A Procrastinator’s Improvement Guide

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© 2010 Hyperbole and a Half

As the self proclaimed ‘accomplished’ procrastinator, I know a thing or two about the art of procrastination. Here’s what I have to say: it is amazing. I love wasting all of my valuable time on video games, soap operas and books instead of being productive. There is just a peace that envelopes me when I leave everything for the last minute. Can you blame me? I mean you guys know what I’m talking about right? No? No? Really? Any takers?

Oh, OK. Let me try a new angle. Procrastination is simply something I excel in. I’m great at leaving everything for last minute and then pulling out my hair in frustration for having done it again. You know- the P word. So it’s really not as amazing as I tend to euphamise. But as they say, those that can’t do teach. Yep, we will be trying that saying out for size.

So you there, established procrastinator that is reading this and while you don’t really care to give up this amazing skill I’m here to give you some advice. For the record- yes, I did say skill. It is no easy feat to go against all of your instincts and nagging conscience to be lazy. Well lazy in my case. But I regress. Back to the P word. Procrastination isn’t always great- usually in the last minutes while you’re trying to meet a deadline that you had weeks to fulfill and you only give yourself an hour to complete. So what can you do?

First, it is important to develop precedent. Warn everyone people. ‘I am a procrastinator.’ Well not like that. It’s important to use positive adjectives like amazing, artful, impressive, dedicated… You know words that tend to describe a positive trait. So when you know that this person expects you to meet a deadline or has some form of expectation in time- like, let’s say a date- set precedent. ‘Hey Billy, I feel very strongly about procrastination. I think it’s pretty impressive how people can just leave everything for last minute.’ Yes, you can say that in your most sarcastic voice, but hey you warned him. When your 20 minutes late to your date and he wants an explanation, be sure to tell him that you excel in procrastination. People will come to not expect punctuality from you and you will deal with less guilt and less pressure from expectations.

Next, make a list. Everyday take out five minutes to write down everything that is absolutely important that you get done that day. This is honestly the best and most effective way to deal with procrastination. Keep your list near you all day. Even when you’re too busy lounging on the couch scrolling through iFunny on your phone or on your computer checking out Youtube for nigahiga‘s newest videos, be sure to have your list nearby. A pen or pencil is also a good idea. It will make it easier to revise and add things to your list you forgot in the first go round. Don’t waste your time writing things you know you have no intention of doing. That night when you have exhausted your usual list of time exhausting distractions, your P list will ensure that you don’t forget to go half assed on everything important enough to write down.

What did I say this article was meant to do? Oh, I really don’t think it matters. However, I do hope that this has made you a better procrastinator and that you will soon achieve a master level of it.

♥’s Do Not Have a Gender

As I sit in this coffee house writing the New York Times Bestseller The Definition of Love, (ok, it might be a bestseller in my head, but that’s where it starts). I begin to run out of ideas. What does a writer do in a crowded coffee house when in need of some inspiration? Well you begin to look around and analyze the people around  you. I stare off into the distance and come across an unlikely couple. Their hair doesn’t match. One is blonde, the other a brunette. I laugh to myself and jot this difference in my mental notebook. Then I notice the exchanges between them. The lingering stares filled with pure adoration and comfort. The gentle lip curls as they exchange words barely audible, but easily understood between them. The passionate caresses that marks a sigh of relief on each others face. They have found something so pure, something that the heart desperately desires. A thing that is intangible to some. They have found true love. I stare for inspiration. Others stare because the couple I have been observing are of the same sex.

Love is love. No matter how you look at it. Just as a plant needs water and sun to grow, so does a human need love to flourish. Each human was born with the desire to love and be loved. It isn’t something to be hated or ignored. Love is what makes the world go ’round. If we didn’t love anything then this world would be chaos. Think about it for a second. Without the environmentalist, we would never know what the beach is supposed to look like, what the air is supposed to smell like and what water is really supposed to taste like. This world would be in shambles and you wouldn’t care. Actually, you wouldn’t be around to care, because there would be no one to nourish you and look out for your well being as a child because no one loved you enough to look out for you as an infant.

I know. I know. You don’t want to hear it. However, what exactly is the, dare I say it, hatred with the LGBT community? Lets set aside the religious or scientific aspect of it. Face it, it’s a tired argument. So over it! God made Adam & Eve not Eve & Eva..etc etc. From hormones to brain waves and all the other eclectic things, no one really dives into the issue at hand. The heart wants what the heart wants. Its a fact that falling in love causes a chemical reaction. One cannot control what the heart demands.

There are certain desires that the heart craves that cannot be explained logically. Love. It’s a feeling. Its an emotion that overcomes every inch of reason and all one is left with is an unaltered pure devotion to the person that caused this madness within you. There’s a saying that you can’t control who you love. I believe this. There are many odd couples out there where you wonder, how is it that she’s sooo hot and he’s sooo not? Regardless of what you think, what you say… she looks at him as he is the most amazing thing that’s ever happened to her. Why is it wrong when this look is shared between a woman and a woman or a man and a man? Isn’t it enough that they found someone to share their lives with?

