#Booknits: THE GIRL BEFORE

Many moons ago, my fantabulous friend, Rena Olsen, wrote a book. A really good book. So good that you've probably heard of it at some point or another and, if you haven't, then this is me making you hear about it and suggesting you go read it. 

  This book! THE GIRL BEFORE!

  This book! THE GIRL BEFORE!

I'm going to take a brief moment and say that I'm lucky enough to know a lot of really cool people. Many of which happen to be really cool authors. All of them hardworking, generous, brilliant, and kind—and Rena fits all those descriptors and then some. 

When her book came out, I wanted to celebrate with her somehow. But being  miles away made that a bit difficult (at least in the traditional sense). So, instead, I knitted her a gift. If I couldn't be there in person to tell her how proud and excited and thrilled I was for her, then maybe every time she saw the Ruffled Scarf I made, that could be the next best thing!

I have to add, I'm so proud of the yarn I was stubborn enough to find. It's difficult to see here, but it's black with flicks of red in it and matches her book cover!

I have to add, I'm so proud of the yarn I was stubborn enough to find. It's difficult to see here, but it's black with flicks of red in it and matches her book cover!

Luckily I got the scarf sent to her in time for her book release which I, sadly, can't say about this blog post. But I digress:

THE GIRL BEFORE is a truly unique book, written in the alternating timelines of "Then" and "Now". It follows Claraa woman abruptly taken from her home, husband, and daughtersand is forced to confront the possibility that her life might actually be part of something far more sinister than she realized. 

Aside from the great storytelling (which Rena is amaaaazing at. Trust me, I've been lucky enough to read a number of her drafts and short stories), THE GIRL BEFORE also deals with the important (and difficult) topics of human trafficking, abuse, and trauma. However, as a psychologist (and just an all-around compassionate person) Rena tackles these issues with equal honesty and regard. Balancing the need to give these topics the candor they need and "deserve", while also respecting them as a storyteller. 

I know there are many other summaries that can better explain THE GIRL BEFORE's synopsis. However, I want to impress how it is not only a great book, but also an important read in compassion, gleaning the complexities of abuse, and shining light on the real, present threat of human trafficking. 

Simply, it is a unique, poignant story crafted by an exceptionally kind and generous person. 

The aforementioned awesome author with the aforementioned ruffle scarf.

The aforementioned awesome author with the aforementioned ruffle scarf.

Be proud of yourself, my friend. <3

- Sarah

If you, or anyone you know, may be suffering from any of the aforementioned issues, please click on the links provided, as well as consider how therapy may help. 

National Human Trafficking Resource Center
1 (888) 373-7888
SMS: 233733 (Text "HELP" or "INFO")

The National Domestic Violence Hotline
1 (800) 799-7233 (SAFE)
For the deaf and hard of hearing: 1 (800) 787-3224 (TTY)

Lots of people take pictures of themselves in the kitchen with good books, right?

Lots of people take pictures of themselves in the kitchen with good books, right?

November Dandelions

I sat outside to get some fresh air and watch my pups romp. Nature always helps me to reset, if only marginally, regardless of whatever is going on. Today was no exception.

Currently, there are a lot of things making it difficult for me to feel grounded and steady. Most obviously: today's election and the undercurrent of unease, fear, and even anger emanating from pretty much everyone I come into contact with. Not to mention my own variances of those emotions with which I'm try to balance and grapple. 

But there are other things as well. Largely difficult and emotional things friends are going through, as well as some somewhat painful self-growth and deep-seated things I'm trying to sift through myself. 

So, I sat outside to get some fresh air and watch my pups romp. I thought about how interesting nature is; how, in so much turmoil—like today's and all the various turmoils and changes that have come before—nature just goes. Not actively or outwardly, really. But with a quiet strength and steadfast feeling I want to wrap around me.

And then I wondered what it must be like to be so stable, to move along without too much change between one day and the next. How, when nature does change, it is slow and deliberate. How even its changing is steadfast. 

I thought about this and smiled at my fluffballs as they sniffed around, wondering what I could do to help with all this chaos inside of me and around me. And then I found, next to my house where I usually sit, a wee dandelion.

Dandelions are my thing; I have had a long standing love-affair with dandelions for a myriad of different reasons. But in all my years, I have never seen one this late in the season.

So I sat outside with my dogs and breathed the fresh air and found this rogue dandelion and now I think: maybe we'll be OK. Maybe we'll be OK as long as we keep close. If we work to surround ourselves with people who know us and love us. People who forgive us if we act out of anger and who will listen to us when we try to speak. People who get us and root for us, who shelter us and believe in us. And the people who don't? To do neither harm nor spend too much of our energy on them if it is not appreciated.

