The First Time I Spoke

I remember being voiceless, even though I didn’t know it. I never spoke up for anything I believed in. This was a time cast in doubt and darkness. It seems like a thousand years ago, when really it’s only been a few. The last time I knew this self was in the tenth grade.

I was sitting in my school’s tiny auditorium. The sophomores were called into an assembly for some sort of poetry performance. The principal had been vague. For several minutes, the room hummed with the murmur of questions. Then suddenly, out came five people. They sat in chairs on the stage. Four were quiet as one emerged. Tall, brown, and, obviously in his thirties, unlike the other four, he introduced the Los Angeles Get Lit organization. The ones on the stage before us would be performing poetry, the man said.

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Don’t Leave Me Here Alone with All This Cake!

I’m going to be eating cake this weekend. By myself. I don’t usually eat cake, make cake, or buy cake. But this morning, I went to the local farmer’s market to buy cake. Pieces of cake, actually. I bought a great selection: cheesecake, coconut flan, raspberry torte, bread pudding, and a couple other little things. Two of each – one for me and one for a good friend. You see, it’s her birthday tomorrow, and she asked if she could come over and spend the day hanging out with me. I was excited that she wanted to share this special day with me, and I said, “Of course.” I just messaged her to confirm and found out that she “forgot” and made plans with two other friends to go to the movies; she asked if I would like to join them. I politely declined and said, “No thanks, I’ll be busy at home eating cake tomorrow.”

Maybe she did forget. Or maybe the offer with her other friends appealed to her more. Either way – I’m eating cake and I am trying not to feel sorry for myself that it’s been the year of being disappointed by a few friends. For some reason, so many of them have been too busy for me or had unexpected things happen to cause them to cancel plans. I’m trying not to take this personally. I really don’t think it’s about me. I think it’s the way society now offers so many choices, within so little time.

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Shattered Thoughts, Lingering Regrets: Unfollow?

The clock on the wall moves slowly. Each tick feels like an eternity. Then the screen lights up again. He stares at his phone, the light reflecting across bottles upon bottles scattered on the table. A bitter smile flickers over his features. Another notification. Another little reminder that alerts him to more pictures of her, parties and dances and group dates in the middle of the night. She has clearly moved on, and he has not been able to let go.

~~~~~~

She dances with wild abandon. Parties till the sun has dropped far below the horizon. Kisses random strangers at the drop of the hat. Anything to distract herself from the memories, a constant lie to her friends and herself that yes, she’s totally fine, she’s moved on. Hours are spent at bars, on first dates and group dates with boys, good boys, she’s sure, but they barely leave an impression. Time vanishes in the blink of an eye and all thoughts of anything but the present fly out the window during these fun times, and still her thoughts return again and again to what she once had.

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Maintaining A Positive Attitude During Uncertain Times

SOUL ADVICE with ANNIE SIMS

I lost my job last year and although I’ve been looking for a new one, I am not working yet. My unemployment benefits have run out, so I’m just living on savings, which is pretty scary.

However, on the bright side I am currently taking classes to become certified as a Microsoft Office Specialist. I have passed my Outlook and PowerPoint exams, and received my certifications for those. I’m studying for my Excel certification now, and will finish with Word after that. The classes, study, and practice are keeping me pretty busy and don’t leave much time for the job search, but my main focus right now is completing them as soon as possible so that I’ll be more marketable.

How can I maintain faith, confidence, and a positive attitude during times of uncertainty about career, finances, etc.?… Angie

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Let the Tears—and the Milk—Flow!

“It’s no use crying over spilt milk.”

This saying expresses an important life lesson: In order to move forward, we should not dwell on the past.

For the purpose of this article, I’ll ask you to play along and look at this statement a bit more literally.

Like me, I’m sure many of you have seen little ones crying because they spilled their milk. In fact, my son recently dropped his cup on the floor and the tears began to flow. I immediately tried to soothe the little guy while wiping up the mess. I explained that it was not a big deal and said, “There’s no need to cry; it’s just spilled milk.”

Max, still crying, responded, “I can’t stop the tears.”

Well, this pulled right at my heart-strings and got me thinking: What message am I sending him about the “ok-ness” of expressing emotions by telling him not to cry?
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What’s in a Color?

Stereotypes exist for just about everything. From gender to race to religion to native country to age – all those categories and countless more fall subject to stereotypes. Some, like those regarding race, have been heard more frequently than those centered on, for example, age. Anything that breaks our perception of normalcy is subject to stereotyping, though stereotypes tend to manifest subconsciously, meaning that people pass judgment without even realizing.

The stereotyping that I have had the most experience with is regarding hair color. I’ve been dying my hair since I was twelve years old and decided to add red streaks into my naturally blonde hair. From there, I soon went full red and spiraled into other colors including multiple shades of blue, green, silver, and purple. Through my colorful journey, I’ve learned how much people judge others based on something as simple as hair color.

A previous teacher of mine, who got to know me as a serious student over two years, recently revealed that he had judged me at first sight based on my hair color, which at the time was a vibrant shade of navy blue. At that moment, I began thinking back to the differing reactions I’ve received over the years.
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Restoration in Isolation

I am a slave to my alarm clock. I hear it and cringe. Work. University. Repeat. But as a boy, I recall campsites along the river bank, hiking up seemingly endless trails and sleeping soundly as silence descended with the last day’s light above the canopy. Exploring and experiencing natural landscapes have always inspired an appreciation for mystery and a love of discovery. But I now live in a world dominated by the internet, video games, and digital devices. Science has a word for this videophilia, which is a tendency to focus on activities that involve electronic media and that don’t take people farther than the couch. This means it has never been easier to be disconnected from nature. But research shows that nature-based recreation yields psychological, social, and physical benefits, especially for young people. Despite the perks, there has been “a pervasive and fundamental shift” away from nature-based activities, according to the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Visits per capita to US National Parks have been on a downward spiral since 1987 (Pergrams 297). Could videophilia in modern society be to blame? With the threat of climate change, the concern is that society places less value on the human experience in natural areas, which could ultimately harm conservation efforts.
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The Gift of Death

In my corner of the world, the last week of September began with the news that yet another gifted musician departed from this world. He was young, only 55. Like any other premature passing of someone I know or value, this was a gentle reminder that regardless of how I spend my time on Earth, the ending is always the same.

I didn’t feel sad for him because death is not actually an end, but a transition. Moreover, he had a purpose-driven life. His songs, books, and gentle soul brought light into millions of other souls. His eyes were bright, even in the darkest hour, because he knew that the biggest challenges are also the biggest opportunities. But I did feel sad this morning, though. I felt sad for all those empty-eyed, poker-faced people I cross paths with every day. I felt sad for all of us living brainwashed and coping with autopilot existences.

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