The tides are shifting all over the world and no matter what you believe, this issue is not going to go away. People are fighting for their right to marry who they deem fit and to share a life together without prejudice and without restraint. Laws are being changed all over the place. I was always taught as a child that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all. Stand firm in your beliefs, it’s your God given right to do so. It is not, however, your right to judge and to attempt to tarnish a heart desire that someone else has. If it’s not for you, then GREAT! Live your life accordingly. Allow each person to explore their own happiness and wish them the best. Life isn’t about whose wrong or right. It’s about fulfilling the desires of the heart in a safe environment. After all, that is the true meaning of love, isn’t it?

© 2013 Seven Magazine

The Pen Bleeds

Welcome to The Pen Bleeds where poetry is more than rhyme, more than reason, more than words flowing with rhythm; it’s a combination of jagged thoughts, feelings, actions, and a unique language opening minds to see the world from a different perspective.

This Months Featured Poet: Dr. Zoë A. Lewis LewisZoeAnn

This month’s feature is an amazing woman! It is a great honor featuring Dr. Zoë A. Lewis a writer who’s passionate words have the ability to melt the core of the coldest hearts. Her inspiration for penning Poetic Penumbra were African, Asian, and Indo-European muses and goddesses known to incite creativity in poets. In addition to that, Dr. Lewis has racked up several degrees and accomplishments, proving, through resilience and perseverance women can accomplish anything. But don’t be intimidated shes quite humble. We posed seven questions to better familiarize our readers about her influential role models and passion for uplifting women.

Q&A with Dr. Zoë A. Lewis

Seven: What is your definition of a strong woman?

Dr. Zoë A. Lewis: ‘Beautiful woman fights’. My graffiti girl in a favela of Rio De Janeiro says it all.   A strong woman was a young girl that learned how to fight for herself and her beliefs.  All women need to fight prejudice, free their minds and then keep themselves free from being enslaved by what others around her believe a woman should be, in any society.  A young woman creates her unique sense of ‘self worth’. Her self-confidence and inner beauty grace the world because she is strong enough to be gentle; she can give her love freely without fear.   

Seven: Who are your heroines and how have they impacted your life?

Dr. Zoë A. Lewis: How about my ‘favorite’ heroines because there are too many!

Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham, legends of the modern dance movement. I studied dance for years and dreamed once to be a professional dancer. These women were emblematic of freedom and breaking traditions in art, and dance like all things, becomes conventional once its established.  They were leaders in their day because they found a way to capture our emotions with dance movements that were liberated from tradition. Lead, don’t follow was what I captured.

Rosa Parks, Human rights activist.  I grew up during a time of protests and civil unrest – the Vietnam War was on TV every night, and race riots were happening too. Those older than me were protesting in the streets, often with violence. This gentle woman’s nonviolent defiance showed me everyone could challenge the system when it was wrong. I was 13 when I  rode on one of those first desegregated school buses and went to an integrated high school outside of Philadelphia.  Parks’ efforts were relevant to my worldview, teaching me stand up and be heard.

Emilie du Châtelet, French mathematician and physicist  from 1700’s. I didn’t have one female professor in a hard science or mathematics in my undergraduate courses or in medical school in Italy.  I wanted a mentor that was also hot!  This lady was not only brilliant, (she corrected a theory of Newton on kinetic energy), she convinced men to accept her into their intellectual circle when virtually women had none such freedoms. Voltaire, one of her many lovers, declared in a letter to his friend King Frederick II of Prussia that du Châtelet was “a great man whose only fault was being a woman.”  I reckoned like her, it was totally awesome to be smart and sexy and enjoy my woman’s body and mind, no need to be just one of the boys.

Sophia Loren – I lived in Rome, Italy for over ten years, Italian is my language of love.   Sophia Loren’s characters in her films inspired me when I was an ingénue in my twenties to focus on what counts as I became a woman. I wanted to be like her as a mother, lover, wife, friend, comedian, confidant, spaghetti-cooking temptress. But of course, for me, I wanted to be all of  them at once – an Italian multiple personality sex symbol –  and  a serious medical student. It was really fun trying.

Seven: What type of literature, influences, or experiences drives you to create written word?

Dr. Zoë A. Lewis: I was plastered in books most of my life because books grew my imagination and grew my knowledge.  I started to write for others by the time I was in high school, jamming out essays on the floor of the girls bathroom for kids who hadn’t done their assignments, after I’d bartered for something. I simply loved to read and write using my imagination. The force behind writing my Alzheimer’s books came after I was incredibly moved by the loss of an individual with dementia. I wanted to help caregivers, so shared what I knew. That project was a labor of love and compassion. Crazy abandoned love makes us all poets under its influence, whether we write or not – in love, we are all poets.

Seven: Can you share with our readers a time where you called upon your inner strength to encourage and inspire someone?

Dr. Zoë A. Lewis: When I go to work,  each day I start out, I call upon myself to give up wisdom, skills, and bend my ego towards the needs of my patient. I try to encourage every one of them towards health. Often I take care of drug addicts, shackled criminals, homeless folks, people who are sick that break others around them and break themselves.  I look past whoever they are, whatever they have done and try to be present and in the presence of the individual that is in front of me.  I try to inspire them with the reality that love does exist, caring people do exist. I teach that self love starts each of us on the path to our own healing.

Seven: You channeled numerous female goddesses for inspiration to write Poetic Penumbra. What methods or rituals do you use to tap into your creative goddess?

