Conversations with a Human Heart.

Category: this is how we grow.

Believe them.


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One of the earliest memories I have living in this beautiful, lively, charming mind of mine is of a man exposing himself to me in the middle of a clothing store. I wandered through the rings of hanging clothes, searching for my aunt when I came upon an old man, holding a little girl’s dress by a hanger. He had the clothes draped in front of him and as he got closer, he moved the hanger to the right, showing me a wrinkled hand, slowly stroking an erect cock, right there, in the middle of the aisle.

When I found my aunt, I didn’t say a word about what I had seen. Because he was an adult and, to my knowledge, grownups didn’t do bad things to little girls wandering through rows and rows of pretty outfits.

I wouldn’t recall this event for years, but when it came rushing back I held the pang of confusion in my throat in the same way my six year old self had on that day.

When I was a teenager, a friend’s older brother climbed into the bed I was sleeping in, pinning me between him and my then-almost-boyfriend. As he tossed and turned in his drunken state, he moved his hands across my side, my belly, my breasts, my ass.

I stayed in that bed for mere minutes, an eternity longer than I wanted to. I spooned my then-almost-boyfriend tighter and closer, hoping somehow the unwelcome guest would vanish into the darkness behind us.

But he didn’t.

He continued to grope a trembling body as I dug my nails into my then-almost-boyfriend’s arm, pleading silently for him to wake.

But he didn’t.

I twisted and turned, trying to pretend I was asleep—embarrassed of the situation I had somehow put myself in, dying and screaming inside, wishing I was home with my mom.

And when I finally found the courage to break free of that wretched center, I ran out of the room, down the stairs, and sat alone in a dark living room until my then-almost-boyfriend stirred awake.

That monster of a man yelled to him as he made his way down the stairs to me, incoherent somethings of admittance. “I touched your girlfriend, man. Yeah. Sorry, man. I was just trying to touch her, man.. my bad. That was my bad,” as if the injustice belonged to then-almost-boyfriend and not to me.

At 18, I asked for permission to use the restroom—a code so many of us used with the ‘cool teacher’ when we wanted to excuse ourselves to the dark room for a smoke. The cool teacher obliged and joined me a few moments later, lighting up inches from my personal space.

He spoke of his desire, of my appeal, of our could-be-amazing future fuck. He used his ‘cool teacher’ hands and ‘cool teacher’ lips to graze parts of my body I had hoped to reserve for a suitor at least 30 years his junior.

I didn’t scream or hit him, I didn’t do any of the things I would imagine and reimagine for every day after that day. Instead, I froze—not wanting to make things awkward for my assaulter. Because he was my teacher and, to my knowledge, students weren’t supposed to be disrespectful in such violent ways.

When the ‘cool teacher’ finally made his triumphant steps toward the door, he stopped with his body halfway over the threshold. He didn’t ask if I was OK, but made a final plea for his student to “consider making an old guy really happy.”

I didn’t consider it, but I did consider his wife and kids when I made the heavy-hearted trek to find help. Because all I wanted in that moment—in those moments before, in every unwanted-advance of a moment since—was help.

And what I got when I finally cried out was disbelief.

What I got were stories from people who knew better than me.

What I got was a teacher pledging public allegiance to my attacker.

What I got were uncomfortable stares.

What I got were deafening whispers.

What I got was time—so much time—to feel broken and tarnished and tied.

I know my stories aren’t unique. It’s what makes this moment, this reckoning, so painful to witness. I know a mere 2% of rape and assault accusations are eventually determined to be false.

Two. Fucking. Percent.

I know I believe women when they stand up—however shaky, however timid, however long after the attack took place—and ask for help.

Believe women.

Believe them.





bottle of red.

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the neighborhood shifts with a man, tested, as his partner wades her way through moments of celestial bargaining—the should-haves stacking higher than a breathing malbec, higher than a set of strong shoulders, higher than the lofty ideas being sent to mother moon.

tonight she witnessed the rough edges of just-one-of-those-days pierce the tender flesh of lovers’ hearts—a thunderclap of the universe’s most spine-strengthening temperatures.

this post was grown on the gram

take this moment.

