Friday, December 30, 2016

The Cycle of Habits

I've been thinking about habits a lot recently.  Habits I've slipped into, habits I need to change, this vicious cycle that often keeps me at a low point.  There seems to be a cycle within these habits.  You kinda slip into them without realizing it, and they just become more and more a part of your life until you realize that they aren't habits you should have.  Negative thoughts, too much junk food, sleep deprivation...

In this time of year, when many things are changing, you might be thinking about the past - your younger (maybe better) self, all those memories of how things used to be.  Maybe you're glad they're gone, or maybe you want them back.  We realize quite suddenly that we're not quite where we want to be.  We realize we want to change, and right now, with so many beginnings and endings, seems like a great time to try it.

So we make a plan and try to change everything.  A revolution.  A complete 360. A flurry of promises thicker than the snowflakes (unless you're in Kansas with me, then there's a 50% chance it's actually sunny 63 degrees out.).  Resolutions that may be better suited to all our lives instead of this upcoming year alone...

I want to tell you - you don't have to change it all at once.  When you get to that moment of realization, everything becomes clear and you want to instantly fix it all.  But we don't always have the strength to make all of those life changes at once - remember, those habits are habits because they've built up consistently over time.  You may be super motivated at first, but if you spend all that energy right away, spread out over a bunch of new things, you'll likely run out of resolve before any new habits are really formed.

I read a book recently, "Like Water for Chocolate", that gave a good metaphor for this.  The idea was that we all have matches inside of us, matches that can be lit by various things.  However, it said that if we light them all at once, the fire will be too intense for us to handle.  So this week, when you're thinking about resolutions and changes in your life, don't try to change it all at once.  Significant change takes significant dedication and time.

It's okay to take baby steps.  You don't have to fix it all immediately.  Take it easy, or you might burn out too fast.  Find something (especially something that might affecting everything else), and attack it first.

For me, this has been sleep.  There are a lot of bad habits I'm trying to change right now, but I've realized that being so tired is making all the other things worse.

So, don't put too much pressure on yourself.  :)  Make those resolutions, and let them build on themselves throughout the year.  Make them manageable goals that don't overwhelm you on the first day.

How are you thinking of this new year?  What are some habits you're trying to change?  :)  

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher
(tribute inspired by this amazing actress)

Who do we ask permission to follow our dreams?
Is there someone in charge of the stars that light our galaxies?
No, that fire is inside of us.
It's waiting for us to realize its shy, welcoming existence.
Waiting for the day we accept our own ability and dare to ignite.
That is the day where we stop letting the world drown us in its shallow water
and start swimming out to sea.
In the end, then, it becomes a quest for oneself.  
What is your purpose in life?  
What have you lost in the depths of your own identity, and when will you find it again?
It is waiting for you to find it.
But you will not find the answer in the empty words of these seven continents.
The world will tell you it isn't safe to ride a shooting star into the deep space of your heart
and let it envelop you.
They tell you not to let the ocean sweep you away -
But they forget to mention that they're drowning you too.
Compared to the fear this world tries to instill within you, your oceans are tame.
But at the same time, your waters are the most deep, fierce bodies you could ever drown in.
I think that, in this life, we get to choose what drowns us.
Maybe you don't yet know how to swim,
but stepping out into the waters you've always longed for?
It's not as deadly as the world would like you to think.  
The real danger is on the shore, where you risk drowning
in fear
in regret
that you never washed your soul in courage and discovered that you might just float out there.
The real danger is forfeiting your chance to choose
and defaulting to a mindless life.
What good is a head above water  
if underneath the waves, that head isn't connected to anything?
The real danger is letting them convince you that water isn't supposed to be wet.
They will tell you that
you're supposed to go through life's oceans without ever falling and getting drenched.
This goes beyond fantasy - even science says your feet will get wet.
Let the waves carry you to freedom
Set your eyes on the burning horizon and let the future give you a new hope
for the dreams you've carried so long.
You yourself are the stars and when you realize this,
your sky will be brighter than ever before
and not even the shifting tides can change that.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Sonder, A Word For My Heart

Sonder, my favorite word.

I stare at the faces of the people walking past, the people sitting next to me, the people smiling at me....

And I sonder.

They say that this feeling is a realization, but it is more than that.  I do not merely see the people around me.

