Sea of Dreams

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Photo by Andrew Montgomery on Unsplash

Today’s song is “Sea of Dreams” by Oberhofer on their album, Chronovision.

 

It feels like years since I have written you.

So little, yet so much has happened in the past month.

My life’s purpose has been laughing in my face for quite a while.

My ex contacted me recently to “get back together” (see “Loser”). Clearly, I said, “no” (that’s putting it delicately). However, it made me think about all of the shitty things that happened over the past two years: how I “wasted time” with this person and with myself, how I felt alone even when I was with him, and how I sacrificed my needs for someone, who didn’t appreciate a damn thing.

This past weekend, I discussed life goals with someone that eerily resonated mine. We are the same age, though I felt like he is light years ahead. He teaches Psychology courses full-time and is finishing his PhD. We talked about how we want to write some sort of novel or film. We both haven’t achieved this goal yet, but who knows?

However, I felt embarrassed that I am the one sitting on my hands with two part-time jobs that aren’t really going anywhere, because I don’t have a doctorate or am working on one. I’m not working on anything now or sometimes it feels that way. I need to make this change.

Then, I recalled a recent conversation I had with one of my college students about how it would be amazing to live in Colorado—to live among mountains that make us feel small, yet a part of something bigger. On that note, she talked about how she could have been there now, how she should have made different choices like how she transferred schools, and how she felt she has been “wasting her time.”

In response, I played on a spinet of wisdom: “We are always wasting time.”
She laughed and said something like, “That’s true,” in affirmation.
I reassured her that she would find her place and get to where she needs to be—it isn’t about when you make something happen, but that you make it happen, at all.

Consequently, as a friend said, I have to find a way to fulfill my Ikigai.

No, Ikigai isn’t a hipster term for “happiness”—it is a Japanese term, “iki” meaning “life” and “gai” meaning “value or worth.” Basically, it is your life’s purpose.

I know my Ikigai is writing and teaching, but it involves much more. How do I accomplish these goals? How do I afford them or make a living from them?

I thought about this principle and how we can achieve our Ikigai in a few steps:

1. Stop comparing yourself to others.
This step is crucial in our journey to find our Ikigai. I was so tempted to continuously compare myself with this person, who seemingly has accomplished much more than I have. In these moments, I run away with the thoughts that I will never accomplish my goals, because “I haven’t achieved them yet,” or “I am not trying hard enough.” Honestly, when you think these things, it is probably bullshit because it’s not accurate or even worth thinking about. Comparing ourselves only gives us a reason to hold ourselves back from achieving what we truly want.

2. It’s okay to “waste time.”
Some people may think it’s a waste of time to go out drinking with friends, meet new people, or binge watch Netflix for hours on end, but these experiences can be refreshing or even inspiring. Did you ever get drunk and think of the most amazing idea for a novel, because you overheard someone say something crazy? It may just be a drunken idea or infinite wisdom? Either way, write it down. Worst case scenario, it can provide a good story. And if you feel like you’re really wasting time with your life: Do something about it, even if it means opening that GRE study guide and re-learning Algebra. It will be worth it in the end or another waste of time. Regardless, move onward.

3. Don’t look back in anger.
It is so easy to dwell on our past mistakes, what people have done to us, and what we have yet to do, that we forget our purpose. We drown in a sea of anger and resentment, that we lose our sense of balance. We can’t stop our thoughts, but we can circumvent negative thoughts sort of speak. The principles of Aikido, a defensive approach to martial arts, teach us about redirecting attacks or negative energy per se, thus defending ourselves without harming others. My Sensei joked that I was like “Gumby,” so I translated this as I am freely moving and cannot be caught, spiritually or otherwise. Consequently, I learned how to fall down stairs without killing myself and how to redirect my negative feelings somewhere else in a positive way. Find it in your heart to forgive others and more importantly, yourself.

