Lemonade.

“Take one pint of water, add a half pound of sugar, the juice of eight lemons, the zest of half a lemon. Pour the water from one jug then into the other several times. Strain through a clean napkin.

Grandmother, the alchemist, you spun gold out of this hard life, conjured beauty from the things left behind. Found healing where it did not live. Discovered the antidote in your own kit. Broke the curse with your own two hands.”

A narrative that most women are hauntingly familiar with.

Intuition, Denial, Anger, Apathy, Emptiness, Accountability, Forgiveness, Hope, Redemption.

 

This is struggle.

This is revival.

This is Lemonade.

 

 

“I tried to change.”

 1176204_10200311265449890_353306009_n

“Closed my mouth more, tried to be softer, prettier, less awake.”

The constant coming and going of waves.

The tide came in and swept me away.

Only my shadow remained.

“I sat alone and begged and bent at the waist for God. I crossed myself and thought I saw the devil. I grew thickened skin on my feet, I bathed in bleach…”

1240091_10200311106725922_1978291900_n

I exhausted myself. I did not sleep. I feel not feel. I just chanted the same mantra:

“If it’s what you truly want … I can wear her skin over mine. Her hair over mine. Her hands as gloves. Her teeth as confetti. Her scalp, a cap. Her sternum, my bedazzled cane. We can pose for a photograph, all three of us. Immortalized … you and your perfect girl.”

wild

The wild girl inside me slept. Or maybe suffocated. Slowly succumbing to the cold.

It extinguished every dark, rosy ember.

It left nothing but an echo of hope that transformed into longing.

I don’t know when love became elusive…I think of lovers as trees … growing to and from one another. Searching for the same light.”

11947477_702314149904837_6833556913104384348_n-1

“What are you gonna say at my funeral, now that you’ve killed me? Here lies the body of the love of my life, whose heart I broke without a gun to my head.”

Here lies the girl that travelled 3,000 miles.

Here lies the girl that turned hours into minutes.

Minutes into excruciating seconds.

Here lies the girl that ripped off the mask,
gazed at what was beneath,
and fell under a curse that turned her eyes into dust.

252998_10150201510642393_1823109_n

Here lies the girl that kept saying,

“Why are you doing this to yourself?

Why don’t you know better yet?”

Why do you deny yourself heaven? Why do you consider yourself undeserving? Why are you afraid of love? You think it’s not possible for someone like you…

…Are you a slave to the back of his hand?”

1383808_10200451116866088_1272056172_n

“how far have you walked for men who’ve never held your feet in their laps?
how often have you bartered with bone, only to sell yourself short?
why do you find the unavailable so alluring?
where did it begin? what went wrong? and who made you feel so worthless?
if they wanted you, wouldn’t they have chosen you?
all this time, you were begging for love silently
thinking they couldn’t hear you, but they smelt it on you
you must have known that they could taste the desperate on your skin
and what about the others that would do anything for you?
why did you make them love you until you could not stand it?
how are you both of these women, both flighty and needful?
where did you learn this, to want what does not want you?
where did you learn this, to leave those that want to stay?”

 

 

***Italics are lyrics and poetry from Beyonce’s visual album Lemonade.

bonfire

Fuck Mediocrity

It’s Saturday, and I just got off a 9-5 waitressing shift. I’m on the phone with Tess – my ex-roommate and lovely friend. She moved to Asheville about a month ago, and since then, both of our lives have changed drastically.

Her – a new house, a new job. New friends. A new environment. 

Me- a new second job, a new dog. A soon to be new house. A renewed environment. 

The thing I’ve always admired about Tess is that she doesn’t settle. She’s passionate and determined. Things I’ve always believed to be important characteristics of mine – until I realized I wasn’t putting them into practice.

Until I quit being a watered down version of myself. 

I can hear Matt in the background – her boyfriend, my former kickball buddy. She’s talking about various things going on in her life, enthusiastically. I start thinking that I don’t think Tess has ever been a watered down version of anything.

I think back to the moments she and I had heart to hearts. I think about all the times she told me I deserved better than what I was settling for — and since she lived it, I genuinely believed her. Since she lives and breathes the mantra of - fuck mediocrity - I always believed everything she said.

