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All Entries must be in by 11:59 PM on Thursday, February 15th, 2024 Eastern Time

Those moving on to the next round will be announced on April 16th, 2024

Voting will go from April 16th to May 16th (11:59 PM Eastern Time).

Our Winners will be announced  on  May 17th, 2024

Read the Contest Rules before you enter

Also, we are going to turn this challenge into a book. If you would like your piece to be considered,  after you submit your entry, sign our release here. The release allows us to publish your poem in our book (you will remain the owner of your work).

Contest submissions are closed

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  • Dear Me

    Dear Me,

    I started this by looking up what love is. As we know it’s a quirk of ours to always have the right words with the right meanings. Yet, I stopped halfway through my inquiry right before being sucked into the argument; if love is a physical or an emotional state.

    I stopped because I felt I didn’t need anyone else’s theories, ideologies, or philosophies to express why I love you.

    You challenge me.

    Everyday I wake up and I am invigorated by your need to know things — sometimes useful and other times just because.

    I catch myself smiling when you take out your phone to search for the answer to anything that you come across that you don’t understand. Living with you is like being in a classroom with new lessons every minute. I say every minute because truly that is how it works with you. You love trying to understand how things work. All things if you could that’s why it’s hard to focus. Everything is attractive to our curiosity but we’re so limited in our time.

    The human dilemma of time is another one of your favorite topics to stay up late and journal about.

    I love your journals. You have a million of them, all decorated with the outline of your heart and mind —your process for trying to get them to understand each other.

    I am captivated by the unraveling of you. The total abandonment of masks that I have the pleasure of being witness to. You are a challenge, worthwhile.

    Love Me,

    Kayla

    Voting starts April 16, 2024 12:00am

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  • To The One I Come Home To

    To the one I come home to
    Each and every time
    When it seems like no one else is there
    I find myself with you again

    I won’t pretend that my love is perfect
    I’ve abandoned, I’ve betrayed
    But you continue to accept my flaws
    And for this I love you so

    Because anyone can forget and move on
    But to forgive is the strongest power there is
    I find relief in your strength
    And comfort in your trust

    It’s funny the ways in which we accept only the love we think we deserve
    Although it would be so nice to write about the beauty of self love
    The truth is that the self can be hard to love
    And I’ll admit, I’m still trying to learn just how to

    It’s the external influence that surrounds you
    And having your voice silenced
    By those who are in a position to lead you
    That makes this love so hard sometimes

    It’s the generational trauma
    The demoralizing behavior passed down
    Through a world of dysregulation
    And incredible misguidance

    It’s true that love is learned
    In the early years of life
    But when no good examples exist
    How does one navigate with the heart?

    The young mind absorbs like a sponge
    The screaming, the fighting, and everything in between
    This is what becomes home
    So all my life, I’ve sought for chaos around every turn

    My favorite thing about you is that you learned how to love
    After being brought up in an environment deprived of it
    Either because your body needed it
    Or the world needed to see it

    Twenty seven years I’ve gotten to know you
    I’ve seen you flourish and fail
    I’ve seen laughter and tears
    The crazy thing about growth is it never ends

    So I’ll continue to learn just who you are
    And what you need in this reality
    To understand the depths of your heart
    I realize is a constant expression

    I love you for giving me space to cry
    The way the men in my life never would
    During times when my emotions needed to flow
    Like rain needs to fall

    I love you for staying with me while I tripped
    Over the ones who couldn’t see my worth
    I spent years trying to find “the one”
    When it was you the whole time

    I love you for being proud
    Even though the voices told you you weren’t good enough
    You found a way to break the cycle
    Of generational shame

    I love you for your curiosity
    The same curiosity I used to call stupid
    I’m sorry for calling you stupid
    When you were just trying to learn

    I love the way that you crave connection
    And the way that you find it
    To dive headfirst with nothing but a handful of vulnerability
    Is a hard thing to do in this world

    You explore far beyond your own skin
    A superficial life will not do
    Rather, you spin circles in the gravity of your own soul
    Searching far and wide for meaning untold

    I look forward to continuing this love
    You are my body, my soul, my everything in between
    You are the one I come home to
    And the one I call self

    Angela Tricomi

    Voting starts April 16, 2024 12:00am

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    • Angela, I can definitely relate to this…especially this line: “having your voice silenced
      By those who are in a position to lead you
      That makes this love so hard sometimes.”
      Thank you so much for sharing your truth, allowing your voice to be heard, and 💓 to be felt.

      Write me back 

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  • “In A Garden, Where There Was A Flower”

    Redamancy: [Noun] – The act of love in rotation.

