Tag Archives: Personal reflection

NPM ’11: Day 12 – A Technological ‘I Miss You’ (Post #12)

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A busy day comes to a halt.

Simple, loving words are the culprit; they stop

me

in my tracks –

a little girl’s text message.

My lungs swell with gentle, reminiscent breath

as I remember

that I am missed

and loved

by an old friend

& playmate.

G’night, darling child.

Tonight, your fondness shall

carry me

into my dreams.

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April = National Poetry Month

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Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? I had no idea until tonight, but I’m sure glad I found out!

If you read my last blog, then you are aware that, as of late, I have been struggling quite seriously with my creativeness. And, to elaborate a bit further on my thoughts from last night, I think part of my problem is my tendency to subconsciously believe the misconception that ‘true’ or ‘pure’ creativity and inspiration can only happen organically and never as a result of one’s deliberate intentionality. However, a fellow artist and friend of mine, after reading my last blog, said something to me that really hit home; it’s nothing I haven’t heard before, but it was definitely the reminder I needed: “…sometimes,” she said, “you have to be really purposeful and specific about creativity.”

Words of wisdom, those are! Thank you, Michelle!

It’s true, though, how we succumb to this belief that something isn’t really creative if we’ve created it through a scheduled and/or disciplined agenda. Somehow – and I have no idea why this is – in our minds, spontaneity becomes synonymous with true creativity.

But the two ideas are not synonymous, as Michelle pointed out. One can tap into her fullest potential and create something that’s true and meaningful and authentic while also being deliberate and completely strategic about it. Jeez, I, of all people, should know this! I’m a pianist!! Sure, the gruelingly long hours at the keys, practicing scales and arpeggios and the like can suck, but when you put everything together and apply the technicalities to, say, Liszt’s “Gnomenreigen”, the pieces all fall into place; and suddenly you find yourself effortlessly playing a highly creative, highly genuine masterpiece. A song. Not simply a series of complex notes and rhythms.

My point? You don’t just wake up one day and play a Liszt piece. You practice. And practice. And PRACTICE! Day after day, note by note, one fragmented measure at a time – for hours and hours and hours! Until a work of art is born. Now if that’s not an example of intentional, disciplined artistry, then I’m not sure what is!

All that to say, Michelle is right. Being specific and purposeful is key.

And that’s precisely where National Poetry Month comes in. First of all, I love poetry. And, for whatever reason, I’ve always enjoyed writing poetry more than I have prose (even though I think I’m actually better at the latter). Some of you know that I attempted National Novel Writing Month last year and failed miserably. Regardless, I think a specific plan and focus will help me get back on track with my writing, and the thought of writing (or reading) poetry for thirty days excites me far more than the idea of writing a shitty novel in a month.

Thus, I’m committing myself to a one-month poetry writing/reading/sharing challenge. For the entire month of April, I will attempt to interact with as much poetry as I can, whether it be original poetry that I’ve written myself or simply another poet’s work(s) that I read (and then share with my blog readers). After all, in any genre of literature, to be a good writer is to be a good reader first. Right?

So…let the poetry writing & reading begin!

[And just for kicks, check out this video of an 8-year-old who plays “Gnomenreigen” better than most adults probably ever will. Wowza! CLICK HERE.]

Post-college reflections: if you happen to see my friend Creativity wandering about, please send him my way.

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Today at lunch a couple of my co-workers and I discussed the pros and cons of post-undergraduate life. And my initial thought/statement was this: “I don’t really miss school.” Especially since I’m still at school every day (just playing a different role now).

But as I sat there and pondered my own words, I realized that deep down, I’m still quite undecided when it comes to the whole issue of being finished with school. The life of a graduate has a number of significant pros: no homework, more sleep, more time to pursue a social life…hell, I even have more time to, well, waste! Guilt-free procrastination! (Hmm…although, I suppose it isn’t really procrastination, since I’m not exactly putting off any particular tasks or assignments. Whatevs. You get my point.) I love that I can come home from work, eat, relax, watch some TV or a movie, and go to bed without even an inkling of remorse or that nagging question in the back of my mind: “Okay, what did I put off that will come back and bite me in the ass later?”

Blissful sigh. It’s a wonderful life, really.

But, of course, it’s not all pastries and frothy caramel lattes. Being out of school has its cons: my student loans are now in repayment, work (although I still LOVE my job!) can sometimes feel a little too tedious and monotonous – and freakishly busy! Sheesh!, and I sometimes feel lonely and disconnected. Being a student flat out handed me a social network that was always there, even when I didn’t want it. Now I have to work twice as hard to maintain friendships and connections. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining! Honestly, I didn’t expecting anything less. But still, for an introverted, semi-anti-social butterfly like myself, it’s not particularly easy! But you know what? I’m fine with these ‘cons’, because I knew they were coming. You can’t live out your college experience forever and truthfully, were the choice mine, I’m not sure I’d even want to.

There is one ‘con’, however, that has created a significant amount of mental stress for me – stress that I keep trying to ignore. But, as usual, one can only ignore these things for so long. My conversation with my co-workers today brought said factor to the forefront of my mind again, and as I went home and thought about it this evening, I found myself a tad bit depressed.