This of course isn’t just limited to Tess – when I was going through that six month funk, I had really good friends that fought for me.

I had really good friends who challenged and questioned me – that reminded me of who I am, and what I stand for. Sometimes I hated it – I wanted to be poetic and wallow. But the Emilys, the Tesses, the Annabels and the Rachels refused to let it happen.

It made me realize I was tired of wanting to be poetic, wanting to wallow.

There was a point in January – and I won’t ever be able to pinpoint when – that I was just really over it. Over the settling. Over the idea that I couldn’t be more.

I thought about my life – in terms of a story, a beginning to end. If I wrote the ending, what would I want it to be? Then I realized, wrote it down – and to remind myself of it, swapped the background on my phone.

Plain, white with simple text:

coward

The realization that I was being a coward – that I was choosing to sell myself short –  caused a ripple effect.

It pushed me to everything good in my life now. It pushed me to adopt Morrie, to cut off all my hair, to stop caring about the ambivalent nature of people who can’t seem to give a fuck about anything or anyone. To embrace that I like working more than laying around, to embrace that I’ll always be a fuck yes or no kind of person.

It made me feel disappointment so much deeper. It made me push myself more – to become comfortable with 12-14 hour days. It made me resent and reject anything that felt unauthentic. It made me give up on the things, the situations, and the relationships that never changed or went anywhere productive.

To actually own the mantra I’ve pushed on my blog for years - fuck mediocrity. Fuck the things that make you feel like you don’t deserve more. Fuck anything that makes you feel less like yourself. Fuck the people who seem to get off on you being less.

The life changing wake up call that shakes up heaven and earth – the wake up call that you are not willing to settle… FOR ANYTHING. Even if the choice not to settle challenges your patience. Even if the choice not to settle damns you to exhaustive nights, intense, honest conversations, and a hell of a lot of faith that someday, it’ll all be worth it.

Because I really believe it will.

I really believe that when genuinely applied, the decision to pursue everything you want works out. The choice to take ownership of who you are, to really embrace it, and at times, defend it, is powerful and life changing. But it has to start with you – it has to start with that gut-wrenching acknowledgement that this is not who you are. This is not who you date. This is not where you live. This is not what you do. This is not your life. 

 

“I’m willing to lose that if it means finding myself.”

Not too long ago, I admitted something I’ve been very scared to accept. After tiptoeing around it in front of family or friends, alluding to it, I finally just said it: from this past fall through winter of this year, I struggled with depression.

When I was going through it, it was hard for me to see. Mostly because it was also a season of my life where I was incredibly challenged. So I lost myself in difficult situations, people and experiences that usually, wouldn’t impact me so much.

My self-esteem eroded. Melissa, Missy, me, as I know myself, disappeared. For awhile, it transformed me into a sad, quiet girl I don’t recognize now.

It was a large part of the reason I went back to Europe. In September, I wanted to recapture some of the exhilaration I felt the first time I went to Iceland. I desperately wanted some kind of refresh that would knock me out of (what I thought was) a funk.

So I booked the New Years trip.

And you know, it was a start. Though I didn’t have some huge transformation right away, I found peace and solace in planning something big for myself. But more importantly, when I returned from the trip, I felt extremely humbled and grateful for what was waiting for me back home.

A good job, friends, family, faith and community here in North Carolina. I chose to invest as much as I could in those things – and as I’ve elaborated on before, this changed so much for me. But there was still this lingering discomfort in my identity.

I still didn’t really see me, driftyland/fuck mediocrity/happysunshine/kind of immature/Philly girl Missy anywhere. Sure, there were glimmers – whenever I stood my ground, whenever I worked on a Sunday afternoon to get ahead of the week, whenever I took a weekend trip.

But it wasn’t until I Robin Wrighted myself that I looked in the mirror and thought:

“It’s you. Where have you been?”

It was like pushing a boulder off a cliff – one that has picked up momentum for the past two months.

The feeling of welcoming someone back into your life… when that someone is you. The only other time I’ve felt that was when I lived in Wilmington – before I went to Iceland, when I was right on the brink of it.  It was the only other time in my life that I was completely overjoyed and grateful for everything I had, and so excited to see what was going to happen next.

