Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Lioness

*A poem by T.L. Gray

Alright... slap my hands if you want, but this meme made me think of Maroon 5​'s song "Animals"... and I like it. LOL! This will be my new poem for today.

"... Baby, I'm preying on you tonight. Hunt you down, eat you alive, just like animals... animals... like animals, oh. Maybe you think that you can hide. I can smell your scent for miles, just like animals ...animals... like animals, oh."

This is the Second of five poems which I have agreed to write for the ART AND POETRY SERIES

(A crusade of poets around the world to spread our poetic love.)

The challenge:

*Each nominated poet/poetess will post a poem daily for 5 days and will nominate 5 poets for each posted poem. The purpose of this crusade is to make a huge poetic chain.

Here are five nominations (everyone's a poet). Take the challenge if you would like, or not. Your choice.

Nan Shartel​, Christian Fennell​, Adam Hornyak​, Kelly Gray​, Chris Martin​


The Lioness

She's wise and stealthy, and works hard every day.

But when the sun sets, her pride is fed, and her kingdom free,

A different hunger stirs inside, one only her king can meet.

She walks around with a regal gait,

too wild to be tamed, too vicious to be caged.

Only by her side and beneath his mane, can he satisfy her inner rage.

Listen to her purr like a kitten, when her king is a king.

Safety Mechanism

The more I learn and the more I comprehend, the less I know and the less I understand. ~T.L. Gray

As you all know, I have some of the most thought-provoking friends in the world. I suppose that’s how they become my friends in the first place, they provoke me to think outside the box, to delve into the depths of understanding and enlightenment. My soul burns with conflagration. Do I ever reach the pinnacle of wisdom and complete understanding? I make no such claims. The more I learn and the more I comprehend, the less I know and the less I understand. But it doesn’t stop me from trying. On the contrary, it fuels me and stirs my passions.

The subject this morning is ‘safety mechanisms’ we put in place to protect ourselves from allowing our imaginations to create a relationship with someone else more in our minds than what it is in reality, and therefore getting hurt when that relationship dissolves, or turns out to not be what we imagined. Because, in essence, it was the dream we created that we loved or desired more than the person. It’s a sticky subject, I know. Most people don’t want to admit the fantasies they create, and tend to blame the other person for their failure to live up to those fantasies, but that’s another post for another day. I’m getting off topic.

If two human beings are honest with each other (first we have to be honest with ourselves), then we can attempt to apply the correct boundaries, put up the correct walls, set the correct parameters for the type of relationship we will allow with another person. But when the fuck do we ever do what is correct? Anyway, back to this ‘mechanism’ - what is it really? My response this morning was: “It’s a safety net so no one gets hurt and it tames the imagination. I’ve discovered when most relationships don’t work out, most of the pain comes from the dream of what could have been more than what really was. I’m a dreamer. I have an exceptional imagination and I have to be careful what I allow myself to dream. I’m also an artist, which means I feel deeply. I’m learning to protect myself and use these ‘mechanisms’. So far, they’re working. I think.”

My wise friend responded, “I totally get that. I have to control my dreaming these days too. I’ve allowed myself to make bad decisions based on hopes and dreams, and it’s just not smart or fair to the other person.”

He’s so right. It’s not fair. We get hurt when the other person doesn’t live up to our dreams and expectations, and it’s not fair that they had to try in the first place. When we put people on pedestals, it puts a pressure and responsibility onto them that they neither deserved, nor asked for. I understand the pressure to live up to another’s expectations and ideals, and it crushed me when I failed. It hurt. It still hurts. It wasn’t equally fair to set such high dreams for them to fail to meet in my life, either.

I truly am learning to love people and appreciate the beauty of who they are, just as they are, because their lives have been an incredible journey to get where they are. They’re human beings with souls and feelings. We’re all fuck-ups. I quit trying to change them, or change myself, to meet my, their, or our expectations. It’s futile. As Ecclesiastes states, “it’s meaningless… a chasing after the wind.” I tried my damnedest to be what they wanted, what they needed, and only ended up hating and losing myself in the process.

Our conversation continued and I responded, “I have learned, but not necessarily good things. I’ve learned how to run, how to hide, how to make beautiful deflecting masks. I’ve become strategic, defensive, prepared, my guns always ready and loaded, and my armor securely in place. Yet, a kiss could unravel my defenses. But what hope will I be kissed on the battlefield, beneath my cover, and on the alert? Yet, I still believe in miracles.”

My friend replied, “Ohhh, I try my damnedest to learn from my mistakes and pain. I know there are those that try to hide it as well though. Which is the majority? Just looking at today’s society, I’d guess most people hide from it. That is, until they become more self-actualized.”

When has hiding ever solved anything? Hiding delays. Hiding blocks. Yes, it provides a sense of safety, but it’s a false sense. What are we really saving ourselves from? Living? Loving? Learning? Can we truly hide from pain? If so, I haven’t discovered that secret yet. It’s only when we take a risk to do something that we make a connection. We can’t connect within the shadows. We were not made for the shadows, but to dance in the light, to fly, to soar to great heights. As an unknown wise man once said, “If you want something you’ve never had, do something you’ve never done.”

