An Honest Poem

I was born on a chilly October night, 26 years ago.
I’m 5’6, with brown eyes, and black hair and my weight is none of your business.
I’m not a dog person, and I’m allergic to cats.
I’m kind of like a baby jumping spider, cute but creepy.
I’m a good writer, listener, and I can carry somewhat of a tune.
But the thing I’m most talented at is avoiding my problems.
I’m an absolute pro at it.
If there’s a problem, I run in the complete opposite direction.
I run to my books and hide from the world.

In books, things happen for a reason.
The plot is set, the character’s path predestined.
Real life isn’t like that.
I could have never predicted the path that my life has taken.
I barely recognize myself these days.
I’ve abandoned everything that used to define me.
So if I’m no longer the student,
the youth leader,
or the devoted churchgoer.
Then who am I?
That is the million dollar question.
Sometimes I feel like I’m 10 different people from one day to the next.
Which one is the real me?
Or are they all me?

I’m prone to melancholy.
Have been for as long as I can remember.
I’ve daydreamed about wandering into a field during a thunderstorm and being dissipated by a lightning bolt.
Like the end of the movie “Powder”.
My therapist calls this a suicidal fantasy.
I call it what happens when I’m alone too long in my thoughts.

I feel broken.
But I’m a Christian and we’re not supposed to say that.
Isn’t that why God sent his son?
So that I can be whole?
Well me and God aren’t really speaking as much as we used to.
I try not to dwell too long on the state of my faith.
If I do, a pain so deep radiates through me that I can barely breath.
I’ll just sum it up in one word, unraveled.

I attempting to date.
Me, the perpetually single girl.
I was always waiting to be better, more prepared, more successful, more perfect.
I always wondered if anyone could ever truly understand and love me, with all of my chaos.
So far it’s been a huge bust.
I was catfished, but isn’t that a millennial rite of passage?

My name is Tawni.
I love indie rock, Mexican food, and spending time with friends.
Even though I don’t know if I really have anything in common with any of them.
My hobbies include:
fighting my inner demons,
pretending that I’m fine,
and overthinking everything.
Nice to meet you.


A week ago I stumbled across Rudy Francisco’s spoken word piece “My Honest Poem” on Facebook and it moved me. You can watch it here and read it here. I thought to myself, I should do one too! It was definitely harder than I thought it was going to be but at the same time oddly cleansing.

 

Photo by Anders Jildén on Unsplash

I Am My Own #Goals

Life has literally taken a bat to everything I held dear, so while I am rebuilding, all of my goals are under construction. 

When my friend Terasha thought up this blog challenge “I am my own #goals” I inwardly groaned. The phrase brings to mind someone who is out there getting things done personally and professionally and doesn’t need to look to social media for their goals in life. Personally and professionally I’m flailing and I have been guilty of coveting the lives of people on social media who seem to have it “together”. Life has literally taken a bat to everything I held dear, so while I am rebuilding, all of my goals are under construction.

I’m trying to be okay with being on this undefined road. They say there is something to be learned from every season of your life and I want to give myself the chance to learn from this experience. What I’m learning is that just like seasons change, goals change too. You could be moments from the finish line and realize this wasn’t the right race for you. And that’s completely okay, there is no definite map.

I’m discovering that comparing yourself with others is pointless. We scroll through our feeds seeing our peers sailing through life, living out their dreams or so it seems. Social media only shows a slice of that person’s life, not the whole pie. That person may have fought, cried, and bled to get to where they are. They could be terribly unhappy while still smiling in their Instagram post. I can’t compare my entire life to a slice of someone else’s. I have to figure out what is right for me, and what I want to accomplish and I won’t find that on social media, I am my own #goals.

Photo by Nolan Issac on Unsplash

I’m Not Crazy, I’m Just A Little Unwell

Your thoughts are racing, jumping from one problem to the next, your heart rate is accelerating, there is a pain in your chest like an elephant is sitting on it and you’re one upset away from bursting into tears.
Your good friend Anxiety has come to visit, and she is showing out.

