St Patrick’s Day

I have a strange relationship with this particular celebration of Irish heritage and also green doughnuts.  Which, by the way, — no.  Seriously.  We have green milk, green rivers, green beer.  Not EVERYTHING needs to be green today!

Anyway.

When you’re born and raised anywhere near the East Coast of the US, you have at least some connection to St Patrick’s Day.  I remember being in elementary school and there being a regular game of pinching anyone who didn’t wear green.  I also remember one friend of mine getting out of a day full of pinching by virtue of having green eyes.  Then we had green cookies and milk at lunch and made shamrock cut-outs and, you know, all the kid stuff.  I don’t think I knew how much else went on, from dyeing the Chicago River green to the parades and general revelry, until later, though.

I do have a fair amount of Irish heritage, though nobody seems to know exactly how much because both sides of my family approach any study of genealogy like they are considering riding on some sort of horse/cougar mix — they’d just rather not.  But my grandmother can tell stories about the Irish women she heard stories about back in our bloodline somewhere.

My other connection to St Patrick’s Day comes from a religious source by way of YA fantasy.

Among the most formative books I ever read as a kid was the Time Quintet series by Madeleine L’Engle.  Particularly the first three to be published — A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, and A Swiftly Tilting Planet — made their marks in my mind and my soul.  The last of these is the adventure of Charles Wallace trying to rewrite history so that the world can be pulled back from the brink of nuclear disaster.

Along the way, he makes use of what the book calls “Saint Patrick’s Rune” which is really a poem derived from the more famous Lorica, or Saint Patrick’s Breastplate.  It reads:

At Tara in this fateful hour,
I place all Heaven with its power,
And the sun with its brightness,
And the snow with its whiteness,
And the fire with all the strength it hath,
And the lightning with its rapid wrath,
And the wind with its swiftness along its path,
And the sea with its deepness,
And the rocks with their steepness,
And the Earth with its starkness;
All these I place
By God’s almighty help and grace
Between myself and the powers of darkness.

This rune has been with me for the majority of my life, and I’ve always found it helpful to recite in times of stress or irrational fear, like taking off in an airplane or facing down a bad storm.  Whether it has any empirical effect, it’s always helped me center myself, reorient myself in the scope of the world, and find the inner balance to keep going.

So I owe a lot of inner peace and fortitude, especially in my younger years, to Saint Patrick of Ireland.

I’m not nor ever have been Catholic, but I feel gratitude that one person of that order penned (or, allegedly penned) the full Lorica, which is a powerful, swelling recitation that, to a person of the Christian faith, must be like sounding the ultimate anthem of courage and victory.  Even I am moved by its power and its intensity.  Get that thing going, rev it up, and you could take on the world.  For me, it’s been a light of prayer even when I didn’t pray, and I’m grateful for that.

So, between my innate, if muddled, Irish ancestry and my personal appreciation for this work of Saint Patrick, I “do” St Patrick’s Day.  I wear green, usually various pieces of different shades of green.  I will not eat the appalling green doughnut or bread or whatever awful thing someone’s stuck dye in this time, though.  There are LIMITS, you guys.

(Also, I don’t, I DO NOT, attempt a Lucky Charms-like accent or throw around the ‘faith and begorrah’ nonsense because YUCK.  Anti-Irish racism was (and still is?) a thing, you know.  So is cultural appropriation.  And that’s BEFORE you start tossing around problematic stereotypes.)

This is my perfect example, though, of my expression of St Patrick’s Day:


On the one hand, my American, commercialized version in the bow I actually do have in my hair.  My proof of being what amounts to a “Plastic Paddy,” since I truly never have been to Ireland and it would be disingenuous for me to claim to *be* Irish, but my pride in the Green all the same.  And on the other is this pendant which was given to me by my grandmother which she received from one of her own Irish relatives.  The pendant is pure nickel and is based on an Anglo-Saxon or Hiberno Norse long cross penny from a thousand years ago.  Though nobody can really figure out what it says.  The words don’t QUITE match up to the originals.  But this pendant was carried by my bloodline long enough to make it an heirloom, to make it real.  Even if it isn’t “genuine” by any technical definition.

A person can be a lot of things.  I am American, but I am proud to have even a trace of Irish ancestry.  I wear my green in ignorance of what it really means to a person actually from/in Ireland, but I also wear the memory of my family which traces its roots to somewhere in Ireland’s history.  The affinity is real, even if the lineage is lost.  And the respect is real either way.

