Advice from a Young Writer to a Younger Writer

I’m far from an expert, I’m of the mindset that I will constantly be reaching for that goal because there is always something new to learn about writing.

I could save us all the time and simply give the advice that I was given when first starting out:

WRITE EVERY SINGLE DAY.

It’s a valid piece of advice, after all a craft needs to be kept at its sharpest if one wishes to become an “expert.” However there are those that can’t simply sit down and write for five minutes, sometimes people need prompts or a little boost to help them get their creative juices flowing. There are times when I am one of those said people, some days the brain just doesn’t want to wake up or it just feels like it’s scraped thin. In which case there are dozens of resources at your disposal, I’m going to name a few of my favorites.

The 3 A.M. Epiphany is quite possibly the most essential book that any writer should have. It has concrete, challenging, and engaging exercises that give your mind the freedom to wander. It’s a work out for your brain, making you think about things that you wouldn’t normally think about and challenging you to stay within a word limit. The exercises cover various topics like Point of View, Time, Imagery, Humor, Travel…there’s no limit to what this book can do for you. Some people would consider this a book for those who are a little more experienced writers, but I think that most writers can use this book and get a lot out of it. There is also a follow up book (which I do not own yet) called The 4 A.M. Breakthrough to whet your appetite if you so wish.

The San Francisco Writers Grotto became known to me when I found 712 (More) Things to Write About. This is a wonderful diary to keep and the exercises aren’t as time consuming as Breakthrough’s. These exercises can range from the serious to the wonderfully ridiculous. They don’t take much time, and very little effort in some cases; the book was designed (in my opinion anyway) for the writer who is always on the go, the writer who has a day job, and the writer who just needs that five minutes to escape.

My next piece of advice is to change your setting once and a while. Sometimes sitting in the same place leads to stagnation. You’re looking at the same wall, the same desk, and perhaps the same people. It gets boring. So if there’s a coffee shop or even a bar nearby see if that offers a host of new inspiration. People watching is the greatest form of inspiration. Set up in a corner with your laptop or notebook and let the show begin.

Another thing that I do is that I talk to myself…a lot. If you’re a fiction writer or even a poet, think out loud. When the place is appropriate of course…I wouldn’t recommend talking to yourself in a public space, unless you’re whispering or something. Even then I think you’d merit a few stares to say the least. But talking to yourself in the voices of your characters sort of solidifies them, makes them more real. Walking around your writing room muttering to yourself may merit a label of insanity, but who will have the last laugh when you hold that Pulitzer Prize for Literature?

Finally, I have this to say:

Write every day. Be humble, accept that your craft is ever changing and there is always something new to learn. Did I mention write every day?

Now get out there, grab a pen and a notebook, and start writing!

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Shelter

My first post in the new year is going to talk about a short that I discovered last year that impacted me in such a way that I am just now coming to terms with how much this piece of art is important to me.

This short tells the story of Rin,  a 17-year-old girl who lives her life inside of a futuristic simulation completely by herself in infinite, beautiful loneliness. Each day, Rin awakens in virtual reality and uses a tablet which controls the simulation to create a new, different, beautiful world for herself. Until one day, everything changes, and Rin comes to learn the true origins behind her life inside a simulation.

Now why would something like this impact me so? Why should you care? It’s quite simple really: It all goes back to my mental health.

If you haven’t watched the short, do so now. I will be venturing into spoiler territory beyond this point.

Rin’s journey, is my journey. I lived in a world where I thought everything was fine, repressing everything that I was feeling and running from my past. I was trying to create a world where I didn’t hurt, where I was safe. It was like a trying to paint over a black wall with white paint and expect it to not bleed through. Eventually no matter how much paint you add, your wall will always be black.

When Rin finally learns the truth, that her father sacrificed himself to save her, she is devastated. The memories are painful, they wash over her like the ocean waves.

That’s how it is with me.

See I have my own share of painful memories, from my mom’s death to being sexually abused by a teacher at my high school. Those memories haunt me, and even though I can’t fully comprehend my sexual assault yet–it’s still there, like a dormant volcano. The memories become overwhelming, they hit me like a truck and knock me in the mud, then they drag me through said mud and leave me there to rot. That’s when the depression hits, that’s when my demons come out and tell me I should just end it all and escape from this ocean of pain and misery.

