I'm Just Saying

Thoughts On Plan B

townOne of the reasons I decided to study history was because of how much it changes. The past may be set in stone, but there is so much about it that is different every single day. We discover new things, learn about new perspectives, and uncover lost truths. And through it all, we are constantly building the story and the identity of the human race.

I find it incredibly beautiful.

And one of the reasons that I am a writer is because of the same thing. I love meeting new characters and figuring out what their stories are. I love seeing their perspectives. I love being able to figure out how the words will fit together so that what I’m actually trying to say is said.

There is something I have often struggled with in writing that I have never struggled with in history. And this is the problem of originality.

I have fallen into the trap so many countless times of thinking that whatever I write has to be totally and completely unique. But the truth about literature is that this isn’t really a thing. We take elements that already exist and we create a story in the way that we wish it to be told. It is the way that we put them together and the way that we say what we need to say that makes a story different and individual.mountain

For some reason, I’ve always understood this about history but never about literature.

Do you ever look up at the stars at night and wonder? I once read something that said that whatever your mind goes to when you’re looking at the stars or the ocean is where your heart truly is. Perhaps this is true sometimes and not others, because the child in me will, every now and again, look frantically for the Big Dipper when I look at the stars and I can promise you that isn’t where my heart is.

And sometimes when we are faced with something that vast it makes us look inwards and wonder what we are in relation to it.

Can I compare to a star? What does my life truly mean in the face of the countless ones a star lives through?

The last several days have been pretty hard ones. A lot of things that I struggle with have decided to come for a visit all at once, and it has been very hard. It is in times like these when I start to question absolutely everything. I look back at posts I wrote when I was doing well and wonder how I was naive enough to have that kind of hope.

Of course, this is ridiculous. But that’s what I think.

planI realized something about myself this week. And it is this: I am a Plan B-er. I am. 100% completely and thoroughly and absolutely. I am a Plan B-er.

Let me explain.

I have this picture in my head. This very special, sacred picture, of what I want my future to be like. Of what I believe would be the very best future for me. The future that would help me learn and grow, but also make me wildly happy. I have this picture. I very rarely look at it or entertain the notion of it, because if I’m being honest, too much of me doesn’t really believe it will happen. I believe in how incredible it would be. But a lot of me likes to whisper horrible things about it. That it’s a stupid picture and I should get rid of it.

And as terrible as this sounds, it is the way I’ve always been.

No matter what my dream was, and no matter how hard I believed in it or prayed about it and felt amazing in it: I always let a very horrible side of me dressed as practicality talk myself into believing that it was a joke.

And so I live my life for Plan B.

I think of the next best thing. Whatever would do its best at filling the void. Whatever would get me to the silver medal. And I plan on that. I pour over my plans for that. I tell everyone about them. And nobody ever knows that it isn’t even what I absolutely and truly want for myself.

And all the while I’m pouring over Plan B, in my deepest heart of hearts, I pray for Plan sunA. It is so deep inside my heart that sometimes I even forget about it. I just focus on Plan B and do whatever I can possibly think of to get there. And then sometimes, very late at night, when my mind is full of all the things I don’t let it think when the sun is shining, I remember Plan A.

And I say a prayer. And I hope. And I let Plan B go away until I’ll need it again the next morning.

I have realized this about myself, and I think it is something I should stop doing. Maybe you’re the kind of person who thinks that we should absolutely go for our Plan A, for our number #1 dream. And if so, you’d probably agree that this isn’t a very good mindset to have. So I’ll see what I can do about fixing that.

I'm Just Saying

Featuring: William Wilberforce


The very first time that I can remember my life changing drastically, dramatically, and exceptionally was when I was 12 years old. Of course I’d experienced change before this, some good and some bad. But never in my life had I had such a life altering positive change.

When I first heard of William Wilberforce and then began learning about him, my life changed forever. Today I want to tell you why.

I could name a pretty extensive list of people that have changed my life in a multitude of ways, all of them important and crucial to where I am today. But William Wilberforce is different, he had a different impact on my life than many others. This was the first time that I woke up and realized that I was a person. When I realized that I have purpose and potential, and that I can do anything.

To give you a  little bit of background on Wilberforce, he was a British politician whose career did enormous things for society. Just a few of his accomplishments were the abolition of the slave trade and the abolition of slavery itself. He became a member of Parliament in 1780 and retired from politics in 1825 and passed away in 1833.

His life is an incredible one to study and learn from. He was a devout Christian and manylook awa of his reforms of society stemmed from his beliefs. Truthfully, I could write an extensively long series of posts about Wilberforce and his amazing life.

