I S S U E 1 â€¢ V O I C E
ISSUE 1 : VOICE
F W W R T E A M Megan Febuary • Founder / Editor-in-Chief Cali Pitchel • Copy Editor Landon Febuary • Designer C O N T R I B U T O R S Jaclyn Norton, Lindsay Sailors, Jen Stella, Stephanie Moors, Rosie Llewellyn, Golden Drake, Jenny Wade, Alisha Heibert, Bradley Mitchell, Zabie Yamasaki, Neema Murimi, Jill Landback, Jennifer Caviola, Tara Soria, Hannah Uiri, Moriah Avrick, Anna Leigh Pumpelly, Rachel Ancar, Amanda Acevedo, Colleen Tracey, Holly Stapleton, Jocelyn Skillman, Angelica Vasquez, Nica Selvaggio, Cali Pitchel, Megan Febuary, Amy Young, Natasha Olivera, Audrey Sutton, Stephanie DeLacy, Jenny Ravikumar, Briana Griffin, Morgan Day Cecil, DeAnza Spaulding, Ausha Wallace D I S T R I B U T I O N I N Q U I R I E S email@example.com S U B M I S S I O N S forwomenwhoroar.com/submissions
Copyright © 2019 For Women Who Roar™ LLC and the individual contributors. All rights reserved. Please respect the rights of our contributors. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited.
CONTENTS 4 106
Editor's Note #whyididntreport N O N F I C T I O N Lindsey Sailors, Say My Name Rachel Ancar, Higher Self Stephanie Moors, For The Leaving Alisha Hiebert, To Love and Let Go Zabie Yamasaki, A Soft Place To Fall Stephanie DeLacy, Circles vs. Lines Audrey Sutton, Finding My Roar Moriah Avrick, Women's War Rachel White, Choosing My Truth
8 10 12 30 36 82 100 86 94
P O E T R Y Jaclyn Norton, My Voice Is My Power Rosie Llewellyn, Speak On It Jenny Wade, The Blank Space Cali Pitchel, Keep Out Megan Febuary, The Bleeding, I Write For You Jill Landback, I Matter Tara Soria, Deep Within There Lies a Truth Hannah Uiri, Healing From You Nica Selvaggio, It Was Always Mine To Say Jen Stella, Orgasm Briana Griffin, Glue, Tape, and String Morgan Day Cecil, Grace & Peace Jenny Ravikumar, Single Mama Natasha Olivera, Ballet Recitals Amy Young, What I Have Planned Jennifer Caviola, A Sore Throat DeAnza Spaulding, I Am Not Free Until Neema Murimi, Senses, Sound of Love
6 15 22 44 40, 87 42 25 77 72 80 92 93 29 88 102 97 98 104
CONTENTS A R T & P H O T O G R A P H Y Anna Leigh Pumpelly, I've Got a Real Bad Sweet Tooth Jaclyn Norton, My Voice Is My Power Rachel Ancar, Higher Self Stephanie Moors, For The Leaving Saint, Speak On It Amanda Acevedo, Metamorphose Colleen Tracey. Ethical Illustrations Jocelyn Skillman, Mawther Angelica Vasquez, Free Spirited Alejandra Maria, It Was Always Mine To Say Jennifer Caviola, A Sore Throat Holly Stapleton, Always On
74 6 10 12 15 16 24 34 46 72 96 105
I N T E R V I E W S Golden Drake, Tell Us a Story About a Time You Roared Bradely Mitchell, I Am Enough Ausha Wallace, You Are a Warrior, You Are a Queen
18 26 78
EDITOR'S NOTE The name For Women Who Roar™ was born from a poem I wrote about my experience as a woman—The struggle to express my truth, my roaring emotions, and my deepest desires. I grew up afraid that my voice was dangerous, powerful, and too much for some to hold, which was probably true, and also most likely what taught me to roar. I’ve had a lot of people ask me when the concept of For Women Who Roar™ began. Without hesitation, I say 12 years old. There is always a look of surprise, but it’s true. When I was 12, I wrote my first book on my dad’s dusty old type writer. I cut out the pages and stapled them together in a crooked line. The short little leaflet was mistyped, misspelled, and horribly written, but it was dripping with vulnerability. Page after page told the stories of my middle school friends trying to survive their lives through addiction, abuse, suicide, and depression. I was the holder of their stories then. I am the holder of these stories now. Some things never change. When I launched FWWR, I could feel in my bones that it was going to be massive movement. Why? Because we as women have been quiet and censored for far too long. We are ready to raise our voices, tell our stories, and share the art that’s been sitting in our bodies like weighted stone. Every word and image you take in here will be something a woman has dared to let go of. How incredibly brave and bold of them to let us hold their story. Thank you. Each issue will be focused on a different theme. Our first issue is appropriately titled, "Voice." What has given you voice? What has taken it away? What makes you roar? You will see this theme weaved throughout every poem, essay, artwork, interview, and photograph based on the experience of the contributor. It is truly my honor to hold the mic for each of these women and their incredibly brave gifts. Thank you for being a reader, listener, and fierce advocate by supporting this magazine and the work we do. We truly appreciate you!
my voice was my greatest weakness. it was a lisp at six and loud pitch at nine which got me grounded for cheering too loud at baseball games without ever knowing the rules.
my voice turned into the tears behind sunglasses on street corners, and held back in corners of cafes. it was the words never spoken, to lovers and mothers and friends. but speaking my truth was the only path forward.
my voice met my sharp tongue at twelve, causing dinners eaten on the steps of the garage and being told to speak quieter
in these trenches, lived the source of my greatest strength.
—“six inch voices”— they would say, a record on replay in my mind of a song that wasn’t my own.
so once nourished and nurtured and loved, i told my voice, it was safe to come out, take up space, and be heard for all the colors of my mind.
at seventeen my voice was the gateway to question everything, stand up to authority, speak my truth to religion, and talk myself into oblivion.
at twenty-eight my voice is my power. my voice is my passion, my voice is my flow and my best friend.
at twenty-four my voice became the root of embarrassment, shame and guilt, rooted in the trenches of my bones. buried so deep, I didn’t know where to find it.
it is the sacred matrimony between my mind and body, the dialect of my soul. my voice is mine, forever.
years of conditioning taught me using my voice meant getting in trouble.
my voice is what I came into this earth from the cosmos to share and it is the way I will change the world.
using my voice was talking too loud, words no one wanted to hear. and speaking my truth, meant I was doing something wrong.
By Jaclyn Norton
so my voice grew small. silent. it became the tightening in my throat, the air caught in the passageways of my lungs, the crippling in my chest. my voice became poems never published and essays entrenched in computer folders veiled from public view.
By Lindsey Sailors
My name is Llll… Llll... Llll …. I take a deep breath. Lindsey.
Stutters are torturous for everyone. They are painful to listen to, they are painful to speak through. I’ve never been so angry as when I’ve been in the middle of a word, and it’s five seconds...eight seconds...15 seconds, and the next syllable won’t come. I’m still left there, naked with inability. The anger forms hot in my throat, that great traitor, when the panic of the stutter sets in and the recognition that we could be here for a good long while sets in—and then it travels up to my eyes. To have a debilitating speech impediment and to be an easy crier is an unfortunate combination if you want to be in the world.
I already saw their eyes looking for somebody else to talk to. I saw it four seconds ago, when I first started to say my name. It’s a cruel trick of the powers that be, that on top of developing a stutter during childhood, seemingly out of the blue, the hardest sound to make was the L sound. You can’t say Lindsey without an L. And so, for years, I couldn’t say my name. Stutters are nominally understood to be disorders of too much activity. “You just need to slow down your thoughts,” my mom used to tell me. I don’t blame her for thinking that. What if I was just particularly precocious and too brilliant for my five-year-old vocabulary? I wouldn’t mind having that problem, and I wouldn’t mind having a daughter who had that problem. Too brilliant! Too fast for her own good! That ol’ broad, just give her a few years and a Fulbright.
When my kindergarten teacher wanted to hold me back in school for communication delays, I took an intensive year of speech therapy to try and get better. It was a desperate last resort. I remember the therapist’s office was located in a hospital. As part of our working together, she would make me go around to different rooms to talk to strangers and have conversations with them. I remember one day we made popcorn together in a microwave, burned it accidentally, split it up into paper cups, and gave it to patients who were in rooms alone. And I remember my speech therapist in one of our sessions telling me to get firm. “You’re unsure,", she would say.
But that wasn’t the case with me. I’ve learned in my life that any story that involves me also involves anxiety, which explains why I still stutter, but only when I am nervous or anxious. At five years old, I was nervous and anxious a lot. And when my voice became the most unsafe and volatile part of me, I didn’t know whether or not it was going to work. Every syllable felt like a risk.
“Pretend to be sure instead and see what happens. Think about banging your fist on the table because what you’re saying is so important.”
Shame doesn’t have a definitive milestone; it always comes, and it always hurts, but how and when is the intricate beginning of all that we carry with us. The first time shame took me was when I stuttered my way through talking to my mom in our living room, explaining to her what I was excited for that day. She hadn’t asked me a question—she had four young kids and ran around efficiently, quickly, harried—but I had come to her wanting. What I received was swift and harsh.
My voice today is deep, but not raspy, with a strong California accent and unusual cadence. I speak intentionally without many fillers, and with a conviction that’s striking. I still stutter, though seldom, and I can always make it through a word. I’m 32 years old with a brave and full life behind and ahead of me, but when I say Ls, when I say my name, I can feel that sweet, angry little girl. I feel her eagerness, I feel her frustration. And I tell her to get firm—that what she is saying is important.
“Just get it out, Linds,” was what I heard more often than not. I stopped trying.
