Posted in Inspiration, Poems

How to be a Person

Poetry explains the unexplainable.

My father, Peter Ryder

First week of my second semester of senior year, and my english class is assigned to write a poem. I’m not a hater of poetry, in fact, I admire it and encourage my friends to trust in its mending of the mind. However, analyzing and writing it holds a bit of a challenge for me.

I have a bit more of a psychoanalytic affinity for the sciences of the mind, which is why I love to write directly on the subject rather than creating an obscure (mind you, brilliant) extended metaphor or palace of symbolism. Of course, I enjoy reading it, but I struggle to create the ideas of such gifted literary elements to incorporate in a poem.

However, my english teacher, being a passionate advocate for open minds, inspired our class toward a more approachable template of poetry: she presented poet Shane Koyczan that wrote and videoed a ten step poem titled “How to be a person.” In it, he elaborates on his moral values and their importance toward humanity. As a result, she encouraged us to artistically express the morals and important objects of humanity that are meaningful to each of us, personally.

We were required to write three stanzas, each starting with a directive and incorporate eleven lines of poetry emphasizing the values that we believe guide us toward a happier and healthier life. Like Koyczan, she had us record our voices reading our work while including the text as we read it, and additionally include an artistic element (music, art, etc).

I appreciated the way Koyczan carried out his art utilizing a solid colored background and a simple text font, so I did the same. I’d like to share my work here to showcase just some of the elements of humanity that I find to be most valuable. Of course, I have many other thoughts in regards to morality but I expounded on these three for certain reasons: clarity, mindfulness, and above all, perspective.

How to be a person.

For reference: here is the original, “How to be a person” poem by Shane Koyczan.

Posted in Inspiration, My Own Experiences, Thoughts

My Six-Word Memoirs

Six-Word Memoirs

“Can you tell your life story in six words?”

Well, many often sum up the year 2020 in two words: dumpster fire. So, why wouldn’t we be able to?

I watched the video above during my Yearbook/Independent Study class where we learned about an organization that created a project called “Six-Word Memoirs.”

The video began with an anecdote about Ernest Hemingway and his encounter to a challenge in which he could only write a story in six words. He replied, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

Well, gosh, I honestly couldn’t think of a more interesting story within an entire book. Just by reading those six words, there are obvious hints of layers to them. Why are the shoes for sale? What baby did wore them? Does selling the shoes symbolize a loss, a gain? “Never worn” opens my mind to the possibility of a tragedy in the story. Moreover, the fact that they are now selling these shoes could mean a potential overcoming of grief.

Larry Smith, the founder of SMITH magazine asked his community to sum up their lives in six words. Basically, to tell their story in a six-word memoir. Eventually, the project grew increasingly popular on a global scale, publishing a best-selling book series and featuring memoirs and projects in NPR and The New Yorker.

Six words that can sum up your identity, humor, purpose, or annoyances in life – I thought it was brilliant. Short, to the point, but so cuttingly clear and full of interesting hypotheticals. As my class browsed through memoirs from students, teachers, authors, comedians, actors, even tweets, we all witnessed a plethora of stories with so much personal traction and meaning, where no two grew on the same vine. As we dove deeper toward more meaningful and genuine memoirs, my admiration for this project grew; no two memoirs were the same and each sentence procured unalike backgrounds of a variety of circumstance; in other words, behind each word was a realm of a vividly distinct imaginations and variety of defining stories… and in only six words!

Unsurprisingly, my teacher had us all write one six-word memoirs with a list of themes to choose from:

  • The year 2020
  • Your life at this moment
  • The pandemic
  • Something meaningful that happened to you
  • A telling anecdote

I’d like to share my personal six-word memoirs to help my audience understand the power that such a minuscule element of literature can have on one’s own imagination and inspiration. As always, I encourage you to get creative and embark on your own projects such as this one, but I strongly recommend writing, thinking, or simply telling your story with six words. I can’t tell you invigorating it feels to have put so much power into so little a medium.

