Rad Reads // The Sun And Her Flowers

Typing out this intro, I’m realizing it’s been a minute since I’ve posted on the blog. Life has been busy – in the best ways.

Life can get into a monotonous funk sometimes, I dread it. Sensing that, I truly feel like the universe has called a few new things into my life, to show me that there are new adventures waiting for me – I just have to have the courage to pursue that path without fear, without listening to my anxiety.

On the brink of all this positive change, I decided to treat myself to Rupi Kaur’s latest body of work, The Sun And Her Flowers. Having read Milk And Honey with an emotional connection so deep that I felt compelled to give it to every single woman I knew at their birthday, I knew I had to pick it up at the bookstore.

Excited to dive into her work, I started a bath, turned on my Anxiety Relief playlist and cracked open the first chapter.

Like turning the pages of my own heartbreak and emotion, Kaur is so authentic in her words that I felt myself intensely moved by her pain. By her ache, by her love for everyone and everything.

Beginning at Wilting and ending in Blooming, her symbolic meaning behind flowers is geared towards all the growth she has done.

Compelled to finish out her story, I stayed soaking in the tub until I read her last words. Pruning and wet in a now cold bath, my soul was on fire. I could feel her passion reaching out in every page – grabbing hold of my heart.

Milk And Honey was another collection I connected with, but this time around it was different. I had grown, and she had grown. It was like I knew her heart, and could understand the ways in which she had bloomed.

As I made waves with my body and soul in the bath, here are a few of the short poems I resonated with in The Sun And Her Flowers:

Wilting

Truly touching, this specific chapter was all about heartbreak. The gut wrenching pain that comes with the grief or loss. Of losing that someone, that connection. A few months back, I had my own heartbreak and while I am in a very different place emotionally, the words from this chapter still call to me.

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This particular poem really resonated with me. When I read the line, “love is figuring out all the kind sweetness we deserve,” I felt tears well up in my eyes. So eloquently strung together into a brief poem, Kaur perfectly explains that love doesn’t look like a certain person – it’s what we do.

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Damn, this one hurt. I won’t lie – this is exactly what I went through with my ex. When the breakup initially happened, I was so overwhelmed with grief that I found myself missing him each day. But, as time went on I asked myself – what exactly do I miss? The constant anxiety, insecurity and lack of communication or any emotion on his end? The foundation and connection I always thought was there was just a mirage. Only growth can open our eyes to these realizations.

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Again, this very short poem packs quite a punch. Speaking to my intuition, I’ve found – from both therapy and in life – that my body always somewhat knew my previous relationship would end. I experienced what my therapist called intuitional anxiety, which was where I thought the feelings were my anxiety going worse case scenario, but really it was my intuition warning me of events to come. After that, I’ve made a promise with myself to listen to that voice whenever she pops up – it’s time to start trusting my body.

Falling

Chalk full of little lessons in letting go and listening to anger, Kaur spends time speaking about the process of growth in this section. Most don’t quite realize just how long and grueling it can be to grow authentically. It’s lonely, scary and all consuming to change our minds completely. To unlearn. I appreciated the bursts of emotion throughout this chapter – good and bad.

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This was such an enlightening chapter for me. I haven’t ever felt part of a community before starting this blog and when reading this poem, I knew what coming home was. I’ve gotten much better at knowing when to let others help pick up the pieces, and when to trust and rely on myself for navigating the pain.

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Rooting 

An extremely personal, poetic chapter for Kaur, Rooting spoke directly to being a child of immigrants. While I do not know these feelings and emotions in my own life, I felt it was completely necessary to shed awareness and just to understand this life – to have empathy. I truly felt her pain and the sadness in wanting more for her mother while also loving the love her parents felt for each other.

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Rising 

Lifting herself with love, it’s clear this chapter centers around finding a new partner after heartbreak. In this stage of my own life, I really understood the lines from each of these poems. Having found a new sense of what she deserved, Kaur struggles with settling into a new person, and learning to let go of the old. Truer words have never been spoken. 