4. Most importantly, be kind to others.
“Life is chaos; be kind,”-Michelle Eileen McNamara
As the late wife of Patton Oswalt said, we need to be kind to others. We need to forget about ourselves for a little while and focus on sharing our kindness with others, even if they don’t appreciate it. I refuse to let myself give up on others, even though I had so many negative experiences being kind towards others. I realize I don’t need anyone to complete my happiness, but it’s okay to want someone. It’s okay to want someone to join you on your journey in achieving Ikigai or maybe sharing your love with others is your Ikigai. When we communicate with others, especially with dating, we can tend to simply take “pieces” of others to fill a void without any intention in returning affection—”ghosting,” particularly. We tend to forget that there are other people on the other side of an unanswered text. Sometimes we don’t have the energy or it might be the lesser of evils to avoid people, but try to be kind as possible. Psychotherapist, Esther Perel explains this phenomenon of “ghosting” and other related concepts succinctly in her video: https://www.facebook.com/Jezebel/videos/10154831710036356/

I will leave you with these thoughts. We may not know what our Ikigai is or how to achieve it, but don’t forget that we are all looking for our purpose in some way. We are not alone and don’t have to be. Until we find our purpose, we can enjoy our paper sailboat ride downstream. Remember in the words of the fictional character, Bojack Horseman, “In this terrifying world, all we have is the connections that we make.”

Best wishes,

A. Dawn

If you would like to listen to our playlist, you can find it here and on Spotify: thirtythirdwheel

Present Tense

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Photo by Natalia Y on Unsplash

Today’s featured song is “Present Tense,” by Radiohead on their album, A Moon Shaped Pool.

 

 

Do you ever feel like your life is like a dream? I don’t mean like Cinderella or some fairy tale crap, but just the mundane of everyday life cut up into oddly pieced snippets then spliced back together like an artsy foreign film? You can’t quite figure out if you are awake or if every day is just a blur of actions and reactions, then something happens.

 

Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference—It is a numbness that takes over sometimes when we do the same routine over and over. Sometimes it can be when we see great things happen to other people and not us. Or worse yet, when bad things happen to us or people we care about.
It doesn’t have to be so bad, but lately I have been indulging in ennui. Maybe because I have been so busy with the everyday, I forget to dream about something interesting? Or maybe it’s because I’ve been sick with a cold this week, I don’t feel like doing anything.

 

Sometimes we need to slow down. Maybe we can bathe in the present tense? Soak our fingers until we are pruning with the day-to-day reality, which is our lives?

 
Let us not be too real. Let’s pretend for a bit.

 
If I look at my life, I see that I am underpaid immensely for my qualifications and education. Right now, I am a substitute teacher in the day and teach college courses at night. I don’t make a lot of money, but I am happier than I was with my “dream job,” which turned into a nightmare. The students I encounter when subbing were kids I knew from last year when I taught at their school. They tell me often that they wish I would be their teacher and can’t figure out why I wasn’t hired to teach at their school. After hearing it so many times, I started taking it more seriously, though I can’t fight the political machine and win every time. I can’t dwell on what isn’t.

 

A lot of us have been there.

 
My love life was on life support recently, and then I pulled the plug. I was seeing someone off and on, who is considerably younger than me. There are no harsh feelings—I would rather just be honest with myself and realize there is no hope of it going anywhere.

 
End scene.

 
This may sound like I am depressed, but I am okay with everything. People may think happiness is a constant, an object, that you have no control over, like winning the lottery. You may be lucky or you are not and there is nothing you can do about it.

 

I beg to differ.

 
I have been reading lately, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” which is the novel that inspired the film, Blade Runner. I don’t want to give too much away, but in the novel, the main character, Rick Deckard is obsessed with obtaining a living animal (because animals have died due to the aftermath of a World War). Living animals are a status symbol to possess, because they are obviously so rare and cost exorbitant amounts of money. He thought if he bought a living animal, life would be so much better. It reminds me of the old adage, “money can’t buy happiness.”

 
The problem with this is not necessarily that money can’t buy you happiness, but happiness is not a tangible object or concept. We place demands on ourselves everyday: “If only I had that house or great job,” “If only I lived somewhere else,” or “If only I were married.” When we place these contingencies on ourselves, we make ourselves miserable—there will always be another contingency to replace the one that is resolved. If you place contingencies on yourself, practice reframing them into reasonable goals. If it sounds ridiculous, then it is not worth thinking about. These are reasons why I have to live in the present as to prevent myself from feeling sad or disappointment. If I start placing contingencies on myself, I will dwell in failure of a future that may never be.

