“Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.” 

― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

I bought a bright red bullet journal in 2019 to use in 2020. Around October 2019, I started doodling in that audacious little book. I created my opening pages for the coming year, and through that process, I realized my word for 2020 should be Permission. It all felt bold, scary, thrilling. I started 2020 like no other year. I stayed in an Air B&B, watched comedy, worked on my bullet journal, wrote, journaled, and told my then-husband over the phone when he called hysterical that yes, I did want a divorce. I could in no way keep doing what we were doing.

It was the best New Year’s Eve and New Years Day I had had since I was a teenager. I felt liberated.

You might read that and feel a little shocked; feel it is a little crass. It feels crass to write it, and it also feels freeing. In order for me to continue to move on, I think it’s time to drop poetry and talk more plainly.

In October of 2020, I sat outside with my girlfriend at an art class event. My teacher had become very creative in her ways of gathering us while social distancing and creating together. She started holding events at a pavilion overlooking a lake close to her home. I had brought my bright red bullet journal. I had felt stuck for months with it. I wanted it to be a certain thing, and it wouldn’t fit how I wanted it. I told Kel about this, asked for suggestions. She said something along the lines of, perhaps it was time to let that journal go and start a new one. I had a strong reaction to this advice. I wasn’t ready to let go. She smiled and laughed and said maybe I needed to explore what was going on there. Eventually, I did. I figured out why I couldn’t let go of that journal, but in the end, I did. I bought a simple gray bullet journal and immediately began to use it. I was free. The pages were blank, with no expectations for how I had used it, how I should continue, just blank and full of permission.

I’ve felt the same with A Year on The Porch as of late. I loved that project and all it had to offer me. I also began to realize that while I held on tight with two hands, I couldn’t move forward. I needed a change; I needed a new place, a new look, a new format to explore and create.

Thus, Rise.

I would love to invite you in. I imagine our space here is similar to my porch or perhaps my garden. There are benches, chairs, a fire-pit for cold nights. The garden is for digging, working, giving space to free your mind, food to nourish your body, sun to kiss your soul. This is not a place for platforms or sermons, just people, broken and beautiful. A place for searching and growing, listening and talking. A place to tell your story at its rawest moments. I’ll share mine first; stay tuned.