“Higher Self” is probably the most inward-looking painting I have made. It is an honest piece about who I am and who I wish to become. The woman in the painting laying on the bed represents me and the different colors on her skin represent my chakras (which are unaligned here) and my inability to not let the world around me get to me. This is opposite from the woman shown meditating in the tapestry above her, who has perfectly balanced chakras and is not taking on anything in her surroundings. In a perfect world, we would all have balanced chakras and would not have to work for such harmony. But, in the world that we live in, it is hard to even become aware of the fact that we are energy beings. If we aren’t “flowing” the right way, then things start to get wonky within us—this leads to physical diseases manifesting and to us falling further away from our truth that is inside of all of us. While “Higher Self” is a story about myself, I believe it can also be attributed to every single person who has ever felt anxious, like they have no control, and like nothing ever goes right for them. With this painting, I hope to show that it is not only okay to look inward to find your own power, but that it is encouraged! Inner power brought out leads to inner peace, so don’t be afraid to use it to achieve that peace.
Illustration By Rachel Ancar
F O R T H E L E A V I N G By Stephanie Moors
Sometimes I think about the way we betray ourselves when we’re young. We need to be heard, to be seen, to be loved, and it itches at the back of our spines. We forge these bonds out of emotions, hormones, religion, music, and the unknown. We learn how to map the stars together, backs pressed against the hood of the car and every word catches in our throats because there has never been anything so sacred as the sky in the deep desert. Sometimes we think we could just drive until we run out of gas. We wonder what the world is like outside the lines drawn for us. We don’t leave though. We make plans instead, and those plans burn in us like desperate hope.
chance we have to just drive. We who hug the space between what we see and what we feel find ourselves in the middle of nowhere because it speaks to us, because we see our truest selves reflected back to us. We somehow believe that we are infinite and capable of almost anything. Inevitably we face the moment we’ve waited for. We drive northeast like we’re really going to follow our hearts all the way out. We feel out the endlessness of leaving with nothing we own and nothing we don’t want in the seats next to us. We let the music swell and we try not to think about how unrealistic this all is. Inevitably we’ll either commit to the leaving or we’ll turn around.
If I believed in shoulds, I would say that I should have done it. I should have listened to the screaming in my body, the ache to drive away and find something else. I should have let every responsibility I had carried since I was four fade out of sight behind me. I almost did once. I was already on the edge of the city, far past where I had been before, and I drove for a while before I turned around. It was maybe the turning that left me hopeless. It was the endless strings of expectation strung through my heart that kept me from facing the wild then. I felt tethered. I felt like I owed everyone else every last spark of me. So, I went home, back to the known and to the rising sense of losing myself.
I have turned around too many times in my life.
There has not been a moment of ease since divorce became reality, but oh my god, there has been freedom. Freedom that tastes like an undoing of every betrayal, like billions of clear stars in the pitch black, like finally shedding expectation so that I can breathe again. Freedom that feels like committing to the wild, to the healing, to the becoming.
What would have happened if I had chosen me then? Would I have still ended up locking eyes with myself in the reflection of the oven door, sliding handfuls of pills down my throat, waiting to float away into the quiet? Would I have still ended up married too young to someone who didn’t love me? But would I have still had my kids? Would I have still found my way through the wilderness and into wholeness? Maybe another path wouldn’t have changed anything or maybe it would have changed everything. This is why shoulds don’t matter— they don’t speak to the unfolding of who we are, and they don’t honor the road we took to get here.
I would give anything to sit face to face with myself then, before the desperate breaking. I wish I could cup my own face, hold my own gaze, and tell her that the leaving isn’t so terrifying, that the world outside the lines is more sacred than we thought, that the swell of freedom isn’t just for us, it’s for them. My kids will taste this air too. We’ll swim out from under the current of divorce together, and we’ll breathe this new air. Whatever else happens in life, we’ll have this one thing: freedom belongs to us. We fought for it. We chose it. We keep choosing it because it’s the only option now.
The thing is, when we’re young, we believe in each other. We hang on tight and hope that someone else will help us touch the sky. We make plans that might never happen, but that feel so real. We dream about independence, and we tell ourselves we’ll take the first
I have left my soul crushed at the staying. I have faced the dark quiet of never being able to breathe deep enough. So, when it finally came time to choose me or the marriage, my heart, or the coldness of being unloved, freedom or someone else’s addiction, I chose to keep driving. I chose me for the first time, but not for the last. Every moment since then has been a choosing.
There are a hundred reasons why I couldn’t keep driving then, and there are a hundred reasons why I couldn’t stay now. I always knew the hard part was always in staying gone. No matter how many times I left I always came back again. I always lost myself again. I always betrayed myself again.
That is where we once were, and this is where we are now because of it. This is where we are now in the awakening. This is, and has always been, good and sacred ground. It’s in the living where we finally unfold our spines and reconcile to what we weren’t brave enough or ready enough for when we were young.
Until I didn’t.
Unbetray yourself. Unwound yourself. Undeny yourself. Whatever it takes, however it opens you, wherever it takes you.
There isn’t a single should that matters anymore. Retrospect is just an altar of where we’ve been, a thorough knowing that is free of shame and regret.
Photography by Saint
when we sit together and you expose your pain something within me heals too we all experience similar things differently â€” Rosie Llewellyn
Golden, you have become such a fierce voice for women in the sharing of your story and your recovery process. What has it been like you for to open up in such an authentic way?
When you hear the word voice as a woman and survivor, what comes up for you?
It's been profoundly healing for me. When I decided to publicly document my healing journey, the only way that felt right for me was to be transparent and honest. At first, I was worried I would scare people, but I thought: If I die, I need these things to be known. My social media became my public diary. I stopped worrying so much about how people would perceive me, or if they would like me or be interested in my journey.
As a child my voice was quite stifled. I was not taught or encouraged to verbally articulate my innermost feelings or my truth in an empowered, supported way. Instead I instinctively expressed my inner voice through the mediums of dance and art, but It wasn't until my 30’s when I developed the courage and skill to speak my truth.
I found the more I let go, shared vulnerably, and spoke my truth, the more people vibrated in and resonated with what I was expressing. I received a flood of messages and responses on my posts. People began privately sharing their most vulnerable secrets with me. We’ve claimed social media as sacred space now. We are healing together, globally. I call it ‘virtual ritual’. It’s an energetic thing. As an artist, I utilize art as medicine. My posts become my body of work. Before I make each post, I pray over it at my altar. Each piece is an expression of Source moving through me. And I have realized the medicine is not just for me, it’s for everyone. What roaring women have been a source of hope and healing for you?
The first time I ever accessed a true Primal Roar was birthing my first child. I was 25. I chose to birth naturally and was initiated into the mother tribe by birthing my son. I chose to feel it all, in its full intensity. There was nothing that could have prepared me for those sensations. I felt like I was giving birth to the entire universe. And I was.
As I think about it, I realize the first few wombyn that come to mind were often quiet and subtle in their fierce roaring: My grandmother, Frida Kahlo, Harriet Tubman, and my best friends (they're hella loud roarers though), Anandamayi Ma, and Jeannine Parvati Baker.
At a certain point, I had to fully release my resistance to the psychedelic intensity and let Source take over. I went deep within and surrendered to the force moving through me. My animal body roared and released lifetimes of stifled energy as I became fully activated in my power. My roaring brought my son through.
As I think of all the many inspirations in my life, I recognize that roaring takes on infinite forms. I am still cultivating the fire of the roar that unapologetically takes up space and commands respect. it was intentionally programmed right out of us since birth.
I never lost the ability to roar since then— It’s only gotten more ferocious.
INTERVIEW WITH GOLDEN DRAKE
For me, voice is the communication of the Inner Divine Animating Presence of Self/God/Source. The voice must be expressed, as it is part of the soul’s purpose in incarnating. The voice comes through the modalities of the arts and uninhibited primal expression. When the voice is stifled, the Life Force is stifled. When the voice is empowered, the Life Force can flow through with ease and bring the medicine that needs to come through. Tell us a story about a time you roared.
Someone hands you a microphone to tell the world of women —these are the last words you will ever say. What are they?
If you could give your 12- year old self a message, what you say? First, I would hold her and hug her for a very long time. I would stroke her hair and cuddle a kitten with her. I would then take her to the ocean, where we’d swim and giggle like mermaids in the waves for hours, and then as we lay in the sand, salty and happy. I would say: "oh my beloved innocent, beautiful child, it’s ok that they don’t understand you, or see you. They simply don’t get it. You’re riding an entirely different wave, my love. Your ultra-sensitivity and creativity are your superpowers. Cultivate them with devotion. It doesn’t matter how odd everyone thinks you are. It’s safe to follow your heart. Source is eternally holding you, even when you feel alone, even in the darkness, even when you are scared. You are loveable, you are Love! Your body is a temple, deserving respect. You are on a sacred, and you will help many people. You are here to learn to love yourself and to help others learn to love themselves. No matter what, never ever give up. When you are surrounded by darkness, remember you are the light."
Golden Drake is an artist, breast cancer survivor, dancer, and spiritual teacher.
INTERVIEW WITH GOLDEN DRAKE
Remember the truth of who you truly are. You are not this body, this gender, this orientation, this nationality or ethnic background. You are not your job title, career path, your name, or your persona. You are Source materialized in a human body, having an earthly experience. You are an infinite being having a finite experience, playing the role of a human being. You are on a sacred mission. Your only real job here is to learn how to love yourself unconditionally, which occurs as we awaken from divine forgetfulness. As we unravel from illusion, programs, and constructs, we remember our true divine nature. Each of us is holy, divine, and sacred. When we remember this, we can’t help but be in our true nature, which is infinite love. and once we recognize our cup is so full it’s spilling over, we then automatically joyously beam infinite love to everyone indiscriminately. This is the work. This is the healing. I am you. You are me. We are god.
By Jenny Wade
How does the hollow girl lament? How does one find the essence of nothing-ness? There are no words for the despair of the V A C U U M
The empty girl opens her mouth And there is nothing there Nothing profound No lyrics that stun Just space The space of shock The blank space that comes After the car crashes After the deer Hits the windshield White Blank Floating Suspended in air Every cell holding its breath She doesnâ€™t have substance So, I create an altar of air Nests and clouds and smoke and empty thought bubbles And bow to the spaces between the spaces Where She gasped at the horror But I never saw the crash Just the blinding aftermath The stars dancing in my head. A beautiful distraction A blissful dream between dreams A cushion to violence Confusion rots under the surface of the blank Space
Colleen Tracey | S U N D R E S S
Colleen Tracey | W O M E N A R E S A C R E D
By Tara Soria
When you first find your own small voice, tucked away in your being, buried deep under the wreckage of all the shit that has piled on top of it to the point you forgot it was there, it will come as a whisper.
