This column showcases a creative piece made by a student on each weekday. The pieces include poetry, photography, graphic design, sketches and more! If you have a piece that you would like us to feature, please submit it using the form below!
“The wrong of unshapely things is a wrong too great to be told;
I hunger to build them anew and sit on a green knoll apart,
With the earth and the sky and the water, re-made, like a casket of gold
For my dreams of your image that blossoms a rose in the deeps of my heart.”
Such a Simple word to pronounce, made up of only four letters and two syllables but carries the pressure of the whole alphabet trying to burst through three layers of steel doors that are bolted shut.
A word that sounds as if referring to a physical object, but in reality is the live demonstration of the epitome called imperfection.
Every time I hear that word I cringe. Not because of the word itself, but all the flaws that I see of my own appearing in my mind or in the mirror or in the picture OR…
They say we only have one and we should cherish this as our sacred home, but maybe I don’t want to live here! Maybe I would rather erase my flaws and imperfections and trade it for a new home which I can truly learn to love. If not, what’s the point in living here. It’s like telling the world all of your secrets and expecting them not to look at you any differently.
Because even though they say that your body is “okay,” you know damn well those lies have simply slithered out from the roots of their clenched teeth to avoid further conflict.
Some say bodies come in all shapes and sizes and do not define you.
Here, you can have mine.
See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil:
The Stars Called Out:
“wow look at mom and dad”
“wow apples and bread”
Dear store employee,
Just because I didn’t fit doesn’t give you the right to tell me I look bad in it without me asking for your opinion.
I can clearly see how the lines of my granny Panties are screaming for attention as they are already shielding as much skin as possible to avoid shame.
How the rolls begin to pour out of the top and bulk in the middle, trying desperately to escape the fragile frame it thunderously rests upon.
How I could have guessed I was not an XS, but it doesn’t stop my hopeful mind from compressing all that is on the outside into what is unseen on the inside, the same way my emotions live.
And maybe I didn’t want to know,
Didn’t want to know how my body has morphed into a monster I cannot stand to see, sculpted into an unrecognizable frame
A creature wrong and misplaced but yet desperate to belong once again.
Or was belonging a figment of imagination long before.
For one time I was seen wearing skinny jeans size XXS, holding seams together to keep denim and bone glued, tight shirts to show hard work in the form of ribs, hair braided to look full instead of thin, falling clump by clump down the drain with my future.
But now I am the enemy I have always feared.
Ones who’s heavy build can no longer squeeeeeeze into the old me, multiplied by 2.
Dear store employee,
Yes, I am aware this sculpture does not fit into your mold you call a skirt, I was trying to transform
Stay a little longer,
Give me a moment to make myself stronger.
May what the odds be,
I got to conquer.
Caught up in all this distress,
Unfortunate phase of life?
Well, it was due to my aggress.
Life goes on,
And I must live it big, nevertheless.
If you could just stay a little longer,
I wouldn’t as much wander, I guess.
Life now feels like a critical game of chess,
King, Queen and the kingdom, it’s all a mess.
However, I must not stress,
Time will give us a chance to start afresh.
Because if you stay a little longer and rest,
We might not make it past this test.
Love life for what you get,
Everyone holds sorrow and regret.
Your uniqueness makes you one of the best.
Don’t hold yourself back because of the rest.
Human, an animal, that will never rest,
Is always on its toes to take your test.
Test your looks, mind and your cheques.
Today you may fail,
Tomorrow you could be the best.
Is this just how the story ends?
Or could you probably change the trend!
To what really matters:
Not the desires of the chase,
Let your compassion and selflessness be your praise.
Test this: Evaluating students based on their strengths
While tests and assignments change in level of difficulty as you begin college or university, the way students strengths and abilities are evaluated unfortunately haven’t.
Students have become all too familiar with the multiple choices, short and long answers, essay questions, and fill in the blanks, of standardized testing formats. While most student have a preference or feel like they score better with certain styles in particular, none of these techniques appropriately portray students true potential.
Multiple choice questions, if taken seriously, are usually answered using probability, or in a lot of circumstances, by a system of guestimation. Short answers seem to be the better alternative to testing students knowledge but in reality they lend themselves to how a lot of students learn to study – memorization.
