Thursday, November 16, 2017

A New Me & Thoughts on the Power of the Past- A Message for Teachers!



On December 1st I turn thirty, and anyone who knows me knows that I've been dreading this number for a while now. I haven't seen myself as a woman turning thirty- "Woman," that term feels correct at thirty. I guess I haven't adjusted to the term since up until this point I have seen myself as being perpetually between a girl and a woman.

I think I've seen myself this way because it's only now, a few weeks before my birthday, that I see myself actually coming into a full and complete person. I'm finally believing in myself, and having the confidence to try new things by letting go of some of the past. I'm beginning to truly believe that my core dreams can and will come true.

Coming into my own has taken a long time. I didn't realize how much the past influenced me until I hit all the different storms of my twenties, and I don't know if many educators realize how profoundly they influence some children. I've found that I have spent my twenties building myself up over insecurities that were developed in elementary school.

My mom, brother, and grandparents were my positive teachers, but the majority of the teachers I had growing up were not good at all.

I'm not saying this to be hurtful, but I was a shy and well-behaved child, and so in many ways I was ignored and I blended very easily into the background. I remember never liking Art Class of all things because I felt I never could do anything right, and that was supposed to be one of the happiest classes.

This feeling branched into other subjects until I just tried to stay with what I knew I could do. In High School, as I mentioned in a previous post, I auditioned and made it into the choir. I was so happy, and after getting up enough confidence, I decided to try out for Vocal Jazz. What many of you might not know is that singing is something I've always wanted to do in some form. This teacher dismissed me with the words- "Your voice is not powerful enough." I will never forget this. She didn't want to work with me, and it was just another 'You're not good enough' from a teacher.

The teachers I had solely paid attention to the ones who excelled so profoundly, and the ones who were causing trouble, and in between they would subtly break down the quiet and unsure ones like me with dismissiveness or negative critiquing, and that is part of the reason why I'm writing this today.

I want to urge future teachers to truly work and believe in every single student, even if they look like they don't need help- please encourage, build, and compliment them daily. Do not utter a single negative word unless you plan on working with them to actually have them achieve something great.

I didn't know how to stand up for myself then, but teachers need to know that they do in fact influence their students very much, and not every student benefits from harsh critiquing.

I am a new me now. I'm stronger because of my experiences, and I believe that everything happens for a reason, but it's solely thanks to the support of my family.

I've spent a year now painting, and I believe this is a large part of what has helped create the change in me. Painting has been my therapy because it's broken through the years of walls that read "I can't," and into the beautifully lit rooms of "I can."

So I encourage anyone who is reading this to push yourself to try different things, especially if you're in a rut of insecurities. I also want to say that you shouldn't compare yourself to anyone. The majority of people I know are in a much different world than myself, and that's okay. I'm finally truly appreciating my unique journey.

I am now just beginning to feel like a girl who is turning into a thirty year old woman. I'm truly ready to try the new, and pursue everything that I desire to do. I built myself up, and I look forward to seeing the fruits of what I pursue, and appreciating and loving the new people who I welcome into my life now that I know I am stronger and brighter than I gave myself credit for.

Here I come- 30!





Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Way I Am



There are a dozen pictures
So many different sides to show
You often choose the ones I think aren't pretty
When we first met I tried so hard to be the kind of girl I thought you would be attracted to
But the winter wind blew my hair into tangles
And the grime of the train made my face flushed and worn
And yet that was the girl you fell for
You saw me the way I am
And you saw this as beautiful
I told myself many times that I would learn to wear more makeup
To take on the appearance of a woman who had it all together
To be what I had learned from magazines and other women in my life
But no matter what I do I still see me
And I'm beginning- Just beginning- To see this as-
Wonderful
Because you have always seen me
And you have loved me so deeply
And this me you say makes you so happy
I would do anything to make you happy
You see me like no one else ever has
At my most vulnerable
You love me just the way I am





Saturday, November 11, 2017

I'm not a Machine


I'm not a machine
that can be stopped at any given moment
I can't switch with a shift
There are mistakes I make
that I can't always shake
Misunderstandings can sometimes cause me to shut down
I have no set of instructions
telling me where there's going to be an obstruction
So please let me be
Wait me out
I promise to be true
And be all that I can be for you
But I'm not a machine
I don't have details on how to react
when this train of mine goes a bit off the track



