rumbling, /i've come to take you home/

I returned to Seattle the night of January 5th, and two days later, Brooks, Katie, my sister, and I all floated to St Paul’s Episcopal Church for their evening jazz liturgy. Through the last three years, I have all but given up on church and the structure of religiosity that I was surrounded by growing up. However, the sensory experience of the Divine and embrace of paradoxical Christian mysticism in the Episcopal church has consistently, tenderly, called me back despite my growling and barking.

And so, we sat, twenty people all holding our breath, and the bell gonged, and unrelenting rain pattered against the windows, and the silence of beginning and unknowing cradled us. One of us would later remark that much of the service and liturgy is pregnant; this word of anticipation and femininity, of vulnerability and physicality, of relationship and transformation, of fertility, of land and body where things can grow.

In Dance of the Dissident Daughter, Sue Monk Kidd leads us through her journey of rediscovering the feminine divine after forty years of practicing in the Baptist tradition. At the cusp of her dive inward, she describes a dream where she gives birth, looks down at the child, and gazes into her own face. Although not as vividly metaphorical, there is a rumbling in my sense of Being, pleading for affirmation and nourishment. An intuition that has been dismissed as illogical by Western patriarchal understandings of knowledge, yet speaks from my gut as distinctly and clearly as my mind (if not more so). Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, author of Women Who Run with Wolves, consistently emphasizes the validity, mystery, and spirituality of our intuition and connection to the Sacred in her work. This Knowing is embedded in our bodies, at the places where flesh and energy and earth and spirit all intersect (as if they are separate), where we hear the calls, “What are you willing to give up? How far will you go? Will you listen, will you act, when nudged?” Pregnant.

At St Paul’s that night, the homily discussed God’s sense of humor and unapologetic fuckery in the lives we craft oh so carefully. God is not a dove, as we are often taught in Judeo-Christian tradition. Contrary, in Celtic spirituality, God is a wild goose let loose in our lives to remind us that nothing is static, that despite our plans and well wishes, all we can do in this life is hold our hands open to the miracle and holiness of now. Because the more you try to grab the goose and throw it out of the house, the more the goose will scream and flop Her wings in your face, until you remember! The door! And you fling open the front door in desperation, and the goose rushes outside into the night, and then there we are, gasping, standing in the doorway. Behind us, the chaos of a house in ruins, a house we built so intentionally, so carefully, so perfectly structured, and yet, before us, the world of trees and wind and stars and leaks in the boat and mice in the car and friends getting engaged and skinny dipping in the ocean with strangers and harvesting purple potatoes and making meals together and musicals that make us consider faith in new ways and tattoo pilgrimages to Vancouver Island and art and new friends in the rainforest and dancing shadows of aspens and sitting in silence and holy tears and realizing that nothing is separate and; we step out into the fresh snow.

Father Gregory Boyle, in Barking to the Choir, tells the story of a homie who, while trick-or-treating on Halloween, has dog shit thrown into his candy bucket. After describing the event, the homie smiles, shrugs, and says, “Life’s great.” The two of them continue to remark "Life's great" at moments where one would typically become disheartened. Since church on that first Sunday after my return, Katie and I have continuously thrown our arms in the air at appropriate moments and exclaimed in surrender, “The Goose!” Hope! The Goose! Life's great!

There is a rumbling and unease of this season, a preparation, an advent. As I continue to process the last few months with those closest to me, we all seem to be holding this temporary space with softness, indicative of a gentle closing. The shift is here, the cracks can’t be ignored anymore, and all we can do is sink our toes into the earth and turn our palms upward in awe.

