Monthly Archives: November 2013

Beautiful Words

Since I am in a haiku mood, I thought I would write a cycle called “What is beauty.” It took me a while to write this, and since it is late, I ask that you grant me a reprieve for anything you find particularly egregious. Thanks for reading.

What is Beauty?

Is it a social construct

or open for change?

 

Beauty is not on

the outside but within you.

Embrace what’s inside.

 

It is not defined

by someone else from outside

it’s up for debate.

 

Beautiful is not

new or pretty or showy

it is heart and mind

 

Beauty is thinking

It is moving to action

love epitomized

 

It is in small things

like roses, smiles, and hugs; moments.

little ideas

 

Big dreams, successes,

failures, and in between, all

can be beautiful.

 

I tell you all this:

If you think that you’re ugly

you are wildly wrong.

 

You are beautiful

Just as everyone else is.

Embrace confidence.

 

Find someone who loves

you for who you really are.

Not for an ideal.

 

When you find people

that you want to spend moments

with; make memories.

 

You will then see what

beauty truly is, and that

is no lie; truly.

 

Beauty is no joke.

It is not a thing messed with.

Beauty is our dream.

 

We desire beauty

like milk, keeping us awake

at night, pushing us.

 

So we go on; restless

wanderers in faithless chase

after an ideal.

 

Beauty lies within

the sacrifice of a Dad

who sent baby Boy

 

To die hard for us,

a lamb to the slaughterhouse

all for salvation.

 

That is the beauty

we seek. A life with the Son

who came to save US.

 

Young Carpenter, hung

on a wooden stake for me.

Because of His love.

 

So I sit in my

ineptitude; pondering

the grace that abounds.

 

This is beauty also.

The love of a father, too

great to comprehend.

 

I guess beauty lies

in all things, big and small; we

just have to find it.

 

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My Entry for the Creative Writing Challenge

Well, I saw a haiku contest, and I wanted to enter. It is as simple as that. I will post all five haikus here at once, and hopefully they will be rather good! I call this “Haikus on a rainy Monday.” I will post a link below for anyone else interested in the little game.

Here we go!

1. I wake up

I wake up sad; angry.

It is snowing out my window

And I still have class.

 

2. Time to get ready

I get out of bed

And throw some pants on, I’m rushed.

I don’t want to leave.

 

3. Class

British Lit, why not?

Sense and Sensibility

My mind; worn to mush.

 

4. Work

I sit at my desk

Pondering mysteries of

Blogging or sleeping.

 

5. Bed again

Sweet sleep, so far gone

Time to catch up with you now.

Close my eyes sweetly.

They may not be great, but it’s a start! Hopefully you will be able to get your creative juices flowing. Here’s a link! http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/challenge-haiku/

The Miracle of Successful Time Management (and why I am Living on a Prayer).

Well, I have to be honest. I am bad with my time. This week in particular, I have really struggled with productivity, especially when it comes to doing homework and writing papers. I’m learning again, as I always do at this time in the semester, that time management is paramount to success as a student or even more broadly, as a human being. These are the proverbial “Dog Days” of the semester, when students decide to put down Hemingway and pick up a new series on Netflix. Every college student has felt this at one time or another, and that is almost a proven problem. In my case, my time management issue comes in my literature classes (I love these classes, and the material is fantastic. Just not staying on track very well. lol). Instead of writing papers or reading my assigned book, I’ve been killing time on Facebook, and distracting myself with anything within reach. This has not inhibited me greatly, but it will if I am not careful (I learned this lesson last year, so I am taking precautionary measures). All of this rambling aside, I am going to give you all a few ideas for battling boredom and staying on track (in a collegiate context. When I learn about adult life, I’ll blog about it too). Here they are!

(Another disclaimer before I begin this list: I understand that in the previous paragraph I mentioned my issues with time-management. I am no authority, but every pointer I am putting up here will be applied in my life at some point in the semester. Just food for thought – not the golden rules.)

