Who is she?
Tammy Lopez is the author of “Rain for Under Watered Roses like You and I” and “Swallow: small poems like large pills.” She is also a member of the Luna Rio Collective, and the Project X 2018 slam team. When she is not writing or performing her soul-mending art, she's busy indulging in solo travel and being her mother’s favorite child, while feeding her self-proclaimed sugar addiction.
Have you ever read a poem and felt it in the deepest parts of your soul? That's Tammy! She is unafraid to speak her mind, and does so, hilariously, on Facebook. Her poems are raw, unfiltered, and truly beautiful, allowing readers to instantly connect with her experience. This vulnerability shines through her art and is amplified when she gets on the stage. Tammy's poems speak the truths that many of us are afraid to face, and those qualities are fit for a #MeFirstMonday powerhouse!
Please help us understand your self-love journey. What have you learned along the way?
Tammy: My self-love journey is hopefully never ending. I am noticing how my body, my environment and my needs are changing year to year and with that change comes a need to love me differently. Be it, being kinder to my body, choosy about who I let and keep around, and learning when I need to make changes. This year’s self-love journey involves listening more to my intuition and allowing the universe to guide me. Recently, a number of situations have happened around me that let me know it was time for a change; my brother commuting from Brooklyn to the Bronx every day for work and almost getting into an accident because he was falling asleep while driving, the voice inside of me telling me I am not going to progress if I’m too comfortable where I am, and the birth of my little sister. Since then, I’ve moved back to Brooklyn with my mother, my brother moved into my apartment in the Bronx, I put in my two weeks and quit my job, and booked a one way trip to Colombia. I will be spending this time backpacking through South America, writing, and figuring out what the next step for me will be. Self-love this year, looks like listening to my body.
In the midst of all your responsibilities, how do you manage to prioritize yourself? What do you do?
Tammy: I have learned to say no without feeling guilty about it. I have also been very vocal about what I have on my plate, what’s going on in my life and if I’m not feeling okay or up for something. People are usually understanding once you explain. Some days, I just don’t want to, and that is perfectly okay. I stay balanced by verbalizing or writing how I feel, making sure that I always make some time to spend with the people I love and only agreeing to what I can take on. This doesn't always go as planned. I’m still working on not being a people pleaser and putting myself first.
Can you tell us more about your time in Colombia thus far? What has this trip, and solo traveling in general, taught you about yourself?
Tammy: My trip began in Cartagena, Colombia. I stayed in Casa Torices Real, a 5 dollar hostel which was the cheapest I found with good reviews. On my first day I walked to the city center to get to a free walking tour (apparently many cities have this). Due to the humidity, getting lost, stopping randomly to look at things, and to talk to strangers, what was supposed to be a 30 minute walk turned out to be a 2 and a half hour trek. By the time I got to the walking tour, my feet were sore, and I was completely over it. Both my sandal backs were tucked under my heel, punishment for the layer of skin they took with them. My second day, I spent the entire morning inside laid out next to the fan dodging the heat and the sun. I knew it was time to leave, and was going to try and book the next bus out until my hostel mate told me about how cheap flights within the country are. I looked it up, and the flight was $10 more than the bus. The difference was over 10 hours. Later on I will be thankful for having been able to fly. I booked a flight for the very next day to Medellin. In Medellin I stayed at Casa Articulada Hostel, a $10 shared room. I visited Plaza Botero, Parque Arvi, the Botanical Gardens, and got to enjoy Afri Festi which was a concert celebrating Afro-Colombian Culture.
Not too far out the way from Medellin is El Peñol, home to La Piedra, and a small colorful town called Guatape. La Piedra is a large rock that from its top the entire city can be seen. It is 750 steps up. I’m proud to say my heavy breathing began after step 10. Guatape was full of art, every home had different colors, and pictures, ones that I felt within me as soon as I saw it. It was my favorite town to be in thus far. Being that I quit my job, I have to make sure I’m not spending excessively. That means street food, hostels and 24 hour buses across countries. I am currently in Ecuador in a small, quiet, but beautiful Pueblo called Cotacachi.
When I first left, I felt crazy. I didn’t know what I was doing, there was an empty feeling that came with responding to the hard question, “What do you do for work?” One doesn’t realize how often the question comes up until they don’t have a job to respond with. In my travels, I’ve met so many amazing solo travelers, many of whom did not have jobs or know what they were doing. All of them made me feel less alone. Less crazy. Less uncertain. I started interviewing some of them. I figure it can be an outlet for people just like us, unsure of what the next step is, but searching. I have the interviewees talk about whatever their previous job was, and maybe it can be a position someone finds interesting and wants to look into. I still have a lot of work to do, but I’m traveling for now. Not lost but looking, searching and learning as I go.
Throughout this trip, I've learned that transparency is a beautiful thing, and that “No” is a whole answer. I realized I minimize myself so much that I forget I’ve done things worth saying. This whole trip I’ve been asked what I do by over 20 people, and only told 1 person I was an author. Do not humble yourself so much that you forget you have greatness within you. You have things, they are worth mentioning. Your whole self is worth mentioning.
What would you say to the person having trouble putting themselves first?
Tammy: If everyone else is putting themselves first, and you’re putting everyone else first, where does that leave you? People will take whatever you’re giving. Your shelves will be left empty if you don’t have some of you saved for yourself. Your true self, is your best self so I would encourage them to always work on being that best self. Be in spaces that want, nurture and enjoy your true self. Make spaces that don’t do this learn how to, even if it makes them uncomfortable.
Describe your self-love journey in one word:
What can we learn from Tammy?
I know I'm not the only one motivated by Tammy's bravery to go on a solo trip of my own! Tammy exemplifies what it means to take bold risks with nothing but pure intuition. Trusting our highest selves when we get that subtle hint from our souls about what our next steps are, is an act of self-love. It means you trust yourself enough to listen, and how beautiful is that? How beautiful is it to surrender? Tammy ends her interview by saying, "It’s okay to not know. It’s okay to say you don’t know." So often we get caught up with self-imposed timelines and the need to know what your next step is. From Tammy's interview, I am taking away the art of surrendering, the art of not knowing, and embracing that uncertainty. Thank you, Tammy!
Where can I find this powerhouse?
If you want to keep up with Tammy's solo travels, be sure to follow her on Instagram @poe_it! Additionally, read more of her amazing work on her website www.thepoeit.com. After her words touch your soul, like they do mine, I know you'll want to purchase her book of poems "Swallow", on Amazon here.