And there’s mountains where there used to be earthquakes/ what’s a heart for/ but to break” - Eileen & the In-Betweens


pacific northwest, departure /october 21, 2017/

colorado plateau

southern california

te waipounamu, aotearoa

te ika-a-māui, aotearoa

california, return

colorado plateau, return

pacific northwest, return

"When we believe in what no one else can see, we find we are each other. And all moments of living, no matter how difficult, come back into some central point where self and world are one, where light pours in and out at once. And there, I realize - make real before me - that this moment, whatever it might be, is a fine moment to live and a fine moment to die." - Mark Nepo


And, deep in the night, I feel the presence
Of something that was long ago told to me
There is a hand, guiding the river
The river to wide open sea
And deep in my heart, in and again
On any mountain, no I'm not afraid
Standing on stone, you stand beside me
And honor the plans that were made

- The Killers, Heart of a Girl

august, 2017. {moons, migration,}

August was taking responsibility for my actions, what I can control and accepting what I cannot, to question the accepted narrative, to ask what movement is productive, to settle into feelings however reluctant I may be, to accept the midst of transition. August was dear to me. In August, I became acutely aware that my time in Seattle is limited. Although I don't know when or where or how a transplant to a new place will occur, as the days have gotten shorter and Autumn has begun to whisper into the trees, I have felt deep anxiety about the approach of the Grey. Nights are beginning to cool and the light turns orange in the evening, sunsets are swift and afternoon shadows are longer. We seem to be opening every pore to the sun, desperate to hold a piece of it near to our collective heart for when the dark arrives. 

In August, Neo-Nazis and white supremacists marched through Charlottesville and killed a woman protesting in the streets. August reminded white America of our evil and our responsibility. August humbled and infuriated us; there's a lot to say, and I'm still making sense of it, still trying to find the right words and actions to confront such atrocity, and most importantly, still trying to listen, still remaining present to my very existence, my lineage that has led to my comfortable life and privilege, being the result of the oppression and genocide of people of color.

Austin, Danny, and I drove to Wyoming for the August 21st total solar eclipse. Two of my dear friends from Arizona, Heather and Caleb, met us there, and the five of us spent three days roaming and cooking and participating in the great migration across America to watch the eclipse (we also saw 41 out of 50 state license plates in three days, so even objectively the trip was a success). I hold those days close to me as I write these words and make this post. To attempt to describe the eclipse is useless, for even just watching videos of it makes my heart beat faster and my body ground itself in the present. But in my anxiety about winter, and about the Dark as a feeling, the eclipse is a reminder of Light, and Return, and that the holiness of this life is steadfast even when seemingly extinguished, and what we curse to be a thief of Light is still remarkable and celestial. The light and dark can and must coexist, and when we can find harmony with their coexistence and affirm their duality, we can gasp and weep in wonder at what was there all along.

August began with smokey skies and ended with flickers of autumn. Austin and I moved in together in its last days and we are officially a cohabitation boat couple, as ready as we will never be. I watched a German Shepherd for a few days after we returned from Wyoming and soaked in final moments of solitude that living alone brings; I bought a pass to the local pool and began swimming laps, helping my body find its fins again. 

Thank you, August; you were a month full of new beauty and boat projects and movement and unexpected moments of grand gratitude.

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I grew up in a world where men had dominion

and God was a word of fear and punishment. 

I don't know where to land, now,

in a world of Other, 

where flowers sing color, and summer; 

and god is no longer harsh, but

Goddess holds me in the morning and

eagles skim their wings along rivers

and relationship runs deep and steadfast. 

however, my old world, of regulations that bound my hands and heart, as my feet tried to propel

me through the salt water that called my soul home to intimacy and honesty,

did teach me: that a light shines in the darkness

And the darkness has not overcome it. 

And these slivers of light in the eternal

cascade of darkness,

bring me back to you, and you, and You. 

the land now beneath my fingernails and in my lungs is the same breath that my people provide;

they have relieved and guided me, from near and afar, through the moon, and letters woven

through years and miles, and vulnerability. 

we will find our places, eventually, together.

I'll be there with you, and we'll exchange mugs and tea and soaps from far away islands. 

You are the light that remains, the ring of reminder and trust that draws us, once again,

together.

emmz || unapologetic, overturning

"To die is not a bad thing. Cells die every day. Paradoxically, it is how the body lives. Casings shed. Coverings fall away. New growth appears. It is how we stay vital. Likewise, ways of thinking die like cells, and we suffer greatly when we refuse to let what's growing underneath make its way as the new skin of our lives. It is the stubbornness with which we we refuse to let what's growing underneath come through that pains us. It is the fear that nothing is growing underneath that feeds our despair. It is the moment that we cease growing in any direction that is truly deadly...