Usually I pluck up dandelions, make a wish, and give them a blow to the wind—but I figured November dandelions are special enough to warrant a change, don't you think? So I stayed on my step, took a deep breath, and made a great big wish for all the people in my heart. All the ones I keep close. And then I smiled and went back inside, leaving the dandelion where it found me. Because, this time, it felt better to keep its little roots in, down into the earth. The earth that just goes. Not actively or outwardly, but goes. Just goes and goes with a quiet, steadfast strength.

 

 

POEM: Take Your Fear

Dig through your chest,
take out your fear.
Shine it with your breath and cuff and
put it on your desk—
right there, in the middle.
Wait for slow-drawn Helios.
Then, the flecks of light it renders?—
take them. Gather them in the crook of your arm—
cascading bouquet of noonbeams.

Use them to build your own damned chariot.

© s.e. carson 

A Letter to My Body

Dear Body,

It wasn't you, it was me.

I know it sounds cliché, but I guess cliché doesn't necessarily make things less true. So, really, in complete seriousness:

It wasn't you, it was me.

All you have ever done was love me. Protect me. Aid me in self-expression and spirit. Without you I wouldn't have spent years on the soccer pitch feeling invincible. I wouldn't have gotten the closest I can to flying with gymnastics. I wouldn't have kicked Jared's ass in jousting in 5th grade. I wouldn't have been able to discover a new love for snowboarding, laugh properly using my whole self, run just to see how fast I could go. I wouldn't have been able to hug Joe before he died or take Niyadog on so many walks and adventures after waiting for her for 21 years.

It is not like we haven't had our struggles. Our other chronic illnesses are a daily battle now, I still often wrestle with my mind, and I know I get angry with you sometimes, but none of it is your fault. I think I pushed you too hard for too long when the only thing you have ever done is tried give me everything—and so much of what I asked for was so unfair.

It wasn't you. It was me. There were things about myself I didn't like, fears and feelings I couldn't handle. I wanted to be so much—everything and nothing at all. And the depression didn't help. My mind and it's miswiring. There was just so much I didn't understandbright and heavy colors or feelings or pains that built up and soon expanded or melted (I don't really know) into hatred. I was mad at you for not being what I wanted you to be, for what I thought I needed you to be. And I didn't know how else to deal with it. I thought if you and I could just do a little bit more—on the inside and the outside—things would get fixed. I thought that because I felt so ugly on the inside, that if I could be beautiful on the outside, some of that would seep through. That I would be happy.

And you tried. You tried so hard because you remembered all those summers we spent running through sprinklers and playing tennis against the chipped garage door. You tried because you loved the hike we took to the top of a 14,000 ft mountain, the boys we made swear during hockey. You tried because when we spent those nights in the backyard, kicking the soccerball against the wall, it felt like the universe had shrunk. That the culmination of time and stardust was this simple and beautiful moment: late afternoons (some laden with crickets, some heavy with the Colorado winter) dropping into dusk, dusk fading further until house-corner floodlights popped on, the constant often-rhythmic snap of grass beneath feet after a chip, or a particularly sound kick echoing against the mountains. The stars and the night and a girl and her dreams.

You tried so hard because you wanted it back. You wanted me back. But I hated you. You had done nothing but help me chase my ambitions, love me, and yet I hated you because I was in so much pain.

Even more, you tried to tell me. So many times in so many different ways, and I didn't listen. At first, gently prodding me about our limitations, how they aren't bad—how heeding them would mean we could do more together. That if we took care of each other we could take on the world. You tried so hard, prodding giving way to pleading, but I didn't listen; I didn't want to hear it. So you continued on as best as you could. Struggling to give me everything when I gave you nothing.

I am sorry.

It is a love I didn't completely understand. One I still don't. Especially considering how I spent so much of my life destroying you. And even though I have tried my best to remedy this, some days I still find myself saying things I think I mean. I still get angry or hurt or I am overwhelmed with feeling. And you wait patiently, knowing I will find my way back. Because the truth is you are powerful and so strong and maybe that scares me a little sometimes.

So, no matter what, I will fight. I have fought for 9 years and I will keep fighting just as you have fought for me. And I promise I will keep trying to listen, even if it's hard for me to hear at times, because all of my favorite memories exist because of you. As are, I know, all my favorite memories to come.

Love,
Sarah