1.31.2014

Trust Me [Fiction on Friday, 3]

Holy moly! Not only is it already Friday...but it's also the last day of January! The first month of 2014 has come and gone...and in a flash too!

With our favorite day of the week comes another installment of fiction. Again, it's a continuation of the first two parts, so make sure to read those here and here.

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Trust Me

The walk to my car is an awkward one.

I offer to carry one of his bags, but he insists that he is okay. I can't help but smirk when he refuses my help...it's such a typical action for him. Always so independent and unwilling to admit to any weakness whatsoever.

"I haven't stopped thinking about you, Riley..."

It was the first sentence to escape his lips after we  had pulled away from our lingering hug. I hadn't known how to respond, so I didn't.

"I'm parked out this way," I had changed the subject, bobbing my head in the direction of the parking lot.

We walk at a swift pace, minding our personal space so that we don't brush hands or bump into one another. I can't figure out why I'm trying so hard not to touch him. I realize that it's not because I don't want to, and the thought bothers me.

He left me. I should want nothing to do with him. Yet...here I am.

The automatic doors open and we step out into the warm evening. He suddenly halts, closing his eyes and taking in a big, dramatic breath.

"There's nothing like Florida humidity," he says, smiling in my direction.

I roll my eyes. "You've got that right...as long as you mean nothing quite as terrible," I reply with a hint of sarcasm in my voice and resume walking.

"No, I'm serious!" He argues as he jogs to catch up with me. "The air out there...in Seattle...it's not the same. Trust me."

Trust me...

The words nearly stop me in my tracks, but I force myself to keep walking.

My mind is plummeting into the past once again...to one of our first dates. He had been begging me to go canoeing on the river with him, and I had finally agreed.

I can feel the sun beating down on the back of my neck. The smells of tanning oil and bug spray invade my senses. I remember being so nervous sitting in front of him in that little boat. I didn't like that I couldn't see his face, although I could feel his gaze on me as we paddled.

"Tell me something I don't know about you," he had said, flicking the end of his paddle and splashing me with a fine spray of cool river water.

"Well," I say turning over my shoulder to look at him, "I don't typically venture out into uncharted waters with strange boys that I barely know."

He gasps dramatically, shaking his head at me. His sandy hair was so shaggy and I was mesmerized by the way that the sun illuminated every unkempt strand.

"I'm insulted, Riley. I really am..." he replies jokingly. I smile at him and return back to rowing.

I hear the clank of a paddle against metal and I can tell he is attempting to stand up by the way that the canoe wavers. I look back just as he takes a flying leap over the edge of the canoe. His splash soaks me and he laughs at my surprised expression as he bobs to the surface.

I pull my own paddle into the boat. "Are you crazy?" I ask him. "There are alligators in there!"

"Only small, friendly ones...with large teeth," he says, grinning as he swims up to the side of the canoe and props his arms up on the side. The boat tilts and I panic.

His cold hand gently wraps around my arm. "Come for a swim with me...nothing in here is going to hurt you, I promise."

"No, I really don't think-----"

In one swift movement he pulls me over the side of the canoe and I'm in the water, sputtering and flailing. A mixture of panic and confusion surfaces and I try to get back to the canoe.

He is laughing and I can feel the heat in my face, despite the cool temperature of the water. I try to pull myself into the boat, only to slip back into the water. His laughter continues, and I glare at him.

He moves closer to me. "I'm sorry Riley, I really am. I just wanted you to take a little swim with me."

I want to cross my arms and pout, but all of my limbs are required to tread the ten feet of water that I'm currently floating in.

He reaches out and tenderly holds my face in his hands. Our noses are just a couple of inches apart.

"Look, you're safe right here. Nothing is going to happen. In a couple of minutes, I will help you back into the canoe and we will be on our way...and not nearly as hot and sweaty."

I force myself to make eye contact with him. His brown eyes look even darker against the tea-colored river water. Something about his expression helps my breathing to slow and I am able to relax a little.

He smiles at me, and I manage to smile back.

"Do you trust me?" he asks softly, still holding my face.

I nod slowly, so as not to break our eye contact.

He kisses me. Our first kiss. His lips are wet, and cool, and soft. For a couple of minutes, I didn't even think about where we were...let alone about the river creatures that were potentially swimming below our feet.

"Riley? Earth to Riley...."

His voice brings me back to reality and I look at him, slightly embarrassed.

He laughs his goofy laugh. "You just walked straight past your car..." he says motioning towards my old red Pontiac.

"Oh..." I say blushing as I move to unlock the trunk for his bags. I suddenly feel extra vulnerable. There's no way he knows what I was thinking about, I remind myself.

I climb into the car and he joins me after shutting the trunk.

"So, where to?" I ask.

1.30.2014

Beautiful Things


I have an obsession with the sky.

The camera roll on my cell phone is full of random snapshots of the sky. The morning sky, the evening sky, the night sky, stormy skies, sunny skies...you name it, it's captured on my phone somewhere. I especially notice the sunsets on my way home from work every day. Sometimes they are so perfect that I get antsy sitting at red lights, because I just want to get home, run upstairs, and grab my camera. It's always a good day when I can end it by standing outside of my house and sneak pictures of the day's last light.

I think it's the diversity that I am amazed by. We live underneath the same sky every single day and night, yet...it never looks the same twice. The colors always show in such a variety. Some days the palette is muted, full of deep blues and greys. Other days, it's full of bright yellows and pinks that seem almost neon at first look. Some days the sun shines hot and vibrant, forcing you to squint as you step outside. Other days, black clouds produce sheets of water that stretch as far as your eyes can see.

Taking time to seriously appreciate the many states of the sky always seems to put things into perspective for me. It reminds me that even when my problems are many, they are still only a small portion of what is going on in my world and the lives of those around me. It is a representation of all things that are beautiful. It is the promise of new days, and new experiences. The sky changes daily, just as our lives do. Some days it will be nearly perfect, and some days will be so grey that they are almost black. It is then our decision to either appreciate or disregard whatever we are given.

Most importantly, the sky reminds me of the mighty power of my God. How could I not trust my life in His hands when one of his greatest masterpieces stretches before me every second of every day? They sky is proof of His ability to make beautiful things from the dust.

"You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us"
-Beautiful Things by Gungor
 
The picture at the beginning of this post was taken earlier this evening. I was going to dinner with some friends and I couldn't get over how bright and colorful the sunset was. It's kind of funny how a blurry cell phone picture can lead to an entire blog post about thoughts on the sky, ha ha. I guess that's another cool thing about the sky...it can bring out your creative side.
 
Have a great evening!
 


1.29.2014

I Ripped My Pants

Today, we are taking another trip into my past, and this time...we're going back to the high school days. Dun dun dun.

First, let me introduce you to High School Miranda.

The days of guard competitions...good times.
High School Miranda can be described in three words: Studious. Quiet. Nerd. Which means, me back then isn't all too different than me currently. I'm just not as shy now. Oh, and I used to flat iron the mess out of my hair. I don't do that anymore. I'm an adult now...who has time for that?

Moving on, my freshman year of high school is the time period in which one of the most embarrassing moments of my life occurred. Of course it would be freshman year, because that first year of high school adjustment and torture isn't bad enough on its own, right?