 

1. You don’t have to overschedule in order to succeed.

I find that there is a healthy balance between overzealously blocking out every single minute and not keeping a planner at all. I think that if you were to keep and check a planner, you would be more effective, but you must also allow time for flexibility. As a college student especially, campus activities will take up time on a pretty consistent basis. These events are scheduled in a seemingly arbitrary way, so if you want to remain involved on campus, you must allow a little bit of wiggle room in your schedule. No need at all to be blocked up down to every minute of every day. Living that way makes life a pain.

2. Do NOT get over-involved. Just don’t do it.

I know this sounds really weird, coming from a guy who at one time was in a campus activities committee, working two different jobs, and taking twenty hours in a semester. Trust me. Getting involved is great, but it comes at a cost: time. I would submit that in order to enjoy college more, you must at least go to events put on by campus committees. You know the activities fee in your tuition costs? Yeah. You are already paying for it, just go get involved. It is a waste of money to not show up to events. My warning for you comes connected with the idea of involvement: if you do too much, you will burn out. Guaranteed. It is incredibly difficult to stay on track with homework and work (two things that are kind of important…) if you are busy at the Pizza Hodown or Shaving Cream Slip ‘n’ Slide (ficticious events). Again – involvement good, over-involvement, bad.

3. Make time for the things and people you love. After your homework is done.

I sound like your dad. I’m sorry. Seriously though, make your degree your priority. The frat boy can finish school by the skin of his teeth, saying that he networked like crazy, but friends does not a good person make. The key to success in this area of time management is a balance between social activity and academic focus. These sides can intermingle, but as long as they are somewhat evenly balanced, success should be at least a little easier. It may sound weird that I think homework should come first, but as I’ve done all the college nights out (stay at McDonalds till 4 A.M., IHOP till about the same time, etc.), I can say from experience that too much social activity hurts grades, and too much studying hurts social skills. It is good to come out of college a well-rounded student. Not someone who wasted time on any one thing.

I am not an authority. At all. I hope that these are only a short list of some pretty wonderful ideas for living a little more efficiently, and if you feel I am either off-base or lacking in my ideas, submit more! I’m always in need of more blog ideas. Just a few thoughts for you, from a college kid who is still on his way around the block. Love y’all. Keep readin’.

 

 

 

 

 

The  challenge of work-life balance is without question one of the most significant  struggles faced by modern man.
Stephen Covey

My Lady, My Main Squeeze, My Good Ole’ Southern Belle.

Well, today is pretty special. My girlfriend, who I love so dearly, has successfully tolerated me for three years. Three whole years! Isn’t that pretty wonderful? She still loves me…unbelievable. Today, I am posting what is essentially a shout-out to her: I am going to tell you three reasons why I like her, and then show you guys all a poem I wrote about her (for what it’s worth, I am waiting to know if it will be published – would add to the excitement). Here we go!

1. Tori loves Jesus way more than she’ll ever love me, and that is great. I firmly believe that the way to grow closest to your significant other is by pursuing God together, so Tori has provided me a challenge, being someone who holds me accountable, someone who helps me to see what I need to see in order to become a more Godly young man. 

2. Tori isn’t afraid to laugh at my jokes. For gosh sake, couples are so boring! People love each other madly, but don’t seem to have any sense of humor sometimes. They look like they have lost interest in each other. Tori, whether fake or not, laughs at my jokes, and I laugh at hers. We both find each other fascinating, and I pray that never ends. Humor is enormously important to success in our relationship!

3. Tori loves Jesus, but also loves me. I cannot understate how wonderful it feels to have someone who desires to spend time with you. It really is great. You could say our love is sweet like poetry…heh heh. 

 

I love her, as you can tell! Here is the poem:

 

Beautiful blonde girl sitting across the table from me,

Deep blue eyes staring into mine.

