My daughters were fascinated the other night when I told them the story of the day I left a rather large pot with a bit of oil in it on the stove in our house in Georgia. I had intended on making popcorn but after I set it up I became impatient waiting for the oil to heat and the kernel to pop, so I’d walked away momentarily to do something else.
Being absentminded at times, and this being one of those times, I completely forgot that I was making popcorn. I honestly can’t remember what I was doing. I might have been on the phone with my mom or folding laundry, or both. All of a sudden, the pot literally BURST into flames, a huge amount of flames flaring up out of the entirety of the pot.
My husband, thank God, was home and thought fast, although possibly recklessly. He grabbed a fleece blanket I had made that we had draped over the couch like a throw, and engulfed all of the flames in it, suffocating the fire and putting it out almost instantly. We threw away the blanket, and the pot, but the rest of our kitchen, our house, and our lives were saved.
I told my girls this story casually. The smoke detector in our house has been beeping because it needs a new battery, so they were asking about why it was beeping and then they had a litany of subsequent questions about fire which may or may not have been a ploy to stay up and not go to bed, but it felt like an educational moment, so I indulged them.
The pot fire story never felt like a big deal to me. In fact they wanted to know the exact date it had occurred, and I honestly couldn’t even remember the year. I THINK it was 2011, but I’m not even sure.
Telling this little story that was so insignificant to me and such a subject of interest to them made me realize how many stories I have accumulated over the past 30 years of my life. It’s actually incredible to me to try to process just how many amazing, horrifying, delightful, inspiring, jaw-dropping, heart-stopping, unbelievable stories I have had the privilege of collecting during my relatively short time on this earth.
Story Sneak Peaks
My original goal in writing this blog was to somehow get all of my stories written down. But some days when I think about them, or really most days if I am being honest, I feel overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of them. I feel as though I could be writing for five years straight doing nothing but writing, and still I would not have time to write them all down satisfactorily.
So I thought I might be a little self-indulgent in this post and simply get some of these stories out of the attic and dusted off, even if I cannot do them all justice here today.
I know that many of you are dying to read the story of how my husband and I met on a plane in South Korea, and how when we married we did not know each other at all, and how we have managed to stay married for the past almost 8 years now. We are a statistical anomaly.
I know that many of you would be interested to read about the 9 months I spent living in South Korea, and how I was discriminated against, debased, and disrespected by virtue of my race in their very homogenous society. Not to mention the ridicule I had to endure as a young, unwed mother at every single one of my prenatal appointments. Abortion is illegal in Korea, but the social stigma against pregnancy out of wedlock is so fierce, nearly all young women abort, in likely very dangerous, unregulated clinics and manners.
Some of you would like to read the birth stories of my two older daughters. My first “hypnobaby” was born at a women’s hospital in upstate New York, miraculously vaginally and unmedicated. The other was born in two hours, with the last ten minutes at a birth center in Savannah, Georgia. I will never forget how she was almost a “Walmart Baby” as my husband likes to say – nearly born in the checkout line. I was literally transitioning with four people ahead of us in line and no one offered to let us cut! Most of them ignored us, but one asked my husband if I was ok. “She’s having a baby,” he said. “Oh.” I swear some people… but I HAD TO get a cooler for my placenta…
And some of you would even be morbidly curious about my experiences with pain far worse than labor. The two different times in my life I suffered for several excruciating, interminable days with severe bacterial infections in my foot, and in my mouth, when no emergency room or doctor would take me seriously, and sent me home with a diagnosis of Herpes. Talk about pain on every level – I was in physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual agony. And I wrote the most intense poetry…
All of this could already fill volumes, and yet it doesn’t even hold a candle to my experiences experimenting with dozens of drugs in college, breaking hearts, putting out fires, and starting plenty of them (metaphorically! Geez I know I’m crazy but I’m not an arsonist.).
As karma would have it, I got my heart broken once or twice too. Although to be honest when my last college boyfriend was cheating on me with his ex, I kind of liked it. I’d been in love with two guys before, so I knew that it was possible. Besides, he said that I was way better in every way, and that made me feel better than if she’d never existed at all. Or it may just have been all the free oxycontin I was snorting with him.
When I was deeply engrossed in my spiritual awakening and journey, I received messages from the universe, almost always via animals. I thought it was strange, since I have never been an animal person, and this made the experience so much more mystical. During these times in my life, my every day exploded with episode after bizarre episode of synchronicity.
One night I was thinking very thoughtfully out of the blue about the ocean and tides, and when I googled it I found out that it was the one night of the year when the moon was closest to the earth, and had the strongest pull on the earth’s tides. I do believe that women are strongly connected with the moon and thus all earthly effects of the moon, as our menses match its cycle quite profoundly – emptying when the moon herself empties at the new moon and becoming fertile when she is full.
