Nutshell 

Nothing makes me retract into my shell faster than a raised voice riddled with profanity and criticism. By withdrawing i protect myself from further onslaught by hoping tempers will burn out on their own. The times when I dare to ask for calm are met with further brute. My intentions are to mitigate the situation by asking for deep breaths and attempts to problem solve. But such intentions are seen as condescending, and largely unwelcome. High intensity situations like these are compounded when met with the threat of public exposure. The most humiliating memories in my life were when those I loved acted out in fits of rage at restaurants, stores, parking lots, or worse, in front of my home. The “white trash” label hangs in the air above me in those moments. There’s no way I’m engaging. No matter how belittling the situation; instead of sticking up for myself I find myself walking away, head down, averting eye contact. A friend sees me, asks innocently, if I’m okay, I shrug. If only I could shrug off the shame. Why don’t i fight back? Raise my own voice in opposition. The battering ram isn’t always intended for me. But the force of it is hard to miss. I’ll watch you get in my face, feel the spit of your words, here the slamming of doors, the turn of the engine. My heart wrings wretchedly in pain as I rush out to watch anger drive you away. My fear of your tirade overshadowed now by the scariest scenarios of what might happen when you loose control of yourself in a 1000 lb vehicle. The stillness of the house engulfs me. I know not what to do with myself. Wait by the door? Carry on with my chores? Bury my head in a book escaping the harsh reality of my life. It will pass. The storm never stays long. The damage repaired over time…

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Stare

“Look at her”.

Now say it again, identify the tone inflicted in your internal monologue upon saying it. 
“Look at her”.
Did you mask your words with your hand, letting the phrase seep from the side of mouth, into the ear of a friend. Someone all too eager to join you in sizing up the woman you’ve taken aim at? Did you roll your eyes, shake your head in disbelief, giggle out loud at her display? Were her heels too high? Make up unkept? Pants skin tight? Did her belly show? Was it not firm enough? Too firm perhaps? Did she make you feel inadequate with her confidence? Did she ooze sex appeal and leave you wondering who she was banging later tonight? Did the way her hips move encourage labels of “tease”, “slut”, or “bitch”? Why is she smiling? Fucking gloating whore. Did you see her laugh at his joke? Oh my, watch her put her hands on his arm, she wants him. She’s not even very pretty? What do they see in her? Fuck, she made eye contact…smile, play nice. Now tear her to shreds with whomever will listen as she walks away. 
 “Look at her”.
Or did you sigh because her beauty took your breath away momentarily. A beauty that not everyone appreciates right away because they don’t know her like you do. Did she walk into the room and make everyone else in it disappear? Can you see the flushness of her cheeks as she turns away shyly? Did you see her eyes dance with hope as you spoke of plans to be made together? Did you notice her chipped polish and smile? Did her too high high heels make your heart race? Did the skin tight pants conjure images of intimate moments alone together? Did her unkept make up show signs of her crying into your shoulder last night? Do the glimpses others take of her midriff make you uncomfortable? Damn it she’s beautiful. She radiates confidence but you know better. You know she is insecure. She’s shared with you her fears of dependency. You know her harsh tones, crass comments, and profanities only serve as her shield. She does care what other people think. She is vulnerable and it makes her more beautiful. Look at her. 
Look at me. I can feel the eyes that fall upon my body. The piercing ones in judgement. The gentle ones in love. Look at me. Know as much as I want your approval to satisfy my insecure needs for acceptance, the only eyes I care about meet mine when I need them most. They seek me out, body, mind and spirit. Look at me…

Ends with Moon

Less emotion. I got this. 

Reign it in. Settle down. 
Stop fanning the flames and just enjoy the heat from the embers. 
Hold back, in order to hold on. 
Tone it down. 
Pinch yourself. 
Head out of the clouds. 
Appreciate what you have. 
Stop daydreaming. 
Reality isn’t so bad. 
Remember the blue bird on your shoulder. 
Savor the moment. 
Don’t make it into something it’s not. 
Be careful with other people’s hearts. 
Be the wings they need, and not the chains that holds them back. 
Stop crying! 
You are not in mourning. 
You have not lost anything…yet
Stop planting seeds of doubt
Worrying only serves to inhibit you
Stay focused on the positive 
Don’t dwell on the could have beens 
Move forward 
Evolve 
Be honest with yourself
Step into the light of the moon. 

Stare

“Look at her”.

Now say it again, identify the tone inflicted in your internal monologue upon saying it. 
“Look at her”.
Did you mask your words with your hand, letting the phrase seep from the side of mouth, into the ear of a friend. Someone all too eager to join you in sizing up the woman you’ve taken aim at? Did you roll your eyes, shake your head in disbelief, giggle out loud at her display? Were her heels too high? Make up unkept? Pants skin tight? Did her belly show? Was it not firm enough? Too firm perhaps? Did she make you feel inadequate with her confidence? Did she ooze sex appeal and leave you wondering who she was banging later tonight? Did the way her hips move encourage labels of “tease”, “slut”, or “bitch”? Why is she smiling? Fucking gloating whore. Did you see her laugh at his joke? Oh my, watch her put her hands on his arm, she wants him. She’s not even very pretty? What do they see in her? Fuck, she made eye contact…smile, play nice. Now tear her to shreds with whomever will listen as she walks away. 
 “Look at her”.
Or did you sigh because her beauty took your breath away momentarily. A beauty that not everyone appreciates right away because they don’t know her like you do. Did she walk into the room and make everyone else in it disappear? Can you see the flushness of her cheeks as she turns away shyly? Did you see her eyes dance with hope as you spoke of plans to be made together? Did you notice her chipped polish and smile? Did her too high high heels make your heart race? Did the skin tight pants conjure images of intimate moments alone together? Did her unkept make up show signs of her crying into your shoulder last night? Do the glimpses others take of her midriff make you uncomfortable? Damn it she’s beautiful. She radiates confidence but you know better. You know she is insecure. She’s shared with you her fears of dependency. You know her harsh tones, crass comments, and profanities only serve as her shield. She does care what other people think. She is vulnerable and it makes her more beautiful. Look at her. 
Look at me. I can feel the eyes that fall upon my body. The piercing ones in judgement. The gentle ones in love. Look at me. Know as much as I want your approval to satisfy my insecure needs for acceptance, the only eyes I care about meet mine when I need them most. They seek me out, body, mind and spirit. Look at me…

Episode 

I can see it. The cloud moves in, dimming the sparkle in your eyes. You can feel it. 

