This world is broken.
This world is selfish.
This world is human.

I am entitled.
I am broken.
I am selfish.
I am human.

The only way we can heal this world is by showing its people non-judgemental love and acceptance. The only way I can heal myself is by showing myself non-judgemental love and acceptance.

This world is nothing without love. I am nothing without love.

Love is healing.
Love is the only way to drive out hate.
If we give up on love, we give up on living.

We have a long way to go.
I have a long way to go, but I'm going...

#3: real life is right outside your door

Get outside and explore! You have no idea what's out your door. Until you go see with your own two eyes, the deep dark forests, the bright blue skies. Real life isn't unfolding on your computer screen. It's happening right now! It's every moment, in between. But what if I'm scared? You might say. We've been conditioned to feel this way. To hide in our shelters, forge security, seek refuge in all sorts of materials. It's all false! It's all contrived. Don't you realize you are alive and we are made to roam and to discover. It's the only way to learn and to uncover, the truest state of being. I'm not an outdoors person you say. Once again I tell you, we've been conditioned to feel this way. Adventure is knocking at your door. It's up to you to get up, open it, get out there and explore. But I haven't the money, nor the time you say. These lies are there to keep you scared. To keep you away.