You Can Make an Impact

Did you know you can make an impact by leaving a review? I’m not talking about the whole: leaving a good review brightens people’s day, leaving a bad one tears it down kinda thing. I’m talking about leaving a review to impact actual change.

Nikki, what are you talking about?

Let me get more specific. I’m a zookeeper. I currently take care of hippos, chimpanzees, and a couple bird and reptile species. This is only a tiny fraction of the all the animals my zoo houses. Each year, our zoo works to better itself whether its by building a new feature or exhibit, or improving an old feature or exhibit. One year, elephants got redone, another year orangutangs did. In the next ten years, we plan on adding new animals to our collection. Which is great. New animals mean new opportunities to learn for both keepers and public. However, that could also mean other areas of the zoo get overlooked. Areas that really need the help.

As a zookeeper, I can tell you that every keeper at my zoo wants what’s best for the animals in our care. We want to see improvements to our exhibits and buildings. We want the old, outdated stuff torn down and new and improved habitats built in their place. We want our animals to be able to preform every natural behavior they would in the wild. So, we push for change. We ask our management for these improvements and for the possibility of getting in the ten year plan. However, the problem lies in the fact that the zoo is also a business.

As weird as it sounds, the zoo is a business. A business has to stay open to survive. In order to stay open, you need to make money. In order to make money, you need to attract people. To attract people, you give them what they want. How do you know what they want?

You read the reviews.

The next exhibit getting an upgrade at my zoo is getting it because of the reviews people left after visiting. So, let’s say we had a third of our visitors for the past several years say they wished they could’ve seen the lions better. Well, management will look at that and decide the lion exhibit needs upgraded. Which is great. We’re giving the people what they want. Maybe more people will come to see the lions now? Maybe they’ll leave a better review? More people + good reviews = more revenue, right? Yet, in my humble opinion, there are other exhibits that need the upgrade more. So, in this lion scenario. Even though visitors can’t see the lions very well, the lions have a large exhibit, and its on a hill so it doesn’t flood. Their shift doors all work, there’s no questionable parts of their holding areas, or facilities that need repaired. Everything may be a little outdated, but it’s all functionable. Now, let’s look at a hypothetical tiger exhibit. The public can see easily see the tigers on exhibit. No one is complaining about not seeing the tigers. Yet, the tiger exhibit isn’t as large as the lion exhibit and when it rains, half the exhibit floods. Let’s say their behind-the-scenes holding area has cracks in the walls and the shift doors don’t line up. Keepers can request that something be done and they’ll do their best to trench out the water from the exhibit, but management is looking at the numbers of people wanting to see the lions, so they’ll put off tigers as long as they can to give the public what they want.

It’s sounds terrible, right? How could a zoo bypass an animal area that needs help and improve an area that doesn’t? It’s because of the business aspect. While every person at the zoo cares for the animals, management has to look at what’s going to keep us open. It’s a tough job and it’s super frustrating to us zookeepers, but after 2020’s COVID, a lot of zoos are struggling to get the funding we lost. Us, zookeepers, will continued to make the best of what we have for the betterment of our animals. We’ll continue raising our voices to see improvements in our facilities, but there is one voice stronger than ours:

Yours.

If you want to make a zookeeper’s day, ask them what you can put in your review of the zoo. The animal caretakers know what need to be improved, so if you ask them and express that you want to help, they’ll tell you. Then you can tell our management through your review what changes need to be done.

Now, I’m not saying you should leave a bad review for your local zoo. Don’t be one of those people who complain about everything and say our animals look so sad. Your review won’t be taken seriously. If you want to be taken seriously, complement us, then tell us what you’d like to see changed. Like this:

Example review: “We loved coming out to see the chimpanzees. We caught the keeper chat and really felt the care the keepers had for their animals. My kids loved seeing the chimps playing with their enrichment. My youngest really wanted to see the baboons, but the exhibit was closed due to flooding.”

That’s a really nice review–and yes, I’m patting us chimp keepers on the back. This review expresses what you liked seeing, and inserts a line requesting change. If enough people comment about the hypothetical flooding in this baboon exhibit, then ideally management will realize something needs to be done. It may not feel like you’re doing much, but a single grain of rice can tip the scales, right?

