The Power of Music: Our Night with Lizzo

Turn up the music, turn down the lights
I got a feelin’ I’m gon’ be alright
Okay (okay), alright
It’s about damn time

On Sunday, my daughter and I attended a Lizzo concert in downtown Sacramento. It was a combined birthday present for us both and it was life-changing.

We got to the arena five hours before showtime and were lucky enough to be number 35 and 36 in line. The fans we stood beside became our friends as we waited in excitement to be let into the arena. I’d never done pit tickets before and didn’t know what to expect, but our new friends took us under their wing and walked us through the ropes.

Once inside, we got a spot on the barricade—right beside the stage! My daughter and I kept turning to each other in disbelief. It was more than we could have hoped for.

Lizzo’s DJ opened the show followed by the gorgeous Latto. One of her songs featured protest signs and we chanted “My Body, My Choice” as a crowd. The energy felt incredible.

Then, the moment came. When Lizzo took the stage in a striking purple sparkling outfit, my daughter and I cried. She is more than a performer to us, she’s a symbol of how to love your body. She’s a role model. She stands for self-love in the biggest way possible. We were starstruck! We danced, sang along at the top of our lungs, and laughed. We felt free and beautiful. We felt her magic.

When Lizzo appeared in a stunning silver robe and removed it to sing Naked to the crowd, it brought up some big feelings. I’ve had such a hard time loving my plus-sized body, but she made me believe I could. She made me believe I deserve it. We all do. What a gift!

Let down my guard, undo my robe
I’m standing here, don’t need no clothes
I’m naked
Love how you look at me naked
Come make this body feel sacred
I’m a big girl, don’t you waste it, naked

The most powerful moment of the night, for us, was when Lizzo played the song Special. This song is an anthem in our house and has played a major role in my daughter’s mental health journey. It’s a mantra and a call to self-love. We play it on the dark days as a beacon of light. We cling to it when times are hard. To hear Lizzo sing it mere feet from us was transformative. My daughter and I sobbed beside each other feeling the weight of the last few years, the bigness of what we’ve been through together, and the love we share.

In case nobody told you today
You’re special
In case nobody made you believe
You’re special
Well, I will always love you the same
You’re special
I’m so glad that you’re still with us
Broken, but damn, you’re still perfect

At one point during the song, Lizzo saw my girl sobbing and they had a moment. She gave my girl love. Directly. Life can be so hard, but that moment was pure and utter magic. I can’t thank Lizzo enough for seeing her, for her powerful music, and for making me believe in the good of people. Here’s a bit of the song for you to enjoy:

It’s been a few days since the concert and honestly, I still feel transformed. My body feels somehow more comfortable. More like my home. I wore tighter clothes the last few days and didn’t hide my arms. I felt more peaceful about my body. More in love with it. This morning I even caught my reflection in the back door while watering and thought I looked pretty. I snapped this picture so I can remember this feeling.

If you are reading this today, consider it partly a love letter to you. Yes, you. I know it’s hard to love our bodies when they don’t look like we think they “should.” But it’s okay. It really is. You can work on yourself and love yourself. You can be happy with your body right now. Please, be kind to you today. We all need you here. One more time, all together:

You’re special
I’m so glad that you’re still with us
Broken, but damn, you’re still perfect

poetry: not my cat


wandering quietly into morning sun
fluffy-puffed tail held high
he jumps, greeting my hand—
dear old stranger/neighbor cat

friends, I suppose, two strays
looking simply for some comfort
purring for a brief moment
before saying goodbye once more

Note: I’m accepting a challenge to write thirty short poems (not in a row, just as they come). I’m defining short as no more than two stanzas. I was inspired by the beautiful work of my friend Neil—check out his incredible 30 poems. I’m also inspired by sceadugenga who always amazes me with his genius brevity. Feel free to join the challenge if you like.

Edited: A brilliant poet, David, mentioned to me that stanzas can be very long and he’s correct. I’ve changed the guidelines to be under 60 words instead of two stanzas. I think word count is an excellent way to measure these tiny/short/micro/baby poems. Thanks!

Poetry: Motherhood in Two Parts

My Mom

you get stoned
say you’re proud
say you’re sorry
say I’m beautiful

I believe you
motherhood cuts deep
your scars shine

like mine

My Daughter

you’ve inherited broken glass
jagged-edged shattered dreams
that are not yours 

I tried smoothing them
with cold ocean waves
deep muddy lake dives
but they still cut

you don’t believe me
because fresh wounds sting
lines etched into softness
but I see you

I’m proud of you 
I’m sorry
you are beautiful

Mother’s Day isn’t an easy day for many, but I hope today you find solace in knowing motherhood binds us more than separates us. We all come from birth. We all are broken. We are all doing our best. May you find a piece of love to hold today and every day.

