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Us Humans: Yeka Original Series

If there’s one thing that I’m known for saying amongst my circle of friend, it’d have to be the way I felt before I graduated high school. I went to a college prep school that offered AP and IB. We all know what AP is, advanced placement. But imagine “advanced placement” competitive tests, the kind where you’re competing for the top score with your classmates, but instead your competing with the top schools of the planet. That’s my description of international baccalaureate, IB. It annoyed me so much that students walked around as zombies because they pulled all-nighters regularly to maintain their grades. Whenever I was asked if someone should sleep of do work, my response was always something akin to “health is more important that a good grade” and I stand by it through every walk of life. And someone might read this thinking, “well of course” and yes, thank you for agreeing but I don’t just mean the physical.

If I had just a quarter for every time I came across someone who alluded to the concept that work ruined their mental health, I could probably monopolize both of the Americas. This, among other things, is why I hold mental health so dear and important to me: because we don’t talk about it enough. And anytime it’s mentioned, it’s always the isolated cousin. It’s past time to start the conversation properly because the more it goes silent, the worse it gets.

Us Humans

Us Humans Graphic

Us Humans is a blog series, hosted by the Yeka Blogsite, in which I aim to give insights into the reality of various mental health related issues. This goes from talking about various stigmas and myths to describing what it really is like to live with a mental illness. There are currently three available installments, which can be accessed from any of the links below:

To Whom It May Concern

Covert Madness

I’m Not “Antisocial”

Some of these and future posts may be connected to “Exclusives” content which will be available from this site. These may be continuations or further expansions on a given topic if I feel lead to discuss it. This can also be secondary work inspired by a given piece such as poetry or spoken word, a splurge I may have came up with, or even something I drew. All of this will be available under a new tab, “Us Humans Exclusives” and will also include corresponding links to the related installment.

The Story Behind

Perhaps this idea was born on a whim, or a product of a passing thought while doing homework, or any other reason. I really couldn’t tell you where the idea spawned from, I only know what I want to make of it now that it’s manifested. It should be an agreeable opinion that the public seems to value physical health more than mental health, unfortunately. And, maybe, it’s because such issues are covert and invisible at times, but just because they’re unseen does not make them unreal. So I want to make these things real to readers. I want to give insight to those who may know little to nothing about how things like anxiety, and dysphoria, and attention deficits may affect someone in any given way.

Many of the topics I’ll cover are personal to me in some way. I may mention something like depression that I or my friends battle with and I want to be open about that. Not because I want to vent but because I want to make it known that I am not alone – that others are not alone. I want to make it known that things like depression are way more commonplace than it seems. I want to make it known that mental illnesses cannot be as easily dismissed as the flu. I want to make it known that mental illness is very common, and very real.

I hope that with my words I shed a little more light on the topic and ease others to be more comfortable to start the conversation as well. I intend to expose the complexity that often goes unseen to those who may not struggle with mental health as others. I hope to show that people don’t have to be shaking, trembling, unresponsive, or physically inept  for you to know that they are mentally ill. Because it shouldn’t take contagion to know that someone is sick; listen and you will know, but you have to actually listen.

~

If this interests you, be sure to follow the Yeka site at myyeka.wordpress.com to have access to the series installments as they’re published. For Exclusives content, be sure to follow this site to access that as well, either directly or via email using the form along the side panel.

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Photo Collage: Sedona Lights

12.09.2017

This past weekend, my family and I took a late trip to Sedona, about two hours from where we live. I figured it may be a picturesque experience, so I pocketed my (dad’s) camera, and snapped as I went along. The event was a walk-through of a bunch of Christmas lights and similarly themed showings that surrounded various shops and boutiques. So, since it was late at night, there may be some glare. But I wanted to share either way.

the trees are alive

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Almost all the trees were wrapped in lights. So much so, the street lights were drowned out. It made the area look even better and a little more alive, in my opinion.

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If you can see those little orange lights on the grounds, they were actually candles in paper bags. I wanted to believe they were fake candles, but I looked into a bag and saw a real flame. Is that safe?

