Family is a noun I keep in my pocket
to warm me up on cold days.
It’s a feeling
that I get when I stare down the side of a mountain
and scream because the world is so
big and wonderful.
I just want my voice to reach every corner of it.
Mother and father aren’t only titles
but incubators; I’m the chick
growing day by day
in the warm light of their sun.
My older brother used to chase me and
we'd yell at each other,
trying to convince ourselves that the angst
we felt inside was justified,
but really, we needed
under the safe umbrella of childhood.
I could count our different homes on two hands,
but it was okay--
two hands and ten fingers were plenty for holding onto
everything I didn’t want to let go of.
In each house, I left a piece of me hidden in the
floorboards, hoping that someday I’d be able
to revisit who I was before reality chipped
away at my Technicolor dream world.
I’d look around and smell my mom’s cooking,
hear my dad’s jokes, and see my brother and I
playing together and say–
“This. Now this is what it meant to be free.”
I still can close my eyes and we’re back in the fields,
running after each other with the words
hope & love & fear & forever tucked into our jeans.
Our laughter becomes butterflies floating over those
mountains, touching all the lands our skin will never
feel and our voices will never
And we’ll breathe in and say together,
“This. Now this is what it means to be free.”
About a month ago, I wrote about the importance of inspiration. Today, we focus on its twin sister—motivation.
Ah, that flighty little thing. You might have a great idea, but unless you possess the dedication and drive to move forward with it, it will sit, collecting dust in your drawer along with all of your gym membership that you pledged to use faithfully.
When you have it, motivation seems like the greatest thing in the world. I’ll often be zoning out during something important, dreaming of what I want to write, and suddenly, I get the itch to leave the room right away and work on it. Unfortunately, as I live in the real world, that’s rarely an option.
So the question remains, how do you stay motivated when the feeling is so fleeting?
Zig Ziglar, a Very Important Person of whom I have never heard, said the following about motivation--
“Of course, motivation is not permanent. But then, neither is bathing; but it is something you should do on a regular basis.”
And that’s the key to keeping yourself motivated, both when scribbling down words and when trying to be an adult in general--frequency.
Find ways that work for you and stick with it. Personally, I’m partial to quotes. If you look around my workspace, you’ll find sticky notes piled high with notes from some of my favorite authors, Very Important People, and fictional characters. Even if you look at my laptop and phone, you’ll often find quotes as the backgrounds. (See Exhibits A and B below.)
In case you were curious, here are some of my favorites:
Even though these words certainly won’t write my story for me (though I’d really appreciate it if they did), they give a nice kick when I’m feeling sluggish or need a little inspiration.
What’s important to remember is that you must find something that works for you. Keep inspirational pictures hanging around your writing space. Continually picture your book on every Barnes and Noble bookshelf. Minimize distractions while you are actively writing and try to focus.
Motivate and concentrate by whatever means necessary. Reapply, rinse, and repeat.
P.S. Tune in next week for another Truth of Writing, where I’ll throw out some tips to writing a blog post/poem/letter/to-do list worth reading. In the meantime, catch up on previous Truth of Writing Posts #1, #2, and #3.
Have any motivation tips you'd like to share? Connect with me!
Worry’s hands closing tighter as I start losing breath.
I glance down and its fingers are a
snake happily coiled around my throat.
There’s a blackbird flying directly above.
Every step I take, he swoops down, closer to my head.
I’ve no other choice than to keep ducking.
Two plates in front of me. One spiced and warm,
the other smelling vaguely of poison.
There’s no way of knowing which was intended for me.
But it’s time to eat.
I wrote you a book, and when it was bound, all the pages were out of order--
spelling the same thing endlessly.
“They’re watching you.
Can’t you do any better?”
When I started to dance, I found my feet tied with ribbons,
I can’t stop moving.
The rope pulling me hasn’t frayed yet.
My spine is cracking and curving into a circle
and soon I’m a caterpillar on the floor, avoiding
It’s a dream underwater. I’m swimming
in a pond, surrounded by fish, and then
I open my eyes, and I’m actually
drowning and everyone is staring.
There’s a typewriter in my head that never stops clicking.
Page after page falls to the floor--
oh dear—who will ever clean up this mess?
I’ve found the itch on my back that I told you for years was there;
scratch it long enough and words tumble out
and fall into a stanza.
Maybe if I sit still long enough and tell myself
that I’m normal, my mind will stop
trying to eat itself alive.
