Pulse (a poem)



A bull


As one.
Divides as two.

A beat.
A calling.
A challenge.

The pulse
The movement.



Go for the neck.


A poem by,
Christina Schmidt, MA

What is Attraction? Survey Says…

Okay, so I have a fun story to share. Well…I should qualify, funny if you (like me) tend to overthink everything.

A bit of background, I work for a university and I am sometimes stopped to participate in surveys. Surveys are a staple in daily campus life. I get it though, as a psych major and counseling graduate myself, I’ve peddled many a survey. Surveys can be fun and I get to see where the current thinking is in human behavior, at least on my campus.

The survey I recently participated in was straight out of Cosmo magazine, or perhaps I’m stereotyping. I understand Cosmo is well reputed for their love surveys.

Anyway, I was greeted by a bright-eyed 20-something and this is more or less how that exchange went down…

Her: Excuse me, ma’am? Could I ask you to take a survey?

Me: Sure, what’s the topic?

Her: *excited* What is attraction!? It’s all about what you find attractive in a partner. Just tick the boxes, it’s really easy!

Me: *briefly scans the questions* It’s all about demographics.

Her: Huh?

Me: I only see demographics listed; age, height, eye color, job…

Her: Yeah, you know, the important stuff.

Me: Oh. No. This isn’t attraction.

Her: *hesitant* What?

Me: Demographics are an accessory to attraction. Finding physical characteristics and hobbies and interests attractive in another person is essentially defacto to attraction already having taken place.

Her: I’m sorry, I don’t…

Me: I don’t particularly find any one physical characteristic to be mutually exclusive to attraction in a potential partner.

Her: *excited* Oh my god, are you aesuxal? If you are that’s totally cool, I would love to know more.

Me: *humored* No, I’m not aesuxal. What I mean is, attraction, real attraction, happens without us knowing it and when it does occur, you are more likely to appreciate the other person’s eyes, height, hair color, etc because it’s them as a whole person, and not because he or she just happen to possess those traits. Don’t get me wrong, physical attraction in human evolution evolved as a way of moving the mating process forward but as the human race stands now, determining lasting attraction is much more intricate. For example, let’s say your ideal mate…are you hetero or homosexual, by the way?

Her: Hetero.

Me: Right, let’s say a man walked up to you right now who embodied all those physical traits that you are most attracted to. Which would be…

Her: *excited* Green eyes, blonde hair, good build, strong hands.

Me: Great, very specific. Now let’s say Mr. Green Eyes Blond Hair walked up to you right now and you’re excited. You’ve been waiting for this guy. He opens his mouth to speak to you and then…he says something so stupid to you, you can’t help but wonder how he was admitted to any college.

Her: *laughs*

Me: I bet you’re “attraction” to him would dissolve almost instantly.

Her: Yeah, okay. I see your point.

Me: Attraction is more than what we see…I mean, it has to be. Green eyes and blonde hair don’t cut it when life gets hard, and believe me, life gets hard. True attraction is developed outside these parameters, and your appreciation for their physical traits and interests and hobbies and work raise as you in turn appreciate them more. And vice versa.

Her: *looking intent* Okay, so what is real attraction then? Because, like, I get what your saying but how do you know it’s, like, “real” attraction.

Me: Well, it’s in the actions. It’s in the voice. It’s in the eyes, not the color or size or shape, but the expression in them. It’s in the movement, how they walk and hold themselves. Thousands of signals being fired off for others to pick up, like breadcrumbs to a trail. The experienced and perceptive are more likely to pick up the trail and understand what he or she is pursuing, and should they bother pursuing it.

Her: *frustrated* Okay, just like, tell me how would I make a survey for this kind of attraction. Then maybe I can understand what I should be asking? Like, what are people supposed to be looking for?