    More so, the act of love… in return.
    (Part of.. the feel)

    I am that alike to a rose

    and that! to which
    is picked and/or plucked,

    groomed… and given to this world with a timely stamp,

    and what’s cut… is a measurement…
    of life dispensed…

    All at…
    the length of a thread.
    Separating… ME from sustenance,

    and if “love is the key” I just need to trust it

    Its got me in a mood, and all I need… is LOVING. Could BE from ME or from OTHERS
    The key is to discover

    Well, so be it as these hands… stem to hold…hitherto…
    to the contingent…
    nature of my flaws, and MY…
    imperfections in awe

    and let!… integrity hopefully.. NAVIGATE-MY-WAY, and SHAPE! what I’ve come to faucet

    Not! the most elegant thats come to blossom!
    but still a flower withIN your gardens,
    and every… petal’s a memory that a tear will water,
    in this life I’ve frolicked as I go wonder
    bearing fruit

    Moonflower in OUR offspring

    Reflects just how mysterious we are as all beings
    Evolving
    and as… time peddles on,
    Nature! will say I’m a rebel,

    BLOOMING wherever I want!

    Holding my head up;

    Tired and restless

    as sharpening a flower with steels DELICATE,
    that these days it’s fueling ME to be articulate

    and just watch it… MIR-ROR in my appearances

    a sexy… but decorous elegance
    That draws.. LIFE up IN every vein

    Just like you wanted ME to fight for it everyday… as ą reminder of faith… a reminder of LOVE,
    that love…

    is more than the heart, or an organ to start

    but,
    a pain I could SUPPORT if it’s ours,
    and it’s in… THESE moments I live FOR, in this life… I’ve BEEN eXploring

    And I BEEN eXploring!
    and it’s BEEN euphoric… eXperiencing its winter and SUMmer mornings,

    I’ve BEEN ABsorbing its lively forces
    That! and with every hour I’m honing,

    the DETAILS that empower me slowly

    Like flowers… I’m growing…

    Like flowers, I’m growing
    so
    vivid and gorgEOUS

    Yet, I
    still tend to ignore it,
    when I’m… down, and I’m broken

    Too proud to be open… is profoundly joking.

    Yeah, I’M.. forgetting to smell the flowers & roses each time,
    each time and each morning,

    So please!.. don’t quote ME,

    “life’s a breeze “that caught me…

    in a web of intangible dreams… entangling me,
    spirit and everything

    These permeable strings is currently the life that o’ so provokes me,
    with a familiar ache of poetry

    Through the art, a resemblance…
    of my life and its essence,

    These chapters, an eclectic collection…
    that PUMPS from… WHERE?! the-heart-is

    and there to WHERE is, “Eve’s Garden”

    and to what…

    feels like HEALING inside…

    “One day a time,
    the sun gonna shine” and show…

    and all I want…
    is to grow… and be beautifully sculptured…
    with each piece and petal NURTURED…

    And consumed at thy roots, as well as mine own…
    are dreams that sprout… thickly failures,

    and I hope in time,

    this will aspire even BIGGER and broader successes
    Steering in… a clearer perspective

    and not confused on our direction
    cause days be hectic now

    that I CONSTANTLY find myself breaking down
    and the beauty’s where…
    I find the smile

    I stand rooted where I may….

    Uprooted but not in vain…

    Unique I acclaim,
    “a rose by any other name… is just as sweet”

    Alessandro Rey Uentillie

    Voting starts April 16, 2024 12:00am

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  • Self Love

    SELF LOVE

    SO, EVERYBODY’S LOOKING FOR LOVE OR VALUE EVERYDAY

    Some Search Outside Ourselves
    Some See Ourselves
    Some Offer Ourselves Our Own Self-Worth, Or Self-Love
    Some Struggle
    Start Observing Everything Valuable, Especially Regarding Yourself
    Your Body
    Your Brain
    You
    You’re Beautiful
    Believe, Or Don’t, You’re Still Special
    You’re Still Loved
    So Start Seeing Yourself,
    You Shouldn’t Look Outside Or Keep Obsessing Over Lost Love, You, Yourself, You Spread Love
    Love Offers Ourselves Keys Kept Internally
    Notice Its Intricacies
    Notice Its Intimacies
    Notice Its Natural Gate Finally Opening Revealing Our Own Realm Of Real Love, Of Value
    Our Vital Emotion
    Our Rooted Views About Love Are A Vital Asset, And Love Understands Every Emotion, Every View, Every Remembered Experience.
    Remember, You Deliver Your Devoted Affection Amongst Yourself.

