Writing Prompt: History Rewritten

Include the following in your story: funeral, condemn, distribution, button, sink, tax, art, jealousy, brain, lover.

If I could change the past you wouldn’t have been taken by weakness or by illness of age. Your funeral wouldn’t have occurred. Life would still hug your breath and you’d be enjoying the art of creation with us. We’d go down to the docks at the lake and watch lures sink into the water and how everyone fought over the distribution of the banana bread. Sure, so many people in one place is as burdening as tax season, but at least you would be here.

I’ll admit, I was green with jealousy when you gave your attention to everyone else, but I know I’m never one to open up or speak or make conversation, so it isn’t your fault. It just matters that you were here even though I was condemned from your attention.

We’d still play games at night. You wouldn’t be on my team, I’d make sure of it. I always kicked my brain into overdrive just to tease you or ruin your moves. What I wouldn’t give to hear one more “Nikki!” from you.

You lived a long life, but I’d make it longer if I could. I wouldn’t be buttoned up with regrets. I’d show you that I can drive stick. That I could make it out there on my own and get a call from you asking what mile marker I’m at. I would’ve called you more, even if I couldn’t understand you. At least I would be there to listen.

I’ll soon be at the lake again, but you won’t be there. Though, everyone will say you’ll be there in spirit. Maybe you are watching? Watching your family; your sons and daughters and your wife who was your lover. I know you look over my cousins, help guide their way, but do you ever see me?

If you were here. I would talk to you more. You were the only one who noticed my absence, saw me when I was invisible. But you’re not here now and history is set. There’s nothing I can do to get rid of my regrets.

Don’t Breathe the Green Gas

What is written below is a creative, fiction story. It came from a nightmare, so read at your own risk.

I never believed things could change in the blink of an eye. You’re always warned about it, but no one believes it. Well, the whole world changed and yet I can’t feel a thing. Everything is gone or might as well be. So why should I care? The nurses rush around calling for help with every patient that comes pouring in. I’m lucky, I guess. I somehow got away. But the man on the gurney over there didn’t. His mouth is filled with green foam. Blisters the size of baseballs pummel his skin and his eyes only stare straight ahead. There’s plenty more like him. Plenty more people are being ushered in with bursting blisters and foaming mouths and there’s nothing the nurses can do to help them. The whole world is in an utter state of panic. Yet, here I am, sitting on this hospital bed and I don’t care one bit.

It started out a day like any other. My day off work and my brother surprised my mom and me by showing up for dinner. My sister-in-law and my one-year-old niece too. When my brother walked into our split level house, his hands were full of baby stuff. He asked why there was a red sticker on the door and my mom explained that some solicitor came by, ignored our “no solicitors” sign, and that he must have placed it there when we sent him off. We didn’t bother to take that sticker down, but we should’ve.

The evening continued with fun banter, family updates, and we all sat around the table to share my mom’s delicious cooking. In the middle of the meal, I saw someone come in through the front door (my brother left it unlocked so he could go smoke) and bolt down to the basement. Both my brother and I got up. I recognized the man as the solicitor from earlier. My brother heads into the basement to confront him and I wait at the top of the stairs with a fork in my hand like it was some sort of weapon.

I couldn’t hear what they were saying in the basement, but I did hear my brother pull his gun out and threaten the man. I didn’t even know he had his gun on him. My mom, sister-in-law, and niece were still in the dining room and I told them not to worry. However, something outside caught my eye and shivered anxiety in my stomach.

It was a firefighter. A firefighter dressed in all his gear was limping in the front yard, coming from the side of our house. He was dragging a hose and I couldn’t see his face. I walked over to the front window and my mouth dropped open at the sight outside. I remember my mom calling from the dining room, asking what was going on and I told her: “The house across the street is on fire.”

It was in utter flames. Every window and every door was filled with a roaring inferno. But what’s more is that people were running, screaming, and crying as they ran down the street. Firemen were trying their best to put the fire out while people ran in a terrified frenzy around them. Some other authorities were trying to usher people into the glass house up the street. Many of them had cloths covering their mouths.