The thing about the ocean though, is that it waves to and fro, the waves always recede back to the ocean. That’s what I have to remember, is that those memories are a part of me, they formed who I am, but they are not me. Those memories of my mom give me strength, they’re what keeps me here–they are responsible for that tiny dollop of hope that I have in my darkest times.

Even if those memories make me sad, I’ve got to go forward believing in the future. Even when I realize my loneliness, and am about to loose all hope, those memories make me stronger. I’m not alone…because of you.

As I type through my tears, I want you all, all who are struggling with something, to remember that it is worth it. I know it sucks, it hurts, and it doesn’t seem like it. But, to quote Samwise Gamgee, there is something good in this world and it’s worth fighting for.

Whatever that good is, fight for it. Find shelter in it.

Farewell my Princess…

I don’t think I’ve been this upset about an actresses death since Liz Taylor and Lauren Bacall.

NPR broke the story for me, it popped up as a notification on my phone. I had to pull over and cry. Luckily I was on my way to my therapists appointment so she understood why I was a little late. See Carrie Fisher meant more to me than just Princess Leia, just like Lauren Bacall and Liz Taylor I related to her. I adored her. I grew up with her.

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I can’t really remember how old I was when I first saw A New Hope, maybe 6 or 7, but I remember vividly my reaction to first seeing Princess Leia. I was enamored by her! At first it was “Wow she’s so pretty!” then I saw her kicking ass and taking names with the Stormtroopers and I was done. It impacted me in such a way that I only now realize, Princess Leia taught me that gender didn’t matter when fighting for what was right. She taught me that I could be that little girl who saved the galaxy. Let’s face it, Han and Luke would’ve been lost without Leia. Han probably still frozen in carbonite and Luke falling towards the Dark Side. You know it’s true, don’t deny it.

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Not only was Carrie Fisher a bad ass in movies, but also in life. She was unapologetically outspoken and in many ways, mirrored Leia’s personality on and off screen. She didn’t care who she offended, if you couldn’t take it leave. I loved her for that.sub-buzz-350-1482868843-3

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But as I grew older, I began to realize that I loved her for a much deeper and more meaningful reason: Her strong, outspoken stance against the stigma surrounding mental health.

See Carrie Fisher struggled with her own mental illness for most of her life. She was an alcoholic, and suffered from bipolar disorder…which probably lead to the alcoholism in the first place.

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Now I have depression, anxiety, and PTSD, I’m not bipolar but I have met people in my journey who have suffered from it and from what they tell me, it’s basically like a roller coaster ride from hell. That’s simplifying it of course, but I can’t in good conscience talk about something that I have no idea what it’s like. I know what it’s like to feel like you have this demon on your back constantly telling you how worthless you are, how stupid you are, how you are not enough no matter how hard you try. I know the crippling fear one faces while they’re in the midst of an anxiety attack–the feeling of gasping for air right as you’re about to hit the floor but you never do, it’s that feeling of falling without any resolution. I can imagine that both of those fall into play with bipolar disorder, and dealing with it takes immense strength and courage.

To speak up as a woman, and take no shit for it means you’re always under scrutiny of some kind. Carrie Fisher didn’t give a flying fuck about it, she was as real as they came. That is why I’ll miss her, that is why I love her. My life was impacted in a positive way by Carrie Fisher.

I’ll close with the first line of her obituary–as she would have wanted it:

Carrie Fisher found dead in moonlight, strangled by own bra…

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May the Force be With You, General Organa.

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Unplug, or you might get Stuck

I thought I would divert from the political climate for a bit and talk about another issue that seems to be pressing: How much time we spend “plugged in” to our devices and games. I began really marinating on this topic when Sony announced Playstation VR, a futuristic headset that allows anyone who wears it to become immersed in the game they are playing. I know that there are other VR headsets out there, Samsung being one of them, but since I am a Sony Playstation fan girl, I really only feel the need to speak of that particular headset.

I can’t help but think of movies like Wall-E when it comes to this particular topic.

Then I really start to delve deeper into my thoughts, and remember that there have been countless dramas warning us about the potential harm of VR. Though I hate to admit it, the show Sword Art Online comes to mind…

Now I am one of those rare people who is actually on the fence about this show, joining my favorite YouTuber Arkada, I love the first few parts of it but hated the latter half of the first season and didn’t even bother with the second. So I’m just going to talk about the parts I watched and enjoyed.