 
There are ways to live in the present, but you have to be willing to try:



1. Leave the house and do something different.
You don’t have to go skydiving, another country, or a concert all of the time to be happy. The problem with indulging with social media is that we compare ourselves to others. We see their smiling faces with a bunch of their equally interesting friends doing amazing things, while we are sitting in our hypothetical (or real) Snuggies. We don’t have to be out living life the fullest every night or every weekend to be fulfilled, but maybe try something new. Travel to a nearby place you haven’t been. Do something nice for others and throw a little get together. Ask people to bring food and/or drinks if you can’t afford it. Break up your routine instead of feeling sorry for yourself after another night of Netflix and Ben and Jerry’s bingeing. Even if you are with your significant other, life gets boring when you are always locked into a bubble.

2. Find something to distract yourself.
Need to clean that closet in your house? Repair your leaking faucet? Get a paper done? Just do it already and get it over with. You will feel so much better knowing it is done and when something exciting comes your way, you will be able to join in the adventure, whether you have saved your money, time, or both. If you don’t feel like being productive or doing something you don’t want to do, write a song, read a book, paint something, or go on an adventure and take photos. If you can’t do those things at the moment or it’s more of a thought process that’s holding you back, change your mind.

In Cognitive Behavior Therapy, there are techniques which help you control your racing thoughts. If I continue to have anxiety producing thoughts, I will “thought replace,” which I will shift my attention to something else silly or something productive in order not to think negatively. Thankfully, I have an active imagination, so I will try to think of something funny or random (kind of like an inner improv). Additionally, I have been practicing meditation lately, which there is a method you can try, which is called “Noting.” Noting is not necessarily changing your thoughts, but “noting” that you have these negative thoughts and that’s okay. You can start noting when you have negative thoughts, what situations they occur, and so forth just as you would with “thought replacing.”

3. Make Small Goals for Yourself
Along the lines of distracting yourself, make small goals instead of larger ones. Break your goals into chunks. What do you want out of life? Is it manageable? Can you try to make it happen? I have wanted to be a novelist since I was eight years old, but sometimes if I think about writing a novel, the process sounds daunting and impossible. If I break it down into small parts, like thinking about what kind of characters I want to develop, or what generally I would like it to be about, it makes things easier to process. Certain goals take time, possibly years or a lifetime. It takes us a while to get a degree or start a family. We don’t just obtain what we want overnight, typically. If you want to break it down further, maybe something like you adulted this week by working a bunch of overtime, so you buy something nice for yourself. Whatever your goals, you can achieve them in small parts, which add up to a bigger picture.

4. Don’t make concrete plans for the future.
When I say this, I am not referring to putting money in a retirement fund or making any attainable plans for the future (e.g. getting married, having kids). What I am referring to is to not be so rigid in your plans. Life changes and so do our plans. Be prepared to make changes or to roll with them the best you can. Again, these can be typically the contingencies we create for ourselves: “If I do this, then I will be happy.” It doesn’t always work out that way. Most of the time, it doesn’t, but what you can do is dream. As Blondie says “dreaming is free.”

5. Lastly, Dream, Dream, Dream.
The fun thing about dreaming is that it doesn’t have to be taken seriously. When I was younger, I lived in a world much like Doug Funnie, which I would imagine exaggerated situations and write about them, good and bad. 99 percent of the time these fantasies never happened, but the reality of it though is that I never worried as a kid that “my dreams won’t be realized” or that they had to be. The point was just to let my mind float and sometimes use it to cope with stress. As adults, I think we sometimes forget it’s okay to not worry about actualizing everything we dream about. When I find the dream is not fulfilling or in some cases, becoming harmful, I dream of something else and deal with that negativity in my life, typically by expelling it. For example, I would catch myself daydreaming thinking things would work out in some way with the person mentioned above. In reality, it didn’t “have to” work out, but some part of me wanted it to. When I realized it never would, it wasn’t fun anymore to dream about it. And if something keeps coming back to you, like my dream of being a novelist, maybe it’s time to make that dream into a reality or change your dream.

I hope my advice has served you well in a pressing time of ennui. In the meantime, I am going to enjoy what life brings me on another unseasonably warm October, today.

