Category Archives: personal

still + small

They told me I must be small

I must diminish so He could grow 

Their voices overwhelmed me

A cloud suffocating by day

A fire burning at night

I grew still and small

Waiting to be saved


I must decrease so He can increase


They taught me my spirit was defiant

I must tame my darkness so He could shine

Their voices sliced me down 

I cut off the pieces

That made me too wild

I pruned and trimmed my branches

Waiting to be whole


The tree You cursed has withered


Then I ran

I turned over their tables, exiled from their temples

They told me the further I fled

The unhappier I would be


They lied, and does not the Lord detest lying lips? 


Still and small, my spirit survives

Scarred and sacred, she still sings.


Dream Work In Action

A dream is the subconscious trying to communicate. After reading a few books about dreams and hunting around online, that’s the conclusion I’ve come to. I think I’ve always believed that to some degree, but I used to think nightmares were demonic, and I didn’t want to pay attention to them. Now, I’m trying to look at the dreams that scare me as messages from my own soul. There are two recurring dreams I’ve had for years, and I think I’ve finally figured them out.

The book “Inner Work: Using Dreams And Active Imagination for Personal Growth” by Robert A. Johnson has really helped. It taught me the interpretation method I used for my dreams, and maybe it can help you. The first step is to simply list all the symbols in the dreams. Why? Dream language isn’t literal, it uses symbols. That means even if you dream about a person you know, the dream probably isn’t about that person. That person represents something else, most likely within yourself. A symbol can be an object, event, action, color, sensation, etc. Basically anything you can identify.

So, here are my two recurring dreams: 

  1. I can feel something in my throat and mouth. I reach in, and find a long strand or clump of hair. I keep trying to pull it out, but it keeps going on and on. Sometimes it will get stuck and it feels like I’m choking.
  2. I’m covered in pieces of glass, they’re in my ears, eyes, nose, everything. I can’t go on with whatever I was doing in the dream, I have to keep stopping and picking out the pieces.

The symbols I identify in the first dream are: hair, pulling out, choking, and getting stuck. In the second dream, it’s pieces of glass, picking out glass, and getting interrupted. After identifying the symbols, I drew associations from them. According to “Inner Work,” it’s important not to free associate, but keep going back to the original symbol. I made a mind map, with each symbol at the center, and branches for my associations. The purpose of this part of dream interpretation is to come up with as many as you can. My associations for “hair” included identity, sexuality, vanity, and beauty.

How do you know which association is the “right” one? The book talks a lot about following the energy or “the click.” Basically, when you bump up against the correct association, the correct translation for the symbol, your body will react. You’ll feel an energy or gut reaction. For me, with the “hair” symbol, I resonated most with “identity.” I’ve had a lot of different hair cuts and styles over the years, and used my hair to express my identity. That’s true for a lot of people, and even though another important part of dream interpretation is to figure out what a symbol means to you personally, a lot of symbols and their translations are universal. In my case, with “hair,” the association was both personal and more universal.

I did the same process with the rest of the symbols in the first dream and the second one. Here’s a summary of what I translated, with the association I must resonated with in bold:

Pulling out (the hair): Escaping, freeing

Choking: Getting stuck, pausing, voiceless, muted, dying

Glass: Broken mirror, window, reflective, fractured

Picking out glass: Healing, painful healing, preventing infection

Getting interrupted: Getting stuck, pausing, halting

Once the associations are made, it’s time to put everything together. At this point, at least for me, the meaning of the dreams was already pretty clear. This isn’t always the case, and the book actually recommends writing a few possible interpretations. Like the symbols, the “right” one will click.

My two recurring dreams are telling me the same thing. Hair and glass both represent identity. The connection with hair and identity is obvious upon a closer look, while the broken glass is a little more complex. Broken glass, which is closely associated with a broken mirror and fracturing, means my identity is broken into pieces. It’s not whole. As for the hair dream, the hair getting caught in my throat means I’m not able to free my identity. It keeps getting stuck, and it feels like I’m choking on it. With the glass dream, my broken identity is causing me pain and makes me stop going about my life, because I keep pausing and trying to free it. 

