Meet Your­self in The Mir­ror LIVE — Ash­ley Wylde Slam Poetry

Tell me what you love.

If I look you in your eyes and ask you to tell me what you love, the answers will likely roll off of your tongue. You love pizza and craft­ing and roller coast­ers and poetry. You love to read, you love to write, you love music, birds, tat­toos, obscure doc­u­men­taries, and the color of the sun fil­tered through the smoke of a wild­fire. You love your boyfriend. Your mom. Your brother. Your sis­ter. Your daugh­ter. Your best friend. Your dog. Your grand­mother. Your cousin. Your son. Your aunt. Your wife. You love pas­tries and for­eign lan­guages and folk music the way it feels to itch a bug bite. You love early morn­ings and late nights and study breaks and hugs and sen­ti­men­tal cards on your birth­day. How long do you think you could go on and on before you said, “I love myself.”

Most peo­ple go a lifetime.

I used to think I was invin­ci­ble, like most young peo­ple do. I knew every­thing, knew exactly who I was, could have con­quered the world. My grand­mother, with a smile sewn of wis­dom, told me if I really wanted the truth, I should stand in front of a mir­ror. She told me:

Meet your­self in the mir­ror, make a date of it. Look closely, and even if it’s strange, keep on look­ing until your eyes became skies with con­stel­la­tions of light, and the rest of the world fades away. Exam­ine every inch of your face, and feel how­ever you feel about it. Be thor­ough. See even the things you don’t like to see. When you know your face like you’d know a friend’s, meet your eyes again. If it’s awk­ward or forced, do the best that you can, and with all the sin­cer­ity you can muster, say, ‘I love you.’”

I thought it was stu­pid, and I told her that right there, but for some rea­son I still crept into the bath­room that night to ren­dezvous with my eyes. I was sur­pris­ingly awk­ward, awk­wardly shy, and stood with my gaze turned down, like I was see­ing myself for the first time. With a flut­ter in my stom­ach I met my own stare, and though every­thing in me protested, I let out a half breath that car­ried an almost inaudi­ble whis­per of the words… I love you… and then I cried uncon­trol­lably because I knew it wasn’t true.

I stood in that bath­room every night for a year, and I lied to my eyes until I could rewrite the truth. When I looked in the mir­ror and knew for the first time that I loved myself, I also knew I would never need any­thing else to survive.

My grand­mother knows me, and instead of telling, she showed me that love is a tree, and if we don’t grow the roots, we’ll spend our lives col­lect­ing dry leaves; they are charm­ing when pressed in books and kept in pic­ture frames but they don’t grow up to feed our fam­i­lies the way seeds do.

She told me:

You can­not say, ‘I love you,’ with­out the implied foun­da­tion of, ‘but I love myself, first.’ If you don’t love your­self, every time you have ever said, ‘I love you,’ it was a lie.”

And she was right.

Ash­ley wylde. May 12th, 2013.