She holds my hands and we tell wonderful stories,

Another night

Where she is looking divine.

I love her

I think of her all the time

The way she loves, the way she can make a moment out of a subtle

Pause-

She gets me so excited that sometimes I forget how to rhyme.

She means the world to me but I don’t think she’ll understand the gravity

of it all.

Her red like roses lips, her diamond-shiny smile, how she walks about effortlessly.

The way she laughs: not loud, not too soft…just as it should be.

A cacophony of melodies singing straight from her beautiful

soul.

This girl, she’s perfect.

Perfectly passionate about those less fortunate,

About a God who provides,

One whose love she reflects like the moon does the sun.

From the moment I saw her five years ago, I knew

She was the

One.

She is also perfectly

Imperfect.

Not afraid to admit flaw or failure,

And

always ready to embrace mine

And that’s why I love her above all else on this Earth.

She is wonderful, and just what I need.

And best of all

 

 

She loves me

 

 

 

 

 

Happy 3 year Tori!

My First Published Paper…Exciting, Eh?

Well, for the first time, I am a published author! Kind of. I got the opportunity to submit a cultural reflection essay for publication on the ECU Literary Blog, and they liked it, so it is now on the page! I am so happy, and God receives all of the glory for this experience. I thought I might post it on here, in order for you to see what you think. This is a paper all about me, and what makes me who I am. I hope you can relate to some of the ideas in this work. This started as an assignment in Ethnic Literature, so some of these references are from our textbook. I found this paper pretty therapeutic, so I hope you all appreciate it. Have a wonderful day, folks. 

Here it is: 

                                                                     Why Being Lost is Okay: My Story

     To be totally honest, I am really not sure who I am, or why I am here. As I thought through ideas for this reflection paper, I was thrust into a great existential crisis of sorts. I don’t really know who I am or where I am from, so naturally, reflecting on my ethnic origins would be difficult. As far as I know, I am of both Eastern European and Choctaw descent, with a little bit of Nova Scotian thrown in for good measure. My family has been in America for a couple hundred years, since before the Civil War, so a lot of my Non-American ancestors lie so deep in my lineage that they are really untraceable. My seeming ignorance of my heritage was brought forward as this assignment was put before me, and I am sad that I didn’t contemplate what makes me who I am a little earlier on in life. As a part of this reflection, I decided to think over some family traditions that have shaped my upbringing, some major ideas that have helped me grow into the man I am today, and some beliefs I held that being in a diverse area have challenged greatly. I have learned a great amount about myself and my “culture” in the last few weeks, and I hope to make my life more transparent in the next few pages.

     In order to better understand who I am today as a nineteen year old college student, you must first understand some of the traditions and beliefs that my family adheres to. We are a family that believes strongly in the Christian faith, each and every one of us pursuing Jesus and a life full of love for Him and others. Normally, I imagine that my personal beliefs wouldn’t be very well accepted in a paper, but as this is telling you about who I am, I feel it most important to tell you who I care about the most. I have been a Christ follower for over ten years, so naturally my love for Jesus and other people really has a great influence on my life. I have really been battling recently with what I believe and how I believe it, but I really do feel like Christian faith, if expressed in love, really is a beautiful belief. If I didn’t pursue my theological beliefs like I do, I would be unsure of what to do with myself. I also have struggled recently with the idea of acceptance and love, in terms of religious v. non-religious. I am learning that people sometimes are all-too-critical of others, when they themselves are not living in an honorable way. People who are religious are okay, and people who are not religious are okay. There really are not many differences between these groups of individuals.

     As we begin to understand the faith that holds my family together, we can take a look at a few family traditions that are linked to this core set of beliefs. The first and most important tradition that our family tries to hold to is the idea that a family who goes to church together stays together. My dad is a minister, so I have been in church since I was in my mother’s womb…literally. We try to go as often to the local church as possible, in order to recharge and refocus for the week to come. Church is much more than a social event for my family; it is an opportunity to grow together as a unit and to study the God we pursue so intently. I firmly believe that without church, our family wouldn’t be as close as it is. Church is the common thread that ties our family together, and it is vitally important to who I am as a human being.