I will disclose that in light of recent events that occurred in D.C today, I included more comic relief than a poetic and complicated strain to look toward a brighter side of life, rather than the political upheaval that has imbued so much personal anxiety and hate.

The Year 2020

Expected less from a barnyard explosion.

Your Life at this Moment

Watching “The Crown” involves less anxiety.

The Pandemic

Yeah, I forgot how to drive.

Something Meaningful that happened to You

Thank the gods for Jane Austen.

A Telling Anecdote

I carry spider- repellent in my purse.

Smith, L. (2005). Six Word Memoirs Home. Retrieved January 07, 2021, from https://www.sixwordmemoirs.com/

Posted in Advice, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Thanks, but see you in my Nightmares, 2020!

Turn your wounds into wisdom

Oprah Winfrey

I won’t comment too severely on the freak show of a year we all just went through, but I would like to acknowledge and appreciate the local, national, and international communities for persevering and picking ourselves up when in need.

Some communities were devastated due to the COVID-19 disease, and for that, I offer my deepest condolences to every family who has had dealt with such a tragedy. You are not forgotten and will forever have the world’s support.

There is no individual in the United States that can say they were not somewhat affected by what this year had in store whether that was the pandemic, social justice resurgences, recognition of police brutality, or the plethora of political crises. There is also no individual that can say that they didn’t experience a duality in the effects of 2020. In other words, yes, there was, indeed, an agonizing strain of sorrow and struggle, but there was also a healthier understanding of ourselves and each other.

From my personal viewpoint, I can tell you that a year ago today, I wouldn’t have the first idea about pivoting the entirety of my routines, work, and emotional life. If for some reason, I suddenly had to switch gears academically or physically, I wouldn’t know the first place to start. However, because of the majority of my time spent re-working annual events, work, and volunteer services, I’ve gained a much newer, much needed perspective to succeed throughout the many more mistakes and experiences I’ll make. Completing school, work, and volunteer tasks from a laptop in my crash-course merchandised pajamas was only the beginning. Compromising and collaborative skills were quite rare, but exceedingly necessary as I, my friends, and my coworkers meticulously pieced these together as we went. Eventually, I was creating films and book clubs through a digital medium by the summer, connecting my friends and I through literature and learning. Unexpected, but as it turns out, quite an eye-opening and unforgettable experience.

Next to the global pandemic, there were also racial tensions and the widespread recognition of police brutality following the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. Throughout this year, I’ve tried to gain a more thorough and complete view of the horrors of racism not just in our police forces, but societal communities as well: our schools, places of work, hospitals, airports, restaurants, etc. Because I am far from comprehensively understanding the specificities, I currently try to make time to educate myself about respecting BIPOC communities and engaging myself in taking action: signing petitions, reading articles, following the news, etc. My mistake was not acting on this problem sooner, and for that, I am ashamed. I am ashamed that it took these three extraordinary individual’s lives for me, for the world, to move forward and make immensely necessary changes to each system that has unjustly neglected, mistreated, and punished people of color.

Additionally, my social scenes have dramatically altered, but each in a positive capacity. As it turns out, communication was exceptionally difficult with certain “friends” of mine that I felt uncomfortable to either reach out to or simply converse with. At first, it was distressful to see people gradually leave my routines, but after a while, there was a powerful rose trumping its thorn. It wasn’t that these friendships were rude or unbearably toxic, but that they darkened so that my true and trustworthy friendships glowed. I found myself surprisingly grateful for three friends of mine that have tremendously impacted my life both pre and post COVID-19, and I was later okay with the lack of communication and connection with my other friends. I’ve struggled with friendships in the past and because I adore symbolism and analogies, I’ve taped a mantra on my whiteboard that should pull me out of such battles I may face with future friendships: “I’d rather have two or three friends that can mutually benefit from each other’s love, rather than forty or fifty parasitically feeding off each other’s toxicity.”