I have been dealing with anxiety for a few years now and what I have found instrumental is knowing what my triggers are and trying my best to avoid them. My hope is that by listing my triggers someone reading this will recognize the same patterns and make changes, or at least someone will receive some much needed validation.

Sleep! Sleep! Sleep!

We all get a little cranky when we don’t get enough sleep. As a highly sensitive person that deals with anxiety sleep is my life’s blood. Too many nights with less than 6 hours of sleep can turn me into emotional mess of a person. Exhausted Tawni has no patience, gets angry at the drop of a dime, and takes any small dig extremely serious.

Get out of the House!

Loneliness is a huge trigger of mine. My introverted side scoffs at the idea but I need human connection. That doesn’t mean I need to go out every weekend. Sometimes just going to a coffee shop and reading a book, or writing can be enough. I need to be reminded sometimes that there is a whole world out there and to keep myself balanced I need to go out in it sometimes.

Pray!

If I’m not communing with God then everything just seems a bit worse than it already is. Daily prayer and meditation helps me feel centered and gain perspective on my problems. Go too long without it and my mind will begin to feel cluttered and overwhelmed, prime ground for anxiety to grow.

Take time for yourself!

My life can be busy between work, friends, and everything else. Being constantly on the go can makes me tired and irritable even if I have had a good nights sleep. I sometimes have to remind myself that taking a day to lay around the house and watch Netflix is okay. I work hard Monday-Friday and I deserve time to myself. Getting immersed in a new series or watching something that makes me laugh is a good way to get my mind off of things.

 

Self-care is a term we’re hearing a lot lately but it’s legit, especially for those who deal with mental health issues. We have to be good to ourselves before we can be good to others. My prayer that anyone reading this will take a good look at themselves and see where they can improve in their own lives. Self-care means different things to different people, maybe Netflix isn’t good for you but a stroll in the park is. Whatever you can do to help yourself do it!

 

 

Photo by Afonso Coutinho on Unsplash

 

An Unexpected Gap Year

I’ve made peace with the fact that my education will be on hold for a year, and I have something now that I haven’t had in awhile, a lot of free time.

In spring of this year I experienced one of the worst bouts of depression and anxiety in my life. I was struggling to balance a full-time school schedule, increasing responsibilities at work, responsibilities at church, and just life in general. As summer began I decided to end my work with the church and with no school I felt like I could finally breathe. I caught up on all my tv shows, read a lot of books, and rested when I wasn’t at work. But there were still things to be done, as much as I didn’t want there to be.

There were 3 exams I needed to take in order to be fully admitted into the Teacher education program at my university. I wanted to study for them, I did. I bought the practice tests and the study guides, I scheduled time in my week when I would sit down and study. But when those times came I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. The thing was I dreaded returning to school. I was not ready to jump back into the hectic life of a working student. So I put off my exams as long as possible. My choice had consequences. I would have to wait all the way until next fall, a full year, before I could be fully admitted. At first I was upset, what a mistake I’d made! I was afraid that this dream I had of being a teacher would never come true.

I’ve made peace with the fact that my education will be on hold for a year, and I have something now that I haven’t had in awhile, a lot of free time. It feels like I’m an artist sitting in front of a blank canvas, I can do anything with this time. I can focus on things I haven’t had time to before. So what will those things be? Maybe I will focus on my writing, finish that short story, or join a writing group. Maybe I’ll buy that camera I’ve been wanting forever. Maybe I’ll resume learning to play the Ukulele. There’s literally a ton of creative endeavors on my to-do list and I finally have the time to do them. It’s exciting and overwhelming as I try to figure out what to do first.

All choices have consequences but not all consequences are bad. Sometimes they open doors you never had before.

Love: Myth or Legend?

In reality love does not make the baggage magically dissipate. I could be the perfect girlfriend, wife, partner and none of that will erase what happened before we met.

Lately love, romantic love, has been on my mind a lot. Specifically how it has changed from being something that was a certainty in my mind to more of an abstract idea. If you’re familiar with my blog then you know that “singledom” has been a mainstay in my life, so I don’t have much experience with love. Despite that, I am a die hard romantic. I’m the type of girl that will leave love notes in your shoes, only give you handwritten birthday cards professing my undying devotion, and will regularly send you songs that explain how I feel about you. I have watched Pride and Prejudice (Keira Knightley version) a hundred times and rewinded the part where Darcy confesses his love to Lizzy probably 1000. I LOVE love.