The feeling of running into a huge fountain, and picking up every single bit of change you’ve thrown in there for the past few years. Except the bits of change are actually bits of strength, encouragement and love you gave away – that you really just want to give back to yourself.

I think my optimism has always kind of blinded me, and sometimes, to a fault. Sometimes to the point where I gave too many chances to everything else and not a single chance to myself. To remember what I taught myself before, all those years ago in Wilmington, and am now learning again:

I like hard work. I like getting my hands dirty. I will always prefer having blonde hair. I love grapefruit and rye bread, and other odd foods that my grandmother introduced me to. I’d rather spend a day drawing, doodling and journaling, rather than doing anything else. I hate when anyone treats me like a child. I am okay with not being the best at everything – as long as I get to be the best at a few things. Burritos are amazing. I will never think to use a coaster. I intuitively know when something is none of my business. I have the sense of humor of a 12 year old boy – with the exception of fart jokes. I do not ever want to be with someone who doesn’t know the value of what they have the first time. I will always try a little too hard to get what I want. I fall in love quickly. I am sweet. I am kind. I believe in God. I love people. I deserve happiness. I want to see the world.

And I will not settle for anything less.

20160401_132202

Our adventure begins now.

I walk down the green painted concrete, whines and barks echo.  I’m surprised how sterile it is. I focus on the numbers, instead of the sad, tired faces.

19.

A pleading puppy.

21.

An eccentric pitbull.

Then, 25.

23 is losing his mind as I crouch down in front of the door in front of 25. 23 claws at the chain link, barking incessantly. His eyes plead for any scrap of attention.

I do my best to ignore it, reminding myself I don’t want to come home to that everyday.

I focus on 25.

He’s mostly black, with big patches of grey and a white underbelly.

“Hi,” I say softly, sticking my fingers through one of the shiny rectangles.

He examines me for a minute, sleepily standing up. Cocking his head, he briefly sniffs my hand. Then, as all of the other dogs bark and cry, Seymour politely sits and lifts his paw like an elderly old gentlemen.

He’s silent…until he breaks into a half pant, half smile, slightly crossing his eyes.

I immediately walk to the front desk and ask when I can adopt him.

20160312_100311

Our first meeting

“Um, he needs a heartworm treatment,” the Lea Michele lookalike says, leafing through some papers. ”So not until next Wednesday. Do you want to meet someone else?”

I look at her, probably a little more intensely than I anticipated.

I consider disclosing my certainty. I think about coming to see him every day until he’s free. But I know like anything else, I need to trust it.

“No.” I stammer. ”He’s mine.”

And I leave.

I called almost every day.

“Am I still good to see Seymour on Wednesday?” I asked each woman who answered the APS phone.

It was a yes, until it was Tuesday night.

Then it was a no.

“Um… what kennel is he in again?” The girl absentmindedly asks.

“25.” I say, a bit impatient.

“Oh, yeah. He’s not free until Saturday. Or maybe Monday.”

I felt anxious, imagining what would happen if he wasn’t available until Monday. I couldn’t stake any claim until meeting him, and the possibility that I’d lose him – after being so sure about him – rattled me.

I should probably take a few minutes to explain when I decided to get a dog.

I had two dogs before. Then a lot in my life changed. Russell went to my ex, Molly went to live with my parents – originally a temporary fix, but over time, became obviously permanent.

Molly took to my parents home more than she ever did any of mine. She spends her days leisurely walking around their huge front and back yards. My Mom considers Molly hers – calling the sweet hound mix her “favorite daughter” (keep in mind she has three human daughters).

So for the past three or four years, I’ve been intentionally dog-less. And for the past two years, single. It’s obviously something I’ve written about a lot.

But maybe what I’ve shied away from, is the loneliness that came with all of that. Around January, I started to feel a push to consider dog adoption. I flirted with the idea, but was hesitant to make a move.

After my New Years trip, work picked up and I forgot about it. I even got a fish, Walter – that’s still alive and swimming. I didn’t revisit the idea for a dog at all.

Until Seymour popped up on my News Feed.

