Afraid of Love


We walked the local Rail Trail, my friend and I, an old railroad path connecting Hamilton to Brantford, Canada. The trees were a tall, sheltering canopy from the early September sun above us, leaves still mostly green and rustling in the subdued wind. I was anxious once more after a few calm weeks. I needed to get outside and I needed a friendly ear.

I had allowed myself to be pulled here and there without prayer as an anchor. Of course I pray everyday, but as my life speeds up I need it more. I know this. And yet I forget, and I had forgotten, so now the thoughts were spinning fast.

“I’m heading to New York in ten days,” I told her, tugging my sleeves up my elbows. “I’ve been many times. This is the first time I haven’t wanted to go and it makes no sense.”

My friend sipped her water bottle and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. “You love going to New York. What’s the difference this time?”

Danielle, you’re thirty-five years old, I thought to myself. How on earth are you still dealing with this shit?! I rubbed my hand along the back of my neck. I had come this far; I had to say it. “Well, it’s not just to visit friends. I’m going to a training…a master class and my gut tells me it could change my life, but the problem is I just don’t feel like I belong. I feel separate.”

She squinted at me. “You’re gonna have to expand on that, babe. What do you mean by separate?”

“I’m not vegan or cutting out sugar or trying the latest hot yoga or pole-dancing class. I still haven’t fully cut out bread even though I should and I do zumba with sixty-year old women in a small town. I don’t accesorize to meditate in front of some fancy altar. I wear clothes from discount stores and sit my ass down on a meditation pillow that my friend, Cindy, made for me while my kids scream for yogurt and peanut butter sandwiches.”

She laughed and twirled her dark brown ponytail.

“I don’t weigh myself because that triggers my bulimia, but I know what size I wear and it’s been the same size for two years now.” My voice was shaking. It still did anytime I said the “B word” and I wondered how long that would last. “These women are going to have it ‘together’. They’ll be smart and thin and driven. Yes, my spiritual practice is good. Yes, I walk my talk. But my life is still in pieces. Some parts are coming together, but I am still very much a work in progress.”

My friend threw her head back in laughter and then caught my unimpressed eye. “Oh, I’m not laughing at you, love.”

I raised an eyebrow at her in disbelief. “Like hell,” I said.

She took another drink of water. “There was just so much judgment in what you said that I could barely keep up and I couldn’t decide who you were judging more…these imaginary women or yourself.”

I sighed. I was only being honest.

“You were only being honest,” she said to me, dipping her head to catch my eye once more. “We all do this and it’s silly. You know that. And you also know that all judgment is self-judgment.”

“Yes,” I muttered. She asked me to stop walking and look at her so I did.

“You’ve become afraid of Love again,” said my friend gently. “The trip to New York is neutral. It can be a loving experience or it can be fearful. You’ve taken all kinds of stuff from your past, judged it as scary and stressful and then projected it into the future.”

I nodded. She was right.

“You pray every day that God put you where you are needed. I know that you do, so what about trusting in that? What about trusting that each step you take is shrouded in God’s love and intention to help you heal?”

“Yes, I think I can do that.”

My friend took my hand and squeezed it. “You have love for everyone, Danielle. Why would these women be any different?”

I ran my free hand through my hair. “They’re not. It’s like you said: I just became afraid of Love again. Now I need to be honest with Spirit about that and ask for help to see it differently.” I laughed. “The work that has to be done doesn’t change, but we still try our best to avoid it, don’t we?”

She smiled kindly. “We are innocent. We let ourselves become misguided though.”

I hugged her tight and we turned back towards Hamilton. I would be in New York City in just a few short days, but right now I was headed home.  Misguided, yes,  and often…but I wasn’t alone.



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Beauty’s Weight


It still amazes me the conversations I get to have and with whom I get to have them. These exceptional, loving people appear in my life at the exact time I need them. I must call out for them, I think, in some midnight prayer. I must.

And the other day it was in a coffee shop. Two women talking. My back was to them, but I only needed to hear their words. Words were enough.