Sincerely yours,

 

A. Dawn

If you would like to listen to our playlist, you can find it here and on Spotify:  <a href=”https://open.spotify.com/user/thirtythirdwheel/playlist/1AY3MCl1GDEPm7N5uWbBCU”>thirtythirdwheel</a&gt;

 

Never There

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Photo by Jordan Jensen on Unsplash

For your listening pleasure, today’s song is “Never There,” by Cake from their album, Prolonging the Magic.

 

Fall is a time for leaf changing, freaky 90-degree weather for weeks at a time (it did not even get this consistently hot over the summer), pumpkin spiced everything, and my favorite holiday, Halloween. People say that Spring time is a time of romance, but I find roasting marshmallows over a bon-fire on a seasonably normal crisp Fall evening and drinking spiked cider at an impromptu costume party a means of sparking romance. Speaking of which, did I mention that Americans spent an all-time record of 8.4 billion dollars (thebalance.com) on Halloween decorations last year? It’s because Halloween is the best!

With the emergence Halloween comes the spooky stuff (I can’t wait until the Stranger Things, Season 2 Premiere), which includes scantily clad costumes, Charlie Brown’s “The Great Pumpkin,” B horror movies, witches (I’m not a basic witch), and most importantly, ghosts. Whether you believe in them or not, they are out there…ghosting your text messages (insert the voice of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, here)!

You can’t unread it:  I said it. And this is probably one of the reasons why I am single.

Anyway, we all have encountered these ghosts or have turned into them ourselves (probably by being bitten by Pacman ghosts or our lack of giving a shit). I don’t know if you have been through this, but I would like to relay to you a situation for example. My friend was recently talking to a guy she would describe as someone who “doesn’t suck,” but then again, we have been wrong before. She and this guy (let’s call him Inky) talked every day through text for about a month. Inky and she bonded over numerous interests. There was an apparent attraction between them, but he never would make plans to see her. However, he constantly talked about how his life sucked and how he missed his ex-girlfriend who broke up with him four years ago. He talked about how his ex destroyed him, yet he was still hung up on her. He couldn’t or didn’t want to see anyone else, yet talked about how he liked my friend (this seems to be an issue with dating guys in their late 20’s). His ex contacted him eventually and they sort of got back together (a fling, whatever it was). And that was the end of that. He ghosted.

I did my research and want to share this pertinent information with you. There are all sorts of ghosts out there in any gender, and I want to teach you how to spot and avoid getting eaten by them. All of the ghosts share one thing in common:  selfishness.

Ghosts come in different colors, too (to be exact, they are red, pink, aqua, and orange). Please see this highly scientific diagram below:

Pacman_title_na

 

  1. “Blinky” (the red ghost): Blinky may appear to be a slow-learner, but Blinky will eventually learn your moves and bite you right in the ass (perhaps literally if you are into that sort of thing). Blinky will slink back (literally or metaphysically through the internets) and watch your every move. Blinky will ask seemingly innocuous questions about your interests, yet never ask direct questions about yourself or make plans related to these interests. Blinky will also never talk about themselves. Blinky will play it cool, yet creepy. and clingy. Blinky will find out where you hang out and will just randomly appear there (“Oh! I was just in the neighborhood”) or like random photos on your Facebook from three years ago stuffed in some Mobile Uploads folder. Yet, try to pinpoint who Blinky is or where to find where they will be, and you will have no idea. One drunken night, Blinky might confess true feelings for you that are so outlandishly deep like a marriage proposal, but then try to discuss it the next day, and Blinky has packed their bags and moved on to another newbie victim, slasher style.

Advice: Stay away! Blinky may masquerade as being chill, but Blinkys are creeps. They will be passive-aggressive if you approach them about their stalking behavior. There is no helping them. If you feel like it, get what you can, but beware the consequences of a one-night stand. They may expect random repeated booty calls with some bizarre demands and non-profound declarations of love sprinkled in between.

  1. Pinky: Pinky always seems to be confused about what direction Pinky is going in on a regular basis. Pinky is a dreamer and is super flighty. Pinky might have a new goal every week. You might see potential in Pinky’s upbeat personality and seeming sense of accomplishment, but Pinky is all about Pinky. Pinky does not return texts and then will at 3 a.m. the following Saturday. Pinky fronts as wanting a relationship, but Pinky just wants followers. Pinky may also front as a leader, but Pinky has no idea what the hell Pinky is doing. Pinky would rather be told what to do by Pinky’s crew and leave you in the dust unless you happen to pass in the same direction, then you are screwed. Pinky has not quite gained the sense of Object Permanence (babies when they realize their caregivers exist when they are out of babies’ sights). Pinky is a people pleaser, but does not care about pleasing you if you are a permanent fixture in their line of sight.

