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The Unsealed wants you to write a poem or letter about why you are worthy of the utmost respect for a chance to get published in a book.

All submissions are due by 11:59 PM (Eastern Time) on October 16th, 2023. Winners will be notified via Email before December 1st. 

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  • To Be Alive

    I used to talk a lot. I’d do anything to keep the conversation going, to not be alone. If there was a lull, I’d say things like, “really?” or “wow” or “oh,” on and on. A filler. That’s all it was. Filler words had a hidden meaning to them; they begged, on hands and knees, and said, “Keep talking to me I can’t lose you I’d talk my throat dry if it meant you always had something to respond to.”
    I’m not scared to lose anyone anymore. I’m only scared of letting the wrong ones in.
    People come and people go. If I am the ocean, then I have to be mindful of what floats my way; everything either adds to my ecosystem or tries to destroy it.
    It is not so terrifying to be alone, after all, because peace is more important than all else.
    To be respected, you must not let anyone disrespect you again, because at the end of the day, the only one you’ll have to answer to is yourself.
    To define what exactly it means to be worthy of respect is tricky. You could mention achievements or accolades, popularity, goals attained, money earned, but even that is worthless if you don’t have heart.
    Who did you love and why?
    Were you brave enough to bare your soul?
    Did you protect the innocent or did you step on the good guys as a means to an end?
    Did you fight?
    Are you still fighting?
    Fighting to live, to seek justice, to prosper, to be free?
    I deserve the utmost respect because I am a survivor. Because I chose life. Because I will never stop fighting. Because I refuse to just be “alive.” Because I will become life.

    Natalya

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    Voting ends September 1, 2024 12:00pm

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    • Natalya, This is beautiful! I love this line: “I’m not scared to lose anyone anymore. I’m only scared of letting the wrong ones in.” You have nothing to prove to anyone and you don’t need anyone to be your friend. Just keep being you, and keep those standards high. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for being part of The Unsealed family. <3 Lauren

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    • Your piece is truly exceptional, thank you for sharing it!

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    • Natalya, you are absolutley correct! You do deserve the utmost respect. I read this twice and I nodded my head in agreement with each request. Because why shouldn’t we get good respect especially if we ourselves are putting good out into the atmosphere! My favorite line, “If I am the ocean, then I have to be mindful of what floats my way;…read more

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    • Hi Natalya, Aiša here. Thank you for having heart–for sharing that very special heart of yours with all of us here. I was compelled to write back and let you know that I respect you, wholeheartedly. I too used to talk a lot. There were times when I would have done everything in my power [just] to keep the conversation alive. If it meant I…read more

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  • (I) Respect Me

    (I) Respect Me

    R-
    E-
    S-
    P-
    E-
    C-
    T

    Who deserves it?

    Why me?

    I’ll be the first to admit I’ve quit.
    And go as far as to confess
    what a mess I’ve made.

    Because see,

    there’s no amount of grit that guarantees
    I’ll be met with respect of any degree.

    The more I learn the more I’ll earn–
    it was only a matter of time
    before it’d be my turn.

    Or so they said.
    Then-convinced, I complied

    in the name of getting ahead.

    And cliche as it may sound
    That was then and this is now.

    Presently, I make countless donations
    to the cause that is me.

    I know now that I don’t need a destination–
    what I need is to be free,
    let go of expectations.

    So I honor this affinity for creation I’ve long felt–
    bringing the unimaginable to life through self expression.
    I assign meaning–

    they meet me–

    to the real me.

    Some they disagree
    in silence.
    Others plea–

    grounded by old beliefs
    like roots of a tree.
    But that could never be me.

    So how does one get to be respected?
    They don’t.

    They won’t.

    I don’t.
    And won’t.

    Not unless or until
    I am free to be me–
    even if they don’t agree.

    Tomorrow’s a new day–
    another chance.

    So, I’ll rest
    and the rest
    will fall into place.

    You see,
    self-respect

    that’s the key.

    It always was and it always will be.

    I am worth it.
    Why not me?

    And now you’ve found out what it means
    to me–

    why I “deserve” it.

    Aisa Mrkulic

    Voting is open!

    Voting ends September 1, 2024 12:00pm

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    • Dear Aisa,
      You are a strong person and I am sure you will achieve your goals. Good luck on your journey of self-acceptance.

      Shelley

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    • This is so fantastic and powerful (and something I needed to hear right now):

      So, I’ll rest
      and the rest
      will fall into place.

      You see,
      self-respect

      that’s the key.

      It always was and it always will be.

      Thank you for inspiring me. This piece is incredible. <3 Lauren

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    • Your piece is truly exceptional, thank you for sharing it!

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    • You deserve it and so much more! Thank you for your true and heartfelt feelings. Often times we hide behind so much pain that we ourselves don’t seem to know our true selves. I struggle with this constantly.
      Thank you for being authentic.
      “Presently, I make countless donations
      to the cause that is me.”
      WHEWWWW!! That was a word!! One that I…read more

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  • Frameless

    I am a picture with no frame, no writing on the back, year unknown
    I am not the kind of picture you display in your living room, on your bedroom dresser, or even on your fridge. I am difficult to recall, tucked away under forgotten dreams and errands. Trash that no one ever throws away. Useless storage for the nosy children to find. I am not met with a smile when found, just quickly shoved to the back of guilt and shame we took thankless blame for. I am a picture without a frame flashing a toothy smile I thought was real. My frame was broken for being thrown away and replaced by a cluttered drawer. Somehow, I was still developed to even be here so maybe frames are for wallflowers anyway.

