When I was a kid, I used to express my opinion to the other kids as though what I had to say would somehow be useful to them. I was speaking in the way children often copy adults. I didn’t know the gravity of the words I was using. I just knew they made me feel like what I was saying held meaning. I felt important when giving life advice to other 6th graders on the playground next to the jungle gym as one girl hung upside down on a steel bar.
I can’t recall what I said to those kids but the feeling that my words could mean something to others stuck. Besides the fact that I have a stutter, I thought if I paid close enough attention to what the adults around me were saying, I would be able to harness that meaningful feeling while handing out life advice I knew nothing about.
In retrospect, it’s clear to me that I was always meant to be a writer. As a kid and throughout my teen years, I would make up stories in my head. The stories began with me doing things I would never be able to do in my real life, like owning a silver Volkswagen Beetle at age 9 and drive it around the neighborhood, be best friends with Britney Spears and Hilary Duff, or have a horse of my own that I’d love and take a care of. As I got older, I fell out of the stories as the protagonist. Instead, I would choose other people to be my characters and come up with stories that way.
I think I’ve subconsciously always tried to feel as though my words mean something. Not because of how I speak, but because I’ve always known that words are powerful. What you say or write can impact someone else’s life. Words allow you to express what you’re feeling and what you think, it’s kind of mindblowing when you stop and think about it.
With my writing, my main objective is to get people to slow down and think outside their perspective. I want people to appreciate life more because it is so precious. People can get lost in the busyness of their daily lives. Words are powerful. How you use them will impact whoever comes into contact with what you share. Remember that.
Lately, my eyes have been focusing differently.
Whenever anything is near my eyes,
ie a book or phone screen,
my eyes will innately focus
on that one thing
while everything beyond
what I'm focusing on blurs.
It's like focusing in portrait mode,
the background becomes fuzzy
while the words I'm reading
become better than crystal clear.
This way of focusing is a shock to the system.
It took me some time to realize
what was happening.
When something with my vision changes,
there are moments where I'm trying to decide
if what I'm seeing is actually there,
if my sight is true to my reality
or if what I'm seeing is an interpretation
stemming from my brain not being able to process
where my eyes are within the space I'm in.
Mind games with the eyes seem to be never ending
as things continue to shift each day.
I have found comfort in my breath. Inhaling and exhaling are often done without thought. The body knows how to breathe without the mind getting involved. But there is something about getting my mind involved with my breathing that has helped calm my thoughts and body. Learning how to belly breathe can change the body’s way of pushing air in and out of the lungs. Whenever I need to settle my overactive thoughts, I will belly breathe until I feel my thoughts settle. I used to cope with these thoughts by avoiding them entirely. I’d distract my mind with useless thoughts to push out the overwhelming ones. Now I’m working with them by learning how to calm them down. Filling my stomach up with air through my nose and releasing it slowing out of my mouth.
I go on a drive looking for my old self.
I listen to old music and sing along. Dixie Chicks and Bob Dylan,
Songs from my childhood that have bled into my young adult years.
The leaves have barely changed
As the season of summer is about to leave for the year.
Saturday, 79 degrees, and endless blue skies
Guide my way as I drive a route
I once swore I'd never return to.
Too many loops, too scary, too many unknowns.
This is my second time on this road this month
I got lost the first time and made the experience less than thrilling,
Trying to navigate a road by memory without second guessing
Myself takes serious concentration.
Now, I'm going back and forth up a hill,
Reminding myself that this is where I first felt car sickness.
I didn't find my old self, she's no longer around.
Instead, I was reminded of how much I've grown
Since I've been on this road and how much
I'm still scared of the great unknown.
The end of summer is near.
I sit in the shade out back
and listen to the last
of the summer sounds.
Noises of insects sounding
like frogs in the afternoon.
Kids are walking home
from school, leaves are
preparing to change
colors soon. What to do?
Nothing but observe
the small airplane flying
it is best not to
move my head.
A single sound shoots through the summer night. It’s loud and fast and gone before I can comprehend what is happening. There are no rippling sounds that fade into the darkness. No colors flying across the sky. No screams for help. As I’m writing this on a Sunday afternoon, I’ve only heard this sound twice, at different times the last two nights. My only response to hearing such a jarring noise is looking out the window, texting a friend who is sleeping in the room across from mine, and locking the door. I don’t have time to be concerned about what I do not know. My mind is too busy to be distracted by external worries at this present moment.
I was in a McDonald’s bathroom somewhere in Iowa.
I was exhausted from a weekend full of family time and walking
around the Minnesota State Fair.
My dad and I had left a few hours before dawn and began the long drive back home.
As soon as we got on the road, I instantly fell back asleep,
holding the old stuffed animal dog I got as a Christmas gift when I was 8.
We had stopped at McDonald’s to get breakfast and pee.
I was washing my hands when I noticed how glaringly puffy my eyes were.
What is going on?
I thought as I poked the puffy skin around my eyes, taking in this unfamiliar sight.
I walked away from the mirror to leave,
only to return seconds later to stare at this unusual occurrence once more.
I chalked it up to not enough sleep and too much driving and walking
within a short period of time (something I’m not known to do).
This conclusion reassured me enough to leave the restroom without panicking.
I can’t remember if I asked my dad if he noticed anything different.
If I did, he probably just told me the same thing I told myself: it’s nothing.
We got back in the car and continued our long journey home.
As we were merging back onto the highway, I checked my puffy eyes
once again through the camera app on my phone.
In natural light, they were still puffy.
It’s fine. It’s fine. I just need more sleep.
Oh, the stories we tell ourselves in the moment so we don’t obsessively wonder
what bad things could be happening.