Tuesday, September 29, 2009

From the Writing Desk

If God blesses me with the ability to focus, I might have just started writing the piece that I would be willing to "come out" (as in "debut," not as in "come out of the closet") with.

I've always wanted it to be something that I won't mind people saying was "Najah Hylton's first published work." I haven't found it in me to write enough poems and be able to piece them together in a way that would not pigeon-hole me. I can't be "that Christian poet" or "that coming-of-age poet." I also refuse to be "that faery-tale writer." But I am willing to be (in the all-encompassing sense of the word 'be') a writer of memoirs, or of non-fiction.

I need to pull an all-nighter and do enough homework to catch up, so that I'll have time (pressure-free time) to write.

I'm working on the intro, conclusion and outline, in note form, right now.

Pray for me.

From the Writing Desk

If God blesses me with the ability to focus, I might have just started writing the piece that I would be willing to "come out" (as in "debut," not as in "come out of the closet") with. 

I've always wanted it to be something that I won't mind people saying was "Najah Hylton's first published work." I haven't found it in me to write enough poems and be able to piece them together in a way that would not pigeon-hole me. I can't be "that Christian poet" or "that coming-of-age poet." I also refuse to be "that faery-tale writer." But I am willing to be (in the all-encompassing sense of the word 'be') a writer of memoirs, or of non-fiction.

I need to pull an all-nighter and do enough homework to catch up, so that I'll have time (pressure-free time) to write.

I'm working on the intro, conclusion and outline, in note form, right now.

Pray for me.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Musings

UGH. Sometimes I am intellectual (like my last post), other times I just have so many random thoughts and feelings that I feel unable to focus.

I'm kind of in the second phase right now.

1) "Praise God from Whom all blessings flow..."
I have been blessed with a vision, a passion, a few talents, some opportunities. My future career is a bunch of images thrown together to create an abstract work of art. It's already beautiful, but only when viewed with your left brain, or through your heart. It doesn't make sense yet; it only makes warm fuzzies. Some day it'll be concrete,  but not today.

2) Brave New Voices
"BNV ain't nothin' to f*** with" is still one of the truest statements I know. It's got to be something real if it still sends chills up and down my spine and makes me cry four months after the fact.
I think what Russell Simmons (God Bless him) has a gift for is seeing the things that will inspire people and then giving those things the platform they deserve. He exposed poetry (Def Poetry) in a way that many people had never seen (Admit it, poets, we're wayy too proud of our antiestablishmentarianism to advertise our art to the masses). And then he compounded on that step in way that makes sure poetry will never die (Brave New Voices), because there will always be kids.
Note: you can think I'm wrong if you want to, but I have this new theory. If I create a poem, a song, a dance, an article of clothing, a program and someone else gives me publicity, I'm not a sellout if I accept (or even relish in) that publicity. Just because a poet/musician/artist/designer/activist goes on Def Jam or BNV or into a public arena doesn't mean they are now a commercialist who has forgotten where they come from. Art is most meaningful when people see it.

3) Balance is just about the most difficult thing in the world to learn.
fashion/presentation : non-vanity
piety/dedication to my beliefs : understanding/tolerance of other ideas
knowledge : faith << I'm struggling with this one BIG TIME right now.
diligence : flexibility
help yourself before you can help others : taking one for the team

4) Being a member of the information generation is both a blessing and a curse.
I couldn't live without social media/my cell phone.
The internet is the time suck of my life: email > news update > tweet > intellectual discourse > reflection/blog > friend's new FB photos > entertainment news > reflection ... RIDICULOUS. We're all going to have to learn to buckle down, turn off our internet connection (maybe) in order to get things done.

5) I feel a connection to Carrie Underwood. Not because I adore her music. Sometimes belting gets on my nerves. But, I feel connected to the lyrics she writes (or at least the ones she sings, lol); probably because she's from Oklahoma and she sings about that. (I also love most all country music, btw, fyi.)
I will probably never leave Oklahoma for long because I can't imagine feeling like she does when she sings "I Ain't in Checotah Anymore." "You can get anything you want here, except a Walmart store...I'd rather be tippin' cows in Tulsa than hailin' cabs here in New York..." (even though I've never tipped a cow or been to New York, I understand the feeling.) "I miss the big blue skies, the Oklahoma kind..."
On a more universal level, even though I'm still at home, I feel this in my bones: "Tell my baby sister I'll see her in the fall. Tell MeMaw that I miss her. Yeah, I should give her a call. And make sure you tell Daddy that I'm still his little girl. Yeah, I still feel like I'm where I'm s'posed to be. Don't forget to remember me." That last line goes out to my sorority sisters and to Frank and to Jen and to Jeffery.

All in all, life is very good. I smile a lot because I focus on grace, vision, and possibility. ("What you focus on expands.") For the first time in a while, the glass is very much half full.

