Poems about writing

I apologize for the lack of posts lately. I’ve been so focused on writing for graduate school that I rarely think to create posts here. In the next few weeks, I will be updating this with some things I have written for school that I would like to share.

The following few poems answer different questions I was asked in my writing for change course.

Who are you as writer?

 

When I write

I explore:

The world, myself, the unknown

I examine:

The memories I hold dear

I explain:

My feelings and attitudes

I contemplate:

The present, past, and future

I observe:

Otherness

My words:

Are carefully chosen

Either

Blurted out and left as is

Or

Excruciatingly reviewed and revised

My heart:

Is open

My brain:

Unnerved, never comfortable

My soul:

Happy to speak out

Reminding me of who I am deep inside

What have you learned?

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I can be…

Impatient

Lazy

Unmotivated

Overwhelmed

Stuck in a state of inaction

Or

Easily excited

Passionate

Constantly creating

Wanting to do everything

Exploring all my curiosities

Focused on recording

My past, present, and future

In story-form

In art

In music

Everything in life

The stories that I need to tell

Come to me

When they can no longer stand my fearful silence

They smack me in the head

And say “release me now!”

Instead of weighing down my mind

They are now written

In printer ink

Or stored in a computer document

Weighing down the page,

Taking up space

But in a better place

They may be shared widely

Or kept hidden forever

Never to be read

By anyone but me

But they are out of my mind

Free

Where are you going as a writer?

Where am I going?

Moving forward

I want

To share

My words

My stories

To release

The feelings and experiences

That hold me back

To teach

Others

To realize

The value

In sharing

In writing

In speaking

In creating

In putting words to a page

That will live on

Long after they are gone

What do you need?

I need:

Nature

People

Experiences

Reflection

Time

Focus

Freedom

Movement

Support

Self-care

Beauty

Creativity

Inspiration

Sun

Food

Art

Music

Relationships

Heartbreak

Love

Loss

Grief

Health

Pain

Desire

Emotion

Wisdom

Peace

…and a writing utensil.

It starts with boys: A poem and essay about ending sex trafficking

The following is a poem and essay I wrote for my graduate school’s course in human rights. We have been studying the conditions of young women and girls who are trafficked around the world for sex and efforts underway to end this human rights problem. Most of them start with the women themselves, but I believe we need to take a different, additional approach.

This may be a difficult read, but if you’re interested in human rights, education, ending domestic violence and a culture that oversexualizes women and treats them as objects rather than people, it’s worth it.
The poem:

60 to 101 missing women worldwide (Kristof and WuDunn, 2009, p. xv)

Kidnapped, Taken

Becoming a supply of women

To serve the demands of men

 

Who pays the money?

For the girls with no choice

But to sell their bodies

Forced to smile and please

 

It’s the men

Buying time

Until they marry

At age 30 (Kristof and WuDunn, 2009, p. 24)

 

The girls and women

Are considered inferior to those men

Yet worthy of collaborating

In the most intimate act between two bodies

 

Supply, demand

To end the cycle of sexual slavery

The demand must dry up

It starts with teaching boys

 

Boys must learn to treat girls

With respect

That girls and women

Do not exist only for their pleasure and service

 

The culture must change

Boys must grow into men

Who can control their own impulses

Who can think before they act and cause harm

 

Boys and men could take the credit

For ending the sex slave trade

If only they are willing to do the work

That starts with them

 

Those men that reject the status quo

Should be touted as brave

They not only speak up for girls and women’s rights to freedom

They will show empathy and genuine concern

 

Until there is more education for boys

That undermines

Both a violent and oversexualized attitude

We are fighting a fight that cannot be won

 

While reading Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s book, Half The Sky, which details various ways women are deeply oppressed around the world and the attempts to improve or end some of these conditions, I could not help but continue to return to the idea that boys and men need to step up and do their part more than anything. If the oppressive violent and sexual behavior of boys is never or rarely called out and addressed, if there are no widespread efforts to re-educate and change the culture of boys all over the world while we are seeking to empower, educate, and raise the status of women, there will always continue to be disparities and inequality amongst men and women.

I was especially struck by the prevalence of young girls being forced to serve as sex slaves in worldwide.  Although it is hard to get an exact statistic of how many sex slaves there are globally, it is believed to be a larger number than the numbers of slaves in the Atlantic slave trade (Kristof and WuDunn, 2009, p. 11).

