The Results are In

Below are the results to our poll from Tuesday.

It was interesting to see what all of you had to say. At first, you were completely evenly split just like us. Then, more of you started to weigh in.

It seems most of you agree fictional stories would not go with the overall feel of this site.

We thank all of you for your votes and input.

To Fiction Or Not To Fiction?

Yesterday, I asked my Fish of Gold readers for guest posts on Stories That Must Not Die. I was asked whether or not STMND allowed fiction. It was a question we had never considered since no one had asked it.

After much debate amongst the admins, we’re a hung jury on the matter. We’re roughly half for and half against.

I was no help since I vacillated wildly on my answer. At first, I said I thought it would be alright as long as it was fiction rooted in personal experience, or what I call autobiographical fiction.

Then, I changed my vote to no, since perhaps this is more of a place for personal experience, not fiction.

Then, I changed my vote again, because some of my most personal stories have been written through fiction. Sometimes, you need that distance to tell it. So, my final vote was yes with caveats.

Since we couldn’t make up our minds, we thought we’d ask you, our readers, the people who ultimately have the most say in what’s posted here.

So, what do you think? Should we allow fiction on STMND?

A Message of Light from Rara

I skyped with a dinosaur!

How I’ve missed this icon on the blogosphere

The Space Between

There’s a cold science to the warm observance of art. Fancy galleries and museums all over the world apply careful calculations to the placement of viewing-benches and lights. It is a detailed symphony of diagonals and distance, measured to accompany the artistry and elevate the experience of beauty. At a certain angle, from a certain number of steps away, even your favorite masterpiece could look unappealing, or downright ugly, or worse–simply quiet. Can you even fathom the travesty of such a fate? To have something silenced by the space between when it could have spoken to you and shared its ageless secrets with the very insides of your soul? Such is the power of distance.

Anything can look gross from up close, but if you look even closer, most things become wondrous once again. It is an issue of science and the computations required to discover the perfect perspective.

For someone like me, life is as much about the observations as it is about the experiences. (It’s not that I don’t have a little adventurer in my heart–it’s that I have a giant scientist sitting on top of her.) I am constantly calibrating my perspective–growing and shrinking the space between myself and my observations with a dexterity evolved from life-long practice. The decision to look closer or step farther is a crafted science I learned from my father, but the act of doing so is an art I picked up from my mom. I continue to study the science, and act the art into existence. The goal is not to change reality, hide from truth, or eradicate the acknowledgement of all the world’s bad–but to shift a paradigm and to remember that everything under the sun has a place and purpose.

Rara quote

How it affects us on the outside is often unavoidable, but we can control how it speaks to our insides. We can translate it–changing what is whispered into a language that creates our best selves, and a landscape of our best possibility. Language is our legacy, after all–and, much like perspective, is a melody of science and art.

Today, the sun set over me. Her rays warmed the air and her shimmering power stilled the clouds. Fragments of orange and silky webs of red-purple shot around in all directions, kissing the ground with pink light. The sun herself glorified in the show–radiating inward as much as outward–reveling in her great celestial roundness and yawning into her cosmic nap.

Below her, on the dusty plateau around me, a baby jackrabbit chased a pale green apple, paying no mind to the schedules of stars. He tried to capture the fruit, but its size was too great for such small eager hands and it would simply roll away. The little rabbit didn’t seem to mind the chase–the treasured green prize was more than worth a weary hunt. A hundred feet above his tall ears and grand adventures, a bird flew in circles, stretching her wings and enjoying this brief moment of time where her wingspan was larger than the sun. She sang loudly, and her whistled song was about her freedom from everyone and her ownership of all the world. No one contested her tune or argued her claim, because no one could. Hers is a freedom that lives in her heart and an ownership of possibility that lives in her mind–and she is the only one who has power or providence there, in her insides, where the truth of her lives.

I mimicked her whistle and she approved–acknowledging my heart’s freedom with a proud slant of her head. I nodded back and caught another glimpse of the little rabbit. He was focused on apples and even less interested in whistled freedoms than in the mapping patterns of magnificent stars. I let myself absorb the secrets of the Sleeper, the Hunter, and the Singer. It required no shift of diagonal or distance because beauty such as theirs needs no elevation. Anyone who looks or listens will experience full measure of their truths–the sun’s faith in the sanctity of cycles, the rabbit’s dedication to the purity of the present moment, and the bird’s reminder that every soul is as free as it believes itself to be. I filled my mind with their wisdoms and carried the inspiration with me–down the pathway, past the guards, through the gates, and into my prison cell…

where I continued to whistle the song of my freedom.