How does this apply to my real life? How do I feel about my identity? Pretty lost, honestly, and I have for years, which is why these dreams keep coming up. I’ve never really felt like part of a community. I did for a while in a church, but it collapsed and everyone scattered, the relationships gone forever. Looking back, the community also wasn’t healthy. Ever since then, I’ve been searching, but afraid. I also don’t feel like I have a identity in my work. What I write for work doesn’t represent me in any way, it’s just work, and it doesn’t let me be very creative. The big thing I realized recently, though, is that the novel I’m writing isn’t really “me.” I’ve been working on it for like six years straight, but it’s not actually something I would want to read. I don’t read mysteries or detective thrillers. Why am I writing one?

The last part of dream interpretation is asking the question, “What now?” What do I do about it?” For a community, it’s always a work in process, and it’s slow. I’m sort of going to church again and small group just started, so that will just take time. The biggest change I’m going to make, however, is pausing my novel and adjusting to the possibility that it’s time to put it away. I’m going to do NaNoWriMo this year and write something  I actually want to read. I already have a sci-fi/speculative fiction idea, and I’m really going to let my imagination go wild. That isn’t something I’ve been able to do in my writing before, so I’m excited.

Dreams are powerful, friends. Pay attention to them. They are always speaking.




How Much Is Too Much?

I’ve been off Effexor completely for about a month and taking CBD gummies, and I’m now asking myself a key question: how much loneliness is too much? When do I need to start asking myself: is this new mental health structure working?

I’m feeling a lot more these days. Like, at the drop of a hat, something will make me want to cry. I haven’t really gotten comfortable with letting that just happen yet, because I’m afraid of feelings. I’m afraid that they will overwhelm me, drown me, and I’ll have to do something about it. And what is left to do? I’ve done various stages of medication, and now no medication, and therapy and blah blah blah blah. I’m worried that it’s my environment that makes me sad.

I’m really disconnected from community. I haven’t liked to admit that, because it makes me feel like I’m dismissing or insulting the friends and family I do have, but at the end of the day, I’m very isolated. Sometimes it feels like days go by and I haven’t had a real conversation with anyone except Chris. I certainly haven’t done anything with anyone except Chris, because the friends I do have are not close by. Sometimes it really feels like I’m just standing on the edge of a cliff, shouting into the void. I’ve kind of felt that way my whole life, always trying to hear the echo.

Now, at night, I’ll have trouble sleeping because of an aching hollow in my chest. It’s the feeling of loneliness the medication has numbed for a long time, and I’m really scared that I’m feeling it again, and it’s scary that it’s never really left. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to ask from people. I’m trying to do things differently, create a different social structure for myself. I’m going to church now for god’s sake, but in a lot of ways, it brings up so much anxiety and fear, it makes the ache worse.

I don’t know what I need to make this ache go away, because what if it can’t go away? What if this is just normal for me, and I should just ignore it and focus on the positives? What if this is just what being medication-free is, and it’s the trade I make to not have side effects? How much pain is too much pain?

Foodventure 2019: Seattle

For our anniversaries, Chris and I have a tradition where we try a bunch of food places instead of one pricey dinner. This year, we went to Seattle and stayed overnight in a tiny house. First on the list: Lunchbox Labs. I had read about it when researching milkshake places for work, and it looked like a place we both would like. It was kind of weird to get to, and even though we were one of the only people there, the service was slow. They also got some of the order wrong, though that did mean we got a free banana cream pie milkshake. Their sign says “world-famous” milkshakes, which I didn’t feel was quite true. Chris said the burger was very similar to In ‘n Out, which is a good comparison, though In ‘n Out is significantly cheaper. If you’re in Seattle and looking for the best burger, I don’t think Lunchbox Labs is it.

