Scratching the Surface With Malleable Words

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Lately, I’ve been contemplating the intention behind our words and how we cultivate and utilize them. To what end are we conscious in conversation is often determined by what the purpose behind our words is. In my personal life, I’ve found that too often people use words from an unconscious state of mind. This is when words become flimsy and slip away, or conversely, become trained as arrows to pierce a heart — to denigrate, to mock, to shame, to humiliate, to vindicate — all in the name of grasping for a sense of power around something, which will always remain malleable. Words will always hold true on the lips of the person who speaks them.

In every form of written expression, words remain powerful based upon the person’s intent to use them. With this in mind, it is important to recognize how the expressed word can be potent upon recitation and recollection. In a thoughtful discussion, I believe words should be used as tools for discovery and understanding.

When a person evades in their words or points their words toward another with the intention of callousness or cruelty, this dissonance will ring true and will be felt intuitively by all who come into contact with this expression. Such is the constant nature of language: it always reveals and discloses. In this way, the physical container of the word embodies truth in the voices of those who speak aloud and express themselves.

At the end of the day, all attempts to evade or invade expression — to divert or diminish — is a distancing, which removes a communicator away from themselves (and others). A listener who is in presence with an absent speaker will always sense it. Accordingly, to view discussion as argument is to view conflict as an attack. To view diplomacy as weakness is to view the nature of service as childish or without use.

To view language as translation is to understand that with each word one speaks, one only scratches at the surface of what they are seeking.

Growing Pains

I’m getting old, I tell myself as I peel back the wrapper of a Russel Stover s’mores in the grocery store. It’s funny how just yesterday I was on a walk and could smell roasting marshmallows and immediately the thought came to my mind of how much I wanted s’mores for myself.

Then, today, I’m walking through not one, but two stores, and I spy not one, but two packages of pre-packaged s’mores. Finally, I concede. At Albertson’s, I shell over the two bucks to buy the mini, convenient package for myself. I step outside, take off my mask, and take a bite of the sweet treat.

The first taste feels like a glimmer – a return to my childhood, of roasting marshmallows on the 4th of July, but once the taste envelopes my mouth, I recall it doesn’t taste as sweet as my memories and it tastes ironically just too sweet for my palate now.

I’ve been working with my inner child lately in between establishing a career; to me, these two contrasting endeavors fight for my attention at times. One part of me wants to take extremely long walks — to go farther than I’ve ever journeyed before, while the other part of me turns in yet another job application. A friend mentions the word growing pains to me and I think growing pains. Growing pains.

Is that what it means to grow up?

I’m trying to find the space to remember a job isn’t your identity as much as Americans continue to ask, “What do you do for a living?” I’m trying to grow through these pains, which I’ve found to be of me and not me.

So, today, I bought a sugary treat from the store. And when I got home, I decided to write this post, not sure why. It’s a bit different in style for me, but I’ve decided growing pains can be vulnerable, candid, hard, and soft at the same time.

Some days, it can be heavy, in unwinding an ever-constant process of healing.

Some days, it can be as light and simple as picking up s’mores from the store.

Tapping Into Inspiration

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One of the questions many writers, artists, and creators alike contemplate is where does inspiration come from. Is it within our blood? Do we stick a needle in our veins and funnel it all out when we create something new, whether it be a painting, a poem, or a story? Or, on the contrary, do we journey far to discover our inspiration in the ether? In this way, do we leave ourselves and go somewhere else in order to bring back some wisdom?

I believe there is no either-or for where inspiration comes from. I think we create from a communal source, shared between us all, but as the words flow, we channel our unique expression from this wellspring. Inspiration and creation occur from within and without, meaning that it funnels through our instruments and tools, but it also is accessed from the universal source we all share.

In this manner, I believe anyone can access the wisdom within this collective consciousness; all one needs to do is tap into that infinite stream of intelligence and inspiration. Then, as creators, we are tasked with the responsibility (and pleasure) of bringing something beautiful into this world.

I think at the end of the day our lives are rife with moments and circumstances, which push us into a place of creation. To imagine better possibilities. To dream less contemptible dreams. To take our hopes and channel them into something immediately accessible for all.

So, I suppose in this way, we all are tasked with the responsibility to create through the contrast we experience in order to experience brilliant new realities. An artist alone cannot herald this vision into the world alone. Rather, it is through each collective creation we make that we birth our own realities moment by moment.

Given this, my final question is this: where do you find inspiration and how do you cultivate it?