I feel what they feel.  I understand their fears and hopes.  I recognize their humanity when they glance up at me for a moment, then quickly look back down.  I hear myself when they tell me their stories. The strangers in the streets may be strangers, but they are not so strange to me.

I sonder, wondering if anyone sees me - really sees me.  Am I as transparent as all these wandering faces?

I cry their tears for them, pick up the dreams they leave on the sidewalk behind them and try to find wings that fit.  I wish I could shield their souls from life's thunderstorm, I wish I could dry their tears a breathe silence into their heads.

To sonder is to place yourself in their shoes and walk their path with them.  I wish I could do it for them.  I wish I could do more than merely walk beside them.  I would trade places if I could.

No, to sonder is not merely to realize that there are other people out there in the world.  To sonder is to love those people so deeply that you feel they are all pieces of your heart.

~ cdm

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Potential is Not A Number

My friends, there are different kinds of potential, and you must not confine yourself to one alone.

Most people are driven by parents, teachers, and society in general to the potential that looks wonderful on paper.

"I'm ranked #3 in my class right now."
"I have a 4.26 GPA."
"If I keep this up, I can hopefully get into Stanford!"

This kind of potential is great, right?  Usually associated with "genius, top student and 'going places'", this is the potential that you're either proud of (if you are that person), or spend a lot of time wishing for.

We are constantly pushed to reach this potential.

"If you can do it, why don't you?"
"Look at all she's done.  She's gonna accomplish so much."

This kind of potential is basing everything on this society-determined formula for an American Dream-type success.  Stats, performance, exceeding the 'average person'.  The goals, whether or not professed?  Usually something along the lines of:

In highschool:
Good grades, so good college

In college:
Good grades, successful major, so good job

Good job, so money and security, family

From an early age, people with this kind of potential are identified.  Along each step of their life, they are pushed to keep reaching high levels of success.  They are told to constantly challenge themselves.

"You had straight A's all through kindergarten!  You're gonna do great in 1st grade."
"You've qualified for the Gifted Program, we want to prepare you for a higher level of achieving."
"Don't take that class, it's too easy for you.  Drop the fluff classes and take all honors, challenge yourself. You can always do art as a hobby at home."
"You can totally handle all honors classes - you're wasting your potential if you don't take them!"

It's awesome if you have these qualities.  Good grades, challenging classes and financial security in the future are all awesome, amazing things.  Don't stop trying hard, doing your best.

But if all we do is constantly challenge ourselves for a future that is always two steps ahead of ourselves, what are we really doing?  Often the education system seems to be a petri dish of competition. Competition against ourselves, each other, and society.

Friends, there are multiple kinds of potential.

What we started telling children that they have the potential to change the world with their smiles?
What if we told them that their kindness is the most precious asset they have, not that 32 on the ACT?
What if society recognized that a good grade card isn't always a good reflection of individual growth?

Because isn't that what a challenge is for?  To grow someone in some way?

And it should be clear that there are far more ways to do that than taking the hardest classes possible from kindergarten through college.  Imagine.  Someone could be challenged by talking to someone from a vastly different background than them.  They could be changed by seeing a work of art that finally acknowledges something they always felt alone in feeling.  You can find a challenge in a blade of grass.

And yet here we are, too often attributing the highest worth to a series of letters on a paper denoting that a student has successfully completed the requirements for a course deemed 'challenging'.  

I have a personal story to complement my point.  I have been told many of the things quoted above throughout my life - either by friends, teachers, parents, or even my own brain.  (My own brain has actually adopted this 'academic potential' motto and constantly reminds me).  But as I've had to start trying to decide on a college to attend, I've had to redefine potential in my mind, and realize the infinite possibilities for different kinds of challenges.

I went to a very challenging high school.  I took the hardest classes available, and pushed myself to get A's in all of them, 4 years straight.  Senior year, and I'm finishing of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program.  My GPA is 4.26 and my class rank is #3.  32 ACT.  These are great things, and I'm proud of them.  However.

However.  I believe I lost sight of some more important things along the way.  One of my main justifications for choosing the classes I did was because I knew I could succeed in them.  My mindset was, "I can feasibly do well in college calculus.  I'd be lazy if I didn't enroll in it."  And so I went through high school this way.

