This is an update post on my Camp Nano project. First of all, I want to talk about how much it means to me to do a project like this. As I mentioned before, poetry came into my life around middle school. It has been a wonderful way to express something deep within me that I couldn't with regular speech. It has poise, creativity with organization, and brings to life an image or a story in a few words, sometimes. It's fun and it gives me such a rush when I'm in the zone writing line after line. Poetry means I can share my fleeting thoughts and wild imagination.
Secondly, sitting down to write has been difficult at times. Trying to find the right words to connect is not always easy. I research definitions of words, their synonyms, and rhymes. That takes away my focus because it's hard to move past that one word. I lose my train of thought and the poem just sits there unfinished until a lightbulb goes off in my head, and my fingers begin typing at lightning speed.
My goal for this month was thirty-one pages ( a poem each day), but I wrote more than that. Right now I'm at around forty. It took less time than I expected it to. My goal is now fifty poems by July thirty-first.
Wish me luck!
*Photo by Marcus Spiske on Unspash.com
Camp Nanowrimo 2019
It's here and I'm writing poems for my poetry book (shh don't tell anyone!). Poetry has been a part of my life since middle school. I don't know how I fell into it. I remember entering into my school's talent show reading a poem I wrote about fish. I won (yay!) and since then I write poems just as often as I write stories. For me, poems are my short stories.
Participating in Camp Nanowrimo gives me the opportunity to discipline myself and write at least one poem a day for a month. Two years ago, I participated in Camp during July and finished my book. Years before that, I was in Camp Nanowrimo and Nanowrimo for the Young Writer's Program during the school year. Those challenges pushed me to write everyday even when I had classes and readings. I completed books and started others. This is the first time I am using Nanowrimo to write a poetry book. I can't wait to see the finished product after I organize all the poems. It's an exhilarating process. I love writing poems. It can take me anywhere from fifteen minutes to four hours to write one poem. They can be seven lines long or five pages! So, stay tuned for updates on my progress this month and the announcement of the completed project.
*Photo by Anh Vy on Unsplash.com
A lesson on the importance of time management and organization.
Hanging out with friends or by yourself can always be fun. It’s always an adventure when the location is somewhere none of you have been before. You get to explore the place, gaze at the shops, street artwork, and delve into the culture of where you are. Even in nature, you can listen to the sounds of birds, the rustles of animals wandering through, and admire the beauty of trees. Sometimes, all these entice us so much that we forget to plan carefully.
I have been a victim to that. Sometime ago I went out with a friend to watch a movie in San Francisco. We didn't know this area very well and we also didn't plan well. We missed a chance to watch the movie at an earlier time and had to wait two hours for the next showing, cool. However, that decision, which was made without thinking it through, caused us to be stranded... in the city... at 12 a.m.! The movie ended late and we started to walk towards the bart train station when we realized that they stop running around twelve. Lo and behold, it's way past twelve and we also got lost trying to find the station. Great. Once we finally found it, the last train had already left, and we had to take the bus, or rather a few buses. Okay, they're still running so it shouldn't be too much of an issue, right? Wrong.
The second bus we were on broke down in another city/area. (Side note: It was one in the morning by then) We had two options at that point. Wait fifteen minutes for another bus and then call an uber home or call one now to take us all the way back. We chose the second option. It was too late and cold and almost two o' clock! Thankfully, we only waited a few minutes before the driver came and took us to home. Now on to some helpful tips so you can avoid our mistake.
Things to remember for an outing: Funds, transportation, directions, and timekeeping.
Depending on age and/or circumstances, you may not have a surplus of funds. What are you buying and how much do you need to bring with you to spend? Carrying emergency money with you is good when spontaneous things happen like our situation. Don't get caught off guard, so budget your money wisely. There are various modes of transportation available like: buses, trains, driving, getting dropped off, walking, and hailing a ride through a taxi or services like uber. So many choices, but which ones are available and the most useful for your outing? Do you know where you're going? Don't spend thirty minutes searching for the venue and miss parts of the event. That's a waste of time when someone could have taken a few minutes beforehand to find a perfect route. Keep watch of the time, please! Stores close. Transportation services close, and streets get dark at night. Don't lose track of time and miss out on a way to go home if you don't have a car or someone to pick you up.
I suggest writing down plans so you can see the inconsistencies in front of you. Use a travel journal or planner. Keep maps and pamphlets of transportation routes with you so you know where to go and what to take. Be smart, and don't get stranded in an unfamiliar area.
*Photo by Logan Popoff on unsplash.com
Why do I write poetry?