Friday, November 10, 2017

Reinstilled Trust




A long held prayer
Answered with the affirmative
She never thought could be
Maybe there was a lack of faith
It’s no surprise
Those years of trained experience
She couldn’t see what you saw
But she did have moments that touched her deeply
Unfortunately this sense could not be contained
The subtle assurance
But you very quietly knew all along
And now she wears this thin but strong layer of trust
On the ground floor of her heart
To be remembered in the times of waiting once again
But to never dissipate in the slightest

Thank you



Wednesday, October 4, 2017

HUMAN DECENCY 101



I was going to wait to write this.

I was hoping for circumstances to change, and to be proven overly sensitive so I wouldn't have to write this, but now I realize that this is so much bigger than myself.

In the wake of so many unexplainable and horrific tragedies, you would think that the one tiny bit of light would be that we would care about each other just a bit more.

I would think that our lives would be put into perspective, and greed, selfishness, and self-absorption would be less, but that's not the case.

I am very sensitive. There's no doubt about it, and I often think I have way too much heart to even make it in this world. I get broken very easily from the little things that I deem inconsiderate, like an unanswered e-mail.

So let me begin with what I believe to be Human Decency 101, because I know there are people out there who do feel the same way I do.

When I was little, I was taught the basics- please, thank you, respect your elders even if you feel differently, go the extra mile in life, hold the door for others, and acknowledge people in passing with a smile or nod.

To be perfectly honest, right away in elementary school these mannerisms made me different, and not so popular, and that only continued in life.

I remember in elementary school holding the door for some of the girls who were classmates of mine, and they just walked right through- There was no "thank you." Their Mothers were right with them, and did not correct them. I said to my Mom, rather loudly and distraught, "Mom, they didn't say thank you!" None of them turned around though. My Mom's heart broke for mine, as it always does, since the lack of basic considerateness has always bothered her as well. She told me, "Some people never learned. Let the door slam on them the next time." We never did let the door slam, but I hated feeling like I just did want to let the door slam on them the next time.

Now, I am not professing to be some perfect individual. I am far from it, but when you treat people like they don't exist- Well, it eats away at a person.

Yes, for many it makes them stronger, but do we really need to get stronger this way?

These life experiences have made me stronger, but for others, it breaks them completely. You don't know what another individual is personally going through when you decide to carelessly step on them just a bit more.

We need to start caring about strangers and acquaintances more in a very basic way.

In many ways, this is a devastatingly sad world we live in, but being an optimist for my own survival, I have faith that this world can be lit one bulb at a time, and become better with basic human decency- saying hello in passing, responding to letters, holding doors, treating each other with respect first and foremost, and listening and truly caring about each other.

As I said, I am not perfect, but the selfishness, greed, lack of responses to letters, and world events has broken my heart in many ways.

I don't believe in people as a whole right now.
I believe most people, not all, are inherently selfish.
I have never ever believed this in the past, but everything has added up.

I don't want to believe this anymore.

Please prove me wrong, and let's light this world back up, one bulb at a time. I have faith that this can happen.

With Love, Prayers, and Hope-
Let's Begin Again Today.

Sincerely,

Christie Leigh



Friday, September 29, 2017

What Love Does




Love is what makes you want to get out of bed when the sun rises each day
When nothing else can
Not fortune nor fame
How else could Vincent van Gogh have imagined "Starry Night" if not having felt a deep love for the sky above, and a belief in the power this vision could hold?
And Edgar Degas couldn't have painted those dancers without understanding love through this particular art form with its precision and elegance
Emily Dickinson though living a life mostly as a recluse wrote, "If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain."
All those writers, painters, singers and songwriters, athletes, overcomers, and inspirers-
They all couldn't have done what they have without feeling a deep love for something or someone
Love truly does not know boundaries and will bestow to both the Princess and the Prince, as well as to the Pupil and the Peasant
Love gets you up in the middle of the night with a poem that you just have to write
Love is what heals us
defines us
and completes us
There is absolutely nothing of more significance than love



