Encouragement

Today, around 10:00 a.m.

Hi, blog! Long time no write. Well, I have been writing, just not for you. Which is dumb, but I’m remedying this problem right this very second! Yay!

Grad school has been a whirlwind so far. Truly. I’ve loved it, but it’s been an adjustment. Ellie and I are finally settling into a little routine (I think), and I’m really good at heating up Lean Cuisines and Stouffer’s French bread pizza.

Right now, my stomach is in knots and I’m just a nervous bundle of energy. Today, I turn in my first bit of fiction for one of my classes.

I’m so terrified, guys! I just hope my piece is sort of up to par with all the PhD and the second or third year MFA students in my class. I just hope that my school didn’t let me in by accident, and that my professor and my fellow students won’t read what I wrote and say, “Holy cow, where did this girl come from? How did she manage to get here?!” I know this is a common thought and fear among grad students–“imposter syndrome,” it’s called–but I hate it! I hate thinking I’m not good enough. I hate thinking that other people might think that I’m not good enough.

Isn’t that silly?!

Here’s where the title of this post comes in: encouragement. I’m going to write a bit of encouragement to me and to all of you.

Dear You,

Maybe you will be horrible. You might not be good enough. There’s always that chance that you won’t be good at something. There’s a chance  you’ll fall flat on your face. 

(Wow, strong start, am I right?)

BUT. Even if you are horrible, why is that such a big deal? If you want to be good at something, just put your head down, work like you’ve never worked before, and you’re bound to get better. You might never be the best, but gosh darn it, you can be your best!

(So much cheese; I cringe. But I’m a huge fan of all things cheesy.)

What you wrote is your very best at this moment in time. That’s all you can do. Take the criticism, take the feedback, and then run with. Get better. Work at it. Keep your optimism and grit and your stupid little Pollyanna smile. 

(I smile a lot. Former cast member probs, I suppose.)

You got this. Work! Know that you won’t always get gold stars, and embrace that feeling of uncertainty. You get to work at what you love to do, and you’re going to get better. 

Sincerely, 

Me.

annnnnnddddd….

Today, around 4:29 p.m. 

UPDATE: The class went well! I did a happy dance in my car before I drove home! I got some great notes and good feedback, and everyone was so nice. I’m happy to be here, and I’m so happy to be learning from such talented writers.

My anxiety has been lifted (for the moment, at least), but the bit of encouragement I wrote this morning is still relevant. I hope it helps you, because my little pep talk really helped me “buck up” and embrace my fears. If I acknowledge my anxieties, I can face them head on and accept them. Why stress about being good enough? What’s the worst thing that could happen?

I hope you have a great day, my friends. Do your best today and every day.

 

 

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Currently Reading: All Things Anne

Note: the following post contains a lot of random musings about everyone’s favorite imaginative redhead–I would like to emphasize the word “random.” Enjoy! 

I finally carved out the time to read (almost) the entire Anne of Green Gables series. FINALLY.

Took me long enough. I was inspired by Netflix’s adaptation of the beloved series–while it was grittier than the books, the series did capture Anne’s ability to survive life’s hardships through optimism.

Disclaimer: while I loooooooove reading and writing and all things literary (former English major and current creative writing grad student here), I’m the kind of girl who can read a whole lot and then fall into a year-long slump in which I can’t seem to find reading material I truly enjoy. It’s been one of those years, but I’m working on it.

Anne has helped me discover reading again; returning to her world is like taking the first sip of morning coffee, sleeping in on a weekday, or having nothing on a must-do list.

I just love her. I love her, I love her, I love her.

Anne is so plucky and ambitious, especially early on. I adore the third book in the series–she attends Redmond College and learns what it means to live on her own away from Green Gables (with a group of delightful “chums,” of course), and she finally opens her eyes and her heart to the boy who has always loved her. She becomes a young principal of an entire school in book four, and she continues to win the heart of every reluctant soul around her. She marries Gilbert in book five and establishes her quaint and Anne-ish “House of Dreams.”

I have to admit, I love Anne the most when she’s single, books one through four. I love how she grapples with the world’s challenges on her own, and I love the relationships she forms with others along the way. Anne has a way of connecting with the misunderstood among society, and audiences aren’t treated to those relationships too much after she is married. Most often those difficult, “kooky,” or tormented souls are her “kindred spirits.” I love that about her–she’s unafraid of going against the grain, and she can win almost any heart with her unconquerable spirit.