Here’s what I realized (or perhaps “re-realized”) today:

More than anything, school always fueled my ability to create. I learn and create best when I’m surrounded by other people who love to learn and create, and my network of friends, classmates, and profs at NU (especially in the English and/or Music departments) provided me just that.

I think about my Conducting class with Bill Owen, or my creative writing classes with Lenae Nofziger, or my Romance & Fantasy Literature class with Julia Young…the enriching discussions, creative projects, and countless hands-on opportunities to communally discover and express ourselves…I just don’t have that anymore! And my life – my writing, my lack of interest in other creative pursuits that once greatly interested me – clearly reflects that.

Yes, it might be weak and pathetic of me to say that I can’t create without school, but that’s not what I’m getting at. I fully acknowledge and accept that I, the artist, am responsible for my creative pursuits and results. But I realize now how large a role school played in these pursuits and results, and now that school isn’t in the mix, I feel, like I said, a bit depressed.

At the end of the day, it all comes back to two key concepts:

One, I am a learner — and very much a communal learner. I need a community of thoughtful, think-outside-the-box-type individuals to fuel my own interests and passions. Otherwise, I have an awfully hard time coming up with ideas on my own. Second, I need to find new ways to keep a balanced amount of creativity in my life. As much as I like this new stage of life – having a job, having other responsibilities that allow me to build my independence, it’s undeniable that, in this 9 to 5 world of adult responsibility and professionalism, creativity can slip right through your fingers without giving you even the faintest warning. That is certainly my story. And I am seriously ready for a plot change.

Echoed Promises

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Today:
Anonymous potentiality.

Today:
It may determine the rest of my life
Or at least the immediate tomorrow.

“Behold,” I say, echoing Jeremiah in his youth,
“I do not know how to speak.”

But in the quiet darkness, I hear a voice—
A familiar voice.

He, as usual, is silently loud, and
His words reverberate an ancient promise:
“Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’” He says,
“Because everywhere I send you, you shall go,
“And all that I command you,
You shall speak.
Do not be afraid of them,
“For I am with you.”

Today I rest
With touched lips.

Merry Grinchmas

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The holidays usually make me happy. Really, really happy.  I love how the air grows crisper each day and fills with childlike expectancy, as everyone anticipates the year’s first snowfall. I love how the city, bustling and sparkling with red and gold lights, bursts with magic and seasonal cheer. And, of course, I love the many sounds, smells, and tastes that accompany this time of year: street corner choirs who sing jazzy renditions of Christmas favorites like “Carol of the Bells,” the unmistakable scent of a freshly cut noble fir, or the brilliant aroma of spiced apple cider. And a cup of hot cider must be accompanied by gingerbread cookies, or a fresh slice of pumpkin pie, right? Mmm…doesn’t it all sound utterly fabulous?

Nope. In fact, I’m cringing as I type this.

I know, I know, you’re probably staring at me as if I’m crazy, but I’m being completely honest.  The truth is I’m kind of dreading the holidays this year. Whether it’s the family drama, the fact that Nani isn’t in this world anymore, the overall lack of finances (and, therefore, the lack of holiday plans), or maybe just a grand mix of all the aforementioned reasons, the point is the Grinch in me has awoken this year, and as a result, I find myself constantly annoyed with any and all holiday-related ideas. For example, I was flipping through radio stations the other day, and I landed on WARM 106.9 FM. They were playing “O Christmas Tree,” and my instinctual thought was to beat the crap out of my car’s radio. (Oh, and by the way—whose idea was it to start playing Christmas music before Black Friday?!) Another example: a number of people in my neighborhood have already put up their Christmas decorations. Just a few weeks ago, Halloween decorations accentuated people’s yards, and now I’m seeing lights and ornaments and those plastic Santas on people’s front porches. And frankly, they’re making me angry.

What’s my point in telling you all this? I guess I don’t really have one. ‘Cause really, when it all boils down, Christmas isn’t about the decorations, the songs, or the treats. It’s about—brace yourselves; I’m about to throw you a Sunday-school cliché—Jesus. But I suppose it just bothers me that I’m at such a low point and can’t seem to come out of it. What I probably need to do is get my focus off of myself and find an opportunity to make someone else’s holiday season a little brighter. Because I’m certainly not the only person who’s hurting. And I’m positive that many people have it a lot worse than I do. But, again, I believe in being honest; and these thoughts have been bubbling inside of me for a while now, so I figured I’d get them out. Besides, I can’t imagine I’m the only person who’s ever suffered from Grinch-ism.  So let me close this note with the following questions: for those of you who have suffered from similar thoughts and anti-holiday attitudes, what’s your story? And how did you overcome your own Grinch-ism?

Endless Questions & The Oprah Magazine

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DISCLAIMER: This is more or less an exaggerated rant written for the primary purpose of getting my thoughts out in an uncensored fashion. Please don’t e-mail me with questions about my sanity or overall well-being. As Orlando Bloom’s character in Elizabethtown said, “I’m fine.”  =)

***

Yesterday I was standing in line at the grocery store, and this caught my eye:

Due to lack of time, however, I didn’t bother picking it up. (Okay, and maybe secretly I didn’t care, since this is, after all, Oprah—and yes, for those wondering, I’m not a fan.) Regardless, the title got me thinking.