 Advice: Enjoy the ride. Take what you can get, because it will probably disappear. Don’t act interested either unless you want something. Beat Pinky at their own game.

  1. Inky: Inky is probably friends with Blinky, which Inky likes to manifest in dark alley ways and smoky bars. However, Inky is the seeming soft type who brings their journal to the bar and takes notes. Inky likes to people watch and talks about deep topics like poetry or philosophy. Inky typically is frozen in perpetual stasis of Freshman year of college and wears ill-fitted printed clothing, which may be considered hipster, but is just strange. Inky has a lot of insecurity issues and talks about their ex…a lot! Inky can’t be bothered with the mundane aspects of having “a relationship” and wants to talk about their problems all of the time. You may see this as “bonding,” when in reality, they just want an ego boost.

Advice: Don’t waste your time with Inky. It is going nowhere fast. Inky is a stray cat that only wants affection when it’s hungry. However, Inky isn’t that cute to begin with, so is it worth it to deal with Norman Bates?

  1. Clyde: Lastly, Clyde can care less about anything and has the attention span of a squirrel. Clyde is here for a good time, not a long time. Clyde likes to hook-up with basically anything that slaps Clyde in the face. Clyde is too stupid to be self-loathing and has no sense of self-awareness. Clyde may seem like relationship material, but Clyde is just looking for the best opportunity at the moment. Clyde likes to party and may join you in your misadventures if you are bringing your hot friend along or buying rounds of drinks. Clyde is the group message texter. Clyde also traps you in their drama when they need your attention, but is nowhere to be found when you need them. Clyde is just a douchebag.

Advice: Similar to Pinky, take what you can. However, Clyde is not as charming and sophisticated as Pinky, so Clyde may get annoying, fast. Take what you can and run.

I hope this advice as provided you safe travel throughout your journey through mazes while you collect cherries, apples, and maybe if you are lucky enough, the key.

Godspeed!

A. Dawn
If you would like to listen to our playlist, you can find it here and on Spotify:  thirtythirdwheel

Infinite Summer

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Photo by João Silas on Unsplash

For your listening pleasure, this is “Infinite Summer,” by NCZA Lines on the album, Infinite Summer.

 

 

In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger — something better, pushing right back.”

–Albert Camus

 

Summer is slowly, gracefully making an exit. The days are getting shorter and a little cooler. The light has changed too. You can tell the sun is farther away, but I always thought it was on par with a Luminist painting in August through September, so at least that’s lovely. The back to school frenzy is abruptly pushing at summer’s languid edges. I know that soon this season will be like the proverbial fistful of sand, then even less than that- just tiny grains left behind in your bag and shoes from a beach vacation that seems like a distant dream. I feel doleful, but I will always hold summer in my heart, and I’d like to think it’s part of my elemental makeup.

My birthday is June 12th. Of course I am biased, but it’s a fabulous time to have a birthday. If I were born 100 plus years ago, my parents wouldn’t have to worry about warmth and abundance of food for the family. All pragmatism aside, when I was in the school, my birthday marked the final days of school, yet I was still able to hand out party invitations to classmates. Also, I love being a Gemini. I really do feel that varied vibrancy the sign is said to impart, and my time to shine is late spring through summer. As an adult, birthdays become more of a liability with each passing year, and yet, I always feel younger and fresher in mid June, as does the earth. It’s easy to move with a blithe spirit. I just love how everything is really buzzing with life, the gorgeous flowers like roses and irises are coming out, and the days are so long. Doesn’t everyone?

Shockingly, no. There are a lot of people who like fall better, apparently, at least according to their Facebook posts. I used to think that I was one of those people years ago. I loved October with a passion, yet had a near mental breakdown every time it came around. I was a melancholy soul years ago, living out of harmony with my true nature. I avoided the sun and laughter as if they were the plague. Obviously, I was depressed, and thought it was just my personality. After reading some of my journals through the years, I realized that I had the same yearly pattern, and was much sadder in the fall and winter. I wasn’t crazy, I probably have seasonal affective disorder. But I looked so cool in my layers of dark clothing.

