Letting Go of All the Versions of Me to Reveal… Me

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Photo by Vince Fleming on Unsplash

I spent a majority of my life trying to be several different people, all at once. It maybe all started with what I call a success-hybrid I created as a kid. Someone would ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And I’d say, “A doctor-writer-veterinarian.” As I got older I adored to try new things. I played soccer for a year. I played the clarinet for 3 years. Theater and singing lasted longer, almost 8 years. I took on International Studies as a minor for a semester and dropped it almost immediately. I am a girlfriend, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a best friend, I work during the day, and write at night.

All those years I always compartmentalized who I was. If I was in a relationship but my friends were single, I would insist we not talk about my boyfriend. I didn’t want them to think I was actually that sensitive. (But I am.) I wouldn’t talk about my writing with my friends at the gym. I hardly ever mentioned my outside interests at work. It could seem at times even wrong to do so. I operated each piece of myself on its own.

Which ultimately started to drive me crazy because it was impossible to balance my time. Sometimes being a girlfriend took up three more hours than I had planned for. And so I couldn’t be a writer that day. Or I’d have to work late, and not be a friend that day. I have no idea why I did this, but I did. It wasn’t until the last year, maybe two, that I noticed it and attempted to stop it.

I asked my friends to welcome my boyfriend into our friend circle more fully, I made very close and dear friends at work, I told my superiors when I had work published so we could all celebrate. Instead of one or the other I was getting closer to the idea of me that I had as a child, I could be a couple things and it would be alright.

By removing my own compartments, I am a much happier person. My time doesn’t need to be parceled out hour by hour. My planner has become less precious to me. I write in the same room as my boyfriend. I am writer-girlfriend. I share my poems with my co-workers. I am poet-coworker. I make friends at work and introduce them to my boyfriend. I am coworker-girlfriend-friend. The more I combine my passions closer to one another the more like myself I feel. Every time I do not compromise one part of me for another, I glow. The tighter I wind in, pulling it all back, the more complete and whole I feel.

It turns out that I don’t need to be one person for each scenario. I just need to be me, in my entirety, and I will be happy. The closer I can get to my own core, the closer I get to being truly happy with the life I have built.

 

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Why Write Poetry?

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Photo by Tom Holmes on Unsplash

Ever since I started sharing my shorter poems publicly on Instagram I get a lot of questions and comments surrounding the process, my desire to write it, what it all means. My favorite is “Why write poetry?” I think for some of these people, poetry is a dated or far too academic form of expression. It seems out of touch with our technology-driven communities and the current trend of connecting superficially. But if the rather recent revival of poetry using social media has taught us anything (Lang Leav and Rupi Kaur) it’s that we are hungry for art… because art strives to make sense of that which overwhelms us.

Poetry often worries people. The fear of not “getting it” sends them into a panic and they’d rather not try at all. I understand this, I too remember the requirements of what you must know about poetry for the AP English exam. It can seem overwhelming and weirdly mathematical at times. But to me, the joy of reading poetry comes from your personal experience with it. You can get out as much or as little out of it as you’d like. If you want to read it and feel something–awesome. If you want to read it and then try to understand the author’s intent behind certain word choices–awesome, part two. Poetry can be a bit more malleable than other forms of written word, meanings can change based on when and where you read them. A poem’s affect can vary. This is what I love.

And that’s why I write poetry. I like to capture specific memories, places, and feelings of my own and then put them into a format that can speak to others. My intention with every poem is to make sure someone else doesn’t feel alone. I want readers to engage with each piece and say, “I feel this too” or “I know this”. I want them to love a poem but not be able to tell why. I want them to love a poem and know exactly why.

I want poetry to be more accessible. There are certainly poets and schools out there that do not share this enthusiasm for making poetry for “public” consumption. But I am okay with that. They can have their degrees and robes and scepters (I just threw that in there but I am sure some of them do indeed have scepters). I will play with words and feelings, try new things, learn new skills. I will put my poems out there for anyone who’d like to give poetry a try. Both reading and writing their own.

I’d also love to teach those who are new to it all about it’s history. I want to teach someone about meter and then show them how to break the rules. Nothing would please me more than breaking all the rules someone learned about poetry for the AP English exam. (I do seem haunted by the AP exam today, but I assure I am totally normal and hold no hard feelings…)

There are so many people out there writing poetry right and trying it for the first time! I want to encourage everyone to try it at least once and to forget any rules. Just let the pen move across a page and see what comes up. Come up with your own why for writing poetry… It’s a great healer.