Thursday, September 28, 2017

Alistair




You're the one who keeps me from sinking
In this often dark and selfish world
With your sweet and unconditionally loving face
You turn my entire existence into only the most bright and deeply passionate colors
You somehow tell me without words that everything is going to be magnificent
With such brilliant persuasion
I can't ever doubt you
My Angel
Your power over me is this strong
When the people-so many people- without a single thought ignore me
Each time I drive forward with what feels like a Herculean strength more and more
You are always there beside me
Keeping me in life
Not allowing me to settle
And I now believe that any artist who didn't go mad must have had an animal by their side
A pet giving them the love that makes one overcome any and all rejections
Helping them ignore the society in which they live and achieve for beauty and greatness
My Dear Alistair,
You're my saving grace



Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Mystery of You




You're still in her dreams
Every now and then
Time and time again
Though no pictures of you remain
You still appear
Not ever from when you left
But from when you were there with her every day
In the hours that she is awake she does not think of you at all
And she just knows that you don't dream the same
Nor do you think of her in the hours that you're awake
So she can't help but wonder why you still stay
When she goes to sleep at night
The tales are as if nothing has changed in you
Rich in color
Vibrant in life
Why is it that you never fade?



Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Out of Nowhere



These moments
You're moving along just fine
With one little song in the background
And tears fill your clear eyes
Because all of a sudden you feel more
"What's wrong with me?" you ask
As a whisper is ushered into your soul
With a flutter of your heart
That's all it takes
Those difficult times really are suddenly just part of this crazy beautiful road you're on
And you're reawakened once again to those core pieces in you
You kept shuffling these loves to the back of your deck of cards
And out of nowhere you realize
Those dreams of yours aren't going anywhere
They are saying "I'm still here. Come on and wake up to me!"
It doesn't matter when
You suddenly know that there hasn't been any wasted time
Each one of these moments adding up
Every flutter and tear counting
Until that one day when you realize that you're ready
It's time!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Birth


My heart keeps pouring out

I try to push these emotions back

But my world is being rocked

The change feels like a giant storm cloud hovering over the land

The weather forecasters are predicting the wind and rain to last for at least the next few days

I know the change is good

For the flowers were wilting

And the grass was turning brown

But I felt safe

Now everything is going to change

This is what I wished for

But he's leaving

And I'm going to miss him

The weight of sadness and fear feels unbearable right now

But the trumpets are naturally and triumphantly sounding

And I am left with eleven years of memories

I know deep down that no one can remain the same

And so inevitably and rightfully so-

I too must change


One Stride at a Time

I set out the clothes the night before- A hot pink tank top and black leggings- (More on the ensemble choice in a bit.) My sneakers were left on the front steps waiting for the day I would pick them up again, like the dishware left alone in the Beast’s Mansion; these sneakers were to fulfill their life purpose once again. I checked the weather for the following day, and found that it would be a most perfect day to begin anew. It would be crisp, but not too chilly- a wonderful 60 degrees with a dimmed sun and a few clouds hinting to the rains that were to come later.



The next day, I rose and put on my brightly colored outfit, most definitely exhibiting a more confident version of the track girl I was in high school who had a habit of wearing looser apparel and darker colors. I believe I had a fear of standing out and truly being seen back then.  Hot pink is now one of the colors I purposefully choose, for it represents me exhibiting everything that I am rather than hiding and being less.



I hadn’t gone running since earlier in the previous year, which in itself was not good since this physical activity was once so important to me.  



Running in high school was not only a sport for me, but a centering force at the end of each school day. My team and I would take the roads. There would be no phones or I-pods, and though we ran together, we mostly ran in silence.



After high school though, I ran with the I-pod buds in my ears. I would carefully curate a playlist each time, hoping that the songs chosen would motivate me through, and that’s when running became a chore rather than what it needed to be. Running was supposed to be a time for therapeutic silence where my mind could wander free, bring ideas to life, and break any frustrations that may have been plaguing me.



