Back from the dead

Surprise! It’s been about three months since my last post, y’all. I don’t have a legitimate excuse for why I haven’t been writing, other than plain and pure laziness. There’s no use in trying to put it any different: I’ve been lazy, not just for the past few months but for the past two decades of my life, probably. I recently identified laziness as the source for many dysfunctional patterns of thinking. It’s a constant battle, but I’ve begun to conquer this pesky demon.

I once held a bit of spring in my hand

Here’s what I’ve realized: it’s a lot easier to throw your hands up in helpless defeat than admit the fact you could have put in a better effort.

When we forfeit our ability to act, we can easily blame everything and everyone else for our current misfortunes. The responsibility is taken off ourselves, and any feelings of guilt, shame, and frustration are held at bay. However, those things still lurk in our subconscious, because the wiser part of ourself knows better. We know that only we are responsible for how we feel and what we do. It’s a painful thing to realize, but I think it can also be extremely empowering. I’d like to share a few ideas around this that are quickly becoming second nature to me:

We can control much of our daily lives.
While it’s tempting to always focus on “the future” or “the past” with longing, regret, and anxiety, I’ve realized that it’s more logical to focus on creating a more desirable daily life. For example, I’ve recently given my mornings a makeover, dedicating at least 15 minutes for self-care and spirituality. This is within my control! Designing a more ideal daily life is a far less daunting task than trying to improve your life as a monolithic whole.

Time and attention are precious commodities.
I’ve tried to be more mindful and aware of what I choose to give my time and attention to, because I’ve realized that, along with information and knowledge, these are some of the most valuable things in existence. There are too many useless and upsetting things that demand our most precious resources and it’s essential to take back the power and decide how and where you want to allocate them.

Gratitude is one of the best frequencies to emit.
I believe that when you choose to be grateful for something, magic happens. You can transmute bad experiences into lessons that make you a better person. You can acknowledge the goodness in your life and attract even better things. No matter what you believe about the universe and higher powers, there’s no harm in giving thanks. I have found that it feels really good to be grateful.

So, that’s about it for now. I may or may not be bursting with inspiration at the moment, thrilled at the idea of sharing everything with anyone who’ll listen, but I won’t make promises of consistency. Three months is a long time not to write – all I’ll say is I hope never to repeat such an absence. Stay tuned!!

xx
ree

Why ‘zora’ is the password for my restricted material: A spotlight on the one and only Zora Neale Hurston

If you navigate my site, you’ll notice I have a prose & poetry section where I post little pieces of mine taken from scrap paper, napkins, and buried files. It’s a work in progress and definitely needs polishing up, but to keep things a bit more interesting, I’ve installed a passcode for viewing these pages on reeniverse. The passcode is zora.

The reason I chose that particular name is of course because it belongs to the magnificent Zora Neale Hurston. Undoubtedly one of the coolest and most badass women of all time, Zora has inspired and mystified me for years now. I’m still working my way through her material, which is a goldmine, but I find her personal story more fascinating than anything.

Z “looking mean and impressive”

Zora Neale Hurston was born in Alabama in 1891 and raised in Eatonville, Florida. Her life was a series of daring and creative endeavors: she was a writer, ethnographer, anthropolist, and a founding figure in the Harlem Renaissance. Throughout her extensive career, her charm and intelligence attracted patrons, friends, and mentors in creative and intellectual spheres.

Under the great anthropologist Franz Boaz, Hurston collected folklore, religious practices, games, recipes, and songs from communities in the American South and Caribbean. During the Harlem Renaissance, her short satirical stories and plays were published in several anthologies, including FIRE!!, and she collaborated with the renowned poet Langston Hughes on a production that never went to stage. She also wrote several novels, the most famous of which was published in 1937: Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Zora’s work centered around the African-American experience in America and she was highly devoted to telling their stories honestly and accurately. She chose to portray African-American spoken language in her work based on how it sounds to the ear, and she also held controversial opinions on what it meant to colored. Refusing to compromise her views, Zora’s strong opinions sometimes got her in hot water, and by the end of her life she had fallen out of favor with the artistic black community and died without enough money for a proper gravestone.