Memorizing notes, theories and formulas not how students should be encouraged to study but with structures that promote remembering information verbatim students are not influenced to study any other way. It wasn’t until my second year of university that I met a professor
who had opened my eyes to smarter ways of testing and more productive methods of studying.
A professor I had for a class on the historical structure and policies of the media industry gave students the opportunity to showcase their understanding of key concepts through their individual personal strengths. For myself, long answer and essay questions are how I get my ideas across, but for some it may be in the form of drawings, songs, shapes, charts, the options are almost endless. And this one professor accepted that and used it to fuel students success.
Although he still wrote up tests with the standard parts like short answer, multiple choice, and essay questions, he allowed students to answer them however they wanted that would illustrate their understanding best. This coupled with his teaching techniques such as
relating topics and themes to songs, movies, and other audio-visual stimuli to help students better remember, made him stand out amongst all the other professors I had.
While this method of testing or grading may be misconceived as an ‘easy marker’ or a professor who gives students an easy way out, that was not the case. This professor gave out fair and structured grades, making high marks a well earned treat. He utilized content
and topics relatable to our generation in order to help us better grasp ideas and recall them because of his ability to link them to our own understandings of similar concepts.
As I prepare to graduate I look back on both my high school and university career and remember his lectures most vividly. I am thankful to have been believed in and supported by a professor who acknowledged not everybody learns the same way. What works for one person may not work for the next. As I prepare to leave university I hope the future is full of professors like mine that help students find their own strengths through their studies.
Ever try and drown out your own thoughts in music? As if turning up the volume a few notches will erase the pessimistic notions taking up permanent residence in your mind. Hoping that if you reach max volume, the vibrato will somehow flip the switch, turning your brain on silent…at least for a little while. You shut your eyes hoping that staring at the back of your eyelids means that you can no longer see your problems and they can’t see you. As if the darkness can hide everything that’s been running through your mind like a marathon that never ends and the waves crashing through your ears can suppress the voices in your head yelling at you to BE BETTER. BE SMARTER. BE STRONGER. When the second, third, fiftieth consecutive bad day has you questioning whether feeling something…even if it’s pain, is better than feeling nothing at all?
But it can’t. At some point the headphones have to come off. Eventually you have open up your eyes because it won’t fix your aching heart, or the disgust you feel when you look in a mirror, or the tears you silently spill over the little things that cause you stress. Music is only a temporary fix to a problem that can only be solved from within. And until you finally realize you’re bigger than your problems, than the exam you failed, or the boy who left you with a heart shattered like a broken mirror when all you tried to do was love him. Until you realize that, you’ll be cranking the volume until you blow your speakers.
My glazed-over eyes
Look upon midnight fries
Leftover spoils from an evening of munching
No one sees me creep across the kitchen,
I’m not satisfied with fries
So I’ll eat every piece of food inside
To dispose of everything touching my eyes
I gnash at plastic wrap
Fill my hands with wires and glass
Now the fridge holds nothing
And I hold its past
I chew through the walls of my house until the building collapses
My sights are set on city hall
I welcome the protests and sneers
from friends, family, strangers, peers
Their dissent is dessert
I feed on the masses –
“This can’t last much longer!”
Regardless, my teeth always clamp down stronger
Others feel neglect
The sting of self-proclaimed abandonment
They boycott society to support me instead
I am the only one left to choose
Their views, I consume
The thoughts I devour make a home in my mind
and twist out my insides
The lanes behind my face become free to claim
Whose memories ooze through new tubes in my brain?
You recognize my face and that’s what you trust
But it doesn’t stand for what you think it does
No face lady with the flowy dress
disappears into the wind.
She creeps, creeps, creeps;
we never know until it’s too late.
We wait with uncertainty,
leaving us in insanity
when we start thinking about
no face lady with the flowy dress.
Engulfed by her ribbons,
a wonder and beauty,
no face lady with the flowy dress
flies away with the souls of her prey.
I saw her standing in front of me,
elegant to the naïve eye of a child.
When faced with adversity
a gust of smoke summons her mysteriously.
She doesn’t creep, she floats;
her figure expanding as seconds roll by.
Now, face to face with my enemy –
behind me – she’s behind me.