Dr. Zoë A. Lewis: I don’t have any rituals but I practice yoga and work on getting myself still and open to feel beyond what I can see. Of course making love, while being in love, is the greatest way to tap into my creative space, and the poets through time know this. The poetry collection was unusual because I was semiconscious, half asleep when I wrote it. Around 4 am I kept waking up with these words in my head, I just had to write them down. Seemed to me at the time , the energy of  muses, goddesses in spirit were present guiding my imaginative experiences. Love and the art of lovemaking, tapping into ones sensuality, creativity, never seemed more enchanted. I surrendered and let the feelings pour in  and was suddenly able to write without thinking. I blossomed like a big fat peony and exploded pollen poetry.

Seven: What in your life has bought you or given you the greatest satisfaction or fulfillment?

Dr. Zoë A. Lewis: Helping patients to die peacefully.  I did hospice work for many years and of course still do when the need arises.  To know you helped someone by easing their pain, any kind of pain, and then guide them and their loved ones, as far as any of  us can offer guidance up to the  moment we ‘cross over’- a nice euphemism for dying – is just beyond words.  To be filled with compassion  and see a final peace and love overcome them, see it in their eyes, that is the greatest gift I’ve been given.

Seven: Women’s roles in the community have drastically transitioned over the past forty years. How have these changes affected you? How can we improve upon those changes to create a better society?

Dr. Zoë A. Lewis: I am fortunate to be standing on the shoulders of giants that came before me.  My mother did not have the opportunities that I did, her generation and her mother’s before her were  removing obstacles for women.  I am blessed to be exquisitely, unapologetically, unequivocally my own person, able to determine my own path. But we have a lot of work to do if women are still kept from a basic education,  sold like animals into slavery, and female infanticide prevents her born life  in many parts of the world still today. These are current horrors.  We can be the giants for the next generation and mentor other girls to do the same: break rules, break traditions, become self-aware and free their minds from anyone who dictates what a girl or woman should be. We need to teach by example, be what you want to be and fight for it.

Zoë Ann Lewis, MD, FACP   is a nationally recognized Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine physician, speaker, published author, travel writer, photographer, poet, radio show host and healthcare education activist.

She has an undergraduate degree in Biology with departmental honors from Temple University in Philadelphia. She got her medical degree, summa cum laude, from the Università degli Studi di Roma -La Sapienza  Facoltà di Medicina e Chirurgia.  Her graduate doctoral thesis research on melanoma was published in 1993, Oncology.  She completed  her medicine residency at the University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Hospital. She won a post graduate scholarship for research on parasites at the Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand 1994. She was elected to the honorary society of American College of Physicians as a Fellow, FACP. She has other numerous awards and medical publications.

She’s an acclaimed speaker on hospice issues, and received national recognition from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization for her leadership role in the development of new programs for hospice care and end stage dementia patients.  She produces and hosts the  30 minute  radio program,  ‘Hope Through Knowledge Radio for Caregivers’ on blog talk radio, guests from the NHPCO, AARP, national aging and elder care organizations, and award winning authors.  She has presented at the National Council on Aging, American Society on Aging and National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization as a faculty speaker.

She is the author of three books.:  “I hope they know….The Essential Handbook of Alzheimer’s Disease and Care, ” a listed resource with the National Alzheimer’s Association,  and the Spanish translation, “La  Guía Holística para la Enfermedad de Alzheimer”, and Poetic Penumbra.

Her websites, zoealewis.com  and hopethroughknowledge.org, are sites  dedicated to “Hope Through Knowledge,” promoting physician and community education on Alzheimer’s disease and end-of-life care.

Dr. Zoë has 16 years of experience as an internist and hospitalist. She was the Corporate Medical Doctor for Beacon Hospice and Palliative Care, Inc.,(the largest hospice in New England and  she is one of the first certified HPM specialists in the country.)

She held academic positions as Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard School of Medicine, Tufts University Medical School, and University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

Currently she  holds three state licenses: Massachusetts, Florida and Pennsylvania and is an independent contractor hospitalist physician and hospice consultant. When not working, she lives in Miami Beach and travels, and produces and hosts her radio shows. She’s been to  45 countries and now writes and photographs her travel experiences for the internet magazine, Travel Curious Often.

For more information on Dr. Zoë A. Lewis please visit:

Website: zoealewis.com

Twitter: twitter.com/zoeannlewis

Facebook: facebook.com/pages/Hope-Through-Knowledge-with-Zoë-A-Lewis-MD-Talk-Radio-for-Caregivers/191572204199518

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/hopethroughknowledge

Blog Talk Radio: blogtalkradio.com/hopethroughknowledge

Books

1. Poetic Penumbra

Itunes:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/zoe-a.-lewis/id521169283?mt=11 

Lulu.com: http://www.lulu.com/shop/zo%C3%AB-a-lewis/poetic-penumbra/paperback/product-2846354.html

2. I Hope They Know- The Essential Handbook of Alzheimer’s Disease and Care

VBW:http://www.virtualbookworm.com/bookstore/product/I_hope_they_know.html

A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably different.  ~ Melinda Gates

Welcome to our women’s issue!  Seven is celebrating inspirational women across the globe who contributes positively to society in some way, shape, or form.  Who are your female role models? What is your definition of a strong woman?