I know you held it in so long, so sing it all, my dear. Let it flow out of you until your spirit runs clear. This is when you will hear the voice of your soul, as pure and authentic as it came, before being imprinted upon by experience.
That small voice will find you in a moment where you used to stay silent, and it will say not this time. It will beckon you to rise, to speak up for yourself. It will come through shaky legs, teary eyes, knotted throat, anxious feelings.
And oh, what glorious sounds. To hear the birds in the morning, the laughter of a child, the wind through the trees, the gurgling that signals the pot of coffee is ready for consumption, crashing waves upon a shore, and the voice of a woman who dreams bigger than the stars.
Then once you are aware of its presence, a frenzy will begin. You will see how it has been germinating all along, and you will delight in it rising to greet the surface. You will feed your voice every chance you get, and it will grow stronger and surer. As you begin to exercise this, you will start to find your truth, and then you will feel you must speak.
Who speaks of where she is headed with a twinkle in her eye and a crystal clear vision, because she is free of the weight of where she has been.
You must speak of all the shit that tried and failed to break you. You must speak so that all those who are still held prisoner by their memories, their scars, and their mindset, will see that there is a different way to live life. Slowly as this sets in, your voice becomes louder, clearer than ever before.
And I think, if you just use your voice to speak your dreams and joy and magic into existence, then youâ€™ll finally hear the voice you were always meant to in the first place.
This is when you find that you are not where you used to be. And even when you tell your story, loud and proud and without shame, still in your voice are the echoes of those that are not your own.
What makes you roar now?
Bradley, you are passionate about body love and acceptance, to the point you have created a whole brand to support that message. If you could give a message to all women who feel insecure and defeated in their bodies, what would you tell them?
What makes me roar is the confidence that I have now, not caring anymore about what others think of me and my body, and seeing the young girls today standing up for themselves and taking advantage of all the amazing platforms like For Women Who Roar. How my brand, Iman Evette, and many others are not just here to sell clothes, but showcase real women, show the love when it comes to women's bodies, and how dope we all are in all of our amazing shapes and sizes.
The message that I would give to all the women who feel insecure and defeated when it comes to their bodies is simply, don't. I know we live in a world where certain body types are praised more than others, and at times as women we feel like if we don't fit that mold we’re not worthy. That’s all BS! Embrace the body you have, look in the mirror and say, "I am enough!" Embrace your flaws, because we all have them. Your body is unique to you, and that right there is the gold! You spoke about being, “bullied for being the dark skin kid, the chubby kid, the kid with acne,” and that the Beauty Standard in LA was something you felt you couldn't fit into. How did you begin to change the beauty standard in your own mind? What was the process of learning to love yourself for who you are and who you would become? This is a loaded question for me. It took me years to change the beauty standard in my mind. After getting bullied for a while, I decided in middle school that I had enough of people telling me what they don't like about me and what I needed to change. I was simply fed up, and it clicked in my head at 13-years-old that I am me, and I can't change that—and if people have a problem with that, I didn't care anymore. Then I started pointing out what I did like about myself more which was (and still is) my smile, how I laugh, my beautiful dark skin, my thick hair, my full lips, and so on. Over the years I kept this mentality up, and the positivity brought me to amazing friends who helped me keep that positive love and energy up all these years. Tell us a story about a time in your life when you felt like you didn't have a voice, a time where your voice felt diminished and small.
You have a chance to go back in time and encourage your 10-year-old self. What would you say to her?
When I was in elementary school, I was so shy and quiet. I would just sit there and let people talk and tease me. Thinking about it now, I hated that I did that. I would sometimes just go somewhere secluded at school and cry it out and get myself together, or I would be crying when I got home. That was the worst.
I would give my 10-year-old self a hug and say: “You will be fine.” I would tell her to love herself more and speak up, even if you don't feel like it's enough. A small start is a start. 26
What woman has most impacted your life and why? My mom has impacted my life in so many ways. Not only is she responsible for birthing this fabulous kid (I know she would eye roll at that comment), but she has always told me and my sisters how beautiful we areâ€”inside and out. She is so smart and has enlightened me on so many things, from life to my business. When you have a supportive system at home, it helps so much when it comes to your confidence and everyday life. My mom is one of my biggest supportive rocks and she's made me a better person.
INTERVIEW WITH BRADLEY MITCHELL
Bradley Mitchell is the founder of Iman Evette, an inclusive fashion clothing brand supporting women of all shapes and sizes. Bradley was born and raised in Los Angeles, felt the impact of the beauty standard as a plus size woman, and launched her own business to create a safe space for everyone to enjoy fashion, creativity, and love.
By Jenny Ravikumar
My right arm slowly goes numb Night After Night After Night Sleeping with a tiny drunken octopus who I love so deeply, I fear it may kill me watching his precious face as he falls into me
Empty Heart Broken vows Broken heart Broken promises Yet also broken eggshells I no longer need to walk on
Starting alone Both of us knowing heâ€™ll tuck into my right arm before sunrise Hand on my heart
Deep breaths Strength Yoga Overcoming the addiction of codependency
Right Over My Heart
My right hip holds my toddler perfectly as we balance life and groceries on the way from the car My right arm holds him at night I am stronger now
Digging his tiny fingernails into my flesh, both of us begging for sleep
My heart beats every day for the right side of my arm For his heart and our new life as we explore this world together
Day one: His tiny body reached for mine He slid out and up to my heart, knowing I would be his only protector Weâ€™ve been on this journey together ever since
Yet there is a hole in the left side of my heart It heals It heals It heals In time
My left arm is bare My ring finger has not even a trace of suntan where the promise once stood A tinge of mixed energy and emotions So much love and promise 28
By Alisha Hiebert
I’ve always had a story to tell. Loud and unapologetic, I’ve been a certified shit-disturber for as long as I can remember. I have a tendency to rock the boat. I’ve always had a roar in my chest. Something loud and rumbling, just beneath the surface. Something I never knew how to give voice to, so I stuffed it down and told myself to be quiet and swallow my roar. The first moment I roared it vibrated through my veins like fire. I had felt the sparks before but never let it tear through me like a wildfire igniting, but this time I did. This time I had something else to fight for. The hospital gown pooled around my feet as I studied my not-yet-showing pregnant body in the full-length mirror. Sobs caught in my throat, but I muffled them into a towel. They were waiting for me outside, with a gurney ready to take me down to the OR. When I came back upstairs I would no longer be pregnant. They would scrape my uterus clean, delivering my son much before he was ready, before his lungs had even developed enough to cry. They were doing all of this to save my life. And I didn’t understand how something that was saving my life could make me feel like it was ending it.
TO LOVE AND LET GO
I hid in that bathroom, one hand clutching my belly and the other muffling my sobs, knowing the only way out was through, my heart breaking over the injustice of it all. There was a knock on the door. They wanted me to hurry up. I felt it. The fire. The roar. All bubbling up inside of my chest. I told them to wait. I wasn’t ready. I would never be ready, but I wasn’t ready now. All I needed was more time, and I didn’t know what for. The only thing they couldn’t give me, give my son, was more time. “You need to stop,” the voice said from the other side of the door.
And I couldn’t contain it, and I didn’t want to. With a strength I didn’t know I possessed I hissed out the words, “You stop. I am allowed to break over this. And I need a fucking minute.” And I did. I let the sobs rip through my body, and then I inhaled the biggest gulp of pure oxygen into my body. I commanded myself to be still, for my heart rate to slow and my body to relax. I didn’t have anything else to offer my child, but I could give him this. Last moments that were calm and peaceful, so he wouldn’t have to know the horrors that awaited us. I told him in every way I could that I loved him, that I was sorry, that he was going to be just fine. And then I let him go.
M A W T H E R H O O D Jocelyn Skillman
A SOFT PLACE TO FALL The Dance & Journey of Trauma Healing, Motherhood, and Resilience By Zabie Yamasaki
The capacity of the human spirit to heal in the midst of the unfathomable is something that continues to take my breath away.
far too small to carry a pain so large. I fell into my husband’s arms. The tears turned to numbness. I felt worthless. Our baby boy had died. And I would have to deliver him. The journey to motherhood had wrecked me. This was compounded by the way in which I moved through the world as a survivor of sexual trauma. Consistently feeling a loss of control, carrying feelings of shame and blame, and feeling like my body had betrayed me. In the months that followed the passing of my first son, I cried enough tears to fill an entire ocean. I stretched, made art, rested, did nothing, sat in silence, felt the sun and let it thaw my grief, let the ocean heal me, read, journaled through pain, went for long walks, held my doggies, asked for help, took many things off my plate, learned who really loved me, let go of guilt, let go of my constant need to overachieve, let myself be taken care of, held my husband tighter, witnessed true heartbreak in my parents’ eyes, embraced my pain and vulnerability, and more than anything, I learned about the depth of a mother’s love.
This body has survived sexual violence. It’s grown two little boys over the span of a year and a half: one angel who stayed for six of the sweetest months I’ll ever know, and one rainbow who came into the world in the most peaceful of ways last October. He re-wired the immensity of trauma I had been carrying within my body the moment he laid on my chest…thriving, breathing, and beautiful. This body has also known the most remarkable love and consistently felt held, lifted, and supported. I’ve struggled to love this body through loss, but this body is healing. This body holds light and dark. The past decade has been a series of highs and lows that have undoubtedly shaped the struggle that is resilience, growth, and healing. This journey has been one of deep work to uncover the layers of trauma within every cell of my body to find my way to the light. Of being connected with many resilient souls and survivors who have helped me navigate the darkness and showed me that I have never, and will never, be alone. It’s taught me to have the courage to embrace the most vulnerable moments of pain, to let myself feel it all, and to never lose sight of who I am and everything I’ve envisioned or dreamed of in this life.