I don’t know how it’s possible
that you breathe both life out of me
and into me simultaneously.
No face lady has a way.
When we finally touch, I’ll know
end of the line has caught up to me.
I’ve run out of ribbon to hold onto
No face lady with the flowy dress
Got to me
Illustration by Adam Butzow
This is a piece I made to remind myself to support those around me. Quote is by Robert Ingersoll.
As humans, we obsess over the idea that we need to feel good all the time. Obviously, nobody
likes to experience negative emotions, but they happen. They’re unavoidable. So let’s explore
some strategies to help us face them head-on so we can begin to heal.
I have not found the perfect way to cope with stress in my life. If you have, please enlighten
me, because I’m no expert. All I can do is listen to my body and trust that it will tell me what it
needs from me at this very moment. Most of my negative emotions can be minimized with
exercise, sunshine or talking about my problems with the people I love, but sometimes that just
isn’t enough. Sometimes you need to accept that you’re not okay right now, but that doesn’t
mean it will be forever. Sometimes you just have to surrender.
On the days that I have no motivation to do the things I know will help me, or on the days that
my typical strategies just aren’t enough, I try to find the reason why I might be feeling however
I’m feeling. I try to understand what the root cause of my discomfort is and address it.
Acknowledge that it is there, that it is trying to help you, and that it is just a feeling that cannot
cause you physical harm. Feelings are nothing but uncomfortable (albeit loud) thoughts
buzzing around in your brain causing your body to react physically. But if you acknowledge
their existence, if you make an effort to understand what function they are trying to perform for
your well-being, then you can being to let it go.
For example, if you are anxious about public speaking, it is not really because you are afraid of
talking to a room full of people, but rather because you are afraid to embarrass yourself, so
your brain is responding to those “fight or flight” instincts, telling you to remove yourself from a
situation and avoid the potential discomfort. But is that really how you want to live your life?
Avoiding what makes you uncomfortable? Negative emotions like vulnerability, anxiety,
nervousness, worry, whatever it may be, come not only at life’s worst moments but also life’s
best moments. If we spend our lives trying to avoid the discomfort, we won’t be able to enjoy
those unexpected times that bring us so much unforeseen joy.
For moments that are a little more than discomfort, like grief or depression, it sometimes isn’t
as easy to try and distract yourself. The best advice I can give you is to stop being so hard on
yourself. Bad thoughts happen. Bad days happen. Bad weeks, months and years happen. You
don’t need to be happy, you don’t need to be content, you don’t even have to pretend that you
are. The most important thing that will help you right now is knowing that it will get better. That
all you have to focus on right now is just existing and take every opportunity you can to
celebrate every small victory. Did you get out of bed this morning? Tell yourself how proud you
are that you had the courage to face the day (no matter how late it may be). Did you reach out
for help? Give yourself a pat on the back for not internalizing your feelings. Did you smile at
some point today? That’s amazing!! Give yourself a hug and tell yourself you are loved. You
already have so much to deal with, you don’t need any more negativity in your life. Kindness
and forgiveness toward yourself is extremely important when struggling with any negative
It is crucial that you don’t allow yourself to dwell on your negative emotions but instead, gather
as much energy as you can to bring a little positivity into your day. Be gentle and kind when
choosing an activity. Do not punish yourself for what you can’t do right now, you’ll get there,
just give it time. But in the meantime, here are just a few of the many things you can do to try
and boost your spirits:
• Be present and let go: don’t compare yourself to how you have felt in the past, or to
how others are feeling. Let go of this myth that you have to be happy all the time or
handle a situation in a certain way. Just allow yourself to exist at this moment, however
that may be.
• Dance to some upbeat music: get your body moving, your blood pumping, sing your
heart out, laugh a little, and just let everything out! *I find throwbacks work really well for
• Have a bath: add some relaxing bath oils, use a face mask, light some candles, listen
to some relaxing music, read a good book and you’re on your way to instant relaxation!
• Colour in a colouring book: believe it or not, this is a form of mindfulness. The focus
on being creative will help distract you while the vibrant colours can actually help
increase the “happy” chemicals in your brain.