Poetry: Dandelion Battle

Wandering mimsy-like
through vorpal woods
gyre strapped mome-like
upon my thigh—
Gimble finds me.

Draped in white
dandelion fur cloak
brillig bright eyes
slithy black hair—
Gimble mocks me.

Uffishly pouncing forth
callay sword drawn
frumiously sweating brows
lips drawn tight—
Gimble attacks me.

With callooh quickness
sidestepping his blade
I cry out
“nobody outgrabe’s me”—
Gimble circles me.

Eyes locked together
two lost-raths 
in the night
frabjous moon laughs—
Gimble sees me.

Beamishly he stares
eyes dripping tears
remembering our love
gyre kisses lost—
Gimble flees me.

Trailing behind him
whiffling white fluff
swirls softly around
my tulgey toes—
Gimble forsakes me.


Note: This poem uses neologisms found in Lewis Carroll’s famous Jabberwocky poem and was started as an assignment for a poetry class I took from M. Todd Gallowglas last weekend. It’s got a bit of a different tone than I usually write and I’d love to know what you think. Thank you!

Shoebox Poetry: Spring Flowers

I am dancing yellow flowers
moss growing on a cracked boulder
dragonfly battles waged through cattail forests
sleeping rocks tucked beneath rotted boards
wide-winged hawks quietly circling prey

I am daring spring sunshine
fields of green miner’s lettuce wet with dew
twisted trees reflected in muddy puddles
colorful floral crowns skipping around a maypole
teeny tiny frogs in a toddler’s hand

I am dandelion fluff wishes
bubbles caught in a spiraling spider web
fat white clouds pressing through a rainbow
afternoons spent reading in a hammock
soft rabbits hiding among wild buttercups

I am lively starry jubilation
moon struck open-armed happiness
deep water thick-boned delight
galaxy swirling sweet poetry madness
freckle-faced daisy ringed freedom

Shoebox Poetry: This is the third poem in my series based on an old box of photos I inherited when my grandmother died in 2004. I love the joy in this photo and I hope my words match its beauty and grace. Happy first week of spring!

Shoebox Poetry: Blurry Eddie

You carve our names “E+K”
into the ancient oak behind
your daddy’s church in hopes
I’ll see, but I’ve grown 
tired of playing your endless

games. My drawers overflow with
your teeny-tiny top-secret 
messages penned on newspaper scraps—
“I miss you,” “meet me
behind the old Bulto Market,”

and “kiss me, dearest Kate,
I’m dying for you.”
words. I need more than
blue-eyed winks and brief
hidden embraces. My love needs

sunshine—warm, bright, radiating fire
so vibrant it can’t be
stoppered or hidden. Explosive volcano
love, running thick down our
bodies. Popcorn love, loud hot

buttery passion devoured with both
hands. Instead, you give me
your blurry photograph standing at
301 Caroline Street, our secret
kissing place. You write in

sweeping curvy letters “this is
not very clear, but it’s 
still me. Eddie.”
Blurry love
is what you offered, thinking 
I’d accept, but I deserve

someone who wants our love
to be broadcasted, shouted, screamed
into the streets. Bullhorn loud
love. Free to be me
love. So, I chased you

onto the old bridge, calling
out through hot tears, “choose 
all of me or none 
of me.”
The bright moonlight 
stretched my dark shadow so 

it covered you entirely as 
you walked away without looking 
back. My young love never
wavered, but yours wasn’t brave
enough to fight. It’s funny

now, finding your thoughtless dare
scrawled in ink, “see how
long you can keep this.”

I kept it forever, blurry
Eddie. Not for you, though

for me.

I stayed in focus.

Shoebox Poetry: This is the second poem in my series based on an old box of photos I inherited when my grandmother died in 2004. I don’t have any idea who Eddie was, but I wanted to rewrite a possible old love story as a moment of empowerment for my grandmother. She was a fierce woman and I like to think she kept this photograph as a reminder of her strength. If someone out there happens to know Eddie, sorry. This is pure fiction and I’m sure he is/was a lovely man.

Poetry: Softness

my body does not understand
reacting with sharp vibrant stabs
singing fight or flight ballads
—do or die chorus numbers
where kids say teary goodbyes
under too-far-away stars
under wet weeping willow trees
under rich dark black soil
under sadness turned into madness
—my wounded heart finally stops

no, I tell the flowers
that’s not the real story
not yet anyway, not now
—curving pink petals nod agreement
where hummingbirds take small sips
under muted late February sun
under thick cotton candy clouds
under pale white peach blossoms
under folded tissue paper cranes
—my healing heart grows stronger

The Orphan and the Tortoise | A Fairy Tale

There once was an orphan who traveled alone at sunrise through a vast forest. As the pink sky touched the cold ground the wind woke. It swirled and roared. It raged and tugged. The orphan was startled but didn’t stop.

