What I Learned in May & So Far in June

May-June Collage flipped

I should really stop waiting until the month is over to write these posts… Because every time I do, I inevitably put off the task until we’re halfway into the new month. Better late than never, though, right? (I can hear you saying But never late is better. And although it’s true, I frown upon that reply.)

Aside from learning (or relearning!) that these recaps shouldn’t be neglected until the last minute and beyond, here are a few other tidbits I picked up in May and the start of June.

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird really does deserve all its acclaim. I’m only a few chapters in, but already I love it. The characters, dialogue, setting… All are so rich and absorbing. I’m hoping for some time this weekend to finish  it. My only complaint is that I didn’t read Mockingbird sooner.
  2. The Loch Ness monster is an excellent writing prompt.
    No, really. I’ve had severe writer’s block for the past several months. Even simple assignments seem to take me forever. But a few nights ago, I got an email from the team at the Fangirl Initiative saying contributions for a group post were due that evening at 9 PM. (By the way, here’s the completed post.)
    nessieOriginally, I wasn’t a part of it, but since I had the night off and I was cleared to write about the Loch Ness monster, I decided to jump in. I can’t remember the last time I finished anything in under an hour, but once I started writing about Nessie, I finished in a flash. After that, I felt a chunk of my writer’s block crumble. I guess the way to get out of a writing rut is to simply write… Even if it’s about something random, and done in a rush.
  3. What I don’t write, I can’t process. When I get busy, I don’t pause to write; yet it’s precisely in the midst of the rush that I need to. Writing, especially journaling, clears my head and helps me understand my story. It gives me some perspective so I can notice God’s script unfolding. For the remainder of this month, I’m going to work towards more consistency in my journal entries, as well as my blog posts.
  4. It’s better to step out and make mistakes, than to hold back and accomplish nothing at all. Bravery begets bravery.
  5. A difference can be made, even in a mess. My last post was messy; I’m the first to admit it. Yet in that jumble, real people came alongside me. The comment section filled up with the kind words of reader and writer friends. Those comments had a theme to me: I’ve been there, too… you’re not alone, and it’s okay. What I shared wasn’t profound or even polished. The response made a difference for me, though, because it was humbling and encouraging all at once. To each of you who read that mess, and especially to those who left encouragement… Thank you. You’re a blessing, and you make a difference.
  6. Joy is a journey. It’s so much deeper than the bubbly emotion of happiness. Joy is clinging to Jesus, even when the world is crumbling; it’s having hope in the light, even when we’re plunged into darkness. Joy doesn’t mean living on a mountain; it means trusting God to sustain us and carry us from the valley. Most of all, joy is our strength.
    joy
  7. It’s the small things that matter most. Sharing pizza with a friend; revisiting my favorite childhood playground; ice cream with a brownie; tickets for a long-anticipated movie; trips to the library. Life isn’t always about the big events. We do just as much living and memory-making in the little ones.
  8. Speaking of small things, it is impossible to cram more than three people into one photo booth. But it is kind of fun trying to prove otherwise.
  9. “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” -e.e.cummings. As I mentioned at #4, though, courage only comes with action. Accepting God’s plan for my life and future is scary at times, especially since there’s a lot I don’t understand. Which leads me to my final point…
  10. God is doing a new thing. New things are scary and exhilarating all at once. I usually run from change, as if I can stumble back into the past or race through the discomfort of the present. In this season, though, when my nature wants to dig in my heels, question and/or cry, I’m choosing something different. I’m choosing to be excited. God gave me a promise, and confirmed those words to me: He is doing something new in my life. And I can’t wait to see what it is.
    new verse

What have you learned in these past weeks? What new things are taking place in your life? Should all go according to plan, there will be more new content here on the blog shortly… If you have a blog, drop me a link with your newest post, too! 🙂

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12 Days of Christmas {Prompts}

When I was ten or so, I decided to memorize the lyrics for the Twelve Days of Christmas carol. I wanted to know every single gift that “my true love gave to me.” Never mind that the true love was rather bad at selecting presents. (He gets points for creativity, though.) How many pipers were there…? Or was that fiddlers…? I did eventually figure it out, although I had to look up the lyrics again tonight to check…

Never mind how many pipers were piping; we’re officially into the Twelve Days of Christmas!

In honor of that, I’ve made a short list of Twelve Christmas Journal Prompts, very loosely inspired by the true love’s unique presents.

Twelve Days of Journal Prompts

Spread them out over a dozen days, or do a few at once. (Or, if you’re like me, wait until the end of twelve days, then do them at once.) Make up some of your own, too, if you like, and share them in the comments!

