Monday, March 24, 2014

And so we hope to be surprised.

I've been told that I'm good at being honest, and that I have a way with words. But it's 1 in the morning and I am struggling to find the words to write.
My heart is longing and rejoicing and aching, too, in my many questions, and all I know is that it is beating and I am alive. I am alone, but I can hear You sing that Your love is strong and that You alone are worth the fight. Tonight, this is all I know, and I am letting it be enough.

There was a time when words and vulnerability frightened me more than anything, when the weight in my heart and my mind were too heavy for me to carry.

I was once told that nothing is impossible and that if I believed, I could move mountains. The child inside of me found no reason to doubt. I was 11, or maybe 12.
And I held onto those words with everything inside of me.

Until Fear creeped in.
I began to battle wars I couldn't win on my own. I was ashamed of being, of speaking up - I believed my voice didn't matter and that my words held no value. It took me hours before I could fall asleep, and I don't believe my mind ever found rest. I went over every conversation, every class presentation, my every action and response - over and over and over again - in my head.
I had become my own enemy.
I was 13.
I was 14, and 15, and 16, too.

And yet, I could still hear the words I had once heard and chose to hold close to my chest.
They trembled in me when I worried. They would echo and shake and fight the fights with me when I was weak and broken. They were with me. Those restless nights, those questions and cry-outs. They were with me. The desperation, the need, and the push-and-pulls. They were with me.
You were with me. You had always been with me.

And, one night, we faced them together. The fears, the worries, the monsters. You reminded me what I once believed - that I was valuable, that my voice mattered, that You were strong and You were with me, that I wasn't alone, and that I had a story worth telling.
You reminded me that nothing is impossible,
with You,
and together, we broke down walls.
It was 2007, and we had just moved to Ontario.

I began to take courage. I began to take risks, despite the fears. I began to speak up. I began to let go.
Even in the pain, I learned to be okay with feeling. I learned to be okay with the process of growing.
I learned to be okay with being human. And together, we awoke and You showed me what it meant to be alive. Together, we learned to breathe.

I became inspired by the people who surrounded me - the very people who continue to inspire and challenge me today, and I consider my best friends. I also found the story behind To Write Love On Her Arms. A story of pain, but also of hope and healing. A story of redemption. And a wake-up call. I realized that we were broken and hurting, and that the wars I had fought alone were being fought by other people, too. I realized we needed to be more honest and that our conversations needed to matter more. That the words I had once heard had to be shared.

It is out of this yearning that grew more honest relationships. It is out of that same heart that once carried the weight of every fear that grew the courage to be vulnerable. It is there that grew the desire to speak up and bring change, and out of that, grew a week of awareness and of hope, led by a group of us broken and growing and willing teenagers in high school.
It is out of this that this blog became. I started this blog to be honest with you and to be honest with myself.

I started this blog to tell the story of my healing and to remind myself that "nothing is impossible".
I started this blog to tell the story of Love and redemption.

7 years later, and I am asked to design a shirt for TWLOHA.

"And so we hope to be surprised."

It is 3 in the morning, you're singing "bring me back to the beginning again",
and being alive never looked this beautiful.

(Find the shirt here, with a few words here)

Monday, February 3, 2014

We're together in that, too.

Originally, I wanted to talk about culture. About magazines and perfection. And how we aren't perfect. 
Originally, I wanted to talk about the media. About how we are easily fooled. And how we fool back.

But tonight, I write about something that hurts my heart. Over and over again. About something that moves me - a shaking in my bones - and somehow in the pain, brings every inch inside of me to life.
Tonight, I write about loss, about the addictions and the monsters we hold too dearly to our chests
that leave us silent and alone, and about the very things I barely know how to write about.

Tonight, I write about the names we know and the names we don't. About the famous, but also about the invisible. This is for him.
This is for her.
And for them.
For the millions unheard and unspoken of: this is for you.

I break at the mention of overdose. Addiction or suicide. Depression, self-harm, or eating disorder.

The big screen. High school classrooms. Award ceremonies. Parties and sleepovers and graduations. Cafeterias. Dinners. And Christmas. Arenas. Sold out shows. Bedrooms, kitchens, "home". The elevators and the subways. Noise and crowds.

And the silence.

The left unsaid.
The fear to speak.

I have found myself here, where the people are many and the sounds are too loud, where the spotlight is on and where the attention is on the gold, the victories and successes. I have found myself here. Finding it hard to breathe. Pretending. Unable to be
true and honest. A mess in disguise.
And I think somewhere in here, you can find yourself, too.

But, how?
Just how can it be that we've become so numb to ourselves,
and to each other,

to him
and to her
and to them?

How have we grown so apart
so alone

It's okay to be honest. It's okay to hurt. Because I hurt, too. It's okay to be broken. We're together in that, too. Speak up. Break the silence in the noise. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Your voice matters. You deserve to be alive. Your story is important.

We're human
telling a story of pain and of hope and redemption, too.

(And this may just have been what I originally intended to write
all along)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Letter Project

Sometime last year, I started 'The Letter Project' on Instagram, a project where I challenged myself to use different material to create the letters of the alphabet, each word representing one of my favorite things. On one hand to experiment with typography, and on the other to have something to complete, this project was a way for viewers to discover something new about me - of which I am the guiltiest.
Though created for others to see, I think I may have been the one to have learned the most about,

I learned this: my strengths are with the branches, the leaves and the flowers, I can go many, many days uninspired, it takes time to complete something, and zeal truly is my favorite word.

arbre ('tree' in french), birds, community, dreams, eyes, feuille ('leaf'/'paper' in french),
grapefruit, honey, ink, journals, kinfolk, lions, mornings, nutella,
ocean, (acoustic) pianos, quirk(y), rest, sunshine, teal, (the) unseen, vulnerability,
white, xulon, Yahweh, zeal

branches / leaves

dry petals

carved wood

thread sewn into fabric

dead branch / chalkboard

So, do something unexpected. See where it takes you, without knowing the final result.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Here's to you.

