Archive for the ‘Wonderful Humans’ Category

(A series…)

How to tie a scarf in several different ways.

How to be still.

How to love people you didn’t birth.

How to cook soft shelled (or is is “shell”?) crabs becuase I wanted them.

How to never give up on dreams.

How to go with the flow when all you want to do is drown the sorrow.

How to be brave.

How to not get lost in your own reflection.

…We all need this type of love.

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https://www.google.com/doodles/martin-luther-king-jr-day-2017

” All life is interrelated “

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

The quotes above resonate with me. They are in no way, a complete list of quotes by Dr. King. While I don’t share all of his beliefs, I firmly believe that his civil rights fights, and approaches to life and horrific situations were warranted, remarkable, and very much, needed. Sadly, they are warranted and needed today, in 2017. 

The societal pendulum swings from good to bad to horrific, etc. This is often based on the lines we draw between ourselves and others – from politicial party lines to religious beliefs – and somewhere along the way, we become closed off to being our true selves, and criticize others for being any version of self other than the one we deem acceptable, right, proper, etc.

Today may not be a holiday or day of reflection for you, but there’s nothing stopping you from taking a few minutes to reflect on where we are as a country, if you’re in the U.S., and if you are outside of the U.S., think of ways to make your world better. Meanwhile, the common denominator should be in trying to find ways to live our truest lives. After all, it’s the only one we have, right? Oh, and even if you believe in reincarnation, no guarantee you’ll be back as a human, so make this round count!

…be sure you are not in fact, surrounded by assholes or people who don’t “get you”. 

This reminder has lived with me for some time, but surfaced and stuck as my internal mantra when my self-doubt and angst as a writer was at its peak, and even now when these feelings come up again as they often do, and mostly because the voices in my head wouldn’t shut the hell up. I guess the years of procrastination had caught up with me. 

In the earlier days, I would cautiously share my poetry with a few friends and loved ones, hoping they’d provide constructive criticism to encourage and help me grow as a poet. I envisioned feedback that would me to at least feel comfortable performing at an open mic poetry event, or growth that would help me become a better writer who could begin  submitting to magazines, papers, and journals. I trusted these people with the dungeons and dagons that tormented me and kept me awake at night; with the demons that danced in my head during my working daylight hours, and boy, was that was a huge mistake! 

To be fair, these weren’t mean people. They were friends and loved ones with their own fears, self-doubt, and in several cases, saw themselves through my writing but didn’t like the reflections. 

As much as I promised and swore myself to secrecy on particulars, or behaviors, apparently I had opened some Pandora type box on thoughts that go bump in the night. But honestly, I wasn’t going to stop observing life around me so I was at an impasse. I felt confident that no one’s life was being ripped off, mimicked, or exploited so I had to trust my gut and my writing. The result? Loss of friendship and loss of trust in sharing my early drafts with others. But I decided that what I had to say had to come out in some form or fashion and this was the only form that I felt was right for me. I hope my friends would understand.

Today, it’s still gut wrenching and sometimes physically painful to send a draft for feedback. In some instances, I preferred paying a stranger to edit and provide feedback but since editing funds weren’t as easily available in my earlier years, I was limited. Now, I definitely recommend it. 

So what’s the outcome of all of this? Well, as some may know, my poetry’s been published a few times and I’m still slugging away, submitting to journals and papers and magazines…and dealing with the rejections and celebrating the small, occasional wins. So hang in there, writers! (This sentence is just as much for me as anyone else!)

Oh, and I’m much more selective when sharing my deepest, darkest thoughts. Constructive criticism still feels icky and uncomfortable but it helps. By making better choices about who I ask for feedback, I’m at least sure the comments are about my writing and not other people’s issues. I had to be sure that I’m not surrounded by assholes or by people who couldn’t see past themselves, their life experiences.

Somewhere along the way, I’m getting better at learning  to love myself a little more, learning to just write more and more freely, and, I’d dare say, to have faith that the stories in my head will touch or reach the right person.