But today what I really want to do is express my gratitude for him and how learning about him has changed my life. He helped me realize that there is more to be learned and gained than what is right outside our door. He helped me realize what I wanted to be and what I wanted to do. It was in learning about William Wilberforce that I discovered how beneficial it can be to study the lives of others.

I’m certain that he never suspected that over one hundred years after all of his endeavors that a 12 year old girl would collect books about him and strive to live with as much integrity, honor, and perseverance as he did. That just goes to show that we have no idea what can happen when we decide to do something great with our lives.

This I learned from William Wilberforce

I'm Just Saying

The Wisdom Of Bike Paths

bike pathI remember sunlight. Hot, hot sunlight falling in giant golden waves from a wide, blue sky. So hot that the cement of the sidewalk burned my feet through my shoes. The air was so thick that the only relief was getting on our bikes and riding along, just to get moving through the humidity. There came a point when I just had to acknowledge that I would never be dry again.

There were bike paths we used. We’d fly down the sidewalks, skirts flying, through groves of trees where cicadas chirped loudly. At first I hated that sound. Probably because one tried to attack me once. We’d ride under the trees, in the dappled light, and come out on the other side in a whoosh of air.

I miss it that feeling.

My religious mission ended about nine months ago now. I cannot believe that it has been that long. And though it was a huge part of my life, so incredibly vital, it isn’t something that I talk about a lot on this blog.

To be fair, there’s lots that I don’t talk with you about.

It’s not as though I feel guilty or anything. I’m sure there is a lot that the blogs I follow don’t share either. And that’s fine. We can all choose our level of privacy. I’ve just chosen that mine be pretty strict. sunflowers

The reason that I bring up my mission tonight is because I’ve got a lot going on in my life right now. I mean, A LOT! You probably guessed this by my lack of posting, which I apologize for. Honestly I’ve just been trying to keep my head above water here.

But my mission changed my life forever. It changed me. To this day, my mission has an impact on my daily life and I think it’s pretty safe to assume that it always will.

There were many times out there in that Texas heat that I felt so incredibly alone. Interesting, when I knew that I was on the Lord’s errand. It seems so beautifully intricate to me now, though, how God works. How He teaches us things. There were many things I didn’t understand then that I understand right now. In this moment.

As a history student I look at the past every day, it is one of my main passions and makes my heart so happy. These past weeks since being in school again have broken my soul wide open, and things are pouring out of it that I forgot about.

pietaI look at Michelangelo’s work and can’t breathe. His sculpture literally takes my breath away. It makes me cry. Looking at his work Pieta is nothing less than a spiritual experience. His works are so beautiful it aches.

Leonardo da Vinci has forever been one of my all time favorite historical figures. It is only recently that I realize how much his work pulls at my heartstrings. His paintings bring about an awe that I cannot suppress.

I have discovered that Anglo-Saxon literature breathes a fire into my blood. When I read the opening lines of Beowulf I couldn’t help myself: tears welled in my eyes. There was one passage in particular that caused an actual gasp to come from me. A man sees Beowulf and says about him, “He is truly noble.”

This pulled at me in a way I could neither deny nor explain. I’ve been fascinated with the word “noble” for a long while now. In fact, I have a canvas on my wall painted in royal blue with the word NOBLE painted on it in big gold letters. It reminds me daily of what it means to be a noble person, and to act as one.

All of this beauty and inspiration has gotten the wheels in my mind turning in ways they haven’t for a long time. To be honest, I was beginning to fear that I’d lost my talents and passions. I was beginning to fear that my ambitions were gone and that my thirst for knowledge had been drained.

mondaI’ve come to find the opposite has happened. It is as if my mind cannot get enough, and it’s spilling into my heart and soul. And instead of filling, they are only expanding and crying out for more beauty and knowledge. It is incredible to me how it is all working. I sit in awe and wonder how I’ll ever learn it all, how I’ll ever hold everything I wish to know.

And then I think of the practical things. Where will life fit in this scholarly road? For surely one must put scholarly pursuits aside at some point to just enjoy the sunshine.

And there we come to another theme in my life. The sunshine. It’s one of the reasons I’ve been thinking so much about my mission.

I miss the sunshine! I haven’t seen it in days, and my soul is craving it. I just keep reminding myself that someday it will shine and someday there will be green grass again. Grass that you can lay in and roll around in, sunshine that will tan your skin, and the heat will just sit there and roll over you, and it will feel incredible. And all of that sunshine will just go right into your soul. And that is beautiful.

And with it all there has been a lot of confusion. A lot of loneliness. It is strange to think that being surrounded by thousands of people I could feel lonely. But I do. My family isn’t even that far away, but still I feel separated from them in a strange way.

