Healing Heart (a poem)

Poet’s note: I published this poem on 4/4/17.  I want to share it here, as well.  If you are looking to read more of my poetry, please feel free to check out https://www.poemhunter.com/julie-a-smith/.  I publish additional poetry there that is not all published on my personal blog.

I broke up with you
exactly one month ago.
I had peace with my decision,
but I didn’t want to hurt you.
But then you hurt me so badly.

It was an amazingly amicable break-up.
We both agreed that it was for the best.
You even said how you likely
would have broken up with me
in a few days since you felt that way, too.

But then I couldn’t believe that you
unfriended me on Facebook
a few days after our break-up.
You never told me
and left me to find out the hard way.
We had been friends for years.
Ten to be exact.
I could not believe that you would do that,
and then totally freeze me out
and cut off communication entirely.
I am definitely not perfect,
but I deserve better than that.

Makes me wonder
about being friends with guys.
Sometimes it is harder than being friends with girls
for obvious reasons.
I let you in
which I don’t always do
with guys
and it ended up
seriously harming a friendship
and hurting my heart.
Alas, I have a glimmer of hope
that there is still a guy out there
who will treat me tenderly
and cherish my healing heart
but sometimes that seems
so far away.
But maybe
one day
sooner rather then later
that vulnerable hope
will come true.

Can Men and Women Just be friends? Dating and the Age-Old Question (Take Two)

Author’s note- this post from several years ago was on my mind again recently, and I want to re-share it (with a few slight editing updates) since the topic is so good and is one that many people have pondered over the years.

Can men and women just be friends?  That is a question that many writers, singers, and infinitely countless number of women and men and boys and girls have pondered through the ages.  It is the quintessential age-old question.  I, too, have pondered this question over the years, and my interest in women’s studies and my own personal experiences in the murky waters that can be male and female friendship has led me to examine this subject one again.  Also, I have noticed that of all my blog postings, the most popular one is my first post on Word Press, “Love, rejection, and poetry (a.k.a. a heart, a wall, and vulnerability)”.  I have observed that there is an wide interest in the topic of rejection judging by the many google searches where people end up on my blog when they are looking for topics such as “love rejection poems”, “heartbreaking love poems”, “rejection poetry”, and “famous poems on rejection” (I didn’t realize that I was famous).  If you are interested in reading my post on love and rejection, then feel free to link to it here: https://julieannesmith.wordpress.com/2012/01/

Today I was reading an article in the Daily Illini online written by Tanya Trivedi on 4/24/12 entitled “Just friends or hidden desires: Cross-gender friendships not clear-cut.”  I found the article to be thought-provoking and well-written, and it caused me to re-visit this topic, ponder my personal experiences, and take action to write a blog post.  Trivedi begins her article with a quote from Oscar Wilde and then she poses some interesting questions.  Here is an excerpt:

“Centuries ago, Oscar Wilde said, “Between men and women there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship.” Can his perception of friendships between males and females still ring true in regards to sprouting relationships in the 21st century? Perhaps love, passion, enmity or worship is lurking under the illusory layer of what we think of as friendship.”

(Quoted from http://www.dailyillini.com/index.php/article/2012/04/just_friends_or_hidden_desires_crossgender_friendships_not_clear_cut)

Look deeper in to your friends personality

Look deeper in to your friends personality (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My experiences in the vastly murky waters of male/female friendships (and relationships) has not always been a pleasant one.  Hence, some of my poetry.  I am definitely not a huge dater, and I actually have only dated a small number of guys in my life.  There is a long list of reasons for that, but I am sure no one here wants to read a book.  However, to give a “Julie’s condensed version”, I would say some of the reasons are:

1. My parent’s divorce scarred me, and I have various fears related to love.  I am greatly troubled by the vast number of marriages that end in divorce, and how it seems (for reasons that I do not understand) that people can have longer relationships with their favorite sweater than a committed, lasting, and emotionally healthy and stable marriage.  Pardon my bluntness.

2. I am quite independent, and I have never been one to “need a man” to be happy.  Sometimes it seems to me that many women let  their own emotional contentedness and happiness with their life rest on the fact of whether or not they have a boyfriend (or husband).  I would like to think that has never been me.

3.  I am not a fan of internet dating.  I prefer to know a guy in person.  However, with the current rise of internet dating, sometimes it seems that I am the only one not really desiring to run out and do e-harmony or Match.com.  Almost every wedding that I have attended in the last 5 years came about as the result of internet dating.  Am I missing out?  Personally, I do not think so. (Author’s updated note 9/9/16- I am pondering this topic again re: if I am missing out, because internet dating is a possible avenue to love, although I MUCH prefer the old-fashioned way of knowing a guy in person and then dating.  However, the jury is still out).

