Don’t Dream it’s over- Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

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When I was a little girl a rose was always a symbol of love to me. I lost my Dad to a heart attack at 39 years young, but he had a red rose tattooed on his arm with his and my moms’ names.

I have always loved roses, especially the wild pink roses that grew near my grandmother’s house. I love to look at photographs of roses, no two the same but each delicately exquisite, stunning and alluring. I learned pretty quickly that they were surrounded by sharp thorns, and many times as a child I would prick my fingers or hands while attempting to pick the perfect rose but even though when grasped they would draw pain, the rose held so much beauty and significance to me that the thorns would not keep me from them, much like love.

Like a rose, love should be cherished, cared for and nurtured. All love is beautiful in its own way and like the rose, some love matures and expands in the summer heat, only to fade and lie dormant when the frost comes. The thorns we bear strengthen us, allowing us to see just how precious and tenuous love is.

Love can make us radiant with joy but a love lost can leave us depleted and struggling.

Several years ago I planted rose bushes all along the side of my hose, I imagined my children and their children enjoying them the way I did as a child at my grandmother’s house, making bouquets and homemade perfumes and relishing their wild scent. They dislike them, the bushes have grown large and they feel attacked by the thorns but one day I suspect that they will come to appreciate their resilience and the things their beauty expresses such as promise, hope and new beginnings. They are teenagers so they are well aware of the traits the thorns represent, loss, defense and thoughtlessness. The rose is subtle and the thorns offer it a bit of protection but some people will never get to experience the true splendor of the rose simply because of the annoying thorns.

As humans we have our own thorns, we often protect ourselves from being seen and loved for all that we are because we keep parts of us inaccessible.

Our fears have fears and we put all of our outer beauty on display while protecting the parts of us that we feel will keep us safe.

The summer after my husband passed away I had almost completely lost interest in my roses and any and all of the pretty flowers around my house that once brought me such easy joy. Nature took care of them without my unsteady hand but I was doing dishes one day in the fall and glanced out the window at the bushes. We had already had snow and the last of the leaves had abandoned the trees but this particular day was abundant with sunshine and it held the promise of something new. I noticed a lone yellow rose stretched towards the beaming sun, basking in its glow, looking as healthy and vital as a spring daisy. I dropped what I was doing and went out to inspect it and take a picture. In the days and weeks to come I inspected it often and it became a bit of enigma to me. I had completely neglected that rose, failing to provide it with my love or care; and nature had been merciless yet despite its bleak circumstances that yellow rose seemed unaffected and continued to spread joy and delight. At a certain point I lost track of the rose but I do recall going out in the middle of a snowstorm to snap a picture and it still shone bright, its stem had grown long, catapulting it away from the rest of the bush and leaving it without the protection of thorns. I was allowed to admire it, smell it and touch it without the worry of pain. It seemed like a small thing but that single yellow rose that was able to grow and shine, regardless of the surrounding conditions spoke to my heart.

We have a lot to learn from nature.

“Beauty and seduction, I believe, is nature’s tool for survival, because we will protect what we fall in love with. Louie Schwartzberg”

 

In the past several weeks I have had some growing discomfort surrounding the subject of fears, insecurities and relationships. In a conversation with a friend on the weekend I revealed that maybe I did not have my shit together as much as I imagined because I started to realize that there are areas that I struggle with and when I see others building imaginary castles around their hearts and living from their ego instead of their soul it suddenly became like a mirror for me and I started to see that the very things I didn’t want for myself were being reflected back at me.

 

Our egos would have us believe that love is a trap, but it will also make us feel that we are incomplete without the love of another. Ego believes that love is a dangerous game; it threatens us because conflict and rejection can cause us great hurt. So can commitment, surrender, and trust. Great pleasure is a huge threat to ego. A great love is just too much for ego to handle, it feels intimidating and when the idea of love begins to steadily rise the ego acts out of discomfort in ugly ways because it knows, there is no room for ego when love rules our hearts.

 

Love lures us towards goodness, encouraging us to be kind and sensitive at all times. When acting from love we create beauty and joy always.

 

True love is fire. It begins when two sparks unite and it rises in our hearts beginning a slow burn that gradually melts away disconnection, walls and space. When two souls come together in pure love we become very aware of the effects of our connection. Not only are we affected, the space between us becomes electric and our flames spread like wildfire, touching everything around it.

