The True Reason You Should Be Kind

How cool is the world? I mean, seriously, how cool is it? Because I think it’s pretty freaking cool. There are just so many people. Every single one of them has a name, has thoughts, feelings, and a story. Then I think of how many people have lived since ever, how many nights have been slept through and how many sunrises watched. How many breaths have been breathed!!! The average person takes between 17,280 and 23,040 breaths a day, and there are about 7.2 billion people alive today. And that’s just one single day…

I am the only person who will ever be me, and there is so much to me. That means that… it’s just… wow. I can’t wrap my mind around the vastness of it all.

I think these thoughts more often than is probably normal (we’re talking at least once a day, usually more), but especially prompted by two things: good news and bad news.

The good news is when I’m uplifted, when I realize how awesome and incredible the world is (in other words, a Big Thinking Moment). Things like the “Project for Awesome” remind me how many people have good values and are creative and inspiring. Music and books and movies remind me that I am not alone. Nature brings me back to earth (literally), and it’s when I feel peaceful and whole that I value the beauty of our surroundings and remember to stay connected to it. My family and friends remind me how lucky I am to have them. Or all of these at the same time.

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Had quite the onslaught of Big Thinking Moments as I stood staring at this and wondering how the colors could possibly be natural. I didn’t edit this picture at all — it was real life, in all it’s glory.

The bad news is when I hear about suffering. War makes me sad, and I become sadder when I realize that if we haven’t yet found a way to eradicate it, we are not as developed as we think we are. My hopelessness strips away the beauty I previously saw. Racism, cruelty, prejudice, hate, torture, rape, murder… I lose my faith in humanity, if only for a few moments. This is when I realize that if there are so many people in the world and we each experience hardships, there’s a sh*t-load of hardship going around.

The bad news is also what leads to me keeping things in perspective and not taking anything for granted. So on the personal scale I suppose you could say I find a way to make something positive of it, but in reality it just sucks and I hate the world sometimes.

I would say I range from being realistic and practical to being truly optimistic, and this is what keeps me going. My ability to find good and change the way I look at situations is something I have worked to cultivate and plan to fall back on throughout life.

So the way I approach the bad news? I try to be nice. Because yes, there are those with a vision who can change the world, and yes, I could set myself the goal of being one of those people, but that isn’t me (at least not yet). What I can do now is see people. I can notice when they’re having a hard time and need a kind word or gesture. I can tell when they need to be recognized for their personal successes and their abilities, and I try to do that for them. I also just say “hi” and ask how they are because I genuinely want to know. The ways are endless…

This doesn’t mean I’m perfect. This doesn’t mean I’m a good person. What this means is that I’m trying. That is all that can be asked of a person, and that is what I ask of you: please, try to be nice to all of those around you. Small gestures can make such a difference to people, and I’m not going to get all cliché and say that together we can change the world, but together we can make someone happy. Maybe that’s enough.

In the words of the great Ellen Degeneres, be kind to one another. Bye-bye.

Ella

Song Quote:

So, so you think you can tell heaven from hell, blue skies from pain. -Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd

On Self Defense and Being Awkward

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A* has intimidated my entire grade since we were in our early teens. He’s tall, broad, staring and deep-voiced. One might think his stutter could even out the playing field a bit, but it simply gives him an additional edge: it’s ominous.

When his legs were hurt this summer, my friend and I wanted to go visit him in the hospital to be nice and show we cared. But what do you bring with you to visit someone you don’t really know? I had no clue as to what to bring, say or do. So I went with what I know: writing. I wrote him a card. Damn that stupid card.

We got there and instantly felt out of place, because his friends were there and he didn’t really know us that well. And we were intimidated. We tried to stick as close to the wall as possible to leave room for the people he actually liked to be near him. We kind of wanted to leave, but we were dependent on busses to get home and we didn’t want to wait outside the hospital for forever. So we stood, awkwardly, praying we disappeared into the background.

