Dear Sister

Poetry

Dear Sister,
This is about a girl who just caught her bus.
She is one of us.
She wants to be everything at once.
But mostly feels like nothing at all.

She wants to be tall.
She wants to be taken seriously,
But is usually taken for granted,
And now is being taken to the corner
of Grant and Avenue D.
She is part of you and me.
Her hair is a mess
And she’s wearing a dress
That hasn’t been washed in a while.
She cracks a small smile.
At the boy in the front
Who just shot a glance her way.
But he’s not looking at her.
Instead he looks at the seat
Next to hers where he meets
the eyes of a girl
Whose dress is clean.
He wasn’t being mean.
But she felt in his eyes
a life’s worth of lies
She’d been telling herself in her dreams.
The lies that crept in her head
When she laid in her bed
Wishing the sun not to rise.
Clenching her eyes.
The lies that said she wasn’t good enough.
Not smart enough. Not pretty enough.
Not tough enough.
Her heart was rough.
The soft tissues that grew
Were now black and blue
From the beatings she gave to herself.
She put her dreams on a shelf.
Since she’d never achieve them
She’d much rather leave them
Far out of reach.
If she only knew
That the lies were not true.
But they tore through her like bleach.
Fading away, a bit everyday,
her marvelous, colorful hue.
This girl is me and you.
Constantly bombarded
And hopelessly guarded
from a world that demands nothing less
Than perfection and grace
Power wrapped in lace
A maiden who’s not in distress.
Because heaven forbid we feel stressed
And wear a dress
with hair that hasn’t been washed in a while.
Heaven forbid that we smile.
If the world only knew
All the things we could do
If left to achieve our own dreams
But the world isn’t as cruel as it seems
If we stand hand in hand,
Change from ask to demand,
We can finally go the extra mile.
We can learn to truly smile.

My dear, dear sister
we all have grown blisters
from where the world has rubbed us
against the grain of our souls.
So let’s make some new goals.
Be messy.
Be graceful.
Be crazy.
Be tasteful.
Be your own kind of strong.
Together, we’ll right the wrong
And tomorrow’s sisters can live the lives we wished for all along.

Doing Things For Me

Everyday

If you have spent at least five minutes with me then you’ve heard me say “I’m a words of affirmation person.” If I haven’t said it to you yet, just give me another five minutes.

You see, I’m very big on personality assessments and understanding myself better so I can better understand others. So it was a revelation for me when I took the Love Languages test and discovered that the number one way I receive affirmation is through words. I crave sincere words of gratitude, praise, or affirmation. This doesn’t mean I beg for compliments. It just means that I am motivated and feel loved when people verbally affirm me.

This is great in a lot of ways because I am easily motivated by notes of encouragement and little things like being told by a teacher that they think I’m smart or the “chips” affirmation program at my office. But it is also a big reason that I am a Pathological People Pleaser.

People Pleasing is basically constructing your life around what others think. Although I am very independent and don’t really care what people think about my personality, I can care so much about what others think of my competence, intelligence, achievements, or niceness that I am often paralyzed by even the possibility of receiving negative words – or no words at all. But I want to change that. And I know where to start.

Last year, I had moderate success with my Daily Doodle. I got lots of compliments and “likes” and requests. So I began to shape my doodles around what I thought people would like to see. Obviously, the words of affirmation I received grew. That isn’t inherently bad. It’s a smart way to generate content. But now I’m working on my 2014 project: a 365-sentence story created by writing one sentence a day for a year. And you know what? It’s not always the most interesting to read. It can be slow for people who are used to constant information – or who like to read stories more than a sentence at a time. I’ve also discovered that a sentence isn’t as fun to look at as a doodle. Am I right?

So for the past five months I have struggled with contributing to a project with almost no words of affirmation accompanying it (Note: I am truly thankful for my friends who are following along!). But then I realized something important. Like this blog, I didn’t start this project to get attention or get famous or have people hang on my every word. I started it because I wanted to stretch myself as a writer. I wanted to see if I could create a full story with living characters while being shackled with intense time and creative restrictions. I wanted to test my patience.

I’ve decided to stop caring about what people think. My story could be the worst story in the history of stories, but as long as I complete it I will consider it a success. I’m doing it for me, and that’s all that should matter.

Walk The Talk

Rant

If you haven’t guessed yet, I’m a words person. Words are more powerful than people realize. I mean, we’re the only mammals with language abilities—that’s amazing, people! But over the past year I’ve realized something that has altered my opinion of words: words mean absolutely nothing if not backed up by actions. Yes, this is a simple concept. But people seem to have forgotten that it’s necessary to support what you say with complimentary actions. You can’t just say you’re a writer if you never pick up a pen. And you can’t say you’re an athlete if you don’t go on the field. I’m sick of hearing people say that they’re pro-whatever, when they don’t actively support it. Or that they subscribe to a certain belief system, but you couldn’t tell from their lifestyle.

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Our society is full of wannabes and empty-statements. 140-character long identities that don’t last more than a second. We spend so much time cultivating our Pinterest boards and building our Facebook persona and tweeting our Buzzfeed quiz results, but we fail to live our lives in a way that really means something. We live in a world where it is more accepted to boast your personality type than your personal beliefs.

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It’s time that we as a society find our voice, and not one that is an echo of someone else’s. I don’t care if we agree on everything or can’t agree on anything. But I will respect you if your life reflects what you claim in your sociopolitical Facebook posts. If you think everyone deserves love, then show everyone love. If you think we need better care for the poor, then start sharing your own finances. If you think that health care is an issue, then start caring about the health of the people down the street. Don’t just stand up for what you believe in. Do something about it.

