A Genuine Question For You

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Writer’s Block. Let’s talk about that for a second.

I’ve been doing these blog posts for a little over two years now, since the summer I graduated high school. And I’m about to about to go into my junior year of college. Every single week of my college career has somehow been put into this blog and some piece of me is left behind on a weekly basis.

And I haven’t missed a single post.

Today I’ve been trying to figure out what to say, for there is a lot I could talk about. I just wonder how many of you want to hear it.

I could talk about Nia Wilson’s story, how people need to say her name and understand exactly what has happened here. Was it racially motivated, or do All Lives truly Matter? In this case, I’m not so sure. But I think Anne Hathaway kind of covered that here.

I could tell you about the dinner I went to last night and ended up spending three hours catching up with my old soccer team, girls who I’ve known for over ten years now. Some of us are about to be college seniors. Time goes by fast and that still surprises me. But is that what you want to hear today?

That’s a genuine question.

I’m twenty years old, no expert in anything, but this blog is a part of my journey and I want you to be in it with me. Sometimes I don’t know what I want to write and try to think about what you want to hear, but I’m not always sure anymore. It’s like turning on the news and knowing exactly what I don’t want to hear but not quite knowing what I would prefer.

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Photo by Benni Asal on Unsplash

I could tell you it’s been a rough week, but we all have those and it takes a bit to push through them: Drink more water, try to sleep more if you can, do only what is absolutely necessary one step at a time and then tackle the rest, call up a few friends while you’re at it, can’t skip work because money is necessary and you know it, always try to find about five minutes for yourself every few hours just to keep yourself sane, don’t forget to eat…

There are a lot of things I could tell you about, many things I would love to talk about right now. But today my question goes straight to you, what do you want to hear?

How about that novel I was working on, the one I have two chapters left to revise before it’s truly finished (at least the rough rough draft)?

Or that second poetry novel that has no date yet but a whole lot of new material lately?

My writing doesn’t only depend on what I want to write about, it also depends on what you want to read, what people are going to read. Every time I’ve had writer’s block, usually I could find a way to write a blog post that didn’t get a whole lot of views but still kept me writing. I guess you could say I do this on a weekly basis to at least keep myself in practice, though cataloguing my life every week is also kind of cool.

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Photo by Robert Wiedemann on Unsplash

That’s not why I started this. I started this as a promotional thing for my first book, yes. But I also started it as a way to connect with all of you. To relate. To bridge the gap that seems to keep growing between the people the more that I grow up and things around me change.

So I’m asking you, not because writer’s block is holding me back from telling you something new or because I don’t know what to talk about today. I could talk about a lot of things but what I really want to do is ask you a question that I hope you can answer for me.

What do you want to hear?

Two Poets, One Post– A Poetry Book Review

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How does someone define what good poetry looks like?

For some people, it’s what sounds beautiful, what makes them feel something. Even if all that can be is a little less alone.

So today, I’m doing a bit of a crossover between my poetry and book review monthly features to review two poetry books: one author that seems to have become the standard, and one that I believe has decided to change the standards completely.

Here we go:

Moon Theory— Robert. M. Drake (r.m.drake)

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Photo by Tony Detroit on Unsplash

Even if you don’t know this author, you’ve probably seen his work, whether it’s through tattoos, plastered onto city walls, popping into instagram feeds, or dyed onto a T shirt. He may have started small, but he didn’t stay that way for long.

I have been reading r.m. drake’s books since I was in high school, coming across the typewriter script through Instagram. This man was the beginning of a new kind of poetry for me. Even more than beautiful imagery and poetic words, his writing is a genuine ode to living and breathing in the world the way we do— through every little things that makes us who we are.

Over the years, I’ve collected each one his books, buying four more back in April before I realized there was another four I am still yet to own. When asked to write of my inspirations for art in a Junior year drawing and painting class, among Monet and Picasso, he was one of them. I said “His use of expression in his writing is indescribably eye opening and influential to the way I write and think.” In a quote from his book, there are little bits of what we all need reminders of sometimes:

“Find the courage to find your better days, and never lost track of the laughter that’s meant to find you.”
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Photo by Michael Fenton on Unsplash

As an ode to Self Love, Moon Theory holds at least one secret for each one of us. While many poets, myself included, make the mistake of writing things that are too redundant or obvious, Drake does not do the same. He writes things that should be obvious, but somehow aren’t until someone tells us the truth. His books can be that truth. Through this book, I think everyone can find something to relate to, something they need to hear, and in the end it can make people feel a little less alone.

That’s what poetry is, isn’t it? If you want to know more about the author, check him out here.

I wrote this for you— Iain S. Thomas

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I bought this book on a whim last summer— having a B&N in my hometown after so long without a bookstore really tests my self-control and my credit card— because I wanted to know if the dark, ambiguous cover lying in my hands held much of the same within its leaves. It didn’t.