I want a great love affair. Just like that Hunter Hayes song, “I want Crazy.” I want that whole damned song. I’m so tired of being safe, practical, careful, or responsible. I’ll post the lyrics and a YouTube link below. So, if I want Crazy, then I suppose I need to be Crazy and hold onto the dream and hope that someday somebody will come along that can appreciate my kind of crazy, and not change for those who can’t. I’ve got to learn when to fight and when to lay my weapons and armor down. I usually fuck that up. It’s a good thing I still in believe in miracles.

The conversation with my wise friend this morning ended with, “Knowing the truth and acting on it are two separate worlds. That’s why we keep getting into trouble. We ignore what we know and follow how we feel. We try like hell not to feel, yet that hurts us most of all.”

“So true,” he answered.

So true. Thank you, my friend, for the stimulating conversation this morning. Such friends are as a precious jewel to me. I appreciate you.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray


Hunter Hayes

"I Want Crazy"


I'm booking myself a one-way flight
I gotta see the color in your eyes
Yeah tellin' myself I'm gonna be alright
Without you baby is a waste of time

Yeah, our first date, girl, the seasons changed
It got washed away in a summer rain
You can't undo a fall like this
'Cause love don't know what distance is
Yeah, I know it's crazy

But I don't want "good" and I don't want "good enough"
I want "can't sleep, can't breathe without your love"
Front porch and one more kiss, it doesn't make sense to anybody else
Who cares if you're all I think about,
I've searched the world and I know now,
It ain't right if you ain't lost your mind
Yeah, I don't want easy, I want crazy
Are you with me baby? Let's be crazy


I wanna be scared, don't wanna know why
Wanna feel good, don't have to be right
The world makes all kinds of rules for love
I say you gotta let it do what it does

I don't want just another hug and a kiss goodnight
Catchin' up calls and a date sometimes
I love that we're rebels, and we still believe
We're the kind of crazy people wish that they could be, yeah

Oh, and I know we're crazy, yeah

But I don't want "good" and I don't want "good enough"
I want "can't sleep, can't breathe without your love"
Front porch and one more kiss, it doesn't make sense to anybody else
Who cares if you're all I think about,
I've searched the world and I know now,
It ain't right if you ain't lost your mind
Yeah, I don't want easy, I want crazy
You with me baby? Let's be crazy

Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na

No, I don't want "good" and I don't want "good enough"
I want "can't sleep, can't breathe without your love"
Front porch and one more kiss, it doesn't make sense to anybody else
Who cares if you're all I think about,
I've searched the world and I know now,
It ain't right if you ain't lost your mind
Yeah, I don't want easy, I want crazy

Yeah, look at us baby, tonight the midnight rules are breaking
There's no such thing as wild enough,
And maybe we just think too much
Who needs to play it safe in love?
Let's be crazy!

Na na na na oh na na na na oh

Who cares if we're crazy? We gotta be crazy!
I know that we're crazy, so let's be crazy!

*Cover photo by digital-art-gallery.com

Monday, March 23, 2015


Werifesteria – to wander longingly through the forest in search of mystery.

I hear the call, the wild animal inside, as my inner black beast stirs. 
She wakes.
She hungers.
She thirsts.
She hunts.
The scent of Eros wafts through the forest as I prance across the earthen floor.
He twitches.
He licks.
He crouches.
He growls.
We circle. My head spins. We pounce. Every muscle in my body burns. 
We hiss.
We seize.
We bite.
We scratch.
I am prey.  He is prey.  We are prey. We are devoured.
I lick the blood remnants from my claws and remember.


Feeling as an Obligation

I’ve experienced many humiliating things in my life, many things I don’t like to even talk about. The damage from those things have left deep scars within me, but none as pronounced as the consequence of feeling as an obligation. Actually, this one thing makes me run for the hills faster than anything else in this world. I don’t run to keep from hurting. On the contrary, I run because I’m hurting very badly. I’m not so strong these days to just ‘suck it up’ and paint a smile on my face as I pretend all is right with the world. That dam blew a few years ago and I’ve been running since.

I suppose this feeling started early in childhood, being told repeatedly that I was a burden, unwanted, unplanned, and a nuisance. Even my nickname was a daily reminder of how much of an burdened obligation I was to my family. I was called “Sap”… because I was that sticky mess one got from a tree and was almost impossible to wash off, no matter how much you hated it. I was bitter and left a bad taste in the mouth. I suppose I wasn’t as sweet as my younger half-sister, whom was called “Sugar”. Later my oldest daughter was called “Sweetie”, but I was always “Sap”.

I became so independent I wouldn’t let people help me. At first, to hide all the secrets that needed to be hidden so that I wouldn’t be taken away from my family, the family that didn’t want me, yet I loved them as all children do. But as I grew older, I became even more independent because I learned to hate them and wanted to get far away, as far as I could. Every relationship I’ve had since, I’d never let anyone have control over me by becoming dependent on them, especially in becoming an obligation.

What I mean by obligation is have someone do something for you NOT because they want to, but because they have to out of responsibility. There’s a lot of things that come with obligation… things such as resentment, bitterness, pity, frustration, blame, and strife. This is true not just in relationships, but for every aspect in life… from work, recreation, socializing, friends, etc.

