We Could All Learn a Thing or Two from Children’s Books

 

Dear Girl. Not IMG_7901to sound sappy, but these eight letters will always have a special place in my heart. “Dear Girl” is a New York Time’s Bestseller children’s book written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, her daughter Paris Rosenthal and illustrated by Holly Hatam. The honest beauty of this specific book (besides its adorable illustrations) is that its words are incredibly relatable to all ages. Whether you’re 12 or 21, the points made in the books are still relative to any individual. One of my favorite lines reads,

Dear Girl, write down your thoughts once in a while, even if it’s just to enjoy the way your pen feels against the paper.”

Look, I get it. We’re living in a technological world right now, and picking up a pen and paper instead of opening the Notes app on an iPhone seems outdated. However, there’s something about writing (not typing) your thoughts free-hand that has the ability to unlock a world of undiscovered emotions from within. It’s a unique experience that truly allows for you to empty your mind and spill your raw thoughts on paper and when it’s all said and done, you don’t have a choice but to face your truth and study your own avenue of thought. I stopped hand-writing my personal notes in high school when my parents gifted me with a new laptop for college. My writing was recored with one Word document after another and it worked for a short time, but I eventually gravitated back to journaling my thoughts by hand. This only intensified my love for writing, which is more than any keyboard could ever do for me.

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As I look back at my own written notes, I can literally see the passion etched into my words as moments of frustration are reflected with varying pressures of pen marks. My script-style writing almost turns illegible as if my hand couldn’t write fast enough to keep up with countless thoughts, aching to find a home between a couple of faint blue lines.

“Dear Girl” has encouraged me to write again, and I whole-heartedly believe that this book, along with millions of other children’s books, has the same potential to bring positive influence to both children and adults.

Before writing this article, I did some background research on the author. I was hoping to find a postal address where I could directly write to Rosenthal to express how much her words truly mean to me, especially after recently graduating college. However,  I was deeply saddened to discover that she passed away in 2017 from ovarian cancer and she is survived by her daughter, two sons, and husband. At 21 years old, Rosenthal’s encouraging words still holds an incredible amount of meaning to me, and gives me hope as I progress into adulthood.

 

More about Amy Rosenthal and her story:

 

 

 

Artist Workshop: Mia Halton

I had the opportunity to attended Mia Halton’s, Mad as Hell exhibition and workshop, which was inspired by the recent METOO social movement. Upon my arrival into the workshop, Halton gave her guests a warm welcome as she invited everyone to make themselves comfortable in the exhibition space prior to the beginning of the workshop. Halton then asked us to think about our mission in life and what we envision for our future. As a senior in college with graduation just around the corner, that was a heavy question.

For the first activity, we were instructed to write down a few things that we, (and I quote) would crawl through glass for. When Halton first posed this question I couldn’t help but pause to envision the graphic description of the question. However, after a few minutes I, along with the rest of the workshop participants, were able to make a fairly lengthy list.

Mia asked if anyone wanted to share their list and a few participants volunteered. Many answers read, “Family. A successful career. Friends,” all answers that I respect. However, there was a very specific answer a student gave that fascinated me;

I would crawl through glass for a level of self-confidence where I am content with being alone and being myself. 

I was convinced that this girl transparently read my mind. Her words sounded like an unspoken truth about myself that I never voiced or even thought to put together in a logical sentence. She’s right; self-love is much more important that the love of anything and especially anyone else. We should be taught to be comfortable with our sole presence before being too welcoming to the presence of others in our lives.

The next activity during the workshop required us to mold a hand-sized slab of clay into something that we can keep in our space to inspire us in our everyday life. As simple as it may seem, I molded the clay into a heart and carved the word “love” in the middle. Love is something that inspires me every day and I hope it inspires others as well. I’m not referring to love solely in the romantic sense, but the love of all things that make living life worthwhile. It’s such a powerful emotion that has the ability to interchange itself to be both a person’s vice and virtue. I painted the molded heart in a hue of cerulean blue. Since the Mia Halton workshop, I keep my handmade ceramic comfortably placed on my desk where I can be reminded of all that I learned, not only at the workshop, but more importantly my own personal values and beliefs.

