Monday, September 1, 2014

My Poetry

I've been writing poetry every since I can remember. I started out playing with word rhymes and making up little poems in cards for my parents. Then, I wrote a Halloween poem as an assignment for class in the 4th grade. This is the moment I became a poet.

I've written hundreds, possibly even thousands of poems since that day in Ms. Ramon's class. I have notebooks filled with scratched-out stanzas, half-poems and ideas scribbled across the pages. I have floppy disks filled with poems I wrote in college for my Poetry Writing classes (I took three). I have words written in slant rhyme and hard rhyme, typed and hand-written, slipped into books or boxes for safe keeping, all over my room. They are everywhere, which is why 3 years ago I started posting them on a poetry blog.

I started My Life in Words as a way to keep all of my words in one place - both for me and for anyone who wants to read them. I still write poems in notebooks and other random spaces, but mostly I type them out on my poetry blog. Tonight, I posted my 200th poem. It was a spectacular moment many days in the making.

My poems don't follow form or function, and they're not really what some would call "academic". They just are. I let the words flow through me like electricity flows through an outlet. I conduct the emotion into words and write them on the page. Sometimes, the words make sense together and sometimes they don't. Either way, it's what I'm feeling in the moment in the purest form.

If you like poetry, or even if you don't, check out my site. It's got a little something for everyone I think. Plus, it features some new poems that will be part of The Anneslee Poetry Project. Anneslee is a character in a book I'm writing; and like me, she's also a poet. She's 16 and has a lot of drama, so skip her poems if you want something lighter. There's also a lot of unrequited love stuff - something I've been working through for a while. But mostly, I think you'll find a lot of human stuff.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams 1951-2014

As the world mourns the loss of Robin Williams, many are left wondering how someone who brought so much joy and happiness to everyone could've been in so much pain. I am astounded at how many times I have read comments like "suicide is selfish" and "why didn't he just get help?". Who are any of us to assume we knew what Robin Williams, or anyone else, is going through when this kind of decision is made?

I know that suicide is not the answer, and it is tragic that Robin Williams chose to end his life. I can't imagine what kind of pain he must've been in to make this choice, and I am sad that he's gone. However, I do understand what it's like to feel so alone that you don't want to exist anymore and that feeling is not selfish. It's painful, like down to the marrow in your bones painful, and sometimes it's much too deep to be remedied quickly. The loss from suicide affects so many people, but the act itself is very singular. It is, for many, an attempt to end unbearable torment that no one and nothing up to that point has been able to stop.

Depression - a struggle Robin Williams talked about struggling with himself - is a serious illness. It is diagnosed and treated just like Cancer, Heart Disease and Arthritis. For some, it is fleeting and related to personal tragedy; for others, it is a lifelong battle. Medications and therapy can help, but not always and not for everyone. Just like Cancer, radiation might work for one person and kill another - the same goes for treatment of depression. Nothing works all the time for everyone who deals with this illness, so what's left? Batting down the hatches and hoping we make it through. Remember, our medical professionals "practice medicine"; they do not master it. And many have no idea how to treat an illness like Depression beyond writing a prescription and telling you to think happy thoughts.

It's cliche to say that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary situation, but it's also true. It doesn't have to be the only answer to the pain we feel, but it doesn't mean that we should look at a person who makes this devastating choice and say they're selfish. Maybe the pain was so awful that they just couldn't take another second on this earth dealing with it. Maybe the sadness sucked them so deeply into the darkness that it seemed like such sweet relief to let it all go.

I don't look at the death of Robin Williams and think he is selfish or wonder why he felt the way he did. I look at the happiness he brought to the world, and I am grateful that he is finally free of his pain. I pray for his family, his friends and for all of us who will miss the light he brought to our lives. May he rest in peace.

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please take a breath, a moment, a second to give yourself a different choice. Just ask for help, even if you have to ask someone you don't know, and let someone try to make a difference in your life that you undoubtedly make in others. You may not feel like you mean anything to the rest of the world right now, but I can assure you that you mean the whole world to someone.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

35 Things Kids Today Just Won't Get

I just celebrated my 35th birthday this past weekend, and it made me think about all the things that have changed since I was born in 1979. So, I decided to make a list of 35 things I experienced growing up that kids today most likely will never experience. 

Here's my list in no particular order:
  1. Garbage Pail Kids
  2. Winding Cassette Tapes with a Pencil Eraser
  3. Slap Bracelets
  4. Waiting for your favorite song to come on the radio so you can record it
  5. Mix Tapes you made for your friends from said-recorded songs
  6. Anderson Cooper on Channel One (although it's kind of like Anderson Cooper on CNN)
  7. Saved By the Bell
  8. Having to rewind or fast forward VHS tapes to get to that one scene you love
  9. Blowing on VHS tapes or Nintendo cartridges to get them to work
  10. Watching She-Ra (although it is available on Netflix or so I hear)
  11. Listening to books on my Fisher Price record player
  12. Pee Wee's Playhouse
  13. The creepy vinyl E.T. Doll
  14. My awesome ewok stuffed animal
  15. Watching the Berlin Wall come down
  16. Seeing Baby Jessica rescued from a well (made me NEVER go near a well again)
  17. Scholastic Book Order Forms
  18. Using Library Catalogs and NEVER finding the book you want
  19. Dot Matrix printer paper
  20. Pound Puppies
  21. Rainbow Brite
  22. the MASH game
  23. Tiny Toons & Duck Tales
  24. Oregon Trail Day at school
  25. Hypercolor T-shirts
  26. Making your own Slip 'n' Slide and getting seriously banged up
  27. Wearing Tights with socks and high-top Reeboks
  28. Trying to recreate the Say Anything boom box moment
  29. Watching Magic vs. Bird
  30. Tight-rolling jeans
  31. Using a Banana Clip in your hair
  32. Saturday Morning Cartoons
  33. L.A. Gear
  34. Saying "Sike!"
  35. Using a payphone or having to ask for directions (oh, cell phones, what would we do without you?)
Did you grow up in the 80s? If so, what great things did you experience that you wish kids today could experience too?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Revving up for 35