• Be mindful of your words: the power of your words and intentions are unbelievable. “I
am thoughts” can make or break the way you feel about a situation. By saying things
like, “I am sad,” your brain believes that is how it should be acting. Be mindful and pay
close attention to the words you say or think. Instead, try thoughts like: “I am
energized,” “I am strong,” or “I am improving myself every day.”
• Go for a walk: let the sun on your skin, get your body moving, listen to some calming
music, look at the unbelievable world around you and just breathe in the fresh air.
• Do something nice for someone else: nothing takes your mind off your own troubles
like bringing joy to those around you. Whether it is someone you know or someone you
don’t, random acts of kindness benefit us all.
• Do something you’re passionate about: whether you enjoy reading, writing, cooking,
baking, exercising, meditating, singing, painting, building, exploring, taking pictures or
anything else you might do, do it with love and do it often!
• Be thankful: gratitude is an extremely powerful emotion. By turning your negative
emotions into things to be grateful for, or by simply making a list of all you have to be
thankful for in your life, you are focusing on positivity with very minimal effort.
• Smile: it is proven that smiling makes you happier. Whether you have to force it or it’s
genuine, smiling signals to your brain that you are happy and your body will react
accordingly. Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror while you’re crying? You cry
harder, right? Well, the same thing happens when you smile at yourself in the mirror. The
next time you’re in a slump, give yourself the biggest smile you can manage and tell
yourself you are the most beautiful person in the world. You might feel silly but no one’s
watching so who cares!
• Make a “done” list: on days where doing things is hard, sometimes making a “to-do”
list becomes more of a “look at all the things I have to stress about” list and it becomes
overwhelming. Instead, try making a list of things that you have accomplished, like
getting out of bed, making a healthy lunch, walking your dog, clipping your toenails; any
small thing you have done is worthy of praise and something to be proud of.
Here’s the thing: it’s okay not to be okay. There are so many accomplishments you have to be
proud of in your life and so many more to look forward to. I read a quote once that said, “you
have already survived 100% of your worst days” and that really stuck with me. By being kind to
yourself and acknowledging that sometimes you don’t feel happy, you are accepting the
discomfort and allowing it to pass. Do as much as you can to bring positivity back into your
life, but for now, just breathe through the pain; it will pass soon enough.
How to be Okay, Not Being Okay – Just Peachy Positivity
Alisha / @alishahunterr
Photo by @alishahunterr
these images explore the reality of growing out of a comfortable space and into the unknown. it’s inevitable, it’s uncomfortable, but it is necessary.
I sat by the water
Memories flooding my brain
Lost friends, last lovers
I thought this needed to change
But I was the only one to blame
For how my life took set
And so I made a plan
But one I now regret
As I slowly make my way to the ground
Heavy and soaking wet
I was about to drown
Oh how can I forget…
When the world is black and white
What do you do?
When the world is bland, uptight
What do you do?
You can’t see the world
The way I do
It hurts to say when you’re away
I miss you
The world loses its colours
It’s all black and white
I need to paint my world
Or I might lose my light
Colour the places
I could only dream
In my imagination
Is the perfect scheme
When I’m trying to find my art
Where do I look?
When I’m looking for my heart
Where do I look?
I can’t be creative
In ways I used to
I will admit I’m passionate, but uninspired
When the words don’t come out right
What do you write?
When the music isn’t clear
What do you hear?
When the canvas is all white
Theres nothing here
It’s safe to say when you’re away
I need you near
Illustration by Jennifer Crozier
Depression looks different on everybody
But it’s has the same common things
fatigue, it makes your mind muddy
Lack of appetite, dysfunction, your body stings
You can’t get out of bed and you can’t shower
You sleep too much, you don’t sleep at all
You have no power
Your body doesn’t understand, but your mind answers the call
I feel all those things, day after day
But I get out of bed
I wash my hair, I go to work, and the day still seems grey
I eat and I laugh, I rinse and repeat
I never go a day without
Doing any of these things
So I ask myself
Am I really depressed?
I feel like my bodies dead
Going through the motions I’m used to doing
I’ve done this for years
My body aches from the weight of my life
The aches and pains I’ve felt since I was ten
I don’t even feel it when it cuts through me like a knife
Trapped in my mind and body
The pain and anger I carry from my parents
Passed onto me unwanted and never once
Did I ask for this weight
I never miss a day of work
I never miss a shower
I never miss a meal
So I ask myself
Am I really depressed?
