Here. This point, right now. This
is where you are. This moment,
this minute is the one to sit with.
Don’t worry about the minute
that comes after this one. Or
the minute that came before.
This minute, you are here. You are not
who you were. You are not who
you will be. You are you in this now.
This minute may be hard. But you
are here, which means you have
made it through all the minutes
up to now. Which means you
have been through hard and come
out the other side more human.
Being human is hard but you’ve done
it for a while now. So in this minute,
marvel at who you are right now.
Did you even notice as you walked by?
You didn’t, did you?
I saw it.
The heart-shaped leaf,
the unraveling thread,
the flowers tucked in the garbage.
The slope of the tree branch,
the sharp lines of the phone booth,
the sign that said only “Please Do Not.”
I saw the wet footprint
shaped like fish bones,
water bouncing off the statue’s feet.
I saw it all,
but you kept walking.
Onto the next thing. Always on.
I noticed, felt, loved, and hurt
while you stayed in motion,
Maybe that’s why we’re not together.
Perhaps we never were.
Guess you never noticed.
for the women of Mt. Calvary
Woman, God made you
He made you to stand strong
To give love and shelter
To nourish bodies and hope
To encourage and to heal
Woman, God made you
to do all these and more
with grace and mercy
just as He does all these for you
and infinitely more
Woman, God made you
so greet this day knowing
that you are divinity
in a beautiful body
that God picked just for you
Rise and love, woman
God made you
by Upile Chisala
Publish Date: February 26, 2019
Andrews McMeel Publishing
This beautiful poetry collection is about self-love, power, depression, relationships, and understanding. It is geared toward women and perhaps teens or young adults of color.
The words Chisala chooses are as beautiful as the ideas she aims to express.
I recommend this book for poetry lovers. I suspect readers of color will find themselves seen and heard on these pages, and white readers can see the need for inclusive and “own voices” writing.
“People who need help sometimes look a lot like people who don’t need help.” -Glennon Doyle
I can’t say with any certainty that I am viewed as having it all together. I have, however, been complimented for my ability to remain calm or to calm others. In my days as a project manager, it was a strength often highlighted in my performance reviews. One supervisor actually used to mistake my calm attitude for a lack of understanding the urgency of the issue, until he learned I very much understand the urgency, but can’t address it if I get frantic.
During my application process to become a Hospice volunteer, the coordinator told me after speaking to my three references that she had never seen a single word used so consistently to describe someone. What word is that, I asked. “Calm. Every single person commented on how calm you are.”
Calm. That is a marvelous state.
Imagine how it must feel to be known for being calm and to hold a diagnosis of anxiety. It sometimes feels that my entire self has been taken from me.
How does anxiety present in me? My body feels tight. My breathing becomes really short. My heart thuds faster. I awake at 2 a.m. and remain awake until 5 a.m. That is assuming I even got to sleep in the first place. Every possible decision — from what action to take to what shirt to wear — becomes steeped with dread of making the “wrong” choice.
Then, when I lie in bed in the wee hours of the morning worrying about how I can’t sleep and noticing how short and fast my breaths are, I remember that my mother’s heart attack was preceded by shortness of breath (side note: women’s symptoms are often different than men’s; know your tells!). So I tell myself that it’s likely “only” anxiety. Calm yourself. I put on soothing music with nature sounds, I focus on my breath — which is oh my goodness, really short and rapid. What if it really is a heart attack? which, of course, only antagonizes the anxiety, which speeds up the heart, which shortens the breath, which… you see where this is going.
I have had two EKGs in the past 14 months. It’s not a heart attack (though I will still be mindful of signs). When I received the diagnosis of “general anxiety” last year, the doctor asked if there had been any changes in my life recently. I laughed a nervous, short-breathed laugh. In the previous year? Marriage ended. Single motherhood. New home — that I had to take care of all by myself. New town — where I knew no one when I arrived. New job. Ex-husband’s new girlfriend. New school for my son — who was starting kindergarten. New puppy. Nothing major there!