So, when you go to the zoo, and I STRONGLY encourage you to go to your local zoo, I hope you’ll ask a zookeeper what improvements you can request to see in your review. That way, we can work together to bring about real change for the betterment of our animals.

The Cheetah’s Hunt

Able to reach speeds up to 70 miles an hour, the cheetah remains as the world’s fastest land animal. These cats are built for speed. They have springy spines that allow them to cover 30 feet in one stride. 30 feet! One stride! Not only that, but their bones are lighter to decrease body weight, and what’s really cool is their shoulder and hip bones. Cheetah’s shoulder blades are not attached to the rest of their skeleton and their hip bones have the ability to pivot. This allows them to swing their legs much faster than other felines in order to increase how often they able to push off the ground while running. Another cool thing about cheetahs is how their front legs are built different than their hind legs. Cheetahs have naturally longer limbs than other cats and their front legs are built in a way that cheetahs to have greater movement of their front paws. Cheetahs aren’t as strong as lions or leopards, so they use their dew claws to be able to grab and hold onto prey during the chase. If they can knock prey off balance and onto the ground, the hunt is half won.

Another thing that helps with a cheetah’s speed are their semi-retractable claws. This allows them to grip the ground as they run and help propel themselves forward. They even have grooves on their pads to help with traction. If they’re in the middle of a chase and their prey makes a sudden turn, a cheetah’s heavy tail acts like a rudder to allow the cheetah to remain behind its prey the whole time. With all these speed, cheetahs need enlarged heart and chest cavities to help with oxygen and blood flow. As built as they are for speed, cheetahs can’t maintain it for very long. It’s estimated that they can only go about 1,500 ft before having to stop. If they manage to catch their prey, they can’t eat it right away. Cheetahs have to wait about 30 minutes for their bodies to cool down from all that running to be able to eat their prey with no problems. 30 minutes is a long time on the savannah and fresh kill attracts hyenas and lions. Some cheetahs are only able to get a few bites in before other predators steal their meals.

To avoid competing with hyenas and lions who hunt at night, a cheetah will hunt at dawn or dusk. This makes them crepuscular hunters. However, there have been studies that show cheetahs will hunt nocturnally if on reserves without lions. Cheetahs tend to go after gazelle, springbok, impalas, duiker, or other small to medium antelope.

Since cheetahs can only maintain their top speeds for a short time, they have to stalk pretty close to their prey in order to have a chance at catching it. A cheetah will get as close as it can before dashing out and taking their prey by surprise.

Due to habitat loss, cheetahs are facing extinction. However, there are many ways that you can help. You can visit your local zoo. A lot of zoos donate part of their proceeds to conversation. To help cheetahs specifically, you can donate to the Cheetah Conservation Fund. It’s an organization in Namibia dedicated to the cheetah species. They promote education to local farmers and are even supplied the 8 cheetahs that got reintroduced to India. You can even help cheetahs by spreading awareness. Sharing this article and others to promote education can help spur others into action.

Cheetahs are an amazing species. The fastest land animal. They need our help.

Introvert Problems

Has there ever been a time when you felt like the odd one out? Be it in your family, your friend group, or your coworkers? What about when you first got a job? You’re the “new kid” learning the ropes. Well, learning the ropes is fine because you’ll eventually get them down, but what about the integration of you with your new coworkers?

If you’re an introvert, like me, it can be a little daunting. Especially if there’s already well established social bonds between your coworkers already. The cues aren’t hard to pick up. You see how they joke with each other and laugh. You’ll catch them talking about texting each other or hanging out. Strong bonds between coworkers, in my opinion, is great for a workplace. It makes you enjoy being there. So, if you’re the “new kid,” how do you join in? In essence, how do you make friends?

Some people would say “just jump in!” Jump in a conversation, ask to hang out, etc. etc. etc. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed in today’s society that it’s really hard to jump into a conversation. To do that, you have to be able to cut someone off and insert yourself–sometimes loudly. I don’t like doing that. To me, cutting someone off is rude. When it’s done to me, I feel like that person wasn’t listening to me in the first place and I don’t want to make others feel that way. When I write dialogue between my characters, there’s flow. There’s a back and forth of both people contributing to the conversation. A pause after each line so the other gets the chance to respond. I don’t notice that in everyday life. There’s always someone trying to dominate the conversation that someone like me can’t get their two cents in. Maybe I’m just being selfish and not a good a listener.