12. Which twelve Christmas songs are at the top of your playlist?

11. List eleven people you are thankful for. Say a prayer for them and send some kind words before Christmas!

10. Think of ten ways you can make someone’s heart leap for joy.

9. What are nine things that make your heart dance?

8. What eight chores or tasks are on your to-do list this week? Is milking one of them?

7. List seven ways you can unwind and find stillness this season.

6. Write about six of your fondest seasonal activities.

5. Make a list of five things that glitter with cheer.

4. Who are four people you need, or want, to call?

3. Which three countries would you most like to visit? What would you do there?

2. Write about two peaceful Christmas memories.

1. What is your one Christmas wish or prayer?

Merry Christmas, even if you aren’t given a partridge in a pear tree!

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An Award-Winning Post

Blog comments are awesome. I love the community and conversation they allow. It makes my day when even one is added to my site, and on my second post, I was thrilled when a friendly blogger with an awesome username dropped me a line.

Then last week, she sent another my way, and it made me even happier than the first.

triSARAHtops, of the blog with the same name, was kind enough to bestow upon me the Liebster award!

I hadn’t heard of it before, but now that I have, I think it’s awesome. The idea is to award 11 favorite bloggers who have 200 followers or fewer. I didn’t follow the 200 follower rule completely, because some bloggers simply had to be included, even though they passed that mark. I did try my best to select within the rule, however. With the award, you ask the bloggers 11 new questions, and they’re able to pass the idea around to continue the conversation. It’s also fun to follow the discussion and discover new blogs, along with new facts about favorite bloggers.

Here are my answers to triSARAHtop’s 11 questions:

  1. Describe your blog in one sentence.
    It’s like my own little cafe to share ideas and meet new friends, all without leaving my living room.
  2. Why do you blog?
    I started blogging because it felt like the next step for me as a writer. I’m shy overall, and blogging has given me the push I needed to share rather than stow everything away. Otherwise, I would be like Emily Dickinson and keep everything locked in a drawer.
  3. What do you feel is the best post you have written?
    So far, I only have three published posts, not counting this one, but many more to come. Out of the published ones, I feel the best is the latest: The Unchecked List.
  4. Follow-up to Question Three: Why do you feel this is your best post?
    To me, The Unchecked List is my best post because it felt so natural to write. I didn’t outline or premeditate that one. It made me uncomfortable at first, because again, I’m shy and it felt vulnerable to share that struggle, however small it seems. Once I proofread and published it, though, I was pretty happy, and then my best friends and family confirmed it for me. I consider it the post I can point to and say, “This is how I feel and sound. This is where I live.” And I hope other people can relate to that one, as well.
  5. Where do you find your inspirations?
    I know it sounds a bit cliche, but inspiration really is all around! My best sources are my journals, favorite books, other blogs (which we’ll talk more about in a moment), and Pinterest. Also, simply taking time to clear my mind and then listen to my ideas as they come back one by one.
  6. What do you do when you aren’t blogging?
    That information is classified. Only joking! When I’m not blogging, I could be doing any number of things: Writing fiction, getting lost in a book, daydreaming, chatting randomly to friends, watching movies with my family, chasing my Morkie around, volunteering for my church, or playing the piano rather unskillfully, to name a handful.
  7. Coffee or Tea?
    That would depend on the time of day. I’m a bit too enthusiastic about both of them. Especially when they’re iced.
  8. Who would win in a fight: Spiderman or Daredevil?
    I’ll have to say Spiderman, but I don’t have a good debate to back it up. I just really don’t know much about Daredevil except he’s blind and Ben Affleck played him awhile ago. (That’s right, isn’t it?
  9. What do you think is the best TV Show of all time?
    Of ALL time? Not just what’s on TV now? Snap. I read that wrong initially and was ready to explain what my current favorite show is. But out of all time, I’m going to have to say… Gracious, I really can’t say! I know it would be from BBC, but I’m not sure which one. Sherlock is the first that springs to mind, but probably because it’s just a current favorite. Though it is genius, after all.
  10. Why didn’t you choose Veronica Mars as the answer to Question 9? (If you did you can skip this one)
    First I had to say I don’t know about Daredevil, and now I’ll admit I didn’t choose Veronica Mars because I’ve never heard of it. … But anyhow, it’s because Sherlock cannot be ignored, and it’s one of the few shows that makes me feel smarter. (Even if I have pitiful deduction skills.)
  11. What is your favourite book?
    Such impossible questions! I could fill a library with answers but since I am only allowed to select one, I’ll say North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell. It’s a classic, but somehow felt easier to get lost in than other classics I’ve read. I love the characters and how each stands out with different strengths and weaknesses, as well as the progress they make over the course of the story. The setting is a character in itself, and the dialogue really caught my ear. Also, it’s not solely a love story, like some of my other favorite literature. Though there is that element, the story is also about society, family, friendship, justice, change, choices… I can honestly say, when I closed this book, I felt like I had learned something about life and myself.
    Oh, and there’s a wonderful miniseries based on the book, which I am utterly addicted to. Like any film, it doesn’t follow the novel exactly, but it’s so close and wonderful, I don’t mind at all. Also, Richard Armitage IS John Thornton. I could picture him as the character the entire time I was reading. Which could also account for some of my enjoyment of the book 😉

