The Realm Of Possibility

I usually try to do some sort of Monday motivation but I haven’t been feeling like myself lately. I don’t know what’s wrong with me but I hate feeling this way. I know that, while today might be dark, there’s the possibility that I’ll come back into the light tomorrow. I haven’t given up because all things are possible. That’s the only motivation I have for myself and the only motivation I can muster up. Even in the darkest of hours, the bleakest of days, there is still hope in possibility. I’m trying to remind myself I live in the realm of possibility.

National Poetry Month: Otherwise

It’s the last Monday of the month which means it’s the last poetic version of motivational Monday.

This afternoon I’m thinking about how my back is aching and how my legs are sore and how I’m exhausted. But I know that I have things much easier than someone else.

I recently read this article suggesting that looking on the brightside of things, looking for a silver lining was a negative thing. I vehemently disagree with this line of thought. I have always looked for the silver lining and trust me my life has not been peaches and cream. For me, brightsiding is another way of practicing gratitude. I will honor the struggle and pain that my friends are facing. But I will also remind my friends that we all should be grateful.

I hear so many complaints and less compliments. Jane Kenyon reminds us that, no matter what we’re experiencing, it could be otherwise. Life is full of ebbs and tides. Once we learn to accept that, I feel that life becomes more navigational. My back hurts but I’m thankful that it’s nothing serious. My legs are sore but at least I have legs and that they work. I’m exhausted but at least I know I have a warm bed to sleep in later tonight.

“Otherwise”  — Jane Kenyon

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

National Poetry Month: Success

It’s the Monday after Easter and my thoughts are about Resurrection. I can’t quite describe the healing properties of this current trip to Virginia but I feel ready to resurrect my own life. Part of doing that is defining the life I want compared to the life others would want for me.

The one thing that I want, what I feel we all want, is a successful life. We all have different ideas of what success means to us but mine resembles a poem often misattributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson but it’s really by a woman named Bessie Anderson Stanley. I’m including the real version and the Emerson version.

“Success” — Bessie Anderson Stanley

He has achieved success
who has lived well,
laughed often, and loved much;

who has enjoyed the trust of
pure women,

the respect of intelligent men and
the love of little children;

who has filled his niche and accomplished his task;

who has left the world better than he found it
whether by an improved poppy,
a perfect poem or a rescued soul;

who has never lacked appreciation of Earth’s beauty
or failed to express it;

who has always looked for the best in others and
given them the best he had;

whose life was an inspiration;
whose memory a benediction.

“Success” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

To laugh often and love much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the approval of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To give of one’s self;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;
To have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived…
This is to have succeeded.

National Poetry Month: Langston Hughes

We all need to have a dream, a goal to strive towards. I feel that it’s the fact we can dream of better that keeps us going. In the LGBT community there’s a fairly new community platform called “It Gets Better.” I know when I was younger, the dream about my soon to be fabulous LGBT life, is one of those things that kept me going.

Dreams can change over the years. I was recently talking to my friend, Michelle, about turning 40. She was telling me that she wanted to write a list of 40 things to do during her 40th year. I love that idea but I think I’m going to take it farther and make a list of 50 things to do before I turn 50. It’ll be a revised buried life list.

Langston Hughes knew about the power of having a dream. He wrote two great poems about dreams and, since I can’t choose which one to post, you get both this morning.

“Dreams” directly addresses the notion that having a dream gives us life. Without a dream, life becomes a blur of days that seep into each other filled with monotony. “Harlem” addresses what happens when you defer your dream and the consequences of deferring it to the point you forget about it.

Now, I know I’m going to have at least one person argue that they are too (fill in the blank) to see their dream come true. I say pish posh to that thinking. Some dreams are meant to be unattainable. I think we all dream of winning the lottery, especially when it gets to those insane jackpots, but we also know that the statistical odds aren’t in our favor. Yet, we still buy a ticket because we have hope we might beat the odds. Other dreams are within our grasp if we can separate the concept of having a dream versus being successful at that dream. Maybe you had a dream that you’d rock the Grammy stage and you find yourself at 26 without that Grammy. Well, the dream really was about singing and you can always rock the mic at the closest karaoke night.

