Archive | March, 2012

A New Blog Look And My Writing Journey.

31 Mar

“Everything you’re ashamed of, all the parts of yourself that you keep secret, everything you want to change about yourself – it’s who you are. That’s your power. Deny it and you’re nothing.”-Fame

Last night after I watched Fame (the 2003 version…sorry to disappoint), I was messing around on WordPress and decided to change the look of my blog, while also adding a few widgets (or the various things located along my sidebar). I added a countdown to Ireland. As many of you know, I’m studying abroad in Ireland this summer, and I just had to have a countdown. I’ve also got one on my computer that’s broken down in days (it’s 87 days, by the way). That seems so crazy. 87 days until I’m in Galway, Ireland. WHAT?! Ah, so so cool.

Anyway, I’m happy for a new look on here, and I hope you all enjoy it as well. I figured it was time for some change, especially since it’s Spring. Also, in terms of change, I feel like I have changed a lot since beginning this blog back in November. As crazy as it seems, I began this blog 5 months ago. I’ve blogged every single day for the past 5 months. How cool! However, I owe it to all of my amazing followers who’ve given me nothing but support and encouragement. Really, all of you are so awesome!

I feel like I’m a very different person than I was back in November. When I began this blog, I didn’t really know where it would lead. At the time, I didn’t know that in 5 short months I would have established “Tuesday’s Tunes,” “Photo Fridays,” and above all, the beginning of my first novel, a memoir of sorts. I was thinking today about the journey my writing has taken. I haven’t ever been in touch with my own writing as I have since beginning my novel at the end of January. Though I’ve always had a love of writing (despite a 2 year hiatus when I was trying to figure out what I wanted out of life…which I still don’t quite know the answer to), it hasn’t always been this raw, this natural, this true. A lot of what I wrote growing up was fiction: mostly short stories and some poetry too. There were a few times I attempted writing about my own struggles when I was younger, but back then, I didn’t fully understand everything. I still had so many more questions to answer and tons of obstacles to work through. Also, I wasn’t mature enough yet to attempt to understand the reasoning behind my own emotions that I felt as I was going through all my surgeries and physical therapy sessions. However, that doesn’t mean that I’ve got it all figured out now. I definitely don’t. Writing this book is a journey. A journey filled with pain, fear, love, hope, and dreams. And it’s a journey I finally want to take (which has not always been the case).

It’s exciting to know that I’ve reached this point. Yes, the entire process of writing this book will have its ups and downs, but right now, during one of the high points, I’m finding happiness in the fact that I’ve finally found my voice. I’ve found my voice in the sense of finally knowing how I want to share my story. Through writing, yes. But for a while I didn’t know what I wanted my voice to sound like for future readers. However, I’ve begun to understand that there’s only one thing I want my voice to be: authentic. If I’m writing about a memory that’s sad or emotionally hard, I’ll cry through it. If I’m writing about a memory that makes me angry, I’ll be angry. The only way my readers are going to be able to feel all the emotions I went through is if I shed every tear and let out the anger right along with them.

Photo Friday: Spring Buds.

30 Mar

I captured this photo last weekend when I was on the Blue Ridge Parkway with friends. It reminded me, as Spring always does, that change is necessary for further growth and progress, even if it’s scary or painful at first. Happy Friday everyone! ūüôā

True Writing Lies In Vulnerability.

29 Mar

“Your task is not to seek love, but to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”-Rumi

I came across this quote by Rumi this morning, and for a while, I just sat and stared at it. Do you ever come across those quotes that seem to say what’s in your heart better than you’re able to say it yourself? Well, this quote did that for me this morning. Through the process of writing my book, I’ve broken down a lot of barriers inside myself. Barriers that housed the pain, the fear, the details of the really hard memories. Now that the barriers are slowly being bulldozed to the ground, my true self is showing. I kept so much hidden for so long, and now that everything’s being exposed, I feel so vulnerable. It’s scary to think that through my writing everyone will be able to see so much more. They’ll see all the pieces, rather than just the parts that are relatively put together.