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take this moment. learn its shape, its smell, the way it speaks to those precious, vibrating bones.

take this moment. feel its pulse, its weight, how it fits into this gloriously imperfect life.

take this moment. hold it up—to the heavens who know you are strong enough, to the skies who understand you are brave enough, to the winds who sense you are capable enough—and set it free.

because the moments that come back to hurt you are the same moments we haven’t released—the ones we’ve pushed down, locked up, covered, buried, and ignored.

the ones we’re scared of, the ones who speak to a story we’re too ashamed to own.

so we pretend we’re lucky. we pretend they’ll stay there, in the makeshift east wing of our hearts. “oh no,” you’ll tell guests, “we don’t go to that part of the house. it’s being… renovated.” but this is life—real life—where buried things will start to rot. where hidden things will start to stir. where neglected moments will rage at the injustice of it all.

so take slow, deliberate steps to that forbidden place in your heart. retrieve those moments and take them for everything they’re worth.

feel the sharp edges, smell the putrid breath. feel the nausea rise to liquify your throat. stare those moments in their disgusting, cruel faces.

and when your insides are on fire, when your knees have given in, when your face is blotchy and tear stained from the horror of it all, whisper “thank you” to the heavens, to the skies, to the winds for believing you had it in you all along.

“goodbye” you’ll say to those swallowed moments, “today, I set you free.”

—this post was grown on the gram.

she in me. 


she’s been of two worlds and I sense the edges—which inches of she is me. the fantastic pulling, eyelash by eyelash, to the heavens. the dreadful wrapping, fingertip by fingertip, to a hungry earth. the way songs make her feel free and insignificant all at once, until the bridge. at the bridge, she wonders. 

what would it be like to fall through the valley’s vein with things like cruise control and airbags and automatic windows? what would it be like to find a voice in an unrelieved cacophony? she’s always wanted these particular answers; and in this moment the outside limits of her bleed into inside limits of me.

pictures change with decades—the metallic taste of sepia, spat against a paneled wall; the airiness of black and white, strung like little pearls against a picket fence. the details of us—she is she and me is me—are fading, and us is we remains. 

so I watch as preferences for coffee and space and self write songs, new songs, for newly sharpened ears. a beating heart, a humming tongue, a picture of you, but me.

stop complaining.

stop complaining

One thing I’m working on in my adulthood–other than rocking the shit out of red lipstick–is dissolving a deeply-engrained complaining habit.

Complaining, like any habit, is a learned behavior.

Complaining, like any habit, can be unlearned.

I reached critical mass at the end of last year (a huge reason for my social media moratorium) when I realized that everywhere I looked, every moment in which I listened closely (even when I monitored my own speech) I was being inundated with negative speak.

Everything and anything we can complain about, we do. And when there is nothing to complain about? We invent problems that aren’t real.

So where have I failed? Where do I falter?

Seven years ago I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease that shook the very foundation of my being; in some people’s minds, I have a lot to complain about.

And I did. I wore this disease like a badge of honor, because my life was harder, sadder, scarier. I allowed myself to fall deeper, because on some level, I thought I had earned that right.

But I’m tired of carrying the weight of this illness, just like I’m tired of caring about bullshit. The path of least resistance is crowded–crowded mostly by people complaining about what could have or should have been, about what someone else could be or should be doing, about how their life somehow isn’t living up to their impossible standards.

And the terrible thing about complaining: it leads to more complaining.

So, I’m out.

I’m finished with dumbing myself down to a life of empty bitching. I’m reclaiming those precious pieces of this precious lifetime.

I would rather look around at this magic existence I have the privilege to call my LIFE and celebrate it; because I have so much more to be humbled by, to be grateful for, than any bullshit disease could ever take away from me.

I challenge you to get quiet–really quiet–for a 24hour stretch. Monitor the words you’re painting this world with, then choose the palette you’d truly LOVE to exist in.

Notice where you’re being unjustly cornered with other people’s negativity, then cut those people out.