“I don’t know about ratios or anything mathematical, but it seems to me that beauty outweighs evil a million-trillion to one. I’d like to say evil gets a zero, but few would believe me,” said the first woman. “The trouble is that beauty hides. We think it’s in a perfectly-shaped ass, an expensive pair of boots, or even a newborn baby. I say it’s harder to see than all that. I think beauty lies in the crevices, the honest moments, the words unsaid,” she paused, took a sip of her coffee. “We have to search for beauty -scratch that- we have to choose beauty. We have to be willing to be wrong about what we think beauty is.”

The second woman spoke now, her voice soft and assured. “You know when I feel most beautiful? In that fleeting, light nanosecond when I realize that my boyfriend has merely listened and has not judged. I’ve just spilled my guts to another human being and he just sits there with love in his eyes, hands reaching out to brush my hair back onto my shoulders. These moments are filled with the unconditional love we buy cards about. They are whole and compassionate and true. I know it.”

Whoa. Yes, I thought to myself. Yes!

The first woman’s voice shook a little as she spoke this time. “You’re so right. You are. And sometimes I even think it’s all the same…that pain -all pain- is the same.”

Was she crying? She seemed upset. I already felt like I was invading their private moment. I couldn’t very well turn and look at them now.

“I’ll be that safe space for you,” said the second woman, her voice dripping with compassion.  “Beauty lives there: that imaginary space between us…that line we fear to cross, that’s where beauty is. You’ll feel it and you’ll breathe through it and know that, just like you said, beauty outweighs evil a million-trillion to one. And you are loved despite what you tell yourself. You are safe, despite what you tell yourself. You are beautiful, despite what you tell yourself.”

I grabbed my iPod from my purse and said a silent prayer of thanks. Just that morning I had been getting dressed and thinking that beauty was so much more than appearances. Beauty, it seemed to me, was just like love…the same as love. It looked as though I wasn’t alone in this. I put my headphones over my ears and pressed play. I had heard enough.


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A Forever Kind of Love


For M&K…

She was young and pretty, child-like almost, except that her eyes told you she’d seen a lot of the hard stuff of life already. Her laugh was infectious and full. She bounced. You wanted to be near her, to take care of her and to let her tell you all she wanted to say. She wanted to say so much.

He was tall, handsome and full of mischief. He noticed everything with a calm intelligence. You dared not take yourself too seriously because he would call you out with a dirty joke and a deep, hearty laugh in a heartbeat. People were drawn to him, his humour and his humility.

“We’re just friends,” she said. “He’s silly and kinda grumpy and we’re just having fun.”

“We’re just friends,” he said. “She’s cute, but she’s young and I don’t want a girlfriend right now.”

Denial. It’s a bright red flag.

If there was a soundtrack to their courtship it was laughter. He loved to tease and she could laugh at herself louder and longer than anyone else could. From the outside looking in, their attraction for each other was plain as day.

But it was more than that.

There was an honesty about both of them that is rare. She didn’t like to be down in front of others. She liked to be positive, but with him she didn’t hide. And while he may have prided himself on his control and timing, she always had her foot in her mouth and it could leave him falling out of his chair with laughter in spite of himself.

It’s not easy to admit that you need someone. And it’s ok to spend time proving that you don’t. And it’s also ok to come around to what everyone else around you knew all along:

They were meant for one another.

They signed up to walk this rocky path together. Through sickness and silliness. Through battles and a baby. Through fights and forgiveness. Through “I don’t know if I can do this.” and “You know I’ll always love you, right?”

They teach one another. They hold one another. They love one another.

They did it then. They do it now.  And there’s no denying, it’s a forever kind of love.

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Two Women, a Margarita and the Truth


“I want a margarita,” I said slapping my hand down on the counter in my old friend’s kitchen.

She turned to look at me, amused and raised an eyebrow. “It’s that kind of afternoon, is it?”

I nodded, pouting wordlessly.

My friend shook her head as she put her white linen apron on. “You startled me, you know. You said that so definitively!”

“I did, didn’t I?” I smiled, surprisingly pleased with myself, and watched as she proceeded to grab the liquor bottles from her cupboard. I took a bunch of limes from her fruit bowl and squeezed them gently. The day was muggy and the sun was starting its descent. The air conditioning murmured in the background, keeping us cool and filling the silence.

