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! 

Keep It Grape Art // Self Care Pack Review

Today was a great day. I decided to attend an event in my area called San Diego Festival of Books, where I walked around and did some networking for the blog. I met fantastic, creative people and I’m so excited to collaborate with them.

Putting yourself out there is not only draining – it can be a challenging task. While everyone was thrilled to hear about Anxiety Erica, my anxiety can find it easy to get worked up about whether everyone truly is interested in what I have to say. Paired with the fact that one or two posts I did on my Instagram didn’t go over as well as ones previously in the week, my anxiety was looming over the fact that I wasn’t good enough. That not enough “likes” equates to the caliber of my writing, my healing process. That’s not reality. I fought it in my ANT journal, because this blog is way too important to me to let a silly, trivial thing like social media likes bring it down. But, I was still a little drained.

Then my Keep It Grape Self Care Pack arrived in the mail. Game changer. 

Almost like mental health mail from the gods above, this package came right at the moment I needed it most. It made me realize I am making a difference – I’m connecting with creative, sensitive, and strong women like Katherine. 

Located over at @keepitgrape, Katherine is one of the purest souls I’ve ever encountered. Just 17 years old, Katherine is a freelance artist with her own online store filled with positivity prints, self care packs, custom commissions, zines, stickers, and poetry. Pouring her heart and soul into each piece she creates, she does it all while battling paranoid schizophrenia.

In addition to her art, she has a blog where she interviews other bloggers on the importance of mental health, recipes and positivity. You can check out her interview with me here! 

Madly in love with her fire, I’m beyond grateful to know this young, talented treasure in some shape or form. She sent over one of her wonderful Self Care and Realization Packs and boy was it filled with some goodies! Take a peek at the photos below to see some of the beautiful artwork, prints, info, recipes, stickers, and helpful mantras she included:

Self Care & Realization Packs 

Intended to promote relaxation and self care, these powerful packs get you to understand the importance of caring and maintaining your body. Focused on the essential mantra that we all deserve self care, Katherine showers each and every customer with love, positivity, and encouragement.

Tip Cards 

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Self care is important, but what if you don’t know what that means? While it’s different for each individual person, Keep It Grape has some great starter tips to delve deeper into what works for you!

Recipes

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This was a wonderful reminder for me, honestly. While I can be really good at self care involving reading, bath time, and relaxation – I’m lacking in the food department. I can be pretty lazy when it comes to cooking or prepping of any kind, so these recipes were a welcome sight. I plan to try this one out!

Prints 

Positivity can be hard to find sometimes. Not only great reminders to love ourselves, these prints are just gorgeous. Promoting and symbolizing self care and relaxation, I will be hanging them on my cork board next to my bed – that way I see the important words when I wake up and fall asleep at night.

Drawings 

I won’t lie, these were my all-time favorite. I adored everything in this package but these small, simple drawings were perfect. Encouraging self love and growth, they are beautiful and tiny enough to keep in your car, purse, tote bag, or on your bookshelf. Anywhere you are, there is a constant reminder of love, hope, and positivity!

Personal Thank You Note & Sticker 

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As if all of the goodies in the package weren’t enough, Katherine sneaks a lovely, personal note and sticker into my Self Care Pack. Reading through it filled me with inspiration, hope, and honestly eased my anxiety from the day. Job well done. 

 

With a combination of creativity and heart, Katherine makes it her full time job to bring others happiness with Keep It Grape. From opening up her package today, it was clear just how much she lives and breathes this work. She gives each person a piece of her heart. I’m proud to know such a talented, motivated and beautiful young woman – she is truly the future of mental health.

 

To learn more about Keep It Grape and Katherine’s art, visit http://keepitgrape.tictail.com/. Head to her blog and Instagram to see her latest pieces! 

New Month, New Goals // Hello August

I almost didn’t write this post. Today, I had quite possibly one of the worst days in awhile. I was strong – I survived through it, but it took \a lot out of me both emotionally and physically. A day filled with crying, anxious breakdowns and stress.

Through all of that chaos, I realized that it might be therapeutic to write up some goals. Think of the future, and how I can control me. My actions, my thoughts, and my life.

Old and new, I have a lot of things I want to do this month. Whether it’s revisiting old tools of my anxiety or learning new lessons, here are my goals for August:

 

Keep up with mindfulness 

In the past month or so, mindfulness has taken a backseat. I so miss my go-to meditations on Simple Habit. They truly eased my thoughts, and helped to build my self worth, confidence, and positive self talk.