It isn’t your job to carry the weight of other people’s “problems” any longer, but it is your job (and yours alone) to be responsible with what you send out into the world.

Stop complaining.

Do something.

Be free.

death becomes us.

death card

I saw the future today.

I watched as truths fell to rubble, pieces of certainty stripped away. I watched in awe and a little bit of horror as walls crashed, wrenched from foundations. Hairline cracks finally giving way to the insufferable weight of time and neglect. Quakes touching bricks and bones alike. And I cried in despair–or inexplicable joy–as I realized: all will be lost.

Years will do what my heart could not: dismantle the naivety of a stumbling, fumbling child.

And it felt strange to see her go; knowing her and her ways so intimately through these years–feeling like a stranger in her presence all the same. You’ve seen her, I’m sure. Her steps are light, but somehow clunky. Her tone is sweet, but quivers with the roil of a restless mind. So much caring for, so much tending to, so much energy to wrangle her home.

And still, she disappears to far away places–to dangerous places.

She flees to preserve herself, unaware of how trying those runaway locations could be. Grasping at the hollowed walls of a tipping kaleidoscope, spinning, spinning as colors crash through glass to roar down on her. Rough meets smooth. Sharp meets tender. Broken meets… well, broken. And yet, she manages to smile through fear and pain and discontent, baring teeth as the cheerful spectrum suffocates her skin.

Quieted by the joy she clung so fearfully to.

But that child comes apart in this coveted future; loses her tender, awkward footing. She falls away in pieces, somewhat unceremoniously: petals of a winter’s tulip settled in among the ashes, rocking in hushed winds.

And though time travel has left me covered in dust and navigating a new sort of awkward, I’m content with–even proud of–the annihilation I witnessed in this advancing place.

Death is coming.

The expiration of a life inadequate; buried in last-ditch efforts of self “help” and paper thin wishing.

Death becomes us on rare occasions and in this future I’m wearing it like a fine fur.

Dripping with the gore of yesterdays, wearing blood like crimson lipstick.

And I smile at this vision, for I had once resolved to wear bold shades like this; all the time worrying, wondering, how could I possibly?

Step one: put on red lipstick. 

Step two: wear red lipstick. 

Life doesn’t require so much thinking. Not in this fuck-yes future, anyway.

Goodbyes, disappointments, self-sabotage, dripping from self-inflicted wounds. They’re the victims of this blessed war, not me. Beautiful carnage; eradication, with my own trembling fingers on the gun.




What’s left? What’s right. The realization that maybe–just maybe–the things we make “things” don’t matter so much. The tone doesn’t have to be deep, or sullen, passionate, or anything. The air doesn’t have to be light, or hopeful, happy or anything. The look, the thought, the message doesn’t have to be anything. It can simply be what it already so-magnificently is.

And with this

I hear the murmur of an afterlife and I relax.

With this

I feel the moment instinctually collapse.

With this

that child releases her apprehensive grip and I’m reborn.

Death arrives and I am free.





the mothership is coming.


this earth is a tricky place to call home, and it isn’t unusual for me to feel like I’m being called from faraway places, some parallel universe where hurting doesn’t hurt so much and the fear doesn’t shut this heart down.

there’s a version of me out there, somewhere, that calls across galaxies to say, “settle, child. it isn’t all that hard. you have me inside, somewhere. just keep listening and I can guide you home.”

because I have some inside information, you see: the mothership is coming. but not to carry me away. no. not like you’d expect.

I’ll stand in a quiet field at twilight—when the sun clocks out and the moon clocks in and there’s a moment when the earth forgets what colors go where—and I’ll wait to feel the shift in the trees. and there she’ll hover, out of thin air. and my heart will race and thoughts like what-the-hell-is-going-to-come-next will spin wildly, entangling themselves in my hair.

but i’ll steady my stance and grip the grass with my toes and wait for it to hit me.

and it will—WHAM—hit me. a tunnel of light so fierce and so powerful.

