Embrace the messy

… Because love is rarely neat and if it were, if it fit nicely within a single set of rules, if it were easy and predictable and it never scared the hell out of us or embarrassed us or cracked us open or filled us up… if it were always clear and never mysterious, always manageable and never out of control… if it were unfailingly beautiful and appropriate and acceptable according to some agreed upon standard by which we might measure the beauty and appropriateness and acceptability of a thing as big and wild as love… then we wouldn’t pine for it like we do. We wouldn’t write poetry or love songs or try to capture it on film and canvas, in stories, in books. We wouldn’t sculpt or dance or pray or chant or shout it.

If it were neat, it would be artless. And so would we.

~ from The Love Essays

The writing is done! This is a paragraph from the last essay, which I finished on Friday. To say that I’m excited is an understatement. This week I’ll be putting them all into one beautiful package for you, and then learning how to offer fancy downloads from my site.

I feel like I’m your girlfriend and I’ve got this just-right gift for you, and I’m too excited to wait for your birthday.




  1. Estrella Azul on May 21, 2012 at 2:31 am

    You’re such a great writer and so good at building up anticipation 🙂 I can’t wait to read the Love Essays, j. Thank you in advance for this gift! XoXo

    • j on May 21, 2012 at 8:00 am

      Well, I think I’m more letting my own anticipation spill all over you than consciously building, but thank you, Estrella. xo

  2. Nuttin' on May 21, 2012 at 2:51 am

    At the risk of sounding incoherent and being deleted…
    I always envisioned “love” as being the payoff at the end of the rainbow and if we navigated the rainbow and made it past all the obstacles — crappy marriages, childhood abuse, deliberate isolation, all the screw ups we made into obstacles ourselves… well, I always thought the payoff would be love.
    But, here’s the thing, love isn’t waiting for us at the end of the rainbow, it’s on the rainbow. It’s what’s giving us the strength and courage to get past the crappy marriages, the childhood abuse, the silence of misunderstanding, it’s the thing you still sense around you even when you’re being pushed into your cave by that dreaded silence.
    I want to be the person that’s always working to become better, the one who is revising her own shitty first draft, the person that knows when my hope is colliding with someone else’s wish or need… I want to be that person, who sees love all around because I think it is, I really think it is surrounding me and it’s scary, the scariest maybe — but I guess…

    “If it were neat, it would be artless. And so would we.”

    • j on May 21, 2012 at 8:06 am

      I think love’s a practice, just like meditation or running or yoga. The payoffs are many, and they happen all along the way, but there isn’t one day when you think, “There. I’ve mastered this whole yoga thing. My reward is Zen flexibility forever more.” I think we have to keep hitting the mat with all we’ve got.

      • Nuttin' on May 21, 2012 at 8:22 am

        Yes… I’m hitting the mat, and absolutely no one knows just how hard. And hopefully, for me, hitting the mat over and over even when sometimes it feels like my whole being is going to explode… hitting the mat is “doing”, it’s maintaining faith and hope in myself — because I know who I am and what I am, which, of course is a huge step in “self-love”. But even people who have mastered self-love like to be believed in by others.

  3. LunaJune on May 21, 2012 at 5:35 am

    ♥ so excited.. can’t wait to read them ♥

    I’ve just spent the last 5 days healing an old wound
    the love of my life, who shattered my heart 30 years ago
    and secretly I have held this flame for all these years
    not sure one way or the other what I wanted to do with it.
    some days I’d hold it close and dream, others at arms length and fill it with anger and frustration
    well here is the thing..
    he came to facebook, then blocked me
    and in that moment I let go of everything
    every hope or him ever apologizing , explaining,
    or us ever being friends again…
    in that moment I deleted everything I ever wrote to him, but never sent, smashed his tea cup that I had kept all these years and truly let go….. I got the message loud and clear

    2 weeks later…an email asking for forgiveness !
    turns out, he is fighting cancer,and in that moment of
    ‘my life may be leaving’ he was humbled
    so here I am 5 days of non stop talking, letting go, picking up the slack, and walking forward as friends who’s hearts remember the love.

    messy and beautiful and wonderfilled
    we have healed in a moment ♥

    seems the moment I stopped wishing and hoping and trying to see a way through… it came.. I could never have envisioned this way.. but grateful for it all

    • j on May 21, 2012 at 8:12 am

      Wow! I love this story. I find that a lot too, that it’s when I let go of my expectation (or longing) that things change. Either I get what I’ve been hoping for or I heal… get to a place where the terrible longing goes away.

