“One must learn to love oneself—thus I teach—with a wholesome and healthy love, so that one can bear to be with oneself and need not roam…To learn to love oneself. Rather, it is of all arts the subtlest, the most cunning, the ultimate, and the most patient. For whatever is his own is well concealed from the owner; and of all treasures, it is our own that we dig up last.”

Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra (via whyallcaps)

I like the particular way the sunshine is rolling into my office this afternoon, inviting me to come out and play. I dislike the frazzled air within the office, complicated by tensions about money, suspicions, deflected accusations. I hate seeing faces frozen with anxiety, and want to throw a bit of sunshine in their face, like a snowball but filled with warmth and that Vitamin D that everyone is aching for.

Next week it will feel like a new universe. I will put on my floral dress, I’ll put on every floral dress and do a spin in the office, wait to see if anyone notices. I will wear all of the bright colors and spread a picnic blanket on the floor, invite everyone for crepes with fresh berries and a cannoli or two.

The fruit man sets up every day outside of the office, rain or shine, bundled up to offer us the fresh produce he has garnered from the farmer’s market. I wonder about the connections he has made, talking to the workers. Maybe he knows the Spanish word for ‘cantaloupe,’ or maybe there isn’t one. Maybe he has been friends with the farmer in booth 47 for 22 years, and he relies on the selection of oranges that appear during the winter months. He knows the turns in and out of the market by heart and feels very carefully the bumps on the road, so as not to spill the apples out of their bags. He knows the ripeness of the avocado from just one touch. He tells me that the red plums are ripe, and tart. My dad likes plums.

Apples aren’t very good in February. Have you noticed? The texture feels more like biting into a piece of plywood… maybe, maybe not that severe, but there is a chalkiness to it that dries out my mouth. I think about the unseasonliness of the ‘fresh’ produce we have and how an apple tastes best from the orchard in the fall, with a few germs from all of our hands as we pass it around and sigh “mmm.”

Yesterday I ate sambar and dosa, comfort food from the kitchen of my friend’s mother. I thought about how doubly comforting it is that I get to sample comfort food from this globe. Today a friend commented about the places that tumble into places in this neat little partitioned globe that we call home and mused on her unique experiences wandering around a bit. I feel disappointed that I won’t get to wander in and out of the details of everyone’s settings; I think about how sad I will be on my deathbed as I look at the map of unreached territories. I rip the dosa with my fingers and dip it into the sambar, tasting comfort in the South Indian dish that I will make again, glad that this particular experience can be put into my wooden recipe box and tasted again.


This is the first principle of democracy: that the essential things in men are the things they hold in common, not the things they hold separately.

Chesterton, Orthodoxy

there’s an idea popping its knuckles inside of me right now. i’m really trying to reach down inside of me and feel around inside of my roots to tell you what is going on in my head but it might take a minute. thanks for your patience.

i have found myself dancing around in a lot of intimate relationships with people with whom i disagree. personally and politically, theologically. during the formative years of college i landed smack dab in a group of people with whom i began to disagree on fundamental issues. i was challenged there, raising my angry voice in response to comments, sassing people whom i felt needed a good sassing. i did what i felt was best and used my voice in the service of a newfound insistence on equality. 

i grew there, with my activism and skepticism as constant companions.  i grew from an angry cynic and became a hopeful skeptic. i still bounce back to the anger and i still remain grounded in the things that make me feel different, an outsider. i grew within the community as we faced challenges together and as i felt safety and love in the midst of our disagreements. i grew too when i left that place and walked into a grown up world where every day i encounter someone who is different from me. i am growing still as i realize that change occurs in increments and we all need some foot-washing and forehead kissing to get through our darkest days.

one day a man i was dating asked me how i remained close friends with those with opposite political opinions than mine. i remember being perplexed by his question. the answer is that my life is richer because of these people and my relationships with them. my life is not cut and dry- comfortable for being surrounded by people whose worldviews directly mirror my own. i struggle every day within my intimate relationships to reconcile our disagreements. the answer, to me, is that love and community are tarnished by stubborn insistence that we all believe the same.

These words remind me that

 perhaps rather than expending our energy proving that love does fail, we should spend our time, our life and our activism making sure it doesn’t.

Here I’m reminded that relationship trumps identity. conversation, knowledge of others, and transparency grow us as human beings. when we aren’t intent on changing everything about another person, we grow. when we open our ears to listen and seek each other, we grow. that in the end…

It is about sitting down at a table together and sharing our views as human beings, engaged in real, respectful, civil dialogue.