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Just off to the left (of the previous picture) is this little nook, which I think was everyone’s favorite. Did I mention how cold it was that night?

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I’m not sure where you’d find these things, but I need several. This little flame-tower-cage-a-majjigy was where me and my brothers huddled around for at least a cumulative 30mins. It was so warm…

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There were stairs a little ways down that path that led to more stores on the upper level. Granted, they were all closed, but curiosity got the best of me and I went up there anyway…

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…besides, the great view from above was perfect for a (half decent) picture.

the art of energy

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There was this big cage thing that looked interesting. I’m not sure what it is but, like me, it’s bright and very extra. So I gave it some attention.

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(the inside view looking out)

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Of all the boutiques there, this was one of the few that were open. And also the place we lingered in the most, because my entire family is nothing but a bunch of nerds (link to the artist).

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Of all the pieces in the shop, there were mainly two that I found myself drawn to the most.

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This was one of the two (the matching piece for the previous picture’s content)…

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…and these paper cranes were the second of the two. I’m not sure why, but I really liked this one.

the whats and nows

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Oh! I can’t forget to show this giant Christmas tree. Hopefully, my short dad and brothers offer some perspective.

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There were a lot of cool things that mostly piqued my artsy, nerdy side. For example, the surplus of kinetic art that was on display. Of all the art forms I remember studying, kinetic art is hands down a favorite.

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Though it was really cold and really late, I can’t help it that I just like to see things. And it was a nice (sporadic) trip.

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(I saw an arch and thought “that would make a nice photo”, and here we are)

The only thing about this night is that I wish I could have taken a good picture of the sky. There was zero light pollution and the stars came out to play for once…

I even saw my first shooting star.

Inspiration Has Consequences

It seems that now that my inspiration has come back from its vacation, I feel like I’ve been doing something worthwhile with my time. It came back like a flood, really. If you’re curious (or just looking for a filler read), feel free to hear me babble about life and things.

P.S: semi-important notice included

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Caption: a sad attempt as filter edits

Peeling Back Bed-Sheets

Maybe it’s my current circumstances but I’ve been spending more time outside of my room than I’m known to. Everyone who lives with me may not agree, but I know me and my habits. For a moment, it felt icky to be around more than my own person. But after a while, I could feel the difference. So on those days when I’m home alone, there are certain things I try to do just to provoke myself to unplug from my bed: eat breakfast or drink tea, and look out of a window. That second bit sounds weird but it satisfies the “get up and move” need. I compare myself to a cat a lot, even down to sitting in direct sunlight just to be warm. But the natural light also kind of wakes me up and opens my mind. I’m a nature lover, so I guess it makes sense to someone in the universe…

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Caption: this is my favorite of all the flicks I took today

Arts & Crafts

Alongside this newfound energy to move more, there has been this rush of inspiration lately with me. It seems like everyday I’m making something or working on something, to the point where projects are overlapping and I’m becoming weary that none of it will ever be finished. But there’s so much good content that I want to put my best effort into them so they’ll come out really nice. Maybe it’s because ever since I put up my whiteboard (another mini-project I did a while ago), I’ve been able to visualize my ideas. Everything isn’t crammed into once space that empties out every hour or less. Instead, it’s all written down and in my face so that not only is it captured in its rawest form, but the idea can be revisited.

The original concept for my whiteboard was actually to be a dreamboard. It was going to be a chalkboard and I would just write inspiring quotes and post clippings and pictures of things I wanted to do. That’s not to say that I can’t still do that; this just seemed a little more… realistic to me. You see, I have a tendency to think of the future in a very fantastical way sometimes. Usually, I fully understand that some of it just isn’t real life, but of course that doesn’t stop me from thinking. But for someone like me, a dreamboard would have been a setup up for a mental breakdown. As time passes and I see something on the board, still unaccomplished, it’ll start to eat at me. So I went for something that’s more sensitive to me and a lot more… possible (and less messy).

