In the stained mirror that distorts your image, a tired soul looks upon a longing to be set free. Shackles bound to lips that prevent the “I love you” are rusted from comparisons and fear. The reflection desires those three burning words to be spoken into existence, but there is no world that creates self-love. No reality, but your tired soul laughs and throws back its head; I have built the ground upon which I stand and hate won’t cut the roots that have grappled for a place in the earth. Your youth does not stop a thousand years of loving and you will again look at that distorted image and replace your canvas with color. But some days the world is gray and you run with no end line in sight and the tiredness just drags and drags and drags a raggedness from your eyes, pulling down on your skin, and making it hard to believe you ever knew what the word “love” looks like. But there are other days where you throw open your door and shout to the world that you are going to grow a garden of color and not even the strongest weeds of despair can choke your flowers. For you built the ground upon which you stand, and you know well the dirt on which your knees have fallen to when tears flew from your eyes like the sparks of a burning desire to see your worth. Each time you got back up, so you know now that you will build your garden in that same dirt and each new petal will be a reflection of your beautiful soul. And one day the garden you are working so hard to grow will be complete. And you will reap the benefits of the self-love you have sowed.