    Milan Anaj-Clara Eatmon

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    Voting ends September 1, 2024 12:00pm

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    • Dear Milan,
      You are not frameless. I see you and you are beautiful. Always know that and stay strong in your pursuit of happiness.

      Shelley

      Shelley

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    • Aww you are strong and you are great. And you are beautiful. Hold your head up high. You are amazing <3 Lauren

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    • Your piece is truly exceptional, thank you for sharing it!

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    • Milian-Anaj you are a picture perfect sense in my aura. I tuck pictures, cards and notes deep inside of my closet and clothes drawers because those are the pieces that mean THE MOST to Me. I have a minnie mouse birthday card from my mom when I turned 14… its not out in the open on display its tucked deep within so the moments when I am loosing…read more

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    • Hi there, Milan. Aiša here. Thank you for sharing this work of heart and art with all of us here. You are memorable. You are worthy of being remembered. And believe it or not, I carry the very same worry around. Everywhere I go. I never put it down. And so the fear of being forgotten persists. I want to assure you that you will not be “difficult…read more

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  • Respect me, or don’t

    Yes
    you’re my family
    my partner
    my friend
    But no—
    It’s time I reflect
    I don’t allow any disrespect
    No thinking you know what’s best
    No shaming me for who I choose to be
    No condescending comments
    No glares in my direction
    Don’t even think of crossing me without hesitation
    Won’t tolerate any doubts
    Those I can live without
    Don’t think I’m cold-hearted, that’s not the case
    My heart is so big, my love is so deep
    But I’ve been hurt before
    That only those who respect me
    are the ones I’ll keep
    My mind, body, and soul is stronger
    Cause I’ve healed all that’s hurt
    It’s come to fruition that I will not be treated like dirt
    I am who I am and my self love is divine
    You either come correct or I’ll have you step in line
    My energy is too valuable, too precious
    I’m the one who got me up out of the trenches
    From my tether to the sky to the roots in my feet
    From the blood in my veins to my beautiful heartbeat
    I’ll give you the best parts of me
    It’s the utmost respect that I need
    Not just need, but require
    Is it not respect from me too that you desire?
    I will not command & I will not beg
    How you approach me is up to you
    The amount of respect you give
    shows in all that you do
    You can choose how this goes but
    it’s with me the path is clear
    with me you’re looked after
    I’ll give you love, loyalty, and laughter

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    • What a strong person you are I admire you!

      Shelley

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    • OH MY GOODNESS. Standing ovation. I feel like sending this to a certain someone right now! This is so powerful, and you are so strong. I am. This part is my favorite:

      You either come correct or I’ll have you step in line
      My energy is too valuable, too precious
      I’m the one who got me up out of the trenches

      Thank you for sharing your str…read more

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    • Your piece is truly exceptional, thank you for sharing it!

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    • Jismar this is beautiful!! And it definitely screams respect Me!! I love that you are standing on business in this piece. Boundaries are healthy and those who are not willining to respect or provide you the same level of request are those that are not meant to thrive in your aura!! I would love to hear this poem live!! Maybe on one of our Unsealed…read more

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    • Hi Jismar, Aiša here. Thank you for putting words to your power and sharing them with all of us here. Taking a page from Lauren’s playbook, here are some of my favorite lines and rhymes:

      It’s time I reflect
      I don’t allow any disrespect

      Won’t tolerate any doubts
      Those I can live without

      Cause I’ve healed all that’s hurt
      It’s come to fruition tha…read more

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  • Dear God,

    Dear God,

    I doubt that any of us deserve the “utmost” of anything. When I researched the term, it meant “of the greatest or highest degree.” Hmm. What have I done to deserve, by definition, the highest level of respect? Consequently, what haven’t I done to deserve it? How do I qualify for more respect? And who’s supposed to give it to me?

    When I started this letter, I wrote:

    “I am deserving of the utmost respect because I walk with it. My strut makes bystanders stop to watch me or get out of my way. The bottom of my chin rests parallel to the floor 85% of the time, and I don’t let many people see it drop.”

    What about the other 15%? Is there respect reserved for weakness? For pouting? If I stumble, do I deserve less than if I were to step firmly? Does showing respect entitle me to being respected? The more I inquired, the more holes I poked through the concept. Even as Your child, I’ve failed in gifting You high levels of appreciation until now. And still, I’m no Jesus Christ; actually, I’m a shred of DNA away from Eve herself. So, I guess my question is: What would compel someone to give me the utmost respect? How can I convince them? What makes me special enough to receive it?

    My mom died the summer before my 23rd birthday. I wrote her eulogy myself and read it during her ascension ceremony. I designed her programs and sifted through albums to digitize our family in color. I ensured that the photos represented everyone well, regardless of how falsely they portrayed our broken family. I stayed as stoic and tactful as possible out of sheer disbelief of my mother’s passing.