When the first (I believe only) man that ever really loved me, scars and all, died in combat in Somalia in the early ‘90’s, something else died in me right along with him – I went numb. I soon afterwards got pregnant and married a man who wasn’t in love with me so I could fulfill my own obligations to my children. I was a zombie, yet I searched diligently for years for that spark of life. I search in marriage, I searched in family (his family), I searched in faith (church), I searched in career, I searched in my dreams. Yet, every day I felt unloved, unwanted, as an obligation, and it seared my soul. A couple years ago I left it all. I ran. And slowly, I began to feel again. Granted, I’ve spent pretty much the last few years hurting, crying, with a huge lump in my throat… and some days just begging to be numb again and not feel anything. But, I can’t. There have been some days where I have felt love, I have felt freedom, I have felt so happy and alive. So, no matter how much I may hurt, I can’t shut it off again… because I know there is good to feel too, and all the pain is worth it for those brief moments.

So, I find myself, at the first hint of feeling as an obligation, running… and running fast. It’s the strongest trigger into my PTSD. I wish I was perfect and always responded with perfect reactions, but I don’t. I’m broken, and damaged, and a mess. I’m doing the best I can to be something beautiful and positive in this world. I’ve seen too much ugly. As much as I’d love to promise to never run, I know I can’t make that promise. Just make me feel like an obligation and I don’t think I’d be able to stop from running, even if I wanted. It doesn’t mean I don’t love you. It doesn’t mean I don’t want you. It simply means… I can’t be “Sap” anymore. She no longer exists and I won’t resurrect her.

I believe… someday, someone will love me enough to stop me.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Friday, March 20, 2015

Who Cares?

*A Poem by T.L. Gray

Restful body stirs just before the morning bells.

Eyes open. Stretching. Reaching for the last tendril of the last dream.

Musing. Contemplation. Wondering why I exist, why I continue to breathe. Who cares?

Body moves in motion, burning calories, fat, and stress.

Heart beats. Sweating. Pushing myself toward the next healthy goal.

Thinking. Planning. Wondering why I push so hard, why bother. Who cares?

Fingers fly across the keys, examining, researching as I stay busy.

Mind races. Working. Fulfilling the requirements to take care of myself.

Living. Paying Bills. Wondering why I struggle, why I can’t get ahead. Who cares?

Smelling the wonderful aroma, mixing the ingredients together.

Mouth waters. Smelling. Enjoying the tastes of my creations.

Cooking. Eating. Wondering why I sit alone, why the empty table. Who cares?

Tapping the buttons, playing the character on the screen.

Mind occupied. Distracting. Losing myself into another world.

Gaming. Playing. Wondering how long I can disappear. Who cares?

Pulling the covers over my head, as I snuggle up to my pillows.

Heart broken. Crying. Wishing I could just disappear.

Dreaming. Not Sleeping. Wondering why I’m unlovable. Who cares?


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Distorted Image

Okay, here’s another one of those politically correct moments that really grate on my nerves and has inspired today’s blog post. I actually had an idea to post something positive and funny today, you know… ‘cause I was in that sort of mood. But I read an article and that got my thoughts spinning, and that was all well and good. But then I read the comments concerning the article and the floodgates of ‘ah hell’ have opened. So, this is sort of a rant. I apologize in advance, but I’m not sorry for what I’m about to say. I mean every word.

The article that started this whole thing can be found at this link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/11477512/Schoolboys-should-tell-girls-their-idea-of-a-perfect-woman-says-expert.html.

The piece encourages young men to tell young women, especially during their formative and puberty-challenging years, what they find attractive from physical to personality traits in order to help the young women form a more realistic and healthy view of their own bodies. I found myself nodding my head several times while reading this article.

If you really think about it, the way a girl feels about herself and the level of her attractiveness is dictated by the society around her, all in the effort to attract the young men they interact with. It’s human nature. However, the definition of what ‘beauty’ consists of is portrayed by media and social forums, and most of them have really fucked up views of beauty. They lead many young women to feel bad about themselves due to unrealistic expectations and displays, everyday chipping away at the young women’s self-esteem because they can’t live up to that fantastical image, leading to unhealthy practices, eating disorders, mutilations, etc.

Every woman/girl wants to be attractive and beautiful. We want to be pleasing to the men in our lives, so we go to great lengths to try and fulfill what we think are the ideals of beauty and sexiness. What better way to really learn what is truly beautiful and sexy than directly from the men we are trying to please in the first place? It’s just a thought.

Wait.. I can already hear all the feminists reading this post screeching with.. .”I ain’t trying to please anybody but myself… and “another example of women being told to get our self-esteem from what men think of us. “… yeah, yeah… I know. I’m not disagreeing. I’m a feminist and the first person I try to please before anyone else is ME, including the men in my life. But, I’m also not lying to myself either and pretending I don’t want to look sexy and have my man drooling all over me. I’m a woman. I celebrate being a woman, and as a woman - I want my man to look at me not ONLY with respect and admiration, but lust and desire, and a raw sexual want and need. I want him to be at times unable to keep his hands off me. I want to make him growl wanting me, and grunt while having me, and groan when I’m gone. In all reality, that isn’t going to happen unless I’m attractive to him. So, the ‘smart’ thing to do is find out what he finds attractive and see if that is reasonable and applicable. Yet, the only sources young women have to try to discover this is found in our social media markets… magazines, television, public displays, etc. Hearing the truth from the source is always a better idea than a secondary source.

The other thing in these responses that really set me off was a comment, one I’ve heard a million times before so there’s no animosity toward this certain responder, is: “Though his idea of a girlfriend is that she has to have a model body but also intelligence. I keep telling him he's looking for a needle in a very big haystack.”

