Maddloverocks– The Concept of Kindness and Remembrance

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Photo by Wil Stewart on Unsplash

There’s this painted rock sitting on my bookshelf, ready to be placed somewhere here in San Luis Obispo: a beautiful rock, in a beautiful place, to remember kindness and love in a beautiful girl. I just have to figure out where to put it.

For those of you who don’t know the concept behind the title of this post, it’s idea of “kindness rocks.” To commemorate the life of Madeline Elliott who has somehow been gone a week and a year now, I still can’t believe it, and these rocks have been spread not only throughout the country but across the globe for people to find— all of this done with the #maddloverocks and Maddie in mind.

Because who doesn’t need a little extra kindness every day. So let’s talk about that.

Two days ago was World Mental Health Day and yesterday was National Coming Out Day, both large ideas within people’s identities that can either hold them back or give them the wings they need to fly. As long as they take care of themselves. Whether you identify with one day, both, or neither, I think you should keep in mind that they each should matter to you. 

Here’s why:

It’s about how you treat and see and love yourself as you are. That’s it, that’s what these days come down to. While yes, we shouldn’t just save one day a year to remember these things, I think it is just as important to have one day where people can come together about something and celebrate it or support it together. Kind of like these kindness rocks.

Sometimes it helps just to have a tangible representation of your worth, that you deserve a little kindness today. These rocks, some with beautiful designs or simply a handwritten word, are there to spread positivity and light in a place where sometimes it can be hard to see.

I know I tend to forget that even as college students, everyone is going through their own things and figuring it all out for themselves. Once we leave this college bubble, out into the real world, it’s amazing to think about the amount of people we’ll have in our lives. Even now I look around campus and realize how many connections I’ve truly made— maybe not so far as friends, but connections nonetheless. And those make a difference.

Because there are days when I catch myself thinking about these connections and realize that the more I make, the more people I have to lose.

It makes me hesitate. I mean, I love loving people, don’t get me wrong. The issue here isn’t the people, it’s simply risking losing those people. This past year has reminded me how easily that can happen. After all, we are still little mortal human beings in a very large world.

So why spend any of the time we have doing anything but being kind, and loving, and hopeful, and ready to live in a way that’s worth it?

 

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Photo by Suresh Kumar on Unsplash

To me, that’s part of what these kindness rocks are. When I place mine, I hope someone finds it who needs it, and I hope they pass it along. Young, “old” (whatever that means), happy, sad, struggling, thriving… Anyone who finds it deserves what it means to them and owes it to themselves to pass it on. Because I’m sure there’s someone else who could use it too.

So as you go into your weekend, I hope you remember that this world around you needs your kindness and the good you have to offer. Whether you’re working or taking classes, or serving in the military, or prepping for something new, you are where you need to be. We all are. And I hope this is a reminder that you deserve a little kindness today; this last photo is just for you, for I know someone in your life who means it. 

So pass it on. And keep spreading the kindness.

Robert Frost and an Original– Two Poems

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Photo by Josh Calabrese on Unsplash

As I head back to SLO today, I’m thinking that sometimes transparency can be a good thing. I wrote the second poem here a little bit ago to play with a new style and in honor of World Suicide Prevention Day which is September 10th; for the love of poetry, I’ve included one of my favorite Robert Frost poems too.

Remember to treat yourself like someone you love this week, happy Tuesday everyone. Here’s what I’ve got for you.


Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening– Robert Frost

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Photo by Lilian Velet on Unsplash

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Transparency

The sadness can’t even
ache anymore;
it just sits
and stays
and holds
and hurts.

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

It leaves me empty and desperate
for someone
to help me up
or out
or away
or through
or within.

For the loneliness, it’s cruel
to want ignorance
so soon
so badly
so achingly…
So please.

Tell me why broken
dreams make a home
out of me,
leave me lonely
and too tired
to keep this up
on my own;

I can’t bear
this weight
any longer–
The ache,
it never stopped,
did it?


If there’s anything you like or anything you would like to see more of from me, feel free to hop over to the Contact Me section; I would love to hear from you. See you all on Friday.