Veering back to topic. Does anyone have any good “integration” stories? Any tales about how you joined a group of friends/coworkers/teammates/etc. and you’re still enjoying that comradery today? If so, let us know! I’m sure there’s plenty of introverts out there that could use the help.

Time

Me time
Family time
Lunch time
Dinner time
Half time
Show time
Workout time
Movie time
Free time
Tee time
Shower time
Study time
Date time
Time for work
Time for bed
Time to shop
Time to repair
Time to stretch
Time to play
Time for breakfast
Time to prepare
Time to go
Time for laundry
Time to waste
Time to pray
Time for church
Time for dishes
Time to meet
Time to weep

Time’s gone

When will we learn:

There’s just not enough time?

Mwezi Hu; The Death House Pt. 2

The possessed armor laid in pieces at our feet. I have to admit our misfit group did a pretty good job defeating it. Well, minus the elf in the blue onesie who started the fight to begin with. With the armor dead, we explore this third floor of this creepy mansion. We each take a different path. Vyke and the elf–who won’t tell us his name–head off to the right. Bree checks the door straight ahead and I go to the door to the far end of the hall on the left.

I find a nursemaid suite which makes this haunted house feel a whole lot sadder. There’s blankets and toys laid on the floor. Bottles and books lining the furniture. A creepy looking mirror to my left. The end of the room houses a balcony window. A rocking chair looks out it and chills shiver my skin. The rocking chair is moving.

I gingerly step into the room to see who occupies the furniture and my lip curls at the sight of a young maiden. From her garb, she’s definitely the nursemaid, but her pale skin, dead eyes, and wispy hair tell me she far from alive.

A floorboard creaks under my steps and the nursemaid turns her head a sickening 360 degrees to look at me. Her eyes sharpen like daggers. “Where are Rose and Thorn?” She asks. The room grows colder when she speaks.

I shake my head. I don’t want to provoke her. She just a spirit unable to pass on. Likely her unfinished business involves Rose and Thorn and I can only assume those are the children from the family painting downstairs. “I don’t know of who you speak.”

She stands up and her body snaps around to reline with her head. Her mouth stretches likes a banshee’s scream. “Liar!”

The nursemaid lunges at me. I draw my morning star and cut it across my arm so my blood magic can ignite the spikes with fire. I swing, but she disappears in a cloud of mist and reappears right behind me. The nursemaid latches onto my shoulders and her sucking breath drains my lifeforce. I hate ghosts.

I can’t shake her off. So, I throw back my head and howl to alert the others. I hear a shout and the next thing I know, Vayne charges into the room with rage in her eyes. Her reptilian hands enlarge to dragon claws and she takes a swipe at the nursemaid. The stupid thing screams right in my ear and when it lunges at Vayne, it knocks me to the ground. I try to get up, but my head is spinning from the energy drain.

When I finally back on my feet, I turn to the nursemaid to find Vyke’s sword running it through. I don’t know when he came into the room, but I’m grateful. The nursemaid shrieks, but her cries fade away as her body dissolves. Bree and the elf enter the room.

“What happened?” Vyke looks at me as he dispells his sword.

“I walked in and she attacked.” I shrug. “I’m guessing her unfinished business keeping her hear was the children.”

“I’m getting more bad vibes about this place.” Vayne takes a breath to calm down. Her claws return to normal size. “It’s like something awful happened here.”

“The only way to find out is to keep going.” I glance around the room. Nothing appears out of place. “Did you guys find anything in the other rooms?”

Bree pipes up. “I saw skeletons hanging from a tree outside the bathroom window.” I frown. It’s just another reason for me to not like this place.

Vyke opens his mouth to say something, but an excited “Ooooh” cuts him off. Blue Onesie is standing by the creepy mirror. He looks back at us with a big, ol’ grin and when he moves the mirror out of the way, a secret door in the wall is revealed. “There’s stairs behind it leading up,” he declares.

