As Stars Begin to Burn

Three months to the day since my last blog post. Sounds rather like a statement fit for the confessional booth, doesn’t it?


“Forgive me Father, for I have . . . ‘  


I’ve been asking for forgiveness often of late. Of myself, for myself. Life, having flipped upside-down in recent months, leaves my inside-out heart pushing through a thick fog of self-doubt and anxiety with occasional glimpses of bright blue joy above. Love and belly laughs. Bonfires and beaches. Une chienne blanche. La ville rose. 


EndingsBeginningsLossesFinds freefalling like a poem snipped apart and flung into the air, its wordpieces floating to the ground to form new lines, new meanings.


When I began writing full-time three summers ago, I worried that stepping off the traditional work-life stage would distance me from life’s theatre, that I would fall into a too quiet existence, all the potential characters and their stories passing me by. I would no longer really live life, only observe it from a comfortable remove.


Turns out, I had nothing to fear. Life chased me down. Smacked me upside the head. Said don’t even think about getting comfortable, girlfriend. 


And so I am in the thick of it. My own story as large as life, almost larger than I can handle some days. But, fuck. It’s mine. In all its hot mess merry-go-round spinning whiplash glory of possibility and bewilderment of massive change. I am so alive I can scarcely breathe from the force of it.


2016-06-18 11.10.27

Manzanita, Oregon Coast, June 2016

And ever the writer, a part of me stands slightly outside, taking note of the emotions that hit my solar plexus like a hammer blow, the characters who crash through my heart’s door in all their noisy love and fury, unlooked for, uninvited, but inevitable. Intended. I create word photographs of the tsunami, knowing my way through this to the other side, to peace and equanimity, will be found on the page.


Thank you, precious friend, who read this Mary Oliver poem to me over the phone last night, over the sound of my sobs. Thank you, Poetry, for always speaking my heart.


Many thanks to those of you who have reached out to me these past weeks, wondering where I was, whether I was all right, when I’d be back. I’m here. Writing my stories. I’m here. Living this one wild and precious life.


I’m here. 


The Journey 
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

by Mary Oliver 

18 thoughts on “As Stars Begin to Burn

    • Oh, thank you Cinda! I walk/hike 5-8 miles 4-5 times a week, also do yoga several times a week, swim, bike. Trust me- exercise and being in nature, and the two combined, are my drugs of choice- my antidepressants. It’s what keeps the woman sane and the writer creating! xoxo Julie


  1. Mary Oliver’s “The Journey” is one of my all time favorite poems! But my favorite thing you’ve written in this post is: “I am so alive I can scarcely breathe from the force of it.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Even though my faith is tenuous at best, my motto has long been “God is good and life is complicated.” Oh, if the woman next to you in line at the grocery store knew what you were dealing with…I think this all the time. We were never promised “neat”, so we deal with the messiness that comes our way. Next breath….

    Liked by 1 person

    • It takes so little to be kind, Michelle. And we were never guaranteed that life would be fair or easy. I think of what happened in France yesterday, what small and large tragedies unfold across the world every day, and I know how small my life is by comparison, but it’s the only life I have. I think the best any of us can do is live with awareness and integrity. And to be kind. The grocery store example is perfect- grant others the weight of their unseen burden. xoxo Julie

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I so admire that you aren’t afraid to feel the feelings. The way I learned to deal with my anxiety/depression was to just stop feeling so much because it was just debilitating and exhausting. That you just dive into the messiness of life with such grace is really inspiring. *hugs* for whatever you’ve been/are going though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, beautiful Heather. Times I think I might be better off feeling and thinking less, but this is the way I’m built, right? Rolling with it and trying to breathe. So grateful for you. xoxo Julie


  4. I’m not a regular commenter, but I always look forward to your posts. I’m glad to see you back, though I understand how messy this process of living is. Thank you for sharing that poem–I hadn’t read it before and staying, storming, mending, striding have all been tumbling around in my head and heart of late. I should know by now that when in doubt, turn to Mary Oliver. All the best.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve missed reading your unique voice with its glorious colour. You’re helping me walk through my own fog this morning into a beautiful sunshiny day I thought I couldn’t enjoy. One day at a time…

    Liked by 2 people

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