 

Poetry in Modern Antiquity

aaron-burden-272517-unsplash.jpgHappy Poetry Place day! Sorry again for missing the last one due to technical difficulties, if you want to know the poem I was going to share with you, take a look at Tyler Ford’s “Too Much” here. In my AP Lit class senior year, we had a poetry unit where we wrote one poem and chose to perform another. For the performance, I was torn between this poem and Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise.”

Though in the end, I chose Angelou, this poem still holds a special place in my heart. So go ahead and check it out and if you’re interested, Ford’s Twitter is here too! Otherwise, just to make up for last month, I have two of my own works to share with you today.

I’ll keep it short and sweet, but these two are a new style I’ve been playing with.

My English class has been getting into a lot of sonnets and Renaissance poetry lately so I wanted to see how I could use that influence in my own writing. Though I may have steered clear of true sonnet forms, as I have a major midterm to focus on rather than counting syllables and rhyme patterns, take a look at these and tell me what you think— they’re a little different, the question is if that’s a good thing or not.


One

barby-dalbosco-20629-unsplash.jpgTell me how long our voices lie

too quiet, for we no longer see

the truth behind these actions, I

see nothing changing, for we long to be

stronger in the stances we take

and louder in solidarity.

We are breaking down the walls you make;

Now hath our voices set us free.

As a poem of power, this one comes from not only the issues I see on my own campus but those around the world. People are beginning to really stand up and say what they need to say. That’s what this is. And it’s never been more important.

Two

‘Tis no less of poetry, but

spilled feeling that you make of me;

in time, in youth, in chastes unknown,

here be love I hath not been shown.

eli-defaria-124757-unsplashFor I suppose if maybe we

may come upon a day when we

hath break our chains and all restraint

our lusts and hopes not far or faint

but strong and loud, power in divine

love, to leave our cold bondage behind.

Now this one was a real experiment, to play with the words we have left behind in a concept that will never really fade from poetry and art— love. I wanted to see what I could do with it and, though I may be biased, I kind of like how it sounds. Short and sweet just like I promised, but I’d appreciate some feedback and commentary, so let me know what you thought of these in the comments below!


That’s all I’ve got for you today 🙂 Have a great rest of your week, see you Friday.

Before and After– As the Glass Breaks

aaron-burden-185993Have you ever heard that metaphor about the breaking glass? I heard it on How I Met Your Mother, it goes something like this: There are a lot of little things about life that we don’t notice or don’t really see until someone tells us. We don’t see it until we have nowhere else to look. Once that happens, the glass breaks— we can’t unsee it, we can’t go back. Your reality changes.

This week, that glass in front of my perspective on life has been breaking, little by little. And once it’s finished, there is no going back.

If anyone else has been feeling the way I’ve been feeling, things might be a little bit lost right now. You might be questioning things, the purpose and the point, the love and the loss… I’ve been wondering one thing:

Now what?

The phrase carpe diem comes to mind, something I’ve been trying to embody over the years in a lot of different ways. I got a tattoo on Christmas Eve last year because it was something I needed to do for me, I self-published a book after graduating high school because it was an accomplishment I wanted for life, and I am pursuing something I am passionate about because I cannot imagine living my life any other way.

Because life is too short.

The idea of losing friends at this age, an incredible person who lived a life worth living— that terrifies me. Not in the way that it is a possibility, but that it happens. It happened. And there is nothing any of us can really do to change it.

seth-macey-410725Two weeks ago, that was before— if someone asked me what I wanted to do with my life, I would have told them that I wanted to be a writer. I want to make a difference in people’s lives, I want to make change for the better, and I want to do it through my passion and my love for both writing and the people I care about. I’ve had that answer down for years, that’s what I wanted. Make change, spread love, and write obsessively.

But if you asked me now, I don’t quite know what I want.

I mean of course I still want to write and make change, but how? Maybe I want to live this life without regrets, without lost moments. Yet, maybe I want to live a life appreciating what a blessing it is to have woken up to see another day today.

That’s the hard part, that I’m not confident in what I want out of this life anymore. But I’m learning to be okay with that. 

Because there are a lot of times when we’re going to lose our way, our perspective change, and maybe we just need a little help. So ask for it, put a claim on the love you deserve— you are allowed to not be great all the time.

You are allowed to be lost.

