Going salsa dancing sans partner usually involves me standing in a corner, nursing a glass of top-shelf water in between dancing with men at least twice my age, who have zero concept of personal space, or alternatively, with boys who smell overpoweringly of thyme and superbly make zero eye contact during the entirety of a 6-minute number.

But I keep going because the music moves me. Because I feel alive. Because I can laugh at my taking the cues that weren’t given, and my partner laughs at his stumbling feet. I am far less self-conscious, or feel the sense of incompetency, when I move to something bigger than me. When it empties me out and fills me over the brim.

Heaven help the American-born boy with a talent for ballet.

Camille Paglia

I went to the Viennese waltz hosted by the Duke Woodwind orchestra for this year’s Valentine’s day, and my escort readily agreed to go even though he knew nothing of ballroom dancing. I thought him incredibly brave, because most guys shrivel from the prospect of being on the dance floor having no idea what’s going on.

Things have been pretty rough lately. I’ve stopped writing, made little time to read, dance, or even make music. And my spirit is dry: I have been losing who I am to be more acceptable in someone else’s book. And the harder I tried the more brittle I became: tired and small. I’ve forgotten–or at least neglected–the machinery that makes me tick and tried to re-vamp the entire system to please others who cannot be pleased. And the harder I tried the more vehement the accusations became.

I know I am imperfect. But no one should have to be perfect in order to be loved and accepted. And I only have one of me.

Writing after a hiatus is kind of like using a leg that’s been in a cast. Awkward and floppy and lacking all neuromuscular coordination. The sentences buckle when I put weight on it. Reflexive twitching of quasimodo thoughts. But writing helps me think and waters my spirit and word by word I walk back toward God. A funny two-step.

A dance of one in body. Two in Spirit.


a time to heal

When I was twenty I had my heart broken in earnest. And my mother wrote this for me. I think having a woman like her as my mother is one of the reasons I have grown resilient and grounded, but not hard, because being tough and hard means that I would be closed off to the world and the people around me, and there would be no exchange between the world and my human-hood.




This is a rough time, hard to tough through. When we first encounter a crisis, or even during its midst it’s easy to think, I can’t do this. Then allow God run the course of the crisis; we ask for His mercy.


Humanity can attest to another humanity as one heart to another. Like pain, to which every person has been acquainted. I don’t want to see my child go through any sort of pain, bodily or mentally. But even more so, I don’t want my child to be desensitized to pain because that would be a frightening anomaly.


It’s almost impossible to be spared of heartbreak; we neither welcome nor desire them yet they are inevitable, arriving unannounced and wreck havoc. Heartbreaks cause us pain; cause our growth. We never want to break up with those we love, yet the fatality of first loves is not infrequent. It’s been said that we don’t understand love the first time around, even when we think we do.


A woman bring a child into life through pain and likewise through metamorphosis, a chrysalis becomes a butterfly. Metamorphosis is agony and metamorphosis is necessary.


You have a hard time of letting go because you are dedicated and committed. You let go despite of your own suffering because you are responsible and respectful. Respectful of his decision and your own ontology.


We both see the infinite and absolute love of God and the inept and finite love of a mother. Yet there is one thing that I give you without reserve, one thing that is absolute: I will always share your pain and joy, you will always have a place to come home to. I will always be waiting for you, ready for you.



Gallway, Ireland. By Abby Kroken

Gallway, Ireland. By Abby Kroken

to love at all…

“[…] is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

― C.S. Lewis

Giant's Bleeding Heart, Photo: Abby Kroken

Giant’s Bleeding Heart, Photo: Abby Kroken

reblogged: The Beautiful Due, featuring Micha Boyett

Even though I am not a mother, I found something here. To the women who bore us, thank you.


When the child tore out of me, I roared.
It ended. The midwife lay him on my empty belly. 
Skin on skin, he bobbed his head along my chest.
The instinct is rooting, foot over foot, 
mouth unhinged. Millions of years,
the new born hunt for mother, for milk. 
In the bed, later, I straddled ice.
My husband said, You look beautiful.
You look like a mother. Years before,
in a slum, I clutched bread to my chest
then released it to the children near.
Naive, I expected a happy few mouths filled, 
a tender thank you. How to know the mass
that gathered, the manic shredding, shoving, 
the screams. Their bodies crawled on hands
and knees for crumbs. They clawed, swallowed. 
Weeks later, back home, I picked at my burrito.
A friend said, You look older, sadder
Months into this one’s life, I nurse
on the couch. My body keeps his living. 
Your face has changed, my husband says.
He smiles. He doesn’t say it’s longer, 
it bears more. He doesn’t say, Look
at all you’ve carried, Look at how you’ve 
filled yourself and built this life,
Look what you’ve born, what you’ve poured out. 
Beautiful, he says. How to feed a child
without alteration? We all root, foot over foot 
toward the nourished hope. We all are blind,
fumbling by scent, by touch. 
Children break free from us.
We do as we must. 
We feed them.

on draft-reviewers, and time

[concerning unkind and destructive reviewers who are asked by the writer to read through the first drafts]…Why waste what little time you may have left with such scum?

I worry that Jesus drinks himself to sleep when he hears me talk like this. But about a month before my friend Pammy died, she said something that may have permanently changed me.

We had gone shopping for a dress for me to wear that night to a nightclub with the man I was seeing at the time. Pammy was in a wheelchair, wearing her Queen Mum wig, the Easy Rider look in her eyes. I tried on a lavender minidress, which is not my usual style. I tend to wear big, baggy clothes. People used to tell me I dressed like John Goodman. Anyway, the dress fit perfectly, and I came out to model it for her. I stood there feeling very shy and self-conscious and pleased. Then I said, “Do you think it makes my hips look too big?” and she said to me slowly, “Annie? I really don’t think you have that kind of time.”

And I don’t think you have that kind of time either. I don’t think ou have time to waste not writing because you are afraid you won’t be good enough at it, and I don’t think you have time to waste on someone who does not respond to you with kindness and respect. You don’t want to spend your time around people who make you hold your breath. You can’t fill up when you’re holding your breath. And writing is about filling up…

Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott

Sunset, Vietnam. Micah Ricke, 2013.

Sunset, Vietnam. Micah Ricke, 2013.