My response: “I really hate the idea that just because you might be beautiful you're more than likely stupid. Most beauty comes from confidence... and confidence comes from achievement... and achievement often comes from wisdom, knowledge and determination. What's wrong with someone hoping to find a partner that is not only pleasing to the eye but the mind also? It's phrases like "looking for a needle in a haystack" that encourages people to compromise on what they want and settle for what they think they can get, or doubt something because it comes in a beautiful package. I want beautiful AND smart.. because that's what I want, and I have no bones about saying it. I also think this professor has the right idea. I don't think all the males in the world are idiots either and all of them think their perfect woman is some brainless-model-sex-kitten. That's their sexual fantasy, but they love real women for different reasons, and I've learned its mostly confident women who are honest with them, nurture them, encourage them, and inspire them. I have a male sexual fantasy, Superman, but I wouldn't want to have a relationship with him.. or expect any real man to live up to that image. Nor do I expect any real man to truly expect any real woman to live up to their sexual fantasy. That's why it's called a fantasy. However, love will beat a fantasy any day.” I would like to add, “…but I’d do all I could to try and live up to his sexual fantasy, because it’d be fun and as a woman I naturally like to please people I love and care about. It pleases me to do it.”

But the whole issue comes down to honesty. There’s not enough of that in this world. We live behind our masks. We lie to the world around us. We listen to the lies around us. Mostly, we lie to ourselves. And in this politically correct world, we’re often too afraid to speak out in search of that truth in fear of being outcast. Deception is all we see. The disguises we wear are all we notice. And our young women continue to fight through these self-esteem issues with the lies they’re fed and bombarded with every day. It’s sad how many of them lose that fight and succumb to the peer-pressures and never truly discover the real beauty within them. I mostly feel for our young men who never get to get the opportunity to see that true beauty either, only the distorted image. This whole issue works just as well for men as women in reverse. But, hey… let’s not talk about it, ‘cause we might hurt someone’s feelings.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Falling Out of Love

Is this really possible? Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’ve experienced it on both sides of the coin, am experiencing a form of it now, and yet I still don’t understand how such a thing can really occur.

It’s easy to get angry at the opposite end of a love affair falling apart. We are beings that change, adapt, evolve and go through several metamorphosis on a constant basis. There’s no such person that always ‘stays the same’. Yet, as much as we change we are also creatures of habit.

I think the part that hurts most in a Falling Out of Love experience is the change that occurs when the habits, especially the habits that made us most happy, are the ones that change. I.e. – Simply saying ‘good morning’ and ‘good night’… and having that suddenly or slowly stop. I had a friend and it drove him crazy with me simply sending him a good morning and good night text every day. He never understood that it was my way of saying to him that he was important to me… that I thought about him in my early morning thoughts, wished him well through the day, and then as I meditated before I fell asleep he was a part of those thoughts as well. But because my habits bothered him, I stopped (mostly)… and with it… I stopped thinking about him so much. Days sometimes go by where I barely think of them at all, or mention his name, or concern myself with his well-being. I miss him terribly, but I don’t want to bother him either. The daily wishes… were more for me than for him. I’ve been forgotten, left behind, and abandoned a lot… and I never wanted anyone I care about to ever feel that from me. So, I try to keep the ones I care about most fresh in my thoughts. Yet, I still sometimes find myself reluctant to send a simple, “good morning” thinking I’m bothering them.

When you’re in a relationship, regardless of the type of relationship, we develop habits on how we relate to one another. Those tend to be the first things that change when the relationship changes. It’s always small changes, a slow pulling away, that happens when a relationship is fading out. Those are painful if you are observant enough to see them. The absence of these habits produces emotional holes. If you are used to communicating with someone every day, consistently, and they suddenly stop or those communications get farther apart, it hurts. It hurts because you know the embers are dying and unless the coals are flamed, they will fizzle.

This is where my stubbornness hurts me most. If I feel someone withdrawing from me, I slam up my walls preparing myself for the pain I know is coming. I should be pumping air onto those smoldering coals, but instead I withdraw further away. I run… emotionally and physically.

I’m not saying that’s the thing to do. On the contrary… that’s the thing NOT to do. I’ve never saved a relationship by walking away or letting them walk away. But, it’s one of my triggers. It’s one of my self-preservation psychotic moves. Just because I will stand back and allow people to walk away from me, doesn’t mean I don’t care or that it doesn’t hurt. It hurts. It hurts a lot. I still have holes where people have walked away from me and I let them go. But it doesn’t mean I ever stopped loving them. How is that even possible? For me, I have truly loved them all, and in some ways still do. What died was the relationship, the communication, the connection, but the beautiful things I loved about them are still there. Perhaps it’s just me because it sure seems they stopped loving me. I don’t think any of my exes hate me, but did they ever really love me? Do they think fondly of me on those rare moments I brush across their thoughts? Who knows.. it doesn’t matter because they’re not here now. They walked away or else let me walk away. I had friends I thought would be in my life forever that are nowhere to be found. I had lovers who I couldn’t imagine my life without. Yet, here I am today alone, yet still breathing, still living, still existing, just not in their world.

So, did the love just fall away? Did it just stop? Or just the effort to fight for it? Will I ever be worth fighting for in someone’s life? To maintain a relationship with me, they’ll have to fight for me, because I won’t stop them if they ever chose to leave. Watching them leave is the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced, because I’m helpless to stop, to change, to save the fall. I’ll never be where I’m not wanted. Never. Being in a relationship like that doesn’t just hurt emotionally, it kills the soul.