Here’s the synopsis from Crunchyroll:

n the near future, a Virtual Reality Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (VRMMORPG) called Sword Art Online has been released where players control their avatars with their bodies using a piece of technology called: Nerve Gear. One day, players discover they cannot log out, as the game creator is holding them captive unless they reach the 100th floor of the game’s tower and defeat the final boss.

Now I did leave out one key plot element of the story: If the players die in the game, they in fact die in real life. I won’t go into the fact that they completely screwed this up and didn’t use it to it’s full effectiveness as the show went on, but in the beginning they used it very well. Death as we all know is permanent and they really made this fact weigh on our protagonists in the beginning.

I believe that shows like SAO and Wall-E are, much like Brave New World or 1984, cautionary tales for the twenty first century. See we spend SO much time on our phones now, I won’t lie I’m guilty too, that we tend to put these blinders on and only see what we want to see. We don’t really appreciate things as much; things like a hand written letter instead of an email, or a flower growing in between the cracks of the sidewalk (something I always thought was a great metaphor for nature vs industrialization). We are too busy playing Pokemon GO to realize that there are actual animals out there we can go see (though I wouldn’t recommend throwing things at them), sure it got people outside and off their butts, but it didn’t solve the underlying problem that we spend way too much time plugged in.

I know that it’s hard to not be plugged in. After all this world is fast paced, and just about everything is digital. Hell I wouldn’t be able to do this blog post without being plugged in. But my point isn’t to just drop everything and become a goat-herder in the Alps for the rest of your life; it’s to realize that there are much more beautiful things out there. Think about the last time you saw a sunset, or felt sand between your toes, or went on a stroll through the woods; what did you feel then? Chances are you didn’t feel the weight of responsibility that our digitized society places on you. You were in that moment, mindful of everything around you: the feel of the breeze, the smell of the ocean or earth, and the way the sun danced on the horizon.

Jon Kabat-Zinn is an author that I discovered a few years ago. His book Wherever you Go, There You Are talks about mindfulness and meditation. The practice of mindfulness has helped me immensely in my struggle against depression and anxiety, and it’s something I encourage all of you to start practicing. The great thing about mindfulness practice is that it can be done anywhere, from your cubicle to your car.

Be in this moment. This world is fast-paced, and people will run you over. But remember that there are things in this world, beyond your screen, that are worth your attention. Those things are precious, so don’t loose sight of them.

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

I can remember believing in Santa right up until my double-digit years. My Mom was responsible for instilling within me a deep love for the Holiday season, I’ll never know the strength and endurance it took for her to keep up that faith.

My mom died in 2001, and that first Christmas without her was hell. It was just awful, everyone was walking on eggshells because they were trying so hard to make it special when it just couldn’t be special anymore. It hurt more than anything I could imagine, my heart was broken and there’s still a few cracks in it.

But as I got older, and the years kinder, I began to realize that my mother instilled within me all the tools I needed to make Christmas special. She made sure that we always spent it with family and friends, and, while presents were exciting, it was the time spent wrapping those for others that was more important. I still ache for her, I still long to hear her voice and have her wrap her arms around me, it still hurts. It will always hurt, but the pain becomes more bearable I suppose.

But back to Santa.

See it wasn’t really Santa that I believed in, it was magic. I believe in magic. I believe that there is something in this sometimes shitty world worth fighting for. What that something is, well that varies person to person. There is a lot of really awful things happening in our world right now, but I beg of you please don’t become jaded or cynical. I know it’s awfully hard, but here me out.

Francis Pharcellus Church was a newsman, in 1897 he received a letter from an 8-year old girl, Virginia O’Hanlon, asking if there was such a thing as Santa Claus. Now Church was a newsman, he was probably weathered and maybe a little jaded himself; after all adulthood wears on us all. He could have just as easy tossed this letter aside, forgetting about it and disregarding it as a silly childish whim.

But he didn’t.

Something moved Church, maybe he was a father, maybe the childish scribbles on the page before him moved him to think that this was the most important piece he would ever write. For if children can’t believe in Santa, what hope do we have for the future?

On Sept. 21, 1897 The New York Sun printed the letter and Church’s response to it, it has become the most famous piece of newspaper editorial ever. Allow me to quote it:

DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

VIRGINIA O’HANLON.
115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET.