Women represent a vast majority of the world’s population, and yet are the most underserved, impoverished, and uneducated in comparison to men. Partly, this is because of gender inequality and poverty which marginalizes women as a whole. But when women armored with the essential tools to compete in a male driven society, where odds are stacked against them before conception, they blossom.

This month The Pen Bleeds features the artistic stylings of Dr. Zoe A. Lewis, Shashi Moore, Jill Scott and Maya Angelou, all positive women who inspire others to use their voice and be comfortable in the skin they’re in. See how their verses flow below, and be inspired to pen a piece of your own!


poetic

Untitled 

Why fear confrontation,
if once for love we died?
We ably massacred our enemies,
blood mingled side by side.
No strangers to our glorious past,
no shadows left to fear.
Steady onward towards our future,
rebirth through love is near.
We’ve found each other once again,
but still I’d like to know,
if love finds life eternal each birth,
why souls are want to go?

-by Dr. Zoe A. Lewis

 Essence of a woman

Heavenly beauty of divine handiwork

Preordained with chic elegance

Delicate mingling of strength and poise

Adorned with virtues of inestimable value

Covert, hidden display of aptitudes

Archetypal, classic

Placed on earth to stand beside her

Complement gent

Cherished and charmed

No aorta of abuse should befall

The creation of God

-by Shashi Moore

Tree Like She (for Grandmothers Everywhere)

How many times have you heard the infant cry?

How many leaves have you lost to fall?

How many secrets held?

How often, the dead weight of castrated boys on your arm?

How many younglings lost in the name of lesson?

How many generations?

Fire from fire

Storm from storm have you stood with your feet clinging

And your bones crying for lie down?

How many poets rest their backs against your frame?

Tree How many danced when the wind blew

Or the water tumbled

Or the sun looked and the snow painted?

How many names carved in your heart?

How many lovers rock sweet and right under your blessed shade?

How many moons?

How many knives?

How many destinies have you seen get wet?

And yet you are constant

painstakingly healing and swelling from your greater providence

You have seen the earth green and fresh

Turn to synthetic

Yet you grow

Through fences

Through the concrete

Through wire

Through rapid obliviousness

Through hared swept in neat piles

I watch you sway in the October breeze

and am

up

lifted

everytime

-by Jill Scott

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

-by Maya Angelou

© 2013 Seven Magazine

Abortion or Adoption?

She’s in the hospital, the doctor is between her legs telling her to push one last time. With increasing pain she obeys and pushes with the last of her waning strength. The doctor holds up the newborn for her to see her child for the first time and the thing looking back at her is a demon. She screams and wakes up at her friends house. She’s careless to have fallen asleep here. It’s already dark and her parents must be worried. Shaken, she grabs her things and rushes home. She takes the quickest route she knows and when she’s a block from home she feels someone roughly grab her and throw her on the alley floor. Disoriented and feeling nothing but fear she screams. Her attacker holds his hand over her mouth, nearly suffocating her. It’s bad. Really bad. She’s scared. She doesn’t know what to do. She can’t fight him off. He’s too strong. She tried it already and was backhanded for it. So hard that she blacked out. When she woke from it. Her worst fears were realized. He had pulled her pants off and was now between her legs. ‘Oh, please dear God. God, Please, please, please! Make this stop! I can’t take this. I won’t survive this a second time.’ As if in answer to her prayer, it stops. She wakes up in her bed. Crying and sobbing she wonders, ‘when will this stop’? She just wants to forget it all happened. But even in her dreams she can’t escape her reality. As she remembers the beginning, the demon child, she cries even harder. How can her parents ask this of her? How could they ask her to keep this thing growing inside her?

She once again considers abortion. It would be so easy to rid herself of this demon child if she got an abortion. She would never get her life completely back after what that monster did to her. She wants to forget about it and this demon spawn growing inside her won’t let forget for even a second. She wants to rid herself of this reminder. She thinks about moving on with her life. Accomplishing things she’s always dreamt of and letting this all be a bad dream. Then guilt dismantles her body. The idea of murder, even of the evil growing in her, fills her with guilt and shame. Wouldn’t killing this thing make her a monster too? Everyone would judge her including her parents. They’ve already made it clear that they don’t wont support that decision. She can’t keep this child. What other options are available to her?

Adoption! The idea suddenly springs to her mind. If she were able to bear this torture for the next nine months this option would be a possibility. She wouldn’t be forced to face the spawn everyday of her life and would be a way to assuage her parents and possibly maintain her sanity. She briefly fantasizes about moving on with her life with adoption solving her dilemma. In her fantasy she starts to believe that any family will do. Any, as long as they take it off of her hands. This fantasy ends abruptly when she remembers that not every child given up for adoption is actually adopted.

Foster care seems to be where these children go. In remembering all the horror stories she’s heard of foster children suffering through, she once again feels guilt. How often has she heard that these children suffer abuse and become physically and/or emotionally scared? Stories of children suffering physical, emotional and sexual abuse in the foster care system? These stories are pretty common as far as she’s concerned. She doesn’t want that demon to control her life with what he did to her. She doesn’t want him to turn her into a monster too. But she sees he’s winning the battle. How can he not? When every solution available fills her with guilt and shame?