These past two years of my life have forced me to grow up, to understand, and to become so much more than I ever thought I would have ever been by now. My path has changed, my heart has been redirected, and my faith has been tested time and time again. Yet that’s what it means to grow up. I have learned to weather the hard times, appreciate the good ones, and never forget the people who have been by my side through it all.

I’m starting to understand more about who we are as human beings as time goes on, as I meet more people and reconnect with old friends. We are the ones that keep each other going. This week I have seen such an outpouring of support from friends and family and even strangers to comfort one another in a time of need… In the midst of chaos, that has been incredibly comforting to me. Not just in a way of knowing that people can be good, but knowing that this life can be too.

This life still holds beauty.

That’s the point of seeing the forest for the trees, it is still good. Bad things happen, fires rage on through our lives, we lose people, and sometimes we lose ourselves.

In the end, we are still here, to live and to lose and to breathe.

We are still here to support one another and to love, to hope, to believe in something more.

The days are still passing, one right after another, and it takes time to remember, this day is yours. The time is now and it’s all right to not know what you want to do with that time. As long as you do something anyway.

I’m not saying go get a tattoo, or write a book, or change your life’s plan. But I am saying to remember what it means to still be here, to seize every day that we get, and to do everything you can to make worth of the moments you get.bright-lights-string

I’m getting used to the control we don’t have, accepting that this life isn’t completely in my hands. I’m finding my way to being okay with that, with the uncertainty of it all. And in time, I hope you can all find a way to go after what you want this life to be.

So here’s to getting lost, to asking for help and finding our way amongst the broken glass. Here’s to loving hard and loving lots before we run out of time to do it all for ourselves.

And here’s to making the “After” something worth living in.

If not now, when?

For Maddie Elliott

Yesterday I wrote a blog post on the fragility of our human lives, the time limits on all of us that we simply cannot see. I know that I wrote it yesterday, yet I had no idea I was actually writing about one of the most beautiful souls kristina-m-m-158842I have ever known. I was yet to realize a wonderful friend and kind heart had just been lost.

This is for Madeline Elliott.

Though I knew her through classes and crossed paths throughout the years, even I could tell that Maddie was truly one of a kind. She was the kind of girl who could bring a smile to anyone’s face with one of the most infectious laughs I have ever heard. Every time I talked to her, whether it was about something important or simply trivial, we always ended up talking for so much longer than we had planned because she was just that kind of personshe could connect with anyone.

From the moment I met her I knew one thing: this girl is going to touch so many lives. And she has. Because it isn’t about how long you live, but truly how you live. She did it beautifully. From someone who keeps their phone password as her birthday and the best friends whose lives were changed with her in it, to the strangers she passed on the street with a simple smile to lighten their day and the people who knew her, adored her, and she didn’t even know… This girl was incredible. Her presence was a light in so many peoples lives, including mine, and when I said in my post yesterday to tell people you love them, I meant it. Because things like this happen, we lose people, and loved ones are gone before they had a chance to make this life their own. But I know that Maddie did, she lived a beautiful life of faith, impacting so many people with who she was. Her loss is a great one, her love was infectious, and her memory will last forever in each one of us.


I wrote this for you Maddie.

I live for the strangers who smile at me as they pass by and those who always remind me that they care.

I live for the “have a good night”‘s from the elderly because they’ve seen enough of bad ones, they know life can be unfair.

I live for the people who know how to laugh, straight from the belly with their heads tipped back in abandon.sabine-van-straaten-280388

And I live for the people who have changed my life, and they never even knew how many pieces of me came from them.

There’s something about free spirits, the ones who’s hearts beat and it feels like the world is beating along;

Every breath they take, the wind blows a little longer. Every connection they make, their life grows a little stronger.

There is warmth in their smile, their hope, their being— that irreplaceable kind of energy that makes the world keep moving

and time keep changing, as the world around us moves, these are the kind of people who help us to get up and move along too.

But sometimes we have to slow down, we lose something big, someone important, and we forget about the moving,

the loving, the changing, the hoping… We might forget about the living to mourn those who can no longer do so.

So what do you do when the one who embodied the idea of life with their own, with their living and loving and hoping;

aaron-burden-195608The idea of making every breath one of beauty, of light, of changing the world by just being part of it.

What do you do when they’re gone?

You stop, take a moment, maybe two— take as many as you need— and you hold on to the blessing it is to know someone like that.