Next on the agenda: some kind of physical activity. We found a mini golf place and for once, it wasn’t raining! It wasn’t either of our best showings at the game, and I kept getting distracted by trying to take pictures of all the bees. There were a lot of gorgeous flowers on the course. I ended up beating Chris by two. We still weren’t hungry, so we found a park and strolled for a bit.

Finally, it was time for Hot Cakes Molten Cakery! I’ve been following their Instagram for what seems like forever and was most excited to try it. We found good street parking and walked about a half mile to the place. We passed a used bookstore – Twice-Sold Tales – so of course, we had to stop in. I got an older copy of “The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James. Hot Cakes lived up to the hype. We got the mac and cheese and S’mores cake. The mac and cheese was amazingly creamy with rich cheese flavor and perfectly-crunchy toasted breadcrumbs on top. The cake was everything you’d want it to be, especially when you ate a bite with the ice cream on the side covered in graham cracker crumbs. The cake may look small, but it’s so rich, we were totally satisfied sharing. If you’re going to go anywhere in Seattle and love desserts, I highly recommend Hot Cakes.

The next morning, we were going to try and hit up Biscuit Bitch before heading back home. The first location had a super long line, and then we simply could not find the other one. Some streets were closed and we kept driving back and forth through a super long tunnel. Eventually, we were just too hungry, and knew that even if we did find it, there would probably be a line. We went to a place in Kent instead (Maggie’s on Meeker) and were thoroughly satisfied. Not busy, fast service, and Chris said the chorizo omelette was the best omelette he’d ever had. High praise from a man who doesn’t really like eggs. I got biscuits and gravy, and doubt that Biscuit Bitch could have done much better. There’s only so much you can do biscuits and gravy, as long as you do them right.

Before going to Maggie’s, we had stopped at Hello Robin Cookies for after breakfast. It was very difficult to resist – we could smell them through the box. We got a half dozen: orange habanero chocolate chip, classic chocolate chip, lavender, Mexican hot chocolate, Mackles’mores, and whole wheat sea salt chocolate chip. I don’t think I’ve ever had cookies that good from a store. They were the perfect texture – soft inside, but with just enough chewiness, and crispy edges. The flavors were so deep, too; it wasn’t just sugar. My favorites were the classic chocolate chip (which is their best-seller, and I can understand why) and orange habanero chocolate chip. The habanero adds just the right amount of heat that’s great with the orange and chocolate, and the cookie had a kind of raw sugar coating, too, I think, so there’s really nice crunch. Chris liked the Mackles’mores and classic chocolate chip the most. Sadly, Hello Robin does not ship (they don’t use any preservatives so shipping would be impossible), so we have to go back if we want more. Maybe Robin will open a shop in Portland one day?



To Rachel

Rachel Held Evans (1981-2019)

I really wish I didn’t have to write this. I wish I was reading a post on your blog about a miraculous recovery and a joyful return home. Instead, you went to your eternal home, leaving behind Dan, two kids, your family, your friends, and people like me. Your readers, who never got to meet you, to tell you in person what your writing meant. I know that you know, your eyes have been opened in ways I can’t even imagine, but in my limited perspective, I’m sad that I didn’t get to tell you.

But now, I don’t even know what I would say. I’ve been trying to think of something for over 24 hours, sitting with my journal in front of me, sitting outside staring at the trees, sitting on my bed at midnight staring at the wall. I dreamed about you when I fell asleep this afternoon, too tired to process my feelings. Even then, I didn’t know what to say, except something to the effect of “You get me.”