Connect with me!
"My Anxiety in 10 Acts" is an original poem by Victoria Harris.
I awoke this morning, as I have so many others, to see news of the recent terror attack in Belgium. Screens blaring the news that another 34 are dead and nearly 200 injured due to hatred. Throughout my admittedly short life, I’ve woken too many times to CNN breaking news like this—acts of terrorism abroad, shootings at home. It’s unbelievably heartbreaking.
I believe that, just as you need it, life sends you messages. They may be subtle, but they’re there. And today, I needed that message. The last few weeks, I’ve experienced some medical issues that are terrifying to me. I’ve been living under the umbrella of belief that my life is tough (at least now).
My life, and likely yours, is not tough at all. Whatever calamity we may experience in day-to-day life is surely hard for us, but pales in comparison to the hardships that some go through. I’m not saying that these woeful attitudes are selfish or characteristically bad—they just are what they are.
My message came to me today in the horrific form of another terror attack. My issues, scary though they may be to me, can’t even begin to scratch the surface of what constitutes pain and hardship.
I’m stunned that events like this continue to happen. That it’s another day when someone wakes up with their husband, wife, child taken away because of another person’s distorted beliefs.
Today, and every day that a horrific event like this occurs, I ask you to grieve for those that hurt, those that have lost loved ones, and hold your own families a little tighter.
But more importantly, I ask you to remember that love, not hate will save this world. Inclusion of other beliefs, religions, races—anyone that is different—is not a chore or something that would be nice, it’s something that must be done. Hate straps bombs to chests and puts guns in the wrong hands. Hate allows friends to become enemies and makes hurtful words become acceptable. Hate injures bodies and spirits, and can forever change the course of a person’s life.
I believe it’s important to look at the world critically and not take everything at face value, but I believe this to be even more valuable: embrace the world and all its glorious differences with open arms. Banish the word hate from your vocabulary and instead look at the world with acceptance.
Love heals. Love persists. Love brings people together in times of hardship.
Love never fails.
Connect with me!
You’ve taught me so much---of course, the expected---
how to walk, talk, and be a functioning member of society.
But it’s more than that.
You’ve taught me that a life without happiness is not much of a life at all.
You’ve shown me that Family is not just a word, but a feeling, a place, a home.
You’ve held my hand throughout the years, from scraped knees to broken hearts, making sure I knew it was always going to be okay.
I am so lucky that God lets your title be both Mom and Best Friend---or are the two synonymous anyway?
So today, on your birthday, please allow me to say thank you:
Thank you for listening to my worries, numerous and annoying as they are.
Thank you for standing beside me always.
Thank you for giving me your strength when I’ve lost mine along the way.
Thank you for reminding me that fairy tales are possible, and sometimes it’s better to befriend your dragons than slay them.
Thank you for showing me that beauty is so much more than what we see in the mirror.
Thank you for showing me just how strong a woman can be.
Thank you for demonstrating determination in every sense of the word.
Thank you for reminding me that kindness and compassion are two of the best weapons to have in your arsenal.
Thank you for creating me.
Thank you for loving me.
Thank you for giving me the words I needed when my own voice was weak.
Thank you for being you.
Do me a favor, will you? Please tell your mother, and all your family members, that you love them. Life is beautiful and short.
Connect with me!
“I’m always tryin’ to do something new, tryin’ to look like a beginner.” - Meshell Ndegeocello
It seems like the world today is full of people who know what they’re doing. (Or at least that’s the way it feels to me, as I stumble into work—hair undone, makeup unevenly applied to both eyes, wearing the least-flattering sweater possible. I often feel like I’m a child who’s woken up late for school and got on the wrong bus.)
Or if they don’t know what they’re doing, they’re a lot better at faking it than I am.
My life is filled with people like this. Some who go on trendy diets, become self-certified experts, and champion their new way of life to anyone listening. Friends selling diets/nail wraps/etc. in a quasi-Ponzi scheme suddenly become business masters. Someone who fell asleep halfway through their Economics class in high school lecturing their friends on who's right in the current Presidential election. I'm not judging them, just observing.
I understand the appeal of making yourself appear knowledgeable. We all want to be taken seriously. And, I’ll be generous and say that maybe some of the types I’ve mentioned actually do what know what they’re talking about. But that doesn’t matter—it’s not the point of this self-indulgent ditty.
