All the big picture ideas get bogged down by tiny details nothing ever seems worth the trouble of teasing out the tangled minutia Ambition without aim is an oxymoron although something inside me still aches an unreachable itch for a project worth pursuing a tangible goal to give life meaning again Maybe every direction is just a distraction a mirage in the distance to keep us moving through a desert that is identical wherever we stop would it all be the same if I simply sat down here? It feels shameful to keep existing without a purpose the unsightly sin of complacency is a heavy shroud the urge to prove myself through accomplishment is a set of iron shackles around my trembling soul Motivation is meaningless and amorphous to me now there has never been satisfaction at the end of my striving the soft voice inside just says that its time to rest indefinitely in the end, all I want is to want nothing
Let Me Sleep
It's not fair I can't fall asleep with the trees every winter and only rise again when the distant sun returns being left abandoned in this windswept landscape is too much agony to endure year after year Left to live as a corpse in this cold darkness denied the sweet slumber offered to half of nature unable to escape into an expanded unconsciousness until I am awaked by the scent of spring flowers Half my life is wasted waiting for the thaw huddled into myself for safety and warmth where the beauty of the silent snow cannot creep into my veins Patience is a virtue I have not been artful in the ticking clock torments me and tears me down telling me I must rise and not let time slip by while my delicate soul continues to shiver
The Devil’s Mill
There was a time when the world moved slow with the rounded loveliness of hiccupping days that dripped gently into the deep, reflective pool of life When rushing into the future was a sign of ill intent not the industrious, enviable attitude of an elite individual only a madman would pass up the daily spectacle of the setting sun The wind through the reeds served its own ends and it was an honor just to be a witness to this earth as she twirled and unfurled a routine of majestic mysteries Time is the tyrant that has torn us from true living a construct of man that manifests in ceaseless obligations a slight of hand that has convinced us it is objective and concrete A clock will not tell you that this moment is eternal the liquid nature of the kaleidoscope of now if forever transforming and becoming something new The radio static of the collective mind has gotten so loud it's all but drown out the music of the present moment for us all life has become the distant background noise of greater misery But the shackles of time can still be cast off it's not too late to emerge again into snow white infinity the devil's mill that man has set in motion can also be stopped
The Gift of Idleness
Paradise is promised to us through painstaking productivity happiness is hanging there just past more hard work It's shameful to acknowledge exhaustion after hours toiling in the sweltering sun no one dares commit the sin of sitting down swallowed up by the fear of being labeled lazy Capitalism is cleaver if nothing else convincing us to become our own slave drivers soiling our own perceptions of what it means to savor this one and only existence Linking the concept of leisure with sloth until we never stop moving for even a second losing sight of our right to be idle and enjoy the God-given gifts of this life Standing still is an act of shocking rebellion in a social system that expects you to burn your own flesh to feed the never ending fire of the economy and sacred stock market These collective misguided morals congeal making virtue synonymous with profit for the powerful a seed of shame buried deep within the conscience of every unfortunate American child Your blood is worth only as much as the oil that it can replace in the groaning machine of industry keep making the products you will always be too poor to consume yourself Trying to make us forget that stillness has been the wellspring of all great art and invention a futile effort to make us too tired to revolt they cannot choke off my awe of the open sky
Be Your Own Inspiration
As seasonal depression has slowly but surely sucked all of the life and motivation out of me in the last few months, I’ve been finding it harder and harder to write. An overwhelming sense of shame and mediocrity grip me as I attempt to do my daily poetry. I’m so distracted by the idea that I am not good enough, that my words are ignorant and hollow, that I can’t concentrate for long enough to create anything. Then this only reaffirms my crippling self-doubt, making it harder to come back to my laptop the next day.
Yesterday after finishing a poem that I wasn’t particularly proud of, I decided to read some of the older ones I had compiled for publishing this coming year. Even though I’ve done this in the past, I was still surprised at just how wonderful I felt these older poems were. I know I was partly moved because they reminded me of the times when I had written them, but I can’t deny that they are also excellent poems in their own right. I think anyone could enjoy them just as much as I have. The more I read, the more thick the wall of tears became against my eyelids, inevitably overflowing into hot streams down my cheeks. I wrote these. I had to keep reminding myself.