I think that’s ultimately what made me love you right off the bat, when I read your first book with its original title, “Evolving in Monkeytown,” the copy that has my mom’s name written in the front because she was the one who gave it to me. You were close with your mom, too, and even though you didn’t always agree with each other, there was always unconditional love. When I read your book, it felt like meeting a new friend. The conversation you wrote about with your college friend, about how you were unable to accept that God would damn people who happened to born just a handful of years after the resurrection of Jesus, who had no way of knowing His name. I think the phrase you used was, “How could they be responsible for that information?” That really stuck with me, and really made me question my beliefs about heaven and hell, which used to keep me up at night with anxiety. Now, I see God as eager to give grace, overgenerous with it. Thank you.

When “Searching For Sunday” came out, I was so excited I bought an ebook copy, because I couldn’t wait till the physical copy got cheap enough or came to the library. Like you, I had stopped going to church and was at a loss about how to make my way back. Though our journeys were very different and you found your way sooner than me, you gave me hope that I could find a safe place. I actually started going to a church and that was the first thing that struck me, that I felt safe there. I don’t know what the future looks like, but I know you would be encouraging and happy for me, for everyone who is searching for a spiritual home and community.

I read “Inspired” not long ago, and it didn’t resonate with me as much as your other books. I’m not sure why, but I think it’s just because we were in different places. It did give me a glimpse in your love of stories and it made me smile that you took every opportunity to write in different styles, whether it was a short story, poem, or choose-your-own adventure. I wonder if you would have ever dipped into trying fiction if you had the chance. Thinking about what might have been is too hard. It makes me heart shrivel between my ribs.

I almost got to see you in person. You were scheduled to preach at a church in Minnesota, so Chris and I went to the service. The pastor got up and told us you and Dan had been too ill with a stomach bug to come. I was disappointed and because of church anxiety, we ended up leaving. “I’ll have another chance to see her,” I told myself. “It’s not like she’s going anywhere.”

Even though I didn’t know you personally, we were kindred spirits. It hurts that you’re gone, and there will be so many times in the future where I wish we had your voice. I’m jealous of heaven. I know I’ll see you someday. Your friends and family will see you, too, which is more important. I can distract myself easily if I need to, and I know this grieving process for me will probably be pretty brief. It will go on for your family, though, and thankfully the comforting and supportive messages will outweigh the negative ones, but there will be negative ones. You shook the world, the pillars of the system, and there will be people who will take the chance to call you all kinds of names, like a heretic. I hope you wear the name with pride, because if being a heretic means choosing love over fear and condemnation, and being eager to give grace and understanding, we should all aspire to be heretics.

What It Means When You Support Kavanaugh

This isn’t political. It’s personal. It’s personal to me and countless other women and men who have been sexually assaulted.

When you say you don’t believe the three women who have come forward, you’re saying that you don’t believe me. Like them, I didn’t talk about it for years. I don’t have a specific date, time, and place. And unlike Dr. Ford and her two fellow survivors, I don’t even have witnesses. When you support Kavanaugh, I hear you telling me that my story was fabricated during therapy. Or that because I’m a feminist, I hate men and this is my way of trying to hurt them. Maybe you’re telling me that because I’m liberal, I’ll believe anyone who attacks a conservative.

Do you know how small the fraction of false rape accusations really is? When you support Kavanaugh, you’re telling me you either don’t believe the research or you don’t care. Because Kavanaugh is a conservative, it must mean that these women represent that tiny fraction of liars, despite the fact they have absolutely nothing to gain from coming forward and everything to lose. You are telling me you are more willing to believe conspiracy theories about Democrats, hypnosis, and Ben Carson’s Fabian society than women’s stories backed up by Kavanaugh’s own yearbook and classmates.

When you support Kavanaugh, it means I can never depend on you for support if something happens to me. It means that I’m not safe within your church walls, your home, your friendship, your family ties. If you protest and insist that no, I would be safe, I would be loved, don’t be surprised if I turn away. You’ve shown me who you are.

