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you can do it! Big thanks to Mr. Walt Disney for sharing those words of wisdom. It took me way too long to listen, and I'm finding the truth in these words with each passing day.

Earlier this year, I became a published poet for the first time. What a fantastic feeling! t was a desire I had in middle school that did not come back to life until many years later.

Do you know what's even more exciting than having a poem published? Holding a poetry anthology with not one but five of your poems published in it!

That's what happened on my birthday. September 22, the same day as Bilbo and Frodo Baggins. Yessiree...I am part Hobbit! And proud to share the day with these fun-loving fellows.

Oops, I got lost in Hobbiton, anyways...on said day, I held this book in my hand, and it's a feeling I want for all of you who crave the same sensation.

I'm living proof that it can be done. If someone who has had more doubt than confidence can... Do you know who else can? YOU!

Don't let another day pass without writing, painting, taking pictures, dancing, playing Bingo, coloring, gardening, or whatever your heart begs you to do. You'll be a success to who matters; that inner being who wants you to allow them the freedom to try.

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There are points in time when someone feels like they've arrived. Wednesday at 2:33 PM, driving down Bernal Avenue about to turn on Main Street in Pleasanton, I thought it; I thought I may have just arrived.

My fingers tingled, clutched around the steering wheel, and my heart accelerated like the car's engine when I pressed the gas pedal, and then the perfect song played for me. The Dj spun this track just for me—it's my imagination, and I've always heard if you can dream it. Thanks, record spinner, or is it an MP3 player?

Anyways, then, Patrick Swayze magically appeared in the passenger seat, okay...Sorry for the detour. Back to what happened.

I've Had the Time of My Life blasted from my speakers, and I called my son, who was in the car behind me. There couldn't have been a more fitting song for this moment (that's why I knew it was intentional). So, I cranked up the volume, belted it out, and smiled at my baby (adult son) in the rearview mirror, who was also dancing in time with the bounce coming from my car seat, and did something I rarely do—I took in this accomplished sensation. I let the warm light encase me in joy. I soaked in this crucial outing with every breath I took and every lyric I sang. I also saw the Dirty Dancing film playing in my head. Who doesn't see Patrick's

moves when that song plays? I know every step he and Jennifer make in that iconic scene!

When I parked in front of the quaint corner store, the song ended, and I took a big breath and released it. I walked through the indie bookstore door and found one of my BOOKS in the front, next to I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (I just read it, how funny). MY BOOK in a store perched next to a best seller. One in adaptation for a movie! My book, wow…then I slowly walked over to Biographies and Memoirs and found my second one. Right next to Stanley Tucci and a bunch of other famous writers. Oh, my corazón.

While I stood In front of that skyscraper of a bookshelf, I paused and got it. I got "it."

Where I arrived today was here— one of my favorite places to be. I was no longer just a visitor among the pages of words, stories, places, and poems. My name now logged into a bookstore computer, and parts of my life and imagination had a price tag, nicely placed on the back of the covers I designed.

So how did I get here? One small step at a time. One shameful feeling, slipping through my toes and into the earth to be buried and lost. And most of all, because of the people who believed in me and encouraged me to trust myself. Not an easy thing to do for someone who grew up thinking she had no gifts and wasn't worth most things.

I found myself standing there trying to learn how to celebrate, me, and I realized this celebration is for us all. Every person who told me I could do it. Everyone who gave me love, those who didn't, those who walked away, and those who stayed.

For all those told, they couldn't. For Hispanics and women who feel their voices are not worthy. Especially for the countless souls who do better than where they come from yet never can forget.

Art and positive expression are forever a win for EVERYONE, and I could not do or be the person I am without all of you. So thank you for helping me to take a step closer to dreams I never accepted I had. Thank you <3 I owe it all to you. (See, wasn't that exceptional song timing?)

It's never too late to rise from the ashes and bloom,


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Flares bursting through the bare branches,

casts vertical shadows a mile long

on the frozen pond.

How can something with such beauty

elicit so much danger?

One incorrect step and I could perish

without another word spoken or heard,

into an iridescent slush of silence.

I don’t want my last view to be the sky,

a magnificent sight, although not the shade of blue

I'd wish to see before there's no

existence of me.

If I proceed with caution,

across the slippery basin,

there may be a different outcome.

But I'd be tiptoeing

through the experience.

So many moments,

I wished I hadn't been chilled

by the fear of you fading away.

Numb by desire rising

from my missing piece.

Maybe, if I were me…

Your heart would have melted

into the warmth of my eyes

and seen yourself as I did.

Fingers forever entwined

with mine,

not released to a freedom


Now I question…


Monique Rardin Richardson

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