"Hold fast to dreams, For if dreams die, Life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly…” - Langston Hughes, American poet
Tiredness is a universal feeling, and it’s not just physical; it is an emotion we feel, too. Whether you’ve been working at your full-time job, taking care of children or elderly folks, cleaning up hurricane debris, or recovering from illness, life can be tiring, I know. Sometimes you may get so tired that it seems you cannot go on another day. "Not another day can I face that pile of rubble, deal with that struggle," you might think. It can surely wear a person down and put his dreams on hold.
I believe that is why God gave us so many things to help ease our troubled minds. Immediately we think of a restorative night’s sleep, a long prayer session, or a talk on the phone with a trusted friend or family member, and those are very good things. But He gave us even more.
He also gave us creative ways to express our emotions. Whether it be through singing out loud on stage or in your car, a long walk on the beach, painting something that moves you, or cooking a fabulous meal, there are ways to shed our emotional tiredness and help us refocus on our dreams, no matter how simple. I have found, since my childhood, that poetry does that for me, too. And it probably does for you, as well, since songs are essentially poetry set to different types of music, and I am quite certain you like music.
I was taught to love poetry by the absolute best educators. That love began as a little flame sparked by my parents, who read to me Dr. Seuss, Hans Christian Andersen, and “A Child’s Garden of Verses,” among many other books, from the time I was born.
Later I was introduced to more sophisticated poetry by my phenomenal English teachers in Port St. Joe, Virginia Harrison and Margaret Key Biggs. They introduced me to such greats as Emily Dickinson, William Shakespeare, and William Carlos Williams, instilling in me an enthusiasm for the words of these humans that I, in turn, worked hard to instill in my own students years later.
I especially enjoyed the poetry of the great American poet Langston Hughes. Mrs. Harrison had me write a research paper on Hughes one year in school, and I grew to love his work and his message as a result. Hughes' writing isn’t frilly or complicated; his words paint pictures and tell stories of his experiences with little things, like rain or phone calls, or larger issues, like exhaustion, racism, and poverty.
Two of Hughes’ poems in particular stand out to me today, and I hope they will for you, too. In the first, Mr. Hughes wrote that it’s important to hold on to your dreams, because life without dreams is cold and empty. Sometimes it seems life’s difficulties might try to take away our dreams, but we cannot let it.
Mr. Hughes said in the poem “Dreams,” part of which introduced this column,
"Hold fast to dreams,
For when dreams go,
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.”
Another poem that made me think of the struggle of recovering from a tragedy, whether the loss of a loved one, unfair treatment, or a massive hurricane, is one he named simply, “I’m Still Here.”
“Been scarred and battered.
My hopes the wind done scattered.
Snow has friz me,
Sun has baked me,
Looks like between 'em they done
Tried to make me
Stop laughin', stop lovin', stop livin'-
But I don't care!
I'm still here! “
The words of Langston Hughes remind me that through the hard times in this life, whether what we are dealing with is poverty and racism, or loss and despair, we are still here. We are! And that is to be celebrated.
You haven’t given up your hope, your dreams, even though some days it might feel like you have. They’re still there, a flicker of love and light deep inside you. Stoke that fire, friends, in yourself and in those around you whose flame seems to be fading. Keep laughin’, keep lovin’, keep livin’. Don’t let hardship win.
You’re still here, and I’m so glad.
Since we’re on the subject of tiredness, I thought I would share, in closing, a couple of favorite energy-boosting smoothie recipes. Treat yourself!
Peanut Butter-Banana Smoothie with Coffee
6-8 ounces of cold brewed coffee, or 6-8 coffee ice cubes
1 small frozen banana
1/2 cup chocolate milk or almond milk
1 tbsp of peanut butter
1 and 1/2 cup ice cubes
Place coffee, banana, milk, and peanut butter. Blend for a few seconds, then turn off, and add the ice cubes. I like to keep an ice tray full of brewed coffee cubes for this, so it doesn’t water down my smoothies or iced coffee, but you can use regular ice, as well. Blend again to make a frosty, delicious drink. If you really want to treat yourself, top it with whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate syrup. Enjoy!
I used to make “purple cows” for my sons when they were living at home. They got a good dose of calcium and vitamin C, potassium, and other vitamins in this yummy blend. If you like something cold, sweet and fruity, you might want to try a purple cow, too!
Steph’s Purple Cow
2 ripe bananas, peeled (frozen peeled bananas are best, but I’ve used room temperature, as well)
2 cups cold fat free milk
3 tablespoons frozen grape juice concentrate (make sure it’s grape juice, not “grape drink”)
2 tablespoons frozen apple juice concentrate (vitamin C added, preferably)
Place all ingredients in jar of blender, and blend until mixed well. Makes two medium or one large Purple Cow drink.
Stephanie Hill-Frazier is a writer, food blogger and regional television chef, whose on-air nickname is “Mama Steph.” She grew up in Gulf County, on St. Joe Beach, a place she will forever call home.
She is married and has three sons who are poetry lovers, too. You can find more of her recipes atWhatSouthernFolksEat.com.