Happy International Day of Persons With Disabilities

December 3 is International Day of Persons With Disabilities. Many people with mental disorders qualify as being disabled. Severe mental illness can make it impossible to hold a job, drive a car, attend to personal hygiene, maintain a household, go shopping, or do many of the necessary activities of daily living that most take for granted. And yet many do not believe that those with diagnosed mental disorders should receive any governmental assistance. It can be a lot easier to have empathy and understanding for someone whose disability is visible, such as someone in a wheelchair, missing a limb, or someone with Down’s syndrome. I have written a poem on the topic I’d like to share with you here.

Invisible Disability

It’s waging a war fought by just one,

Sustaining hits to which no one else is

subjected,

And coming away with shrapnel

unsearchable by physical means,

While others deny a war is taking place,

Yet finding yourself on its front lines,

Without armor, unprotected, lacking well-

wishes of love and healing,

Hiding in public,

Camouflaging in plain sight,

Yet still the main target,

Required to fight,

Even while returns continue to diminish,

A losing battle.

In Defense of Poetry

Poetry is a rather controversial form of written art. People tend to either love or hate it. Many who hate it believe it to be stuffy, boring, pretentious, saccharine, or confusing. Too short or too long. Too wordy or not wordy enough. Many feel this literary genre should have been left in a bygone era. Granted, poetry has been around since ancient times to show emotion, convey beliefs, and relate events. However, it also has an important place in today’s world, perhaps moreso now than ever. Personally, I love both reading and writing poetry and will attempt a defense of this classic literary form in this post.

Poetry can be free flowing or adhere to certain rules. This allows structure and rhythm to be offered where needed or wanted, such as in William Wordsworth’s “Daffodils”. However, free verse doesn’t require rhyming, a specific meter, or a certain number of syllables per line, which allows for more freedom and creativity. An example is Anamika’s “Vandal”.

Poetry can have an overt point or be mysterious as to object or meaning. It can be literal or symbolic. Abstract or obvious. Compare E.E. Cummings’ “So Comes Love” with John Donne’s “The Good-Morrow”.

It can be light and playful or dark and somber. Compare “Skipping Stones” by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater with Khalil Gibran’s “On Pain”.

It can make you question your choices or stances or attempt to convince you of something. Compare Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” with Charles Bukowski’s “The Laughing Heart”.

Poetry allows a message to be conveyed beautifully and creatively, similar to music. It is rhythmic and soothing and flowing. While it has the ability to teach a lesson or stir the conscience, it does so gently and graciously. Poems, such as Beowulf, can tell a story or can make a political statement. Take, for example, Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Howl” or “On the Steps of the Jefferson Memorial” by Linda Pastan.

Although poetry, as mentioned, is usually shorter than prose, it can also be as long as many prose stories. The Iliad and the Odyssey are two famous examples of long, epic/narrative poetry.

Poetry allows for a large impact in a condensed form, unlike prose. Prose can take a long time to make a point or to have an impact. Poetry packs a big punch in a small package (and there’s my mixed metaphor for the day). Lang Leav’s “A Way Out” beautifully demonstrates this.

Poetry is therapeutic. It asks self-reflection of both the reader and the writer. It touches the soul in a way other art forms cannot. It allows the emotional release and overwroughtness that people often feel uncomfortable even reading, let alone writing about or showing. Examples are Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art” and Charles Bukowski’s “Raw With Love”.

Poetry requires great care to be taken with word usage. A poet’s choice of words can change the flow, meaning, or style of a poem. In poetry, how something is said is every bit as important as what is said and who is saying it.

Poetry can also be read aloud in what is termed “slam poetry” or “spoken word poetry”, where the poet recites their poem in front of an audience. Tone of voice and inflection bring the poem to life and make it seem more accessible and relatable. Two of my favorite spoken word poems are Edwin Bodney’s “When a Boy Tells You He Loves You” and Lily Myers’ “Shrinking Women”, both of which can be found on Button Poetry’s YouTube channel.

To close, for anyone still on the fence as to the worthwhileness of poetry, allow me to offer some recommendations for your perusal. Some of my favorite poets are Emily Dickinson, John Donne, Charles Bukowski, Sylvia Plath, John Keats, Walt Whitman, Robert Frost, Maya Angelou, E.E. Cummings, and Edgar Allan Poe. If you’re still unsure, try attending a slam poetry contest or writing some of your own.

I happen to be a self-published poet. For anybody interested, you can find my book of poetry, available in paperback and on Kindle, here: https://www.amazon.com/Loves-Contradictions-Poetry-Shirley-Anne/dp/1517780349

I’m Officially a (Self) Published Poet

I recently published a collection of some of my poetry. This is something I’ve meant to do for a long time and am excited to have finally accomplished it. I see myself publishing more in the future, as well as possibly some short stories. You can find my new book here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1517780349/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=love%27s+contradictions%3A+a+book+of+poetry&qid=1568769366&s=books&sr=1-4

More of My Favorite Quotes

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
       We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
       We wear the mask! ~ Paul Laurence Dunbar

Quiet people have the loudest minds. ~Stephen Hawking

We ascribe beauty to that which is simple, which has no superfluous parts, which exactly answers its end, which stands related to all things, which is the mean of many extremes. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge”. ~Isaac Asimov

Drink from the well of yourself and begin again. ~ Charles Bukowski

You begin saving the world by saving one person at a time. All else is grandiose romanticism or politics. ~Charles Bukowski

The less I needed, the better I felt. ~Charles Bukowski

People empty me. I have to get away to refill. ~Charles Bukowski

The area dividing the brain and the soul is affected in many ways by experience — some lose all mind and become soul: insane, some lose all soul and become mind: intellectual, some lose both and become: accepted.