2020 has left scars, indeed. It’s also left understanding, potential, and grit; it’s given me the opportunity to learn and absorb information and skills that I wouldn’t have otherwise understood after countless mistakes and fatigue in the coming years. I know that I am not alone in these experiences, and I am far from advocating for this year, but I do recognize the turmoil along with the potential that this year brought. Utilize this new perspective and apply it to 2021, where hopefully, we can make a change and ensure something like 2020 ceases to exist from the rest of a history textbook.

Posted in #LivingThroughLit

#LivingThroughLit #3

Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lives and how he dies that distinguish one man from another.

Ernest Hemingway

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

Places, literally and metaphorically.

I have more than a handful of handfuls of the experiences and sights that I want to endure throughout the rest of my time as a spry young woman. I doubt that the WordPress word count is equipped to handle my list! However, I don’t simply want to “travel” to various, countries and towns; I want to embrace the opportunities that they and my surrounding communities offer me. As a matter of fact, that is exactly why I used the word “activity” in my #LivingThroughLit list of challenges; it’s not wholeheartedly about the physical characteristics of the city or town, but the opportunities and adventures you take advantage of to discover yourself and your life going forward.

It’s corny, but it truly is about how you run the race, not its finish line.

Without further ado, here is my list of twenty-five activities that I would like to complete as I journey throughout high school, college, work, etc. Keep in mind that the majority of them are not generic, they are unique to my personality and goals in life – try not to think about where you want to go, but what it is you want to do when you get there and why it means so much to you… and if there is no why, try a different route and see where that takes you. This process is for you to analyze and interpret the next steps in the adventurous part of your mind – it’s not a “bucket list.” Use your imagination, and remember: it can be as far-fetched as you want it to be, as long as it holds meaning to you.

Travel

  • Travel throughout the South of France and Italy with nothing but a backpack, tent, and a close friend.
  • Take a friend to Scotland and sword fight in a long white dress at the peak of a cliff or mountain about our ideologies.
  • Find a small cottage to rent in Surrey with a couple of close friends and pretend we’re Cameron Diaz in “The Holiday” and sing “Mr. Brightside” at two in the morning.
  • Volunteer with a program in an underdeveloped country by building infrastructure and teaching literature at schools.
  • Once I further my knowledge in psychology and psychiatry, I want to conduct research on citizens in European cities compared to how behavior differs from those of major cities in the U.S.
  • Find a secluded lake in Northern Italy and read poetry, specifically Louise Gluck’s work.
  • Ride a horse on the beaches of Portugal.

Movie/Theatre Nerd

  • As a result of numerous hours at midnight memorizing movie scenes and monologues, I’d like to run into Jack Nicholson and re-create the scene from “A Few Good Men” where he yells “you can’t handle the truth” in my face.
  • Have a twenty-minute conversation with Stephen King and how he researched the information he needed for my favorite book of his, “The Green Mile.”
  • I’d like to attend a Haunted House event (preferably in Scotland – the Edinburgh Dungeon) with Guillermo Del Toro and Bong Joon-Ho.
  • Spend twenty-four hours with Christopher Nolan doing crossword puzzles and reading Mark Twain (truly any other 19th century literary genius).
  • If Stanley Kubrick were still alive, I would’ve liked to attend The Museum of Moving Image with him.
  • Research the validity of robotic character HAL in “2001: Space Odyssey” with a robotics and psychiatric professor.
  • Have a deep conversation about relationships with Woody Allen
  • I’d like to have Lin Manuel-Miranda spend five minutes talking with me and then writing a one minute rap about our conversation.

Photography

  • Buy a Rolleiflex camera and travel to Russia and Germany to complete a street photography assignment with another fellow photographer interested in older photography techniques.
  • Integrate Rolleiflex photography with my psychological studies and observe behavior in prisons.
  • Find a waterfall in Iceland and stage a photograph of someone in a long blue dress with his/her feet handing off the edges (done safely, of course).

