My heart do be so big," she whispered. "It be so big and I do reckon I be about the happiest kid for it.
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My heart do be so big,” she whispered. “It be so big and I do reckon I be about the happiest kid for it.

-Torey L.

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I do not write every day. I write to the questions and issues before me. I write to deadlines. I write out of my passions. And I write to make peace with my own contradictory nature. For me, writing is a spiritual practice. A small bowl of water sits on my desk, a reminder that even if nothing is happening on the page, something is happening in the room--evaporation. And I always light a candle when I begin to write, a reminder that I have now entered another realm, call it the realm of the Spirit. I am mindful that when one writes, one leaves this world and enters another. My books are collages made from journals, research, and personal experience. I love the images rendered in journal entries, the immediacy that is captured on the page, the handwritten notes. I love the depth of ideas and perspective that research brings to a story, be it biological or anthropological studies or the insights brought to the page by the scholarly work of art historians.When I go into a library, I feel like I am a sleuth looking to solve a mystery. I am completely inspired by the pursuit of knowledge through various references. I read newpapers voraciously. I love what newspapers say about contemporary culture. And then you go back to your own perceptions, your own words, and weigh them against all you have brought together. I am interested in the kaleidoscope of ideas, how you bring many strands of thought into a book and weave them together as one piece of coherent fabric, while at the same time trying to create beautiful language in the service of the story. This is the blood work of the writer.Writing is also about a life engaged. And so, for me, community work, working in the schools or with grassroots conservation organizations is another critical component of my life as a writer. I cannot separate the writing life from a spiritual life, from a life as a teacher or activist or my life intertwined with family and the responsibilities we carry within our own homes. Writing is daring to feel what nurtures and breaks our hearts. Bearing witness is its own form of advocacy. It is a dance with pain and beauty.

-Terry Tempest

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Humanity is its own worst enemy. What chance do any other species have?Survival is the parchment upon which the Law of Nature is inscribed.And what I'll find was always mine.And what I'll say, I've said before.Your kisses taste like blood and wineAnd leave me spent upon the floor.I have endured torments you cannot yet imagine. I have climbed mountains to attain greatness in body and spirit. I have dug to the depths of the Earth to learn the secrets of Creation. I have flourished on the Blood of my people and the blood of legends. I have slept in the arms of the infernal and walked a path of hopelessness. I dwell in Nothing and Nothing dwells within me. My god is castigation and I am the hand of God.For the more Blood one drinks, the more Blood one must have… Nightmares are the ineluctable lessons of the illuminated psyche.A Vampire's love is like quicksand: it surrounds you and engulfs you but ultimately, it kills you.There is no good, beloved. This is no evil. There is only instinct.Own your darkness. It is the only way to be truly free.Do you know what I find most gratifying about being able to see into the depths of the cosmos? The myriad colours. The multitudinous hues. Humanity can never behold what wonder surrounds them. And you previously human Vampires can only grasp hints of the incredulous kaleidescope that makes up Creation. My Elven eyes can see colours that are beyond your comprehension, so the symphony of the universe is laid bare before my sight. It stirs both elation. and humility. I see a priest of these dread arcana, the mark of Tuthalidon carved and secreted away deep within a heart that exists only to devour. I behold a moon drenched in the blood of martyrs…the Blood of monsters. Blood spilt upon the altars of the Wise. The devastation of oblivion shall encompass all lands and twist all language. In the night shall the lost ones wander, pulling into their fold the immortal and doomed. I see the depth of his endless eyes, searching searching forever searching, seeking out the damned, cleansing Eterah and dressing her in the raiment of abominations.

-Tracy Angelina

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When I was a child, an angel came to say,A true friend is coming my warrior to sweep you away,It won’t be easy the path because it leads through hell,But if you’re faithful, it will be the greatest story to tell,You will move God’s daughters to a place of hope,Your story will teach everyone there is nothing they can’t cope,You will suffer a lot, but not one tear will you waste,Because for all that you do for me, you will be graced,For I am bringing you someone that wants to travel your trail,Someone you already met when you passed through heaven’s veil,A warrior, a friend that whispers your heart’s song,Someone that will run with you and pull your spirit along,Don’t you see the timing was love's fated throw,Because I put you both there to help one another grow,I am the writer of all great stories your chapters were written by me,You suffered, you cried because I needed you to see,That your faith in my ending goes far beyond two,It was going to change more hearts than both of you knew,So hush my child and wait for my loving hand,The last chapter is not written and still in the sand,It is up to you to finish, before the tide washes it away,All that is in your heart, I’ve put their for you to say,This is not about winning, loss or pain,I made you the way you are because true love stories are insane,I wrote you in heaven as I sat on its sandy shore,You know with all of my heart I loved you both more,There is no better ending two people seeing each other's heart,Together your spirits will never drift apart,Because two kindred spirits is what I made you to be,The waves and beach crashing together because of-- ME.