No, friends, I’m here to advocate dropping the veil of mastery and embracing being a beginner. There’s a forgotten merit in admitting that you have more to learn. Beginners approach the world with open and hungry eyes, observing things around them and digesting what’s useful. I believe that lowering your blinders not only makes you better at whatever it is you’re trying to learn (music, nutrition, or the art of a sarcastic Facebook post) but also a better person. Those who approach both the world and each other with open eyes and minds will have more understanding of differing experiences and beliefs.
I’m certainly not the master at hypothetical, life-oriented posts such as this. Hell, I don’t even claim to be a master writer. But one thing I will admit to is constantly trying. I will never stop learning about writing, reading the works of other writers, and keeping my notebook handy to scribble notes, as if I’m back in college once again. I'll never stop learning.
Allow yourself to be a beginner at something, even if it’s something you’ve been doing a long time. Approach it with a new perspective, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll learn something new. But more importantly, look at your fellow humans with the same set of fresh eyes. Take a look at those who drive you crazy—why is it? Is there something you can learn from them? Take an even longer look at those you love—what is so appealing about them? What can you learn from them?
I'll say it again: Never stop learning. Don’t be afraid to try new things and fail. In order to be successful, you must fail. The day we stop learning and trying to be better people is the day our lives end.
Connect with me!
Sorry for the brief hiatus in Sunday Link Roundup…it’s been busy around here! We've been celebrating the Oscars, doing things around the house, and yesterday, I ran a race in the beautiful Spring weather! Now to the main event.
Food for Thought
I’m sure you’ve heard about using marijuana to treat ailments in humans, but how about dogs?
Like me, I’m sure you’re always looking for a good book to read on Sunday afternoon. Find 53 suggestions of engrossing reads here.
Okay, so I know it’s not actually winter anymore, but still--look at these puppies!
The Oscars are over for this year, but that doesn’t mean I can’t shake with anticipation of next year’s ceremony. In the meantime, look at Vanity Fair’s list of the Best Oscar Moments of all time.
Wine Folly made this gorgeous print of what goes into famous wine blends and I must have it now. If you haven’t checked out their products before, now is a great time!
Disclaimer: I loved this dinosaur desk organizer so much from the moment that I put it on the Sunday Roundup list that I actually already purchased it.
Things I Want to Eat
Spring is officially here and it’s time to take advantage of all its beautiful produce. I’m going to start here with this Strawberry Avocado Couscous Salad from Damn Delicious.
Okay, disclaimer #2: I already made this incredibly delicious, creamy, Cheesy Butternut Squash Pasta from The Recipe Critic. So should you.
Just for Fun
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver calls out the awful practice of whitewashing in Hollywood. And he hits the nail right on the head.
I’m sure your dad sports at least several of the looks featured in Buzzfeed’s list, “19 Pictures that Scream ‘Dad.’”
In Case You Missed It
Catch up on this week's posts about A Poem on International Women’s Day, On a Lighter Note: Taking Stock of My Life Right Now, and Thoughts on Saturday Morning in Bed.
Line of the Week
“Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.” Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer
If you found any awesome things hiding on the Internet this week, I'd love to hear about it! Please leave me a note in the Comments section or on my Facebook page.
Connect with me!
For a moment I thought I heard
the clock beside my bed stop ticking--
tick, tock...pause---as if it wanted to make sure
I was still listening.
It’s 6:13 and I’m writing this poem
on a cell phone in my bed,
because the sound of your breathing and the
curve of your body won't let me leave.
If I could, I’d absorb every ounce of you, your body fading into mine
until we were one and not two
lying in this king-size bed on a Saturday morning.
I need your warmth the way consonants need vowels—without you, my words make no sense.
Even the quietest bird needs a song to
sing to the world in the early morning light.
I wonder what dreams fill your head, if they’re about me.
Can you feel the weight of the blanket on you when you’re half-asleep?
Do you know how your name escapes my mouth with sugar and softness? Can you hear me?
With no response, I’m left to contemplate the world in solitude once again.
What I know is that there’s no other way I’d rather spend my morning than imagining
the dreams floating through your head.
What I know is that the depth of love in this room has turned into an ocean, and for once,
I’m floating and not sinking.
What I know is that I’ll carry this morning around in my pocket, along with so many others,
waiting for a call from God that this is it—you have what you’ve always wanted.
What I know is this:
Here we are, listening to the symphony around us—your breathing, the dog’s snoring,
the clock’s arrhythmic ticking, and my open eyes
looking around for a sign that this life is anything short of perfection.