Finally, an hour later, it was time to go catch our bus. But I was still holding the letter that I’d taken out of my bag as we’d entered, and had since clasped in my clammy claws of hands. Eventually I said, “Where can I put this?” and he said, “Here, you can give it to me.” I passed it to him, wanting to snatch it back and burn it.

Months later, I was sitting in the school lobby and looked up to see him standing next to me. Standing. I squeaked out “hi!” (Intimidated).

“Hey. How are you?”

“I’m fine, I’m fine. You’re walking!”

“Limping,” he corrected, and thus ended our interaction.

After that, they told us in class to bring our gym clothing for the next day, because A was going to teach us some self-defense. A few weeks before there had been an incident with a knife outside our school that ended, thankfully, with no injuries, but with an injured sense of security.

Knowing I wouldn’t be able to participate fully, I decided to at least dress the part. I might stand out because of everything else, but I refuse to stick out because of my clothing. So I come in my t-shirt, leggings and sneakers, and slowly take in that everyone else on the field is dressed normally. So much for that.

I also knew that I would have to let A and the other instructor know in advance that I wouldn’t be taking part in everything and I would be more of an observer. In theory, that part shouldn’t have been so bad.

Except that I miscalculated how far away they were from me. I started off at my normal walking pace, which I wouldn’t call slow but also can’t categorize as fast. If they hadn’t looked up I would have been fine. I would have had my time to collect my thoughts and call out to them in my own time. But they looked up, and saw me coming from a distance. They halted their conversation and focused on watching me approach them. Let me stress this: they were just standing there, watching me walk to them. Eye contact? Yeah, there was some of that. Awkward eye contact? Yeah, heaps of that. I kept walking and walking and walking and it felt like I might never reach them.

Then came the dilemma: do I speed up, now that they see me coming? I mean, these hulks of men might get impatient and why would I want to add fire to their wrath? But I decided to stick to my original pace, feeling that that might exude a sense of calm and normalcy about my gait. Once I was within earshot, one of them called out, “Hi.”

“Hi,” I said. Steady breaths. I didn’t feel as short as I thought I would, but that didn’t improve things much. “So here’s the thing I have health problems and I can’t participate in everything but it’s okay I came to watch and I’ll do what I can and it will all be fine so yeah thanks.” And breathe.

“Okay.”

Okay. So, I guess I leave now… right? I said what I came to say, but they’re still looking at me. Deciding once again that consistency is best, I turn around walk away from them at my steady pace, except I now feel their eyes on my back (or butt? *Nervously tugs down the hem of her T-shirt*).

Did he read my card? As the thought occurs to me during my time-consuming departure from them, I’m almost sure they can see my blush through the back of my head. He never said anything. I never said anything. Did he read it? Does he think I’m stupid? Am I stupid?

Uh oh, hell no, how do I stop these thoughts? Well, having to turn around and face them as they called us to attention was probably not the best way. Turns out that they were following me, about five paces behind me (of course).

The value of the self-defense that I learned most probably outweighs the discomfort I felt for a few hours, and will likely stick with me for much longer, so I’m going with positivity for this case.

Until the next time I cross paths with A….

Ella

Song Quote:

And the only solution was to stand and fight, and my body was bruised and I was set alight. -If Only For A Night, Florence and the Machine

*Want to guess what A is short for? Leave it in the comments, and get creative!

Silent Night, Peaceful Drive

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Driving at night is so peaceful. I spent almost an hour in the car last night, and even though I had music on, it felt silent. The world was rushing by but my brain wasn’t whirring at full speed.

In the car, I have power. Control. I may not be able to decide how my body behaves or how I wake up feeling, but I do get to decide where I drive and how fast I go.

In the car, my headlights form spotlights. For once, what the light illuminates is not the good, the bad or the ugly. It is the road. Always showing you where you are headed and gives you a way to survive.

Okay, reading that back, that last bit came out really pretty. Excuse me as I pat myself on the back.

In the car, my physical limitations evaporate. I can get where I want to get to, and nothing is a struggle. I am patient, and thus not even traffic can damper my mood.