My Brain:
[Attraction is…a movement. It’s a gesture. It’s in a pair of eyes that do not waver despite the many distractions of life. It’s stubborn persistence despite the size of the goal, or perhaps in spite of the goal. Attraction is knowing that the right thing to do is often the hardest thing to do. It’s the wisdom of knowing when to defy the norms; eschewing custom when it no longer serves you. It’s the balance of pursuit and restraint. It’s shutting up to listen and knowing when to speak. Attraction is being told, ‘no, you can’t do that,’ and proving everyone wrong. It’s not succumbing to the petty bullshit of others who would gladly see you mired in their own inanity. It’s recognizing when an apology is needed and having the strength to make good on it too. Attraction is being generous with one’s time, making it when there is none. Understanding that most attraction people experience is a lot like encountering napkins; napkins are everywhere: flimsy and disposable (helpful, but disposable). Attraction is what essentially defines a boy and a man; a girl and a woman. Attraction is being forced into the forge, hammered repeatedly by life and made the stronger for it. It’s an appreciation for things you don’t understand but would like to given the chance. It’s admitting ignorance and expressing a willingness to learn. It’s painting the picture you want to see. Attraction is both an ocean of differences and likenesses, but never indifference. Attraction is making a mistake and learning from it. Attraction is the silence in-between the words. Attraction is…].

Her: *looking at me expectantly*


Me: *sighs inwardly* Fuck it, just put me down for dark eyes.


For people who overthink, this kind of internal dialogue probably reads normally to you. In fact, your brain has likely picked up the ball and has more to say on the subject. Please sound off in the comments with your thoughts on attraction. I would love to read them.

PS – Yes, I swear in front of students. Real respects real. At the very least, I get a laugh from someone who didn’t expect the librarian-looking lady to drop the f-bomb.

Christina Schmidt, MA

Get to the Point, Book Reviews: Britt-Marie Was Here, by Fredrik Backman

Book Review Rules.

The book may (or may not) work for me personally but that’s not to say it didn’t do wonders for (or fail) someone else.


Britt-Marie Was Here, by Fredrik Backman

Would I recommend?

Favorite Quotes

“She wonders what takes the most out of the person: to be the kind that jumps, or the kind that doesn’t? She wonders how much space a person has left in her soul to change herself, once she gets older.”


The Goods

  1. As a character, I love Britt-Marie. I could give or take the story (give) but Britt-Marie is a trip. I love her accidental dry humor, also reflected in her equally dry thoughts. I love Britt-Marie’s one-note, monotone response of “Ha” when confronted with unexpected information and normal, everyday expression from others. As she is challenged, I love Britt-Marie’s insistence on boundaries that do not make sense under any given circumstance. Britt-Marie is uncomfortably and unapologetically herself, I dig it.
  2. I felt Britt-Marie’s fear of dying alone, not being meaningful enough to anyone for her absence to be noticed. It was written from a real place and presented poignantly.
  3. As well as the fear that drives her decision, to exist in the world, Britt-Marie’s courage in taking on a new life at age 63 is equally portrayed.
  4. The kids in this novel are well written and it made me realize how often a child’s personality is often railroaded or neglected in literary novels that primarily feature adults. Each of the kids are unique and burn brighter than any one of the adults excepting therefrom, Britt-Marie, respectively.
  5. Many reading this novel would declare Britt-Marie as OCD or autistic…the author doesn’t define MC’s “quirks,” she simply presents Britt-Marie as is and I respect that on every single level of character presentation. I’m so tired of reading about characters who, instead of signaling their differences to the audience, are strictly defined and laid out. A good reference for this point is Ricky Gervais’ show, Derek (absolutely beautiful, if you haven’t seen Derek I strongly recommend it), Gervais never defines Derek as “intellectually challenged,” nor given any labels. Derek, as a character, is presented as is and it is utterly refreshing. That’s how I experience Britt-Marie, she is simply herself, quirks aplenty and without apology.
  6. When Britt-Marie befriended a rat (or made an acquaintance, as Britt-Marie would have it), my heart broke. I understood what drove this because at the end of the day we all need someone to speak to, even if it’s a rat that must be coaxed with a Snickers bar.
  7. I won’t go into the details (see my rules page, linked above) but I adored Britt-Marie’s ending. In the end, many declared their need for Britt-Marie and she struggled to choose amongst all the needs. The children saw what all the adults did not, including Britt-Marie herself, and helped her choose in the end. It was beautiful and not at all what I expected.