A Moment Lasts Forever

I’ve always considered myself a big advocate for the power of the present moment and its seeming permanence despite its temporary, quickly passing nature. When I was younger, I, unlike many others my age, wanted moments to linger forever — my viewpoint perhaps was more nostalgic and romantic compared to my peers. I didn’t want to grow up or grow old; I wanted things to remain, more or less, the same. In this manner, I never could grasp the reasons why people and situations enter your life for seasons, only to depart and move forward on their own respective journeys.

Now, I’m beginning to understand the significance of the moment before me and the moments, which passed over the past few days and past few years. Every moment brought me to this day — to this now moment to unfold from. At the end of the day, I think that means the people who entered my life, if only for a season, could not stay forever because they were never meant to.

There is no tragedy in this passing. Rather, there is an intrinsic beauty in this greeting.

In more ways than one, this notion of goodbyes and hellos inspired much of the writing in my poetry collection Goodbye (Hello). I believe there is a circular nature in our lives and in our goodbyes and hellos. With every passing emerges a new arrival. Death begets life. The universe exists in a place consisting of opposites. Pain and beauty. Love and fear. Bloom and hibernation.

The more I lean into each season, the more I begin to understand how everything intrinsically is tied into this present moment.

And I suppose, in this way, every moment lasts forever.

Revelations from the In-Between

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the spaces of pause and recollection in our journeys — the moments when nothing actually appears to be occurring but is still bubbling and collecting from underneath the surface. The last few months have contained many of these moments for me where in one moment I feel pressed to make a choice and come to a decision about what I’m doing, and perhaps in this way, deciding who I am.

Along this journey, I’ve realized a lot more about who I am and what I’m passionate about — more or less what are the indicators of a life well-lived — one filled with passion, authenticity, integrity, creativity, and above all else unconditional love. After connecting with an old friend and inspiring another to pursue her dreams, I’ve come to the conclusion that I find joy in the smallest of places — in the melting hum of poetry, in open spaces of conversation, in long walks out in nature, in mentoring and teaching others how to take their words and put them onto the page. I’ve found peace in the smallest of things and the smallest of places — in knowing that wherever I’m going or whatever I’ve produced is not my greatest contribution to society, but rather, the meaningful memories and friendships and kind words I have shared with others; all of these things, for lack of a better word, are what I’m proud to cultivate within this place and within my life.

I believe there is power in the in-between for it is the place where all our wildest dreams and doubts and fears find a place to reside, but I have found solace here. So, I’ve decided I will continue to follow everything which lights me up, inspires me, and even terrifies me a little bit — to learn and grow through the contrast I experience and take these messages from the in-between with me every step of the way.

Fantasy Candle Out Now!

“Men, what exactly is the nature of Enlightenment?” he asks.

I clench my fist. I’ve heard this conversation countless times before.

The stories of men will always be the same. 

I never imagined I’d create a custom candle, let alone put out and publish this book or any of my books if I’m being honest. Months ago, if you asked me about any of this, I’d consider it ludicrous. 

I think for the longest time I convinced myself I wasn’t worthy of the words put to the page — that they held no weight or meaning. Now, three books later, I think I’ve realized how we all underestimate our abilities as dreamers and creators of our own realities. 

We convince ourselves we aren’t good enough or strong enough or creative enough because we’re secretly afraid of our luster and shine. I think in the most becoming way we’re secretly terrified of our most earnest desires for our lives.

So, in the nature of these stories, I’d like to offer an alternative — a manifest desire formed beyond this candle’s glow.

What if we shine? 

What if we write new stories and greet them at the door?

What if we dream of enlightenment? 

The Nature of Enlightenment, the custom candle, is now on sale! ✨

The Council of Amara Custom Candle

The Nature of Enlightenment, out January 14th.

I think I’ve always defined myself as an artist above all else and expression has been the one umbrella, which defines all the work I do.

When I decided to make a custom candle and collaborate with @wildblackthorn to bring all these ideas into reality, I remembered thinking to myself how can I add another layer to the stories I’ve created, how can I contemplate the scents I’ve layered in naturally as a writer and bring another touch of the ephemeral and physical for you as you read The Council of Amara.

As an artist, one of my favorite endeavors is to bring all ideas from the ether and into the physical. It’s my favorite part of what I do and it’s why I love the muse.

I wanted to capture the unseen in this candle. I wanted to capture the scent of enlightenment in this candle — of coffee shops where intellectuals wrote, of horses on a dirty, dusty bustling road, of a kind offering being made to a young, wide-eyed girl: a pair of old ladies gloves.

I wanted to trace the scent between intellectual and find the rough, heady undertones, which marked it all.

Perhaps, above all else, I wanted to follow Isla’s footsteps in the place between it all as she strived to follow the scents she had grown up with and find her way home to the nature of enlightenment as she understood it to be.