If you need some quick inspiration:

Sayu Bhojwani: Immigrant voices make democracy stronger
https://go.ted.com/Cy3H

​”Trying to fit a social construct when you’re not part of that social group to begin with, means you’ve already failed. Put your energy elsewhere. People from all ethnicities, genders, sexual orientation and abilities will let you down because they’re people. Some with the mightiest agendas and hordes of followers are the first to fall because they start believing their own greatness. All heros are assholes at some point. Buddha wasn’t always the Buddha, Mother Teresa didn’t value all groups equally, Gandhi tested himself by using others including young girls, and so on. Too many want a hero so they blindly trust. Worship no one and trust no human who tells you how to…” – 

-Conversations with my father. 

License to Live

Posted: April 25, 2016 in Awake, Wonderful Humans
Tags: , ,

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You know what and who you are. Often, the world makes you someone else or makes you want to be someone different – someone unlike who you are. What’s your truth? What’s your story? Which box are you in? Who put you in that box? (paraphrased from Geena Rocero’s TED Talk)

 I used to think that my family was special, wonderful, and loving – even though, not openly. For example, I didn’t like to be touched, or hugged as a kid. I still cringe a bit when people stand too close to me, but that’s not the point of this post. The point of this post is that not everyone is as fortunate to have a life like Geena’s, a family as loving as Geena’s, and most importantly, self-love.

Do you? Do you create the type of environment that is loving and nurturing?

What’s your “License to Live”?

Take a listen to the beautiful Ted Talk by @GeenaRocero: https://www.ted.com/speakers/geena_rocero

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I committed to reading books by minority authors for at least six months of this year. Then, once the six month mark came and went, I committed to a entire year. This was inspired by one, being a minority reader who wanted to see a similar reflection of life in some awesome stories, and secondly, because I’m a minority author as well.

Buying books from the story tellers who have come before me and who have inspired so many people I know has been quite a journey. My quest was further cemented after reading this Washington Post article of a woman’s struggle to find and read books by only minority authors for a year. I didn’t know a goal like this would be such a challenge. It’s often tough to find a book to satisfy my craving for a particular type of story in the particular type of format I want. For example, I wanted to read Oreo by Fran Ross and was really in the mood for this type of story but it wasn’t available in the kindle store until August of this year. So, instead of reading another book that my mind wasn’t ready for, I watched “Little White Lie”, a Netflix documentary of a biracial girl (who thought she was white) growing up Jewish.

Look, I know I live in a very white world and I accept that to a certain extent. I’ll also admit that I love many books by white authors and I will continue to love many white authors’ books. A good author is a good author. However, this quest isn’t about white people. It’s about me finding different voices and cultures and stories – the ones that reflect me, that help me see myself in their deep, soulful eyes, and remind me that heroines and quirky people can be shaped like me and can be brown with red, yellow and olive undertones like me. This is about my history and my world.

So if you are tempted to tell me that I should change my plans for this year, please don’t. This also isn’t a post about you. It’s about me and my glorious adventure thus far through which I’ve found some new scintillating stories, revisited quite a few old “friends” that I grew up with, and through which I’ve discovered some new and intriguing voices. All in all, it’s been a great six months!

Due to life’s hectic schedule, I have to sadly report that I haven’t been able to read as much as I usually have in the past. However.u selective reading has left my brain and heart are more full then when I am rushing through lighter fiction reading. Below is a list of just some of what I’ve been reading:

The Sellout by Paul Beatty
Drown by Junot Diaz
This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Oreo by Fran Ross
Bicycles by Nikki Giovanni
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Selected Poems of Langston Hughes by Langston Hughes
The Dreamkeeper and Other Poems by Langston Hughes
Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
Loving Scott Harrington by Pamela Reaves
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

UPDATE: I’ve just started: finished:
Kindred by Octavia Butler
and next may be:
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Also adding:
The Book of Unknown Americans by Christina Jenriquez
And
Trail of Broken Wings by Sejal Badani

I’m open to suggestions so if you know of any good books you think I’ll like, please let me know!