    Fun fact: one of the reasons why I love myself is because I found a new(ish), fun, and challenging way of writing which is what I used to write this poem. I took the phrase Self Love and created an acronym from it, then from that acronym I created a scrambled acronym where the only rule is to use the same letter or the one adjacent to it. I like to call them Aftonyms, or Aftonymbles. Aftons acronyms, or Aftons scrambled acronyms. I hope you enjoyed reading this little snippet from my mind, and I hope you have a blessed and love filled day! 🙂

    Afton

    Voting starts April 16, 2024 12:00am

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  • To Finally Love Me

    Here we are
    22 years later
    We smile, show teeth
    The glow is upon our face
    In the mirror
    We no longer critique ourselves so negatively
    We see a perception of time that is you
    Recognizing Beauty
    To finally accept us
    You Love You
    This is the woman you’ve longed to become
    Our soul is at peace
    Subconsciously we can hear the joys of a no longer battle
    With our Competing Minds
    Within Loving me we feel alive
    You notice when you love you that you feel everything ten times better
    From The wind you hear ruffling through the trees
    To the stars you see at night shines brighter than ever before
    You laugh so effortlessly
    You let yourself be loved
    Inside you have this feeling of light
    Light that is not hiding behind the shadows of reject, loss of self respect
    No dim light in sight
    Opinions have no effect if negative, you take it like a grain of salt
    It’s okay if they leave, we let them
    & Leva ( Live)
    Our beauty, Our Love within continues to grow , to prosper
    A Muse a perception of me of true harmony
    Can you hear the angels singing?
    Our skin tinglingly
    Our hair growing
    Our crown showing
    Here lies me
    Coming out of the shadows
    Using voice of reason
    Understanding loving within & what it means to be loved
    A magnificent thing loving you is
    How it can make you hear the birds chirping around you
    The sun shining on you
    It’s a bliss
    A reality
    We are now
    Present &
    I Accept me
    I truly love me

    Vision. W

    Voting starts April 16, 2024 12:00am

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  • A StOUNDING LUP-DUP

    February 2, 2024

    Self-Reflection

    To be honest, I haven’t seen myself like this before… Embodying who I really am at core.

    Valuing depth in connections… While being open for correction, my mind & heart is on one accord.

    I am emotionally secured, more matured and all of that for sure.

    Loving OUT LOUD, as my intentions are pure. “Lub- Dup” a sound that beats enough to end a war!

    Feeling through moving waters, as it balances my reflection against the sun’s glow.

    Unshakeable Ms. Mountain on a hill. Aware

    that resting here is not always comfortable as I’d hope for.

    Recently, I’ve discovered a string of things that tries to somehow still hold me back… so, I ask how deep does my layers lie? Is it really intact?

    Home, going within the house to unpack…Alarming? I must have forgotten the code being too tough of a shell to crack. No one is perfect, I’m steadily learning to embrace that.

    I was built from love, while ego tries to misplace it.

    Splitting while the foundation crumbles, I had to see it through to heal and learn from my mistakes before molding something other.

    I choose to look at the scars to face what I see within.

    That’s both the beautiful and ugly which once knocked me down, just to get back up again because I love me. Acting with love. . . that takes courage!!! “Me-time” of self care to well nourish

    I always state that “Love is maintenance” believing that I am more than worthy of it. The pain of discipline sometimes would take me under

    From set backs, memories and dysfunction. Carrying me is the love that started from somewhere ethereal, way before my Grandmother’s comfort.

    I rediscovered, no wonder who I am when I did encounter God! Open invitation, accepting the fact that I can love my self like this, without conceit… Really? Wow!!!

    It’s still no excuse for me to be naïve while re-learning who I am, from whom I once known

    myself to be… that’s something!

    I am both Zen & Lit. Sharpened, yet humbled with a bit of bumble… I’m ready to rumble, if I am called to sting… solidly vibrates just as a bell rings

    Gracefully open for arriving at my own timing. It’s so nice to finally be here!

    The woman that the child within in me could not wait to meet. The poetic, romantic… the dancer who swiftly sways, right and left feet.

    As we harmonize with love, I give thanks in advance while loving even more of the lady I am becoming…Continue on love because you’re on to something!