This year, as I've made the choice to focus on my passion (writing, art, theatre) in college rather than a more financially-secure career path, I've questioned some of my past decisions.  Those challenging classes, while certainly beneficial, forced me to stop almost all writing and art.  I have rarely had time to do any of the things I love and wish to pursue the rest of my life.  I have been so stressed and tired that I've neglected my family and God.  So while I have perfect grades, I've sacrificed a lot.

When I choose a college, I don't think I want to do the same thing all over again.  The hard thing is that I know I could continue with this path and go on to the next level.  Every time I consider a more casual, less-prestigious college, my brain kicks in and says, "Caroline, no.  You'd be wasting all that potential!"  I feel bad choosing something less "prestigious", when I've already reached that level.  Lazy, my brain says.

But honestly, I'd only be choosing a different potential to pursue. And also, it's not wasted!  I still have everything I've learned from that path in my life. Now, I want to cater to my potential as an artist and writer, rather than an Ivy-League top student, because the latter has never been my passion or goal in life.

I've come to the realization that there are multiple kinds of potential.

Challenging yourself by going deep into art and growing as an artist is no less worthy a challenge than all honors classes.  There's so much potential there.

Dedicating 20 hours a week to working on your novel is a huge challenge with so much potential to grow in thought and creativity and technique.

You, my friend, have the potential to be a dreamer.

You have the potential to be someone who changes someone's life with a few words.  Or many words.

You have the potential to be so happy and peaceful.

You have the potential to make amazing friendships.

Potential is not about reaching the highest number on a scale.  No.  The most important things cannot be measured in numbers.  

Perhaps, potential is about fulfilling who you were meant to be.  For some people, that is the academically-driven person whose dream is to go to Harvard and be the top in their class.  But some, they are artists whose dream is to sit for hours alone in a tree dreaming up their next magnificent work.

These people should not have to be judged by the same standard for success.  These potentials, these purposes, are beautiful in their own way.  We should be allowed to pursue them with the same passion, without shame.  Without feeling we are slacking for not holding class rank on a pedestal above our heads and hearts.

These people should not be told find a 'real job, or you won't succeed in your life'.  Artists shouldn't feel guilty for spending time on and prioritizing their art.  Success, my friends, depends entirely on what you're chasing after.

I am not saying we should totally ignore one form of success, because academics are important.  Stay in school, kids.

But Albert Einstein once said, "Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."

The fulfillment of your potential is not determined by a universal standard set by society.  You are much more than a number.  

~ CM

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The 12 Stages of Writing a Poem

The 11 Stages of Writing A Poem
(best done after midnight)

1. I'm never going to write a poem again, I've exhausted all sources of inspiration.  *cries*  #thereisnohope  #preparethefuneralpyre

2. *takes a shower*  *seven seconds later* OH MY GOSH IS THAT INSPIRATION CALLING?  Wat wat wat is this I haven't had an idea in years HELLO DARKNESS MY OLD FRIEND oh no quick gotta write this down before it leaves BUT WAIT WHY PINEAPPLES?  Are they even relevant ACK NEVERMIND DON'T QUESTION THE INSPIRATION oh my gosh why did I choose to shower at this ungodly hour where's a towel *writes 7 complete stanzas and spends next 5 minutes frantically repeating them to not forget *RUNS TO COMPUTER*  *yells at wifi for not immediately working*  *opens a doc* it's 2am? who cares?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?  FOLKS WE'RE BACK IN BUSINESS #theinspirationalqualitiesofrunningwater  #dontcomplainitsinspiration  #sacrficeeverythingforinspiration

3. Ummm - wat is "Title"?  #confused #nevermindinspiration

Also speaking of titles I just really kinda want to find this book and read it???

should have subtitle: "A Writer's Search History".