You drink a lot for someone who has only turned eighteen a few months ago. Your first time having a drink was in high school, but your first time drunk was in college. In the days before classes start and you were trying to get acquainted with your residence, one person from your floor gives you a mickie of vodka. It’s 7pm, and before it was 8, you had downed half the bottle with some Sprite. Your first time being drunk wasn’t scary. You felt relaxed and good talking to other people. Everyone was so nice when they were drinking. Your high school health class had it all wrong. You were having fun.
The next day, you wake up to a slight headache and a dry mouth. Your friend offers you Gatorade and you go downstairs to grab a greasy breakfast sandwich. As you eat and talk about last night, someone says they know of a party happening nearby tonight, you remember that you’ve got less than a shot left. You’ll need to find someone who can buy you more liquor. This was your first-time drinking, and as the year goes on, you move from finishing mickie’s to finishing 2-6’s.
You become the best at beer pong and taking shots. Your tolerance has become so strong, that you don’t feel anything after you drink four beers. “It’s like a superpower,” you think as you watch your friends turn into blubbering fools, watching them do funny things.
You and your friends wouldn’t miss an opportunity to go out on a Friday night, and you see them more at a party than in class. You also don’t always attend class either. Some days, you pass out the night before and forget to drink some water. You end up throwing up the next day, and you blame your tolerance. When you finish, you learn that another person had went to hospital to get their stomach pumped, and you wonder if that could’ve been you if you had one drink more. But you forget about it when one of your friends says they got on guest list for the newest club downtown.
When coming back for second semester, your friends change. They don’t go out as much as they used to. One tells you their parents flipped when they failed a class. You think they’re a bunch of wusses and can’t keep it together like you. You haven’t failed and you go out almost every night. Everyone loves you. You love drinking. By the time your friends stop being your friends, you go out with a new group of people. They drink as much as you do and it’s great.
Until one night before exam season, it’s not great. You turned nineteen and black out.
You end up being taken away by paramedics and wake up in the hospital bed with an IV tube attached to your wrist and in pain. The doctor says you had your stomach pumped. None of your new friends are here. When you leave, they tell you can’t eat for the rest of the day and to only take liquids. Taking an über back to campus, you learn that one of the people in your group died from alcohol poisoning at the party you were at. For the first time, you reflect on your college experience. Suddenly, you’re scared of what you’ve become and how easy it was to get there. When you get to your room, you dump out the rest of your bottles into the sink. That night is the first time you don’t drink and you wake up feeling better than you have in a long time.
When you move out a couple months, later you’ve gone completely sober. You re-connected with your old friends, and they know how to have fun without drinking and you now know how to do so too. You don’t drink a lot for someone who has turned nineteen a few months ago and that’s okay with you. Not drinking isn’t as bad as you thought.
A cold touch carries my sweet body away
Floating above me a widened soul
No idea where I am going
I drift away
Wanting to be taken under
A sense of my disquiet death
I hear them calling
Not for the faint of heart
Floating that is
As I engulf on this journey feeling through each
and every wave
I’ve learned what it means to evolve and reclaim
I no longer sit back and wallow in shame
The rain has cleared to make way for a new day
What would I do without you?
Old friend of the night
The silence that fills my mind allowing in some light
Alone with my thoughts for better or worse
This time is essential to my spirits rebirth
Here is the place I find myself again
Reflecting the pieces that I have denied for so long
Healing the traumas that tend to linger on
Releasing my fears
Setting them free
Thank you Old friend
for leading me home
And it’s in the quietness of the night when the sun
is just waking up
When thoughts of creativity soar
It’s around this time when you can feel your soul
To emerge yourself in this mystical energy that
gently holds me and guides us to new heights
I think of all the times I’ve given my power away to
other souls in hopes of healing them whole
Only to create waves of unrequited coastal shores
and killing the roses that just began to grow
It is in these quiet moments that I remember
I am the nectar that gives life to the honey bees
And the Sun that radiates divinity
Showing me the power I have held all along
Beautifully free I accept my divine femininity
Spreading my wings and loving all of me
This is the beginning of loving ourselves
Our subject awakens to the wailing of its overseer, who sings the same tune to contact him as it does to signal his rise. As he begrudgingly silences his small, noisy partner, he begins the process of leaving his nest, made of wood, metal and whatever soft materials are available. The adolescent period of this species is quite marvelous. During their late developmental period, their bodies undergo a metamorphosis of sorts and pump them full of hormones, causing them to often make very poor decisions. Due to this, most don’t flock their nest until the end stages of adolescence, around 18 or 19 years.