1st and only issue of afro-centric magazine FIRE!! 1926

Many credit the author Alice Walker for “rediscovering” Hurston in the 1980s by citing her works as essential inspiration for her novel The Color Purple. In fact, it was by reading The Color Purple and doing some digging on the internet afterwards that I stumbled across the marvelous Zora Neale Hurston. So thanks, Alice!

I could go on forever and ever about Zora and how interesting her life was. I love and admire her for being so brave and daring. It might sound crazy, but if I’m ever stuck in a rut with my writing and need a burst of inspiration, I write a short letter to her. Zora dedicated her life to the discovery and creation of stories, and I’m all about that! I’ve chosen Zora to guard some of my creative material, not because I wish to hide it, but because I want more people to know her name. Remember it!

xx
ree

The Great Outdoors: How we find ourselves in nature

[mid-week update, inspired by a lovely little walk I took this morning.]

Sometimes I take a minute to notice how much space and wilderness is around me for miles. I think of how many trees and flowers and bees and other millions of things are alive and working endlessly to survive. It’s easy to forget how small we are in the grand and ongoing production that is nature.

we all spiral

I have a good piece of advice: when life’s problems feel too big to conquer and the world feels like a crappy place, go out in nature and remember. I think it does a great favor to our mental health and wellness to ground ourselves in the great outdoors. Even if your schedule only allows you to get out there for 15 minutes a day, do it because it’s worth it.

Nature is where we find our true authentic and creative selves. It’s where we find love and inspiration. Allow yourself the discovery and cultivation of these wonderful things. You owe it to yourself and the world!


xx
ree

Why do people crave Authenticity? A quick look at YouTuber Shane Dawson’s series

I’m a big fan of YouTube. Since 2006 I’ve watched the humble broadcasting platform for small filmmakers take off and become a giant corporate entity that pumps out millions of minutes of content daily. From vloggers to beauty gurus, many YouTubers are affluent entrepeneurs that have risen up to the status of “influencer” due to the power of their large and steadily growing audiences.

When I first tuned into YouTube, someone with one of the highest subscriber counts was Little Loca, a character played by the late Stevie Ryan. Today, Little Loca’s profile has just below 50,000 subs. That’s an astonishing number compared to Pewdiepie’s 97 million, and goes to show just how much YouTube has grown.

little loca

I love to watch people rise to the top and I can’t seem to look away when they have an inevitable scandal and fall off. I try to take note of the style of content that audiences gravitate towards, and over the years I’ve noticed one key thing: people crave authenticity.

A good example of this can be seen in the work of YouTuber Shane Dawson. Shane is someone I’ve seen transform and launch himself to the top of YouTube since 2008. His multi-part series on figures like Jeffree Star, Jake Paul, and most recently Eugenia Cooney have received tens of millions of views from an audience that highly anticipates this content. The central goal of these series is to capture and share an honest and often uncomfortable look at the subjects’ authentic lives.

They remind of me a bit of early 2000’s celebrity documentaries that offered a glimpse into the life of a star, showcasing a side of them never been seen before. While some viewers, particularly of the Jake Paul series, have criticized Shane for his overuse of dramatic editing and other questionable practices, the response to his work has been overwhelmingly positive. This is interesting because Shane often chooses controversial and polarizing figures to focus on; despite this, the audience eagerly consumes whatever he creates and praises it extensively. He undoubtedly possesses the power to change public opinions on the people in his series by showing them at their most vulnerable and authentic.

Without going too deep into my personal opinion on Shane and his work, I want to highlight once again the general hunger for authenticity among consumers of media. I think there will always be a push-and-pull between the need for polished and prettily packaged content and, on the other end of the spectrum, a more raw, unpacked, and authentic style. In my observation, there’s a high demand right now for truthful and authentic voices telling highly personal stories. These stories may be uncomfortable to hear but ultimately resonate with many people.

In closing, you’ll definitely be hearing more from me about this topic in the future. When it comes to representation and expression, authenticity is an essential principle that I and many others crave – not only in the media but in our real lives! It’s a goal of mine to understand how we can embody our authentic selves every day and express ourselves fully and honestly. So far, all I know is that it takes bravery.

xx
ree