The fire of love and desire needs fuel to continue to burn and constant care is needed to tend that fire.

 

I recently went to a workshop about the benefits of pure silver and the doctor that was giving the talk said that if you want to purify silver you need to put it into the hottest part of the fire and the impurities will steadily melt away, leaving you with the purest form of silver. Amazingly LOVE does the same thing with us, when we allow ourselves to be exposed to the purest fire of love, it will burn all of our defenses away, leaving everything that we are not in ashes and exposing the purest version of ourselves.  A vulnerable, courageous and authentic human being.

No way says ego.

No friggin way!

Ego views this as a catastrophe and will pull out all the stops to maintain the person it thinks you are. This push/pull creates all kinds of fears surrounding trust and doubt, even using the past to take fuel away from the fire. Dangling things like freedom and individuality in front of you like a choice, as if you can only have one or the other.

Just as the rose needs roots to grow, so does love, we need to be rooted in one another , and most importantly firmly in ourselves so that we can continue to grow and bloom continually, giving weight to all that we are as individuals while complimenting the beautifully unique qualities of our partners. Maintaining our individuality is not only compatible to unity, I think it is essential for a healthy union.

At the beginning of our love affairs we create a private space where sparks fly and everything is sacred. Eventually as the fire in us begins to grow we expose our love to the elements and that is when things get interesting. We let the world in and all of the sudden, everything changes. Sometimes that it is an amazing thing and sometimes it is not but not all loves are meant to last forever.

All love is meant to teach us in some way. When we lose love we often feel like we have failed somehow and the truth is love is not a losing game. If we truly loved another human being, the memory in that, the experiences and the growth from that will live inside us forever, long after our hearts are stitched back together and our tears have dried up.

Love and ego will be a constant battle in our lives and will affect all of our relationships. Offering the truest version of ourselves to another, whether it is in friendship or romance, with no guarantee of anything in return is really scary. We will struggle with it and sometimes we will get it all wrong but we are trying and that makes us wonderfully human and perfectly flawed.

The choice to love and be loved is a courageous one that can take us on magnificent journeys if we allow.

 

Hey now, hey now
Don’t dream it’s over
Hey now, hey now
When the world comes in
They come, they come
To build a wall between us
We know they won’t win

 

~Crowded House

 

Bonfire Heart – Wise Project 2018

“Your mouth is a revolver firing bullets in the sky
Your love is like a soldier, loyal till you die
And I’ve been looking at the stars for a long, long time
I’ve been putting out fires all my life
Everybody wants a flame, but they don’t want to get burnt
And today is our turn”

~ Bonfire Heart James Blunt

A little over a year ago when my husband was taken from us by the cruel hand of depression, PTSD and Mental Illness I was faced with some immediate choices about how and if I would move forward and how I would lead our children through grief.

I have been incredibly blessed to have met so many kind, loving and wise guides through Lifestyle Meditation here in Edmonton and each one of these passionate souls have reminded me that we are the healers, but they will continue to hold space for us while we heal. I have been reminded that Kirk will heal through our healing and that continues to be powerful for me. I never wanted him to sit in my pain any more than he wanted me to sit in his.

Grief is an agonizing journey and what has been unbelievably important to my emotional health is the belief that we are all spirits having a human experience. Death ends our physical life, it doesn’t end our love and it doesn’t extinguish our light. I can no longer take comfort in Kirk’s physical presence, but I am reminded quite frequently that he is still in the universe, and the universe is continually supporting us and working for our highest good. We often can’t see that because we look at life through a lens of entitlement, bitterness and fear and no matter how many inspirational memes we share on Facebook it is our actions when nobody is looking that really matter. If we are living out of resentment, fear and indignation that is exactly what we put into the world and like attracts like. We will get back what we call out for.

My physical body is 44 years old, but I know that my soul is much older. I believe when we take on our physical bodies we are given a task, something to learn in our lifetime, and no matter who we are we are also given challenges to overcome in our journey. I think our challenges and how we rise to face them present us with our greatest lessons and our most powerful invitations towards personal growth and fulfilling our divine purposes.

I have believed for a very long time that my purpose was to learn about, embody, encompass and give love despite any challenge that I am faced with. I know that the Merriam Webster dictionary of love cannot do justice to all that the word love holds and embraces. It is a weighty task indeed to face each day with love when hate stares us in the face constantly.

