011// Look at me Now

I looked at the pictures she had taken of me in the Garden

— smile on my face 

sun beaming

And I thought to myself that if I could send

any picture to heaven it would be this one

“Look Dad and Oma, I shine just like the flowers do” 


Real talk on loss:

Perhaps the cruelest part of losing a loved one is that I do not get to show them who I am today. A strange form of self love that I have received from them? When I think of how proud of me they would be I am beaming with acceptance and acknowledgement of my accomplishments. They’re harder to recognize when I just think of them myself, at least for me anyways. What a strange and interesting lesson I have gained from this experience. The lessons never stop– for that I am grateful. Blessed really, to have to angels who teach me so much even in their absence. The ones we love are never really gone though are they? Not a chance.

With love,

Kolina

010//My Kindness is Raw

People say that I will change
As if the world can harden me

They have looked at me with the same knowing in their eyes,
since I was 15 years old
As if they can predict that one day my kindness will be all used up

it has been eight years since I first noticed it
the only difference between now and then
is that I cannot be used, stepped on or pushed aside

My kindness is as raw as ever.

 

 

With Love,

Kolina

 

 

The Things I’m not Sorry for Anymore

Today is International Women’s Day and I am thankful. Thankful for the women I am surrounded by, for of the women that I look up too, that I am able to call myself a woman.

As I get older, I become more aware of the impact that strong, mindful, and powerfully independent women have had over my ‘becoming’. These influences have washed over me in ways that I am still realizing as I reflect on the people in my life.

In this noticing, I am starting to see all of the ‘sorry’s’. All of the things that were part of growing up as a girl that I was ashamed of or uncomfortable with.  All of the times I have slouched my shoulders, stood in the back, because maybe then I would be a little smaller, a little less bold. A little less stepping on someone’s toes, a little more status quo.

So last year I wrote this: 

I really wanted to whisper that I was sorry.
I swear it was burning against my lips
as I fought to bite it back and swallow it whole.
Why couldn’t I say it this time?
Because I swear I’m trying to change my thinking.
With every neuron in my weary brain I’m trying
to retrain the part of me
that as a woman
was taught that vulnerability is a burden.

So as a result of the woman in my life, what am I no longer apologizing for?
(This should probably read: what am I working towards not apologizing for. Big (baby) steps.)

A multitude of thanks to my closest friends, who are deeply in tune with themselves:

  • I am learning to not be sorry for having deep emotion. I am not sorry that my tears make you uncomfortable or that my past experiences have made me intolerant to ignorance or that I find your joke offensive.
  • I won’t apologize for pursuing my passions, even if they don’t take me on a direct path or an easy route. This journey is mine and I will live it boldly.

Thanks to the women I met at the Women’s March & the feminists around me who are fighting the good fight:

  • They have taught me that I am not sorry for being loud. For stating my opinion. I will unapologetically argue why misogynist views are incorrect. I will not apologize for why I am angry, or frustrated or heartbroken by the way that things still are.
  • On the other hand I will not apologize for celebrating. For over- emphasizing the importance of recognizing the strong women around us. I’m not sorry if you’re tired of hearing it.

To the poets, the fearless writers who bare their souls for the world to see, and for my friends who have led by example:

  • I’m not going to apologize that the statement, “are there any men here who can lift something for me?” makes me angry.
  • Never again will I apologize for not giving my body to someone just because they asked.. or didn’t. It is mine and no one else’s and I owe a lot to the women who have taught me this invaluable lesson.
  • I will be wild. I will be messy. I will be raw.
  • I will grow my body hair if I want to because if it grows there, that is where it belongs. (This is hard. Society please stop making this such a vulnerable thing.)
  • I will not be ashamed of my body. Clothed or naked: it is my home.

To my Mother and Grandmother, for showing me what it means to be a woman:

  • I will not apologize for demanding respect or to be heard.
  • I will not apologize for the biological factors that make me woman. I’m not sorry for the way hormones effect my emotions, or that I’m in pain because I have a period or that one day I will expect the utmost respect for the body that has birthed a child.
  • I will not apologize that I am a leader and that, unfortunately, parts of the world and certain demographics within it do not see a woman occupying that role. I was fortunate enough to be raised by strong women who taught me this is what I could be.

I don’t think I can finish off this blog without mentioning that I can fearlessly type all of these words because of my privilege. Feminism, point blank, is easier (and safer!) for the cis- white- heterosexual female, for the woman who was born into a safe socio-economical space, and for the ones with access to education and the foundation to succeed. (I’m talking food, and water and the ability to not have to work 3 jobs while supporting a family, access to health care, support networks etc.)  There are women around me and in all parts of the world who are doing feminism and living unapologetically far better than I, with 700 systemically embedded obstacles in their way. I am at a loss for words for their courage and stamina. For their strength and perseverance.

Remember:

“If your feminism doesn’t include women of colour, queer women, trans women, fat women, poor women, elderly women, disabled women, homeless women, sex workers, etc. then who is it even for?”

With love for of my beautiful- dazzling – courageous -strong- sisters,

Kolina

It was Romantic

Recently, I took the train to Toronto and immediately felt nostalgic. The sun was rising like a bright orange globe hanging over Hamilton and glimmering just.. ‘so’ through the windows.  This was the first time I’d been on a train since I returned home from galavanting through Europe with my family this summer. I felt that old familiar ache you get in your chest when you’re ‘happysad’:

happysad
/ˈhapē/ /sad/
adjective: your gut is clenching because you’re just so giddy and every experience is flashing past your eyes as if it’s just happened. But your heart is also sinking because it won’t happen like that again.

It was wonderfully peaceful, being on the train, and made me reflect on how lucky I am to have had that time to travel with my family– a gift that not many get to experience.

On the way home I stumbled upon the poem “Dead Poets” , by Lang Leav. The story goes that a young girl pledges her life to the poetry that lives among the shelves of an old library. They are filled with authors that have now passed. The poets are sad for her as she doesn’t realize she will now relive heartache as it happens to her throughout her life.  She ends the poem concluding that “poets are among the damned… having hands that do not know what they seek”.

I resonate with this. It seems that people who experience hardship somehow make beauty out of their lives. It’s incredible to me and I want to do the same. However, this hardship can become a safety blanket. A warm space to crawl under when the world seems a bit smaller and darker.

There seems to be some preconceived notion- through media, books & films that the main character must overcome great sorrow, heartache and hardship to make the story riveting. There was a big part of me that romanticized hardship as a child. I used to put so much weight into yearning for a tragic beauty. For a life that threw me around, beat me up, and spit me out a strong independent women who could take on anything. Realistically, that’s exactly what I got, but is it romantic? 

Much of my poetry is quite sad, or reflects on hardship that I have experienced or witnessed. Sometimes I wonder what I would write about if those events where not part of my life. What will I write about when I get to a point in my life when there is no sad or heartbreaking poetry left? Why is poetry better when it’s sad? Would I be the person I am today had I not been able to persevere? Probably not. 

I started a new book the other month and in the beginning I wrote “I want to fill this with book with happiness.” A harder feat than I expected considering I spend a great amount my time during the day actively seeking out good. Why is it easier to dwell on the bad, rather than zero in on the good? It seems to me though that we need more celebration of happiness. To make a choice to consciously know it, see it, feel it and remember it.

I want to romanticize happiness. 

Perhaps if poets are meant to re-experience as they create their art, they can then relive the good as well.

Wishing you all a lot of good & a lot light this Monday morning.

With Love,

Kolina