      While I’m not generally a mystical person, it does feel weird to me how that happens. I do believe we put vibes out there and the world responds. Maybe that’s what’s happening when we stop wishing and hoping and expending our spirit on what we imagine will make us happy, and move to a place of acceptance… wholeness, even without the object of our desire.

      Thank you for sharing that story. xo

    • Fear of Writing on May 21, 2012 at 8:53 am


      I loved your comment and could relate to it profoundly. I once loved a man deeply who ended up dropping me because he just wanted sex and a little companionship, no commitment. I thought I would die of the heartbreak. But I somehow knew his “I’ll call you” fob-off was nothing but a cowardly lie and he intended to never contact me again. Despite having been persistent for a long time in trying to develop the relationship (and in keeping the flame going in my heart for long years of waiting whenever we couldn’t be in touch), I just KNEW it was over.

      I went into a massive grieving process and part of it involved burning his letters. In that moment of fire, I let go.

      We never did have any further contact (so my instinct proved correct). But in writing this comment I realized what the new thing was that came in after I let go of the anchor that was holding me in place. It wasn’t replaced by any kind of new romance or relationship. Instead, an adventure came along that involved moving far away from where I was living at the time, bringing in a new lifestyle that I probably never would have cultivated had I not burned those letters and Let Go.

      ~ Milli

      • j on May 21, 2012 at 9:06 am

        That just gave me chills, Milli. Even more so because I’ve become so intrigued by “letting go” ceremonies, especially the burning kind. I’ve found what you say to be true. What replaces the things we let go of often doesn’t resemble them at all. It’s a little like getting new sight, isn’t it?

        • Fear of Writing on May 21, 2012 at 9:12 am

          Yes, and at the time I didn’t see myself as having gotten anything from it. It was only when LunaJune wrote her comment that I finally connected the dots!

      • LunaJune on May 21, 2012 at 8:58 pm

        ahhh messy love…
        I also realized yes he broke my heart all those years ago… but I continually broke it by holding on to something that would never be… and even this week as he is figuring out what he needs has asked me if needed if he could live here for a bit… instantly I knew the answer was no… I have healed and it feels sooo liberating and I think that I needed this more than anything else to be able to truly move on in an intimate relationship as I had been looking for him in others and not seeing it and hoping …. and now all I see is the man that he became and not the dream I’d hoped he be.

        really profound week…
        perfect thing to share today… thanks j xo

  4. Fear of Writing on May 21, 2012 at 6:02 am

    Congrats on finishing the Love Essays! (Friday is such a good day of the week to finish a major project. Then you get to go into the weekend knowing you can relax and enjoy the feeling that you did what you set out to do.) I’m curious to see what your beautiful download package will look like. Good luck with that part. A way different skill set than doing the writing, eh? :~)

    P.S. Love the photo! A true image of the beauty of wildness. (Where did you take that? It looks familiar somehow.)

    • j on May 21, 2012 at 9:10 am

      Yes, a very different skill set. Over the weekend, I embarked on a new writing project so I wouldn’t lose my momentum as I switch gears and learn some technology. I do like playing in different sandboxes though.

      The photo is from the Arcada marshes. And yes, you’ve seen it. I know I posted it on FB, maybe even MT. 🙂

      • Fear of Writing on May 21, 2012 at 9:13 am

        That’s why it looks familiar! You did do a story on the Arcada marshes on Milliver’s Travels. :~)

      • Fear of Writing on May 21, 2012 at 9:15 am

        And, I agree. Playing in different sandboxes is fun! I’ve got so many going on right now I keep a sheet of paper taped to the wall above my desk to keep track of all of them. Heehee.

