Lake Superior, a poem

IMG_20170525_133837

The lake’s large waves lapped

in with the wind

and kissed my feet.

A seagull sat,

hunched on a large rock,

hiding from the wind.

I stepped carefully along the beach

of smooth stones and driftwood,

inhaled the damp, fresh air

and looked out to the horizon

barely able to tell the sky

from the shoreline.

There was something so final about it,

and something so exciting.

Infinite possibilities

and unfortunate dead ends.

The beginning

and ending of something

at the same time.

Ode to a Spring Day

The clouds are low

and dark

and they blanket the sky

like a wrinkled quilt

of white and grey,

but it doesn’t rain

not even a tell-tale drop.

The heavy clouds

hold the drops

on the tips of their tongues

like a secret.

And below them,

the trees,

greener than I have ever seen,

dance in the wind

bending and swaying

perfectly in time

to music only they can hear.

The wild flowers bloom

on the sides of the roads,

showing off their brightest colours,

daring people to stop

and pick them.

I may not be in love

with where I’m at,

but I’m sure in love

with all the life

that surrounds me.

Untitled #7

IMG_20170330_151947

So many things are happening.

Not entirely bad, not entirely great.

Sometimes all at once, sometimes not enough.

Mostly uncertainty, with a few rare spots of clarity.

Equal parts anxious and excited.

Well, maybe it’s more of an 80-40 situation.

I have moments of silence,

And staccato bursts of happiness,

And weeks when I feel like I don’t even have time to breathe.

But there is always the steady course of nature.

The change of the seasons

And the movement of the sun

And the solid earth under my feet.

The leaves of the trees will still grow green

And then burn orange and red in the Autumn.

The flowers will still bloom

And their blossoms will fall.

No matter what happens.

And even the wind seems to whisper

“All will be well.”

IMG_20170401_113734

IMG_20170401_113425

IMG_20170401_114249

IMG_20170401_114821

Self-Image 2017

IMG_20160610_201231

Self

/self/

noun

a person’s essential being that distinguishes them from others, especially considered as the object of introspection or reflexive action.

So who am I? Where am I going? What am I doing? What is important to me? What are my hopes, dreams, fears? What do other people see? What do I see?

I am not usually what people expect. I am a bundle of atoms and electrons and tea and contradictions.

camera-photos-europe-2016-45

I wear the grandma clothes I find at thrift stores and listen to rock music. I love plants but I can’t keep them alive. I love tea and coffee. I love the freedom of summer but winter is my favourite season. I love the cold, but live in a place that is warm 95% of the year (regrettably). I love (and need) to travel. I have an old soul.

20160609_143655

I have a rabbit that I probably like more than most people. I love rain, and sunbeams. I love art museums, and mountains. I love the morning, and the night. I love the city, and the country. I love used books and old records. I am full of anxiety, and spirit. I hate people generally, but love them individually. I believe in God, love, and peace.

14671245_10153814341530997_2295503541341431383_n

I am, simply, myself. I am constantly changing and growing, learning and moving. I will love myself, and I will love all others. I will stand up for what I believe in. It will be a challenge, but I will be unabashedly myself.

 

 

There is Still Hope

In light (or not so light) of recent events in the world, it’s really easy to give up and feel like there is no hope for the future of the human race. We have drifted into a present where racism, sexism, violence, and general hatred seem to be ruling the day. For me this has hit especially close to home with the recent US election. With events and results like this, it’s easy to feel like your voice wasn’t heard – that it won’t be heard. And that is enough to make you feel hopeless and insignificant. But there is still hope.

You still have a voice, even if you feel like it won’t be heard and you feel too afraid to raise it. Every day, you have millions of opportunities to cast a vote. You can make small differences and start chain reactions based on just one seemingly insignificant decision. We cast votes with our money, with our time, our words, our actions. Speak out against the injustices done to other people, animals, the planet. Donate to international relief organizations. Volunteer. Don’t be afraid to change your lifestyle, actions speak louder than words. 

