Open & Emptied Out

Today I draw my knees into my chest and protect my heart.

I recognize that my normal posture is one of an open heart. I stretch my arms behind me and lift my chest, sharing that space with the world. A Care Bear stare, if you will.

Today, my heart needs to be encased and covered.

The weight it has been bearing through the creation of The Firecracker Calendar Project was great and beautiful. I have the names of survivors written on my heart like tattoos. I can see the letters scribbled along the walls beating my blood.

Their stories were heartbreaking and their bravery overwhelmingly courageous.

My breath was stolen, tears came often and I found it difficult to speak.

I am making this sound so terrible. It was not. It was truth cracking open and spinning through the rooms we shared. It was acceptance of the horrific and a moving into the brilliant.

I am probably not making any sense.

All I know is that although in reality the Creole Gallery was a perfectly appropriate space for our gallery showing, it was not large enough for the emotions in the room.

There wasn’t room enough for Chelsea’s spoken word piece. There wasn’t room enough for the moment a survivor’s foster parent thanked me for what I had done.

I replied, “Thank you for loving her.”

He said, “Loving her was easy. What you did for her was hard.”

Is there a room big enough for those words?

There wasn’t space enough for the youngest survivor in the room to smile under the crook of my arm and to be so loved by the other participants helping her down her own path towards healing.

The ceiling should have broken open and the walls should have fallen down to mirror all of the growth that was inspired by the experience.

Even in the midst of all of that incredible hope, light and empowerment, my heart ached. I still want to burn down the house and keep the foundation. For all that I am capable of changing; I cannot change the past for the beautiful men and women featured in Soulfire 2014.

I cannot change our past.

That hurts a little.


It hurts a lot.

I don’t like it.  I don’t like it at all.

I have been side swiped. That car came out of nowhere. I didn’t really expect to love them so.

And now I do.

So of course, because I love them, my heart breaks for them and the things I want for myself, I want for them too.

I wish to honor their bravery but more than that, I wish I didn’t have to. I want to go back in time and rescue them. I want to barricade the entry to the path they were set on by force because none of them deserve to be here. None of us ever do.

I look at their intelligent, compassionate, determined, strong, brave, beautiful faces and I cannot accept that they were hurt.

It has been lovely to be the only survivor I know. It has allowed me to live in a quiet place where my wounds never brushed up against anyone else’s. It has afforded me a space where I only had to be intimate with my own injuries.

Isn’t that the strangest thing? I was completely caught off guard – heart open – and in they walked.

To know them, is to love them. Isn’t that a saying?

So my knees are pulled into my chest today. I am coaxing my heart back like turning egg whites into a fluffy, white puff.

Fear not.

It’s always better to know and by my calculations, that means it is always better to love.

Open and emptied out,


Soulfire Photoshoot
Photo Credit: McShane Photography


In Full Effect

I have a set of index cards on my coffee table that I have lovingly named…

The Flashcards of Destiny!

They contain the penciled in, erased and rewritten framework of the story I want to share at #Stargazing2013. There are about 30 cards. The first one says ‘gratitude’ and the last says ‘toast’.

The social media presence for The Firecracker Foundation is being built. Things are being signed, phone calls are being made and meetings are being held.

The Change. Rise. Crash. is in full, glorious effect.

I have been growing my hair out naturally. I have been on a pretty regular stretch of chemical relaxers since I was 12-years-old. Slowly and softly, my curls have emerged.

If my hair had a soundtrack in the first few weeks of new growth, it would have been Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy. I think now, my hair is singing, I Don’t Care. I Love It.

No, really. I love my curls so much it borders on vanity and preoccupation.

My life is growing out.

Did I ever tell you that when I was about 15-years-old and I was attempting my first round of counseling sessions, I had a dream of opening a home for girls who had been sexually abused like me?

I didn’t do it. Obviously. I let that dream slide. I studied music. I got married and had children. I ran a business and took a job in development.

I met those professional experiences, challenges and opportunities with great love and passion. I learned great lessons and then…

I resigned.

REFRAMING QUIT: It’s not so much quitting as… stopping, ceasing, retiring, putting it to rest, letting it fly, moving on, phasing out, bringing to a conclusion, taking a bow, changing course, clarifying, focusing, perfecting, shifting, trading up. ~ Danielle LaPorte, The Firestarter Sessions

I have opted for what comes natural to me. I choose my wild, curls that I have no intention of taming over hijacked and flat ironed into submission straight hair.

I stand in a vulnerable space. It’s the space between hopes of perfection and the knowledge that perfection will never exist for me (or anyone). I am floating between reality and unrealistic expectations.

Dream chasing can be self-deprecating. My faults are made clear – my inability to lose these last ten pounds, unwanted facial hair, that my best organizational skills still fall in the category of disorganized and on and on.

Deciding to go out on a limb for your dreams is a great way to clearly see in what ways you were unprepared to do so.

So what do you do?

Well, I don’t know but I can tell you what I did.

I climbed back to the hearty trunk of that tree and built a team, did some research and found some resources to carry in my deep pockets.

And when that runs out, I return and fill them again.

I know I am vagueblogging again. Trust me when I say, you’ll find out what the hell I have been up to very soon.

Nina Firecracker M-80 Lansing Derby Vixens Photo credit to McShane Photography.
Photo credit to McShane Photography.

I am learning to navigate this new and untamed landscape. I am grateful for all that has led me here and I am wickedly in love with what is being created.

I am choosing a different legacy than what was given to me.

I am powerful.