I don’t the answer. I don’t know if falling out of love is possible, but falling out of habit is very much real.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Monday, March 16, 2015

Jump, Damn It!

I had a very thought-provoking conversation with a dear friend of mine this weekend. I don’t feel I had anything wise to say to him during the conversation, well, not anything beneficial, but the heart of the matter has continually been rolling around in my mind since he spoke. He’s at a crossroads in his life and having an existential moment, questioning the decisions he’s made, is making, or will make in the future. He’s full of anxiety, some regret, some fear, yet there’s some hope too.

“I realize I’m living every day of my life for retirement but not for today, and I’m miserable,” he said.

My heart broke for him because I know what that moment feels like. I’ve been going through it these last few years ago. I quickly felt overwhelmed, filled with anxiety, because I wanted to tell him to be careful. Uprooting your life and throwing everything you’ve worked hard for away as you step to change it, will take a certain amount of courage. And the cost … well, the cost is the true risk, and the risk is sometimes very high. But is it worth it? It was for me. But, that’s me, and he’s not me.

There was a moment we were talking and I don’t think I expressed clearly something that I recently discovered in my own life-uprooting journey, and that concerns taking a risk and who’s willing to actually do it. I hope I can explain it better here than I could then.

How much risk is a risk if you’re jumping with a safety net? How much bravery is required to jump with safety lines connected to you and you know that though the experience will be thrilling, it’ll also be safe and you’ll live? Imagine jumping from a cliff with no safety line, no assurance, no insurance, and no back-up plan. You MUST defy gravity and the laws of physics and fly. And if you don’t fly - you die?

I’ve watched many people in my life NOT take a risk, not make a change in their lives because they were too afraid to lose all they’ve worked for up to that point. Because … to make this kind of change is to risk everything. I understand the hesitation, but then again, I don’t. I don’t understand why people who can afford to fail because they have a back-up plan, a source of protection, or a support system to help them if they should crash, remain rooted at the edge of a dead field, yet choose to remain on the cliff, or wait to be pushed before they leap. I’ve also watch these same people being tortured with regret and haunted by the proverbial “what if” when they don’t jump. Most make excuses for their practical decisions, but they can’t lie to themselves all the time. The truth has a way of bursting free at odd times, especially right in the middle of the night when you’re just about to reach the best sleep of your life.

This isn’t a motivational message to encourage anyone to jump into a risky situation. It’s a warning… that if you’re thinking about jumping there are real risks involved. You can fail. You can crash. You can lose everything. I have lost security, money, position, reputation, possessions, things, stuff, respect, admiration, dreams… but most of all… I’ve lost love. I’ve jumped. I’ve crashed. I’ve burned. Yet like a phoenix, I’ve risen from the ashes.

Listening to my friend pour out his heart, which I appreciate very much that he loves me enough to share this difficult time with me, I can’t help but learn something else about myself. We should always strive to learn from those around us, letting their experiences be a teaching tool for us, or at least a measuring rod or mirror to help us see ourselves better. Hearing the pain and anxiety in his voice, reminded me of my own fears and anxieties. Without a doubt if I were in his shoes, I’d have no problem walking away from the life he’s built for himself, because I’ve done it already in my own life and KNOW, not suspect but know, that cutting ‘stuff’ out of my life didn’t mean anything. The world didn’t stop, though I wished it would have, the other people in my life didn’t suffer because of my decisions, though I wished some of them had, and I’m still alive, though many times I thought the pain of my heartbreak was going to surely suffocate me. I don’t think I was able to properly breathe for almost two years.

I jumped from that cliff with my arms wide open, and I crashed hard. Then, when I was on the ground, darkness, heartache, and death surrounded me and tortured me daily. Several times I wanted to die. Many times I thought of killing myself because the pain was just too much. I was so lost. I was so scared. I was so alone. I didn’t know who I was anymore, because I lost the labels and the identity that the world gave me, that others had put on me, especially the ones I had put on myself. I lost everything. I lost everyone, and it hurt like hell. But, as that identity was stripped from me, as the mask I had worn before the world was removed, there was nothing else left to face but the real me. She was a dirty, ragged, starved, naked, unwanted little thing. But she wasn’t that way because of what the world had done to her. No. Her condition was because of what I had done to her, how I had neglected her, how I had forced her year after year after year to deny herself to fulfill responsibilities and expectations. I took all the credit for the things she’d accomplished. I wasn’t the fighter, the survivor, the lover, the forgiver, or the wise. She was. She was that small voice of reason that could be heard when all my yelling would stop. I hated her. I was ashamed of her. I despised her because I thought she was weak. But, she wasn’t the weak part of me. That outer mask that I worked so hard to create, in a vain effort to protect myself from the world and it’s judgment, was the weak part. That part of me depended on her own strength, ability, knowledge, and effort to get through this life. She convinced herself that she could work hard enough to earn love and respect… and that she could do it all by herself. That part of me was wrong. My college degree, my salary, my status, my church membership, my family name, my talents, my acumen, and even my pretty face all failed to grant me those things in life I thought I deserved. I didn’t live or have time for the things that did matter…precious things only found when you live in the moment, when you live in the day, when you live for what your heart desires and not for the practicality of what the world expects from you. Things like faith (not religion), hope (not a wish list) and love (not sex).

