The Truth About Learning

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There’s something about this week that has made me really think a lot about who I have grown to become in these past few years. Maybe it’s the newer people I’m finding in my life, maybe it’s the amount of things I’ve thrown myself into, and maybe it’s just… Me. This is how we grow.

Wednesday marked 16 month since Maddie died. 16 months and I still can’t believe it. I miss her every day. But I look at the person I was when she was here and who I am now that she’s gone and they are two completely different people all together.

I mean, a lot can happen in a 16 months.

Lately, I’ve been learning how to be honest. I’ve been struggling with a few big things in my life for years on top of years now, but I am only just forcing myself to face it all or find people who truly will support me in each of them; life is too short not to feel like you’re actually living it.

There is no point spending time on people who don’t make us better in the process.

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This extends to the things we put ourselves into. Even though I went into my first year telling myself that I would never be a WOW Leader or volunteer for it, somehow I’ve found just a few people through orientation that truly made me realize what a difference we can make on our campus. Sure, so I haven’t loved my time here at Cal Poly. But what I do love is the power and the capability I have to make it so other marginalized and minority students might be able to.

After all, I still have another year to enjoy it myself.

But the more things I get involved in, from Her Campus to CCE, the less time I have to allocate into taking care of myself. Admittedly, this is very important of course, but so are all the little things I am involved in.

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I work because I am a lead and have a responsibility to learn more skills from it. Plus, money. I write because we deserve to have our voices heard by people willing to listen to us. This blog is irreplaceable to me.

And I volunteer, so so much of my time and effort, whether it’s to orientation, people, or other things simply because every person I am doing it for or listening to or spending time with or working towards making something better for is incredibly important to me.

I do it because it means something, even when it’s difficult.

I’m just having a hard time balancing it all along the way.

There will never be another time in my life that looks like college. From the people to the classes, I’m probably never going to learn so many different things in such a short period of time ever again.

I won’t have multiple opportunities a year to have my voice heard and put my work out there. I won’t be surrounded by some of my favorite people in mandatory weekly meetings every Sunday. And I won’t live just a floor away from my womb-mate to roommate of a twin brother.

Just like I miss a few people because I never saw their goodbyes coming, I don’t want to miss out on college opportunities and my own life because I didn’t apply myself. Because I wasn’t honest about it.

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So I’m working on it, all of it, for you and for me. It’s going into my writing, my drawing, my hoping, and my loving. Every bit of that impacts you and this blog. And I’m excited to see what might happen.

I hope you’ll stick around to find out.

As History Folds Into Reality

“It is the mind that makes the body.”

–Sojourner Truth

“We younger Negro artists who create now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased, we are glad. If they are not, it doesn’t matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly too.”

–Langston Hughes

As another long week of Winter Quarter and the beginning of Black History Month, today is the birthday of these two incredible figures in history. So I’m starting with them.

In the past, many have told us who to be or what to think or how to act because we were not given the freedom of choice. I look at the life I hold, the privileges laying in my hands, and I thank people like these two—both their quotes can tell you why.

If the mind is what makes the body, I am thankful for the opportunity and freedom I have to think the way I do. Growing up, I was told to dream up whatever dream I wanted; then become it. Fifty years ago, I wonder how many black people believed in this the way I am now allowed to.

My mind is creative, and annoying, and full, and too loud, and beautiful sometimes; it’s all of the above. Therefore, my body is the same. Yet, there are no boundaries on what my mind can do, nor are there limits on what I chose to do with my body (to an extent). Because of people like Sojourner Truth, I come to you every week with this blog and I follow my passions.

For me, this is a privilege.

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Like Langston Hughes—if I ever were to make any comparison between him and myself—I am an artist. I have learned to express myself through my art, in writing, music, drawing, and so much more. Though I still have a long way to go in expressing everything I want to, in being vulnerable and open about who I am or where I’ve been, it takes time and a whole lot of practice.