~ Charles Bukowski

I had three pieces of limestone on my desk, but I was terrified to find that they required to be dusted daily, when the furniture of my mind was all undusted still, and threw them out the window in disgust.

~ Henry David Thoreau

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms. ~Henry David Thoreau

A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone. ~Henry David Thoreau

Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life. ~Robin Sharma

What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic. ~Carl Sagan

I saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page and I could do anything I wanted. ~Jack Kerouac

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. ~Franz Kafka

In case you ever foolishly forget, I am never not thinking of you. ~Virginia Woolf

The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages. ~Virginia Woolf

I don’t think anyone can grow unless he’s loved exactly as he is now, appreciated for what he is rather than what he will be. ~ Mr. Rogers

You rarely have time for everything you want in this life, so you need to make choices. And hopefully your choices can come from a deep sense of who you are. ~ Mr. Rogers

My Favorite Quotes

Here I have compiled some of my favorite quotes. Some of them are from books I’ve read. Some of them are in prose form, some poetry. Some of them are from favorite authors of mine, others from authors with whom I’m not incredibly familiar. Some from popular authors, others from authors not well-known. Some of them I’ve come across randomly, others I’ve sought out. They inspire me in some way or are just beautiful passages. I begin with my favorite author, Shirley Jackson.

No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality. Even katydids are supposed, by some, to dream.

~Shirley Jackson

I know something about this obsession business. It isn’t real. It is a huge cloud of looming nothingness triggered off by small events. But it is not real. I am the captain of my fate. Laughter is possible. ~Shirley Jackson

‘Can’t you make them stop?’ I asked her that day, wondering if there was anything in this woman I could speak to, if she had ever run joyfully over grass, or had watched flowers, or known delight or love. ~Shirley Jackson

When shall we live if not now? ~Shirley Jackson

So long as you write it away regularly, nothing can really hurt you.

~Shirley Jackson

Time is the only critic without ambition. ~John Steinbeck

The power is in you. The answer is in you. And you are the answer to all your searches. You are the goal. You are the answer. It’s never outside.

~Eckhart Tolle

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.

~Marcus Tullius Cicero

Love takes off the masks we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. ~James Baldwin

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

If I read a book and it makes my body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry. ~Emily Dickinson

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you. ~Charles Bukowski

If I never see you again I will always carry you Inside, Outside. On my fingertips and at brain edges and at centers, centers of what I am of what remains. ~Charles Bukowski

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster. ~Elizabeth Bishop

Breathe and release anything that does not serve you. ~Anonymous

The root of suffering is attachment. ~The Buddha

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. ~Mahatma Gandhi

I am rooted, but I flow. ~Virginia Woolf

My brain hums with scraps of poetry and madness. ~Virginia Woolf

No need to hurry, no need to sparkle, no need to be anybody but oneself. ~Virginia Woolf

How much better is silence; the coffee cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake. Let me sit here forever with bare things, this coffee cup, this knife, this fork, things in themselves, myself being myself. ~Virginia Woolf

So fine was the morning except for a streak of wind here and there that the sea and sky looked all one fabric, as if sails were stuck high up in the sky, or the clouds had dropped down into the sea. ~Virginia Woolf

What is the meaning of life? That was all — a simple question; one that tended to close in on oneself with years. The great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark. ~Virginia Woolf

Who shall measure the heat and violence of the poet’s heart when caught and tangled in a woman’s body? ~Virginia Woolf

Many are destined to reason wrongly; others, not to reason at all; and others, to persecute those who do reason. ~Voltaire

Poetry is what happens when nothing else can. ~Charles Bukowski

I am a series of small victories and large defeats and I am as amazed as any other that I have gotten from there to here. ~Charles Bukowski

The world will ask you who you are, and if you don’t know, the world will tell you. ~C.G. Jung

Difference is what unites us. The exceptional is ubiquitous; to be entirely typical is the rare and lonely state. ~Andrew Solomon

Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open. ~Natalie Goldberg

I think hell is something you carry around with you, not somewhere you go. ~ Neil Gaiman

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself. ~Neil Gaiman

A library is a place that is a repository of information and gives every citizen equal access to it. That includes health information. And mental health information. It’s a community space. It’s a place of safety, a haven from the world. ~Neil Gaiman

Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ~Gibran

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend. ~Naomi Shihab Nye, from The Words Under the Words

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles William Eliot

A little talent is a good thing to have if you want to be a writer. But the only real requirement is the ability to remember every scar. ~Stephen King

You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop. ~Rumi

Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious. ~Rumi

I cannot do all the good the world needs, but the world needs all the good that I can do. ~Jana Stanfield

Books are a uniquely portable magic. ~Stephen King

Let’s Talk Hobbies

Some people have many, some a couple, some none. Some are expensive, require a lot of skill, and/or take up a lot of time. Some are free, require no special skills/talent, and/or can be done anytime/anywhere. Some people prioritize making time for them, while others only do them as an afterthought when they’re bored.

What are your hobbies? What do you consider the definition of “hobby” to be? According to dictionary.com, it’s “an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation”. Using that definition, my hobbies are reading, writing poetry, watching movies, gluttony, taking sit-down showers (more about this in another post!), taking drives, and — my newest! — blogging. I hope to add exercising to that soon, although I guess there are definite non-pleasurable aspects to that activity when you’re first starting out in the pitiable shape I’m in. In listing them, I notice many of my hobbies are passive, solitary, and/or unhealthful.

Do you find you have the time/motivation to put into your hobbies after taking care of your daily responsibilities? Do you consider them important enough to prioritize as part of self-care so that you don’t get burnt out and so your entire identity doesn’t become worker/parent/spouse/etc? I’d love to hear what place (if any) hobbies have in your life.