Wrapping my arms around my friend, I wanted more than anything to pour those little tendrils of love I’ve recently received in my life. Because I knew if he ever felt it, if he could just touch the edges of that miracle it would strengthen him. Every day I seek those moments, those beautiful moments when the world just shifts in the right paradigm. I still have to fight the old me for those moments, casting down the loud strong voices of opposition, of rational thought. I still seek that deep, true love, that fire, that passion, …that naked truth. I’ve tasted it. I’ve had a moment of looking into another pair of eyes and seeing and feeling something real, something beautiful, so I know beyond doubt it exists. It’s out of my reach at the moment and it tortures my soul that I can’t have it, and I struggle to understand why I’m denied it. But knowing it simply exists gives me hope I’ll find it again. Maybe not today, maybe not in the same pair of eyes or behind the same mask, but it’s out there. That love that I felt, oh my god, it shook me to my very core. And that inner woman inside of me… she sang the most beautiful song. I can still hear her song. When I close my eyes, I can still feel the music of that love. When I remember… I can still taste it, and it was good.

So, if I could convey to my friend only one thing… it would be:

“Don’t worry about tomorrow’ for tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Therefore, I tell you, don’t be anxious for your life: what you will eat, or what you will drink; nor yet for your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” ~ Jesus Christ.

My friend, don’t be like the rich man in Luke 12 who tore down his barns and built bigger ones and said that his life was good because of all the possessions he had gained. God called him a fool because that very night his life was required of him and he had no one to leave all his treasure, no one to morn his passing, no one to miss him. His life meant nothing because it was spent chasing down what he could collect, not what he could spend or use while he was here, or for love he could share. Treasure is meant to be displayed, used, worn, and given, not stuffed in a barn and buried somewhere. He didn’t live for the day, but for the ‘morrow … for his retirement. Tomorrow is not guaranteed, neither is retirement. Success is not guaranteed, neither is failure. Satisfaction is not guaranteed, neither is want. What I do know is that regret is preventable and love is possible. So jump, damn it. I hope you fly. I hope you soar to the greatest heights. But if you fall, if you crash and burn, I’ll be there to hold your hand.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Friday, March 13, 2015

Will You Kiss Me?

Will you kiss me?

My first romantic inclination began with the fantasy of a kiss at ten years old as I watched Superman fly among the clouds holding onto Lois Lane’s hand. I wanted to be her. I wanted to fly. I wanted to have someone read my thoughts, know what deep secrets hid inside my heart behind my thick wall of tragedy and lies. I wanted to be saved. I wanted to be kissed.

Will you kiss me?

My first real kiss at fifteen, not that wet awkward secret smack at five beneath the art table in Kindergarten, happened with my first crush. We met beneath the bleachers at the Pepperell football game. I can still remember how my lips tingled and my whole body shivered, and how his tongue tasted like Juicy Fruit gum. Even now, though he’s but a distant memory, I can still feel his fingers on the back of my neck and the way his thumb traced the side of my face.

Will you kiss me?

It may not have been my first kiss, but when a handsome soldier held my hand as we walked along the moonlit beach arguing over the constellations, he stopped me, placed both his hands on the sides of my face and looked me directly in the eyes as he declared his deepest love for me …that kiss brought me to life. I still sometimes feel the power of the bus station goodbye kiss. I hate constellations. I hate beaches. I hate bus stations. I hate goodbyes.

Will you kiss me?

Standing on that pickup curb at the airport, my legs shaking, my heart racing, and losing my breath at the sight of those hazel eyes, I almost couldn’t feel it when his lips connected with mine. It was overwhelming, because though I was in a place I’d never been, I felt at home. I felt safe. I felt found.

Will you kiss me?

Him lying across the foot of my bed, listening to me read to him from across the room, after enjoying a great meal and even better stimulating conversation, I felt him watching me and I couldn’t concentrate. I just wanted to kiss his perfectly plump lips. I always wait for the first move, brace myself, put up my guard and my walls, and then fight like hell to bring them down, usually unsuccessfully. Not with him. I actually asked for permission. I made the first move for the first time. Lightning struck and it burned hot. It still burns, haunting my dreams, torturing my imagination. It is so close yet beyond reach.

Will you kiss me?

Anticipation. Confliction. A secret kiss. So sweet. So gentle. So good. A stomach full of butterflies. A youthful invigoration. A smile. Untainted love.

Will you kiss me?

Who are you? Where will you come from? When will we meet? Will you soar with me in the clouds, taste sweet and tingly, bring me to life, make me feel safe and at home, burn with fire, and feel so innocent and sweet?

Can I kiss you? Please?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Perfect Man

As most of you already know… okay, fine… so as ALL of you already know, I’m single and haven’t been very successful in the crazy world of 21st century dating over 40. I think it’s because I just haven’t found my Mr. Perfect yet, but some of my best friends would argue that it’s because I’ve set the bar too high, that I dismiss way too easily, or that I have a list waaaayyy too long that no man alive on earth could ever possibly fill it. Others have told me they think I’m just being too careful and not opening my heart enough to allow anyone in, and even one of my romantic interests told me, “for someone so smart, you can be very obtuse”. I think perhaps I’m already in love with the perfect man, I just haven’t met him yet.