4. I keep busy with my friends, family, interests, church, and (previously) my educational degrees that I attained.

5. Financial limitations, perhaps??? I was unemployed after the two companies that I worked for both closed during the Recession, and no way was my focus on dating.  Also, these days, while I am a feminist, I still think that it is beautiful for a guy to treat a girl very special on a date, as well as to pay, especially if you are first dating and the guy has initiated the date.  Call me sexist if you want to, but honestly I like that tradition and think it is quite noble and honorable.  However, often times both parties wish to date but do not have any money.  Dating doesn’t really need to involve much money, and creative and free alternatives can also be done. Personally, I am quite content with pizza (which you can cook at home) and a relaxing movie, but it can be nice to go out, too.  (Good conversation is always free, might I add).  However, if I am left to fend for myself and pay my own way (as some guys seem to prefer), then honestly I would rather be able to afford to pay my rent than to go to a nice dinner at Texas Roadhouse.  Dating is not a necessity, but I will not go so far as to say dating is a luxury, either.  I believe there are economic factors in dating that have previously been overlooked and heretofore have not been the focus of Sociological studies about dating.

6. I strongly prefer being friends with women to being friends with men, with a few exceptions over the years.  Those exceptions are typically  the husbands of my close female friends (or my Dad or brother), however some other exceptions that I have made over the years have led to pain and heartache, causing me to being even MORE apt to prefer friendship with women rather than men.  My heart has been hurt enough over my lifetime.  Finally, it can be hard to safeguard your heart and still be open to romantic love, which I desire.

7.  Ok, ok, maybe I am writing a book here.  So, I will end this list with the fact that I am picky.  Also, often the guys that I would enjoy dating do not clearly initiate, most guys seem gun-shy about using the D-word (author’s side note: which I understand, because none of us like rejection…but I totally agree with a quote from the movie When in Rome: “the passion is in the risk” or “the beauty is in the risk”), and I can be shy when I like a guy.  And, as far as being picky, I think that it is important to have an emotional connection with a guy that you would date, as well as a physical attraction.  Also, I would enjoy some common spiritual beliefs, however I have had it both ways in dating, and honestly I found it challenging both ways but for different reasons.  Finally, two of the qualities that I find most endearing in a guy are seldom found together: boldness and gentleness.  I desire to be treated tenderly and gently, and guys that have a gentle and caring personality are very attractive to me.  However, I also enjoy bold guys who are leaders, highly verbal, and “Joshua” type men (meaning Joshua from the Bible).  If I ever find a guy who has both qualities, that may be the perfect guy for me.

As far as men and women just being friends, I am coming to realize that I cannot do that topic justice in one blog post.  I will say that it is a hotly debated topic, and in my personal experience some guys that I used to be friends with have acted like they no longer wanted to be my friend after they asked me out, and I verbally told them that I did not feel that same way about them.  No one wants to hear “I just think of you as a friend”, but sometimes that is the truth.  I would rather be honest, but I never want to hurt anyone.  I remember a guy friend in college who I suspected liked me, but I had a boyfriend.  Almost immediately after my boyfriend and I broke up, there was an instance where the three of us were eating lunch together.  We went to part ways and my ex left first.  My guy friend at that point took the opportunity to kiss me on the forehead while I was standing there shocked and stunned, and he said, “I can do that now since you are single.”  UH, NO!  Sometimes stuff like that makes me frustrated, and at times it seems like male and female friendships (and relationships) are like buried landmines in a vast field and you walk across the field and do your best to try to escape without major damage to life and limb.  Alright, I am being dramatic.  It is nowhere near that complicated or harmful, but male/female friendships are challenging and pose unique issues for everyone involved.

How about you?  I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on male/female friendships.  Do you find them challenging?  How do you safeguard yourself from being hurt?  Do you even think men and women can be friends, or is it a lost cause and we are all fooling ourselves?

Love Tarries

Love tarries
as sunrises and sunsets,
new moons,
summer,
fall,
and winter
come and go
and another spring bashfully peaks
through the horizon.
The delay
and wait for love
weighs down my heart
with much sadness.
I feel forsaken
by love.