...When resisting this process, we become a troubled guest, moaning like a human crow. We double the pain of living when we try to stop the emergence that all life goes through. Imagine if trees never shed their leaves, or if waves never turned over, or if clouds never dumped their rain and disappeared...

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...I say this as much to remind myself as you: Little deaths prevent big deaths. What matters most is waiting its turn underneath all that is expending itself to prepare the way." - Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: August 9th

rcntly {july 2017}

i shot and delivered three weddings and an engagement shoot in july. i drove to canada by myself and got a tattoo. i settled into life atop the water, taking the raft out for sunsets and becoming familiar again with salt lightly caked on my skin. i began to exercise more and felt empowered as my asthma began to surrender to the movement of my body. i am becoming stronger, less afraid, more willing to say what i mean and mean what i say. i am the most confrontational i've ever been, and i'm figuring out if that's really me, or if i'm just learning what it means to be an unapologetic, intelligent womxn wrestling with the tides of culture and expectation. i'm trying to stay humble and kind while standing up for myself (the sun definitely makes that easier). i'm learning that it's okay to be angry and express anger, and i'm learning to forgive and be forgiven. i'm singing in the car daily, rejecting the lies i was told when i was young that said i don't have a voice; i have a voice, and it is beginning to bloom. i recently wrote in my phone notes, i find myself torn between the rhythms of nature and the buzz of the city, and the strange overlap between the two that Seattle finds itself within. i'm stepping into a new season of adulthood this summer, and the skin i'm shedding feels natural and ready.

i'm listening to natasha bedingfield as i type this, the sound of middle school pubescent feminine whimsy. i am slowly, gently returning to and away from myself in the heat of summer sunlight and the cradle of the ocean. thank you, july. you were good to me and those i love. you taught us more about accountability, community, what it means to expand and contract, what it means to communicate and then sit in knowing silence, ask for help, ask for conversation, ask for love when we need it. thank you.

(granted, photos from the 4th of july and the early days of this month were in a previous blog post. i write this blurb mainly for myself. i don't have ocd in many facets of my life, but keeping track of the passing of time is one of the ways it shows up) oh, and one more side note. if you're offended/made uncomfortable by the nude human form or you see naked women and automatically sexualize them, MAYBE don't look at this post and instead ponder upon the way you've been socialized to see breasts and femme folds as inappropriate sexual objects thx (or maybe you're just at work and having a butt pop up on your screen won't fly). peace n respect.

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this life is as deeply full and deeply good as it is difficult and frustrating, and i am trying to practice gratitude through it all. thanks for taking a peak into my way of processing and remembering these days.

tattoos and black bears and water; whistler, bc.

the longer i exist in this body, chemistry, and personhood, the more i realize how fiercely independent i am and always have been. i am more grounded when i make intentional space for myself, i am kinder, i am more patient, i am more eloquent, i am more gracious. i stand up for myself and am not afraid to express how i feel to myself and to the people i love. i'm more honest. i'm more thoughtful and conscious of how hard it is to be human, and in doing so, i give people the benefit of the doubt more. i'm a better artist. as primarily an extrovert i don't like being alone, but solitude is very different than loneliness. and in independence, solitude is necessary. and from a very young age, i played with homemade toys and ribbons tied to sticks and ran around in my front yard, immersed in my imagination. whenever my family would come outside or a stranger would walk by, i would immediately pretend that i wasn't in my head, that i wasn't curious, that i wasn't strange. i felt shame and embarrassment at eight years old about playing and taking the time i needed to be fully who i am; i was afraid of being seen. and now, out of school for a year after being in a classroom for sixteen years, told to not doodle during class even though it helped me learn and concentrate, fidgeting in my seat because i needed more time than other students to release my energy and anxiety, i am letting the young girl within me speak up again, and she has a lot to say. she is reminding me that it's okay to take my space to play and explore and imagine and be curious by myself. she is reminding me that it's okay to make and sing just for the damn sake of making and singing, even if it doesn't look or sound good. reminding me that my intensity is nothing to be ashamed of. she is reminding me that i can be by myself, and myself is good. and i don't have to run away from her anymore.

