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.

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.

No Fireworks in September

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.

One Year with Abnormally Puffy Eyes

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.