“It’s so rare that I know what I truly want in any given moment,” I said as I sliced and juiced the limes. The words I spoke were raw, previously unsaid and barely thought.

She poured ice into the blender and wiped a bit of sweat from her brow. “Yes, sweetheart. I know.”

I closed my eyes tight. “I think it’s possible I’ve been living the past three years of my life for everyone else but me.”

And as that sentence left my mouth, the truth of it dawned on me. Tears filled my eyes and a cry from my gut wrenched, begging to be released.

I let it out.

She was beside me in a second, clutching me close, stroking my hair. My body shook with sobs and a sorrow so deep and long it overwhelmed me. I was a woman lost in the lives of others with so little of my own to claim. I came up for air every now and then only to sink back down into responsibilities I had taken on by choice.

By choice.

This was not a time to blame. This was a time to release and to choose again. I could breathe fully again. I could.

“You’ve been in survival mode,” she whispered soothingly.

I straightened and stood. I wiped my eyes. “Yes,” I said.

“This isn’t a small thing that you’ve been through. And you’re still going through it, but you’re waking up and that’s a good thing.”

I gave a defiant laugh through more tears. “It doesn’t feel good.”

She nodded. “I know, love. It will feel better. Give it time.”

My friend turned back to her blender giving me a moment to breathe.

I sat down at her table and hugged myself. It wasn’t a conscious move. In fact, I’m sure that two minutes went by before I realized I was doing it. I had been wanting so badly to be held, to be protected…giving so much to others only to feel depleted and worn. The time had come to fuel myself, to love and care for myself.

I took a deep breath and closed my eyes placing a hand over my abdomen. Silently, I asked myself what I wanted.

“Margarita,” my gut said. “And then a nap.” I smiled just the slightest little bit. My gut had good taste and a sense of humour.

My friend pressed ‘blend’. Two minutes later she poured the pale, green slush into a tall, salted glass. “The guest room’s all made up for you,” she said. “Drink, then have your rest.”

I shook my head in disbelief at her. How did she know?!

“Oh goodness, Danielle. It doesn’t take a mind reader to see you need a nap!”

I narrowed my eyes at her, studying her and then shook it off.

She grasped my chin lightly. “Drink, sleep, pray, let it go,” she said. “You’ve been so resistant. You know that holding onto something doesn’t make it yours. Let it all go.”

I couldn’t look her in the eyes. Instead I sipped the sweet and sour drink in front of me. It was cold and strong and I felt something within me ease up as I honoured myself with something small, but significant that I desired. The ease spread slowly and I took a deep, cleansing breath.

I can have what I want, I thought. It just takes rigourous honesty to reveal what that is. It comes from a place higher and deeper than this. Yes…higher, deeper and truer than this…

I want what is true.


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Navigating the Writing Path From Start to Finish


Recently, I was asked by Dr. Kelly Pryde to participate in the IC Publishing Summer Blog Tour to share my insight into the Writing Process. I get asked about this a lot and while my approach may not be especially conventional, it works for me and if I can help anyone else who works similarly to the way I do then YAY!

I’d also like to give a shout-out to Sheri Andrunyk. Sheri is the founder of I C Publishing (sponsor for this blog tour) and the I C Bookstore, entrepreneur expert, and author of Working From Home & Making It Work and Hearts Linked by Courage. She is extremely passionate about providing more choices and high level support to other writers, business professionals, wellness coaches, and spiritual mentors. 

Let’s dive in!

How Do You Start Your Writing Projects?

My writing projects start me. When I feel the pull to write, I have to. Sometimes I end up scribbling on a old receipt from my purse or typing it into my phone. I’m often moved by something that’s going on in my life or with those around me. For me, the words come in a rush. I am the conduit.  When I’m upset, confused or anxious about something, but cannot point to why, it’s writing that brings clarity. After fifteen minutes of typing, the answers are there on my screen plain as day and I feel better. Relieved. This is how it works when I’m blogging.

With fiction, it’s a similar process. I let the story come through me. I have a rough outline, but am very flexible. I once cut 20,000 words from a second draft of a novel because it just wasn’t working and I didn’t look back. The right words will always come and I won’t settle for less.