I’ve learned so much from my complex relationship with grief. Grief is palpable. It is heavy. When you let it in instead of suppressing it, it teaches you things about yourself that you never knew. My grief has revealed the depth of my heart. This pain has shown me that I can put my pieces back together differently, and that that is okay. My grief has softened me. It’s helped me learn the preciousness and beauty of life. My grief travels with me on my yoga mat and makes its way into each intention I set. It tests me and shows me my strength in the most intense moments of despair. My grief is with me when I smile and when I have innocent moments of joy and of peace. Grief taught me that it could exist in my body
Living through Loss: The Visceral Experience of Grief I will never forget the moment on June 26, 2016, when the nurse looked at me with tears in her eyes as she reached for my hand and said, “I am so sorry, sweetheart. His heart is no longer beating.” I was 26 weeks pregnant when I felt my heart shatter inside of me. My heart felt
simultaneously with joy. It reminds me of what I’ve lost and my capacity to work through. My grief has taught me that healing has no timeline. My grief has taught me great love. It’s taught me that both can exist deeply in my heart. And that both are essential to surviving. There’s no getting over. There’s getting stronger. On one particularly difficult day when I didn’t feel like I could go on, I took a pregnancy test. The two little lines stared at me. With pee still on the stick, I ran to the living room to share the news with my husband. Both of us filled with joy and excitement as well as anxiety and fear.
has been a tremendously healing and restoring experience for me. My past traumas have challenged my worthiness, my sense of control, and have made it difficult for me to see my body as a safe and sacred place. There are days I don’t really know what coming home to my body looks like, when it has been a vessel of betrayal. The memories are visceral, but he helps me move through the numbness, the lack of connection, and the feelings of blame. He affirms the magic and awe of feeding and nourishing him from this body. The one that has experienced unfathomable pain, but is strong and capable of developing new frameworks that are grounded in healing, growth, and resilience. He has helped me reshape this journey. He allows me to realize what my body can do even when it feels weak. And most importantly, he has given the pieces of me that have been pierced new memories.
A SOFT PLACE TO FALL
When There is Rain, Look for Rainbows I will never quite know how I survived my subsequent pregnancy after stillbirth. Somedays it was learning how to breathe minute to minute. What I do know is that as I moved through the unfathomable anxiety. I trusted, believed, hoped, loved, and surrounded myself with those who truly made me feel seen.
The Body Remembers: Reclaiming Healing through TraumaInformed Yoga
The moment my second son came into the world was the first day I had taken a real breath in a very long time. My husband placed a lavender cloth on my forehead. Three pushes later, with "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" playing in the background, Hudson made his entrance into this world. He is almost nine months now. Every day I look at him and think, “Is he really mine?”
I carry my most painful and traumatic experiences in my body. The body remembers. There are still some places that are so fragile and tender that they require extra nourishment, support, and intentionality. Each day is a recommitment to loving myself more fully and paying attention to what my body is communicating to me about what I need. Living with trauma can make it really difficult to access parts of ourselves that may feel frozen, numb, or even too painful to explore. But our inner wisdom is powerful. It speaks loud and it’s hard to ignore. When I listen and appreciate the beauty of my needs— that’s when the magic happens. Yoga has been instrumental to my journey of trauma healing.
He is my dream come true and my healer. As I reflect now on the very early postpartum days I remember vividly the cherished nights that turned into days, and the days that turned into nights with him falling asleep only on my chest. I would rock him, stare at him, and tears would roll down my face and fall on him because some moments I just couldn’t believe he was actually here. I would spend entire days in my bathrobe—face planting on the couch at 9 pm, exhausted, sleep deprived, and hungry, only to wake up five minutes later and gaze at photos of him on my phone while he slept. He has the most scrumptious and precious little smile that has truly expanded the edges of my heart and brought the joy back into my life.
As a survivor of sexual trauma, I spent years searching for a panacea. I suffered quite viscerally from the impact of my trauma. It manifested in overwhelming anxiety, GI issues, flashbacks, nightmares, toxic relationships, overworking, the list goes on. It wasn't until arriving to the practice of yoga that I realized that reclaiming choice with my body was going to be an ongoing process for the rest of my life. It was within the four corners of my mat that I began to realize I could protect my energy and my peace, and I gradually began to embrace pockets of relief in joy—no matter how fleeting. My practice helped me
I experienced something I can only describe as magic when feeding Hudson from my own body. Breastfeeding
Healing in Community: The Journey through Postpartum as a Survivor
find words for my feelings and also gave me permission to move forward when words could not do justice. The practice allowed me to feel lighter, more balanced, and grounded. It allowed me to take control of my healing in profound ways. It empowered me to find a therapist that was a good fit for me and to continue to develop practices and rituals to support my healing. Yoga can certainly never take away anything that has happened to me, but it reminds me that I am worthy. It reminds me that I can grieve and thrive simultaneously. That I am so much more than the things that have been done to me. That my light is far brighter than my dark. As a woman of color and a survivor, it has taken me years to truly see myself and believe that my voice matters. This has all been a part of my practice.
What I know for sure is that we are not meant to navigate through this life and the many storms we will inevitably incur alone. We are not meant to survive from trauma or navigate motherhood alone. Trauma makes it really easy to isolate ourselves. To close off and hide from the world because sometimes there just doesn’t feel like another way. But powerful things can happen in community. When we lean in and reach out for the support we need. When we begin getting comfortable asking for what we need and relishing in the beauty of caring for ourselves. When trusting in the fact that we are doing our very best and that we are worthy of connection and reminders that, in the words of Brittin Oakman, “Even on our lonely days, we are not alone.”
Turning Pain into Passion: Transcending Sexual Trauma through Yoga
I remember when in the midst of the fog, overwhelm, joy, and magic in the early weeks of Hudson’s life, a dear friend of mine texted me. She told me that I was allowed to experience all of the normal feelings, emotions, and challenges of what it means to have a new baby despite the loss and all I had been through. I remember just seeing the words and stopping in my tracks. I burst into tears. I finally gave myself permission to be gentle with myself in the intensity of all that mothering entails. I really see the permission to return to ourselves and our innate needs as a greater framework to showing up and living more fully. When we suppress what we truly feel, our body responds. And by rejecting our inner voice, we tend to get sick, we feel small, we might engage with people or work environments that do not serve us, etc. What might happen if we didn’t confine ourselves and our voices to systems and situations that are not for us? I think the beauty of women roaring would be heard and felt across the world. So, go ahead, give yourself the permission. To be you exactly as you are. And to know that you are enough— today and always.
A large portion of my professional roles in higher education settings have entailed giving presentations on sexual trauma. I have intersected with thousands of survivors in my decade, plus of doing this work. There have been some themes that have come up consistently. Many survivors have shared that they were looking for something tangible. Something that allowed them to process the painful experiences and triggers that were arising every single day. Many survivors also shared that they did not feel comfortable with talk therapy. Due to things like stigma around seeking mental health services and cultural barriers, it is critical we increase accessibility and create different entry points for survivors to seek support. I knew I wanted to develop a soulful program that spoke to the language of the body. Something that allowed survivors to truly be seen for their diverse identities and experiences. Transcending Sexual Trauma through Yoga started as a small vision and has now grown in ways beyond my imagination. I am now working with over twenty college campuses and trauma agencies in helping them infuse trauma-informed yoga into the scope of their work with survivors, training yoga teachers and mental health professionals across the world in teaching from a trauma-informed lens, and teaching yoga to survivors in a variety of different settings. I am continually amazed and humbled by this work.
By Megan Febuary 39
I made the mistake of telling a man I wanted to make art with menstrual blood, and he looked at me like I was crazy. He doesn’t know how it feels to pour. That hot wetness between my thighs. How it shows up monthly like a desperate mother. Still I’m surprised. Every single time. That she comes knocking. Scraping at my door frame like some wild animal. And I let her in. Again. Though she hates and loves me simultaneously. This wild dance I let her lead for short periods of time.
He doesn’t know the stain after stain after stain. On panties. On bedsheets. On body after unwanted sex. This literal, visceral, and metaphorical stain that’s been waking me up at night for the past 25 years. Over and over and over again. He can’t hear society’s shaming to put it away. That scarlet garment dipped in bleach and dissolving so long there're holes in it. Speaking of, I need to go shopping for underwear as black as the last day I bleed. So I can camouflage the shame. This is how my body roars. With thick oil red paint that turns to watercolor pink. That I let flow out of me like a fountain. No, I don’t need a paper plug to silence me. I need a bucket. A paintbrush. And a canvas as tall as you to create on.
He can’t know how it feels to bleed. From the inside of a sacred womb. Shedding layers like snakeskin. To make room for new life. Or maybe, NOT.
It tells me I don’t matter in a voice that sounds convincingly like my own most days, I hear this once an hour as if someone has set an alarm clock vibrating through my veins it screams, it whispers, it sneers but it always says the same thing: you don’t matter your hopes, your insights, your strengths none of it matters because no one sees you no one is watching no one is waiting on the other line you are the tree in the forest and no one will hear you fall or watch you rise or witness you weather the storm
it’s you against you against you so get their attention make yourself matter and do this by becoming nothing skin on bones on bones on bones in the absence of substance of muscles and dimples they will marvel at what you once were and then you will matter but only because you are already gone.
Then there’s another voice it’s the voice of my daughter when she wakes in the night she says, you matter I have to matter, to be her mother and for her to be my daughter and if I believe that I don’t matter— that the only way to live is to disappear what does that say about the way she matters? I tell her that her legs matter because they run fast and her brain matters because of all her clever thoughts and that her voice matters when she sings and especially when she yells even at me and that she matters simply because she was born but if I cease to matter everything I’ve ever told my daughter about the way she matters ceases to be true.
and choose the truth where I matter because I matter because I am a mother and a daughter.
So, I battle the voice every hour on the hour on the hour
By Cali Pitchel
Keep Out. This is my home. You are not welcome here. It is invite only, no guests are permitted. Me, only me, I decide who walks through these doors, who wanders these halls. Don't you get it? I own this property, and the law says I can shoot you if you trespass. My mouth is a sawed off shotgun. Step one foot on my body and I will blow your goddamn head off. I learned this from you, you know? This house, and these walls, I built them with blood and tears and "no, please, you’re hurting me." The mortar is your sweat. I architected this home from your gaze, the way you trace my body, my mouth, with your eyes. This is not your fucking mouth. This is not your fucking body. How many times do I have to say no? I told you, I’ll use this goddamn shotgun. There’s no silencer, no silencing. I will make a loud noise, and I will paint my body with your blood. My prize. My war paint.