4.  forget the title ON TO THE FUN STUFF oh my oh my it's coming so quickly MUST GET IT ALL DOWN  *forgets brilliant line from shower musings and cries*  *still remembers like four stanzas*  #racinginspiration  #brainisweird

(I'm the cow, chasing inspiration)  #beinspiredlittlecow

5.  At this point we're stopping after every two words written and reading, starting from the top, everything we've written so far in a dramatic voice with emotional gestures  #soundsgoodsoundsgood  #spokenword

6.  THIS IS. THE MOST BRILLIANT. THING. ever.  *reads it all again* *gives self chills*  hmmmm I should make those business cards after, this is gonna be BIG.  THIS IS MY BEST WORK EVER.  #icanseetheheadlines  #amazing

7. just past the half way point MAY DAY MAY DAY this is sounding forced oh no the inspiration is fading away WAIT WHAT IS THIS POEM ABOUT - PINEAPPLES??!?  you call yourself a writer?  what ever are words?  *goes to facebook to complain and tell the world how she's going to have to use pinterest to get inspiration again*  *goes to pinterest to get inspiration* each word takes an hour and a century  #justkeepswimming  #distractions

8.  rhythm is back, reality still present though, can't tell if genius or "totally lacking theme/style/rhyme/meter/meaning/emotion/words/purpose".

9.  oH MY GOODNESS HOW DO YOU END A POEM  #howdoyoulandaplane  #famouslastwords

10.  #untitledisavalidtitle  #itstrue

11.  DONE.  *sighs in contentment/relief/pride/nervousness*  *READS FROM THE TOP AGAIN*  very proud, quite realistic now, but hopeful.  *must find someone to show but scared  #whatifitstoobad  #whatifitstoogood

12.  INSPIRATION STILL REIGNS.  An hour or two later:  *uses leftover inspiration steam to write  a great blog post about the experience/writing/something random like squirrels*  #musefinallysatisfied  #iwillneverbesatisfied


..............This is basically how writing poems goes for me every time.  I don't usually ask for them, they just come.  Usually late at night, and usually when I'm in the middle of something.  It's a wild ride.

What about you?  How does inspiration sweep your off your feet, and what does your process look like?

Monday, October 3, 2016

Announcement: Writing Workshop!

Exciting writing-related news...

I'm super excited to announce that I will be teaching a writing workshop, starting this Wednesday!  This will take place at the Main Branch of the KCK Library, at 2pm, and is open to all teens.  While excited and totally honored, I'm also nervous!  I've had experience leading a group from the high school writing club I started a few years ago, but this feels like a new step up.

My goal is to bring teen writers in our community together, share our work and help each other improve.  Many people think of writing as a solitary mission, but in all honesty, community is so good for writing.  It's inspiring and encouraging to be around people who share the same passions as you, and to be hearing new material - you learn so much from other writers.

At the workshop, we will do a variety of things, including reading and workshopping our work, talking about specific writing techniques, and spending time actually writing ('cause you know, most of the time we spend "writing" is probably actually something closer to Pinterest and Netflix).

*my brain brainstorming for this thing*
First topic: writing with emotion.

If you live in the Kansas City area, I hope you'll join us!  I'm super excited to meet new writer friends. :)

- Caroline Meek

Do you go to a writing group?  If so, what kind of things do you do? (Help me, I need inspiration-food for this big new thing)  What's the biggest step/risk you've taken in your writing journey?

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Guest Post: Cait Potter, on Her Journey as An Artist

Hey! I’m Cait and I’m guest posting on Caroline’s blog! I’m gonna talk about art and writing and what those things mean to me.  I think it would be important to start with why I became an artist and what art means to me because my experiences have definitely shaped me into the artist I am today.

filename-1 (61).jpg

(CW: self harm)

At the start of last year, about a week before my birthday, I tried to kill myself and I did nearly die. I had a lot of other awful things going on in my life at the time and spending five days in the hospital connected to an IV and heart monitor, being watched 24/7 while I vomited my stomach lining made me feel helpless. It took away any agency I had over my body. One of the AINs assigned to watch me would give me magazines and I would spend hours tracing and drawing the faces of the models in them.  It was then it really clicked for me. I was already a writer and I was also playing around with music but at that moment art really did it for me.  It gave me back some power.  

Since then, art has become my coping method, it’s been my way of dealing with my mental health. Whether I’m hallucinating or if i’m manic or having flashbacks, drawing (and more recently painting) has been something that I can fall back on, in the very least it was a good distraction.

I think this is really important to me, just that experience of drawing and the process of creating a piece of art as a way of coping has helped me get over any comparisons I might make between my art work and others or working through an art block. If I have a pen, if i can use my hands, i know things will be alright.

I think that’s why I could never say that art is just my hobby, it’s more than that, it’s my life, it kept me alive. I’m incredibly serious about it and it’s why I practice as much as I can.