We spend much of our lives trying to bestow our love unto people and we are incredibly hurt and sullen when our love is not reciprocated. We become fearful and jaded and we build walls around our hearts. We keep the love out. We keep the joy at bay, but ironically the acidic lure of acrimony seeps into those walls like rain into dry earth.

It was only a few short years ago that I learned the importance of loving myself first. If we do not love and invest in ourselves how can we expect that anyone else should find us worthy of that investment. I have also been guilty of thinking that love was rare and must only be given in the most special of circumstances. When we love ourselves, we are overflowing with love, we than put our love into the world not because we are in desperate need of love, but because we are abundant with love and we want to share it. I think the important difference is that we attract people that want to share love because they are overflowing with it too, not deplete us because they are desperate for our love because they do not have any of their own. This creates relationships that are not based on the divine truth and freedom in love. When we fail to fill ourselves up with love we have a constant need to get that love elsewhere and it can lead to unhealthy life patterns.

Our hearts are more powerful than our fear and contrary to popular belief lost love does not break them. Often our ego perspective holds us hostage and we fail to see that if we give love because we have abundant love to give instead of searching for love because we need it we will recognize an important shift in all our important relationships.

The thing that has been nipping at my heals is how love should feel like freedom yet we constantly put chains on the people we love, trying to hold unto to something that is intended to move freely. There must be a way to love ourselves and embrace our authenticity in a way that we invite others to be their true selves and any love shared between us is void of judgement or restraints.

Love should not assume, it cannot be held, it is not boastful, unkind or judgmental. True love moves like the universe and the universe cannot be restrained. The universe roots itself firmly in the present knitting its energy interminably in the here and now, never losing itself in the pain of the past or worries for the future.

“Trying to hold on to love is like trying to hold on to the ocean. An exercise in futility that leaves you a constant “failure”, even while the ocean itself beckons you at all times to come into it and be surrounded and supported by its majesty.”

~ Roberta Shepherd, HHP (Love is Freedom)

The Journey

Dylan Glynn

“Tomorrow we die, today we love” ~  Geha Gonthier

I sing out loud even though I am tone deaf.

I speak truth to bullshit.

I compliment people.

In a moment I fear everything yet there are moments that I am fearless.

I love to laugh and I am so sarcastic that sometimes I am not even sure if I am kidding or not.

I keep my circle smaller than ever, not because I am afraid of getting hurt but because I realize that my time is the most valuable currency I have and I only spend it on the right people.

I am very protective of my energy.

Superficial relationships are not for me. I like to get to know the meat and potatoes of a person so if I am intrigued by you I am all in.

Learning to say NO has been life changing for me and every time I want to say No and hesitate, thinking I need to be nice, I end up fucking myself over.

I am emotional. Sometimes I experience all of the emotions in ten minutes. I don’t hide how I feel. If you are in my orbit you know that well.

The last year without my husband has been a journey.

I remember the moment I knew he was gone realizing what a huge responsibility I had in showing our children how to move forward in love and grace.

When tragedy strikes often our instinct is to get very small and quiet. That wasn’t for me. I have learned so much from seeing fabulous people move through their struggles that I believe there is beauty and value in sharing my authentic self and being real about the darkness of grief but also the opportunities that adversity presents to us.

I have spent the last year learning to laugh again and encouraging my children to embrace life and to invest in themselves and fill themselves up with love so that when they share that love with others it is not because they need love, it is because they have so much love to give that it is overflowing.

I am growing into myself, learning to fill my space so to speak and it is not without challenges. Not everyone is interested in knowing themselves as intimately as I know me, accepting the darkness in themselves so they can safely move into the light.

People can only know you, accept you, and love you to the extent that they also know, love and accept themselves and it is not our job to fit ourselves in a box to be enough for people.

You are enough.

Just as you are.

We want to be accepted. We want to be loved. However, part of finding out who we are and expanding and growing into the person we are truly meant to be means that we will not be right for everyone and that is OK.

I truly believe that the people meant to be in our lives will always be there when they are meant to be there. Not everyone is meant to be with us forever. Not everything is permanent.

My son, who is an amazingly kind and old soul said to me that society teaches us to be careful who we love, as if we only have so much love to give but in reality love multiplies love.

The death of my husband taught me so many lessons but there is a quote that I said at his service that will resonate with me forever.