I’ll search for things to write down when it’s all over, for words (the right ones) to describe this light, but all I can come up with is, “it’s so fucking BRIGHT.” my arms will lift outward until I’m a human letter “T” and I’ll think for a moment that maybe (maybe) I’m a savior too—maybe a girl with freckles and really loud laugh is going to set the world free.

but as I wait for liftoff, I’ll feel my feet maintain inexplicable contact with the ground. and then, the me that’s out there, the one who whispers kind words when I need them most, will speak out, “she’s not here for you, child. but for the heavy things. it’s time to set them free.”

and so in preparation, I’ve been working on letting go.

because life can seem so heavy if you let it; the weight of the everythings you endure, building and building and building. we let these things take over from deep inside, these things that are here to teach us—maybe about courage, maybe about truth, and maybe (definitely) about love.



Come now, Little Child. You mustn’t be so shy.

These words, these words, these words used to excite and free you and now they’ve put you in weird corners in odd positions thinking impossible thoughts that never can serve you (I promise).

Because words that serve you open you up—until your insides are on the outsides blinking thoughtfully into your own teary eyes. They’ll gaze into the universe that is those wild hazels and you’ll feel the sensual hum of a job well done, of a something that’s shifted. Words that serve you make your skin tingle with yesyesyes, the electric pulse of doing the thing that makes you feel most alive, the thing that makes every cell scream “oh, hell yes. it’s fucking go-time.

When all of this happens, the un-serving words are very-nearly banished to far-away places—for they are conservative and stiff and dislike the company of swearing cells. They’ll march off in less radical directions with un-serving heads hung low.

You’re tired of it already, and who could blame you. You’ve gone up and down and up and down and upandfuckingdown. But you mustn’t be so timid.

Split in half. Split and pour out of yourself like you mean it, like your life depends on it.

Your life depends on it. 

And when the doctor comes to inspect the damage you’ve done, he’ll say “there’s nothing I can do here” and he’ll clasp his leather bag and march out your door and back into the world of un-split humans—the humans he can help.

Then you’ll realize it’s done. It’s done and it’s real and you’re not turning back. You’ll stand there, alone, in the middle of the most remarkable disaster you’ve ever seen. You’ll stare at all the recently-inside you words painted across walls and spilled onto floors and dripping, dripping from your trembling fingers. You’ll sway, still out of breath, still distilling the prognosis in your liberated heart; but you’ll know deep-down that everything is exactly as it should be—that un-split open doesn’t serve you any more than those un-serving words once did(n’t).

You’ll exist somewhere between that place of “I can’t help you” and “I can help myself.”

Welcome to Splits-ville.


[image: julie loen on pinterest]

on love (and therefore, on magic)

love is magic

What happens when you love someone completely?

This is what happens:

Your previous life—whether your single life, your ex-whomever life, your I-didn’t-actually-know-what-love-is life—will be far-far away, the glimmer of a distant planet in an otherwise inky sky.

The life you thought so good will be made suddenly better; or the life you thought so burdened will be made suddenly lighter.

When you fall in love you will be transformed—and it’s hard to imagine, but you will be the one with the sculptor’s knife. Because when you love someone completely, you will be faced to look at all the ugly parts that you’ve hidden away.

“Oh, no. I mustn’t do that,” you’ll say.

But, yes, my dear. You must (and you shall).

You’ll feel a stirring—a something you can’t quite place and also don’t need to—in your chest that will make you look down and through and inside your heart. You’ll have superman-style x-ray vision and you’ll look at all the magical, sparking goings-on and you’ll decide (without much hesitation) to blow the door of your heart wide open with dynamite for a closer look.

Thankfully, just before you light the fuse, you’ll reconsider. You’ll decide to clear your throat—ahem—and knock—knock-knock-knock—and announce yourself instead.

She’ll be prepared, your heart. She’ll have readied her space as best she can with excited, fluttering beats. She’ll know exactly why you are there, suddenly looking. And she’ll be patient and gentle with her flutters to allow for ideal searching conditions.

“It’s open,” you’ll hear her whisper as you clumsily reach for the door.

All this time, you’ll think to yourself. All this time and I’ve never been in. 

