Love Starts With You – Closing

I want to end this love season with a song I wrote a while back about self empowerment and self love.

It’s taken me a long time to learn how to truly take care of myself emotionally and I’m still learning each day. Before, I struggled with being codependent, desperately trying to make others happy because I thought that they mattered more than myself. In return I found so many times that my efforts were either unappreciated, or I became a doormat to other people’s wishes and expectations.

This used to make me feel out of control, leaving me feeling like a victim to my suffering. Most people didn’t even know about it because I was too afraid to hurt someone’s feelings by telling them I wasn’t okay.

It has helped me so much to recognize that it’s okay to take care of myself and my emotional needs. In doing so I am able to not be a victim, but properly disperse where I have control and where I don’t, while being at peace with both. Ironically, taking care of myself first made me realize I was much better at giving to others after doing so. It allowed me to authentically say yes to others rather than giving that fake smile of acceptance.

I wrote this song to reflect my change in mindset and give myself that self care.

This series had so many powerful perspectives to ponder and I hope you are feeling as charged up as I am! Thank you to all of the artists who participated!

Also, stay tuned for next month’s series! If you’d like to be a part of it, go check out the Call For Submissions:

-Mia Savant

Shannon O’Loughlin – Love Starts With You

So Many Stars

I’m on my knees
Lost in the empty space
Surrounding me
I’m giving up on who I thought I’d be
I can’t restart my broken heart

Then I look up

Oh oh oh
So many stars
Oh oh oh
It’s not so dark
Oh oh oh
I won’t fall apart

So many stars

Down in the dirt
The tears are falling
And although it hurts
There’s hidden beauty where
The darkness lurks
I’ll find the light, it’s time to fight

Just look up

Oh oh oh
So many stars
Oh oh oh
It’s not so dark
Oh oh oh
I won’t fall apart

So many stars

We’ve lived and we’ve loved
We’ve hurt and we’ve lost
We’ve all made mistakes
And we’ve paid the cost

We’ve been so caught up
In who we are not
We’ve all hit rock bottom
And climbed to the top

We’re breaking the mold
We’re starting to see
We’re not defined
By our insecurities

We’re starting to become
Who we want to be
We’ve forgiven ourselves
And now we are free


Shannon O’Loughlin is 29 years old and has been choreographing, teaching dance and coaching gymnastics for over 12 years. She started out as a competitive gymnast before training in hip hop, breakdance, contemporary, tap, jazz and ballet. Shannon also danced and performed through college at UAA. Her choreography has been featured in halftime shows, dance competitions, auditions, talent shows, gymnastics meets, cheer competitions and dance recitals. She has also choreographed numerous productions for Valley Performing Arts and helped judged local talent shows. Shannon always tells her students, “I learn more from you than you do from me. You are helping me learn how to teach you in a more effective way during every class”. Shannon enjoys writing, watching documentaries, playing guitar, dancing everywhere and doing her make up!

Karly Robinson – Love Starts With You

Sky Full Of Sun

There’s a line and you crossed it

Barbed and I lost it

My heart and you tossed it

Over the fence

Of your look at yourself ways

And make sure you feel praised

Forget all the yesterdays

Slapped in my face

I can tell you it’s not fair

How I laid myself bare

On your bed of nails shit

that won’t let me forget

All the nights that you left

And weren’t there to protect

What remained of our love

The remains of our love

There came a time and I warned you

My line snapped and you fell through

How many times must I bleed for you?

My god, nothing gets through to you

The ache in my soul isn’t worth the result

My arms are too full and my body is hurt

You took all I gave on a silver platter

But I’ve learned to behave in a different manner:

Line became wall became easy to fall

Became climb if you dare if you’re really prepared

And that wall starting small became gradually tall

Come on, drink it all in

Get this under your skin

I am finally free from the dreadful disease.

It no longer infests how I act and believe.

I can breathe from up here

Where all else disappears

In a sky full of sun

I have already won


Karly Robinson has enjoyed being onstage since the age of 9 and began taking her training more seriously by the age of 12. She performed and attended workshops and training camps throughout her teenage years. In 2009, she was accepted into the Palmer High School Jazz Choir and traveled with them to various competitions, as well as performing in the schools production of The Wildest in 2010.  After graduating in 2010, she spent three years in Germany as an Au Pair. During that time, she went to language school and by 2012 was accepted into a selective foreigners bachelor program at the University of Cologne. Shortly before the program began, she took a trip to Denmark and remembers having a specific moment on the beach that prompted her to return to Alaska, despite the excitement of starting school in Cologne. Upon returning, she landed the role of Suzy in VPAs production of The Wonderettes and continued to perform within the community. She is currently settled in the Mat Su Valley and working as a Competitive Gymnastics Coach. She is also part of Sunlight Collaborations; A mixed media group based in Anchorage. 

Beverly M. Collins – Love Starts With You

Beverly M. Collins

I can get straight to the point
In a heart-to-heart that is not
much of a leap.

I can’t put up a front about how strongly
I have my own back when I’m beside
myself with worry or caught up in being
weighted down by heavy challenge.

I look no further than my own skin
For my rock, a favorite confidant and
My best friend.