Miscellaneous

  • Spend a day on a case with the Behavioral Analysis Unit at the FBI to observe their processes and how they integrate psychology with criminology.
  • Volunteer with a program that assists patients with PTSD and other trauma disorders.
  • Drive out to the middle of nowhere with some friends, singing Hamilton and other show tunes.
  • Read poetry and play piano with young kids in the foster-care system as a mentor/supporter.
  • Befriend a sea-creature such as a dolphin or seal and learn more about the animal rights movements.
  • Embark on an “Endless Summer” type of field trip for three days, finding my perfect wave across the beaches of California.
  • Shadow a director accustomed to Hollywood, and one that is currently starting out to note the differences that the environment can have on style and choice over longer periods of time.
Posted in #LivingThroughLit

#LivingThroughLit Reading Update

Read a book outside of your genre comfort zone (If you’re a classics fan like me, try out romance or fantasy).

There have been a plethora of posts from my page regarding the literary challenges in writing, but don’t you worry, I have not forgotten about my reading challenges! I could never abandon such a thrilling and ambitious experiences that never ceases to make me laugh and cry all in one chapter.

Before locking away the social networks that plague my psyche, instagram had updated its servers to include “reels” in which I could view thirty-second videos of interest. As you would imagine, most of my interested videos were adapted from a popular feed stemmed from TikTok called “BookTok.” In my experience, I’ve seen BookTok users market their favorite reads, create memes about various types of bookworms, and promote their own work. However, most of these books were an extension of the same genres: fantasy and romance novels.

As a classics and realistic fiction reader, I couldn’t quite relate to these videos and struggled to see the appeal in such stories. During my time in middle school, however, the fantastical and romantic genres were about the only books I could tolerate. Whether that was a result of a barren social life or relationship status, these genres were the only books I would read for the sole purpose of pleasure. As I began high school, my anxiety and neuroticism made quite the spike and I forgot about the miraculous adventures I’d faced on in these pages. As a result, I would read stories just as chaotic as my mind was which, interestingly, I found in classical and realistic fiction.

All that goes to mention that I’d forgotten how invigorating and freeing it felt to fight dragons, fall in love with forbidden guards, and lift curses and spells. When I was little, I couldn’t live out the impossible in reality, so I found a space in my mind to do it. I wanted to relive that feeling again. As a result, I am currently reading “From Blood and Ash” by Jennifer L. Armentrout, a juicy story about a young girl – The Chosen One – preparing for her ground-breaking Ascension. Only, she is indifferent toward this honor, for it restricts her from carrying out the duty she not only wants, but needs to avenge her family.

I am about a quarter of the way through and profoundly engaged with this world Armentrout has built for her audience. It is unique, hierarchical, beautiful, and devastating all at once – exactly what impactful literature is all about.

To conclude, I’d like to publicly give thanks to BookTok for reuniting me with my first true love: my fantastical imagination.

Read an article from The Washington Post, the New York Times, the Huffington Post, etc. about an issue/topic unrelated to the current political upheaval.

Politics brings out an analytic yet emotional side of humanity that impacts a duality of consequences. On one hand, it keeps the governed alert and aware to keep watch on the potential for corruption. On the other, it enforces such corruption.

All the more reason to participate in this challenge – give not just your psyche a break from this trauma, but your imagination. Politics festers in our bodies – it starts in our heads but makes it all the way to our hearts where it gives up our souls and will to take action. All too often, what is the first headline an audience observes in their daily subscription?

“President ________ fires __________, what will this mean for the American People?”

“_________ and ________ go head to head in an international _________ battle.”

For that reason, I encouraged you to research headlines of more positive and eye-opening stories. To show you how impactful this activity is, I’ll briefly share my experience.

My family and I read the politics section of the New York Times each morning, but this time, I listened to my advice and went straight to the science section (okay, I read the political headlines for two minutes but I shifted my focus right after, I promise).

There were a number of headlines that I could have chosen to read, but there was one that caught me off guard, for obvious reasons: “Why Are Pandas Covering Themselves With Horse Manure?”

You see, that sounded like something straight out of one of my SAT reading practice tests. I would never want to relive those traumatizing days, but this article actually sounded like it would further my knowledge in… well, something.

