Dec 31

Poem: What It Means to Be Alive

By Allison Stein

As a new year allows us to refocus our perspectives, I am inspired to share with you my poem “What It Means to Be Alive.” Enjoy!

What It Means to Be Alive

God, teach me to spark the friction of a steadfast flame,
To unlock the burning elixir of a love too raw to name;

To trust the wind, believe in the possibilities I create,
To defy my own gravity, rewrite the tangled words of fate;

To channel the freedom of a silent snowflake's pirouette,
To unearth the heart buried inside a cold silhouette;

To excavate intrinsic passion, the staccato beat of my soul,
To collect the stardust of another spirit until my own is whole;

To send a lilting prayer through the portal of moonbeams,
To align crystal constellations of faraway dreams;

To splash in opalescent waters, relish sunshine's kiss,
To outrun the cinnamon shoreline, taste adrenaline and bliss;

To keep my chin above doubt's whitecaps, insatiable and immense,
To be the whisper of hope in a life of silence;

To etch my initials in the sand, grasp imagination's energy,
To leave footprints tracing this journey as one last lonely elegy;

To forge a legacy strong enough to survive,
To remember why this moment matters—what it means to be alive.

 

 

 

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Nov 28

Journal: Future

By Allison Stein

Within the pages of my journal, I explore not only the person I am but also the person into which I will evolve. At this stage in my life, I find myself contemplating, How will my choices influence the opportunities of the future? Which directions resonate with my purpose and potential?

Below are some insights which have surfaced through the act of writing…

“I believe that part of growing up…and figuring out life is just magical. Right now, every day, every second, I’m trying to be better than I was last time, to improve, to grow.”

  • September 20, 2014: “And indeed, I had grown up; I could feel it in my voice and within my soul.”
  • December 12, 2014: “[L]ike everybody says, people live and learn.”
  • January 1, 2015: “…I have changed so much since that picture was taken—in regards to looks and beyond.”
  • February 27, 2015: “[W]restling with and differentiating the past, present, and future are universal struggles and joys.”

“I love to have aspirations, dreams to hope for and believe in and put faith into.”

  • September 30, 2014: “[M]y ambitions remind me of the potential every opportunity holds, encourage me to pursue these captivating wishes for the future, and—most of all—gift me with the hope that dreams come true.”
  • January 1, 2015: “…I am determined to not give up…”
  • February 27, 2015: “Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted this, and I’ve held on as tightly as I can…”
  • June 29, 2015: “…I’m still relentlessly trying to…make a difference.”

“[B]ut I knew in my heart what was right and what would make me happy in the long run.”

  • January 1, 2015: “…I will keep following my dreams because I am truly passionate…”
  • June 2, 2015: “A year ago, I never would have had the courage to be so sincere…”
  • September 16, 2015: “If I do my best and find the courage to open up to the world, I have reason to accept, celebrate, and be proud of myself.”
  • September 19, 2015: “That’s why I need to fearlessly chase those dreams that burn in my heart.”

“Sometimes it’s hard to listen to my heart.”

  • December 25, 2014: “…I need to make…difficult choices…”
  • August 19, 2015: “I’ve been doubting myself so much lately…”
  • August 25, 2015: “I know I’ve come a long way…but I still have a long way to go, and that gets discouraging.”
  • December 22, 2014: “[M]y heart’s beating in a whirlwind of rhythm.”

“I am scared of growing up.”

  • August 31, 2015: “…I can’t leave all my fears inside me.”
  • September 2, 2015: “[A]ll too soon I’ll have only memories.”
  • September 2, 2015: “The future looms ahead like an ominous storm…”
  • October 2, 2015: “[M]y dreams for the future seem like delusions.”

“I’ll give my worries to God, and He’ll make my future fall into place just the way it’s supposed to.”

  • December 25, 2014: “I have a perspective I’ve never had before…”
  • August 12, 2015: “…I always have faith in God. He knows what He is doing.”
  • August 21, 2015: “The future is scary, and I can’t face it alone…”
  • September 16, 2015: “…God has and always will fit the fragments of my failures and faults into the beautiful mosaic of my life—even if I don’t understand in the passion of the moment.”

“I was at a crossroads.”