I followed APS months ago – after catching the end of an event at Beer Durham. His name got my attention. I’m a huge Futurama fan – I jokingly shared the post to my wall, stating I should get the dog and name him “Seymour Butts”.*

*I have since been corrected by my co-worker Jordan that Fry’s dog was Seymour Asses. I swear it was Butts when I watched the episode on Fox eons ago. 

I didn’t forget Seymour, though.

I couldn’t get him out of my head. So I prayed about it, sat with it – then finally, went to meet him. That’s when I knew.

I considered all of the cons – I thought about the implications he’d have on my schedule. I obviously love to travel (my new co-worker Angie was just telling me about friends she had in Budapest she could “totally hook me up with.”)

I recently got a second job downtown waitressing at a bar – keeping me out until 11 or 12 on any given night. And plus, there’s my day job. Aside from all of that, although I got support from Dogmother Annabel… I got negative feedback from some friends or family members, telling me it was a bad idea for someone like me to adopt.

That honestly hurt me – “someone like me”.  As if someone free-spirited shouldn’t have some kind of companionship. My argument there – that I’ve settled with – is that Seymour and I can be free-spirited together. I had wanted someone to be free spirited with anyway – why can’t that someone have four legs?

And if there was ever a time, a place, and a dog to be free-spirited with — this is the time, when I have a job that allows me to work from home, within close proximity of my residence. This is the place – Durham, North Carolina, one of the most dog-friendliest places I’ve ever been. This is the dog – the pile of fur, polite sniffs, and love that’s currently passed out on my bedroom floor.

The dog that has still yet to bark, and looked absolutely devastated when I scolded him for bringing me the fun paintbrush he found. The dog that rolls on his back so I can give him tummy rubs. The dog that looks absolutely delighted by car rides.

Sure, Seymour won’t realistically follow me to the the coast of Portugal, or explore the streets of Madrid. But if there’s a mountain to hike, a brewery to day drink at, or a dog-friendly beach to be found along the Gulf of Mexico, in drivable cities and states like Nashville, Charleston and Asheville – we will find them. We will be there.

And in that way, Seymour gives me the opportunity to venture places I may not alone – an opportunity for simultaneous solitude and companionship that could never have with another person.

Our adventure begins now. 

 

paint

“They know something you don’t know.”

Not too long ago, I heard really fantastic advice. I don’t remember where or why, but basically, it was that when someone is resistant or bold, it might be because – “they know something you don’t know.”

Experience has taught me that’s true- even in the most extreme examples. Think of every gut feeling you’ve ever had – that random bar you walked into, where you ended up meeting someone wonderful. That college you applied to, by chance, that you got into. That trip you went on that changed your life.

All without reason.

That feeling has given me all the incentive I’ve needed to ditch logic. Rationality has it’s time and place, but when something digs into your gut and refuses to leave – that’s something to listen to. Admittedly, it’s easy to listen to the promises of reward – the feeling to buy that plane ticket, to paint that painting, to stay out to 4 AM.

It’ll be worth it, God whispers.

Those are the kind of things you take the leap for – exciting, passionate things. The city you explore, the terrible job you quit, the handsome guy you kiss.

Those things feel good. They feel worth it, even before you know what they’re worth. The struggle is listening to that feeling, that urge, when it actively contradicts what you want. When you truly want to ignore things like:

This isn’t the place for you. 

You need to take a break from traveling. 

This isn’t the right partner for you. 

So when I’ve gotten a “no” – (as disheartening as it’s been), I’ve tried to think about that initial advice. That whomever had the responsibility to actually turn me down  - that person might have had their own gut feeling. The feeling that I wasn’t meant for “it”, whatever “it” was.

It’s difficult to trust that. I’ve always felt like I’ve had a good grasp over what I want, what I deserve – so being told “no” has really frustrated me. But when I considered that – that whomever was handing out the “no” might have nothing but an inkling for doing so… I felt humbled. I felt a little safer. Like the universe was looking out for me, even when I couldn’t look out for myself.

That it wasn’t because I didn’t have the characteristics or potential. It wasn’t because I didn’t have the right stuff. It was just circumstance, life, opportunity – that it was just how things were meant to be.

