Be kind. Be brilliant. Be you.

The title is a quote from Michelle M. Lucero.

The week before last, I graduated from college with honors, something I never thought I would accomplish. I majored in English with an emphasis in creative writing. A few days ago, I got my final grades for my last semester. 3.93, my highest GPA of my education journey.

I wasn’t the most productive student in high school. I was an average C student. I didn’t care about school. I didn’t see the point of trying hard because I didn’t have a choice if I wanted to go or not. For the record, I didn’t want to go. Classes were too early (7:45am, I’d be there by 7, get a good parking spot far away, and sit in the library for 45 minutes before the first bell rang). I didn’t have a study routine, I was terrible at taking tests, and I barely turned in my homework.

This thinking carried onto the first few years of college. Though the schedule was more flexible, I didn’t know what I wanted to study, therefore I didn’t really care. I got good enough grades to pass. When I decided to study web design (a decision I made because I didn’t know what else to study), I got decent grades, better than I did in my general education classes.

As fate would have it, the summer before I began studying web design, I decided to take an online English class to get a sense of what school would be like the following semester, with all online classes. From that summer class, I would discover my passion for writing. Life works in mysterious ways and puts the pieces together before your able to see the full image.

In fact, the Joan Didion quote currently at the top of my blog is from that English class. “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” The first week of summer school, I read that quote in the essay by Didion and wrote a response in an online discussion board. I cannot remember what I wrote but this quote has become a sounding board over the last few years. It’s been a reminder for me to keep writing, that this is why I love writing so much.

The last two and a half years of studying English have been the most fulfilling semesters of my educational journey. I’ve written numerous pieces, two of which have been published (poem and essay). I’ve grown so much as a writer and a woman. These last few years, I’ve come close to the person I can see myself being.

The quote by Michelle M. Lucero was shared in her speech at my graduation ceremony. It’s a simple set of six words with a relatable message, a good reminder in these turbulent times. Be kind. Regardless of how you’re feeling, try to be kind to everyone you interact with. Be brilliant. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box or to see life through a different lens. Be you. In a society filled with people constantly chasing trends or thinking of the next big thing, know yourself and follow your own path, marching to the beat of your own drum.

The Lingering Cold

I’ve been sick six times this year. For me, that’s a lot. Normally, I get sick once a year. Sneezing for a week or two, maybe lose my voice, and feel crappy. But it doesn’t last. I get my annual cold out of the way with and carry on with my life. 

This year, I’ve continued to get sick. Maybe it’s because I was diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid disease at the beginning of the year. Maybe it’s because I was diagnosed with a second autoimmune thyroid disease in the fall. Maybe it’s because my immune system has taken a hit with all of the health stuff I’ve dealt with this year. Or maybe I just have terrible luck.

I get congested. I sneeze. I cough. I get too hot, then too cold, then too hot again. I feel like I have a fever when I don’t. I have a sore throat. I lose my voice. I can’t hear anything clearly. I eat cough drops like their candy.

Each day, the cold morphs into something new, impacting a different part of my body. Though I’m very thankful to have just had a common cold (six times), it takes a toll on me. I’m paranoid to be around other people, not wanting to spread my germs to innocent people standing near me. I complain too much about feeling terrible that I feel like people will think I’m either lying or exaggerating. 

Last week, I graduated from college. All I could think about was how miserable I was feeling. We had to stand for an hour and a half before the ceremony and all the noise around me created a buzzing sound in my clogged ears. Halfway through the ceremony, I discovered water under my seat which helped me deal with my very dry mouth. It was hot and the sweater I was wearing wasn’t helping. When someone asked me how I was feeling the morning before the ceremony, all I could say was, “I have a cold.”

It’s not fun being sick, especially for very important moments in your life. Being sick once or twice is not uncommon. Getting the common cold six times in a single calendar year isn’t a walk in the park. It’s important to take care of yourself and that’s what I’m doing now. Wash your hands, drink water, and warn people how you’re feeling before you hug them. It’s the polite thing to do.

Talking in Circles

I don’t know why we continually

repeat ourselves as if the people we’re talking to

haven’t already heard a thousand times before.

We’re a broken record on repeat trying

to convince ourselves what we’re saying

must be true because we’re saying them

the exact same way, refusing to put

the words in any other order.

We continue spinning

even when one of us gets dizzy.

What we see and what we know

are two different concepts.

We don’t claim to know anything

but this back and forth is continuing

like one of us will share something

to make this reality stop rotating.

I have nothing to add anymore,

my stutter has gone silent to the listeners

and I’m not even sure why I’m still here

when I know what has led me to the place

where I can forget the time and space

of what is meant to be getting something done.

I’m done running away from what I cannot change,

from what needs to be arranged. I feel like

I’m beginning to go insane. So I’m jumping ship

to free myself from this horrid habit that has

morphed and shifted one too many times.

Leave me be, I’ll find my way without a boat,

just leave me here to float. The rocking of the waves

is a much needed change from the blurred

reality I’ve known too well.  I need to trust

in my own vision instead of relying

on another story that has already

been written. I need to create my own

stories instead filling my mind

with speculation of realities that

will only exist in my imagination.


No Point of Reference

With each passing day, I’ve come to realize that for the last twenty-five years I have lived in my body, I haven’t really known the skin I’ve lived in. In the sense that I don’t pay attention to something until I’m forced to look at it by way of injury or illness.

