This morning, I happened to wake up right when the sun was rising. I slid out of bed, dragged a plastic chair out onto the balcony of my new apartment, and sat and watched the sky fill with light. The crows that hide out on Vanderbilt University’s campus flew past Kirkland Tower and over the buildings of West End. I’ve noticed that these birds are creatures of habit during the time I’ve spent as a student at Vandy. I’ve noticed that they fly the same path in the early morning and again around 5 o’clock. It’s hypnotizing to watch the flock of birds go together, owning the sky.Read More
“When was the last time you remember feeling good?” I stared at the words on the questionnaire, my clusterfuck thoughts couldn’t show an example. I continued through the survey answering with ease, describing symptom after symptom of the problems doctors couldn’t fix. This questionnaire was my last hope.Read More
I started dating a guy. He wasn't really good for me, but he wasn't really bad for me either. We were more like friends that happened to be dating, rather than actually in love. We slept together. After a while I panicked that I might be pregnant. It would have been horrible to be pregnant; because I don't know how to raise a child and I don't want to be a mother. And besides that, I like being able to do what I want when I want.Read More
I still remember the first time that I became aware of my arms.
I was reading a fashion magazine and an actress was quoted saying that of all her body parts, she was most concerned about her arms and keeping them in shape. It was the first time I realized that arms COULDN’T be in shape, and I wondered how mine fell on the spectrum. I felt disappointed and concerned, wondering if there were other parts of my body that I’d essentially neglected to stress about. I hoped that I’d never find out.Read More
I live in a place I like to call the inbetween. I imagine this island, small enough to walk across it in a day. There's a beautiful lake at the center with a small waterfall. It's never too hot or too cold. Sometimes someone is there with me, but mostly I'm alone. This is my island of inbetween.Read More
In August of 1915 my great grandmother was turning 27. She was married, living on a farm in Kansas, and had somewhere around four children (she would go on to have thirteen children when all was said and done). In October of 2015, one hundred years later, I am truing 27. Sometimes I think about my great grandmother’s life, how one hundred years and two month separate us. What kind of thoughts was she having on her birthday in 1915? Was she fulfilled with life? Was she happy? Did she wish she had done things differently—perhaps ended up somewhere else, with someone else? I think of her often, living a parallel life to my own one hundred years apart. And I’m thinking of her this week, as I turn 27 and examine my life so far.Read More
How does one define their life? How do you sum up everything that has happened in the last 20+ years? A friend told me that the best stories are about overcoming obstacles, how one deals with loss and love, and finding the silver linings. I believe that my body art tells my story. I’m proud to say that when I chose to decorate my body with tattoos, I chose from my past experiences to show things that are important to me. Things that have shaped my life.Read More
And whenever I say that, the responses vary from concern for my general well-being/mental health to tone-policing and virtue-beating about how I “shouldn’t be mad.” Because apparently young, intelligent women like myself shouldn’t be angry?Read More
I am afraid of the water.
And, yet, I find it fascinating.
When I was young, I almost drowned. Twice. But I loved summers spent at our community pool.
I love to sit beside the water listening to the waves wash upon the shore.
Any shore is fine by me.Read More
“Are you serious?” I implored. We were sitting curled among each other on the couch, familiarity breeding comfort. I’d always had a hard time staying warm during winter, and that day in March I was hoping for some contact warmth.Read More
They struck just before dawn on February 29, 1704—the Mohawks. Coming quickly, they climbed over the snowdrifts that had formed around the edges of the fort. Local legend has it that the watchman leaning against a house failed to see them coming. He was listening to the sounds of a mother’s lullaby. His cry to arms came too late…Read More
My grandfather died in early December of 2013. He had dementia, and it wasn’t wholly unexpected. He died on the farm. He always said that was where he wanted to die, always refusing to move--even when my dad and his sisters insisted. He loved the land more than anyone I know. For so many farmers working the land has become just another way to make money, there is nothing spiritual left in it. But for my grandfather, I think working the land, standing in a field of corn, held something holy.Read More
I was caught in a fog of subtle depravity.
That is how I would describe my first years living in Guatemala. It is terrifying what one believes to be truth and noble when done in God’s name. Evil has no boundaries.Read More
There are a thousand previous versions of myself. They are not so different from one another, some a little sassier or little quieter, a little more doubtful or a little more confident. For most of my life they have bled into one another, and it is only later I can look back and see the change.Read More
This July I became older than my older brother. It’s odd now that I’m older than him I don’t feel any more grown up than when I was younger than him. That has made me really look at my life and what I’ve done, what I want to do, and what I’m scared to do.Read More
I am a survivor of abuse and rape. I don’t ignore that reality, and I’ll never forget it. I take medicine for PTSD daily and am a client of the campus counseling center where I can get free therapy. But it’s also not my whole story. I am also a wife, a PhD student, a friend, and a daughter-in-law; but most importantly, I am a child of a loving God.Read More
They’re at every intersection in Nashville. The people selling their papers. Sometimes I catch myself thinking, “They don’t look like they’d be homeless. Wonder what their story is.” And then I remember.Read More
I have a tattoo on my neck that reads D I V I N A.
It is the feminine term for divine, in Spanish. You see, I have chosen to affirm my greatness through my body, and I consider this tattoo a proclamation to myself and an affirmation to my female ancestors. I love this tattoo because it is an indicator for outsiders to know who they are dealing with, when they approach me.Read More
I don’t remember how old I was. Eight or nine possibly. Some details didn’t stick in this guilty memory. But I remember the restaurant. It was a cheap pizza chain. I remember the smell of heat-lamp pizza and wilted pink salad with ranch. I remember the pleasure of seeing greasy wadded up paper napkins on empty beige plates next to half-drunk red plastic cups. Empty plates meant full tummies. And of course I remember distinctly the stained industrial carpet under the tables and chairs where I crouched and hid in mortification.Read More
I cannot tell you how I first came up with the idea for HerStory without first telling you about a place called Thistle Farms. Thistle Farms is a social enterprisese and nonprofit located in Nashville, Tennessee, and during the last year of my graduate program at Vanderbilt Divinity School I was their full time intern. The company makes natural body products, healing oils, and a few household goods. But that is not what is special about Thistle Farms. Thistle Farms is special because women who have survived trafficking, addiction, and life on the street make the products. These women come to Thistle Farms in search of recovery and a new life. They are given two years of free counseling, housing, and treatment, while also being given the chance to earn a living wage and learn the skills that they need to become free and independent women. It is from these women that the idea for HerStory was born.Read More