And hey – the moment you accept the truth of your life – the truth of what’s meant to be yours, and what isn’t – you’ll never feel more free. You’ll never feel such a rush.

It reminds me of the article Complex published about retired NBA player Larry Sanders. What the once center for the Milwaukee Bucks said about his decision to quit professional basketball.

That at first, the choice wasn’t easy – he compared it to unclogging a waterhole.

“What’s going to come out first? Gunk, worms, crap…” Sanders says. “And then you get flowing water. You get fresh water.”

“That’s how I felt it. I felt an explosion of emotion.”

The emotion Sanders describes – delayed joy, after instantaneous defeat, disappointment – isn’t that so relatable? The lull that follows any difficult decision – a break up you knew you wanted to happen, but couldn’t admit to it. Quitting a job you felt tied to, veering off a course you’ve felt obligated to your whole life – misery followed by pure release.

Gunk, worms, crap. Then fresh, flowing water.

Think of it in reverse, now. Think of the last person that let you down – and instead of thinking of malicious or poor intentions, imagine that person desperately wanting for things to be different. Wishing things could be different. But deeply knowing, that after the sharp jab of turning down another human (regardless of it’s for a job, for a friendship, for a romance), there was fresh, flowing truth and opportunity on the other side.

Can’t we all get behind that?

 

 

12509457_770674239735494_1264307288113027255_n

“A is for adventure.”

Before we left for Europe, I told my sister she was obligated to write a guest post. The entire time we were there, I asked her at every destination – “so… what are you going to write about?”

She said she needed to think about it. And similar to how she must feel about the box of her left behind clothing I promised to ship her, I hoped for the best, but kind of thought I’d never get it. Since that trip, a lot has changed.

Tonight, I came home after my roommate’s last kickball game, sad and a bit disheartened. The four of us – myself, Tess, Emily and Kate – are going our separate ways, Tess being the first, with a move to Asheville. I went to bed being a bit pessimistic about how life usually turns out – the struggle, the loss, the change. 

Life kind of always gives you blue balls.

(That last line will probably only be understood by my roommates, and that’s kind of poetic.)

Continue reading…

littlebird

Little bird.

I want to write about something that I write about a lot.

I want to write about taking risks.

But I don’t want to write about it in the same way. Instead, I want to share something else. As I sit here, propped up in my bed, typing at an awkward angle to prop up my new tattoo (it stings now), I let the lyrics of my favorite Avett Brothers songs drift around my room -

“There was a dream,
and one day I could see it.
Like a bird in a cage, I broke in
and demanded that somebody free it.”

(BTW – I’m not imagining it, I actually have their Red Rocks performance of Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise playing.)

Continue reading…

graffiti

Tapestry

For the past few months, I’ve talked a lot about listening.

Specifically, listening to God.

Though I hesitate to make this blog into any kind of religious soapbox or forum, today feels very different. I’m going to take a risk and do a damned if I do, damned if I don’t leap into how I’ve learned to listen to God more.

Because for a long time, I fought against the current of how my relationships, my career and my identity evolved.  My life seemed to exist in two time frames – past and future. I really believed that I could get whatever I wanted – that is, if I worked and sacrificed enough.

I broke my heart again and again.

Continue reading…

12801292_722348870820_7286618978001978423_n

20 Strangers & Even More Clichés

There are two things I’m not very experienced with.

Skiing and West Virginia.

So it seems counter-intuitive that this past weekend, I ventured to Snowshoe, West Virginia to ski. With 20+ strangers.

(That last part seems more like me.)

It’s not that I have anything against West Virginia – I just haven’t spent a significant amount of time there.

Also, I don’t ski. Ask my third grade Girl Scout Troop leader that I (unintentionally) dragged off a ski-lift. She was out of work for three months, I waited until Junior High to revisit the idea of skiing… (an interest that didn’t last long).

Continue reading…

arrow

“Yeah, I really do.”

I walk up to my building, and there standing at the corner, is Morgan Freeman.

Or at least, a man that looks just like him. Like any person, when faced with a Morgan Freeman lookalike, on a serendipitous and sunny day, I looked up and said – “God?”

Just kidding.

Continue reading…