The door will creak as you step over the threshold. You’ll see a lifetime of glittering treasure. You’ll see memories and feelings and faces and past lives and other hearts, too. You’ll see everything you’ve ever held sacred. You’ll stand in the center of this heartspace with quickening breaths before you kneel to the ground with tears in your eyes.

And when you’ve held this space for long enough; when you’ve breathed in the most precious particles of your existence, you will begin to dig. You will reach into the ground and into the walls; you will look behind the loveliest parts of you to find the ugly.

Because when you love someone completely, you want to clear those ugly parts. You’ll want to disolve all the pain you’ve hidden away. Because when you love someone completely, you’ll know a courage that had very much escaped you before.

So you’ll dig out the ugly with fierce dedication to this love-cause; but you’ll be surprised to find these ugly parts to be far-less ugly than you remembered them to be—these pieces are even a little remarkable. Based on this discovery you’ll change your plans; you’ll decide they’re worth the time and worth the pain of excavating. You will dig out these ugly pieces and wash them with gentle hands and a stream of soft, cool water.

When you bring these ugly pieces to the light, you’ll see glints of beautiful things; and you’ll call those glints “potential.” You’ll look around and see so much potential; but so much work, as well.

About this time in your adventure, you’ll decide you can’t go changing things that were forever-ugly. You’ll feel your body recoil at the thought of this ordeal, this transformation. Your pace will slow and your mind will take over and you’ll find your excavation has drawn to a halt.

You’ll tune into the song of your heart, now confused and a little let down. You’ll hear the steady whir of all the life around you. Then you’ll hear a familiar voice—your person, the one who inspired you to find the ugly parts at all—speaking familiar words of love and admiration. And your hands will be steadied and reassured and quickly-moving once more.

You will chip away the pieces that are tarnished with unsightly bits. You will know, instinctively, that these unsightly pieces will not serve you.

With a tiny chisel and a steady breath, you will tap-tap-tap these pieces until they cleave away. You will sculpt a new, shimmering part from the once-ugly. You will sob and laugh and sob and laugh when you witness the magic that you have shaped.

With this newly-shaped heart you will feel invincible. The shadows of your former self will no longer sway you—they’ll move, like fog, from your waking thoughts.

My heart and I, we’ve known these shadows. We’ve known the pain of separations unwanted. We’ve known the torture of a longing soul. We’ve known the fierce power of curiosity and the unfair prejudice we so-often placed upon ourselves.

With love, we’ve been freed: a new self excavated.

So what happens when you love someone completely?

This is what happens: everything.


a birthday story.

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Once upon a time, a girl had a life and a heart and dreams and fears and many, many words to share. Carrying around all those words and fears and dreams—and even that heart at times—was exhausting. But she did it, mostly because she didn’t know what else to do.

One day, that girl met another girl.

And even through they were far, far away, and even though they could only reach each other through their computer screens and keys, they became very fast friends.

The girls worked together and they laughed together. Sometimes they cried together, too. And sometimes—even though one girl lived in this country and one girl lived in that—they could feel each other and they would smile and laugh or pause and worry, even when they weren’t connected to their screens.

These girls continued on their happy romance, sneaking messages by text, email and sometimes by owl. Yes, life was rather grand.

One day, not so once upon a time, that girl with the life and the heart, the dreams and fears and all those words to carry, realized that she felt much lighter these days and she began to wonder in the way that some girls do—and then she saw it clear as day.

When you have a friend—an I’ve-known-you-before-I-knew-you friend—she helps you find a purpose for all those words, and her words will inspire your words and your words will do the same for her and all the words will have a life together—making things far-less exhausting, indeed.

She helps you find a use for all those dreams, too—all those “what ifs” become “why nots” and you’ll find yourself wearing dreams like badges of your remarkable reality-making potential.

And the fears? She helps you cast banishing spells on those fears with potions and songs and deep belly howls.

As for the heart—well, their hearts had an unshakable sisterhood from the moment they met. They kept each other open and honest and true. So the burden of that heart was transformed to something beautiful.

When the girl woke this morning, her heart spoke first: it’s her birthday today, let’s retell our story.

So she did.


this post was grown on the gram