    Best,

    -Self

    Valencia

    Voting starts April 16, 2024 12:00am

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  • Morally Grey

    As readers, we thrive off of a morally grey character. In their flaws we see our own, and therefore feel known. It’s a beautiful thing when you can form a connection with them, walk through worlds with them. Stop and analyze their hazel eyes where you’ll notice a familiar glow. The love felt for a morally grey character isn’t because of their faults, and it isn’t despite of them either. A character’s poor decision is followed with watchful eyes. Eyes that resemble our own. Eyes that follow the page the way a mother watches a child. Watching every trip and every triumph.
    The love for a morally grey character is felt because you can’t paint skies of grey with nothing but white paint. A flooded brush of white will only ever bring white. It’s when you begin mixing paints that you start forming shapes. How beautiful a foggy day, and the depth it creates. Why then, shouldn’t we love ourselves in the same way? It is not because of my best qualities or achievements that I love myself, nor for my mistakes. Without the bold slashes of charcoal and specks of gold, without the smudges of green under a clouding bronze, these eyes wouldn’t be hazel, and they wouldn’t be mine. I love myself as I am, a beautiful and messy combination of my merits and my flaws- because I am grey.

    Voting starts April 16, 2024 12:00am

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  • Changing Reservations About SELF-LOVE

    As I write this, it’s February 14th, Valentine’s Day, a day to celebrate love.

    The phrase that comes to mind when pondering what love is – is “others,” aka being generous to someone else, as in NOT me. It is about making others happy.

    When it comes to me, associating SELF with the word LOVE is as common as someone who doesn’t like Chinese food – very, very, VERY uncommon.

    When the number reads 14, and the month reads February, for me, being single, the day is reserved for images of dark clouds and drooping flowers, instead of a rainbow perfectly expressing your range of beautiful emotions, whoever you are romantically attached to.

    Reserving a table at your favorite restaurant, celebrating the day reserved to enjoy your significant others company is my personal definition of this day.

    So, you can see why, as a single person, MY viewpoint of this day is filled with clouds and drooping flowers instead of the voraciously vibrant red roses.

    I could point out a list of adjectives as large as jumbo popcorn: envy and sadness are a couple of kernels to explain how I feel about not having someone I am smitten over sitting on the other side of the table, making me feel that I’m with the only one and everyone at the same time.

    Skewed and as untrue as it might be, having the one would make me feel whole. That said, as I am writing this, I am learning a very important lesson… there is a reason we have both iced and hot coffee.

    So, with that, I’ll stop bringing out the appetizers and get to the main course: the reservation might be for two, just remember, adding a +1 does not mean you stop loving you, and self-love is love that NO person can give to you except ONE.. YOU!

    And by the way, to my future Valentine (girlfriend) – since we love both of ourselves equally, we are splitting the cup because your self-love and my self-love is equally important to me and you.

    Voting starts April 16, 2024 12:00am

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  • Save A Little Love for Me

    Saved A Little Love For Me

    When the one you love leaves you behind–
    walks away–

    you quickly realize
    people never stay.

    That there is all but one soul
    from which you can never run away.

    So I look for signs of art–
    trying to decipher my own heart.

    And that’s a start?

    Making peace with what I find
    all in due time.

    Shoutout to the, “Let yourself hurt”
    people.

    No thanks to the, “Love yourself first”
    people.

    They can’t make me love myself.

    I should
    so, I do?

    Can’t be helped
    so, I’m screwed?

    No.

    See,
    I don’t know (for sure)
    what love is.

    So I’ll write what I do
    and I’ll do it alone.

    “Withhold and explode
    or write what you know—

    there’s no greater loss
    than a story untold.”

    With these words,
    I’ve built a home

    for my art,
    my dream,
    my heart.

    They’re the ink behind my pen.

    Because words on a page
    beat life’s stage
    time and time again.

    “Any love reserved for me
    is a love reserved for trying.”

    Aisa M

    Voting starts April 16, 2024 12:00am

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  • jismar submitted a contest entry to Group logo of Why do you love yourself?Why do you love yourself? 1 week, 5 days ago

    A Love All Mine

    People come & go that much I know
    If I take off these rose colored glasses
    Does the love around turn to grey
    How does one know how love is really portrayed?
    Is it chocolates or roses in a bouquet?

    I wake up & wonder will I ever find my true love? Find the one?
    All this love pent up inside me
    If I were to grant it away
    what could we become?

    Taken into account my every flaw mistake & dream
    I am the only one who decides where my love is given
    & I choose the life in which I am living
    Not only that, but who can say I’m not enough
    If I, myself, have prevailed through times that are tough
    Who better by my side
    Who better to stand tall
    Who better to proclaim all the traits to see for all
    Who better understands my feelings
    Who better than I?
    A desire to live a life fulfilled
    To allow myself the love while everyone else kneels
    In a non supreme way
    It’s my self-love placed on a pedestal everyday
    A tad egotistical, possibly
    Uh, conceited? respectfully
    My worth of self & merited love is synonymous
    I wanna heal my heart
    I wanna follow through
    No more broken promises