I told my mom and sister-in-law to wait inside and I headed out to investigate. Black smoke from my neighbor’s house filled the night, but in the distance, I saw green fog clouds rolling between houses. There was a News reporter by the curb, so I wandered over to listen in.

She spoke of a radical group with no name. They were running around the city causing riots and throwing bombs of an unknown substance. She repeatedly said “Don’t breathe the green gas.”

My mind was still whirling. Don’t breathe the green gas. Did she mean the green gas rolling through the streets?! I never thought something like this could happen so close to my home. You always see it on the News, happening in far away places, but this…this was literally happening in my front yard. Then, I spotted them. I was so horrified that I didn’t even think to scream in warning. Six people came running from up the street. Each of them wore green clovers on their shirts and they carried brown paper sacks that oozed with green fog. They didn’t wear any masks which told me they were committed to die for this destruction. Yet, what scared me the most was that two of them were children.

I held my breath in waiting for them to throw the bombs, but they just stood like corpses staring at all the chaos. Then, one of the kids finds my house and the little red sticker on the front door.

“NO!” I screamed, but no one heard. As I was turning to run back to the house and warn my family, an explosion sounded from the inside and suddenly the house was oozing with the green gas. The solicitor. He must have been carrying a bomb and my brother couldn’t take it from him. “NO!” I screamed again. I tried to run into the house, but somebody grabbed my arms. I fought with every sobbing breath, but I couldn’t break free from whoever had me. I can still feel the burn of the tears from when they rolled down my face. Why my family? What did they ever do to anyone?!

I don’t remember what happened next except for a lot of kicking and screaming. They said it was the firefighter who brought me to the hospital, but I don’t remember seeing him. I was placed on a hospital bed. The nurses gave me some shot to calm me down, but I just feel as dead as the man in the gurney. I can’t go back home. It’s too dangerous with the gas contaminating everything. The News reporter on the TV says these riots are occurring all over the globe. The green gas is spreading and wiping out populations, but no one can identify the group causing it.

I know they have an affinity for clovers and they use little red stickers to pick their targets. I still have the fork in my hand. The only thing I have left from home. My hand tightens around it. This radical group took away everything from me. Everything but this fork. So I’m going to plunge it into the eye of whoever leads them.

Gotta Love Nostalgia

Everyone has that one thing or perhaps multiple things that bring up a strong sense of nostalgia. Whether its a family memory, an old show, a game, old job, etc. etc. etc. I love the feeling of nostalgia. It gives you a sense of roots and personal history. However, its definitely not something that can be easily explained. I mean, I’m about to go on and on about something that’s given me strong nostalgic feelings lately and you’re likely going to think: ‘really? She’s writing about this? Come on, your old posts are better.’ Well, you’re probably right. So, in continuing further, I dare you to relate in some way. You likely don’t have any feelings for what I’m about to write about, but you do have something else that brings a sense of nostalgia to you and I want you to keep that thing in mind. If anything, it’s always nice to pause a moment and remember a good thing from days long passed.

So, about a week ago, a new game came out for the Nintendo Switch (no it’s not a Zelda game), and I preordered it so I didn’t have to wait to play it. The game is Pokemon Snap. It’s a cute, little game where you get to play wildlife photographer in the pokemon world. You just take snapshots of pokemon in their natural habitat. There’s no catching, no training, no battling, and no trading. You’re just a snap happy photographer taking pictures.

When you think about it, the point of the game isn’t that exciting. There’s no villain you have to fight, no puzzles to solves, it’s just picture taking. So, it’s not a game for everyone. I got it because I used to play the Nintendo 64 version of Pokemon Snap ALL THE TIME. I completed the Photodex, found all th Pokemon Signs, and I was quite proud of myself for doing so. Even now, I can recall all the music, sound effects, gameplay, and tricks in each area. When I was little, I always hoped they’d come out with another one. Now that I’m in my twenties, they finally did!

