A Smudge on the Cheek

“You have to teach yourself to soothe your loneliness, at least some of the time, with your writing. That’s why you’re a writer in the first place, isn’t it? Because you’re sensitive and smart and you feel lonely A LOT. You have a lot to say. You have a lot to mull over. Pour those feelings onto the page at least once a day. Remind yourself of who you are and what you love. You are a writer because you write. Keep writing. Work hard at your own peculiar stuff, the stuff you do like nobody else. Your book has a birthday; you just don’t know what it is yet.” -Cheryl Strayed

“You don’t have to choose between BECOMING SOMEONE IMPORTANT and NEVER AMOUNTING TO MUCH. That’s a bullshit way of looking at yourself.” -Cheryl Strayed


“I hope when people ask what you’re going to do with your English and/or creative writing degree you’ll say: carry it with me, as I do everything that matters.” -Cheryl Strayed

“You know how writers are…they create themselves as they create their work. Or perhaps they create their work in order to create themselves.” -Orson Scott Card


“You don’t have to be young. You don’t have to be thin. You don’t have to be ‘hot’ in a way that some dumbfuckedly narrow mindset has construed that word. You don’t have to have taut flesh or a tight ass or an eternally upright set of tits. You have to find a way to inhabit your body while enacting your deepest desires. You have to be brave enough to build the intimacy you deserve. You have to take off all of your clothes and say, ‘I’m right here.’ There are so many tiny revolutions in a life, a million ways we have to circle around ourselves to grow and change and be okay. And perhaps the body is our final frontier. It’s the one place we can’t leave. Most women and some men spend their lives trying to alter it, hide it, prettify it, make it what it isn’t, or conceal it for what it is. But what if we didn’t do that? That’s the question you need to answer.” -Cheryl Strayed

“Will you do it later or will you do it now?” -Cheryl Strayed


“Accept that this experience taught you something you didn’t want to know. Accept that sorrow and strife are part of even a joyful life. Accept that it’s going to take a long time for you to get that monster out of your chest. Accept that someday what pains you now will surely pain you less.” -Cheryl Strayed


“Stop worrying about whether you’re fat. You’re not fat. And there is nothing more boring and fruitless than a woman lamenting the fact that her stomach is round. Feed yourself. Literally. The sort of people worthy of your love will love you more for this, sweet pea.” -Cheryl Strayed

“Try to find comfort in the fact that one day it will be a year from now. That’s not to say that one day your pain will feel insignificant. What you’re going through is big and will always feel big. But one day it’ll be in the distance. Know that any pain you are feeling is necessary. You’re the sum of all your experiences, including the awful ones. Try to understand what this pain is giving you, rather than what it’s taking away.” -Michelle Lyn King

“Say this is what the pain made of you: an open, open, open road, an avalanche of feel it all.” -Andrea Gibson


“I wish I could rub the grief from you as if it were a smudge on the cheek.” -Sandra Cisneros

“I have lived in my body for years and still need maps and lights to find my way to how I feel.” -Michelle K.


“Don’t be strategic or coy. Strategic and coy are for jackasses. Be brave. Be authentic. Practice saying the word ‘love’ to the people you love so when it matters the most to say it, you will.” -Cheryl Strayed

“Love isn’t something you can legislate. Love is more than charts and graphs and matching interests. Love is messy and complicated and it is a mistake to deny its random magic.” -Amy Engel

“When she calls him ‘honey,’ she is making a choice. Behind the sweetness of the thing are hundreds of tiny working pieces: the hive, full; the home, him; the heart, them. She puts him in everything, and everything is sweet because of it.” -Emma Bleker

“Sometimes people walk away from love because it is so beautiful that it terrifies them. Sometimes they leave because the connection shines a bright light on their dark places and they are not ready to work them through. Sometimes they run away because they are not developmentally prepared to merge with another — they have more individuation work to do first. Sometimes they take off because love is not a priority in their lives — they have another path and purpose to walk first. Because so many of us carry shame, we have a tendency to personalize love’s leavings, triggered by the rejection and feelings of abandonment. But this is not always true. Sometimes it has nothing to do with us. Sometimes the one who leaves is just not ready to hold us safe. Sometimes they know something we don’t –- they know their limits at that moment in time. Real love is no easy path. Readiness is everything. May we grieve loss without personalizing it. May we learn to love ourselves in the absence of the lover.” -Jeff Brown


“I wish I could tell you: You are lovable now. And as the day wears on and your best self becomes a dim shadow and your worst self wants a hamburger and a nap and a back rub and a kiss on the cheek and some rest, some fucking rest from being brave and strong and going it alone, fearlessly, you are lovable, then, too. And when tears leak out of your eyes at the office and you wonder what the hell is wrong, why can’t you be normal like everyone else, why can’t you march in time and win and win like the winningest winner, you are the most lovable of all.” -Heather Havrilesky

(Converses via @lily_rose, Tumalo Falls via @pnwparadise, house of dreams via @grahagoebel, September leaves via @anastasiamika, misty trees via @emitoms, misty coast via @hoxiesox, misty lake via @oregon.nw — all on Instagram.)


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