Why do I write poetry? Because humans like to make sense of the world around them, and what better way to make sense of this world by creating other beautiful ones?

 

Poet Interview – Arthur Perez Junior -@apjpoetry

Stop by every other month for extensive interviews with my favorite up and coming poets. First up in this new series is Arthur Perez Junior. I met Arthur on Instagram and was blown away by his words and depth of feeling. And full disclosure, I was super intrigued to hear and learn more from him because he has accomplished the goal I am now working toward–publishing a book of poetry. (You can buy his book Wandering here.) On to the interview…! 

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Arthur Perez Junior

1. When did you start writing poetry?
I started writing at a very young age, around 10 or so. I had always been interested in stories, story telling and adventure and it really came to life when my father got a word processor (new school typewriter). From that point I wrote shorts stories and poems daily.

2. Since that time, how has your work changed/grown/evolved?
I developed a love of reading and found myself finding influence in the books I read and movies I watched. I have tried to remain true to my feelings and ideas. My style has evolved into something I would categorize as my own, my own style per se, and the ease at which words come has increased over the years.
3. What themes do you find yourself coming back to and why?
Love. It is always love. I have grown into somewhat of a hopeless romantic. I adore the melancholy of love and loss and the theme continues to carry through into my writing consistently.
4. Can you remember one of they very first poems you read?
I remember reading Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken, for the very first time and being so profoundly moved. Even at a young age the idea of forging my own way, resisting the urge to do the ordinary and venture out into the world without certainty. That poem has been ingrained in my mind, a reminder of the value in struggle and persistence.
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One of my favorites from Arthur’s IG Feed
5. There are so many forms of writing. Why poetry for you?
I love rhyme, and although a lot comes through as prose, I have always been drawn to the whimsical nature of poetry. I have been very influenced by late 80s and early 90s hip hop. The flow of the words was intoxicating, and prompted me to get into spoken word and eventually recording and releasing 2 hip hop albums.
6. Who are your favorite “established” poets? 
I love Frost, Rumi, Shakespere, Dickinson, TS Elliot, and scores of others. I love classic literature, and there is no shortage of brilliance.
7. Any up and coming poets you enjoy?
In this age of social media, I am amazed at the sheer amount of talent. There are so many gifted writers with a platform to present there work on a daily basis. I have found several people that move me and if I take the time to follow, have something worthwhile to say.
8. What was it like putting a book of poetry together?
Nerve wrecking and exhilarating. Going through revisions, deciding what gets removed or added and learning the intricacies of publishing were all exciting. I loved the process of it all and hope to take what I’ve learned and make the next release even better.
9. What are your plans for the future with your work?
I am in the process of completing my next release, Star Sailors. I am shooting for an April release. It is all about self exploration and discovery with a space theme. I am very excited about this book and am working tirelessly to ensure that it gets the proper promotion.
10. What’s some advice/motivation you could give to other poets?
First of all, don’t wait. Do it. Release your book and don’t look back. Learn through the process and grow!
Second, have a plan. Do your homework and figure out what works for you.
Thirdly, I would say its your world. Don;t conform. Write what you like, release what you want, and enjoy the ride. 🙂 If you are copying someone’s style, the world has already seen it. Perfect your craft and be the original!
You can connect with Arthur here:

Instagram: @apjpoetry
Are you or do you know an up and coming poet I should feature? Drop me a note in the comments below or hit me up on IG!

I Know My Brand is Indistinct… And I’m OK With It

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Photo by Benjamin Voros on Unsplash

Very few of you probably don’t know how I spend my time off the blog and off the page. I work a regular “9-5” job in an office in Midtown Manhattan. My official title? Marketing and Brand Innovation Manager at a hotel company. Which means I spend my days creating and honing hotel brands and then determining how we market those brands to the wider public.

So why does my personal brand seem a little…wacky and unfocused?

Well, cause I am wacky and unfocused.

My brand is me.

I once spent a lot of time trying to cram myself into different, single boxes, to make a brand work. I was going to be Fitness Amanda or Writer Amanda or Book Reviewer Amanda or Foodie Amanda. And then I tried to be all of those things at once, trying to be an expert in every single one of my hobbies. It took years for me to realize that the most authentic true brand I could create for myself, was just to let my freak flag fly and see who came running.