She double-knotted the yellow ribbon in her hair, tucked her silver locket beneath her old cloak, and walked and walked. The world around her was alive with sounds, but she heard none, for she was lost in the depths of her enormous grief.

It came to pass she found herself at the bottom of a steep hill facing a rather large tortoise. The two looked at each other for a long time without speaking. It was the tortoise who finally sliced through the silence with his rough, slow voice.

“I’m dying. There’s no other way to say it.”

The orphan didn’t know how to respond and so she said nothing. The wind blew bits of stones and leaves down the sloping hill, some of them landing on the tortoise’s large, round shell. The orphan picked them off one by one.

“I’d like to die at the top of this hill and not the bottom, for it’s better to go up than to go down. Don’t you think?”

The tortoise spoke with certainty, but the orphan had never thought of this before. After giving it several minutes of consideration, she nodded her agreement and spoke.

“I will help you.”

With this, she and the tortoise started up the side of the rocky hill. The going was very slow as the tortoise was old and the wind blew strongly. Each step required a considerable amount of effort. The girl tried everything to move the tortoise faster—lifting, pushing and pulling. But the tortoise was too large and she was too small.

“I don’t know what to do.”

She sounded defeated, but the tortoise blinked at her with watery eyes and said nothing. He had faith in her and so she had to keep trying.

Hours passed with very little progress and although the orphan tried as hard as she could to remain positive, she soon became gloomy and frustrated.

“Wind, do you hear me? I need your help.”

The wind isn’t used to people speaking directly to it, so it decided to answer.

“What do you expect me to do?”

It didn’t take the orphan long to come up with an idea, for she was a clever child with an earnest heart.

“If you could blow in the other direction, it would help me in pushing the tortoise up the hill.”

It wouldn’t be hard for the wind to change direction, but it was stubborn and didn’t like being told what to do.

“What will you give me in return?”

The orphan looked at the tortoise and at herself. She had very little to offer, but not nothing.

“I will give you my yellow hair ribbon if you help us.”

The wind had been tugging at the ribbon for most of the morning and it did indeed want it. The color matched the sun and the wind thought it would look lovely soaring in the clouds.

“Very well. If you give me the ribbon, I will help you.”

The orphan felt sad, for her father gave her the ribbon, but it was the only way to help the tortoise. She untied the double knot and the wind ripped the ribbon from her hand in an instant. She watched it fly through the air and then felt the breeze change, so it pushed at her back. 

“Thank you, wind! Now we will reach the top in no time.”

Indeed, the orphan and the tortoise made great progress up the hill, but as the sun reached the center of the sky they came upon a rushing river too wide to step across and too fast to walk through. The water splashed at her bare feet and she again felt gloomy and frustrated.

“I don’t know what to do.”

It seemed an impossible thing to cross such a river, but the tortoise blinked at her with watery eyes and said nothing. He had faith in her and so she had to keep trying.

“River, do you hear me? I need your help.”

The river was used to people crying tears at its banks or throwing in wishing stones but rarely did someone address it directly. It was impressed by the orphan and decided to answer.

“What do you expect me to do?”

It didn’t take the orphan long to come up with an idea, for she was a clever child with an earnest heart.

“We need to cross your waters but you are too fast. Is there a way you could slow down to let us pass?”

The river could slow, but it rarely did so. It was proud of how strong and fast it flowed.

“What will you give me in return?”

Again, the orphan looked at the tortoise and at herself. She had very little to offer, but not nothing.

“I could give you my shiny locket to dance within your churning waters. It would look very pretty amongst the rocks and the fish.”

The orphan pulled open her cloak and the river saw the sparkling silver heart strung around her neck. It did want to feel the joy of having something so stunning in its waters.

“Very well. If you give me the locket, I will help you.”

The orphan was sad, for her mother gave her the locket and it contained a tiny picture of the two of them, but it was the only way to help the tortoise. She gave the smooth silver a kiss and threw it into the water. 

In a flash, the locket was swept away by the fast current. The water laughed with glee and then started to slow. Soon it was a narrow brook, bubbling over a sea of colorful stones. Although their feet got a bit wet, they were able to cross and continue on their way.

“Thank you, river! Now we will reach the top in no time.”

For a while, they walked on easily with the aid of the wind, but soon it came to pass that a giant boulder made of dark grey stone landed in front of them with a booming thud. It covered the entire path and the orphan could see no way around it. She pushed and kicked at it, but it did not move and again she felt gloomy and frustrated.

“I don’t know what to do.”

She wanted to cry for the boulder was so gigantic and heavy, but the tortoise blinked at her with watery eyes and said nothing. He had faith in her and so she had to keep trying.

“Boulder, do you hear me? I need your help.”

The boulder didn’t respond, but a tiny troll hiding within its shadows did. It stepped out and scowled. It looked almost human except for its body was covered in twisting dark mushrooms and its skin was dark grey.

