Writing 101

Magic is All Around Us

“We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already.”
― J.K. Rowling

For all of the people who might have been living under a rock, J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter. And for the most part, the fans of Harry Potter love everything she is and everything she stands for.

Before she wrote Harry Potter, she had basically nothing, and a lot of people turned down the idea when she pitched it to publishers. Now, she’s very well off, and she donates a lot of what she earns.

I think she’s a wonderful woman and I think that this quote sums up something that everyone needs to know. Harry Potter is based in the Wizarding World, but the story is about more than magic. It is about bravery and courage and integrity and friendship and I believe that those things are where the real magic lies. We all have the opportunity to make changes in our everyday lives and slowly we can watch it change the world around us.

She didn’t do what anyone might consider spectacular, but she has created an empire founded on good values. She grew and taught a generation of people about all kinds of real life things, without us even knowing. She taught us to love to read. She taught us to stand up for what we believe in. She taught us to stand up for our friends, and maybe tell them they’re wrong if they are. She taught us it’s okay to fight with our friends, but if we’re wrong, we’re going to have to apologize. She taught us the value of hard work. And she taught us that the bad guys don’t always win, contrary to what the media might have you believe.

And that’s where the magic is. People change people. And there are people all around us.

Magic is all around us.

My London Adventure

For Good

Wicked

Last night we went to see Wicked as our “end of semester treat.” And this week marks a lot of lasts. We had our last art class. We took our theater final. Our semester is quickly winding down.

And this semester has taught me a lot. I mean, I learned about London and its history (more than I like, if we’re being honest). I learned about Children’s Literature. I learned about Art and Theater. But I really learned about life.

I learned about the unfamiliar. I learned to cope with living with 5 other girls. I learned about grocery shopping. I learned about a different way of life.

And I met some of the most wonderful people on the way.

At graduation, 2 years ago, a few girls sang this song. And I had never seen Wicked, so I never really had a context for this song. Lemme give you some context. In the musical, Elphaba meets Glinda and they are stuck as roommates. They eventually become best friends and this song a duet is near the end of the show, when they have gotten over their differences and are parting ways forever. So, woah, go graduation. Good choice, ladies.

But, in context of this semester, I know I have made a few really close, really strong relationships. And I also know I will never see most of these people again. And for some of them, that’s not such a bad thing. I know it isn’t going to be bad for me to never see them again. They taught me what they needed to teach me, and that’s that.

I think it’s valuable to learn that. Sometimes, you just have to let people go, because they weren’t meant to be in your life forever. And if you learn what you were supposed to from them, they never really leave, because your relationship with them was fruitful.

My flatmates taught me so much. They taught me patience (which is going to be an ongoing lesson, for a long time; but they did help it along). They taught me to bite my tongue. They taught me the  value of communicating. And that sometimes, you just have to walk away and cool off, all of which I knew, but needed to practice.

My roommates taught me to be confident when I get dressed up. And apparently it is okay for me to wear a mini-skirt and not look like an idiot. Not that I think I’ll be wearing them a whole lot. But apparently I can dress cute and not look dumb. And also, Ali was apparently right, and you have to wear mascara with eyeliner or your face doesn’t look right.

In addition, if nothing else, they taught me I don’t ever want to live the 5 people to whom I have no relation. 2 other people is a stretch. Not 5. Ever again.

My teachers taught me a bunch of things. Dr. Romig taught me about understanding Children’s books. And reminded me how much I love to read. I forgot how important it was to me because I was always so busy, that if I was reading, I knew I should have been reading a textbook, and Sneaky Gabi got around that by just not reading. She reminded me that reading is good for me and reading fixes my life.

Ian’s Theater class reminded me how much I love theater. I love the fun of it. I love watching it. And I need to do something with that when I get home. And I learned I can appreciate a show without loving it. And he taught us to express our opinions, which is not a thing we are frequently taught. He taught us that just because your opinion “might be rubbish, it’s your rubbish” and we need to be proud of that.

The Holcombs introduced me to all kinds of new foods I had no idea I liked, because I was so sure I didn’t like them. Uhm, hello. Try new food. You won’t always like it (fish and chips) but you might be pleasantly surprised (Thai food). And Mrs. Dr. Holcomb gave me some pointers for studying, because that is a skill I am still honing.