We choose the world we live in.

Now, more than ever, is the time to start living by your values. Don’t live for the present, live for the future. If you’re unhappy with something now, don’t wait for tomorrow to come to change it. Become an activist and speak out in small ways. Those small ways will lead to bigger ways. Focus on making positive changes in your personal life, your community, and eventually the world.

We’re living in a dark world, but if everyone lit a candle, we could flood it with light.

A Role Model | Carrie Chapman Catt

To the wrongs that need resistance, To the right that needs assistance, To the future in the distance, Give yourselves.”

Carrie Chapman Catt spoke these words in 1921 during a commencement speech she gave at her alma mater, Iowa State University. Her speech made history, as she was one of the first women in America to give a commencement speech. This isn’t surprising, Catt was first in many things. She went to university at age 16, was the only female in her class, and graduated in 1880 as valedictorian. Soon after graduation, she became one of the first female school superintendents. She devoted her life to progress. Catt was a feminist politician, international peace advocate, and a leader of the women’s suffrage movement.

Catt’s lifetime of political activism began in 1887, when she joined the Iowa Woman Suffrage Association. She utilized her superb writing and speaking capabilities as a professional lecturer. She realized her passion was in advocating for women’s rights. Soon, she became a delegate to the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), and in 1900 she was elected to succeed Susan B. Anthony as the president. In the following fifteen years, Catt took the fight for women’s suffrage to the world by forming the International Woman Suffrage Association. She went on a world tour to Norway, Sweden, Egypt, South Africa, India, China, and many other places to empower women of other cultures and help their voices to be heard.

After Catt returned home in 1915, she proposed her “Winning Strategy”. She realized that the only way to win the vote for women was to campaign at both the state and federal levels. By 1918, more than ten states, including New York, had granted women the right to vote and President Woodrow Wilson had been converted to the cause of the 19th Amendment. Six months before the new Amendment was passed, Catt formed the League of Women Voters, which is still educating women to be politically involved today. Catt and others continued to fight for the vote until August 18, 1920. The 19th Amendment to the US Constitution was added, giving women the right to vote in all states and ending the 72 year-long battle for suffrage.

After suffrage for women was achieved, Catt continued to fight for progress. Until her death in 1947, she focused her efforts on international peace. In response to World War I, she formed the Women’s Peace Party, a 40,000 strong pacifist group that organized war relief efforts. Today, this group continues as the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and is the longest running peace organization. Catt also worked on relief efforts for Jewish refugees between the World Wars, and fought to end child labour.

I basically want to be this woman. As she said in her 1921 speech, Carrie Chapman Catt gave herself to progress. She devoted 60 years of her life activism, over half of that was spent fighting for women’s suffrage. All that she fought for, and all that she accomplished, is such an inspiration to me and people all over the world.

Props

I’m a collector, but not in the physical sense of the word. I’ve never been particularly sentimental about objects. Like my bookshelf in the corner, covered head to toe in books and haphazardly strewn with cheap curios from tourist shops. Those random bits of painted wood and plastic don’t mean anything to me, it’s the memories that are bound to them that I cherish. If you were to throw my Eiffel Tower figurine away, I wouldn’t care. All of that is just stuff.

I guess you could say that I collect thoughts and memories and emotions.

My bookshelf, and every other surface of my room, is covered with books because of the emotions that were invoked while reading them. And while I wouldn’t be sad if you threw away my Eiffel Tower figurine, I would be heartbroken if you took my memories of Paris. My walls are taped with photographs because they are snapshots of times in my life that are precious to me.

All of these things, they are tied to thoughts and memories and emotions that make me who I am. They are just props in my story.