“The only remedy for love is to love more” ~Henry David Thoreau

The only way to have that type of true and unencumbered love is to first give it to yourself. Find you, be you, love you.

People will move in and out of your life, but you will always be there. Spend less time trying to be the person everyone needs and be the person you need. Everything else will eventually fall into place.

Louie Schwartzberg, a nature photographer says “beauty and seduction are nature’s tools for survival, because we will protect what we fall in love with.” Why wouldn’t we fall in love with ourselves first?

 

Love Story- Wise Project 2017 #TenaciousTuesday

The very best kind of love should feel like freedom. Love shouldn’t feel weighty or reserved. It shouldn’t make you feel shackled. Love should make you feel like you can fly.

Image Credit Pave it Forward-Tumblr

the love

we were promised in fairy tales

was never something

for us to find

it has always

been something

for us to create

~ Tyler Kent White

I was the little girl that believed in fairy tales. I had an eager imagination and I was captivated by the notion of grandiose castles in magical places, of tiny fairies, fearless knights, fire breathing dragons, beautiful princesses, handsome princes and of course happily ever after.

I still believe in a certain type of fairy tale, In fact I believe I have lived one, but the problem is that we get our idea of fairy tale love from a ninety minute children’s movie, and though we see struggle, and the all-consuming love that we are told lasts forever we are not shown the day to day challenges; the in-betweens. We don’t get to see what happens after babies, financial struggle, pimples, snoring, weight gain, exhaustion, lack of faith, loss of trust, anger, infidelity, disrespect, failure to communicate and a myriad of other issues that plague modern-day relationships.

We are also never shown the most important love of all, the one that makes everything else possible.

There are indeed romances that withstand the test of time, of bruised hearts and saggy butts, though I am sure they do not happen by accident. To anyone who has looked at another person and truly felt that they loved them head to toe, inside and out; no matter what, and meant it, I am certain that the one thing these relationships had in common was that they loved themselves first.

It is categorically impossible to love another person entirely without first loving yourself.

I lost my husband, my great love, to suicide in June of 2017. I have since realized that nothing in this world has taught me more about love, than death.

Death doesn’t end love, in fact, I have said many times that if you ripped me apart limb by limb you would find the residue of our love on my skin, in my bones and in every drop of my blood pumping furiously through my veins. I will love Kirk always and it is that very thing that propels me forward.

In the last several months of our earthly love affair, I learned to love Kirk unconditionally in a way that I never thought possible. I studied a lot about depression, anxiety and trauma over the years and though I could never understand how it felt from the inside, Kirk and I had finally come to a fearless and brave understanding that landed us in a place of complete vulnerability, a place that for most of our twenty year relationship I wasn’t able to visit because I didn’t love or trust myself enough to allow myself to be wide open.

I know that towards the end, Kirk kept a lot from me. I know now that he was inconceivably terrified of what was happening to him. Even amid soul crushing sadness, I never loved him a bit less for leaving.

This time last year Kirk and I were sitting on a patio overlooking the city lights of downtown Vancouver and having a huge discussion about the possibility and probability of unconditional love. From the beginning of our romance, there was never a shortage of love, but there was also anger, fear, resentment and walls that we built to protect us from hurt. For a long time, we depended on each other to provide all the feelings we desired to feel because we never learned to create that joy for ourselves. Desire morphed into entitlement creating huge issues for us.

There were times over the years that you couldn’t put a breath in the space between us, I can recall laying in this very bed I am writing from and feeling so close to Kirk I felt like I was inside him. As strange as that may sound I don’t know another way to elaborate on that kind of intimacy. There were other times that I feared loving him too much or giving too much of myself. I always wanted something in return for my love so in those times when Kirk was internally struggling with himself, I struggled with just loving him right where he was.

When I started The Wise Project I genuinely learned to love myself as I was, for who I was, every step of the journey. That unapologetic self love finally allowed me to love Kirk right where he was, all his lightness and even the horribly scary darkness that he tango-ed with. I didn’t just love him on the days that he was lovable or on the days when I could feel his love for me, I just loved him. I realized that any decision or choice he made was not a reflection of me or my worthiness and it didn’t affect my love for him or myself. I just kept loving him, even on the difficult days.

When a life ends you will never wonder if you loved too much.