I have 5 days until I turn 35, and like every birthday before it I cannot wait! I've always embraced getting older, and most days I actually look forward to it. I think it's because I've always associated age with experience and wisdom; so in theory, the older I get, the more I learn and the wiser I become. Well, hopefully anyway.

This year, I decided to take the reins and plan my own birthday party. In the past, I tended to rely on others to make suggestions or plans for me - yes, I'm a bit spoiled - but that doesn't really work past adolescence (believe me, I know). So, instead of wondering what everyone else wanted to do for my birthday, I decided to throw a party at a fun Mexican restaurant. It looks like I'll have a good turnout, and I know it's going to be a blast. And I'll be honest - it feels great to have a little more than just a say-so about what's going down on my big day.

I love birthdays, and not just my own. I love celebrating the birth of the people I love because it is the day they came into this world and changed it forever. Or at least that's how I look at it. So, as I look forward to 35 and all the promise this next year holds, I hope I am changing the world for the better.

Happy birthday to me and to everyone else celebrating a birthday this month!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Poetry Project

In my latest novel, I have a character named Anneslee. She's sixteen, hormonal, angsty and dealing with a lot of drama. She writes poetry as well, so I decided to write some poetry from her point-of-view. The interesting thing I learned from this project is that writing from another person's point-of-view, even a fictional person's perspective, is very liberating.

I found it so much easier to write out Anneslee's pain, anger and frustration in a poem than I have ever been able to for my own feelings. Maybe it's because I know my characters better than I sometimes know myself. I don't know. What I do know is that they are, in my opinion, some of the best poems I have ever written.

I've posted 14 of the Anneslee Poems on My Life in Words, and I hope you will take a few minutes to read them.

Friday, June 20, 2014

A Door Closed, So I Opened a Window

Over the last couple of months I have focused on being more creative at work instead of just being creative off the clock. An opportunity came up, and I didn't hesitate to see where it could take me. I felt like a new door was opening up, and this was very exciting. I thought a lot about what life could be like if I was given the key to this door, and I knew what was ahead of me was a lot of hard work. I've never been one to shy away from a challenge, so I readied myself for what came next.

I gave it my all, but I very quickly learned it wasn't meant to be. Or, maybe this opportunity just wasn't meant for me

This now-closed door could've been something wonderful. I know I would've worked hard and learned whatever I had to in order to be successful. And I know I would've enjoyed it every step of the way. But I also know myself really well. My drive to achieve in the workplace is very strong, and I know I would've put aside my extracurricular creative pursuits to make this now-defunct opportunity as successful as possible. I'm an all-or-nothing person a lot of the time, and I would've given everything I could to show that I was the right person to pick. 

But the thing is, sometimes all-or-nothing isn't good, especially if it means giving up something you love just to prove others right. I didn't understand this ten years ago, but I do understand it now. And even though this door is closed, I've realized I have many windows of opportunities waiting for me. So, I opened one. I started my own book review blog, Book in Hand Reviews. It just makes sense. I love to read, I love to write and I love to promote the people and products I love. What better way to do that than a book review?

So, maybe one door closed and that door was a really lovely door. But, there is so much more to this world than work, and this window I've opened has a great view. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

There Is No Fault with The Fault in our Stars

I went to the movies this past weekend with my best friend, and we saw The Fault in our Stars. It was such a beautifully romantic film, and absolutely worth every dime I paid to see it. 

As someone who has seen the many faces of Cancer firsthand, it was definitely an emotional experience for me, especially the part where Hazel says, "There's no way of knowing that your last good day is Your Last Good Day. At the time, it is just another good day." The day before my mother died was one of the best days I'd ever had with my mother. I am grateful for it, but there is certainly something that lingers now that says, "If I only knew that was our last good day...". 

The beauty of The Fault in our Stars is how real it is. It doesn't hide the pain or the fear, but rather embraces it; after all, "That's the thing about pain. It demands to be felt."

Cancer isn't fair, and it doesn't discriminate against race, creed, gender or age. This book and this movie tread a delicate line by showing children with Cancer, but I think they also remind us all that children with Cancer are still children first. They want to grow up, fall in love, see and be seen, and have a happily ever after - or at least a happy for right now. 

And the thing is, even though the circumstances in #TFIOS are tragic in a way, they are also uplifting and joyful much like the young woman who inspired John Green - Esther Grace Earl. She lifted others up even when she couldn't leave her house. She reminded people to be awesome and lived every moment of her life until the very end. 

I hope a cure for all types of Cancer is found, but I hope even more that until that time that we all remember that people with Cancer are still people first. Thank you, John Green, for bringing humanity and love to such a difficult topic.

To learn more about Esther Grace Earl, visit