  • March 26, 2015: “I worry about the future, but at the same time, I look forward to it.”
  • August 31, 2015: “I am scared often, but sometimes I feel brave.”
  • September 7, 2015: “It was too bad that I had to fight my own battles now.”
  • September 26, 2015: “…I would never regret this.”

“Everybody needs hope.”

  • September 30, 2014: “Setting goals will…give me the mindset that possibilities are unlimited.”
  • August 17, 2015: “We strive to improve ourselves, discover ourselves, become ourselves.”
  • August 17, 2015: “Of course adults still have dreams. Of course they still get sad, angry, and scared. No matter how old humans get, they’re still humans.”
  • October 29, 2015: “And suddenly it all seemed so possible…”

For me, inscribing events and emotions on the page enables me to more purposefully navigate my life. I hope my thoughts inspire you to explore your own aspirations and define your own dreams for the future.

 

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Nov 25

A Courageous Dream

By Allison Stein

To internalize courage is to embrace opportunities ahead without reluctance or regret: Courage means chasing those dreams that set one’s spirit free. As a senior in high school, I have spent too many years wishing and waiting for that mirage of the future to materialize before my eyes. Rather than working toward my dreams, I have invested my effort in goals more practical and objectives more attainable. In retrospect, my desire to conform to expectations has undermined a truer mission to make my own difference.

My goal is to be a writer, and my dream is to change the world in doing so. I have been told that to leave such an indelible impression is a lofty, if not ephemeral, wish, yet I am not afraid of my limits. In fact, I plan to search for those limits and to find them, for only then will I know how far my heart can take me—until I have discovered my full potential, I cannot be satisfied that I am living up to it. As I have pushed myself to discover those boundaries in my final years of high school, I have developed my vision to achieve a postsecondary degree in writing. I have come to acknowledge my own capacity to leave a positive impression and, moreover, my responsibility to make that impact. Perhaps courage is doing with my life not what is easy but what I was born to do.

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Sep 30

Poem: Letter to an Old Friend

By Allison Stein

Writing has provided an expressive outlet and enabled me to speak from my heart. Below is a poem in which I work through emotions otherwise difficult to articulate. It is my hope that you will connect with my words and perhaps be inspired to immerse yourself in a poem of your own. Enjoy!

Letter to an Old Friend

It's funny.
I showed you my bruised soul—
The tears nobody could wipe away—
But you told me I was beautiful.

It’s ironic.
You watched me drown in pain’s icy waters—
Let me fight for each breath of dignity alone—
But you taught me how to live.

It’s bittersweet.
I’ve channeled enough courage to move on—
To escape echoes of old dreams—
But I can never let go of what I used to call love.

It’s unforgettable.
If my heartbeat weren’t swallowed by silence—
If I could find a voice in this smothering regret—
I would thank you.
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Sep 01

Claiming My Heart

By Allison Stein

“Whose life am I living?” The words emanating from my conscience felt like barbs piercing my skin. I was tired of being someone who had to ask. Too often, the question infiltrated my dreams, bled into my veins—because I knew, somewhere in the core of my soul, that I was ashamed of the honest answer. The labels I championed in front of my peers were suffocating, paralyzing: I wanted to be more. As regret washed over me, I vowed to hold myself accountable to live in a way that reflected the spirit within. In the words of Margaret Chase Smith, “The right way is not always the popular and easy way. Standing for what is right, when it is unpopular, is a true test of moral character.” Once I refused to be a compromise, I heard a voice emerge from the silent abyss inside me: Learning to claim my own heart set my soul free.

The heaviest regrets we carry are those desperate moments when we break promises to ourselves. We submerge each other in the palpitation of a pressure, an energy. Popular choices tower over us like all-encompassing whitecaps: Fighting back means drowning. We fantasize about fabricating our hearts until we are deemed normal when our real dreams take wildly different directions. Unspoken laws bombard our minds: How can we break through walls we cannot even see? With building insecurities and mounting fears about the future, we want validation, but too often, conformity is a prerequisite to acceptance. Unfortunately, approval demands more than filtering our souls; it means hiding our potential, sacrificing possibilities, and silencing hope. One step outside the boundary lines makes us inferior. By violating our intrinsic covenants to align with others’ ideals, we are concealing our own principles, depriving ourselves of the gratification of creating lives we believe in.