Most will say they have loved with their whole hearts and most of those will even believe that they have. Often in our relationships we will feel unsatisfied or even slighted. We may feel unloved or unlovable, but it is important to remember that the person you so desperately desire to love you can only love you to the capacity that they love themselves.

If you do not love yourself unconditionally, your heart will not be open to receive all the love waiting for you. We are not taught self love in school and few of us can boast being taught it at home.

Kirk’s illness robbed him and everyone that loved him. He has a beautiful soul that will live through thousands more journey’s, bringing love and light and wisdom to others.

His tale is a tragic one.

Our tale is heartbreaking; and you may wonder how I could ever talk about our love and fairy tales in the same story. After all, where is the happily ever fucking after anyway?

Sometimes I feel like I have this huge magical secret about love that I want to share with the world. For a brief time, I loved another with all my heart and soul, from head to toe, void of ego or chains. The magical feeling it gives me to recollect it is indescribable and the only thing that made that kind of love possible is that I gave it to myself first, that is the big secret. If we do not love ourselves entirely, how can we seek and expect that love from others?

I can remember the exact moment I achieved that boundless and profound love. Blanketed in fearless courage and wrapped in delicate vulnerability, never did I imagine having to say goodbye to it so soon.

That type of love is so huge that it will never truly leave you and you will carry it with you everyday and use it to light up the sometimes cold, dark world around you. It feels like I imagine a bird would feel being released from a cage.

The physical love Kirk and I shared is no longer possible, but the love remains; as dazzling as a star-filled sky on a cloudless June night. It ebbs and flows with the pull of the moon, retreating to the sea to renew and restore and wash over me again and again to remind that I am a love warrior.

I have loved.

I have lost.

I am love and I will always return to love.

I came from Love, I am Love and I will return to Love. Love casts out fear. A woman who has recovered her true identity as a Love Warrior is the most powerful force on earth. All the darkness and shame and pain in the world can’t defeat her.

~ Glennon Doyle Melton, Love Warrior

Kirk often told me that his depression put chains on our relationship, on our love. I finally realized that the very best kind of love should feel like freedom. Love shouldn’t feel weighty or reserved. It shouldn’t make you feel shackled. Love should make you feel like you can fly. A love driven by value and desires should be liberating.

I know Kirk didn’t want this, but I also know that he guides me, and he knows that this gift of love that I give to myself every single day makes me unfuckablewith. I cannot be twisted, damaged or broken because I am strong enough to bend.

I am imagining a new type of Fairy Tale, one where the heroine saves herself because she is a bad ass fearless warrior. I created it myself and I get to write the ending and erase and rewrite the ending…and rewrite the ending again as many times as I damn well please!

Love is something you share

Because you have it, not

Something you give desperately

because you need it.

~ Humble the Poet

Here comes the sun- Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

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Halifax, Nova Scotia /Photo Credit Morgan DeBay

“don’t fear getting broken

don’t fear rock bottom

that’s where it all really begins”

~ Humble The Poet

I can’t imagine a time when I will want to get out of this bed again, except to pee I suppose.

My body feels heavy, like my limbs are made of lead. I can barely lift them and I imagine myself sinking further and further into the mattress until I completely disappear.

All last week I kept thinking about the moment where I would get to crawl in bed again and feel the silky softness of the slate gray bamboo sheets I had put on my bed.
This has nothing to do with that at all.

There is no joy in laying here. No sleek luxury.

I just can’t face the world outside these four walls.
A world where for the past two days I have felt insignificant and small in.
A world that is difficult for me. A world I have no real sense of belonging to and I don’t really want to. I want this bed to swallow me whole, so I don’t have to feel horribly weak for just laying here.

I tried to overcome the beast today and I almost succeeded. I got up and tidied up, I made brunch and then my daughter came upstairs and piled all her teenage angst on me and every single word she spoke sat on me like it was a 200-pound man. I felt like I was being buried alive and I had already been barely breathing. I was desperate to fill my lungs with air. Her problems are significant to her and in retrospect I know that she is feeling lost and afraid as well but even as I puttered around the kitchen I felt very much like I was stepping over a wounded woman curled up on the floor in the fetal position sobbing. It sometimes feels impossible to keep moving and stepping over her, ignoring her. She just comes and plants herself there unexpectantly and I need to scream. I need to scream but how do I do that? Who do I scream at? Do I just fucking scream till I lose my voice?