The same questions run through my head every time as I try to access memories I do not have. Has this always been this way? Has this changed? What is different about this? Could it be different? Maybe? Or am I just now seeing this for the first time? These questions are better than what I automatically told myself when I was dealing with things as a teenager. I’m going to die. What I’m experiencing will kill me sooner than I wish. Somehow everything leads to death. I’d imagine myself having a different life from this one very minor but must be a life-altering moment for me. Of course, none of what I imagined actually happened and thankfully, my extreme anxiety has morphed into obsessive questioning (I know they both sound bad but at least one seems slightly more productive.)

Because I don’t pay attention to my body and it’s apparent creeks and shapes, when something out of the norm happens, I’m left feeling like a blind duck, waddling down an unfamiliar street. Without a point of reference, I’m left assessing a body part I haven’t paid too much attention to and asking the questions above while reminding myself not to panic, this may have been always been my normal and I just haven’t noticed it until now.

Referencing an old memory with my body when encountering present questioning is never ideal. I overcompensate for lost memories by creating stories in my head that are probably not true but they must be real because they’re the only things that give me comfort in this very moment. My thyroid has always been this size. Of course, my left hip has always popped. I did hear that noise coming from my left side while I was in the air. I can still walk. My eyes can squint again. That’s a stress zit, not a hormonal pimple. Most of these are true, while some are rationalized statements that don’t necessarily add up to the reality I live in but choose to believe at the moment so I don’t return to that younger version of myself.

This year has been a lot. I’ve realized how much I’ve grown and areas of my life where growth could be good for me. One thing I’ve realized from so many unexpected health issues throughout my life is how much I choose to ignore something until I’m forced to feel it. I do this in many aspects in my life, but my body in particular, has made me realize how much of my own skin and bones I do not know out of fear of what could happen if I do acknowledge it. Though I’m no longer a teenager, I must admit that fear and jumping to conclusions still lingers. Forgotten moments don’t help and questioning or telling myself false truths are good for a little while but not for a lifetime. In moments like these, I often wish I knew more about my body so when I’m in pain or something looks or feels off, I know what’s my normal. Maybe by writing this, I can develop reference points that will keep me from worrying as much in the future.

After Thanksgiving

We gathered together with family and friends to remind each other how thankful we are to have the love we’re fortunate to have in our lives. Thankfulness lingers in the air days after the Thursday holiday is done. Games were played, stories were shared, and the dog stole turkey when no one was looking. 

The weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years are interesting because it’s a time of closure and transition. It’s the time where the calendar year is coming to a close. Where you begin to realize how fast the year has gone and how it’s almost done.

Christmas lights now light up the night. Soon a tree will be my family’s front room. Pumpkin pie is still in the fridge, slowly being consumed by me and me alone. Friends have gone home and returning to the normal routine is hard for everyone after eating more food in one weekend than most of us probably eat in an entire year.

I’m thankful for so many things that I won’t name here but those of you who know me will know how grateful I am for the love and support I have from you. Without the people in my life,  I don’t know where I would be or who I would be. In the next few weeks between the holidays, take some time to look around you and remind the people you love how much you love them. Just because they know it, it’s always good to remind the people you’re close to how much you care.

Eat the pie, put up the tree, and hide the extra turkey from any dogs or cats. 

This Time of Year is Magic

I’m all about focusing on the little things. Thinking about what makes me happy has gotten me through these turbulent last few years. This time of year, in particular, is magic. There’s something about this moment when Thanksgiving is right around the corner, Christmas ads have been playing for over a month (thankfully, I love Reese Witherspoon), and the year has gone by in a blink of an eye that makes me feel different. It’s definitely a good different but I’ve been feeling this warm magical feeling more this year than I have in the past. 

For those of you who know my writing know how much I love to focus on the little things. Those of you who do not know my writing, you will learn this rather quickly. I’ve written this many, many times but I feel like the more you focus on what makes you happy, the happier you will be. So, in honor of feeling these magical feelings, here’s a list of what’s making me happy right now.

Christmas music. Like a cozy blanket that comforts my soul.

Christmas lights. Light up the night as magic fills the air.

Christmas movies. Old reminders of my childhood.

Hot chocolate. Caramel. Milk. Dark.

Warm fires. Spending the afternoon reading a book with my back to the flames.

Pumpkin. Pumpkin pies. Pumpkin Spice Latte. Pumpkin tea.

Peppermint. Peppermint drinks. Candy Canes.

Thanksgiving food. Sweet Potato Something. Corn bread pudding. STUFFING! STUFFING!! STUFFING!!!!!!!!!!

Books. Three books from the Strand and one from BN. 

Stories. I have yet to write. I have yet to think of. 

Writing. This list with a blanket covering my legs. Thinking of an essay I could write.

Potential Oscar movies. A Star is Born. Bohemian Rhapsody. A Beautiful Boy.

Essays. Both personal and educational about people I cannot relate to.

Home. A purring, old cat. Laughter. Football on in the background.

When Lies Become Truth, Keep Calling out the Lie

When they don’t like something

they kick you out and throw away the key.

When they don’t like you

they call you a bad person because of your qualities.

When things bad things happen

supporters will rally around you.

When freedom of speech is tested

the people will fight back by calling out the wrongs.

 

Lies are now seen as a perfectly

good option for speaking your mind.

We teach kids that lying is bad

and yet, we have our government hiding the truth.

We have social media platforms

covering up their mistakes instead of making them right.

Thinking about themselves first

and the customers, citizens of earth, second.

 

When did spreading falsehoods become acceptable?

When did we look the other way to red flags?

When did we become the adults we tell our children not to be?

When did lies become another word for truth?

When will adults be held accountable for what they say?

 

This is not normal.

This time we’re living in isn’t the norm.

Don’t get used to it.

Don’t become desensitized.

When lies become truth,

keep calling out the lie.