A.M. Ream Poetry · Blog Post · March 2016

The Magic of Friendship

As young children, the world was a new place to discover: books to read, woods to explore, friends to meet… It seemed there was no limit to the treasures we could find if we just knew where to look.

Then somewhere along the way, our eyes were turned elsewhere: to the less-appealing parts of life that accompany us as we grow up. There was this new thing called “stress” that took over our lives and magnified the difficulties we faced in school, at work, and even sometimes in relationships.

The magic of the world became hidden to us… until the right people entered our lives. You are probably picturing the faces of those who broadened your world, who encouraged you to pursue the impossible, who showed you that there was more to life than the daily grind.

I am lucky to have countless loved ones, despite the fact that many live miles away, who remind me regularly of how beautiful life is, of how much of the world there is still left to discover, and of how many beautiful qualities I possess that have yet to be recognized.

And more recently, my world has expanded through the people I have met on the worldwide web. Each day, I find new words to inspire me that seem to come at exactly the times I needed to read them. I am thankful for these kind souls who unknowingly impact my life every day by the beautiful poems they write and by the numerous writers they recommend.

Many of the names that top the list are those I read on this website. I am thankful for the new connections I have made from being offered the opportunity to share my thoughts, hoping they will encourage the people who read them.

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“This is contentment: to be at total peace, knowing you are exactly where you need to be, with the people who were always meant to be a part of your life.”

A Better Today Media: March 23, 2016

29 Days of Love · A.M. Ream Poetry · March 2016

The Truth About Beauty

Growing up female in a western society is toxic. One would assume that because I came from an immigrant family where both of my parents, raised in poor families, never put the focus on appearance, or that, to this day, I have never heard my mom complain about any flaws on her face or on her body, for as long as I can remember, I have hated my physical appearance.

Although I was slender until the past few years, I always found something to dislike. Recently, I entered my forties and experienced a change in my weight and body type. Even with a loving husband who practically worships me, it was a change I tried to fight and lost bitterly. It wasn’t until one morning a few months ago that I gazed at the reflection of my face in the mirror–face free of make-up, wet hair plastered to my head–that I realized a few important facts:

It is not normal for any woman, especially one who has experienced the miracle of pregnancy, to have a flat stomach. Neither is it normal to have a face free of blemishes. 

I know I have had external and internal beauty for the majority of my life, but I had refused to acknowledge it based on the false belief that I wasn’t slim or pretty enough. I only hope that I am helping my daughters to go against this false fear and anxiety that plagues females in this country and around the world.

You are beautiful. Yes, you. And even if you or anyone else cannot see that, there is more to you than your outward appearance. Although looks gain attention, it is the beauty of the soul that attracts. I fell in love with my husband because of the person he is inside… not because he happens to have blue eyes. I am thankful that I finally realized that these were all lies I had believed this whole time. I am a beautiful person, regardless of looks. I know my heart is pure and that my loved ones recognize the beauty within me.

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–Written September 30, 2015

A Better Today Media: March 6, 2016

A Better Today Media · A.M. Ream Poetry · March 2016

Born to be Proud

There I was, suffering through another kung fu film. The things we do for love, right? I hadn’t been aware that marrying into another Filipino family included going along with an obsession of kung fu films (especially those which were dubbed over in English by cheesy actors), something the five brothers had shared since childhood.

At that time, I already had three children, and I mistakenly figured I was proud of my culture. I had grown up eating Filipino cuisine, being able to understand my parents and grandparents as they spoke in Tagalog (something many other Filipino-American children couldn’t do), and raising Filipino children of my own.

However, as I focused on the film, preferring subtitles to dubbed English, I began to discover there were cracks in the façade of Filipino pride I assumed I had. Fearless was the story of a Chinese martial artist who overcame many tragedies in his life and eventually went on to change the incorrect perception of the “weak men of the east” many countries in the western hemisphere held during the early twentieth century.

While I watched the actor Jet Li defeat men who appeared to be bigger and stronger, memories from my childhood began playing through my mind. Growing up in Detroit, Michigan, there was a shortage of other Filipino families, and most of the people of my culture I knew were related to me. It wasn’t until my teenage years that I met Filipino children my age.

Because of this, I automatically assumed that as an American girl, I rated low on scale of beauty simply because I lacked blond hair, blue eyes, and fair skin. I highly doubt my parents were aware of my insecurities regarding my appearance since they had both grown up in a country where family, work ethic, and education outranked the superficiality of physical appearance and were always positive in the way they related to me.

It was during that period of one hour and forty-five minutes that I finally discovered something that changed my life forever. Being a Filipina was actually something of which I could be proud. All those years I had missed out on not learning traditional Filipino folk dances and by living in a country different than that of my birth didn’t have to be a negative factor on who I was.

My children are fortunate that they were raised to be proud of their culture. They learned all of the dances, dressed in traditional Filipino formal wear on special occasions, and even spent three weeks in the Philippines, learning about the country from which their parents hailed.

The pride that I still hold as a Filipina must be one of my more distinctive traits, because a mere few weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised when my Caucasian step daughter decided to bring a Filipino dish to her junior high school’s cultural appreciation day in addition to the German cookies she baked herself. I am very grateful that all of my children enjoy the diversity of cultures within our blended family and that they discovered pride in their heritage while they were still young.

May-1977

Years of wishing 
for lighter skin,
golden hair,
and eyes that
mirrored the sky
all melted away
when I realized
that there was
more to life
than one standard
of beauty or
happiness.
I found pride and
fulfillment in
who I was, in
the legacy of
my ancestors.

 – Araceli M. Ream (January 19, 2016) 

A Better Today Media: March 3, 2016