     Another major set of traditions come in the form of holiday celebrations. Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, or any other major holiday, my immediate family and I always try to celebrate together. We believe that family unity is incredibly vital to success in life, and little things like dinner together and family moments really contribute to growth and successful maturation in each and every one of us. Our family is very strongly focused on unity and oneness, and I think my childhood and youth have been better for that fact. We have faced numerous hardships, but through it all, we have each other. That is all that matters.

     After understanding a little more about my upbringing, I think it is fair to set the focus squarely on myself and who I am. It sounds a little self-centered, but this paper is about me, so we will move on. I think understanding who I am comes down to seeing three key lessons learned in my life: first, everyone has a different story, so learn to listen before you speak, second, if an older person has something to tell you, listen; it may profound, and lastly, love is not something to be trifled with.

     Throughout my life, I have come into contact with many people of many different ethnicities, genders, and beliefs. These people all have lived different lives, yet, sometimes I would struggle with projecting their problems onto my culture, which did not help them solve those problems. As I have grown up, I’ve learned that listening and being appreciative of someone and their plight can be the best way to help them solve a problem. My intricacies are not the same as my neighbor’s, or my brother across the globe. If I were to take a more open perspective in looking at them and their lives, I feel like I would learn better how to act around them and interact with them, thereby making things easier for both parties. This lesson was hard for me to learn, having not really been exposed to the idea until my teens.

     In Robert Hayden’s poem Those Winter Sundays, our speaker is reflecting back on his time in the house with his father, and how he seemed to regret treating him rather poorly. In the last stanza he says:

 

…Speaking indifferently to him,

who had driven out the cold

             and polished my good shoes as well.

           What did I know, what did I know

                                  of love’s austere and lonely offices? (lines 10-14)

 

 

     Hayden seems to express in this poem the lesson that I have been learning since I arrived on my first college campus: parents know more than we think they know. My parents have been trying to instill some ideals and lessons in me ever since I could understand, but as most teens do, I resisted or rejected some of the ideas they tried to teach me. As I have grown into young adulthood, I’ve come to the sad realization that my parents were right in just about every situation where we butted heads. As times change, so do our understandings of different concepts and lessons that we learn. Hindsight really is 20/20 (forgive me for use of cliché, but it is true), and as I look back on my parents’ and grandparents’ teaching points, I see a lot of lessons and character ideas that have proved to be true in many ways.

     As for love, I don’t feel like anyone truly understands the depth of meaning held in those four letters. Love can fit in many different contexts, whether it’s family love, the love of a friend, or the love of a significant other. The relevance of love became more important to me recently, due to the fact that my parents’ relationship became very strained a few months ago. Some bad news came, and all in one week, I nearly lost both parents because of it. The depths of love were really tested as they worked through recovering from this issue, and so now I take the word love very seriously. I feel as if people throw it around flippantly, talking about how they “love that burger” or how they “love this movie.” I feel as if people have lost track of the meaning of love, and I hope that someday soon, they will learn why love is both wonderful and vital to life as we know it. This lesson, along with the two previously discussed, has had a great impact on my life, and how I have become the man I am today.

     The final area of life that has really influenced me comes down to some of my understandings of culture that have been greatly challenged. I grew up in a home of white Americans, in suburbs full of white Americans. My first exposure to diversity really didn’t occur until elementary school, when I was going to a school in the middle of the longest running desegregation in history. I was in a place where people were forcing themselves to love others of different colors and beliefs, and I do firmly believe that that experience distorted my understanding of race relations and interaction. As I grew up, I saw people who feigned love for others, only to hate them behind their backs, all because of the color of their skin. I had to learn from my family and others that true love for another individual comes from within, and that it has no skin color. I did not have any preconceived notions of how to handle people of other cultures, I was just taught to love and love unconditionally. This lesson came after leaving Louisiana, and I am so glad I was able to learn it. Another part of that lesson was coming to the understanding that racism is still alive and well in a lot of areas in America. As it turns out, we really never were truly free from the plague of hate and race frustration. I hope that lessons I’ve learned will hit others as they have hit me, hopefully helping them to understand how good it feels to love truly and compassionately.