I loved exploring this concept further when I read The Red Tent(I read the Kindle version), and longed for a sisterhood of women to share this sacred space with. This particular moment of connection and knowing I experienced just goes to show how deeply attuned I was to my own body AND to the entire universe at that time. I often wonder what my life would be like if I could live that deeply connected all the time. I imagine it would be quite different.
And I can’t forget filming my family’s episode on Tiny House Nation, our privledged moments chilling with the crew at night at our hotel in New Mexico. Fighting epically with my husband when we found out our con artist contractor had scammed us out of a decade of savings on our last day of filming, and the host John having to mediate our dispute so we could calm down enough to film our finale. I had to re-do my makeup twice that day.
When I was a child, maybe 7 or 8, I was at a family gathering. Quite busy playing epic games and quests with my cousins, I hardly wanted to take a potty break. When I ddi, I was in a hurry. I rushed into an upstairs bathroom that was nearest at hand, flung off the clips of my overalls, and sat down on the toilet seat. I think I blocked out the most traumatic parts of this memory, because the next thing I remember is running screaming down the stairs with my overalls down. The toilet was full of wasps.
Sometimes I don’t always turn the light on when I have to pee in the middle of the night, since I’d rather not blind myself, but I always have this intense sense of unease in the groggy darkness. Since that day I nearly peed on a wasps’ nest, I have been afraid of sitting down on a toilet seat without looking into it first. There are so many ways to be traumatized in this world. I’m telling you! To be honest that episode traumatized me more than my rape experiences.
My Life is an Open Book
Of course I’ve already written about how I ran a vegan gluten-free food truck for a summer, redeemed myself of the loss with the therapy of working at a juice bar for three months, worked as a second grade teacher at a start-up charter school, ended my career in real estate before it began, and faced my fears as my husband and I welcomed our third baby into our hearts and as I opened my heart back up to a faith I had foresaken.
But I haven’t yet written of the time I missed my own college graduation party, the years I spent battling mild eating disorders that nonetheless significantly impacted my life, my healing journey through health coach training, my successful six months of direct sales, operating my own national nonprofit full time for three years, homeschooling my precious, precocious little offspring, and why nothing physically disgusts me more than cherry chapstick.
This is only a spattering of my stories. There are so many more. Perhaps someday I’ll get to tell them all. Perhaps some will remain untold. Either way, I have faith that the stories that you need to hear are the ones you will end up reading. And the ones you don’t need to hear, you won’t.
In the meantime, I will do my best to squeeze my old stories into this blog even as I collect so many more new ones. During this time in my life, I feel called more than ever to write and share my stories. This feels like the right thing I ought to be doing with my time right now.
I would say I am proud of my stories, because they are part of who I am, and I have to own them or risk disowning my self. But the truth is, society would not condone my pride in many circumstances. I have collected so many stories because I have taken so many risks.
I may have been afraid, and I may have been brave enough not to let my fear paralyze me. But courage can’t take credit for my crazy. Most of the time I was foolishly fearless, restless, and reckless. Jumping into the deep end before I could swim. Sometimes I wonder if I hadn’t intentionally put myself in harm’s way just so I could have those experiences.
Honestly I think that the reason I have collected so many stories is primarily thanks to this character carelessness. I get very focused on the immediacy of a new, scintillating idea, and without a lifeguard in my life I end up pursuing it almost on autopiolt. Moth to flame.
This isn’t transformation. It’s evolution.
My stories don’t stand apart. They are not wholly separate from one another. Each time I embarked on another adventure, or ended one chapter and started the next, it was as if I were simply continuing a larger story that would not have meaning without each of these collaborative chapters. Chapter 2 could not have taken place if not for the events of chapter 1. Chapter 3 would not have gained momentum and deepened intrigue if not for chapters 1 and 2.
Each time, I would say out loud, “Everything in my life that came before led me to this moment.”
Every skill I’d honed as a director of a national nonprofit, in marketing for my direct sales, and in running my own small Etsy shop served me in my capacity as owner and operator of my food truck last summer. And these skills have further fed into my work on this blog. My stories are not just independent funny little episodes of my life, but its literal building blocks. Each one builds upon the next in an oddly natural yet systematic way.
I am an amalgam of my stories. A mosaic of memories. I often lament to my friends and family that my soul is trying to live out as many experiences as possible in this lifetime to “get them over with.” Maybe it’s true. Maybe it is my soul’s destiny to experience a tremendous amount in this lifetime and “shortcut” to a way better life in the next.
When my heroine Barbara Kingsolver was pregnant with her first daughter, she had relentless insomnia. So she spent all night every night writing her famous novel The Bean Trees on a typewriter in her closet. Whenever I write late at night, I fancy myself to be like her. This inspiring woman writer. I pretend I am the millennial Barbara Kingsolver, writing words that singe the screen as hers surely burned through the thin paper in her platen roller with their power. Writing words that entertain, enlighten, and empower. Writing words that challenge, champion, and change lives.
Here’s to another night of writing for you.
What stories of mine are you most eager to hear? Let me know in the comments so I can start working on that story next ❤