As it turns out, there was a study conducted at the Chinese Academy of Sciences that seemed to suggest that some mammals do this for “tolerating of low temperatures.” Many scientists reacted to this with considerable interest; some challenged it, and some expanded on it. Either way, it was an absorbing and fascinating read about something that I never would’ve questioned in my lifetime. I guess that’s another beauty about literature: discovering the ideas that could quite possibly spark a personal passion.

I encourage everyone to take ten minutes of their day and scroll through the arts and sciences sections of their newspapers and/or magazines, I guarantee that you will find something worth your time and benefit potential conversations in the near or far future.

Let me know where you’re at in this process! I’ve only done a few challenges so far, but my mind already feels healthier and ready to take on more. It’s amazing how a few days away from social media can rejuvenate your mind and soul.

Posted in #LivingThroughLit, Inspiration

#LivingThroughLit #2

A Letter to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Dear Ms. Adichie,

I never understood the controversy around the word “feminist” when I was younger. I only saw it as a way for women to gain the necessary empowerment to undo the expectations imbued on them by men. I also previously lived in New York City, a fervently liberal area, so I was accustomed to conversations of the feminist structures and continuously supported by my peers. So when I identified as a feminist in a new town and school in Texas, I was dreadfully ridiculed by male friends of mine.

“That’s such a stupid term.”

“Women and men are supposed to be equal, so it’s hypocritical of you to say you’re a feminist.”

“Stop saying that, it doesn’t mean anything.”

Some of my so-called closest male friends went as far to deem women objects of the kitchen and subservient to male dominance.

“Women belong in the kitchen.”

“You’re a woman, shut up.”

“Women can’t be ________.”

I understood that these comments were intended to be funny, which of course, was their intention: to create humor. As a result, I made no refute. I simply conversed the rest of the night without remarking on earlier… “jokes.”

Over time, however, it was continuous; there didn’t seem to be an end to them. I admit, I became accustomed to it just as I was to the loving support I received in New York for the complete opposite behavior. It became a shadow in my everyday life: always around but never noticed. I found myself questioning what it meant to be a feminist and realized that I could never rebuttal these “jokes” because I didn’t have the comprehensive evaluation and analyzation about what it was that I was fighting for.

Then, I read your essay, “We Should All Be Feminists” and listened to your voice.

You opened my mind to the idea that feminism not only emphasized female empowerment, but recognized a prevalent change that hasn’t happened quite yet: the shift from the old traditions of gender to the more modernized and fair ones. You described several personal stories and depictions of gender discrimination that society so rarely pays tribute to, even women. One point particularly stuck out to me: the fact that some idealize that women are supposed to teach men how to respect and provide the proper attitude toward these conversations and situations. Essentially, this is holding women responsible for men’s behavior. “Congratulations, you can be treated equally, but you have to be the one who takes accountability for it.”

And here lies the problem.

Boys are still not being taught the proper etiquette necessary for the path to equality. Instead, they are reinforced in these inappropriate behaviors.

These stories revealed a bit of an unborn realization for me and I began to finally acknowledge the inner and outer edges of feminism and its purposes.

In other words, I finally knew how to fight back.

You helped me realize that I handled it all wrong before, that I wasn’t speaking up and therefore reinforced my friends’ manner. You helped me realize that conversation is necessary, that our perspective is necessary, no matter how difficult it would be to make myself heard.

Normalizing discussions surrounding gender inequality is a key step toward understanding feminism and where it stems from. If society simply listened rather than arguing the inevitable progression our era faces, the term “feminism” wouldn’t be tossed around as a negative connotation.

However, when I confronted my friends with my grievances, I made the same mistake. Instead of opening the table for discussion and presenting a conversation in which all participants would feel comfortable opening their minds to, I didn’t give them the chance. I was plagued by anger and misunderstanding, which led to a fenced discussion going nowhere but down.

I mention this because it’s not that I blame one side or the other for the issues we face. Quite the opposite, in fact. This is an issue that stems from humanity’s inability to compromise. In other words, we’re so stubborn that we forget about the variety of perspectives that aren’t our own.