My 11:00 class was Personal Fitness...a really fancy name for P.E. Just like any other physical fitness class, it normally consisted of dressing out, playing some type of lame sport, or doing mandatory weight lifting. Can I just take a second to ask...who really enjoyed P.E.? I mean, besides the football players and the other athletes of course. Who really gets entertainment out of undressing in a crowd, getting sweaty, putting your regular clothing back on, and then sitting through the remainder of the school day in your own sweat?

I'm getting off topic again. The teacher for this class also happened to be one of the football coaches, so every now and then we would get lucky and have the opportunity to sit in the football stands and socialize instead of actually doing anything P.E. related while he would supervise the painting of the football field, or some other football related duty. These were always the best days, or I guess I should say...they usually were.

On this particular day, we were told to go hang out in the visitor's football stands. So, we began to make the walk over, which involved crossing the football field. The field was surrounded by a chain link fence, and instead of walking all the way to one of the end zones to go through the gates, most of us would just climb over the fence since it wasn't very tall. I'm only 5'4 and the fence barely reached my waist.

My friends and I climb over the first fence obstacle no problem, and then walk across the field to the other fence. They all climb over, and I go to do the same, putting one leg over and straddling the fence while trying to swing my other leg over. I should also go ahead and mention, that this was in the year 2004, which meant that jeans with no back pockets were acceptable. That's what I happened to be wearing that day. (Guilty, as charged.) Therefore, when I was straddling that fence, the top of one of the chain links grabbed onto my pocketless jeans and held on as I attempted to get over the fence.

I heard the rip and felt the draft before both of my feet were even securely on the ground. My hands immediately flew to my backside and I could feel the embarrassment creeping up my neck and into my reddening face. I had ripped half of the butt of my jeans out. I was trying not to panic, my friends were trying not to laugh, and everyone else in the class was not even attempting to hide their giggling. The guy I had a crush on at the time was in that class with me too. That just wasn't okay in the world of a 14-year-old girl.

Want to know what made it even more embarrassing? The underwear I had on. Not only were they "little girl" style underwear (which means I probably had pantie lines in those pocketless jeans...shame on me), but they were, wait for it...SpongeBob Squarepants underwear. That's right...the big, cross-eyed grin of the sponge that lives in a pineapple under the sea was plastered across my rear for all of the world to see. It wasn't one of my finer moments in life. Not in the least.

Luckily, my best friend's mom was off work that day and was able to bring me a pair of my friend's jeans to change into. The ripped jeans sat in my locker for a few months, and I shamefully threw them away when I cleaned all of my stuff out at the end of the year. It was the end of an era.

I never wore pocketless jeans or SpongeBob panties again.

1.28.2014

Local Product Swap SIGN-UP!


Hey, hey, hey! Remember that local product swap that I told you about last week? The one that Kelli had the brilliant idea for and recruited Jessica and I to help out with?

If you have no clue what I'm talking about I will wait for you to click over and familiarize yourself with the awesome concept. Go ahead, we don't have all day.

*30 seconds later*

Okay...great! Well, today is the day to head over and sign up if you want to get in on the swap action. We highly encourage you to do so, not just so you can get some really cool stuff, but also so you can make some new friends.

 
P.S. You are asked for your city and state so we can make sure you aren't paired with anyone who lives in the same area as you...just to clarify!
 
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Here are some things you may have missed lately:
 
 
And if you're really bored:
 
 
Happy Tuesday!
 
 

1.27.2014

If I Were...


I saw this idea floating around the blog world a couple of weeks ago and I thought it would be fun to create my own version!

If I were...

...a month, I would be September.
...a day of the week, I would be Sunday.
...a time of day, I would be 11 AM.
...a planet, I would be Earth.
...a sea animal, I would be a sea turtle.
...a direction, I would be West.
...a piece of furniture, I would be a porch swing.
...a liquid, I would be iced coffee.
...a gemstone, I would be a sapphire.
...a tree, I would be an Oak.
...a tool, I would be a tape measure.
...a flower, I would be a camellia.
...a kind of weather, I would be sunny with a high of 75.
...a musical instrument, I would be a violin.
...a color, I would be sky blue.
...an emotion, I would be joyful.
...a fruit, I would be a cantaloupe.
...a sound, I would be rain falling on a tin roof.
...an element, I would be wind.
...a car, I would be a blue VW bug.
...a food, I would be spaghetti.
...a place, I would be home.
...a material, I would be cotton.
...a taste, I would taste like chocolate chip cookies.
...a scent, I would smell like fresh laundry.
...an animal, I would be a teacup pig.
...an object, I would be a good book.
...a body part, I would be an eye.
...a facial expression, I would be pure happiness.
...a song, I would be "Defying Gravity" from Wicked.
...a pair of shoes, I would be sandals.
...an item of clothing, I would be a v -neck tshirt.

1.24.2014

Yellow [Fiction on Friday, 2]

After missing last week, I am back and ready for the second installment of "Fiction on Friday." To read more about this endeavor, you can click here.

This week's short story is a continuation of the one that I shared the first week, so make sure to click over and get caught up!

I'm a little nervous about this one because I am writing it from a male's point of view, and that is something that I have never done before. I guess I will never know how it goes until I try though!
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Yellow
I always loved her in that simple t-shirt.
 
The once bright yellow fabric that was faded to a pastel shade brought out the gold flecks in her hazel eyes better than any designer sundress could have.
 
That was the shirt she was wearing on that fateful day...the day that I attempted to leave her behind forever. The day that I had spent weeks praying about. The day that I had hoped would be easy, so I would know that I was doing the right thing.
 
Well, it wasn't easy...I can promise you that. Four months later, I can't shake the image of her sitting on that porch swing...so still and void of emotion. I could practically hear her heart hardening as I tried to explain myself to her.
 
She hates me...I'm sure of it.
 
This is all I can think as I stare out the window of the plane. We are slowly descending. The clouds are thinning and I can see glimpses of the lush greenness of the Florida landscape that I had left behind months ago.
 
I can already imagine the sensation of the humidity on my skin. I can hardly wait to walk out of the airport and feel it on my face, just like I had almost every other day of my life.
 
I think of all of the summer nights that her and I spent together in that humidity...taking walks along the bank of the river. The moisture would settle on her hair and skin, curling the hair that she had put so much time into straightening and giving her face a natural, childlike glow. It had been an eternity since I had seen that glow.
 
She hates me...I'm sure of it.
 
The plane makes rough contact with the runway and slowly begins to skid to a stop. My heartbeat speeds up, skipping along with every little bump that results from the impact.
 
She is so close now. There is nothing separating us but a few airport walls.
 
I reach into my bag and pull out the little black box for the hundredth time. Running my finger over the smooth velvet, I find the clasp and pop it open. Of course it's still there...nestled safely in a small bed of silk. The unique yellow diamond catches a stream of sunlight from the window and creates a kaleidoscope effect in the tight cabin of the plane.
 
Gathering my bags, I go through one final rehearsal of what I'm going to say to her.
 
There is so much left to tie up...so many apologies to be made.
 
There are four months of lost time to be made up for. More than that if you count the downhill slide of the weeks before that.
 
I gave her up for a dream. Or, at least I tried to. All I can do now is hope that I can make it right.
 
I step into the crowded airport, scanning each group of people for her familiar face as I walk.
 
There she is.
 
But it's not her face that I see first. She is turned towards the wall. Her back is to me, but I can tell that she is wiping tears from her face.
 
