Peace & Blessings, Beautiful People

May This Holiday Season Bring You Endless Joy

time for embracing
this — a beautiful season
of love and laughter

and of endless cheer
be present and honor life’s
neverending gifts

pull in and push out
boundless love to everyone
including yourself

*Hello, beautiful people. I will be taking a short break. I intend to drink in the welcoming arms of relaxation, reflection, peace, and stillness. Here’s hoping each of you will enjoy the upcoming holidays to the fullest. ACG will resume its normal publishing schedule on Friday, December 27, 2019.

Peace and blessings.

A Cornered Gurl

How We Have Evolved & How You Have Helped

Dad sitting on a couch reading to his two young children
Supriya Bhonsle via Mixkit.co

I opened up A Cornered Gurl via Medium to all writers on January 5, 2019, and since then, I have watched the publication grow by at least 388 more followers. We are currently comprised of 159 writers/contributors with about 75 of them active on Medium. We are a publication that has reached the 1100 mark with 1,123 followers. Our theme–our dedication within this publication is to give you writing that is brutally honest, vulnerable, and relative & relatable. We are writers who, “Break out of the Box” and this is shown with every piece published in A Cornered Gurl.

Nine months ago, I updated my “About” page via WordPress aptly titled, “Who Am I?” to include what we are doing at A Cornered Gurl and how we thought many of our readers could help support us and catapult us near our goal. This effort has not been in vain and this post is being drafted to not only thank you for your monetary gifts but to also thank you for your readership. Without readers, writers would not exist. Because some of you clicked on the PayPal button directing you to our “funds” link, we have been able to gift twenty-four of our writers small monetary payments for accomplishing certain milestones and goals both in the publication and in the real world. That dollar figure is up to $262.00 as of today. These milestones and accomplishments include:

1. Meeting or exceeding 1K claps in A Cornered Gurlvia Medium.
2. Meeting or exceeding 500 claps for three consecutive posts in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.
3. Being a winner (there are usually 3-4 selected) of any of our challenges held throughout the year.
4. Making incredible headway or impacting the community online and off (Graduating high school, college, entering a Master’s Program, or volunteering).
5. Donating time, money, and efforts to anyone in need in some way, shape, or form.

In A Cornered Gurl, we are built on community. It is important for us to not only encourage one another but to help each other grow and we are doing that by exploring many of the facets of writing available to us. I find it imperative to share the works of our contributors here via WordPress as well as I believe words are gifts given to us and should be thrown into the ether in any way they can be. You have seen Featured Writers and Featured Poems for the past seven months and this will continue in the new year. Some of those featured writers are; Esther Spruill-Jones, Christie Alex Costello (currently featured), Jackie Ann, Braden Turner, and Fatima Mohammed.

Our end goal, as we are nearing the end of this year, is to be able to present one of the local homeless shelters here in my area of North Carolina with a check that would not only go toward providing meals to homeless people but a place to sleep or rest for a few nights for many of them too. The breakdown of their funding is as follows:

Donations:

  • $25 – 10 meals or 1 night of shelter
  • $50 – 19 meals or 2 nights of shelter
  • $100 – 39 meals or 4 nights of shelter
  • $250 – 97 meals or 10 nights of shelter
  • $500 – 194 meals or 19 nights of shelter
  • $1000 – 388 meals or 39 nights of shelter
  • Other

Where would ACG like to be according to this breakdown? We would like to pursue efforts from the $50.00 to $250.00. With this amount of funding, as you can see above, we would be able to change a few lives temporarily. To me, that’s us giving back as we honestly can not only with our words and talents but with a donation too. If you would like to be someone to help us meet our goal, please click on this link to issue your donation. If not, we can only hope that you gift your time, efforts, money, etc. in some other form to assist, love, and aid our brothers and sisters across the globe during this season of giving. And please, know that you have done enough and we are appreciative!

I cannot thank you enough for your eyes, minds, souls, and hearts. Having every one of you along for this ride has been an experience of the highest kind and I am humbled.

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

Peace and blessings.

Non-fiction Saturdays

Photo by Eye for Ebony via Unsplash

Motivation
Getting Uncomfortable with Complacency

This year, I have taken a step outside myself, so to speak, to further look deeply within myself. The purpose has been to connect with and somehow tweak what I have or could be missing regarding my life. During many of my sessions with my therapist, we focus on how I can move from one way of doing things (the way I have always done things) to trying new ways, even if these ways frighten me. The one thing I have found to be at the center of holding me back is fear. I touch briefly on this in The Building Blocks of Me and Hello, Rejection.

When I comb through many of my missed opportunities, I allowed myself to dismiss them solely based on not knowing what the outcome was going to be. This is to say that I feared an unfavorable outcome. I counted many things in my memory bank and shook my head at just how easy it was for me to not see something through based on how I felt. In some instances, I felt a strong sense of not being able to move— my mind would not let me. Physically, I was planted in place on many occasions — unable to get myself going because I was afraid of not succeeding. I was incredibly afraid of failing.

Recent experience has taught me that in order to accomplish my goals, I must first take the necessary steps toward reaching them. If I am unable to take those steps, my goals will not be met. This brings me to motivation . . .