Such is the power of perspective and beauty.



animation of sun

Star-Sweet Light by Rarasaur

Star-Sweet Light
By Rarasaur

There’s a light behind the curtain -
Like star-squeezed lemonade – -
I’ve tasted it, I’ve drank it down,
It’s part of how I’m made.

There’s a space behind the curtain,
Where some have never basked.
The heaviness blockading it
Keeps the magic darkly masked.

The light behind the curtain
Cracks all minds open wide -
Shadows and dobuts melt away -
There is no place to hide.

And in this quiet center -
In this kismet-tangled knot -
We harvest possibility…
What we could, and should and ought.

It’s refreshed by connectivity,
By compassion and insight,
And the more of those we squeeze from life,
The sweeter is the light.

Yes, there’s more behind this day…
And though I know it’s there…
Today’s curtain is dark and heavy -
Too sour to squeeze, or bear.

Still, I continue to chase the stars…
I won’t let the sweetness fade.
It holds my coulds on the days I can’t.
It’s part of how I’m made.

(Dedicated to E.’s mama, in gratitude of the reminder.)

This was written & dedicated by Rarasaur to
E from A Sign of Life‘s mother.

The Butt of All Jokes

We’ve touched on quite a few difficult and taboo topics here at STMND. As a group, we understand the majority of those subjects can sometimes be a bit of a downer. Some folks reading may feel triggered or become upset afterward.

Today we are choosing to break up the monotony. It was discussed among us that we add some happiness here too. This, by no means is intended to downgrade or discard the seriousness of our other posts or guest writers. We simply would like to offer you more than “touchy topics” and we believe that was also one of the goals of our founder, Rarasaur.

We still encourage you to send in your stories of all types. No subject is taboo. As long as we clear it as acceptable material, we urge you to share it with us.

With all that said, I’m going to share a funny story with you today. I think it will fit well here. It too is another Story That Must Not Die.


Some teenagers make a sport out of impressing one another. I was no different. At fourteen going on fifteen, I was a sight to behold. Friends of mine would tell you I was as animated as a Disney family movie. Grace has never been one of my strong suits. It turns out clumsiness combined with an outgoing disposition makes for some embarrassing (yet hilarious) moments.

It was a Friday after school. We’d all meet up at my friend’s house because his mother wasn’t home until later at night. It was our little dwelling spot because, well, we were bad kids sometimes. For two guys and two girls, we managed to make a ton of noise. Thankfully, no one ever called the cops.

We were blasting music for the better portion of the afternoon. A conversation began on the latest dance moves. I thought, oh, I’ve got this.

I went into full, loud, proud character. Full of ego, I started busting out this impossible dance that involved dipping way down to the floor.

If this were a play, this would be the part where the main character steps out of the scene and the lights dim while they address the audience.

Even as a child, I’ve been well-endowed in the posterior area. In other words, I have a big ass for a white girl. I was thin as a rail back then but, my bottom was still pretty large. I wore skin tight jeans often. On this particular occasion, maybe that wasn’t such a grand idea.

Back to that silly dance.

I was fired up. I dipped way down to the floor. An obnoxiously loud ripping sound followed. No, I didn’t fart. My boyfriend at the time immediately burst into tremendous machine gun turrets of laughter. I had torn my pants clear up the back.

It was incredibly embarrassing. They ripped completely up the butt crack area and I was wearing thong panties that day. My big, chalky white ass was completely showing.

Remember before when I described that outgoing personality? Yeah, I was secretly shy. My shyness was even greater when it had anything to do about my lady bits. It was only a butt. Still, I’d rather not have it openly displayed to a room full of laughing teenagers.

I was mortified. My face turned completely tomato red. Somehow, in that huge moment of embarrassment, I did manage to also realize how funny it was. One of my friends remarked “Damn girl! That thing is bigger than I thought!” I couldn’t help but let out a chuckle.

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right?

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Burn It All

Editor’s Note: This post was submitted anonymously.

