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!
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