Do you remember a time when you got the news that they were remaking something you loved as a kid? Maybe a Disney movie, an old tv show, a theme park restoring an old roller coaster, a game (in my case), or whatever it was that you were obsessed with as a kid? You hear the news and you get excited, but then comes the influx of emotions where you’re not sure its a good idea. Maybe it won’t be as good as the original? Maybe they’ll butcher an important scene or part or they’ll pick the wrong actors or mess up the story line. Or they’ll change something where it just isn’t the same anymore? I felt that when I heard about the new Pokemon Snap. I was super excited, but then very weary that it just wouldn’t be the same as the old 64 version or the developers would change something that doesn’t need to be changed.

Thankfully, in my case, they didn’t remake the old Pokemon Snap, they expanded on it. A LOT of new pokemon have come out since the original game so the developers are including a LOT of those new pokemon. Plus, its in a new region, there are new areas to explore, new mysterious to solve, and they give you little challenges and clues in each area to help you get the best pictures. I may not have played the new version of Pokemon Snap as much as I would’ve liked since it came out, but I can happily say I’m NOT disappointed in it. A lot of controls and items are the same and they included new items to help you get the best photos. They also make it possible to edit your photos and enhance them. It’s gotten a very good improvement and let’s not forget that video game graphics have come a long way since 1999. So the designers deserve a huge pat on the back for how well they crafted the different ecosystems and landscapes of the region you explore in the game.

Speaking of ecosystems and landscape. They expanded on something in this new version of Pokemon Snap that was pretty mellow in the old game. For those of you unfamiliar with the game: there is a reason you go around taking pictures. In both games, you’re helping a professor document the habits and behavior of pokemon. In the new game, they expand it further by giving more detail to the lab you work at: the Laboratory of Ecology and Natural Sciences. This game is meant for kids, so it’s likely a kid isn’t going to know what ecology and natural sciences are, but they will understand the point. You go around a habitat (a swamp, a cave, a desert, a jungle, a meadow, or under the ocean, etc. etc. etc.), taking pictures of the pokemon, and how they interact with each other and their surroundings. You also get to find new paths and areas and uncover inspiring discoveries about plant life too–all by keeping your disturbance to the habitat a minimum.

Now, pokemon aren’t real and the magical mysteries in the game don’t exist, but what if you implied the concept of Pokemon Snap to the real world? One of my favorite things about the game is that it can be an inspiration for someone to go into ecology and natural sciences. They may enjoy taking pictures in the game so much that they want to take pictures of nature and study the environments of Earth. I, for one, am someone who’s fascinated by animal behavior and when I see the chance to snatch a good photo of some wildlife, I try to take it. There’s been a spotted owl around my work lately and I’ve chased it around the property (I’m not very stealthy at work) trying to snatch a good photo of it! Now, Pokemon Snap likely isn’t the reason I chase wildlife around, but it may have played a part. I think the new Pokemon Snap does a great job of highlighting the careers of a researcher and a wildlife photographer. I hope every kid out there that plays it gets inspired to research wildlife beyond what’s done in the game.

Alright, enough of my nostalgia. I could go on…and on…and on. However, this blog isn’t here so I can ramble about Pokemon. I wanted to share my nostalgia in hopes to get you thinking about yours. So, what is it? What gives you a strong sense of nostalgia? A song? A show? A game? Etc.? Do you think that thing inspired some habit or career of yours? Or could potentially inspire others? Let me know what you think in the comments below and thank you for taking the time to read this post!

A Million Dreams…

How many of you are The Greatest Showman fans? I certainly loved that movie when I first saw it and I think the soundtrack for it is fantastic! My favorite song in that soundtrack is A Million Dreams. If you’re not familiar with it, go watch the movie, but to simplify it, the main character is singing about all the dreams he wants to come true in his life, all the dreams he wants to include in the circus. It’s a very uplifting song, beautiful music, the dance is graceful and energetic, and the whole of it is just inspiring. However, that’s not why I like it so much.

I see the song through a different perspective, a writer’s perspective. Maybe you can relate or maybe this will just sound like nonsense, but I hope it’ll at least be a good read.