I glance at the others. “I guess we go that way.”

The stairs grow narrower as we climb and they lead to a dusty, attic-like space with more doors leading off of it. I pick the one in the middle this time and find a storage space full of bodices and boxes. There’s a trunk at the far end that catches my eye. This is a fancy house and I just about got killed by a ghost. Maybe there’s something valuable in that trunk to make this all worth it? I break the lock off and when I open it up, I about gag at the rotten stench coming from within. Something dead is definitely in here. White bed sheets stained with blood wrap up whatever it is. I find the corpse’s head and scowl. It’s the nursemaid. She’s been stabbed multiple times. There’s no blood anywhere else in the room so her body was put in this trunk and moved here.

“What’d you find?” I turn around at Vyke’s voice. He’s scanning the room.

“It’s the nursemaid.” I close the trunk to spare my nose. “Her body at least. Whoever killed her put her up here.”

“What do you think happened?”

I shake my head. “I’m not sure, but the longer we’re here, the more I worry about the children of this family.”

He nods in agreement and we leave the storage room to meet up with the others, but we spot Vayne backing out of a different room. Her scales are rippling.

“Vayne, what’s wrong?” Vyke asks.

Vayne’s tail won’t stop flicking. “We…we found the children.” As much as I want to feel relieved, the wariness on her face plants graveness in my gut. “Bree’s with them, but…I don’t think they’re alive.”

Vyke and I head into the room. It’s a children’s nursery. Toys are all laid about. The walls are nicely decorated. And, the two children are standing in the middle of the room. An older girl and her younger brother. Rose and Thorn, I presume. The graveness in my gut opens to a pit of dismay. Their skin is pale. Their eyes are blank. And, the smell in the air? They’re definitely not alive.

After what happened with the nursemaid, I grip my weapon.

Vyke grabs my wrist to keep me from drawing my morning star. Anger sparks in his red eyes. “They’re children!” he whispers harshly.

I look him in the eye. “They’re not alive.”

“Well, they’re not attacking us either.”

“They said they were told to hide in here.” Bree eyes me suspiciously. “Their parents, Elizabeth and Gustov, ushered them in here and locked them in. They don’t know where their parents went, but they were told to wait for them.”

That must be their unfinished business then. I frown sadly at the children. They’re waiting for parents that are likely as dead as they are.

“We need to find their bodies.” Vyke speaks softly to Bree and I. He points at me. “I’m going to go take another look around. You don’t harm these kids.”

“I’ll be watching her.” Bree nods curtly.

I roll my eyes and raise my hands to show them weapon free. I don’t like what’s going on in this house anymore than they do, but someone has to err on the side of caution. Vyke leaves the room and I look back at the kids. Thorn is holding a teddy bear. “Is that your favorite toy?” I ask him.

He nods.

I step forward and crouch beside him–Bree eyeing me the entire time. “May I see your toy?” I ask.

He nods and hands the teddy bear over. It’s a cute little teddy bear with a red bow. It reminded me of the stuffed wolf I played with as a child. I hold the bear up to my nose and breath in the scents upon it. Since Thorn was playing with it, there wasn’t much dust on it, and I could detect the scent of his living person. I lower the teddy bear and take a few whiffs around the room to follow that scent. His body definitely isn’t in here.

I look back at Thorn and hold up the teddy bear. “May I take this for a moment? I’ll be right back with it.” Thorn nods. I turn to leave the room and catch sight of the look on Bree’s face. She’s staring at me like I’ve gone mad. It’s a look I’m all too familiar with. I ignore her and follow the scent trail.

Blue Onesie is coming from the opposite end of the attic space. There must be nothing down there because he’s playing with a doll as he approaches. As much as he reeks, I dip my head into the teddy bear again to focus on Thorn’s scent. His trail leads back into the storage room. Vyke and Vayne are already in there picking apart the crates and other things to find the kid’s bodies. Bree and Blue Onesie follow after me and they all fill Blue Onesie in on what he missed with the children. Bree’s still giving me the side-eye.

