Pepsi Stained Lips + How Writing Helped Me


It all started when I was seven-years-old and my father almost died. I was young, naïve and laughing amongst my friends as we sat, staring wide-eyed at the large screen in front of us, devouring buttery, salty popcorn and sipping out of bright, red paper cups. Vivid, little Dalmatians scampered around, the pudgy one complaining about his growling, empty stomach. We laughed that childish, high-pitched laugh only children can pull off. And all the while, my father was dying.

It all happened rather fast, actually. After the movie ended, the birthday party at the town movie theater was over and our mothers were there to pick us up. My best friend at the time was coming over, something that rarely happened with our busy family schedule. I grabbed her hand and together we walked—butter still lingering on our breaths and Pepsi stained lips—toward the crowd of parents. But my mom was nowhere to be found. Instead, my grandmother was there. She looked stern, which wasn’t totally unlike her, but something was still off. At age seven, I thought perhaps she had lost her favorite earrings or the necklace my grandpa had given her on their wedding day. Surely, there’s nothing worse than that.

“Hi Grandma,” I said, “Where’s mom?”

She took my hand in hers, the soft wrinkles comforting me and continued to tell me that my friend, Danielle could not come over today.

“Why not?” Danielle asked, staring at my grandma as though she had just banned her from eating any candy.

“I’m sorry, sweetie, but today isn’t going to work. I’ve called your mom and she’s on her way now.”

Soon, Danielle’s mother came to pick her up and my grandma and I walked swiftly to the car.

“So, where’s mom?” I asked again, this time a little impatient.

“Devon, your father is sick.”

I quickly turned my head and shook off my cartoon daze.

“What do you mean?”

“He’s on his way to the hospital and your mom is with him. I’m going to take you home.”

I wanted to say something, but I didn’t. And to this day, I’m not sure why. But I think it was out of fear that if I asked much more, I’d hear something that would destroy me. Something that would shake my world forever. Something like, “your father is dying.”

Like most painful things in life, we grieve, we thank our higher powers, and we heal. I went on to continue to live my life with my now healthy Dad who made a full recovery and thank God every day for that gift.

It wasn’t until I moved to CA and my parents found a bunch of my old writing that it really hit me. Ironically, I was currently writing a book and in this book, the protagonist’s father dies. I thought nothing of it until my parents called me about a story I wrote when I was 10.

In this story, the main character’s father was dying, as well, and the character was forced to say goodbye to him through his spirit that stayed with her. In that moment, I realized how writing had become a tool of processing. Alchemy. Turning pain and fear into resolution and experience.

I quickly remembered my teacher in college pulling me into her office when I had written a story about a friend who had passed in High School.

“I can’t give this a grade,” she said as she handed it back to me, “It’s beautiful. But you’re too close to it, still.”

From that moment on, writing became a way to stay alive and in touch. It became my best friend; a source of light and guidance when I didn’t even realize I had needed it the most. It was a mirror, always reflecting back to me where I needed to roam to internally. What emotions I needed to sit and spend time with. To soak in the hot springs of wisdom and word.

Once I connected with my voice, the truth it carried and the depth it revealed, I could write in a way that I can only describe as freedom. The judgements, the ideals, the ceilings I had originally put on myself were broken and shattered because there was no limit to where my writing could reach. If it showed me things about myself that I hadn’t been aware of, what else could it show me? What other wonders were nestled in the nooks of my joints where bone meets infinity? What other people could I touch with these words? Could I help someone relate? Heal? Be creative and find joy?

So, I found myself 20 years older and those worlds still flowed out of the fountain pen, only this time they were heightened + unlimited. I found other’s engaging in the emotions I shared, often stopping to tell me that “they too felt what I felt…”. I found people asking me to help them connect with that emotion, with their senses, and help elevate their voice to a place of no return.

To me, that is what this writing workshop, Foraging for Words, is all about.

Check your inbox on July 12th (sign up at the bottom of this page if you aren’t already signed up to recieve newsletters) where a video will be landing softly in your world to learn more about the course, the elements we’ll be covering and uncovering and what it means to you to live with a voice that is forever free to roam, to reach and to reveal truths like a newly blown dandelion.

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