Don’t Call Me A Flower

I am not a flower.

My value does not lie in my beauty. I do not wither when plucked from my home. My roots are not shallow and delicate.

I am a tree. I am strong, durable, a pivotal force. My roots extend deep into the earth, twisting and twirling just as my history does. My past has helped me grow powerful and tall, the queen of my forest. I may shed my leaves each season and become bare and vulnerable, but don’t fret. I will revive, stronger and more beautiful than before. Please, pick off my bark, try and chop me down.

I may not fill vases, but I can start fires. I can burn and I can scream.

So please, don’t call me a flower. Don’t diminish me to a fragile, pretty piece of earth. I am a tree. I am astounding and noble and engaging. Life courses through my veins and futures begin where my leaves fall.

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An Open Letter to my Love-no-Longer

Dear love-no-longer,

My heart has perked up upon letting your image wander back into my thoughts. It’s been forever, or at least it feels that way. Have the seasons already cycled through twice since the first time we met? There was a fire between us. Instantly we connected that night, and we proved that connection in the best way we knew how- physically.

I have no regrets that our love story began that way. We connected tangibly, and I hoped it would be a matter of time until our minds and spirits followed suit. You found a home inside of me, and I thought my happiest breaths were inhaled while intertwined with you.

I let myself love you. I let myself love every piece of you, every broken piece. I let the hard parts of myself melt at your touch, I let my heart thaw for you.

But you did not love me.

As I lay awake, envisioning our love in rosy hues, you saw me in muted grays and browns. You liked me, I know you did. You tolerated me, you were amused by me, you were attracted to me. But you did not feel the passionate blaze I felt for you. You did not have the selfless yearning to please me the way I did for you.

So I started to fall out of love with myself.

You never called me pretty, and I started to doubt my own beauty. You never called me dazzling nor brilliant nor inspiring, and the light drained from my eyes.

Instead, you called me crazy, masking it a term of endearment. You called me cool and nice and ok. You constricted your tongue to mediocrity and I believed it all. I folded myself into smaller and smaller pieces, until I was ultimately the size of the minute being you thought me to be.

I shrunk smaller and smaller until I could no longer restrain my natural vigor. I finally realized that it was time to fall in love with the most important person in my life- me.

I began to be dazzling and brilliant and inspiring. I deflected all the wasted love I had for you back to myself. As my heart drained itself of the poison your plainness had injected, it refueled on bright golden and crimson sparks, the colors of passion.

I treated myself with tenderness and care, just as I had always longed for you to do. I showed myself a deeper affection than you were ever capable of.

And as I fell more in love with myself, I fell out of love with you. You, the boy who had been my north star. The boy who synchronously gave me everything and nothing. The boy who did not destroy me all at once, but instead took pieces and pieces of me away until I was a mangled skeleton of myself.

I am in love with myself. You may have been my love once, but you are most definitely my love-no-longer.

– A strong, astounding, incredibly complete version of myself

You Are Not Allowed to Ignore Me

You sparked a shiver in my heart that demanded to be felt

 

You infected her with your kind words,

Your contagious laugh,

Your inimitable view of the world

 

She was entranced

So she timed her beat to syncopate up with yours.

 

And relentlessly she begged me, so I poured time and affection into you

As if you were a flower, fighting for the sun

 

I wanted to experience your beauty

I wanted to inspire your beauty

I wanted to live up to your beauty

 

So no, you are not allowed to ignore me

Now that you are in full, astonishing bloom

 

You are not allowed to ignore me

Now that I have withered from the drought of pouring all my love into you

 

You are not allowed to ignore me

After my heart had to relearn to beat at her own pace

 

You are not allowed to ignore me

When you made it impossible for me to notice anything but you.

 

s.f.b

Today I Will Start to Heal

Today, I will start to heal.

Today, I will turn my face towards the sun and embrace its warmth, bright and burning with passion

Today, I will still think of you, your soft lips and your wicked arms

That entangled me, holding me hostage in your care

 

But today, I will not cry.

I will not succumb to the wretched jolts in my stomach, those that climax into sobs

I will not dream of your body in pinky-white hues

 

No.

Today, I will start to heal.

Today, I will think of you in simple black and white

Just as you were my everything and nothing all at once

Today, I will honor the wretched jolts in my stomach, those that climaxed into sobs

The sobs that you tempted

Today, I will remember the times I set myself on fire just so you could feel warm

Or the times I contorted myself into knots so that I could fit into your pocket,

Diminishing my magnitude to be at your slight, beautiful size.

 

Today, I will remember the darkness that poisoned my spirit

That dark cloud of smoke you drove into my being, greedily engulfing and shielding my light

 

Today, I will start to heal.

Today, I am generating my own warmth.

Today, I am the sun. I am whole and I am bright and I am burning with passion.
Today, I am the center of my own universe.

 

Tomorrow, I will continue to heal.

Pretty Face (and so much more)

“Wow, you have such a pretty face!”

Pretty freckles, pretty smile, pretty hair

But apparently, on me, “pretty” only applies from the neck up

Because I have curves:

I have breasts, I have hips, I have thighs…

I have a stomach.