Here i am reminded that

we know that any faith worth a damn is a faith worked out over a lifetime of relationships with other people. It’s a commitment to and with other people, is all. Church is just a commitment to try to live a life of a certain quality, a life of love, of humility, of service, alongside others whom you will care for and allow to care for you, even when you are difficult. It’s a group of regular old humans trying to love each other and the world in superhuman ways. And so it’s a hard way of life, but to me, the only way of life that makes any sense. When people ask me if faith, if church, is comforting to me, I say – sort of. But mostly it’s challenging.

i have always been a seeker and a lover. i’ll continue to question. i’ll continue to walk into institutions and church buildings with a quizzical, skeptical look on my face. but i will continue, every day, to insist that at the root of this rich life i have… to any life worth a damn…is a commitment to love.


amazed at the richness of my resources and the quality of my networks. take time to sit down with someone you admire. take time to sit with someone who knows your story and can speak to your strengths. feel renewed.

we shouldn’t find cheap ways to manipulate and attempt to feel loved, whole, valuable. cheapness wears thin really quickly. take some time to find some wholesome love, to remember your story, to listen to words that restore your faith in yourself.

just ask.

i’m writing my thank you letter to the universe today.

65% cacao
crystallized ginger
crinkle smile
smile of a rider
tea that feels like a best friend
the way people show up when you need them
a profound sense of loneliness that turns into gratitude
the idea of creating oneself
rocking chairs
the first time i wore my chunky sweater
softpants that i won’t return to my best friend
consistency that i created for myself
my soul wandering around on different continents and throughout different states
devouring books
devouring life
remembering what it feels like to cook again

my chest of drawers was made by a cabinet maker in jackson, georgia. his handiwork could be seen throughout my parents house, the second one they built, the one with the icemaker and the 14 foot ceilings and the spiral staircase and the unfinished basements with the rollerskates. there, we had homechurch, a word which carries the taste of monkey bread and breakfast casserole and the really good orange juice. those tastes carry the feeling of being put to bed after i listened to my mother and her friends play scrabble and of knowing that the adults in the room were genuinely loving towards each other. you can taste love when you’re a child- it feels like warm marshmallows in s’mores and orange medicine sliding down your throat. you can also taste hate, which i imagine to taste metallic and a little soured, like yogurt that has gone bad.

the chest of drawers, made by the craftsman that installed my mother and father’s builtin closet, had tiered drawers; the bottom was the largest. my tinkerry tottery childhood self collected things from here and there. craft project scraps went in the drawer, sparkly things, yarn and stickers and colored pencils and books and journals and

i saved obsessively. as if it were my profession, and looked through the drawer on occasion to familiarize myself with the contents of my musings. i’d rediscover the bright piece of metal that i made in kindergarten, pounding out the shape of a lamb with a nail and hammer until I was satisfied.
now i’m thinking of the wonderful things that i’ve collected along the way, just noticing. just picking up off the side of the street, putting it into the pocket in my dress. it’s the way that elsa lines up her toys in a row and talks to all of them (i’m sure) as she’s doing that. it’s the way that my family plants zinnias in their garden. it’s the new gingko tree that i notice on every walk that i go on. i pick these things up- like the kiwi phrases and the way my friend lauren beelines through the market or through busy streets. the same way my oldest cousin nathan beelines when we’re in a busy country. and it’s the same way that elsa busies herself with tasks.

it’s the way joy tucks her hair behind her ear when she has something important to say and the twenty questions that my cousin asks a visitor to family reunions. its the cole slaw that my grandmother makes, and the way that baking soda is spelled ‘backing soda’ on a recipe that an old friend, the sister of my high-school sweetheart, wrote for me.

i pull out these treasures occasionally and turn them through my fingers, letting the gritty sand work through the fingers and searching for the voice that connects all of those things. you know when you see a pile of someone’s things and you suddenly feel like you know them a little better?

i’m still finding my voice, i know it’s buried in these treasures. in the smell of classic chapstick and orange tic tacs in my grandfather’s breast pocket. in the cheek kisses from my best friend. i’m gathering up gratitude on the side of the street, searching through boxes for the glinty sparkles of thank yous, and writing on postcards, sending them to strangers, and hoping they open their mailbox with a smile.

linkapalooza. some of the starred posts on dat rss feeder, y’all. 


..the cost of love..

..that light, that beautiful light..


..curried squash..