There’s no doubt in my mind. The scent trail of Thorn leads right to a wall. Wooden planks block my path, but scent a draft behind them. I run my hand along the wall, along every edge of the wood, and I’m thinking I might just have to break through it when my finger clicks a latch. The wall slides open.

“Hey, guys.” I holler back to the others. The secret passage descended down a dark spiral staircase. “We’ll find the kids’ bodies this way.”

They come over. Vyke gives me a puzzled look. “How did you…” I hold up the teddy bear, but that only cause them to give me more confused looks.

I sigh. “I’m going to give this back to Thorn. Wait for me.”

“I’ll come with you.” Blue Onesie holds up his doll. “I can give this to Rose.”

We head back into the children’s room, but Rose and Thorn are gone.

A Bench at Ren Fest

Have you ever took a moment at a Renaissance fair to find a bench with a view?
Have you ever just paused and gazed at the people all around you?
Sitting at a bench at the Ren Fest, watching the passers go by
Its there that you can just let your imagination fly.
Children run pass with toy swords in hand, hacking and swinging at each other
Maybe someday, they’ll be knights or soldiers–to the great distain of their mothers
Some rugged men, a band of mercenaries, call out as they raise their ales
Perhaps they’re celebrating the victory of a monster they just impaled
Then the village madman hobbles down the street, hackling and chackling at all he meets.
A dark hooded figure stands in a corner, staring out at all he sees
Perhaps a villain? Perhaps a spirit? Someone the main character just sees?
A cheer fills the air from a joust up the square. You hear the maidens swoon
The knights decked in armor defend their prides–a deathmatch is set at noon
There’s so much to see from the bench right there
There’s fairies, and fauns, and music in the air
Knights and adventures. Wizards and pirates. It’s a story all its own
Just take a moment, a single moment, to see it before you go home
As you leave, I hope you smile and have learned something new
All because you sat at a Ren Fest on a bench with a view

Hippo Display

Taking care of the my zoo’s hippos the other day, I had a pretty cool experience with one of our girls. We have two hippos. One is considered geriatric while the other is considered a teenager. Everyday we do a “Hippo Chat” where I, the keeper, go out to the exhibit and chat about our hippos to our guests. I really enjoy doing it. It’s very rewarding when the hippos and people engage. It’s fun seeing people’s faces light up when I tell them an interesting fact and when the hippos participate, everyone has a good time.

The other day, at my chat, our teenager was the only one to come out of the water for treats. It took her a while. Usually the girls will circle in the pool before one of them decides to come out. I could tell our teenager wanted treats, but our older hippo kept blocking her path. Eventually, our teenager gives a little display: opening her mouth and doing a partial porpoise before she raced out of the water. I was able to call her over and she enjoyed some of my bananas while guests gawked at her. I like to show off our hippos and how good they are, so I asked our teenager for some training cues. She did a fantastic job and after a couple more banana slices, she decided she was done. She didn’t go back into the water which made me hopeful that she’d come back.

I’ve noticed with our teenager that she’s gotten into the habit of searching for browse after participating in the hippo chat. She’ll wander around the edges of the exhibit to see if she can spot any branches or leaves she can reach through the exhibit bars. She didn’t find any, but she did find a nice sunny patch to stand in on that cool, fall day.

By now, the guests were coming and going. With one hippo snoozing in the water and other enjoying a sunny patch on the far side of the exhibit, I wasn’t surprised people weren’t lingering to watch them. Those that left, well, they certainly missed out.

Our teenage hippo decides to come back closer to the front of the exhibit. She has to climb a little, rocky hill then she’ll be on a big pit of sand. She reached the sand and charged.

Our rowdy girl tossed her head and charged me at the bars of the exhibit with mouth open wide. I didn’t move. The bars are six inches thick and she knows how hard they are. She stopped short, tossed her head again, then circled the sand pit in a trotting display. She was acting tough. The head bobbing, the tail flicking, and the strutting about were clear signs she’s was letting everyone know she’s a queen bee.