Donald ‘Shadow’ Rimgale: [at Ronald's parole hearing] What about the world, Ronald? What would you like to do to the whole world?

Ronald Bartel: Burn it all.

 – Robert De Niro and Donald Sutherland in Backdraft (1991)

The first and only time my dad called me an asshole, I punched a hole in the dry wall where I was standing as I eavesdropped on the conversation he was having with my mom.  I can still vividly remember how it felt as my hand broke through the thin layer and then slid back out, scratching my flesh.  It hurt.  It was worth it.  I was embarrassed and righteous in my anger at the same time.  As my parent he was supposed to hold himself to a higher standard than resorting to name calling even though, as I later realized, I had acted like an asshole.  He was failing me.  He had become one with the bullies who tormented me on a daily basis.  That’s how I saw it at the time, and punching the wall was the outlet for my disappointment and angst induced rage.

When I calmed down, I helped patch the wall and cover the blemish with paint and vowed to never do that again…

That vow didn’t last very long.

Cleaning up the messes of my anger over the years that followed always ended up taking a lot of time and being a lot of work.  I kicked a hole in the wooden garage door.  I split my knuckles punching a decorative stucco wall that lined our front porch.  I kicked new holes in the dry wall.  Sometimes I would be so upset my body would become too weak to lash out and I would tumble into a sobbing mess instead.  My body would quiver and the tears would pour from my eyes.

Were those times better?  Was letting the rage flow out of me that way better than the times I punched and kicked the walls, the garage, the stucco?  Was that a more constructive outlet for my pain because it wasn’t actively destroying anything?  The opposite of destructive is constructive?

But, it was still destructive.  It killed my confidence and self-esteem.  How could I ever become a functioning member of society if I couldn’t control my emotions?  Each time I physically manifested my anger, through tears or punches, that anger would cycle back around to myself with rising amounts of fury.  I was worthless.  I was the problem.

When I left home for college, I tried to reinvent myself.  I became a free spirit, easy-going, letting everything roll off my back.  I cared more about making good impressions and making good peer relationships than I did about anything else, including my health, my grades, my future.  And for a time, becoming this new person worked and I managed to keep my rage in check.

Then one day a small flash of the hurt within my slipped free and I found myself choking one of my friends.  With my forearm against his neck, my full weight pushing him down, I had him pinned to the wall behind the couch we shared in our dorm commons.  I quickly backed off and laughed it off as just messing around, joking with him, … but we both knew there was more to it than that.  He could recognize the anger burning inside me because he had a bit of the same within him.  He let it drop for the time, though, and our friendship did not suffer.  I forced the rage deeper and grabbed my new persona more fiercely.

That worked for two years.  Then one day, while arguing with my live-in girlfriend, soon to be fiancé, I punched the heavy wood that lined our front door.  I didn’t want to damage the dry wall because we were renting the place and I didn’t want to have to pay for the damages or do the work to patch the hole.  I knew the doorway would take my attack without any obvious signs of wear and tear.  The same could not be said for my knuckles, of course, but those consequences never factored into my anger fueled considerations.

The next two years saw escalating cycles of punching things around the house and crying fits, until we broke our engagement and went our separate ways.  I was no longer in college.  I was no longer defined by any of the ideals I had put in place when I redefined myself as a freshman.  I was adrift in freedom to become, once again, whoever I wanted to be, and I eventually found peace.

Several years have passed in that calm.  My life has moved on.

But, I can feel that anger bubbling up under the surface again.  I can feel it taking over in my day-to-day actions when I find myself wanting to lash out.  The idiot drivers around me not using turn signals, cutting me off, driving too slow, driving recklessly, running lights.  The politicians on both sides of the divide arguing their points but never resolving anything other than making sure they continue to get paid.  The people who don’t recognize their own hypocrisy.  The media capitalizing on the misery of others.  The nonsensical doling of pain across the world.  I want to see them all burn.  I want to burn it all.

I haven’t damaged anything yet.

I haven’t hurt myself yet.

Is it only a matter of time?  Will I once again fall into that cycle?  Is there no way to escape it?

Featured Image Credit:

Abuse is Abuse!

The following is a story from Serins. Please see more of what she has to offer at Serins Sphere.