Now, the 11 Lovely Bloggers I am sharing the Liebster award with:

  1. Wishful Thinking. I discovered Miriam’s blog a couple of months ago, when I was still summoning the bravery to start mine. I love her conversational tone, and the way each post has such personality. Also, she has incredibly cool glasses.
  2. Escaping Reality- One Book at a Time. I “met” Lynette on Pinterest, since we followed each other’s BBC Robin Hood boards. (that show needs more fans, by the way.) Since then, I discovered she shares some awesome book reviews on her great blog! Just clicking on her site makes me want to lock myself away with a stack of novels.
  3.  Living on Literary Lane – I’ve been following this blog for a couple of years now, and it has been an incredible inspiration! Each post is so poetic, it has the timeless feel of literature and fairy tales to me. After I read one of Elizabeth’s posts, I always feel such storytelling energy.
  4. Of Battles, Dragons and Swords of Adamant – I came across Gillian’s blog through Twitter, and instantly, the fantasy feeling drew me in! She’s a very talented writer, and reading her blog is like stepping into another magical world.
  5. Entirely Bonkers – Just the name of this blog caught my attention, for being quirky and a reference to Alice in Wonderland. I have so enjoyed Emily’s posts here, and the whimsy and art they’re written with.
  6. Whisperings of the Pen – I found Katie’s blog through her annual “Actually Finishing Something in July” event when I participated in 2013. I didn’t get to take part in the event last year, but even so, I’ve really enjoyed her writing!
  7. The Inkpen Authoress – This blog is simply lovely. Rachel’s writing just flows, and like so many of these other blogs, inspires me to go and write more. Also, her header is the cutest.
  8. Scribbles & Inkstains – I was instantly a fan when I first found this blog, and then I managed to lose the address in my favorites file and my brain went blank as to the name. I’m so glad I finally came across it again! I’m looking forward to reading more of it in the future. Also, I love the design.
  9. The Villain Authoress – Though she may be a “character’s worst nightmare,” Rana’s blog is far from nightmarish! Her posts are both engaging and informative, and they make me want to run off and write five chapters.
  10. Ella Dement –  I discovered Ella’s blog through Twitter, because we share many favorite story genres. I like her short posts, (says the girl who’s almost up to 2,000 words here!) and how they typically end with a question. Also, the look of her blog reminds me of Anne of Green Gables, which is a pleasant thought.
  11. Book Geeks Anonymous – I only found Hanna’s blog recently, but I’m so glad I did! Her site is brimming with such rich literature, that if I could smell it, I bet it would have that irresistible aroma of old novels.

To these eleven bloggers, I present eleven questions: 

  1. What is the story behind your blog name? 
  2. How long does it take you to write each post? 
  3. Which blogging platform do you use? WordPress, Blogger, or something else entirely?
  4. Do you prefer e-books or physical copies? 
  5. What are five words to describe you? 
  6. What are five different words to describe your blog?
  7. Do you keep a journal? 
  8. What are three of your other hobbies? 
  9. If you could visit any city in the world, which would you choose?
  10. Do you prefer dogs or cats?
  11. Would you rather ask questions or answer them?

Here is a quick review of the “Rules” for any bloggers who would like to accept the Liebster Award:
– Answer the 11 interview questions
– In that post, link back to the person who awarded you, which would be me in this case. This means I’ll get to see your responses, which I’m looking forward to!
– Choose 11 other bloggers to award, focusing on those with 200 followers or below. (I did make a few exceptions, but it’s the general rule.)
– Link to those bloggers in your post, then go and leave them comments to share the good news!
– Be sure to ask them 11 original questions.
– Have fun sharing!

To my friends who aren’t listed for the Liebster award, I’m still curious to hear your answers for those eleven questions! If you’d like to share them, even for just a few questions, please leave your replies in the comments.

Also, let me know if you’re a follower of any of the blogs I mentioned! If you’re not, I suggest checking them out. 🙂

Let’s chat again soon!

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