If I have been assigned something to write, I mull it over in my mind for a while, not marrying myself to anything, just brainstorming. I sit down to write when I’m ready. Frequently, that ends up being near the last minute. I don’t stress anymore about that. It always gets done and it’s good.

How Do You Continue Your Writing Projects?

With blog posts it’s not really a big deal. I write, edit and post within an hour so it’s do-able. But, yes, I do have two children so when it comes to working on a novel or memoir, I write when I can. With my first novel, I wrote much of it while my three year old son played with his trucks right beside me. You do what you gotta do.

I also try to schedule blocks of time. Sometimes that time is spent just reading what I already have to see if I can pick up on a vibe to continue with or just make some adjustments here and there. Music moves and inspires me so I always tune in with the story and select a mood-matching playlist. This helps a lot if I’m not already feeling like I must write.

I have to believe in and value what I’m writing or else it’s very difficult to stay motivated. For instance, I have about 40,000 words of a memoir that I wrote four years ago. I wrote it because it was helpful for me, but once it stopped being helpful, I stopped writing. It’s saved on an old laptop and it’s more than likely that it will stay there.

How Do You Finish Your Project?

With my novel, Without Fear of Falling, it was not easy to let go. I didn’t have a lot of confidence as an author and while I loved the story, I knew that my style needed improvement. But I also was not willing to wait ten years to gain the writing chops required to make it (nearly) perfect. Four drafts and nine months of nearly constant work later, I let it go because holding onto it just didn’t feel right. After I signed a contract with my publisher, it went through two more drafts. I knew it was done when my heart just wasn’t in it to add or edit any more.

What’s One Challenge or Additional Tip That Our Collective Communities Could Benefit From?

Keep writing. Write often. Everyday if possible. When I start to feel indifferent or uninspired, I go to Twitter and write a tweet. One of my favourites to do is #sixwordstory. Write a tiny story in just six words (eg: They kissed; only the rain saw. #sixwordstory). It’s a muscle that has to be worked regularly. I think it’s also a good exercise in reminding yourself that you can do this…that you are a writer.

Passing the Pen

And with that, I pass the pen to one of my favourite fellow writers, Jan Krause Greene. We have supported one another through the publishing and marketing process so I’m very interested to hear about her writing path! Check our her links and her post on July 9th!

Jan Krause Greene lives in a suburb of Boston. While raising five sons, she wrote HOMEFRONT, a popular newspaper column chronicling her life as mother, teacher and writer.
Self-described seeker and visionary, her poetry and fiction examine life’s big questions from the perspective of characters both young and old, struggling to understand their place in the world. Jan is the author of the acclaimed novel, I Call Myself Earth Girl.

Check out Jan on her Twitter and at her Website!

Thanks for reading and following the IC Publishing Summer Blog Tour!

Danielle Boonstra is a mommy, intuitive, and storyteller who shares her journey with honesty and the intention to heal. She is the author of the recent spiritual romance novel, Without Fear of Falling, and the co-founder of, a social network for students and teachers of A Course in Miracles.

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What Happened


We sipped lemon water in plastic Muskoka chairs at the side of my house, a little stone patio shaded by large maples and my neighbour’s garage. My friend had stopped by in the middle of a lazy afternoon. My kids were with their father and I had taken a break from laundry and nervous thinking.

“Your mind is racing,” she said. “I can see it.”

I had been staring at the leaves shift and flutter in the breeze allowing momentary twinkles of sunlight to show. “You always can,” I replied.

She adjusted her gold-rimmed aviators and drew lines in the  moisture from her glass. The day was warm. “It’s a new phase for you.”

“Yes,” I said taking a deep breath. “I know. I know I should be alone for a while.”

My friend kept her gaze focused on the water in her glass. “Well, I have a problem with ‘shoulds’. They are rarely helpful. It’s quite possible that it will be good for you to be single for a time, but if you aren’t willing to heal or learn then I’m not sure it matters all that much.”

I half-coughed, half-laughed. “It feels like all I’ve been doing is healing and learning these past few years!”

“Oh darling, I do love you, but let’s be honest: You’ve done your fair share of avoiding as well.”

My gut tightened at the suggestion that I was less-than perfect despite my being keenly aware of the fact. A rebuttal was right there on the tip of my tongue, but I silenced it just in time.