Though allowing others to see all that I went through is a big part of writing this book, it means that I’m pouring out every memory, every ounce of pain and fear, to put myself in an extremely vulnerable position. Last year in my Freshman English class, my professor (Dr. Cox), who is now one of my writing mentors, pointed out that reaching the point of vulnerability in our writing was the best place to connect with others, and ultimately, who we truly are. Dr. Cox also told me that writing isn’t “true” unless it costs the writer something. Though I understand what Dr. Cox means, it’s scary to know that by sharing so many details of my life, strangers are going to get a picture of who I truly am, inside and out. Though I have no doubt that putting myself in a vulnerable position will allow others to better connect with who I truly am, I feel like I’ll no longer have certain memories that are mine and mine alone.

However, through this book, I want to connect. I want to show other kids and families that have kids with Cerebral Palsy that they are not alone. I want to show them that I’ve been there and I understand. However, to do that I must break down all these walls in order to share the memories that will put me in the most vulnerable position possible. However, though vulnerability is scary, it’s also raw, true and the most honest portrayal of myself I can provide to my readers.

A Writing Day.

28 Mar

There is no greater tragedy than bearing an untold story inside you.-Maya Angelou

And with that, I’m off to work on my book. Happy Wednesday everyone!

Tuesday’s Tunes And Advice From A Writing Mentor

27 Mar

I keep up with one of my writing mentors, Mike, pretty regularly. Recently, I’ve told him how the progress on my book is going and the different feelings I’ve been having. I thought I’d share what I sent to him and what he replied:

From Me to Mike:¬†Though writing this book has been incredibly therapeutic, I’ve found¬†that it has also caused me to bury deeper into myself. Though that is¬†good in terms of growing individually and learning more about myself,¬†it also creates a sense of loneliness that I know many writers¬†struggle with. Though I have support from friends and family, they¬†don’t quite understand the ability to get so lost in words that¬†reality seems far away. Though many years ago I used to welcome the¬†escape from reality that writing provided for me, now it seems to be¬†more detrimental than beneficial.
There are days when I’m just lost in the words, in the memories, and¬†climbing out takes more strength than simply sitting among the¬†memories. It’s hard to plunge into shades of¬†grey to write out my feelings. Then again, the only way to do this¬†sort of thing is to just write. Write to breathe, to communicate, to¬†connect, to truly live. The urge that I have to write in order to¬†survive is strong, though sometimes being “in the dark place” for too¬†long can be frightening. However, I’ve come to realize that in those¬†places….the places of total fear and memories…are the places that¬†I’ll be able to come face to face with who I truly am.
Through my writing, I’ve finally found my voice, which is something I¬†remember you telling me the importance of a few years ago. Often times, people are¬†surprised when they read some of my work only to find out that I’m as young as I am.¬†However, though I am told how mature I am at my age, I remember that I¬†came face to face with the reality of life at a very young age: the¬†reality that life is hard and that the most important¬†things one can achieve in life are never easy.¬†Can you relate to any of this? The dark places…the shades of¬†grey…the loneliness? How have you handled it?

From Mike To Me:¬†My friend Tom Poland, who has made his living as a writer, thinks all good¬†writers are flawed individuals; whether from an internal defect or something¬†traumatic that happened in their life. I don’t necessarily agree, but a lot¬†of us are. No one else quite understands how the process affects us. Other¬†writers all understand the loneliness.
I am by nature a positive person and see the humor even in the darkest of times. I also find that writing about those dark days, times, and feelings is therapeutic for me. We all have dark days, periods of nothingness, and insecurity.
People who want to write, to open up their heart, put it on display and allow others to pass judgment on what is written, are different from the rest. If you want to write, whether you eventually become recognized or paid for the effort, you must have some of those feelings. Writers are more introspective, see things differently, and analyze events and feelings different from other people.
I have had a relatively simple and ordinary life. You have suffered and¬†endured more already than I have in my whole life so far. I can’t begin to¬†relate to what it must be to try and dig up some of the things you find deep¬†inside. I do think it is important to do it, even if no one ever reads it¬†but you (and hopefully me). The writing is the important part. It begins to¬†take shape as you sweat over every word and you become stronger with each¬†deeply hidden scrap you uncover.
Guy Clark wrote a song recently called Hemingway’s Whiskey, about the art of¬†writing. It is simple as are most of his songs. Kenny Chesney recorded a¬†version on the Lucky Old Sun album. Listen to an old man’s version of what¬†you are feeling and stay in touch with me.
I am with you all the way and know what you are feeling. I am also extremely proud of you, as if you were one of my own. Keep digging and keep me informed.

