was the word I chose during a $99 Boxing Day sale at a tattoo shop in Edmonton. It was 2012 and I was grieving. Still grieving. Five years didn't change a thing. Falling through the cracks, I clung to everything and everyone I could find, in a search for meaning. I clung to my grief because it was the only constant thing in my life that reminded me what it felt like to be human. I clung to this word - gratitude - because it was long and loaded, and I wanted bang for my buck. I didn't yet know how much it weight it would bear for me in the years to come. As I searched for the light amid the lifelessness, I felt the need to honour the part of myself that was still living, rooted in something other than loss or fear.
took approximately five minutes using a large needle and a very loud motor. (I wish I could say it was painless, too.)
turns everything we have into enough. I thought that was so profound the first time I heard it. Then I heard it again, and again, from the wrong places: posters, water bottles, religious web ads. Such sage advice for surviving scarcity now marketed to the masses, a lecture to be swallowed whole. No thank you. I don't need my wholeness hollowed. I don't need anymore emptiness shoved down my throat.
is a buzzword thrown around on this holiday the way 'togetherness' and 'family' will be thrown around 6-8 weeks from now. Something used to conjure meaning among the consumerism, the slaughter, the genocide. Believe it or not, these aren't my reasons for opting out of this holiday. But they are for some.
is what I feel, at the end of every day, to have the opportunities I have now to live my life in this way. Conscious. Open. Honest. With love. For having held on long enough for the tide to change, and to have ridden it, to a place where I'm truly an equal in my community and I'm able to live my truth among likeminded others. For being able to do it over differently. For the hard times, because they remind me of what I'm made of. For the best times, because they're better than my "good days" ever were.
is what I feel for the opportunity I've been given to start over on a blank slate. For having the means, the willingness, the creativity, and the heart to start over again, after all the times I've tried to lay roots in the wrong soil. For the annoyance, the inconvenience of carrying 2 gallons of paint around on foot, across my new city on Thanksgiving Sunday, so I could finish painting a bedroom. I think of what it took for me to get here. To be here, dealing with this among other things. I think of how the last month has pushed me to my absolute limit, robbing me of my time, my funds, my energy. And after all the long nights and tears shed, I feel immense, overflowing gratitude for the fact that this is my life. I'm building a home here. I am SAFE for the first time in my life. That is truly something to be grateful for.
is what I feel for the bold woman I've become. After ten years of grief, I'm willing to risk both my heart and my home. No promises, no guarantees. It's what I feel for the strong, intuitive woman I've becoming, as I learn how to trust myself completely. Because without love, or safety, none of this is possible. None of this is worth it.
is why I don't need a happy ending. Never have, never will. Gratitude made me enough.
is tattooed on the back of my neck, holding my head up, guiding my thoughts, my actions, my words. It is more than a word. It's what I live by every single day, and the reason I'm able to be here now, to feel it.