Tag Archives: dreamer

We’re working toward meeting all the selfless souls stringing the streets of Manhattan with dreams.

Next time you tell me how to change the world, I’m going to stop you mid-sentence and ask you to go on a smoothie date.

Don’t get all frazzled by that invitation. Don’t dip your fingers into the sweet blended berries and smear it down my shirt like a reinvented version of Ann Hathaway’s “Princess Diaries” soft serve stunt.

Just hear me out, you wild world shaker. Because I am making friends in all kinds of places.

In Starbucks in downtown D.C. and in circled chairs in city churches. In front of Papa Johns pizza boxes and through computer screens in lonely hotel rooms.

And that is just this week, my friends. That is just the last six days of squeezing my smile into new conversations and shaking hands and learning names.

So when I propose a smoothie date mid-sentence, don’t you get offended. I’m just learning from the best and brightest.

On Tuesday night, amongst my pillows labeled with satin sashes for soft and firm, I hugged my Macbook Pro and livestreamed something spectacular – the Voice Your Verse poetry fundraising night.

I watched poets and world-shakers and change-makers and word-huggers all over New York City and beyond come together to honor She’s The First’s anthology to sponsor girls’ education in the developing world.

Mostly, though, I learned that there ain’t nothing wrong with meeting for smoothies and getting brain freezes amidst small wooden tables not nearly large enough to put our Big Ideas into perspective.

I learned that people you’ve never met in person can make you laugh so loud you worry your neighbors, the ones you’ll never share sugar with, are going to complain to the front desk.

I learned that when you’re freefalling toward failure, the first thing you need is a cold drink with someone who knows that side of the sidewalk so well from dwelling there long before you even knew what it meant. Long before you even knew to be scared.

And I am thanking this world for a woman I hope to someday shake hands with in front of a strawberry banana or a triple berry concoction. Someday swap stories of almosts and good enoughs and not have to count how many times we face-planted on pavement on the way to Something More. Someone Bigger. Someone Better.

I learned that we’re working toward meeting all the beautiful, selfless souls stringing the streets of Manhattan with dreams.

We’re holing up inside our houses clacking on keyboards to make connections that might last. Connections that might turn into smoothies and Starbucks and sweets baked together, shared in front of our own ovens. Late nights around a dimly lit kitchen table.

We are looking for someone who will not punch us in the face for asking for something as small as a smoothie date. Or a Starbucks run. Or a slice of pizza.

I hope we find each other. Somewhere out there. I hope we do.


Let her dance across notebook pages and down abandoned hallways. Let her breathe.

Note: This post is part of More Love Letters’ 12 Days of Love Letter Writing. Today’s love letter recipient is Hannah, a 16-year-old girl who’s dealt with bullying and forgotten she’s somebody beautiful and talented. We would love to have you write Hannah your very own letter and mail it in. The details are on the MLL blog (linked above). Gather your friends, your travel mug of hot chocolate and marshmallows, and take a road trip to the good ole Target for some stationery. *The Seven Simple Lessons Learned from Strangers turned Friends will return on Monday.

Hannah. Hannah. Hannah. You are a blessed girl.

You and I were spun from the same spool of thread, meant to shine in the windowsill of some corner craft store. Instead, you ended up as a sweater shipped across the country.

You were born to know the world beyond the department store. To never settle for the pokes and jabs and taunts that stretch you thin and unravel the heart stitched into your sleeve.









It is easy to be bold, a whirlwind of kaleidoscope colors, when you are small, still fierce, so hungry. Eyes open to the beauty of falling October leaves and crisp April rosebuds. It is hard, I know, to retain that wild passion and “no, I will not apologize” attitude when the first bullet punctures your sparkly sweater stripes.

But I have a little secret for you, Hannah. One that extends beyond all the generic globs of Google gibberish you can load and scan and download and print and tack on the bulletin board above your desk. (You can do that, too, but this little nugget is just for you.)

I know two Hannahs in this world, and between the Hs on the end-caps of their names, you can learn all you need to know about shining and creating and staying so true to the beautiful individual you are.

The first is twenty-three. And though I’ve never reached for her hand when jaywalking in New York traffic or sat across from her in a coffee shop, I know she has your heart in her FiloFax listing somewhere. She has your back. Your whole self, if you need it.