She waved a hand. “I’m not saying you don’t deserve some distraction. We all do. I only mean to say…well, you know what? Why don’t you tell me where you’re at?”

I set my glass down on the ground beside my foot and wiped my hands on my black cotton dress. “I’m over him.”


“My former husband. And believe you me, there were months and months where I felt sure it would never happen, but it did.”

“OK,” she said shifting slightly and leaning back in her chair.

“But I’m not over what happened. I’m still reeling.” I put my head in my hands and mumbled. She was close enough to me, I told myself. She could hear. “I’ve thought about falling in love, a lot actually. And anytime I let the feeling come, I had to quickly push it aside.”

“Why, sweetheart?”

I sighed and bit my lip. “Because it felt like walking into a room full of people each waiting to tell me something horrible. But it was also like I didn’t know they had bad news until I had already walked inside and then the door gets bolted shut behind me. And I’m left there…trapped in a room full of awful surprises.”

“Yes,” was all she said.

“And I know this happens to everyone. I know everyone gets their heart broken at some point.”


“I’m not special.”

My friend smiled.

“And that room full of people?” I continued.


“I know it’s all made up in my head. I know it’s all based on my past experience.”

She nodded. “And yet?”

I released a long breath and picked my glass up again, taking a long sip. “Exactly.”

“The not-knowing is hard. But you can face this. And it doesn’t matter how, it only matters that you do and that you do it with Spirit. But can I make a suggestion?”

I smiled at her asking permission to help me. “Of course.”

“Try to remember how fun you are.”

That wasn’t at all what I had expected her to say. “Fun?”

She laughed at me. “Yes, fun. You, my dear, are a joy to be around. It could do you a lot of good to remember that.”

I was taken aback. “Goodness…” I had been taking myself and my problems so seriously. Fun. Was it possible I was fun? Was it possible that I could be of value when I wasn’t taking care of someone else? Was it possible for me to be loved for exactly who I am? Was it possible to get over what happened?

My friend read my thoughts once again with a wide grin on her face. “Yes,” was all she said.


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Happy Tears


Three Years.

Three years up against fifteen and here I sit one month from my thirty-fifth bithday.

I have, as of today, maintained three years of abstinence from bulimia after suffering for fifteen. And what is so remarkable to me is that the past three years have been the most tumultuous of my life. So much change. So much letting go. I have cried more in the past three years than in the rest of my life combined.

The fact that I have not binged or purged as a way to deal with the nearly constant state of grief and overwhelm is a miracle. Period.

Sometimes it will occur to me that I am kinder to others than I am to myself. This is something that I am working on, but this morning when I awoke I thought ‘Wow, considering how unkind I used to be…considering the outright abuse I used to inflict on myself on a daily basis, I am doing alright.’

One day at a time: pray. One day at a time: surrender. One day at a time: be honest.

I know only one way to heal this disease and it may not be yours: a Higher Power.

My life in my hands was a fucking out-of-control mess disguised by anxious smiles and denial. In God’s Hands, it is grace.

Three years.

Happy Tears.

Only Love is real.

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Even Spirit Girls Get the Blues


“I’ll just warn you; I’m in a horrible mood,” I said as I opened my front door for my friend. I was draped in oversized black cotton from head to toe. She wore pink. I tried, pathetically, to pretend it didn’t annoy me.

She smiled and bit back a laugh. She was laughing at me and it occurred to me that perhaps I should be as well. “So what’s wrong?” she asked kindly.

“Nothing, really. I just cannot shake this grouchiness. I want to avoid people, but I can’t. I have to face the world and hope beyond hope we all get out alive.”

She smirked as I led her into my kitchen. We stood around a bowl of red grapes I had on the counter and ate them quietly. She was giving me the space to continue. The only problem was I feared my own tone. I feared disappointing her. I was afraid of her seeing this side of me…a side reserved only for my family.

“You do know you are the only one who expects you to be happy all the time, right?” she asked looking down at the fruit, reaching for another grape.

“Yes,” I replied, flicking my hair over my shoulder. I felt like an entitled, defensive teenager and now I was acting like one.

“Do you want me to go?”