Finding The Root

I was in my spiritual director’s office the other day, and we had just hit on a big revelation about what my core “issue” is. Because (like everyone) all my fears began when I was a kid, I need to connect with my inner child in order to heal. All the other experiences I’ve had with toxic Christianity, unhealthy friendships, etc, all served to reinforce the main lies I learned as a child: I am not safe and I am too much.

It’s been hard for me to really claim that it all began in childhood because by all accounts I had a great childhood. I had/have great parents, a close family, and no horrendous events. What my spiritual director has been teaching me though is that EVERYONE gets their root problems from childhood. That’s just what life does to us, and if we don’t take care of ourselves when we get older and have the emotional and spiritual resources to deal with what we’ve experienced, it only gets worse.

When I think about myself as a child, I get really uncomfortable. I don’t want to look at myself then, I want to focus on who I became and how much stronger I got. I don’t consider myself a “motherly” person at all because I can’t relate to children, I don’t understand them. What I have to do now is learn how to be a mother to my inner child, because that’s the part of me that’s wounded. When I experience rejection or loneliness or trauma as an adult, it’s the child part of me – the part that doesn’t know how to handle those emotions – that takes on the pain.

I feel like I’ve finally found the root of what I’ve been looking for. In all my counseling, I’ve bumped up against it, but never quite put a pinpoint on what the problem was. It’s overwhelming and relieving, but also intimidating. My spiritual director told me to prepare myself for some “stirring,” like when you disturb the bottom of a lake, all kinds of sediment and stuff comes up along with the water. I’m going to be filtering out the negative shit to get at the good stuff, and it will not feel great.

Where to start? I think the first thing I need to do is get comfortable with maternal feelings. They freak me out. I don’t have them when it comes to kids. However, I love animals and my pets. I’m very maternal to Yoshi. It’s a matter of channeling that towards Inner Child instead of holding her at a distance, avoiding her, neglecting her. Even writing that, I tense up a little. It’s so foreign to me. That’s a definite sign that it’s something that needs to change.

Processing Confusing Emotions

My grandpa died this week.

Even typing that is confusing. It’s something I’ve been preparing for, but I still feel numb. I don’t handle death very well. It’s been six years since my grandmother died and I still have dreams about her. I never dreamed about her when she was alive.

I wasn’t close to my grandparents. This week, I’ve spent a lot of time outside, going through memories, and I was not pleased to learn that many of them are negative, including my first memory. My spiritual director has been telling me we will work on going through bad experiences and finding the good in them, so they’re no longer hard to visit. I’ve been trying to do that, but it’s hard, because I was so young. I’ve been remembering being at my grandparent’s house and playing with my cousins. I remember the big backyard and driveway, the basement where we played old records of “Camelot” and watched “Singin’ in the Rain” a million times. I’ve been trying not to dwell on the fact that in those memories, my grandparents are not really in them. They’re around, their home is the setting, but they’re not there.

I think my grief is for my mom. I saw her as the primary caregiver for my grandparents, and I saw how much she loved them. She was always taking my grandpa to get plants and gardening with him. She was always consistent about calling to check in. With both of them gone, there’s a huge empty space now, and I know it will take time for her to process that. It’s my job to be there for her where I can.

Foodventure 2018

Today was Foodventure 2018! Since our first year in Portland, Chris and I go sample the flavors of the city for our anniversary. We love driving around in areas we may not have visited before and seeing the different types of businesses, like the home-brewing store, clogs for kids and adults, and about a million vintage shops. The weather was overcast, slightly-humid, with pockets of sunshine later in the day.

Our first stop: Grand Central Bakery. I heard about it on the Spilled Milk podcast and when I looked it up, learned they had a location in Portland. When we walked in, we were met by the warm fragrance of fresh bread. I got something basic: a biscuit egg sandwich with cheese. Chris got a ham+swiss and a hot chocolate.