My new friends reinforced my feelings about family dinners (which have always been a big thing in my family).  That needs to be a thing for me, always. That’s a deal-breaker. We need to eat together, and talk. Not just eat in front of a movie or show or a phone. Dinner is a good time to socialize. But don’t talk to me with a mouthful of food, because that’s gross. And I learned all kinds of new games for a night in. That’s been wonderful.

And I learned how much my parents taught me, how much they instilled in me: good manners; intelligence; common sense. You don’t show up to someone’s house to eat without something to contribute. You always offer to help with the dishes, even if no one else does. You say please and thank you. If you go to someone’s house and they serve you something you’ve never had, you try it and pretend to like it, even if you don’t; you can always get something when you get home. You look both ways, twice when you cross the street. Pay attention to what’s going on around you. Don’t be a space cadet.

So, to everyone who had a hand in my education, formal or informal, I thank you. I do believe I have changed for the better. I have grown this semester (though not physically, because some of us haven’t grown since 7th grade). Thank you. And if this is good bye, good luck.

College Lessons and Things

College Lesson #33: Don’t Let Perfection Paralyze You

The lady who came to speak to us in Chapel last week talked to us about a lot of stuff.

She told us that all her life she was a perfectionist, because she thought the if she managed to keep everything together, and everything looked good on the outside, everything would be okay. And in her trying to make things perfect, she missed some of the important things. One day, she was driving and got into a car accident and was paralyzed from the chest down.

And she realized that her life now is fuller than it ever was. And she told us to not let the “ideal perfection” paralyze us.

I think that is an important sentiment for everyone. Sometimes, we want everything to work out just the way we want and we get so caught up, we get stuck. How frequently do you start a project and decide that it wasn’t working out like you planned and you just stop and decide you’ll work on it later? Does it ever really get done? Why do you think that is?

It’s because we glorify perfection. But, if you finished, what would you learn?

Don’t get me wrong, I love when things work out the way I plan, but sometimes they don’t. And instead of getting caught up on the little things, we need to accept it and move on. Sometimes, what you think was wrong will  grow on you. Or you’ll learn something new. What people used to think were failures are now super important. And sometimes, what we thing is really super important, really isn’t a big deal.

Perfection can paralyze us. It can stop us from doing what needs to happen. Don’t let it.

Daily Prompt

Breathe

Today’s Daily Prompt is to write about a time when everything seemed to be going wrong and then you knew it would be okay. I have those on a regular basis. Here’s what they have taught me.

In this life, there are times when everything seems unbearably hard and like nothing is going to work out. As a college student, that happens all the time; more often than I’d care to admit, I think.

The thing that I have found to help me the most is to stop worrying. Sometimes, things are just out of our control and we have to understand that is the end of it.

That paper I should have started a month ago, got done, but I know it wasn’t perfect. That test I should  have studied for, it didn’t go very well. And that’s okay (though, not consistently, because I hear grades are important; so you really should try). At some point, you have to let go and recognize that, it’s done. Do better next time. Learn something about yourself. But move on.

I have days where I feel awful and like nothing is gonna get done and I’m not going anywhere, but if I think about it, the important things are taken care of. I have enough food; I have a roof over my head; I have the things I need. At some point, on every one of these days, it finally occurs to me that, somethings just don’t really matter. And when I hit that point, I know everything is going to be okay.

At some point, it also clicks that as rough as some days are, they will make wonderful stories at some point. One day, I’m going to laugh at how ridiculous it is that I worried about that thing or that person or that rule because they always seem so important at the time. And good stories are important.

Perks of Being a Wallflower One of my favorite movies, ever.
Daily Prompt

I am Different and the Same.

Today’s Daily Prompt was to write a six word story about what the I think the future holds for me and then explain it.

I am different and the same.

In life, we change, we grow, we learn. By the same token, some things never change. Yesterday was different from today, but I still woke up and did the same things. I still put on a t-shirt and jeans and went to class.

It’s amazing to me that day by day things never seem to change, but a month or a year from now, we’ll look back and they have changed. Drastically.