In the car, I am safe from the rain. I stay cozy and dry, and watch for once as the bad thing is outside and not within me, not a part of me. I am but a bystander. The pain? Not mine. It is the clouds that are crying.

If only I could stay in my car and face the world from within, protected.

Yours,

Ella

Song Quote:

Good morning freedom, goodnight lullabies. –Drive Darling, Boy

An Ode to the Changing of the Clocks

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It’s cold now. Cold means big sweaters and heavy blankets, which mean safety. I bought new slippers, in honor of the changing of the clocks. They mean, I know these look like they belong to an 80-year-old woman, but they’re comfy as heck. Cold means tea, and tea means a burnt tongue, which doesn’t have any enriching value besides reminding me of winters past.

It’s earlier now. Early means I wake before I need to, and fall asleep before I’m supposed to. At least it used to be that way. It isn’t anymore, because sleep and I are on a break. But it does mean that as I lay in bed staring ahead, I see the raindrops (on roses and whiskers on kittens) caught on my window, and the smell of it seeps through the walls. Do the raindrops look like tear drops as they cling to my face?

It’s darker now. Darkness means comfort and calm, and more hours of it should mean less time spent in a frenzy. Because frenzy leads to anxiety and anxiety leads to pain, so really I’m sitting here praying to the darkness: take away my pain.

I latch on to the hope that comes with change. It was fall. Now it’s winter. This was change. May the change bring with it all the good I wish for during my waking hours of staring at raindrops.

Yours truly,

Ella

It’s cozier now, and cozier leads to winter playlists. I put together a playlist for this season (yay!), called ‘Changing Clocks’, that you can find on Spotify (click the link or type ‘Changing Clocks’ into the search bar, it’s the top result, and then you can follow it to see when I add new songs).

Song Quote:

If the rain keeps falling and you can’t see the tears in my eyes, they say the night is daunting but we all need somewhere to hide. –It Could Be Better, Lewis Watson

P.s. Comment below if you caught the Friends reference in here!

Is This My Destiny?

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For everyone else, this last year of high school is a step they need to go through to get to the brighter beyond. But for me, with every passing day, the anxiety grows. When I got sick in 9th grade, I thought I would be better by 10th. When I wasn’t, I prayed it would be gone by 11th. When it wasn’t, I closed my eyes and pretended that there just wasn’t an option of me not being better by the time I graduate.

But it’s getting closer and closer, and I’m staying the same and the same. Trapped in the same constraints, suffering from the pain and loneliness, and quivering with anxiety. Because when I imagine my future, I am healthy. When I think about choosing my next path, I am healthy. When I think about colleges, dating, careers… I am healthy. But I am not healthy. So what’s going to happen?

Up until now, I haven’t let myself seriously consider what will happen if I don’t get better by the end of 12th grade. But the last few days, and today especially, I can see it crystal clear. My friends will move on. They’ll still love me, still support, still care for me (because they’re awesome), but by the nature of things, they will move on. They’ll be living farther away from me, be very busy, and probably be struggling with adjusting to their new environment. Being the kind of friend that I am, I’ll try to be supportive, listen to them and be empathic to their struggles. But inside I’ll be thinking, damn, I wish I had your issues.

I’ll be feeling lonely, because I’ll be seeing them very little. Conversations will probably take place over the phone or via text. Weekends they’ll probably want me time, which is legitimate, they’ll be tired from a long hard week, and anyway, there’s not much I can do anyway. I get tired, you see. I’ll try my hardest not to become a burden to them.

But I’ll feel lonely. And they’ll move on.

So how will I fill my time?

I can come up with a few things to do, my teachers at school are trying to help me make plans. It just sucks, because they aren’t the plans I want to make.

I can picture myself healthy so easily. How much I would bloom and love life. It’s not like I think life would be perfect, I know I would still have problems, but I would just feel so free. This happiness, that I have inside that is beaten back every day as I feel pain and every night as it keeps me from sleeping, I would finally be able to call it my own.

