"The Journey", Mary Oliver

"One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice —

though the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

"Mend your life!"

each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations,

though their melancholy

was terrible.

It was already late

enough, and the wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do —

determined to save

the only life you could save.”

- “The Journey”, Mary Oliver

After a while you learn the subtle difference
between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security,

And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises.
And you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes open
with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,

And you learn to build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans,
And futures have a way of falling down mid-flight.

After a while you learn
That even sunshine burns if you get too much,
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure…
That you really are strong,
And you really do have worth.

And you learn and learn…
with every goodbye you learn.

Veronica A. Shoffstall

Granville

A couple holds hands on the bus

as droplets of residue from the

day-before storm

enter the bus

through the ceiling’s cracks

and form a puddle near

the woman’s feet.

They watch as a small,

inquisitive man stands

and steps out

between the train’s cars —

wondering,

does he crave danger,

or does the danger of such acts

feel less dangerous

over time

to a man who’s

experienced enough

to know that

in this city,

there is thrill

in just surviving?

South on 55th

As outsiders, we stroll casually

down the brick laid streets,

kicking at small pebbles 

as the university’s students

pass through us, with their

overstuffed backpacks

and fuller dreams.

The students carry on,

quick and stone-faced,

through the alleys, and through

the old, worn buildings,

which loom, intimidatingly,

over the campus’ streets —

They’re trying to architect

their new worlds,

without knowing where

to start

Millenium Park

In Millennium Park, I present myself

to the ever-popular, over-consumed

cloud gate, “the silver bean”,

as a woman stands in my shadow,

and stares back, expressionless

at her silvered self.

I compare our eyes, our lips and feet,

and wonder

what her clear blue eyes will see

when she leaves this place,

of whom her thin lips

will seek a kiss,

and where her small feet

will take her —

In form, we are one in the same,

Our uniqueness has

come to us in the way

we’ve form our experiences,

and perhaps,

in the way

our experiences

have formed us

Just Eat the Damn Cookie

None of us want to take the first bite. But none of us want to take the last one, either; in long meetings, at networking events, at casual get-togethers and dinner parties. When boredom ensues or ideas run dry, eye contact shifts from face-to-face, to face-to-plate-to-face-to-plate. So much so, that when the room’s first hand grabs that first bite, the hand’s owner glances around the room for signs of judgment. But there’s far less judgment in the room than relief. Because the floodgates have opened. And eyes shift from face to plate, and the day or night carries on until there is just one cookie or scone or bar or piece of cheese or whatever left on the table. And conversation stops flowing or distractions take hold. And people wonder what the polite or right thing to do is: to stay, to go, to eat, to resist? And you see that person, off to the side, and they’re fighting back. You can tell. And you just want to scream, just eat the damn cookie or bar or scone or piece of cheese or whatever! Or don’t. Just do what fuckin’ feels right! Can we all just stop kidding ourselves?

And you take one bite, then two, then three, then all. And in the car ride home from that long meeting or get-together, you’re not thinking about what you got done or who you saw. You’re thinking about who will be there to greet you when you arrive home. You’re thinking about what you’ll discuss and whether or not there will be disagreements. And you’re thinking about that damn cookie, and how you shouldn’t have eaten it. About how you did but you shouldn’t have, but you did. And when you’re making love later that night, you’ll look down at your stomach, or at that weird part of your arms or at that problem area above your knees. And you’ll think not of the sex you’re having, or the person you’re with. But of that damn cookie you ate, and how all of life’s problems – and all of what’s important – are so often clouded by the trials and tribulations of societal pressure and an overactive brain.

Be Present: My Only Resolution this Year

I rent a house in Uptown Minneapolis, with a renovated kitchen, coin operated laundry, and tall ceilings. I own a Honda, a rice cooker, and a collection of novels, only some of which I’ve read to the end. I have trouble feeling awake in the mornings before a good brew, and rarely am I able to bake cookies without burning the bottoms of them. Sometimes, days go by before I get around to opening my mail or acknowledging a big girl decision that needs attending to. I sometimes wear scarves, even when it’s warm outside. My parents raised me and my siblings in a mid-sized home in the burbs. They have a new dog, but I miss the old one.

By day, I write, Facebook, Tweet, design, and market. Away from the office, I’m a writer, reader, dreamer, thinker… a friend, daughter, sister and more. I guess you could say I’m a typical (yet sometimes, far from typical) 24-year-old, learning day-by-day how and where I’m meant to fit in this big, beautiful, complicated world of ours.

I’ve always loved New Year’s Day because it honors the belief in second chances, in better days and in striving towards a better future self. 2013 was an exciting, eye-opening, challenging, confusing and life-altering year, all at once.

For years, I’ve tended to view my progression through life as if I’m moving across intricately-placed stepping stones, spaced out along a long, winding path that’s leading me towards who I’m meant to be. And I continuously remind myself that all my actions, whether good, bad, purposeful, or accidental, will significantly influence who I am and will be today, tomorrow, next Sunday, next January 1st..

I’m at an exciting time in my life: one at which I feel the stones in my path are easy to pick up, morph, and move around. But at the same time, I struggle with embracing the unknown.

I have these childhood memories of my dad taking my sister and I to games at the fields by our house. And how as fall approached, and the temperatures began to drop, the three of us would brace ourselves as we sat down on the venue’s cold, metal seats. Only after time would the seats begin to feel warm.

I feel like I started this year in that cold, metal seat. Everything that was new to my life felt uncomfortable, cold, and foreign. But as I’ve spent time in these new places, I’ve adapted, and things have begun to feel warmer and more comfortable.

I’ve always been a dreamer, and I’ve always aimed to make my life choices based on my ideas as to whom I want to be. And while I’m proud to be driven - I recognize that at times, I’m holding myself back. I get so wrapped up in what COULD BE that I forget to appreciate what IS. 

So there’s just one New Year’s resolution that I’m making this year. In 2014, I’m striving to live in the present. I want to appreciate each day as it is and to evaluate it, not based on what I want it to be like someday, but based on what it is TODAY. I want to reflect on each day for the joy it brings, the lessons it teaches and the opportunities it presents to grow, change and become my best self.

Earlier today, I read an excerpt from a novel by James Gordon Gilkey that resonated with me - and relates to this new resolution of mine:

"We should make ourselves stop trying to explain our own difficulties. Our first impulse is to try to account for them, figure out why what has happened did happen … (But) many of life’s hard situations cannot be explained. They can only be endured, mastered and gradually forgotten. Once we learn this truth, and once we resolve to use all our energies managing life rather than trying to explain life, we take the first and most obvious step toward significant accomplishment.”

I’m going to stop worrying so much about where my stepping stones are leading me to, let them morph and move naturally, and trust that all will work out as I experience life to its fullest, each and every day.

Thank you for visiting my page. Thank you for reading. I’m so looking forward to spending more of my time in 2014 in this lovely, virtual space.

xJenna