Instruc­tions For A Bad Day

I <3 Shane Koy­czan

There will be bad days. Be calm. Loosen your grip, open­ing each palm slowly now. Let go. Be con­fi­dent. Know that now is only a moment, and that if today is as bad as it gets, under­stand that by tomor­row, today will have ended. Be gra­cious. Accept each extended hand offered, to pull you back from the some­where you can­not escape. Be dili­gent. Scrape the gray sky clean. Real­ize every dark cloud is a smoke screen meant to blind us from the truth, and the truth is whether we see them or not — the sun and moon are still there and always there is light. Be forth­right. Despite your instinct to say “it’s alright, I’m okay” — be hon­est. Say how you feel with­out fear or guilt, with­out remorse or com­plex­ity. Be lucid in your expla­na­tion, be ster­ling in your oppose. If you think for one sec­ond no one knows what you’ve been going through; be accept­ing of the fact that you are wrong, that the long drawn and heavy breaths of despair have at times been felt by every­one — that pain is part of the human con­di­tion and that alone makes you a legion. We hun­gry under­dogs, we ris­ers with dawn, we dissmisser’s of odds, we blesser’s of on — we will sta­tion our­selves to the calm. We will hold our­selves to the steady, be ready player one. Life is going to come at you armed with hard times and tough choices, your voice is your weapon, your thoughts ammu­ni­tion — there are no free extra men, be aware that as the instant now passes, it exists now as then. So be a mir­ror reflect­ing your­self back, and remem­ber­ing the times when you thought all of this was too hard and you’d never make it through. Remem­ber the times you could have pressed quit — but you hit con­tinue. Be for­giv­ing. Liv­ing with the bur­den of anger, is not liv­ing. Giv­ing your focus to wrath will leave your entire self absent of what you need. Love and hate are beasts and the one that grows is the one you feed. Be per­sis­tent. Be the weed grow­ing through the cracks in the cement, beau­ti­ful — because it doesn’t know it’s not sup­posed to grow there. Be res­olute. Declare what you accept as true in a way that envi­sions the resolve with which you accept it. If you are hav­ing a good day, be con­sid­er­ate. A sim­ple smile could be the first-​aid kit that some­one has been look­ing for. If you believe with absolute hon­esty that you are doing every­thing you can — do more. There will be bad days, Times when the world weighs on you for so long it leaves you look­ing for an easy way out. There will be moments when the drought of joy seems unend­ing. Instances spent pre­tend­ing that every­thing is alright when it clearly is not, check your blind spot. See that love is still there, be patient. Every night­mare has a begin­ning, but every bad day has an end. Ignore what oth­ers have called you. I am call­ing you friend. Make us com­pre­hend the urgency of your cri­sis. Silence left to its own devices, breed’s silence. So speak and be heard. One word after the next, express your­self and put your life in the con­text — if you find that no one is lis­ten­ing, be loud. Make noise. Stand in poise and be open. Hope in these sit­u­a­tions is not enough and you will need some­one to lean on. In the unlikely event that you have no one, look again. Every­one is blessed with the abil­ity to lis­ten. The deaf will hear you with their eyes. The blind will see you with their hands. Let your heart fill their news-​stands, Let them read all about it. Admit to the bad days, the impos­si­ble nights. Lis­ten to the insights of those who have been there, but come back. They will tell you; you can stack mis­ery, you can pack despair you can even wear your sor­row — but come tomor­row you must change your clothes. Every­one knows pain. We are not meant to carry it for­ever. We were never meant to hold it so closely, so be cer­tain in the belief that what pain belongs to now will belong soon to then. That when some­one asks you how was your day, real­ize that for some of us — it’s the only way we know how to say, be calm. Loosen your grip, open­ing each palm, slowly now — let go.

Instruc­tions For A Bad Day — YouTube.

A Pre­cious Human Life

A Precious Human Life

A Pre­cious Human Life

Every­day, think as you wake up.

Today I am for­tu­nate to have waken up
I am alive. I have a pre­cious human life.
I am not going to waste it.

I am going to use
All my ener­gies to develop myself,
To expand my heart out to oth­ers,
To achieve enlight­en­ment for
The ben­e­fit of all beings.

I am going to have
Kind thoughts towards oth­ers.
I am not going to get angry,
Or think badly about oth­ers.

I am going to ben­e­fit oth­ers
As much as I can.

Dalai Lama


The Power of Vul­ner­a­bil­ity — Brene Brown

via The Power of Vul­ner­a­bil­ity — Brene Brown

Excerpt from “Reflec­tions on Sil­ver River” by Ken McLeod

Don’t engage dis­tur­bances and emo­tional reac­tions grad­u­ally fade away;
Don’t engage dis­trac­tions and spir­i­tual prac­tice nat­u­rally grows;
Keep aware­ness clear and vivid and con­fi­dence in the way arises.
Rely on silence — this is the prac­tice of a bodhisattva.

How many worlds do you go to every day? Every dis­tur­bance, every emo­tional reac­tion, projects a dif­fer­ent world. Like a flea on a hot stove, you jump from one world to another. Never mind jet lag, you are a dif­fer­ent per­son in each world. Alice had an eas­ier time in Wonderland.

How do you find your path?

In silence.

How do you prac­tice silence?

You listen.

Arrange your life to reduce choice and unnec­es­sary deci­sions. Refrain from tak­ing on too many projects at one time. When you are involved in a lot of dif­fer­ent activ­i­ties, the demands from one cre­ate prob­lems for another. In other words, cre­ate the con­di­tions so that you do not have to be react­ing to a steady stream of disturbances.