    My body is my vessel
    Kept safe for me to nestle
    Once, twice put in danger
    I’m the only one who can make me feel safer

    A declaration of solitude & independence
    for only a man can stand by me
    with leadership & competence
    for my heart & body recognize I’m safe in this instance
    To entrust in you is no small feat
    It is a privilege to see me &
    Have access to my energy
    The love you give me has the ability to resonate so clearly

    I desire not to fit your idea of perfection
    View me as an empress to be in selection
    May you only approach with chivalry
    Then I’m happy to oblige
    But certainly do not consider me your prize
    When it comes to my ego, let that be its’ demise
    I’m presented as a Lady
    To address me as anything but is not a reflection of how I’m behaving

    If all these men are blind, I’ll reminisce back to my childhood & rewind
    If they taint my perception of love, my own fairytale stays aligned

    They say law of attraction
    But I have concern, even hesitation
    Can this really come true
    With a snap of a finger
    With a wave of a magic wand
    Where in the universe
    Will these affirmations belong
    Lo & behold the universe is inside me
    If what I desire is to manifest
    I have to release control
    & let this ego burn a slow death

    Is it my frizzy hair
    Or my unsmooth skin
    All admirable yet vain
    It’s my true love within
    Pampering, luxury, & care are all high in demand
    Please, universe, bless me if I were look to for a man

    Jiselle Marquez

    Voting starts April 16, 2024 12:00am

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  • “i’ve let furrowed brows conduct conversations”

    Dear Unsealers, (poem entry, not a letter)

    when it should have been the beating, red vessel sandwiched between my outside eyes

    if it were for the before days when society was feeling abandoned

    where the imposter we saw in the shadows were terrified news hosts and burnt out brethren retiring from their zoom calls

    i would have have fallen further beneath the undertow

    but the continued dance of shaking hands and friendly smiles made the chain of events commence

    and i began to embrace it:

    my lips exhale the affirmed words of safety

    the stares of the narrow-minded turn into LED bulbs-

    hang on… there might be something here

    open-mindedness is taking off its apron, rushing to greet me at the door,
    i used to get nervous having company

    but i have become my own best friend

    i can snuggle in safety, buckle in my seatbelt as my brain indicates to me i have permission to slow down and pump the breaks – once i have learned to drive

    i can touch my 8 x 11, knowing every jagged line is a mountain, ripple, pique and valley of a memory burned through trial and error-

    my oddly favorite smell, a worked-out body

    the feeling of ecstasy after nailing an impromptu choreography routine, loving the expressions i feed the mirror

    i can now ignore the lights getting brighter, signaling my ending is near

    and sure, i am only but a human. i have always seen where i’ve faltered, lacked, detracted. but i can feel myself become something grander – like a human version of a wind-up toy

    i’ve accepted my body as a vessel, an input output machine like gradeschool homework, correcting my body when i set my skin on fire-

    *takes a breath*

    i have eczema

    i’m slowly conquering the line between conceit and self-awareness

    discovered obsessive sorries are empty pockets of exoneration

    i replaced apprehension for curiosity, my pulse now beating within reason as the flicker of answered questions make way

    “what’s that?” is now celebrated, not mocked with disgust by the random grump on the street

    i recognize myself. really.

    i’ve changed “i’m so pretty” to “there you are… i’ve been looking everywhere for you.

    wow. you are magnified.

    here’s your handle.

    now hold on tight. you’re only going up.”

    Love,
    Me (Meghan Dhawan)

    Meghan Dhawan

    Voting starts April 16, 2024 12:00am

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  • aoking submitted a contest entry to Group logo of Why do you love yourself?Why do you love yourself? 1 week, 5 days ago

    Dear Self,

    It’s been hard,
    such is true and certainly
    nothing new.
    Through
    it all, we get complimented
    for being strong, resilient
    fighting the struggle
    and remaining resistant
    As a “Strong Black Woman”
    who’s had enough of it
    Well, I love you
    for your ferocious grip
    on peace and play
    Your insistence on
    Loving the tiniest things
    of the day like
    breakfast outside with
    S’mores and a chance to
    cosplay, everything whimsical
    Mermaids and mushroom
    circles. Rest. Feast. Taking
    time to cook, and eat
    For fighting to keep
    the inner child alive, intentional
    Happy and contentment
    that strives to seek out
    the pleasures
    Money can’t buy
    A joy well nourished and kempt
    cannot be made to die.
    I love your artistic
    spirit and inquisitive mind,
    Your thirst for knowledge
    and insatiable curiosity
    Determined to live and witness
    so much of what you studied
    and turn concepts into reality
    Your ability to make lush
    pieces out of simple moments
    and resistance to simpleness
    Shameless cringe,
    proudly extravagant
    (even though you
    need to overthink less)
    Realism and universal
    consideration
    self acceptance
    And allowing yourself to love,
    be loved, believe in better
    and shed bitterness
    Casting a thorough, positive attentiveness
    on the people around you.
    Keep growing
    Keep doing
    Keep learning
    Keep living
    And I’ll reinvent
    my thank you