    I buried her soul deep inside mine and kept my mouth shut after lowering a casket she didn’t belong in. I kept our family home from foreclosure and our family dog from chasing mice through the walls after midnight. I abandoned my dreams to complete hers. I quieted my rage and contempt for a family she headed, which had no real interest in helping her comfortably transition. I assumed their debt, as she did, and organized it. I assumed her responsibility to lead and led. I wrote to You as often as I could within the fog of her afterlife, even when my substance abuse triggered suicidal thoughts. I abruptly stopped grief therapy to quit my first “big girl” job; I suffocated under the mountain of responsibility for weeks. That was my second resignation in three years.

    I took the last year of my mom’s death anniversary (2023) to feel nothing but self-induced pity. After rummaging through our late queen’s clothes and heirlooms, I put her palace up for sale. As an heir with a shrinking cash wad, I had the most unpredictable spring and summer known to man. I wrote down every task I wanted to do before turning 30 and factored in the time it’d take to complete them. I galloped between DC night clubs with my friends for free. I started graduate school; luckily, and with no real discipline left, I received a B in my first class. I’ll find the discipline to finish strong, as I always do.

    Most of this was expected of me. As the eldest twin, if you can conceptualize such a thing, I was expected to attend my mother’s alma mater. I was expected to make a name there for myself and her legacy. I was expected to graduate from college on time. I was expected to seek higher education, too. I was expected to be more than some spoiled, trust fund kid who can’t pay her rent and rides the bus at 26.
    So, do I deserve the utmost respect? And why?

    I am a brilliant conversationalist; I ask good questions and deduce strong conclusions. I make phone calls often, even when anxiously anticipating hard conversations and unpleasant news. I look people in their eyes when they have something to say, and often, deeper. I tithe what I can and when I can’t, I do something nice for the lady sitting outside of our grocery store. She asked me for chicken wings once. The concrete beneath her is hard, but good food softens everyone.

    I write, sing, and speak from the heart, especially when frustration deafens reasoning. I love people, despite trusting them. I have a fascination with joy and life, in addition to pain and death. I like my outfits just as colorful as my stories. I invite wallflowers to detach from awkward silences and bloom next to me. I like people for reasons no one can configure and still find ways to show everyone equity. I love the different smells of water. I leave debris in my pocket and scold myself after laundry day. Without drowning in obligations of survival, I watch the humanness of living: the changing intensities of sun mid-season, the colloquial embraces of affection after long-awaited greetings, and notes comprised of melodies too beautiful to sing to anyone but a lover.

    I deserve the utmost respect because… I’ve shown it. Grief is quite the beast to slay on your own. For the sake of my healing and deliverance, my sword has been drawn to it annually. I sharpen it with vulnerability, grace, and tough love. I cross t’s and dot i’s like the noble daughter I must embody. I fight to water myself until I die. I love and I lose, yet I never cease to honor either outcome as it arises. I’ve shown the utmost respect as a villain and a victim. I guess I finally believe I deserve it back.

    Kenya Waugh

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    Voting ends September 1, 2024 12:00pm

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    • Hello Kenya,
      You are an amazing person who has gone thru so much. I respect how strong you are and how wise you have become. Good luck in all your future endeavors!

      Shelley

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    • Wow, Kenya, I am so very sorry for the loss of your mother. Grief is so overwhelming and hard but look at you. You are so badass, so strong. I know somewhere, somehow your mom is watching over you and screaming “That’s my daughter, that’s my daughter, that’s my daughter.” I know she is incredibly proud of you, and so am I. Keep pushing forward,…read more

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    • Your piece is truly exceptional, thank you for sharing it!

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    • Kenya, this was incredible. I felt my heart skip a beat when you said you had to make sure the family photos displayed a perfect family that was everything but that. I felt it so deep that it triggered Me.
      I am so deeply sorry for your lost. I pray you are finding a little more peace than the last day and you are prioritizing yourself. Its so…read more

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      • This comment especially, Gie, has brought tears to my eyes! I never thought I’d be more honest with strangers than my own family… but i take it day by day. You should too, and it’s okay to be triggered. I am often… but as long as you don’t lose yourself in it, you’ll be okay. Thank you so much for your condolences!!! And it is indeed a blessing to…read more

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    • Hi, Kenya. Aiša here. Thank you for sharing your story with all of us here. The way you took the time to really sit with the question at hand was refreshing. I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I’ve questioned a question, but it’s something I used to do all the time. I think a lot of us have lost our way [of thinking]. I know I’ve been s…read more

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      • I…. Ugh another comment that has brought me to tears I am trying to hold back! and to be complimented in such a way! Aiša, independent thought is hard to come by and so is its action! It’s been quite an uphill, windy journey through grief. The real healing started this year and I’m still so shocked at its impact, beyond just this piece. Thank…read more

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  • No Matter What Happens, Keep Going