Anne still has a way with others when she’s married, but she’s certainly more confined–not necessarily by Gilbert or her children, but by society at that time. Even though she was a successful educator and loved the world of academia, she does as societal custom requires (at least for the era) when she enters the world of marriage. She keeps an impeccable house: she grows gardens, sews clothes, has and raises babies, and keeps the House of Dreams and Ingleside in tip-top shape. She’s the matriarch of her little home(s), and while I know she loves it, I miss her free-spirited Green Gables or Redmond days.

Anne begins to settle as she grows older, which is both admirable (why not be content with the life you have?) but also bittersweet. She forgoes her childhood dreams of successful novel authorship, settling for the few publications in ladies’ magazines and newspapers. Those are still a wonderful accomplishments, but I wish she could have done a little bit of everything–I believe Anne could write the next great Canadian novel and still be a fantastic wife and mother.

No matter. Anne still has my heart, and I aspire to embody her optimism and grace.  Revisiting Anne’s world has been so refreshing and so inspiring–L.M. Montgomery’s dreamy prose and Anne’s spirit is like a drink of cool water on a sweltering Prince Edward Island summer day.

Does P.E.I. ever even experience a good swelter? Probably not, but the effect of the Anne series on my soul is that of contentment and delight nonetheless.

What are you currently reading? I could use some suggestions for future library excursions.

As always, have a magical, imaginative, and zip-a-dee-do-dah day, my friends.

“Disney Day”

“Disney Days” are essential to the mental health of an avid Disney fan. If you didn’t know, I’m an avid Disney fan…times ten.

I know. Shocking.

What is a “Disney Day?” It’s not just a day spent at a theme park (although it can be). A Disney Day can be any ol’ regular day with an intentional amount of magic and pixie dust thrown in.

Disney fans have a way with “fluffy” words, don’t they?

We (my family and I) had our own Disney Day this past Sunday. We declared it Disney Day from the start–we each picked out a Disney movie and sat down for hours to watch some favorites and some forgotten classics. We took a break for lunch and a treat, and we gabbed and napped throughout the showings.

It was pure, lazy, pixie-dusted bliss.

We could’ve made our day more elaborate, with treats and favors fit for Instagram. We could’ve put more thought and planning into the movies we watched. I could have started a hashtag, worn ears, done my makeup, felt like a presentable human being.

But did we do that? Nope! We just sat down and watched some movies. The simplicity of the occasion made the day so much better–free of fuss, free of perfection, free of a bra. (TMI? Probably.)

Here’s how our lineup developed:

  1. The Little Mermaid, followed by a Lean Cuisine for lunch and a trip to DQ for a vanilla ice cream cone.
  2. Aladdin with bouts of power outages due to a summer thunderstorm. It took us a long time to watch and finish Aladdin. Momma cried because she had never sat and watched it all the way through–she adored the song “A Whole New World,” and she was so proud of Al when he set the Genie free. My sister took a hearty nap.
  3. The Lion King, with bonus features included.
  4. Peter Pan whilst sorting through old photos and memorabilia. I found some old short stories of mine, written around the third or fourth grade. One piece was entitled “The Irish Setter Who Loved Golf.” An Irish Setter is a breed of dog, one I was particularly fond of as a child. It was a work of literary genius, no doubt. Find me an agent, stat! (Ha.)

While this wasn’t a stop-the-presses kind of day, it was one of my favorite. It was a Disney Day for the books–I’ve had some pretty incredible park days, but there’s something about intentionally sitting  and watching movies all day with the ones you love that makes every “monotonous” moment magical.

How would you go about your own Disney Day?

 

Adventures In Puppy-ing

Ellie Kevin Lancaster, meet everyone. Everyone, meet Ellie Kevin Lancaster.


This is my sweet little Shih Tzu. She weighs only two pounds and has rank puppy breath, but she is mine and mine alone. She  happens to be a little terror and have quite the rambunctious spirit, but that’s why I’m so smitten.

Ellie has been a hoot since bringing her home. She arrived on the scene with a bout of fleas and worms–common puppy problems, but inconvenient and worrisome for this new puppy mom. Don’t worry, we took care of it, but for our first couple days of furry friendship, Ellie was calm. Stoic. Tired.

Of course she was. She felt sick, poor baby.

After getting her treated and cured of her puppy problems, my sweet Ellie blossomed into the minuscule maniac she was destined to be.  She sprints across the living room to the kitchen in a furry frenzy, in frantic pursuit of “Big Dog’s” food and treats. Big Dog is Kasper, our former “little” dog.

He’s now the big one.

She plays with her dog bed as if it were an oversized toy, dragging it across the floor and gleefully ripping her claws into the soft fabric. I’ll have to invest in a new one soon.

