This year, I challenged myself to write 366 poems. Oh, shit.
Ok, that’s intense, let’s rewind and give you some back-story. Even though I have an overwhelming amount of passions and goals, being a poet was always at the top of my list of life goals. At 13-years-old, I began writing poetry and immediately knew it was what I was meant to do in this world. But oh boy, that was definitely not a practical goal to present my strict Eastern European parents with. So, I dabbled in prose for the rest of high school and come university (the time to get serious about life and my future) I gave it up. It didn’t seem like a logical path forward, there would never be money in poetry, thus, I wasn’t going to enjoy creating it for much longer. I stopped writing entirely. I realize how clichéd the ‘unsupported artist’ story sounds, but to hell with it. Myths are meant to repeat themselves. Aside from the countless business and psychology reports I produced, I barely scribed a handful of sonnets for over five years.
All at once, at the age of 21, at the end of a month-long Croatian vacation and 4.5-year-long relationship, a waterfall of words came pouring through me. There is a lesson here about letting go of what other people want for your life in order to reconnect to your heart’s purpose, but hopefully you can read between the lines. I wrote manically, on beaches, planes, buses, walks, toilets, anywhere the muse caught me in a fleeting moment of inspiration. I couldn’t ignore the roaring poetic voice that had returned, despite, for years having chastised it down to a mere whisper – inaudible to the human ear. I started writing more often, a few times a week, but I never shared my poetry with others. Until of course I had an archetypical and very insistent and charismatic friend deplore me to share my writing with her. When I was finally enthusiastically coerced into reading for her, I couldn’t believe the incredible praise and compliments she graciously offered. I was humbled and so proud. Of course, my logical mind reminded me that she was my friend, she had an obligation to like my verbose free-verse views. I never truly acknowledged that I was any good at being a poet, nor that by some sorcery others would enjoy reading my work. To be frank, I am still not convinced of this, but writing for other people is besides the point of poetry. I write it because otherwise, in the strictest scientific and most medical accounts, I would die.
Still, never doubt the power of praise, I started reluctantly sharing my pieces more often with my friends and partner; all with great response. But I never shared the work with strangers, that was the equivalent of social suicide. Why the EFF would my work colleagues and university friends want to read about my adjective filled feelings and experiences on Instagram? No thanks. However, during a typically candour-rich conversation between my best friend Maria and I, she insisted that I post my poems about the sea on Instagram. I believe she actually dared me to do it. Human beings are very basically motivated by food, sex, and truth or dare. The first time I publicly shared a poem, ON THE INTERNET, I felt like I was simultaneously going to vomit and scream. Although that would have been great content for a teenage boy Vine post, my first Insta sea poem got 10 hearts and no comments, a tiny ripple in the endless scroll. Now, I know Brené Brown would have something to say about how doing this was an incredible act of vulnerability and courage, but you made that connection. Every month or so I started posting a poem on Instagram; I even included “Poet” in my description (AKA the 260 characters that define who you are and want to be on this planet.)
Then, on my 25 birthday I was feeling rather prophetic and poetic after accomplishing one of my bucket list items: climbing the Inka Trail to Matchu Picchu, so I made the ballsy goal to write 366 poems (it’s a leap year) in 2016. I dedicated to pair each poem with an original photograph and here we are. Four months into 2016 and I am so so very behind and have produced and shared 44 poems and photos. Despite my procrastination (creativity isn’t automatic ok?) I am 100% committed to following through on 366, even if that means writing 2 poems a day for 59 days. This is a creative challenge and a goal that sets my soul on fire. So I must complete it. I don’t promise that all of the poems will be good, but I promise to write them.
Follow me on Instagram #366Prose for daily* poems and to provide me with much-needed ass-kickings and encouragement. *I solemnly swear to try my bestest to write daily.
#InstaPoems 1 – 5
I am grateful for your feedback and support.
Poetry & Heart Palpitations,
How to discover and work with your spirit animal(s).
You have a favourite animal, you’ve heard the term ‘spirit animal’ thrown around in comedic memes and tweets, and you may know that shamans and aboriginal societies worldwide consider animals to be sacred; but what does it mean to identify and connect to your own spirit animal? I’ve been investigating and learning about animal symbolism and spiritual work for the past few years. Here are my quick how-tos and favourite resources so you can start letting your inner animal roam free:
Who: Dolphin is my spirit animal. They’re just so flippin’ (praise puns) awesome! I have always loved Dolphins and diving into the meaning of these magnificent creatures has brought me great richness and joy. This is fitting, because Dolphin’s represent joy, playfulness, connection, intuition, deep emotional experiences, and community. These are all characteristics I both embody and continuously work to strengthen. Whenever I feel like I need to be more playful and easy going I think about dolphins jumping through the air and swimming in large pods. Sometimes, I even jump in the spot or breathe deeply like a dolphin would on the surface of the water. This may look silly, but working with my spirit animal in this way helps me to get back to my true self.