I’m not used to seeing her in this feisty mood. She’s always been so sweet, but she is a teenager coming into maturity. When animals come into maturity, they have to figure out how to fit into their society. Will they rise the ranks closer to alpha or hang out on the bottom of the totem pole? Our teenager lives with one other hippo. A hippo that is much older than her. She may not be able to show our other hippo who’s boss–during her little display, the other hippo didn’t care. She napped the whole time–but there are others our teenager sees every single day that thinks she can boss around.

Us zookeepers.

From my experience, as long as zookeepers don’t react to the animal displaying at them, then the animal will get bored and eventually stop. Animal behavior is fascinating to me and our feisty teenager’s display got me curious on deeper behaviors of hippos. Unfortunately, I’m not finding a lot of scientific articles about hippos that I have access to (a lot of institutional sites require a login). However, I did find a study done in 2009 about social structure of captive female hippos. A scientist studied the hippos at Disney’s Animal Kingdom for several months. Hippos are known to be social animals, but she wanted to do deeper than that. She discovered that hippos prefer familiarity when interacting with other hippos. They’ll hang out with kin over other hippos and if they don’t have kin, then they’ll hang out with the hippo they’ve known the longest over other hippos. It makes sense. The longer you know someone the easier it is to anticipate what they’ll do or allow.

Our hippos at the zoo have only been together since 2019. They met when our teenager was still considered a child and our older hippo took on a maternal role for her. I’m hoping the bond between them back then will be strong enough to survive the teenage years. Although, I don’t blame our older girl for losing her patience when the teenager constantly pokes her in the face when she’s trying to nap.

All in all, our hippos are doing great. Our teenager is still in the early years of maturity, so she’s got a while before she figures herself out. In the meantime, she’ll probably keep testing us zookeepers. I certainly hope I’m around to watch our girl grow.

To the Christian Dreamer

Can I be real? Just for a second? I’ve been quite a bit down lately. It’s another one of my low points where I start to feel like everything is impossible and I can’t do anything right. Like anything. I mean, I feel like I’m not measuring up at my job. I wrecked my car and will be out a vehicle for probably over a month. I’ve been too upset with myself to want to engage in conversation with anyone–including family. And, when it comes to my novel, I’m scared out of my mind.

I have a journal where I write all my down days in. Whenever I feel like this, I pull out that journal and write down everything that’s bothering me. I lay it all out and then let the pen take over. Most of the time, I can reason with myself to make me feel better or I’ll write a prayer. Most of time, it makes me feel better, but now…I just feel stuck.

I couldn’t get myself to write anything encouraging in my journal this time because I’ll feel like a hypocrite if I do. I know the pattern. I screw up. Write about it. Feel better. Screw up again. Write about it. Repeat. So, I stopped writing. Instead, I went back to my previous journal entries. The last one was in May when I talked about how excited I was at the prospect of getting a permanent job at my zoo. The one before that was in April. Back then, I was offered two different jobs, and I was conflicted about which one to pick (I’m sure you remember all the webposts I wrote about it). At the end of that journal entry, I wrote something that’s caught my attention now. I’d like to share it, but please. Don’t judge. This is a section of my diary, after all:

“So, I’m as lost as ever on what to do in life. Why is it that I have to want “impossible” or “unlikely” dreams? Why couldn’t I have a passion for something easier and more profitable?
God willing, something will give.”

It felt like a kick in the head when I read that. By now, you know my dream. I want to be a published author. I want to write a series of books that everyone will love. I also want to help the exotic species on the planet. Work side by side with large felines and help save them from extinction. These two dreams feel very impossible/unlikely to me. Why? Because I know I’m out of my league. I don’t read enough books to know the market, or who’s who in the publishing world, or what people are into these days. I’m not the expert at querying and I’m terrible at talking up my book. So, who’s to say I have a shot? Even if it did get published. There’s no guarantee that it’ll be successful. And, saving animals from extinction? That’s a tall order in a world where people don’t take care of their planet. What can I do? I’m a just a part-time zookeeper with only a year’s experience.

Doesn’t matter how you look at it. I got the odds stacked against me when it comes to my dreams. I’m scared I’ll never achieve them and that’s what led to me saying they’re impossible/unlikely. Yet, my journal entry still kicked me in the head. Why? Because it made me think of this webpost. This one. “To the Christian Dreamer.” The one you’re reading right now. I started writing this webpost a couple weeks ago after something I heard on the radio, but it never felt quite right to me, so it got imprisoned as an uncompleted draft. This is probably my fifth attempt at finishing it.