My eyes are an ocean too deep, and you will drown in these eyes of steel. I wasn’t born with eyes of steel, you know? I was born with the softest eyes. My eyes of metal have been forged by your fingers, by your hands. The ones you used to bruise my sides. I begged you to stop: “You’re hurting me." You didn’t stop. You never stop. When will you stop? How many times must I press my gun to your lips? I take no pleasuring in pulling this trigger. The pleasure you took, you robbed from me. I will wipe the blood from your mouth with my own fingers, and I will taste your steel. Why is there steel in your blood, brother? Who did this to you? Who taught you how to trespass? To turn my soft eyes hard. To provide for me the raw material to build my house of blood and sweat and tears?
Enter this territory at your own risk. I am voice to my power. And my power comes from the mothers and the sisters. I hang their spirits over my door, I burn their sage on my threshold. They are my protectors. The screams of the mothers and the sisters are my alarm, my siren. May their cries pierce your eardrums. May their blood drip from your eyes.
Before coming to San Francisco, I heard a lot about the tech culture. I assumed the whole city worked at Google. I set out to meet some people in the city, in their homes, to learn more about the people in the city. What I found were people who are passionate about living inspiring lives, never settling, and not afraid to be free. Also, I found that their spaces were just as unique as they are. The people of SF are passionately living many lives, taking on many roles, and chasing multiple dreams. Photo Essay by Angelica Vasquez
“I don’t want to feel like a hoe. To some people I’m already a hoe. Depends how you look at it. But to me, it feels like I’m playing with people. I enjoy their company and their giving me money too. They're also people I can call in an emergency situation. ” — Kim, Bartender
“I’ve never wanted to make babies, but I really like kids. I’d really like to get these older kids from the foster system, give them a chance. It’s so fucked up what we do with foster kids. I’m really lucky. No family is perfect. I came from good parents and I’m close to my siblings and my parents are still married. At holidays, all sides of the family come together. It’s a huge thing. I feel like everyone should get to have that. ” — Kim, Sex Worker
“Being manic is superfine. You have all this energy. I don’t get the depression part of bipolar too much. Bipolar is mostly fun for me. Little distinctive, little self-destructive, but fun. Being manic is fun. It just destroys your life, that’s all. You get a lot of energy. You can’t sleep. You tend to spend a lot of money. ” — Kim, Free Spirit
“My plan is kind of like no plan. I feel like I can only plan so much. So far in the year I’ve lived in the van, I’ve based my travel around music festivals. ” — Allegra, Artist
“The best part of living in a van, I’d say, is the ability to just do whatever you want at any time and really just being alone with yourself. When you’re alone in a new place and don’t know anyone, you have to figure out what it is you’re gonna do—and do it. Because it’s just you and you looking back at yourself. So it’s like, who are you and what do you do when you’re not being influenced by anything and everything that has been influencing you your whole life? ” — Allegra, Music Festival Staf
“This is what I want to do. I feel like I can go anywhere, anytime. I feel like I’m living my truest life right now, and I’m just going to continue to develop myself. The more I develop myself, the more things I have to do to be true to that person. So right now I feel like I’m really in the early stage of like my personal growth. I’m 19. I’m going to be 20 next month, so I don’t know what's in store, but I’m just gonna keep going with it. ” — Allegra, Uber Eats Driver
“Painting involves self-improvement. It’s kind of meditation, likeif I’m painting from a picture, I can just focus on it. My mind is kind of restful when I’m doing it. Whereas when I’m doing anything else, it’s not mentally stimulating enough for my mind to relax. But while I’m painting, I can actually focus on the thing. Because you have to be so focused and it’s something I really care about and enjoy. It comes naturally to me. My mom is a painter too. So it’s more meditative than it is about producing something. ” — Emily, Model
“I’m not afraid of spiders or heights, or anything like that. I’m not really afraid of death. Pain doesn’t sound like fun, but I wouldn’t really say that I’m afraid of it. I think wasting my life is something you could say is a fear. Like, I don’t want to waste the energy I have. But that also comes from motivation and inspiration. It really doesn’t come from a place of fear. It comes from excitement. ” — Emily, Artist
“I think it's two things. One figuring out what you want to do because that’s hard, especially with technology being the way it is. You’re exposed to so many things. So figuring out what you want and then also believing you can do it, because a lot of people don’t realize that they’re the only thing stopping them from doing what they want to do. You know, some people tell me, ‘I wish I could paint like you,’ but they never pick up a paintbrush. You can, you just have to try. It’s not going to be easy. You know I think that people have this mentality that something is just going to appear in their lives that’s going to make them happy, or that’s going to give them the talent they want. That’s not the way it works. You have to create your own reality. You have to pick out what you want to do, and then you have to go out and do it. ” — Emily, Cook
“The voices in my head feel like I’m at a debate. It’s like there is a hugely confident woman that I have in me, and sometimes I just get really into my shell and it tends to happen in long-term relationships with stupid men. I just get unsure of myself. I think a lot of women can relate to that, where you just lose yourself. That voice is kind of going away. I’m definitely a lot more like, fuck it. I feel like everyone gets like that after a long-term relationship. When you reach a point where you’re like 'I don’t give a fuck. I don’t care. I’m done with my insecure young 20’s.'” — Jackie, Accountant
“I write about shit that happens since I have like PTSD. I like to get it out of my chest, all the like shit that like traumatized me when I was a kid. Just write it out so it feels like you’re containing it. Writing is so fucking weird to me, because it’s like I’ve been stuck doing accounting stuff, which served me well but like in my house no one could do art for a living. It pissed my family off. ” — Jackie, Artist
“I dedicated 6 months. No working, just doing art. And that was a little intense. I think that actually scared me away from it, because it just felt like work. It was weird to have social media presence, you know? I had an Instagram account that was, like, up to 3,000 followers or something, and it grew really fast. Even though it was positive, I deleted it because I was like, 'this is crazy.' When I’m doing art now, It feels like it’s not fun. It’s so personal when you’re working on art, but when it becomes exposed to so many people to criticize or whatever, it’s just hard not to think about that while you’re doing art. So I kind of stopped drawing for a while and moved over to writing. ” — Jackie, Free Spirit
“Sometimes being a yoga/meditation teacher and dancer is difficult. I’m still reconciling how to be, like, a sexual person and also be in that role. So I think there’s a part of me that’s, like, always rebelling against the idea of having to be a nun.” — Lauren, Dancer
“I feel the least sexy when I’m dressed up to go out for dinner or something. I feel sexier when I’m, like, in a sports bra and yoga pants or just natural. I’ll wear like Calvin Klein white boy shorts and socks. I like less makeup and no jewelry and keeping it very natural. In some ways you’re more vulnerable. It’s easier to get on stage in a full-on costume with lots of makeup and false lashes. Whereas, if you’re getting up there, there’s a sense of— it’s you. I think it's attractive to certain people. ” — Lauren, Meditation Instructor
“Learning about yoga and meditation— I don’t know what my life would be like if I hadn’t. It would be an entirely different life if I had never been fortunate enough to learn about that. The biggest shift that I feel like I received from being exposed to yoga and meditation is learning how to be a better person or not to be so attached to how I feel things should be or how I think I should be. Everything is teaching me how to be if I’m willing to see it that way. So I feel like that one shift has made everything since a totally different experience.” — Lauren, Yoga Teacher
“I think if you surround yourself with one person for too long, you don’t grow. And if you’re not growing, you’re dying. I think it’s important to have constant change. Change is a beautiful thing.” — Racheal, Artist
“I was insecure. I needed the approval of my dad. With every person in the world— I don’t care who they are— they needed approval from their mom or dad. They need that. I needed mine from my dad. I sometimes I slip into that, ‘am I good enough?’ thinking. Like a puppy. When the truth is, who the fuck cares if I’m good enough for you? Am I good enough for me? Because my best friend, at the end of the day, is the person looking at me in the mirror.” — Racheal, Stylist
“People are lying all the time about stupid shit, and I’ve realized that I have come to this place where I’ve been completely vulnerable and not lied. I get it. Some of us lie, sometimes about little shit. I try not to even lie about little shit anymore, but you know, here and there. I find people lying to me all the fucking time, and I’m just not big on lying. It’s probably because I’ve been lied to so much. I try to be completely honest with people because I feel I carry so much of other peoples shit. And it can weigh a lot.” — Racheal, Free Spirit
“I dance contemporary modern. I do ballet and jazz as well. But my career goal is to be a modern dancer. It’s so much more dynamic and it’s more organic, natural and true. Dancing is always fun and joyful. I’m always happy when I’m dancing, but when I think about my technique I feel like I suck at it. I demand too much I think.” — Sawako, Student
"Training had a big impact, in a good way and in a bad way as well. I started to be too harsh on myself. Sometimes I have to, because when you’re pursuing your goal, you just have to just demand so much from yourself. And you have to be able to handle that strength. I learned that. I had two teachers, the instructors. They took care of me like my family. They were like my mom and dad, but still teachers. They taught me what strength was. They were the most supportive two people when I was going through a hard time in high school. ” — Sawako, Dancer
“My parents are cool. They don’t really give me any pressure. I appreciate that. I did have a conflict with my dad when I decided to live here. That’s the only thing. Otherwise, they’re like go for it.” — Sawako, Free Spirt
“When I left Bueno Aries, there’s a part in my heart that knew I needed to leave completely. I sold everything I had, literally. I had a house, some furniture, my bed, my shoes, my small souvenirs and all. So I had nothing. That gave me the push to keep going because I had nowhere to go back. But also that lack of grounding is not something that I want to go through again or I don’t need it again. ” — Sol, Nanny
“I use to lie to myself when I gained weight. It was very hard for me to accept the image in the mirror. For this period of time, I was in denial. Not in an unhealthy way. It was just like seeing it and saying, 'oh my god what happened?' That’s not me. Sometimes I went out and would feel this way, but I also knew that I didn’t look the way I thought I did. It was not a lie—it was more of a way of coping or dealing with it. That was always my biggest lie, to not really see what was in the mirror. Now it's just so much easier because I’m not lying in that sense. I’m like, ‘Hi. That’s me and period. That’s okay, I know who am. ” — Sol, Personal Assistant
“There’s one thing that I started doing recently with my inner voice —that is writing. I write, but not my words. I just write what comes from my hand. I’m not using my brain. I’m just writing freely, not concentrating on what's coming out. Then I read what I write and those are not my words. That’s not me writing. There’s something about writing, for me, that's amazing. That’s been very good for me to say. Things like, ‘you know who you are, keep doing it. Time is art and breath is movement.’ Come on the paper, and then suddenly everything feels perfect. ” — Sol, Musician
Poetry By Nica Selvaggio Photography By Alejandra Maria
I don’t know what to say My tongue trapped roaming the inside of my cheek chewed ragged from so many words bitten back Gems clacking against my teeth Mouth sewn shut Because every time I speak vulnerability pouring from my lips tender budded blades You. Break. and suddenly there’s no more space Oxygen sucked dry suffocating my speech But silence is no longer an option We’ve gone too deep Unhinge my jaw
Breathe the sea I’ve swallowed the Truth for so long the skeleton key lodged deep in my empty belly Unlock Pandora’s box Locusts flying from my mouth The truth is never pretty but it must Come. Out. Purging secrets from the deep feelings I’ve kept hidden even from myself Courage my companion as I learn how to speak. -- it was always mine to say
I'VE GOT A REAL BAD SWEET TOOTH Anna Leigh Pumpelly
Anna Leigh Pumpelly | I ' V E G O T A R E A L B A D S W E E T T O O T H 75
The bruises on my hips faded, the little cuts between my legs stitched together with new skin. My sore pelvis rested and renewed. Each time my body mended. But I’m still healing from you. I’m still learning how to be at home in my own skin. At times wearing it proudly, at times wearing it like sin. I was told I was wrong to tell you no. It was my duty after all. You spread my legs as I clung to the wall. Your pleasure, they said, was my responsibility. Their lies brainwashed my head, and now it’s taking years to undo what they did. I’m fighting for all the pieces of myself they told me I should have hid. This is my story. This is my truth. And I’m still healing from you.