She taught me that the best people in this world have been put through the ringer and come out stronger. Come out not throwing punches at their opponents but looking for the lumpy sweaters who feel a bit underappreciated, a bit too clearanced. And then, those strong souls remind the sweaters how to dust off and sit pristinely on the shelf, patient for someone to love their soft selves.

You, I promise, are no exception. You are meant to create create create. To drum up beauty where there was once only dirt and pain. You are the light at the end of someone else’s tunnel.

The second Hannah is nineteen. She’s an artist, like yourself, and quite possibly among the smartest people I know. She sees this world in dark tints and thinks deeper than most, and every pencil mark, every brush stroke, documents and understands this chaotic world. Her art breathes life into what otherwise might be dead.

You, like her, should never apologize for your talents, your desire to be true to you. You have a girl deep inside and maybe you’re terrified she’ll escape, but if Hannah #2 has taught me anything, it’s that there is no alternative other than to let the real Hannah escape. Let her dance across notebook pages and down abandoned hallways. Let her breathe.

Loneliness will creep up on you. The world’s gonna make sure of that. But I believe you’re ready to beat it, and I believe you want to.

Hannah, you are the sweater on the shelf afraid no one’s coming to pick you up because somewhere along the sweat shop assembly line, some worker whispered that there was something not quite right about you. But the truth, coming from a fellow sweater, is that you are just seeking out the perfect moment to be scooped up and checked out.

You are not going to hang in a closet. You’ll be the sweater worn five days a week, the comfort on a rainy April afternoon and a blustery October evening.

You were meant to remind this big bad world that sweaters can be gentle and wild, worn and torn and tattered with love.

You keep your heart on your sleeve and remember that you are absolutely, unapologetically beautiful.


Instead of “You need to feed your dreams,” I saw, “You need to eat. You need to feed yourself.”

Hannah Brencher of HannahKaty.com

I fell backwards into the habit of calling Hannah a friend. First, you know, you scope them out on the playground, checking to see what kind of backpack they’re sporting and if their shoes light up when their butts fling from the seat of the swing and they fly back to Earth.

Then, you make the decision to approach.

Instead, on an otherwise normal Sunday evening, holed up in the quiet of my childhood bedroom, still ounces and pounds shy of my more curvy self, I read her words for the first time.

She was talking about dreams, leaving them out in the rain to get soggy and distorted. She was talking about writing books and ditching storylines and yet, she wasn’t.

Instead of “You need to feed your dreams,” I saw, “You need to eat. You need to feed yourself. You need to live past next Monday because you are meant for big things.”

On that day, that month, that terribly antsy summer, I’d been floundering between growing bigger, consuming more, and growing smaller, squeezing myself into a crevice where I might forget what it felt like to be this miserable.

Hannah didn’t know me. She didn’t know that timing sometimes plays on us in silly ways, dancing around its true intentions until we are hit with a friend, three or five or seven hours away, that we didn’t know about.

Now, when I go back to read my first words to her, it is like the middle of a conversation with my best friend, the one who calls me and doesn’t have to say it’s her, the one who remembers when I’m supposed to go somewhere and asks about it later.

When I sat down to write this, I thought Hannah’s lesson was that things rarely turn out the way you anticipated in the beginning. And that’s still true. She’s built a small monster of a movement, a hate- and harm- and hurt-devouring project called More Love Letters.

She took her own loneliness, ingested it, spit it back out onto the page, and suddenly found herself on hands and knees, wondering how the world could be so broken and how so many could want to help her tackle all of it.

But there is the other side, where one fleeting comment on a blog, one click and scroll and type and submit turn into someone who knows how to ask the tough questions, someone who listens.

Someone who gives and gives and gives and is painfully aware of the world that’s broken yet able to be put back together.

So maybe she taught herself that with one letter written on the train. But she also taught me, in a few words, that I am a dreamer. That I was not ready to let go of the reins and pass on living because I’d rather die thin than live with a pair of pants hugging my hips.

Her end, my end, every end is rarely the same as the one you anticipate in the beginning.

Pleas to Please: Weaving Words into Wishes

If there is one lesson I’m grateful I never learned, it’s that loving what someone else wants you to love won’t make your fall any more graceful.

In fact, I’m sure you’ll end up with not two scraped knees, but three or four.