My whiteboard isn’t much more than a giant sticker, by the way: adhesive whiteboard paper from the store around the corner and some dry-erase markers. I pasted it to my closet doors, one side I use for my calendar and agenda, the other side I use for whatever else. Currently, the second side is my planner board; it has a lengthy bullet list of content to work on, where I left off with which and what I need to do next. That takes me to this next bit…

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Caption: I really like the perspective in this picture…

Inspired Hiatus

I think it would be best to take a short break. Nothing major, probably not even a full month, but I won’t dismiss the idea either. There are mainly two things that played into this decision:

  • Of course, I mentioned I have a ton of content I’m working on. Some of it will probably take only a couple hours, but some of it involves more effort over longer periods of times. I was thinking, “why not just publish as you go?” And in case you were thinking the same, I’m sure that wouldn’t be best. I want to start to develop more of a schedule or time frame with my content. Whatever scheduling I choose may not take immediate affect, but this will give me time to feel out what is best for the future.
  • Arguably, the biggest factor would be that I am still in school. The semester ends in the second week of December and I want to make sure to finish out with the same good momentum I’ve been having up to now. Anyone who’s close to me knows I was never the greatest, most scholarly student but my grades this semester do not support that notion at all. And I want to try and keep it that way. I want be able to turn in homework earlier than the day it’s due and still have stress-free downtime. Of course, that’s not to say I substitute study time with working on content; but I want to give myself fewer obligations so I have little excuses.

In my head, I’ll probably be back to posting around the beginning of December, it depends on how much I have ready and available. It honestly feels weird saying that I’ll be on hiatus for a little. The last time I was, it wasn’t a decision I voluntarily made. Maybe this is something like a stepping stone or whatever cliche metaphor for “growing up”.

I think I hit all of the main points I wanted to mention… oh! All of the pictures in this post were taken Tuesday. My dad and I went for a little drive and we saw this one scene that we had to stop and take pictures. I have a strange obsession with taking pictures of flora, perhaps because they cooperate better than people as models. Other than my photography shenanigans, I think that’s all to talk about. If I do post amid the hiatus, it’ll probably just be pictures and quotes, nothing too lengthy. Until then, I hope you look forward to my work.

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What kind of content would you like to see from me?

An Award Nomination???

Here I am, relaxing in the calm of my room, searching for new music to download. I click over to check my emails and see that “I need to moderate a comment”. So I click over to check my blog, thinking it was something normal like a “great post” or some type of spam.

But instead, it was this:

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I am more than flattered to be nominated for this award; the honest truth is that I didn’t know I was deserving of any kind of award. Nonetheless, I am thankful to receive and accept it. I was nominated by the wonderful mind that runs Pursuit of Natural. While this blog has posts that mostly discuss various topics about natural hair and anything related, she has more talent than just writing. Many of the graphics included in her post are designs of her own, another talent that I think everyone should know of. Her Instagram features more of her work as well: PoN’s Instagram.

PoN’s Questions:

How long have you been blogging?

This blog site in particular is a little more than a year old. I had an older site before this one which was eventually deleted because I believed I wouldn’t use it. However, I found myself resorting to another blog forum, Tumblr, where I created different pages for different things. One I usually posted more inspirational or poetic material, another was related specifically to writing, and, more recently, I created a page where I would document my hair journey. However, the one post that truly kicked off this blog was a response to a friend’s Facebook Live video (read that post here). The empowering feeling of being able to present my ideas unlimited and in my own way pushed me to make blogging a habit. Now, I use blogging as another means of practicing my writing while also networking with the world and putting my voice into the universe.

How much of your offline life is reflected on your blog?

I’d say a good 50% – 75%. A part of the reason I post to this blog is to share a part of me that I may not have the perfect venue to do so, but in a more appealing way. While some may prefer to talk only about things like clothing hauls or beauty, I prefer to be a little more realistic and allow my audience to see me in a more personable light. While I do share cool things I may do, I also want people to know where my head is at sometimes because, though I may be entertaining, I am in fact human.

What often keeps you from hitting publish on a blog post?

