When Holidays Are More Than Home and Happy

I believe that everyone remembers the first time they were asked to step outside their own experience of the world and realize that life weaves itself differently for every new person who enters it. The first time I realized my life wasn’t everyone’s “normal” was the first time I had a friend who wasn’t looking forward to going home for the holidays over winter break – because their aunt would drink too much, because their family was complicated, because mom and dad would fight, because there was a good chance half their siblings wouldn’t show up.

In the midst of a season that is designed to cater to families, couples, home, cozy, and happiness, this moment is for those for whom holidays hold a tinge of sadness alongside all the magic. Maybe you just need a reminder to take the time to care for yourself. Maybe you need someone to emphasize that it’s okay to hurt and it’s okay to take the time to protect yourself.

If your holiday means putting some distance between you and the system you grew up in, know that you’re attempting to do one of the hardest things in the world and it’s okay that it’s hard. Families form us and they can also hurt us, and sometimes one of the best things to do is step back, step aside, and make sure you’re surrounded by people who love you even if they’re not the people who bore you. This is true and valid even if the hurt stems from a place filled with the best intentions. Sometimes the people who love us can so badly want the best for us that the way they try to get there seems cloudy.

If your holiday feels like a time when you surround yourself with people who aren’t safe or don’t really know you, whether that be sexuality, gender identity, religion, or just the general existential crisis, take a breath. If you don’t like the way your life is going, take a breath. If you’re not sure you’ve made the right decisions or you’re just generally overwhelmed with how the heck you got to where you are now, take a breath.

Give yourself permission to feel what you’re feeling. It’s okay to process through your feelings even if you can’t articulate exactly why they’re there. It’s okay to allow yourself to work through hurt, anger, pain, frustration, betrayal, and grief. It’s equally okay to put those feelings aside until you get through the weekend or the season.

Feel free to set boundaries. You don’t walk to talk about politics? Step out. Family asking questions you don’t have answers to? “I’d rather not discuss that right now, thank you.” Situations you’re already aware might lead to complete and utter chaos? Communicate where your lines are. Communicate areas that are safe. And feel free to step out or step away or leave completely if that’s required once those lines are crossed.

Check your feelings with people who are outside the system. Shoot a text to a friend and ask if you’re really the worst person in the world, because chances are it’s very likely that you’re not. Sometimes we need an outside voice to speak truth into a pattern we’ve been living out for years – and sometime it’s nice to have all those suspicions and hurt feelings we’ve been stomping down validated. Even if it’s just to hear “they shouldn’t have said that. I’m sorry.”

Finally, for those in the midst of dark, overwhelming, heavy, big feelings. Please stay safe this holiday season. Know that that’s exactly what it is – a season. It, this, those feelings, and this chaos will pass as long as you continue to wake up every morning and keep breathing. And if it gets exceptionally overwhelming, here are some numbers for people who are there literally just to talk and encourage you:

National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-784-2433

Hearing & Speech Impaired: 1-800-799-4889

National Runaway Safeline: 1-800-786-2929

The Trevor Project for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Youth: 1-866-488-7386

Veteran’s Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255

I’ve always felt like I’ve had a safe home to go back to for the holidays. Sure, we have our issues (and even that can feel overwhelming sometimes), but I’ve never questioned my family’s love for me. It still rocks my mind that this isn’t the normative experience, and I’ve always wondered what I can do to help.

Grab a friend. Bring them home. Keep your phone close for those who need help. Validate, validate, validate. Encourage those who are taking steps towards healing. And love those around you like crazy. This season is magic, and everyone gets to be part of spreading that magic.

Just remember that this season wouldn’t be anything without the people you love. And remember there’s always someone out there who loves you, even if it’s family that you chose not family you were given.

And us little witches are always here if you need to rant, vent, or cry. OR CELEBRATE THOSE STEPS TOWARDS BRAVERY.

We love you, beans! Merry OFFICIAL Christmas season.



To define poetry is to limit its infinite potential. There is a bit of poetry in all of us, in the way we move, in our words, our actions and reactions, in the bottom of the well of thoughts  hidden in our minds. Poetry is all around us.(@drinksteareadsbooks)

Instagram has an insanely huge poetry community, and while it is rife with criticism and plagiarism (an unfortunate by-product of any creative, artistic community), it is by far one of the most inclusive, supportive communities that I have found myself following, and a part of.