The Not So Good

  1. In every review I’ve ever written, pacing is brought up at some point because it’s critical to my enjoyment. I put this novel down, and picked it back up several times. The story is never so fluid as when we read from Britt-Marie’s thoughts, feelings, and expression, but then the tedium kicks in. Other characters like, “Somebody,” while necessary, were given too much space for expression. And because I don’t connect with the importance of soccer, I often phased out when any of the characters deep-dove into the love of the game.

From Amazon:

The New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry “returns with this heartwarming story about a woman rediscovering herself after a personal crisis…fans of Backman will find another winner in these pages” (Publishers Weekly).

Britt-Marie can’t stand mess. A disorganized cutlery drawer ranks high on her list of unforgivable sins. She is not one to judge others—no matter how ill-mannered, unkempt, or morally suspect they might be. It’s just that sometimes people interpret her helpful suggestions as criticisms, which is certainly not her intention.

But hidden inside the socially awkward, fussy busybody is a woman who has more imagination, bigger dreams, and a warmer heart that anyone around her realizes…


Christina Schmidt, MA

Book Review Rules

This post is a placeholder for my Get to the Point Book Review rules.

What’s my schtick as a reviewer? I like to point out what I find interesting and I like to do it quickly.

Book Review Rules:
1. Get to the point.
– No drawn out hemming and hawing about recommending the book.
– The answer will either be “yes” or “no” followed up with points that are
relevant to the recommendation.

2. Honesty.
– No need for exaggeration or belaboring a point.
– I’m not into trashing authors or their works.

3. No Delving or Deep Diving
– I dislike reading reviews where everything about a book is outlined. From personal experience, I become disinclined to read the book for myself so I do not write reviews from a traditional format.
– I will leave room for discovery. Character names, situations, plot, etc. may or may not be a point of discussion.

If you want a traditional book review, there are plenty of reviewers who provide just that (and better than I should I attempt it). You can just as easily read summaries on Amazon and Goodreads, or better yet read the book yourself.

Christina Schmidt, MA

Health Goals (Updated Pics)

Okay. Without fanfare, trumpets, confetti and champagne, I met my health goals. I shan’t go into all the work of it. If you are so inclined, please feel free to review my prior blogs on hypothyroidism and intermittent fasting.

As of today, 9/15/19:

For comparison, 6/29/19:

June 29 2019

My body is a reflection of my goals. To recap from prior blogs, my goals do not include “thin.” I strive for personal competence and thrive on physical discipline. Exercise is a place of refuge as it’s all about me – something I cannot say to be true in nearly any other aspect of my life so I selfishly guard my gym time and outdoor walks. It’s the only time I truly get to work on myself…in a literal sense.

Making time for exercise is making time for me.

My vital health stats are phenomenal (my doctor’s eyes popped when I visited last month) and more importantly I feel like me again. Job done.

I’ll go ahead and address some of the anticipated questions I typically get:

  • No, I don’t have a gym partner or gym buddy. Not that I don’t want a gym partner, I just don’t seem to know anyone who’s interested *shrugs shoulders* but that’s okay, I’m still happy to do what I do on my own because I ultimately hold myself accountable.
  • I do not run, I used to, however, the constant strain wreaked havoc on an old knee injury and I had to give it up. The discipline I developed from running did allow me to take to Arc training almost instantly. Arc training knee impact is minimal to zero and has largely contributed to the leg muscle that is so prominent. I love an outdoor walk too, city or nature, it’s all good.
  • Glute exercises. Ladies often ask me what I’m doing there. I think I have a modest curvature but it seems to be my number one question: 1. Squats (a lot) 2. Hip adduction machine (a lot) 3. Hip abductor machine (a lot). 4. Banded hip thrust (weighted). 5. Banded kick-backs and side-kicks.
  • 69680718_3276989998978145_1034265658595999744_o - Edited
    Dirty mirror! Yikes!
  • Arm strength. Not great. My arms remain the hardest part to get fully exercised and are slow to build.
  • Core strength. Pretty darned good I think. I achieve that with weekly crunches, lower body lifts, and deep core stretching.
  • Muscle recovery. Muscle rollout (the foam roller). Post workout sauna 10-15 min per gym routine. Nightly magnesium. I also use a heating pad for overly stimulated, twitchy muscles.