This writer is different, his aim not even to write poetry but to write something and create something new, as he does with each of his works. This book, published back in 2011, was his first and it started off as a blog that was just for fun between him and his friend. Over time, it became so much more than that.

These days I have seen a lot of artistic takes on poetry, many of which combine some kind of drawing with the words they decide to put on a page. Thomas combined his words with photos taken by a friend Jon who was living in Japan. I found myself flipping through the book yesterday, taking in the photos and the abstract changes that occur through the book from his style and positioning choices. I found a quote that’s so hard to explain:

“The least you can do, is uncross your heart. Unhope to die.”
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He’s not wrong.

Between Thomas and Drake, their writing is beautiful and true. Nothing short of words that need to be heard. This anthology is nothing short of honest, in a dark and sometimes beautiful, though often sad, sort of way. But in a time of so much change and too many lies, his truth is refreshing. It’s relatable. Some of the poems remind you of who you are or who you wanted to be, others take you back to the shower thoughts you had and never wrote down. But each of them hold pieces of each of us. They help spell out the human existence.

Maybe you’ll check them out and let me know what you think. See you all Friday.

Why Trust Is Hard and That’s Okay

“It is more important to go slow and gain the lessons you need along the journey then to rush the process and arrive at your destination empty.”

– Germany Kent

the-journal-garden-vera-bitterer-682529-unsplash (1).jpgThings don’t always go as planned, we all know that by now.

Maybe sometimes that itus down, makes us doubt ourselves, or even stop moving altogether.

Because it’s hard to trust the process when you don’t know what’s coming next.

And that’s okay.

A lot of our lives are fully scripted; I know the beginning of my path was: get through grade school, make sure grades are enough for a good college, then get through college and make sure grades are enough for whatever comes next whether it’s more school, a job, or something completely different.

There were a whole lot of decisions made and plans mapped out to get me to where I am right now.

So why doesn’t it look like that I thought it was supposed to?

Do any of our plans?

I think we move too fast, trying too hard to get to where we think we need to be only to replace that goal with a new one, a little farther away. We never slow down to reconsider our directions, to let ourselves fail and adapt, or to readjust for whatever burdens come our way.

Just because it seems like everything is supposed to be planned out doesn’t mean that things we don’t plan for aren’t going to come crashing into our lives, straight down the middle of that timeline you’ve got set.

That’s when we need to trust the process.

When things change and so do we.

When new lessons come our way we we have to remember to learn them.

When the journey starts to look a little too long and our bodies are tired…

Even when it’s hard. Trust process.

If you trust it and things turn out well, you’re better for it.

If you don’t trust it and things don’t turn out so okay, you let the pieces fall where they may and rearrange them until you find your way back.

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No matter what you do, these lessons and paths and failures and hopes, they will change you if you take the time to notice them. It doesn’t mean you have to always be okay with whatever is going on, but I think all of us could use a little faith sometimes.

Like Germany Kent said, it would be a shame to turn up to the end of your journey empty. Let the lessons and the change fill you up and rearrange who you are with the life you hold as you make your way through that journey.

Trust yourself. Even when it’s hard.

Happy Friday and I hope to see you all on Tuesday.

 

Are You Good Enough?

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Photo by Volkan Olmez on Unsplash

There’s this T-shirt I keep seeing everywhere, classic black Tee with a few simple words on the front and a rose in the middle: “Good Enough.” Maybe it’s just because I’m twenty years old and it’s that awkward time when everyone’s doing something different, but I’ve been wondering about that phrase.

How do you define what “good enough” looks like?

That T-shirt comes from former Vine sensation turned YouTuber Nathan Zed and he wanted to make a shirt that people could put on as a reminder: whatever they’re doing and whoever they are in that moment, if it feels good, then it’s good enough.

He has this quote in his You’re Not Good Enough video, saying “I just hate feeling like the most unqualified person in the room.”

I don’t think anyone likes that feeling. But when someone wants to get good at something, they’re going to have to learn the ropes and let themselves feel unqualified at first. If I wanted to be better at piano, I would need to learn how to read sheet music, play easy songs and slowly raise the bar.

samuel-zeller-358865-unsplashBecause that’s the thing— in this case I set the bar. 

It doesn’t always feel like that.

Take college for example; people can judge you off the school you get into, whether or not you leave home, the major you apply for, and what you want to do for the rest ofyour life. If you’re liberal arts at an engineering school, you’re not good enough. If you stay home for school and go to a CC (and save copious amounts of money among other benefits), you’re not good enough.

I want to know who makes these rules, but I guess the answer is that technically, we do. We should change them.