Her innocent blue-green eyes shined had a sad painted look on them.   Ten year old Serins stared at her mother who was taking a gulp of beer.  The both of them were sitting on the veranda.
The fights had gone on for as long as Serins could remember, but had intensified a year ago when her parents had announced that they were going to get a divorce.  Always the screaming!  And always the feeling in the pit of her stomach that this was somehow her fault.  Why she should never have been born at all.  Her parents already had the girl and boy who made up a perfect family of four.  Serins was just the fifth wheel and did not fit.  But her mother claimed to love her dearly.  The baby!
Mama was quite upset.  What could a good daughter do?  She really just wanted her mother to smile again.  To just be a little happy.  To spend some time at home.  Mostly she wanted her parents to make up and to stop fighting.    They surely loved each other.
These days the fights were mostly about money and custody of the three children.
So Serins and her mother talked about the impending divorce when her mother said:  “If you don’t come and live with me, I WILL KILL MYSELF” Devastation crossed the child’s face.  “No!  Mama, I love you.  Please you know I will choose you!”
The following Monday, when Serins and her older brother were alone, they had some freight.  He was stronger and overpowered her.  Eventually she just lay in the foetal position on the floor and endured the kicks he lashed out at her.  She hated him.  She would never go anywhere where he would.    He chose his father.  So she chose her mother.  Anything just be away from him.
When the parents finally separated a few years had passed.  She had to endure the same scenario every other day.  And while her mother always claimed to love her, the mother remained depressive and manipulative.

I wish I could tell you that this is some fiction I made up.  It is not.  It is the story I had to endure.  My mother emotionally blackmailed me for many years.  The blackmail endured it’s peak the year I turned 19.  She had lost her job and I had just gotten my first one.  I took care of her.  Paid the rent, utilities and groceries.  I was never allowed to be a carefree young person or college student.
And while I was a depressed child and teenager – I think it is at this point that my depression turned into a severe depression, which I am still struggling to break free from.  I had it somewhat under control by suppressing all my memories; by not thinking about all the shit that happened.
Eventually though shit started to surface and the depression started to backlash.  By not dealing with my issues I had unintentionally made them worse.  Now I suffer from suicidal thoughts.  Believe me; this is not funny.  It is a daily struggle, for which I have recently started seeking help.
I have recently come to realise that emotional blackmail is a form of abuse.  Having had to endure it for such a long time and during such formative years of my growing up process, I am finding it incredibly difficult to forgive or forget.  This person is my own mother.  I have hardly spoken a word with her in the last five years.  I have never told her that I have found her behaviour abusive.  I could never do such a thing, because she is still depressive!  I don’t know how she would handle a confrontation on the matter.  I do love her.  I don’t want her to kill herself over me.
But at the end of the day Abuse is Abuse.
If I am going to get past this, I need to forgive.  Forgiveness is not something you do for the abuser it is something you do for yourself.  Because un-forgiveness is something you carry in your own heart.  But how do I move past this?  How do I forgive, without making myself vulnerable towards future abuse?
It frightens me.  When I look into the mirror I see her face.  We look so much alike.  And like her I suffer from depression.  But I don’t want to be anything like her.  I don’t ever want to put my own daughter through the same suffering.  Because so help me God, if I ever turn into my own mother – an emotionally manipulative person – I will take a gun and blow my brains out!  That is never going to be me!  My daughter would be much better off without a mother than to have to endure the guilt and the trying, trying to make things better when nothing is ever good enough.
But for me, for my daughter and for my husband I need to forgive and I need to somehow move passed this.  I do want to live after all.  I want to see her grow up and become a happy, wonderful woman who I know she can be.
And after all at some point my mother cleaned my diapers. She never let me go hungry.  She never let me stay dirty. She took care of me when as a small child I was forever sick.  I do believe that she does love me.  And I do love her.  I just need to find a way to forgive her.



Editor’s Note: This post was submitted anonymously.

I woke, just a short while ago, to a magic day.  Everyone has seen beautiful days, but I see today as if with new eyes.

Metaphorically speaking, today is the last day of my life.  Each year, the energies astrologically present at the moment of our birth settle into that same exact pattern that was present on our birth-date.  Same pattern at the same moment.  They call it a solar return.  I call my tomorrow birthday Rebirth.