    My writing journey started at age 13,
    I never knew my poetry would take me far.
    I’d spend years writing various things,
    Life, love, struggles, anything I can think of.
    Then my 30s hit and it was time for a change,
    Writing became my change of pace in life.
    When I get asked why should be given the utmost respect,
    The best answer I can give is, I’m writing books on social issues.
    I’m trying to change the world one book at a time,
    I’ve been on this journey for over 7 years.
    From almost losing my mother,
    To being hit by a car the day before my mom’s birthday.
    Then battling depression and anxiety,
    And getting the help that I needed through therapy.
    See, I have to be transparent in my journey,
    Because my story can give people hope to keep going.
    No matter what happened, the writing continued,
    Even when I moved across the country to a new city.
    Scared out of my mind with no one to fall back on,
    And now I’m settled into a place for the foreseeable future.
    I’m over 50 books into my journey,
    I’ll hit my goal of 60 and still keep pushing on.
    I continually try to motivate and inspire others,
    To strive for greatness, don’t settle and know what your end goal is.
    I may not have the most resilient story in my life,
    But I can truthfully say that whatever you’re going through, keep going.
    I’m not one to give up on something and it’s why I write the books,
    It’s why I write blogs, record podcasts.
    In the end, it’ll all be worth it, I don’t care for fame,
    I care most about starting conversations through my stories.
    So never give up, find your moniker and go after it,
    The journey won’t be easy but remember, life is a marathon…

    Jamell Crouthers

    Jamell Crouthers

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    Voting ends September 1, 2024 12:00pm

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    • Hello Jamell,
      m You have so much wisdom to offer the world. It is wonderful that you push yourself to share that wisdom and inspire others the your books. Good luck in your healing journey!

      Shelley

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    • Aww Jamell! You have so many reasons to be proud. Your heart, your books, and your advocacy are a gift to the world! Thank You for being you. I am so glad you are part of The Unsealed family. <3 Lauren

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      • Thanks so much Lauren, your encouraging words always keep me inspired and motivated to write more! I’m thankful I get to share my thoughts on a great platform!

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    • Your piece is truly exceptional, thank you for sharing it!

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      • Thanks so much Rebecca, I truly appreciate it! I love sharing my thoughts, feelings and hopefully inspiring others with my writing. The thoughts are always flowing.

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    • Life for sure is a marathon! Thank you for sharing a bit of your story!! And 50 books in is TOTES AMAZING!! I pray you continue to socially insprire the weak, prep the kindhearted and soar well above your wildest dreams!! Writing is like that for Me also. I have suffered greatly. Some things I couldn’t believe happened to Me. Like why…. but like…read more

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      • Thanks for your words Gie, I appreciate it so much! Writers are always going to be inspired to write no matter what happens in our lives. The world is our oysters to learn, observe and pen what we are feeling in the moment. Keep going, stay motivated and know that your journey is worth going through to keep others going.

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    • Hi, Jamell. Aiša here. Thank you for sharing your story and all the encouragement that comes with it. I found your comparison of writing to a change of pace in life to be beautiful and I couldn’t agree more. It certainly deserves all the credit for having helped me. We’ve all heard the saying, ‘we can’t make time, but we can take time’. Yet,…read more

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      • Thanks for your great words, all of what you said is so true. Yes the present can be scary but only because we sometimes focus on rewriting the past or reliving moments over again to make tweaks and changes. For me, it’s about leaving a legacy when I’m done with my writing journey and that’s what matters the most on this journey of life.

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  • RESPECT....Find out what it means to me

    I’m not a robot
    I wasn’t made to spew facts over feelings
    I feel freely and deeply
    I cannot deny my experiences and my story
    I have a story that people may know nothing about
    There is no formula or algorithm to predict what and how intense I will feel.
    I just do.
    So mind what you say and do
    Because you’ve never walked a mile in my shoes

    I’m not a scarecrow full of stuffing and no brain
    I know when I am not being respected
    I know when there is not an equal exchange of time, energy, effort, and love being given
    I know when love is being withheld.
    I have learned the difference between tough love and blatant disrespect under the guise of tough love
    My brain on the best of days tells me of my worth
    My brain on the worst of days may try to lie to me
    But that does not change the truth
    And the truth is that I deserve to be invested in
    I am worth people’s time, energy, effort, and love.
    And I will settle for nothing less.

    I’m not a tin woman
    I have a heart
    It beats, it breaks, it bleeds
    It can shatter, it can also be stitched up
    It is a treasure
    Only those who are worthy of it can hold it
    But it shines for all to see
    Those who approach it must learn to honor it
    For they would want theirs to be received in gentleness and love
    Just as I do.

    I’m not a cowardly lion anymore.
    I have found my courage.
    And if you disrespect me you will hear me roar
    I will roar loudly and mightily for what I deserve
    I will no longer tolerate disrespect
    I will be my own hero.

    I’m not a lot of things
    But I am a human
    I am a daughter of the King
    I had dignity and worth from the moment of my birth
    And that will never change
    So regardless of how you perceive me
    With the utmost respect is how you should receive me.

    Hannah G.

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    • Hello Hannah,
      I like your references to the Wizard of Oz characters. Your are strong and deserve the utmost respect. Good luck in all your future endeavors.

      Shelley

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    • OMG Hannah, I love the ending: “I had dignity and worth from the moment of my birth
      And that will never change
      So regardless of how you perceive me
      With the utmost respect is how you should receive me.”

      That is so powerful and so good. I love the strength and power that comes across in this piece. Thank you for sharing and thank you for being…read more

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    • Your piece is truly exceptional, thank you for sharing it!