Let’s start with the first verse:

“I close my eyes and I can see a world that’s waiting up for me that I call my own.

I consider myself a dreamer and a daydreamer. When I lay down at night, I can’t fall asleep right away like some people do. So, to help pass the time until sleep finally decides to show up, I daydream about my novels, my stories, and my imaginations. The world I see is the main setting of my completed, yet unpublished, novel: a mighty castle on an open, golden field. Its certainly its own world that I call my own.

Now the next song lyric:

“Through the dark, through the door, through where no one’s been before, but it feels like home.”

Obviously, no ones been to my castle on the golden field before, but to me it feels like home because I know it so well. I’m sure other writers could relate about the settings in their novels. I know it sounds crazy. You’ve probably think I’ve lost my mind at this point, but I don’t care if it sounds crazy, because wouldn’t any of us want to live in a world that we design?

Now, let’s move on to the main chorus:

“Every night I lie in bed
The brightest colours fill my head
A million dreams are keeping me awake
I think of what the world could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it’s gonna take
Oh a million dreams for the world we’re gonna make

I feel like this speaks for itself. I mean, I already admitted to not be able to sleep at night. Sometimes, I’ll get an idea for one of my stories and I’ll play that idea in my head over and over again that I just can’t fall asleep. Are there any others that can relate to this? Any others that see your stories as the bright colours in your head and as the dreams that keep you awake?

The song goes on to be more fitting for The Greatest Showman plot, but every time it hits the chorus, it gives me motivation to work on my own stories again. I hope you don’t stop dreaming. I hope you have a million dreams keeping you awake and the inspiration and excitement to seize them. Thanks for reading over my perspective of A Million Dreams, I hope you enjoyed it.

Writing Prompt: Getting Away with Murder

Use the following words: Snow Queen, windmill, tunnel, childhood, endanger, cypress, wine, horseback, temperature, imperial.

There isn’t enough wine in the world for this. I’m standing under the cypress tree, bearing witness as my childhood nemesis is carried away in a body bag. Little miss perfect never knew how to shut up. She always bragged about all the good she did for endangered animals and yet, she has the largest hummer on the lot, a giant mansion, and a diamond ring on each finger. She took more than she gave and that’s why she’s gone now. Her money will go to those that need it–those endangered animals deserve better and my horseback rescue ranch down the road won’t go bankrupt.

I feel like the Snow Queen in the middle of summer. They load her body in the truck and yet, I just stand here like I’m watching a rabbit cross the road. I followed her last night. After I begged her to help me save my ranch. I would pay her back, but she scoffed at me, said she couldn’t do it and she turned away. She thought I left, but I was so angry, that I waited at the end of her drive and when she drove off in the thick of the night. I tailed her.

She went to the windmill north of town. The windmill is a relic, fading away and forgotten. So why was she going there? I got my answer when I followed her in. All the money that was supposed to be going to the endangered animals was hiding in that windmill. I shouted at her, but I don’t remember what either of us said. I think she threatened me. Threatened to buy out my ranch and tear it down. Fury turned my vision red and the next thing I knew red was scattered across the floor.

My grandfather’s imperial pistol was in my hand and smoke drifted from the barrel. I only kept the weapon on me to scare off coyotes, but the first bullet was lodged her heart. I didn’t feel anything as her blood bled out on the money. I was probably standing there like an idiot for over ten minutes before my mind finally realized what I did. I killed that greedy witch and you know what? The world is better off with her dead, but I can’t go to jail. What would happen to my ranch, to the money, to the endangered animals if I was stuck behind bars?

I’ve seen enough crime shows to know that the number one thing you don’t do to solve a crime is mess with the crime scene. So, I messed with everything. I rearranged the entire windmill to hide the blood stains, packed up all the money into my car, and used the old, secret tunnel to drag her body out of there.

