I’ve 20 days left to raise funds to make my album happen.
I’ll be the first to admit I’m pretty terrible at self-promotion. I can’t be anything other than myself. I do my work and hope it speaks for itself.
But sometimes you have to see yourself as others see you.
My friend Chelsea — an exceptional writer whom I met several years ago when she interviewed me for an assignment about Christians who exercise curse words — offered to write yet another.
And it’s just perfect. Here’s an excerpt:
“That’s what I’m looking forward to, when Leslie’s record comes out. Knowing her and her work, I know it will be sour, bitter and sweet in perfect proportion, like an old-fashioned made right. It will be sharp enough to make the heartbreak culprit bleed, while being gentle enough to bind up your own wounds. It’ll stroke your hair with reflective insight and slap your ass with humor.
Best of all, Leslie’s record will give you more than words. Hers is the big, bad, ‘you can’t ignore me now’ voice of the woman who really tried to do it all the nice way, and is finally going to speak her mind.”
As of today, I am 40% funded. That is amazing! But I still have more to go. Click to make a pledge here. Don’t be afraid to pledge now; the funds will not be deducted unless the project is entirely funded on March 29, 2017.
And, as always, sincere thanks.
For the last ten years, I have been on the road at Thanksgiving and Christmastime. It was hard, at first, because I was married. I didn’t want to be away from my husband or family. But then I found myself going through a divorce. The road was a soft place to land during a confusing, difficult and traumatizing time.
And then there were a few years where I was single. Transitioning. Moving across the country. Still, the road was good to me. Then I was pursued. Treated as I have always dreamed. I fell in love again and was finally in a good relationship. I had it all.
Two months ago, my relationship miscarried. I never saw it coming.
And what can I say? Nothing. If anything I have learned through my divorce, it is to let people go. I am done fighting for a relationship that only I want. People choose to leave, for whatever valid or huge-pile-of-horse-shit reason. It is the worst, most familiar feeling in the world. So much so you start to befriend the ache in your heart and pit in your stomach. You keep telling yourself that someday, someone will actually choose you and be all in, no matter what. You have to believe it, because otherwise, you sincerely will become jaded and succumb to anger and all of its accompanying pain and grief. You’ve been in this place before. You can certainly do it again. It is an old friend.
And the grief. Oh, the fucking grief. It is an unexpected, rude and sometimes cruel visitor. An unwelcome one, too. A memory, song or a familiar smell triggers the wave that pulsates through your entire body, sending your heart all the way to your wobbly knees. It’s like a bowling ball that’s constantly hitting the gutter, unable to knock over any pin with precision because it was tossed with the sloppiest, most unplanned aim.
“You’ll find someone better,” people say, seemingly flippantly. But it isn’t helpful.
A good male friend recently said, “Leslie, you’re a smart lady. You know pain and I’m not in any way going to talk you out of it. Welcome to disorientation and all of the accompanying shitty, self-loathing and self-questioning feelings that come with it. I don’t know the journey ahead but I know this, too, shall pass and you will come out the other side and know more about you; deepen yourself and find your true relationships and community in the midst.
It’s one of those things. When you hit rock bottom, what do you do? You kinda just sit there and play with the rocks for a bit. You know this is not about you or anything you’re lacking. It sucks and is hard that you’ve come this far to lose this much. I know you feel duped and like you shouldn’t have given so much, but you had no other choice. You had to give yourself.”
He’s right: I did have to give myself. And I was happy to. My relationship was good. The best of my life, so far. I haven’t anything terrible to say about it, except for the way it ended. Or just that it ended, at all.
I told myself I wasn’t going to write about any of this. Who wants to hear about yet another breakup? But here I am. Back in the land of writing as catharsis.
“I don’t know why you fight it,” my dear friend Meredith smiled, knowingly.
I am not looking for attention or sympathy. I am also not looking to censor myself or my feelings. This is who I am. I write to process. I’ve even begun writing songs. If my lot in life is to love and lose, then I might as well capitalize upon the real, raw and vulnerable place in which the pain repeatedly shoves me.
So as I type this from my stale hotel room in Newport News, Virginia, I am yet again thankful for the road. It does not allow me to fully get lost in an ocean of self-pity or grief. My friends out here listen and let me laugh and cry, without any judgment. They’re even helping me create music. It’s as if I have thirty overprotective big brothers. And I am very loved and cared for by them.
I long for the day when I cease crying over this loss. My heart doesn’t believe it, but my head knows it will come in time. And it is what I do with that time that will help shape my immediate future. I am already grateful for the opportunity to have succeeded in relationship where the odds were probably stacked against us, from the start. But when you choose to love; when you choose to make it work, it does. And well. It isn’t that hard.
Perhaps I’m the biggest fool on the planet, but I’ll keep getting back up, dusting myself off and jumping back in the ring. Because I was made for, and to, love. And, again, the risk of loving is always worth taking.
I enjoyed some beach time this afternoon. Now that I am officially 38, I have religiously subscribed to bathing suits with underwire, sunscreen with an SPF no less than 70, oversized beach hats and sunglasses, supportive chairs (to feign flat abs from all angles), an obnoxious, Hamptons-style cover-up, and, most importantly, a juicy self-help book.
As I sipped on sparkling water and settled into my early afternoon reading, I couldn’t help but notice the powerful swell and number of surfers in the water. The guys were catching waves left and right, carving the shit out of them. If they happened to bail, they did it with grace and flair. No soft boards, no kiddie boogie boards. The water wasn’t gentle. Today’s ocean had zero time for beginners.
And then, I saw the guy on the long board.
He was right there with the rest of the young, wiry, quick short boarders. He would paddle strong and hard into a huge wave, get up and drop down its face with ease.
Having been around surfers, the surfing industry and actually surfed myself (not well), I understand the key to staying on your board is to get up quickly and stay low. Balance is most important. If you stand up too tall, you will immediately wipe out.
But Long Board Guy did something I had never seen before.
As soon as he was up, he stood stiffly erect. Then, he opened up his arms as wide as possible, arched his back and slowly turned his chin toward the heavens. It was the most beautiful posture I have seen on a surfboard. One of full, complete surrender.
I held my breath and thought, “If this guy doesn’t fall, he is the best surfer I have ever seen in my life.”
And, of course, the law of gravity immediately sent him plummeting forward, face first, into the crashing, aggressive white water. If the ocean hadn’t been so loud I might have been able to hear his entire torso slapping on the surface. I almost ran in after him to make sure he hadn’t broken his neck and drowned.
But he popped right up, fought and paddled his way back to the outside and did it again.
He held the same posture each time he got up: arms open wide, back arched, chin up.
And each time he fell.
After each fall, he got right back up. He kept surfing.
And I found myself cheering for him. Admiring him. Beaming. Applauding every time he fell and got back up. I totes felt his stoke.
After a while, Long Board Guy was finished. He got out of the water, smiling, and trotted over to his towel.
I glanced back down at page 19 of my book.
“If we are brave enough often enough, we will fall; this is the physics of vulnerability. When we commit to showing up and risking falling, we are actually committing to falling. Daring is not saying, ‘I’m willing to risk failure.’ Daring is saying, ‘I know I will eventually fail and I’m still all in. Fortune may favor the bold, but so does failure.” ~ Brené Brown, Rising Strong
When I looked up, Long Board Guy was gone. I had wanted to tell him he was physically living out the words on my page, but perhaps that moment was meant only for me.
It was obvious Long Board Guy didn’t care about he outcome of riding the wave; he just lived in the moment. And each moment added up to another moment.
And they were all joyful, brave, vulnerable and full of grace.
I now know Long Board Guy is the best surfer I have ever seen.