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Our fear anxiety tells us time and time again that it’s not only scary to start something new, but it’s too soon. Screw all those voices in your head – or toxic people – telling you that it’s too early for a new person, or a new experience. Only you know what works for you and in the end, don’t feel guilty for starting again, especially if it makes you whole.

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It’s as the person I’m currently seeing always tells me – never backward, always forward, always. While it’s a quote from Luke Cage, it still rings very true. I hadn’t prepared to fall into someone new right now, but it feels right and it’s my choice. It’s time for me to start making moments – not hiding from them.

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Learning all about someone new is exciting. Always so sure that the last one is “the one,” we find ourselves falling over and over again into different people. Each has a valuable life lesson. I truly believe that people come and go in life for important reasons. The people who are here right now are here not only because I want them to be, they are teaching me patience, understanding and how to cultivate my growth.

Blooming

Showing us women that it’s okay to heal and speak up at the same time, Kaur ends her second installment of poetry with a clear message of strength. The closer I got to the end, the more I felt a sense of closure. Empowered and fostering an enriched connection to all that I love about myself, Kaur’s words in this chapter – and all of the sections – brought about such an awakening for my soul.

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I’ve lost a good deal of people this year, but in all honesty – is it really a loss? When I find myself saddened by no longer having certain people in my life, I remember why I removed them to begin with. Give yourself to a few and to those few give heavily. Invest in the right people. This poem is currently on my fridge and I read it each morning when I wake up.

Do yourself a favor and get a copy of The Sun And Her Flowers. While I really believe that this collection benefits women, I wouldn’t say men can’t resonate with her words as well – or learn more about women from turning the pages. There are plenty of poems throughout the novel that apply to everyone – speaking to emotion, heartbreak, confusion, growth, and family.

It’s incredibly validating to pick up a work of art and know you’re not alone in your struggle. That all this painful growth has beauty. Beauty in the form of art and poetry. Thank you Rupi Kaur for reaching into your heart and showing us what love looks like on each page of The Sun And Her Flowers. I look forward to the next installment and seeing all your growth and success!

Have you read The Sun And Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur? Share what you thought of the poetry collection in the comments below! 

4 Ways Reading Helps Me Cope With My Anxiety

I’ve always thought that books are the answer to all life’s problems. Turns out, they are the actual answer to some after all.

As a writer, reading has always been a part of my life. I was reading chapter books in kindergarten – I know, I’m a genius. I’ve cultivated that passion for reading into my adult life and with anxiety, it can seriously help me to cope. While you would think some of the reasons below are slightly obvious when dealing with anxiety, there are a few that popped up along the way that I wasn’t expecting.

Reading relaxes me physically.

While anxiety is mental disorder, it can have physical symptoms and triggers like high blood pressure and increased heart rate.

Studies have shown that reading can lower your heart rate and ease muscle tension quickly and effectively. Even better – it doesn’t matter what you read. Whether you’re a fan of fiction, poetry or even my own obsession of graphic novels, you can enjoy any genre and self care at the same time.

It’s an escape from reality.

While my own anxiety tends to take me far away from reality – reading removes me from it in a positive way.

Taking a break from reality can work wonders for your mental health. Anxiety is constant – overwhelming, enveloping your every thought and action. It taints every experience you have with a shadow of self-doubt and fear. If you could hit the pause button on that, wouldn’t you? 

Jumping into the story of a book allows me to escape my own mind and live in someone else’s. Getting lost in a story helps me to let go – somewhat – of my anxieties, insecurities, and fears, if only for an hour or so.

It shifts my daily perspective.

Reading about other people’s experiences, whether they are relatable or not, is a great way to shift my own perspective, which is constantly riddled by my anxiety. Living with anxiety can wrap your mind in me, me, me and everything I’m suffering through – reading breaks that school of thought.