Last year, I don’t think I would have imagined going to class in a t-shirt and jeans. That quickly became the standard attire. (Ain’t nobody got time for gettin’ dressed up before 8 in the morning.)

Last year, I didn’t know anyone on this campus. In the course of a year, I manage to meet the most wonderful people possible, I’m pretty sure. I most certainly plan to keep these friends, for the rest of my life.

Last year, I could count the meals I cooked in my life on one hand (not counting Ramen Noodles, because, let’s be real: that is not a meal). Now, I cook on a daily basis with my roommate. And, I have yet to burn down the apartment (applause here is acceptable).

Last year, I would have put off studying abroad; this spring, I’m going to study abroad in London, England. How many sophomores can say they had that opportunity? Four months in Europe. I’m thrilled.

I’m working as an RA in the apartment complex at my school. I have the best co-workers I think I could ask for.

But I don’t feel different than I did last year. I don’t feel older. I feel like I’m still me. As everything around me changes, as I meet new people, do things, explore new places, I’m still fundamentally me. And I hope that never changes. In this world, it’s hard to be true to yourself and I like to think that I am strong enough to keep my identity.

Dr-Seuss-Youer-Quote

College Lessons and Things

College Lesson #28: Attention Gives Power

A few weeks ago in chapel the speaker gave us some tips about being happy in life.

The most important thing he said was that attention gives power. He explained that in today’s world we focus on the negative aspects of ourselves and our lives. Because we focus on the negative, we give the things we don’t like about ourselves and our lives power. If a person focuses on their inability to do something, say math, he won’t really be able to see all the things he does well, say english. He told us that we all have something significant to offer to the world but if we focus on the negatives, we won’t be able to share our gifts. In the same way, if we focus on the good things in our lives, what we need to do with our lives will be easy to find.

He then gave us 5 steps to being happy:

  1. Discover yourself His suggestion to discover yourself was to spend some time alone and really get to know who you are. What makes you happy? What do you want from life? What makes you passionate? All those questions that no one else can give answers to.
  2. Find good friends The speaker then explained the importance of good friendships. Friends should be around to help us and pick us up when we need a boost. A good friend has similar values to yours. Good friends are important because they help keep you on track. If people surround themselves with people who have goals similar to their own, they won’t keep you from your goals.
  3. Have a positive attitude He told us that negativity breeds negativity; in a similar way, positivity breeds positivity. Plus, no one wants to spend time with someone who is always upset at everything.
  4. Discover God’s plan for your life He basically told us that once we figure out what our purpose is, everything will fall into place.
  5. Have discipline He discouraged laziness because lazy people won’t get anywhere in life.

Lastly, he explained to us that “everything good doesn’t go together.” He was talking specifically about relationships. He meant that sometimes people just aren’t meant to be together. Not that one is bad for the other or anything. But I think there’s more to it than that. I think he meant that one person can’t do everything. It’s good to want to try everything and all that but not everyone is called to do the same things. People have to be unique or our society would be monotonous and boring.

Have a good rest of the week everyone.

College Lessons and Things

College Lesson #3: ROLL

So. We have this class here at UMHB called Chapel. You get credit for just showing up and the standard joke is that  most people sleep through it.

Today was my first time and I really wanted to not sleep. That was my goal. “Don’t fall asleep because someone is taking their time to come talk to us.”

I was pleasantly surprised. The speaker today was pretty awesome and I wasn’t bored at all. His name is Tyson Dever and he’s paralyzed from the waist down (if you wanna know his whole story he’s got a video on YouTube — be forewarned, it’s an intense video — and a Facebook page and I imagine a website). And he talked about how his life has changed. He told us that everyone experiences change and that some is good and some is bad and sometimes you’ve just gotta suck it up and deal with it. And he told us that most people fall into the just average category and that it would only take us a few minutes a day to go the extra step and become above average.

So.  That’s my lesson for today. Go the extra step and be a little above average. And ROLL (that’s his slogan).

Respect

Overcome

Learn

Lead

Anyways. Change is inevitable, so roll with it. And go the extra mile, you’ll be part of the elite few.