Happy St Patrick’s Day, everyone!  Enjoy it however you like.

…Even if you like green beer and greener doughnuts.

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One Thing

Welcome to 2017!

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions.  It seems to me that if you’re going to do something, DO IT.  Don’t promise it for a year.  Decide and go.

So my 2017 goal is the same as my 2016, my 2015, all the way back to the fog of…whenever I started thinking about it, I guess.

To follow, unflinchingly, my version of what a slightly-cheesy 90’s movie so aptly sums up as the One Thing.

There’s a movie I used to watch with my parents a lot, and probably before I was old enough to really be comfortable with all its subject matter (hooray for discussing issues of adultery and the male gaze at age 12!).  But it’s one of those things where 80% of the movie was about something fun and meaningful and 20% was about something even more meaningful if entirely opaque to a kid.  It’s not a *great* movie by any means, but it was important.

Because City Slickers taught me about the One Thing.

(Spoilers for the movie from here on out, just in case)

Basic synopsis for those not willing to Google: 3 friends in their late 30’s take their vacation on a cattle drive where everything goes wrong and ultimately figure out how to return to their lives and live them with enthusiasm.  Billy Crystal is the main character, backed up by Bruno Kirby and Daniel Stern, and the three of them are challenged, threatened, terrified, and finally inspired by an old cowboy played beautifully by Jack Palance.  They get saddle sores, they rope cattle, they ride badly and then less badly, and they face down the vapidness in themselves to find something worth bringing home.

There’s a scene that takes place between Billy Crystal’s character Mitch and Jack Palance’s cowboy Curly when the two of them are out on their own before they catch up to the rest of the herd and its hapless vacationers.  Mitch is wound tight and is on the brink of despair in his life and Curly, in a moment of insight, just shakes his head at him.

Curly: You city folk worry about a lot of shit…  Y’all come up here about the same age.  Same problems.  Spend about fifty weeks a year gettin’ knots in your rope.  Then you think two weeks up here’ll untie ‘em for you.  None of you get it.
[pause]
Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is?  [points index finger skyward]  This.
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing.  Just one thing.  You stick to that and everything else don’t mean shit.
Mitch: That’s great but, what is the “one thing?”
Curly: [smiles and points his finger at Mitch]  That’s what you gotta figure out.

 

By the end of the movie, Mitch figures out that his One Thing is his family, his wife and kids, that they are what he is living for and what gives him reason to breathe.  That they make him his best self and give him back his smile.

It’s a noble place to plant your flag, but there’s a problem with that choice — he’s set his sail to a star that will fade.  He ends the movie triumphantly happy, with no note of what is to come.  But someday, just as he says rather despondently at the beginning of the film, his life won’t look like it does when he is 39.  Someday his kids will grow up, leave home, and maybe not be the people he hoped for.  Someday maybe he will be a widower, or his marriage won’t be what makes him happy.

Mitch designates his One Thing at a single point in time — and the only way that works is either if his family literally never changes from how they are right now, or  if he is willing to adjust its definition as life frays his current reality into the future.

On the other hand, that is enough for some people.  How many people want to become something, like a doctor, a grandparent, a *success* however you define it?  How many people, mainly women, unfortunately, claim that their wedding day is the best day of their life?  Or that high school, or college, or one free summer is the best time in a person’s life?

It seems to work for lots of people.  But it never worked for me.  How could it?

That mentality means that you’ve hit your peak before you’re even partway into your potential lifespan.  Does that mean you are condemned to nothing but disappointment from then on?  Like, yay, I lived everything worth living before I was 25?  I’d rather not.

Time happens.  Life happens.  And it changes.  The people we love and live for might not always be there.  The success or job we set our hopes on may change, or fade, or turn out not what we wanted after all.

It always seemed to me that if you set your One Thing on shifting sands, someday it will fall.

Ultimately, I think a safer One Thing is one that isn’t tied to circumstances but rather movement or perspective.  If a person decides to walk the path of a religion, or a philosophy, no matter who comes or goes from their life, they will have their dedication and their beliefs and ideas to lead them on.  There’s an argument to be made for ‘what if your philosophy changes?’ which I think means that you might end up with another One Thing to find and follow eventually.  But overall?  A One Thing which isn’t a *thing* and is instead a path has a better chance of staying with you while you walk through the changing, unexpected years of messy, real life.