What: A spirit/power/totem animal is an animal that a person particularly identifies with and whose symbolism and characteristics are parallel to the traits of that individual. It’s like widllife twinsies! But who wants twins when you could have quintuplets! I believe that we are each likely to identify with four different animals, one for each of the elements: 1. earth/land, 2. water/sea, 3. air/sky, and 4. fire/mythical creatures! There is usually one dominant animal, but each of the four can come out to play during different life stages and times. Dolphin is my water animal, Elk is my earth, Eagle my sky, and I am still discovering who my fire animal is.
How: There are a lot of different view points about how to identify your own spirit animal, but based on everything I have learned it’s actually rather simple. More often than not, your spirit animal is your favourite childhood animal, or an animal that you have long been fascinated with. Nobody else can tell you who your spirit animals are, it is an intuitive investigation you will have to undergo for yourself. Usually, the very first animal that comes to mind is it. Simple. Don’t second guess yourself. If you have trouble thinking of an animal right away or identifying each of your four animals, then they can be discovered through visualization based meditations and facilitated through a shamanic journey. The late shaman and spiritual teacher, Ted Andrews, wrote fantastic meditations and provided resources on discovering animal totems in his book Animal Speak: The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small.
Why: As a writer, to say that I am obsessed with symbolism and metaphor would be an understatement. I love uncovering the meaning behind everything I see, hear, and feel in this world. Learning about animal symbolism has been one of the most rewarding rabbit holes I have ever fallen into. Animals are amazing and they have so much to teach us about nature and ourselves. It’s common for people to seek out role models of the behaviour and actions they want to emulate and develop. All living things, from humanitarians to humpback whales, are excellent role models if we play close enough attention. To discover what each animal has to teach me and how I can ‘work’ with it I use Steven Farmer’s Animal Spirit Guides: An Easy-to-Use Handbook for Identifying and Understanding Your Power Animals and Animal Spirit Helpers.
When: Work with your spirit animals whenever you need the boost and support that only they can provide. Really, whenever you think to do it is the right time. Also, pay attention to any other animals that continuously pop-up in your life in pictures, actual sightings, dreams, conversations, bumper stickers, clothing patterns, you name it, nature will speak to you. I usually go with the rule of 3, if you see or think of an animal three times within a short period of time, it’s probably time to look it up and see what the hell it’s trying to tell you. Steven Farmer also has a great set of Animal Spirit Guides Oracle Cards, you can use to take all of the guess work out of figuring out which critter’s messages you need to hear right now.
Have fun using these resources to discover and work with your animal spirit guides.
Tell me who your creature kin are in the comments below and what the greatest lessons they have taught you are.
Wild & Free,
Wisdom truly is timeless.
Centuries old teachings have brought me to tears, confusion, epiphany, awe, and grace.
The Tao Te Ching, considered to be the wisest book/poem ever created, was written by wise man Lao-tzu, over 2,500 years ago in ancient China. My favourite translation Living the Wisdom of the Tao: The Complete Tao Te Ching and Affirmations, was written by our lifetime’s legendary spiritual teacher – Dr. Wayne W. Dyer. The book is composed of 81 verses, or poems, that teach the reader about the great way, the Tao, which is both named and nameless; for anything that transcends understanding cannot truly be labeled, nor understood. It is the guiding text for most spiritual and theological writings of our day and provides a beautiful road map for how to perceive the universe, self, and all living creatures rightfully and with love. I can honestly say that each one of these 81 verses has challenged me, enlightened me, and filled me with joy. Yet, somehow, it keeps giving back and expanding each time I pick it up again. This may be the very reason why the below excerpt from Verse 5, is my absolute favourite (note: it is about as difficult to pick a favourite verse from The Tao as it is for Oprah to narrow down her list of things). The Tao (much like Oprah), just keeps on giving, you get wisdom, you get wisdom, everyone gets wisdom.
Grad your own copy (sorry it’s not free, I’m not Oprah..yet) and leave your favourite quote in the comments.
Wisdom is never old if it is always being discovered.
I have been spritzing this mountain mist on myself before bed and meditation and have experienced really divine levels of relaxation. I even started putting some on my hair before going to work to aid in a stress-free work day.
Make your own:
Mountain Meditation & Tranquility Pillow Mist
1. Fill 3/4 of a dark glass spray bottle with distilled water (not tap)
2. Add 10 drops each of Lavender and Sacred Mountain Young Living Essential Oils (one of my favourite essential oil brands, sign-up & order some for yourself!)
3. Add 20 drops of emulsifier (such a Witch Hazel or pure Vodka)
4. Twist shut, swish, swirl, & shake
5. Spray onto chest and hair for meditation & pillows for a tranquil bed
Questions? Ask away in the comments below or email me.
I am moist sand beneath your souls
foam creeping up against your toes