MAYA ANGELOU: STILL I RISE

Maya Angelou passed away this week, and with her goes greatness. I could say something here, but nothing encapsulates her better than her own words. When you read Still I Rise, you can’t help but come alive in your skin. Try it. 


Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread 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 the 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?
Doesn’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines 
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

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

– Maya Angelou

HOUSEKEEPING

Red Roof Houses

A few notes on the blog, since I’ve been thinking about this for awhile. I want to implement a few changes. Nothing majorly dramatic, but in the interest of refocusing the content. So, a few things of note:
I want this blog to be a positive space, a good and safe space, where people can share what inspires them, and what inspires their creative process. I’m curious about what other people do, where resources they use to stay inspired, and will make a formal post regarding submissions. Soon.  
I’ve relabeled the description to reflect this semi-new direction. 
Have you ever noticed that the same information gets recycled over and over again? There really is nothing new under the sun sometimes. Many people post quotes and habits from established authors and geniuses. This is not to say that’s not inspiring stuff, but don’t you want something that you haven’t seen somewhere else? That’s the reasoning behind wanting to track down new perspectives. This leads me to…
My next goal, which is just to find information that makes life better. I wish I had a more glamorous topic, the usual hair/makeup/outfits/kittens/recipe posts that I personally find addicting to a degree that is embarassing. But what I’m looking to do here is to focus on internal change, and to nurture that internal creative spark. I want to find ways to make life better. Unfortunately, this is not sexy stuff and it translate well into hot looking posts. The other stuff (fashion, etc.), while fun, sometimes distracts from important internal work. For example, I have five other tabs open while I’m writing this post. This needs to end. 
Another thing: there is a Follow by Email widget on the bottom right of this blog. I don’t handle that at all, and do not have access to anyone’s email account who has signed up. This may be a good or a bad thing, but if there are problems with it, I can find another way to let people know about posts.
So…I will probably not post as regularly, but I am also gradually going to make this more personal. This is not to say that I will ever suddenly make posts about myself in different outfits. That’s not going to happen. I have a basic uniform, and that’s not where I want to focus my creative energy. But I will try to use pieces from my life to flesh out ideas. I feel sometimes that I’ve been playing it too safe with this blog, and that there’s been no attempt to make a genuine connection. So there will be changes in that direction, and hopefully I will not turn into a whiny narcissist, because we all have our demons. 
If you have suggestions or questions, just ask.  

SHAME V. GUILT

“Shame is: I am a bad person. 

Guilt is: I did a bad thing.”

This comes from the interview with Brene Brown that I showed earlier, about two weeks ago. Just scroll down a bit. Alright, there it is. 
There were a number of good quotes that came out of that interview. I took notes. This particular quote came from the interviewer summing up Brown’s previous work on shame, a book that I have never read and, to be honest, probably never will. 
Even so, the topic of shame fascinates me. Here’s Webster’s definition:

“A feeling of guilt, regret, or sadness that you have because you know you have done something wrong.” 

That makes sense. If you are a serial stabber, then you should feel shame, because serial stabbing is wrong. But…what about all those other times? When you’re not doing anything clearly in the wrong, but the shame is there. When that happens, shame becomes your own personal mental albatross. It can inhibit you, it can make you feel awful, but it serves no purpose. It is this predicament that interests me. Because why? Why does this happen?
Let’s go back to the stabbing example. I don’t stab, but I do feel shame. Like a rational person, I decided to make a list, a personal “shame hall of fame,” a “shame highlights” reel, to see if there was a pattern. Maybe I did something in a previous life? This could potentially have been really interesting, but it wasn’t. There was no pattern. Shame just…happened. For little things. Things so immaterial they were hard for me to recall afterwards. This was a frustrating realization. When I say frustrating, I mean $#%* frustrating. 
There are probably a mountain of studies that have been done on the topic of shame, none of which I have read. I just have my one theory, which stems from that quote, above. That quote suggests that shame is the result of a mental habit. When there is an instance where guilt is the appropriate response, you interpret guilt as shame. Does that make a difference? It does to me. Hearing that quote felt a bit like the release of a bird out of an internal cage, because in many ways, guilt is a lot easier of a burden to bear. Guilt doesn’t make you a worse person. 
I don’t know why habits form. But once they form, then it’s just a matter of breaking that habit.* I’m not When you feel shame, rebrand that as guilt. See where that takes you. 
* I’m not saying this is easy, by the way. I would just rather feel guilt than shame. Shame is God awful. 

TAKING A BREAK

Alright. That pretty much says it all. 
I’m going to take the next week off and see how that goes. I’m concerned I’ve gotten complacent, and have started mistaking consistency with quality. In short, I don’t want to post crap. 
Should be back soon, and I hope life is treating you well.

VIDEO: DARING GREATLY TO UNLOCK YOUR CREATIVITY WITH BRENE BROWN

This is a very good talk by Brene Brown, author of Daring Greatly. I think everyone should watch this – and if you are feeling a bit down – then you should watch it more than once.  
It’s a little long, but not a moment of the time is wasted. There are a lot of really great quotes. A lot. If you create, sooner or later, you have to put yourself out there, and that will probably leave you vulnerable. If you want to learn how to deal with this, take a look, take a listen. Repeat.  

BLOGS I FOLLOW

Seaside, Italy

The picture above has nothing to do with anything.
That said, on the right hand side, if you scroll down a bit, I’ve listed some blogs that you may find useful. They range on a variety of topics, not just writing, because there’s already a whole bunch of writing blogs out there, and there’s more to life. There’s that whole other part that you may have been neglecting. To summarize, here’s some sites I’ve found, along with a brief description:
The blog that every other blog wants to be. Funny and warm, this blog always hits on topics that everyone wants to read. 
Many useful articles on how to achieve wellness and wellbeing. 
A great resource for clean and natural beauty and skincare products. And some great discussions.
I don’t know how, but somehow the author culls and distills information guaranteed to stimulate your brain. Don’t know how she does it. It’s a miracle.
A great resource for photographers, and wannabe photographers, such as myself. I need to start using manual mode on the SLR camera I don’t have. Yet. 
Firsthand knowledge of the situation in Egypt. She doesn’t update often, but the content is worth it.
This is where you can find a large community of independent authors, and their respective books. You should be able to find many independent books all in one place, along with listings, descriptions, and even blogs of the corresponding authors. I sometimes hang out there as well, but I like being able to include completely unrelated pics with my posts. Personal preference.