May you always be able to dream

“Dreams” — Langston Hughes

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

“Harlem” — Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

     Does it dry up
     like a raisin in the sun?
     Or fester like a sore—
     And then run?
     Does it stink like rotten meat?
     Or crust and sugar over—
     like a syrupy sweet?

     Maybe it just sags
     like a heavy load.

     Or does it explode?

National Poetry Month: Still I Rise

Now, I know that my life and Maya Angelou’s life histories are different but there’s a similarity in our Southern backgrounds and the way we were raised and our ethical/moral background. I know this from her interviews and television appearances over the years and by reading her set of autobiographies. (Side note: I still think the biggest shocker was reading that Maya Angelou once was a sex worker)

“Still I Rise” was written as Maya Angelou’s response to oppression and poverty due to racism and sexism and the mistreatment of African-Americans during her lifetime. Now, as a white male, I’m at the top of the list. I’m aware of my privilege. But, as a white male in the metropolitan area, I’ve faced prejudice and people that have used me as a representative of the entire white population. As a gay male, I’ve found myself in many situations of sexism and sexual harassment and even a few situations of sexual assault. As a person in a fluid relationship with poverty, I know what it’s like to wonder where you’re going to sleep that night or when you’re going to have your next meal.

I might not have the same history that Maya Angelou does but I have my own history of oppression. “Still I Rise” reminded me that my oppression doesn’t define me. “Still I Rise” reminds me that my material goods, the way others feel about me, the abuse I’ve encountered, doesn’t define me. “Still I Rise” is a battle cry against a world that works against you by saying that you can throw whatever you want at me but fuck you because I’m going to rise.

This is my hope for you this Monday morning and every morning. I hope that you are able to find it within you to rise.

“Still I Rise” — Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

New Moon

Tonight is the new moon. It’s the start of a new lunar cycle. The new moon is all about beginnings. It’s Monday, the start of a new week. We have two choices before us. We can bitch and moan about how much Mondays suck OR we can take this time to set a new intent and use Monday to plot out and set our course for the week.
The new moon is a great time to do self-inventory. Ask yourself the honest questions. What is working in my life? Embrace that. What isn’t working in my life? Change that. Remember that YOU and no one else is in charge of your life. You make your choices and you can decide to make a new choice. There are few things that are really so far gone that you can’t make a change. Look at the path you’re on. Is it the right one for you? Is it time to take another road? Maybe it’s time to turn back and try the other direction. The new moon is the time we embrace new thoughts, new decisions, new ways. Perhaps you’re happy with the status quo and where you are in terms of your life journey. Good for you. But, if you’re not, then love yourself enough to make a change. Today is as good a day as any.

Hello Spring

Good morning. Today is the first day of spring. Hello, Spring.

The arrival of spring heralds many things. The weather will get warmer. The birds are returning so soon I’ll be awoken by their song. The April rain will begin and that rain will help the budding trees and flowers grow. After the barrenness of winter, spring is all about blossoming and beginning.

Our Monday can be about the same thing. Instead of looking at the day ahead with dread, look at it as a time of beginning. It’s the first Monday of spring. Set your intention for the day and the season. Remember that attitude is everything. Shake off the gloominess that winter holds and allow the light to enter in. Open the blinds, the curtains and let the sunshine in. Bath in that light and understand that anything can happen.

For me, spring is going to provide the motivation to seek help for my mental health. I have wrestled with depression for far too long. Shakespeare wrote about “the winter of discontent”. My discontent has occupied not only this winter but the last several winters and springs and summers and autumns. I am discontent about being constantly discontent so it’s time for a change. 

Spring ushers in the season of renewal. The seeds that have been at rest start to work their magick and miracles happen. I’m allowing the spirit of God, the Universe, the Divine Wow, the Powers That Be, whatever you call that mystical source that binds us all, humanity and nature, to work within me so I can free myself from depression, free myself from Brafly, and become a productive member of society. I often joke that I go into hibernation during the winter and partly that’s true but I’ve truly been in a deep static space. It’s time to wake the fuck up, get the blood flowing and live.