(A painting I’ve recently created for class)

The past year I’ve been studying a diploma of visual art. It’s stressful, having to create for a deadline and a set criteria but I feel more capable in my field than I did last year. I’ve even noticed a huge improvement in my writing. I’ve learned a lot of stuff that I didn’t have the motivation or energy to teach myself last year, I’ve had the opportunity to explore different mediums and to meet other creative people.

People say you don’t have to go to art school and you don’t! It’s not a requirement but for me it’s sped up that process of learning and it’s opened so many opportunities I wouldn’t of had before. I’ve had access to more expensive equipment and mediums, I’ve had professional critique, I’ve had a lot of encouragement from my teachers, hell! It got me out of my house!

I feel as if I’ve become a lot more focused in my art and writing because of it, instead of focusing on 200 odd different ideas, I can connect, expand and create for a few. Producing more concise series of work.  Something which I carried over into my writing, I’ve been focusing on only one of my novels this year instead of three or four.  

Art and writing go hand in hand for me. One is always influenced by the other, whether I’m illustrating a poem or excerpt I’ve written or I’m writing to something I’ve created visually.  I’ve been wanting to write a book like that actually, to add illustrations wherever I please because it would suit the feel of my stories.  

filename-1 (10).jpgfilename-1 (3).jpg

Medium wise I love drawing. I will draw and experiment with anything I can get my hands on.  Painting has become an extension of that this year. I never used to like painting before uni, I think I can definitely pin that down as being because I have an amazing, encouraging teacher for that subject. I’ve become really concerned about my process (not in a bad way!) I’ve been focusing on using the energy and passion I bring to my art to improve and to produce as much as I can while concentrating on the way I use colour and the marks that I use in my drawing and painting.
filename-1 (77).jpg
I’ve been asked about my journals and honestly I think the reason I do it is the same as above, to cope. It helps me organise my thoughts, give them somewhere to go that isn’t just another corner of my brain. I’ve also been asked how I fill mine so quickly and I think, as with everything creativity related, it just took practice. It’s a habit I’ve picked up over the years. I never had that fear of a blank page, all I see is a space that I can fill and make mine. It’s just another space that I can create in and that’s great, even if what I create should be mopped up and thrown out the window.  

I have a lot to say and if I don’t get the chance to say it somewhere it just gets bottled up. And that’s not cool for my mental health.  Better to express everything last thing. And I don’t have to share it with anyone! (except that one guy who stole my notebook -_-)  

tumblr_o8so0hBbIO1ujzu5to1_1280 (1).jpg

Outside of school, I am working on a zine called Trigger warning! It’s a combination of my art and writing that describes the messiness of mental health and trauma in a very non-linear, sometimes intense way! That’s just been printed and I’m going to be releasing it at the exhibit I will be featuring in at the end of the year!

I am also working on my novel Cassowary, something I will hope to complete during Nanowrimo!


I’m rambling on but the advice I’d give to other artists (I’m still young and new at this myself!) use reference! It’s not cheating, in fact a lot of great artists use it and it will help you improve in your practice!

Share your art and support other artists! Your work is important at every stage, the work you have created is just as important as the work you’re creating now and the work you will create. Remember that even if your work doesn’t get many views it’s still important! The worth of your art and your writing isn’t determined by how many people see and like it.

Experiment and have fun,  try new mediums, learn from everything, art shouldn’t be a chore, it should be something good you can come back to after a long day.  

Thanks for stickin' round this long ha! You can catch me and my art endeavours on my instagram!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

linger / / fall artist

most days, artists just want to dip their hands in the paint and never wash it off

it's a kind of therapy, almost

not almost

it's seriously deep therapy

swirling the colors around on your skin until they sink in and color your soul again

everyone needs something that makes them feel alive

there's something about the paint dried on your fingers, stuck to your fingernails, that's just...celestial

i like to imagine that when God created the world, He never washed His hands of the paint that formed our outlines, He loved us so much

that the paint from our souls still lingers on His beautiful hands, and that every day, He looks down and smiles at them

just as i do.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Unexpected Inspirational Qualities of Country Music

So somehow, my country radio, which I listen to in the car sporadically, has inspired me to write again.

After 6 months.

And mind you, this is my W.I.P. Labyrinth, the high-fantasy, combat-heavy, dystopia book.

Not your typical country picnic, yeah?

