Wednesday, February 15, 2017
A big, audacious word hiding inside four small letters.
Oh, the ache and pain. I can hear my younger self. She wants something and she hasn't told a soul. She is seven and she takes her little sister out to this straggly garden beside their house. Inside the house a storm is brewing. They see it, they know it. The beast of their parents marriage that is tearing them all apart. So that little girl escapes. Not to a garden. No. This is more than a garden.
This is where she tells her stories. She crouches down among the shadows and the overgrown ferns. The sisters are so near they can feel the other breathing. And the little girl speaks. Not words. No. These are more than words.
These are other worlds. Places where creatures smaller than your fingers run amok at the base of the tree and in among the flowers. She feeds these guests on paper bark stew mixed with mud and fern fronds. Her little sister mixes the brew and they set a table made of chip bark on top of rock and smaller stones for seats. The guests come as the little girl talks. Her sister can see them. And oh, the adventures the sisters have all the while living in the land of stories. She knows what she wants this child. Not merely dreams. No. These are more than dreams.
This is who she is. Who she knows she was born to be. Children know this. Clearly, like the ring of a bell through time. They know with clarity who they are. Maybe not what they will do upon this earth, but they know their essential being, the who that they were created to be.
She is sixteen now. She hasn't forgotten. She still tells stories. Quiet words to the wind as the car drives along and she wishes she was anywhere but where she is. She talks in story and the breeze t spreads her words out into the void. Her mother has one question. What does she want to do? But it's not a question about wanting. No. This is more about college.
She tells no one what she wants because it's been made clear enough. Her mother doesn't read. It's a waste of time. Books. Wasteful. Not serious pursuits. What she needs is escape and a way to stand on her own two feet against this world. It's what her mother wishes she had. Where is the degree in story? She isn't even looking for it. It never occurs to either of them that story is exactly the way to escape and the only way this child will ever stand on her own feet. But this is not about standing. No. This is about surviving. Pressing on. Moving forward.
So, she forgets. On purpose. She forgets who she is. She is thirty-one before she wants again. Thirty. One! And that wanting comes on the back of everything finally falling apart. Everything she has fought so hard to hold together inside her collapses. In the darkness of that falling there is this small light. Flickering. It is the WANT. This is who she is. In desperation she reaches out for the want. For the stories.
Let me whisper them to you, my friends. Your want are the most essential raw part of you.
These are not merely dreams. No. These are more than dreams.
They are who you are. Who you were created to be.
Please. Oh please, begin to want again. The world is waiting for you to be you. We need your wants so desperately. We need the essential you.
Posted by Tabitha Bird at 7:01 PM
Friday, January 20, 2017
He is everything. He is every good thing in my world. He is also deepest sadness. Not because of him, but because he came with story. Words. He couldn't even speak when we opened our family to take this little guy in. But in him there was written every word of my past. Every word of the broken family I come from.
He is my sister's son. I am his aunt. And yet, I am not. They asked me if I would take him. If I would be his mother. My sister unable to mother him. Until that moment I did not know how many words could fill a person, how could you ache with words and yet all I could say was, "Yes." It was enough to say. I didn't know. But it was enough.
This little boy is now six years old. Words I see in him now are health, joy, hope.
But when he came to us with all the words that he couldn't even speak I found there were so many words that I could not say either. His story met my story and for a while we were still together inside this sadness. Both of us grieving. For everything he had lost and everything I had lost.
Words are like that sometimes. They still you. They take you to your knees. They sit within you like an internal bleed and you think that you are this weak thing, hemorrhaging with the very story of your past even though you can speak no words.
So, I stopped writing. For a while there was only me, this little boy, my husband, my other sons. Family. A new family that required everything I had to leave behind shadows. To believe that I could create in my adult life what childhood took. To sit with those words I couldn't yet speak and tell myself to breathe.
And then it happened.
Not suddenly. But surely.
That little boy learnt to speak.
And so did I.
I found my writing again too. And I wrote. In his nap times, while his brothers were at school. I wrote. A new book. Still with aching words. Still on my knees. But this time I was myself.
I wasn't trying to find clever ways to say things, if indeed clever things even matter. I simply let my honest, vulnerable words out. The words that little boy brought with him. His grief. My grief. His loss. My loss. The words were true, even though the story I was writing was made up. Something good emerged from a past that wasn't.
And I am back here. On this blog. With a new book now on submission and a third under way.
And I want to tell you this.
If you need to hear that like I need to hear that. Begin. Again.
Gather whatever words you have inside you, it isn't too late. And, when you can, bring those words out in whatever way feels right for you. Because sometimes the stories that most need to be told are the hardest to tell. And sometimes the person who needs to hear your words is you. But it might surprise you that others need to hear them too. You matter. And so do your honest, achy words.
Posted by Tabitha Bird at 6:02 AM
Monday, January 2, 2017
Beginnings fade. New Year's resolutions are stuck in those faded beginnings and by February those glittery resolutions are tin like and hollow. What I do like are words. They endure past January and I can hold onto a special one all year. So each year I make a word (or phrase) my guide. A focus that pulls me through. Words chosen well outlast false starts and shiny things.
2016: Last year my phrase was, THIS YEAR IS MINE.
And I made it so. It empowered me to think that what was standing between my goals and my reality was ME. So I challenged myself to take ownership of what I wanted. To do everything possible to move closer to my goals both personal and bookish.
And what a year it was! I completed and polished my second book. That book went on submission and I am still awaiting good news on the outcome of that process. I also won a major writing competition and had another piece of poetry published. Every time I felt like giving up, every time I was scared to submit my work somewhere, I reminded myself of my phrase for the year and decided I could weather rejection. What I could not weather was shrinking from my goals. And I made the year mine.
2017: This year my word is RELENTLESS.
Not relentless as in cruel, uncaring or harsh.
But, relentless in hope. Relentless in chasing. Relentless in writing. Relentless in faith. Relentless in love. Relentless in caring. Relentless in dreaming. This year I will not give up. I will continue in everything I hoped and dreamed for last year. I will continue to expand my wings of being myself and embracing truth and vulnerability.
I will be more fully myself. I will continue to grow as a writer and show up on both the page and in my daily life. I will embrace relentless courage. Relentless bravery. Relentless ME.
I wish you all a RELENTLESS year of YOU too. Make it great, people. Make it brave and bold!
What will your word be this year?
Posted by Tabitha Bird at 3:50 PM