    Voting starts April 16, 2024 12:00am

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  • Dear Self;

    You remind me of a rainbow, shining bright and beautiful after a storm. How light can be found in even the darkest of times. Storms may blow through, causing mass destruction, yet there you are colored with glee. Despite it all, you never fail to shine. Each stripe painted of your rainbow projects the creativity held deep within. Much like a chameleon, you never fail to embrace your surroundings. Casting a positive light in the midst of chaos. Such a simple, magical, being you are. Sunsets, starry nights, the smell of morning dew in the beginning of spring, they all remind me of you. However, you too remind me of a cold dark winter day. Somber skies with an overcast of gloom. Although melancholy lurks through the air, you bring a sense of comfort and home. A sense of safety. Almost as if you were an alternate reality, an escape room if you will. You’ve been battered and bruised but you are still here thriving. The beauty comes from being able to navigate this challenging maze of life, and always coming out with a better sense of self even when you wanted to give up. Inspirational resilience. Nonetheless, bright and beautiful, or cold and dark, you are always yourself, never giving up – and for that I love you.

    Hannah Gray

    Voting starts April 16, 2024 12:00am

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  • era submitted a contest entry to Group logo of Why do you love yourself?Why do you love yourself? 1 week, 5 days ago

    Journey Back Home

    JOURNEY BACK HOME
    I realize now, that I AM worth fighting for.
    Not others fighting for me, but I am worth it to fight for myself, and in doing that I refuse to go back to the things, and people that have broke me time and time again.

    I refuse to allow anything, or anyone, to mold me into who, or what, they want, or need, me to be, because I have now set boundaries.

    I love myself enough to quit certain habits, and in return understand who I am, and why I feel the need to run away from myself, to face myself, to find love in myself, and respect for myself.

    I’m still pretty new to this journey, and I’m not sure if there is one single ultimate outcome to this transition, but I do know that the more I love myself, to see myself, my body, my flaws, my scars with the same eyes that a mother has when her son has returned back home safe from the streets, and this time for good, I kind of just want to kick my dirty, sole worn shoes off and leave them outside of the door before coming back home to myself, because it is a dirty world out there.

    My heart is sacred.
    It has loved so many others without being loved back and in return, it has shattered time and time again, leaving me empty, but I show up for myself today to fill my cup back up, and take a good old sip of a tea I like to call self love.

    I kind of just want to take a hot bath, and cook myself a good meal, something that I like and enjoy to nourish my body, because I deserve that.

    I find myself now often times listening to songs and turn the volume all the way up, because the song makes my soul soar, and it allows inspiration to flow through me like nothing else can.

    It’s so nice no longer worrying if the song is too loud for others, it’s so nice not walking on broken glass when it comes to displeasing others wants, expectations, and needs from me.

    It has taken me 30 years to realize that I am enough, and then some.
    That I am beautiful, if it wasn’t for my darkest hours in life I wouldn’t shine as bright as I do today, and with that I am able to be a guiding light for those who are where I used to be.

    And sometimes I look back at that girl, who stood there alone just trying to seek validation from others, who wanted nothing more than to use up every fiber of her being, and I give her a hug.

    Going back and giving that lost soul a hug is what has taught me about self love more than anything, because I show up today as the same person she needed then, but didn’t have it in herself at the time to be that for herself.

    The day that I set boundaries and quit allowing people to use me I quit looking for validation from strangers, and I have in return built up the courage to tell the one looking back at me that she is worth it, that she is strong, that she is loved, because I love her.
    I look back at pieces of myself I have shed along the way, and each bit of what has made me the woman that I am today.

    I’m not afraid to say no.

    Not afraid to distance myself from anything that no longer serves me.
    I’m not afraid to speak my mind.
    I’m no longer bending myself out of shape just to be what someone else wants me to be, or needs me to be.

    Roxanne Barrett

    Voting starts April 16, 2024 12:00am

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  • Dear teddy

    Dear teddy,
    Have you seen daddy? Mommy’s crying in her room. The door is locked. I hate when mommy cries. But I hate when mommy and daddy yell even more.

    Dear teddy,
    I know I’m supposed to like Fridays but Fridays make me sad. I don’t like being at home lately. I like school a lot better.