Motivation is 1a: the act or process of motivating. b: the condition of being motivated. 2: a motivating force, stimulus, or influence: INCENTIVE, DRIVE. — Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Essentially, I would categorize myself as a decently motivated individual, however, this is so because I am disciplined. I find it easy to rise in the morning, do my daily work, come home and walk my dog, feed her, prepare myself for the next day’s tasks, and edit & write with any time I may have remaining before winding down to read shortly before going to bed. All of these things are embedded within the characteristics of me and have become ritualistic over time. These are not things in which I need the motivation to complete.

What I am finding hard to begin doing are the different things that shift me away from my comfort zone. I operate on a schedule that has been the same for at least fifteen years and veering off course makes my heart race. It causes me to tear up sometimes and refuse to take a chance because again, I do not know what the outcome will be. To pull a paraphrased remark from my therapist, You are prone to your most anxious moments when it challenges you to change. You have become complacent.


Photo by Kat Yukawa via Unsplash

So how does one move from being complacent to being open to making the changes necessary to get him or her wherever they wish to be? How does one know when those changes need to cease? This is not something that will happen overnight. Most of the things I have given myself free rein to tackle will take a few years or a decade, at best. But I am moving forward and in the right direction in order to see these things take place.

What is scary is the fact that I had blinders on, unaware that my complacency was and can continue to be dangerous with regards to my growth. Which brings me to list two definitions of the word complacent:

Complacent is 1: marked by self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies: marked by complacency: SELF-SATISFIED. 3: UNCONCERNED. — Merriam-Webster Dictionary

As you can see above, the first definition is what I have endured — what I am enduring. The third actually prompted me to apply more thought to my ways and question myself: “Am I really not concerned with how I operate and how comfortable I have become with not changing to better suit me? Is my comfort zone so important that any shift from it, breaks me down?” I am saddened to say that yes, I have become complacent. However, I am not the only one.

Americans are becoming more complacent. People socialize with similar folks on Facebook and get food delivered through Uber while sitting at home streaming Netflix. Folks medicate themselves more, keep to themselves and move less often. This isn’t the same restless America whose grit helped transform a British colony into a major superpower. — Tyler Cowen, The Complacent Class, 2017.

I would say that I am among good company, but I am not. The focal point for me is to shift from my comfort zone to a more formidable one, allowing me the freedom to further pursue my goals. I know that this form of change starts with me. I have to be the one willing to lift my feet up and trek forward. There is no one else on which to depend for this to take place.

Every single day, I say something encouraging to myself — something that will alert me of my strengths and help me leap over a few weaknesses that have held me back. What do I look forward to in my immediate future?

  1. A shorter workweek — preferably from 40 hours to 36 hours per week. This will allow me more time for editing, writing, and submitting to literary magazines and journals both online and in print.

2. Pursuing a career that will not only provide an environment for my skill-set, but allow me room to advance and grow with the company without being made to feel like an underpaid, underappreciated, and unseen workhorse.

3. Create, enhance, and build a brand linked to writing, editing, and creative literary works. (A Cornered Gurl is the start.)

4. Move and settle in another part of North Carolina, preferably, Western, North Carolina. (Particularly, Arden, NC.)

When I step back and examine these four goals — visualizing them, I know I can do this. I have it within me to accomplish each one, however, I dread the potential death of each without even given them a chance to live. I am at an age now that is a constant reminder for me to “get it in gear” and do the work required to attain the aforementioned.

I am tired of the same old thing — the revolving door stops now. I am taking a stand against myself. This is my personal pact and it will be until I have accomplished what I intend to.

My motivation? Complacency will not be the death of me.


Originally published in The Startup via Medium. The link shared is a friend link which will allow anyone who clicks on it to read it for free via Medium as it is behind the paywall.

The Universe, Baby

Alicia Espinoza via Mixkit.co

Musical Selection: Art of Noise|Moments in Love

The Universe, Baby

Flash Fiction

She tells her, “You are the Universe, baby. The perfect galaxy. The reason I love the way love feels on me.” She watches. She stares. She loves the way love feels on her too but not everyone is eager to see them flaunting their version of love outside the closet.

“Alice and the rabbit hole, baby. A neverending journey. A hunt for sustenance. Blazing moonlight over cherry trees. I’d never chop you down.” She’s still professing her undying love for her. The charm that lifts itself from her skin and lands on her lips is a ten. A twenty if anyone’s counting. She’s tipping the scales tonight.

“Blue envy. Gray passion. Red all over and yellow inside. I bleed you.” She smiles. She fidgets with her jean jacket, twirls her bossy curls around her index finger, and sets a giggle free. “I would tip a mountain over, my love, if you were on the other side of it.”

Her eyes widen. She steadies her ears on every word leaving her lover’s lips and finally speaks . . .

“If I am all of this you claim, why are we still hiding? Does your mother know my name? Are your sisters aware that roommates is a loose term for what we really are? Did you tell your brother what we do when you’re “on a business trip?”

Silence is thick in the room. She slices it with her words. “The Universe never hides, baby. The Universe doesn’t have to.” She walks away.

Her lover follows her to the kitchen. She watches her hips as they sway. She’s in a trance. Her eyes log her every step. She pulls a thought from the air and shares it with her . . .

“But the Universe knows that living in harmony with everyone takes many sacrifices. It understands that offering itself up on a platter is not how one gets full. Please, let me take small bites until I am ready for more.”

A few pots clang in the kitchen. She’s rummaging through old utensils, searching for a spatula. Her lover’s voice lingers in her ears — on her lips. She stands back on bowed legs and reminds herself . . . reminds her lover . . .

“I am the Universe, baby.”


Originally published in A Cornered Gurlvia Medium.