I have always had a connection with prose and poetry, specifically free verse and narrative. There is catharsis to scribbling out thoughts and feelings, unedited in notebook after notebook, on scrap pieces of paper, unsent letters. Finding a poet that speaks to your soul, is like finding a piece of it that was missing.

and if your gift is to make people. feel.
something. do not cover that in
apology. do not lie. to accommodate
others’ fear of feeling.
– nayyirah waheed.

It is so easy to criticize free verse (and short) poetry, the style I most am drawn to, because it follows no rules, but that is why I find it so captivating. With so few words, someone can crawl inside you, and leave an imprint, forever changing the world around you. 2018-11-13 19_03_32-Nicole Lyons (@nicolelyonspoetry) • Instagram photos and videos

My favorite contemporary poet is Nicole Lyons , and it took me some time to find her but undoubtedly I have kismet to thank.  Her words often fuel my spirit and are the embrace I need on days I feel like the strength inside of me has all but depleted. She also inspires me to write, something I stopped doing too long ago and didn’t realize the gaping chasm it left behind needing to be filled.

I recently reviewed Nicole’s latest release, Blossom and Bone:

Before you even climb inside of Nicole’s words, the Forward written by Candice speaks to all of us. Those new to Nicole and those wrapping her words around them like a well worn blanket.

Nicole is my favorite contemporary poet, for her words speak to me on a level none other has. It is difficult to review pieces of Nicole’s work individually, as they are written in such a direct way and yet, they are so empathetic that you can interpret them with your own soul.

No matter what you’re going through, there is a part of Nicole that will speak to you. Blossom and Bone is no different. Her third published book, and full of the unique tone that is all her own. Her poems are stories to be told (The Keeper of Time, Under The Sycamore), are anthems to be shouted (Battle Cries Blaring) and an embrace when you are clouded in your own darkness (I Won’t Always Be Me).

Nicole is a force, and Blossom and Bone is another raw, heart stealing edition of her power.

Without Nicole, I would not have had the pleasure of becoming enamored with Alfa Holden (alfa.poet), another force on Instagram who has also recently publish a book, Amid Thirsty Vines, her fourth collection of poetry.



Both of these women are incredible, yes, and there are so many more poets out there, some more known than others, some truly hidden gems, all equally deserving of praise. Below are just a few, skimming the surface of talent that surrounds us, vulnerable portraits of artists who paint with words.

  1. Leah J Stone
  2. charlie.brown.writes
  3. Jacob Lee
  4. K.R. Cash
  5. J.R.Rogue
  6. Jon Lupin
  7. Tyler Knott
  8. Rose
  9. Natalia Crow

And do not mistake that vulnerability for weakness, because it takes an immeasurable amount of strength and a kind of bravery to put your own soul on display for the world to consume.

Some of my demons left me,
some are just asleep.
A few always travel with me,
others haunt me from the deep.

The little ones are charming,
they are allowed to stay.
The big ones tear me up inside,
I just wish they’d go away.
– Natalie Crow

Do You NaNo?

With the start of November, it’s often hard to avoid the constant updates of NaNo participants- and as someone who has always wanted to join in (even signed up on the official site once) but never actually followed through, I thought getting some insight from someone who is a seasoned NaNoWriMo participant would be beneficial- not just for myself but for anyone who needs a bit of a boost from a fellow writer.  I asked Cara if she would be willing to share her own personal tips with us and she gladly accepted. Continue reading below to see what she had to say about the 30 day, 50k writing frenzy.

2018-10-30 20_55_27-Window

Whether you’ve decided to participate in NaNoWriMo or your still on the fence, fear not I’m here to help! I’ve accumulated a few tip and trick that have helped me the last 6 years I’ve done NaNo and I’m ready to share the wealth. These tips are also good for writing in general, so even if you don’t participate, I hope you can find some value.

First things first. What is NaNoWriMo? (NaNo for short)

It stands for National Novel Writing Month. It takes place every November and the goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Averaging out to be 1,500 words a day.

What NaNo means to me:

For me nano is all about committing yourself to a goal/project and giving yourself this hard deadline. It’s very easy to get distracted writing, but when you have a whole communicate working on the same thing, at the same time, it really helps keep up the motivation.

Also, don’t stress if you can’t get to that 50K especially if it’s your first time ever writing a novel, or writing this much in a short period of time. The most important thing is to KEEP GOING. I hope the tips below can help you get that novel completed!  