Part of her hair is pulled back and secured with a small clip. It's yellow...the same shade as her t-shirt that I love so much.
 
Yellow has to be our color.
 
I'm still standing there in a trance, looking at that clip full of her gorgeous hair when she turns around.
 
Our eyes meet, and my feet move.
 
She's back in my arms again.



1.23.2014

Sadness and Stars

December 1, 2011 was the final day of my Grandpa's short, yet brutal battle with cancer.

Just a few months before, he had admitted to the hospital with some strange symptoms. Several pokes, prods, and tests later, the diagnosis was clear...cancer of the lungs, stage four.

This news was more than a shock to everyone. It really could not have been any more unexpected. My Grandpa Henry was a healthy, active, brilliant man. He was a thinker...quiet and reserved. A good Stephen King book and a cold beer could make him just as happy as anything. Recently retired, he could always find something to keep himself busy...whether it was gardening, working on his computer, bird watching, or just sitting outside in the Florida warmth. He was a man of few words, but when he did speak you knew to listen because whatever he was saying was likely to give you your best laugh of the week. His own laughter was infectious...I can still hear it in my mind.

He must have been the pickiest eater on planet Earth. My Grandma typically had to make him special food, and even then, he would push his food around and take maybe three or four bites before he was up and moving on to his next adventure. She was so patient with him, and I later realized that it was because Grandpa loved her with the most unconditional love possible. He was crazy about her, and she was crazy about him.

Those months of cancer were by far the most difficult time of my family's life. Things went downhill so fast, and no one was remotely prepared to cope with it. There is no worse feeling than looking around a hospital room and seeing silent tears fall from the faces of everyone that means the most to you. That is a hurt that your heart just doesn't forget. Eventually, you stop hoping for things to get better, and you start questioning what you should do to make the most of the time that is left. What should you say? What should you do? How are you supposed to act?

During those months, I spent a lot of time driving back and forth between Tallahassee and my hometown. If it was a weekend or an off day, I was with my family. I wanted to be there as much as possible while Grandpa was still able to talk and joke with us. I wanted to be there even more when he was bed-ridden. I wanted to be there to help as much as I possible could. I remember sleeping in my grandparent's bedroom one night...Grandma and I were sharing their bed and Grandpa was in the hospital bed that Hospice had brought in for him. Grandma would get out of bed every 30 minutes to check on him, to make sure that he was warm enough, or just to hold his hand for a few minutes. At one point I woke up and she was laying there, eyes open, crying silently. That was the moment that the part of my heart that was still intact shattered.

I will never forget that phone call on December 1. My roommate at the time and I were at the house we were getting ready to move into, stripping some wallpaper out of the bathrooms. My phone rang, and it was my mom. In the back of my mind, I knew what I was about to hear. I walked outside to answer the call and she told me the news. I didn't cry while I was talking to her. I even thought I would be able to hold it in until I was safely in my bed that night. I told her I would head home the next morning, hit "end," and put the phone in my pocket.

The flood gates opened before I had even thought about crying. I stood there in the driveway, sobbing uncontrollably. I remember having to remind myself to breathe, raking my hands through my hair, and pacing back and forth. Thoughts of Why God, and God, I will never forgive you for this bombarded in my mind until I couldn't even form a coherent thought. I had never felt such sorrow before. I didn't know how to deal with it. The concept was foreign.

I eventually found myself lying in the driveway...flat on my back on the cold cement. The neighbors must have thought I was insane, but I wasn't thinking logically in any way, shape, or form. As I laid there on that sandy pavement, my adrenaline lowered, my heartbeat slowed, and my breathing returned to a normal rhythm. My anger slowly began to subside. My eyes slowly began to clear, and they focused in on the first sign of hope that I had noticed in a long time.

The stars.

I saw, really saw, the promises of faith in the form of a vast, sparkling canvas. The sky was so clear that night. It was one of those perfect nights in which there didn't seem to be any noticeable darkness between each constellation. Right there in that driveway, at my most vulnerable, God reminded me that He is always there, and everything really will be okay. Those stars that were so masterfully placed in that pitch black sky are proof that there is always, always light in the darkness.

Being still beneath the stars is something that I have turned to ever since that night. It never ceases to ease my anxiety, to lift my burdens, to lighten my heartache...to restore my faith. Switchfoot said it best when they wrote,

"When I look at the stars I feel like myself."
 
The past couple of weeks, I have been in a really sad place...confused about a million things in life. When I'm not careful, I will let stuff bring me down too far. It's a bad place to be in. I took a walk outside about an hour ago. The sky isn't as clear tonight as it was on that December night in 2011...just like my problems aren't as clear now as they were then. But, you know what? There were still a few stars out.
 
That's how I know that everything is always going to be okay in the end.


1.21.2014

Local Product Swap ANNOUNCEMENT

<center><a href="http://www.she-crab-soup.com"/><img src="http://i872.photobucket.com/albums/ab288/kelgal77/LocalProductBoxSwapButton.png~original"></a></center>

I have such cool news to share with y'all today!
 
A few weeks ago, Kelli contacted Jessica and I with a really unique idea for a blogger swap. (Who doesn't love a good swap, am I right?)
 
As we all know, the blogging community is HUGE. There are always new blogs to stumble upon, new posts to read, and new friends to be found. Something else that is awesome about the blogging world is the level of diversity. It is rare to find two bloggers who live in the same exact area. We expand from Canada to the U.S., from North to South, from East Coast to West Coast. We have all grown up in different states, in different towns.
 
A big reason that we blog is to share our personal lives and experiences. We tell our readers about our lives, our interests, where we live, what it's like living there...everything really. So, how neat would it be to have the opportunity to not only talk about our "local" adventures, but to actually share a little piece of them with a blogger in a much different place, and receive something from that blogger's home in return?
 
Well, with this upcoming Local Product Box Swap, that will be possible! Interested in participating? Here is the low down:
 
1. Due to the price of shipping costs, swappers must reside in either the United States or Canada.
2. After signing up and receiving the name of your partner, email them within 48 hours to get to know them.
3. There is a spending limit of $15.00. This does not include shipping!
4. Products must be new and made in your area...or at least in the U.S (or Canada!) if local becomes difficult.
5. Include a note, describing each product and why they are special to your area.
6. When shipping, be sure to get a tracking number. (Wouldn't want the package to get lost!)
7. Make sure to grab a button and link up to show your swap goodies on the day specified!
 
Fun, right? We have been really excited about announcing this, and can't wait to see how it turns out! Please join us, and make some new friends! The timeline for everything is listed below!
 
January 21st: Swap announcement is live!
January 28th: Sign-ups begin, and will remain open until February 2nd.
February 6th: Matches are announced, and the emailing of your partners can begin. (Just make sure to do it within 48 hours!)
February 6th-20th: Get to know (and, let's be honest...blog stalk) your partner.
February 26th: Have your packages mailed out by this date!
March 5th: Grab a button, link up with us, and share your swap surprises!
 

1.20.2014

The Time I Was Chased by a Bull

A good portion of the blogs that I read include content full of hilarious childhood stories. (My good friend Jessica is the first to come to mine when I think of this.) I've realized that I don't think I have ever shared a tale from the yester-years here at Miranda Writes, and that's a shame because I have some pretty good ones. So today, I'm going to take a little stroll down memory lane and bring all of you along with me.