It was the best breakfast sandwich I’ve ever had. The egg was perfectly cooked and seasoned, but the biscuit was the real star, as it should be. Light, crumbly, and flaky in the right places. After breakfast, we stopped by Tea Chai Te, because it turned out they were right next to Grand Central. I got a Spiced Vanilla Chai that was so hot, I slowly drank it for the rest of the day and only cooled to lukewarm. Our next stop was Rachel’s Ginger Beer, and while we searched for a parking spot, I spotted Waffle Window, so of course, we had to get a waffle.




Torn between chocolate and strawberry-Nutella, Chris pulled the trigger on strawberry-Nutella. The waffle had a slightly-crunchy exterior because of the “pearled sugar” they use and soft inside. It reminded me of waffles in Belgium, though obviously not as good, that would be impossible.

Then we hit up Rachel’s Ginger Beer. I got the White Peach, Chris got the Caramelized Pineapple. We had a funny exchange where Chris said this was an alcohol we could actually take to go, and I said, “What? This isn’t alcoholic.” And then Chris revealed that he thought “ginger beer” was real beer. It was especially funny to me because we’d been drinking it and I guess it tasted boozy?




Now it was time for ice cream! We always have to get ice cream. I chose 22 Below, a rolled ice cream place that just opened a store in Portland, its 3rd location. The founder is currently only 20-years old! She was actually there today; I just looked her up and recognized her. Watching them roll the ice cream is mesmerizing. For my “Campfire” ice cream, they put graham crackers on the cold work station and topped them with marshmallows. He set them on fire and once they were toasted, he poured over the chocolate ice cream base. The surface froze the ice cream as he chopped and smoothed in the graham crackers and marshmallows. The ice cream is then flattened and rolled into the distinct tubes.




I was a bit concerned the rolling would be a gimmick, like liquid nitrogen ice cream, which I find has a weird “gummy” texture. Not so with rolled ice cream. The texture was melty and smooth like regular ice cream, and the flavor was the best ice cream flavor I’ve ever had. The toasted marshmallow came through so strongly, it was really like eating a s’more. Fire does amazing things to food, and the ice cream managed to capture it. Chris got “Nutty Nut,” which is banana ice cream and peanut butter cups. I had a taste and the banana flavor was so fresh. FIVE STARS!

Chris was practically passing out, so we decided to go home, take a nap, walk the dog, and then get dinner at the Happy Valley food carts. Chris took a nap while I painted and listened to a podcast. After a short walk, we headed out, with Yoshi freaking out per usual. There were so many choices at the food carts: I went with a sushi roll with shrimp, crab salad, avocado, and cucumber. Chris got a Mac & Jack burger, which was a hamburger with the fixin’s, deep-fried Mac and Cheese bites, and Chipotle sauce.




Foodventure 2018 was a success. If I had to choose one place everyone should ABSOLUTELY go to, it’s probably 22 Below. They also make bubble tea with a wide variety of pearls and jellies, so if you just want a drink, you have options.

Memory Box

This is a list of the things I keep in my “memory box,” which is a Blowfish Malibu shoebox:

  • A ziploc sandwich bag with a few of Baxter’s quills
  • A yellowed black-and-white Nintendo Game Boy w/ “Super MarioLand” inside
  • A “Kirby’s Dream Land” cartridge
  • A letter my mom wrote when Chris and I first moved to Oregon
  • A letter Chris wrote me in 2013
  • My wedding veil
  • A letter I wrote Chris on our second Valentine’s Day in 2013
  • A handful of decorative keys
  • A bunch of old photos of Chris and I as kids
  • A movie ticket to Tower Heist (2011)
  • A movie ticket to Safe House (2012)
  • A little booklet that came with my engagement ring
  • A letter from 2007 from my uncle in Hawaii
  • A letter from Erin while she was on her ship study abroad, written on the back of a watercolor
  • A birthday card from my brother with 30 Rock quotes
  • A 2011 ticket confirmation for Trans-Siberian orchestra
  • My grandmother’s funeral announcement
  • A postcard from Evan while he was in Scotland