By looking through someone else’s eyes in stories, I gain a perspective I wouldn’t otherwise find, which in turn forces me to realize that my own isn’t as bad as I make it, or not even reality.

Book club can be a form of therapy for me.

A little over a year ago, I decided to create my own book club. I’ve founded book clubs in the past, but they would always fade out. People get too busy and everyone bails on meeting up. But luckily, I’ve been able to get this one to stick.

When I first started it, I went in just wanting to read new genres and discuss them with some friends. It has morphed into so much more. While I go to actual therapy, I find that meeting up with my regular group of girls can be extremely cathartic. It is very helpful that most of the ladies in the group also have their own forms of anxiety, so I feel comfortable talking about my daily struggles with them. It’s a good reminder that while anxiety is a very lonely disorder – I’m not alone. 

Last but not least, I truly believe that having your own bookshelf is a form of self care. There is nothing I enjoy more than collecting beautiful books and being able to adorn them on my bookshelf. Here’s a quick photo of my pride and joy:

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I hope all my fellow bookworms enjoyed this post! Now, I must get back to reading The Roanoke Girls –book club is this week and I’m SO close to finishing.

 

Do you love to read – share your favorite book in the comments! How does it help with your anxiety? 

Rad Reads: The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck

It was a lazy Sunday at the mall with my dad when this book came into my life. We were browsing around the bookstore (I had forced him to go in, naturally) and the title caught my eye. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. Alright, you got me. I picked it up and turned to a random page to get an idea of what this book entailed, and read a passage with about three or four uses of “fuck” in it, so obviously I bought it.

With therapy comes the reading of certain self improvement books, just to experiment and see what resonates with you and your particular form of anxiety. I’ve read The Four Agreements and next on my list is You Are a Badass, which I’m pretty stoked for. Some you relate to, some you don’t. In this particular book, I found almost every word motivational. If I could have highlighted the entire book, I would. Mark Manson has a way with words that inspires, and also hits you with an uncomfortable truth that results in laughter and tears. Since this book has been so moving for me, and issues I face daily with my own anxiety, I decided to share some of my favorite passages.

“Look, this is how it works. You’re going to die one day. I know that’s kind of obvious, but I just wanted to remind you in case you’d forgotten. You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon. And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of fucks to give. Very few, in fact. And if you go around giving a fuck about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice – well, then you’re going to get fucked.”

This passage is on page 13, so you hit it right off the bat. Mark Manson, the author, doesn’t waste any time getting straight to the point. When faced with our own mortality, life’s petty and trivial struggles seem just that – petty and trivial. They are small, and shouldn’t be limiting our ability to truly shine in what motivates us, and brings us joy. Life is so short, and we only have the ability to give a certain amount of fucks, why waste them on things that could bring us down or dull our light? For me personally, this passage meant more about my anxiety. Why would I be wasting my time obsessing about things I cannot control; like if someone actually likes me or if they are just being nice, or if I did something perfectly right at work, when there are so many other, bigger things I could be devoting my time to? It’s a question worth asking yourself, you never know what the answer might be.

“Life is about not knowing and then doing something anyway. All of life is like this. It never changes. Even when you’re happy. Even when you’re farting fairy dust. Even when you win the lottery and buy a small fleet of Jet Skis, you still won’t know what the hell you’re doing. Don’t ever forget that. And don’t ever be afraid of that.”

There is a certainty relief in knowing that we are all in this thing called life together. When you think about it, no one really knows what they are doing. Everyone from President Obama, to your next door neighbor has no real clue. All of our doubts and insecurities about tackling that next goal or step towards happiness or true success comes from the fear that we “don’t know” what will happen. There have been plenty of times where I’ve stumbled into something completely blind, not knowing at all what will happen next. It’s a really scary place to be, but also the most thrilling. It’s a true sign of being alive to brave unknown challenges, so we must not forget to do it anyway.