Which brings me to the importance of what I’ve dubbed “transeasonal fashion.” I would say that September and March (and sometimes April)  are the hardest seasons to dress for since the weather is in such flux. I rarely live by fashion rules, but I do have a few. White after labor day is no big deal, but, on the flipside, please don’t break out the boots and sweaters until at least late September. What’s the rush? It’s winter in NEPA forever, and you’ll have plenty of time to parade around in that stuff. Also, keep your velvet underground between mid-March and late September, or else something beautiful and refined becomes tacky. Who am I fooling, most people don’t wear velvet. I like to approach my transeasonal dressing with hints of both seasons in way that looks like they can get along. For instance, a romper with bell sleeves worn with tights and cool boots in late September. Or maybe a long sleeve printed shirt with a more summery flowing skirt in earlier September.The sartorial challenges keep me distracted from pining for summer.

Mentally, I have built my year around summer. I do believe that that nature lives for summer, for it is then that she shows off her finest work. She goes all out and is accessorized to the max, and it just works.Yet, I know that all amazing times must end, so I judge every other season by its proximity to summer. Of course, spring is the dear though meeker sister, stepping aside for the true debutante. Fall is the trickster vixen who seduces everyone into thinking it’s okay that summer has ended, there’s a new kind of beauty in town! Until we are faced with the bleak reality of November, and afterward the nasty and unspeakable harridan that is winter. Winter’s only saving grace is that eventually it ends and gives way to spring. So, maybe fall is the real villain here? At any rate, during the most bitter moments of winter, I close my eyes and conjure up my most ambrosial summer days because I know that they are truly a part of me and will return. On the first day of winter, I begin counting the days until spring and summer the way some people count the days until Christmas starting in November. Don’t get me started on Christmas, the least wonderful time of the year (another blog post, perhaps).

If I could hold summer in a bottle, I would. But seasons are free, and transient. I guess that is part of their beauty. I vow to take a walk every nice day, and absorbed every molecule of summer that I can into my being. My summer to do list is never finished, but I collect a collage of beautiful memories nonetheless. We have until September 21st, after all. Don’t let the fall lovers fool you, with premature pumpkin spice coffees in their hands, and pumpkins on their porches. Summer doesn’t give a damn, darling, she’s still traipsing about for a bit, and will certainly leave an impression.

Powa

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Photo by Riccardo Annandale on Unsplash

Today’s song is “Powa,” by the tUnE-yarDs on their album, WHOKILL, whom I had the pleasure of seeing in Charleston, South Carolina. Merrill has a powerful voice and presence.

 

Someone whom I cared deeply used to say I was like Doomsday, (if you don’t know who Doomsday is, he is a monstrous villain from DC Comics). Doomsday died painfully thousands of times, only to be cloned to repeat the same process over and over. He was an experiment to become the strongest creature in the universe. Eventually, he became a somewhat unstoppable force, leading to the death of Superman.

So, am I a murderous comic book character who suffered a thousand deaths? Not quite, though I am not a fan of Superman, either.

The point this person was ever-so-eloquently trying to make was I suffered needlessly by others’ cruelty, only to become stronger and stronger. After all the setbacks that I endured, I survived and emerged a new person—an older version with a new superpower of sorts. Ironic that this person would be a part of another figurative death, which he said, “If I told you the truth, it would destroy you.”

It easily could have, if I let it. I suffered the loss of long-term partner, friends, and lastly lost a job opportunity that I was hoping to be the last of glue to hold me together. On top of that, the world of hatred has been smacking us in the face more than ever. I wonder if I am hopeless? Promises broken again and again, I tortured myself with all the stages of grief in some cyclical order: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. There is still some residual anger with an acceptance chaser, though I am thankful for what I have left. I am Doomsday, remember? Also, it’s not all about me. We don’t always have to accept everything that happens to us: we can fight it!

My friend of many wise words had said that when sometimes when awful things occur, this allows the universe an opportunity for something better to come. This is difficult to process, but I believe it’s true. These past couple of days I had a deep moment of clarity: I am ready to be destroyed again, to become better. I can in turn help others survive the destruction around them, when their world crumbles to pieces like mine and lots of others did a thousand times over.