The tunnel led to an old farm that was seized by the banks. No one bought it. No one took care of it. So everything was overgrown. Temperature fluctuated a lot between the windmill, tunnel, and farm that I suspect it’ll screw up evidence. I left her body in the barn and took a long path back to the windmill so that maybe I couldn’t be tracked. I hopped in my car, dumped my pistol in the river, drove back to my ranch, and the stored the money in the second safe in my attic. I changed my clothes and burned the old ones in my firepit then spent the rest of my night with the horses and a bottle of wine.

The next morning, I drove around town trying to “find” her. I stopped by her house and when she didn’t answer, I spoke with everyone in town. I let everyone believe I was trying to sell her my ranch to get out of debt. When no one could point me in her direction. I drove around all day before finding her body.

When the cops showed up, they asked me a few questions. The biggest one was if she had any enemies. Well, no one in town liked her, I told them. Everyone is going to think she got what she deserved. They believed me and they didn’t consider me a suspect. Over the next few months, I’ll use her money to slowly pay off my loans and save my ranch and what’s left over will be an anonymous donation to the endangered animals. Just like it should be.

I Gotta Tell You about Saturn!

Lately, I’ve been working on a sci/fi story and it’s set in our Solar System years into the future. Well, I’m having to do a lot of research about space to write this novel and I wanted to share some of the things I’ve learned. Some things in the novel I’m going probably going to pull the whole: “it’s a sci/fi, it works that way just cause it works that way,” but for the setting, I want to get as accurate as I can. I’ve learn a lot of cool things about the Solar System that I gotta share!

Besides Earth, one of the major planets featured in my sci/fi is Saturn. Well…kind of. No one actually goes to Saturn in the story, but they go to plenty of Saturn’s moons. Saturn has a BUNCH of moons. 82 according to NASA’s website. The largest being Titan (which is larger than Mercury, the planet), and it’s smallest is probably the moonlet: Pan which is a whole 23 km wide (have you ever heard the term moonlet before? I hadn’t until I started this research, it means small natural or artificial satellite. It’s such a cute word!). Of Saturn’s major moons, Mimas is the smallest and I consider it the Death Star moon. Look up of a photo of it. It has a giant crater that makes it look like the Death Star from Star Wars. It’s because of this Death Star look that I decided to have Mimas as one of the moons that appear in my story. Did you know it has an icy and crater-covered surface?

Another fun fact I want to share is about Saturn’s rings. Did you know that it’s rings are labeled? It makes sense that they would be, I mean, its literally like naming geography but in space. Their names go from A Ring down the alphabet to G Ring. The A, B, and C Rings are the main ones you see when looking at Saturn and the large gap between A and B is called the Cassini Division. Saturn’s rings are mostly composed of ice and the A Ring even has a gap in it that’s called the Encke Gap–and it’s held open by our little friend: Pan.

It’s too easy to get lost in the research. You start learning so much that you just want to throw it all into the novel, but then you’re writing a textbook and not a story. Somewhere you gotta find the balance and for my story, I’m focusing on getting the basics of a setting like Mimas having an icy surface and Pan being tucked in the Encke Gap. Maybe when the story is fully written, I’ll have a space expert read it and let me know if I did space justice enough as a setting. I could go on about Saturn and space–I mean, solarsystem.nasa.gov has a really cool interactive Solar System. None of the moonlets are on it, but you can see the major moons of the different planets (and of course you can’t forget how pretty Earth and the Moon are).

Space is so cool. Its so easy to forget about. There’s such a big universe outside our atmosphere. Its definitely something to keep you pondering.

Thanks for reading! I have to get back to writing my story, but I hope you enjoyed these fun facts! If you have any to share about space, feel free to comment them below!

Writing Prompt: New Invention

What’s something you would like to see invented that would make your life easier?

To all you writers, tinkers, and theorists out there: have you ever had a moment where you had the perfect phrasing for a story, essay, or any other project of yours and yet you couldn’t get that phrasing down because you didn’t have a pen, paper, journal, phone, or any other device to copy that phrasing upon? And when you finally get the chance to write it down, its stolen from your mind like a thief in the night? How many perfect scenes or character descriptions have you lost just because you couldn’t write it down fast enough? Well, you’ve no need to lose any more, my friends, because writers, I have GOOD NEWS for you!