But I don’t need to fear and I do not need to feel shame. Not in the way people like me have in the past.

For this, I am lucky.

My art is not to please others, simply to put pieces of myself into the world around me. My art is what balances me out. If I write, I write for myself and share such work with you because I think you deserve to hear it if you so choose. Though I do hope you are pleased at least occasionally, in the long run it shouldn’t have to matter.

Because it will be beautiful and ugly and everything in between whether you see it or not.

I hope you see it.

Take a look at the quotes I started with, the two people I chose to honor today. Those quotes could mean anything to anyone, they could represent something completely different.

And that’s okay. Because for these things, for interpretations and art, there is no one truth. For our bodies and our minds, there is no singular correct way to exist.

We just do. And if you’ve made it this far, know that I appreciate you for existing here with me this week.

Have a wonderful weekend. And I will see you Friday.

Adjusting to Yourself

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Did you notice that there was no Bookworms on Tuesday?

There’s a reason for that.

You see, last month I did a post on the Mortal Instrument series along with the two other branch off series by Cassandra Clare. So I’ve been joy-reading all of those from the very beginning since last month—very slowly since my life has been a bit jam-packed lately—which consequently means that I haven’t gotten the chance to sit down and read another book.

Maybe it sounds like an excuse, but honestly, I just haven’t had the time to make it a good post for you.

You deserve that much; maybe I do too.

We all have our responsibilities, as students, parents, employees, human beings… There are things that we have committed ourselves to doing whether or not we can really do it well at the moment. Even if we want to.

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That’s where adjusting comes in.

Just like we have our responsibilities, we also have our own lives that in the grand scheme of things, we make the rules. Sure we have our plans of how things go or when we retire or what comes next, but maybe that plan changes as you change and circumstances change with it.

Just like I didn’t write a post I had nothing for this week—instead of speed-reading a new book or recycling an old one I have little interest in—change the rules for where you’re at (within reason of course).

Think about it.

Everything we do comes from what we’ve got left to give. If we have no energy, say you skipped breakfast or didn’t sleep last night, then you’ve got a little less to give than another day where your circumstances would be better.

This is the small screen version of the picture; take a moment to zoom out.

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Every one of us has jobs to do, things we partake in every day that keep the world running as it does. It’s that idea that everything affects everything.

So if you forget to eat breakfast today, then tomorrow, and the next day until it becomes a habit, your performance falls. And when your performance falls, maybe you start to skip out on meetings with friends or nights with your family too. Before you know it, someone else has to pick up the slack and maybe they start missing things right behind you. When they miss things, someone else has to make up for the time that they don’t have to spend on their other jobs, and well… The cycle only continues.

But what does this have to do with you?

Like I said, everything affects everything. And it starts with you. In order to make sure you can be what and who you want to be every day, you can’t skip breakfast or skip sleep or do something that you simply aren’t prepared for.

It’s not worth it in the long run if you’re still going but everything you do is a little less than it could have been.

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So take a moment to look where you’re at, what you’re doing, and maybe adjust a little today. Take more time for your morning routine, hum in the shower, take a break when you need it; just listen to yourself and do what you need.

Because only when you’re doing good for yourself can you efficiently do good for others. It starts with you.

Going into the weekend, I hope you remember that. Happy Friday everyone.

When There’s Nowhere Left To Go…

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After a week two that felt a little more like week seven, I found myself procrastinating a few too many assignments and calling my parents instead of doing any of them. First things first, I told them I was going to drop out of college and they laughed… Jokes on them if I actually do it (I won’t though).

Then I told them that I’m going to create my own company, one that they’ve never seen before. And do you know what they said?

“Do it.”

So I said okay.

Because truly, such an idea is not impossible. It’s based around the things I love and the pieces of what I’ve become here at Cal Poly, all the bits of myself that have only become stronger in the last few years.

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When you have something like that, something you’re passionate about—one of those things that you can’t tell where it ends and where you begin—you don’t let it go.

You follow it through.