If the evil spawn is going to spend his life suffering because by her actions, in the end what does that make her? If the child is molested, raped, neglected, beaten or any other action that spells out abuse she might just be better off killing it. Abortion seems to be the most sensible choice. Either way she’ll have guilt to deal with. But if she puts it up for adoption, she’ll always wonder if its suffering because of her choice. She’ll fear that one day it’ll track her down and want answers she couldn’t possibly know how to answer. Abortion would eliminate those possibilities. It will ensure that the spawn will not suffer pain all it’s life because of her.

At the end of the day who are we to decide what route is best for others? Yet, in our laws and our government our opinions are meant to matter. How do you feel about the argument of abortion vs adoption? In a terrible dilemma such as this one, what would you advise? What would you do? Is there a grey area for such a sensitive topic? A happy ending solution? Please comment below and let us hear your opinions.

A Scribe’s 10 Commandments

The title of ‘Scribe is an Adjective’ was created with the idea that for some, writing is a need. It is what we do and who we are. It was intended to be a category dedicated to honoring those writers who have changed our lives and taken writing to new levels. However, this issue we will be deviating from our normal broadcast. We know that those authors to whom we dedicated an entire section to, those who write for the love of the art, aren’t that different from you or I. From the most mediocre to the most established writer, we are still writers and form a part of this community.

We at Seven feel that to remain a respected community we must all set some rules and adhere to them. We must set a standard. Not only to avoid these faux pas that are being seen way too often, but to also help make you a more respectable writer. This is for everyone but especially for those that seem to have misplaced their moral compass. We hope that someday writers of all backgrounds and aspirations find themselves on the same moral ground. We feel that all writers should have a common ground, a mutual understanding and an underlined foundation. Did I lose anyone there? I speak of a writers code. One that goes beyond courtesy and should be acknowledged by all. We at Seven have gone back to the times of King James to effectively lay out A Scribe’s Ten Commandments.

10. Hone thy craft
Make time for writing. – This follows the lines of the idea that practice makes perfect. Everyday take out time to write. Make it a time that you can afford on a daily basis. Even fifteen minutes if that all you could spare. But use that time wisely and write to your hearts content. If writers block becomes an issue, then write of the frustrations of writers block- but write.

image9. Thou shalt write passionately to better thine craft
No matter where you draw your inspiration, the best writing comes from the heart. So write with passion, with emotion, with your soul and your heart. When you give yourself over to your writing and emotionally invest in it, not only will it be that much more special but it’ll also be more likely to truly reach one of your readers.

8. Thy pen shalt not cease to touch thy paper
After all scribe is an adjective. Never give up on your dreams. Write to your hearts content and never use the fear of rejection as a scapegoat to give up on your writing dreams.

7. Thou shalt ask for permission to use other’s works
Not only should this be done as a courtesy but not doing this can also result in copyright infringement. This includes audio, art and writing. Be respectful of others creative ideas and respect their work as you hope for yours to be respected.

6. Thou shalt give thy credit wherest it be due
Give credit where it is due. There are often many things that motivate us. Nature, music, others… When we draw inspirations from others, we should give them credit for it. This is truly a from of respect.

image5. Thou shalt respect the art of writing
It’s not always easy to be nice when voicing our opinions on novels that took up hours of our life and are a waste of the paper they were printed on. While this could easily be me asking you to not vandalize these books or use them as kindling that is not what I am referring to. Um… But please do refrain from doing those things. 🙂 Respect all creative styles and outlets of an artists despite your differences in taste or opinions.

4. Thou shalt not limit thy self
Lets say that there have been over a billion books written since the beginning of the written word. Let me also say that what makes the difference between one novel and the next is the writer. So when you have an idea to write, don’t not do it because you think it is too common or too crazy. Unleash your crazy and own up to your interpretations and creativity. Because you are unique your novel shall reflect that and your voice will make it original.

3. Thou shalt hate not
Despite what can be said about writers, we make an awesomely creative and unique community. Oftentimes competitive but a community nonetheless. As we are all in this together, be supportive. Congratulate other artist on their work and accomplishments rather than throw shade.

2. Thou shalt know thy craft
The same way that an artist can go to a museum and appreciate the art of others, a writer should be capable of reading the works of others. No, beyond that. A true writer should love reading as reading and writing go hand in hand. I am a firm believer that to be a great writer, one must read the work of others and appreciate the good and the bad. Know your craft. I also believe that reading will make you a better writer. Therefore a writer should never stop being a reader.

1. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors art
In a world where you are not always brimming with ideas, it is a rather easy thing to see the awesomeness of someone else’s work and to want something like it under your name. Well, as it easy as it may be, it doesn’t at all make it OK. Plagiarism is a very serious offense that not only takes away your credibility, but also is an injustice to the original author. I ask that no matter how much you enjoy, love or admire someone else’s work, you do not reproduce it without giving the original author credit for it and asking for their permission to re-post/distribute/etc.

Speaking of which, I recently found a bloggers account of the 5 sure fire ways to avoid being plagiarized: Five Step Method to Ensure Non Plagiarism Real Good by Kat Kennedy over at CuddleBuggery Book Blog. Truly great advice with laughs guaranteed. This includes trying to emulate the uniqueness that was Shakespeare, ways to make your work unappealing to plagiarist, how to ensure you have plagiarist free followers and a sure fire way to keep your ideas from being stolen. A must read.