I grew up in an extremely rural, small-town area on the Gulf coast of Florida. I was raised on a dirt road in the middle of the woods. To this day, there is no cell phone reception or Wi-Fi availability in the area. My "neighborhood" consisted of (and still consists of) 80 acres of heavy woods, pastures, and creeks. It's beautiful, and peaceful, and if I could go back and choose someplace else to live as a kid, I wouldn't. I loved growing up out there. Every person who lives on that dirt road is related to me, therefore there was a strong sense of family and community. Plus, I have some pretty fond memories of running around barefoot and racing bikes and go-carts up and down that sandy road. I often wish I could go back.

My grandparents lived just a hop, skip and a jump away from my house. I was over there every chance I had, because that's where I could swing and play in the sandbox and bother Granny and Grandpa as much as I wanted to. Their back yard is where the incident I'm about to tell you about occurred. I was about four or five years old at the time, which means I looked something like this...tie dye shirt and all. (The baby is my cousin Shelby, not my brother by the way.)


Granny and Grandpa used to raise cows. They eventually built a pen to keep them in, but at this particular point in time, they allowed them to wander around the pasture and into the backyard as they pleased because there were only three...two female cows and one male bull. My parents and my grandparents just made sure to constantly remind me not to try to pet them, or even get too close to them. I also wasn't allowed to just play around in the backyard without someone watching me. The cows would typically stay to themselves anyway, but it's better to be safe than sorry, right?

The backyard also happened to be home to the best swing ever. I absolutely loved to swing when I was a kid. When my brother and the rest of my cousins got old enough, an actual swing set was built, but when I was four I was the only grandkid old enough to play outside. I was the ruler. (Do any of you other "oldest" children feel this way. It's nice to be in charge, don't you think?) Anyway, so, instead of a swing set, there was just a single swing between two trees in the backyard. My swing. No one else was ever able to claim authority on it.

Well, on one of the many days that I was at my grandparent's house, I asked if I could go outside and swing and Granny told me yes, that she would keep an eye on me through the kitchen window and to make sure that I stayed in sight. So, I was outside, pumping my little chubby legs, just swinging my heart out, when the back door flies open and Granny comes out onto the porch. She looked a little nervous, and I now know it's because she was trying to stay calm. The conversation probably went something like this.

"Randa, stop the swing and walk, don't run, to the door."

"But I'm not ready yet!"

"Miranda, please, just stop and come here now."

"Awwww...but why?!"

"Just do it! Stop quickly and come here."

So, I made a big, pouty show of dragging my feet through the dirt to stop the swing and sat there for a couple of seconds, being the epitome of a four-year-old drama queen.

Granny called from the porch, "Miranda, COME HERE, and don't look behind you."

What's a kid going to do when they're told NOT to do something? They're going to do it of course. Therefore, I slowly turn around, and what do I see just a few feet behind me?

The bull. The big, snorting, frightening bull...raking his hoof across the dirt, ready to charge.

My chubby little body had never moved so fast. I was off that swing and running to the door faster than lighting and that bull was coming behind me. It felt like slow motion. My arms were pumping, my sweaty bangs were sticking to my forehead, and my bare feet were stumbling over every little bump. Honestly, the Rocky theme song should have been playing in the background. Nonetheless, it wasn't a very long distance to run (even though it sure felt like it), and I made it safely in plenty of time.

That didn't stop me from telling everyone that I almost got trampled by a rogue bull though.  You know how it is...just gotta keep it real.

Moral of the story: swings and free-roaming bulls do not mix.

1.17.2014

Letters From Benji

Remember when I introduced you all to Benjamin a few weeks ago?

Well, this little guy has been hanging on our refrigerator for over a month now, and we are loving him more and more every single day! He even has a nickname now...we like to call him Benji. :)

I was so happy to open up the mailbox today and find our first piece of correspondence from him. He sent us a picture, and we also learned a little more about him. Of course I have to share!


A translator asked him some questions and wrote them down for us. He thanks us for choosing him to sponsor, and he is praying for us and our families to be healthy at all times. He also wants us to pray for the health of him and his family. Even though I haven't met Benji in person, I just know that he is a sweetheart. He is precious, and I'm thankful for opportunities like this that not only provide for children in need, but also allow relationships to be built.

And how about this car he drew for us? I foresee a career in art in Benji's future.


The other side of the paper we received had a section of Benjamin's favorites. His answers made me smile!


Benji's Faves:

Color: Yellow
Food: Rice and stew
Song: God's Love (Gospel music)
Game: Football
Toy: Car
Pet: Cat

Amber and I each wrote him back, and I can't wait for him to get our letters! Benjamin is going to be such a blessing this year...I can feel it!

Happy weekending!

1.16.2014

Perfection Not Required

My entire week can be summed up in one picture.


Yes, that is a monstrous, gigantic pile of laundry in my bedroom floor. Guess how long it's been there. Oh...only since Saturday. I did three loads of clothes over the weekend and swore that I would take care of them this week. Well, I haven't. They're still sitting there in my floor, staring at me every time I walk into the room. And you know what? They are driving me INSANE. But, I just can't bring myself to actually fold them, put them on hangers, and put them in the stinkin' closet.

My laundry isn't the only thing that has been missing out on my attention this week. You've probably noticed that my blogging schedule has been off. I normally have my posts scheduled and they go up around 8:00 in the morning. This week, I have been writing and posting them in the evenings. I'm here to say...I'm not a fan. It's felt really odd.

I tend to feel extremely "off" if I'm not following my usual schedule or accomplishing everything that I want to accomplish during the week. Sometimes one thing (like laundry) will get off track and everything else will just follow suit. Blogging, errands, chores...it all just goes into a state of chaos. Well, maybe not chaos...but definitely disorganization.

The important thing to remember during weeks of "fluster," is next week is a brand new week. We, as women, as human beings...are not expected to be perfectly in sync with our lives. It's okay to get off track. It's okay to change things up. Minor, every day things like laundry, are not meant to push us over the edge. Perfection is not required.

And it also isn't terrible to have a three-day weekend coming up in which a lot of catching up can take place. ;)

1.15.2014

Not Much for Coffee, But I Like Coffee Dates

This evening, I'm going on a date...a coffee date that is. I'm joining Kiki and Amy and everyone else who is hanging out in The Circle for some heartfelt chatter. You may be thinking it's a little late for a coffee break, but hey, maybe you need some caffeine to keep you up for a couple of more hours. Or, you could always drink decaf. Or hot chocolate. That's always a win.

So, let's take a stroll over to the little corner coffee shop and get acquainted.


Where are you seated? (Near the counter, near the door, near the wall, etc.)
I will always go with the coziest looking seat in the house. I prefer to be in a corner or against the wall so I can look up and catch sight of the hustle and bustle that is going on with the other customers in the shop. It's amazing how many different types of people will walk in and out of the shop in the hour or so that you're sitting there. Wouldn't want to miss any of it!

What are you sipping/munching on?
I am extremely plain and simple when it comes to coffee. I normally always like it iced, with a little milk and some hazelnut sweetener. If I'm not in the mood for that, I go for hot chocolate or something that doesn't really taste like coffee. If I'm feeling extra adventurous (or hungry, just having a case of "sweet tooth") I will have a muffin...banana nut is my favorite!