Whether it’s listening to a daily meditation on my drive to work in the morning, or getting back into yoga each week, I want to make moves in my mindfulness. I’m much stronger than I used to be with my own thoughts, but that doesn’t mean it should be neglected. I’m only as strong as my good habits. 

 

Take more chances on myself 

Lately, I’m beginning to realize that I’m capable of so much. I’ve gone from a dorm room, to having my very own studio and being able to afford that rent. I’ve started as an intern at a company and now I’m currently a copywriter at a PR firm. I can do great things. I need to be taking chances on my skills, my talent, and my worth.

It’s time to bet on bigger things.

 

Speak up 

More recently, I’ve been learning this lesson firsthand. With situations at work, I am learning that it’s crucial for me to raise my voice when something is not right. My voice matters. Yes, we must all learn to pick our battles but when we find something to speak up against – follow through. Own your words. 

 

Learn something new 

I have a desire, a passion to learn something new. To explore uncharted territory – educate myself on things I don’t understand. I have a goal to research different slam poetry sessions going on around my area and attend at least one this month. Or be part of an open mic night at a cafe – I need to share my words. 

I used to share my writing all the time in college. As a Creative Writing major, you learn with experience and time to build up a tolerance for sharing your work. At first, it’s terrifying. Stepping up to the plate, ripping out your heart and showing it to a crowd just to hear the expected snaps or claps. But once you do it a few times, it’s addicting. It’s intoxicating to connect with others. To feel them resonate with your words. While I love and appreciate how much my words on this blog resonate with others, I want more. I want to get up in front of people and bare my heart. I want to show everyone how much I love, feel, and care. 

 

Well, those are my goals for August. I truly think that I can accomplish these. While I tend to over reach with my goals, I always have a way of teaching myself new things through them. I have a feeling that a lot of new, exciting things are headed my way. I’m stoked for what’s in store. 

 

Do you have any August goals? Share them in the comments below! 

A Lesson in Loss // Christy

Loss of a loved one – no matter how they are lost – can be the most debilitating pain. For Christy, loss came all at once. When she lost her father in 2011, it wasn’t something she saw coming.

Recovering from two surgeries with the doctors happy with his progress, he passed from a genetic blood cotting disease no one knew he had. Surgery had made the risk even higher.

“He was here and then he wasn’t. None of us got to say goodbye. I think that was the most difficult thing to deal with. I had so much more to say and it didn’t help to say it to him in my head.

I was angry. I was bone-numbing sad. I cried. A lot. Then, just when I thought I was getting a handle on it, something would trigger another bout of grief. Sometimes it was nostalgia, but sometimes it was more like depression. I needed to write my feelings down so I could let the deepest part of my sadness go.”

First drafting a poem about how she wanted just one more day with her father and what specific day or memory she would return to, Christy went through several different versions before she found her voice.

Wanting to express her own interpretation of the stages of grief and how it changes, grows, her poem resonates with any kind of loss we may suffer.

 

 

Loss

 

At first it steals your breath –

your very reason to live. 

It feels like you’re trapped in a box. 

Your heartbreak closing in and making you feel claustrophobic. 

You can never seem to catch your breath 

and you gasp between sobs. 

Your heart hurts like someone reached inside your ribs 

and easily sliced a section of your soul off while you were sleeping. 

 

One day, you wake up and awkwardly say hi to your loss,

like a new neighbor who’s just moved in next door. 

You wave and begrudgingly acknowledge 

the ever-present nature 

of the new guy next door who wants desperately to be your friend. 

“Let’s chat! How’s life? Pretty sucky, right?” 

he seems to say every time he gets a chance. 

You hate him and his friendly smile. 

 

Then the loss seems to come in waves. 

You’re fine one minute and then crying the next. 

Who knows what sets you off:

the movie you wish you could talk about together,

the memory of a debate about a book character,

the intense need to hear a voice because you can’t quite remember the timbre of it,

the ache of needing one more hug.

 

Eventually, with time, love surrounds you

like a soft, warm blanket. 

You don’t hurt as much;

you think more about the good times. 

You smile as memories dance before your eyes. 

Loss doesn’t feel so lonely anymore

because love keeps you company.

You don’t sit in the dark

because now you can walk out into the light and feel alive again.

 

 

How do you handle loss? Share your story in the comments below.