When a friend asked me if I’d like to go to a show Saturday night I accepted the invite, thinking any plans are better than none. I wasn’t concerned much with who was on the bill, just that I had somewhere to be for the moment. Upon entering HOB I’m handed a program, informing me that this is an evening of songs, conversation, and hope. (I’m intrigued… something tells me this isn’t going to be the typical performance.) When Tonya Ingram takes the stage, she commands the audience with her words, her refrain “be in love, be in love, be in love WITH YOURSELF” is more felt than heard. Her t-shirt reads Hope Is Real. She is real, inviting the crowd to understand her struggle with Lupus and her full-time work to find joy.
For the next few hours, the stage becomes the home of resounding voices sharing songs and spoken word. These performers are unified in their unreserved recognition of the world’s weight and an unapologetic harboring of hope. Zach Williams speaks in song reminding all that despite the struggles of life, nobody must be alone. His final words convey the wish to be well and find peace. Wellbeing is a huge theme, and Propaganda implores everyone to take their gifts and shine on. The vibe in the place is uplifting! The music and poetry that follow add to, compound, and resonate that positive energy throughout the people.
Making my way toward the exit as the evening has come to an end, I see a display…more an interactive work of art. Attendees have written their Heavy burdens atop pieces of paper, and beneath they have listed their method for bringing Light to the world around them. I scan quickly and am surprised at how many of those troubles I personally identify with. I am struck also by the positive focus maintained by so many despite the struggles. I photograph the wall of Heavy and Light and post it on my social media, asking friends to share their own. Within a moment, I am receiving responses and gratitude for giving them the opportunity. I realize TWLOHA is not an event, it is a movement, of which I am now a part.
Photo- Troy Fisher
To Write Love on Her Arms is a nonprofit dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery. Since its start in 2006, TWLOHA has donated over $1.8 million directly into treatment and recovery and answered over 200,000 emails from over 100 countries. For more information, please visit www.twloha.com.
In December, TWLOHA launched its “Bring Hope #into17” month-long giving campaign, which raised more than $122K of an initial $100K goal. This money will be used to help TWLOHA bring its message of hope to more people than ever before by enabling them to attend 150 events and festivals across the country, grow their University Chapters program, and more.