The way you reinforce this idea on your TED Talk,”The Danger of a Single Story,” demonstrates the importance of activating open-minded strategies of thinking. The simple solution of listening is so frequently discarded because of the normalization of stereotypes and biases.

But you remind us of its efficacy and continue to fight for its prevalence, and I wanted to thank you for that.

You have influenced the way I approach heavy problems and the progression of my activism. You’ve showed me new ways of thinking and the advantages of utilizing my imagination and creativity for communal purposes. You’ve provided me with the strategies needed to have interesting and productive conversations with various sides of an argument.

I hope to see you speak in person one day and continue to read and analyze your work, as it has impacted me and my perspective substantially.

Of course I am not worried about intimidating men. The type of man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the type of man I have no interest in.”

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Sources:

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Quotes (Author of Americanah). (n.d.). Retrieved December 21, 2020, from https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/11291.Chimamanda_Ngozi_Adichie

-, R., By, -, Rajitha SRajitha S is a former journalist with a national daily and is currently on a break teaching mass communication to undergraduates at a private college in Bhutan., S, R., Rajitha S is a former journalist with a national daily and is currently on a break teaching mass communication to undergraduates at a private college in Bhutan., . . . -, A. (2019, September 16). Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie And Her Feminist Activism Through Storytelling. Retrieved December 21, 2020, from https://feminisminindia.com/2019/09/16/chimamanda-ngozi-adichie-feminist-activism-storytelling/

Posted in #LivingThroughLit

#LivingThroughLit #1

Don’t lose sight of what life is now to what it could’ve been then.”

Sophia Ryder

There is only another path if you allow yourself the courage to look for it.”

Sophia Ryder

Reflect on your mistakes rather than regretting your actions. Welcome the new rather than wallowing in the past.

Sophia Ryder

My, my, that was fun! Behold, my first #LivingThroughLit challenge of the Holiday Break!

I enjoyed brainstorming these quotes and organizing this aesthetic of my incredibly beautiful and talented friend, Kaelin.

Please send me any type of feedback you may have whether it relates to the photography or the quotes! I’ve been experiencing a bit of a poetry phase these past few weeks for research purposes for a song that I’m forcing myself to write, and I would appreciate any and all assistance that I can get. In all honesty, I’ve always wanted to write a song but never been inspired by a lyrical passion that would come off as both comprehensive and musical. Recently, however, I reconnected with an old friend of mine from an exceedingly long time ago. While we were on a Face Time call, I was reminded of the joy of innocent times and the kindness that reunions inspire. Hopefully, I’ll be able to transfer the lyrics to the ukulele and untangle my dormant vocal cords to put together and post a finalized original song.

I hope these quotes are somewhat relevant to your current life, but if not, save them because they will be… eventually!

Posted in #LivingThroughLit

#LivingThroughLit

So often it is hard to listen, but literature offers a medium for the fantastical and the impossible, engaging prevalent perspectives unknown to the public.

I’ve always had a flare for the dramatic, so I inputed an original quote to activate your minds and prepare for my announcement.

I’ve never done this type of activity before, but starting on Saturday the 19th, I will be (attempting) to cleanse my mind and soul of the technology and social media that imbues my life with fervent distress and unnecessary FOMO.

My mobile cellphone has always done one of two duties for me as a teenager: contact myself to my family, or wreak havoc unto my social life and embalm my mind with thoughts and feelings of loneliness and/or anxiety. As a result, I will be phone-free this holiday season and appeal to other lovable activities that require less resign, and more family time.

HOWEVER, there is a bit of a twist to this journey: I will be indulging myself in an abundance of literary challenges this Holiday Break, and I encourage you all to do the same.

Indeed, I offer you all a series of challenges to embark on as you devour roast beef over the holidays the same way your family does to you when wearing ripped jeans to Christmas Dinner.