Mark your calendars. The Nature of Enlightenment will be yours on January 14th.

Finding a Second Home in Slam Poetry

Performing “The Mask (In Your Dreams), Which is to Say Golden Age (JFK)”

Since September, I’ve been performing slam poetry at a small, quaint place called The Film Bar. It’s exactly what you might imagine it to be — a film bar: a place, which shows classic indie film and has a fully-operating bar serving treats and your favorite drink, too.

For the longest time, I’ve written poetry in a place of solace and kept my words for the latter half to myself. Granted, I have published two books of poetry, but this experience of speaking my poetry aloud to a live audience feels different to me. Once a month, I go to the Ghost Poetry Show, sometimes to speak and other times to listen — to absorb, to contemplate the words others have pressed to the page and resuscitated upon speaking them aloud.

It’s an intimate, personal experience to say the least. I don’t think any other form of art would quite allow or even grant the level of intimacy allowed within poetry. I never knew I desired a sense of community. I suppose I believed in the myth for the longest time that most artists write alone in the dark, but I guess that’s the magic of it all.

In community, we begin and find our words alone before we share them as we are cast in spotlight. Last Thursday, I performed at the Ghost Poetry Show and I won third place. I think at the end of the day the notoriety or awards don’t really matter as much as they are greatly appreciated.

I’ve always preferred the words after when a poet or an audience member comes up to me and says, “Your words really spoke to me.”

Because more or less, they are saying your words found me when I needed them. I found a home in them and they found a home in me.

And I think that’s the greatest reward at the end of the day.

Soften this Sadness

Nobody told me how to use my voice. Nobody told me how to write my poetry although they most certainly tried to.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that it’s difficult to emerge sometimes from challenging situations with a heart full of gratitude and softer eyes for having undergone such tribulations.

But that’s what I strive to do every day — to emerge sweet despite the contrast, which has informed my pathway and candid resolution.

I think that every word I share on this blog and in my life has been marked by the promise to soften to these words and moments in this liminal space.

Because the more I live, the more I’m beginning to realize that those who’ve hurt me didn’t realize they could have realized better in their lives. The way I see it, every emotion at one point existed as suppressed sadness. When I sit with that cardinal fact, I’m left speechless in all honesty.

So, I present you with this oath, this sentimental promise: I will continue writing candidly in this space because every emotion, which has passed before me was once repressed by him and her and all those who did not believe in me because they could not realize better for themselves.

Confessions From a Fountain Pen Snob

I have a confession: I’m a fountain pen user. And by fountain pen user, I mean fountain pen snob.

I call myself this because I only use fountain pens. Before I continue, I want to take you back to August 7th of 2020 as this was an important date for me. For starters, it was my 25th birthday (go me)! And on this very special day, I received my very first fountain pen from my brother for my present.

The pen, you ask? A Pilot Metropolitan in a purple color (as purple has always been my favorite color). I started off with ink cartridges and then slowly transitioned into using actual bottles of ink, which I purchased with time (more on this later).

I want to take this time to introduce another aspect of myself you may not know already. Fountain pens have been pivotal in my process of writing and in my enjoyment of it, too.

When I’m writing with a fountain pen, the process feels smooth and alchemical. There’s a close precision in the transference of ideas to the page. I wrote my first collection of poetry all on paper in my journal with my Pilot Metropolitan so it holds a special place in my heart and soul.

When I utilize my pen, I’m always in a certain mood and I choose the appropriate color to capture my mood accordingly. I’ll probably eventually write another post about the types of ink I use, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll give a brief description here.

Right now, my favorite color is Noodler’s “The Purple Heart,” which is a dark bluish-purple ink with the date of my birthday on its label (another synchronicity)! The story behind this color is related directly to the medal awarded to soldiers, which just happens to be called the Purple Heart. It’s a quick-drying ink, which is a key necessity for me as I’m a lefty and am known to smear practically everything in sight.

All jokes aside, the fountain pen and the inks I have are meaningful to me because they allow me to tap into the words I’ve always possessed within me.

They are my tools — my instruments — to make meaning in this world and I couldn’t imagine my life without them.

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I’ve linked the Pilot Metropolitan Purple Fountain Pen and Waterman’s Tender Purple Ink (my first fountain pen ink) below since the one I mentioned in my blog isn’t available currently. If you purchase any of these products, I receive a small commission from Amazon.

The Pilot Metropolitan is a great starter pen for those interested in trying out fountain pens as its relatively inexpensive and comes with an ink cartridge already. If you’re not comfortable with using inks right away, try an ink cartridge until you get accustomed to the process of writing with a fountain pen.