She leaves tiny little puppy puddles on the kitchen tile. At least she doesn’t like peeing on the carpet too, too much. She gets so busy explorin’ her new world, she forgets she has a teeny tiny little bladder.

She’s my little explorer.

Why the name “Ellie Kevin?” She’s named after two beloved characters from Disney’s Up, of course.

She embodies Ellie’s (the character) adventurous spirit so well. Seriously–each morning she sprints from her kennel and begins to explore her brand new world; she’s full of joy and puppy curiosity, and she’s so sweet and good natured. She wiggles and squirms when you pick her up. She’d rather be discovering new nooks and crannies; she loves to cuddle when she’s tired, but she loves stretching her legs.

She’s my adventurer. She’s my Ellie girl.

And Kevin? You know: Kevin, the bird from Up. Her middle name’s Kevin, ’cause Kevin’s a girl. (Duh.)

I love you so much, Ellie. I can’t wait to begin a new adventure with you soon. Graduate school is fast approaching, which translates to a move to a new town and a fresh, shiny beginning. I can’t wait to take it all on with you.

Adventure is certainly out there.

 

 

Writer

I recently changed a few bullet points under the “about me” category.

First: “recent college graduate” transformed to “graduate student in creative writing.” Yes, you read that right! I’ll be heading back to school in the fall, and I am thrilled to continue my education. Who knows? Perhaps a doctorate is in my [distant] future?

I like school, okay? Let me stay forever.

Second: I changed “aspiring writer” to simply read “writer.”

Because I realized something.

I don’t have to wait until I’m a “grown-up” to fully realize my “grown-up” dream. And heck, I am a grown-up! Painfully so. I’ll be 24 in less than a month, and that’s scary. And kind of cool. But mostly terrifying.

You see, reader, I’m a writer because I write. I am not published in the sense that I have novels under my belt, but I write. A lot. At least I try to.

I do have a few articles published in a local magazine, and that’s cool. I’m so grateful for  the opportunity to contribute to a wonderful publication. But I still have a hard time considering myself a full-fledged writer.

But I am. And now that I’m realizing it, I’m so excited about my future and all the possibilities yet to be.

I write stories before bed! Fiction! And I love doing it! I’m using exclamation points because I think I found what I love to do! Making up stories to fill our dark little world with hero[ines] and characters that came to be because I used my brain muscles and created them out of nothing!

Now, yes, eventually I’d like to be semi-successful in this writing endeavor. But I can’t become successful or good at anything without a little elbow grease and a whole lot of doing.

And the doing–the writing, the doing the writing–makes me a writer. It’s the same concept as running. I’m currently training for a half marathon, and the act of running makes me a runner.

I’m slow as dirt, and it’s hard to wake up early before work to “pound the pavement.” (That’s runner’s speak.) But I run, so I am a runner.

I’m a writer, I’m a runner, I’m a dreamer. And I love and cherish all of those titles.

Have a magical day, my friends.

 

 

 

Ode to Magic

Below is a little poem I wrote about my favorite place, my magic place. Thank you for reading, and have a magical day. 

Magic is Floridian humidity

that melts the features of my face.

It’s the sun that burns my shoulders

and it’s the post rope-drop race.

It’s a metal mouse and a metal man

standing firmly side by side

captured forever in family photos,

those moments will never die.

Magic’s down at the laughin’ place

where briar patches become home.

Where nine ninety-nine happy haunts ask

 one more soul to cease to roam.

Waffles become magic when they’re

blessed with eyes, a nose, and ears.

A moment becomes magic when a tiny tot

overcomes her incredible fears.

She hugs her hero, her idol, her friend,

A fleeting second, captured by tech.

She bounces, she giggles, and squeals

she bids farewell with a delicate peck.

Mickey Mouse holds his heart and swoons

she’s met her hero, he’s met his.

These moments, this place, this world

are “my friends, where the magic lives!”

This place is my magic place,

I’m just like those teeny tots.

Here I never grow up, I dare to wear

mouse ears and red polka dots.

I laugh without fear of notice,

I don’t hide behind a stoic mask.

Fastpasses, photo ops, and the purple wall

are today’s only required tasks.

Here I twirl on lush “hub grass”

and strike a classic princess pose.

I open up to people who “get it.”

They feel the magic. They just…know.

Here “anything is possible,”

and “wishes do come true.”

It’s where I learned that true magic lies

within me…and also in you.

We take our magic place with us,

to the real world, to reality.

  In memories of that magic kingdom

I find myself.