It’s a way to express emotions and words that don’t process in my mind through thoughts. I love telling a story in the stanzas and using words to create a picture. It’s like writing fiction, but this has a constant flow to it. A rhythm that beats throughout the poem and I’m not referring to rhyming. Even ones without rhyme still have a constant flow. I can use descriptive words right after another. I don’t have to use punctation. I can have stanzas of three sentences or four or make it into a paragraph. There can be rhyme, some rhyme, or none (free verse). I used to think all poems had to rhyme, but they don’t. I discovered free verse a few years ago and since then it’s been my subconscious first choice when writing a poem.
How do I get inspiration to write?
Most of my poems are not about my experiences. They are my version of a short story. I write topics that can relate to people in that situation. I want my words to touch your heart and mind. These ideas are sometimes inspired by songs I’m listening to at that moment. Maybe a word they used, the tone of their voice, or the tempo of the song can give me words to write. The process feels like I’m listening to something and transcribing it as it’s going. The poems are not planned and outlined. They rush out my brain like a waterfall. Graceful and moving quickly.
What is the writing process?
Keeping up with the words popping up in my head is the difficult part. I make spelling or grammar mistakes and can’t help but fix them before moving on. Sometimes if I’m brave, I’ll skip it. Writing is a grueling, but fun process. Even after everything is written down, I still have to reread the poem to fix errors, re-write or delete some lines, and possibly re-organize the sentences. Rereading is fun because I’m seeing it as a full piece, how all the descriptions fit together, if the flow is there, and how the message is received. So much symbolism, analogies, metaphors, and blunt endings! I love it.
The past two months I have been writing poems in the morning before work. I got an idea to compile them into a poetry book with other old poems that may fit the themes. I’m eager and nervous to do that and share it with everyone. More people deserve to read at least some of my poems.
*Photo by Shuttersnap on Unsplash.com
Self-Care has become a trendy concept nowadays. However, the meaning behind it transcends the trend. Self-care reminds us to redirect our attention to the areas in our lives that are lacking. Some would say it’s more than putting on a face mask and turning on a bath, but we must remember context. Everyone has a different circumstance to deal with. If completing simple hygiene routines is difficult for someone, then putting on a face mask could be an accomplishment for the day.
It’s important to know what works for us and what doesn’t. What is healthy and safe for us and what isn’t. Which environments contribute to our breakdowns and which ones build us up. Take care of yourself, this is your only existence in this world. You are already living this life right now. Take a breather from studying. Sleep in if you can, try to eat even when you don't feel like it, reach out to someone you can trust, try a therapist. Our needs are not frivolous, trivial, or stupid. Our bodies need care. Our minds need care. We need to take ourselves seriously and focus on plans that have positive impacts on our lives. Do what helps you thrive and function. Please don't hold yourself back from progressing and getting better.
*Photo by Suhyeon Choi
Sometimes life throws you a fast ball that curves, slows down, changes direction, then hits you in the forehead. Other times we create messy situations that are difficult to get out of. In either scenario, there are steps to unraveling the complex parts.
Think about how this change fits into your overall plans, your future, your goals. Where will it lead you to? A step in the wrong direction will divert your plans. Stay focused. Let's say you're trying to save money and something comes up to where you need to move cities, states, or even countries. Maybe moving is actually a step towards saving money by living in a more affordable environment. Create a budget and see. Job opportunity in a field that's not your own? Are there skills to gain that can be transferred? Think about the length of time spent at this position, the possible move for a promotion. What about buying a car? Some areas have accessible public transportation or stores that are more accessible to residents than others. For example, the difference between a city and the suburbs. Check your budget and see how it fits into your life financially. Don't get blindsided by transitions and change. Being overprepared is a hundred times better than being underprepared.
Buy a notebook (or use word/google doc) specifically for your future goals and plans. Writing plans down keeps you accountable. When you forget, you can always go back to them later. It's also great to see all the ideas down together and how they might fit or not. When they stay in your head, it's easy to create a fantasy of how plans will pan out. If you are a spiritual person, pray for guidance. Have discussions with people farther in life than you and compare your next steps. Of course, take any suggestion or opinion with a grain of salt. (For advice on how to deal with people's opinions, read my post here). Don't get stuck in a place you don't want to be in.
*Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash
Friends can have a huge positive impact on you… if you choose wisely and if you allow them to. Positive friends can hold you accountable. They can introduce you to new concepts and ways of living. Friends can teach you compassion, forgiveness, and how to enjoy life. They encourage you while you’re down and support you when you need it. Friends are people to talk to or grab lunch with. They can help you create a business plan or tell you a funny joke to brighten up your day. Friends can teach you new ways to communicate or cook a steak.