And to your eyes, that makes me damaged

An outlier in society, a charity case

The “fat” girl.

 

My weight has defined and contorted my character into forms I never chose.

Suddenly I’m expected to be the comedic relief

I’m expected to be the nice girl who’s always there for everyone else

I’m the exceptional friend who’s loyal and true

Because god-forbid I’m fat AND a bitch

 

Oh no, it’s as if I must EARN the presence of skinny people in my life

By being the token fat friend and living up to the itty-bitty size-2 box they try to force me into.

 

And when we hang out,

I can watch lustily as they gulf down cookies and sweets without a care

But when I want a treat, it’s always challenged

“Are you really going to eat that?”

 

Are YOU really going to eat that?

Since when did my eating habits become the concern of anyone else but me?

 

It’s because in our society, taking up more space only earns you a tighter set of expectations

Constricting you, strangling you, until you’re less than what you are, less than what you can be.

 

Eventually, your potential is quelled and your fire extinguished

When you start believing that the double digit number printed on the tag of your jeans is a stronger indicator of who you are, of what you stand for, than the thoughts blooming in your mind and the words escaping from your lips.

Losing weight, essentially working to diminish the rare amount of you on this earth, becomes your only goal.

 

Get good grades. Watch my calories. Find a decent job. Get to a gym 5 times a week. Start a family. And what if my children end up looking like me?

 

When you’re fat, you’re expected to put the rest of your life on the backburner. But I’m not about that life. I’m over it.

 

I’m a size 14. Extra Large. Plus size.

And you know what? You’re welcome.

It only means that there is that much more of me to go around

There is an extra amount of love in my heart

And a surplus of the character I choose for myself

A greater capacity for the knowledge I’m thirsting for

And a whole lot more woman, if ya know what I mean.

 

I may be large, but I’m pretty. Head to toe, and everything in between. Just as uniquely pretty as any girl thinner than me or any girl larger. My stretch marks and round stomach might not be everyone’s image of beauty, just as blonde hair or a flat chest aren’t universally ideal.

 

We’re human. We come in different shapes, sizes, colors. Each and every one of us is genetically different, an exclusive fingerprint on this earth. How dare we challenge a person’s physical appearance and accuse them of not being pretty, solely because of the number printed on a tag?

 

We are all beautiful, even me.

Confidence and Music

It’s hard to realize your desired path is not the one you will actually follow in life.

I, for example, had dreams of becoming a music therapist. My parents spent a small fortune on music lessons for me and when I wasn’t getting privately trained in voice, guitar, piano, and theory, I was practicing for my school band, chorus, select choir, and symphony orchestra. This all was distraction for the times when I wasn’t in rehearsals for my international Jewish teen choir, of which I was also a part of the chamber choir.

In short, music was my life. It was all I knew, my identity. I was “the music girl” at my high school, and I would not have wanted to give up that title for the world.

I wanted to be a music therapist because I saw all the potential the field held for me. Helping others through the medium I loved most? Interacting with different populations and instruments on a daily basis? Making a difference in the lives of others? What was not to love?

During the musical era of my life, however, I was not able to help myself. It was during these years that I was at my lowest points of life. In fact, there were days which I no longer wished to even exist. I hated myself- I hated my appearance, I hated my personality. It did not help that the “music world” is one of competition. I was never the most talented, never the smartest. Sure, I was involved, but I would never be a musical prodigy. I worked my ass off to try to impress those around me, but in reality I think I was just trying to help myself to believe I was good enough.

Thinking back now, my lack of confidence reared its ugly head in every aspect of my life. Musically, it was very difficult for me to stand up straight and own the stage. Even when I was performing Italian Arias which I knew I loved, I could not bring myself to feel the surge of diva power I was thirsting for. I was fine with singing sad, lonely songs. Those I could relate to. But how about powerful songs celebrating independence? I just could not bring myself into character.

I remember the day my world imploded. I had auditioned for the music school at my university but was faced with a non-music therapy panel and knew I had failed the audition. When I received the letter articulating my worst fears, that I was denied of pursuing my dreams, I was crushed. I locked myself into a bathroom and hysterically cried until nightfall. The thought of killing myself spun around in my head during those horrific hours, but I wouldn’t let the music win.

This is the day I learned that my love for music was unrequited. I’d have to reformulate my dreams, and that was terrifying.

Two years later, I am at my best. Music is only in my life when I want it to be, and I have cleared a new path for myself. Public Relations and Intercultural Communication are a much better fit for me. Here I am living a life I would have never pictured for myself, and loving every moment of it. Though I still am not quite comfortable in my own skin, I have confidence. I’m beginning to see my own beauty. For the first time, I am focusing on the radiance of my smile instead of the bulge of my belly.

For the first time, I am truly happy. The strong, difficult roles I had struggled with in music are now the parts of me I let show when giving public presentations. The beautiful Italian Arias I had once loved to perform are now topics of conversation in meetings with Italian friends and colleagues.

While I miss music a lot more than I’d care to admit, I am so happy with who and where I am now. For the first time, I am confident.