Despair would settle in.  I’d struggle, anxiously grasping for something worthwhile.  I’d find it and slowly crawl back out.  The pattern repeated throughout my life.  The last despair was different.  It was a monster that ate every notion of why I thought life was worthwhile.  It seemed to grow stronger rather than dissipate over time.  I asked for simple things to come to me.  They didn’t.  In panic, I asked for anything to show me what worthwhile is.  Nothing was coming.  Now I understand that I was slowly being stripped of every false belief about myself.  But at the time, I cowered at life.

I understand Robin Williams.  I’d find myself in reveries about leaving this life.  It was the only moments of peace I would feel.  When you think you have nothing left, it becomes very attractive.  It has to.  Those who succumb have to justify overcoming our strongest drive; to remain alive.  Peace must outweigh life for such drastic measures.

I began to not care about anything anymore.  Nothing ever “worked” so why bother?  But it wasn’t the freedom of accepting life, it was the slurred surrender of a patient to anesthesia.

Last year I had trained for a position called reverse logistics.  You process the incoming freight from outside vendors on these antiquated 1994 personal computing, brick-heavy, donkeys.  If you don’t do the process exactly, it just sits there.  Very user unfriendly.  My trainer and I agreed that it would take two weeks of training to just be competent.  I was trained for three days.  I soon forgot about reverse logistics.
Very soon after the trauma of my foot being crushed, I was checking the two-week advance schedule.  My usual “unload/flow” department was replaced by “reverse logistics.”  For two weeks.  “I know you’ve only had a little training, but we’re thinking of bringing in back-up from another store.  We’ll get through it.”  Fuck.  I know that tone.  It means, “We’re throwing you in the fire, someone has to.  You’re on your own.”  The day came, no back-up.

It all came to a collision that morning.  My so-thought futile efforts and abilities, useless against a situation I did not want to be in.  I didn’t care.  If they didn’t why should I?  The first vendor came in and I fruitlessly punched in a nuclear strike code of senseless number sequences.  Another vendor came in.  Then another.  Panic started to cloud what little presence I had.  Out of nowhere, a manager appeared at my isolated post.  He happened to know how to handle the operation.  I was rescued for the moment.

Something important happened.  I looked onto the process and something clicked.  I wasn’t going to be humiliated.  I grabbed my old notes and a manual and began to understand what I needed to do.  The rest of the day and the two weeks flew by.  I was being forced to be fully present.  And rather than not caring, I was stoked to prove to myself that I could handle it.  And I did.  Last week I trained on another job.  Clear mind, absorbed what I needed, asked questions until it was clear.  I cared.

I understood that panic is the fatal denial of our abilities just when they’re most needed.  Self-humiliation and denial.  And in vowing not to feel it again, I vowed to believe in myself.  I care for my Self.  Who I Am.  And in caring for myself, I’m finding that my interaction with life and people is becoming more meaningful than not, more often than not.  Times of feeling softer, more gentle, more real.  I like what is unfolding.

My totem or consciousness of the South; the direction of child-like innocence and joy, is the butterfly.  Of course, butterflies are famous for their transformation from something utterly different.  Ground-bound to flight.

In the early hours of tomorrow morning I’ll be another step closer to what I always was.  Strange that transformation returns us to Who We Are and always were.

Happy Birth Day, C.

If you feel you need help, please don’t hesitate to talk to someone. Ask.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – (800) 273-8255

*Featured Image Credit:


I’m That Kind of Girl

I’m the kind of girl who will give you a handshake when you go in for a hug and give you a hug when you reach out for a handshake.  

It doesn’t stop there.  

I’m the kind of girl who will somehow miss your hand when going for the handshake and accidentally stare at your groin, not because I’m penile obsessed but only because I’m not supposed to stare at your groin.  You’ll catch me.  

When I hug you, it’s a side-hug so that my boobs don’t touch you or so that I don’t accidentally kiss you when going in for a hug.  Why would I fear an accidental kiss?  Because don’t underestimate that it would happen to me.  Right on the lips.  Maybe I’d have an epileptic seizure and accidentally tongue kiss you, too.  I’ve never had one, but there’s always the possibility.

Bridget Jones was cute when she had verbal diarrhea.  Why can’t I embrace my incurable awkwardness?