I owe my obsession with romance to Disney, Twilight, and all those sappy YA romances that sell an unrealistic idea of love and relationships. They’re all pretty much the same story. Boy meets Girl but there’s an issue. Boy is from the wrong side of the tracks, or Boy loves the taste of human blood. Girl has some deep dark secret that could ruin them, or Girl has someone else fighting for her attention. But 90 minutes later or a few books later their love conquers all of that.

In reality love does not make the baggage magically dissipate. I could be the perfect girlfriend, wife, partner and none of that will erase what happened before we met. It won’t make him deal with his issues, or undo the unhealthy relationships I’ve witnessed in the past. Real people have problems, real relationships are difficult, and risky. “They lived happily ever after” is a big fat myth. What they should say at the end of the story is, “They worked at their relationship and hoped it would last forever.”

So how do I undo the ideal I dreamed up while drifting through the halls of high school? How do I stop finding real life men so damned disappointing compared to the ones in my books? How do I stop longing for someone who doesn’t exist?

 

Picture by Jacob Culp

Maybe You Should Go and Love Yourself

I’m finally starting to feel at home in my own body. Gone is this mythical future me who has my ideal body. She has been replaced with me the way I look right now.  

Every woman has an ideal body type. Mine from childhood was always a hourglass with a flat stomach and toned limbs. I didn’t care for my apple shape, it came with broad shoulders, an annoyingly large chest, a flabby tummy, and flat behind. I would look in the mirror, sigh with disappointment and envision my adult self with a perfect curvaceous figure. I’d say to myself “Right now I may be struggling with my style and I may be a little dumpy, but one day I’m going to get all that together.” Years past and I found myself firmly planted in adulthood  still not “together.”  I came to the realization that while I am going through the ups and downs of trying to live a healthier lifestyle I could be this size for the rest of my life. I need to be able to be okay with that and love myself anyway.

Mission Love my Body started by following a lot of plus size models on Instagram. These were women with a similar body type as me loving their bodies with all its rolls, cellulite, and stretch marks. They were fashionable, beautiful, their size was not a hindrance it just simply was. I then scoured the internet for tips on best dressing my body. Next I pushed through self deprecating thoughts and posted full body pictures of myself on social media. And I finally started to feel at home in my own body. Gone was this mythical future me who had my ideal body. She was replaced with me the way I look right now.

Some people may call me plus size, others thick, others curvy, some may call me overweight, or unhealthy, and some may call me fat. Some of these terms I like, others I don’t, but the fact of the matter is that how society sees my body is not as important as how I see my body. I’m the one whose living in it, looking at it every single day. There might always be a little jiggle in certain areas, I may never have that flat stomach and my cellulite is probably here to stay. But I walk out the door feeling just as beautiful, just as worthy as any other woman.

 

Would You Rather: Bookish Edition

Books are a big part of my existence so I had to play…

I love the game “Would you rather” and was glad to see a book lover version over at Annie Likes Words blog. Books are a big part of my existence so I had to play myself.

Would you rather…

Read only stand-alones or trilogies?

Depends on the genre. I love when suspense or fantasy novels are trilogies but a good piece of contemporary fiction is better a stand-alone.

Read only male or female authors?

I don’t mean to be sexist or anything but almost all of my favorite books are by female authors so, female authors.

Shop at Barnes & Noble or Amazon?

Amazon hands down. Their prices are better for print books as well as e-books. Sorry not sorry Barnsey but I’m on a budget.

Have all books turned into movies or television shows?

Last year this would’ve been a harder choice , but after seeing what Hulu has done with The Handmaids tale and what Netflix has done with Anne with an “E” I’ve got to say TV show.  A well made TV show gives that plot more time to unfold and slowly pull you in the way a book does. In the movies sometimes great scenes from the book are cut because of lack of time. And if the character isn’t narrating the movie like they are in the book then it’s hard to know what’s going on in their head. Take The Hunger Games for example. In my opinion Katniss on screen came across as cold and robotic. In the books it isn’t like that, you get to know what she’s thinking and feeling, she’s much more relatable.