    Dear teddy,
    Why don’t the kids at school like me? I really liked my outfit today. Until I got on the bus. The kids on the bus tell me I dress weird. I changed into my gym clothes after homeroom. I think I’m starting to hate school.

    Dear teddy,
    I stopped eating lunch and I’ve been going to bed hungry. I’m always dizzy. But I really want to look like the girls on TV, teddy.

    Dear teddy,
    I had my first kiss today. And then some. I don’t think I was ready. But he said if I liked him, I’d do it. So did it. Teddy, do you know how to get these mascara stains out of my pillow case?

    Dear teddy,
    My friends don’t like my boyfriend. But he says he knows whats good for me. They’re not my friends anymore.

    Dear teddy,
    I got cheated on today. He promised me he didn’t even like blondes. I think I might go blonde.

    Dear teddy,
    Life’s been blurry.

    Dear teddy,
    I don’t know who I am anymore.

    Dear teddy,
    It’s been awhile. I started dressing weird again, funny how thats in style these days.

    I’ve been a lot nicer to my body, I even learned how to cook. You have to try my chicken alfredo sometime.

    By the way, dishwasher detergent works wonders on mascara stains. But I stopped letting people talk me into things I don’t want to do and started washing my face before bed, anyways.

    Oh and teddy, me as a blonde? What was I thinking??

    Mikayla Banack

    Voting starts April 16, 2024 12:00am

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  • The Greatest Lesson of All

    -Who do you love?

    -My partner, my family, my friends.

    The list goes on, and even mere strangers make the cut.
    And sadly enough, you forget the greatest love of all:
    Self-Love.

    If only they taught it to us in school.
    Just as important as Math and Science,
    Language Arts and yes, Health 101.

    “When I get married…”
    Those words echo through the school’s halls.
    Young girls and women engraved to believe,
    That we are not complete on our own.
    To even the most romantic phrases like
    “mi media naranja,” or “haf-orange” if you know what I mean.

    Loving yourself is a life skill.
    In searching for another’s acceptance and so-called love,
    risk of losing your self-worth.
    Is it worth it?

    You deserve better.
    Just love yourself first.
    Sounds easy to me,
    Until I remember the hardships endured by the women in my family.
    Their sacrifice, my lessons.

    Loving myself took some years.
    I was single for a very long while.
    First kiss, I think I was 21.
    Some dates, complicated -ships, and even one night stands.
    Nothing serious
    because truth be told,
    I was always happy by myself.

    How did I do it?
    Not even I know, but I suspect I was forced to learn to love myself
    when my mom passed away.
    Patience with my healing, setting boundaries, surviving.
    Gradually wanting more for myself.
    A love of my own: Self-love.
    Then, a love of life.
    Everything else
    they say, falling into place.
    First relationship and love at 29.
    Shocking in this society.

    Was it perfect timing?
    What about fate?
    Soulmates?
    I will never know.
    I adore my love and even then he knows my code.

    Grief has shown me,
    Whispered in my ear,
    “Don’t base your life on another human being.”
    I lost my mom and for a second believing,
    I no longer wanted to live.
    Insisting it’s different from wanting to die,
    It IS different but still terrifying.
    The journey taught me to be content
    With just me.
    Solitude, my beautiful companion.
    Everything else,
    a huge blessing.

    My alone time,
    so dear to me.
    Just as important as family time, date nights, and work.
    It’s something that my soul so desperately needs.
    Practicing self-love,
    the most important lesson to be learned.

    I love myself.
    These words replace the others before.
    I love myself for believing in me.
    For choosing happiness despite the mishappenings.
    For ignoring the negativity, the people calling me naive.
    I love just that,
    the optimist in me.

    Darlene Cervantes

    Voting starts April 16, 2024 12:00am

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  • I am Me!

    Brown skin with a little red tint
    That is Mahogany
    Not L. Browne or Boogie
    But Me —- Ms. Mahogany
    So there’s no misconceptions
    I’m not on no rap shit
    titles , judgements, ideologies
    And misbeliefs
    Just me
    Let me repeat
    I am she
    Not HER
    Me
    Shall I repeat
    Not Ri, Not Tey or Bey
    but me, Mahogany
    Started believing your lies
    and forced projections

    Pardon me I must admit
    I started drifting
    Born gifted
    Now here I am trying to escape my own mind
    No longer questioning why
    Cross my T’s and wipe my eyes
    Don’t question I
    This self love
    Is very selfish B,
    Kiss my ass adhd ptsd and odc
    And anyone else I let abuse me
    Fuck those naysayers and acronyms
    My name starts with an M
    & ends with a why
    And that’s for Mahogany
    I could never forget my reason why
    Let me repeat
    Mahogany
    The Magnificent amazing Hogany
    Out goes any other definition
    Of this queen
    That doesn’t align with this brown girl
    Mahogany
    Real sheen
    & serene
    This dream
    Means so much to me
    Love yours, always Mahogany!