Nothing keeps me from hitting publish on a blog post, but judgment can sometimes lead me to delete a post before I can even save the draft. I can remember posts that I thought would make great content that I had second thoughts on and instead kept to myself. I can also remember old posts I did publish but later deleted. I have this fear that sometimes I may publish something that may be slightly less neutral than I prefer and may cause controversy. Luckily, I am slowly overcoming that fear.

Do you have any pets?

Currently, I do not. But I did have a cat before my family and I moved. His name was Guernsey, like that cow, because of the large coat of black with spots of white his fur coat had. He was a stubborn, independent thing that was only nice to you when he was hungry, but I loved him regardless.

Name something or someone that is good at making you laugh.

This is the question that sort exposes another side of me. In reality, I am a rather… wacky person. I am silly, goofy, excitable, and I love fun and thrill. I am simple-minded and will laugh at the way a pen hitting the floor sounds. So it’s truly difficult to pinpoint one person or thing that humors me, but in so many words: friends and memes.

My Nominee:

While I may not check in on my blog and others as often as some, I definitely am always happy to find a new post by Melissa over at Meleey XO. I’m not even sure how I first came across this blog but I am glad I did. Melissa typically posts about music related things like concert experiences and album reviews, while also keeping the realism and discussing more personal topics when needed.

So, here are some questions for you:

  1. What made you decide to start blogging?
  2. What is your favorite thing about concerts and music?
  3. What is your favorite genre of music and why?
  4. Is there any genre of music you want to start listening to?

Be sure to check out both of the blogs I mentioned and stay tuned for more content from me as well. I typically share blog updates to my Twitter, which linked at the top of the page with the rest of my social links.

A Post Lost in Time

Typically, before I post any lengthy reading online, I pre-write it in a word document. As I was scrolling through this document, I came across an old, unfinished post that I believe I started writing the same day or the day after the event it was referring to. I just decided to share it before it either gets lost further down the line or I delete it entirely.

I had the greatest opportunity of attending a conference for one of my social justice heroes… and it’s still so surreal to me.

I found out about Jane Elliot around a year ago. It started with a simple video that circulated my Facebook page, but I wanted to know what I was watching, I wanted the full story. Jane Elliot is best known for her “Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes” experiment she did with an elementary school class she taught. The videos I found myself watching while looking her up involved her replicating that experiment with groups of older people. I listened to her explanations on why she continued to do the experiment and why she does her work. After those moments, I made up my mind that should I ever get the chance to see her work in person, I would take it without hesitation.

And I lived up to that promise. My psychology teacher told us that he and a committee of others worked hard to make it happen, but Jane Elliot would be presenting at campus. “Jane Elliot? At our little community college campus…” Surely, she was there. And so was I. I was anxious to see her when presentation day came; I was both nervous and excited. I loved every moment of the event. I’ve always thought of Elliot to be a considerably strict, “business” woman on a mission. But she’s charismatic, entertaining, and very informative all at once.

I’ll admit, however, it was difficult listening to and believing some of what she said. It wasn’t the factual things or the more obvious things that I knew to be true; it was those anecdotal moments where I couldn’t bring myself to believe that she had those conversations and that people are actually as nasty as she depicted…

And those moments are what makes the whole experience so surreal.

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I honestly love/hate this photo. She had said something funny just as the shutter went off… nonetheless, I got to have this moment. That’s what matters.

My Own Contentment

I don’t allow myself to be happy enough. The more I feel my own joy in doing the simplest of things, the more I realize it. I have been taking steps to better myself in many respects lately and I don’t give myself credit for any of it. So I’m making myself take the time to do so. If I can’t acknowledge my efforts, it’s hardly worth anyone else’s time to do the same.

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Caption: a hummingbird I saw at school

I hate talking about school, but it always seems to play an important role in my stability. It’s only been the first month of classes but I am happy with how I’ve been maintaining myself. I mean, I have been doing work on the day it’s due, but I’m getting them in. That’s way more than my known academic habits. Perhaps it’s because I only have three classes right now, one of which doesn’t give homework, but I still want to commend myself for the efforts. I do aim to make better time in completing work, however. Waiting until the weekend to complete it is so unfair to me. I can name many Fridays where I just wanted some me time; I just wanted to wash my hair, do a face mask, watch YouTube, and twist my hair into the next morning. But I was too worried I wouldn’t get my homework done. Of course, I got it done but it’s the situation that’s bothersome. I feel I have been through the works over the course of these last two years and I think it’s time to care for me, and just me.