“When the standard of success becomes merely acting – when any result is regarded as progress and important, when inspiration is seen as a reward rather than a prerequisite – we propel ourselves ahead. We feel free to fail, and that failure moves us forward.” 

In particular, this passage struck a nerve with me. Failure has always been something I struggle dealing with. It ties directly with shame, an emotion that constantly triggers my anxiety. The fear of failing is what keeps me from rising to the challenge – whether it be at work, or a personal goal – but rather paralyzes me with anxiousness. Manson challenges us to change how we view success and how we reward ourselves, so we are able to tackle that next goal without that fear of failure creeping in. Yes, failure will always be there like a constant black cloud, but failure isn’t always a negative. Throughout the book, Manson also challenges that dealing with the negative is crucial and failure is something we encounter on a daily basis, but it’s how we handle the emotion that truly counts. Can you move forward from that feeling, or will it cripple you?

“If you make a sacrifice for someone you care about, it needs to be because you want to, not because you feel obligated or because you fear the consequences of not doing so. If your partner is going to make a sacrifice for you, it needs to be because he or she genuinely wants to, not because you’ve manipulated the sacrifice through anger or guilt. Acts of love are valid only if they’re performed without conditions or expectations.”

This passage not only applies to romantic relationships, but family or friendships. It can be very difficult to wade through the constant bullshit of family drama and toxic relationships – whether it be a shitty ex boyfriend or a manipulative parent – and come out the other side completely unfazed. More recently, I’ve had to unlearn a lot of behaviors that were taught by my family, and learn how to think more for myself. As someone who has had her fair share of manipulative relationships, it can be tricky to tell when it’s genuine and when the act of love is fake, especially when you’re still learning new ways to be in these relationships.

Manson teaches us that love is only real when the acts are performed without any expectations or conditions, which almost everyone has trouble erasing. For me, it’s been a slow progression, but the more you realize that you deserve genuine acts of love from the relationships you’re in, the less you care about people dropping from your life. They never really deserved to be there in the first place.

“You are great. Already. Whether you realize it or not. Whether anybody realizes it or not. And it’s not because you launched an iPhone app, or finished school a year early, or bought yourself a sweet-ass boat. These things do not define greatness.

You are already great because in the face of endless confusion and certain death, you continue to choose what to give a fuck about and what not to. This mere fact, this simple optioning for your own values in life, already makes you beautiful, already makes you successful, and already makes you loved. Even if you don’t realize it. Even if you’re sleeping in a gutter and starving.”

I wanted to make this the last passage from the book because it captures the essence of Mark’s message to his readers: you are already good enough. At least, that’s what I felt reading it. He so wants you to understand that you already have greatness inside you, it’s just a matter of rejecting the fear holding it back, and facing what life will ultimately throw your way.

With my anxiety, I have real trouble with statements or affirmations like this because I mostly don’t think I’m good enough. So, reading it and hearing myself say it can be emotional. This passage very much reminded me of a time when my therapist first got to the root of my stress and anxiety and told me, “you know you’re good enough, right?” Which resulted in enough tears to fill the entire room. It’s books like this that I must force myself to read and fully grasp the message of channeling my greatness. Plus, it helps that there’s a good deal of swearing and sarcasm, I like that.

The very end of this book takes you on Mark’s journey to look death directly in the face, and the final page leaves you with a sense of peace and new motivation to apply for that job that seems out of reach, ask that guy or girl out who makes you weak in the knees, or even push you to write a blog post about how much this book moved you. Like Mark says, we all are going to croak one day. Why not just do the things that scare us, and give out our fucks only for things that build us up, not bring us down. It’s not the simple path, but it’s one I plan on giving a go now.

Sidenote: If you want to learn more about Mark and his book, check out his website here. Manson also writes another book called Models: Attract Women Through Honesty. You know, just in case you fellas were reading this and wondering why us ladies aren’t flocking to you as of late. Just a suggestion.

Did you read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, or another self improvement book? What were your thoughts?