What do you want to get off your chest first? (You can be as deep as you want.)
I would honestly most likely rather talk all about you. I am a listener, and honestly, no matter how sweet the person, it takes me a bit to actually open up. Eventually though, I would tell you all about how I feel like I'm at a crossroads in my life, and I have no idea what decisions to make and what steps to take. Then you may have a difficult time actually getting me to stop talking, ha ha.

If you could choose anyone (besides us of course), who would you have coffee with?
Let's take the literary route, and say J.K. Rowling, or Meg Cabot. They are two of my biggest inspirations, and I would love to have deep conversations over warm drinks with them.

What is inspiring you lately?
The strength that exudes from people who are going through tough times. The positivity of those who have every right to be negative. The drastic changes of the Florida weather...rainy and warm one day, and nearly freezing the next. Laughter of those that I love most. The promises of a new year.

What are your plans after coffee?
Well, since it is an evening date, I will probably do some blogging and journaling, and then bedtime won't be too far behind! I'm an old woman at heart...I will go to bed at 10:00 and the caffeine will not even have an effect on me.

Happy coffee-drinking! It was fun chatting. Let's do it again sometime really soon!

In Its Time

 

1.14.2014

Calligraphy Rookie


My parents bought me the most amazing gift for Christmas...everything that I need to get started on mastering calligraphy. I was that nerdy kid in school that spent endless amounts of time perfecting their handwriting because I am a sucker for beautiful script. I have been wanting to learn the art of true calligraphy writing for a while now, and thanks to my mom's knack for picking out the most perfect and meaningful gift, I am on the road to becoming a professional calligrapher. Well, maybe not a professional...but a decent one!

I am beginning at the true basics. I have been going through and practicing the alphabet in each style. Writing these reminds me of being in elementary school and having to carefully print letters on that big, lined paper that rips every time you press too hard with your eraser. Just learning to hold the pen correctly is an adventure. Keeping it at just the right angle ensures that you are able to create the letters appropriately...using a combination of thick and thin strokes. I wouldn't say it's extremely difficult, but it definitely requires a steady hand, a lot of patience, and an attention to detail.


The picture above shows my first round of learning calligraphy. My lower-case letters are definitely in better shape than my upper-case ones. I have improved since this picture, but I am still searching for that perfect "flow" as I write. I am also working on figuring out exactly what size pen tips should be used for particular fonts. So much more goes into it than you would expect! But, being that handwriting nerd that I am, I'm perfectly okay with having to try and try again.
 
By the end of the year, I hope to be practiced enough to create my own typographies for gifts, and maybe even to sale in an Etsy store or something. I feel like that is definitely an attainable goal. Until then, I plan to share bits and pieces of my learning processes here on the blog!

Do any of you practice calligraphy?

1.13.2014

When it Rains...Rely

I honestly didn't think that I would get around to writing a post today. This weekend was rough, to say the least. 2014 is showing it's difficult side extremely early!

My plan to run errands and be productive has been ruined by yet another Florida thunderstorm. It is pouring outside right now, and I just don't feel like fighting the elements to go to Walgreens and the grocery store. So what have I been doing instead? Well, my extremely comfy bed and I have been having some quality hang out time, and I have been replying to blog comments from last week, and all sorts of other fun things. Therefore, I'm perfectly okay with the fact that it's flooding outside. (Unless the power goes out. Then I will be angry, because The Bachelor comes on in just over an hour and my roommates and I have a date to watch some Juan Pablo.)

The weather is actually really appropriate for how I have been feeling the past couple of days. We have all heard the saying, "When it rains, it pours." How undeniably true is that? Life never seems to allow just one single bad thing to happen at a time. It's typically more of a snowball effect...one bad thing will happen, then it leads to something worse, then that thing leads to something even more terrible...etc. This is a proven fact in terms of "undesirable events."

I really don't say this to be dramatic or all "Oh, woe is me..." I guess you could say that I'm just observing the trend. I won't lie though, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself earlier this morning. I was sad, I was defeated, and I was confused. But then, I remembered something:

I am the daughter of a God who loves me so much that it's almost incomprehensible.

Each time I have this thought, I am always astounded that I forgot about it in the first place.

When it's raining, God is grasping my hand tighter than ever before. He is guiding me around the puddles, ensuring that I don't take a fatal slip and fall to a point of hopelessness. He is holding an umbrella over my head, shielding me from the pelting sheets of doubt and fear. He is promising me that I will not only make it through the storm, but I will also find refuge in a shelter of faith and understanding. He is my comforter, my protector...my rock.

I didn't participate in choosing a word to live by for the year of 2014. I didn't feel it was really necessary...that is until one jumped into my lap and made itself known.

Reliance.

I couldn't have decided on a more perfect word if I had tried. My God wants to be there for me every single second, of every single day...through the good and the bad. He wants to guide me through the storms of life, and all He is asking in return is that I lean on Him and trust Him. He wants me to give up my own control...the control that is driving me crazy and making me stress, and RELY on Him and his comfort. How mind blowing is that? How great is that love?

Starting now, I am relying.

"She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future."
-Proverbs 31:25


1.09.2014

My "Trichy" Secret : Part 3

*To become familiar with this story, catch up by reading part one and part two.

By the time my parents decided to seek medical attention for my pulling, the situation had become pretty drastic. If I was alone, I was pulling. It's like my hands were automatically drawn to my hair. I wouldn't even realize that I had been pulling large amounts out until there was a pile on the floor or the bed in front of me. It's like I would go into a trance, and then panic would ensue when I would realize how much damage I had done.

With my pediatrician's help and advice, my parents felt that the best option would be to put me on an anxiety medication for a temporary period of time. I began taking Paxil, which is used to treat depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorders. The medication helped put an end to my obsessive pulling, and my hair began to grow back for the first time in months.

The hair growth process was a slow one. The majority of the top of my scalp was lacking in thickness, resulting in a crazy looking hair style as the strands began to grow back. People went from asking me about my bald spots to just asking me "what was wrong with my hair." The top half was extremely short, and created something similar to a mushroom effect. Before pulling, my hair was extremely straight. When it began to grow back in, it came back very wavy and fluffy. This weird transition between being bald and having normal hair was almost as bad as the pulling itself. The picture below is just one of many where my hair is looking quite interesting. You can see that the shorter pieces on top of my head created a conehead effect. I would say it took close to two years for my hair to get back to a normal state. During this time, I would always tell people, "Oh, my hairdresser just gave me a really bad haircut. I'm so mad!" The funny thing is the excuse actually worked the majority of the time, ha ha.


Eventually, it did indeed look like normal hair again though. The questions about baldness stopped. The funny looks stopped. The constant worry that my parents had been going through stopped. Everything that I had been dealing with for so long ended. With everything going so well, the doctor gave me the okay to cease taking Paxil.

After I was off of the medication, I was pull free for probably around a year. It's almost like my brain had just decided not to think about it. Then, high school began and new stresses came along with it. I felt myself wanting to fall back into the habit, and I began to give in and pull a few strands every now and then. I had a particularly bad relapse in my room one night, pulling at least 25 strands of hair out of one section of my head. I remember running into the bathroom and crying as I inspected the damage, which luckily wasn't even really noticeable because I have such thick hair.