My One Thing isn’t a goal.  It’s a trajectory.  It’s not pointing at the fence, Babe Ruth-style, and hitting the single shot I called.  It’s choosing a spot on the horizon and heading for it, unflinchingly, without stopping.  For me, my One Thing could never be a single state of being, nor a single achievement.  My One Thing had to be a journey, the arc of an arrow shot through the sky — not its landing at the end.

It’s true that there are people I love with deep and abiding affection, people I would die and live for.  There are people who are my friends and family without whom my world would become cold and ash and empty.  And I do live for them.  They are my foundation.

But they can’t and shouldn’t be my One Thing because my One Thing must sit deeper than that.  Before I can be a friend or sister or wife or aunt or anything else, I have to be myself.

So my One Thing is to become the version of myself I want the most — from that comes everything else.  If I am the self that burns inside, the self I have chosen, then I can be an artist.  I can be a wife and friend.  I can be a citizen of the world.  I can be a defender and a refuge.  I can be a home.

And the truth is that this One Thing actually did unknot my rope, as it was.  Because making that one choice, following that one star I found to be my Polaris, had consequences.  To follow it, to stay on the path forward, I had to let other things go.  I had to BECOME other things.  And every step towards my one point on the horizon brought me closer to everything I wanted — and farther from everything keeping me from it.

Everybody’s One Thing is different.  But mine, for my own reasons, has to live within me.  It’s the one thing that is utterly constant, with me at every breath.  And it means I never have to face resenting pinning my life to One Thing that turns out to be transient.  It means there is no crisis of faith to be had, because I am still alive in myself.

And if I’m not, well, I’ve got bigger problems than a loss of direction.

So my goal for 2017?  To keep following my inner star over whatever lands await me.  To live my One Thing which gives me the power and clarity to be the person I want to give to the people who matter, the art that matters, the world that matters.  To be the soul which is only mine — and to help it shine in the world alongside my 6 billion neighbors.

When I am honestly myself, bruised and proud, running between some mix of integrity and disaster, that’s when my rope unknots and everything else really don’t mean shit.

That’s when I get to be myself for everyone who needs me.

That’s when the noise of the world goes quiet and all that’s left is what I put into it.

Thanks for the advice, Curly.

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Silence

I haven’t felt much like writing lately, to be honest.  I finished my Yuletide assignment (more on that…sometime) and a few oneshots and I’ve pretty much just stalled out since then.  It isn’t only because Thanksgiving is busy and as the year draws to a close I find I have more things to do than days in which to do them.  And it isn’t the fading of daylight that saps my energy just as the gift of it in summer restores it.

It’s been a long few weeks in the world.  For everyone, I think.

I’ll try to put something coherent and blog-worthy together next week.  I will.  Until then, I’m going back to what holds me up no matter how long and cold and dark and miserable the days — music.

This is a masterful cover of an already-amazing song, and I think it is a different kind of brilliant from the original.  It’s getting a lot of airplay on our local radio, which I appreciate.  We need these words, this reminder, this anthem.  We all do.

We can’t be silent.  And we can’t let silence stifle us.

And we cannot turn away from starkness.

Find your voice.  Find your song.  Find your scream, if that’s what you discover inside yourself.  Find it and hold onto it.  Breathe life into it.  Breathe passion into it.

Fight the urge to stop listening and give in to silence.  Fight it to the death.

Fill the silence with art.

Art is need and joy and fear given form.  Art in any practice, be it music or painting or stapling together a gif, is the bridge between what we hold inside us and what we offer to the world.  I believe that every time you allow a single burning star to emerge from the galaxy of your soul, you nudge the world forward.  Maybe a little or maybe with the force of a hurricane, but it doesn’t matter how much.  Even if no one sees it or understands it or likes it.  You have CREATED.  The act of creation is miraculous.  Every time.

My art may never really reflect my spirit; my skill is definitely lacking when compared to my vision.  But having created something, there will always be an ember of it, a spark, a flame somewhere in the world that lasts long past when I ‘finish’ it.  If someday silence comes, if fear stifles me, all the art that I have already given life will speak for me.  My voice and my soul will still lend their strength to the motion of the world long after my own courage has faded.