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It has been said that actions speak louder than words. But they do more than that. They don’t just change the black and white to color; they bring them to life in high-definition. Actions substantiate words; they give them power.

So stop saying things that you aren’t willing to live. Your words are more than just audible reflections of your thoughts. They should be reflections of what you do now and promises of what you will do in the future.

Sick Day Philosophy

Everyday

I took a sick day yesterday. My second sick day ever. Impressive right? And what does Haley do when she is sick? Apparently write philosophical notes on her iPhone while half-conscious. Which I present to you now:

It’s amazing to me how much power one little word can have. Like, “yes.” Or “no.” Or “stop.” Or “go.” Just one word can carry with it the power of two thousand words – all by itself. Like “land!” And “duck!” And “why?” And “don’t.” One little word can command armies or stop machines. It can warn of harm or demand an explanation. It can say “please” and “thanks” and “certainly” and “sure.” It can make you feel “better” or make you feel “worse.” 

Words don’t exist. Not really. They are creations of our own making. Just sounds and shapes of sounds all mashed together and attached to something to give it meaning. And yet, without them we would have no meaning at all. I would not be “me” and you would not be “you.” That table wouldn’t be “table”, it would be just another object in a corner of the room. 

Words declare things. Call things into being. Words have more power than we can possibly have. They aren’t mere tools. Words are beings of their own. Living, breathing entities. Words are alive. 

The Little Things

Everyday, Lists

This is for the little things.

Thank you, random lady, who said my skirt was cute.

Thank you, man, in the grocery line for saying I am pretty.

Thank you, little girl, for wanting to hold my hand.

Thank you, friend, for giving me a pat on the back.

Thank you, cat, for greeting me at the door.

Thank you, friend, for telling me that you missed me.

Thank you, ma’am, for saying you like my style.

Thank you, sir, for holding the door open for me.

Thank you, friend, for actually being interested in my stories.

Thank you, kid, for asking me how my day was.

Thank you, guy, for not thinking I am too weird.

Thank you, gal, for saying you look forward to my doodles.

Thank you, miss, for telling me you love my hair.

Thank you, friend, for looking me in the eyes.

Thank you, boy, for always sitting next to me.

Thank you, man, for not charging me for my soda.

Thank you, lady, for giving me a hug.

Thank you, friend, for saying you care. And really meaning it.

Thank you, for reading this.

My Book Collection

Everyday, Poetry

Image

To read is to open up your mind,

You’ll be surprised at what you’ll find.

A book is more than words and glue,

It’s takes a hold and sticks on you.

And if you take the time to dwell,

Your book will come to know you well.

So grab a novel, play, or poem,

And let the story take you home.

“Silly Brits…”

Lists

In honor of the fact that it has been a week since I arrived back in the States, I present to you a small memorial. For the two weeks I was in the UK, I carried a small notebook around with me and jotted down notes and observations as I went. The following is a short list of words that I overheard that I found particularly interesting–and by interesting, I mean silly:

1. Nappie – on the flight to Scotland I saw this word written inside the plane’s lavatory. It means diaper. I don’t understand how they derived the word because there is no “n” in the word diaper at all. However, it is a lot of fun to say. Try saying it out loud three times fast in a British accent…I can’t believe you just did that.

2. Rubbish – Perhaps one of my favorites, it is a word for trash. I always like to imagine a very robust Brit with a monocle saying this while smoking a cigar and reading the daily news. What bothers me about this word is that, contrary to common sense, their trash cans are not labeled as rubbish bins. They are called litter bins. And to that I say, “that’s rubbish!”.

3. Multi-tasking soap – This is what Brits call soap that both moisturizes, cleans, and disinfects. It makes me think that tiny little soap people are busy as work scrubbing my hands, while at the same time cooking dinner and balancing their checkbook.

4. Shoestring vest – I did several double takes when I first read this on a price tag in a clothing store in London. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. How does one make a vest out of shoe laces? Then I realized that the name referenced tank tops. This only confused me more.

5. Jalepinos (without the ˜) – Every morning and evening we would watch BBC news in our flat. And every morning and evening we would see the same Subway commercial featuring one of London’s Olympian athletes. In the ads, each athlete would tell the audience what ingredients were on their “personal best” sandwich. One in particular said that he liked “teriyaki chicken, all the salad, hold the jalepinos”. When he said “jalepinos” he pronounced the “n” like a normal “n” and not a spanish “ñ”. We thought that maybe that was just how that one guy said it, but then we heard it elsewhere in the city and everyone says it wrong.

6. The registered un-waged – I always thought that America was super PC, but the Brits may have us beat with this word. It means the people who are unemployed. They also don’t call people “poor”, they call them “lower class”, which sounds a lot worse in my opinion.

7. ASBOs (pronounced ahs-boz) – An abbreviation for Antisocial Behavior Ordinances, this word was thrown around the newsroom probably every five minutes. Apparently, the Brits have a problem with teenagers running a muck and causing trouble. But, instead of just assuming they were poorly disciplined by parents or had rough childhoods, they have all been labeled as having some form of Antisocial Behavior (which is basically saying that they all have personality disorders) and they have had to implement several ordinances to keep them all in check. For about three days we heard nothing but information about the ASBOs and England’s fattest teenager. Go figure.