I can’t be there for anyone today. I am struggling to find even a hint of myself today among the wreckage. I can’t even support me.

The house smells like maple bacon, a familiar smell. The memory of many a sunday brunch with my husband lingers just below the surface and I cannot quite grasp it. My memories are often colorful, decorated with genuine smiles and unadulterated laughter but today the color has drained out of them and I cannot hold them. I barely remember if I had eaten before coming back to bed.

Just four days ago I had my arms wide open ready to embrace all that the world had to offer and today I just want to hide from it.

Grief

It doesn’t sweep over you gently, like a cozy blanket on a crisp night. It strikes out of nowhere like a ferocious beast, stealing your breath and smashing the lights off the poles leaving you terrified, in obscurity. Sometimes its subtler, it attacks slowly like a stealth leopard in the Sahara Desert and though it waits patiently for the right moment to assault you, you have the sense that you are being stalked and it very gradually thieves your joy, minute by minute.

The sun is illuminating my bedroom, bursting through the window and chasing away the mid afternoon shadows. I want to feel it, I want to be warmed by it, charmed by it, bathed in it. It is right here but yet it feels a world away. It doesn’t feel like it is mine to enjoy.

Step 1. Is knowing that I hate feeling like this

Step 2. Is knowing that sometimes I must.

Step 3. Breath

Step 4. Begin the climb.

Grief is the price of love, the currency we pay for taking the risk and trusting our heart to truly care for someone else. Even amid the misery I can feel the exquisiteness that remains. I see it with my eyes, I feel it with my heart, it lives in my children and memories and visions of the furture.

Just not today.

I remember a quote by Anne Lamont where she said grief is like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly, that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.

I am going to dance. I am going to dance like there is fire under my feet.

Just not today.

Sometimes I feel the power of the blood coursing through my veins; like thunder chasing the wind, it reminds me that I am alive.

Just not today.

Flower in the sun-Wise Project 2018 – #TenaciousTuesday

Good Morning,

Today is a bit of a cheat day, we are fresh off a long weekend here in Canada and I spent yesterday being incredibly unproductive and eating everything I could get my hands on. My girls and I were having a hilarious conversation about crushes and asking for what you want and my oldest daughter said I was a Badass because I wasn’t afraid to ask for what I wanted and my youngest remarked that I had so much confidence that no didn’t bother me, I just bounced right back. Sometimes I wonder about the line between Badass and just plain ass but I am excited that my perceived badassery might inspire them to go after what they want in life and not just in love and relationships but in every aspect of their lives. No is not always a rejection, sometimes it is merely a redirection and in any case no does not have to reflect poorly on anyone; the person on the giving or receiving end. That being said I was writing a bit of fiction, fiction is actually one of my great loves, I love creating characters and scenarios. The one I have created below is very light reading but it is cute and fun and if it inspires one person today to find their version of brave and put themselves out there, without fear of the word no but in awesome anticipation of what grows on the other side of our fear than it will be a great Tuesday.

Thanks for visiting and go get what you want today!

xo

Michelle

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Ed’s Diner, Photo Credit Telegraph U.K.

She was cute and fresh looking with just the hint of freckles across the bridge of her nose and scattered randomly on her face as if a happy accident with a brush and paint had lightly splattered them there. Her dark wavy hair was so shiny he could almost imagine how it would feel between his fingers. She had it pulled it back in a ponytail that moved from side to side as she talked and laughed. Her knee length floral dress hugged her in all the right places, showing off her small waist and fuller bust and then flaring into a flirty swing skirt. She could have effortlessly played the part of the girl next door in a 1950’s chewing gum commercial.

She smiled easily at everyone she encountered, her gentleness drawing exuberant smiles from even the most unlikely of candidates. Watching her from a distance he felt like a bit of a voyeur, peeking into her world uninvited.

He sipped his coffee, accepting a refill as the waitress walked by and loading it with full cream and sugar. It was still early, and the sun was just beginning to peak above the horizon, sending filtered light bursting through the restaurant windows. A rush of cool late summer air announced the opening of the door every few seconds and as he glanced in that direction he noticed that the sky looked like a tequila sunrise, a glorious golden peach color drizzled with hot pink throughout.

“Pretty sky this morning,” the waitress remarked following his gaze as she arrived to set down his scrambled eggs and brown toast and refill his coffee once again.