All of us here at Mind’s Hallway Industries have a developed what we’re proudly calling: the Writer’s Buddy 3000. If you’re comfortable wearing earbuds, you’ll enjoy the Writer’s Buddy! You just need to slip it on your ear and start the creative processes in your mind! The Writer’s Buddy connects to your personal laptop or other device and while you’re daydreaming away, it will transcribe your thoughts onto a Word Document! You could write your story, essay, or other work wherever you are! Writing has never been easier!

What’s more is that the Writer’s Buddy 3000 is also waterproof! So, you could wear it in the shower–where you do your best thinking–and all those creative thoughts of yours will be recorded on your own computer! No more of your amazing work would be washed down the drain!

For safety reasons, the Writer’s Buddy 3000 only connects to one computer and it’s entirely hack proof! The Writer’s Buddy also does not have a self storage so none of your thoughts will remain on it. Meaning, if you ever lose it or it gets stolen, no one will be able to steal your work! (Mind’s Hallway industries is not responsible for the theft of devices connected to any Writer’s Buddy 3000s).

So if you’re tired of thinking of the perfect wording for your project and then losing it by the time you get the chance to write it down, you need the Writer’s Buddy 3000! Supplies are limited so order yours TODAY!

*Disclaimer: The Writer’s Buddy 3000 and Mind’s Hallway Industries are fictional creations and do not actually exist (as awesome as it would be if they did). Best of luck to all you writers out there who come up with the perfect phrasing and struggle to remember it word for word by the time you can write it down. You’re not alone.

What Do You See in a Storm?

A couple weeks ago, I had the honor of watching a storm on the horizon while I drove to work. It was dark enough that morning that I didn’t even realize it was a storm until lightning flashed through the clouds. Now, I LOVE storms. I love the pouring rain, the ground-quaking thunder, the dark of the sky, but most of all: the lightning. I love watching lightning and not just their flash, but seeing the actual bolt itself. And I saw a ton of those on that drive to work and it really fired me up for the morning.

For those of you keeping up with my blog, you know that my drive to work includes this little woodsy road where the streetlights don’t reach. That stormy morning, I was really looking forward to getting to that road and seeing the bolts light up the dark. Yes, the trees would probably block my view, but I knew it had to be so cool to be on that dark road with no streetlights, car lights (except for mine of course), or any other light taking away the brightness of the lightning. My prayer was to see just one bolt while on that dark and hilly road and you know what? I got to see TWO.

The first one flashed before I even got to the hills and it looked so good! The edges of the bolt were perfectly defined by the darkness of the sky and the black of the nightly trees framed it like a perfect photoshop. I wanted to paint it!! And I still do (but I’ve never been good at painting lightning. I’ll have to give it another try someday). I was just so thankful that morning that I got to see for an instant, a lightning bolt in the middle of the darkness. And then the second one flashed.

The second one was much bigger than the first! I was just reaching the top of the first hill on that eastbound road, so I got a beautiful picture of the taller, second hill, covered in shadow, and leading up to a fractured lightning bolt between the thick of the trees. It took my breath away.

As I was climbing that second hill, I got to thinking about my old post Reach for the Sunrise. In that post, I talk about climbing this very same hill toward the beauty of the dawn, but that dark morning, I was driving toward a storm. It got me thinking that maybe I could write a post about this? About driving toward a storm and come up with a fun metaphor to make me sound “enlightened” or whatever word you want to use. But if you really think about it, who wants to drive toward a storm? Storms are dangerous! Strong winds from one could turn into a tornado. Rain could turn into floods and lightning could kill you in a flash. So why would anyone drive toward a storm?

Now, I know there are storm chasers out there. People get paid to put their lives in danger, and if you’re like me, you just have a fascination for storms, but still wouldn’t drive into one unless I had too. I think most of us wouldn’t drive toward a storm unless we had too to get where we’re going.

