Friday, January 24, 2014

Vulnerability is a Bitch

Vulnerability is a bitch in the sense that a bitch is a Babe in Total Control of Herself. (For more on my thoughts about why being called a bitch isn't the insult intended, see Okay, So Sometimes I Really Am a B****, What of It?) Vulnerability feels like being out of control, but is often a controlled exposure of the best of what's hidden in one's heart and soul. I've long fought exposing my vulnerabilities to others. I held secret the best of me mainly because I somehow confused secret with sacred. I thought by hiding my truth, I was cherishing it and holding it sacred. As I've released my need to conceal all my deep truth, I've realized when we lock our sacred selves in a chest to be discovered like a buried treasure, we cheat the world, those who love us, and even ourselves of the best we can be.

I'm still often tempted to avoid letting others see that which makes me feel vulnerable. I see that struggle in the poems I'm compiling for my upcoming book of poetry, Vulnerability in Silhouette: Poems, due for release in early April, if all goes to plan. I read poems where I start out wanting to hide what I fear others knowing about me only to find it seeping into the later lines of the poems refusing to remain hidden.

Reading these poems reminded me of the year I spent purposely doing things that made me feel vulnerable. Man, what a year that turned out to be! I met new people and reconnected with old friends. I discovered some people felt uncomfortable with my raw exposure while others marveled that I was no longer holding back. You can read a little about the experiment in this blog post, Vulnerability, I Once Considered You a Curse Word. (Sorry about the nonexistent links in it. I was using a different blog host that is no longer operational... Perhaps I'll eventually add those posts to this blog and link to them again...)

As I continue to read through the poems choosing the ones to include in Vulnerability in Silhouette: Poems, I realize how I still struggle with allowing others to see my vulnerabilities. Yes, there was a time when even admitting that would have have felt like revealing too much. See, in those days I thought vulnerability was a bitch in every bad connotation that word can hold. And yet each poem exploring vulnerability brings me around to a sense of empowerment.

But today as I redefine so much about myself in order to be more genuine, to stand in my truth and to move forward, I realize that I've embraced my inner bitchiness, my vulnerability, my strength, my ability to love, and my ability to stand up for myself. While I can still go silent when someone pushes me too far, and that silence kills relationships, I'm much more likely to reach out once or twice or even thrice before I shut down communication. And, I no longer do it because I fear the person will have ammunition against me. These days, when I step away it's because I know I deserve relationships that are strong, loving, caring, and mutual.

So today when I tell you that vulnerability is a bitch, I'm not insulting vulnerability... I'm embracing the power within I've discovered by embracing my own vulnerability even it means I risk getting hurt. We only get one life and living it in protective mode just doesn't bring the rewards as risking that which opens us to new experiences... At least that's how I try to live my life...

So, yeah, today I proudly assert Vulnerability is just like me, a Babe in Total Control of Herself, aka a Bitch in all her glory.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

458 Poems in One Year - Enough?

In 2013, I challenged myself to write a poem every day. I didn't quite make it. I missed four or five days. I'm not exactly sure, and for once, I'm not going to go back and try to figure it out because that is beside the point.

I ended up writing 458 poems for the year. Well, technically, I wrote a few more than that because I accidentally deleted a couple, and I threw away a few that just never quite got where I wanted them to go. I don't know how many of those there were though, so I'm not counting them toward my total. I also co-wrote two poems with a poet friend, Joshua Timothy Simms, and I didn't include them in that total either.

It broke down like this

January  42
February 33
March 35  plus one collaboration
April 73
May 34
June 30
July 36  plus one collaboration
August 37
September 34
October 33
November 39
December 32
Total 458

When I created this self-imposed challenge, I questioned my purpose. I had no idea what I hoped to learn from the project. I felt like it would at least force me to write something every day even if what I wrote was less than perfect. Many lessons came my way though.

One lesson was repeated through my poetry and my life over and over this year - start from where you are. I've always been goal-oriented; so much so that in the past the first time I missed a day, I would've deemed the challenge a failure. Instead this time, I took a deep breath, meditated on my options, and then decided to start from that moment and write a poem every day for the rest of the year. I did the same time each time I failed to write a poem on a particular day. 

I even decided to give myself a day off when I had knee surgery, but by the end of that day, I ended up writing a poem - according to the save dates on my laptop - 2 actually. Drug induced as they may have been, I they're not bad at all. I'm not even sure they need much editing. But I digress...

Part of my goal with this challenge was to live with my imperfections. By writing a new poem every day, I often didn't have time to fret over them. I didn't have time to perfect them right away. I am a perfectionist, so this was a challenge for me. To consider something "written" when it felt less than perfect even knowing I could go back and edit it later forced me face my fears of not being good enough. I had moments where the words I wrote weren't what I thought I wanted to write, but later when I read them I discovered they worked. Re-writing them to death as I would have done in the past would've taken the soul out of the piece.

There were days when I had no inspiration to write about anything. There were days when I felt like all I could do was repeat myself. There were days when I found myself staring at the blank screen at 11:55pm (yes, right before midnight) wondering what I would write only to type something short just to make my deadline. Oddly, these poems often needed little editing when I went back them. It was almost as if by turning off my internal editor just to get something on the page, my voice spoke louder than ever.

I learned much about letting go of my internal censor and my internal judge through this process. I learned to always start from the moment I stood even if I was looking back or fantasizing about the future in order to write. I learned my inner strength floods onto the page mixed up with my vulnerabilities when I turn off my censor and my judge.

I learned that I can write a poem every single day if I so choose. I learned that perfection is seriously overrated... Yet, as I type this I wonder just how many times and in how many ways I'm going to have to learn these same lessons in the coming days, months, years...

Some of the poems I wrote early in the year appear in my book, Strength in Silhouette: Poems. Others will appear in forthcoming books.