 

Cafe Stories

 

I sit in the cafe and settle in for an afternoon of coffee drinking and writing. I look around at the cozy cafe, which is full to the brim of activity and regular customers ordering their usuals. I sit in the corner, with my coffee in one hand and pen in the other, at a small round table that is scuffed and stained with years of wear from the little white mugs.

At the table next to me, a young woman with a long dark braid sits silently, sketching a scene from out the window. I follow her intent gazes and immediately wish I could draw too. The sky is thick with gray clouds but the shops outside provide a rainbow of colours and carefully tended-to window boxes full of flowers. There is a curtain of rain falling around the mountains, which peak out over the top of the colourful village.

A mother stands at the counter, ordering coffee and pastries while her three children snap at each other around her legs. Behind her, and older man looks disgruntled. There is the exchange of money and goods and the mother shepherds her children out the door. The man approaches the counter and grunts at the woman behind it, ordering his usual in as little words as possible. She calls him by name, and smiles at him despite his attitude.

A small group of older ladies sit a few tables away from me. They are dressed in floral prints and pearls and sip their tea slowly, leaving bright lipstick stains on the white pottery. They exchange knowing looks and gossip. I catch snippets of their conversation, but I am too slow to keep up with their rapid German.

I enjoy just sitting and observing, waiting for the rain to pass and drinking strong coffee.

 

anxiety is my best friend

20160126_154707

Anxiety is my best friend.

He’s always there

keeping me from doing anything

too risky

as we stay up and talk

late into the night.

We met each other years ago,

on the playground at school

under the monkey bars.

No one else would befriend me,

but with him I found

a safe pocket of acceptance

and the patterns of

my heart and brain and breath

began to change.

And we are attached at the hip,

he’s my  other half,

and I thank him everyday

for always being there.

 

But what if I woke up and realized

that years of this friendship,

of this destruction,

had been created by me?

And my  dreams are the best part

because when I dream I wake up,

and I don’t need him to be my other half.

I am whole on my own

and I can tell the difference between

a pocket of acceptance

and being enveloped in a dark cloud.

And I am free.

 

Can We Fix This?

As a middle- class American, I have never known what it is like to be truly in need of food. I have been hungry, but never for long. My refrigerator and pantry have always been full of good food that both of my working parents can afford. I may not always appreciate it, but it has always been there- and  I should appreciate it. Americans manage to waste $165 billion in food a year, which means 40% of food produced in America goes uneaten. What if we didn’t waste all that good food? What if all the stuff we had in our pantry we knew we weren’t going to eat went to food drives, to people who really needed it? Hunger is a big obstacle in America. Those of us who are healthy and well fed should do all that we can to help people in need of food security.

 

People all over the country rely on charitable organizations to help provide groceries and meals for their families. One in seven people in the United States has food insecurity issues. 46.5  million Americans rely on food banks every year. This includes 12 million children and 7 million senior citizens (statistics from feedingamerica.org). It’s not just about the amount, it’s also about the type of food. Because of their budget, most people purchase inexpensive, yet unhealthy foods to feed their families. Because of this, basic nutritional values and needs are not being met. 89% of hungry households have children. Proper nutrition is critical to children and their physical and mental health (feedingamerica.org). Over half of people in America have to make the choice between food, household utilities, medical care, and education. Medical attention is needed more commonly in homes with seniors and small children. Most people that face food insecurity exists in a stable living condition, but every 1 in 6 has experienced an eviction in the past few years.

 

Everyone can do something. It could be as simple as talking about food insecurity with your friends and family. Chances are, someone you work with or go to school with on a daily basis could be facing hunger. Raising awareness  is a simple and effective way to build the stepping stones to change. Other ways to help include volunteering or giving money  or food at a local food bank. Even a small amount can make a difference. Lots of organizations ask for only one dollar. Food drives are another great way to raise awareness and get donations. Donating those cans of green beans that were shoved in the back of your pantry eliminates wasted food, and gives it those who need it more.

 

If everyone does just one simple thing, we can end hunger in the United States and really make a difference.