I stood behind him because there was no other place to stand.  He left no room beside him, which was typical.  Behind him, I was not in his circle of friends, but I was directly outside of it, still visible through human crevices.  I didn’t feel left out.  In fact, I felt a part of it.  His guy friends were talking to me.  The other girlfriends were all sitting along the wall discussing their bracelet-ed arms, a.k.a. arm parties, and the possibilities of near-future frozen yogurt.  It’s not that I didn’t want to be a part of it, but I felt more at home laughing with the guys around the bar.  It was more natural to me.  I didn’t even think twice about me being the only girl who apparently didn’t know “my place.”  I grew up having several guys as my best friends.  There has never been a preference of gender, it just happened that way.

On the way home, his careful demeanor changed, and he said, “Why are you so awkward?  It’s honestly really embarrassing.”

Immediately, my skin turned pale and my heart beat so hard that my chest lost the space it needed to breathe properly.  How could this person I held up so high on a pedestal think so low of me?  I had to ask.

“Do I disgust you?  Because you are leaving the impression that I disgust you.”

“Yes, I have to say that you do.  Why can’t you just be like the other girls?”

And that’s when I should have realized that maybe I wasn’t like those girls, at least not in the way he wanted me to be, and the right guy would appreciate me for me, but he didn’t.  I was an embarrassment to him.  Instead, my thoughts turned to shame.  Why didn’t I have an arm party to share with them, too?  Why did I not choose to sit next to them?  They must think I’m a bitch and that I don’t like them.  My main concern became whether I was the right kind of girl for him or the right kind of girl to have a plethora of girlfriends, and I decided I had to be both.  I vowed to make more of an effort the next time.

I tried to convince him that I truly liked those girls and was sorry if he felt like I was ignoring them, but that it was just that I was honestly enjoying myself in the moment, but all he could focus on was that I had stood awkwardly outside of his circle.

The more he mentioned this, the larger that gap grew between me and the circle of men.  In my mind, the room became a commons, my heartbeats creating echoes in the small space I fashioned for myself.  A single dot, not a part of his geometry.  Had I known I looked this way, I would have pushed my way through to form something more friendly to a growing circumference.

This awkward didn’t feel cute.  It felt devastating.  I was a leper to the man I admired — the man who was supposed to protect me and make me feel as though I was perfect for him just the way I am, but challenge me softly to want to do better for myself without criticism.

After turning out the lights, I lay my head on his chest and suggested a desire with my hands on his body to alter the tone.  He brushed me off.  I thought if I just tried harder… I kissed him and removed his shirt.  He grabbed his shirt and slapped me with it repeatedly until I was breathless like the relentless rib fingering of a cousin that felt more like torture than it was meant to tickle.  It didn’t hurt.  It was fabric, but I’ll never forget the pain.

And that’s the very moment I gave him all the power.  I remember it like I had seen a ghost, and all I thought I knew in life would be different from then on.

Justification comes in many forms when someone has power over you.  It wasn’t the first time he had touched me in a way that was meant to hurt, but he hadn’t hit me.  Not with his fists.  I convinced myself I wasn’t in an abusive relationship.  No fist contact, I had brains, I came from a good family with good morals who had many conversations about how difficult it was to understand why any person would stay in an abusive relationship.  So it wasn’t happening to me.

The first and only time his fist hit my body, it wasn’t me who left.  It was him.  I never got the opportunity to raise my chin, take a stand, and walk away.  Instead, he told me that he was leaving because he was afraid of what he might do if he stayed.

It took years to rebuild my confidence to where it was before I met him, to release myself from the shame.  It didn’t take me as long to again find solace in another man’s arms but the shame was still there.

After my most recent break up, I’ve realized the solace I find will not be in the arms of another man.  The solace I find is right in my very own, fumbling, awkward arms.  I love those arms.  And yes, it may be that one day a man will be the Mark Darcy to my Bridget Jones, but for now I’m keeping my own company.

I realized that every time I tell myself not to be awkward, I am continuing to give power to a man who is not in my life anymore.

Only he’s still there, lingering.  He’s present in my negative self-talk.  I would never abuse someone else, so why would I abuse myself?  I want to take back my moment, the moment I so wished I would have taken before he walked away from me first. With readers as my witness, I’m walking away from him now.  This is my chin-up-moment.