Many of the solutions to combat this problem are largely ineffective. There may be efforts to provide more education for girls where there is risk for them to become trafficked, yet on the journey to school they are met with harassment by young men (Kristof and WuDunn, 2009, p. 21). Other efforts by outsiders have caused the problem to get worse. When U.S senator Tom Harkin sought to prevent child labor in sweatshops in Bangladesh, the firing of girls in the factories led to them being rerouted into brothels, where many have now died of AIDS (Kristof and WuDunn, 2009, p.17).

I believe strongly that in addition to educating girls and women, whether it is through empowerment, sex education, business skills, reading and writing, and beyond, we need to be doing our part to educate boys in similar yet different ways.

I can remember when I was in high school, there was a very notable case of domestic violence of a former student who was killed by her boyfriend. Since that point, we frequently attended anti-domestic violence trainings, even participating in self-defense workshops for just us girls. There were always whispers amongst teachers and students that there needed to be anti-domestic violence trainings for the boys, but to my knowledge, that never actually happened.

Yet, it is not the women who are to blame for these incidences. The self-defense workshop almost suggests that having skills to deflect punches, kicks, and grabs are enough for us to prevent violence towards us as if it’s our responsibility to prevent it in the first place.

Jackson Katz, a pioneer in the field of domestic violence prevention has made it his mission to change this. He believes that violence towards women is more of a men’s issue than a women’s issue, that men need to take ownership for their actions and speak up and influence other men to do the same. He is one of the few people I have heard of who are doing this kind of work. He works with athletes and men in the military in the United States. You can hear him speak about this topic in his Ted Talk here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTvSfeCRxe8&feature=player_embedded

However, his ideas need to be applied globally and become more widespread. There needs to be massive efforts to change the culture of men early on, when they are boys. It may be difficult for educators around the world to see the value in doing so, especially when many of the negative attitudes towards women are so deeply ingrained in many cultures, but there has got to be a way.

Given that I do not feel equipped with the skills and knowledge to design such a program for boys around the world, I wonder if many people have these same ideas, but talk themselves out of realistically pursuing them. Those that are truly passionate about ending the oppression of women need to find a way to engage with boys as well. Maybe it starts with a woman raising her own son to be different, or by becoming a teacher of boys and girls who has no tolerance for gender stereotypes or violence. Maybe they are like me, urging more people through blog writing and poetry to think of how they can play a role in changing the culture of boys. Maybe they will start a worldwide effort to incorporate education that changes boys’ perspectives of girls and diminishes violence and sexual misuse. Hopefully, if they choose the latter, they will learn from their failures, and their successes will make a big enough impact to be celebrated so that we can all learn from them, and know that the men of tomorrow will no longer perpetuate the problems facing girls and women today.

 

I’m back to share some new writing

I have been writing a lot lately, but almost forgot about the existence of this blog. I’ve been writing on the subject of death and dying a lot, as well as reflective and academic pieces for my humane education master’s program. On a run today I remembered that I have not been posting here, and decided I would start up again today.

The following is a creative letter I wrote to a recipient that cannot actually receive letters in the mail, as death has no official address:

Dear Death,

I write you this letter from a place of cautious respect. It is not yet my time to go, but I can assure you I will be ready when it is.

When that time comes, I promise I will not be afraid. Unlike most people within my own culture, I have carefully contemplated and explored my curiosity of you. I have prepared for your visit. I have lived the best life I could while in this body. I made my life my message. Because of this, I will have no reason to be taken aback when I get the definite diagnosis that signals the end.

It may seem that when you come, who I am will cease to exist. The person who I once was, the body I had, will have lost all feeling. That person will be numb forever, never to return in the same exact combination of atoms and carefully configured electrons. I could also be tempted to believe that I could live out infinity in a pure state of nothingness. But that isn’t my style, I know my essence will return to being everything. I will be here, there, and everywhere. I will be present in the rock in which the bear rests his head on for the winter, I will be heard in the sparrow’s call. I will walk across the thoughts of the people in the world as if I were walking on a bridge.

I may return as a ghost, or at least, I will return as the dust particles dancing in the beams of light coming through the bedroom of a young child, who is not unlike myself at that age. The child may think that everyone can see me, but I will know the child is special. She will have a vision unlike no other, and maybe she will go on one day to die with grace and a lack of fear, leaving the world with the memory that she was once alive. Or perhaps she will leave her mark on the world by making it change in an infinitely small yet progressive and positive way before she returns to the microscopic flecks of energy that float in the air.

I have found my voice, my destiny, in speaking to you, befriending you, and teaching others to do the same. That is my way. Collectively, we can no longer deny that you will be coming some day. It is best to be prepared.

