10 quotes for writers and lovers and speakers of truth

Those who know me well (or even a little) know that words are my drug of choice. They are the rush and the heat and the grief and the sex and the connection and the disassociation and the mother and the wolf and the deepest and truest heart of me.

It is in the words that I find meaning and give meaning. It is inside the words that I birth myself. Inside of the lines I untangle the ways to define and name and understand. They are my way in and my way out. They are both the map and the path my feet make on this earth.

So here then; a collection of some of the quotes from others that have formed and named me.

The words that unleashed me and sheltered me.

Words in which I found a basis for understanding myself, my experience, my movement through this world.

Words that guided me deeper into my own art, my own embodiment, my own truth.

Words that gutted me and wrapped me in warm blankets and carried me home.

  1. These are the words that captured, for the first time, my inherent contraction – the enigmatic heart of me – and taught me that the mingling of my wild and my tame was not a problem to be fixed or squashed or denied. These are the words of push and pull and finding center in the midst of it all.
“What should I do about the wild and the tame? The wild heart that wants to be free, and the tame heart that wants to come home. I want to be held. I don’t want you to come too close. I want you to scoop me up and bring me home at nights. I don’t want to tell you where I am. I want to keep a place among the rocks where no one can find me. I want to be with you.”Jeanette Winterson
  1. These are the words that rooted my compassion into itself. That gave it form and framework. A question to return to, again and again. A measure against which to evaluate my beliefs made real. Eventually, they will be live as reminder, inked in my own scrawling handwriting along the inside of my left forearm. These are the words of the beating heart of me.
“Have compassion for everyone you meet, even if they don’t want it. What seems conceit, bad manners, or cynicism is always a sign of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen. You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone.” Miller Williams
  1. These are the words gifted to me by love. They are the embodiment of a love story, not just with her, but with myself. Of a lesson it took 36 years to learn. Of letters inked so painfully along ribs; scars of my own choosing. These are the words she gave me that remind me that I am whole, that I always have been and that there were those who would never ask me to be anything but that. These are the words that whisper that inside of my wholeness my goodness lives and breathes and pulses strong and true.
“I would rather be whole than good” Carl Jung.
  1. These are the words of the burn down. The words of smoke and lungs and heart on fire. The words of nights curled on hard ground and tears that shook me to the core. The words that came before the rise. The proclamation of self that was a mark of my own {r}evolution. Typerwriter font on ribs the day after my 38th birthday. When nothing was what I thought it would be and everything belonged to me, as fiercely as it ever had. These are the words of reclamation.
“I have crossed over to a place where I never thought I’d be. I am someone I would have never imagined. A secret. A dream. I am this, body and soul. Burn me. Drown me. Tell me lies. I will still be who I am.”   Alice Hoffman, Incantation
  1. These are the words of speaking truth. The words that I return to when I wonder if I should write this thing or unleash this voice or tell this truth. The words that remind me that there is more to fear and lose inside the silence than outside in the world, voice ringing loud and clear. These are the words of my voice made real in this world.
“I was going to die, sooner or later, whether or not I had even spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silences will not protect you…. What are the words you do not yet have? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence? We have been socialized to respect fear more than our own need for language. Next time, ask: What’s the worst that will happen? Then push yourself a little further than you dare. Once you start to speak, people will yell at you. They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest it’s personal. And the world won’t end. And the speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don’t miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And you will still flirt and paint your nails, dress up and party, because, as I think Emma Goldman said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.” Audre Lorde

6. These are the words that delivered me to my meaning. That pushed me to define what it was and understand that it – this drive and compulsion to empty the guts and gore of me and spill words on page – was the same as the reasons for everything. That writing was loving. That writing was dying. That writing was breaking a heart and burning down the house and building it again. These are the words that taught me that the writing – it is all and everything and in and of and around all things. These are the words that hold the worlds.