Take a breath, take a few, and remember what it means to tell someone those three little words, “I love you.”

Remember their heart that beat for the world to beat with them, remember the smiles they offered, the hope that they held.

Remember the moments they changed your life, the laughs they abandoned themselves to, the memories they made.

You hold on to the love they left behind for you.

And you spread that love, that hope, that faith; you spread it until there is no place in this world left untouched.

Make the laughter they held the healing you feel as time jerry-kiesewetter-189034goes on and the wounds of loss begin to close.

Say what you mean, those three little words, as many times as it takes for someone else to hear your voice.

And be there, in this world, be present in the lives of those you love. Because we never know how much time any of us have

to leave something good behind while we can.


My prayers go out to her family and her friends, to all those who knew Maddie, for my heart is with you. If anyone would like to support them in this time, here is the link to the gofundme page for Madeline.

In the words of Helen Keller,

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen nor even touched, but just felt in the heart.”

Expectation vs. Reality

What did I put in my empty bag?

My dad used to do this thing with my siblings and I called What did we put in our empty bags; it was a metaphor. The bag represented our knowledge from the day, what we learned— we were supposed to empty it before going to school every ihor-malytskyi-218817day so we could go to class with an empty bag and fill it up with everything we learned. Cheesy, I know. But considering I still remember all of this and that Nick and still I say it to our friends sometimes, it was definitely effective.

So what did I put in my empty bag this week?

This week I have gotten a firsthand lesson on the idea of ignorance and what it’s true definition is: lack of knowledge or information. To be ignorant of something or to call someone out as such is not an insult, but simply a statement to show someone that they do not have all the facts. As a nineteen year old college student, I am ignorant of a lot of things, some of which I am not even conscious of. That doesn’t mean I’m not learning.

If someone were to ask me five years ago where I thought I would be in life, my guess would have come nowhere close to where I am right now. I probably would have said that I would be studying or sitting in class at Stanford University as some kind of pre-med major. I probably would have also said that I would be on the track team, running and jumping as a student athlete. And hey, I thought I would be 5’10 by now. There were so many aspects of this life that I didn’t understand, far too much to be ignorant of for me to have known where my life would take me. I didn’t know enough. I couldn’t have.

I couldn’t have known that my high school experience would so largely influence where I applied to college. I couldn’t have seen that I would decide on switching into a major to follow my passion instead of my obligations. matteo-catanese-401213 (1)And I wouldn’t have believed that I would be rejected by a school, only to be accepted off an appeal to now attend Cal Poly with Nick for the next three years.

They say knowledge is power— I don’t think this is something you can argue against.

According to Business Insider, at nineteen years old I have lived through the last 4 out of 5 “deadliest mass shootings in modern US history”. All occurring in the past 6 years. I’m not here to talk about the politics of it, the devastation or the unfortunate lack of change despite the increasing number of deaths and those affected.

I’m here to talk about ignorance, about learning instead of simply knowing.

I’m here to talk about Expectation vs. Reality.

You see, I have been raised on the idea of hoping for the best but being prepared for the worst. This applies to taking midterms I’m not completely ready for, long drives that might necessitate a blanket or a jacket, and even job interviews that always seem to be a toss up for me. Throughout elementary school to high school, I was privileged enough to grow up in a place where I wasn’t constantly thinking about my surroundings; who was around me, if I was in a place where I had to filter myself from risk of harm, or the possibility of racial slurs being thrown at me as I walked by. That last one only happened a few times.

But in hoping for the best, I just never expected to live in a world where people could be afraid to go to concerts, to diners, to school. I never expected that sabine-van-straaten-280388the largest fear some of us held would have to do with the capabilities of one another.

Unfortunately, that is the reality we are all at right now. We are having to adjust to the way the world is changing around us as the people in it change too. Whether you swing left or right, you’re heterosexual or not, everyone is having to make changes. Sometimes I think people forget about the morality of this life and get too caught up in what they expected to be happening or where they’re hoping they would be.

You can’t always see a hurricane coming, nor can you ever know for sure how things are going to turn out.

This week I am reminded of a concept that ties us all together— we are all human beings. If there is one thing I used to be ignorant of, stereotypical teenage mindset or not, it was the fragility of my own life.