..life is my project, photos are my jam..


and on the up and up, my bed is all made up and ready to jump into spring. 

oh hi guys, oh hey. i don’t know if it’s the caffeine that i consumed far too late in the day or my boredom and creativity kicking in, but i was brainstorming on the way home about ways to make my life more interesting and fun and decided that i am going to do an experiment. 

every month, for the year of 2012, i will try something BRAND. NEW. 

requirements: none. 

i anticipate that most of what i will want to do will be experiences. i have spent far too much time daydreaming of buying a brand new wardrobe to express who i am and far too little time taking the time to expose myself to experiences and moments in life that add to my character. this is the year of 25. the year where i am mostly an adult and settling into a few ruts and routines that are familiar and comforting. i like familiar and comforting, and i think i’ve established myself on the hierarchy of needs- i have food and clothing and friendship and security in a lot of things. at the end of this year, i will have done (at least!) 12 brand new things and

ideas! go to that poetry group at charis! do that extra special thing that i will do for my birthday (Shhhhhhh), yoga membership! pottery studio membership! rock climbing! urban hiking! stay at the hostel in the woods! buddhist meditation! habitat for humanity build in atlanta! spanish classes! photography classes! get a dog! look into graduate school! speed dating! art galleries in atlanta! half marathon! swimming! do a back flip! 

this, my friends, is my new challenge. i take it on in concert with all of the buds on the trees that i notice as i have been running to accomplish february’s BRAND NEW item: running a 10k. 

you’re, of course, invited in the adventure, and i welcome suggestions. 

i have excitement.

Find me here.

dear erin

i am luxuriating

in the calm spiciness of autumn

bringing me back to the shared rooms in stone castles on acres of land and listening to the noises that remind me so much of those days and smiling inside. dear child, you are not alone. and your memories and delights and dreams are here to keep you company. just last night you dreamed of a sweet boy who pedaled up to you on his bike and offered a greeting. there will be those boys and men with whom your body sways naturally and your heart pitter patters.

this season in the world is begging for you to enjoy it. i hear the blueness of the sky and the coolness in the air and the breeze ask desperately for you to come luxuriate, to come bask it their generosity. there is nothing more and nothing less. respond to life. respond in ways of generous ambition, of giddiness and joy, of peace and prosperity. do what screams of health and deep enjoyment. let your smile glow from inside.

fill up on moments of laughter and love, like the time you spent with rachel and david last night, like every solid sleep, like the tightness in your muscles and like the few moments in the car with maggie this afternoon. your friendships are the ties that are binding you together but you are not the one holding them together- you, my sweet one, are not responsible for everyone’s happiness.

you are enough.

and just being who you are is a delight to the souls of your deepest friends. being the best you and growing inspires others and creates a healthy contributer. you are absolutely wonderful and you don’t have to do anything to prove that to anyone.

your doing will come out of your joy and abundance when you give to yourself with generosity. don’t abandon your luxuries, don’t fall into the falsehood that selflessness is the ultimate way, because a compromising and forgetting of self will compromise your ability and desire to give. feed yourself- with good food and wine, and with experiences, of nature and art and pottery and spirituality and things that give you life. be brave! do things alone. your bravery in your sadness renews me. i am inspired by your punchy attitude, by your attentiveness, and by your jumping in. do more things that feel fearsome. you’ll feel afraid but you’ll be proud and you’ll be richer because of it.

my dear one, you possess such wonder. inhabiting you is courage and desire. live out of that. in your depth is a well of LIFE well-lived and a legacy and contribution to this world. you have nothing ot prove; you have only to enjoy and only to earnestly seek the best and most fruitful life you can fathom.

and fathom you will! i dare you to lay in bed at night and dream, ache of the simple pleasures and gigantic opportunities that await you. i dare you to imagine the mountains you’ll climb, the breaths you’ll breathe, the people you’ll meet, or the mugs you’ll drink from. in the monotony of your life, i’m confident that you’ll discover its texture and glide your hand across it and share how it feels with others.

don’t lose it. take climbs and hikes and laugh until your sides ache. cling desperately to this wonder (i dare you). spread it around. share it with others.

you. are. enough.

sitting there now, or dancing. your body is perfection and you can twirl around with magic. you can appreciate what your senses bring in. you can affirm. you can create. your digestion of the empathy you feel makes each fiber of you stronger and stronger.

inspire yourself. as i am inspired by the dreams and accomplishments of the younger me, i dare you. i dare you to inspire yourself. you are magnificent. thank you for giving me a chance to know you. thank you, thank you, thank you for knowing yourself.

with deep respect, love, and affection,