A WHOLESOME DIET

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Queue: No Justice, No Peace

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I’m still recovering from a week of hatred, violence, and redundancy. I cried, tweeted, wrote, cried some more, stayed in bed, cursed the system trying to find something meaningful. I want to make change, but I want to take care of myself and keep my person and my soul healthy and safe. What a dilemma for black America. I made this playlist to take care of myself, and I hope that if you give it a listen, I can help make a small change in you.

Sending you much love in these trying times.

[Photo by Gordon Parks, 1963]

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From the Archives: Learning Curve

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I did this illustration for Margins Magazine a while back to accompany a poem by the talented Angel. Click here to read “Learning Curve” and other poetry, articles, and fiction written by and for marginalized women and non-binary people. It’s a fantastic and timely and oh-so-important publication.

Pop!

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I took my kids out for popsicles to celebrate summertime. They had a blast, and we visited the toy store (and its resident canine companion) and the children’s bookshop. An outing well-executed, and a great way to cool off. This summer is poppin’!

If you’re in Cincinnati, check out Streetpops! Left to right, we ordered Lemon Lavender, Raspberry Lemonade, and Watermelon Mint.

Stay Gold: The Music

You can find the tracks I mentioned in my last post here:

Enjoy!

Stay Gold

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“what if our hard work ends in despair? / what if the road won’t take me there? / oh, I wish, for once, we could stay gold.”

– Stay Gold, First Aid Kit

 

 

What started as a project to get myself out of bed after a hard night became just the reminder I needed after a hard month and a half.

Since graduation, since starting work as a full-time employee, since getting ready for a move 636 miles away from home, I’ve been overwhelmed by change. Friendships are evolving: some are dying; some are strengthening, making leaving that much harder. My days are full of hard-to-handle kids and my evenings are full of decompression and tears, as my energy loss and emotional taxes turn my productivity to zero and my “me” time to mush. And my sense of certainty is now gone. I don’t know how to be an art student, how to live in New York City, how to buy kitchenware and decorate a pseudo-apartment. I don’t know how to let go except that I know I want to.

I am scared.

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As I was making this banner, my mother asked me the meaning of such words. I shrugged. (I didn’t tell her that it was just because I love The Outsiders and couldn’t fit “Ponyboy” onto so short a piece of cord.) She told me about writing the lyrics to Stevie Wonder’s song into her matron of honor speech for my aunt and uncle on their wedding day. She told me about the lyrics. She smiled at my workspace, only half of the letters cut out, and said, “I love it.”

I sat down tonight to listen to the song, along with a similarly-named First Aid Kid track I fell in love with a couple months ago. This was exactly what I needed.

I don’t want to try to decipher the meaning of the song for you, partly because I have no right to make your own conclusions for you, and even if I did, I wouldn’t quite get it myself. But what I hear in my heart and my bones is music that holds in it the power and pain of memory, the heartache and the happy and the life it leaves with us. The life.

 

 

“life is but a twinkling of an eye / yet filled with sorrow and compassion / though not imagined / all things that happen / will age too old / though gold.”

– Stay Gold, Stevie Wonder

 

 

My life is hard right now, but I have so much to be grateful for. I have loving support systems that will never falter and a bright, shining future, and a month left at home with my sisters, parents, friends, and mentors. These new things I am waiting for are coming much too fast and not fast enough. But I am going to live moment-to-moment, among both the doubt and the restlessness.

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Nothing lasts forever. I knew that in the back of my mind, but I hadn’t quite learned it. I’m in the process of learning it now, and it is so hard. The water stains on my pillowcases are enough to prove it, or else the buckets that would pour from them should I wring them out. And chances are, this time of anxiety and tears will last until I step foot in my dorm, maybe follow me through the first weeks without hugs from my mother, but eventually it will fade and I will be living my new life.

You can hold tight to memories, to relationships, to normal, all while saying goodbye. This is my new lesson. I will be thrown into learning it soon.

Stay gold.

 

What I Wish I Had Known During the College Admissions Process

My senior year of high school was the most fun I’d had in a long time, but it was a time filled with some of the hardest work I’ve ever done. In the end, it was worth it for me, and I’m on my way to amazing possibilities in New York City this fall. Your almost-unbelievable opportunities are waiting for you too. Good luck!

YOUR OPTIONS ARE ENDLESS. CHASE YOUR DREAMS…BUT BE REALISTIC.