Until then, I bid you ado. I look forward to the day when I can frisk about in the forest of the universe with you,

 

With love and respect,

 

Laura

A Light in the dark

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So, I am starting a little handmade candle company. I’ve decided to make some little affirmation cards to go with each candle based on their themes. People can read them or meditate on them as they light the candle. One big theme is finding light in the winter. Here are a few that I have written up so far:

1

In the winter when it is hard to find the light I crave, I will make my own light. I will do what nourishes me and keep the fire inside me going. I will remember that I am not alone in the world.

2

The winter is cold, snowy, and dark. But I will make my own light. I will take care of myself even when it seems hard. I will have gratitude for the light in my life that I am able to find and soak it up.

3

I am not alone in this winter, this darkness. Others before me, and in the present, struggle as I do. I must remember to take good care of myself. Be patient. It is okay for me to practice being still, quiet, and be well rested.

4

Like a bear in the winter, I need to take this time to hibernate. Rest is important. I will practice taking care of myself without a feeling of guilt so that I may awaken feeling bright and new; ready to take on my challenges.

5

This winter I will reflect on the light I receive from the world and do my part to share that light with the community.

Check out the facebook page for the company, at Queen Of Quirky Candles. And you can also find me on Instagram, which has been tons of fun to find inspiring images to build up my presence on social media as I launch this new adventure @queenofquirkycandles.

Running with my thoughts. Again.

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This blog was originally designed to reflect the many ideas and thoughts that came to me while running.

I started running because I had been afraid of doing so since I was a little girl. Running was something I thought I was incapable of doing, but somehow I decided to try it anyways. I started with a couch to 5k program.  I  was more than capable of running. I was doing something I thought I could not do, and I saw myself transformed in more ways than one. Running became a coping mechanism for me. It was one of the few times in my day where I said nice things to myself. Eventually, it became a time to practice self-care and to generate solutions to problems I was thinking about.  From personal problems like relationship issues, ideas for school assignments, solving or helping with social justice and human rights issues, to tackling the purpose of my life, I pondered it all while I ran. But then it all came to an abrupt halt. I had to stop running when I injured my back in Crossfit shortly after running in my first half-marathon in August of 2015. I was in physical therapy from October 2015 to June of 2016. Sometimes I could not even stand up straight or walk without immense pain and stiffness.

Running became a coping mechanism for me. It was one of the few times in my day where I said nice things to myself. Eventually, it became a time to practice self-care and to generate solutions to problems I was thinking about.  From personal problems like relationship issues, ideas for school assignments, solving or helping with social justice and human rights issues, to tackling the purpose of my life, I pondered it all while I ran.

But then it all came to an abrupt halt. I had to stop running when I injured my back in Crossfit shortly after running in my first half-marathon in August of 2015. I was in physical therapy from October 2015 to June of 2016. Sometimes I could not even stand up straight or walk without immense pain and stiffness.

 

During this time period, I graduated college with a Bachelor of Science degree after nearly ten years of working towards that goal. I got accepted into my dream graduate school program, in which I now study Humane Education. I got diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease that affects my thyroid. It seems to deplete me of energy, motivation, and I now eat a gluten free (in addition to vegan) diet because of it, which let’s be honest, sucks the joy out of eating sometimes. Without running, which had become the way I processed my emotions, thoughts, and achievements in life, none of these milestones seemed to matter to me.

At some point, I was so frustrated with the lack of running in my life, that I decided to convert this blog to be more general and not focused on my thoughts while running like it had before. I deleted all the posts I had written as a response to my runs. Because I couldn’t run. At first, I enjoyed the new writing that I was doing. It felt like it was helping me process just to write. Then I stopped that too.

I started feeling a little better this Summer with my pain and could run a very small amount. Unfortunately, I had to focus on my body so much that I was not able to focus on my mind at the same time. It was frustrating.

I was starting to realize I had no way to really channel my emotions and thoughts anymore. I felt bottled up.

And then my grandmother died on September 14, 2016.

Earlier, in the Spring when she wasn’t doing so well, I visited her and spent some time with her coloring and talking to her. I told her I loved her even though for some reason I was afraid to say it. She said it back. Then in the Summer she got even worse. It wasn’t a good situation. I was afraid to see her again because I knew that if I did, it would change how I felt about her. I wanted to have a positive memory of her as my goodbye. And then, in September, she suddenly changed again. She was a person who was afraid of a lot of things in life. But suddenly she wasn’t afraid anymore. She wasn’t trying to fight anymore. She was more at peace. We were told she was going to die soon.

Somehow I found myself there, despite my own fears of facing death, by her side, watching her life come to its end, and I did not want to leave.