The suffocation of unexplainable emotions. In an instant, I’ve lost you to deep, dark thoughts. The air thickens around me too. My breathing intensifies, shallow and rapid the pace of the air entering my lungs matches the rate of my heart. My stomach turns with worry that I’ve done something to distress you. While racking my brain for self blame, A lesson you taught me not long ago rings in my ears, “it’s not always about you”. Serving as a reminder to me to let you be at one with your circumstances as well as not making your introversion my self involved obsession. My only job now is to remind you that you are loved, greatly! That you are not alone, ever! That you are entitled to your feelings and the space you need to work through them. To hold your hand, squeeze you tightly in a hug, or kiss away any tears that escape your eyes. 
As I sit beside you, my thoughts circle around one thought, “I love you”. I resist the urge to ask questions. There will be no more digging, probing, or prodding. My cues I take from you, though not always what I want to do/say, I know to honor your wishes is to honor you. I let go of your hand, fingers lingering to the tips. My embrace relaxes, but not before I feel your’s loosen. My kisses blossom into a faint smile, because even in your sadness you make me happy. 
I can’t fight off the demons that haunt you. There is no promise I can make to guarantee that you will never feel this way again. I will never pretend to understand or try to shoo away the doubts, worries or sadness that you grapple with. I will leave when you ask, but I’ll never waiver in my pledge to come when you call. 
You’re my best friend. My world wouldn’t spin as freely as it does without you in it. My lowest valleys haven’t been faced alone when I know I can see you standing at the peak beyond, hand stretched out, ready to pull me up. Please remember to look up when you are feeling low, for my hand will forever be waiting to take hold of yours. L
 

Heard

“Give me something tangible”, the Voice begged. “A token of your affection, a symbol of your love.” 

Ears listened. Anxiety filled the Heart. Butterflies churned in the Stomach. The Mind raced as pressure mounted. 
“Give me something thoughtful”, the Voice continued, “prove to me you’ve been paying attention”. 
Ears perked. Heart wrenched. Stomach ached. The Mind stumbled. 
“Give me something unique,” the Voice demanded, “nothing generic”. 
Ears muffled. Heart slowed. Stomach unsettled. Mind grew restless. 
The Voice was relentless, “If you love me. If you care. If you want to see me happy.”
Ears ceased sound. Heart grew cold. Stomach was in throat. Mind sought ways out. 
The Voice began to echo in the Ears, “you don’t love me, you never did”. 
The Voice denied the Heart reciprocation of admiration, “That’s not how you love”. 
The Voice left the Stomach ill. “Wasted time”.
The Voice dismantled the Mind. “Goodbye.”
The Voice will forever haunt. 
Ears will always respond to a particular name. 
The Heart will continue to associate feelings with memories. 
The Stomach will bend and twist at the direction of the Heart. 
The Mind. The Mind will make decisions based off both the whispers and shouts, even when another Voice begins to drown out the old. 
Your Voice has power. Use it wisely. 

Bottled 

The stroke of midnight came and went uneventfully last night. The magic of ringing in the new year, tainted by the bitter sweet nostalgia that would forever be 2015. Sadness lingered in the back of my mind as everyone scurried to synchronize watches, account for loved ones, and secure a flute of bubbly.  Dazed by the prospect of saying goodbye, I stood still, taking in the people around me that had helped shaped the memories of a truly wonderful year. To see the faces of those who weren’t with me physically, I looked to the stars to better feel their presence. I felt my self inhale deeply as  the ball began to drop. 10-9-8-7-6…a flood of smiles, laughs, and triumphs caught hold of my heart and squeezed it tightly. 5-4-3-2….exhale…1…Happy New Year! An explosion of well wishes and hugs distracted me from the melancholy of the inevitable passing of time. 

2015 will always be considered a year filled with friendship and adventure. I entered the year with a handful of true friends that had stood the test of time, and found myself engulfed in the promise of new forever friends as I found myself the on trails (I would be remiss to not mention the impact hiking had on my life this year). 
The foundation of friendship had been laid by my bestie Caren, and enhanced by my truest friends, Leslie, Erika, Blythe, and Ingrid. 

I expanded my horizons further by breaking through self created barriers in my mind. I dismissed my fear of rejection and self doubt and opened my heart to fresh faces and experiences. Common interests brought us together, whether through music, my dearest best friend Trevor. Or on trails, my lovely, ‘can’t imagine my life without you’ friends Cindy, Jen, Elizabeth, Caia and Celeste. 
Positive attitudes, build you up mentalities, and a no nonsense rejection of defeatism, has made the difference in these friendships. How fortunate I am to have some of the best cheerleaders a person could ask for. 
Thank you to everyone who made 2015 beyond special. Thank you to my family for being patience with me as I found myself transitioning into a new world of self discovery. Thank you trails, thank you pen, thank you friends. 
My heart is full. Bring on 2016.