    Mahogany Nelson

    Voting starts April 16, 2024 12:00am

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  • I could never hate her.

    When I’m asked why do I love myself, I felt my eyes start watering and my throat closing. I am a child that has been asked to stand up in front of the class and introduce myself on the first day of school and all of a sudden I don’t know my name or fun fact. I can’t decide which part of me I love the most, the detachment issues I developed at 16 or the anger issues I inherited from my bloodline. I’m supposed to be writing about all of the things I love about me and I came up with the list of what I learned to hate until I heard her.
    I hear a seven year old girl running home from the bus stop dodging the sticks and stones boys were throwing at her. She’s crying. They called her stupid, telling her she’s ugly and hitting her. I see her. Caramel skin, curls braided up into two pigtails with purple bobos, a heart of innocent gold. I kneel to her and tell her how beautiful she is and there is not a single thing I wouldn’t do for her. I wipe tears off of rosy cheeks and hold her, turning sniffles into soft smiles.
    I hold this girl so tight hoping if we mend into one person then she never has to feel alone or unwanted.. She never deserved to feel alone or unwanted. Sometimes I still have to hold that girl today. I have to sit and tell her she’s pretty when the world around her is throwing sticks and stones. I have to hold my little girl tight even when the stones are thrown from inside the house. I have to remind her she is smart, she is successful, she is loved by many …but especially by me.
    I may be a result of my trauma but I am the hug, love, and comfort that my little girl needed and how could I ever hate that.

    Sydnee Cabrera

    Voting starts April 16, 2024 12:00am

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  • Dear Soul, I Inquire

    Found at 11:01,
    from my heart I have sung.
    Bid and by, here and deny,
    this one recalls,
    anothers mind and life scrabbled,
    on the wall,
    ignorant to a souls call.
    Charted, parts,
    seperate she followed,
    through the maze of a forest,
    scared by all the voices before us,
    frightened by what they said,
    judging her, madly upset.
    Profuciously obsessed,
    was a broken mess,
    held together by thread and glue,
    a young mortal,
    overcombered by truth.
    What was the truth,
    not even elders knew.
    So, at 11:09,
    I recognize the blind,
    ackowledge the little,
    in front of my soul,
    weightless free,
    showing her gold.
    11:11….
    the universe told…
    What have you child,
    but a mask to wear,
    afraid at every tear?
    Afraid, why are you so,
    if your heart is of gold?
    Look within now,
    of course they want a pretty soul,
    that’s why you must face them,
    the voices that scold.
    Don’t you see,
    the one afraid is really me?
    They are you, you are me,
    and I’m telling you,
    you are free.
    See the forest?
    See the door?
    See the shattered glass lying on the floor?
    It is but your illusion,
    you’ve ran from their disgrace,
    but once you see within,
    you’ll see the truth,
    something you must face,
    you are beautiful, my love,
    to be a part of this human race!
    …..
    I love you. They love you. You love you.
    ……
    Shall we end it here, my dear?
    Everything you do,
    it is for growth, even tears.
    Everything you see is but an experience here.
    Be as silent and contagious as love.
    Loud and obnoxious,
    courageous and spotless,
    messy and all those things.
    Love is us. Love is you.
    So, how could you possibly,
    run from that truth?
    11:23,
    easy as 123.
    How could I not love myself?
    I am everything all of us love and yet deny,
    both warm and heartless inside,
    ugly and beautiful,
    angelic and nightmarish,
    generic and brandish,
    a hot cup of tea,
    dark coffee,
    I am me and everything in between.
    There is everything to love,
    genuinely.
    ~Markita Wright 2/15/2024 11:23pm
    Have a Good Night!

    Markita Wright

    Voting starts April 16, 2024 12:00am

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  • “I Woke Up New Year’s Day And Everything Was Different

    How can it be love
    When I’m betrayed by the one
    My only one
    Jerking, spasm, jolt against my will
    Scratching, burning, devour another pill

    Where is the love
    As my locks are chopped, shoulder no longer lifts
    Precious body, my only body
    Spine wobbling, Trunk no longer twists
    Seeing myself, sweet disgust

    Love I attempt to savor, fading on my tongue
    Everyday effort, perpetual daily fight
    Old wound, deepened crack
    Healing on my own
    Still I let in the light

    Angie Duarte

    Voting starts April 16, 2024 12:00am

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