Join me.  Sing, write, draw, make.  Live in the deepest expression, however it comes.  Even once.  Fearlessly, recklessly, unapologetically.

Scream into the coldness of the world.  Dare it to scream back.

Add to the fire even just one spark.

Winter’s gonna be brutal.  Help us all keep the world warm.

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Rowena

On Wednesday, I finally broke down and bought a copy of a book I remembered my grandmother reading to me on just about every visit to her house throughout my childhood.  It was a little book, only a few pages, with vivid line drawing in only white, black, and teal.  It took me until recently even to learn what it was called: I Can Read about Witches by Robyn Supraner.  (In my defense, for the story that follows, that is not the most intuitive title ever.)

(Spoilers)  (Not that it matters, really)

In the simplest terms, the story tells of a town which has lost all memory of joy and laughter.  It is a town torn by cruelty, derision, and anger.  There are no smiles.  There is no forgiveness.  There is no kindness.  There is no love.  There is no understanding.  There is no peace.  It has all been stolen by a witch.

But one girl, named Rowena, carries the memory of laughter in her heart.  She vows to find the witch and retrieve the stolen joy, no matter the cost.

Rowena ventures into the deep forest alone.  When she stops to rest, she dreams of a fairy who warns her that the witch knows she is coming and will try to stop her.  The fairy tells Rowena that the only way to defeat the witch is to know her when she sees her and to catch her — to hold onto the witch no matter what happens.

The witch disguises herself as a bird and pretends that her baby is caught in a thorny bush.  She cries for help and begs Rowena to crawl into the thorns and rescue the baby.  But Rowena lures the bird close and grabs onto her.  She tells the bird she will not let it go until the witch agrees to grant her wish.

The witch transforms herself into a series of monsters — giant snakes, dragons, threatening to eat Rowena, threatening to turn her to stone.  But Rowena holds on and never lets go, no matter what the witch says or does.

The witch has no choice but to surrender.  She agrees to grant Rowena’s wish and leads her to where she has locked up the hope and joy and love of Rowena’s town.  Rowena sets free the light stolen from her people in a great rush of laughter.

The book stuck with me all the way to adulthood.  And now I think I know why.

Now I have to be Rowena.  I have to hold onto the memory of joy and peace and love.  I have to venture out, bold and undaunted.  I have to beat back the trickery of that which presents itself as bigger than me, or scarier.  I have to hold on and never let go.

I know virtually nobody reads this site right now.  That’s okay.  I’m not putting this site here for the present.  I’m putting it here for the future, for the day I’m a published author and need a “platform.”  And I’m putting this particular story here for the day it matters, even if I can’t guess when or why that might be.

And I’m adding this promise, too:

I promise to hold the memory of all that is right in my heart, and to walk into whatever comes without losing it, without giving up, without backing down.  I promise to resist cruelty and indifference and violence with all my strength.

I promise to hold on, and to never let go.

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Current Anthem: Courage, by Justin Hines

I am a music junkie and I ALWAYS have music near me, from CDs in my car to my ever-present iPod.  Every year of my life, every step I’ve ever taken in any direction, they all link back to one song or another.

This song is my current anthem, my favorite which will be on constant repeat until circumstances move me to another place like a hotspot whose volcano shifts above it.  This song and this artist sum up everything good in my world right now.

Justin Hines is a miracle of a human being.  Seriously.

Here’s all the proof you need:

I can’t recommend his work or his advocacy enough.

So if you need a moment of inspiration, if you need to fight your way to finding the silver lining in your own dark sky, I hope you can follow Justin’s own courage into your own.

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In My Skin

(AKA: Why I avoid makeup like it was chasing me with a knife made of hepatitis and hand-grenades)

This weekend I will be performing in a vocal recital along with several of my favorite people in the world.  It’s not my recital but I’ve got several pieces to contribute and I’ve been looking forward to it all summer.

And you know what makes me the most nervous?  It isn’t the singing, even though I’ll be singing some very exposed parts in front of some people whose opinion I probably value too much.

It’s how I look.

How I look in the dress and how I look in my own skin.  And since I don’t feel like tackling issues about women and body-image in the sense of physical shape, I’m going to focus on the latter.

I don’t wear makeup.  EVER.

