A Reminder to Be Respectful

I don't have to agree with you to respect you.
You don't have to agree with me to respect me.

We can come from two different backgrounds and generations,
have different perspectives, beliefs, and ideas,
and still, be respectful of one another.

The focus is often on what is different about us,
who we love, what we believe, where we live.
While we may have moral differences that define us,
that doesn't mean we can't be kind, or at least civil.

We can get our messages across without yelling at each other.
It's possible to agree to disagree and not be hateful.

Call out injustices that need to be addressed,
make noise when something needs to be changed.
But don't be rude to someone who doesn't agree with you
and don't try to put your beliefs on them.

The goal shouldn't be to get someone
to believe what you believe because it doesn't work.
Repetitive behavior with the same speech
isn't productive or convincing.

It's to be kind to each other regardless of where we stand.
I'm not the bad guy and neither are you.

Before I Had the Language

Before I had the language 
to understand and articulate,
I just had the feeling.

I was twelve,
sitting in my sixth-grade classroom,
looking down at what I had written.

These words seem to have come out of nowhere,
like magic.

I looked around the room
and realized no one could tell
how I was feeling.

I didn't know anything about poetry
and yet, I had written a poem.

It was about how life is like a game
and you just have to go along
with the surprises you encounter.

I read the poem over and over again,
amazed I was capable of writing something so quickly.

Now I have the language,
to share and articulate
what I was feeling.

When I know I've written something
good that's worth sharing,
I experience that feeling.

My stomach fills with butterflies,
the hair on my arm stands straight up.

I'm reminded why I love writing
and why I must take the ideas that come to me
to express what I'm feeling.

Life is like a game
everywhere you look is a surprise.

I didn't know when I wrote these words
what I was feeling
or that I would become a writer.

I just knew when those two lines popped into my brain,
I had to write them down as quickly as I could,
before they could escape.

Winter Arrived in October

I watch the snowfall for a third time this month.
I can't remember the last time it snowed
three times before Halloween.
But here I am, watching it float down once more.

It stopped snowing in late May,
only to return in early October.

Is this just a weird year?
The new normal?
A sign of how climate change has impacted the weather?
All of the above?

Winter over stayed it's welcome,
and arrived just as the leaves were turning colorful.

While I appreciate the snow
when it doesn't stick to the roads,
I'll be curious to know
how these shifts will impact future generations.

Something Meaningful

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.

Close Focus

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.

The Power of Mindful Breathing

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. 

Saturday Drive

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.