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.

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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.

 

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.

To spring forward I must slow down first

 

IMG_7044The winter has always been my enemy. I have always dealt with frustration and lack of inspiration during this time. Every time this season comes along I long to plot an escape from the dreary darkness and move somewhere consistently warm and bright.

I like palm trees a lot…I envision those in my head frequently. I feel a warm sun beaming down on a body that is considerably less bundled up than I am now. It is so tempting to dream of getting up and moving that sometimes it feels like that’s all I can do to survive.

The funny thing is that although I start dreading the winter at the end of fall, I don’t really feel hopelessly frustrated or a lack energy to do things until the end of winter. I knew this was a pattern for me but I had never paid enough attention to the actual month all this seems to happen until now.

I realized that this happens every February. February is usually the last month of the season that really feels wintery. Sometimes we get some “spring previews” of unpredictably warm weather that makes me long for spring even more.

A few weeks before February rolls around, I slow down a lot. I am stagnant. I feel the need to take care of myself above all else. I feel guilty for not being as active as I am the rest of the year and assume that means something is wrong with me or my choices. It can be especially hard when I’m in school and letting my work take a backseat to self care. It’s as if I am a bear hibernating.

When February comes, I am frustrated by this slowness. I am restless. I am suddenly much more aware that I have not been as active as I would like and it triggers some discomfort. As a result, I feel the need to make drastic changes. I want a rebirth of sorts.

The problem  with that is that I seem to get confused by the type of rebirth I need to experience. Instead of seeing the winding down I do in winter as a natural cycle, I typically see it as a sign something is wrong with what I am doing and that I need to change that instead. But that is not the case. In fact, I need to realize that, when spring comes, I will be back to my normal organized, busy, focused, dedicated and active self. That is the rebirth I long for, not this other stuff I fantasize about.

 

I had never thought about it this way before. Now that I have I feel much more relaxed and can be easier on myself. It is OK that I have slowed down. In fact, it is necessary and good for me. Come March, I will feel a lot better about most situations. I will be able to focus on things other than myself again.

And when I realize that it’s February 12, that there are only a few weeks left of this historically crappy month for me, where I always seem to feel better soon after it ends, it makes me hopeful. Just a few more weeks. I can get through it even if I do feel restless and annoyed with myself sometimes. I need to stop feeling guilty for not wanting to do as much, because I know I will want to do it all and more come the beginning of Spring.