I can count on both hands and a few toes the number of times I have worn any form of makeup in my life.  One dance recital, age 4.  One day at summer camp, age 12.  Four drama performances, two at age 14, two at 17.  Two gigs in a band competition, age 24.  Two job interviews and one first day, age 24.  One wedding, age 24.  Two choir concerts, age 24.

That is literally it.

Now, when I say “makeup” I mean EVERYTHING.  Lipstick, eyeliner, blush, foundation, anything and everything one might paint upon oneself for the purpose of changing one’s appearance.

Of course, the question is — why?

If you’ve ever seen a picture of me, or if you watch our videos, you’ll note that I do not have perfect skin.  I don’t even have nice skin.  I have the skin of a 14-year-old whose hormones have been turned up to 100 and have been this way since puberty began.  I have blemishes you couldn’t cover with a hubcap and scarring besides.

But then, wouldn’t that be the perfect reason for makeup?  To cover that stuff?

I’m so glad you asked.

Yes.  But no.

One of those makeup-wearing days up there was the one from summer camp.  It’s a good story and it informs most of what came after.

I attended a week or two at the same summer camp for 9 years of my childhood, and it was one of the best and most formative things I ever did in the summer.  In a cabin of 12 girls, though, you start to see the years take effect as little girls begin the steps to adulthood.  Girls I had known for years started showing up with bikinis and put on makeup to go to the beach.

I was never into that stuff.  I never wanted to be.  But one of the girls who had always been kind and friendly offered to do a bunch of makeup for me so I wouldn’t feel left out and soon the whole cabin was in on it, on giving me a makeover.  I sat and let them do as they wished and they put on my makeup and braided my hair and lent me a dress (because who brings a dress to summer camp when you’re playing sports and climbing in trees and swimming all day long? Not me, apparently.).

When they were finished, they called over our cabin’s head counselor and asked what she thought.

And her answer stayed with me forever.  “You look very nice, but you don’t look like yourself.”

I remember that the horn blew for afternoon ballfield right then and we all headed out to go play, but I went to the bathroom first.  I remember looking at myself in the mirror.  I looked…polished.  Feminine.

I smiled at myself.

And it tore a hole in me.  Because that was NOT me.  Not really.

At age 12, almost 13, I realized that that stuff on my face wasn’t for me.  It was for other people that it made feel good and happy.  For me, it was me bowing to expectations and becoming the girl that girls were supposed to be since it certainly didn’t apply to boys.  It was me looking like a “better” version of myself.

And I decided then and there that I would rather be the true version of myself no matter what.  That the only “better” me would be the me who lived fearlessly and shamelessly.  Also — I decided that ANY standard applied to boys or men could just as well apply to me too and who cared that I was a girl?  I’m a person first.  And I’m a person who didn’t care about being the right-looking girl.

So I washed it off, ran and changed, and got out to ballfield in my shorts and sneakers and threw balls around with everyone.  And I never tried it voluntarily again.

Now, if you look at my history, you can forgive me wearing it a few times when I was in a play — theater people will tell you that you need makeup to look normal under the lights.  I kinda disagree, but when you’re in school, eh.  I always looked orange, but we were all orange and it was only slimy for a few hours.

But at age 24, well, I had a crisis of faith.  Faith in myself.

Sarah and I were performing as a different band then, and we were in a competition — and the judges didn’t like us without makeup because we were girls.  (It took us a while to figure out that the whole competition was rigged against us anyway because even though we weren’t “out” to them, we were clearly out to one another.)

At the same time, I had to change jobs and I was incredibly nervous.  I wanted to be paid more and I thought I needed to dress and look more like the women who were paid more in order to get through the interview process and actually land a job.

Also a friend asked me to wear makeup at her wedding “so the pictures would look nice.”  I guess I should have figured then that maybe a friend who thought I needed to look different to look nice wasn’t quite as kind of a friend as I wanted for myself.

And the choir we sang in wanted people to wear something on stage, too, for the lights.

They all conspired against me, but really, it was me that fell down on the job.  Because I thought, “eh, I don’t like it, and it makes me uncomfortable physically and emotionally, but the reason to wear it makes sense and I can deal with it for a little while, right?”

But you’ll note that there’s nothing at age 25.  Or ever since.

I broke under convention for a little while, but it never manages to hold me for long.

Because what was true at 12 is still true.  I like who I am.  I like who I am and I don’t want to look different from myself.  Even when that means major skin issues or unfashionably mascara-less eyes.  And while it becomes more acceptable for men to wear makeup if they choose — which is great for them — they still don’t have to.  And I still don’t have to.  I am a person long, LONG before I am a woman.