There are a whole lot of things that get in the way of our lives, homework and school included (sometimes). It gets easy to lose sight of what we’re passionate about or what other options we have in this life to build because we’re so set on the same path.

As an English major, people ask me if I want to teach… Not really, it’s a good career but it’s just not mine. And as a chem major, people asked if I was going to be a doctor. I used to say yes, knowing the rest would be too long to explain. But no, that wasn’t what I wanted either.

These are not my paths, these are not the directions I plan on taking my life in. Sure, maybe they were at some point, but not anymore.

I’ve changed over the years and my paths have changed with me. I’m beginning to see that there are so many more options than the ones I thought I needed to chose.

What I want to be is a writer for the rest of my life—at this point I already am, but you know what I mean. I want to write something that means something to someone. And I have, I plan to keep doing it. But that’s not all I want to do.

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I want to create, I want to build something that people see their worth reflected off of. A representation of what it means to see all the people who never feel like they deserved to be. Part of me wants to take charge of my own ship and be the only one who can do that, while another part of me wants to surround myself with extraordinary people who can contribute just as much as I can to what we build together.

By my parents saying the words “do it,” I recognize that it doesn’t have to be an either/or kind of situation. Of course we can’t pretend to know where our lives are headed or what’s going to happen, but we can build the foundations of what we want into it all, can’t we?

If I really wanted to, I could still go into the medical field. Not a dream of mine anymore, but I could. I could just as easily drop out and do something else, something different than college. Not really the direction I want to take, but again, I could.

And I could create those stories, the novels that mean something to someone starting with just one person. I could write everything I want to write and still find another path to add onto it. Just like I plan to.

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Because I can still create that company if I want to; not alone, no one can do something like that without help, but I can build something out of what I’ve got and start to fill the gaps this world still needs to fill.

Right now, it’s not about putting yourself into set paths and hoping for the best, it’s about creating the ones you want to take and making them happen, whatever it takes to get there.

Do it, I dare you.

About Last Weekend–We Live as We Learn

If you’re wondering why my post was so late last weekend, you’re about to find out why. But don’t worry, as promised I still got my blog to you all by Friday night. You’re too important to miss after all.

There’s been a whole lot of growth in my life within the last few years (at least I’d like to think so) and there’s this one concept that I’ve never quite been able to move past. Call it a personal need to be important to people or be of use to others, but it’s gotten in my way. A lot. Maybe you can relate.

You see, I have always felt the need to not only be just a friend to someone or just a support system but anything they need. No matter what someone is looking for or needs from this world, I have always wanted to be the girl for the job; I am constantly compelled to be their person with all the answers or solutions, even if the role is a few shoe sizes too big that I just can’t fill.

That want, that constant need to be what other people need, it comes with a lot of problems, you know? Problems and unhealthy standards.

Because, no matter how hard I might try, I can’t be everything someone else needs, I’m just not built that way. None of us are. And something about the last weekend of my life truly made me see that.

Last weekend, I officially became a new member of Cal Poly’s WOW Team at our yearly Team retreat. Even though it was raining half the time and none of us had any idea what we were going to be doing, I think it was the epitome of learn by doing and trusting the process. Because days like those, through the beauty and the pain or the growth and the fun, remind me of what college does for us. It lets understand just a little bit more about the world and ourselves along the way.

Imagine this: 40 Cal Poly students, hand picked through several interviews and observationals, to be a part of orientation Team. Then put us all together for one weekend of bonding, early mornings, friendly competition, photos, and late night talks. Something about it, somehow we all just clicked together faster than I thought possible.

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And in the process, every person I met opened my eyes to something I haven’t fully grasped before.

Throughout college, for all my life really, I’ve switched from group to group or team to team, just trying to find a place to settle down. Maybe sometimes we find that place, and we stop for a while, enjoying what it means to be okay with where you’re at before things change and it’s time to readjust to reality again. College has been much of the same sequence of events for me, just on a much faster pace than it ever has before.

