I am alive. not broken. not fragments. not un whole. not hard. not bruised. not unholy. not my fear.

I am accepting. letting go. breathing. growing. softening. strengthening. enough. 

The best thing I ever did was surrender. To let go of the notion: "one day." Because there is never "when I am..."

You are now, you are here, you are alive. When you finally see yourself as whole, you stop waiting for the missing pieces. All along, you were enough. So what if you knew this from the start?

Let Us Flow

I look to the trees for guidance, comforted beneath their canopies.
Unwavering, their core. With trunks that do not budge.
Grounded, their roots. A foundation, resolute. 

But the tops of trees, they tell a different story. They sway. They stretch their limbs out to the sky. And their leaves, they change from time to time. Cracking, letting go, sometimes falling to the ground. 
It's the lessons from the branches that let us know we mustn't fight the wind. 
It's the lessons from the leaves that remind us we can grow anew. 
The movement will carry us. Things will change. We will stretch, and break, and sometimes, we will fall. 
But let us learn from the treetops; let us flow. 
Let us flow. 


A yearning. A need. A fire. So many times I want to pack a bag, throw it in my trunk and set out to *somewhere* in my car. So many times I've found myself thinking "anywhere could be better than here."  

Here. In this broken body that aches, confuses, and limits me. 

Here. In this place that is already beginning to quiet as summer says its goodbyes. A place rich with energy, warmth, and aliveness in the summer, but turns to solitude as the ocean winds bring cooling temperatures. A place that I'm fearful of because of the isolation it can bring.

Here. In my head again. A place that causes panic, sadness, guilt. What will I amount to? What parts of life will I forever miss? How can I be this, do that, see this, love that? 

I want to love it here: Here in my body. Here in my mind. Here in this place.

Freedom isn't always the ability to run away. Freedom is sometimes just opening your eyes and learning to love and appreciate where you are. 

Photographer: Jessie Shaw 

Photographer: Jessie Shaw 

He as the Sea

I'm at home, in my room. The soft glow from my lamp, my dog curled close. But I'm not really sure what home is. I've searched for it, unpacked my things long enough for them to find their space, but never long enough to gather dust because soon, I've decided, I'll be gone again.

When nowhere feels comfortable, it's easy to keep moving along. I thought I wanted safety, but every time it brushed against my skin, letting me know it could exist, I backed it into a corner and said, "I'll be leaving soon."

I'm not sure how I ended up here. This place, seaside. How odd that the water makes me feel at ease, but every time I wade out past the shore, I let it spit me back again.

Because maybe, if I really tried, I would sink.

This place - where I unpack and repack the same suitcase.

This place - with frames on the walls, but no photographs.

This place - was never home, and never will be without you here, too.

I Still See Him in Their Eyes: A Story of Loss and Found

January 2015: I was boarding a plane - a red eye flight - when I started having images of my friend Alex flash through my mind. Sure, I thought about him often, er, more accurately, worried about him often. But, this... This was different. Rapid thoughts of our moments together were abrasively skipping through my mind. Choppy, succinct memories. Traveling on the road with the band, working at a coffee shop, sitting lakeside, dancing during shows, and that one really hurtful fight.


I wasn't sure, but I knew I needed to visit him when I got back to Texas. 

Something about Alex changed in 2012. And when I left Austin to move home to begin my recovery from late-stage Lyme disease, he also announced he had been suffering from Bipolar I Disorder - a very severe mental illness that ranges from extreme mania and paranoia, to crippling, life-sucking depression.

By the time I got back to Texas that January, it was too late. I don't really like saying that Alex took his own life, because quite honestly, that's not really how mental illness works. It takes you. 

I don't remember many specifics that followed. But I do remember the pain that only comes with loss. I remember reading over old texts. I remember clicking through the same few photos, again and again. I remember replaying that phone call in my mind from our mutual friend; and the way she said "Alex," behind tears, and that's it. How my heart fell to the pit of my stomach because I knew. With just one word, he was gone. I remember the sunset on the lake, holding onto my friends - our band family.

I was afraid to be alone, but all I wanted to do was escape into the dark. The crevices of a small four-room space with just the light emitting from my cell phone as I scrolled through the same photos, the same messages, until my eyes blurred with tears and became too heavy to focus.

With time, we began to heal - or something. We celebrated his life, danced with the band on Stubb's stage in his honor, and some of us set out to travel in his name.

And every now and then, I still see him. I see him in strangers' eyes. A quick glance with a toothy smile, a little glister in their eyes, that sparks something inside of me that just knows -- somehow, someway, he's still here.

I don't know who these people are, but maybe the ones we've loved most can still show up for us, even when we had once believed that they were gone.

So if you're missing someone, ask to find them. Maybe you will.

Taken From Alex O'Brien's Facebook (Posted Nov. 2014)

Taken From Alex O'Brien's Facebook (Posted Nov. 2014)