After that relapse, I realized that my the fight that I had thought was over was really nowhere close to being so. I kept myself as busy as I could, but the want to pull would always overwhelm me when I was alone. I spent a great deal of time battling my own thoughts, and getting upset with myself because I thought I was being weak. What I had to learn to realize, and what anyone who lives with trich has to realize, is that the inability to completely stop isn't a sign of weakness. It isn't a reflection of the type of person you are.

Trichotillomania isn't easy to beat, but it doesn't have to ruin your life. If I could only give one piece of advice to those who pull their hair, it would be that. You are much stronger than you think. Something else I am learning lately, is that talking about trich, and confiding in others who are in similar situations, actually helps to lessen the burden on yourself. There is no reason to be ashamed. Don't let anyone tell you that you are weird, or strange, or crazy. That's not the case in any way, shape or form.

Something else I also feel that I should mention, is not everyone who is affected by trich pulls the hair on their head. Others pull from their eyebrows, their eyelashes, their arms, their legs...anywhere you can think of really. I don't know if this necessarily applies to everyone who suffers from trich, but it seems like pulling certain hair from certain areas provides a bigger feeling of "accomplishment." Maybe that's just an aspect of the obsessive part of the disorder...spending time distinguishing between a good pull and a bad pull.

So, you're probably now wondering, what is going on with my trich today? Well, it certainly hasn't disappeared. You may find it hard to believe since I obviously have a very full head of hair, but I actually pull at least once a day. Just as always, it tends to happen when I am alone or really stressed out. The reason that I am nowhere close to bald, or even having a bald patch, is because I have what I have labeled a "pulling system." I only allow myself to pull if I feel it's completely necessary, and I only pull from one specific place on my scalp...a spot that is located on the lower left side of my head. Furthermore, I don't allow myself to pull more than two or three strands, and I make sure that I'm only pulling out shorter strands, or "new growth."

I'm not by any means condoning a pulling system. I'm not proud of it, but it is certainly better than letting myself go crazy. Sharing this story is the first step of my attempt to go completely "pull free" again. I know this is possible, and while I'm not happy that pulling is still a part of my life, I am confident in my ability to quit. I know how trich can ruin my life, and I'm not willing to go that far down the road again. More important than that, I know that God has my back in this. Through prayer and trust in Him, there is no way that I am going to fail a second time.

Besides the pulling of my hair, do I have any other residual side effects? I do actually. I attribute my shy and introverted personality to trich. It is the reason that I tend to stay to myself. It is the reason that I am so quiet. It is the reason that I overthink every single thing in my life. It is the reason that I seem to have an "obsession" with my hair. I worry constantly about what it looks like, wondering if it's falling right, or looking thick enough. I touch it constantly, and what I view as a "bad hair day" can ruin my entire demeanor. The first thing I notice about a person is their hair. I compare my hair to the hair of every other female that I come into contact with. It's not a vanity thing. It's not even a reassuring thing. It's just something that I have become accustomed to.

Despite all of this though, trichotillomania isn't "me." It's just something that I have. It is no longer going to define me. It is no longer going to make me feel guilty. Starting today, right now, trich is going to be a blessing in disguise. It is no longer my secret. It is no longer my burden.


My heart is on my sleeve, displayed for all to see. I can't say thank you enough to those of you who have read and commented on these posts. Your support is evidence that I am doing the right thing in sharing. If you are someone who is secretly struggling with trichotillomania, please don't hesitate to contact me. I want nothing more than to talk with you and try to help you understand what is going on. I promise to be a listening ear, a provider of support, and a help with further research. And if you're not affected by this disorder, I'm here to answer any questions that you may have. Thanks again. I am feeling beautifully free of burden.

1.08.2014

My "Trichy" Secret : Part 2

*To get caught up on this series, click HERE to read part 1.

It all started with a single strand of hair.

I can't recall exactly how this single strand of hair ended up in my hand. It may have came from my hairbrush. It may have been hanging loose on my shirt. I may have even pulled it out, but I really can't remember. All I know is this particular strand still had the follicle attached to it, and something about that hair root was intriguing to me. So, I pulled another piece out of my scalp to inspect it. And then I pulled another. And another. And another.

I was 10-years-old when this happened. I was entirely too young to even come to the conclusion that pulling my hair out was a form of harming myself. I wasn't thinking about the fact that I was becoming addicted. I wasn't telling myself that I needed to stop. I wasn't even able to realize that pulling my hair out would ultimately lead to thinning hair on my scalp. All I know is I began to pull strands of hair out daily.

I still remember exactly how my parents discovered what was going on. I was sitting in the recliner in our living room watching TV and my mom came up behind me to put her hands on my shoulders. She stood there for a couple of seconds, and all of a sudden she started touching my head and said, "Oh my gosh Randa, you have bald spots on your head!" I just remember being overcome with this sense of panic, almost like my mind was putting two and two together for the first time. I immediately knew that it was a result of pulling my hair out, even though I hadn't seen the damage myself. My mom began asking me questions, and I eventually told her that I was pulling my hair out but I didn't know it was wrong. That day, she made me promise not to do it anymore, and I promised her. I thought I could stop.

It wasn't that easy though. I know that I really did try to stop, but it was like I had zero control over actually being able to quit. After I realized what a negative thing it was, I wanted nothing more to bring the pulling to an end, but the situation actually worsened. The stress of knowing I had bald spots and the realization that this wasn't a normal thing caused my anxiety to worsen and I compensated for it by pulling out more hair. My parents would beg me to stop, and I knew that they were constantly watching me so I would always wait until I was alone in my room to do it. I would even sneak off to be alone in order to pull a few pieces out.

I would pull until my scalp burned, and my mom could always tell when I had been doing so because the area of my scalp that I had been pulling from would be red and irritated. My parents always knew what area of the floor to check for large amounts of discarded hair, so I would try to make sure and clean up all of the areas after I was finished pulling to keep them from finding out. Talking about the situation only made things worse, and I began to hate myself because I just didn't understand what was wrong with me. I didn't understand why I couldn't just put the habit to rest. I remember constantly comparing myself to other girls my age. I became envious of their hair, and their ability to be "normal." I hated myself because of this strange "addiction."


It became more and more difficult to keep the disorder a secret. Most of my family knew. My teachers knew. My hairdresser knew. So many people knew, but they all helped me to try and keep it a secret from my peers. I never talked to my friends about what was going on, because at the age of 10, you aren't really at the maturity level required to understand obsessive compulsive disorders.

And just because you try to keep something a secret doesn't mean you can always hide the obvious. Kids weren't afraid to point out that I had bald spots. One of the most upsetting events that happened during this time period took place in the lunchroom at school. I heard the two girls behind me in the lunch line laughing, and one of them dropped something on the floor by my feet and asked me to pick it up. Being the nice person I was, I did. The second I bent over far enough to where the top of my head was visible, one of them laughed and said to the other, "See, I told you she was bald! Gross!" Their laughter continued, and I turned back around in the line and fought back the tears.

My mom did her best to help me hide what was going on. She would wake us up early enough to spend some time arranging my hair so that the bald spots weren't as noticeable. She bought me tons of those bandana headbands that were popular in the late 90's, and I wore them everywhere that I could. Her and my dad both were so supportive, and never stopped trying to solve the problem and make it easier on me.