I'm not questioning it very much right now, though.  I just wrote over a 1000 words in an hour, after being unable to write more than a few hundred for the last half year.

So usually, I listen to battle soundtracks from Lord of the Rings, Narnia, etc. for this kind of writing.  I mean, you kind of need intense music when writing intense scenes with your mythical Minotaur beastie, right?

Now, I'm not one of those people who are violently opposed to country.  I listen to it every once in a while, even sing it sometimes.  I like it for certain moods.  BUT.  I don't think I've ever used it for writing.  

So now, after having a such a productive writing session while listening to the same country song on repeat for 72 minutes, I'm left wondering why it was so effective. 

(By the way, the song was "Doin' What She Likes," by Blake Shelton.)  ;)

What is it about country music that can work so well for writing?  I've come to a few conclusions. 

1) Country music tells a story, too.  

One of my favorite things about country music is that it tells a story, possibly more than any other genre of music is known for.  Each verse contributes to and develops the plot.  The chorus is dynamic, often changing by the end.  There's a change of emotion, twist at the end, realization - something that makes it dynamic.  

So perhaps this helps my writer brain get into the storytelling mood, too?  It's basically like listening to a 4-minute plot model condensed into a few verses passionate about trucks, drinks, and women.  A great example, really.

2) Country music has real emotion.

Those country haters out there may disagree. But honestly, these lyrics hold a lot of emotion.  There is clear desire  present in every song.  The singer is obviously motivated, has a goal, regrets something, etc.  In my case, the emotion in the song made me want to write a scene with those emotions in my own story.  I'm not even sure how it came into my head, because I haven't thought seriously about Labyrinth for a few months, or even tried to work on it.  But I just found myself being able to connect to the emotions in these songs, even if I hadn't experienced that truck myself.  And then somehow, I was thinking of my characters and for the first time in forever (SIIIIIIIING MY FRENS, LET IT GO AND JUST SIIIIIIING), I wanted to play around with them and write something.

-   -   -   -

...Is it even grammatically legal to have a list with only two things on it?  Oh well, that's about all I can figure out about it at the moment, and I think it gets to the heart of the situation.  I have no idea if this new inspiration will last beyond tonight, but I'm grateful for it right now, in this moment.  I've been trying to worry less about the future lately.  Months without writing inspiration has made me realize I shouldn't force it.  Sometimes it goes away for a while.  

And then sometimes, it just pops back up again, out of no where?  (Honestly, I haven't been believing that myself lately.  I've been started to wonder if I should even be trying to write books at all.  It's hard to go without inspiration for that long.)  But apparently, it really can just come back "just like that" sometime.  

So if you're waiting around for inspiration, that's just fine.  It's lovely.  Keep waiting for a while.  Bake some cookies while you wait, or something. But don't give up on a dream.

Dreams are precious things.  

~Sincerely, your dream
Keep dreaming, my friends, and listen to country music.  

Or at least, consider listening to a completely different genre than what you're actually writing.  See what happens.  ;)

(P.S.  This country music is amazing.  One night alone and it inspired 1000 words on the WIP and an 800-word post.  xD  10/10 would listen on repeat again for 5 million years.)

Are you a country music fan?  No?  Has anyone else had a heavenly break-though with country music, or am I a lonely penguin in this cruel writing world?  What do you usually listen to when writing?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

A (Probably Unnecessary) Post on My Guest Post Experience!

Is it bad self-promotion to call your own post unnecessary?

OH well.

I've just written my first guest blog post.  Very interesting experience.

First off, I knew from the start, although the amazing Hannah White gave me at least a month's notice, that I was going to write it either last minute....or late.  Sure enough, last night, minutes before the deadline, I messaged her like, um hey oops I'm a terrible person please don't kill me but....

Of course, Hannah's so awesome she couldn't be angry, but I was like, darn, I've done it again.

Then I got a burst of inspiration and went and wrote something TOTALLY DIFFERENT THAN WHAT I'D TOLD HER ORIGINALLY.

Then I titled it this absurdly long title that honestly broke all the title rules.

My transgressions so far: late, lying about topics, offending the Title Fairies....yikes.  Bad start, Caroline.  This guest post stuff is hard.

I believe I ended up making up for it by writing a killer post with the fuel from my rare burst of inspiration, so that's great.  The endeavor wasn't totally in ruins.

