A Wild Heart Tribute to Dana O’Dell

We at Wild heart Writers are struck with a great loss of one of our participants, friends, writers and all around compassionate and beautiful woman, Dana O’Dell. Many of us had the pleasure of writing with and sharing our work with Dana as well. Today, we offer this small tribute to Dana and her beautiful words.

Our deepest condolences are with her family and friends and those of us who knew her in different capacities. She brought love to many with her gift of writing and her words will live on through us and remind us that she is loved.

We will be paying a more and in depth formal tribute to Dana after the holidays.

Peace and Love be with you Dana,

Wild Heart Writers

By Dana O’Dell

I keep a tattered slip of paper in my wallet. It has the names of all the people whose opinions matter in my life etched in my own handwriting. I’m old school. I know. I borrowed the idea from Brene Brown, she makes me feel safe. I like to take the softy worn declaration out and unfold and re-fold it when I’m anxious. The weight of it in my hand represents life, something I know for sure–right this minute.

I’ve been learning about how much holding a whole life in one’s own hands costs. There is nothing particularly strong or brave about me most days. I get tired quickly. I get tangled up in my own head with no warning at all. I write about things I have yet to learn. Things that hook my breath up– a reminder of what it feels like to be alive.

Some days I only think about how I hope things to work out–really work out. Hope feels like a victim early. I place my bets and heart on faith, a tap out, a holy piggy back of sorts. Faith might be too much for sissies like me.

Despite what I used to believe, naming the darkness changes nothing. It must be caressed and kept company. It needs a close listen for that low consistent rumbling of dark corners. The crevices that hold a lesson unlearned. I need to be more grateful.

Please, just let me sit here where everything is acceptable, caressing all my excuses. I like it better when explanations and lists are not needed.

I know love.
We have the same needs–we need nothing.
I have seen you battling on your knees, trudging through the sea of judgement by the faceless faces.
There is good reason to be anxious when life is a knotted mess.
I try to mind my own business but some days open like tornadoes.
Or maybe we’ve been confessing the wrong sins.
I know it’s time for something.
I am alive. I am sovereign.
I am here to rule. No apology.
Rebellion is necessary.
I want to live where grit gets injected into souls.
I have no time for abstract ghosts of spirits scared shitless.
Show me your depth.
We are much needed light and immeasurable darkness.
Not all beautiful things are real.
Not all real things are beautiful.
Life isn’t always pretty.
Pretty isn’t always safe–or helpful.
Some things need to be left broken.

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Courtney Quinlan
I am the Camilla to Dawn’s Gonzo. Just a quirky chicken in love with the strange and bizarre. I’ve always had a wild imagination and love being extra (if not overly) descriptive with my words. I love the art of writing, how you can fit words together like a puzzle and rearrange and explore new ways of expression. I’m a poetry and prose girl at heart, although I like to dip my toes into other areas and have a short list of books I intend to get to work on at some point rattling around in this brain. I’m a fiery single mama to a quirky boy with autism who has the most interesting perspectives on life. I’m a fierce advocate for the underdogs in whatever shape or form they may be. I love getting lost in the woods, communing with nature. I’m fairly unfiltered and if you ask me a question, you’ll get a heartfelt and honest answer. I don’t believe in hiding behind my truths. I’m not an extremely graceful person and can often be found tripping over my own feet or wandering aimlessly around the house searching for my keys. I am not above embarrassing myself and often find my own humor hilarious even when others don’t!
Courtney Quinlan

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