I may not be the kind of girl who talks arm parties in the corner of a party.  I may not have an easily penetrable, predictable bubble.  And I may often make mistakes.  But I like myself.  I’m that kind of girl.

I measure my happiness by comparing it to the time I accepted myself the most.  I was eighteen, and it felt as though anything in the world was at finger-tips’ length.  My confidence had never been higher, and it attracted more friends than I knew what to do with.  They loved me for who I was because they saw that I had loved me for who I was.  Even if it were for no other reason, I was comfortable with that.  There were no apologies.  I was known as the girl who was always smiling for no reason at all because I relied on no one else to give me a reason.

Again, at this juncture, I find myself a solitary dot, outside of a circle.  But the gap between me and the circle doesn’t exist this time.  In fact, it never did exist.  Those people that matter, they are beside me, no matter of whether I’m able to step inside the circle or not.  Self-love is my main companion, and anyone who comes into my life will have to share that love.  Today, my smile is wide, and sometimes it’s there with no reason at all.

I’m a happy girl.  The only thing that matters is, I’m that kind of girl.

Photo on 6-13-14 at 6.02 PM - Version 2Lauren a.k.a. Darlin’ teaches prepubescents how to read, write, choose kind over wrong or right, and to laugh at her lame jokes.  She hopes to inspire her readers to make the most of what they have without settling for less than desired, all the while convincing herself to do the same.  She currently makes mistakes in Austin, TX.


If you would like to catch more from Lauren a.k.a. Darlin’ check out her weekly 7 for Seven each Monday at, among many other great reasons to read.


Kicking and Screaming

I recently said goodbye to something that had long since run its course. Like bad milk you let sit in the fridge and accidentally drink in a sleepy haze, it continually left a bad taste in my mouth. Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over expecting different results, and I definitely had a case of The Crazies.

In the aftermath, I’m struggling with a host of emotions. I pollute my mind with the play-by-play of the situation until my brain floods with questions, and 1 a.m. has turned into 3 a.m.

Historically, I have not had an easy time letting go. I’m not a person who invests herself in things very often, but when I do, I’m all in. Whether it is in my personal life (family, friends, romantic partners, projects), or my professional life, I find it incredibly difficult to walk away from my emotional investments.

There are three types of letting go: the kind you willingly do, the kind you’re forced to do, and the kind that happens naturally. I would say that I used to typically fall somewhere between “kicking and screaming” and “I’ll die before I let this go.”

I believed that forgiveness was an absolution of sins, and even worse, it meant that I condoned bad behavior. By not forgiving someone, I was sending the message that they couldn’t get away with what they had done to me.

I let regret, disappointment, and anger fester in the recesses of my mind over the years. Unbeknownst to me, they were influencing every thought I had, every decision I made, and every fiber of my existence. By not allowing myself to release these feelings into the ether, I was giving myself the poison that was slowly killing the best parts of me.

It wasn’t until I was well into my journey of self-improvement that I realized forgiveness and letting go weren’t for the other person; no, they were for me. I deserved to free myself from the suffering I was keeping tucked away inside of me. What happens to the other person in life was never up to me, and was always up to them.

That thought was very freeing. I looked back on every hurtful experience I was still holding on to, and slowly began cleaning out my emotional closet. The bullies in school. The boyfriends who wronged me. The friends who were less than friendly. It all came flooding back to me, but I didn’t drown.

For so long I was sure I’d be handing them a “get out of jail free” card; instead, I was the one who would be on the receiving end of it. I learned that the only person holding me to the pain of the past was me. I gave myself the card, and looked to the future.

Letting go is an art form, and I am practicing it every day. I’m beginning to comprehend that bad people do bad things, and good people do bad things. I now know that forgiveness is truly one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.

I will eventually let go of the Bad Milk Situation. I don’t know if it will be today, tomorrow, or even in a week’s time. I just know that this time I won’t go kicking and screaming.

unnamedJen and Tonic enjoys wearing pants with elastic in the waist, arm wrestling small children, and skinny dipping in her neighbors’ bathtubs when they’re not home. When she’s not seeking therapy for her Xenuphobia (extreme fear of Tom Cruise) she’s curating the world’s most amazing David Hasselhoff fan site.

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