Poetry as soul-food, self-care as struggle

I haven’t posted a blog post since the first week of term, three weeks ago. My first instinct was to apologise here, but I’m not doing that. Instead, a brief explanation:

I have high expectations for myself, and I tend towards taking on more than I can handle. When the term started, I thought that I could post regularly on my blog, send a weekly newsletter, write for two sites 1-2 times a month, work 20 hours a week on campus, and get all of my homework done. That’s been much harder than I anticipated, particularly with the heavy amount of reading: some 500+ pages per week.

This week, my Audre Lorde class shifted from her memoir Zami to her poetry. Sunday, as I read, I felt amazing, happy and calm and still, and I realised that I hadn’t felt that way in weeks. When I got home, I shuffled one of my tarot decks and drew three cards: the 4 of Swords, Strength, and the 4 of Cups, which reflected some things that had been on my mind that morning. I set several intentions for my week:

  • I will listen to my body and its needs, instead of pushing for more than I can handle
  • I will set boundaries and protect my need for nurturing space and quiet
  • I will let my friends and loved ones know I value them

I also posted to Facebook my gratitude for the day: being moved by beautiful poetry that speaks to that which is my ancestors in me. I have struggled to act with my intentions in mind, but I will keep them with me. And having set them inspired me to talk to one of my professors about my time crunch, and get some clarity on where I can focus, which frees me from a piece of anxiety that has been building.

Going forward, I hope to keep writing a gratitude in my planner each day. I hope to get caught up on my homework. I hope to spend more time with friends, which I know is a source of energy renewal for me. I hope to reassert my self-imposed boundaries around protecting my sleep time, so that I can be better rested. I may do all of these things, or I may not. But that’s to come; for now, I am simply determined to ease up on myself. My high expectations are holding me back, exhausting me… so I need to let them go.

What this means is that I may post to this blog every week, or I may miss a week or two. I may send a newsletter out each week, or I may miss some. I don’t want this to be a space of anxiety for me—I like sharing this space with the folks who’ve connected with me here and on other platforms, and dashing out posts for the sake of making them is a disservice to you all and myself. I want this to be a community: reflective,  caring. I need to be realistic about my own limits, so that this space is the best it can possibly be.

Thank you for being here and sharing space with me. I hope you know that I appreciate you.

See you next week—maybe.

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Another School Term Begins!

The new term started Monday, and I’ve been swamped! I set a really tough schedule for myself this term, and it looks like I’m gonna need every minute of study time I can get.

I have a total of ten books to read in their entirety. Four are by Audre Lorde, including Sister Outsider, The Cancer Journals, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, and Undersong. The rest are for my Memoir Writing class, and include Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy, Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett, The Autobiographer’s Handbook by Jennifer Traig, Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell, Close to the Knives: A Memoir of Disintegration by David Wojnarowicz, and The Chronology of Water: A Memoir by Lidia Yuknavitch.

Here’s a selection of the things I will be using this term to help me be successful:

In addition to full time classes, I have 20 hours of work per week, and 2 weekly debate team practices, in addition to my freelance writing.  Like my post about NaNoWriMo last term, I have a lot on my plate. My health has been pretty good the last couple of weeks; hopefully, I can get ahead on my homework this weekend, and minimise my stress. (I’m also trying to colour more as a means of stress management; check it out.) We’ll see how it goes.

Have a good weekend, folks—and take care of yourselves!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books To Read This Fall

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is ten books that are on my autumn to-read list.

In addition to the books for my classes, I want to read the following in the next three months:

  • Breaking Chains: Slavery on Trial in the Oregon Territory by Gregory Nokes
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • Kindred by Octavia Butler
  • Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  • Undersong by Audre Lorde
  • Another America: The Politics of Race and Blame by Kofi Buenor Hadjor (currently on pg 109 of 219)
  • The Guardians: An Elegy by Sarah Manguso (at my partner’s recommendation)
  • Shadow and Act by Ralph Ellison
  • And We Are Not Saved by Derrick Bell
  • The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss

It’s a bit heavy on recreational reading that is closely related to my major, but that’s because my major is awesome.