Some, however, choose to, or are forced to leave as early as 16, and others when they are much further into their adult lives, even into their 30’s. The fascinating creatures that they are, the young of human beings are raised and sent out into the world each in their own unique, yet similar way. Our subject, a 19-year-old male, has only left his nest for about two months. Our fledgling adult seems to have forgotten many of the basic grooming rituals ingrained in him since his wings first spread. Today he looks to change this.
After he gives himself some much-needed grooming, our young subject sets off on his first hunt since he flew the nest.
The human species are descended from a group of ape-like hunter gatherers. Although their methods have changed in the thousands of years since they first branched off from their ape ancestors, humans are at their core, much the same hunters and gatherers they once were.
While early humans hunted with sharpened sticks and primitive bows, the modern human wields a coloured piece of refined dinosaur bits.
The young hunter makes his way to the local hunting grounds with a flock of other humans. His preferred area, No Frills, is filled with easy to obtain but low-quality prey. However, today he has options. The alternative, Whole Foods, is filled with prey that on the surface looks to be high quality but is usually not much different from the prey found at No Frills. However, Whole Foods does provide an increased chance of finding higher quality prey that has been wounded, compared to No Frills. Wounded prey is referred to among humans as being “on sale.” The keen, yet cocky hunter that he is, our subject risks a foray into Whole Foods, brazenly forgoing the catalogue, which documents popular wounded prey, or “sales” in the area.
As our young hunter enters the store, he keeps a close eye out for wounded prey, as well as a subspecies of human known as “Karen.” The Karen is a subsidiary of human females, and are known to flock to the Whole Foods hunting grounds in droves.
Our young subject traps his prey in a large metal basket, waiting to deliver the killing blow until he has gathered enough prey. He gracefully navigates the hunting ground, scanning the area and swooping in to catch wounded prey. As his basket fills, he scans the area for one last target, until at last he sets his eyes upon it. His favourite prey, a family size box of Froot Loops. As he begins his pursuit, he quickly sweeps the area looking for potential threats when suddenly, his eyes fill with dread. He has locked his gaze with a Karen. In an instant, he knows this will be a fight. He weighs the risks of engaging the Karen in a battle over the prey and, with his muscles tensed, begins his chase. Straightening his arms, our subject becomes noticeably more aerodynamic, allowing him to cut through the air as he bursts into an intense power walk. It looks like our young hunter may make it to his prey before the Karen – but oh no! Just as he grasps his prey, the Karen wraps her claws around the hunter’s prize. His body immediately freezes in anticipation of the Karen’s potential action. A brief moment passes before the Karen lets out her shrill battle cry.
“I saw it first! Don’t make me call the manager!”
In that moment, our hunter’s youthfulness shows. This is his first solo hunt, and he has always had the aid of his parents in dealing with Karens. Afraid of the ensuing social interaction, and subsequent awkwardness, he backs down and goes for the lower quality prey “Fruity Circles” adjacent from him. Although his pride has been wounded, he walks away relatively unscathed, save for a small scratch from the Karen’s recently honed claw (as a side note, the Karen’s claws typically double or even triple in size compared to average humans. This is due to their frequent visits to small human gathering grounds called “nail salons”).
Our hunter takes his prey to the edge of the hunting grounds, disappointed with his loss of his final catch, but still satisfied with his haul and first solo hunt. He has collected enough food and other materials to last him weeks. At the edge of the grounds, our hunter delivers the final blow to his collected prey and begins his journey back to the nest.
Although not a perfect hunt, our young subject learned much from his first solo outing. Perhaps next time he will be more prepared, or perhaps even bring a companion to share the hunt. Oddly, humans tend to do their best, but also their worst, when collaborating with other members of their species.
Regardless, human beings are an unpredictable sort, so only time will tell.