national poetry month, Poetry, Writing

Behind Glass

It is easy to forget when you stand in
The Museum of Natural History
That most of the creatures there were alive once.
We see them, still, snarling, roaring, pondering,
Perhaps with young at their side that was most probably not theirs,
And we can’t imagine that this could be as strange a thing
As a photograph of a stranger’s child suckling at a woman’s empty breast,
Eyes regarding no hint of recognition
Only glass surrounded by flesh and glue.

It is easy to forget how once these things moved
And ruled the land and ate and bled and died
Because in passing, they seem like art
In the empty sense of art that is supposed to be an impression of something real
Instead of a reality that breathed air and broke bones,
That fell to the ground and rather than be eaten by carrion
Was carried to a land across air and sea into a sterile box
Shaved and styled and filled with artifice

And it teaches nothing unless the lesson that people seek is
How a full existence can escape decay
And offer meaning in whatever form the onlooker desires

Even when there is nothing actually there.

mental health, Self Dare, Uncategorized

5 Tactics to Immediately Help Stress

So you’re stuck at work or at a party or you’re in the middle of a crowded Chipotle, and suddenly it hits you like a summer thunderstorm: stress. Just like that, you go from ‘I think I *will* get guac, even though it’s going to cost extra’ to ‘I’m never going to be able to finish all the things I have going on right now.’ Some people may not be able to wrap their mind around that, but as someone who suffers from anxiety, it happens more often than I would like.

And while you can give people the pointers that work in the long run – exercise, meditation, the right amount of sleep, the corrective dosage of vitamin chill – sometimes that’s not going to be possible in the middle of rush hour.

So here are five methods of dealing with stress on the spot:

  1. Visualization and dialogue: I have found that a very helpful way of dealing with immediate attacks of stress is to imagine it as a person or object that you can talk to. Explain in no uncertain terms that you acknowledge its existence and that you will deal with it in time. Let stress stand next to you in line, but do not let it do the ordering.
  2. Count your breaths: You obviously can’t go into downward dog in the middle of Denny’s, but you can inhale and exhale (and you should be doing that already). My favorite count is a 7-second in and 11-second out.
  3. Focus on details: This is especially helpful if you can find something pleasant to focus on, like a flower or an animal. But put all your attention on an object and list as many details in your head as possible. What color is it? What size? What’s your favorite part of that object? Make up a story about it. Anything to divert your attention from the inside of your own head.
  4. Stockpile your favorite funny things: Jokes, vines, one-liners. You can even keep them programmed into your phone. Look at a few and have a laugh. I find humor is a quick way to distract myself. And if I don’t have anything, I force myself to smile. It works surprisingly well.
  5. Think of your favorite song: A happy song. Upbeat. If you can, sing it or hum it. Dance a little (like no one is watching – even if they are). If you have earbuds, listen to it on your phone. Let it take you to a better time. Enjoy it.

How do you deal with stress on the go? Tell me about it!

Poetry, Writing

Perfect Day

On a perfect day, the sun may shine
Or the clouds gather in groups to chide the Earth with rain
And the books will gather plentiful like sheep against a hillside
There will be art and song
And shame will be the forbidden words,
The boogeyman stories that are told to frighten but are then laughed at
Because the existence of an idea where anyone should feel
Less or hurt or worthless
For no reason
Can only be fiction

national poetry month

[National Poetry Month] Wild Geese

Wild Geese

Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

5 Things, Self Dare, Uncategorized

5 Reminders for Both of Us

  1. Don’t fight against fear or anxiety or depression. The children that reside in your mind will never understand what you’re saying and will just scream louder. Find things to distract them and go about your business.
  2. Ignore perfection. Complete your daily tasks even if they do not become the stuff of legends. Then get up and do it again.
  3. Saying “I don’t care” is easy. Saying that you will continue to care when it is the hardest option and smiling despite all pains is a miracle. Believe in miracles.
  4. Fight on. Fight hard. Never surrender. Life is an action movie that we think is a rom-com.
  5. When in doubt, carry a supply of sweet treats. Sometimes reinforcements will be necessary.
national poetry month, Poetry, Writing

Spinewise

Pour all the love you can into a cactus

Because it doubts itself constantly

For living in the desert and never wanting for water

So it sits in the sand and wonders how long it will take

For everyone to forget about it

And that is why you must eschew every day lily,

Respectfully decline the orchid,

Allows others to remark upon the beauty of the rose,

And give only the briefest of nods to the wildflowers

Because a cactus protects itself from the world

And if allowed it will bleed water for you,

It will save your life

If you let it.

Uncategorized

How to (Effectively) Take a Break

Yesterday, I took a day off from my day job. I had recognized in the week prior that I was starting to show the signs of being overworked: anxiety, over-thinking, fatigue, the appearance of little gnomes after work with signs that only I could see that said things like, ‘FAIL.’

I believe in super effective days off. Many people might say, ‘Why would you plan on what to do on a day off that’s not already being taken off for a specific reason?’ And let me start by saying that I have no problem with the idea of a crazy-go-nuts free day. You want to just do nothing and stay in bed all day watching Netflix? Hey, man, go for it. Sounds like a good time.

For me, however, if I don’t have some sort of plan, I find myself falling over my own feet when I take time away from my day job. Here are some pointers that are particularly helpful for me in getting the most of my time off:

1. Make a list: I don’t look at this as a to-do list. Instead, this is an AWESOME list. Often, I make a list of *all* the things I want to do, from singing and dancing to watching certain shows I’ve been meaning to get caught up on to actually cleaning my office. Then, I check things off as I go. It keeps me aware of the ‘whys’ around my reasoning for not working that day.

2. Get dressed: remember when I mentioned a while back that whole ‘put your bra on’ thing? That counts on days off too. My PJs are great, but often times if I stay in them all day I end up looking at some point and wondering if I’ve actually done anything at that point, because my headspace is still sort of post-pillow.

3. Take care of yourself while treating yourself: there was a time when I used to insist on sleeping in on my days off and competing to see how many times I could incorporate chocolate into my meals. Yeah, that always sounded good, but then I found that I was spending a portion of my day off feeling…not good. And that went into the next day, too. So be good to yourself. Just not too good.

4. Don’t overcommit: it’s easy to believe that you can get anything and everything done while riding that beautiful free-day unicorn. But most of the time, that’s not going to work out for you. Use your list from #1 but just remember to be realistic. Which brings us to #5…

5. Relax: it’s your day off. If it doesn’t work out like you originally planned, it won’t be your last free period. Learn and move on. Love your life. You only get one. I dare you.

national poetry month

[National Poetry Month] All That is Gold Does Not Glitter

All That is Gold Does Not Glitter

J.R.R. Tolkien

All that is gold does not glitter,

Not all those who wander are lost;

The old that is strong does not wither,

Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,

A light from the shadows shall spring;

Renewed shall be blade that was broken,

The crownless again shall be king.

national poetry month, Uncategorized

[National Poetry Month] Because I could not stop for Death

Because I could not stop for Death (479)

Emily Dickinson, 18301886

Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
And Immortality.

We slowly drove – He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility –

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring –
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –
We passed the Setting Sun –

Or rather – He passed us –
The Dews drew quivering and chill –
For only Gossamer, my Gown –
My Tippet – only Tulle –

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground –
The Roof was scarcely visible –
The Cornice – in the Ground –

Since then – ‘tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity –