Compost, joy and gumption…..

My heart hurts.
And I don’t want to run from the pain or hide out in false places,
but I’m not going to sink down into the ache and go dull to the salt and sizzle of living,  either,
so I’m hurling clods scraped raw from the clay that I am
like bottle rockets exploding thanks,   setting fire to the night,
because there’s fierce medicine in the kind of joy that won’t sit down
and with perspective comes a healing tide.

And for the record,  I’m not gonna lie that I’m grateful for this heart-rip,
either,  ’cause I’m not.  Nope.  Not one bit.
But I’ll say this true,  from the bottom of my bruises,
that I’m grateful,  yes I am,  for this pile of shit dumped fresh
because I believe in compost
and I won’t waste this.


So let these punctures dig and poke and pull out plugs of my hard ground
until I’m soft and open and full up with air and sky and yes and fruit
and fresh and ripe and dreams growing thick on the vine.
Go ahead and fertilize me.
I’ll love life more for it.

And so,  dear life,   I’m gonna lean into the grace to square my shoulders,
hold still like a rock star,
and dare to let you love me back,
with a crazy kind of hope that won’t leave the dance floor.
And I won’t busy this pain on down but I’ll taste and listen
and let my lens be dipped in truth until I’m seeing clear
and knowing deep the Love that covers and keeps me here
because when I don’t trust your goodness
I don’t even see the light when it’s burning through my fear.

I’ll surrender everything but this joy.
That’s not ever gonna be on the table.


“But trading joy for less vulnerability is a deal with the devil.
And the devil never pays up.”
– Brene’ Brown



  1. Julia on September 22, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    Wow, Jennifer, you are truly what you say about you. I admire your truth and truth is all there is….Keeping your joy and giving gratitude no matter what comes your way.


    • Jennifer Richardson on September 24, 2015 at 5:55 am

      Sometimes we just have to plant our feet in the dirt and stomp out our intentions;
      This was me stomping:)
      Defying disappointment.
      Thanks for your encouraging, balmy words;
      I always appreciate you so,

  2. Kathryn on September 22, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    It shows great character to feel the way you do but still feel gratitude all at the same time…your words (as usual) blow me away!!!

    • Jennifer Richardson on September 24, 2015 at 5:56 am

      I don’t know about the character part….it’s just blunt honesty
      and a refusal to lie down and let despair wash over.
      I don’t want to live there (again….I’ve known that place)
      Seems like a better deal, joy:)
      I love that you came by….thank you,

  3. Barbara on September 22, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    Thank you for this new perspective on pain and the sh*t that sometimes falls on our heads, Jennifer. I’ve always believed it’s important to feel the pain rather than risk being numb to the joys of life, but I never thought of it as being fertilized. Thank you!! Hang in there, sweet lady. I hate that you’re having to fight, but I know you’re a fighter and will win!

    • Jennifer Richardson on September 24, 2015 at 5:58 am

      Thanks, Barbara….I’ve just got a little fertilizer burn:)
      I appreciate your whispered words of wisdom
      and that you’re such an encouragement.
      Much thanks,

  4. Elephant's Child on September 22, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    That compost is already producing the most beautiful blooms. Heartfelt hugs, and oceans of caring are flowing your way.

    • Jennifer Richardson on September 24, 2015 at 5:58 am

      Thanks, friend:)
      Feeling that ocean and sending waves of thanks and love,

  5. susan troccolo on September 22, 2015 at 11:41 pm

    I relate to this more than I can say. It’s why I called my blog Life-Change-Compost. I was feeling those emotions at the time: the losses sometimes in slow motion and sometimes bringing me to my knees with equal shares of gratitude and fear of the unknowing. I have a tape I listen to when I meditate and it helped me tonight. In those brief shining moments during meditation, I forget to fear fear. I embrace pain. I says: “hello darkness my old friend….” I believe that pain is the price we pay for loving so much, for living close to the bone. You are such a person. You know love and you know pain. How grateful I feel when I know I am not alone.

    • Jennifer Richardson on September 24, 2015 at 5:59 am

      “Living close to the bone”…..God, I love that.
      Thanks, Susan. Those words are pure go-juice to me
      this morning. Really grateful for all that you are
      and share:)

  6. Rebecca on September 23, 2015 at 8:02 am

    Thank you Jennifer for your gift of saying what I feel but can’t express. I am sorry you are hurting. But your willingness to share your hurt is a comfort to many. My mom’s funeral was yesterday. Reading your words this morning helped break up some hard ground in my own heart. Holding you in the light.

    • Jennifer Richardson on September 24, 2015 at 6:01 am

      Oh friend.
      There are no words.
      Just so much tenderness to you, Rebecca.
      With you,

  7. jeanie on September 23, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    You are tough, beautiful and strong. And I love the compost reference. All that energy, all that fight — no, you will not be stilled, not stay down. As others have mentioned, you say so eloquently what is so hard to express for so many of us. I so admire that you can look pain straight in the face, stare it down, fight back. And ultimately, you will win. I think in some ways, you already have.

    All that said, I wish I lived near where I could throw my arms around you in a healing hug and say “C’mon, let’s get out of here and go someplace where we can either sit and talk and vent or cry” or simply be still but not alone. I hope you are not alone unless you choose to be.

    Sending those hugs via cyberspace!

    • Jennifer Richardson on September 24, 2015 at 6:03 am

      Big thanks, Jeanie…..I’m mending so well
      and taking on grace like a ship sinking in a sea of mercy:)
      Really grateful for your kindness; feel the support strong from here!
      Love and thanks,

  8. Susan on September 24, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    All I know is that you are one tough girl and I’m so happy you are my friend … big love and soft hugs to you.

    • Jennifer Richardson on October 4, 2015 at 9:04 am

      Thanks for your friendship, Susan;
      I appreciate you so:)

  9. elaine on September 24, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    fighting words … tender sighs … wish I could help! will send good thoughts on the breeze from my little garden spot … blessings friend

    • Jennifer Richardson on October 4, 2015 at 9:03 am

      I love the way you hear, Elaine….thanks for your tender heart
      and always grace-soaked words.

  10. Anne Camblin on September 25, 2015 at 8:16 am

    This spoke to me so as you well know I have had my own heart-rip recently. It is compost, indeed. Feel my hug from here–love you!

    • Jennifer Richardson on October 4, 2015 at 9:03 am

      I’m so so glad to get to share the road with you
      all these years, dear Anne:)

  11. Donna on September 25, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    We do have to fight through the shit….and I love your words about not surrendering joy…that is so important to remember.

  12. gotham girl on September 26, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    Wow…outstanding…your writing is just amazing and I thoroughly enjoy it. Shit and all.

    • Jennifer Richardson on October 4, 2015 at 9:02 am

      Shit and all, indeed:)
      Thanks for your beautiful friendship,

  13. Lady Fi on September 30, 2015 at 10:26 am

    Powerful words – but oh so hard to let the wounds nurture us!

    • Jennifer Richardson on October 4, 2015 at 9:01 am

      I wonder if the wounds just prepare the ground,
      tilling it open and soft,
      so that when healing comes we’re ready.
      Thanks for coming by, Fi; I appreciate you so:)

  14. Kimber on October 6, 2015 at 6:52 am

    Oh, this is so good I can hardly stand it. Thanks for painting the pain into beauty. You are a rock star!

  15. Relyn on October 9, 2015 at 6:02 am

    I’m thinking of you, friend. And praying for your pain.

Leave a Comment