Let me know how it goes in your world of personal health goals! And now I’m off to make copious amounts of bake sale goodies. Yes, I still love to bake and eat good food. Who doesn’t?

My heart will always be at the bottom of a box of white chocolates.

To your health, ladies and gentlemen!

Christina Schmidt, MA

Blog Update

Apologies for the silence.

At the start of every fall semester there are three critical weeks on any given university campus. I am currently in the final stretch.

No joke, I’ve completed four punch-cards for free coffee at my local campus shop, Jo’s Coffee (shoutout to Jo’s). Armed-with-coffee, indeed.

Believe me, I look forward to resuming my regular blogging schedule.

If you’re reading this, send coffee. And no, I don’t think I have a “problem.”

Christina Schmidt, MA

Author Mindset: How To Thrive As A Creative In A Society That’s Always Hustling, by Margaret Olat

This is a re-blog. Click here for the original article via The Creative Penn

Every successful author is both a creative and a business owner. Creative coach Margaret Olat shares tips for how to not lose sight of your creative side while working hard for your author brand.

creative hustleRaise your hands if you’ve seen an ad for a new webinar promising you a financial breakthrough by doing three things differently in your creative business.

With the meteoric rise of social media and digital marketing, artists and writers alike have been able to make bold predictions about business growth, study past successes and failures, understand consumer behavior, and market themselves accordingly.

Life became seemingly easier because everything we need to do to “make it” has been simplified and numbered in steps.

But somewhere along the way in modern marketing, we’ve have been conditioned to think about success only in terms of metrics and funnels. Instead of the warmth we’re used to feeling when interacting with our audience, this feeling has been replaced with uncertainty, insecurity, and anxiety. As a result of this, our creativity is stifled and what previously felt like joy now brings judgment.

This isn’t a post to crucify writers who use social media platforms or ads to drive revenue. Rather, this post serves to highlight the conundrum that has resulted from digital marketing and ways to redeem our craft.

To thrive as a creative in a society that’s always hustling, here are 5 important questions you need to answer while evaluating your marketing efforts.

  1. Am I resistant to sharing my message?
  2. Do I have an evergreen brand?
  3. If I’m doing the right things, why am I not seeing any results?
  4. How will I get better at my craft?
  5. What can I do to make an impact today?

1. Am I resistant to sharing my message?

Call it anxiety, resistance, or writer’s block.

confused boyIf you constantly feel restless regarding your writing and have developed an aversion to what you feel called to do, your resistance might be telling you something about yourself rather than your marketing. But until you identify that part of you that doesn’t want to move, and why, you can’t make decisions that matter.

Yes, you need to be honest with yourself about whether you want to reinvent yourself and how. But before you do that, you need to:

Step away from identities you don’t want to create under.

In my work with other creatives, I’ve discovered that the thing that keeps us stuck is not that we don’t know what we’re meant to do. It’s actually that we do know but we disqualify ourselves or despise our own gifts.

What do I mean by this?

While trying to market ourselves, we tend to force ourselves to appeal to mainstream online marketing. We borrow labels and titles that give us credibility and authority because we’re afraid that the vocation of being a writer might not be enough to shoulder our ambition.

But there is no way your craft will thrive from selfish desires that come from creative misalignment.

You have to, first and foremost, be a creative to succeed in the creative industry. For you, it may mean you need to embrace being called a writer.

It could mean you need to stop letting the lack of status others associate with being an indie writer pull you away from the path that you’re being called to walk on. For some, it could mean the need to drop the act and quit serving in the niche they’re currently hacking at.

The best way to fall in love with the art of writing (again) is to fully embrace the identity of being a writer. It is to understand that you need to have a relationship with writing to fully immerse yourself in it. When you hide your gifts under identities you don’t intend to create for in the pursuit of fame, you dry up your well of creativity.

2. Do I have an evergreen brand?

One of the biggest challenges writers face is the idea that our ideas will go stale, therefore, our presence won’t be needed anymore.


Large Evergreen TreesAs a creative, your work in this world has to be based on an unshakeable belief that you have a BIG idea that only you can articulate, that there is a dedicated audience for your idea, and that you can make money by sharing your idea for years to come.

It has nothing to do with your writing. Yet.

