A Desperately Imperfect Piece of Writing

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I am alive
and sometimes, being alive sucks.
Being alive means painful feelings,
unhappy endings, stupid decisions,
and days where you just want to curl up in bed and call it quits.

But who ever said being alive felt good?
You know those times when people say
“I feel so alive?”
That’s the adrenaline talking.
And it’s only pumping in their veins
because they took a risk
and are two steps away from either falling flat on their face
or crowing in triumph.

Sometimes being alive means eating ice cream even though it’s bad for you,
or listening to someone because their story moves you
even though you’re exhausted and would much rather climb into bed.

It means days where you think “I can’t do this,”
but somehow you make it through the day
even though you doubted yourself the whole time.

It’s being with people who may drive you crazy
but who are there for you in a heartbeat.

It’s that moment when your heart is breaking
and it hurts to breathe but somehow
you look at the sun and you are broken but okay
that you know you are in the middle of a really good story.

——

I wrote this in five minutes while eating a scoop of ice cream that my rational self told me not to eat but my alive self said stop that car right now and get some ice cream and sit down and breathe.

So I did.

Thanks for reading.

Much love,

Jenna 🌟💞

Love is a safe harbor

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Love is a safe harbor,
a refuge for the grieving,
a shelter for the windworn,
a steadfast tree in a storm.

Too often we think that love should be a whirlwind
of desires long unfulfilled, a reflecting pool
of our deepest, most secret wishes.

Love for me is more a steady beating,
a slow but sure walk home,
a light leading me through fog and dark.

Do not get lost in dreams of not enough.
Listen instead for the familiar greeting
of another weary traveler returning home.

~

I wrote this poem thinking about the most steadfast loves in my life. None of them resemble the dreams my mind shows me of great drama and romance. The greatest loves in my life are truly “safe harbors.” And for this I am grateful. I now challenge myself to be a safe harbor for my own self, as well! For someone reminded me recently that before we can truly love others, we must love and honor ourselves.

What does love resemble in your life?

Peace be with you,

Jenna

Copyright 2017 © Jenna Pope

Song for the world weary

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When your bones are heavy
Willing to sink to the earth,
Walk now to a quiet place
With plodding footsteps; go slowly
Into the place where the world will not overcome you.

Sometimes my place is the woods, where
The voices belong to birds
And the trees listen with infinite understanding.
Sometimes my place is a keyboard by the window
And my fingers weave a spiderweb of words.
Sometimes my place is the couch because my heart
Is simply heavy as a stone and refuses to budge.

All of these things will pass.
Your thoughts and feelings—your
Aches and pains, your heartache.
All of it will dissolve someday,
Replaced only by light.
Your decision lies in the dissolving.
Will you hang on bitterly
To the sinking stones, or will you swim—
Even if you must kick and gasp—
To the surface, to the light,
And let that which does not serve you fall?
It is always our choice, yours and mine.
Our power lies always in this choice.

~

Thank you for reading and peace be with you, 🌟 -Jenna

© 2017 Jenna Pope

A Blog of One’s Own

Virginia Woolf famously said, “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” Indeed, many great female writers were blessed with both luxuries. Austen. Dickens. Chopin. But I read an interesting counterpoint (I wish I could remember where I read it): what about women like Phillis Wheatley, who did not even have the luxury of owning her own life, and wrote anyway?

When embracing your creativity, it’s tempting to shut out the world. Believe me, I’ve been there. Caught in the tide of what some call “creative illness,” I’ve spent many days shut away alone, succumbing to the promptings of the Muse. But I reached a point where I didn’t want to exist in a bubble anymore. I wanted connection. I wanted to give back. I wanted to take action in the world according to my own values.

But how to do that without sacrificing my artistic soul?

Women like Phillis Wheatley were, and are, at the opposite end of the spectrum of freedom—they can scarcely call their life their own, much less have money and a private room. Millions of women across the globe live without formal education or economic support. And yet many of these women create.

Perhaps the “room of one’s own” exists not externally, but inside the woman herself. “There is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind,” Virginia Woolf also wrote. Maybe she sensed that her private room was merely a reflection of the freedom she possessed within herself. It is the ultimate freedom of thought and feeling that every woman and man on Earth possesses.

It is true that life is easier if your external existence supports your internal–if you have a private space to match your private thoughts. But I have found it best to live in compromise. An introverted and highly sensitive soul, I need a calm, quiet place to rest, recharge, and create. But that isn’t my full time gig. Much of my waking life, I now spend out—out of the house, among people, showing my face. Talking. Interacting. Connecting.

Being out and about gives me tremendous anxiety. I deal with it every single day. But I come home at the end of the day with the kind of elation of a warrior who has just wrestled a grizzly bear. I may have some wounds to nurse, but dammit, I confronted something terrifying, and came out alive. There have been days, months, even years when the bear has swallowed me up and spit me out, and I barely feel up to wrestling her again. But I have a hint for you: Choose your bear carefully. And if you can’t choose your bear, see which choices you do have. Such as starting your very own blog, and creating some space for yourself there.

Peace be with you,

Jenna 🌟

Why I Deleted My Blog…And Started Again

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Three (maybe four?) years ago, I had the urge to start blogging. One of those nagging longings that stuck around in the back of my mind so long, I knew I had to take action. I found the perfect name scrawled in purple graffiti on a harbor pier and located its origin in the poet Rilke: Face to Face with the Sky.
I started a Tumbler. And it went nowhere.
Maybe a year after that, I knew I had to try again. I discovered Word Press, and launched Face to Face with the Sky again.
That went also went nowhere. My content sucked. It lacked focus; it lacked depth; I wasn’t sharing what was real and on my heart.
Another year went by, and my mental health, which I have struggled with all my life, was deteriorating. Writing become my refuge. Scribbling and typing my solace. Somehow I decided to share this writing with the world.
I started another blog, The Wishing Well, and wrote honestly about my mental health ups and downs. In one year I had over 500 followers and lots of activity on the blog. The content was good. It was real. I was sharing what was on my heart.
So what do you think I did?
I deleted the whole thing.
I abandoned my followers. I didn’t even have the heart to respond to the most recent comments, so ashamed was I for running away.
What shifted? In short, there was a war between my public and private life. My inner and outer worlds. My inner world was complex, heartbreaking, and beautiful; and yet, I was only sharing it with people online. Only a few people in my real life knew about my writing. The rest of the time, I was presenting a “presentable” self. To my boss. My coworkers. My landlord. Even some of my friends and family. The tension between these two selves reached a breaking point.
Steven Pressfield wrote in his wonderful book Turning Pro about migrant workers who “rode the rods,” or stole away on trains across America. The migrant workers have a saying about what it means to abandon one job, one place, and move on to another. It’s called “pulling the pin.” The metaphor is that two train cars are attached by a single “pin” holding together their joined parts. Pull it out, and the car would roll away, no longer attached to the train.
I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve “pulled the pin,” or completely bailed out of things in my life.

When it comes to writing, I don’t want to do that any more.
All of this has been a long winded explanation of what I’m trying to accomplish with this renewed attempt at blogging: healing the war between these two selves.
Let this blog be the place where I can merge my inner and outer worlds.

Peace be with you,

Jenna

P.S. You can expect two focuses on this blog: mental health, and spirituality.
P.P.S. I love Instagram! @face2facewiththesky
P.P.P.S. I am excited to join you and witness your heart’s journey.