That means I talk openly and honestly about how tough all of this is. I sometimes cook on my Instagram stories but rarely share photos of the food I prepare on my feed because I am terrible food photographer. I workout all the time, but only post the occasional photo of what that looks like. I share poetry more often. And I share photos of my day-to-day life, of the beauty in a life that sometimes either feels too fast or too boring. I share the balance between all those aspects of who I am and I encourage my followers to do the same.

I love a beautiful brand. I love curated photos. I love color schemes and different tones of voices and I adore creating logos. (Truly!) And these are all aspects of powerful important brands and we should learn from them for our businesses. But for me, a lack of focus and a lack of breadth are just who I am. I am a little wacky. I am overwhelmed a lot. I become obsessed with something and then abandon it weeks later for something new. I am a creative nutcase and I share it. And I’m ok with that.

So tell me, what’s something you’re doing that you KNOW isn’t the “right way” but you’re doing it your way anyway? Why do you do it this way? Why is it important to you? Tell me in the comments or make an IG post and use the hashtag #cheapcourage.

What I Don’t Want to Tell You

I recently read somewhere (Forgive me I completely forget because I read anywhere from 5-20 articles a day, plus countless social pages. So if this was you or you know what article I am talking about, shoot me a note and I’ll link to that sucker right here!) that whatever it is I don’t want to share or write about, is exactly what I should be sharing or writing about.

And I don’t mean boring topics like “All the Times I Forgot What Day it Was” but the things that scare me a little. The topics and thoughts that put a little pit in my stomach when I think of telling someone about them. They’re the things I think I’ll be judged for and they’re the things I should be sharing… According to this article or quote I can’t even link to.

I really took this to heart, and since this is Cheap Courage after all, from it I am going to start a series of blog posts all about the shit I don’t want to share. The hope being that: a) You find out you’re not alone b) I find out I’m not alone c) We all get closer d) I help someone. And I hope by me sharing the tough stuff will give you the courage to do the same. We’re all human and we’re so beautifully imperfect I really think it’s high-time we start embracing that.

First off I’m tackling FAILURE… dun dun dun… 

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Ok so, there’s this huge misunderstanding out there that anyone who is “successful” is “gifted” or “lucky”. Sure, some small percentage of the time this is true but really, a successful person is someone who didn’t give up after their first 55 failed projects. Success is resilience. It’s almost as frustrating to me as when someone tells me I am lucky to have great “genes” to keep me fit and I have to correct them and say “I have great workouts 6 times a week”. Success takes work and time and patience.

I have been out of school for 7 years. I have been writing “regularly” for about 4 or 5 of those 7 years. I am JUST NOW doing the following: a) Submitting work to be published regularly b) Asking for critiques c) Sharing my work on social media d) Figuring out this blog. I have had some really minor successes and I hope to have more and more and maybe some major ones… but what’s nuts is the following list.

Here’s everything I’ve failed before getting to where I am now (that I could remember):

  • Creating workouts and recipes consistently for this blog
  • 2-3 blogs of my own before this one
  • Writing for a food blog, a neighborhood blog, 2 pop culture sites, a woman’s site, a comic book site, a recipe site, a cheating (really) website, a travel site (all of them went under)
  • Trying to start a VLOG
  • Attempting to become a food writer, columnist, editor, freelance grammar checker, fact checker, research, blogger for hire, a movie reviewer
  • Finishing a spec script for various shows
  • Writing stand-up, doing Improv, writing sketches, writing a humor blog

And here’s everything that’s either still in the works, has come back recently, or I am not ready to give up on yet:

  • A book of essays
  • A book of poetry
  • A podcast or two
  • A travel video series
  • Some sort of fitness certification
  • Becoming fluent in French
  • Creating collage art

So you see… this stuff is HARD. There’s a million things out there to try, to attempt, to research, to learn, to forget, to pick back up… some of it sticks and some of it doesn’t. Some of it sucks, some of it is fun, most of it is a huge “waste of time”.

Turns out I have some resilience but finding focus has been difficult for me. I love the shiny new object, always. This year has been a great exercise in discipline and focus and it has paid off with a few good hits and some fantastic work.

You see, creative work is like an iceberg. The rest of the world sees this one small glowing accomplishment when really below it is a bunch of scary and weird failures we’d rather hide. Well, not today my friends, not today.

Are you ready to share a failure with me? Leave a comment! WANT TO SHARE IT WITH THE WORLD?! Post on Twitter or Instagram with your failure and hashtag it #cheapcourage. Let’s get it out there and move on my friends.

xoxo