I realized while I was there, how much my grandmother and I are alike. It is scary to liken myself to her because she had such a hard life. She tragically lost three of her children. She went through a divorce from her mentally unstable husband. And she dealt with this pain in unhealthy ways sometimes that negatively affected our family. Yet she died with an unmistakable sense of peace. Though she had many fears, she never gave up because of them. She persisted. I cannot begin to imagine what it would be like to experience all the pain she endured. But I can imagine that I can keep going through my own fears like she did.

One of the things my mother kept saying to the hospice staff was that my grandmother had told my mom one of her biggest fears was that she would die alone. My mom was going to great lengths to ensure that wouldn’t happen. The hospice nurse seemed to doubt my grandmother was really afraid of dying alone. She told us that people will die the way they want to. She said if a person doesn’t want someone to be there when they die, they will wait until they go to the bathroom, and then die. We were only able to stay with my grandmother during the day time. She died at 2am when we were not there. She conquered the fear of being alone in death. I am so proud of her for that.

I need to be proud of myself for facing my own fears. I have done all kinds of things I’m afraid of. In fact, I am starting to think everything meaningful I have done in my life so far, I have been afraid of.

Here is a small sampling:

I kept living even when I didn’t want to.

I sang in public in a band that had formed three days prior.

I spoke publicly about my struggles in life.

I graduated college.

I drove nearly 6 hours, by myself (I hate driving), to my graduate school residency in Maine. I even swam far out into the ocean while there, even though I tell myself I am afraid of swimming in open water.

I taught myself to run. And even though it’s a pain to start over from scratch again, I’m doing it.

The past few months have been really hard on me. I haven’t been able to tell people how I really feel. I’m afraid that if I start talking about the pain I’m in I won’t be able to stop, and it will be unfair to them. I’ve been wondering about the lessons I should be learning from my grandmother’s passing a lot. I feel like I am unable to move forward, weighed down by despair. I feel like a failure for not picking up where I left off before she died. But my life seems different now.

For the past 4 weeks or so, I’ve been forcing myself to go out and do another couch to 5k program. I’m smack dab in the middle of the program, and it really sucks physically. Today I was afraid that I could not do the whole workout as described.

But all of a sudden the British voice recording that is on the app told me I was ready to cool down. I had not given up on the entire workout. I did it. And not only had I not given up on the physical aspect of the run, but I ended my workout with this blog entry in my head.

 

 

 

 

Poem: 4:53 Sunrise in Surry

Here is poem #2 of a 3 poem series from my grad school residency trip to Surry, Maine.

4:53 Sunrise in Surry

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Every morning my body woke me

At 4:50 am

Same time.

Every day.

My body was waking me on purpose

It knew I had never seen the sunrise

That I really wanted this experience

But I did not know what time it was at

With some prying

I discovered my body was already aware

4:53 sunrise in Surry

It was time to witness

The beautiful reflection of the sun

Coming up

And making an impression on the clouds and me

Alone, by the ocean

As I walked through the forest path

That led to the shore

I was apprehensive of my solitude

But when I arrived, I saw the horizon

The gradual lightening of the sky

The sun was blocked from my view

From the tallest, greenest trees

Yet that did not matter to me

I still saw the pink, purple and orange

Wisps of sky

The clouds reflected the colors back at me

When I looked down into the water

On the rocky shore

This mirror effect was telling me:

You were meant to be here, right now

In the quiet, calm, beautiful world

Something

You never allow yourself to have

And you deserve it.

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The return of my poetry (and myself!)

Hey! So I know I promised I would eventually write three more poems to complete the 30 poem series that was part of NaPoWriMo.

I finally have three more poems!

They were inspired by my residency trip to Surry, Maine for my graduate program at the Institute for Humane Education.

Additionally, I have a mixed media painting inspired by my time there too!

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Here is one of the three poems (I will be posting the other two later)

The Journey to Maine and Back

The clouds looked more beautiful–

The contrast of blue and white, more pronounced

The Earth looked rounder

The  stars shone brighter

The fireflies were more numerous, reflecting the stars

The ocean was rockier

The forests greener

A field of wildflowers, the first I ever walked through

The sun rose earlier than I imagined

Yet I awoke every morning just in time

And I stayed awake to the beauty of nature

As I drove myself back home

Now the clouds here look just as beautiful

And the Earth as round

I may not always see the stars, but I know they are there

Sometimes if I look close enough I may see a firefly

Bringing the stars back down to my level

The oceans are more sandy

The forests are more lush

Though I’m in a different environment

There is just as much beauty to be found

And I must stay awake to it!