Looking for more poems? Check out my Portfolio or click the "Poetry" category on the right side of this page.
Happy Saturday, lovelies.
Connect with me!
Man, I’ve been throwing some heavy things at you the last few weeks. Let’s maybe lighten the mood, eh?
Today’s post is less hypothetical and philosophical and instead is a little more fun. The idea of “Taking Stock” is humbly borrowed from Pip at Meet Me at Mike’s. Just in case you were curious about me and my life at the moment, here we go!
Making: A collection of original poetry
Cooking: Poached eggs and oatmeal (my favorite breakfast!)
Drinking: Currently, coffee, but last night was a yummy Sauvignon Blanc
Reading: A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James and No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay
Wanting: Someone to come and clean my house for me. Please.
Looking: At paintings by Dali and Vermeer. Great writing inspiration!
Playing: Portal 2 with Evan (otherwise known as I let him do everything and I follow along)
Deciding: How to start my vegetable garden (this newbie gardener will take suggestions!)
Wishing: For days of free time to cross some things off my to-do list
Enjoying: The beautiful Spring weather we’re having this week
Waiting: For my friend Heather’s baby girl to show up (way to keep us waiting!)
Loving: Taking Cosmo on walks by the lake
Pondering: What color I should paint the upstairs bathroom
Considering: My outfit choices for the day (but really wanting to just wear yoga pants)
Watching: Nothing is in circulation at the moment. But Game of Thrones will be back soon!
Hoping: For this month to go by smoothly
Marveling: At how supportive and wonderful my friends and family are
Needing: Vegetables. I can feel the grease from last night’s tacos running through my veins
Smelling: My tiramisu-flavored coffee. Mmmm
Wearing: MC Hammer-style pants and a blue t-shirt (it’s only 5:30 a.m., after all)
Following: Yes and Yes (always)
Wanting: To be back in Napa Valley, drinking wine without a care
Noticing: The absolute stillness of our house in the morning
Knowing: That I’ll make it through the challenges ahead of me in the next few weeks
Thinking: That I should really hurry up and finish this post
Feeling: Ready to tackle the day!
Admiring: Women in general. Man, we’ve done some amazing things
Sorting: Clothes (pssh, who am I kidding—they’ll just live in the laundry basket for a few more weeks)
Buying: More books. Whoops.
Getting: Nervous about my upcoming surgery
Bookmarking: So many recipes. Yay for Spring produce!
Disliking: Hearing anything about the Kardashians anymore
Opening: ALL THE CHROME TABS (current count = 12)
Giggling: At this .gif
Feeling: Grateful, today and always
Thanks for playing along this week, friends! If you want to take stock too, go ahead and do so in the Comments section or post it to my Facebook page! Have your own blog and want to do this exercise there? Please share it with me!
Connect with me:
This is not a lecture.
This is not a history lesson.
This is an ode to those who came before me. Those that are still here and fighting with every breath.
Those women who fought endlessly for my right to vote, for my voice to be heard.
For those who took us out of the kitchen and into the real world. Who made it known that we would not be reduced to a set of duties or the names of our children.
Who tirelessly questioned their positions in life, a body used as a vessel, wife a word only uttered after husband. Somehow they knew it didn't feel right—a peacock caught in a canary cage.
For those women who burned their bras in the darkened eye of the Establishment and watched them blaze along with centuries of propriety.
For those women who took their rightful place next to men in the courtroom, the office, the fields. Who created opportunities for us decades down the road in whatever-space-you-want-to-work-you-can...because of them.
For the authors who picked up their pens and wrote their truth, even when the ink was slowed by the choking grip of male privilege. The artists whose brushes stayed wet in the light of drying criticism. The singers whose voices never wavered, though the air was filled with disapproval.
Thank you for your words and songs and actions, especially when they felt too heavy to release.
Thank you for blazing a trail, even though the path was dark and fraught with abuse.
This is an ode to those still fighting today to preserve our progress;
let it be known that our worth is not automatically assigned at birth, and that we will do
wondrous and amazing things
with or without your approval.
For those since gone and for those still breathing, thank you for giving a name
to our mission of equality--
Feminism is not a dirty word but a love poem with four syllables.
Happy International Women's Day! To learn more about this day, check out the official website. Looking for more information on the awesome contributions throughout history by women? Click here.
Connect with me!
Writer, editor, and storyteller living in the Twin Cities.