Three or four broken hearts will try to teach to you turn to Pleas to Please the ones who wish you’d weave your words into what they want.

girls spinning around

via weheartit.com

They’ll take you and break you, scoop you up in fractured arms and spin you around on a wild rollercoaster ride and honey, you won’t be able to separate the weave of colors passing before your eyes.

It’ll look like magic, enveloping you from the very first moment you make someone smile and begin to lose a part of your own happiness like a drop of glitter from your sparkly sneakers on the crackled sidewalk steps leading to a house you never loved.

But trust me when I say it isn’t. Trust me when I say those pleas that you can do better, be better, love better next time won’t do you or them any good.

It’ll end the way it’s bound to: with you wishing and wishing to be better and them raising the bar each time before you’re able to climb high enough to tumble over it onto the other side.

That’s the side where all the glimmer and lights, the sparkly shoes and the bright watercolor images you saw while you were too busy letting someone else spin you around, will come tumbling backward farther and farther from the grasp of your tiny little hands.

It seems only natural to run, to jump as high as you can and hope you might land on that other side. Oh that grass, it looks pristinely green. Like someone took a watering can and set it on that grass for a whole month.

But once you’re there, you’ll see it’s fake.

You’ll remember the wishes and wants and walls you built for yourself and how different they are from the wishes and wants you were told you wanted to get where you are now. A place you don’t even recognize.

Maybe you’ll be on a cliff, which feels almighty and powerful at first, but then you’ll stand strong and fierce and want so badly to be in the valley, a nonconformist among followers, the only one not sipping the Koolaid.

I’m not saying everything you do has to be unique. What is unique anyway, but an oversaturated word in the English language that’s meant to encompass anything and everything so that the word itself is not unique? The word itself is nothing special.

Keep yourself special. Fight for what you want, what words and wishes you’ve got bottled up inside your head.

What pleas you dare to let escape your broken lips to please the one and only one who ever mattered.

I think you know who I’m talking about.

You’ll want Normal back like that pair of sneakers you gave to Goodwill last summer.

I never thought being “normal” would have its setbacks.

Actually, I probably always thought the idea of normal existed out there, floating around in space like a satellite you can’t quite pin down as it circles you. But that’s what it’s become in this world.

nor·mal – the common, the mundane, the ideal

Since when do we strive to be normal? Since when do we sit down in front of a television set and pray we might see ourselves reflecting back on that screen?

It’s easy, isn’t it?

Hoping, wishing, praying you’ll see some small part of your little sister in that sitcom you watch every Thursday night at 8 p.m.

Isn’t that why you watch? To think that some part of your life, albeit small, is right here in this world for the rest of society to giggle at on their own sofas, wrapped up tight under blankets?

I’m afraid, deathly afraid, that it is.

See, I’m a writer. And my life’s always fallen on the bad side of normal. The boring side of normal.

I’d have to invent a whole life out of thin air if I ever wanted to write a memoir of my childhood.

Some kids sat in closets where the sun couldn’t scald their too-pale skin. They hid from ruthless parents and step-parents in cupboards beneath basement staircases. They holed up inside their rooms with the video game soundtrack turned up loud enough to block out a screaming match in the kitchen.

But for me, there was no screaming match, no basement hideaway, no video game console at all. There was just a little girl, too messy to fit into the gender role the world cut out for her, walking a tightrope between Absolutely Normal and Utterly Bizarre.

And oh how I wanted to fall on the latter side of that line.

I’d write introspective comments in my diary when I was thirteen, trying to understand the harshness of the world. I’d look back on being bullied in fourth grade and pray it might shape me into someone worth loving for all her flaws.

Please, dear God, anything to write about when I’m old and gray. Give me some ailments. A bad back, a troubled childhood, a spellbinding experience in the forest behind my house.

I wish someone would shake me and tell me this: there will be plenty of moments, when you’re older, when you’ll pray so hard your head hurts. You’ll want Normal back like that pair of sneakers you gave to Goodwill last summer. You’ll want it back like the last bite of the ice cream cone you threw in the trash can.

There will be so many moments for you to feel real and to hurt and to scribble down in that journal of yours. So many raw experiences to tear through that healthy human heart and make it beat twice as fast on any given Sunday morning when you’re dressed up for a funeral.

Don’t you dare, little girl, think you’ve got nothing to write about. It’ll come.

Oh, it’ll come in floods some day.