We all have different reasons for writing, yet I believe there should be a common code for writers of all motivations and aspirations. Please heed the rules set forth to not only be a respectable writer, but to also be a positive member and contribution to the writing community.

© 2013 Seven Magazine

The Pen Bleeds

Welcome to The Pen Bleeds where poetry is more than rhyme, more than reason, more than words flowing with rhythm; it’s a combination of jagged thoughts, feelings, actions, and a unique language opening minds to see the world from a different perspective.

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This Month’s Featured Poet: Sean Burton

It’s a pleasure featuring Sean Burton, a poet who delves into those caliginous places; the eerie ones where hell equates to being overtaken by a succubus while the body is at rest. His writing demonstrates a side of poetry that is more than love sonnets dressed in niceties making the heart flutter. Instead, it exhibits an intense and chaotic shadowy side, which intentionally preys on the fears of the living. Do you dare to embrace the darkness in all those dreadful crevices? We posed seven questions to better familiarize our readers with his creative vision and intellect.

Q&A with Sean Burton

Seven: What is your favorite genre of literature to write about?

Sean Burton: I really get into the darker side of writing. The macabre, taboo, and sins. That sort of thing.

Seven:  What inspires you to write?

Sean Burton: My poetry is usually associated directly with whatever mental state I am in. If I have a feeling of heartache, fear, lust or anxiety I write. I find this better because the words literally just flow and there’s no thought process to it until it comes to editing/proof reading.

Seven: Who is your favorite author and how do they inspire you?

Sean Burton: I’m a huge Lovecraft fan. He is undoubtedly a linguistic genius. He has this way with words that just drives my imagination to insanity and when I read it, it just becomes sudden inspiration.

Seven: Are your writings primarily nonfiction, fiction, or a mixture of both?

Sean Burton: Both actually. The nightmare pieces are nonfiction. The poetry comes roughly half and half but a real life experience rooted them.

Seven: Do you have any advice for writers who want to improve their craft?

Sean Burton: Always keep something to write with nearby. I can’t tell you how much I hate being struck with inspiration and I don’t write anything. It never comes out nearly as good. The reader can feel your inspiration and passion through your words and as always, keep writing. Never stop.

Seven: Can you write on command about any topic or is writing more spiritual for you?

Sean Burton: Both. I write for a few fitness magazines locally so I’m often asked to write on a timeline and I blog about both fitness and my personal writings. Needless to say, I get a lot of practice.

Seven:  What are your views on freedom of speech and why do you feel “The Great American Boy” is a prime example of standing up for ones beliefs?

Sean Burton: Freedom of speech is something I feel everyone cherishes, yet very few take advantage of due to repercussion or criticism. Imagine not having it for a second. It’s the essence of where we are as a nation and men and women have died for it. He who possesses the will to stand against the masses for a belief they cherish, and let it be known, has the same will our founding fathers possessed.

Sean Burton is a resident of San Antonio, Texas, who is a freelance self employed personal trainer, poet, writer, blogger, and jack of all trades. He staunchly opposes mediocrity and conformity; he has a unique style all his own. Everything he does is fueled by passion, fortified by knowledge and carried by faith.

For more information on Sean Burton please visit:

Blogger: http://ghosthshortstory.blogspot.com/

Instagram: SeanIsIt

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ScBurton1

Email: SeanBFitPro@Gmail.com

Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us. 

-Justice William O. Douglas

Freedom of expression is the single most important right all humans should be privy to. Unfortunately, not all governments allow this right and even in the United States it is limited.

A true democratic society supports an environment where its citizens are free to voice their opinions and ideas openly without prejudice or punishment. I believe in fostering a populace of brave free thinking people; people who not only embrace dissenting viewpoints, but also challenge any system of beliefs, government, or set of actions that may clash with their own.

Only the brave or free thinking are willing to go against the status quo, being willing to speak up and take action on behalf of the community and the world. These individuals raise the bar and lead by example. One of the greatest proponents of free speech was free-thinker, essayist, scholar and social activist W.E.B Dubois. He challenged his peers ( Booker. T. Washington and Marcus Garvey) and incessantly went against the grain to confront injustice in those oppressive and dreary places. Dubois made it his mission to fight for social and economic equality for blacks; demanding access to proper education and equivalent defense under the law. Even when the government scrutinized Dubois for his political views he never wavered in his beliefs. He remained steadfast in his fight to end racial issues and worked tirelessly towards world peace. That’s a bit of a history lesson on one of my favorite outspoken free thinkers.

Now, from my own observation of America in the twenty-first century, I can easily say a large majority of us are severely handicapped. We place ourselves at a great disadvantage by not taking advantage of certain privileges bestowed upon us from birth. People in other countries are sacrificing their lives and fighting for such rights. We’ve allowed ourselves to be “dumb down” by mainstream culture; we’ve become lazy and dependent on our government to think and act for us. By placing emphasis on the unnecessary, rather than what is needed in order for our country to thrive, America has become weak. We are no longer the respected power house we once were many years ago. The United States isn’t the blue print of an idealistic democratic progressive society. You may say that statement is un-American, but it’s true. You may not agree, but I embrace dissenting view points of others. In fact, I dare you to challenge that statement. In the words of  W.E.B. Dubois “If there is anybody in this land who thoroughly believes the meek shall inherit the earth, they have not often let their presence be known.”  Make your voice equivalent to the sound of a sonic boom; sending shock waves throughout all who become affected by its presence.