I need to find a way to insure that even if I’m not better I won’t let myself go, because that would be so easy. I can feel the temptation already. Nobody else knows how hard it is for me, how much goes into just putting a smile on my face, into getting out of bed in the morning. I’m tempted to not get out of bed. It would just be so much easier. Life would hurt so much less. I wouldn’t be looking at everything I can’t do everywhere I turn. 

Isn’t that just really what I want? For it to hurt less? It hurts so much. I talk about the emotional part of it all the time, but physically it’s just too much already. How much longer am I supposed to be able to withstand this attack? How long is it going to be until something in my body just fails? How long is it going to be until my inner strength just runs out? How many more tears do I need to shed in order to get through a day? How many more times do I need to sob and ask god what I ever did to deserve this until I can get some respite? HOW MUCH MORE DO I NEED TO SUFFER?

I can’t take much more. Every day this smile feels a little bit faker. Every day this laugh feels a little bit more forced. Every day this will power gets chipped at a little bit more. Every day my eyes grow heavier. Every day I crave affection, support and reassurance more, but the level I receive remains the same. Every day my breathing becomes more labored. Every day I just try to fill the void. Every day the doubt grows infinitely. Is this my destiny?

Ella.

Song Quote:

Give me love like never before, cause lately I’ve been craving more, and it’s been a while but I still feel the same. –Give Me Love, Ed Sheeran

I’m Going to Go with Passion

I’m having trouble concentrating on life because all I want to to do is write the story I have in my head right now. I can’t even focus on writing a post without getting distracted and wanting to write VIQ (I don’t want to share the whole title just yet, so just initials for now).

This isn’t what I usually write on here, but I’ve actually come to the conclusion that maybe this too will interest you. Because when you have a lot of pain, like I’ve had the past few weeks, you don’t get to do what you want to. You aren’t free. All I wanted to do was write but even typing hurt my hands too much. Now that I’ve regained functionality I have this drive inside me to let my creativity run abound and get this story from my head to the pages. It’s not a fire, even though some writers describe it that way, but the words are definitely burning to get out. I think I’d call it… Obsession? Urge? Passion. I’m going to go with passion. I have to admit, I’m really excited about VIQ. It’s different than what I usually write and all of the previous novel ideas I’ve had. It’s kind of a fun story that observes the way the whole world is so small these days, and how we can all be connected to the exact same thing despite the distance between us. It’s also a huge mash-up of all of my favorite daydreams to escape to. For once it feels nice not to write about the things that are sad and hard for me. Not that that is the only thing I write on here- there are plenty of things that have to do with normal life and happier topics. But still, in this novel, no one is sick and I like that.

So here’s to VIQ and huge breakthroughs,

Ella

Song Quote:

If you could read my mind, love, what a tale my thoughts could tell. -If You Could Read My Mind, Gordon Lightfoot Do you feel this passion too?

My Relationship with Taylor Swift

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As far as relationships go, Taylor Swift’s and mine was a pretty happy love story* for a bunch of years. I was about eleven or twelve years old when I started listening to her music, and I was enchanted. I would memorize all of the lyrics, practice the tunes until I got them just right, and even make up dances to my favorite songs. There were times when the two of us were inseparable, and I would spend hours trying to figure out the coded messages she slipped into her lyric books.

When “Speak Now” came out, I bought my copy right away and took to pacing up and down my living room while listening to it. I had just started at a new school, and I remember being on the bus when a few girls up front started singing “Sparks Fly”, and being overjoyed that I too knew all of the lyrics. When someone said that all of the songs on the album sounded too similar, I defended T-Swizzle’s honor and gave them a long speech (well, it was more of a soliloquy) about how her songs are well crafted, ingenious and beautiful. I was a Swiftie to the core.

But then, entirely out of the blue, in the fall of 2012, Taylor Swift and I had a falling out. It was dreadful, and I was dying to know if it was killing her like it was killing me. I don’t think it was though. Taylor Swift once told me that to be her friend all I had to was like her and listen, and I was failing royally at that. I was disappointed in her new album, “Red”, though for a short period of time in my younger years red was my favorite color. I decided she was a bad singer who was fairly hypocritical and fake, and who should have kept her beautiful curls whole.