 Read 5 pages per day or 5 books per week?

I LOVE to read, but 5 books in a week? My heart and mind couldn’t handle it. I fall in love with the characters, they become like my friends. I grieve with them, laugh with them, I can’t connect with 5 books worth of characters in a week. 5 pages a day is actually too little for me but if I had to choose.

Be a potential reviewer or author?

Author, duh. It’s been my dream since I could read.

Only read your top 20 favorite books over and over or read new ones you’ve never read before?

New ones, I’m not a huge re-reader. I’ll go back to a book and read passages but not the whole thing. I love discovering new books and authors I’ve never read before, it’s exciting.

Be a librarian or a bookseller?

Bookseller. Libraries will always have a special place in my heart but frankly they’re a little uptight. I know all the library lovers are cursing me right now but I’m okay with that. I have dreams of owning my own quaint indie bookstore, where I sell new and gently used books for the cheap. I’ll be like Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail except I won’t sell only children’s books and I won’t accidentally fall in love with Tom Hanks online.

Only read your favorite genres or read every genre except your favorites?

I like a variety of genres so I think I’ll be okay only reading them.

Only read physical books or e-books?

This is a tough one. I love them both! E-books are very convenient, you can read them whenever wherever in low light or sunshine. On the other side there’s nothing like having an actual book in your hands. The feel of turning the pages, the smell, it’s bliss! There are books I’ve read as e-books that I want to buy the print version of just so I can have them in my collection. There’s certain pride you feel when you finish and put it on the shelf. So I guess I’m going to have to go with physical books.

~

So there it is, “Would You Rather” Bookish Edition. That was harder than I thought! Book lovers what do you think? I said some harsh things, shall I be excommunicated from the community??

A Day In Savannah

Savannah was Georgia’s first city, settled back in 1733. It seems the city holds tightly to this title because I’ve never seen a place so devoted to its history. The downtown area is still the way the city’s founder James Oglethorpe designed it 284 years ago. A lot of the structures, homes, and churches have survived the test of time making this city one of a kind. Being the history nerd that I am I relished that I was able to somewhat go back in time in Savannah. My pictures barely scratched the surface of the city’s classic beauty, its something you’ll have to see for yourself.

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General James Oglethorpe in Chippewa Square
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General James Oglethorpe
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Forsythe Park
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Forsythe Park
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Oldest tree in Savannah

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All Paula Deen in one place

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Paula Deen’s restaurant
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Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
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In the River of Life

The last time I posted to this blog was February 1, 2017, and though that was only 3 months ago I find myself a different woman today than I was then. In the past 3 months anxiety and depression have bit into me like never before, my faith was thrown onto its axis, I was questioning whether I wanted to continue in my friendships and I was beginning to hate everything I was once wanted.

What could happen in 3 months that could change my life so much?

Honestly, things had been changing in me for awhile, it’s just that in the last 3 months it all kind of came to a head. I’d always had highs and lows mood wise but my lows were getting scary low. The thoughts that went through my head were things I never thought I would even consider. I was struggling with feelings of being trapped by my Christianity. I felt disconnected from my friends, I didn’t trust them with what I was experiencing. I just didn’t want to do anything, I hated everything, I wondered if I really wanted everything I had been working towards.
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment it all fell apart but I think it was a combination of the stress of my studies, the stress of my job, and what I learned in my Intro to Religion class. I had to admit to myself that things were not alright, I was not alright.

I started seeing a therapist which altogether was a positive experience, it helped a lot. I wish I could tell you that it solved everything but it hasn’t and it wasn’t supposed to. I wish I could say that everything is alright now, but it’s not. I am better, but I am still working through some things.
I am learning that life isn’t a race to the top of a mountain where when you get to the top everything is perfect and you can finally be happy. No, it’s more like a great river. Rivers don’t stay the same as they flow down a mountain or through a canyon. There are big drops, sharp rocks, raging waters, but there are also parts of the river that are calm and serene. That’s how life is, sometimes it will be constant rough waters and you will think there is no end in sight but then there are parts where it’s smooth sailing. The river won’t ever end at this imagined place called “happiness” because happiness isn’t a destination it’s a fleeting emotion.