We must ask ourselves what legacy we want to leave. Would we rather be remembered as passive observers who complied with the labels or as those who broke through barriers, rewrote stereotypes, and defied the gravity weighing us down? We are worth too much to settle for passive roles. We each have conviction and drive: We each have a piece of ourselves to offer to the world. Surrendering the freedom to express the music in our spirits is a mistake; not only will we waste the seconds we spend forging new souls, but blind submission to trends is no escape from judgment. In fact, accepting only what is considered acceptable forces us to scrutinize our own flaws tenfold: We cannot be proud of our voiceless silhouettes when they fulfill just a fraction of the difference we know we can make. If only we share with each other a more genuine glimpse of our integrity, we can take action to leave a more empowering impact.

Ultimately, I have claimed my own heart. I no longer cater to what the rest of the world views as my more perfect self; rather, I follow the ideals crystallized in my conscience. Yes, this means exterior judgment, but it also means liberation from within. No matter how others see my most vulnerable self, I am proud of the person I have become—and as I fall asleep each night, the only opinion still reverberating is my own. Stereotypes cannot penetrate my skin: It is the soul under the labels I have to live with.

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Aug 19

Journal: Success

By Allison Stein

My journal enables me to clarify my aspirations and commit to my dreams. All my life, I have felt compelled to answer the questions, Which choices contribute to my vision of success? Which directions complement my goals?

Below, I attempt to unravel an answer…

“I am determined to challenge the very boundaries of what I can be—my definition of success.”

  • September 20, 2014: “[I]t’s more productive to believe in myself and look at my problems with a little perspective.”
  • September 30, 2014: “[H]aving a plan allows me to identify strategies that could aid me in accomplishing my dreams.”
  • October 24, 2014: “…I want to be my best; pushing myself as far as I can go leaves me with an incredibly rewarding feeling.”
  • August 28, 2015: “I think it’s important to stay goal-oriented.”

“I’ve learned I have the potential to make a difference; I’ve learned not to hide myself.”

  • December 18, 2014: “[E]xperiences have made me stronger.”
  • December 23, 2014: “…I feel my efforts are worthwhile.”
  • January 1, 2015: “…I can’t think of many limits.”
  • February 1, 2015: “…I don’t want fear to take memories away from me…”

“How can I consider myself inferior when I have touched the lives of…people…who in turn have touched my heart?”

  • March 10, 2015: “It was truly magical to think of how far I’d come; getting where I am has taken passion, courage, and tenacity, and I am proud that I never quit despite the challenges I faced.”
  • March 25, 2015: “I thank God for helping me do my best.”
  • April 29, 2015: “…I’ll try to stay optimistic.”
  • May 8, 2015: “…I can’t help hoping…”

“…I’m not a quitter.”

  • November 27, 2014: “…I am proud of how hard I have worked…”
  • December 23, 2014: “I think it is wonderful to sometimes challenge myself with a situation I am completely uncomfortable with.”
  • August 2, 2015: “…I’m a firm believer that people who work hard and trust in God can beat the odds.”
  • August 12, 2015: “Yes, odds were against me, but odds were meant to be beaten.”

“[M]y aspirations would be considered delusions by many, but I champion my goals.”

  • August 31, 2015: “…I have to remember to have courage.”
  • August 31, 2015: “I have to be resilient.”
  • September 14, 2015: “[T]he highest expectations placed upon me are my own.”
  • September 26, 2015: “I couldn’t stop my hopes from sailing.”

“Focus only on people who contribute to your happiness.”

  • August 25, 2015: “Sometimes I worry that I’ve become so accustomed…to being my worst enemy that I don’t know how to be my own best friend.”
  • October 2, 2015: “Respect holds far more dignity than fear.”
  • November 5, 2015: “…I listen to my conscience foremost…”
  • December 30, 2015: “I…stood up for myself more than I ever have in the past.”

“I learned how tough I am, that I’m a fighter. Before all these headaches and heartaches, I never believed that I could be my own best friend and make my own happiness.”

  • June 12, 2015: “It was about going above and beyond, about striving for all one can be.”
  • August 21, 2015: “I’d never…compromise myself.”
  • August 23, 2015: “…I want to do my best and push myself farther than I imagine I’m capable of going.”
  • September 25, 2015: “And how encouraging to know how far I’ve come!”