Oh, 2013.

You had me laughing, and crying, and breaking, and healing.
You had me hoping and hoping again and again.

This year, I visited the Georgian Bay, had my first poached egg, and drank too many lattes.
I officially became Canadian.
I designed my first set of wedding invitations, and created alphabet letters out of sticks and leaves.


This year, I took a bus and said hello to Montreal, once again.
I connected with friends with hearts bigger than mine.
I adventured far, but also travelled 5 minutes from my house. I found beauty there, too.



This year, I woke up to see the sunrise. Twice. And went back to sleep afterwards.
I collaborated with my best friends to create something quite unique and beautiful.
I chose to chop my hair off.
I said hello to the West Coast for the second time with family, and fell in love with the ocean all over again.



I saw lakes and oceans and waterfalls.
I saw tall trees and foggy beaches.
I flew by myself and visited Vancouver, BC. 



And with every fall and hurt, I learned. I grew.
With every fear and worry, I saw You nearer.
And nearer.


And yet, I am still learning to be.
I am still learning to love.
I am still learning to breathe.

Here's to you, 2014. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

'Tis the season (for DIY cards)

The past few years, I've enjoyed making my own cards for the season. Or for any event, for that matter. This Christmas, I'm continuing the 'tradition'. I bought a card + envelope pack from The Paper Place and drew out illustrations and text in pen.

Unfortunately, I chose not to sell any cards this year (partly due to time), but I sure hope that the dear people in my life who receive these will enjoy them just as much as I did creating them.

I hope you all have a joyous and peaceful Christmas,
and I hope you can find inspiration in the simple and the quiet.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Autumn's story

They say the changes of Fall don't only affect the leaves.
They say the crisp air is a good reminder that we are alive.
And the rain, a good reminder to slow down. 
They say September is a better-suited "New Year".

And they, whoever they may be, are right.

were right.

Every ending looks the same, it seems.
The cringing, the blank stare, the bittersweet heart twists and the stubborn I-can't-let-this-go.
The tight grip, the standing still, the breathing in,

and the good-bye.

Every ending looked the same, until I met Autumn.

Autumn, this character I've come to fear so much, is becoming one of my best comforters.
She arrives, a little early at times, but never unexpected. And there she will be, ready to speak, ready to tell. In all of her beauty and all of her splendor, she tells her story of death and letting go, change and farewells. And with every fall, she whispers, "It will be okay."

It has only been a couple years since I've been listening to her story, or even realized Autumn had something to say. It has helped me to embrace her, and through her silent words, I have found comfort in change. Change is not easy. Endings and deaths are not easy. Being human is not easy.
But somehow, Autumn has taught me something quite extraordinary.
That something must die for new life to enter in.
That endings and beginnings work together with time.
That change and growth look just about the same,
and there is beauty in that.
There is beauty in all of this.

This year, I'm listening very closely. As frightening as the changes are looking to be, I am finding the mystery and this 'unknown' to be more beautiful than they have ever been.
In every change, there is growth,
and wonder, too.

And with every fall, she whispers, "It will be okay."

With every change, she whispers, "Just wait, and see."


Photos from my recent trip to Vancouver, BC.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Instagram, etc

It's difficult to predict where you're headed when you're jumping head first

eyes closed,


We are people of plans. Of agendas. Calendars and clocks. Timelines, lifelines - oh deadlines, too.
And don't dare taking risks. (They're not part of the plan)

I think vulnerability is a risk. See, I think it takes great courage to expose,
and reveal what lies under your skin,
what make your bones shake.

Our culture runs on the constant search for being accepted, longing to belong as if we've already been rejected somewhere along the line. And we fight to prove ourselves, waiting for the "you're doing well"s, the "I'm proud of you"s, "wonderful work"s, and the 'like' on that Instagram photo we posted an hour ago.
The sharing has become that much easier with platforms like Facebook or Twitter, and we become exposed to the bits and pieces of each other, only now, our need to be socially affirmed has become louder, and much more desperate.

It was only one year ago that I bought my first iPhone, chose to document personal moments through a phone camera, and post them online. I didn't think it would lead to such a community. I didn't think it would become a part of me. I didn't think that it would impact me so much. But eventually, it did.
And oh, the learning. There is so much to learn in the process -
this process of sharing, exposing, being vulnerable.

I'm learning that my worth is not emphasized by a 'like' or the lack of.
I'm learning that it's okay to be honest about the bad days,
but it's okay to be silent about them, too.
I'm learning to embrace the desires of my heart,
and do and post what I enjoy
without comparing.
I'm learning what it means to be genuine,
even behind a screen -
that there is beauty in sharing your eyes with another.
I'm learning how to invite another into my mind,
and be okay with their response.
And I'm learning to let go, allowing the pieces I share of myself take a shape of their own.

It is a risk to be vulnerable. But one worth to take.
Know you are strong, worthy of sharing your eyes with him, and her, me. Know you are courageous with a story worthy of telling. Know you have a voice, know that you matter. And know which parts of your heart to guard and keep safe. Don't fear. Jump in, fully alive, and see where it takes you.

Recently, I had the great honor of being featured on VSCO Cam's blog, with a little interview, which you can read here. I came to realize what privilege we have today: our ability to share the very depths of our beings and our minds and our spirits with the whole world. Our voice can be heard continents away. Our thoughts can be read by an audience of one, or an audience of millions.

And it matters just the same.

Be brave. x

Here are a few of my favorite shots that I've taken over the year



Instagram: @themelodyh