I thought I had been handling things rather well, all things considered. Sure, I had moments where I broke down and cried. That was to be expected. Most of those occurred behind closed doors, mostly so my son wouldn’t worry. People kept telling me how well I looked, how they would have been a wreck, how calm I was.
And mostly I was. Except when I wasn’t.
I got through all of that. I came out the other side. I used every tool in my arsenal to battle anxiety: medication, therapy, the gym, healthier food choices, yoga, early bedtimes, time with friends, time alone to unwind, prayer, meditation, gratitude. I beat it.
The thing about anxiety is that the other side is a bit of a myth. You don’t beat anxiety. You handle it. You manage it. You have really great days. You look calm. Because you are calm. Until one day you aren’t.
Anxiety doesn’t care that “calm” is your thing. It wants to know why you’re not frantic about any of the millions of things that could be going wrong right now. You could be having a heart attack! How can you just lie there? You can’t wear a t-shirt. What if it gets cold? During an anxiety attack, these worries carry equal weight.
It’s not easy, and it’s even less easy to talk about it, because what if people think you’re crazy? What if you are crazy? And some people will wonder what you have to be so anxious about. And some people will tell you to shake it off, which will make you want to shake them. But you won’t, because you’ll be too worried that maybe they are right and maybe this should be much easier to shake off.
This is what it’s like to have anxiety.
Someone you know and love may have this, and you may not even know. Because sometimes the people who need help look a whole lot like people who have it all together.
And honestly, that’s where I’ve been recently. So, I’m back to embracing the many tools in my arsenal. Anxiety isn’t a one-time battle. It’s a war, and I intend to win. Preferably, as calmly as possible.
Some things once seen, can’t be unseen.
Some things once known, can’t be unknown.
It is wise, then, to be cautious
of what one comes to see and know.
Once the eyes are open,
and the heart is broken,
all that remains is to act.
We spend our lives
waiting.Waiting in line,
at traffic lights,
for the bus or train to come,
for our big break.
We wait to be loved,
to be accepted,
to be allowed.
We wait for help,
for the right time.
We wait for our turn.
When will it be my turn?
Don’t wait for the right time.
The right time is now.
Don’t wait for guidance.
and when you find it,
share it with others.
Don’t wait for help.
Don’t wait to be allowed.
to be where you are
and to do what you need to do.
Don’t wait to be accepted.
Accept God and His goodness,
or the universe and its magic,
or whatever it is that brings you to your knees.
Don’t wait to be loved.
Right now, show love.
I am more than you think I am.
I surprise people with my age, my experience, my strength, my ability.
First impressions can be mistaken.
My power is in your underestimation.
I am more broken than you think I am.
Do not mistake my perseverance for wholeness.
I smile because I am content, or because I am sad and know it will get easier, or because sharing a smile is much nicer than the alternative, or because I know something you don't think I know.
My power is in your inability to decipher one smile from another.
Really. Just stop.
You don’t have to run all the time.
You don’t have to always be doing.
You don’t have to go, go, go.
You don’t have to scroll through your Facebook feed.
It is OK to do nothing.
Really. Just be still.
For it is in the still that knowing comes.
It is in the still that healing happens.
It is in the still.
And still, we run.
Edge of Wonder: Notes From The Wildness Of Being
by Victoria Erickson
Published by Enrealment Press on December 15, 2015
Edge of Wonder is a book of poetry that is accessible and inspiring. It is particularly suited to sensitive souls (HSPs -- that is, highly sensitive people -- this means you!).
Erickson’s poems marvel at the wonder of the everyday. She delves into hopes, soul-care, and why all of our voices are needed in this world.
Though their language makes them easy to comprehend, these poems pack punches that are harder than they seem at first glance. I read just a few poems each day to let Erickson’s words sink in, to let their simple truths permeate. I will return to Edge of Wonder many more times.