By Hannah Uiri
Ausha, you are a plus size model, a fashion blogger, and the creator of Black Plus Women. You are sharing such a positive message of confidence and self-love to so many women! At what point did you realize this was what you were passionate about?
Who are the roaring women that have empowered and affirmed you thus far and why? What would you tell them if they were here with us right now? I would have to say the women in my family. I'm so thankful to have women who raised me to be the woman I am becoming today. I would tell them that all the hard work and long nights of dealing with me and my brother was worth it, and that I can't wait to spoil them finally through my success and dedication.
I've always had a heart for people and helping them in any way I can, but when I realized that showing others, especially women, what self- love is, I knew this what I wanted to do for the rest of my life—and as my career. It all began through my blog as well as reaching out to people that are the closest to me and receiving so much positive and uplifting feedback. You recently wrote, “It has taking me a very long time to see the beauty in myself. I can truly say I see the beauty in Ausha. Not what others think or want me to be, but for simply being myself.” Learning to love the girl in the mirror is so hard to do. What’s your secret? How have you learned the art of loving yourself? I think there’s no secret to loving yourself. It is a journey to love yourself for yourself. No one can tell you what you need other than you. I went through so much bullying when I was younger and always had a feeling of not belong in the world. I always felt like I stood out from the crowd because I was "a big fat girl" as the world labeled me. I took that label and made it into diamonds. I made my flaws into something that should be celebrated and not negative. The art of loving myself is having a Creator love me completely through all of my flaws, a Creator that will love me more than any human ever can.
Where do you see yourself ten years from now? I see myself breaking barriers. I see myself removing walls that we have put between all plus size women in shades and sizes. I want to bring black plus women and women of color to the forefront for the world to see—we are here. I see myself having a business that’s truly for the plus size woman of every shade and supporting their individual needs. I see myself becoming my own boss woman.
You are a young entrepreneur speaking a powerful message. What highs and lows have you experienced so far about being a 20-year-old truth teller?
As a black plus size woman pursuing a modeling career, what message would you give your ten-year-old self? I would tell my younger self that life will be tough, but you have to be tougher. You are loved by someone that loves you and all your flaws. You have what it takes to take the world by storm. You have so many gifts that people don't have, so use your gifts to make the world a better place. Stay true to yourself always.
Actions speak louder than words. You can talk about an idea or have debates about what you want to do with your life, but at the end of the day if there’s no action behind them, it doesn’t mean anything. Also, having a plan within plans will always be great, but most of the time you have to let things run their course.
You are a warrior. You are a Queen.
INTERVIEW WITH AUSHA WALLACE
Also, Nadia Aboulhosn has been that woman to me. You know how Beyonce makes you feel when she releases music? Thats how I feel when Nadia has a new blog post or posts an empowering picture on Instagram. When I was in High School, she was the first woman that I ever looked up at in the plus size world. She has made such an impact on my life, and I'm so thankful that she is in the Plus Size Industry, and for reminding me how to love myself as a plus size woman.
ORGA SM By Jen Stella
You. You, who used to make me scream out in pleasure found a way to silence me without me ever knowing my lips were being sewn shut by the hands that used to hold me before my very eyes. As I grew quieter amongst our friends the voices inside my head grew stronger, louder. Leave now; don’t look back; run; tell everyone you know and get out… but even I silenced myself for a while. Sex became robotic and calculated— something I once loved became something I participated in in an attempt to feel close to you again. It never worked. I did not feel seen. I did not feel heard. I couldn’t have felt further apart from you especially when you were inside me. Those voices inside my head kept roaring and one day I snapped and I listened
I ran from you without ever looking back. My words and stories of what had happened slowly started to leak out of me.... they still areâ€” this is one of them. My voice started coming back. It wasn't until a few months and a few different sexual encounters to cleanse you off of my palette later that I even had an urge to attempt to pleasure myself.
I screamed out in ecstasy; something I had not done in so very long, I actually believed I may not be capable of that type of joy anymore. That wasn't just an orgasm. No. That was my voice rushing back in to my being and flooding it with feelings of reclamation and resilience. You may have taken my voice for a while, but I have gotten my scream back.
When I finally did, it was like seeing God before my eyes and I watched the walls I had built against myself fall down and the earth rattle in celebration.
By Stephanie DeLacy 81
For the last five or six years, I have wanted to be a nude model for an artist or art class. I’ve dreamed of my Rubenesque body being sketched, or if I was really lucky, painted. When I lived in Chicago, I reached out to dozens of art schools, workshops, and even individual professors offering my services. I never got a response. Since then, I’ve periodically perused Craigslist to see if anyone was hiring nude models, but that always brought up really creepy posts.
Now I know that I was not fat. My body was hot throughout high school. After my freshman year in college, I started to gain weight. I’ve fluctuated ever since. It’s been a long, mostly boring journey with my body. What I can tell you is that I have spent the majority of the last 10 years hating my body on a bad day and tolerating it on a good day. My beauty always came with a qualifier. In my head, I could not be hot with stomach rolls. When I was looking at the photos during my shoot, my stomach glared at me and I glared back. I thought the same thing to myself that I always say, “God, these pictures would be so hot if I just didn’t have that fat stomach, cellulite, and stretch marks.” I would mentally take an eraser to my stomach to trim it down a few inches, removing any signs of cellulite and stretch marks. Here is a list of things I have thought to myself hundreds of times throughout the years:
Throughout the shoot, Anessa would show me some of the photos on her camera to make sure she was capturing what I wanted. When I first saw some full body photos of myself, I was struck by the size of my stomach. I didn’t realize how far it stuck out, which is an odd thing to not realize, especially since I know that I am at my biggest weight right now. But I tend to have an idea in my head of what I look like that’s much thinner than I actually am, and I usually don’t notice the physical changes until I see a photo of myself—after which I’m always depressed. More than once in my life I have sobbed after seeing a photo of me that showed how big my stomach was.
I would be so hot if I lost 20 pounds. I would be so hot once I start working out every day and get cut. I will be so hot once I do Whole30. I would be so hot if I lost 40 pounds. I will be really hot if I do yoga every day for 90 days. I would be so hot if I lost 60 pounds. I am going to be so hot once I start doing Orange Theory Fitness six times a week. But the pictures Anessa was taking were hot. I was hot. I looked so good. Why did allow my stomach define my beauty?
For my entire life I’ve thought I was fat. At the very least I thought I was chubby and needed to lose weight. In high school, I developed a binge eating habit with fast food. I never gained weight, just a really unhealthy relationship with food. I always thought I was fat because I compared myself to other girls I went to school with, those with prepubescent shapes. I look back now and know that I was never fat. I just had curves. But I felt different. My dance team even had to order a special skirt because no one on the team had ever been my size—I was a size 8.
We’ve been told in America that the white, European woman is the standard of beauty. Historically that means women’s bodies are lean, trim, skinny. In recent years, our society has fetishized women with big hips and butts, like Queen Bey. Liking big butts is not the same as body positivity and fat acceptance. This new standard of beauty is far from inclusive or even obtainable. In the wise words of Tina Fey in her book Bossy Pants, women are expected to have “long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a
I’ve been passively hoping for an opportunity to come up, when I stumbled upon Anessa, a photographer. Anessa’s page featured women of all sizes, shapes, colors, gender identities, CIS, and trans people. Not everyone wore lingerie. The women in her photos wore all sorts of clothing. Her portfolio felt alternative to the traditional boudoir where women give photos to their new husbands (which there is nothing wrong with, but not for me and my purposes). I knew that I wanted her to shoot me.
nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits. The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes.” I started to think about bodies as geometric shapes. I thought, I have a circle on my stomach and the sexy women in magazines, television, and movies have flat lines for stomachs. Why did the line equate to beauty? Why did the circle mean I was ugly or fat or not enough? Why did this difference in shape stop me from fully loving my body? Thinking about bodies as shapes made me realize that there was no logic to my thinking of, “I would be so hot if….” There was nothing stopping me from being hot now. It was just my belief that flat lines are the only shape that can be hot. It’s not true. All shapes are hot. They’re just freaking shapes.
stretch marks from gaining weight rapidly. My belly is full from eating and drinking and having too much fun. I am sexy, and I am strong. To my body: I am sorry that I’ve been so mean to you. More than that, I’m sorry that this won’t be the last time I’ll say sorry. I don’t know if I’ll ever truly accept you. I say I do. Sometimes I think I fully accept you. But I haven’t gotten there yet. I’m so sorry that I’ll probably be mean to you again. When I do, please forgive me. I’m not perfect. But I’m working on it.