 

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Caption: just some fish I colored

I have been more assertive in my crafts as of late and I forget how much I love these things. I downloaded this app called Recolor (for Apple) a while ago. I downloaded solely for moments when I’m too emotion-high and needed to de-stress. And it was a great decision. I don’t at all believe that coloring is exclusively for children, for a number of reasons. In 10 days, I’ll be another year older and I’ll still feel comfortable coloring. Aside from coloring, I have also been making efforts to put more time into writing. Today alone, I have written three pieces (this one makes four) and saying that aloud just makes me giddy. I missed writing so much and I’m so happy to put effort back into it. I look forward to much more work and, well, maybe I’ll even recommission my Wattpad…

 

That’s all for now. Until next time.

Lots of Sand and Rocks

My head has been in too many places to sit down and write about the things I’ve wanted to, but now that I’m slightly more leveled, let’s just get into it.

Spring Break

Almost three weeks ago, my family and I went to Arizona for a little more than a week. I’ll avoid certain details as to why we chose such an estranged place, but I will say I enjoyed the picturesque opportunity. When I wasn’t between my headphones, most of my time was spent looking for scenes to capture, particularly on my Polaroid. Yes, I finally had a chance to use it and I learned a few things about it. Nonetheless, I loved the products I came up with (the good ones at least). We stayed at quite a few hotels so pictures are a lot more scarce than I usually tend to report but I still have a select few to present. Of the many hotels we booked, our collective favorite was Windmill. There were a few things about it that I liked actually, not at all to reference its amenities.

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I found myself aching to capture some of the scenes more than I wanted to enjoy the hotel itself. There was a water feature just beside the main building with a fountain in the middle. At one angle, there was flora that I wanted to capture as well… and I tried, but the sprinklers preferred otherwise… Outside of my disagreement with “nature”, there was another floral feature of interest about the hotel.

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Caption: A bittersweet victory

There were bushes with oranges growing and I just needed to pick one for the satisfaction of it. So one evening, when my parents were returning to the room, I met my father outside. And he risked his well-being for my oranges. Up until then, I never knew orange bushes had thorns. He picked three oranges for me and I took them inside, rinsed them, cut them to check for any unhealthy signs, and put them in the mini-fridge. I did take a bite of one of course… a very bitter bite. Perhaps this strand of oranges aren’t the sweetest; maybe tree-grown oranges are sweeter?

We did, of course, participate in traditionally tourist activities of course. Tusayan was one of our stops; we visited the Grand Canyon.

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I hadn’t known what to expect when the decision was made; I just knew I would be looking at a lot of rocks. It was a breathtaking experience. The adventurer in me could have gotten into dire trouble; I wanted to walk the crooks I could see from where I was standing but that’s not the most recommended idea… Instead, I enjoyed it and took pictures of what I saw… and whatever else caught my eye.

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Caption: Photogenic squirrel at the canyon

There isn’t much more to highlight that I have pictures of other than a dear site to our family. For those who are or were avid N64 users, perhaps you’ve heard of the video game Vigilante. There is a certain level where a meteor leaves the players to not only fend off the computer but also a giant ant. Yes, we had the opportunity to see the ant crater.

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For the first of two times during this trip, I bought a bag of rocks (yes, you read that correctly). Seeing this in person was interesting; it’s a lot bigger than the video game depicts… After this stop, we began our extensive, cross-country journey home. And my post-break panic kicked in heavily. Instead of going to school the next day, I stayed home frantically trying to catch up on the homework I didn’t do over the break.

School will be ending soon, as I only have a few weeks left until finals. I don’t particularly look forward to what summer brings, but I’m interested in what unfolds. Until then, I’ll put forth my best efforts to shape things to my benefit and press on.

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