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart

I’m far from a person of religious belief, such as a Christian or what have you, but I am someone who believes that there are things in this world that we just aren’t meant to understand. There is an inherent good in this world, there is beauty, and there is love.

This Christmas do what makes you feel love, peace, and remember: Yes, there is a Santa Claus.

Graduation: One Year Later

I must warn you all that I’ve had at least three beers (and working on my fourth) before writing this so it may be a bit more expletive than usual.

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It has been a year since I’ve graduated college and as I sit here unemployed, in crippling debt, and broke I tend to let my mind wander. I allow it to wander across the plains of my fucked up brain and explore, explore the good, the bad, and the really ugly of what led up to that piece of paper that now collects dust in a frame–why I went through all of the blood, sweat, and tears to get the damn thing.

Let me start off by saying that I’ve never been the ideal student, I’m the daydreamer. I’m intelligent…when it comes to things I really like, things like literature or history, or the arts. Math? Fuck that shit. Letters and numbers are separate entities and should remain so. My mom was the one who showed me that all subjects mattered, whether I thought so or not. After my mom died, I became a volatile force, I was excelling at my literature classes but failing everything else. To this day I’m pretty sure my shitty Christian school gave me a diploma so they wouldn’t be held responsible for my farce of an education because there’s no way I could have graduated with the grades I had. But that’s neither here nor there, the point is that I was a terrible student after my mom died because I didn’t have a reason to live and get good grades anymore. I only went to college because I was terrified that she would haunt me the rest of my days if I didn’t.

I spent four years in a community college where most people spent two and six years at a university where most people only spent four. I had no fucking clue what I wanted to do with my life, and if I’m really honest about it, I really didn’t even want to live it because of all the shit I was going through. During my time at the university I was hospitalized twice for my mental health, and suffered several suicidal ideations (of which I never acted upon). I had to re-take several classes and spent many a minute in the bathroom suffering from panic attacks. I suffered in silence because I was afraid of ridicule. I didn’t reach out because I was a loner and trusted few.

It wasn’t until I had a creative writing class that I felt it necessary to share my story, I don’t know why and to this day I can’t give you a reason why I did it. Maybe because I felt safe there, maybe it was the amazing professor, maybe it was the students in the class, hell it was probably all of that. I think I was also just so tired, tired of hiding, tired of carrying this burden on my own. With ink and paper, the encouragement of my professor and peers, I was able to release. I was able to share my burden, even if it was just on the page.

Throughout the rest of my college career, I kept that class in the back of my mind. And on December 19, 2015, I was able to walk across the stage and get my degree that I had worked my loving ass off for.

So why did I go through all of that? Why did I even bother?

See when you have a mental illness you’re constantly reminding yourself of the things you can’t do, things that seem impossible. It’s not you saying those things, it’s your illness lying to you–daring you to even try to defy it. It tells you that you’re worthless, you’re weak, you’re not enough. I believed it some days, and others it was silenced by the little spark of defiant hope that I had.

My point is this: Defy the voice that tells you that you can’t. Defy the voice that tells you that it won’t get better. I got my degree to show myself that I am capable of doing great things, that even if I never get my dream job (novelist preferably), or I never get out of debt–I can still put my feet on the floor in the morning and say I’ve lived. I woke up. I breathed. That’s a huge victory for someone who didn’t think life was worth it.

So live my friend, breathe the air of life and suck it all in. For it is beautiful.

 

A love letter to Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth Theory

Joseph Campbell, you have inspired me for years and I am only just now realizing that it’s your Monomyth Theory that has captured my imagination and it’s one of the many theories that has given me a critical mind.

First let me start by explaining the Monomyth, the theory presented in his extraordinary work The Hero with a Thousand Faces. I recently saw a video that explained it beautifully, and I just had to share with the world.

What do some of your favorite modern day heroes (Katniss, Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, etc.) have in common with the heroes of old (Hercules, Odysseus, etc.)?

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First of all, let’s think of the above diagram as a clock:

12 o’clock: Status Quo – What is the Hero’s current status?

1 o’clock: Call to Adventure – The Hero receives a mysterious message, an invitation? A challenge?

2 o’clock: Assistance – The Hero needs some help, this is usually from someone older or wiser or both.

3 o’clock: Departure – The hero crosses the threshold from their normal, ordinary world and enters the special world.