So on this one day I went back, and I went forward. I went forward with confidence and back to what was simple and true. Initially this whole process was very unnerving, especially running without the I-pod that created that invisible shield for me. I realized that in many ways this had become a sort of unapproachable armor for me, not too dissimilar to what you’re taught not to do when speaking publicly. You are taught in successful public speaking to learn to do something with your hands rather than sticking them in your pockets, to make eye contact with the subject or audience you’re addressing, and to stand tall, no distractions. With running, I felt secure with the music playing in my ear, but unfulfilled closing myself off, and in reality I wasn’t more secure. I was avoiding facing the world despite being out in the midst of it, and so the healthiest benefits to running were lost to me.  



This day without the music and being focused on the run itself was life-changing; with every stride I became more self-assured and confident within my own being. I felt the sun more, and I really heard the noises of the road I ran adjacent to. I caught the scents from the Asian restaurant and the bagel place with bread and coffee much more keenly. All my senses became so much greater because I unplugged, and I didn’t let myself become caught up in past insecurities- instead, I silenced all of that and worked through these issues. Simply focusing on the road ahead helped me to grasp the truth that the future is right in front of me, and with enough strength I can open myself up to endless possibilities.



Running has always been the one physical activity that has been incomparable to anything else I’ve encountered. With running everything is simple with the exception and depending upon the amount of energy and effort you put forth. All you need with running is comfortable clothes, and your sneakers. It does not need to be more complex than that, and it’s active- getting your heart rate going more so that you have to have just the right balance of focusing on the act itself as well as letting yourself expand into your thoughts, just clean running- no I pod, and no fancy gadgets needed.



On this run, for the first time in a long time I looked around. I looked up, and I focused, and I was mindful of the present moment. I ended up running more because I didn’t succumb to the stress of a playlist that inevitably wasn’t fitting my mood at a certain point in the run. Due to the silence, I was able to listen to the spirit within me that told me that there was more ground to be covered, and so I continued on stride by healing stride.



I came home that day feeling more refreshed than I had felt in a long time, and as I showered I heard the rain that was predicted begin to patter against the windowpane- my shoes sitting happily alive on the front steps, sheltered from the storm by the roof of our house, and these sneakers knowing very well that they would be laced up again now the following morning, and they were.

Kansas


When I thought of Kansas, I heard Rascal Flatts playing. I listened to the Feels like Today album at least a million times on repeat that summer of eighteen years old. I would be going over a thousand miles away from the only home I ever knew on Long Island, New York, for school in Topeka, Kansas. The songs had this certain way of calming me, and reminding me of exactly what I knew I wanted. I wanted open land, calmness, sweetness, and a fresh start, not to mention that I loved (love) country music, which no radio stations played on Long Island. The feelings must have been strong at that time. I am a complete Mamma’s Girl, and the fact that I was able to take this big step is beyond my thought process now. Lying on my stomach at the foot of my bed listening to songs like Bless the Broken Road, and When the Sand Runs Out, I nervously anticipated the date in August when I would be leaving. My brother would be driving back out there with me. He was already in law school in Topeka, and he would be returning that fall with his little sister by his side this time. We had an apartment together, and I was registered for an undergraduate program at the campus attached to the law school.



I knew deep down that though these songs would always be associated with the time leading up to Kansas, a new soundtrack was about to be burned.



It’s true you know, what people say about how you should often do the things that scare you. I believe in this if you know inside your heart that it’s the next step for you to take. 



Kansas changed my life, and reflected my life. 



Place greatly influences us. It splatters its colors on our canvas, and patiently waits for us to uncover the transition it created in our life story, the giant mark it left! 



When I look back on Kansas now, I have completely associated to my heart memories from this beautiful place that is so profoundly a part of me forever. 



I see a large Midwestern sunset of orange and blues at a Royals game.



I see magical black sky nights with young possibility so deeply in my heart.



I feel a heart that ached with a certain innocence but belief.



I see and smell the beautiful alive scent of the Konza prairie with my brother.



I see snow falling outside a coffee shop, building, with a calmness of a story that has just begun to finely fall on blank pages. 



I remember the long black gown with the silver rhinestone straps that I wore to homecoming, as I ventured into this whole new school and world.



I remember a place where I felt as unique as the vast land that surrounded me.



And I hear an undercurrent of a slower way of life and focus. 



It was where passion settled into my heart for good, and showed me all that I represent in the deepest part of my heart, at my core. 