at least twice a month i have dreams of singing and letting my voice reverberate within my ribcage and throat without censoring myself. it is a dream of freedom and a cry to be seen by myself again, to no longer be afraid of who i am and what i need.

i went to new york city by myself in the spring to visit friends in brooklyn, and after that trip, i felt almost exactly the same way i do in this moment. empowered, full, grounded, capable. so very capable, and it's one of the most calming, powerful, and lovely feelings. i love traveling with my partner, but as our relationship continues to evolve and become evermore steadfast, i am realizing that i need to escape at times, to listen and breathe and see and learn through my independence and other relationships; personal pilgrimages. as much as austin and i intentionally fight against the gender roles and expectations we have been taught our entire lives by religion and society, there are narratives that we both cannot help but accidentally slip into without even realizing at times. and so, i am discovering that it is a non negotiable for me to step away every so often to collect and remind myself how strong and intelligent and fierce i am. that i can cross the border by myself, trust my gut that a girl i only know from instagram will be a good weekend travel partner as i pick her up in vancouver, that we can find a secret camp site on a random dirt road that my sedan definitely shouldn't have been on, that i can drive twelve hours by myself to get a tattoo that has taken seven months to schedule, that i can kayak by myself and let my heart and eyes overflow into the water and mountains, that i can be a leader in camping and traveling and make calls from my intuition and gut, that i can let the earth cradle me and let experiences be holy and sacred and thoughtful. and it can just be mine. having a human partner to witness my life is a gift, but there are times where witnessing yourself in solitude is an essential form of self love.

i am picking up fragments and souvenirs that i have lost throughout my life. they feel foreign and dear and as though my sensitive, easily broken, porcelain heart is finding a way to beat again. rediscovering that the water is cold but the way that it creates drops upon my skin is fantastical, and friendships are hard but healing is possible, that even when we lose ourselves we are always there to come back to, and we will be embraced by the Divine that is always waiting within to let us collapse and weep and unfurl our leaves into the sunlight once again; rooted, again.

the float (4th) of july

I have a lot of problems with the way that the 4th of July is celebrated and the attitudes of nationalism, pride, and ignorance that arise with a vengence on Independence Day. I am thankful that I have freedom as a white, cis-gender woman who grew up Christian and is dating a man. But my freedom and my gratitude cannot shadow the suffering and fear that too many people still live with in this country. I don't have to fear for my life when I am pulled over. I don't have to hope that my child won't be shot for playing with a toy gun in public. Violence and exploitation still rule this nation; White, Western imperialism should not be celebrated. Instead of being a day of humble gratitude where we look forward to all of the work that still needs to be done and take responsibility as people with privilege to make that work come into fruition, the 4th of July becomes a celebration of white privilege, binge drinking, and power. And that is what I have a problem with.

So, this 4th of July, we sailed and marveled at the natural world. We jumped into the water and ate bread and cheese in different forms and belly laughed. We hugged and splashed, and those who had work off used their day to spend time with their loved ones. We drank tasty brews and set up a hammock on the mast of my boat. We made new friends and leaned our heads onto the shoulders of old ones. We floated, all day. We watched the fireworks quietly. And it was a good day. A strange day to celebrate and come together, but it was a good day nevertheless.

thank you, my dear Austin, for taking some of these photos. you are talented and i love you.