And I don’t know how to make it all fit. Life and family and knowledge and learning. And nobleI know that it can, and I know that it will. But the sidewalk isn’t as illuminated as it was in Texas. The way to go doesn’t seem as clear. But then again, at the time it didn’t either. At the time, apart from all of the wonderful things I was doing and becoming, I was having the hardest time I’d ever had in my life. I couldn’t see the way. But eventually I did, and when the answers came they were brilliant.

Lately I have been going through an experience similar to one I had previous to my mission, where I was confused and felt lost. I felt that something was missing but I didn’t know what. The answer that I received then was very simple: Have faith and continue on in what you know.

I did that. And the answer did come. Though it isn’t exactly the same now, it is similar. I sundon’t necessarily feel as if something is missing so much as I feel that it isn’t all coming together. It has been strange because in many ways I’m very, very happy. All of this learning has fed my soul in a way it sorely needed, and brought me a kind of joy that I’ve dearly missed.

But in the things that I don’t understand, I can have faith. I can continue forward in what I do know and trust that the rest will come with time. I can remember that the sun is still shining, even if I can’t see it, and soon it will be warm again.

Just Writing

Before I Talk Myself Out Of It

I’ve been thinking. Shocker, I know. But I’ve been thinking. I speak of my writing a lot. But I’ve never actually shared any of it with you. I’ve posted a couple of poems, which have been received very well. I’m very grateful for that, I am, but the cold, hard truth is that I am not a poet. Publishing a book of poetry will probably never be a thing for me, though every now and again I really enjoy writing a poem.

Okay, but not I’m rambling and I think it’s just an attempt to stall before I talk myself out of what I’m about to do. I decided that I wanted to share some of my writing with you, but I couldn’t decide what to share or how much to share or if it was safe to throw my hard work out there and on and on the list goes. So today I opened up a document on my computer and just started writing. And though I’m not entirely sure where the story is headed, though I’ll be a total writing nerd and gush over how amazing it feels to have a story flowing out of you and in the back of your mind you’re coming up with a million different plot points, I am really enjoying writing this so far! Maybe someday it’ll lead me somewhere amazing!

So, without further ado, please allow me to share the paragraphs that came from my creative juices today. Please enjoy them and feel free to comment!

Strength comes in many forms. There are times when the strongest thing is a tear, or an embrace. And the hardest thing is never death. Many things were worse than death, many things were much harder. These were lessons she learned at a very young age, folded away neatly in the shelves of her mind like the books she read from. She saw these words penned across her mind in bold, black letters. They were perhaps more real to her than anything.

“Don’t forget.” She would whisper to herself, so quietly that she almost couldn’t hear it. It was a simple reminder in the blackest of times, and indeed, times seemed dark then. Vivid images flashed across her mind when she least expected it. Memories of friends and family, all of them long gone. For them, death had been an escape, not something terrible. She only wished she could forgive them for sacrificing themselves to save her. For what she had to offer, she still didn’t know.

After years at the sanctuary, years of learning, she still could not harness her gifts properly. She was still more of a hindrance than a help. And they all looked at her. They had since her arrival, so many long days before. But then they had been looking at tattered clothing and tangled hair. Now they looked at her in different ways. Some in confusion, some in open hatred. Why could she not figure it out? What good had saving her been if she was no closer to helping than she had been then?

Messengers from the Duke had long since stopped coming. It seemed that even he had given up on her. She could hardly blame him. A slip of a girl with only rumored abilities was at the very least a desperate thing to count on. And now, years later, it seemed a childish fantasy.

Just Writing

Grandfather’s Journals

I’ve recently been given the privilege of doing something completely amazing. My grandfather has kept a journal since 1979, not daily, but a journal recording his life story. Last week I went to his home and he handed me 6 notebooks: his life story written in his sometimes unreadable script.

My job is to type it all up for him, something that he’s wanted to have done for many years. We’re going to make it into a real book for him as a surprise. I’m about half way through the first notebook, and I am enjoying it even more than I thought I would. Not only is my grandpa hilarious, and I’m learning a lot of funny stories, but it is a completely wonderful opportunity that I can’t believe I’ve been given. My grandpa has 14 grandchildren, and numerous acquaintances, and I’m the one who gets to do this. It has been amazing, and I can’t wait to keep going!

It’s got me thinking a lot about life and keeping a record, though. I suppose a blog is a type of record that we keep. But is that why we do it? Do we record things (whether by blog or journal or whatever) so that, 100 years from now, our however-many-great grandchildren will be able to find comfort or answers or even just a laugh? It’s an interesting thought.

But whatever the case may be, I’m excited for this adventure I’m taking through the life of an incredible man.