“What do you expect me to do?”

It didn’t take the orphan long to come up with an idea, for she was a clever child with an earnest heart.

“We need to get to the top of the hill. Could you move the boulder for us?”

The troll didn’t trust humans for they always made fun of its ugly appearance, but the child didn’t laugh or make faces. The troll scratched its belly and sat on the ground crossing its legs in front of it.

“What will you give me in return?”

Again the orphan looked at the tortoise and at herself. She had very little to offer, but not nothing.

“I could give you my cloak. It’s not fancy but it will keep you warm and will make it easier for you to pass through town without being noticed.”

The troll liked this idea very much. Moving a boulder was easy for such a reward.

“Very well. If you give me the cloak, I will help you.”

The orphan was sad, for her grandmother had made the cloak for her, but it was the only way to help the tortoise. She unclasped the wooden button holding it in place and handed it to the troll.

With great delight, it leaped to its feet and flung the cloak around its hunched shoulders. Almost invisible within the black fabric, it pressed the boulder hard with its gnarled hands until it wiggled free from the path and rolled down to the bottom of the hill.

“Thank you, troll! Now we will reach the top in no time.”

The troll ran toward town and the orphan and the tortoise continued on. As the orange sun touched the horizon, signaling day’s descent into night, the wind slept and they finally reached the very top of the hill. The tortoise settled beneath the shady branches of an old oak tree and smiled widely at the orphan.

“Thank you for helping an old tortoise to make its final journey. I will die now, but before I do I must ask for one final favor. It’s very important to me.”

The orphan looked down at her pale pink shirt and torn blue skirt. She had nothing for the tortoise and the thought made her very sad. She wanted to help but her ribbon, locket, and cloak were gone. She had nothing else to give.

“What could I give you?”

The tortoise wanted to say “you have given me so much already” but it had very little time left. Instead, it extended its neck as far as it could out of its shell and spoke its final words.

“After I have died and the moon rises high in the sky, take one of the rocks from the ground and smash my shell to pieces. Promise it will be done.”

The girl was horrified at the thought, but the tortoise blinked at her with watery eyes. He had faith in her and so she said she would do as he asked. He smiled, closed his eyes, and within moments the great big tortoise had left the world.

A full moon danced across a sky of bright blinking stars. The girl wept for the tortoise and then for herself. Not only was she an orphan, but she’d given away the last remaining pieces of her life. There was nothing left to do but fulfill her promise to the tortoise and hope for a better tomorrow.

It didn’t take her long to find a big rock, and with her eyes squeezed tight, she hit the shell as hard as she could. It made a loud cracking sound and she fell backward onto the ground.

It was several minutes before she dared to look, but she was astonished when she did. The tortoise shell lay split down the center and instead of exposing the soft body within, the shell was filled with glittering gold pieces and bright colorful gems. It was a large enough treasure to live the rest of her life in comfort and luxury.

The orphan cried happy tears for she would not have to struggle anymore.

“Thank you, tortoise. I shall never forget you.”

The girl tore a piece of fabric from her skirt and made a pouch to hold the treasure. As she walked to town, she imagined all the ways this good fortune could be shared with others. For she was indeed a clever child with an earnest heart and would live happily for the rest of her days.

Note: In my writing class this week, we read an article on the elements of a good fairy tale. It brought back many fond memories of reading to my kids before bed and their years of Waldorf schooling.

With a burst of inspiration, I wrote this fairy tale in a single afternoon. It’s very different than my typical writing style and I actually broke some of my writing rules, but it felt like the thing I needed to write—some levity during a time of struggle. I hope this story brings a smile to your face and maybe you can share it with a child in your life.

*my daughter and I collaborated on the artwork

Poetry: Inside the House

through multi-colored glass
down simple carpet floors
white walls turn brass
tears transform into doors

shadow trees grow there
lightening flowers do too
whispers come for repair
howling monsters to spew

creaking boards hold ache
light bulbs illuminate pain
rafters rattle and shake
trauma flows like rain

lose yourself, my child
within safe caring walls
connect with inner wild
listen to phoenix’s calls

for inside healing house
nothing stays for long
come in quiet mouse
leave brave lion strong

*This poem was inspired by a comment left on my blog by Grounded African and is dedicated to everyone attempting to enter a building like this to heal and connect in therapy, especially my darling daughter. May you find your way through the dark.

Poetry: Grandma Kate

I was far too small 
to reach the dusty glass 
jars stacked on the wooden 
shelves of your garage. I’d
skate by wondering what orange

or yellow or green meant
and if you’d teach me
your secrets. I outgrew wanting
to know before your mind
forgot all the things—including 

me. It’s been 17 years 
since you left without meeting
your great-grandchildren and now
I wonder if my persimmon
jam would fit beside yours.