It’s the person that stares back at me from
a reflection in the mirror. My brown eyes show
forgiveness and trust that I can swim my
way to shore every time.

When the kind tone, supportive intentions and
voice-of-reason is all mine.


Beverly M. Collins is the Author of the books, Quiet Observations: Diary thought, Whimsy and Rhyme and Mud in Magic. Her works have also appeared in California Quarterly, Poetry Speaks! A year of Great Poems and Poets, The Hidden and the Divine Female Voices in Ireland, The Journal of Modern Poetry, Spectrum, The Altadena Poetry Review, Lummox, The Galway Review (Ireland), Verse of Silence (New Delhi), Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine (London), Scarlet Leaf Review (Canada), The Wild Word magazine (Berlin), Indigomania (Australia) and many others.

Winner of a 2019 Naji Naaman Literary Prize in Creativity (from Lebanon). Collins is also a prize winner for the California State Poetry Society who has been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, once for Independent Best American Poetry and “short listed” for the 2018 Pangolin Review Poetry Prize (Mauritius).

Cindy Kennedy – Love Starts With You

Check Out This Artist:

Cindy Kennedy lives in Toronto Ontario Canada. She paints using acrylic and usually only her hands. She prefers finger to the brush as she has more control this way. She has been painting for about 5 years and has created over 350 pieces. The paintings you see here were all done with her hands and are acrylic on canvas.

Cindy Kennedy is competing as one of 12 artists in the Art Battle Mississauga on February 20th, 2020! If you are interested in attending the event you can find information about it here:

Matthew Feinstein – Love Starts With You

Heart Shaped Note

For my sister

I flip through past pictures—back when image didn’t matter

as much. I’m making a funny face while she

frowns. What has changed since we’ve been to college? the room

we live in? The city? The friends? Her roommate knocks on her door

but she wishes someone else would answer—a boy to love

perhaps. She’s sick of me asking Why don’t you

Download Tinder? It’ll help you

find a date. She’d say Doesn’t matter

what I do. She needs to practice self-love.

I pull another photo out—in this one she

is smiling—did a boy knock on her door

and compliment her? Her room

is intimidating. Now I’m in front of her room

and notice a sign that reads You

Got This taped to her door.

I think it should read You Matter

instead, so she

can be reminded to love

herself or at least love

her curves and her slight slouch. The room

is cluttered—I’m here to check if she

is doing okay. My words misstep and she screams You

can’t understand—no matter

how many times you knock on my door

and ask me how I’m doing! I leave, she slams door.

If only she knew my failed attempts at love—

how I’ve slept with many women, but I don’t matter

to them before entering their room.

I want to scream through the wall. Others’ affection won’t help you

be okay with yourself! I’m about to leave, and She

whispers I’m sorry. Then she

slides a note under the door.

I’m still upset, but I manage a Thank you.

Glancing at its pink construction paper frame—reads Love

Yourself. That’s close enough— as I retreat to my room,

clinging to it. How did she know? Doesn’t matter

because she must truly love

me. I knock on her door once more—enter her room,

and with wobbly breath, remind her You Matter.


Matthew Feinstein is a twenty-two-year-old neurodivergent poet who recently graduated from California State University Long Beach with his BA in English Creative Writing. He published a Micro Chap titled ‘Lemon Law’ (Origami Poems Project) which delves into the struggles that come with having Autism Spectrum Disorder. His work has also appeared in The Write Launch and Inky Squib: A Butte College Student Literary Journal and has work forthcoming from Cathexis Northwest Press.

Okpeta, Gideon Iching – Love Starts With You

The middle of Nowhere.

When we run through green
flowered field
we left cares behind us.
The live we leave ascend as a
continual sigh
as we pretend,pretend,and
deny,deny our errs.
I am sad for a wasted attention
of the eyes,
the gold labour of the hands
without a kneaded dough for a
dozen of loaves.
I am sad for all the embraces
void of you,
why shy away when the race
of austerity is almost complete;
when it is almost going to sleep?
At times I wonder whether you
are arting a rehearsed script
or directing a season of ‘’Ogbange‘’
You get me on a moving train
eachtime I flip the page of our
good memory
yet the same knock down my
warm fuzzies.
I am sad for all the weak spots
left to be weak.
I know if it were a nightmare,
I wouldn’t
have slept in somnolence
watching my hope straggled
to dead.
I am sad for being sad;
sad for the cruel truth that was
told in whisper.
I am sad for knowing i’m not
the best,
not even among your best
but I pray that someday, I may
stand in the postion to help,
save and protect you with the
best strength i have got.

Little about the Author:

Okpeta, Gideon Iching is a emerging poet,essayist and a
technologist.He lives in Nigeria.
He’s currently a student at Akanu ibiam Federal Polytechnic,
Unwana Ebonyi State Nigeria,Where he is pursuing his
undergraduate diploma (hnd) in Electrical/Electronics engr. Tech. He
possesses great writing prowess on contemporary issues affecting the
culture of christian society,ethics and morality; which he learned by intuition and research.
Most of his poems appear at poem hunter online publishing website. Some of his poems have been accepted and awaiting publication at different journals, and magazines, and online blogs including and others.