     The idea of loving people and embracing diversity was only confirmed and empowered by my trips abroad to London and the Dominican Republic. In those places I saw a lot of elements of life that were similar to American culture, whether it be class differences, or just the way people interacted. People in other countries were very similar to the people I met here, which really caused me to think even harder about how I imagined other cultures and how the media portrays those cultures. I have really learned to embrace diversity and to appreciate people of other beliefs and upbringings, because without them, the Earth would not be what it is today. We are a diverse planet, and the perspective of the whole can really change the living dynamic of the few.

     Well, this is me. This is the reality I face: I am an American who doesn’t really know where I come from, or why I am here. I am a conglomeration; a mixing of hundreds of people and thousands of beliefs. Sure, I’m a little bit out of sorts, maybe even lost, but I know who I am. I am a man, almost twenty years old, seeking to understand my roots, and why I am who I am. I am living the only way I know how: passionately. I will pursue things that may seem out of the ordinary, only just to see if they are worth trying. I am myself, and confident in that fact. As I am writing, I am progressively feeling more confident in the identity that I am assuming, and why I am where I am at this time. My identity isn’t something that I will allow my culture to throw on to me, it is a set of beliefs and characteristics that I will choose for myself. Part of this identity will come from an acknowledgement of my past; the time of reflection that I took to write this paper has helped me tremendously in understanding some of the basic building blocks in my life, along with the reminder of why they were the chosen building blocks in the first place. This paper proved to be a sort of throwback for me, like in Mixed Blood by Phillip Carroll Morgan, when the speaker states that the back roads cause him to feel like he is “slowly changing/ from white man to indian/ like eroding wood” (lines 43-45). I did not change ethnicities as I wrote this paper, but I felt an odd sort of empathy with the speaker of this poem, as if he and I were feeling some of the same ideals. I felt a sudden connection to my roots, a sudden transformation, perhaps to what my family was, to who I am, and to what I belong to. I feel closer to understanding who I am than I ever thought I would be, and remembering where I came from has been great for helping me to understand where I need to go. In contrast to Natasha Tretheway’s poem Flounder, where the speaker feels an inner conflict stemming from her mixed-race, saying “I stood there watching that fish flip-flop,/ switch sides with every jump” (lines 27-28), I feel fully confident in who I am and what made me who I came to be. I have learned to respect others, love unconditionally, and listen before speaking. I have learned that the best way to help someone through an issue is to love them through it, and I have learned that the best hope in my life comes from Jesus Christ and Him alone. My hope is that people would see my life and find in it examples of how to love people and show great compassion, and maybe that example will spur them on to action. Maybe, as in my life, people will start loving each other and the world will see exactly what it claims to desire, change in the hearts of each and every individual. Maybe people will understand what true brotherhood really means. Maybe people will realize that being lost is okay, as long as we do it together.

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

Hayden, Robert. “Those Winter Sundays.” reprinted in Poetry: An Introduction 6th edition.

     Edited by Michael Meyer. Boston: Bedford/St. Marin’s, 2010, p. 21

 

Morgan, Phillip Carroll. “Mixed Blood.” The Fork-in-the-road Indian Poetry Store. Cambridge,

     England: Salt, 2006. N. pag. Print.

 

Tretheway, Natasha D., and Rita Dove. “Flounder.” Domestic Work: Poems. St. Paul, MN:

     Graywolf, 2000. N. pag. Print.