“I write to listen. I write out of silence. I write to soothe the voices shouting inside me, outside me, all around me. I write because I believe in words. I write because it is a dance with paradox. I write knowing I can be killed by own words, stabbed by syntax, crucified by understanding and misunderstanding. I write past the embarrassment of exposure. I trust nothing especially myself and slide head first into the familiar abyss of doubt and humiliation and threaten to push the delete button on my way down, or madly erase each line, pick up the paper and rip it into shreds — and then I realize it doesn’t matter, words are always a gamble, words are splinters from cut glass. I write because it is dangerous, a bloody risk, like love, to form the words, to say the words, to touch the source, to be touched, to reveal how vulnerable we are, how transient. I write as though I am whispering in the ear of the one I love.” Terry Tempest Williams

7. These are the words that stood me taller. The words that vindicated. The words that painted my own scars and death on the page. And the words that encapsulated what I knew – that we all have lives and lives and lives that nestle in us. And that the choice to end one is not the choice of death but that of survival. These are the words that finally delivered home the message – that the choices were mine to make, and that I was worth it. These are the words of rebirth.

“It’s not easy to leave one self and embrace another. Your freedoms will scar you. Maybe even kill you. Or one of your yous. Its okay though. There are more. How many times do we die? Words, like selves, are worth it.“ Lidia Yuknavitch - The Chronology of Water
  1. These are the words that found me on a deepest of nights. When my own heart was wailing stay-stay-stay-go-go-go. The words that showed me what gift it was to find your truth in the words of another. How that was a lifesaving and a homecoming and the one thing that made you take the next step and the next. These are the words that showed me the power of universal experience and of the things we all have known and lived and survived. These are the words that taught me that words could hold power the author could never have imagined. The words that taught me that telling a story could be survival.
“The only thing more unthinkable than leaving was staying; the only thing more impossible than staying was leaving. I didn’t want to destroy anything or anybody. I just wanted to slip quietly out the back door, without causing any fuss or consequences, and then not stop running until I reached Greenland.” Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
  1. These are the words that cut to the core of me. That a goddess wrote quickly, having no idea the impact they would make. The words that I return to, again and again to remind me of what I know. That this life is mine, and only mine. That my heart is wise and my truest responsibility in this life. These are the words that lay the path forward.
In the end you have only your heart to answer to. What will it say to you at the end of days? That you lived in the shadow of someone elses inquiry or that you lived in the light of your own? Latisha Guthrie, herbmother.com
  1. These are the words that broke my heart. These are the words that break my heart. These are the words that I found long after it was done. These are the words that finally, finally gave me the peace to lay down some of the burden of guilt. Just a sliver, but enough to go on. These are the words that gave me permission to release the self-loathing that came with making the impossible choice. These words were a gift I didn’t know I needed and will always hold close.
“Go, even though you love him. Go, even though he is kind and faithful and dear to you. Go, even though he’s your best friend and you’re his. Go, even though you can’t imagine your life without him. Go, even though he adores you and your leaving will devastate him. Go, even though your friends will be disappointed or surprised or pissed off or all three. Go, even though you once said you would stay. Go, even though you’re afraid of being alone. Go, even though you’re sure no one will ever love you as well as he does. Go, even though there is nowhere to go. Go, even though you don’t know exactly why you can’t stay. Go, because you want to. Because wanting to leave is enough.”Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

 And these words are – of course – only a few. And tonight, as I sit here with the music playing and the candles burning and my heart missing and the dog curled next to me, and the cool white sheets of my bed calling and the words still whispering what I really want to know is this..

What are the words that speak the heart of you?  What words have saved and lifted and gutted you?  What words have shattered you and made you whole again?

Won’t you share them with me now?

Blessings, on you and your words and your truth and your light

love, jeanette leblanc


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I swear like a sailor, I've been called a word-witch (more than once), I believe whole-heartedly in the power of your voice,  and think words are as necessary as air. I work with humans who are seeking permission to stop seeking permission and offer programs that will get living and writing on your own terms (for reals). 

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