Happy Friday.
Have a blessed weekend.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

P.I.T. - poem

Welcome to the P.I.T.
Here, time is completely relative,
just a man-made construct.
Here, there are no seconds or minutes,
because time is a part of life.

This pit is not my life.


My life is all in my hands and in my head
(my real life hasn't even started yet);
it is not subject to this circumstance.
I make my reality...

And right now as you're watching me,
hearing me take up three minutes of your illusive time,
Poetry is here!
It hovers in this room like a cloud,
it seeps into your skin like Oklahoma humidity.
these tongues of fire burn, not only to be heard, but to help you see.

Don't get it twisted,
this is NOT Shakespeare's poetry.
This is nitty gritty,
hit-you-over-the-head and make-your-tear-ducts-bleed poetry.
These are words as they explain my pain,
movement as it works out my aggression,
performance meant to keep my feet on the ground,
and passion used as fuel for the fire that will
burn this pit down.

Forget foster care.
The Earth herself gave birth to me.
Anytime I need to be held
I can just lie down in the grass,
meld back into the Earth from whence I came,
breathe in the fresh air that first spoke my real name _________.

I don't ever have to worry about my mother leaving me.
The day the Earth ceases to exist
is the day you all stop believing in the silly idea of seconds and minutes,
and the day that I transcend this body and this life.
But until then,
the only thing I have is the pit, the P-I-T,
the transition,
the intersection of time and reality
as they come head-to-head, toe-to-toe with poetry.
I'm not afraid of the day Mother Earth divorces Father Time
and abandons the facade along with you and me
because that's the day...
That's the day I'll be free.

Matthew 11:12 - original poem finished

All my life, I've heard people quote the verse in the King James Bible that says,
"The Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence and the violent take it by force."
I never really knew what that meant
or if I could even trust it
because my history books had told me
that King James wasn't all a body might've expected him to be.
Since then my spirit has come to believe
there's got to be some truth to that phrasing.

You see in the Kingdom of Heaven people are always working,
always striving toward love and peace.
And that Kingdom of Heaven exists here on earth
as long as we nurture our dreams.
But just like we are all capable of goodness and beauty,
so some of us have stopped fighting for love and peace
and have given ourselves up to harmful, hateful things.
Those of us who have sat idly by and let the darkness creep in
are causing the Kingdom of Heaven to be grieved.
We have allowed the battle we were born into
to discourage us from trying.
And our apathy has turned to anger that works itself out violently,
against ourselves, against the hurting and the dying.

Because of this, a war is waging.
Those of us who remember that we were created for victory
must take back what apathy is stealing.
Jesus loved peace
but when the Kingdom started suffering
we were given the commission to toughen up
and fight for its protection.

(Now) I don't know how you feel about this situation,
but I'm not comfortable with hurting people hurting me,
or my family, your children, or this country.
I believe we were created to prosper,
to enjoy and create beauty,
to be blessed in order that we might be a blessing.

I want back the wonder and possibility
between two people whose souls desire unity.
I'm fighting against the pain brought on by lack of respect for physical boundaries.
I'm fighting the consequences born from our seeming inability
to wait to fulfill our fantasies.
I want back purity.

I want back play time and the innocence of children's minds.
We used to play house and hide and seek.
Now we only look at violent games Nintendo and on TV.
I'm fighting for invented games and made up stories.
I'm fighting for the ability to make believe
because I think it's a forerunner for faith.

I want back language that speaks of God and nature and humanity
in words that cause wonder and praise.
I want back strength of character that refuses to be torn down by circumstance.
I want back Mama's love and G-rated romance.
I want back dads, not just father-figures,
or fathers who figure they do best to provide us with money.
I want back the proper view of male-female relationships
that got skewed when my father left me.
I want back the word "Christian"
and the truth of Christ's legacy.
I want us to remember how to behave
like we have been in God from the beginning...
because we have been.

You can call me hostile if you want to,
but I'll use every weapon in my arsenal to fight for those things.

The Kingdom of Heaven is suffering violently
because God's people refuse to walk with authority.
We lay down and cower in corners when we get hit.
We've forgotten that the Kingdom lives in us
so it lies stagnantly until we forcefully advance it.

When Jesus was born, the angels proclaimed peace -
nothing broken, nothing missing -
but as Christ's years on earth came to number thirty,
those who had forgotten their rightful place in destiny
took up arms against the King and His progeny.
It's about time we stopped pleading and whimpering
and raised up our swords of truth to fight for the reign of the Kingdom of Peace.

Body Image and Athleticism

I started cheer leading in fourth grade (and continued in sixth, seventh, eighth, and freshman year of college). I was never a skinny kid, but I was basically a born performer, so I cheered along with acting, singing, dancing, stepping/stomping, and public speaking. (That makes me sound like some powerhouse triple-threat, but I'm not that good at any of those - except talking. Lol. I'm just an attention whore.) If you know me now or have known me for any length of time, you know that I'm a pretty thick girl. No dancer/cheerleader body here, and never has been.