Men in my age range
seem to prefer model-types,
exotic foreign girls,
girls who like to flirt,
or girls who run after guys
and make things happen.
So, I’m no model,
nor do I want to be,
and beauty ultimately should come from within,
but I fault too many guys
for caring too much about appearance
and putting it on a pedestal,
and not caring enough about qualities
like compassion or intelligence or courage.
I don’t have exotic foreign appeal.
Alas, I can’t compete with that.
And I’ve never been one
much for flirting.
I appreciate genuine connection
and prefer to be monogamous
with flirting, but in dating
and not with every single guy.
I’m more traditional in nature,
and want to be pursued,
but society seems to laugh
at that these days.
I can be both traditional,
as well as for women having equal access
and opportunity in both the home and work sphere.

Love tarries
like a long, cold winter
when spring seems like it is forever gone,
and I sigh
and grow in patience,
albeit somewhat ungracefully,
in this wait for beautiful and lasting love.

Digital Inequality and the IRS

Inequality is “an unfair situation in which some people have more rights or better opportunities than other people.”  The definition of inequality is “the quality of being unequal or uneven” and can include social disparity and disparity of distribution or opportunity (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/inequality).

In terms of digital inequality, this can also be referenced as a technology gap.  I understand this very personally, because I was raised in a blue-collar family that was largely against computers when I was growing up.  I think my parents either hated or were scared of computers, and my Mom as a postal carrier never had need of a computer.  Today she gets upset when coupons are e-mail only since she doesn’t do e-mail, however, now that she is retired she surprised me when she took an entry level computer class with her friend at the community college.  Personally, I never owned a computer or laptop in college.  I would sometimes borrow my friend’s or my boyfriend’s computer, but mostly I would live at the library or computer lab when I needed to write papers.  Finances were an issue, and my first real computer came once I graduated with my Bachelors and Masters degrees and bought an old computer from an acquaintance for $100.  I know my experience may not be typical, but it is important to note that not every family can afford computers and technology, which can be very expensive.  This reality does set a child behind in school and can be a learning disadvantage.  A pencil and notebook is much less expensive than a laptop and affording home internet, and for parent’s struggling to put food on the table, technology is most likely not a priority.

Tonight I was disappointed and concerned when I went to my local library that is a star library in my state (Illinois) to pick up my federal and state tax forms and booklets.  Earlier in the week I had no success picking up the tax forms at the main post office that always stocks them, so I figured that perhaps I was thinking about my taxes late this year and the post office was just out of everything.  However, the sign at my local library said that the IRS decided to not send federal tax booklets this year to places that they always send them, like post offices and libraries. An extremely helpful woman at the library reference desk pointed out that the IRS also did not send supplementary forms like years previously, and a library staff member had to repeatedly call and ask for tax instruction booklets, only to be given 10 booklets that were quickly gone.  Also, there were no IL-1040 forms or booklets at all, and it was unclear to me what the library was given regarding state forms.

People looking for tax booklets were instructed to go online to look up the information.  This is not a good option for people who want to use a tax booklet and a paper form to mail their taxes in the old-fashioned way, which many older people still do.  Also, the library had a sheet with a phone number to call to have tax forms mailed to you.  That is a decent option for people that aren’t trying to do their taxes that night or at the last minute.  However, it is a hardship and a hurdle for taxpayers to jump through when instruction tax guides are not free and easily accessible to people of all income levels.  Many people may not have access to the internet at home, and most people would not like doing confidential tax information at the local library. I think this situation is inequality since it is social disparity and a disparity of opportunity for people of lower income levels.

Libraries and post offices are hubs of their community and provide services to people regardless of socioeconomic status, race, gender, or other factors.  While I can understand the IRS wanting to save money in the costs of printing and mailing forms, which is good both economically and environmentally, it still troubles me that this move results in an inequality that epitomizes the technology gap that is a way of life for many citizens in the United States of America.  I am a fan of freedom, and my hope is that people who are comfortable with old school paper tax forms can easily find and use them, while people who are comfortable with internet tax filing can utilize the internet to file their taxes.  I do not want to see either option cease to exist.

 

 

 

 

Starbucks and Starfield: The Perfect Combination (I checked out Starbucks NEW Chestnut Praline Latte)!

I recently heard that Starbucks has a NEW seasonal drink, the Chestnut Praline Latte.  I was intrigued and eager to check it out.  While uncertain if I have ever had pralines before  (yeah, maybe I have led a sheltered life), but I was game to give it a try.  Call me a fan of Starbucks, which would be a true understatement.  So, I got a Chestnut Praline Latte on my drive back home from visiting my family for Thanksgiving.

