The Breakthrough.

flight

I am the raven orbiting in aerospace

Above the earth, above the human race.

My shadow smeared upon the mountain peak

Like a feathered kiss on that snow-white cheek.

Sometimes I wander too close to the sunrise

Enough to feel that fire in its eyes.

Singed by the heat but lost in my reverie

Heedless to pain until it consumes me.

I freefall alone at the edge of the world

Wings thrash the air—wild, frantic, unfurled.

It’s a desperate, feral, impassioned last stand

But solo flights are doomed for a crash-land.

The wind chokes out my voice and strangles my soul

All that remains is a fleck of the whole.

A body deprived of its essence within

A counterfeit creature of bone and skin.

I comb the horizon for my saving grace

Some foothold to grasp, some faith to embrace.

I roam the hinterlands with compass unclear

Direction obscured, sight darkened by fear.

The summit ahead and the valley behind

Keep me hemmed in their resounding divide.

One urges me forward on two broken wings

The other croons, “pause…rest…heal your heartstrings.

The summit proclaims a hero’s arrival

But from the valley dawns a revival.

A hurried ascent leaves you panting for breath

But stillness draws strength from innermost depth.”

So I’m just an arrow in the archer’s hand

Ready to soar at his trusted command.

My feathers catch daylight, my aim flashes true

First comes the waiting—and then the breakthrough.

 

 

 

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And then You Feel Alive

Sometimes it seems this wound might never heal. Sometimes it feels this pain could last an eternity and more.

Then other times, you find yourself barefoot and lounging in the bed of a rusted ’99 pickup truck, gazing at the infinite expanse of black, losing count of all the stars. There’s a warm breeze on your face, a pulse in your chest, a world at your fingertips.

It’s those quiet moments—strung together like beads of rain, prisms of light or fractals of snow—that remind you life isn’t over.

While your lungs still draw their treasured breath, while your heart still drums its velvet cadence, you realize there’s a purpose to the cosmos. You sense it’s not through random occurrence or chance encounter that you exist in one minuscule fissure of it all.

And then, you feel alive.

When It Starts to Feel Dark, I Need to Create. So, Here’s a Poem.

This Soul

 this soul of mine.

                                          blinded by the sun.

                                             curtained by the moon.

               this soul of mine.

                                          pierced by tongues.

                                battered by lies.

               this soul of mine.

                                          silenced by fear.

                                    mocked by regret.

               this soul of mine.

                                          drenched by the rain.

                                          hurled by the wind.

               this soul of mine.

                                          roped by the siren.

                                          enticed by the wolf.

               this soul of mine.

                                          taunted by danger.

                                              abandoned by refuge.

               this soul of mine.

                                          scorched by the desert.

                                              jarred by the current.

               this soul of mine.

                                          grazed by the rocks.

                                                  shadowed by the peaks.

               this soul of mine.

                                          inspired by strength.

                                               haunted by weakness.

               this soul of mine.

                                          bewitched by the skies.

                                           upheld by the earth.

               this soul of mine.

                                           pursued by the wilds.

                                                 anointed by renegades.

                 this soul of mine.

                                            compelled by true north.

                                                  urged on by the waves.

                 this soul of mine.

                                             refined by the fire.

                                               baptized by the tears.

                 this soul of mine.

                                              sustained by courage.

                                                    anchored by endurance.

                 this soul of mine.

                                              created by mess.

                                        unfettered by art.

                 this soul of mine.

                                              toughened by the pain.

                                                  softened by the beauty.

                 this soul is mine.

inner peace

 

 

Eating Disorders Hate the Word “Healthy,” So It’s Time for a New Definition

weight is not worth

“You look so healthy!”

It’s a well-intentioned phrase that friends or family members use to express their approval and relief when someone they love begins to heal from an eating disorder.

There’s just one problem though. To those in recovery, “health” is not a compliment. What is meant as sincere affirmation of the positive strides being taken, the eating disordered mentality interprets and internalizes as proof of a changing body that no longer fits the ideal.

From this perspective, “healthy” equals “overweight.” And “overweight” equals “failure.” Eating disorders thrive off a need for control and rigidity. The illness requires an excessive degree of time, effort and self-restraint. It’s demanding, uncompromising, all-consuming work.

For those caught within its grasp, the eating disorder is an identity, the area they excel in, a “superhuman” strength. Their concept of health has become so distorted, they associate it with mediocrity—a direct violation of the uniqueness they crave.