 

 

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: An Examination on the Ambivalence of Romantic Love

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(An excerpt from a previous essay)

Perhaps love is not meant to be understood, but it is purely meant to be felt. As people come to experience this so-called love they attempt to explain the feeling through canvas art, dance, song, poetry, or essays. Yet, the true meaning of love seems to get lost in translation. I am only able to imagine the feeling, as I personally have never experienced a true form of romantic love. Yes, I must admit I have developed “a strong liking” for past suitors and possibly experienced variations of this strange yet all-powerful feeling, but surely it was never love. Perhaps only when I experience it for myself then will my words have any validation to the world. Until then, I write from knowledge and experience as I have stood witness to the “love phenomenon” and still managed to fall victim to its emotional side effects.

I believe there will always be an ambivalence about the idea of love until it is not only experienced, but more importantly recognized by the conscious individual. When discussing the topic of love, the idea of lies and deception cannot be dismissed. I’ve heard that love is about compromise, however I believe people take this idea so far where they end up changing themselves just for the approval of others. One of the selections from the text “Virtuous Persons, Vicious Deeds” by Alexander E. Hooke state “when one is in love, one always begins by deceiving one’s self, and one always ends by deceiving others…that is what the world calls romance” (Chapter 4). I first denied these words until I realized that I’m guilty of my own self-deception in this way. I changed simple things about myself such as the way I dressed or reconsidered the kind of language I used (whether I did this with the conscious or unconscious intention) in order to meet the expectations of others. Therefore, I can’t help but believe that this apparent “romantic formula” may carry some truth with it.  Maybe I have fallen prey to this superficial idea of romance so I plead guilty, but maybe the the rest of society should too.

At the peak age of twenty-one, I reflect on my past with honest eyes, but more importantly with an honest heart; for my own sake. Deceit and manipulation has lead me to believe there was some kind of connection between me and whatever failed attempts at love I have encountered. I found myself taking on the role of some version of a modern day (and much more chic) Rumpelstiltskin, as I attempted to turn the strings of bad relationship into something just shy of the same value as gold. Life up to date has taught me that any kind of true love I have for another person should make me fall more in love with myself, and I won’t feel pressured to change even the simplest parts of myself for the approval of another person. Somewhere along the way I’ve been convinced that compromise means changing the best parts about me and that couldn’t be farther than the truth. Compromise is rooted deeply rooted in acceptance; not just change.

The topics on love discussed in the selections are intertwined with the ideas of lies and deception. I agree with the author of the text that these factors can shield real love from an individual, but there should not be such a negative connotation that follows one of the most powerful emotions humans can experience that has the power to bring such joy to life. The idea about the ambivalence of love is prominent in society and people are constantly trying to decode the feeling or explain it. Maybe love is an individualistic characteristic, but we use this universal term for informative purposes. Maybe the definition of love translates to, “to each is their own” and the idea of romantic love should simply be left to the interpretation of the conscious individual who seeks it.

Poetic Justice

Once again, Tumblr has robbed me of my sleep as I continued to scroll through countless hipster photographs and trendy smartphone wallpapers. Just before my mind could drift off into slumber, I was intrigued by one specific post that found its way to my phone screen.

“insomniac. I’m convinced that heartache is a form of insomnia.”

It was only a few words of poetry that managed to snag my attention. As I continued to look through the related posts, I noticed were all signed with the unfamiliar name, R.H. Sin.

I continued to scroll down the page.

“emotional CPR. We try our hardest to force life into things that must die and that’s what hurts the most.”

“mistakes. My greatest mistake was believing you when you claimed to have missed me.”