I call this idea branding your craft with an evergreen brand. It borrows from the principles of personal branding and my observation that consumers respond better to businesses that are personal, relatable, and people they share an unselfish, common universal truth with.

Here’s why every writer needs an evergreen brand.

I have spent several months trying to understand writers who thrive in online marketing, have large audiences, and appear to make a lot of money at the same time.

Some of these writers do not have any books on the New York Times bestseller lists or similar listings but their influence extends far beyond what they sell in the creative space.

The reason is that they have chosen to brand themselves as something larger than what they create. As a result, they make more money from branding themselves than from their writing.

Having an evergreen brand that is separate from what you create gives you the wiggle room to pivot and change according to seasons without having to risk losing the audience you have built. It means you can satisfy your curiosity without being pigeonholed into one genre for life.

Don’t just be a writer. Build a brand that stands for something larger than life.

It is no longer enough to be a writer or a creative who creates. Your truest source of inspiration needs to come from the fact that you stand for something bigger than what you create. In other words, success in this hustle economy is attainable when you brand yourself and not just your business.

3. If I’m doing the right things, why am I not seeing any results?

You have embraced being called a writer and have created an evergreen brand. But why are you still struggling to make ends meet? Is hustling ever going to stop?

sapling growthSeveral years ago, you could call yourself an artist, write one or two books, go viral, and call it a good year. But recently, with the explosion of self-publishing, the rise to the top has taken a slow and more organic approach for some writers.

Understand that the rules of marketing have changed.

The real reason writers struggle with being creative and profitable isn’t a lack of profitable ideas.

Rather, it’s one (or all) of these things:

You aren’t listening to the market. It’s no longer enough to just write a book and want to get paid. Books don’t sell themselves. You need to create something that the right people have a burning desire for and are willing to pay for.

Yes, as creatives, we must write for ourselves––for the love of the craft. But once you demand payment for your services, you must write for your audience.

You aren’t speaking with the right people. Sometimes we’re afraid to alienate those we think we have to stick with. Don’t waste your time nurturing and selling to the wrong person.

If you write thrillers that make people stay glued to their seats, you will find better luck marketing to people who enjoy this work. If you want to make money with your writing, you need to attract and engage with the RIGHT people from the very beginning.

Your prices don’t reflect the value of your work. Many writers eventually move on to accept consulting offers, coaching clients, and license their craft. A common trap we all fall into is the idea that we can only demand “premium” payment for what we consider to be very difficult, even for us.

The idea of asking others to pay for a skill we’ve mastered seems unethical. But when you price yourself out of profitability, you start to resent your work and will find every excuse in the world to resist showing up as a writer or a consultant.

Believe that you have a right to be passionate and profitable. But you need to understand the market before you ask it to pay you.

4. How will I get better at my craft?

I’ve experienced it and I know you have. The sensation of finishing something, receiving great reviews, and suddenly feeling crushed by the thought that we have nothing left to offer. The feeling that our creativity is limited, and that if we continue to show up, people will eventually see us as frauds.

home-office-writingBut know this: if you’re creating meaningful and impactful work, there is always going to be an uphill battle at some point. You can’t escape this. But most importantly, your best work isn’t always at the surface level.

The secret to creating work that you are proud of despite fear and uncertainty is finishing what you start.

In the book You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One) author Jeff Goins shared something powerful about the myth of “good” and effective writing. According to him, effective writing covers the basics rules of grammar and composition (except when it doesn’t) and gets the job done. But beyond that, he urged writers to stop trying to be good.

Success comes from finishing what you start.

Your bestselling work is never your first draft. No matter how much you spend on marketing, it is incomplete without a creative process. It is from this creative process, which enables you to finish what you start, that you build the confidence to write without fear and satisfy your curiosity.

Joanna has credited her success to having a creative process that she adheres to every single day. It is this creative process that has allowed her to finish writing several novels and enabled her to quit her IT consulting job to go full-time as a writer.

5. What can I do to make an impact today?

There are several ideas on how to market yourself as a writer, how many times to do it, and if it needs to be a daily practice. Again, as well-intentioned as these ideas are, you can fall into the trap of comparison and imposter syndrome if you are not careful.