I’m at the age where some people are getting married or starting families while others are working or going to college and travelling the world. Everyone is at a different place and it’s hard to say that what you’re doing feels like enough when everyone else seems like they’re doing more.

On social media people post things like “just got back from Cancun!” or “made the Dean’s List again lol.” You see all the good things or accomplishments because of course people danielle-macinnes-222441-unsplashare going to publicize things when they’re going well, not even for other recognition, but just to acknowledge themselves. There’s nothing wrong with that.

There is something wrong with us believing that because someone is smiling or things look like they’re going well, everything is as fantastic as it looks and we just don’t have what it takes to get there.

Now for those of you who are doing great, know you’re doing great, and feel secure in that, fantastic! Good for you, keep doing your thing.

For those of you who aren’t or don’t quite feel that way, remember that it’s okay because I know I struggle with feeling like I’m doing enough or being enough both for myself and the people I love. This is a reminder to start from where you are and do what you can to get yourself to where you want to be.

I know it sounds like I’m preaching self-love here… Because I am. Before you please anyone else, you have to figure out what you want for yourself and make that happen. No one else can. Once you’re happy with that, be okay with it and wherever you end up next.

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Photo by Justin Luebke on Unsplash

You are good enough only if you can accept where you’re at and do what it takes to get to where you want to be. So here’s to a weekend that just might be good enough for you, good luck and happy Friday everyone.

PS. If you’re looking into those shirts I talked about, check them out here because I think the concept is a pretty wholesome one.

Marionette— A Poem

New poem for you today, this one is a little different but it’s a good time for trying out new styles. Feel free to let me know what you think about it.


Marionette

This world,

it handles me like

a play toy;

A tug this way,

a thought that way, 

suddenly

it makes me do

whatever it wants.

And all I can manage

is to nod, then move,

let it control me like

a marionette.

All of the strings tie

back to my heart

pulsing with every beat–

as even more hold close

to my body– pulling 

on me so tightly–

yet, I have not a say,

not a care,

not a want.

Not a breath my own.

Because

not a single one

of those

damn strings 

seem

to belong

to me.

7 Ways You Hold Yourself Back Without Knowing It

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Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

Sometimes you get in the way of your own capabilities. We all do.

Self-doubt hold us back from succeeding, even living a good life, and sometimes our doubt can sabotage the journey. Whether it’s being afraid of heights and never flying at all or holding low expectations as to never be disappointed, we are all human and we have flaws. Holding ourselves back is oftentimes one of them.

But here is what you need to remember: you may be fully capable of getting to exactly where you want to be, even if it’s in a different way than you originally thought. Yet more often than not, you’re too busy standing in your own way to get there.

Let me tell you the seven ways this might be happening, and more importantly, seven ways to get yourself back on track.


1. Can’t or Won’t

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash 

Have you ever had those people in your life who ask you whether you can’t do something or you just don’t want to? A lot of holding yourself back comes from doubting your own potential— it’s not that you are incapable of doing something, but it could be that there may be a chance of failure, of something not turning out the way you want it to. The question isn’t whether or not you can do it, it’s whether or not you are willing to try.

2. You vs. Them

Comparisons are where the insecurity begins. I know it sounds cheesy, but this is all you need to know here: live your life for you in the only way you can. Don’t let anyone else write your story.

3. To Be Enough

In the same vein as comparison, there is no real definition for being “good enough.” Find your own way to define what kind of person you want to be. Then make it happen.

4. Big Hopes, Little Action

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Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

As with anything, you have to put in the energy to get the results you’re looking for. If I want to write a book, I have to put in the hours to both write it and edit the content until I believe it’s finished. Just like getting into college, finding a new job, or even making friends, they all start with you and how much you’re willing to put in. No matter how much you hope for something big, the dreams and ideas you hold, the effort has to match those hopes. Or you will never reach them.

5. Gotta Risk it to Get the Biscuit

If you’ve ever seen the movie Fired Up, you’ve heard that phrase. Nothing comes without a little risk; this could be money, time, sanity, security, or sometimes even friends. Gotta risk it to get the biscuit. Find out what’s worth it.

6. Trust Your Talent

It helps to have people back you up and I know that support can be everything. That includes supporting yourself. If you know you’ve got something to offer the world, do whatever it takes to put yourself out there and prove it.

7. Work Hard, Play Hard

Theres this phrase that goes “if you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” It’s not true. Your work is work, whether you love it or not. Your time, energy, and work goes into what you do. So work hard, give it everything you’ve got, and let the effort you pour into it be worth something. And while you do, to avoid burnout in the least, find a balance— don’t forget to play hard too.


Any other ways you tend to get in your own way? Feel free to add to the list in the comments below!

Have a fantastic weekend everyone, see you Tuesday for a new Poetry Place.