I knew I really wanted to go to an art school like Parsons or a small-ish liberal arts college like Oberlin. I didn’t think a large, traditional school was my style, and so many of my high school classmates from my small hometown attended those big, state schools, like *The* Ohio State University and Miami University. I ended up applying to Indiana University and OSU, and received a full-tuition scholarship from OSU. My decision to attend Parsons over OSU was one of the hardest and most expensive decisions I’ve ever made. But I discovered in that process that I could actually have made a school of 70,000 a billion feel like home, and I never would have been given that opportunities and so many more had I not applied. In conclusion, go for your dream schools, but throw in some financially responsible universities and a safety school here and there.

APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIPS. APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIPS. APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIPS.

You can start doing this even before the Common Application drops. (You can start doing this at age 1.) The bulk of scholarships, especially those coveted renewable scholarships, are available to high school seniors entering college, and you definitely qualify for at least one. It’s just a matter of finding them, and then it’s just a matter of actually applying. I let go of a lot of deadlines for other things I had to get done. In reality, I just wasted a lot of time, and in this case, I wasted a lot of (free) money too. If you are like most of the world’s population, that free money could help a lot. You may not win them all, but those you do receive add up, quick.

Websites that saved my life: Fastweb / Peterson’s / Niche / Cappex

KNOW YOUR FINANCES.

That brings me to my next point: know your finances. Know your family’s income. Know how much you really, truly, practically can afford to pay annually, regardless of what your FAFSA results say. My parents are going to have a really hard time paying for my education at The New School regardless of the scholarship I was awarded through the school and despite the bracket our income falls into. The FAFSA doesn’t factor in debt or outgoing funds, it just counts what comes in. My parents didn’t think our financial history was something they should burden me with, and they didn’t think it mattered. However, had I known and rationalized our reality, I would have made different choices. I could have cut my spending down, applied for more scholarships, started working again, or even chosen a different school.

There’s a lot I didn’t know at the beginning of the admissions process, and one of those things is how much money is really worth. Start saving as soon as you can, and make smart, manageable financial decisions. And if you don’t understand something, find out. Financial literacy is invaluable.

LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE.

Is a 45-minute packet worth 10 points for homework actually worth more than 45 minutes of work on an important essay? Sometimes it is, but sometimes it’s not. You need to maintain your grades and GPA for the transcripts you send to your schools, but high school will also be over sooner than you think (and not soon enough). College is your future now, so chase that, and dedicate some of those precious minutes to the things that really count in getting you ready for the next few years of your life. I’m not saying flunk calculus, but I am saying you’re allowed to take an L here and there.

YOUR MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS.

I dealt with a dangerous cocktail of existing and inflamed anxiety and depression. So what I have to say to you as someone who knows how hard it is to get things done and feel good about the work you actually get done: take care of yourself. The first semester of senior year can be one of the busiest, hardest, most stressful times of your academic career thus far. Implement a self-care plan, take breaks, hang out with friends, take yourself out for ice cream. Don’t lose focus and spiral into a different kind of inaction, but don’t work so hard that you can’t keep up with yourself and your spark fizzles out. And if you fall into a rut, or a dormant mental illness flares up, do your best not to be angry with yourself. You are doing your best, and recovery takes time. If you need help, just ask for it.

STAY ORGANIZED.

Create a new email account for your college-related information instead of using the “cutegirl16” account you got at age 8 and use for everything. Tag important, time sensitive mail and sort it. I started using Google Inbox; my life changed. And in the real world, make folders. File the forms you have to fill out, transcripts and test scores, acceptance letters, and information about programs. This will reduce the time and effort you’d otherwise put into finding those documents again and again.

Pro tip: If you have a scanner, scan in your most important papers. So many applications for schools and scholarships are online and require PDF files of those documents.

Do you have anything you wish you’d known while applying to college?

A Wholesome Diet: An Inauguration

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Welcome to A Wholesome Diet! I’m Jaye Elizabeth, and I’m here on a new platform documenting journeys. This blog is mostly a growing and sharing space for creative journeys, through art making and inspiration gathering. But it’s also a place for other kinds of journeys, those through personal growth, self-care, the transition from high school to college, and my fast-approaching, very physical move from a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio to New York, New York.

A Wholesome Diet was born out of my search for a platform on which to process the media I consume, while documenting the creations born of the digestion of such media. Here, I’ll share my own sensory diet: what I watch, read, taste, hear, breathe in. Here, I’ll share what nourishes me and sustains my growth, and what I build because of it.

So welcome, I am so excited to begin this new journey with you.