P is for Picture, #AtoZChallenge

I wanted to explain the picture I used in my last post, O is for One Perfect Moment, #AtoZChallenge.

Goodbye

I went home for Christmas this winter thinking it would be the last time I saw my mom. My flight back to California was ridiculously early so I had to say goodbye the night before. I asked my dad to tell me when it was time to say goodnight and he let me know when Mom was finally ready to go to bed. I went to her and tried to stay really happy and positive, giving her a hug and saying goodnight. It was quick because I didn’t want to think too hard about the situation, but as soon as I left the room I realized I forgot to tell her I loved her.

I had to go back in, I knew I needed to tell her in person because it might be the last opportunity I got to do so. My sister came in after and while I was hugging my mom on one side, my dad hugged her on the other side and she took this perfect picture. In it we all have genuine smiles. We are holding onto each other and although the practical reason is we have to hold on to Mom to help her keep her balance, in the picture it just looks like a warm embrace (which it also was). When I look at the picture I can’t tell my mom has Alzheimer’s. I see happiness, love, family. That’s why I was inspired to write the poem that I did.

I don’t like to talk about perfection, because I think it’s generally an unobtainable and unrealistic goal. I see this picture though, and it really is one perfect moment.

O is for One Perfect Moment, #AtoZChallenge

after the hourglass has filled

with time-worn sand

turned dusty and coarse

after the air has settled

still and stagnate

after the weight

of disintegrated decay

that plagued the mind

after the realization

that change is inevitable

after the faces

streaked with saline

after the anger

hot and unbridled

after denial

after rage

after acceptance

afterafterafter

after everything

comes one perfect moment.

Goodbye

Then, after comes….

 

 

N is for Nuisance, #AtoZChallenge

I am the fly buzzing in your ear,

flitting this way and that,

just out of reach of your

frantically waving hands.

 

I am the parched, cracked sponge,

caked with gummy grime

and specks of ancient food.

 

I am the lip in the sidewalk

that thrusts from the earth,

uneven and begging

for your foot to make contact.

 

I am the nail in your tire,

letting your air escape

in a slow hissssss

until your tire sinks,

drooping against the pavement

as I proudly perch in my new home.

 

I am the haunting whisper in your head

that calmly reminds you,

“You aren’t good enough.

You can’t do this.

You are flawed beyond repair.”

 

I am nagging dread.

I am lingering doubt.

I am creeping fear.

I am persistent anxiety.

 

I am constant, unrelenting,

but you have a choice.

 

What will you do with me?

M is for Make Mistakes, #AtoZChallenge

Whenever one of my music students makes a mistake and apologizes for it, I tell them don’t apologize for learning. Making mistakes teaches us what not to do so that we learn what we really should be doing. This doesn’t just apply to playing music, it carries throughout our lives.

Nobody likes the feeling of when they mess up, but if we could change our perspectives around mistakes I’m sure we’d do a better job managing regret.

I’m not saying I’ve mastered this concept, but I’m working on it.

One of my 5th grade classes is working on the song Try Everything by Shakira for their Spring Concert. It was featured in the movie Zootopia. I love the lyrics of this song because the message is saying it’s okay to fail as long as you keep trying. One of the lines is actually “I’ll keep on making those new mistakes, I’ll keep on making them everyday”. This is said as a positive!

I still am very hard on myself when I make mistakes, but I’m getting better at putting it back into perspective.

 

What is your perspective on making mistakes? How do you deal with them?

L is for L’appel Du Vide, #AtoZChallenge

I don’t remember where I learned this phrase from, but I found it fascinating that such a phrase exists. The definition from Wikipedia is this: “L’appel du vide, literally “the call of the void”, is a French phrase used to refer to intrusive thoughts, or the urge to engage in destructive behaviors during everyday life. Examples include thinking about swerving in to the opposite lane while driving, or feeling the urge to jump off a cliff edge while standing on it.”

I tried to make a poem to capture this phrase’s meaning, but I found it really difficult! Here’s my attempt:

 

L’appel Du Vide

This is it.

This, this is the moment.

The moment you look down.

You look down and see,

See an escape beckoning

From high above.

 

On the perch of a cliff

The world seems quiet.

So quiet thoughts

Sneak in on silent haunches,

Padding by common sense.

 

Look down, down,

Down into the abyss.

Imagine the fall,

Tumbling over and over,

Wind rushing by,

And this strange silence

That pervades your senses-

This moment of clarity.

K is for Kindness, #AtoZChallenge

Kindness is definitely not a flaw. It’s just hard to think of words that start with K. Of course there have been times when I’ve been told I’m “too nice” like that’s a bad thing. Which begs the question: Is being too nice a bad thing?

When can kindness get you in trouble?

My theme should have been “I ask readers a bunch of questions about basic personality traits people typically don’t think twice about.”

One of the biggest times this dilemma has crossed my mind has been in teaching. Many times I am told I’m too nice as a teacher and this leads to classroom management being difficult. Objectively I can see this happening, but then I also see how my students react to me. I think it’s important for children to be able to trust adults and know they are cared for. That is probably my main goal over teaching music, although I think that is super important too. When I get “firm” or “strict” I know I am being “fair”, but I don’t like the way it makes me feel. I just can’t seem to always find a balance. I don’t want to change my personality of always being kind and helpful, but sometimes I’m forced to in the classroom so things run smoothly.