Reframing the context of healthy:

In the beginning stages of my own recovery process, I encountered the “h-word” constantly which reinforced all the fears and suspicions that my “perfect body” was gone. I had grown accustomed to measuring success based on thinness and didn’t understand the reality of this new message other people were sending me.

I heard, “You’re fat.”

They meant, “Your skin isn’t rough. Your eyes aren’t hollow. Your cheeks aren’t sunken. Your hair isn’t brittle. Your posture isn’t hunched. Your arms aren’t wiry. Your smile isn’t forced. You look more alive.”

So when I reached a state of awareness and receptiveness to the truth behind that word, I began to realize our weight-obsessed culture is in desperate need of a new definition.

First of all…

Health is not a euphemism for “guess what…that ‘thing’ you used to be awesome at—well, you’re not anymore.” 

Health is not a result of losing control over yourself or the behaviors which took you such a long time to cultivate.  

And here’s what else it’s not… 

Health is not spending hours on the treadmill or in the weight-room.

Health is not eating meals that consist of just quinoa, kale and chia seeds.

Health is not allowing a number on the scale to dictate your happiness.

Health is not indulging in dessert then inflicting punishment afterward.

Health is not using exercise for the sole purpose of burning calories.

Health is a holistic fusion of the mind, body and spirit. Health is finding balance. Health is moving because the body is designed to—not because it should conform to an external standard. Health is eating nutritious foods but not being afraid to share Chinese take-out with your friends. Health is not determined by weight or appearance.

Health is wholeness.

Health is vitality.

Let’s Cut the Crap with Some Updates & Real Talk…

Hi. *waves awkwardly* Yeah, that seems like a good place to start.

This morning it occurred to me that I’ve been radio silent on here for almost three months. That’s a new record. One I’m not thrilled about…but the break was necessary.

Here’s a thing you should know: I wasn’t being my authentic self in the posts I was writing. It happens. But that doesn’t make it okay. And it’s not the writer—or person—I want to be.

On this blog, I preach about self-discovery, self-care, self-acceptance, self-love. I get on my virtual soapbox and pound the keyboard with messages like, “You’re more than just a body. And don’t let our culture tell you otherwise. Be unique! Be diverse! Be weird! Society could use more free-spirits like you.”

And yeah…that’s cool and stuff. If you believe it. If you live it out. Which I can admit was not the case for me. After all, what benefit is a motivational speech if my own words never transcend the computer screen and saturate my heart?

They mean nothing. They ring hollow. They sound fake.

So it took awhile, but I realized this. I came face-to-face with the denial and deceit. And it just plain sucked. But I couldn’t maintain the facade anymore, so I made a choice. Until I could write the truth, I wasn’t going to write. Zilch. Nada. Period.

In case you’re wondering, here’s what is true…I am not healthy. I don’t have a balanced, sustainable grasp on fitness and nutrition. I restrict food and workout obsessively. During the past few months, I almost fainted three times. I punished a body I was supposed to be caring for, and it collapsed under the abuse. I was reckless and self-absorbed—with no concern for the ramifications.

But I have to tell you: that’s no way to live. It’s exhausting, isolating, confining, disengaging. There’s no spark of interest, excitement or spontaneity. The world has no color. Only shades of black-and-white. I figured this out…and something had to give.

So I’m trying a different approach. One I flirted with in the past but never surrendered to. I’m choosing to accept my human frailties. To affirm they exist. Not use them as justification to hurt myself. To change what needs changing, but extend grace in the process.

I’m doing hard things. Scary things. Painful things.

Last week, I ate a doughnut—my first since around age 12—and went into panic attack mode right afterward. But I survived the trauma. A few nights ago, I cried when faced with a slice of Domino’s pizza—and I’m talking ugly tears. But I ingested it. Every carb-loaded bite, and I’m still here.

This sounds melodramatic. Oh trust me, I’m aware. But it’s the journey I have to walk in this particular season, and if it seems theatrical, crazy or ridiculous…that’s fine with me. The goal is honesty which sometimes feels more like absurdity. But I’m through pretending and performing. Right now, I just want to be human.

Flawed. Broken. Erratic. Unsure.

But not beyond repair.

eating a doughnut

the infamous doughnut, you guys. smiling on the outside, convulsing on the inside. it’s how I do.

5 Sustainability Tips for Everyday Life {Guest Post}

Even if we don’t realize it, one of the greatest threats in the world today is climate change. This environmental hazard is responsible for rising sea levels, increased temperatures and the extinction of entire species, all of which impact our future well-being here on earth.

It’s common to blame these issues on a passive government or corporate greed, but the fact is our everyday actions are just as much a factor. We tend to avoid sustainable practices out of convenience, laziness or sheer apathy.