It’s good to take chances. It’s right to follow your heart. It’s what you’re meant to do, and the places you go, they are a part of you, and will forever remain that way in this beautiful life and heart you have been given.  I am forever blessed with my Kansas soundtrack that I can pop into my CD player of memory anytime to help me. It brightens my today, and helps me in navigating where I should go next.

29 Lessons I’ve Learned By 29

Wow, so here I am about to approach the next decade of my life- Yes, I’ve started thinking about my life in the terms of decades now.  I never thought my twenties would be the rollercoaster that they were. No one tells you this. They’re called the best times of your life. They were the best, but not in the typical meaning of the word. The twenties are filled with your peers following every different course imaginable while you try and maintain and figure out your own. Many of your peers get married and have children- this reality placed glaringly in front of you. You think you know who you are in your teens, but you really find out throughout your twenties. You have the realization often in your twenties that all of a sudden life just became serious, and then you assess and reassess your life thus far, and hopefully you learn to break it down to what you really hold close and desire deeply by the end. I turn thirty at the end of this year, and I’m becoming ready for the next decade thanks to my twenties and the 29 lessons I’ve learned within this crazy rollercoaster of a decade. I hope these inspire you to discover all that you know, whatever decade you may be upon. Thirty- Here I come!



1.    Family is number one

2.    If you want to do something great with your life this something needs to be different than what you commonly hear.

3.    Compliment yourself daily with all the good things that you represent and do.

4.    Passionate work is always worth it, as well as throwing yourself into new experiences even if they’re tough at first.

5.    Hard times turn you into a beautifully strong and dynamic person who understands many points of view.

6.    It’s important to keep pushing yourself with what you’re passionate about even when the flame occasionally dims.

7.    A love song can solve a lot

8.    Self-Care is essential. It’s important to incorporate some sort of exercise into your every day.

9.    Relationships require sincere and continuous attention, and long distance relationships can in fact work if you give it your all every day.

10. The universe doesn’t tolerate a void and will give you what you need in your life, often unexpectedly. Mine came in the form of my cousin who has become a sister and best friend to me.

11. There are friendships that will always be linked to your being no matter how they ended, and this is a very special gift.

12. Time alone is a very good thing.

13. Never go to bed angry- It’s not good for the spirit or the complexion.

14. Pets are the greatest friends.

15. The only opinion of what you should do can only come from you- See #12

16. Withstanding anyone who tries to bring you down is such a great feeling when you realize you’ve risen above. You’re stronger than you think.

17. Keep your inner circle small, and don’t get caught up in the rest.

18. You don’t need Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. If it’s not serving you in a positive way, deactivate now!

19. Remember the past. Assessing your life is important and you’ll find a lot of beauty and strength in what you at the time may have thought was ugly or heartbreaking.

20. There are no benchmarks in life. Everyone is different and if you’re giving love and being passionate, you are on track.

21. Don’t give your spirit away. Fill the world around you with the magic you have within you.

22. Time with a two-year old will clear up any confusion and fill you with more life than you could imagine.

23. Keep your standards true to you. Don’t ever lower yourself.

24. You can do what your heart tells you.

25. “Oh, the Places You’ll Go,” – Dr. Seuss, has some of the most important guidance you could ever receive.

26. Time out in nature is essential for the soul, and stargazing against a big dark blue sky will tell you exactly why you’re here.

27. Take lots of time for play.

28. Your life must have balance.

29. Life is not a race. You are right where you need to be right now.

The Millennials


You call us the "Me-Generation"-
Labeling us self-centered and entitled.

You look to the now, mournfully,
and back with such reverence.

But you were the teachers,
and we were the students.

You turned us away,
and taught us to fight.

We started working our way up,
and you rewarded the moment's novelty.

You preached diversity,
and showed us nepotism.

You said that without a formal education you can't expect much,
so we shelled out dozens of dollar bills,
and then you tell us with all of the education, we should take what we can get.

Then you sit us down and look at our resumes with a frown,
and tell us we have no related experience.

So you see-
For the "Me-Generation" to have happened,
it took much encouragement by you.

Through the hypocrisy we witnessed,
and the beating down that was marshaled by you,
We were simply the students-
You were the teachers.