“It is, and thank you” he replied, nodding in the direction of the eggs and smiling.

He devoured the eggs and toast, pushing the plate aside to finish the last couple of mouthfuls of slightly burnt tasting diner coffee from a dingy off-white mug. He checked his phone messages again and took a sly selfie to make sure there was no food in his teeth or beard. He proceeded to nervously fumble with a small tear in the cherry red vinyl seat while avoiding going to the counter and fumbling over his words like many a time before.

Her name was Lily. She had once told him that she was named after her mother’s favorite flower and then looked at him expectantly to tell her his name. He ruined the moment of course and left feeling like a huge jerk but the next time he was in he blurted out “Trey” while she had her head down. She was thrown off guard for a moment, but he continued to speak what he had rehearsed, without daring to take a breath, “I was named after a childhood friend of my parents from D.C. who went on to be a novelist and playwright”

He sucked in a quick breath and looked up. Her eyes, as welcoming as the green fields of Ireland, seemed to be smiling at him as she held her hand out, “It is nice to finally meet you Trey.”

He came in every Tuesday since that day, waking up at an ungodly hour to beat the rush of the city traffic. He sat at the same booth and ordered the exact same breakfast and made the same incredibly awkward small talk with Lily while paying his bill that she rang in on the same outdated cash register.

He always made sure his suit was neatly pressed, his tie was on straight, and he had on enough cologne that he smelled manly but not like someone’s creepy uncle. He was well groomed; he had even started using beard oil and getting his hair trimmed more frequently. He was very aware that his dark skin was quite a contrast to her cream like complexion but he didn’t anticipate that being an issue, as it had been in the past.

As his legs somewhat unwillingly walked him to the counter each week he imagined every time that this would be the day that he asked Lily out and today was no exception.

“Good morning Trey, it looks like it is going to be a beautiful Tuesday!” she remarked, turning the corners of her bright red lips into a dazzling smile and looking straight into his warm chocolate colored eyes.

“Beautiful. Indeed,” he muttered, feeling like his throat was suddenly getting scratchy, and then quickly over analyzing everything he had intended on saying so opting to say nothing at all. He was certain that his brown skin was now a fiery shade of red as he stumbled to form a sentence while using the debit machine. Lily waved goodbye, still smiling at him with her wondrous eyes but looking a bit disappointed he thought.

As he got into his shiny silver Mazda a flood of frustration threatened to drown him. It was August 26 and he had wanted to ask Lily out for the past 35 Tuesdays. Today was supposed to be the day. He was going to celebrate his birthday knowing that he had a date with the girl whose smile had rocked him to sleep every night for the past several months. He completely blew it. He was a 34-year-old man with less courage than a twelve-year-old boy. It shouldn’t be this hard. There were three possible answers she could give him, yes, no or maybe. He had asked out girls before but had never considered dating anyone seriously since Jenna ripped his heart out and stomped all over it. Something about Lily made him believe that being with her could out weigh the risk of heartache. He longed to feel again, and he imagined feeling all sorts of things with Lily. Unfortunately, every time he got close he found himself in the grip of uncertainty and fear.

He realized he had been sitting in his car in the busy parking lot for fifteen minutes and was going to be late for a meeting. He scrambled to text a colleague when it occurred to him that he didn’t have his phone, he had left it on the counter while he paid his bill.

He walked into the diner and was greeted by Lily’s genuine smile and outstretched hand.

“I thought you would be looking for this she said,” placing his iPhone in his hand.”

“Thank-you Lily. You saved me. Have a wonderful day.” he said, turning to leave.

“Wait Trey,” she shouted as he opened the door. She came out from behind the counter and met him where he stood, “I put my number in your phone, and it’s under Lily, same as your pass code. Just in case you ever want to text me.” She smiled again and very softly touched his hand before turning on her heel but turning her head back just slightly, “Oh, and Happy Birthday.”

He was still smiling as he got in the car, even though Lily had out classed him by far. He texted his colleague first and then texted Lily thanking her again for returning his phone and asking her if she had any interest in going for birthday drinks with an adorable but hopelessly immature guy.”

She simply replied “Yes.” And then a moment later “Finally”

Hopeless minds and

hopeless hearts

are haunted places

where

no one loves to stay.

~Kwawaja Musadiq