The rest of my family was amazing as well. My aunt who is a nurse would always find new things to bring me to keep my hands busy. I had an entire basket full of stress relief balls and other related items. Everyone did their best to help me find new ways to channel my anxiety so I wouldn't turn to hair pulling. My Granny and Grandpa even bought me a pair of gold cross earrings. The note that was with them said something along the lines of, "Every time you feel like you want to pull your hair, just touch these crosses and remember that everything is going to be okay." I was too young to really understand how amazing my family was back then, but as I look back on it now, it makes me so incredibly thankful.

I'm going to end here since this post is already extremely long, but come back tomorrow for the third and final part of my story. Thank you so much for taking the time to read! It means the world to have support as I share something that has been such a negative up until this point.

*Part 3 can be found here.*

1.07.2014

My "Trichy" Secret : Part 1

I told you all last week that one of my goals for the New Year is to share something that I am ashamed of. We all have things that we prefer to keep hidden from the knowledge of others. In some cases, hiding a secret is the best decision you can make. On the other hand, I've found that holding something in can actually cause you to be harder on yourself. When we keep something boxed up, we begin to believe that we are the only person in the world who deals with whatever it is. This makes us feel weird in a very negative way. Feeling this way is what ultimately leads to shame, and that shame only strengthens over time.


So, here I am today, about to pour my heart out on the internet. Despite the encouragement that has led to my decision to write this post, I'm still questioning myself. Why am I still going to hit publish then?  Maybe I'm just sick of holding it in. Maybe I feel like telling is the only way that I'm ever going to really accept and completely come to terms with it. Maybe I'm hoping that my story can help others who may secretly be going through the same thing. Maybe I've just finally realized that we all have our demons and they just come in different forms for each individual. No matter the reason, one thing is for sure...I'm ready to do this, and I have faith that it will all be okay.

What if I told you that a significant portion of my head used to be bald? What if I told you that
 I wasn't balding because I had a terminal disease, but instead because I was inflicting the baldness upon myself? What would you think?

Regardless of what came to your mind when I asked you those questions, here are the facts. I used to (and still have to fight not to) pull the hair out of my head, strand by strand. I know what you are thinking. You're wondering...why in the world would you do that? Here's the thing...I can't answer that. I honestly can't tell you why, because I don't even know myself. What I do know though, is I legitimately couldn't, and occasionally still cannot, help it. In the beginning, it wasn't something I could control at all. Today, I have a thick head of hair, which I'm pretty proud of considering the circumstance. My self control is apparent the majority of the time, but I still have "relapses."

Believe it or not, this condition has a name: trichotillomania. Trichotillomania, also know as the "hair pulling disorder," is defined as "the compulsive urge to pull out one's own hair, leading to noticeable hair loss, distress, and social or functional impairment." Trichotillomania is an impulsive control disorder, which means that the person affected has no ability to stop themselves, even if they try. It is caused by anxiety, and ultimately becomes a form of coping and dealing with stress. Medication or other forms of therapy are usually the only ways to cure a person's trichotillomania.

My "trich" is something that I have literally kept hidden my entire life. Besides my family, there are only three people who know even a little about it. I have known that there are others out there who deal with trich, but I have been so focused on the negative aspects of the condition that I have been too afraid to do any research on other stories and experiences. I have shut the topic out. I haven't wanted to know anything more than I had to. Thinking about it has always brought such an overwhelming sense of embarrassment.

Recently, this has changed. God has shown me that He has other plans for my big secret, and they all started a few weeks ago. I was just browsing blogs like I do every day, and I came across Aunie's blog. I discovered that she too has been affected by trich throughout life. I read every trich-related post and comment on her blog. And you know what? Every bit of her writing, and the feedback on her posts, was positive. She really takes the disorder, and shines a meaningful light on it. I was touched by her experience, and her outlook. I was inspired, and it was interesting to encounter someone who was so open about it, because I have been spending my whole life "in hiding." 

After reading Aunie's blog, I emailed her. I told her my story, and I asked her some questions. Her blog, and her responses to my email made me realize that trich isn't something I have to be ashamed of. It can actually be the complete opposite. My experience can be used to help others who may secretly deal with the same struggle. Not only that, but sharing my experience will help me to forgive myself, and realize that having trich doesn't make me any less of a person.

As you can see, I am taking her advice and preparing to lay all of the cards out on the table. No more shame, no more secrets...just honesty about a disorder that has had control of my life for entirely too long. Over the next couple of days, I'm going to share everything about my journey with trichotillomania with you. I'm going to tell you all about how it began, the effects that it had on my family and I, the bad experiences that resulted from the noticeable hair loss, the attempts to stop, the treatment, how it effects me today...literally everything associated with it. As strange as it sounds, I'm looking forward to sharing. I hope you will be reading along with me. I'll see you all tomorrow with my second installment.

*Part 2 can be found here.*

1.06.2014

It's Today


Well, it's today. The day that football fans everywhere have been waiting for...particularly FSU and Auburn fans! This is the day that these two teams will face off and play for the BCS National Championship title. I'm not sure I will be able to make it through work today with all of the anticipation that I'm feeling! This has been one heck of a football season for my beloved Seminoles, and I want to see them go all the way more than anything!

I'm proudly sporting my garnet and gold today. My office was kind enough to give us a casual day so we can do so. That's one of the many reasons it's been such a cool thing to stay in Tallahassee after I graduated from FSU...the 'Nole support is literally everywhere! It never gets old!

If you're a football fan, who are you hoping pulls out the win tonight? I won't be offended if you say Auburn...or will I? Just kidding. I'm not one of those insane fans. I obviously love my team (I mean, my blog design is garnet and gold), but I'm also smart enough to respect the affiliations of others.

With that said, let's go 'Noles!

In other news, my weekend was pretty full. I got a ton of blog related stuff done on Saturday morning. I created a blog Facebook page, which has been on my to-do list for a while! I also finally completed my "Faith" page that has been under construction since my new design was installed a couple of weeks ago. Last but not least, you may have noticed that I have some new pictures up on my pages. I ventured into the attempt of DIY blog headshots. Amber was kind enough to take them for me on Saturday morning. My inability to be serious for more than ten seconds kind of got in the way, but hey, it was fun! I'm just waiting for my new sidebar picture to be installed and then that goal will be complete!


Saturday afternoon I spent working on Rita and Dina's house with some other people from church. Unfortunately, the rainy weather here prevented everything from being finished before Christmas, but it should only be a matter of days before things are finished and they can move back in. Can you guess what we were working on during this particular work day? I'll give you a picture clue.


If you guessed sanding drywall, you are absolutely right. We make drywall dust look stylish, right?

Sunday was just a typical day. I had praise and worship practice, followed by church, and then I did some cleaning and scheduled some posts for later in the week. In tomorrow's post, I'm sharing something extremely nerve wracking. However, I'm finding the courage to do so and I'm really excited to see how it goes over.

Happy Monday!

1.04.2014

I Like You, You Like Me...


Happy Saturday!

It's a chilly one here in Florida, so I can't even imagine how some of my friends further north must be feeling this morning!

I just wanted to pop in long enough to share another one of my New Year advances with you. I made a Facebook page for my blog! Starting this year, I want to be completely honest and open about a lot of things...including my blogging and writing! Therefore, I made the Facebook page not to only share with you all, but also with all of my friends and acquaintances in my "real life." It's a little nerve wracking, but I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes!