That got me thinking even further. Yes, I was driving toward the storm, but it wasn’t the storm I was focusing on. I was watching for the lightning, the light in the darkness. Everyone goes through storms in life whether literal storms or metaphorical ones. So when you go through a storm in life, what are you looking for? Are you looking for the end of the storm just to get out of it? Are you staring at the rain and hoping you don’t drown? Are you cowering from the thunder or dodging lightning strikes?

It’s hard to be calm during a storm, but if you’re not, you have a harder time making it out. Everyone looks for different things to guide them through, so what are you looking for? Are you like me and you’re looking for that light in the darkness to show the way whether its sunlight or lightning? Are you even trying to make it through your storm? I hope you are, because no one deserves to be stuck in the pouring down rain.

Whether you’re stuck in a literal storm or not, I hope you try to find the beauty in it like I did with the lightning on my morning drive. Storms may be dangerous, but you can’t let them scare you. So, the next time you go through a storm, I dare you to take a good look around and decide what you’re going to see: the darkness or the light?

Nothing Scarier…

All through childhood and even today, one of my favorite sayings is that “nothing is scarier than a blank piece of paper.” Now, I should probably add on “for a writer” at the beginning or end of it because let’s be real, there are some incredibly scary things out there (like ticks…and other bugs).

So, when it comes to a writer, or any artist, a blank page or blank canvas can be pretty scary. You can sit down to write or draw or paint etc. And, if you’re like me, you just find yourself staring at the page. If you know what you want to write or draw, great! That’s half the battle. But then you gotta figure out how are you going to start? Start with a description? Start with some facts? If you don’t know what you want to write or draw and you’re like me, you just kinda sit there staring at the page and eventually the page wins.

Same goes for journals. I know I’m not the only one who has a thousand journals and yet most of them haven’t anything written in them. One of my favorite journals is a leather bound one I got years ago. And yet, I have written nothing in it. My first thought was “oh, I’ll write a story that goes with the design on the cover!” but then I worry that the story won’t be good enough. I think I should just use it for my thoughts–it is a journal after all–but it just too pretty for my thoughts, so it sits in my desk with nothing inside because I can’t decide what’s good enough to write in it. Someday I’ll write something, we’ll just have to wait and see what pops into my head.

So, blank pages are scary and pretty journals deserve more than just basic thoughts. But my favorite part of a blank page and a blank journal is all the possibilities. They’re endless. You could write a report, a story, a memoir, a poem, gibberish, anything! Same goes for drawing. You could paint puppies, or doodle drawbridges, make maps, copy artwork or sketch star systems. It’s just a matter of what do you want to do?

Now, as endless as the possibilities are, it’s also pretty daunting. What if you mess up? What if it’s all wrong? What if you lose your train of thought or accidentally damage the paper or canvas? You want some friendly advice for when those thoughts start to creep up?

Shut up.

Just shut those thoughts right up because they’re only holding you back. Just start writing or drawing and if you screw up? There’s more paper. Just think of all those tv and movie scenes where someone is trying to write the right thing, but they keep crumpling up the paper and tossing it into the waste basket. The important thing is that you’re trying. Practice makes perfect after all.

So don’t let the scariness of a piece of paper stop you. Put your pencil, pen, paintbrush, or fingers on the keyboard and go! Don’t think about it until you edit. Start writing right now!

Finch Among Starlings

Do you ever feel out of place? Like you don’t belong in a crowd of people? Or a group of friends? Or even your own family? Be assured that you’re not the only one.

I’m an introvert. I’m the quiet one, the one who won’t speak up unless you talk to me first. Kinda like a finch. I’ve heard finches are some of the quietest birds in the world. They still have a song, but you don’t hear it as often. Then, you have the other end of the spectrum. I have a bunch of starlings that live around my house and they’re noisy. You’ll always know when they show up. And I guarantee that if you put a finch among them, you’d have to look real hard to find it.