I have inputed a checklist at the end of this post compiled of reading and writing challenges ranging from thirty minutes to weeks at a time. You don’t have to complete all of them nor do you have to go on a phone cleanse like I am, but I motivate you to do as many as you possibly can as you reflect on this chaotic year and embrace the new beginning that the next year offers us. Yes, I am aware of how corny that sounds. However, literature allows us to put our perspective on paper and assemble our creativity in a place of imagination. I think it would do each of us good to take a break from the traumatic year that we’ve had and see where our pens take us. I promise, you will discover something new about yourself and the world around you as you activate your imagination and open your mind to this positive vulnerability.

#LivingThroughLit is not a marketing strategy, but one of the purposes I’ve pursued throughout my time writing this blog. I want my audience to not just acknowledge the world around them, but become an active force within it, and I think literature offers a proactive means to achieving this goal.

As always, feel free to send me your work through the “Contact” page in the menu bar of the home screen, and I can showcase your amazing work in a post! I wish you all the best of luck and don’t forget: I am only providing you with the tools, but you have to create the product. Your pen is your sword, but your imagination is your power.

So, without further ado, here is the #LivingThroughLit Challenge Checklist!

Reading Challenges:
Read an article from The Washington Post, the New York Times, the Huffington Post, etc. about an issue/topic unrelated to the current political upheaval.
Read a book outside of your genre comfort zone (If you’re a classics fan like me, try out romance or fantasy).
Participate in a book exchange with three or more friends (where you each choose a book for each other to read)
Read aloud a book with a family member or friend for thirty minutes every day.
Write a book review (however long you desire) on a previous book.
Email your favorite author and tell them how they’ve influenced you as a reader and a community member.
Dig deep!
Writing Challenges
Write a poem about an experience or place that shaped who you are (if you’re feeling really creative, turn it into a song).
Write three pages of a story that you’ve been aching to write, but never had the chance to (you all have one, I know it).
Create three original quotes that are relevant to your struggles and successes right now.
Write a letter to a person who inspires you (can be a living or dead person).
Buy a bullet journal and fill it with twenty or more goals that you’d like to achieve!
Write a list of at least twenty-five activities you’d like to do.
Be bold!

Posted in Uncategorized

What’s Left Unsaid?

Before I dive into what I want to discuss, I have a bit of context to elaborate on. First off, when was anybody going to inform me that writing a short story is more difficult and confusing than Inception? Seriously, I’ve been at it for about three weeks and can someone tell me why can’t I find a structured storyline that doesn’t make me want to slam my face into my keyboard?

Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

Similar to every writer that has ever existed, I wanted to mobilize a unique and insightful storyline to put forth a distinct perspective regarding, well, my personal ideals and imagination. I have to admit, I was experiencing a bit of that “pandemic fatigue” that the doctors and psychiatrists are writing about, so I was slowly succumbing to the stress and anxiety that overcame my mind. Writer’s block is a real thing, I have discovered.

I hadn’t previously faced this fatigue in the earlier phases of the pandemic because I was working on my college applications which required the entirety of my brain capacity, anxiety, and time management. However, once I submitted those applications, I sank into the reality that I was actually going to have to find more things to do with my time rather than work and write. This was a tad difficult for me, given that I was limited to strict rules regarding social interaction (with reasonable caution). I don’t know if you can tell, but focusing during quarantine is not a strength of mine. As my uncle put it, we tend to work tirelessly for about two weeks and then collapse under boredom.

As a recovering perfectionist, I abhorred this feeling and needed to find something to turn the wheels in my mind. Well, I wasn’t necessarily looking for a “coping mechanism,” but rather something to occupy my imagination and creative energy without a potential lure for anxiety. Hence, my inclination to write a short story. But what to write about? Well, you know what they say: inspiration is everywhere.

You see, my inspiration came to me the day after my birthday when my family and I took a forty-five minute road trip to Dripping Springs for a picnic. We decided to explore the area in hopes of discovering unique and scenic views, but instead, we found rental casitas! Bear with me here…

At first, I didn’t understand the fascination and excitement that my family shared after finding a couple of houses that people can rent for their own personal staycations. However, after driving around for minutes that seemed to never end and exploring the breathtakingly isolated and gorgeous scenery that surrounded us, I finally understood the appeal.