This month’s theme is all about the first amendment, free thought, and freedom of speech. We’ve selected a few poems from artist whose poetry embraces the spirit of the first amendment and the right to peaceably assemble. First up is our featured poet Sean Burton who submitted The Great American Boy, an ode to Mohammad Ali when he refused to go to war in Vietnam. Next is Wake Up a poem by K.S. Pratt dedicated to America and my frustration with the current state of affairs. Last but not least we introduce you to author, social activist, and founder of Activist Poet Round Table Steve Bloom. We selected Warriors a tribute to the strikers of Stella D’oro Bakery, and Statement of Context a short verse on the inhumane treatment of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

 

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The Great American Boy

The stage was set for a man to take his solemn duty within his hands and make his way to far away lands. Yet today this boy became that man. Not the man wanting to venture unwillingly to far away lands. Nor the man to take the wishes of others’ ignorance into his own hands … but the man to keep to his morals … to make his stand. But as his higher power served greatly , admired by few yet hated by many. For the man he is now has been labeled a criminal. A coward of will. His legal duty duped by his moral appeal, he stands before the masses chanting in tongues giving lashes. The camera turns on and the lights heat up as it’s his time to confide his thoughts to the world in rhyme.

” You know who I am, yet you seem surprised lately. Am I still not the one to dance all night? Am I not the man that came to fight? No, I will not fight … not for the own selfish ignorance’s of those who can only experience what pain is like from the side, despite their own desires and virtues, they send the poor and hide in fright.

I am not a puppet of the man who thinks because I obey the law set that I will follow my brothers blindly into that darkened hell to gamble my being and talent simply for your will. No, I am not that pawn. I will not be pressured nor convinced ; I will go on! Do what you will with my name.

Take my titles and destroy my fame, but you will never break my spirit and you cannot throw me off my game. I will come back stronger and I will be back fast. I’m bigger than this and I will take this moment and throw it in my past. For I am the greatest, and nothing can stop me. I’ll still float gracefully across that canvas mat, and I will sting harder than ever when I get back. Send me to jail, there’s light at the end. For what’s broken can always mend”

The boy has now become a man of the hour, the solid statue of standing firm for belief and value. An endless figure sealed within our history in stone,

forever remembered

never alone.

by Sean Burton

wakeup
Wake up!

America!
How long will you be
Content with fine cars and
fancy homes and think that you are free?
Wake up!

Your freedom cannot be measured in material things.
How long will you look at what you have and
Think that you are free?
Wake up!

The slave drums of the past beat for you.
The forests through which you run are the concrete jungles
Streets of the city.
Can you hear the rhythmic drums beating?
Can you hear our ancestors calling out for us to wake up?

Oh my people!
Listen to the drums and know that you’ve been lulled.
You cannot be free because you are blind.
And so you’ll never know
That the jungle drums beat for you.
And so they cry out
“Wake up, Wake up.”

America!
Open your eyes and see!
While you blindly sing and dance,
The chains of oppression have been tightened.
Tightened by the past.
Tightened by the present.
Tightened by the future.

How could you let freedom escape you?
How could you allow generations yet unborn
To suffer the untold misery of the chains?
It is time for us to wake up!

America!
You’ve let the concrete jungle
Lure you into a state of complacency.
It is time to stop the music!
Dance no more!
My people! My People!
Wake up! Wake up!

by K.S. Pratt

 

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Warriors

 

You dwarf the words of the poet: you,
the warriors of Stella D’Oro.
For the best I might ever do
is recount this story which your deeds
have already written.

The end, it seems, was composed by others—
who have more power but less humanity.
A toast, therefore, to all still holding
heads high, proud of their humanity.
For this is the common cause any poet
might share with those who fight
for justice.

Each one of you will always have
your humanity: the many-thousand acts,
small and large, of sacrifice and sharing,
the comradeship, the sheer magnitude of what
you have achieved.

Not one crossed the picket line. No,
not one.

For these things can never be taken away
no matter how much equipment
is dismantled, moved to another state—
just as the poet will always
have the written word, even if
our world might not be ready yet
to listen.

It seems you spoke too soon, you
the warriors of Stella D’Oro,
before our world was ready to listen.
Still, I refuse to lose heart, assert
that one day the bosses and billionaires
will spend a little time of their own
on the unemployment line—after
the working people of New York City
have taken control.

And then we will turn that old building
in the Bronx (you know, the one that used to be
the Stella D’Oro bakery) into a must-see
destination, marked on every
tourist map, a shrine which pilgrims
can visit in their millions to learn,
remember, offer a tribute
to your struggle—writing, thereby,
an alternative ending to the story
of Stella D’Oro.

And the poem that you have composed for us
during this strike year of 2008/2009 will touch
their hearts as each one listens to its words—
overflowing with your humanity, the many-thousand
acts of sacrifice and sharing, the comradeship,
the sheer magnitude of what one,
small,
courageous
work-place was able to achieve
and finally understand.