“Regrets don’t come from failure; they come from taking shortcuts and realizing at the end of the journey that I’ve missed the most enriching part of the experience.”

  • August 2, 2015: “…I wish I’d found the courage…”
  • August 2, 2015: “Even if I lost, I would have liked to know that I made every effort, that I didn’t let fear stifle my potential.”
  • September 13, 2015: “One of my greatest regrets is a chance I was too scared to take.”
  • November 5, 2015: “[I]nstinct told me to go for this.”

The act of defining success has brought me a purposeful life. I hope you, too, find the courage to pursue what you believe in!

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Jul 27

Poem: Souvenir

By Allison Stein

I found the inspiration that ignited this poem on a fishing trip, an escape that changed my perspective, claimed my heart, and quieted my soul. Silence is powerful: Only in the peace of nature could I hear the words reverberating within. Always take a moment to listen.

Souvenir

Trusting the current to propel you
Past smooth waters kissed by the sun
Is liberation.
You live wave by wave,
Cast by cast,
Moment by moment,
Breath by breath.
Your heartbeat slows down,
And your eyes open up.
You stop searching for answers
And begin to revel in the questions,
The mysteries,
The enigmas.
You listen to the rhythm of life.
You breathe in and breathe out.
And when you reach shore,
You wonder if you have to leave this peace behind—
Or can you carry it with you
As a pressed leaf
Or a pretty stone
Or a memory glazed like clay in your heart?
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Jun 30

Can You See the Wind?

By Allison Stein

“What if you trusted the wind / To propel you to the heights of your dreams?” The final lines of my poem linger in my soul as I drift off to sleep and wrestle with my own dreams. I already know the words will be tough to publish, tough to let go of. Poems are like friends in that they somehow become part of me. They make me braver. This one forced me to open the crevices of my heart.

The title poem of my most recent chapbook, “Trust the Wind” is a tapestry of childhood wonders and adolescent wishes. In fact, the core of the piece was conceptualized at age eight while I spent a spring afternoon saturated in soft rays of sunlight. I sat cross-legged on the grass, the blades caressing my skin, and looked across the circle at 10 other facessome familiar, others nameless. I don’t remember being afraid. Aside from preparing to make our First Communion, we had no common ground, but back then, we didn’t need any. We were all people, all worthy of friendship and love. We danced to the same universal song of childhood. Our reactions were simultaneous, instinctive. When our leader passed out bottles of bubbles, we eagerly held our wands up to our lips, watched our very own breath create crystal spheres.

The bubbles were supposed to give us perspective, to illuminate the truth our leader cemented in our young minds. She was chasing a metaphor, but she didn’t call it that. She just asked us if we could see the wind.

We exchanged glances. Not one of us could see it.

“But you believe it’s there?”

Of course, we did. At that very moment, the wind was carrying our bubbles to the opalescent clouds above.

Well, it was the same way with God, she told us. We couldn’t see Him; we could only read His signs. But we could believe. We would always believe. As the words solidified in my spirit, I let the bubbles from my wand escape my line of sight. The way I understood it, if only I trusted the wind, they would get where they needed to go.

I’m older now, and the world is tougher to trust. New experiences have shaped me, strengthened me, hardened me. People have let me down. I’ve learned that friendship isn’t always forever and love isn’t always unconditional. Regrets of yesterday cloud the horizons of today, and I wonder whether I’m truly that good person I used to imagine laughing in the mirror. At eight years old, I was my own hero, but I’m no longer innocent. My mistakes are footprints in the sand, impressions the tide will never wash away. Yet before I can fill the voids I’ve left in the past, I am thrust into the future, thrust into today.

Here I am. The world is colder than I remember, and its evil is darker. Nightmares have evolved from villains in Disney movies to villains on the six-o’clock news. Is the universe honestly so vicious, so hungry for the next tragedy? I want to believe people have good intentions again.

In the past few years, humanity has been conditioned to hate. Or perhaps it always has beenperhaps I have only now opened my soul to the injustice ever-present across generations. Maybe the adults can’t close my eyes anymore. Maybe I have to be brave.