4 o’clock: Trials – Heroics is hard work. The Hero solves a riddle, slays a monster, escapes from a trap, etc.

5 o’clock: Approach – It’s time for the Hero to face their biggest ordeal–usually their worst fear.

6 o’clock: Crisis – This is the Hero’s darkest hour, they face death–possibly even die, only to be REBORN.

7 o’clock: Treasure – As a result, the Hero claims some sort of treasure–special recognition, power, etc.

8 o’clock: Result – This varies by story–do the monsters bow down before the Hero? Or do they chase him?

9 o’clock: Return – The Hero returns to their ordinary world, crossing the threshold once again.

10 o’clock: New Life – This quest/journey has changed the Hero (for better or worse), they have outgrown their old life.

11 o’clock: Resolution – All of the tangled plot lines are straightened out.

12 o’clock: Status Quo – Upgraded to a new level, nothing is quite the same once you’re a Hero.

Okay, so why is this such a big deal? Why does it matter that Katniss and Odysseus share more than just a Greek name?  Because the hero’s journey isn’t just Katniss’s or Odysseus’s journey, it’s your journey. See Katniss was a normal girl thrown into an extraordinary circumstance–a circumstance that seemed way beyond her capabilities to overcome. Yet through the sheer strenght of her will, she did it, she did it because she had something and someone to fight for.

In the cave you fear to enter, lies the treasure you seek.

What is the treasure you seek?

 

For more information on Joseph Campbell, check out the Joseph Campbell Foundation:

http://www.jcf-myth.org/

Thanksgiving

When I think about this past year, it’s hard to not get discouraged. I’m talking about my own personal struggle–not the political turmoil and rampant depressing events that occurred this year (though some of that played a part). My mental health has been the forefront of this year, especially towards the latter half of it. I struggled with suicide and deep, dark bouts of depression and crippling anxiety. I questioned whether or not it was worth even continuing this life that I was living, and a small part of me still challenged that thought but it was exhausting and I was beginning to lose hope.

I enrolled in the Partial Hospitalization Program to avoid a full term hospitalization where they would keep me for god knows how long. The PHP is a program that helps people who have been hospitalized for mental health issues get back on their feet, and it serves as another way for those who are on the precipice of a hospitalization. I was there for two and half weeks, I won’t go into detail of the therapy or the medication changes–but it helped me immensely.

I say all of that to give a background as to how important my friends and family are to me. When you’re going through a depressive episode, you can be very reclusive and isolate–because you don’t want to be a burden to others, or you feel scared that they won’t love you anymore for whatever reason. I pushed people away, people that I shouldn’t have, people that I love dearly, and would rather die than hurt them.

But my family and friends persevered, they knew that it was not me but the illness that was doing this. They loved me, they called me, they kept pushing against this wall that I had built until it came crashing down. I wanted so much to just fall off this precipice, to make the pain stop but they kept pulling me back. They never gave up on me, nor did they allow me to give up on myself.

This Thanksgiving, I wanted to share with you how lucky I am to have such amazing people in my life. It is hard sometimes to remember them, especially when I’m falling back into depression. I remember them, I remember the coping skills that I learned, but most of all I feel that love searing through my veins. It keeps me grounded when I want to fly off the handle, and it keeps me sane when I want to curl up in a ball and give up.

I want to let you all know that you matter to someone, more than you ever know. You are their entire world and you are important. Someone is thankful for you.

Happy Thanksgiving dear friends.

Taking a Tough Look at Myself

“I am a human being, nothing human can be alien to me.”

Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto

Maya Angelou introduced me to that particular quote by Terrance, a Roman playwright and philosopher and ever since I saw her talking about him, I’ve done my best to try to internalize it. But unfortunately I am human and I tend to forget it, forget that I have all of the components in me to be the next great inspiration or the next element of destruction.

As human we tend to forget that we are indeed flawed and there aren’t many differences between you or I. I won’t be so presumptuous as to say that I have never said anything racist or hurtful, I won’t pretend that I am perfect. That would be stupid and haughty.

A very dear friend of mine and I met for coffee yesterday and I always enjoy talking to her because she is everything that I believe a person of faith should be: understanding, empathetic, compassionate, nonjudgmental, and accepting. She considers herself Christian, but she is not radicalized–I absolutely cannot say how much I respect her.

