Writing: Daily Poetry Challenge

In the spirit of flexing my writing muscles for this year’s NaNoWriMo (and possibly also my Advanced Writing portfolio this year) I’ve been doing a daily poetry challenge. I began in July, writing one poem every day. I’ve missed a few here or there, but on the whole I’ve really enjoyed it and I’ve decided to share a few with you guys! They’re basically rough first drafts but I’ve received a fair amount of positive feedback and I enjoy writing in this “slam poetry” style.

The poem that inspired this whole challenge!

The poem that inspired this whole challenge!

 

3/365

"Promises"

“Promises”

"Her Body, His Prison"

“Her Body, His Prison”

11/365

11/365

Spring Goals

So much has changed this past week, I hardly know what to do with myself. I’m in a lot of emotional pain, but all I can do is try to focus my energies on the positive things. When you’re with someone for more than two years and suddenly they’re not a part of your life anymore, you start to put all of your choices into perspective. What have I, personally, been doing with myself for the last two years? How have I changed, and what old habits and keepsakes am I still clinging on to? For the first time in a very long time, I’m starting to think about what’s good for me. I’ve come up with a very long list of things I’d like to change.

Luckily, spring is the time to do just that. Temperatures are climbing up into balmy afternoons with a cool breeze, and I’m starting to open up all the windows in the house again. With so much fresh air and fresh blooms in my backyard, I guess this is the perfect time to start completely new.

P1110254I have so many spring goals, but there are a few that aren’t already encompassed in my New Year’s resolutions! They are as follows:

  • Make dinner once a week. In an effort to eat healthier (and foster my love of cooking!) I want to start making meals for my family. My mother is always complaining about eating the same things week after week, so each recipe I make will be something we’ve never had before! Whether it be an asian-inspired stir-fry or just a different chicken marinade, I’m excited to promote health and new staple meals in my household.
  • Start decluttering and donating. Gosh, my room is a mess. I have so much stuff. So many papers on my desk and shoved under my bookshelf, so many clothes I simply never wear. This goal goes hand in hand with a more long-term one of refining my wardrobe. Almost all of my clothes just don’t say “me” anymore, and that bothers me more than I can say. I’m excited to clear out the old and maintain a smaller, better quality, and better fitting wardrobe that more accurately reflects my personal style.
  • Study for half an hour each day. This goal is kind of icky. I’m in several AP classes, and exams are looming ahead. The days seem to be passing with terrifying speed, so it’s really time to start studying. I’m the sort of person who has never had to study for anything in my life, so this is going to be a difficult habit to adjust to. I can’t even remember the last time I sat down at home and did my homework in one sitting! I’m praying that I can make it out of junior year alive.
  • Visit farmer’s markets and go thrifting. I always want to do this and never seem to, so I’m making it a priority this spring and summer. Farmer’s markets are a fantastic way to support the community, and who doesn’t love fresh produce and handmade goods? Thrift shopping is also a great way to save money and find unique and quality pieces that liven up the wardrobe. My goal is to visit these places with friends. I’ve failed to notice for a long time how many amazing friends I have, and I’m finally starting to spend more time with them.

This seems to be a big period for change in my life, and I’m trying to capitalize upon it as much as I can. In the end, all I have is myself. I have to take care of me first. (:

P1110255

I have several other small goals, like restart the garden in my backyard, start jogging again, take more time for my photography, and hang my artwork. What are your spring goals and resolutions?

On clean eating, detox plans, and real nutrition

20130225-191249.jpgYes, I know. It’s a poorly lighted, badly cropped, and annoyingly small iPhone picture. The photographer within me is screaming, but I was too lazy to charge my camera battery, so bear with me here. It does get better. This quality photograph is my guilt-free ice cream dessert, made with only one ingredient.

I’m sure you’ve heard of this before. The miracle delicious soft-serve that is the product of a frozen banana in a food processor? Yes, well, this is my second attempt at banana ice cream. In the first, I added some cocoa powder and chocolate chips, assuming that they would somehow mask the flavor of banana. Wrong. I don’t mind banana, but not in my chocolate ice cream, and I ended up throwing most of it out. When I tried it again tonight, I decided to embrace rather than obscure the banana flavor (because we all know it’s impossible), so I added some vanilla and handful of rainbow sprinkles. I’m pleased to say that is was actually pretty good! I’m sure there are many other variations of this ice cream out there on the internet, but if you can’t stand banana, this is probably not the dessert for you.