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    • Hannah this piece is so stellar!! I love love love the movie analogies you used. I felt it deeply. We definitely can tell when we are being loved, liked, and cared for respectively or if we are just being tolerated!! You are absolutely correct! This is another piece I need to hear live!! Thank you so much for sharing and please stay well! 🙂

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    • Hi, Hannah. Aiša here. Thank you for sharing your story and its playful undertone with all of us here. Quite the creative approach to a creative approach 😉 I found the subtly of it all to be particularly tasteful. From the moment I read the title, I was eager to find out what it [RESPECT] means to you.

      And this right here:

      “So mind what yo…read more

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  • mercylen submitted a contest entry to Group logo of Why Are You Worthy of the Utmost Respect?Why Are You Worthy of the Utmost Respect? 4 months, 2 weeks ago

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    Silently Watching

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  • Worthy

    The reasons why I am worthy of the utmost respect
    Are the reasons here below that I am going to reflect
    My presence and energy speaks for itself
    I put others before me, especially when they need the help
    I do not project my problems and pain onto others
    I am not a fighter, I am a lover
    I value introspection and personal growth
    I know my value and I know my worth
    I lead with my heart, and follow my passions
    I do not fall for the latest trends, fake news, or fashions
    The traumatic experiences I went through up until now, shaped me into who I am today
    The darkness is my friend, but the light is where I choose to stay
    My mission here on Earth is different than most
    I am a messenger of the divine and I am used as a host
    The journey I am on is that of a generational curse breaker
    I am here to lift the collective consciousness up further
    My soul is a beacon of light for others who are in a dark place
    Higher vibrational states of consciousness are what I choose to embrace
    The reasons listed above barely scratched the surface
    Overall, my presence here on Earth is for a far, more greater purpose

    Amber Shatto

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    • I love this part: “My soul is a beacon of light for others who are in a dark place
      Higher vibrational states of consciousness are what I choose to embrace”

      Through your writing, I can feel the positivity and light you bring to the world. Your heart is good and pure, never change. Thank you for sharing this piece. It is beautiful. <3 Lauren

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    • I’m genuinely moved by this; thanks for sharing it.

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    • Amber, you truly are a healer. I can tell from this piece, it speaks to the soul of you and you shared your soul as if it was a loaf of bread! And we all know bread can feed man for days! That is you. You find comfort in aiding those in need. You must not forget to come to the aide of self, you’re a rarity! Thank you so so much for sharing. 🙂

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    • Hi, Amber. Aiša here. Thank you for sharing your light with all of us here and trust that we are all better for it. Not many people have the ability to heal others. Even less find a way to do so that’s sustainable. Yet you’ve answered the call. As an aside, Gie and I seem to agree on a lot on here. This is to say that no one’s healing should…read more

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  • A Cycle (Con't) By ChatterBox

    A self-inflicting cycle perpetuated by

    A cycle

    A generational trauma passed on by

    A cycle

    A repetition of patterns not noticed by

    A cycle

    A blind eye on poor behavior caused by

    A cycle

    A need to heal and break the patterns caused by

    A cycle

    A slip on words dissociated in a traumatic moment by

    A cycle

    A combination of fight, flight, freeze, fawn caused by

    A cycle

    A history that needs to be learned and understood to prevent

    A cycle

    A poem that will one day encourage others to break

    A cycle

    A reason to show yourself the utmost respect is from

    A cycle

    A lack of understanding yourself for being trapped in

    A cycle

    As I learn myself, I realize that I deserve the utmost respect after being caught in,

    A cycle

    A need to respect myself to not be caught in,
    A cycle.

    ChatterBox

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    • You are so right. It is so easy to let life be controlled by the cycles of your environment. That awareness will take you far in terms of breaking any negative cycles and paving your own path. I really appreciate the insightfulness of this piece. Thank you for sharing. <3Lauren

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    • I’m genuinely moved by this; thanks for sharing it.

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    • BEAUTIFUL!!! This piece was such an awesome one Chatterbox. You captured how the most part of my 2023 has concluded in the night time. My favorite letter thus far! I commend you for wanting to break the cycle.
      ‘A slip on words dissociated in a traumatic moment by
      A cycle.”
      That is my life when I am in social settings and I am working so hard to…read more

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  • I Think I've Earned Your Respect

    It was Aretha Franklin who once sang about respect. As a matter of fact, she spelled it out in her cover of what was originally an Otis Redding single. “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me. R-E-S-P-E-C-T, take out TCB,” her lyrics went.

    While singing about respect is easy (and Aretha Franklin’s single is proof of that, as it topped the United States Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard Hot Rhythm and Blues charts upon its 1967 release, along with winning two Grammy Awards), actually getting it is hard stuff. It’s harder still when you have autism like I do.

    When I was going to high school, my mother was concerned when I started hanging out with my classmates at the lunch table. She legitimately thought that they were going to poke fun at me because I’m on the spectrum.

    Nothing of the sort was ever the case. They respected me and treated me as an equal, including me in the conversation whenever I had something to say.

    As I navigated through my college career, I found that earning respect became easier with time. I was a star sports reporter and sports columnist for my school newspaper, winning the respect of my fellow staff and the Youngstown State Sports Information Department.