Just Writing

Calcutta Led Me To Michelangelo

My character, Evangeline, is about to arrive in 1855 Calcutta. I want to be able to describe this part of the novel in a very special way.

Every time I sit down to work on this novel, I just can't get "gold" out of my mind.
Every time I sit down to work on this novel, I just can’t get “gold” out of my mind.

You see, I’ve got this complex with words. Words are my whole existence. I love words. But they also drive me absolutely crazy. Because it seems as though, no matter how good you get at using them, there are still some things you cannot describe. I believe that’s why God created music, I love music, but that’s a topic for a different time.

In the last couple of years, my writing has changed dramatically. It’s gotten stronger, more stable. When I compare my writing now with my writing from a few years ago, I just feel as if it has become more substantial. All that being said, there is still this place that I want to get to in my writing that I feel I’m barely scraping the surface of. Every writer has this problem, I know, and I’m still very young and everything. But nevertheless, I’ve been writing stories since I was six years old, so shouldn’t I be further along or something?

I think one of the reasons that this part of the novel is so hard for me to write (I’ve rewritten her entrance into the city and the immediate events thereafter, not to mention the events before, probably 10 times) is because of how I’ve decided to research this project.

I am a history student, yes, let’s just get that out there. I love to research history and learn more about it. The problem that comes up in research is that research only gets you so far. It’s not as though Google Maps can give me street views of 1855 Calcutta. Because I’m not in a position to just go off to India on a research trip, I’ve decided to take a different route with this novel. I’ve done a lot of research, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve decided not to focus too much on the historical accuracy.

Before all of you who write historical fiction start to weep for my soul, let me explain. It isn’t that I don’t want this to be accurate, not in the least. I’d love it if it could be the most accurate novel in existence. However, the purpose of this work isn’t to lay out 1855 India in every single detail. The purpose is to communicate several different messages and lessons, things that the character learns. So rather than write such details as which street they turned down or which historical figures they interacted with, I’d rather focus on Evangeline’s passion for India and how being there has freed her from some very real struggles.

michelangeloI know that if I continue chipping away at this, I’ll get it. And it’s going to be beautiful. I had this incredible discovery last night as I was thinking about this problem right before I fell asleep.

Michelangelo once said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”

I have always, always loved this quote. It has inspired me for many years. But last night, it hit me like a bolt of lightning that as a writer, I am very much like this sculptor Michelangelo is talking about. I have a block of material (personally, I choose marble), and I see the writer that I want to be inside of it.

The challenge is not getting over this writer’s block, it is finding the writer in the block. And it applies not only on a personal level, but on the level of my characters as well. Research aside, how does Evangeline feel about Calcutta? What are her thoughts? Where is Evangeline in this block, and how to I set her free?

I Was Wondering

Looking Back

cdc1c0bb2cee3196233588a39aaa17dcOne year, people!!! One year! This month marks one year since I began this blog! And a huge thank you to everybody that has supported me in it, whether you’ve been here the whole year or a few days. You are all a great bunch, and I have to say that blogging is an absolutely amazing experience for me because of all of you.

There have been a plethora of rough patches (posts that have absolutely no point and had to end with pictures of baby animals as a consolation for reading them), and so, so many moments when I didn’t know what I was doing. There were actually several times when I made up my mind that I was going to delete my blog because I felt like it was useless and more of a nuisance to people than something positive. Obviously, I never did that. If nothing else, this blog has helped my writing and my confidence in it. I know that I’ve become better at it through practice and with your encouragement, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Because starting a blog was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. Even though there were all of those rough patches and moments of, “What am I even doing here?” It has all been worth it and more. I’ve met so many amazing people and have been impacted by their stories and attitudes about life. Blogging has taught me that no matter where we find ourselves on this earth, we are all human. We all face a life ahead of us, and there is so much potential to learn from each other.

I used to think that I blogged for myself. I think, honestly, that that is probably how it began.e3374415490bffad39f1b29e4ed73a91 I knew that I would be able to learn and grow from it, and I wanted somewhere to record things that were important to me. I keep a journal, but I wanted it to be different from that. To be perfectly honest, I think I’m hilarious, and if all I ever did was write about that in a journal then nobody would ever get to have a brighter life because of my hilarity. Okay, that really wasn’t my thought process when I started this blog, but I knew that I did want some type of feedback.

And now, I know that in many ways I still do blog for myself. I blog because it makes me happy, I blog because it teaches me new things everyday. Like how to look at life from different angles and perspectives, how to view things from the other side of it all. I blog because, let’s face it, it is so fun! And most of all, I blog because I hope that in some way the perspective of an overly dramatic young woman enamored of Frank Sinatra, history, and writing may impact yours in some positive way.

And if it has, then, well. Mission Accomplished.