  1. Plan.
    • Take the time to think about what you want your story to be about. Maybe do a rough outline if you like. For me I’m a panters (fly by the seat of my pants/make it up as I go), I usually only have a rough idea of what I want to happen. Maybe big picture events, an ending, whatever, but that’s pretty much it.
    • If you do want to learn more about detailed outlining, I highly recommend checking out Katytastic on YouTube, she has a great layout for plot structure. But my one warning on this, don’t let it distract you from actually writing. Plotting can be a great way to procrastinate and with only 30 days your time is precious.  
  2. Work in short bursts.
    • I use an app called Focus Keeper (it’s free!) it lets you work in 25 minute burst, with a 5 minute break in between. Getting up and walking around or getting a snack is a great way to not get bored or over worked.
  3. Make a routine.
    • Now this one can be hard, but having a time a day set aside for writing can help in building a habit. Pick a time of day that you know you work best. For me it’s mornings, so I try and set a side 25 minutes at least to write.
  4. Do it even if you don’t want to.
    • That sounds kind of lame, but it’s true. I know sometimes I look at my laptop and think ‘nope it’s not happening today’ but then I make myself write for 25 minutes and if after 25 minutes I’m still not feeling it, I stop. But more often it’s the starting that’s hard and if you can get past that, you can do great.
    • I put this one in all caps because I think it’s probably one of the best pieces of advice I ever heard. It can be really tempting to go back and reread and fix and make everything pretty as you write your rough draft, but that can be the death of a novel. Now, sure some people do this and it works great for them, but I think in most case, especially if you are a new writer, it will keep you from progressing.
    • Just keep going, everyday keep writing and working towards the end. It might suck, actually, it will probably suck. That’s okay!! That’s what editing is for, but it’s really hard to edit a novel, when you have no novel. The editing brain can also kill the writing brain, at least for me it does, I can keep a much better flow if I don’t keep stopping to edit.
  6. Turn off grammar and spell check errors. 
    • Now this is more of a personal thing I learned. When I type fast, I have a lot of errors and it’s very tempting to go back and fix them as I write, but it takes me out of that creative headspace. So, I turn the checker off and just write. I fix all the errors when I go onto editing. This might not be for everyone, but it been a huge help to me.
  7. Leave the writing day with more to write.
    • I’ve heard Pierce Brown talk about this and it’s a great tip. What this means is, when you stop your writing for the day, stop in the middle of a scene or when you still feel like you know exactly what’s going to happen next. I usually leave myself a few notes like: KISSING, SOMEONE DIES, EVERYONE GOES TO A PARTY. Basically, quick notes to remind me what was happening next and that way I don’t spend the first 25 minutes of writing time the next day, trying to get back into the story.
  8. Don’t get stuck on a scene.
    • My rough drafts are riddled with notes to my future self, such as: MAKE THIS LESS BAD. ADD SOMETHING. It may seem lazy and it sucks for future me, but it helps in writing a first draft, especially if you are a pantser like me and haven’t plotted the whole novel. Sometimes the answer won’t come to me until later in the novel and I can add those scenes in editing.
  9. Don’t worry about the 50K.
    • The more important thing is to write. Maybe your rough draft caps at 35k, sure that’s probably not long enough for a finished novel, but you’ve got something to work with and that’s great.
  10. Find online friends who are also writing.
    • This is a great way to stay motivated. Be a cheerleader for your fellow writers and they will cheer you on right back.
  11. Take a day off if you need to.
    • I know I said to write every day, but if you really need it, take a break. Taking a break can be a great way to get the ideas flowing in your head. Sometimes a little breathing room can go a long way.
  12. The end is worth the journey.
    • When you write those last words on your brand new novel, there is nothing better. The hard work and stress finally pays off. So, write that novel for the world to see or write it for yourself just to prove that you can. Write the story that only you can tell, the one with the characters who won’t get out of your head.
  13. Let it breath.
    • This is some after advice, for when that novel is done. Let it sit for at least a week, a month is better if you can. That way when you come back to it, you’ll have a bit of distance to see more clearly.

I hope these tips help you on your NaNo journey and I hope you have a great time creating a new story. I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

Want to be my writing buddy? Come join me on nanowrimo.org my username is: CaraFoshizzle

If you also like pictures of pretty books, you can follow me on Instagram. Instagram.com/carafoshizzle