Self-Worth

Some would argue that an individual’s worth

Is made up of trophies, lined on a mantle

Displayed in titles, framed on office walls

Evaluated through assessments of knowledge

Measured by the value of a home on a street

Admired in symmetrical painted faces

But I would say that worth runs deeper

In the innate kindness of a person’s heart

Through unseen acts of selfless giving

Felt in warm, caring hands and gentle eyes

Heard through validating, affirming words

Experienced through lended ears and open minds.

Our worth is our birthright, born as enough

With admirable qualities running through our veins;

It is who we are, and what we are at our core

Transparent and genuine, complete and whole.

Gentleness, Rejected

Once upon a time,

Gentleness was a sign of strength

Not frailty of character, or codependency

But evidence of a person’s soul.

When did common courtesy and compassion

Become rewritten as weak boundaries?

Our world has become corrupted

If to be kind, is to be weak

And to be aggressive is to be strong.

What does this rejection of empathy

And praise for the rise of narcissism

Offer to humanity, but disorder?

Is the survival of the fittest so powerful

As to dominate over genuineness, integrity,

Teaching the rising generation to value entitlement

Over basic concepts of honor and reverence.

I am a gentle soul in a calloused world

Where love is seen as overbearing

And toughening up my gushy soul

Seems the only acceptable way to exist

Without becoming consumed whole.

Overly Apologetic

Oh, if you knew the amount of resistance

I summon from the moment I awake

to resist constantly apologizing

For each imperceptible mistake

From asking how you are feeling

With too serious a tone

To not chuckling right on cue

At your most recent subtle joke.

That I’m not pleading forgiveness

After each social exchange

Is nothing less than miraculous

For one who identifies as socially strange

Believing my words inflict wounds

Despite the kindness of intent

And my presence evokes discomfort

To those who strive to be present.

I could refrain from saying “I’m sorry”

As my one default catchphrase

But in the future event of hurting you

I will overly apologize away.

December

As daylight hours wane

The evening streams blue shadows

Across glittering, freshly-fallen snow

And I watch in reverent awe

As the scene outside my front window

Transforms into a mesmorizing spectacle

Of tiny colored lights scattered on the foothills

Against majestic snowcapped mountains.

I nestle in the warmth of a blanket

Peering up at a tree filled with baubles and bows

A decade of memories both bitter and sweet

Reminding me that life is to be savored.

There is a paradox to December:

That in the midst of the darkest weather

Colors, lights, festivities, and joy emerge;

Yet in this childlike bliss of the season

There are those who quietly grieve.

Thanksgiving

Come, gather round this rustic table

I’ll light a candle for a centerpiece

We’ll bask in the fading light of day

And let our hearts begin to speak

Of deepest wishes, never spoken

Dreams still in their infancy

The bitter taste of our misfortunes

Finding gold within debris.

We’ll raise a glass to all our triumphs

Whether minuscule or profound

Wiping tears away for losses

Lifting shoulders stooping down.

There is no need for formalities

On this day of thanks and giving

When all we need are warm, accepting souls

To restore our reasons for living.

Overthinker

I am an overthinker

The sheriff of Anxiety Town

Predicting futures of death and devastation

Without the help of a crystal ball.

I am a worrying insomniac

A file cabinet turned upside-down

Littered with a thousand urgent memos

To which I may never respond.

I am a broken record of negative self-talk

Shaming myself for blinking too much

Demanding perfection from this faulty soul

While embracing everyone else.

Healing

Healing is a glorified concept

Of quick solutions, magical regeneration

Rainbows arching over flower meadows

Using words like letting go, moving on

As a guise for our breaking hearts.

What if we saw healing in its true form?

Messy, labile, excruciatingly painful

A mirror reflecting harsh reality

Coming face-to-face with our distortions

As well as our resilience.

Healing travels like a time machine

Huge leaps forward, free-falling backward

Learning to savor the present moment.

Healing generates instability

Pushing us out of safe enclosures

Teaching us, by force, to adapt, survive

Building mental endurance over miles and miles

Of emotional pandemonium,

Realizing only later in hindsight

How far we have come.

Sinking Depression

It began subtly, sleep prolonged

An innocent attempt to balance the deficit

That persisted despite the lack of tiredness

Dreaming to escape.

For a time, I ignored the heavy pull

Of thoughts, long stifled, to stop trying

But they flooded my mind, circling hope

Like vultures to prey

Consistent, persistent, calculating.

It was the blandness of food

The invisible weighted blanket

Of hopelessness, emptiness

That I carried around unwillingly

Growing heavier day-by-day.

It was the building evidence

Of failure, despite the opposite proof,

Tears channeled from seeing happiness

Without the ability to partake,

Flowing down cheeks like a geyser, erupted

Then the aftermath of anhedonia

When staring at walls, feeling nothing at all

Seemed as normal as breathing.

Depression is sinking on dry land

A hollowed-out version of existence

And those who survive

Will never truly believe their resilience

Until joy begins to thaw them out.

Running Away from the Cure

I see the itch in your twitching feet

The instant the pain sets in

Stirring up feelings you cannot ignore

So, let the damage control begin!

Fleeing is not the answer

To dispose of unwanted sensations

They will cling to recesses of your soul

No matter the speed of abdication.

Take a breath and invite in the aching

Radically accept what you strive not to feel

Ask the curious observer question:

“What can I learn so that I can heal?”

You can choose emotional repression

You can avoid like a connoisseur

But when numbing wins over awareness

You are running away from the cure.

To Live Is to Be Brave

In a world of nonstop doing

Where worth is measured by accomplishment

Clocking in and out of consciousness

Half-awake in a monotonous trench,

We berate ourselves for dragging our feet

Rising up in the wake of a million defeats

Putting smiles on a hollow and weary face

Giving energy despite the inner displace.

No amount of promotion, recognition, or fame

Compares to the victory of daily breathing

When despair is the foe, and life is to save

To fight is to live, and to live is to be brave.