A few things I learned from my first guest post?
1)  Do it before the night before.
2)  Give yourself freedom to write about what you need to at the moment, when the inspirations.  Don't tie yourself down to a topic unless the person has specifically gotten you to write on that thing.
3)  Have fun with it cause BLOGGING'S AWESOME.


(Notice there's nothing about titles in that last.  I obviously learned no lessons there, 10/10 will keep making necessarily long titles and laughing at the protestors.)

Where to find this long-fought-for labor of genius?

Hannah White's blog, !


My utmost thanks for your patience.

Hannah writes about writing, faith, etc......very much my bloggy twin.

And now that I've told you what a terrible guest poster I am, anyone want to exchange a guest post or two? :)

Stay tuned!


PS - tomorrow I will officially adult!!!! Woah. That's the first time I've ever typed that and it's really weird. ##18

Have you ever guest-posted? Any *interesting* experiences?

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Be a Sieve.

I'm often in a hole.

Some time in my life where I don't know what's going on and whatever it is, I don't like it.  Tears and darkness and such.  Really deep, dark holes.

Often, I focus my whole existence on getting out of these holes.  I can't thrive inside there.  I can't create until I'm out in the sunlight again.  Then, when I'm stuck in these pits for weeks, months - I'm totally disabled.  I can't function.

But I'm starting to realize that I need to have more trust while I'm floundering in these holes.  Did I ever consider that maybe I'm supposed to be in here?  Was thriving in the dark ever an option?

After all, my favorite verse is Jeremiah 29:11.  "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."  Doesn't that say that God is in control and knows what's going on?  Shouldn't I trust him with my very life, my everyday?   When I'm in the hole, it's easy to forget.

The reality, though, is that even the dark times have a purpose.  Think about the story of Daniel in the lion's den (Daniel 6).

God did the biggest miracles in the pit.

In a deep, dark, sealed pit full of lions.

That story wouldn't be half as powerful above ground, in the safety of the light.  Without the hole and the lions, there wasn't much to save Daniel from.  God used these things to bring a whole nation to know Him.  Because of the miracle, the king believed.

When you're in a dark pit, don't lie down and let the monsters consume you.  Wait on God, and thrive in the dark.  Rejoice wherever you are.  Don't wait to feel better before you seek God, make art, etc.  Live in the place you are - really live.  Because you are alive.

“For he is the living God
    and he endures forever;
his kingdom will not be destroyed,
    his dominion will never end.

He rescues and he saves;
    he performs signs and wonders
    in the heavens and on the earth.
He has rescued Daniel
    from the power of the lions.”  
                                (Daniel 6:26-27)

Take heart, these struggles will not be in vain.  You will come out with more than you had before, not less.

It's okay to be a sieve, sometimes.

Full of holes, seemingly useless - but God puts you through it anyway.  He knows you'll come out better, more pure.  More whole.

You'll have a story to tell, people to inspire, and an even better love of the light.

My dear friends, don't be afraid of the dark.  Embrace it and trust that someday, the sun will rise again.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Pantsers: How to Not Wander Blindly in Your Own Plot

Hey there, fellow writing penguins.  Haven't done a writing post in a while.  

But I sat down to write on LABYRINTH, so of course, I became inspired to do anything other than that.  So here we have a post.  (Note to self: Attempt to write on LABYRINTH more often.)

I am a pantser, for the most part, when it comes to writing.  (As opposed to a plotter.  For those of you unfamiliar with this term, plotters plan their writing out beforehand, while pantser just by the seat of their pants.)

A side note: I still haven't found my happy medium with this, judging by the number of WIPs I have been unable to finish.  I am probably actually a plotter, or some delicate mix of the two.  Plantser.  Anyway.

For the pantsers out there: do you ever find yourself absolutely lost in what you're writing?  And not in a good way.  I'm talking, your character just fell from a three-story building, you didn't know that was going to happen, and you suddenly have no idea what to do next.  And you sit down to write, but find yourself on youtube watching videos of giraffes.  Later you sit down to write again, and suddenly you realize that you haven't been writing, you're actually parachuting off the Eiffel Tower!  Silly you.

Sometimes writing is like being a penguin and tripping over the cold, unforgiving snow.

It's hard to keep writing when you lose your grip on your plot.