Since you’ve been on this blog with me for three years, I guess maybe you’ve realized how many things I’ve become a part of at this school—yet, no matter what I get into, I always find something new to jump into next. Because nothing I have found has felt like a safe place to land, to stay for awhile and get comfortable. Sure, I might catch a glimpse of what that looks like for me in this friend, or that roommate, or this one club, but it’s never stuck. That is, until that group found a way to stick to me instead.

That thing about WOW Team, we don’t really pick them. Somehow, they pick us.

Last weekend, I met a whole lot of new people and somehow learned almost all their names in two days. It might sound strange, but I now hold an oddly large amount of affection for people I’ve only known for a week. Maybe because with them, I felt more like I could be enough as I am. Not because they told me that, but simply because I feel that way about every one of them realized that maybe it applies to me too.

Some of them are incredibly funny and can lift any mood going through the room. Others are impossibly kind or open-hearted in a way that makes you feel loved, even by a stranger. And then almost everyone is beautifully intelligent, insightful in a way that makes you feel seen, or heard, understood as you are with no expectations of anything less or more.

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They were all little bits of what I look for in my own people, yet not a single one of them could be everything I want in a person. Even surrounded by people who earned their opportunity to be there, just like I did, it took me a minute to realize this. Because while surrounded by so many wonderful people all on that retreat for the same reason, I came to accept that maybe that’s okay.

There are only so many pieces of who I am, all these little bits of my personality or my being that can’t fill the gaps other people need filled. Even as I grow, developing into a more rounded and hopefully insightful person than I’ve ever been, I realize that while I can be a whole lot for certain people, there are some things I simply am not for others. And I’m beginning to be okay with it.

Because at some point, I think somewhere in this life I’m making for myself, I’m picking up people who can fill those holes or those gaps for me along the way.

For now, with my eyes open and ready to learn more as I go, I’m fine just the way I am. This is your reminder that so are you.

What the Living Do–Poetry

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Sometimes, when the words are just right and the cadence isn’t too loose or too tight, you just might strike gold in a poem. At least that’s what I’m beginning to think.

This quarter has started off with quite the ride, as I got sick on the first day of classes yesterday with some sort of stomach flu and had to call out from work–lucky for me that I had late classes I could at least drag myself to in order not to get dropped. Don’t worry though, to add to the fun, I got a speeding ticked along the way. Yay for adulting and taking responsibility for my actions…

In the meantime before class and willing myself to still go, I spend quite a few hours yesterday in and out of sleep or laying over the side of my bed with a trash can, staring at my bookshelf because I didn’t want to move too much.

And I found this book, a book of poems, that seems to tell a story through each one in a way I haven’t read in a while.

I wanted to share it with you.

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The craft itself seems to be telling short truths, almost cliches or obvious trains of thought in the form of short lines that has changed what the standard of poetry has become.

But this one doesn’t do that. So to take a break from my own work and show you something, a form, you probably haven’t seen in a while, here’s the poem I’ve got for you today. No commentary, no further prelude, just poetry. Soak it all in and let me know what you think about it.


Marie Howe–What the Living Do: Rochester, New York, July 1989

Photo by Tobias Cornille on Unsplash

Early summer evenings, the city kids would ride their bikes down his street
no-handed, leaning back in their seats, and bump over the curb

of the empty Red Cross parking lot next door where Joe’s car was parked, and
John’s white Honda, broken and unregistered…everything blooming,

that darkening in the trees before the sky goes dark: the sweetness of the lilacs
and the grass smell…

And the sound on the front porch steps was wooden and hollow,
and up the narrow stairway stuffy and dim, and the upper door maybe a little

open—and in the hall and left into his room: someone might be sitting there
reading, or sometimes only him, sleeping,

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or lying awake, his face turned toward the door,
and he would raise a hand….

