Be a sweetheart to yourself

I have been on a writing slump lately, and I know exactly why. The mind is such a terrible thing sometimes especially when it latches onto self-destructive mode with thoughts like, “I could never be as good of a writer as J.K. Rowling, Emily Dickinson, Natalie Goldberg, or this random cool lady whose blog I’m obsessively stalking right now. When I go down that rabbit hole of self-doubt, the more I feel inadequate and insignificant as a writer. My voice is but a whisper amongst the chorus of bold and brilliant voices.

But when you fall, you’ll reach the bottom eventually and when you do, the instinct to pick yourself up and climb back to the light again to get yourself out of the pity hole you’ve gotten yourself into is stronger than any pull to stay huddled in the dark and host your own pity party. Pity parties are no fun. I’d rather break my back in multiple escape attempts to see and feel the light again than channel Bridget Jones and lip synch “All By Myself” at a pity party.

This is when I recover from writer’s amnesia and remember that I am not J.K. Rowling, Emily Dickinson, or Natalie Goldberg. I am Lea. I am myself. I am a writer. I am a writer because I write and will not do or be anything else. I am a writer because as cheesy as it sounds, I have given my heart and soul into the world of words. I am a writer because I can feel it in my bones. If Ladybird gave herself her own name and speaks of it with pride and dripping with juvenile defiance, I give myself the title of writer and own my words–all of it. The beautiful and the ugly, the subtle and deliberate, the naive and risqué, the sensual and the crazed.

I have my own unique voice. It doesn’t sound exactly like anyone else, and nobody else sounds exactly like me. I will keep on writing, swimming in the sea of all these writers’ voices whom I admire and feel kindred connections. Their voices will buoy me up to the surface and I’ll be Venus on a clam shell riding the waves, my words taking off on their own. I won’t look even a hint of similar, but I’ll feel that way.

Not everything I write will captivate, be killed with praises, or get likes. Some won’t sit well with hardened sensibilities and versions of me they’ve been intimate with. And a massive chunk won’t even see the light of day, an iceberg of words hidden beneath the water. But none of that matters just as long as I still have the yearning to write. I don’t need an audience to write. I write for myself first, for my soul to continue to thrive. And finally, I can be kinder to myself in a world where an artist’s worth is constantly measured and judged. I can be my own sweetheart.

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Dude, I miss the ’90s.

2017 might just be the year of nostalgia for me. Whether it’s revisiting old journal entries, deciding which school mementos to discard or keep in my decluttering frenzy, crying over the Anna Paquin movie, “Fly Away Home” or staying up until 4 a.m. just to catch Star Wars on cable (more like catching Carrie Fisher in her immortal moment as Princess Leia in a gold bikini strangling Jabba the Hutt to death), downloading mp3s of songs from the ’90s, or re-reading Harry Potter and other books from my childhood, nostalgia has been the driving force behind my see-sawing emotions for the most part of this year. Sometimes, I miss my simple, social media-less ’90s childhood, when Little Lulu and MTV were enough to make my day. Other times, I want to go back to my college days, or the years right after it, when being a dreamer didn’t give me as much heartache, and possibilities were everywhere, especially with the person right beside me.

The past is such a beautiful place, but I have to remind myself not to get stuck in it. My place is right HERE and right NOW. In the present. And there are things that need to get done. There is a book or two that I need to write. A house that needs decluttering. Friends that deserve my time and attention. Trips and adventures that need planning.

So, goodbye for now, wonderful past. For now, there is a present to be and a future to look forward to.

And on that note, here is a quote from one of my favorite movies ever, Anne of Green Gables.

Write even when the weather is against you.

On a day when it is too tempting to sleep in, I got up to write. I usually don’t get up early these days. I have become a chronic night owl. I tried to sleep in, but my mind is already abuzz. I can feel the holiday breeze in the air, hanging Amihan as we call it here, and I simply have to write. The air compels me to. I can feel a familiar, almost long-forgotten stirring in my heart and my bones again. My fingers itch for a pen and pad, or a keyboard, anything to write with.

Yes. I will write again like I used to all those years ago, and not exactly like it at the same time, for I am a different person now than I was back then. But this need, this nudge from the Muse, a constant longing to write, will always be with me.

When I woke up today, my first thought went to a Longfellow poem.

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;

It rains, and the wind is never weary;

This describes today in general, and my emotions, as gray as the overcast sky.

My thoughts still cling to the mouldering past,

But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,

I hanker for an addictive stimulant–a cup of warm English breakfast tea with a splash of milk and half a teaspoon of sugar, or matcha milk, just the way I like it. But I can’t, or my acid reflux will punish me for it. And as I write, I discover there’s really no need for it. The act of writing itself is already addictive, once you’ve found your groove or whatever it is you want to express, and the words just keep on flowing from you.

Thy fate is the common fate of all,

Into each life some rain must fall,

Some days must be dark and dreary.

And I am looking forward to better days ahead as I continue to write and be.

These old pages

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Revisiting old writing is like rediscovering an old friend after a long time. You’re relearning those tiny details you loved about her–her laugh, her idiosyncrasies, what made the two of you click together in a way that you’ve never had with another.

Old feelings flood back and assault you, warmth as palpable as the naked sun on your face that time you laid on your back on a rock at the beach on a perfect summer’s day, giving in to the pull of the waves lulling you into a sweet sleep.

And sometimes the yearning is the hardest to bear–to be back as you were in that same moment now only preserved in words, reanimated by memory.

But you know you can never go back–to a frenzied infatuation you dreamed would bloom into love, or a kinship you thought would last until you left the bubble of youth. The sweet with the bitter and the tang, the then and the now, all a part of you–occupying a space where you can embrace them both, for as long as the feeling lasts.

In that moment, time doesn’t exist–it’s immaterial. It’s just you and the memories. Suddenly, there’s a thread that runs through you that regret is a thing unheard of, almost, and rejected.

There can be only what you make of, continue to be, choose. You can finally let go and let the old bones rest where they should be. And you realize now with clarity that wasn’t there before: there is peace, there is peace within.

A love note to myself

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We’re a pathetic lot most of the time, running around like headless chickens and lost puppies, sniffing for love in all the wrong places when it’s been here with us all along.

Love is inside your world-weary and caffeine-battered soul.

Love is that tiny surviving spark at the corner or your cold heart.

Love is that niggling voice at the back of your head that tells you not to lose hope.

Love is that child in you who wants to ride the Ferris wheel all over again, get lost in a foreign land, and find her way back home.