Yes, each one of them will,
finally,
understand.

by Steve Bloom

Statement of Context

“Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter

has said the Palestinian people

trapped in Gaza are being treated

‘like animals.'”

He is wrong, of course.

If you treated your animals this way

someone would come

to put you in jail.

by Steve Bloom

© 2013 Seven Magazine

How do you feel about torches?

I was raised in a Christian household and my mother was a firm believer of turning the other cheek. Yes, quite literally. As in “But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:39 ESV) Being bullied at school and having my mother advise me to not fight back and simply pray on it was no easy feat. Being bullied, at all, does something to a person. It changes them and not necessarily in a good way.

There was a time where parents would send their children to school completely at ease, believing in their safety. Lets say that instead of being in a safe haven, the child was being heavily bullied at school. This child became increasingly withdrawn and was continuously sporting a shiner. As the parents search high and low to find the best solution to protect their child in school; they are at ease when the child is home. After all, they are far away from said bully.

Well hypothetical situations like the one depicted here are a thing of the past. Not because bullying has ceased to exist but because the rise of technology has helped evolve the art of bullying. Bullying no longer stops at the playground or at the end of a school day. As defined by the government “Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.” Technology has provided a whole new playground for bullies that offers an opportunity to harass with less accountability, more anonymity and its all from the comfort of home.

Although statistics state the the most common victims of cyberbullying are children from the ages of 9-14, the truth is no one is safe from it. Someone, who wishes to remain anonymous, and has experienced cyberbullying said, “Cyberbullying is a problem that is a lot bigger than anyone can imagine. I feel it’s necessary to take appropriate steps to combat this issue before it gets out of hand. My advice to anyone who is being harrassed or threatened by someone is to immediately report the incident to the proper authorities. Next, they should seek support from loved ones or attend counseling to help deal with the damaging side affects.  There are a large array of resources and support groups available on the web for both adults and children. The most important step is to talk about it. No one should ever feel like they have to deal with this issue alone.

Although I completely agree with Anonymous’ words, it is in this advice that we find our crux. Because not all states have laws against cyberbullying, it’s not always an easy issue to resolve. However, there are exceptions. If bullying ever reaches these following levels, they are considered criminal and should be reported to the authorities. Threats of violence, child pornography, sending sexually explicit messages or photos, Taking a photo or video of someone in a place where he or she would expect privacy and/or stalking and hate crimes. While most states do have legislation in place against bullying, not many include cyberbullying.

Although a study released at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in October 2012 shows that “cyberbullying is rarely the only reason teens commit suicide. Most suicide cases also involve real-world bullying as well as depression.”  Yet, suicide is one of the leading cause of death for those, ages 10 to 24 and both traditional bullying and cyberbullying increase the possibility of suicide and suicide attempts.

While every state with the exception of Montana has some form of bullying law only 16 of those states include cyberbullying. If you are not in a state that includes cyberbully legislation what can you do? There are many websites that give very sound advice as to what can be done to help. Such as Safeclicks and stopbullying. However, I think we should take it a bit further. An anti-cyberbullying law was proposed to the federal government and is sitting in some dark secluded corner collecting dust because it has not been able to generate enough backing. H.R. 1966 (111th): Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act named after Megan Meier a girl who commit suicide because of cyberbullying.

We often think that we, as one person, can hardly do anything to make a change. Unlike the story of David and Goliath, I’m not asking you to cast any stones. Truth be told, that has already been done. Plenty of stones have been cast into the waters of this terrible form of harassment. However, we must continue the fight and pick up the torch. Linda T. Sanchez a Californian congresswoman has already set things in motion by submitting this proposal to congress, now, about the torch mentioned, you must do your part. Let us reach out to our senate, these people we voted into office and have a responsibility to us, their voters. Lets ask that they support this bill and see to it that the law is passed. We can all prevent the repetition of tragic cases like that of Megan Meier.

Are you on board and wondering what you can do to help? Well first, go to the government website and find your senators. Senators make themselves available to their constituents and have varying forms of communication available. And as easily as you can call and state your concerns, you can also copy and paste this message in the text of an email:

Dear Senator [Insert Last Name]:

As a constituent concerned about the lack of cyberbullying legislation on a federal level, I urge you to back the H.R. 1966 (111th): Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act presented to congress by California’s Linda Sanchez.

Cyberbullying is an epidemic that destroys lives and rarely sees punishment. Cyberbullying can be very damaging. With the nature of the Internet, once things are circulated they may never disappear. Cyberbullying can lead to anxiety, depression, and even suicide. It is an increasingly dangerous issue that needs to be addressed. With the federal government passing this bill, not only would this form of harassment become a taboo but it would also become punishable by law.

Many bullies don’t see what they do as cyberbullying and are likely to view it as a joke. However, ruining lives is never a laughing matter. I ask that you please help in protecting our community. In protecting our children, siblings, friends and neighbors.

You have the power to speak for me, for our community and to make a difference. I once again urge you to support H.R. 1966 (111th): Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act. It is of the upmost importance that our lives be protected by our government and ask that you represent my voice, that of your constituent, in the face of your peers.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]

© 2013 Seven Magazine