-Shannon L. Alder

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So what's your doll's name?" Boo asked me."Barbie," I said. "All their names are Barbie.""I see," she said. "Well, I'd think that would get boring, everyone having the samename."I thought about this, then said, "Okay, then her name is Sabrina.""Well, that's a very nice name," Boo said. I remember she was baking bread,kneading the doughbetween her thick fingers. "What does she do?""Do?" I said."Yes." She flipped the dough over and started in on it from the other side. "Whatdoes she do?""She goes out with Ken," I said."And what else?""She goes to parties," I said slowly. "And shopping.""Oh," Boo said, nodding."She can't work?""She doesn't have to work," I said."Why not?""Because she's Barbie.""I hate to tell you, Caitlin, but somebody has to make payments on that town houseand the Corvette,"Boo said cheerfully. "Unless Barbie has a lot of family money."I considered this while I put on Ken's pants.Boo started pushing the dough into a pan, smoothing it with her hand over the top."You know what Ithink, Caitlin?" Her voice was soft and nice, the way she always spoke to me."What?""I think your Barbie can go shopping, and go out with Ken, and also have aproductive and satisfyingcareer of her own." She opened the oven and slid in the bread pan, adjusting itsposition on the rack."But what can she do?" My mother didn't work and spent her time cleaning thehouse and going to PTA.I couldn't imagine Barbie, whose most casual outfit had sequins and go-go boots,doing s.uch things.Boo came over and plopped right down beside me. I always rememberher being on my level; she'd siton the edge of the sandbox, or lie across her bed with me and Cass as we listened tothe radio."Well," she said thoughtfully, picking up Ken and examining his perfect physique."What do you want todo when you grow up?"I remember this moment so well; I can still see Boo sitting there on the floor, cross-legged, holding myKen and watching my face as she tried to make me see that between my mother'sPTA and Boo'sstrange ways there was a middle ground that began here with my Barbie, Sab-rina,and led right to me."Well," I said abruptly, "I want to be in advertising." I have no idea where this camefrom."Advertising," Boo repeated, nodding. "Okay. Advertising it is. So Sabrina has to goto work every day,coming up with ideas for commercialsand things like that.""She works in an office," I went on. "Sometimes she has to work late.""Sure she does," Boo said. "It's hard to get ahead. Even if you're Barbie.""Because she wants to get promoted," I added. "So she can pay off the town house.And the Corvette.""Very responsible of her," Boo said."Can she be divorced?" I asked. "And famous for her commercialsand ideas?""She can be anything," Boo told me, and this is what I remember most, her freckledface so solemn, as ifshe knew she was the first to tell me. "And so can you.

-Sarah Dessen

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Brahma made up his mind to make the world and a man and woman. He made the world, and he made the man and then the woman, and put them on the island of Ceylon. According to the account it was the most beautiful island of which man can conceive. Such birds, such songs, such flowers and such verdure! And the branches of the trees were so arranged that when the wind swept through them every tree was a thousand Æolian harps.Brahma, when he put them there, said: 'Let them have a period of courtship, for it is my desire and will that true love should forever precede marriage.' When I read that, it was so much more beautiful and lofty than the other, that I said to myself, If either one of these stories ever turns out to be true, I hope it will be this one.'Then they had their courtship, with the nightingale singing, and the stars shining, and the flowers blooming, and they fell in love. They were married by the Supreme Brahma, and he said to them: 'Remain here; you must never leave this island.' Well, after a little while the man—and his name was Adami, and the woman's name was Heva—said to Heva: 'I believe I'll look about a little.' He went to the northern extremity of the island where there was a little narrow neck of land connecting it with the mainland, and the devil, who is always playing pranks with us, produced a mirage, and when he looked over to the mainland, such hills and vales, such dells and dales, such mountains crowned with snow, such cataracts clad in bows of glory did he see there, that he went back and told Heva: 'The country over there is a thousand times better than this; let us migrate.' She, like every other woman that ever lived, said: 'Let well enough alone; we have all we want; let us stay here.' But he said 'No, let us go;' so she followed him, and when they came to this narrow neck of land, he took her on his back like a gentleman, and carried her over. But the moment they got over they heard a crash, and looking back, discovered that this narrow neck of land had fallen into the sea. The mirage had disappeared, and there were naught but rocks and sand; and then the Supreme Brahma cursed them both to the lowest hell.Then it was that the man spoke,—and I have liked him ever since for it—'Curse me, but curse not her, it was not her fault, it was mine.'That's the kind of man to start a world with.The Supreme Brahma said: 'I will save her, but not thee.' And then she spoke out of her fullness of love, out of a heart in which there was love enough to make all her daughters rich in holy affection, and said: 'If thou wilt not spare him, spare neither me; I do not wish to live without him; I love him.' Then the Supreme Brahma said—and I have liked him ever since I read it—'I will spare you both and watch over you and your children forever.'Honor bright, is not that the better and grander story?