“Yes…no!” I sighed. “I don’t know.” There was a tension hanging in the air and it was mostly coming from me. “It’s just…it feels like there’s enough hurt in my chest to grip an entire city. I feel so alone and yet, I don’t want to see anyone. I want to be held and yet I know I’d flinch at the slightest touch. In short, I don’t know what to do with myself.”

My friend walked over to my kitchen sink and washed her hands silently. She then wiped them on her pale pink skirt as I had forgotten, yet again, to replace the tea towel with a fresh one. I was always forgetting things.

She turned to face me. “I won’t suggest you be willing to be kind to yourself because that seems like too much, but can you find the willingness to be willing? Is there some small part of you that can do that?”

I sighed again and then, after a moment, nodded.

She stepped a little closer to me. “You will feel all sorts of emotions in this life. They can be divided into one of two categories: love or fear.”

“I’ve heard this before,” I snapped. Goddamnit, why did I have to snap at her? My eyes began to well up, but my face remained indignant.

My friend merely smiled. “I know you have, sweetheart. We tend to remember form. It’s the content we resist though.” I took a deep breath and apologized under my breath. She continued: “The only emotion, the only feeling you can trust is that quiet joy within. Have you felt that before?”

“You know I have!” I cleared my throat and shook my head. “Sorry,” I said and continued: “Yes, I know what you mean. I felt it often throughout the final months of my marriage. I knew I would be ok…that it didn’t truly matter if we separated. There was this loving knowing inside of me that signaled all was well no matter what. I loved it and hated it at the same time.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, there were days where I lived in that quiet joy. I was kinder, lighter, happier. And there were days where I might recall the joy, but then would switch instantly over to my life story and my expectations and what I thought I needed to be happy. I resented and rejected the notion that I could be content even if my life, as I knew it, fell apart.”

“I see.”

I reached for a grape and rolled it between my thumb and my index finger. “It was right though.”

My friend looked me in the eyes. She smiled again.

“That loving knowing was right. Here I am, a single mother and I’m doing it. I have shit days and good days, but throughout it all, when I listen, is the feeling that the roller coaster isn’t real and that I exist between the valleys and the peaks. I feel that. It’s true.”

“And so maybe,” she said turning to reach for a glass and then filling it with water at the sink. “You can ride out this bad mood. Maybe you can watch it come and go with that ‘loving knowing’. Maybe you can be willing to see it differently.”

I looked away, uncomfortable just then at what she suggested…what I had suggested. “Maybe,” I uttered quietly. “Maybe.”

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Hug the Mother


I waited for my friend on her front step while she spoke to a neighbour on the sidewalk in front of me. I could hear pieces of conversation depending on how strongly the wind blew. And the breeze was a blessing. Heat had settled in. The sun was nearly a summer sun…purer, wider, more intense.

“My son is driving me crazy,” I heard the young woman tell my friend, her long black hair blowing in streaks across her face. “He’s disrespectful and wild. I don’t know how to tame him.” She hung her head in what appeared to be shame. I expected her to look angry, but she didn’t. She seemed sad, resigned.

My friend reached out and touched the woman’s arm. She said something I couldn’t discern and they both laughed. And then: “And why is it your job to tame him?”

“He’s rude to me in front of other people. It’s embarrassing. He doesn’t listen. He just does whatever he wants. I’m calm and then suddenly I’m frantically shouting at him to stop and dragging him away kicking and screaming.” The woman’s voice was cracking now. I could hear that. I could hear her cracking. “It’s a mess; the whole thing is a mess.”

I leaned forward, elbows on my knees and braided my hair. I looked away. The last thing she needed was another witness. I closed my eyes and said a prayer for her. I prayed she be kind to herself. I prayed that she see that it was so clear she loved her son dearly and that she merely felt lost right now. I prayed she know that nobody got this parenting thing just perfect,,,that it was/is a messy business.

My face felt cool for a moment, as if the sun had tucked itself behind a cloud just then. I took a deep breath, opened my eyes and looked briefly at the two women in front of me before beginning another braid. The neighbour was in my friend’s arms. She merely held her, just that way, for what seemed like an hour but was actually only a few minutes. I swear I saw the stress leave her body like steam from a boiling pot of water.