Because in my empty bag this week, I hold all the chemistry formulas and Iliad lessons, but on top of all that I hold my life: The idea that it can be easy to lose. I used to make five year plans, ten year hopes, and imaginative ideas of what my high school reunions might be like. I used to make promises of seeing people without ever following through, or putting off good plans for tomorrow, staying in to watch Netflix instead. But the thing is, in that bag is my life. The only one I am going to get. And while I need to make plans for a successful future where I don’t move back in with my parents and have no job, I also need to be aware of the situation we are all living in.jerry-kiesewetter-189034.jpg

We only get one life to live. In the past week alone, far too many people lost their own. The reality is that we don’t know how long this will last for us, how much time we have. The most any of us can do is say “I love you” while we can, hold onto every moment we get, and make sure that when we contribute a verse to the world, we leave behind something good. Something worth it. Something people can fill their bags with today.

I know what I put in mine.

 

Natural Disasters Worldwide and How You Can Help

As a young person, I’ve heard my fair share of “you’re not allowed to,” or “you can’t” when it comes to doing things simply because of my age. And I get it, there are a lot of things that I am not qualified for at nineteen, like drinking legally or renting a car. The qualifying word adult didn’t apply to me until I turned eighteen, and even then with the word young is placed in front of it. There are countless things we cannot do at this age, many of which we have no business doing in the first place. henry-be-239191But there will always be one thing we can do, especially at this age when so much else seems limited:

We can help others.

In the past two weeks, this world has seen an alarming number of destructive weather events that have left people without homes, shelter, food, family members, and so much more. As we see efforts like Starbucks and Amazon donating money to aid in food distribution in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma is hot on its heels and proving to add just as much fuel to the flame. If you want to keep up with Irma’s coverage, you can find it here, because the storm seems to be picking up speed.

Speaking of flames, have you heard of the Eagle Creek Fire in Oregon? Oregon is home to so many gorgeous landscapes that can be hard to find anywhere else— unfortunately, soon it might be hard to find in Oregon as well. The Eagle Creek Fire is currently burning through the Columbia River Gorge, as well as jumping to Washington burning more ground along the way. Just beginning last week, LA’s La Tuna fire burned through over 7,000 acres of land. According to LA daily news, this was said to be the largest fire in the city since 1961. We may be almost through summer, but fire season is far from over and there is likely more to come. The good thing is, we can help.

So what can we do?

First of all, when it comes to fires, we all need to pay attention to what is going on around us. Not only was the Eagle Creek Fire started by a teenager throwing a smoke bomb into a ravine, but it was also not stopped by those he was with or any passing adults at the time. It is not just the actions of the person who threw the starter, but also of those who did not intervene anes-sabitovic-286668that resulted in the destruction we are now seeing.  In order to help, some of Portland’s professional teams are donating blood while other local businesses are donating food and providing shelter for those displaced by the fire. If you would like to donate, volunteer, or help in any way, take a look at this link— every little bit counts.

With hurricanes like Harvey and Irma raging throughout the globe, the destruction is off the charts. As Irma has already impacted a string of islands, including Anguilla, Barbuda, St. Martin, and the US Virgin Islands, there is more damage yet to come. Heading towards Cuba, the Bahamas, and Florida, threatening to hit Georgia and South Carolina too, there is a lot we can do to help:

Show your support

Through this link you will find the non-profit organizations that are helping those in need. You can also separately donate to the Red Cross and National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, who both need more people to register and volunteer in places like Puerto Rico, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.  Organizations like UNICEF, Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross, ConPRmetidos, Convoy of Hope, Oxfam are all providing help on the ground for the islands already hit and could use both volunteers and donations. When it comes to the animals, the SPCA International alice-moore-192524is providing cover and assembling groups to rescue animals caught in the wreckage. Even if all you want/can do is donate, Global Giving has a goal of $2 million dollars to raise in efforts for Hurricane Irma recovery.

There are so many ways to help the people affected by the storms and the fires we see emerging around the world. If you are a person of faith, many are taking to prayer and hope towards those who are in need. And no matter who you are, your race, religion, or beliefs in this world, anyone can send good thoughts and check in on loved ones who may be in the path of these disasters.

For anyone still expecting danger to come their way, stay safe, know that the One American Appeal is supporting you all, and my thoughts are with you.