No Mud, No Lotus

I got an overdraft notice from the bank this morning, accompanying a $35 fee and bounced rent check. I washed all my black clothes—in bleach. I dropped my iPhone and stared helplessly as it shattered on the ground. My cat pooped in the kitchen sink. I repeat: he pooped in the kitchen sink. I’m breaking out in a way I can only imagine will leave me looking like “Craterface” from Grease. I spent $50 on a tanning membership the day before my brother found skin cancer on his toe. I crashed my car on the way to the hospital—where my dad was having emergency brain surgery related to his terminal cancer diagnosis. And I’m happier than I’ve ever been.

I’ve heard that life is a journey, to enjoy the ride. I’ve been reminded to count my blessings, to be thankful for what I have and to live each day as my last. But in reality—only when sh*t hits the fan are things truly forced into perspective. And I’m learning that it’s not such a bad thing.

I won’t always be po’ (not poor…po’). And even if I am, at least I’ll be po’ while doing what I love. It’s summer in sunny San Diego and time to trade my black clothes for some color anyway. My iPhone still functions. In the battle between bleach and cat poop — bleach wins every time. Acne treatments have made leaps and bounds in recent years. Graham’s melanoma was successfully removed and he’s now a sunscreen poster boy/skin cancer awareness activist. My mom loaned me her much nicer car until I get the Prius back from the body shop. And my dad—-he’s a warrior. He’s a gardener, journalist, activist and road trippin’ son of a gun . He’s a lotus.

There’s a Buddhist saying: No mud, no lotus. Lotus flowers grow in muddy, swampy water. Still, they bloom above their murky conditions unscathed and incredibly beautiful.

We are all lotus flowers.




Letter to Me

The Brad Paisley song Letter to Me leaves me with mascara streaming down my cheeks every time I hear it. As I listened to it today, I was inspired to write my own letter—to 16-year-old me.


Dear Hannah at 16,

High school is tough. You are tougher.

Don’t worry about whatshisname—after college you’ll have a beautifully redeeming moment that will cure your lingering feelings of insecurity. It will be just one of many personal victories.

Spend some quality time with mom. It’s the only way you’ll ever find out how incredible she really is. She’ll turn out to be your favorite workout partner, greatest confidante and absolute best friend.

Keep in touch with Ms. Minor. Her influence in your life will be significant. She’ll leave this Earth too soon and you’ll know your first real pangs of loss. But you’ll feel her smiling down every time you see a green VW Bug.

Be nice to Britta and be patient with Graham. They’ll both grow up…just like you will.

Don’t drive so fast. You’ll learn that not all cops have sympathy for a crying girl and dad will be PO’d when he inevitably gets the ticket(s) in the mail…despite your best efforts.

Steer clear of that platinum blonde hair you like so much—It’ll break your hair…and your heart.

Everything’s easier when you follow dad’s rules. When he embarrasses you by picking you up from that co-ed sleepover, it’s because he loves you and only wants what’s best for you. Although…you’ll be too hysterical (and drunk) at the time to care. Soon your endless similarities will reveal themselves. That connection will be magnetic and unbreakable.

You’ll get into some trouble. Don’t beat yourself up too much—they’re learning experiences and you’ll have some great stories to tell for it.

I’ll warn you now: you’ll never be asked to the prom. That one will linger with you for a while but life has a funny way of making it up to you. You’ll see.

Don’t sweat Algebra. It isn’t all that important and those failed classes won’t mean a thing. You’ll still graduate college…summa cum laude no less.

You’ll eventually discover the cure for your migraines and your greatest insecurity all in one place: the gym. But don’t worry, you’ll learn to love it.

Try not to stress so much about those “friends” of yours. They seem almighty now but you’ll learn they’re just mean girls. In the long run their only purpose in your life will be to teach you an appreciation for real friendship. You’ll eventually find some genuine friends to heal the wounds caused by the fake ones.

Speaking of friends; hang tight to Andrea, Katie, Alyssa and Taylor—they will be some of the most important people in your life. And you know that tall girl, Elyse? You should get to know her. On second thought, you’ll have plenty of time for that in college…and long after.

One more thing…maybe you should lose the kissy face in all your pictures. You’ll wish you hadn’t made that your signature look.

Most of all…

“Have no fear. These are nowhere near the best years of your life.”

With Love,

Hannah at 23