-Robert G.

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Thus spoke the Beauty and her voice had a cheerful ring, and her face was aflame with a great rejoicing. She finished her story and began to laugh quietly, but not cheerfully. The Youth bowed down before her and silently kissed her hands, inhaling the languid fragrance of myrrh, aloe and musk which wafted from her body and her fine robes. The Beauty began to speak again.'There came to me streams of oppressors, because my evil, poisonous beauty bewitches them. I smile at them, they who are doomed to death, and I feel pity for each of them, and some I almost loved, but I gave myself to no one. Each one I gave but one single kiss — and my kisses were innocent as the kisses of a tender sister. And whomsoever I kissed, died.'The soul of the troubled Youth was caught in agony, between two quite irresolvable passions, the terror of death and an inexpressible ecstasy. But love, conquering all, overcoming even the anguish of death's grief, was triumphant once again today. Solemnly stretching out his trembling hands to the tender and terrifying Beauty, the Youth exclaimed, 'If death is in your kiss, o beloved, let me revel in the infinity of death. Cling to me, kiss me, love me, envelop me with the sweet fragrance of your poisonous breath, death after death pour into my body and into my soul before you destroy everything that once was me!''You want to! You are not afraid!' exclaimed the Beauty.The face of the Beauty was pale in the rays of the lifeless moon, like a guttering candle, and the lightning in her sad and joyful eyes was trembling and blue. With a trusting movement, tender and passionate, she clung to the Youth and her naked, slender arms were entwined about his neck.'We shall die together!' she whispered. 'We shall die together. All the poison of my heart is afire and flaming streams are rushing through my veins, and I am all enveloped in some great holocaust.''I am aflame!' whispered the Youth, 'I am being consumed in your embraces and you and I are two flaming fires, burning with the immense ecstasy of a poisonous love.'The sad and lifeless moon grew dim and fell in the sky — and the black night came and stood watch. It concealed the secret of love and kisses, fragrant and poisonous, with gloom and solitude. And it listened to the harmonious beating of two hearts growing quieter, and in the frail silence it watched over the final delicate sighs.And so, in the poisonous Garden, having breathed the fragrances which the Beauty breathed, and having drunk the sweetness of her love so tenderly and fatally compassionate, the beautiful Youth died. And on his breast the Beauty died, having delivered her poisonous but fragrant soul up to sweet ecstasies.("The Poison Garden")

-Valery Bryusov

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There’s all this pressure in our society to be beautiful, to be strong, to be sexy. So we spend our time and money on trying to become these things. We put on the high heels, the suits, the makeup, the mask. Then, we feel more awkward than confident, so we drink away our anxieties. That doesn’t make us look any sexier – it just makes us stop caring about how we look.Everyone is beautiful. Everyone is sexy. Everyone is strong. It’s lunacy. We’re all running around trying to become something that we already are.You know what’s really sexy? A person who’s 100% comfortable with themselves. And you know what’s really funny? It is just as time consuming and difficult to learn to accept yourself as it is to pretend to be someone else. The only difference is – with self acceptance, one day, it’s not hard anymore. One day, you feel like your sexiest, strongest self just rolling out of bed in the morning.You’re either going to spend the little time you have in your life on trying to know yourself or trying to hide yourself. The choice is yours. You can’t do both.And you know what’s really amazing about choosing self-love? You’ll be setting an example for all the people around you and all the kids of the coming generation. You’ll be part of a revolution to take back the precious moments of our lives out of the hands of shame-inducing advertisers and back into the hands and hearts of real people like you, like me, like all of us.I know you’ve dreamt about changing the world. So this is your chance. Learn to love yourself, accept yourself, and unleash your strongest, sexiest self. It’s in there. You just have to believe it.

-Vironika Tugaleva

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