Are You Talented?

I don’t have very many talents that I can physically show people. I was never good at sports, I don’t have any trophies, and if you asked me to type with two hands I’d laugh. So there are lots of talents I wish I had but don’t. Not to put myself down, I am good at other things, like reading, listening, working with kids, being compassionate and typing with one hand. But I can’t really challenge someone to a listening contest–I think I’d die of boredom!

In the theme of practice makes perfect, I am teaching myself how to knit this semester!

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For one of my education classes we have to teach ourselves something new so we can more fully understand the struggles our students go through as they learn their letters and how to read. I’m supposed to keep a mini-journal on how I learn and how I feel while I learn. One of my roommates knows how to knit so I might ask her for help, but I think I’m going to try and youtube it before I ask. I was never good at asking for help…I guess this will be good because not all of my students will find asking for help easy either.

I want to create an atmosphere in my classroom where hard work is valued and complimented, rather than just “smarts” because there is a difference and I know I never found being smart easy like a lot of my peers growing up. No one wants to seem dumb, but asking for help does not equal stupidity. Being naturally good at math is great, but learning is about being challenged, and all students need to practice to reach their full potential.

Elementary classroom setting.  Focus on teacher and chalkboard.

What are some talents you wish you had but don’t? Are those talents that you can physically show people, or are the more abstract? Can you type with two hands, or am I the only one challenged by the keyboard? Have a great week and leave your answers in the comments!

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Meet Mandy

I’m currently taking a fiction class at school and I wrote a dialogue centered piece, which I don’t usually do, but I had a lot of fun writing it. I’ve give you a brief run-down on the character I’ve created for that class,  I like the way she’s turned out so far. If you have any suggestions about how to flesh my character out or make her more relatable/genuine, I’d love to hear them so post your ideas in the comments!

Character Composite:

Character name: Amanda (Mandy)

Date of Birth: 08/15/1999, held back a year in school due to her dyslexia so she’s in eighth grade

Place of Birth: Palmyra, Missouri (still lives there, on a farm with her family)

Physical attributes: Tall (5’7) and gangly, long legs, Caucasian (gets really tan in the summer because she spends all her time at the pool–desperately wants to be a lifeguard), cloudy green eyes, round face, long light brown hair (but turns dirty blonde in the summer), swimmers body (on swim team)

Some likes: Swimming, reading, Helping her dad bale hay/do chores around the farm (collect eggs from the chicken coop, feed cows, ect.)

Some dislikes: homework, her sister, family dinner

Dialogue:

“Amanda, you’ve been here all afternoon and you still haven’t finished your chores at home.”

Mandy rolled her eyes, wondering how long it would take to swim 400 miles away from here.

“That was for the swim meet, it doesn’t count and I have, like, two more things to do at home and I promise I’ll do them when I get back! Besides, the pool’s only open a few more hours, I’ll be home by eight!”

Her mom raised a carefully filled-in eyebrow and pursed her lips.

“You, young lady, will be home in time for supper—six thirty on the dot, at the table, hands washed, grace said. It’s a sit down meal tonight and no one is getting out of it, not you and not your father.”

Mandy spotted the opening and took it,

“So I can stay if I’m home in time for dinner?”

Her mom sighed,

“Yes, but make sure you are home on time or you’ll have twice as many chores tomorrow. I’ll go talk to Kelsey’s mom to make sure you have a ride home.”

Mandy grinned,

“Thanks mom, you’re the best!”

She waved as Mandy jumped back into the pool,

“Don’t forget to reapply your sunscreen!”

I Don’t Want to Find Myself

I never change, I become myself. -Joyce Carol Oates

This six word quote sums up my foreseeable future. College is all about “finding yourself”, blah, blah, blah, I know, I know. Image But I don’t want to find myself, I want to become myself…do you see the difference? The first infers that you have a self currently, but you want to find a new one. I like who I am at the moment and I don’t want to find a new self that is apparently my real self? The latter describes a process that you probably won’t know is taking place, like growing into that bra you bought in a moment of overconfidence with your friends. Personally, I like the idea of becoming yourself, it takes a lot of the pressure off. I’m never going to wake up one day, look and the mirror and be like, “Oh! There you are!”. Life is not a chick flick, no matter how much we try to make it or imagine it to be like one. every-chick-flick I’m not the same person I was freshman year, but I haven’t found myself, I’ve just become more of myself. And I plan on continuing to grow–I have small boobs, trust me, I have lots of time. I have no idea what my future will look like (okay, well, I plan on graduating college, but after that all bets are off), but I do know that change will be a constant. I plan on taking one day at a time and one day when I look back in 20 years I’ll laugh and shake my head at all the things I got wrong. But in 20 years I will not be the same, I will just be more myself. And that sounds like a great plan to me. What do you think about “finding yourself”? Are you more about the process or the destination? Looking back at your younger self, what is one thing you’d tell them about your future self? Leave your answers in the comments and have a great week!