  5. Caroline on May 21, 2012 at 6:04 am

    Can’t wait!! Love this and the author! :o) xox

    • j on May 21, 2012 at 9:11 am

      Thank you so much, C. As you know, the feeling is absolutely mutual. xox

  6. helen lee on May 21, 2012 at 6:16 am

    YAY :~)))

    That must feel so good. I have loved/love every piece of writing I have received in my inbox from you and thank you so much for this most beautiful gift.

    Cariad MAWR
    helen x x x

    • j on May 21, 2012 at 9:12 am

      Helen! *races toward you, arms outstretched*

      Thank you! It’s been a labor of love, for sure. xo

  7. marsha epstein on May 21, 2012 at 6:20 am

    Intrigued and patiently waiting!

    • j on May 21, 2012 at 9:13 am

      Thank you, Marsha. I love the thought that you’ll be reading.

  8. Pam on May 21, 2012 at 7:35 am

    Yippee! Woo-hoo! Yowza!

    Just a hint of how glad I am to hear the essays are coming soon.


    • j on May 21, 2012 at 9:14 am

      You have such a way with excitement, my friend. <3

  9. Marcie on May 21, 2012 at 8:56 am

    Your writing is so compelling. Everytime I come here I find more and more of that which I resonate and believe. Can’t wait to see your series of essays!!

    • j on May 21, 2012 at 9:07 am

      Aw, Marcie. I believe you and I are kindred spirits. I can’t wait for you to read them either.

  10. Christie on May 21, 2012 at 9:28 am

    “I’m gonna read the love essays”
    “I’m gonna read the love essays”
    “We’re gonna read the love essays”
    “We’re gonna read the love essays”
    “Love, love, love the love essays”!
    “Yes, we love the love essays”!

    *I am singing this while chair dancing at my desk”

    • j on May 21, 2012 at 8:26 pm

      Awww. I’m doing a little happy dance at mine. xo

  11. Annie Neugebauer on May 21, 2012 at 9:41 am

    • j on May 21, 2012 at 8:28 pm

      Thank you, Annie. *grins goofily*

  12. Nancy on May 21, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    I am beyond excited to read the Love Essays…and I find I’m nearly as excited about reading all the comments your writing will generate here. You are so gifted and not the least of your gifts is helping all of us to think about community in new ways. And it strikes me….that’s what the Love Essays and your work of the last few years are all about!

    I have to go stock up on tissues now, because I just know I’m going to be crying over these essays soon!



    • j on May 23, 2012 at 7:31 am

      Good plan, I will make you cry (but I’ll make you laugh too, promise).

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I often hear from people when they visit my site(s) that they are so impressed by the conversations here and I always answer the same way… my community is amazing. I think there’s a certain alchemy that happens with all of us, a generosity of spirit that flows and sparks between us that is easy to see, easy to feel.

      You’re right. That sense of community and connection has been at the heart of my work for the last few years, guided by all of you. xox

  13. joanne firth on May 21, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    Another big milestone. I feel honored to be here to share it with you. Yay is a major understatement. Bring it.

    • j on May 23, 2012 at 7:33 am

      I love, “Bring it.” (And “yay” for that matter!) Each new phase of this whole big love project has been challenging and evolutionary. Thank you for being so very supportive and encouraging.

  14. Chris Edgar on May 23, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    Mmm, your last sentence feels warm. I’m glad somebody finally told me how it feels to be my girlfriend — I can never get a straight answer to that question. 🙂

    • j on May 23, 2012 at 12:45 pm

      Ha! I’m here for you like no one else is, baby! (So nice to see you here, Chris.) xo

  15. Giulietta Nardone on May 24, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    Congrats J. I’m sure your essays will be a stunning collection. Love is messy. Life is messy. People are messy. I don’t think we’d want it all neat. How dull that would be? How Stepfordish?

    I am messy with my house, office, car, etc. It feels good to me, but I’ve faced a lot of criticism for it. Like Neat is the mature, healthy way and messy is the immature, nutty way.

    I embrace the mess! Thanks, G.

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