I guess my heart is goodI was baptized cleanbut as an individual, I am powerless. Still cast under the childhood spell of insomnia, I lie awake contemplating a nefarious force I am part of but can’t break away from. The monsters I fight are more real than ever. No longer will a night light assuage my worry, for the fear is no longer an illusionit’s the truth I’m scared of.

Writing is my only freedom. I write to resurrect the emotions of youth, to reconstruct the wonder of watching those iridescent bubbles pirouette in the spring-kissed winda small miracle before my eyes. Or maybe I write to conquer fear, to remember what it means to not be afraid. Putting words on paper makes me feel somehow less alone, like my heartstrings have entwined with others’. Writing gives me faith.

I’ve given up searching the world for truth because my hope lives within me: Every night, I go to bed knowing that God has made a place on this earth for me. Yes, I’ll awake to a world scared to love, but I’ll look to Heaven, look to the sunrise, take comfort in another silent sign from God. I’ll still believe in hope.

Learning to trust the wind again has set my soul free. To believe my life is propelled by the will of Godthat somewhere out there, a future for me is inscribed in the starsis to break away from the fear that shatters my faith. Let the breath of God carry my heart. I’ll get where I need to go.

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Apr 03

Revision: Shatter the Chains

By Allison Stein

To edit a poem is to amplify its words. Indeed, the revision process has enabled me to elevate my work and empowered me to forge a more profound connection with readers. Below, please find the first draft of “Shatter the Chains” as well as the more polished piece that resulted from restructuring the core of the poem. It is my wish that you, too, are inspired to channel the creativity essential to transforming a dream into a reality. Enjoy!

First Draft:

Break Through the Chains

I am a fabrication.
Only the richest, rawest part of my soul is genuine,
Pure enough to emanate this muffled song:
Echoes of a heartbeat disintegrate in silence.

I am a compromise.
Insecurity conquers my courage,
Stifles my stamina:
Freedom fades to the shadows of dreams.

I am a disguise.
The confines of a stereotype shelter me
As unspoken lies clutter my mind:
Fragments of faith dissolve in lonely tears.

I am brave.
I am strong enough to fight,
To break through the chains of fear
And achieve liberation.

Revised Draft:

Shatter the Chains

I am a lie.
Let the world filter my soul
Until echoes of my heartbeat disintegrate
In silence.

I am a fabrication.
Let the song inscribed in my spirit go unheard
Until freedom fades into shadows
Of dreams.

I am a compromise.
Let the confines of a stereotype shelter me
Until fragments of faith dissolve
In lonely tears.

But I am brave.
I am strong enough to fight,
To shatter the chains forged by fear
And achieve liberation. 
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Mar 19

Trust the Wind

By Allison Stein

I am excited to announce my new book, Trust the Wind! I would like to share my note to the reader with the hope to inspire faith and kindness in all. Enjoy!


Words forge connections. They inspire action. And I believe they change the world. To hold this book in my hands for the first time is to learn that the dream that has been alive only in my heart is now tangible. Yet at the same time, the poems are suddenly beyond my graspno more rewrites, no more second chances. The world will see my as I am. Exhausted and euphoric all at once, I can scarcely process in my mind that I have finally scaled the mountain, that journey has given way to destination. I thank God for the love that sparked this pursuit and the tenacity that sustained it. I ask Him to open my eyes to the beauty of His creation, that I may strive to encapsulate a silhouette of such grandeur on paper, that one miracle at a time might be remembered. And I pray for couragebecause I am strong, but I am scared.

I’m scared I’m not good enough. I’m mortified that strangers will know me on such a vulnerable level, for I’ve etched my soul in each word. I’m afraid of being forgotten. How can I justify a book that may never touch another spirit? How can I even imagine that the truths palpitating in only one heart will penetrate the walls of so many others?

Sometimes I worry that a page would be better off blank than with my rudimentary scribbles staining its purity. But my doubts are so small, so meaningless, from the perspective that God has blessed me with this beautiful gift. I hear His call to share embers of faith and hope burning within. And I will answer. Maybe I’ll make a difference to somebody, somewhere. That’s the dream.

I don’t know where I’m going, but I know I’ll get there. I spend so long searching for direction, yet Iweneed only to follow the compass of faith. We need only to trust the wind. Yes, we each have only one heart to reach into, but we can reach out to so many more.

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