First of all, to answer all these accusations (which I find quite extraordinary how everyone has an opinion on the subject in regards to me and my dating life, yet their own lives don’t reflect their advice or any evidence they have any better idea of love and relationships more than the rest of us – but that’s another blog post) concerning all my faults, I’d like to clear up a few things.

1. I haven’t set the bar too high. How can a bar be set too high anyway? When is someone too good or not good enough? How low is a low set bar – prison bars, still lives at home with his mother at 45, has more debt than the federal reserve? I feel my bar is set just right. I don’t want a ‘broke ass man’, but I don’t want one that’s so successful he doesn’t enjoy life in pursuit of wealth or position. I don’t mind hard work as long as there is also hard play. I don’t mind struggling as long as I’m not being carried or have to carry someone else, but that we help one another. Ever hiked with someone? It takes a little give and take, some leading and following. It’s about being together and doing things together as partners in good times and bad. Yes, I have a bar… I set the bar to the level I believe I deserve. I’m a smart, beautiful, healthy, passionate woman. I set my bar based on what kind of guy deserves a woman like that. What’s wrong with that? In return, I feel I deserve romantic, faithful, funny and smart. Sheesh!

2. I don’t dismiss way too easily. In fact, I usually give a man plenty of time to try and right his mistakes or make an effort to show his intentions. If he doesn’t call me, text me, message me, or communicate with me in any way, shape, or fashion except the day of or hour before a date, he can find another date. I want something real. I want to be important in his life. I want to be someone he thinks of in the middle of the day for no other reason than I’m on his mind. I want him to ‘share’ his life with me… different parts of it. While I never initiate, I do respond. If I don’t feel ‘wanted’ as a whole person, then I will walk away without batting one of my real or false lashes. I’ve lived too long not being wanted. I’ll never do that again. It hurts me to walk away, but I already know it’ll hurt more to stay.

3. List? I don’t have a list? I have standards. But as far as a man having certain unchangeable things like physical features, personality traits, or hobbies that doesn’t mean anything. I don’t really have a physical type because I find beauty and attractiveness in many different aspects. I’m a sapiosexual, intelligence turns me on more than anything else. Sure, there are some physical traits my body responds to more than others (beautiful eyes, dimples, thick thighs, strong hands), but none of them are deal-breakers, EXCEPT someone who is unhealthy. A sick, unfit person would be detrimental to my own physical health and well-being. So, yes… I hesitate to enter into a relationship with someone that would be destructive to the relationship I have with myself. It took too damned long to learn to love myself and I will protect me as much as I possibly can physically, mentally, sexually, and emotionally.

4. Too Careful? How can anyone be too careful? Perhaps people should be a little more careful and we’d have less heartbreak in the world. Perhaps if we took our time and actually tried to get to know a person before we jump right into a commitment, relationships wouldn’t implode so soon. I’ve had someone I loved very much think by me not saying “I love you” only after a short while was an indication that I didn’t love them at all or that I wasn’t interested in having a serious relationship with them. In fact, I was very much in love with them, but I wanted to build something good, something real, something strong so I held back getting lost in the emotion and ended up losing them instead. We live in such a fast-paced world filled with instant gratification, no one takes times to build any solid foundations anymore. Building on shifting sand never lasts. Am I foolish to want something strong, something that will survive during the storms I know that will come? If I ever tell you “I love you” it will be because I’d mean it with every part of my heart. I don’t say what I don’t mean.

Does the perfect man exist? No. Neither does the perfect woman. But I do believe there is a man out there that will be perfect for me. He won’t be the richest, most successful, most handsome, most romantic, most intelligent, or sexiest man alive, but he will be everything I want, need, and hope for… he will suit me, push me, inspire me, make love to me, irritate me, confront me, turn me on, move me, piss me off, make me laugh, make me think outside the box, but most of all love me just as I am.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

My Own Fairy Tale

I can do so many amazing things. I’ve accomplished countless great things in my life already and have the ability, talent, and drive to be successful at many more. I never run from a fight, I stand up for who I am and what I want, and I try to be as fair as I possibly can in an unfair world. So, why am I so scared? Why do my hands literally shake at the thought of exposing my fiery heart and letting someone in?

I don’t lack for self-esteem. I have come to love myself greatly. I’ve learned to appreciate myself for the rare beauty that I am, respect myself for my opened mind, and know without doubt I’m worth fighting for. I’ve learned to love and appreciate the simplistic beauty of a soul, to see beyond masks, and choose to love anyway – just as they are, not trying to change them to fit into an old fantasy or idea of who they should be. But deep inside there is still this scared little beast who doesn’t believe she’s capable of being loved, of being chosen, that the glass slipper will fit, or the curse be broken with a simple kiss.

Here’s the hard part. I’m not without love. I am already very much loved. I have some good friends who love all the complicated mess that makes me who I am. They’re in my corner. They believe in me. They see me… all of me, my true self, and love me anyway. I know if they could, they’d wave their magic wands and transform my life into the dream I desire, but they can’t. They’re not fairy godmothers, mice who turn into men, pumpkins who transform into carriages to take me directly to my Prince Charming. In my world, I have to make my own damned clothes, hike all the way to the castle, declare my right to be there no matter what anyone else says, ignore all the stares and judgments from all the snobs because I’m different, walk with my head high among the whispers, and keep telling myself that I’m worth it and somewhere among all these frogs there is a Prince just for me.