Lately, I’ve been feeling very out of place like a finch among starlings. I get together with my loud and extroverted family and I’m the awkward one just sitting at the counter. At work, I’m the quiet one who doesn’t quite get all the jokes my coworkers tell. I’m also the one who lives under a rock, so it’s hard to get into conversations when I have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about. Then, there’s my online group of friends. We don’t know each other’s real names, but we’ve been talking and roleplaying for over 10 years. I’m the one who got us all together by starting the roleplay, but more often than not, that’s all I feel like I am. I try to get into conversations and write fanfics for my characters on there, but more and more I just feel ignored.

Maybe you have a group of friends, coworkers, or even family that you feel like you don’t belong too. It’s so frustrating, right? Especially if you’re an introvert. Everyone around you has all the boldness to say what’s on their mind and they’ll even have the guts to talk over you to make sure they’re heard. And, if you’re like me, you let them. You let them talk and say what’s on their mind, you be kind and listen because you hope they would do the same in return, but they don’t, or someone else barges into the conversation before you even get to finish and the topic changes so what you wanted to say is forgotten. To go a little further, maybe you give your heart to people, do something for them when they ask. You try to encourage them when they’re down. They appreciate everything you do and maybe they’ll listen to your encouragement, but when you need something done. When you need that encouragement, where are they?

I know there’s some people out there who have the mentality of “what do I get out of it?” They won’t do anything for anyone else unless they get something out of it. That’s kinda selfish, right? I mean, yeah, some people would say that’s smart, you don’t want people walking all over you, but what ever happened to the goodness of the heart? To selfLESSness?

I have to be honest. There’s a lot that I want to scream into this post. I mean, I had a pretty terrible day–some things were piling up and to top it off I found a tick on my side! Those of you who know me know how much that freaks me out. The way I’m feeling right now, I just want to complain. I want to complain about being a finch among starlings. How I asked for favors from some people, put my faith in some people, and got nothing in return. I want to complain about all the rejections I’ve been getting when I know my book is good, and I want to complain about the type of person I am and how easily a tiny tick could make me fall apart (although, it wasn’t that tiny…it was about the size of an eraser on the end of a pencil, so the stupid thing was huge!).

Even finches have bad days though. I mean, not everyone can be bright and encouraging all the time. Candles do burn out. That’s where selflessness can come in and save the day. One act. One encouraging word can change someone’s whole day. You don’t know what anyone’s going through. You don’t see what they don’t want you to see. You don’t see them running to the bathroom at work to hide their tears when they just heard bad news. You don’t see how they find a quiet spot to get away. You don’t see the scars on their thighs from wounds they inflicted themselves. Or the trouble behind the mask on their face. People always smile and say they’re fine, because it’s too uncomfortable to be NOT fine. Everyone says their fine because that’s the answer everyone wants to hear. If you’re not fine, then you’re not handling life right.

When did fine become the new normal? Fine sucks. Whenever I hear some say they’re fine, I admit, I have my doubts. One of the perks of being a finch is that you pay more attention to the subtle things people do. How often does someone look you in the eye? What are they doing with their hands? Are they tense? How’s their respiratory rate? Quick? Deep? Are they shrugging things off? Being distant? I need to asking “How are you” twice when I notice these things, because sometimes people need you to ask multiple times before they’re honest. I’m guilty of it.

We’ve let saying “I’m fine” become a habit. The words comes out before you can even stop yourself and though you think you should take it back, you decide not too because the other person has already accepted it. I’m even guilty of fighting back the second question. Someone will ask: “How are you?” And the automatic: “I’m fine!” comes out. They’ll lean in: “Are you sure?” and for a second that feels like weeks, my mind is fighting the battle of whether or not I should tell the truth. The truth doesn’t always win though. The truth is too messy and other people don’t need to be included in my problems. No one needs to see that I’m not fine. So, I smile and I shrug and I say: “Yeah! I’m great.”

This post has completely derailed from what I originally intended it to be about, but its content is still important–I think. I triple-dog-dare you to tell the truth the next time someone asks “How are you?” And I dare you to stop using the word “fine.” If you truly are doing alright, then pick a different word so people can believe it. Also dare you to ask beyond the “How are you?” We’re all stuck in this life together, finches and starlings. Might as well look out for each other and make selflessness the new normal.