If you're interested in liking Miranda Writes on Facebook, you can do that here!

Wishing you the happiest of weekends!

1.03.2014

Four [Fiction on Friday, 1]

New year, new blogging endeavors. Am I right?

Fridays are going to be dedicated to something a bit different, starting today. Aside from blogging, journaling, and working on my novels, I have a knack for short story fiction. Every now and then, a random idea will pop into my head and I will build on it until I have an entire story, or at least a segment of one. Sometimes I will write these down in my journal, sometimes I will type them up in Microsoft Word, and sometimes I just let them remain in my mind. Fiction is enjoyable for me. It's a way to escape from my own mind for a few minutes, and adventure through a new place, or a new person's way of thinking.

I'm thinking about creating a weekly Fiction on Friday linkup. Is that something any of you would be interested in? Please let me know! Also, direct me your way if you write any fictional stories or poems on your blog. I want to read them! So, now that my explanation is complete, I will move on to the important part of this post...the fiction.
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Four

It's been four months.

It's been four months since I last saw him, since I last hugged him, since I last felt his comforting grip on my hand. It's been four months since his eyes have met mine.

I uncross my legs and sit up from my slump, looking at the list of arrivals and departures for the three-hundredth time.

Flight 187 from Seattle: DELAYED.

The words seem to be screaming at me. They are bold and unchanging, despite my strong mental will to change them.

Leaning forward, I hold my face in my hands, fighting to remain patient. I was entering my third hour of sitting in an uncomfortable airport chair. His arrival time had been pushed back three times, adding to the unsettling feeling of anticipation that was already entirely too strong.

All I can think of is our last encounter.

I can still hear the creaking chains of my old white porch swing that we were sitting on. I can still smell the dampness of the Florida evening. I can still remember exactly what the setting sky looked like. It was a sky so beautiful that only positive things should have been able to occur beneath it. It was incredibly deceiving.

"I'm leaving..."

They were the first two words to break the heavy silence that had surrounded us. He was the first to have the courage. I couldn't look at him. I couldn't stand to be too close to him. I definitely couldn't speak to him.

Four years...I kept thinking. He was throwing four years of "us" down the drain. He was throwing four years of love and laughter, of honesty and trust, of passion, right down the drain. He was throwing ME right down the drain. And he was doing it easily.

"I love you, but I love me too."

He continued to speak. I'm sure he was hoping that I would show the tiniest bit of care or understanding. But I didn't. I sat in silence, placing my hands underneath my thighs so he wouldn't see them shaking. I forced my gaze to remain fixed on the porch rail in front of me.

"I hope you will forgive me one day. Do you have anything you want to say before I go?"

I should have said something...anything really. But I knew it would hurt him more if I didn't. We sat in uncomfortable silence for what felt like hours, but couldn't have been more than five minutes. The swing shifted as he moved to stand up. He placed his hand on my shoulder, squeezing gently.

"I'll miss you..."

And then he was gone. His footsteps fell heavy across the old wooden porch. Each step squeaked slightly as he descended to the lawn. I didn't watch him as he went, but I heard. I heard the door of his old Chevy open and shut. I heard the engine struggle to a start. I heard the gravel crunch as he left my driveway. And then I heard nothing.

I haven't sat on that porch swing since.

He had given me up for a dream. And I didn't hate him for it. I hated myself for it...for reasons that I still don't know.

I snap back to reality. My watch tells me that his flight is nearly four hours behind schedule. I guess four is our number.

Four years. Four months. Four hours.

I'm still not sure what I'm even doing here. I owe him nothing. He needs to see me...so what? I needed him four months ago and that didn't seem to matter.

My face begins to burn, and a single tear slips from my eye and falls onto my left leg, leaving a dark spot on my jeans. I stand up  and turn around so I'm facing the wall. I don't want people to see me like this...even if they are complete strangers.

I pull myself together, wiping underneath my eyes to eliminate any signs of emotion. I face the room again, turning back to sit in that darn uncomfortable chair. Only, I don't actuallly get the chance to sit down.

Because there he is.

Four.

I count them. The number of steps that he has to take before his arms are wrapped around me once again.

1.02.2014

Dear 2014


Dear 2014,

Well...here you are, so much sooner than anyone could have expected! It's day two of your new job, and you're probably still really nervous because you know you have some gigantic shoes to fill. It's not going to be easy to prove yourself and put yourself on the same level as years that have already passed. I get it, it's a tough spot to be in.

I can sense that you are feeling some fear as well. I know you must be worried that you will be a year full of broken promises, unattained goals, increasing political strife, and other depressing things that are becoming so prominent as time goes on. Don't worry too much though, because I believe that you have the potential to be a blessing in a whole new way. I believe that you, 2014, can be a year of understanding and peace.

Let me fill you in on a little secret too...it's really not you who can control how you turn out. It's us...the people who have welcomed you so warmly, and the people that will be living in you during these next twelve months. And in order to really make you a positive thing, we have to work on ourselves first. We have to love ourselves, and respect ourselves enough to accomplish our goals that will go on to make a greater impact. I believe that this is the only way that you won't end up overflowing with broken "resolutions."

So, here's the deal. We are going to hold each other accountable. I'm going to share my dreams for your next twelve months with you...exclusively. I promise to uphold my end of the bargain as long as you are there to encourage me! During you, 2014, I want to:

Journal.
I began journaling my prayers in November of 2013, and oh how it has changed the way that I talk to God and think about prayer! Writing my prayers down allows me to better communicate with my Lord, because I tend to communicate my thoughts more freely and coherently through writing. I also love the idea of going back and reflecting on the things that were in need of prayer during certain times of my life. It's a win-win, positive situation.

Share something I am ashamed of.
Something life is teaching me, is that we can often make the biggest difference and help others by being open and honest about the skeletons in our closets. It's so easy to tuck our shames into a dark corner of our brains and never think about them. The problem with that though, is they are still going to surface every now and then, and the stress that you go through to deal with it really just isn't even necessary. Accepting, and even embracing the mistake, or disorder, or whatever you're ashamed of is going to make life so much easier. Therefore, I will be making a giant confession here soon, because it's time to do it.

Finish writing at least one of my "in progress" novels.
I am the queen of writing about five chapters of a book, and then getting distracted by a new idea and moving on...leaving portions of unfinished books lying in my wake. This year, I want to dedicate myself to actually completing a novel. It's a dream that I really need to focus on and make a priority.

Stop people pleasing.
This may initially sound like a bad thing, but it really isn't. I have this massive issue in my life, in which I am so worried about disappointing people that I will make myself miserable just to keep them happy. I want those that I love to be proud of me, but I also want to learn to be proud of myself. I want to learn to really listen to my heart, because a lot of times I will drown it out with the constant strife in my mind.

Find my calling...or at least catch a glimpse of it.
I discussed this some on Monday. I still haven't really found my purpose, as far as my career and my personal contribution to the world goes. I believe it's out there though. I just have to open my eyes wide enough to see it. 2014, can you be the year that this is possible?

There they are, all laid out in writing. I just shared my five most monumental dreams with you, 2014. I'm going to try my hardest to work towards these goals and make myself the best possible version of "me." There are many others who are doing the same, so there is no doubt in my mind that as long as this is happening across the world, you will most definitely be a successful, happy year.
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