Today despite still not feeling particularly creative or inspired, the sense that I’m a failure and I’ve never written anything good nor will I ever write anything good is absent. I know that inspiration will find me again. I believe in and am proud of the things I have already created. I feel at peace inside this artistic dry spell.
Looking back at my old work was exactly what I needed. I’ve done this in the past not only with my poetry, but with my art as well. One day I was nearly in tears, wondering how I had ever believed I could draw or use my drawing tablet at all. Then I decided to pull up some of my old drawings. I was so happy looking at them. These are really good! I was delighted and surprised that I was so easily able to forget my own talent.
Sometimes the combination of mental illness, writer’s block, and exposure to so many other people’s amazing work online can leave us feeling inadequate. In these moments I try to remind myself of Lizzo’s wise words: “I am my inspiration.” We don’t need to be at the same level or have the same style of writing or drawing as other people. It can be hard to be an impartial judge of our own talent. That’s why it’s important to go back over our older work. So many times I’ve found that something I once hated or didn’t think much of has turned out to be one of my best creations when I look back. The poems I wrote as a teenager that I was embarrassed by seem simply beautiful to me now. I’ve even decided to publish them, and they’re available on Amazon if you’re interested.
I guess my point is, don’t trust your opinion of yourself or your ability when you are feeling low. The mind has a way of convincing us of things that aren’t true, especially when it comes to our perceptions of ourself. Just be patient and remind yourself through hard evidence. If your brain is telling you that you can’t write, go back and read what you’ve already written to prove it wrong. If it says you can’t draw, take the time to enjoy a personal art show of past works to silence that critical voice. Hell, sometimes this even works if I’m having a particularly bad body image day. I’ll look at somewhat recent photos I’ve taken of myself to remember that I can feel beautiful.
The only person you need to compare yourself to is your past self. Be your own inspiration. And most importantly, I want you to remember that every single thing you have created or will create is incredible and worthwhile, because it is a piece of your mind made manifest. When I look at something someone I love has drawn or written however silly it may seem to them, I love it. I love it because it came from them, and that’s all that matters. That’s what makes everything any one of us creates special and perfect. And lastly, let yourself rest sometimes. I promise your inspiration will come back soon enough.
Sometimes sickness is a blessing because it softens my sharp edges I can more easily surrender to what is My inner flame is subdued allowing me to offer gentle energy and loving kindness in place of judgement Finally an opportunity to slow down to enjoy giving myself comfort and care as I patiently nurse my tired inner child No longer able to resist much needed rest settling quietly into soft stillness I may like to stay here for a little while longer
Haiku – The Cycle of Creation and Rest
Take the time to rest we can't always create things some days we just breathe
There is a stillness in the night that stops all thought I often wonder if it is supposed to feel so sweet as I slip underneath existence Each morning is an agony of renewed responsibility and expectation awaking to find myself again confined behind the same searching eyes within a cumbersome prison of flesh and bone Where is it exactly that we spend half our lives? why does my soul seem more suited to the ethereal landscapes of the unconscious? why has the waking world never seemed to hold me fully in its solid hand? I've always looked forward to the night to the moment I am swallowed up by the soft oblivion behind my eyelids even a dreamless inky darkness to me seems simply scrumptious I've rarely known the torment of an agitated, incomplete night's sleep I am equally a stranger to even a moment of conscious rest and repose I'm accustomed to black and white My soul is perpetually sleepy exhausted by the constant fires lit within the waking world It wants to dissipate under deep slumber to be scattered into stardust I can only hope that I'll be greeted by this same strange pleasure as I let go once more into my ultimate end and sink beneath those familiar, dark waters for one sublime and final time
Tips If You Struggle with Staying Present
I’ve noticed that a lot of people, including myself, that have tried breathing exercises or mindfulness practices come away from them feeling as though they don’t work. For a while it was a mystery to me why some yoga classes or meditations felt so much more healing than others. I realized that the practices that weren’t able to recenter me were more like going through the motions rather than truly being present. I may have been meditating but my mind was wandering and/or my breath was short and shallow the entire time. Sometimes the internal experience does not mirror the outward manifestation of mindfulness practices.
Some days you’ll find you are just not able to focus as easily as other days. However, this does not mean that you shouldn’t try breath work or yoga or that these practices don’t provide any benefit. One thing I’ve found that helps me stay in the moment if I find myself struggling is imagining I’m writing a story. When the mind is very busy, stopping all together can feel impossible. Instead, try to describe the tiny sensations, sights, sounds, feelings that are happening around you that you normally wouldn’t pay attention to.