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idaho

family vacation means slow mornings of dappled sunlight, good rest for the soul, romping through meadows and beneath the shadows of mountains, jumping into glittering bodies of water, making and consuming homemade ice cream, taking our time to exist in ways that we can't in the movement of normal life. family is complicated, and that's no different when you temporarily change environments. but it does somehow cultivate more kindness, more silliness, more genuine conversation. and it does lead to some photographs i'll cherish for the rest of my life.

thank you, austin dear, for capturing images of my family and i that we would never otherwise have.

recent goodness (may/june tidbits)

how do we deal with the clean up? of relationships pivoting, of moving homes, of seasons extending?

visits, weddings, sunsets. days of packing and unpacking, cleaning and making another mess. buying a boat home with my life human. a whale spotting from alki point. birthdays, including my own. parades, the sweet taste of summer finally bursting through. connection and loss. healthy wonderings and questioning, terrifying doubt. falling asleep to the gentle rocking of my old friend, the sea.

these last few months have been full and chaotic, and i am now settling into this wonderful, new lifestyle of waking up on the water to the cries of seagulls and being able to host my favorite people with veggie kabobs and cold brews. some of these photos hurt to look at, some make my heart glow. and some are somewhere in between, but they are all good. and they're pretty honest, which is all i can sort of hope for in my work. (although, the countless hours spent in these months fixing up and renovating the boat are not seen, they are sort of assumed for me once people start appearing in boat photos)

and last week I looked at my reflection in our thin, horizontal window of the main cabin and I felt myself surface from a wave of uncertainty with relief and gratitude. salt water of my childhood surrounding my new home, memories of submergence a reminder and a grounding, swirling, tumbling return. when you dive beneath a wave for the first time, it feels like you're drowning. but time and time again you surface and gasp and wipe the salt from your eyelashes and the sun casts gold upon the translucent tension that we are thrust beneath, or perhaps we sometimes choose this turbulence. but we return, and there is hope, and what once felt like drowning slowly becomes familiar, you don't grow gills but you do cultivate trust and hope, even if we can still underestimate the size of the wave. 

I don't remember being born, but I remember being loved. and I remember surfacing. I've been reminding myself that everyone is always trying to do their best. here we are, once again, where we always are in our feeble humanness, where we can always come home to, where once we have known love, can simply Be. 

to the people in my life: i love you, i love you, i love you. thank you, thank you, thank you.

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technically the rest of these photos were taken in the beginning of july. doesn't matter to anyone else really, but i like keeping track of time.

down the coast, through the desert | a road trip

It's taken me a month to prepare to make this post. Austin and I bought a boat, I shot a wedding, moved out of my home in West Seattle, and now, here I am. These photos are very dear to me, and I think that's also why it's taken me a long time to get to them. They are snapshots of three very sacred weeks of wandering and basking and not knowing where we were going to sleep the next night. I was shooting a wedding at the end of April in Orange County, so we took it as an excuse to pack all of our essentials and live out of my car for three weeks. It is a huge privilege to have been able to take this trip, and I am deeply grateful for the lands that welcomed us, the people who fed us and gave us a place to sleep, and the countless moments of warmth and joy along the way. Thank you to everyone who we had the pleasure of seeing and staying with - I don't have words at the moment to fully express how in awe I am of each and every one of you, so maybe these photos will do what I can't seem to articulate. 

Seattle --> Portland --> Point Arena --> Camp Meeker --> Santa Cruz --> Santa Barbara --> San Clemente --> Death Valley National Park --> Zion National Park --> Bryce Canyon National Park --> Grand Teton National Park --> Yellowstone National Park --> Helena --> Seattle.

; While traversing across these wild lands and running our fingers along the rocks and grass, I felt acutely aware of the history of our National Parks, of the sacredness of these lands, of how they were stolen from the people who named them and roamed them and lived off of them. And how these incredible valleys and canyons and calderas are now used for profit by the nation who exiled and massacred the people who first loved these places. And I don’t know how to reconcile being in awe of the earth and loving the National Parks for their education and inspiration, but also remembering the exploitation in their histories. The National Parks are a victory in an attempt to protect our land, but who are they protecting? And what lands have slipped away into the hands of corporations while we celebrate our parks? They are a start, but they are by no means an adequate end, even in all of their good and majesty. ;

Five National Parks, fruitful conversations, nights of gazing at the Milky Way, holding one another in glee at the setting sun. Dancing naked beneath an almost full moon in the desert, swimming in ice melt, picnicking next to mother bison and their calves. Home, in a new definition of the word.

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