And the woman who lived below them played the piano. She was a teacher, and
sometimes we’d hear that stumbling repetition people make when they’re

learning a new song, and sometimes she’d play alone—she’d left a note
in his mailbox saying she would play softly for him. And those evenings,

when the sky was sunless but not yet dark, and the birdsong grew loud in the trees,
just after supper, when the kids wheeled by silently

or quietly talking from their bikes, when the daylilies closed up
alongside the house,

music would sometimes drift up through the floorboards,

and he might doze or wake a little or sleep,
and whoever was with him might lean back in the chair beside the bed

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and not know it was Chopin,
but something soft and pretty—maybe not even hear it,

not really, until it stopped
—the way you know a scent from a flowering tree once you’ve passed it.


See you Friday.

Becoming the Game Changer

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And just like that, it’s a new calendar year. Did you spot the differences in the layout? If you did, let me know and I’ll tell you a secret. But like I said, here we are in a new year and I would say my resolution is to actually write 2019 on my papers consistently for the next two weeks but I know I’d break it so there’s no point.

That’s the thing about resolutions, sometimes we make ones we know are impossible for us to meet, just to see if we can make it happen anyway. There’s got to be a better way to do this.

And well, there is. One with with a whole lot less pressure too. It’s not exactly a resolution, but more of a plan. Hear me out:

Take it step by step, each one something you can reach from the last. And keep doing it until you get to where you want to be. Then do it again. And again…

I say this because I know that I have my own tendencies to set goals for myself that I really want to reach, but oftentimes the bar is set a little too high. So when I fail, it’s almost too discouraging to keep trying.

I forget that sometimes it isn’t about changing yourself to be “good enough” to reach that goal, it’s about changing your expectations—change the goal.

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Think of it this way. Throughout most of my life (that I remember), I’ve always been pretty reserved and not necessarily quiet, but more a watcher than a player. As great as it is to have that quieter or more preserved side when it’s useful, it can be kinda boring and maybe lonely. After all, people usually seek out the exciting or fun ones, not the wallflowers.

Last year, I set my goals on changing that, just a little. Not necessarily changing me, but letting what I’ve learned mold me into someone more capable of becoming who I want to be.

It wasn’t going to happen overnight and it definitely wasn’t going to happen in some huge and/or public grand gesture, I had to start small. So I did a mini version of CCE WOW with our Polycultural weekend (PCW) and somehow committed myself to the Black Student Union’s dance routine in the process. In retrospect, there was a bit of a grand gesture in there with the whole dance on stage, under the bright lights, in front of everyone thing… But the hosting part with PCW was a baby step for me, a step that let me meet a lot of people, my voice get a little bit louder, and I found myself in the middle of things a little more often than not.

I couldn’t stop there.

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So I set a new goal: WOW. It went wonderfully, as I hope you all know (if not, you really should catch up), so I kept stepping a little higher and higher the next time. And well, I’m still stepping so that counts for something. This time, I’m just changing the direction a bit.

The goal for 2019 is simple, yet somehow bigger than any I’ve set before.

Just like I had to be the one to push myself to make the grade or get involved or join that club or apply for that job, this year I am letting my life become the epitome of what each of these have in common.

I’m going to be my own game changer.

Sometimes, we rely so much on other people, we look for things we hope can help us fix something perceived to be broken, something that can be better, when it really comes down to us doing it ourselves. We have to stand up and do what needs to be done, even if it’s against our own bad habits or what something used to be.

Because sometimes, sometimes a plan works and you can keep raising those goals every time you stepped up to the last one. You become just a little more of who you want to be for it, whatever that looks like to you.

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But other times, life just happens, whether or not we’re ready for it. You can’t plan for that. More than just a plan, remember that no matter what you do this year, live for yourself. Be ready to take what you’ve got and make it into whatever you can.

Be ready to change your own game.


If you’ve got any plans or any resolutions this year, I want to hear it! Feel free to shout them out a little in the comments and I’ll hype you up if you need it. Good luck and I’ll see you on Tuesday for Poetry Place. Happy new year.