For example, say you are taking a quiet moment to connect with the earth. Rather than merely trying to force your mind into focusing on the breath, start writing a mental story as if you are trying to explain everything you are experiencing in that moment to someone else. Are your feet in the grass? What does that feel like? Where is the sun in the sky? Is there a breeze blowing? What sounds are there around you? Be as descriptive as possible. If you find it hard to keep your mind on this task as well, you can even bring a notebook and physically write it out on a sheet of paper.
When you start to put seemingly bland or uneventful moments into words, you realize just how much is actually going on even in stillness that you might not have noticed before. I always find this practice very soothing and pleasurable. Even if it feels like you have no time or your mind couldn’t possibly stop racing, set a timer for just 1-5 minutes. It doesn’t take long for your to settle the mind and body. You may even find you enjoy it so much that you make a little more time than you thought you’d be able to devote to this little mental, emotional, spiritual break. And if not, be grateful that you at least gave yourself one minute to rest. You deserve it.
Cozy Fall Activities – Living Alone Edition
My inner child has been lighting up at the prospect of all the fun fall possibilities this year. I can’t remember a time when I felt this delighted by this season. Maybe it’s just something about being in your late 20s that makes you a sucker for pumpkin spice lattes, scarves, and watching the leaves change. My tendency is usually to dissect and scrutinize such an uncharacteristic feeling. It is quite unlike me to feel like celebrating rather than mourning the end of summer after all. However, this time I’m not going to let myself spoil my own fun by overanalyzing. I just want to be kind and allow myself to fully embrace and enjoy this strange experience. So here are a few of the ideas I’ve come up with about how to do that.
1. Try a Homemade Seasonal Drink
While I do already have my pumpkin spice oat milk creamer in the fridge, I was craving something even more autumn inspired. Even though I’ve only ever had hot apple cider like once in my life, I really loved it. I didn’t really want to buy a whole jug of apple cider for just me though, so I looked online to see if there was some kind of alternative I could try. I stumbled upon this recipe for an apple cider vinegar drink instead. It’s very simple. I already had all the ingredients on hand. And it is quite yummy and hit that hot apple cider spot quite nicely.
2. Movie Night
Even if you live alone like me, there is nothing like snuggling up on the couch to watch a spooky, fall themed movie. Yesterday for the first time in years, I allowed myself to just lie in bed all afternoon and enjoy my day off. It was truly delightful. If you’re looking to get into the fall spirit, I’d definitely recommend making some popcorn (or maybe even roasted pumpkin seeds), grabbing your favorite, most comfortable blanket, perhaps enlisting the company of a furbaby or two, and settling in for a private little movie marathon, the cheesier the better.
3. Take a Walk
Autumn is the ideal season for long, introspective strolls. There is something so indescribably satisfying about hearing the crunchy sound of leaves beneath your feet. While I love the summer heat for walking my dog just as much, it’s even better when there is a crisp wind giving me a reason to quicken my step. Rather than sweating bullets, the soft sun peaking through the trees makes everything glow and gently warms me as I walk. Not to mention there is that perfect cozy feeling when you make it back inside.
I’ve never been big about seasonal decorations. I’ll put up a tree and a few other things for Christmas, but that’s usually it. However, I’ve had the urge to purchase all those cute little fall decorations this year. I’ve even saved a couple of the pattypan squashes I’ve grown that look particularly like mini pumpkins. I can’t help but smile when I see their plump little presence on my kitchen table. Instead of asking myself, “What’s the point?” as I usually do, I’m not going to question my strange desire to spruce up my home with corny little doodads.
As I’ve already mentioned, there is a certain special quality about the fall and winter months that are perfect for solitude and introspection. It even seems like introverts tend to like these colder seasons more for this very reason. Light a candle, make yourself a warm cup of tea, coffee, cider or whatever suits your fancy, and write a few pages in your favorite notebook. Stream of consciousness will work just fine, but you can also look up some fall themed journaling prompts if you want to get extra festive.
I hope you’re all having as scrumptious of a fall infatuation as me this year. Let me know what your favorite ways to enjoy this season are. I’d love to get some new ideas since this is the first year I’ve really felt in the mood to celebrate and go all out.