We talked about several things, the main thing being about the results of the election–if you want my thoughts and feelings you can click the said links. Both being self-proclaimed feminists, we feel about the same. We talked about how hate crimes have run rampant since the election of Donald Trump, and how people are one way in front of a crowd but another way in front of their peers. I referred to a particular photo I saw on Humans of New York’s Facebook page (here is said photo), it wasn’t the photo that really captured me, but the caption underneath:


“I think a lot of people live on the borderline of racism. I work in a machine shop with about thirty older guys. I don’t think there is one bad guy in the group. You’d like them if you met them. All of them love their families. But I’d say that I’ve heard eighty percent of them make racist comments of some sort. A lot of the older guys drop ‘n bombs.’ But if a black guy walks up, they’ll be friendly. They’ll even go out to lunch with him and share a meal. I honestly don’t think they see themselves as racist. Every one of them will deny it. They’ll point to the black guy that they’re friendly with. They won’t point to the things they say when he’s not around.”


It struck a chord with me–but I wasn’t really sure how to process it. I was ignorant to think that I hadn’t been guilty of doing that myself, but I wasn’t ready to face it. Then my dear friend sent me this video:

I realized that I had been guilty of saying racist things and condoning racist behaviour.

I also realized that a lot of my racism was simply born out of the environment that I live in (super conservative, narrow minded thinking, small town that meets all of the stereotypes), and being young and stupid. Before I became the person I am today, I was a super radical christian who was on the precipice of a mental breakdown because I also had a strong sense of justice. I chose to be that way because it was the only way I thought I could be, I was a naive kid who had just lost her mother and was looking for anything to make the pain go away. I don’t condone my behaviour, looking back now I know why I was that way but I’m not going to say it was right. I am rather ashamed of it because I abhor hypocrisy, and I feel like a hypocrite. However I also realize that I can’t really focus on that now because it is in the past and there’s nothing I can do to change it now. I can only focus on being a better person today.

I want to be a force  of good in this world, I want to use my talents to make it better–even if it’s just a little bit. To do that I need to constantly look at myself and make sure that I’m practicing what I preach. I also have to be gentle with myself, remember that I am a flawed human being and accept that I will make mistakes but I must learn from those mistakes an be better.

I think we all can learn something from each other, if we just take the time to sit down and talk. We can be a force of good–and I intend to use my talents constructively instead of destructively.

“You voted for WHO?!”

The struggle I’ve been facing is dealing with people in my immediate family, or some acquaintances/friends, that voted for Donald Trump. My first knee jerk reaction is to just  not talk about it and avoid it like the plague–however that can only work for so long.

I’m an “avoider,” I haven’t always been that way but it’s how I am in this current moment because its a coping skill that I’ve developed in order to basically deal with all of the stuff that was surrounding me. Avoiding can be a healthy skill to an extent, you deal with it when you’re ready, but avoiding something forever is just not plausible. As I can attest to, it causes more anxiety the longer you avoid it.

So how to deal with such a volatile cocktail? How to face it with an open mind when you feel in your heart that they voted for someone who is a sexual predator, someone who treats women worse than the very ground  he treads upon. How could they vote for someone like the very person who assaulted you?

I have to remember that this is not the reason that they voted for him, nor can I demean or belittle their intelligence. I have to find a balance of not agreeing with them, but also still being respectful and loving them. I don’t have to worry about many of my friends, I tend to surround myself with people of like minds and pretty easy-going. However you can’t choose your family, you can’t just not speak to them either–at least I can’t.

I was talking to someone about this, I was expressing my distress with the issue and they said something that was very helpful (forgive my butchering of the quote): “To vote was their right, and it’s a right that we must treasure. They voted for the candidate that they believed would bring the most effective change–not because he was a sexual predator. I know that it’s hard to accept.”

To my family who voted for Donald Trump, know that I still love you but I will have a hard time accepting your decision because of my past experiences. I am still living with and dealing with my sexual assault, and I will be for the rest of my life–I’ll overcome and not be as fragile, but it will always be a blemish on my heart. I want to have a civil conversation with you, because that is how understanding is bred, that is how ties are strengthened.

Love is productive. Hate is counterproductive. Peace is constructive. Violence is destructive. I wish to be a force of positivity against such negativity.

Remember dear reader, at the end of the day, if you want to be the change in the world–it must first start with love.

gandhi