This whole concept of “clean eating” is relatively new to me. Up until the past year or so, I ate whatever I wanted; I thought that just because I was skinny, I had nothing to worry about. This is a major flaw in our  society. We glorify thinness so much that many people see a low number on the scale as the only goal, when it is in fact hardly relevant. The more I learned about biology and nutrition, the more of an interest I took in my own health. I realized I was filling my body with processed foods galore, an abundance of sodium, and way too many carbs–basically, crap. About a year ago I started branching out in my tastes, filling up on more fruit and meat than cookies and lemonade. But we all slip up sometimes, and these past few weeks, especially over vacation, I gave up all pretense of healthy eating and let the cravings take over. Not that the food I was eating was particularly junk food, but I really hadn’t been getting the vitamins, minerals, and proteins I need, and it was starting to show. I started breaking out, became sluggish, and my depression took a turn for the worse.

I’d been hearing about “cleanses” for some time–flash diets that remove toxins from the system. While many of them sounded dangerous or maddening (such as the all-fruit cleanse or the liquids-only detox), others sounded reasonable, even doable for a slightly picky eater like myself. I found this great, pretty inclusive one-week cleanse and decided I would give it a shot. Why not break the sugar addiction and make myself feel clean and healthy? I sketched up a meal plan, down to the snacks and the times I would eat. This morning, I had some grapefruit and oatmeal (without sugar!) for breakfast at 6 AM, and a peanut butter apple around 9 AM which eradicated hunger until nearly 1 o’clock. I munched on some cucumber salad near 2, and after my Chamber Choir rehearsal, went home. Sitting on the counter were piles of fresh-baked cookies. Chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, double chocolate… I couldn’t resist. I broke the cleanse and had a cookie. It was kind of pathetic, but I’d say it was worth it. My mother bakes probably the world’s most delicious cookies.

I’ve carried on with my cleanse since then (okay, I had a piece of lasagna for dinner, but hey, who can turn down fresh lasagna?), although I think I’ve already ruined the whole point of it. I’m supposed to be breaking my sugar addiction, getting rid of toxins and all that, but I couldn’t even go one day without excess sweets. I did notice, however, the surprising energy levels I’ve had all day. Maybe I’m not being “cleansed,” but attempting this definitely made me remember how good eating healthy can feel. I’m not the sort of person who enjoys salads and quinoa and walnuts, or the sort of person who could ever go vegan or vegetarian. I like my brownies and burgers, but just because I enjoy food of the less-healthy variety doesn’t mean I can’t incorporate them into a largely healthy diet.

I think I’m going to carry on with my oatmeal and grapefruit and apples-with-peanut-butter, but I don’t see the need to continue an official “cleanse” when I’ve already spoiled the whole thing. For me, this was a rewarding conscious effort to control my health and lifestyle, and a great reminder of why I bother taking care of myself at all when eating pop-tarts on the couch is so much easier. Have you tried a cleanse or detox? If so, how did you feel throughout the process–were you pleased with the results? I’m curious to know how other people approach sensible eating!

 

On minimalism

Minimalism in pop culture equates to a lot of black and white, squares, and a distinct lack of emotion and personalization. I used to adhere to this view as well. I told myself, no way, I could never be a minimalist, I’m too all over the place, I love color and displaying memories all over my walls. I’m an artist. I have an eclectic fashion sense. I can’t be defined. I’m a special snowflake.

In fact, minimalism has nothing to do with that. Minimalism is defined as “design or style in which the simplest or fewest elements are used to create the maximum effect“. So, in short, minimalism is about efficiency. It has nothing to do with empty countertops and drab color palettes. You could be a bohemian artist and still apply the principles of minimalism to your life.

As soon as I understood the truth of the concept, minimalism strongly appealed to me. Doesn’t everyone want to live a simplified life, free of clutter and wastefulness? But the thought of simplifying my wardrobe, my schedule, my entire life… it’s a daunting goal, to say the least. Especially for someone like me, with no relative idea of what I want in life or what I like (because the answer to both of those things is generally “everything”), the task of defining myself seems just short of impossible.

Naturally, my magiepie-like collecting tendencies kicked in. I’m not much of a researcher, but I have stumbled across several examples of practical minimalism over the past week or so. One was a free downloadable e-book called “Simple Living” that included a thirty-day challenge for approaching minimalism (I tried to find the link again, and it’s nowhere to be seen). Another was a PDF called Focus: a simplicity manifesto in the age of distraction. Another was this lovely blog, Into Mind, which delightfully combines psychology, fashion, and minimalism! You know that feeling, when you first learn about something and you feel like it’s out to find you instead of the other way around? That’s been happening with me and minimalism lately. It’s jumping out at me all over the place.

I have yet to really read these things I’ve collected, but having these resources is the first step towards accomplishing this vague goal of mine. I’m constantly growing and changing, but I think having some sort of (albiet flexible) definition of who I am will help me grow even more by avoiding common pitfalls that will dent my happiness. Have any of you made the delve into minimalism? I’d be curious to hear your experiences!