I'm taking a Healthy Life Skills class (UCO's version of OCU's Wellness) and I just watched Bring It On 3, so I've got my mind on fitness.

Do you see these tiny tummies and cute body jewelry?


I'm on the back row in pre-clap mode. Lol.


Last spring I went through this phase where I wanted to lose 50 pounds by January. It started really really good. I worked out everyday (and didn't hate my life), had a good diet going (and allowed myself some indulgences every couple of weeks), and saw results quickly. I lost 15 in about 3 weeks (which they say isn't healthy, but I think it was fine because I had COMPLETELY changed my life).

...Then I moved off-campus and the gym was no longer a two-minute walk from my apartment. Everyday became every couple of days. Then I totaled another car and the gym happened like once a week. I started eating my depression and sleeping all day everyday. So I gained back that 15 pounds and probably a few more.

My original plan when I transferred schools was to make UCO's Wellness Center my 2nd home. But it's been four and a half weeks and I haven't hit the gym once. (I did take four yoga classes and immediately started toning up, which tells me that my body really wants to be active.) We took a tour of the Wellness Center in Healthy Life Skills class today and I was struck by how lazy I've been. I saw my friend Gina in there and remembered how much motivation I used to have and how "simple" it was to get on the right track.

Is there any excuse for being overweight when I have a free membership to a huge facility paid in full with my tuition?

The second problem is time. I have two jobs, and a few volunteer things that I do on the side of work and school. I'm always behind on homework. I never read my Bible or wake up early to go to prayer. And I sleep basically every time I sit for very long. I feel like there are never enough hours to do half of what I want, much less all of it.

Should I continue to put off working out and weight loss until I get my spiritual life and my academic endeavors underway? Or should I force myself to learn diligence by continuing to pile things on (like adding workouts into an already semi-cramped schedule)?

The third problem is vanity. It's one of my vices. It's probably my biggest problem after giving into loneliness and lacking diligence. Is the quest for health - working out, eating differently, etc - really about health, or do I just want to be smaller because I'm vain?

I need some guidance over here.

Soon to come: "Welcome to the P.I.T." - here's a teaser.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Maybe You're Not Doing Enough"

I WANT TO DO SOMETHING!

Yes, I volunteer for LifeChurch.tv's youth group. It's cool. They tell me that we make a difference. But I don't feel it yet.

Yes, I write poetry to address stereotypes and discrepancies, to poke holes in ill-formed theories. But I don't feel the impact yet.

Yes, I'm in school to be a teacher, learning about things like the "tyranny of expectations" and why some adolescents act out. But I still haven't seen a classroom. I'm not there yet.

If I could scrap all of the other activities and start a youth poetry slam scene, I think I would be happy. Because as long as people show up and as long as we're all writing, we are making a difference. My friend Kosher has been supposed to start one for more than a year now. Stomp the Stage has done some performing here and there but we have yet to actually get a workshop program in place. We have yet to actually take a kid from the page to the stage or from inside his head to outspoken.

Maybe if I write more...
Maybe if I draw up some plans...
Maybe if I get some folks with money involved...

I'm jealous of the Excelano Project (UPenn program) and cities with Youth Speaks teams.
Oklahoma has got to rise up.
And I've got to help.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

As soon as the autobio essay I just turned in gets graded, I'll post it either here or at the Artist's Heart.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Success is a Process

Yes! I am very thankful to be living a life that I am proud of. I am not perfect. I have so many questions, but last night I was led to a revelation about even that. Rainer Maria Rilke said, "Try to love the questions themselves, Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now because you would not be able to live them." I am doing my best to live that. It's hard, because I am a fixer by nature. I always want answers and solutions, and I want them yesterday. But success is a process, not a product and life is a journey, not a destination.

I am doing okay-to-good in school. I need to work harder at Math and Health (I slack because they are my gen. ed.s), and then just step everything up another notch. I need to use my free time more effectively (like I'm doing right now, lol).

I am writing and reading and performing a bit more now, which is awesome. That is my balance factor. I go to school, I work, I volunteer, I try to eat right; and for me, I read, write, practice yoga and acquire beautiful things (often books, but sometimes clothes and accessories).

My spirit is getting stronger - probably because I am becoming more sensitive to it. Yoga does that. I am in pursuit of Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration. I am in pursuit of the balance between belief (in Christian principles) and understanding (of the innerworkings of the Universe). I went to Switch last week and this. I am starting to remember the burden for those kids.

My non-relationship is very much in the "non" part right now. I guess he's busy with work and stuff and I'm definitely busy with school. I'm learning to allow missing him to be only an emotion, not an action and therefore a distraction. And he's trying to make sure I do that. "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." I gotta get through school. They say true love waits. And I believe that fake love eventually dissipates. So, que serĂ¡ serĂ¡.

“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40

I honor the Divinity that resides within me.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.