It’s hard attending this ball. I’ve witnessed time and again other princesses kiss their frogs and have them transform into beautiful princes. So far, all the princes I’ve kissed have remained frogs. While our meeting, conversation, and dance has been beautiful and even magical, it hasn’t been enough to break the spell. Yet I still hope. Not that a kiss will save me or wake me from a deep sleep… but that it will set me on fire and I unfurl my wings and soar into the heavens. What prince ever loves the dragon?

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Monday, March 09, 2015

Focused Leap

I find it hard to really focus sometimes. I don’t think it’s because of some medical reason, but more of huge mental and psychological issues within myself. When I find myself looking for distraction it often means I’m wanting to hide, to escape, to avoid, to protect. But from what? It could one of a million things.

I’m a fighter. I’m strong-willed. I’m confident and courageous. But, I’m also very afraid. I’ve been burned. I’ve fallen hard. I’ve been so down, so lost, and so hopeless at times that I didn’t want to live anymore. I’ve seen and experienced horrors that would make nightmares pale in comparison. Yet, I have survived. I have overcome. I have defeated. Though rejected in the most cruel way, I still hold hope to be loved. Though abandoned, I still hope to be wanted. Though despised, I still hold hope to be desired.

There are no promises. There are no guarantees. There is only hope. All evidence points to an impossible existence, but I need only to remind myself of all the impossible things I’ve already accomplished. The only thing stopping me is choosing to focus. Once I make up my mind, turn my attention toward the thing I desire most, that’s when I leap. I always leap. It always requires a leap of faith. I leap knowing I could fall, knowing I could crash, knowing it could destroy me. But even more… I know not leaping would kill me.

What focused leap do you face?

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Thursday, March 05, 2015

One Last Night

*A Flash Fiction Piece by T.L. Gray*

Gray clouds billow above the white foamy surf as fog rolls like a trampling stampede upon the surface of the cerulean sea. The crash of waves upon the rocks reminds me of my lovers tryst; the sea spray our wild release. I stand at the widow, staring out at the cold, magical, monochromatic morning, my chest heavy with sorrow, but no regret.

The view before me blurs amid the hot, silver tears as they fill my eyes. I flush as each warm memory fills my mind’s eye. I wrap my arms tight around me and let the images take me back, take me into our one last night.


Dark eyes stared into my soul, undressing me, exposing the deepest part of me, stealing my breath.

Strong, gentle fingers slowly traced the side of my face, moving slowly down my neck, and onto my shoulders, shakily leaving a trail of prickling anticipation and sweet adoration.

I shivered.

He smiled.

I let go.

Two hearts beat in unison as our bodies converged into one, staring into each other’s eyes, feeling the love, forgetting the world outside. Nothing else existed. Nothing else mattered. Giving. Receiving. Loving. Worshipping. Sharing. No words. No promises. No lies.

My eyes grew heavy as my head rested on his chest, listening to his strong heartbeat, feeling the comforting warmth of his arms wrapped around me, his fingers gently caressing me. A perfect moment.

I didn’t look back as he left. I couldn’t.


I now stand empty, cold, and alone. I can still hear his gentle breathing and feel the lingering sting of his touch, but only as ghosts and silhouettes. I walk toward those cold, crashing waves, letting go of my will, my fight, my resolve, shedding my earthly shell and the last tendrils of my humanity. I disappear into the abyss.

Death holds his bony fingers out toward me and asks, “Was it worth it, your one last night?”

I take his hand, look up at him, and smile, “What night?”

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Get Me?

Someone sent me a meme yesterday and upon first glance I thought it was a clever meme, but didn’t really think much about it. At least, that’s what I thought. I was wrong. The meme: “Understanding is deeper than knowledge. There are many who know you, but there are very few who understand you.”

The following bit of banter followed:

Me: “Indeed, I’m sharing that one.”

Him: “I know.”

Me: “I know you know. You know?”

Him: “I know.”

Me: “I like a man that knows what to know.”

Him: “A wise man knows he knows nothing at all.”

Me: “That too is something to know. Knowing to know nothing is knowing something indeed.”

Him: “Indeed.”

Within an hour of receiving that meme I had more than a dozen deep thoughts. I mostly considered the people who say they know me, who believe they know me, who once thought they knew me … but how many don’t or didn’t get me. The funny thing is … it’s a person that doesn’t know much of anything about me who gets me most of all. Those who were supposed to love and understand me most in this world, never got even close.

Then, I stumbled upon a song “Gotten” by Adam Levine and it just hit my soul like a ten-ton elephant. I can’t shake it. I can’t get it out of my system. I’ve cried a dozen times already. I’m crying right now as I’m writing this blog post.

“I’ve been saving …these last words for …one last miracle, but now I’m not sure. I can’t save you if you don’t let me. You just get me ...like I’ve never been gotten before.”

I suppose if I have one wish it would be to find someone who truly gets me. I want to be able to look at them in the eyes, and without having to say a single word, know they get me. I want to look in their eyes and know… they know. They know how I feel, what I think, why I respond the way I do, what I need, what I want, and how much I love them. I’d also like to do the same. I want to look into a pair of eyes and see love… love for me and all the craziness that I am. All without words. That’s quite contrary to a person who makes a living with her words.

“I’ve been saving …these last words for …one last miracle, but now I’m not sure. I can’t save you if you don’t let me. You just get me ...like I’ve never been gotten before.”

Get me?

~T.L. Gray