These casitas weren’t just Westlake families’ ways of flaunting their wealth and privilege, but outlets for a new storyline.

Think about it like this, when you’re driving down a road, a downtown street, or a highway, you’re passing and falling behind a variety of supporting characters in your own personal story, but for everyone else, you’re the supporting character in theirs. Millions of cars drive on these roads every day and society ignores the obvious mystery that this situation creates: what about their story? Similarly, neighborhoods consisted of casitas have hundreds of guests that check in every month and for the majority of the time, neglect the possibility of a relationship between the people that live not twenty feet away.

I guess I find it odd that the people we live so close to, the people we pass by every day, the people who undergo the same experiences we do, are sometimes the hardest to build relationships with. While driving around the casitas in Dripping Springs, I found not just a potential staycation for my friends and I, but a possibility for a bolder future.

This wasn’t just inspiration for my short story, but it also reminded me of a phenomenon quite similar to The Bachelor. Again, bear with me here. Other than the network’s narrow focus on marriage, the audience embarks on a somewhat in-depth investigation of each contestants’ life. Whether you believe this is fake or not, the show does consist of a variety of backgrounds, sometimes including the most minute details that come back to bite love in the butt.

I’d like to disclose that I am not recommending any type of application to Bachelor Nation shows, but rather using shows such as The Bachelor and Bachelorette to create a visual. What it helps us analyze is the fact that stories and lives are ten times more interesting when we observe the extensive impact others have on them. Sure, one person’s story is easier to scoop and analyze, but that’s not necessarily life, is it?

Life is undergoing personal experiences and learning from one’s own mistakes while also meeting and discovering new people from a variety of stories to endure this painful process. Sometimes, the impact that a single person can have on someone’s life is greater than any one mistake because he or she crawled through the mud with you.

All that’s to say that I didn’t end up writing my short story about this specific ideal (but did convince my dad to). Instead, I wrote about the duality in the effects of imagination rabbit holes. Funny enough, that’s practically what this blog post was for. I can escape reality, write about it, and influence others utilizing these outlets, but at the end of the day, it’s up to my audience to take a stand with me.

What I urge you to do is to make bold choices in regards to every lemon life gives you. Find the crux of not just your story, but your friends’ and family’s. I believe that right then and there will we have just taken a major step toward a collective good.

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Relieved… But Not Done.

It would be a grave disservice to my followers and myself if I didn’t talk at least briefly about the state of our nation right now.

I am overjoyed with the current results of the presidential election.

To say that I feel relieved would be the understatement of the year; I am both shocked and grateful for the strength that America has exhibited in these unprecedented times. We knew what had to be done and we put forth a united front against a dictator regime that threatened everything the Framers ensured for our future.

Now that fascism, bigotry, sexism, and homophobia is exiting the White House with an attitude not unlike a six year old child having his recess privileges taken away, the nation can breathe… at least for a little while longer.

It is not my intent to burst anyone’s bubble, but work is NEVER done, especially when it comes to the United States Government.

Just like scars are left after a fall, Donald Trump will leave ground for cruelty, hatred, and heinous ideals on American soil.

We will be faced with unseen battles that trumpism has left behind for good people with grand plans to fight instead of executing real and effective change. Even from beyond the White house, he will still leave his orange shadow for the next couple of years.

What can we do?

Well… whatever we seemed to do before worked! Oh, and what was that? Unify as Americans? Exercise our civic duties? Fight for what was morally correct? Make our bite bigger than our bark?

According to my psychological studies, if a certain strategy seems to exert satisfactory results, we’ll continue to utilize it.

That is all I ask of you today: to BE the change that our brave new leaders have asked us to step up as, to MEND the damage that so heavily deteriorated our democracy, to FIGHT for our surrounding communities of color, gender, religion and orientation.

Most of all, to RECOGNIZE the impact that your own voice has not only in government, but the story that you want to tell your future kids.

Make THEM proud.