When you are with your friend(s) you shouldn't feel drained and used. Friends can make you feel welcomed and loved. They should heal you, not misuse you. They should cheer you on. They should be honest. Family doesn't always mean blood relation. Some friends are more of a family member than some people's actual family members. They stick up for you. Friends can even be online or across the ocean. It’s not about how many friends a person has. It’s all about who you can count on at the end of the day.
Sometimes it's difficult to discern when someone has your best interest at mind. Take their advice or not? There is a difference between unwarranted opinions and constructive criticism. Some folks see them as the same thing. It’s not. Ask yourself, does this suggestion help me, or is this person trying to put me down? Everyone feels entitled to their opinion. This is especially true on the internet where it's easy to hide behind a screen. They all think their words are so truthful and helpful. Educating others on concepts are topics they're unfamiliar with is helpful... if it's done without the tone of condescension. Users on social media are hasty with insults and distasteful commentary. They think they are right and no one can or should change their minds. This young woman I watched on YouTube bought a teeth whitening kit because people kept commenting about how yellow her teeth were. First of all, it's natural for teeth to yellow over time due to the enamel wearing off over time (read more about here). Second of all, yellow teeth can be caused by drinks like coffee, not necessarily bad hygiene. Some people like to spew their unwarranted, and unnecessary commentary because they can, not because there is something informative about it. Don't let anyone tell you how to live your life unless it's positive constructive criticism!
*Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash.com
What do you want from life?
Happiness? Money? Love? Stability? Question your motives and tactics. Reach for what you want. You must gain something from what you’re doing. If not, wants the point? Something drives you to continue your degree, work that double shift, or attend that workshop. There is a point to make, a goal to achieve, find that. Everything you do now promotes your future. Even if you make changes to your lifestyle, those changes affect your future too. Experiences can teach you something about yourself, other people, the way society works, or how to overcome obstacles.
Are you following society/culture?
I’m sure millions of kids have parents who have outlined their future. Their mom or dad wants them to go to a specific school, be in a certain profession, and marry the right type of person. It shouldn’t be like this. Not only parents, but the society we live also outlines the path that people should strive for. There are several problems with that idea. One problem is, everyone should have the same outcome. Not everyone can become a doctor. Not everyone can/will want to travel three times a year. Not everyone wants to get married. There is a such thing as individuality for a reason. Every individual must think and act for themselves or else you’re not even living your own life. Like I said in the beginning, question your motives.
What do you hope to gain?
What is the result of your hard work? Going through the motions without having direction is a waste of your potential. It can take years before this question is answerable. You don't always know what you want. Sometimes you look back and realized how much you gained from going to college or doing an internship that taught you valuable skills. Don't sell yourself short. It's possible to set goals and achieve them. It's possible to build that business, get the master's degree, get that promotion, or make a big move to another state.
I hope these questions jogged your brain and made you re-think your actions. Stay tuned for more!
*Photo by Jason Leung on unsplash.com
Having a list of things to get done within a week gives you space and time to do them. This way, you don’t overwhelm yourself with ten activities to complete within a day. Do work while you are uninspired or tired. It may not be ideal, but it’s not impossible. This is nice advice and all, but some days it’s not helpful. In this capitalist society, we feel accomplished and proud of ourselves when we’re “being productive” getting things done and making money. Always working, working, working. Why don’t we pride ourselves on health? Taking care of our bodies and our environment? We should pride ourselves on creating open spaces for people to speak on issues that are considered taboo, like mental health. Why is it okay to grind ourselves into the dirt for the sake of “being productive”? Taking breaks to focus on well-being should be encouraged, not frowned upon. You need energy to keep going.
There are some days when I don’t have energy to do something and that’s okay. It means I need to think about where that lack of energy is stemming from. It could be lack of sleep, or simply lack of motivation. You will never stop having things to do. I wish society cared more about the well-being of others, instead of seeing them as robots that never tire.
When I begin to feel overwhelmed with work, I turn to my faith to remind me of why I’m doing this. Following society can be a dangerous thing. The more you allow others to dictate your life, the less of life you get to live. Now, you can’t even be yourself. That’s unacceptable. My faith in God gives me the direction I need to stay on so distractions like social media or people’s opinions don’t sway me on the wrong path. On that note, Let’s work on uplifting and respecting others. Stop treating fast food service like your personal servants. Stop judging and insulting strangers on Facebook. Focus on what’s important, like taking care of yourself, because there are institutions and individuals who couldn’t care less about you. Go ahead and achieve those goals, but don't let them define you.
Want to share something?
Leave a comment below!