I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie

To congratulate myself on surviving the week I took a trip to Barnes and Noble, which is one of my favorite places. The smell of a good paper back, mixed in with a waft of coffee and ink, is one of the best smells.

Pic by me
Picture taken by me

My favorite section is the fantasy section. I love dragons and goblins and magic. But not only is fantasy a fun genre, it is a genre that should be taken seriously. It is a sad fact that most people see fantasy as a “lesser” genre than fiction or non-fiction. While there are a lot of…poorly written fantasy novels, it shouldn’t rule out fantasy as a solid, adult genre.

In order to create a “good” piece of literature, author’s need to engage their audience. Tolkien says that, “part of the magic [the fey] wield for the good or evil of man is power to play on the desires of his body and his heart”. For any piece of literature to be appealing it must speak to the desires of its reader. Fantasy authors not only create plots and characters that are relatable and touch on basic human desires, but they also create new worlds in which these scenarios take place.

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Art by Josephine Wall

Creating worlds is a huge task for anyone, let alone a writer. The genre of fantasy gives its readers precise and colorful worlds that enchant and delight. But while the world may seem all about the entertainment value, it also causes the readers to change their perspective and look at everything differently than they would if the plot was playing out on Earth. This enables authors to present scenarios that you might find touchy if written about via fiction. In different worlds with different people, readers can put ideas such as race or sexuality in a different light and come to their own conclusions. Fantasy calls for its readers to expand their minds and broaden their perceptions of what is and isn’t reality.

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In fantasy, magic is a key element (and my favorite element) of what makes a world fantastic. Tolkien says that no matter what the aim of the story is, be it “satire, adventure, or morality”, the one thing that will break the fantasy aspect is if the magic is made fun of. In order for the tale to be viewed as literature for adults the “story must be taken seriously, neither laughed at nor explained away”.  When I read fantasy, I love getting sucked into new worlds with strange new people and ideas. It takes me for a wild ride and leaves me breathless, wondering how I could have ever been satisfied with mediocrity.

Picture taken by me
The book is called Dies the Fire by S.M. Sterling–Picture taken by me

I bought a new book at Barnes and Noble today–I hope it leaves me breathless and excited and exasperated with normality…and the best part: it’s a series.

Do you have any favorite books/genres that leave you breathless or books you’re excited to read? What makes your heart beat fast with anticipation? Leave your answers below in the comments!

Fortress

She opened her eyes to the sky
and wind and loneliness—
where the bench in the park was empty
and her voice echoed
off the walls of the tree house,
a solitary monument to the past.

Forgotten and shrouded in rusted ivy,
it was smaller than she remembered
and smelled like
dust particles floating in the sun;
she remembers your face
from the beginning, you were the first,
a footstep on the moon.

Raising her hand to wipe the cobwebs away
she coughs as dust fills the air, almost ready
to leave, go back.
But the moonlight winks at her
through the stars and for a second
she knows what it is to smile.

Bracing against the wooden beam she stands
and looks out into the night,
a small breeze rustling the strands of hair on her forehead;
The air is dark and cold, and she can barely see
the path leading home, now just a fading
crease in the dirt
she used to know
by heart.

Lifting her face to the sky, she gasps
when the moon reaches out to take her hand,
but she likes the feel of stardust on her eyelids
and moonbeams in her hair,
so she holds its hand tight
and prays,

Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight,
I wish I may, I wish I might
have the wish I wish tonight.

Standing on tiptoes she opens her eyes to the sky
and wind and loneliness–
where the bench is still empty
but her voice permeates the walls of the tree house,
a solitary monument in the park.

Erica for Always Ruler!

What would you name your kid, if you had one? My parents were torn between Robin, and Erica as baby names, but my mom didn’t like unisex names so Erica won out in the end. My parents like the sound of a hard C, and so my siblings names also had that sound in their names: Kaitlin and Jacob. I don’t think I’ll choose my kids name by sound, I like the meaning behind names a lot, I think it’s very interesting.

Erica is the feminine form of Eric and was first used in the 18th century. It also coincides with the Latin word for “Heather”. So I guess that means I technically have two names, Heather and Erica. I don’t know how I feel about that. I thought my name was one thing but now it turns out it actually two–“Oh, I’m Erica, but you can call me Heather if you want. No it’s not a nickname, it’s just my other name.” Erica, you have betrayed me!

I also looked up my name on a less serious baby name website and discovered that my name means “Always ruler”…I don’t know if always ruler is grammatically correct (always a ruler? A ruler for always?), but I guess the gist is I should be President. I can get behind that–dark chocolate and ice cream for everyone!!

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What does your name mean? Do you wish your parents had named you something different? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Vote for Erica/Heather for President in the upcoming 2016 election!!