    Upon graduating, I entered into a year filled with uncertainty as to what would happen as far as professional employment went. I thought I nailed down a production assistant’s job at my local CBS affiliate, but as time went on, the dream became unrealized.

    Once I started writing about MMA and soccer, I gained the respect of a few MMA promotions and those people working in MLS. Just like I’d done in the past, I earned this respect.

    Bottom line: You can’t count on respect being handed out to you like trick-or-treat candy in late October. Sometimes, you have to earn it yourself.

    Drew Zuhosky

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    • Aww Drew. I am so glad the kids were nice to you. And you are such an ambitious, hard-working, kind, talented, and wonderful person. I certainly respect you. Thank you for sharing. <3 Lauren

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    • Drew, this is a testament of time and in time I believe you earned the respect you needed now to soar well into your own!! MMA is pretty tough stuff. The fact that you were able to bring a creative space into that realm with writing is awesome!!
      I pray you keep soaring , singing and gaining that respect!!

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  • “Here”

    A lot of you I’ve introduced myself as Chana but today you will know me formally, as Chanaly.
    You see Chana was so easily digestible,
    She was nice and to the point
    Different but acceptable
    Not for my lips or yours to pronounce
    But to read off a dock, is admissible.
    A couple of hiccups here and there but nonetheless, a spectacle.
    The awkwardness of a hand raised to correct, but forgettable.
    But Chanaly brought that fire, that sound of culture to the table.
    That rice and beans.
    The type of sound you hear when you eat meat, my mom said perfect.
    That sound was me.
    It was read like a poem
    The way the mouth parts to emphasize the vowels
    And create the flow of
    A name from my parent’s name
    Who celebrated their unison by having me
    Now it’s a reminder of once was
    What I’ve hidden in insecurity
    I now stand tall in awe of my uniqueness
    In that, I am one and nothing
    I am not a shortcut or a silent nod
    As a man tries an accent he’s never done it before.
    I am not Chanel or an SH,
    Or whatever name you switch out for
    To make yourself feel comfortable
    While I shrug off the embarrassment
    Because you went off on a whim
    Instead of asking
    Because your assumption log
    Gave away your mindset
    That I’m not important enough iyf
    To be mentioned
    Like the thousand of names before me
    That was too hard to pronounce
    So you gave them a John or a Smith
    And left them with no ounce
    Of identity and pride,
    To make it easy for your mouth
    Well I’m not easy or shy
    So you will say my name right.

    Chanaly Rodriguez

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    • Not so easily digestible anymore! This poem is 🔥🔥🔥

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    • Chanaly is such a great name! And you clearly carry it with so much swagger. What are your parents’ names? I love creativity. My parents were lazy with me “Lauren.” I love your confidence. Thank you for sharing this piece! <3 Lauren

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    • This is such a gem; I’m grateful that you shared it

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    • “What I’ve hidden in insecurity
      I now stand tall in awe of my uniqueness”
      This piece was powerful and full of realness!! I appreciate your for standing on direct business within this piece. It seems to be a perfect way to represent your repsect and make sure you show up for yourself as well. Thank you so very much for sharing!! This is another p…read more

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    • Hi, Chanaly. Aiša here. Thank you so much for sharing about your name. I love how passionately you speak on the subject. What’s more to love is that when asked to think on why you deserve the utmost respect, you turned to your name! I see your poem as both an act of self-love and self-advocacy. I can certainly relate to all the unwanted…read more

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  • SHE

    She

    She no longer respected herself
    She let others discard her
    She let others opinions matter more to her than her own
    She let the opinions of others chip away at her until she longer recognized herself
    She realized she had given away her respect over & over again
    She masked self-inflicted jokes against herself to deflect her own inner tension building
    She welcomed others to portray her in ways that were unauthentic to who she really was
    She lost her ability to fight for her own self respect

    She knew deep down inside of her something didn’t feel quite right
    She knew that deserved better from others
    She knew she needed to demand for better for herself
    She knew that it was time to strip away all of her insecurities and get to her inner most raw self

    She knew what she had to do, but she was scared
    She was ready, but she made excuses because her fear was intensifying!
    She requested at first that her self respect be a priority
    She was denied, again & again
    She then demanded she be heard
    She again was denied & this time with a threat thrown down at her!
    She felt she had been muted by others & the pain she felt became unexpected

    She felt a burning sensation start to grow within herself
    She could no longer be quiet about her needs & her desires
    She felt her whole world explode in one moment
    She set fire to the accelerant that was her own broken self
    She then put out the fire and knew it was time to rebuild

    She knew she had lessons she had to learned here, or she would be doomed to repeat them
    She decided to learn a new way to conduct herself
    She felt something different in the way she saw everyone and everything around her
    She started to change
    She started to sprout
    She started to grow & grow until her roots became strong
    She then bloomed into a new someone that the old someone would never recognize

    She demanded respect and in fact invited that respect and uninvited anything beneath that
    She only allowed respect for others to come from her
    She only invited respect from others to come to her
    She finally, understood what it meant to be deserving of the upmost respect
    She finally, felt settled into herself

    I am she.

    Sarah Ludlum

    Sarah Ludlum

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    • “She started to grow & grow until her roots became strong
      She then bloomed into a new someone that the old someone would never recognize.”