I used to, and I sometimes catch myself still, daydreaming about the one day when everything will finally come together and I will be happy. I’ll have the perfect job, partner, family and I will not have a worry on the planet. I’ll just sit at the top of my mountain and wait to die. But it doesn’t work like that. Life will still be life with all its twist and turns.
Now I strive to be better, better than I was yesterday. Make better choices, handle situations better. I remind myself that perfection is impossible, and to not be so damn hard on myself.
I don’t want to go back to who I was 3 months ago, that girl was a repressed ticking time bomb. But it is a strange feeling knowing that you’ve changed but to everyone else you look and for the most part act pretty much the same. I think it’s the changes that are not apparent to the outside world that are the most profound.

 

image by Joao Branco

Twelve Days Of Trump America

Twelve days ago our country changed, a new president and vice president were sworn in, and a new administration began. I didn’t watch the inauguration on purpose because I didn’t think I could stomach it. I still could not believe that America let that rat bastard into the highest office in the country.

via Daily Prompt: Resist

Twelve days ago our country changed, a new president and vice president were sworn in, and a new administration began. I didn’t watch the inauguration on purpose because I didn’t think I could stomach it. I still could not believe that America let that rat bastard into the highest office in the country.

I know, I’m a Christian and I’m not supposed to talk that way, but I’m mad, pissed, frustrated, and sad.

Seven days into his administration Mr. Trump followed through on one of his promises made during the election. He signed an immigration order that suspends immigrants from coming into the country from seven majority Muslim countries, those are Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Syria. The suspension will last 90 days for 6 of the countries, but for Syria it is indefinite. This is exactly what our Muslim neighbors feared would happen.
The order is supposed to protect are country from potential terrorist until vetting procedures can be strengthened. Mr. Trump would have us believe that this isn’t about religion or discrimination, but that’s a crock. It’s written in the order that after the ban is lifted some religions will be prioritized over others in refugee resettlement process, that sounds like discrimination to me.

I get it, I can understand it. In this post 9/11 world we’ve watched our neighbors in Europe and around the world get pounded by unspeakable violence at the hands of Muslim terrorist. We don’t want that to ever happen here again. But we’re punishing the majority for the sins of the minority. Syrians are suffering right now, families have been forced out of their homes, their whole lives have been turned upside down. They need refuge and America is closing the door. Not only is that un-American, it’s not Christ-like. Aren’t you a Christian Mr. Trump?
“Christian,” the word gets slimier every time it’s used it as a reason to mistreat others.

I hope you don’t forget Mr. Trump about the terror right here at home. Where any self-righteous maniac can get a gun and kill innocent people. Don’t forget that Omar Mateen was radicalized right in the homeland before he gunned down 49 people. ISIS doesn’t need to come through our borders, all they need is an internet connection.
Can we strengthen the vetting of carry licenses? Can we suspend the sale of automatic weapons for 90 days? Oh no that would be unconstitutional or daresay un-American!
We love our guns too much for that. We love them so much we go into churches, malls, movie theaters, and elementary schools and show them off.
I could almost laugh at the ludicrousness of it all if I wasn’t so damn depressed.

I’m sorry Mr. Trump but if this is what it means to “make America great again” I want none of it. You can take your white nationalist politics and shove it.
I bet the Republican party is wishing they would have resisted you now. They made a deal with the devil and we’ve got four years to go.

Four years, God help us. The real God, the loving one. Not whatever god Mr. Trump is praying to.

 

It will get worse, as power intoxicates Trump and those around him. It will probably end in calamity — substantial domestic protest and violence, a breakdown of international economic relationships, the collapse of major alliances, or perhaps one or more new wars (even with China) on top of the ones we already have. It will not be surprising in the slightest if his term ends not in four or in eight years, but sooner, with impeachment or removal under the 25th Amendment.

David Brooks

Photo by Mikey