I find me.

Little Things: 2.0

One of my very first posts (seriously, back in 2014!) on this blog talked about “the little things” in life. It’s unanimous that we humans love talking about the little things, no matter how cliche and trite our discussions of little things can get.

I’m here to write a “Little Things: 2.0” post, simply because I just can’t get enough of freakin’ little things.

I love the feeling of my sister’s dog as he lays on my derrière in the mornings. (Weird, I know.)  Kasper’s routine: wake up. Eat breakfast. Go sleep with Kaila on Kaila’s behind. He snores, and when my alarm goes off at 5:45, he groans.

Shuffling down my block at 6 a.m.–it’s only me and my adorable neighbors (I say that respectfully), and I savor the darkness and the quiet. My neighbors are so cool; the woman runs and runs and runs at the same exact pace; she sometimes walks with her husband and carries teeny pink weights as she pumps her dainty arms. I’d bet money that those arms, as slight and petite as they are, could still pack a punch. She just keeps going and going and going. I go, but I can’t go and go and go.

Not yet.

“BAHHH BAHHH BA BA BA BAAAAAAAAAAAH BA.”

That’s me trying to emulate the opening track of any Star Wars film. The soundtracks are often my running music of choice; might as well gain inspiration from the Jedi, the rebels, and the Empire. Sometimes I don’t want to listen to words at 6 a.m.; I have to stare at words all day. I just listen to epic music and, in turn, I feel pretty darn epic.

Coffee. Coffee was mentioned in my first “Little Things” post, and not much as changed since 2014.

Lunch. I have about a 10-15 minute lunch break between two [wonderful] jobs, and those moments spent in silence driving from point A to point B while nibbling on a turkey sandwich, a handful of chips, and string cheese are often just the right amount of fuel I need to conquer the rest of my day.

Finally falling asleep after a restless night. That’s what I’m about to attempt, so wish me luck. Thanks for sticking with me, friends. It means a whole lot to an aspiring writer for real actual humans to read words that I hastily type into WordPress’ handy word processor area thing. That was eloquent, I know.

Seriously. It means a lot.

Good night, and I hope you all take a little time out of your busy days to find and appreciate those stinkin’ little things.

 

 

 

 

Latest Obsession: The Olympics

I know. It’s crazy. I actually have something other than Disney and the college program on my mind. And that something is the glorious Olympic games being held in Rio.

I have always been a sucker for the games. I’ve read Michael Phelps’ books multiple times. I used to (and still do) stay up for all of the prime time coverage and the extras, including those special little news features about athletes who overcame adversity through insane courage and persistence. I even have the Olympic theme music on my phone; I bought it in the eighth grade and have never looked back or regretted the impulse buy.

I think my obsession might be in-sync with the country, and, perhaps, the world. Every time an Olympics rolls around, the world watches with fervent passion and consistency. We become fiercely patriotic, even if it is just for a couple of weeks. We become invested in all of the athletes’ backstories. We buy magazines with athletes on the cover and a little section devoted to the Olympian-tested workout. We Tweet about the Olympics, post lengthy Facebook statuses about the Olympics, and Instagram about the Olympics.

Why do we love the Olympics so darn much?

I can tell you why: even if you do not realize it, we love the Olympics because it showcases human spirit and tenacity. Athletes finally get their reward after years and years of hard work and sacrifice. Even if athletes do not win a medal, it is amazing to think that they are able to represent their country in a positive light.

We see ourselves in the Olympians–we crave reward, we know about sacrifice in different aspects of our lives, and we want to represent our country and our families in a positive way. The Olympics showcase classic stories of success through hard work; to see the happiness and realization of a dream coming true is addictive. We keep coming back for more and more.

I was absolutely loving watching the women’s gymnastics team clinch gold the other night–their happiness was infectious, and I found myself smiling from ear to ear. They were young women causally achieving their childhood dreams of gold. We were a nation casually united for one purpose–to encourage and to praise the “Final Five,” the golden girls.

That’s another thing I love about the Olympics: for two weeks every four years, our country becomes just a little more cohesive, united. Our world becomes a little more united as well; sometimes I just choose to root for an athlete because of their story or the way they carry themselves. You recognize that athletes, no matter what country they are competing for, are just athletes.

I don’t know why I started writing this in the first place, but I think I’ve come to some conclusion–the Olympics bring out the best in a lot of people. Athletes, citizens of the world, and dreamers everywhere. Thanks for existing every four years, Olympics. You used to fuel my competitive fire, and now you fuel my human spirit.

Happy watching, everyone!