      I love that part. I am so glad that you planted that seed of confidence and grew into the strong and powerful woman you are today. Thank you for sharing! And thank you for being part of The Unsealed! <3 Lauren

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    • Hi there, Sarah. Aiša here. Thank you for sharing the story of your journey to self-respect. Oh, to finally feel settled into one’s self. I can’t imagine the relief you must’ve felt in that moment of realization. You knew what you had to do and it scared you, but you did it anyway! That’s courage! What if I told you “she,” is who I wanna be? :)…read more

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      • You have greatness within you no matter how scary those moments of uncertainty can present. You are She as well and I am excited for you on your journey! I am in awe of your response and I am encouraged by you to keep writing and exploring more in order for others to be able to relate to this human experience we are all experiencing at this time.…read more

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  • Why I Deserve Your Utmost Respect

    Dear Unsealers,
    Five years ago, if you had asked me that question, I would probably have just stared back at you, completely baffled. Back then, I had no clue about the words I’d be writing today to justify why I think I should be granted the highest level of respect. I’m pretty sure many folks would have regarded the foreclosure struggle as something from the past, a harsh reality of the present, and an impending disaster in the future. However, it’s those who overcome these challenges and go the extra mile who genuinely deserve the utmost respect.

    Can you imagine the past five years, waking up every day, and persistently pondering the same question: “What is causing the global mortgage crisis?” My daily drive has been to solve this puzzle, not only for my benefit but also for the numerous families facing the looming threat of foreclosure. As I delved deeper into this complex realm of financial turmoil, I uncovered another aspect of the issue that demanded my focus.

    My journey took me on a path where I acquired new skills, notably the ability to craft an online sales funnel tailored for an educational program. This innovative approach enabled me to reach and engage with approximately 3,000 families, all wrestling with their individual foreclosure challenges. By conducting interviews with a diverse range of experts in the mortgage, banking, accounting, legal, and real estate fields, I started to discern a potential path toward a solution.

    As I persevered throughout the years, I observed a gradual and favorable change in technology. How many individuals do you know who would invest their time in scrutinizing over 2,000 AI systems, all with the potential to tackle this massive issue?

    The endeavor to address a crisis of this immense scale demands a degree of commitment that few can truly comprehend. It calls for the capacity to adapt, to grow, and to persist. What sets me apart is not just the determination to confront this global crisis head-on but the relentless pursuit of innovative solutions. I am here today to extend an open hand and an open heart. In a world that often seems filled with insurmountable challenges, there is no greater honor than to stand alongside those who tirelessly strive to make it a better place.

    Lisa Ashman

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  • Note to self

    Dearest Samm,
    I’m just writing to remind you of how incredible of a person you are. This opportunity is amongst one of many that you have been presented with because of your constant dedication, hard work and the love you put into your goals. You deserve a chance to be published in a book because of your outstanding passion, unique voice and the exceptional creativity you bring to your artistic expressions, especially writing.

    Your talent as a writer shines through your ability to evoke emotions and weave words together to create riveting experiences. Your perspective and original ideas are uniquely your own. Your writing offers a special take on recognizable themes and introduces new concepts to the artistic and literary world. Your path is often challenging and requires perseverance which you’ve demonstrated countless times now. Your commitment to your craft, revisions, and pursuit demonstrates your dedication and passion to your own art form of writing. The stories and poetry you write have the potential to resonate with readers on a deeper level, influencing their emotions, perspectives and thoughts. Your words can inspire, educate, and encourage, making an impact on those who engage with your writing. What you have to say, matters to someone, if not everyone.

    Remember that the world of publishing can be competitive, but your deservingness is rooted in your talent, passion, and the value your work brings to the literary realm. Keep pursuing your goals with the intention of every possibility is attainable. Your dreams of becoming published will come to fruition.

    Love,
    Samm

    Samantha Bauer

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    • You are a good writer. Your dreams will come true! I know it. I sent you an email. <3Lauren

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    • Aiša here—what you have to say matters to me, Samm! Thank you for sharing your wonderful letter with us all. I’ve long aspired to be my own cheerleader and number one supporter. And you Samm seem to have mastered both. Here’s to hoping I learn how to do the same one day. And that one day is someday soon. 🙂 Thank you for showing me how the self-a…read more

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  • It's 5am and I'm awake thinking about you again.

    I want to know if you regret this
    Are you awake right now
    losing sleep over the pain too
    or is it just me
    rolling around restless at night
    trying to figure out how the fuck
    it came down to this?

    I want to know if my face haunts you.
    My docile doe-like eyes and soft curves
    contorting into a demon whose memory
    is smeared all over the walls of your face.
    You can remove me materially,
    but my energy will linger
    and you will have to sit with it
    knowing what you did
    knowing who you lost
    and all that you chose to throw away
    because running is easier
    than taking accountability.
    responsibility does not come from the way one handles business and finance,
    but from the way one works though conflict and treats other people.

    Are you proud of what you did?

    Because despite it all,
    I was still ready
    to stay in your life
    and help build you back up again.
    Bedtime remedies to help you sleep
    Calls during the middle of my work day to keep you calm while the weight of the world burned down on yours.
    A submissive princess ready to take all your worries and transmute it into something beautiful anytime you called my name.