For a long time, I’ve been listening and reading to the likes of Lena Dunham, Lindy West, and Roxanne Gay and their body positivity beliefs. I have really, really wanted to be like them. But for whatever reason, I couldn’t love my body. I was still mad at my body for not looking like Jennifer Lawrence or Beyoncé. I have been mean to my body. I’ve talked so much shit about my body. I can’t believe how mean I am to it. I pump it full of fast food and cigarettes and alcohol, and I deprive myself of sleep and peace. And then I tell everyone how disgusting my body is. But now I know that I can still work on my body and believe it’s perfect at the same time. My body is amazing and strong. My body is beautiful. It is Rubenesque. It is big and sexy. I take up space. I fill out dresses—my hips, stomach, legs, and breasts form beautiful, supple curves. My stomach has cellulite and
The pictures were hot because I was hot. I am so happy for every single photo. Not just for the content I can use on my website and Instagram, but because the whole experience allowed me to do something I so badly needed: love my body, unconditionally.
Woman's War By Moriah Avrick
“War isn’t for women,” he says, chuckling. “Women’s bodies…they’re built for bearing children. Women are softer.” And I laugh because he doesn’t know that my body holds both secrets and war wounds.
howling daughter, to roar divinity over her in a reductionist world? This loud body—when I hoisted this tiny female on the curve of my hip and raised my voice for the both of us, a fierce and thundering weapon, a soothing and healing balm; I screamed words like “good” and “sacred” and “holy” and “powerful” and “warrior” and “loud,” because I know now that it is men who do not understand the meaning of war.
This good body—when it was touched in all the wrong ways, and I didn’t know what to say, so I said nothing at all; don’t you know that was a war of the most brutal consequence, a fight I lost, wounded on the battlefield? This sacred body—when it was bullied and shamed for the treasures and mysteries it held, ogled and pressed up against middle school lockers and closet doors, when my voice was drowned out by greedy eyes; don’t you know that saying: “War is hell?” I have swam in its fire.
War is the traumatized survivor, healing, and healing, and healing. War is the woman rattling the chains of “modesty” and “purity” until they shatter.
This holy body—when it came alive around her and I flinched, closed, trembled in the nauseous fear of a tender, unreachable love; when my voice breathed “no” to my own soft heart and it silently crumbled to ash; don’t you understand that the bludgeoning of love is war, and that I was once missing in action?
War is the woman embracing the glory of her sexuality, despite the barrage of sexualization. War is the exhausted woman growing life in her own body for months on end.
This powerful body—when it swelled and ballooned, whispering with life...its sacredness violated by my pastor’s objectifications of my breasts, failing to recognize that this, too, is war; don’t you see, this is a wild charge on a throbbing swell of hate, to dare to grow a new voice for love?
War is the woman laboring for new life, for freedom, for change. War is the fierce, bellowing wolf woman, who keeps watch on the gates of love.
This warrior body—when I bellowed my voice over sterile walls and chilled bones with my display of a vibrating, feminine battle cry, the truth of a mother laboring through the fight; can’t you grasp that this is the meaning of a holy war, to be a vessel for my
My very soul is a battleground for abuse and expectation, and my voice is roaring healing over it all.
BALLET RECITALS By Natasha Olivera
First position And plie. Second position And relevé. And plie. And salute. Every night I cry myself to sleep tears that no one sees no one hears always when I’m alone, in the dark, the tears just drop, without provocation, without reason. He would come into my room at night in the dark the fan in the window whirling round and round. As kids we would yell into the fan AAAAAAAAA!!!!! We would laugh deep children belly laughs as the sound of our voices vibrated. Don’t stick your fingers in there, or they’ll get chopped off! We laughed deep children belly laughs. And plie. 88
It’s Friday night. Performance night. Her little pink-covered feet pitter patter, pitter patter, up the stairs to her Lolo’s apartment. Standing at the front door in her pink leotard she softly taps on the door. Tap tap tap. The butterflies in her stomach dance around. Flapping their wings. Bat bat bat. She’s expected. The door opens and a warm, soft glow pours out onto her. What a sight to see! The butterflies spin round and round. The stage is set, the lights are dimmed. Only the light from a table lamp shines on the carpeted stage of the living room. Her Lolo sits in his big comfy chair with maté in hand, ready for the evening’s performance. She stands poised in the middle of her carpeted stage, in her pink leotard, all eyes on her, butterflies spinning, waiting for their cue. The music begins, and the little girl in the pink leotard begins to move.
The crickets chirp through the fan blades, he says I’m coughing. Take this. The medicine is hot and burns my throat. I am no longer in my body. In Gatsby, Nick says, “I was within and without.” I get it I float above them I see her I see him I see what he does to her. And plie.
Every night I cry myself to sleep tears that no one sees no one hears always when I’m alone, in the dark, the tears just drop, without provocation, without reason. Her father is dressing her getting ready to go out. From above I watch her A little girl of 6 years old. Why weren’t you wearing any panties? He asks her. You took them off papi, she answers. Shhhhh. That’s our little secret. And plie. Every night I cry myself to sleep And every night she would get down on her knees to pray. Our father who art in heaven. If I should die before I wake. Please let me die before I wake. The door opens. I can smell him. Everybody has a different smell. The passion lady representative with her vibrators and sex education tells us this. Something about pheromones and it’s what attracts people to us. Basically, we are attracted to someone’s scent. I hate his scent. I can still smell it stuck in my nostril hairs. And plie. 89
Every night I cry myself to sleep tears that no one sees no one hears always when I’m alone, in the dark, the tears just drop, without provocation, without reason. Under the covers my body clenches up in fetal position, in my little pink nightgown with the white lace the fan whirls round and round. I feel him standing over me he touches my shoulder sits on the bed.
And plie. The little girl in her pink leotard in the middle of her carpeted stage with her hands pressed together over her head stands on her tippy toes and pirouettes around and around with a smile on her face as her loving Lolo looks at her with love and claps his hands cheering her on. And the little girl in her pink leotard kept on dancing, and gave the performance of her life. Last position Plie. Bow.
Her eyes fixated on the wooden framed prayer hanging on the wall. Of a little white blonde girl in a pink nightgown kneeling at her bed praying to a God that would never save her, never protect her. She pressed her hands tighter together because maybe if she pressed them harder that meant she was praying harder and if she was praying harder then he would listen to her prayers. But every night she cries herself to sleep because he doesn’t hear, he doesn’t see, he never answered her prayers praying that if she would die in her sleep, that the Lord would take her soul. And oh! how she prayed she would die in her sleep and he would take her soul.
glue, tape, and string
Angry I feel angry Like punching some Lost forlorn memory of shivering loneliness And an ever-present reminder that Iâ€™m not worth it Angry and sad Compassionate and cuntly I will eat you alive Yet sew your wounds shut I am broken I am taped and glued and strung together And pieces of me keep breaking off more and more Until I donâ€™t think I can fall apart much more But somehow I am reglued, retaped, and restrung together
By Briana Griffin
Grace & Peace
Take my darkness, take my light and wrap it in your love. Show me the way back to my own hidden wholeness. Keep returning me here. When I wander away looking for some other drink to quench my longing for belonging, bring me back to the well within that never runs dry. To the body I always belong to. Meet me at this well and look at me with eyes love. Remind me it's safe to speak my truth. Promise me what only you can promise me and hold me against your sacred beating heart until I believe you.
By Morgan Day Cecil
By Rachel Marie White
“That isn’t what happened,” she said. And for years I believed her. Believed that I had gotten the punchline of my own story wrong. I must have been confused. Misinterpreted the situation. He didn’t mean to hurt me. He would never hurt me. She was right. She had to be right. Because she was my mother.
I peeled the heavy blanket of denial off of me. My life was not the Christian-American fantasy my mother said it was. I did not belong here. I did not belong with these people who had hurt me and called it love. These people who had taught me to enable abuse and called it “turning the other cheek.” These people who had manipulated me into silence with religious guilt and called it salvation.
I learned to distrust my own perception of reality. I couldn’t rely on my own judgment. My mind was not a safe place for me. My emotions were a threat.
When I told my story, my real story, for the first time, my family lashed out. “Stop telling lies,” they said. “We love you.”
And so I lived my life with invisible hands around my throat. All of the words I wanted to speak were choked and censored until I completely forgot who I was. I became numb. Feigned happiness was a glossy overlay covering the truth of my being so that I couldn’t even see or hear myself anymore. I became the image of who she wanted me to be and believed it was real.
Part of me wanted to crawl back underneath that blanket. Wanted to hide. Wanted to believe them. But I couldn’t. I loosed that invisible grip around my throat. I found my voice again. And it was loud. And it was clear. I couldn’t ignore it anymore. Couldn’t suppress it anymore. I told them, “no.”
But then my body began to fail me. I couldn’t get out of bed. Every movement was a battle of sheer will. The doctors called my condition chronic, but the word chronic began to feel like forever. A painful, unrelenting fatigue penetrated my entire being so that I couldn’t get away from myself. I felt trapped inside my own body and began to resent it, seeing my body as separate from myself. My prison. My enemy. For surely it was attacking me.
And I kept saying “no” to what no longer served me. Started saying yes to what did. I kept choosing my truth. Kept choosing myself. Kept choosing my freedom. Now I’m alive. I’m real. I’m learning what love actually looks like. What I actually look like. I’m healing. I’m getting to know myself, and I like her better than the illusion my mother painted.