The woman’s sobs subsided and I saw the rise and fall of her shoulders begin to calm. She pulled back, wiped her eyes and thanked my friend. The conversation turned to weeding and how vigilant the dandelions were this year. I raked my fingers through my hair disentangling the plaits I had woven and sighed. It was always a thing to see love in action.

Of course there were a hundred things my friend could have said. There are limitless ways to discipline, to parent, to guide. She, this young mother, needed to find her own. She and her son needed to walk this road together with love, with compassion, with boundaries and respect.

And they would.

But right now all she needed was a hug.

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On The Way Home

Tulips neighbourhood

The tulips had been in bloom for a few weeks only. It was late in the year, but the winter had been brutally long. Everything was slow in coming back to life. Myself included. The snow had been incessant and I had felt buried under since December. Any movement toward the light was slow, yet purposeful.

I swear…I did want to grow.

My friend and I walked leisurely through my neighbourhood, an area bordered by the two competing livelihoods of this city: healthcare and steel production. The houses were small, but lovingly updated and cared for. People gardened while their children played. My boyfriend called it a breeding ground for hipsters. I just loved being able to walk  to everything…bakery, deli, parks…everything.

“You’re quiet today,” she said holding a bright yellow dandelion in her hand.

I looked down at my feet. “I know. I’m sorry.” I loved shared silence and was worried now that she didn’t feel the same.

“No need to apologize,” she replied sweetly.

“I suppose the Spring has stunned me. I had become accustomed to hiding out, but now the weather beckons me outside. I guess I just need some time.”

She twirled the pretty weed in her hand. “Of course you do.”

“I was so restless in April and now it seems as though there is so much to do. I want to hide again.”

My friend regarded me questioningly, “What do you have to do?”

I shifted behind my friend so a group of young girls could pass and then came up beside her again. “I have to find a full-time job. And my car is dying. And my yard is beginning to look like a field of nightmares,” I said. “You know, things I’d rather ignore but just won’t go away.”

She stopped and turned to face me. “What is it you are afraid of?”

I swallowed and looked over her shoulder. Eye contact would just make me cry. “Doing things alone, but that’s not even it. I think I’m pretty independent. I guess I’m afraid of fucking it all up.”

“Explain,” she said. My friend was kind, but I could tell her bullshit-o-meter was kicking into gear.

“What if I end up at a job I hate? Or what if I take too long to find something? What if I can’t afford to fix this car? Or if I’m honest, I really don’t feel comfortable driving it anymore, but with no full-time job how can I get something new? And as for the yard, well, I think I can handle that eventually. It just makes me overwhelmed thinking about it.”

“I see why you were so quiet. Holding all those ‘what ifs’ in your mind really stifles the tongue.”

“It stifles everything,” I said quietly.

She started walking again, placing the dandelion behind her ear. “Yes, exactly,” she said. “It will all get done, you know.”

“I know. I just feel like an asshole.”

She laughed, my potty-mouth always amused her. “Thinking about it all at once makes you feel scared.”

I nodded.

“Right,” she said.

Ugh. This was the part where I always hoped she’d just tell me what to do. She never did.

“I have to surrender,” I whispered.

She nodded.

“I’m making myself into a nice, little victim here with my first-world problems.”

“Problems are illusions no matter which ‘world’ you live in. It’s how you feel about your so-called problem that counts.”

“I feel overwhelmed. I’m afraid of messing up because I’m afraid that will mean I’m not a good person…not capable, not lovable. Being a victim seems easier, but I feel awful.” I tripped just then and my foot caught a bright red tulip that had overgrown onto the sidewalk. “Damnit.”


I picked up the smooshed flower and examined it in my hand. I could press it at home. I could salvage some of its beauty. “Nothing.”

“Fear keeps your world small and yet, somehow, unmanageable,” she said with admiring eyes.

“Love opens up possibilities you mean. I’ve been here before. If I let all of this go, guidance will come a little at a time. It’ll all get done.” I put the flower in a tissue and placed it in my purse. I wiped my hands on my jeans. “And I’m not an asshole.”

Again, my friend giggled. “No darling, you’re just learning. You’re on your way home.”

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