As the inheritors of this planet, our generation’s responsibility is to protect the environment we call home. Being eco-conscious in doesn’t even require a drastic lifestyle change. Just start with small trade-offs, and you’ll notice a positive difference over time.

sustainability

1.  Cut Down on Plastic Waste

You might think it’s impossible to avoid using plastic, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give it a shot. Plastic is a known pollutant, and as a scuba diver, I’ve seen firsthand its effects on marine ecosystems. Coral reefs are being destroyed, and fish are washing up ashore due to plastic ingestion. Here are some strategies to reduce your plastic consumption:

  • Take a reusable canvas bag with you to the grocery store instead of using the standard plastic bags.
  • Drink water from glass bottle and keep refilling it (empty wine bottles are ideal for storing water in the refrigerator).
  • Request no straws or plastic lids for your beverage at restaurants and take-out chains.
  • Be aware of the plastic content in products you consume and choose biodegradable options which are healthier for the environment.

2.  Go Green on Your Commute

Most people drive their cars on a daily basis, but your emissions can be reduced significantly if you make simple changes on the commute. Choose to walk or take public transportation for shorter distances. For longer distances, become familiar with road cycling safety habits, and bike around town instead of driving. When you need to drive somewhere, carpool with friends to lower your carbon footprint.

3.  Use Eco-Friendly Products

There’s no shortage of options when it comes to consumer products, but often, we pick the cheapest brand without giving much thought to the consequence of that purchase. Buying mass-produced items can leak factory emissions and pollutants into the atmosphere.

So read the labels when you’re out grocery shopping. Purchase organic, local and fair trade-certified foods. Organic practices eliminate pesticides, fair trade items promote sustainable production and fair wages, and locally grown produce bolsters farming and supports the community. Also check the labels on cosmetic products and choose brands that haven’t been tested on animals and don’t use illegally or unethically sourced ingredients.

4.  Work From Home If Possible

The average American spends 47 hours commuting through traffic each year. This equals 3.7 billion hours and 23 billion gallons of gas wasted. With more companies becoming eco-conscious and more millennials entering the workforce, some businesses allow their employees to work remotely which offers increased flexibility and benefits the environment. In fact, remote working decreases greenhouse emissions by 54 million tons annually.

5.  Practice Energy Efficiency

We often take electricity for granted and don’t realize how much energy we consume by leaving the lights on or forgetting to unplug a charger. Remembering to turn off all switches before leaving the house is crucial, but you can also swap traditional bulbs for LEDs or CFLs which use less power and have a longer lifespan. The money you would save by switching out incandescents for these greener options will make this a win-win situation.

If you can afford it, another solution is using solar power. These panels are installed on the roof and converting sunlight into energy that can fuel everything from the refrigerator to the air-conditioner. In cases where enough sunlight isn’t collected, the energy is drawn from a built-in power grid. This natural form of electricity can also save money in the long-term, and research shows that solar panel users saved between $44 to $187 during their first year alone.

 

These are just a few pointers adopting a more sustainable life that doesn’t require any profound changes. If we all took these basic strides, the collective impact on this planet would be extremely positive—and in the modern world, that’s exactly what our environment needs.


 

Akshata Mehta has a passion for traveling and exploring the world. She loves to write, and is especially interested in sustainable living. Being a foodie, she also enjoys cooking up healthy concoctions in her kitchen, recording these recipes and more on her blog With Love From Akshata.

The Gorgeous Contradiction

human heart

Dear Humans,

Let’s talk.

Let’s talk matters of the heart.

A striking paradox. A gorgeous contradiction.

Hard and Soft.

Dark and Light.

Fragile and Strong.

Timid and Brave.

Leaden and Lithe.

Tethered and Wild.

Each a fractal. Mosaic. Part of a whole.

A force resolute with the spunk of a rebel.

So let’s acknowledge the shadows and summon the flames.

The murk and the mess. The gleam and the grace.

They all beat together. They all have a place.

There’s beauty. Creativity. And transparency too.

It lives just inside, gasping for a breakthrough.

Let’s feel it. Not fear it. Let’s uncage it for flight.

The heart pants for freedom. Clamors for the heights.

It wasn’t meant to be fettered and snared.

The heart is wired to cavort in midair.

It’s poetic but doesn’t rhyme.

It’s musical but sings off-key.

It’s artistic but smears the canvas.

And within that enigma, you’ll forever find magic.

So accept the absurdities. Don’t scorn the complexities.

Because the heart was made fearless. Stamped for eternity.