I tried to run away from it. Tried to numb the pain, but that made my body rage even louder until finally I couldn’t ignore the messages I was receiving. My body was screaming at me to WAKE UP. To come back to my truth, to remember who I am. What’s the point in living if the life you’re living is a lie? My body wasn’t my enemy. It was a reflection, a mirror of the pain I felt in my soul and had suppressed.
Here, in the air, lies your life and I am searching for you. Sometimes I look for the reason why I am my mother's daughter. I will never have a daughter because I know what its like to want more. At night, when the window beckons me, I see rooftops and dark sky and they seem a little bored so I scream for their purpose and finally feel as though I was good for something. Absence of a pair of arms has destined my search to go no further than that. Some days are quieter than others and my mother doesn’t know how quiet it gets after I scream. Sore throats don’t take away from the sky’s beauty. One week brings one life flowing from one core to the next. I am a struggling threat ready to show my insides to whoever is around. Create snowflakes with these cigarette ashes and take back your knocking on my door because it shatters me. And then I had a daughter. As a dandelion turns to seed, a sore throat blew them away. The wind will catch them And carry them up to the sky. Illustration & Poem By Jennifer Caviola
I AM NOT
I am not free until I can hear my voice and not curl my nose I am not free until I can hear my voice and not feel hot with shame I am not free until I can hear my voice in a recording and not criticize and demean And not say you dumb dumb broken thing I am not free until I no longer cringe
I am not free until I let my thoughts and opinions flow —until I speak without self-censor —until the filter is decimated I am not free until I sing in all the keys—uninhibited in all the keys I am not free until the second guessing is eliminated until the doubts subside and release from the fringes I am not free until your voice no longer dictates how I hear mine I am not free until your opinions no longer matter god knows I have been fighting to be free damn if I haven’t been trying to shove you—to be free but then someone asks me, “What do you think?” and “What is your story?” And I freeze
I remember how you told me sweet girls don’t have thoughts
I remember you dissecting my ideas with such precision I didn’t even detect the invasion and fuck if I don’t find myself triggered I am not free until I am not triggered I am not free until I can see that this is my courage I am not free until I can trust my inner wisdom I am not free until my quirks and stylings are embraced (by me) I am not free until the guilt evaporates I am not free until the heat from my breath And fuck if I’ll let you have me Even if I’m broken I’d-rather-die-broken-than let you have me. And maybe you thought I’d twist into oblivion Maybe you hoped I’d keep shrinking until I was—dragged—and wind And this is my voice—hear it—I won’t be buried and so I keep rising until I am free
By DeAnza Spaulding
I remember you telling me that my blouse was one button too many undone
FINDING MY ROAR
THROUGH MISCARRIAGE AND GRIEF By Audrey Sutton
We are all in different seasons of our life. No matter where you’re at on your path, you are not alone. We are in this journey of life together, through our struggles, our stories, and our connection. Here’s my story of experiencing trauma and despair on my journey back to hope and joy. Jake and I were married in October 2016, and we got pregnant right away. We were ecstatic, but life took a turn when, at 11 weeks, the doctor couldn’t find a heartbeat. We left that room in shock. I fell to my knees in the hallway bawling with my husband holding and rocking me.
Basically, my body was confused and thought I was still 5 months pregnant. When the doctor said that the grape-like growths might be cancer, I was sick to my stomach. As if the miscarriage wasn’t bad enough, now we had to deal with potential cancer and the possibility that we might not be able to have children. So, the doctor performed another D&C surgery to remove the new tissue growth and said the lab would test the tissue, ascertain if it was cancerous, and they would start me on chemotherapy if necessary. I was on the verge of depression. My body was a mess because of the hormones, and I didn’t have anything to show for it. I felt sad, unworthy, and alone. I had placed hefty expectations on myself to get my body and attitude back to “normal,” but I felt life kept pushing me down each time I tried to get up. I felt inadequate as a woman.
Our miscarriage was caused by a partial molar pregnancy, a rare abnormality caused by 23 extra male chromosomes – that is two sperm and one egg. After a painful and traumatic D&C surgery, i.e. surgical abortion, to remove the embryo, I had to have blood tests every other week for six months to monitor my hCg hormone levels for any abnormal cell growth.
With perfect timing, I discovered the poem, "The Guest House" by Rumi. The poet explains that we should welcome each guest, because they all bring a gift. But no one really wants to welcome sorrow and suffering. Last year I definitely hosted unwanted and uninvited guests that stayed with us for 12 months. Instead of closing, I tried to stay open and learn from them.
My hCg levels began to decline, and I hoped my body would bounce right back—but it didn’t really work out that way. Something was off, because I was gaining weight even though I was working out and eating well. After eight weeks of tests, a specialist discovered an apricot-size growth in my uterus from leftover placenta.
tough surrender, quieting my voice of scarcity and tuning into my truth. I constantly had to let go of attachment to the outcome and trust the wisdom of my womb to heal as it needed to. I learned to lean into faith that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Faith that it will all work out — however it is supposed to. Faith that we are watched over. Faith that we will find joy again. This year has been a journey through harsh terrain that has left me with scars, and pain, and lessons learned. From maiden to mother, I emerge stronger, not only for me but also for my future daughter. Broken and patched up parts are now healed back to whole, and I am home to myself again. I roar, but in a whisper, a knowing, mixed with a little faith and grace. A roar isn’t always a shout at the top of a mountain you just conquered. Sometimes a roar is a whisper, a nudge, a little hug, a surrender. Your roar is whatever brings you back to your heart, your soul, your home.
Fortunately, the uninvited growth was not cancer. Even so, my hCg levels had to be monitored for 6 more months before we could get a green light to try to get pregnant again. One and a half years later, I am happy to tell you that we are 6 months pregnant. Since we had such a traumatic experience, my inner dialogue can quickly move towards fear. I continue to practice faith and surrender. It is a constant practice. We must get quiet enough to hear it. When dealing with grief, you can’t just brush your feelings under the rug. You must feel your feelings fully in order to move through them from your highest self with grace, patience, and love. Be gentle with yourself as you take time to heal. It is through the practice of surrender that I was able to lean into my own compassion and self love. It was a year of
In this poem, Rumi shows us that the entirety of our human experience is a valuable portal to new awareness.Each guest, wanted or unwanted, has something to offer. When you can stay open to that gift, accept and learn from each feeling and experience, you can then heal your broken parts, expand, grow, and evolve your soul to bring you back to wholeness.
You didn’t ask if you could take what was mine, You only told me that it was sexy and fine. My ‘no’ it fell on hollow ears, What you took would change me for the coming years.
WHAT I HAVE PLANNED
I told you from the start that I was not game, You looked at me and I knew I would never be the same. I kept trying to tell you what this was not, When your reply whispered into my ear was “it’s fine, it’s hot”. I tried to push you off of me, But you did not care, I think you liked to hear my plea. The heat of your breath on my ear and neck, Is something I wish I could simply forget. After trying to struggle to get you away, I left my body and prayed for another day. You had your one player fun and got up to leave, You turned and said something that I still can’t conceive. You looked me in the eye and said you didn’t want me to become clingy and to attach, As if I would ever come to you for a rematch. I never wanted or asked for any of this, And you quickly turned it on me as if I were in bliss. I got in the shower to wash you off of me, I quickly found bruises you left that only I could see. The next day I got up and saw you at work, You asked daily if I wanted to see you again, what a jerk. For months I felt nothing, I just moved through my day, It took another man touching me before I got the courage to say. This had to end, I couldn’t let it go on, I came forward to tell how my body was not a prize to be won.
I talked to the police and told them what happened that day, Telling every detail and description was not something I wanted to say. But I did it for ‘her’ and I did it for me, I knew if I were silent, too many hearts crushed was all I could see. I told them my story and then they talked to you, The detective later told me, there wasn’t much they could do. He wished we could have gotten you, and locked you away, But with our system, we must wait for another day. One woman isn’t enough, but to keep what I know, If you do it many times, you just might reap what you sow. The problem with this, so many lives with be shattered, Before you maybe start to recognize that your actions truly mattered.
You see, you tried to take me out, I had a time while I was filled with doubt. You just didn’t see that you were just a piece of my story, For now I walk with my head tall filled with glory. I am much stronger than what you did, You hoped I would stay down and hide like a kid. You took something from me but you planted some more, You gave me the courage to stand for myself and walk out the door. I am strong, I am courageous, I am brave, I am kind, You own nothing of me, because our souls did not bind. Thank you for helping me truly understand, No one has the ability to keep me from what I have planned.
There is something I have to say to you, You took so much from me, this is so true. But you will not win, I will not back down, I will walk tall and I will not drown.
Smell the taste of me. Touch the sound of me. See me with your hands I exist
Senses, Sound of Love By Neema Murimi
In every sense Of you. Of he Of she Of them. I flow where I want Go where I please I donâ€™t knock Before I enter Because I was always there In the thick of it The middle of the room A centerpiece Sometimes You forgot about me Let dust settle on My surfaces But I vibrate I self-clean And you, You will hear me And you will cling To the very thing That gives you life You will no longer Shun me I will not be isolated Like a leper You will stand at attention and you will hear With every decibel A resonant echo That casts out Fear.
Holly Stapleton | A L W A Y S O N
For Women Who Roarâ„˘ is a digital and print magazine for women who know their truth and women that are afraid to. This is for the fighters, the teachers, the mamas, the preachers. Those whose stories of resilience and honesty are the scriptures we need today. This is for the broken, the retired, the exhausted, the admired. This is for every single woman that knows what it feels like to roar passion as well as pain, to give up a thousand times and show back up again. This is their story. Their art. Their words. Their truth. This is for the women who roar.
F O R W O M E N W H O R O A R . C O M
Our inaugural issue is now available in a larger 8x10 format! This issue on voice features inspiring art, poetry, stories, interviews, and p...
Published on Jun 26, 2019
Our inaugural issue is now available in a larger 8x10 format! This issue on voice features inspiring art, poetry, stories, interviews, and p...