My favorite way for writers to market quickly and effectively is to make quick decisions that don’t take away from the need to be creative.

And it starts by asking the question: what can I do to make an impact today?

The right answer to this takes away the question of what content to create (if you hate that kind of pressure). You can be inspirational, educational, or promotional. Your content can be either be in short form or long format. You could highlight someone else’s work or share your conversation with other writers.

You have the creative freedom to define what your marketing practices look like. Hustling, however, is a choice you alone get to make.


Christina Schmidt

Three Lines and 17 Syllables


I’m on a poetry kick lately. Since getting back to work, my sense of creative feeling has been reignited once more (what I had hoped would happen). After 3 or so weeks within returning I was hit with my next short story idea, and I’ve even begun to inch my way back to the poorly neglected 3rd draft of my novel.

As I stated in this previous blog, I don’t identify as a poet. I appreciate the medium, immensely. I will never fully understand poetry. I will never truly be able to express it properly, but I do enjoy it.

Which got me thinking, when did this appreciation start? In my youth, I recall being the weird one in class, happy to seek out Poe with total enthusiasm (still do, truth be told) and Frost, and Yeats, etc. Although, I don’t mean to misrepresent myself, my knowledge within the realm of poetry is decidedly shallow. If you will, I posses the “greatest hits” of poetry references.

But when? I saw the latest trailer for IT 2, soon to be released (and for which I am very excited) and the memory hit me like lighting. The first poem I ever read and fully understood was found in one of my favorite novels, IT, by Stephen King.

Let me clarify, I was reading full-length adult novels at a young age. Looking back on my childhood, I know see evidence for hyperlexia, an ability to decode symbols (letters and/or numbers) at a young age. It has nothing to do with intelligence (we think, hyperlexia is not a recognized disorder but the evidence is mounting) but it is a handy skill, like having a photographic memory. IT was published September 1986, making me a few months shy of 6 years. I believe I read IT sometime between ages 9 – 10 at my public library. I remember clearly IT, the novel, taking awhile to get through because first, the book is massive, but more to the point, I had to traverse 20 or so minutes of walking to get to my local library every day – as a child I wasn’t allowed to check out those novels, or some such silly rule. But, I could not be stopped from coming in and reading.

What inspired me the most about the haiku, and allowed me to retain it, was the poem’s beautiful simplicity. The haiku is written by Ben Hanscom’s character to his crush, Beverly Marsh, in the novel IT:

Your hair is winter fire,
January embers.
My heart burns there too.

Goddammit, isn’t that beautiful? And creative? And passionate? And to the point? And perfectly encapsulated in 17 syllables? While other readers may take these 3-lines for granted, I’m over here getting my brain wrecked.

I will never be able to do that, write a poem like that. This poem incorporates the seasons, temperatures, and physical characteristics as it relates to feelings for another human being sincerely, almost effortlessly. This is the kind of creativity people take for granted, that’s how easily understood and relatable this 3-line poem is. Kind of like how people bitch when their latest and greatest, shiny gadget isn’t as fast as they think is should be. We take these gifts of human creativity for granted and it pisses me off.

No one can write their same story twice. If I were to lose my novel is some freak digital accident of irreversible circumstance, I would have the basics of my work, I would have the core of the story, but the retelling could never be the same.

Sigh. This blog is turning into an unintended rant. I just wanted to point out that inspiration often comes in surprising forms. There’s no way I could have expected to be inspired by a poem, found in a classic horror novel (made over in movie form a few times), that would, in fact, influence my own work. Three lines and 17 syllables worth of inspiration. I sometimes ask myself, is my work saying what I need it to say? Am I using the best forms of expression with the least amount of words?

“My heart burns there too.” Damn it. I feel like I’ve been waiting to hear those words all my life, not just read them.

How the hell did King evoke that? Was he trying? Total accident? Only he would know.

There are several examples of writers who dabble in poetry within the context of their fiction. Look at Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, Tolkien loaded his work with poetry, he was known for it. Look at George RR Martin and Game of Thrones, poetry and verse are easily found. And those are just the ones that came to mind without trying.

What was an unexpected source of inspiration for you? What surprising element has stayed with you? Spoken to you while working? Share your thoughts.

Christina Schmidt, MA

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