When you prac­tice, rest in the expe­ri­ence of thoughts, sen­sa­tions and feel­ings, using the breath or aware­ness itself as a place to rest. When­ever you are car­ried away, return and rest. Dur­ing prac­tice ses­sions regard thoughts, sen­sa­tions and feel­ings as leaves swirling in the wind as you walk under the clear blue sky of an autumn day. When you do not engage them, you become aware of a silence — a silence that is always there, even in your dark­est moments, a silence that includes every­thing and can­not be fath­omed, a silence that allows you to lis­ten to your heart, your body and your mind in a way you did not know was possible.

In that silence aware­ness is clear and vivid. You just know, and a quiet con­fi­dence is born.

How do you find your way? In silence.

Ken McLeod

To Love At All

To love at all is to be vul­ner­a­ble. Love any­thing, and your heart will cer­tainly be wrung and pos­si­bly be bro­ken. If you want to make sure of keep­ing it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an ani­mal. Wrap it care­fully round with hob­bies and lit­tle lux­u­ries; avoid all entan­gle­ments; lock it up safe in the cas­ket or cof­fin of your self­ish­ness. But in that cas­ket — safe, dark, motion­less, air­less — it will change. It will not be bro­ken; it will become unbreak­able, impen­e­tra­ble, irre­deemable. The alter­na­tive to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damna­tion. The only place out­side of Heaven where you can be per­fectly safe from all the dan­gers and per­tur­ba­tions of love is Hell.

C. S. Lewis

To Love at All.

October’s Mind­ful Moments


Ever had one of those expe­ri­ences that just seems to come out of the blue, with no warn­ing, and sud­denly your life gets com­pletely derailed? Maybe it’s a job change, an acci­dent or ill­ness or some other event that totally unex­pected. What­ever it is, it’s one of those times that throws you for a loop and sends you spin­ning off track and con­fronts you with over­whelm­ing, unfa­mil­iar and very unwanted cir­cum­stances. When that hap­pens, usu­ally the first reac­tion is shock fol­lowed by a fren­zied attempt to fix the sit­u­a­tion so life can return to ‘nor­mal as fast as pos­si­ble. But expect­ing your­self to hit the deck run­ning, han­dle it and keep going often means you end up just hit­ting the deck face first. Instead, this is a crit­i­cal time to take a breath and just be with the sit­u­a­tion for a moment so you can observe what’s going on, what’s hap­pen­ing and how you’re doing. When you take a minute to recal­i­brate and then breathe into it, it’s a lot eas­ier on both mind and body and will help you get back on the right track or even cre­ate a new one from a new van­tage point.


When­ever you’re deal­ing with a new and poten­tially stress­ful sit­u­a­tion it’s impor­tant to shift out of your stress reac­tion cycle and allow your brain to read­just. You can do this by remem­ber­ing to STOMP:
Make a deci­sion


When life is uncom­fort­able, when we’re highly agi­tated and don’t know where to turn, that’s the most dif­fi­cult time to stay present…It’s a chal­lenge to prac­tice stay­ing present when we’re despon­dent or dis­tressed or over­whelmed, when our backs are against the wall. But right then, when we’re in a tight spot, we have the ideal sit­u­a­tion for prac­tice. We can do some­thing rad­i­cal: accept suf­fer­ing as part of our home ground, part of our enlight­ened man­dala, and relate to it straight­for­wardly. We don’t awaken in some par­adise when the cir­cum­stances are made to order. We awaken in the char­nel ground.

Pema Chö­drön

via Dr. Toni Nixon’s Mind­ful Moment

Tim Minchin Occa­sional Address and Hon­orary Degree of Doc­tor of Letters

via Tim Minchin Occa­sional Address and Hon­orary Degree of Doc­tor of Let­ters

The Sci­ence of Hap­pi­ness — An Exper­i­ment in Gratitude

via The Sci­ence of Hap­pi­ness — An Exper­i­ment in Grat­i­tude

Meet sad­ness with the true pro­found hap­pi­ness, in words of Louis C.K.