What I heard on the radio a couple weeks ago was really encouraging. It almost felt like a breath of relief the more I thought about it. Here’s what it was:

If you’re dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.

Here’s where the Christian part of this post comes in. The radio station I heard that on was Klove, a Christian radio station. When I went back to my April journal entry, and read how I called my dreams “impossible” or “unlikely,” it reminded me of this quote. My dreams terrify me, because I’m not sure I’m qualified to complete them. There is someone who is qualified, though, and He’s big enough to make anything happen.

I remember a song I used to hear on the radio all the time. Every time I heard it, it made me cry. I haven’t heard it a while, though. Almost forgot about it until I saw that journal entry. It’s called “Unstoppable God” by Sanctus Real. The chorus goes like this:

“Nothing can stop an unstoppable God
He’s not afraid of impossible odds.
This is the promise that I’m standing on.
Nothing can stop an unstoppable God.”

So, I’ve got a big God who gave me a passion for big dreams, and He’s not afraid of how the odds of me becoming an author are stacked against me. He’s got a plan (Jeremiah 29:11) and I gotta believe it. Even when I don’t feel like it. Dreams are meant to be big because we’re not meant to do them alone. We can’t do them alone. God wants to be a part of them to help us soar high on wings like eagles. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). There’s no need to be afraid or discouraged, because we’re not alone in this (Isaiah 41:10). Even when we feel like we’re too weak or don’t measure up to the task, God’s there to help (2 Corinthians 12:9).

If God’s in my corner, then there’s no reason why I can’t become a published author or make a difference in the lives of large felines. Same goes for your dream. If it’s so big that it scares you, remember: nothing is impossible to the God of creation. It’s your dream. I dare you to pursue it with Him.

Hey, look at that. I feel better.

October

Can you believe it’s already October? The leaves are going to start changing colors. There’s a chilly nip in the air. Mornings are growing darker. Honestly, I’m not ready for cold. I don’t like cold. I wish it was still summer, but you know what? I am excited about October.

October is Halloween. You start to see the decorations come out. They line the shelves at stores, and neighborhood lawns. My family loves Halloween. We do a haunted garage every year. Last year, our theme was Witch Doctors on the Bayou, you can read all about it in my webpost here: Going Down the Bayou. This year’s theme…I’m not allowed to divulge yet, but it’s going to be GREAT. Hopefully we get a lot of trick-or-treaters who will brave the garage. If not, we’ll at least have a nice night around a firepit.

Halloween isn’t the only fun thing in October. October also means Ren Fests and OctoberFests, Apple Fests and Fall Fests. It’s a great time for people to come together at pumpkin patches and corn mazes, cider mills and haunted houses/barns/hayrides/etc. Then, you’ve got all those amusement parks that have fun haunts throughout the month. October also means we celebrate my puppy dog’s birthday.

So, here’s to a great October full of fun activities. Whether you just enjoy one of the fests that I mentioned or you make it your goal to go to all them. May you find the rounded pumpkin at the patch and not get too lost at the corn maze. Lastly, may you enjoy a good scare, a great Día de los Muertos, Happy Halloween, and special time with family.

Happy October everyone!

To the Roleplayers

Here’s the roleplayers on the writing forums.
The ones who create a story with one character interacting with the characters of others.
Here’s to the ones learning how to write.
And how to share the spotlight.
Here’s to the ones who build an awesome plot
And a world where their characters stumble a lot
It’ll never see the light of day
Never have another reader, come what may
A story so precious. A history so long
And even written in a couple of songs
Thanks to the roleplayers, fanfiction or original
For creating plots to include every individual
Thank you for the empathy, the lessons of common sense
And broadening our knowledge without costing a cent
I’ve been in roleplays for a decade now
And surely found that they allow
Chances to grow, to use all the variables
And crafts the most imaginable fables
Thank you to those who’ve written with me
And helped define my history
May the stories continue on page or in heart
And thank you roleplayers for building this art