Calling.

I sometimes detest that word. Thank you, church culture, and—more importantly—thank you, Northwest University! In all honesty, though, the general overuse of the word is not my problem; my problem is the lack of clarity when it comes to its definition.  Forget asking the question: ‘What is my calling?’  What the hell is a CALLING, anyway? If I were to ask a handful of people, I’m positive I’d get a handful of definitions (in fact, this has happened already). And therein lies my issue with the concept of calling.

Four years ago, I thought I knew what my calling was. But four years ago, my definition of ‘calling’ was synonymous with my definition of ‘vocation.’ And while I’ve learned that the two are separate entities, I still haven’t quite figured out what ‘calling’ means.

All I know is this: as of this very moment, I’m not where I should be. If the ultimate goal is to love God and love others the way I love myself, then I have quite a few miles to travel—especially since I don’t love myself right now.  I look at the person I’ve become and cringe; I’m often bitter, full of doubt, angry (at myself, at others, and sometimes at God), unmotivated, and overall uninspired.

What happened?

What happened to the girl who made it her mission to push through the harsh circumstances? The girl who once embraced life’s challenges and still managed to walk forward? Where is the girl who had dreams, goals, and aspirations, who once knew how to set goals and move toward them? Where is the artist who looked at her life and the lives of others and found raw, creative potential there?

And where on earth did this person come from? This person who always wants to hide, who tells herself constantly that she’s never going to be good enough, whose eyes are suddenly on herself and hardly ever on others? How and when did I become this person? And how do I find my way back to the right path? (Whatever that means.)

Perhaps I’m thinking too hard again, and perhaps I’ll one day look back at today and laugh, but right now, this all feels just as unpleasant as a sleepless, insomnia-infused night.  It’s like my very soul has insomnia, and no matter how much I toss and turn, the restlessness refuses to retire.

I have more questions than answers, and the more I seek out answers, the more complex my questions become. And as a result, I find myself shying away from everything—questions, answers….everything—until I’m completely numb and hopelessly immobile. But immobility is a dangerous disease, a type of cancer, really. And I loathe myself for getting to this point.

Once again, there’s a pretty significant chance I’m just thinking too hard. I do that often.

Anyway, I was reading Amitabh Bachchan’s blog earlier, and he opened his entry with these words. They really caught my attention:

“It is the simple things in life that move us the most. It is the common things in life that affect us the most. It is, I have discovered, life itself that touches us the most. I wait patiently for life to present itself to me. I wait till it summons me to notice. I wait in expectation of that which shall unfold itself, and having found it, expect more.”

Thinking too hard or not, I seem to have caught some sort of strange amnesia when it comes to being moved by the simple, common things in life. The “big things”—life altering circumstances, etc.—keep pushing me down. And my general expectations—for myself and for others—are terribly low.

But I’m so damn tired of that! I’m tired of crawling out of bed each morning with the sole purpose of making it through the day. Simply surviving. I want to have higher expectations and I want to be able to find meaning in the small, normally unnoticed aspects of life. Only then can I discover and grasp the bigger notions: my purpose, my calling.

Fear will paralyze you if you let it, and I certainly have. But it’s now time to arise, to make new discoveries, to move toward something new and fresh, whether that “something” is big or small. Head held high, no turning back.  But the daunting question remains: how?

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“Wake up, O sleeper,

—rise from the dead…”

Blog – take 2: mad hatter style.

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So, I’m apparently quite slow. It took me over a year to discover that my blog, Beautifully Broken, had the same name as an Ashlee Simpson song…oy. Believe it or not, that was completely coincidental. I actually got my inspiration from Psalm 51:17, which says: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” I really like the concept of our brokenness being a beautiful sacrifice to the Lord, and my hope was that, by sharing my brokenness through my words and posts, my readers would see beauty. But now I’m wondering if ya’ll were just thinking of the A.S. song, haha. Maybe you were, or maybe you weren’t (and if you weren’t, then yay!); either way, I’ve decided to change the name (and look) of my blog, and I’m far more satisfied with the updated version.

I was reading a friend’s blog the other day, and she mentioned this idea of learning to celebrate yourself, despite your quirks. I don’t know about you, but I often have a really difficult time accepting my “weirdness.” I generally look at my quirks and write them off as weaknesses. Not that I’m some crazy eccentric, but what if I were? Would it be okay? I’m slowly realizing that in God’s eyes, those quirks aren’t weaknesses but the very traits He wants to use to further His Kingdom.

God loves you and me for…well, being you and me. No matter what. And that’s a promise! There aren’t any conditional attachments involved. Regardless of how “unorthodox” I might be, God loves me. Furthermore, He loves every single one of my quirky tendencies. And it’s about time I began to love them, too. =) So I’m renaming my blog to Hued Unorthodoxy: A Celebration of Quirkiness, and I hope that you’ll join me as I continue to discover my oddities under this new light.