Words cannot express the gratefulness I have towards Mike for always being truthful when it comes to the art of writing, while also being supportive and giving me the push I need to believe in myself. I’ve struggled with believing in myself for quite some time, and when I can see how much others believe in me, it gives me a spark of hope….a small glimpse that maybe the dream of sharing my story with the world could one day become a reality. However, like Mike said, writing is the important part (no matter if it’s published or not). I understand what he means by that, especially since so many times he’s reminded me how therapeutic the simple act of writing is. The knowledge that I’ll be a stronger person after I’ve uncovered all that has been hidden is another motivator, another push to keep on writing until all I feel is relief and joy.

Giving In To The Hunger Games.

26 Mar

Yesterday I went to see The Hunger Games with my friend Malia. She had read the books, and I hadn’t. However, after seeing the movie…and really liking it, I’ve finally decided to give in to all of this Hunger Games hub-bub that has swept through the book world so rapidly. For a while, I was against reading The Hunger Games series because the series I associate my generation with is the Harry Potter series. Harry Potter and the greatness of JK Rowling will always win out, in my opinion.

However, I do understand the draw of The Hunger Games. Teens these days need a new set of heroes, a new set of characters to look up to since the Harry Potter books are all over (as are the movies). In my opinion, magical wizards going to a school of magic and trying to defeat a dark wizard is much more exciting than just watching a bunch of teens participate in a set of games in which the object is to kill each other, but hey…I’m not the one publishing these books. So, take that up with book publishers, not me.

But yes, I’ve given in to the pressure. Though I have no doubt that I will enjoy the series, I’ll be happy to return to the book world of love stories, psychological fiction, and just regular popular fiction. There’s only so much pre-teen drama I can take!

Become Aware.

25 Mar

I went to my first early morning meditation class today at Asheville Community Yoga. Even though it was raining most of the day, it was nice to be leaving campus before much of the campus was awake. I love the quiet that comes with the rain in the mountains, and I’m happy I got to experience it “by myself” this morning. There were only me and 3 other people at ACY for the early morning meditation (not including Michael, the instructor), which was actually kind of nice. For the first part of the class, we spent time “waking up our bodies” so that when we sat for meditation we’d be awake and focused. The beginning exercises felt good, especially the stretches and the movements that allowed us to make our bodies feel as comfortable as possible (like massaging our neck and back).

We then sat down, and we began by counting our breaths. We’d inhale and count 1-2-3 and then count again on the exhale. After about 5 or 6 breaths this way, Michael rang a bell in order to signal the beginning of our meditation. Michael said that we’d sit and meditate for 20 minutes, and then the ringing of the bell would indicate the end of the meditation. Michael reminded us throughout to concentrate on our breath when we started to get lost/when our mind began to wander. In the beginning, I thought that 20 minutes of sitting and breathing would feel like forever. However, it wasn’t as hard as I thought. Though I did have to return to counting my breaths a good bit, the experience was quite eye-opening.

Through the simple act of sitting and breathing in and out, I became more aware of myself….more aware of my body…and more aware of the world around me. It was a great way to start my morning, especially since I felt refreshed and prepared to begin my day of studying and homework. I can’t wait to go back in a week!

I hope you all have had a happy Sunday.