The thing is, our falling out wasn’t entirely out of the blue. In truth, it had everything to do with the summer that preceded said fall. I was fifteen in the summer of 2012, and I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia while at the same time the growth I had found on my back was declared cancerous. I was intensely upset and dreadfully angry, but mostly I was confused. Despite that, I had made a vow to myself many years earlier that no matter what personal hardships arose, I would never, ever, take out my anger on the people around me. 

I retreated into myself, and for a little while lost touch with peace and serenity. “Red” came out that October. Are you starting to see the shockingly obvious connection between my emotional state and the condition of my relationship with Taylor Swift? I kept my promise; I didn’t take my anger out on the people around me. But I did take it out on Taylor.

Taylor is blissfully unaware of my existence, because despite my sudden loathing of her I never spread a bad word about her. There was no trash talk on her social media pages, hateful comments on her videos, or mean emails that came from me. I did not turn my words into knives and swords and weapons. My issues with her were personal, and only my family and closest friends knew of our sad, beautiful, tragic love affair.

If you allow me to quote her song Fifteen, “when you’re fifteen, don’t forget to look before you fall, I’ve found time can heal most anything.” I was fifteen, and I had been in a lot of lonely places, but few were as lonely as being isolated by an illness I had, and have, no control over. I tried to be fearless, I tried to breathe, but I was coming undone despite being tied together with a smile.

The song that led me back to positive terms with Taylor is “The Lucky One”. In it, she says “they tell you that you’re lucky but you’re so confused, cause you don’t feel pretty, you just feel used and all of the young things line up to take your place… you wonder if you’ll make it out alive”. It’s an honest song, and it reminded me that Taylor is a person, just like me, who also goes through phases and who has also has hard times.

So, Taylor, this is me swallowing my pride, standing in front of you and saying I’m sorry. It has been two years since then, and my state of shock** and anger turned into a state of sadness, one I haven’t fully gotten out of yet. Time has passed, and I know I had no right to be angry with you, to criticize you, or to pass judgment on your hair. Your hair is beautiful just the way you like it. You do have a good voice, and I do know all of the lyrics to all of your songs, and I do still appreciate you and your music (like, a lot).

I know there is nothing you do better than revenge, but please, forgive me? Can we begin again?

I have adopted the motto of “live and let live”, and though I still feel as though I have personal relationships with certain singers because I connect with them and their feelings through their music and lyrics, I no longer feel as though they have actual obligations towards me. They don’t owe me songs I’m going to like. I believe that they should write what they need to write, and if I don’t like it, I can stick to listening to their older material that I do like.

I’m writing this for several reasons: a) I wanted to apologize to Taylor Swift and b) the nature of our relationship demonstrates the process I have gone through since the two separate and inconveniently overlapping diagnoses of two years ago. Before them, though not carefree, I still had hoards of energy with which to pace rooms endlessly and “fangirl” hard. During and after them, I felt trapped in a dark and confining cage and my soul was banging around between the bars. My life was in upheaval. As time passed, though my physical pain did not diminish and has even worsened, I have gained perspective and a personal understanding of pain and its aftermath. I have become a better person, who is well equipped to deal with hardship and is used to gearing up to tackle each day as a separate obstacle. The anger has mellowed out, basically. And now I just wish as many people happiness as I can, and that includes Taylor Swift.

 

Love,

Elisheva (aka Ella)

 

Please help me get Taylor’s attention!!! It would mean the world to me if she read this, and you can help it happen: tweet #TaylorReadThis and include a link to this page (or retweet mine), and maybe if enough of us do this she’ll see it :)

 

*Italics are either titles of songs interwoven as words, lyrics from songs, references to things she wrote in her lyric books or clever adjustments of lyrics to fit the sentence and context.

**play on the song called “State of Grace”