I felt my passion for writing intensify after each poem I read. I’ve never felt such an instant connection to any piece of writing especially from a single author. It was almost chilling how relatable the poems were. I felt like I was reading my inner thoughts; the same thoughts I promised myself I would never tell a soul. Yet, there I was reading them off a platform available for millions to view at a time.

R.H. is the abbreviation for Reuben Holmes. According to The New Yorker, the name Sin is a Mesopotamian reference to the moon, and Holmes prefers writing during the late-night hours. His pseudo name is just as poetic as the content he writes. The Instagram poet has one million social media followers worldwide. He writes and publishes for women empowerment.

Sin has become such an inspiration to women that he created a tag he uses on Instagram called, “my words on skin”. He uses this caption when he reposts pictures that are sent to him from women with his poems tattooed on their bodies. He genuinely aspires to be the support and strength that women deserve.

Interestingly enough, Sin only follows one person on his Instagram account. His wife. Various captions on his Instagram posts say he does not need to be invested in the lives of others. However, even I questioned how he gets inspiration for his books if he closes himself off from the influence of social media. After dissecting his Instagram account, I found where the authenticity of his work comes from. Some of his posts consist of two words that simply say, “vent below” and thousands of women leave comments relating to their own struggles in their personal lives. With so many real-life stories willingly offered to him, maybe he really doesn’t need an extensive list of social media followers.

Although Sin may have a lot of support, there are also women who are just as unimpressed by the amount of recognition his work receives. An article from Thought Catalog, written by Trista Mateer, questioned why The New Yorker raved about Sin on International Women’s Day. Mateer sees Sin as a man who accepts praise for things that should be considered common knowledge. She specifically stated that “male-centric feminism is just patriarchy calling themselves good men for not hating women.” I understand Mateer’s concern, but I personally don’t believe Sin has the intention to seek unnecessary praise. His poetry is his own way of showing his support, and at the very least it’s an attempt I will accept.

R.H. Sin’s website opens with a few words to his readers; “I just wanted the opportunity to speak to women who are like the ones I’ve met throughout life. All fighting something. My art, my poetry is my way of giving back to all the women who have either inspired me or helped me become a better man.” His poetry is in full support of today’s feminism movement. I believe he has more media attention because he is a man writing on behalf of women.

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Sin’s first book, Whisky Words and a Shovel, was published in 2015. Since then he has published 8 additional books (“Rest in the Mourning”, “Whiskey Words and a Shovel Part II”, “Whiskey Words and a Shovel Part III”, “I Hope This Reaches Her in Time”, “Algedonic”, “A Beautiful Composition of Broken”, “Planting Gardens in Graves”, “She Felt Like Feeling Nothing”) and continues to rank as a New York Best-Selling author. Sin is currently working on part two and part three of “Planting Gardens in Graves”. These books are set to be released in June and December of 2018.

Sin’s work is published by Andrews McMeel Publishing. Rupi Kaur is another #1 New York Best-Selling author famously known for her book, “Milk and Honey”. Samantha King wrote “Born to Love Cursed to Feel” and Amanda Lovelace is the author of “The Princess Saves Herself in this One”. I’ve also collected books from these authors because of the similar poetic style they share with Sin.

I have always been truly fascinated with the art of poetry and the ability for a poet to summarize the most complex and unexplainable emotions. Sin’s poems are no more than a few lines all summarized with a creative title. One of my favorite poems by Sin is, “3:33 p.m. They only treat you how they feel about themselves.” I believe his poetry shines light on the beauty of the simplicity in writing. The few words from each of his poems carry so much meaning and can be interpreted differently by anyone who reads it.

The use of three and four-syllabus words disarranged in textbook format does not define intellectual writing, and I believe Sin’s writing proves that. His poetry connects to the human experience and the emotions people in today’s society run so far from. The ability to harness the attention of the masses with only a few words and a fresh perspective is its own type of intellect, and should be recognized more in this post-modern culture.