I think this is my biggest doubt of whether I am a good teacher.

I love my job, but I also think it is one of the hardest jobs someone can choose. I need to find the balance between being kind and not being too passive.

Until then, I will lead with kindness. I will always try to be understanding and compassionate. I will keep an open-mind to accept people from all different walks of life. I will risk the struggles and criticism that come with being “too nice” until I find that balance. If life has taught me anything, it’s that I’m much better at dealing with my own pain than handling knowing I’ve hurt somebody else.

 

 

J is for Jokes, #AtoZChallenge

Sometimes I try to be funny. I like to think I’m good at making people laugh, but who doesn’t??

My sense of humor can be dark, satirical, biting, and sometimes I’m just plain silly.

We started these top ten lists in high school. They weren’t meant to be funny or sarcastic, but of course I made it that way. So here’s an example of the jokes I make. May it make you laugh or at least chance a flicker of movement in your lips that somewhat resembles a smile.

 

Top Ten Reasons People Welcome Global Warming:

  1. “Pale” went out of style fifty years ago.
  2. Boots are no longer made for snow-wear.
  3. Bathing suits are cheaper than winter jackets.
  4. Heat is expensive.
  5. Frost bite is more serious than global flooding.
  6. We’ve already invented life vests.
  7. Titanic fans run a very convincing anti-glacier campaign.
  8. Skin cancer is curable.
  9. The human race is indestructible.
  10. If Earth is destroyed we could totally move to Mars or something.

I is for I’ve Done This Before, #AtoZChallenge

I’ve done this before-

Watched a cold sunrise

In the darkest blue

That matched your eyes.

 

The grey dawn rose

With mist seeping through.

Stood tall with skin drenched in thought,

Stood small when I thought of you.

 

I’ve seen this before-

Decay in evening sky,

Sunlight dying with a soft glow,

The moon was your reply.

 

Night came creeping in

To replace a faded day.

It seemed light was useless,

But that was always your way.

 

I’ve felt this before-

Pressure breathing hot.

At first I thought I recognized,

But now I realize I forgot.

 

A stranger’s face blurred my sight,

Lifted my hands to match the stars.

You shined so bright I couldn’t see your heart.

No, I couldn’t find the light without some dark.

 

I’ve been here before-

In an unfamiliar place.

I thought I’d be with you,

But you’ve grown that stranger’s face.

 

I won’t cry anymore,

And I’ll take back my blame,

Because we’ve both changed so much

Still expecting to be the same.

 

I’ve done this before-

Watched a cold sunrise

In the darkest blue

That matched your eyes.

H is for Hope, #AtoZChallenge

Is hope a flaw? An unfortunate quirk of human nature? Or is hope a positive quality to have? I tend to think of it as both.

I think the benefits of hope are somewhat obvious. It can provide motivation, fuel ambition, and make you look forward to the future. The seemingly endless amount of hope I have is one of the reasons I can be so driven to do things that I may not even have business doing.

For example, next year I will be starting grad school and I have taken on two majors: Creative Writing and African Music and Dance. I already submitted my final thesis proposal, a collection of books on Ghanaian culture and music, which will require copious amounts of time dedicated to research and writing. This doesn’t even include the actual coursework I need to do for both programs. On top of this, I still plan to keep my current jobs, although one is seasonal and the others I will be forced to cut down my hours. How am I thinking this is at all possible??? Because I am endlessly hopeful. I believe in myself when it comes to things like being busy and hard work. In the midst of it I may get discouraged, but I always seem to finish what I start. This is the positive power of hope.

I think the downside of hope may be a little less apparent. For example, hoping someone will change so you stay in that relationship, be it friendship or otherwise, and end up getting used and hurt. Or hoping that THIS time will be different, for whatever the circumstance, even if logic and reasoning tells you otherwise.

There have definitely been times where my hope has gotten me in trouble or been the reason for heartache, but it still remains one of my biggest motivators in life. I’ll gladly risk having moments of pain to remain always hoping for good to prevail.

G is for Grown-up, #AtoZChallenge

All I wanted was to paint my pain

With forced brush strokes across

A gleaming canvas.

To let it sparkle like

The sinister Cheshire Cat grin,

With teeth short and blunt.

Nothing like my own

Sharp canines

That rip and tear,

Salacious shreds fluttering from

My gaping maw.

I would use thick oil paints,

Stacking them layer by layer

So you’d have to dig away

To get to the vulnerable truth.

All I wanted was for someone

To see my artistry and understand.

Past the pretentious philandering,

Past the obnoxious pleas

Of obvious words that read too loud,

Too blatant, too bold.

Subtlety was never my specialty.

It’s passivity or aggression.

I hid for so long,

A lost child – never made it

Out of the blanket fort.

I opted for false comfort

In the company of feathers and cotton,

Soft fabrics that could cradle my head

And soak up hot tears

That leaked endlessly from

Sunken eyes.

Now I’m all grown up,

Or, I have grown

My anxieties and frustrations.

They are adult sized

In this kid fortress of my brain.

Now it’s time to let them out,

The pent up problems

Of a first world child

Who misunderstood the world.

Because being taught morality

Is not the same as living it.