Now that I am living as a newly cloned version of myself, what do I do? Instead of destroying the world, I am slowly coming out of my healing cocoon. To make another DC character comparison (you can see where my free time goes), I feel like Killer Frost (villain from the Flash, who absorbs heat and projects cold and ice) regaining control of her powers and fighting the psychological demons within her or is that how that goes? Do I become a part of the evil in this world or do I try to make it better? Do I dwell on the negative past or work to create a positive future? Do I become Caitlin Snow again (Killer Frost before she became a villain) if that is even possible? How do we survive our dark sides?

We all have powers within us, waiting to be awakened. We have the strength within us to be these amazing forces for good, yet some of us waste our potential or use our strengths for evil. We mire ourselves in the daily grinds, worry too much what people think, and mostly, embody fear. What if we achieved every goal we wanted and it still was not enough? What if we never achieve anything? What if we do more harm than good? What if we have no control over what happens to us? Fear keeps us divided within ourselves and from the world, which turns to hatred. You know how the Yoda quote goes. On that note:

“Take your broken heart, make it into art.”—Carrie Fisher

The late and profound Carrie Fisher is an inspiration to us all. I heed her advice as if it were my path to healing, to regaining spiritual power. Art can be defined as any form of imaginative self-expression: painting, dancing, singing, writing. But I also take “art” a step further. It can represent a power within us to communicate, to teach, to understand deeply. Our “powers” can be an artform. We need to express our powers instead of hiding in the dark, fighting our darkness within.

How do we unleash our powers within ourselves for the greater good?

1. Find our “artistic expression” and share it with the world.  
Artistic expression can be writing songs or painting like Bob Ross (I own the Joy of Painting by the way). I once stumbled upon my father painting a Bob Ross like painting, which he acted embarrassed as if I discovered his porn stash. You should not be ashamed of your talents, but embrace them, especially if they are impactful. Painting made him happy and it made me happy to know that my parents weren’t mindless robots. I embraced my artistic abilities and learned from his challenges with self-acceptance. I promised I would not be afraid to express myself, because I had nothing to lose giving to others, especially if it made people feel and think positively.

2. Give others a space to share their powers, too.

One of the major reasons why I created this site was to give others a space to express themselves, to share their powers with the world. I do not need to be the center of attention all the time. Give others praise, teach them with your powers to accept or find theirs, too. Sometimes we let the villain within us control how we feel about others sharing the spotlight or having a certain power we want and feel we cannot have. As a six-year-old might sing, Let it Go!

3. Start action: use your powers for the greater good.

You may have a gift of gab, you may be popular, or you may be able to influence people easily. Instead of blasting Trump in angry memes on Facebook every chance you get, stop feeding the hate machine. Do something about it. If you feel your powers won’t reach the White House, find a way to be a positive force. Create petitions, start a movement, use your voice to do something, except simply complain. If politics are not your thing, volunteer. Donate to women’s shelters (they are always in need of hygiene products) or adopt a puppy from a shelter (I plan on doing both very soon). Please, whatever you do, stop judging people for not saving the world in the exact way you do: this mindset isolates and diminishes everything you stand for. Everyone has their own power and they can use it how it works for them. They may share their powers to inspire people with music. Or they may be a grandmother taking care of her grandchildren while her daughter, a single mother, goes to work to provide for her family. They may buy a lot of sheetcakes from a local business. No one else can tell you who to be, but yourself. No one could tell you the exact right way to use your powers, but we need to take action somehow that is constructive. If we sit idly by, evil wins. Empathy may be one of our greatest strengths in our time of need right now.

Do not lose yourself to fear. People can get scared and lash out on the world, give into their dark sides. Remember, villains are not born, they are made. Even if people want to make you into a villain, you don’t have to become one. I can be Killer Frost/Caitlin snow, saving the world with my powers instead of destroying it. When I forget who I am, I look at my tattoo. The magpie is symbolic of myself, which my surname, Pica means “magpie” in Italian.

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I designed this several years ago as I reminder to myself that I am in control of my life, that I write my own path. Write your own path as you are the only one who knows how to use your powers for good. If you don’t know how, be open to learn.

Truly,

A. Dawn

If you’d like to listen to our playlist, you can find it here and on Spotify:  thirtythirdwheel