So, I suppose the message of this whole rant is this: Life will change you. Let it.

One Table

Have you ever sat in one place for a prolonged period of time and just…. observed? A restaurant, a library, a coffee shop. The latter is the case with me on this snowy December day. I’ve been sitting here at my station in Starbucks watching the small round corner table with interest.

When I first came in 3 hours ago, an aging man sat alone, playing on his computer, much as I was. Though we made brief eye contact, it was nothing memorable. I began to wonder: why is he alone? Did he drive here in the snow or walk, as I had? Is he a towny or a passer-through?

He left after 20 or so minutes, and I returned to my work, waiting for my next subject.

In came a girl, about a half hour later. She had glasses and looked chilled by the cold. She ordered breakfast foods and a coffee and sat in that back corner alone. Like the man before her, she seemed content in her lack of a partner to eat with, and she too stayed for an extended period of time, nearly an hour. More questions arose in my head: Was she a student? Had I had class with her before? Did she live on or off campus? Where are her friends? What else would she be doing today?

After her departure, a couple came and took her coveted seat at the back corner table. They seem happy, laughing over their large drinks. The woman is facing me and we make eye contact and smile every 10 minutes or so. I wonder what she thinks of me; does she find our eye contact creepy or endearing? Is the man her husband or just a close friend? What are they laughing about? Were they planning on coming here, or did they sense the welcoming air of Starbucks and impulsively decide to procrastinate the rest of their plans?

And the most important question of all: Are they asking these same questions about me? This couple, the girl, the man, each has their own story to tell. I’m curious how they perceive the bundled up girl at the square table near the door that keeps stealing glances at them.

I think it’s important that we all take time to just sit back and observe. Think. Imagine. Question. We can so easily get wrapped up in our own bubbles of life, yet there are billions of people out there who are worth some speculation.

Control

As the reigning dominant species in this world (lol), we’re lucky enough to be able to control a lot of what happens in our lives.

We control where we live. We control who our friends are. We control what we believe in. We control which parts of this earth we treasure, and which we destroy.

Hell, we’ve even taken to adopting animals so we can control them.

One of the few things we can’t control, however, are our emotions.

In my own life, there are a lot of feelings I wish I could control. For example, I wish I didn’t fall in love with a man who lives in another country. I wish I didn’t feel hurt so easily over mundane things. I wish I wouldn’t cry every time someone of authority talks to me, even if they’re only expressing a compliment.

So often, I just wish I had the ability to dull my emotions. Other times, I wish I could make myself feel more. 

It’s like, I’ve come to terms with the things I can’t control: time, other people, etc. However, I just wish I could be in control of every aspect of my own body and personality.

Idols

So today I had a very profound realization: we’re all human.

Yes, this is something we all learn by kindergarten, but today I realized it in a deeper sense.

I was thinking about idols, and how when we’re younger we all have at least one. The person we look up to, who we go to for just about everything, and who we know could never ever possibly be wrong.

For me, that person was my Dad. Now don’t get me wrong, my Dad is still a pretty intelligent guy and all, but I realized today that he doesn’t have all the answers.

And it was both the scariest and most inspirational thing I’ve ever thought.

Here’s the breakdown:
It was scary because for the first time in my 19 years, I realized that my Dad isn’t perfect and doesn’t have all the answers. No one does. We just like to pretend to we do to make the mysteries of life seem less big and scary. 
It was inspirational because today, I realized that one day, I will be someone’s idol. 

A long ways from now I will have a son or daughter and they will think I am the most brilliant person in the world. Of course I won’t be- I’ll just be a woman with a college degree and some life experience. But to him/ her, the limits of my knowledge will be unfathomable.

If you ask me, that’s pretty cool. 

Wanderlust.

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Wanderlust is defined as “a strong desire for or impulse to travel and explore the world.” Boy, do I have wanderlust (catch wanderlust? experience wanderlust?)

Ever since I was little, I loved exploring other cultures. When the girls in my predominately white, italian, New Jersey town all bought the Samantha American Girl Doll, I had my sights set on Josephina, a girl growing up in her Mexican pueblo.

In sixth grade, when we were instructed to choose a famous historical man or woman to write a “book” (ok, it was 10 pages but still) about, I chose Sojourner Truth, an African American crazy feminist who flashed her boobs once during a speech. Atta girl.

Such has my life continued until now, where I am a sophomore at a New York State school, surrounded by the greatest diversity I’ve ever experienced (although according to my friends who comprise this “diversity,” New Paltz is pretty white. Oops.)

So, as you could gather, I’m pretty interested in different cultures and places. The issue, however, is that I’ve yet to experience the world.

I yearn to face culture-shock. I want to be so taken aback by surprise and wonder that I can break down my dormant ethnocentrism.

I want to feel the beauty of rituals, both old and new. I want to surpass the level of tourist and fully immerse myself in the people and places around me.

This world is so big, yet so accessible. I want to reach every continent, every country. I want to see what the world has to offer me, and give a piece of myself back in return.

Wanderlust. I need to explore.