    All I wanted was respect

    for all the love I gave.
    I was building something beautiful while you were slowly looking for the chance to tear it all down.
    I’ve learned the hard way that unrequited love is never worth it
    but for the life of me,
    I’m tired of always feeling so damn disrespected each time I carve out a space in my life for somebody’s son to come sit for a while before they no longer see me as a human deserving any bit of common decency.

    I don’t want your compliments.
    I don’t want your money.
    I don’t want your love.
    I don’t want attention.
    I want you to respect me enough to either
    leave me the fuck alone to begin with
    or to stay and figure it out.

    Yes I am angelic,
    Yes my energy overflows and could stand the leakage.
    Yes, I will be okay.
    But please,
    respect that I am still human
    and am worth the wait.

    Ala

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    • yes! know your boundaries and hold people to that — no matter who they are how attached you are to them. You are so worthy of respect. Thank you for sharing and thank you for being part of The Unsealed family. <3 Lauren

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  • It Starts With Me

    We are shackled by insecurities
    Followers and likes make up our worth
    External validation is what we seek
    It’s a never-ending curse

    But I was looking in the wrong places
    The answers are found deep within
    So I’m reintroducing myself to me
    And so this new journey begins

    Hello, it’s nice to meet you
    I’ve longed for a best friend
    I decided to become the things I need
    No longer living a life of pretend

    I tell myself I’m worthy
    And validation starts with me
    I no longer need to look elsewhere
    I’m exactly where I need to be

    I was born to be successful
    I was born to share my gifts
    I was born to give love to this world
    I was born to build and uplift

    I am worthy because I’m loving
    I am worthy because I care
    I am worthy and uniquely created
    Hand-crafted with so much to share

    You are worthy when you wake up
    You are worthy when the sun sets
    You are worthy and I love you
    In case no one has told you that yet

    Cherie M.

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    • Cherie, I love this. So beautiful and so strong. Keep walking through the world with your head held high, as your love and power continue to radiate. Thank you for sharing and thank you for being part of The Unsealed. <3 Lauren

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    • Hi, Cherie. Aiša here. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I love a good rhyme and this poem is full of plenty! And then there’s the title…it compliments your message perfectly! Of course, the same can be said about your choice of photograph. Title. Photo. Poem. I felt this sense of completeness, wholeness even, having admired them all. And…read more

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      • Thank you, Aisa! Your comment and feedback has made my day! I appreciate your encouragement, and I thank you for taking the time to read my poem 🙂

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  • daniellas-empress submitted a contest entry to Group logo of Why Are You Worthy of the Utmost Respect?Why Are You Worthy of the Utmost Respect? 4 months, 2 weeks ago

    This post is viewable by the Unsealed community only.

    G.R.A.N.T.E.D

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  • ⚠️ This letter has been reported

    Why I am deserving of Respect. Of the Utmost.

    I think I am worthy.
    I was born from the womb, screaming so.
    Feed me!
    Bathe me!
    Let me sleep!
    Take care of me!
    Oh, please, please,
    love me.
    I was born with my body believing, with every ounce, that it deserved love.
    It was the world, today’s world, that made me think otherwise.
    Or maybe, once I started thinking about love and stopped being it,
    is when the disconnect truly began.
    Regardless, one day, I’m not sure when,
    or how soon,
    the world stopped feeding me.
    Cleansing me.
    Letting me rest.
    And in turn, I surrendered my body to it,
    because I did not know where else to get my love.
    It was not until Later,
    when I started feeding myself,
    bathing myself,
    and giving myself permission
    to rest,
    that I recovered
    my nourishment,
    my cleanliness,
    and my wholeness.
    With this,
    I was able to disconnect from the world,
    at Long Last,
    and see my worth,
    Once Again.
    I could see how I was love,
    just by myself,
    just by existing!
    That’s what I knew before,
    before I stopped demanding it,
    that it was a deserved breath.
    Love is a birthright.
    And with love, respect comes beautifully entwined.
    I deserve respect because it is what gives power to the very core of our beings.
    Love,
    love,
    love.
    The one thing that powers us all from the moment we are born,
    during, after, completely,
    and until the end of time.
    And is not the very force of our existence deserving of respect?

    RaeDantes

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    • Rue, this piece is absolutely beautiful! The only nickname I’ve ever liked has been “love” because I also feel like it is the only word in our language that can even approximate who I am. Your work resonates so much and is amazing! Would love to connect more in instagram if you have one <3

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    • Love it! You are absolutely right. You were born with the right to respect> I love this part of your piece: I could see how I was love,
      just by myself,
      just by existing!

      Thank you for sharing!
      Lauren

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  • Respect Me

    Because
    I
    Am
    Human^1

    1 – And you are too.

    PoetryPicasso

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    • So simple but so true! Love it. What do the number 1s symbolize? Thank you for your wisdom and thank you for being part of The Unsealed. <3 Lauren

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      • The ones represent a footnote literally and figuratively as footnotes are details authors add when there is other information that needs to be known and in this case sometimes authors & audiences may detach themselves from literature but this simple poem and simple footnote urge us to remember we (the audience) are as human as the author and just…read more

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