And, actually, it makes for a really good test of people.

Because someone who won’t give a woman respect because she’s not wearing makeup probably won’t give her respect anyway.  Someone who decides based on a woman’s looks whether or not she is smart enough for a job is probably not going to pay her fairly or recognize her full contributions.  Someone who looks at a woman without makeup and a man with makeup and thinks they’re WRONG is not someone I need in my life.  Ever.

This is who I am.  I am me.  I am that person over there with that face and that skin and that smile.  And no, I won’t ever look like a gorgeous model or Hollywood star.

But I could.

The thing about a life without makeup is you figure out that EVERYONE could be beautiful with enough paint and work.  Look at the pictures of celebrities without their hours of makeup and hair-dressing.  They look like regular people — perhaps lovely regular people, but no more and no less.  If everyone could be heart-stoppingly beautiful after some hours in a makeup chair, then we are all just fine right now, today, without an instant of effort.

(Also — there’s a whole argument to be made about this weird preconception that women are supposed to be beautiful, and the reason for that is that they are supposed to be beautiful FOR MEN.  That women are SUPPOSED to be attractive and…well, it comes down to gender politics and sexual dynamics — and me?  I am NOT INTERESTED.  And not just because I married a woman.  I am not interested in being ANY man’s object of…whatever.  My worth is inherent to me, and I’m not going to play by archaic rules of society that reinforce an inherent inequality between men and women.  NO WAY.)

So, getting back to this upcoming weekend.

The friend holding the recital  will be wearing makeup which she’s having professionally done.  But she is fine if nobody else bothers.  She would be fine with us all up there in jeans and sneakers performing with her because she is awesome like that and just doesn’t care how we look — she loves us, no matter what.

But I do care.  I hate that I care.

I hate that I’m going to be wearing one of the few dresses I love and I’m going to wonder if people are looking at the inevitable blemishes that are scattered across my skin like raging birdshot.  I hate that I have to remind myself that my outside has nothing on my inside and that I could look like a sack of hockey equipment but the point is that I’m there to sing beautifully alongside people I really love.

The thing is that a person can decide that on the course they’re going to follow and still wonder about it, still doubt, still have insecurities.  And that’s me and makeup.  I know, in my soul, that I would rather go without and hold up my ideals than wear it and reinforce my insecurities while hiding my skin’s flaws.  Because for me, to bend to the insecurity and the pressure would be a greater betrayal than to perform as I am, splotches and all.

However.

Even if it hurts, even if it leaves me shaking apart inside OR outside, I don’t bend on my ideals.  No matter what.

Would it be easier to cover the marks of life and bad skin?  Would I be more confident in my dress and in my smile?

No.  It wouldn’t be easier and I wouldn’t be more confident.

Because it would mean I had put the bad opinions ahead of the good ones.  The bad opinions of those who would judge my skin ahead of the good opinions of the people who love me and don’t see it at all.  The bad opinions that rattle around my brain telling me that beauty is about flawlessness and I need to aspire to it ahead of the good opinions that tell me beauty is what I do and how I live and even perfect skin couldn’t make me beautiful.

Just because I’ve decided to face the world with bare, awful skin doesn’t mean I don’t feel the judgment and the ill opinions.  They’re there.  They sink into me and they add to the shouting that makes it hard to breathe some days.

But I’ll bear their shouting with my skin showing anyway.

Because I had it right at age 12.

Fears or no fears, insecurities or no insecurities, acne or no acne, this is who I am.  This is the life I live.  And for me to live it wholly, without shame, with integrity, I have to live it exactly as I am.  Frizzy hair and imperfect skin and awkwardness and brash courage.

The better me, the BEST me, is the me who lives in my skin.  Just the way it is.  And faces the world without flinching away.  The me who lives with the integrity of knowing that I am not afraid to be myself and I am not afraid of my flaws and scars.  That I am defined not by how I look or how I am seen, but by the choices I make and the ideals I hold.

And even if it makes me nervous or uncomfortable, even if I can’t help but wonder if people are staring, I won’t back down.  I won’t compromise.  A person should never compromise that in which they truly believe.

No matter how hard it is, I choose to believe in myself.  Now and forever.
See you at the recital.

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