Unlike my title suggests, I'm not going to give you all the answers to staying on track.  (Sorry, I'm not Dumbledore.  Or Gandalf.)

But I do have one tip.

Write ahead of yourself.

I don't mean the end, or a whole outline - but just write a small scene ahead of the point that you're at.  

It's not really even planning.  It's just deciding something is going to happen there, and tentatively writing it in.  Write the scene out.  Just like, 100-500 words.  

Then go back to your current place and start writing.  You haven't planned out what you're going to write, but now you have a point to right to.  A goal - you must get to that scene, whether it takes one chapter, two lines of dialogue, or half the book.  

This has helped me stop wandering so much as a pantser.  It lets me stay free while at the same time having a direction.  

So next time your MC is bleeding out on the floor and you probably have seconds to decide on a way to save her before she bleeds to death, fast forward a bit.  Save a life or two. (Hers, and yours.)

Are you a plotter or a pantser?  Do you ever get hopelessly lost?  What do you do to keep on track with your plot?  

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Everything Blog

The post's title would probably be a more accurate title for this blog.

I mean, yes, I loosely stick to the writing and book and life themes, but even those are a wide range in themselves!

Past topics on this blog have included:

and so on.  

(Heehee, it was fun going through all of those.  I also realized that I've been blogging for 7 years??)

It's not, on first glance, a cohesive list of subjects. 

But they always scream caring-ly at me, "Blog for you! Do it for yourself! Don't let people put you in a box!"

So I did.  And consider yourself screamed at as well.  If you blog, or write, you shouldn't let someone else dictate what you're doing. (See: robot)

But I've also heard whispers that you should keep your blog consistent.  Like, don't be talking about your fascination for tacos and your budding writing career at the same exact time.  


It probably depends on the blog.  Many people do want a blog focused on one or two main things, and that can provide a very nice place for other people who are looking for that exact thing! No sorting through chinchilla posts to get to the book reviews.  

But I ended up with an Everything Blog.  It definitely reflects who I am.  It lets me talk about whatever I want to without shocking my readers.  I'm happy with the variety.  So don't be afraid to run a blog with no set topic!  I don't, and it hasn't sunk my ship yet.

I mean, my BLOG TITLE says this thing is about "Stars", but I don't think I've actually ever talked about stars.  I just like stars, okay?

And finally, I've been thinking a lot about appreciation this week.  So if you're reading this, thank you.  It means a lot that people listen. :) *huggssssss*

What's your opinion of an Everything Blog?  Do YOU have an Everything Blog?  Is your blog secretly trying to become one, without your consent?  

Is there anything you'd like me to post more of (after we just finished talking about how NO ONE CAN CONTROL ME) ;) (I actually am curious though)

Sunday, July 3, 2016

"Off My Grass!" The Real Meaning of That Acronym (Series): OMG

Do you ever look at an acronym and just wonder: "What in the world does that mean???!!!??!"  Or maybe you've been told what it means, but long for a deeper meaning than the lame universal one?

This post is for you.

OMG = Olivia's My Gramma

Somehow, this one seems to make a lot of sense?  I'm not sure why?

OMG = Off My Grass!

You probably got this a lot as a child if your neighbor was a stereotypical movie/comic neighbor. 

OMG = Oregon Makes Glitter

I hear it's really high quality glitter, too.

OMG = Oh! Many Goats!

This is what you say when a herd of goats randomly walks down the street.  Or if you're alone in a deserted area, then realize you're not alone...

That's a seriously tough goat who thinks he can take on a car.  *applause*

OMG = Orange Monkeys Gallup

Have you ever seen this?  It should definitely be on your bucket list.  The 19th Wonder of the World, according to some.

OMG = Orangutans Maim Giraffes 

A tragic fluke of nature.

OMG = Objects (of) Mass Gratification

Those things that make you really happy.  Like when you look out the window and you realize it's not the end of the world.  Or when you find chocolate stashed in your winter coat pocket.

OMG = Obfuscating Majestic Gramophones

Those things you find in your attic and they look great but you're not really sure what to do with them.

OMG = Or My Grapes

This is good to use when you are considering eating your strawberries but aren't fully committed to that plan yet.

Well, now you know.

What else could OMG stand for?  Will you be using any of these explanations now?

Off-my-grass, you definitely should.