It seemed appropriate to pair the latte with a cd from one of my favorite bands, Starfield, a Canadian praise and worship band with a slight rock edge, who is not very well known in the United States.  A quick side note: I once road-tripped to support Starfield years ago when they were nominated for rock/contemporary album of the year at the Dove (GMA) Awards for Christian artists.  I did a lot of music promotion “back in the day,” and I was always going to concerts and volunteering at promotional tables for Christian radio in multiple cities.  I’m kind of surprised Starfield still flies under the radar today, but sometimes that can be kind of cool to me.  I am definitely not one who is into things because other people are; while sometimes I can be influenced,  I think it’s important to follow your own drumbeat, too. But, since I am going on a tangent, I’ll get back to my story.

So, I sipped my Chestnut Praline Latte and listened to songs like “Everything is Beautiful” (which is an AMAZING song to listen to when you are feeling down), and “Love is the Reversal”, which I can listen to on repeat and never get sick of it.  I pondered deep thoughts with songs lyrics like “Yeah I believe our secret longings Tell us that we’re not at home. But grace reclaims what the world disowns” and “Yeah, nothing here’s as good as it should be ‘Cause this is the rehearsal” (song “Love is the reversal” on “Beauty in the Broken” cd by Starfield, copyright 2006).  While I must say that the Chestnut Praline Latte is not one of my favorite Starbucks drink, it is worth checking out at least once.  As their seasonal drinks typically go, you can only get them for a very limited time, so check it out before it’s gone.  And, if you couldn’t already pick up my extremely subtle plug for the band Starfield, you may want to check them out if you are looking for a new band.  Some of their older cds are harder to find in Christian bookstores, but you can find them on Spotify and see what you think.  You can also check out some more info on them on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starfield_(band)).  I highly recommend their debut album “Starfield” (with has probably their best known song, “Filled With Your Glory”) that came out in 2004, as well as the more slight rock edged “Beauty in the Broken” from 2006.

***For those who are curious what is in Starbucks new Chestnut Praline Latte, here is that info courtesy of http://www.starbucks.com: “Espresso, steamed milk, and flavors of caramelized chestnuts and spices. Topped with whipped cream and spiced praline crumbs.”

Love is elusive

Feeling forlorn

and forsaken.

Love is

elusive,

a mist that seems to

vanish

or a shimmering beautiful mirage.

Looking for substance

and commitment,

I find

lack.

Lack of love.

Friendship love abounds,

but my heart

longs for romantic love,

hand holding,

kissing,

sunsets,

and shared magical moments.

Commitment

is a beautiful word,

but I wonder

if I am the only one

who thinks that is true?

Seeking a man

who will commit to me

in spite of fear

and who thinks that I

am amazing in spite of all my faults

is my most vulnerable and cherished hope.

Love and commitment meet.

 

 

My Article was Published in “Empowered” (an online Magazine)!!!

Original Sunset Photography by Julie A. Smith
I submitted an article in September to the Christian online magazine, “Empowered.”  It was accepted!!!  My friend Melissa writes for them, and she recommended me.  It is a blessing, especially since I have wanted to be published in a Christian women’s magazine, but the ones that I have found don’t take unsolicited writing.  I have my blog, but it is incredibly exciting to get published on a wider scale.  I would love to have more opportunities for my writing to be published in the future.  As rain falls beautifully ending a drought, I earnestly hope that my writing both on my blog and my personal poetry will be reinvigorated and inspired again, ending a dry spell for me with both my motivation and inspiration that has been lacking.  It was extremely encouraging to have my article published, and I have received promising feedback from the small number of family and friends that I have told thus far.  It was so affirming to see my article referenced on the cover of “Empowered” with the caption “Finding your path.”  It was also empowering (yes, I am doing a play on words with the magazine title) for me as a writer to type up my credentials and biography and submit a professional picture (actually taken at a previous staff expo for my current job that has nothing to do with writing).  While there was a slight editing mistake in the article (i.e. I never actually bought a Siberian husky  when I was younger, because the dog sold at the pet shop before I could buy it), I am so thrilled with the article overall.  However. I have to fight my inner critic and own self doubts when reading my own work or thinking that I should have edited more before submission, even though I spent hours on the article.  I sincerely hope you have a moment to check out my article.  It is in the October/November/December issue of “Empowered” on the topic of careers that was published mid-end last month.  My article is on page 23-24 and is entitled, “Finding Your Path When your Career Path is Different than you Dreamed.”