January Monthly Wrap-up

Birthdays and photos and good, healthy lunches.

Cats, rain and slippers, and movie night fun.

Poptarts and camp and sweet worship songs.

Insulin pumps and short story contests.

Chinese food and skating and whales in space.

Gosh, I’m 19.

January.

January, while being a slow blog month was a good month. A fun month

Tv Shows

Grey’s Anatomy –

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This show, man.

I don’t normally like medical shows or ones with lots of drama, but this seems to be an exception. I’m on season 3 and I only started it at the beginning of the month. It’s definitely a good binge-watch show.

It’s about a group of surgical interns working at a hospital in Seattle. The show mainly focuses on Meredith Grey, who is the daughter of a famous surgeon. This show has a lot of romance and some pretty cool friendship dynamics.

And a lot of sex. Just… so much sex.

So beware of that, along with mild language and some fairly gory surgery scenes, if you’re planning on watching it.

Also, beware of feels. So many feels.

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Why can’t Meredith just be happy with Dr. McDreamy? And can we please have more Cristina scenes? And why oh why does Patrick Dempsey’s hair frighten me so much?

Books

January was not much of a reading month and I didn’t finish any books. I’ve slowly been making my way through Jesus Calling by Sarah Young and Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton… both of which I highly recommend.

I also went to the library today and returned home with a large stack of books. Mostly ones on Anthropology and learning Italian. Hopefully, I’ll be able to read them all in February.

Movies

The Shawshank Redemption –

I’d heard so much about this movie and was so excited to find it at the library. I was not disappointed either as it lived up to the high praises I’d heard in favor of it.

I liked it so much I wrote a review and will just leave this link here instead of retyping what I thought of it xp Shawshank Redemption Review

Die Hard –

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I watched this on my Birthday and… oh my word.

Bruce Willis plays John McClane, a New York Police officer, who tries to save his wife and her co-workers when they are taken hostage by terrorists during a Christmas party.

This movie is ridiculous. It was funny, contained lots of blood, and by the time I was halfway through I was wondering if Bruce Willis knew any words other than the f-word.

But Alan Rickman killed it as Hans Gruber, the sort of “in charge” bad guy and the movie had such a weird and funny feel to it.

I don’t think I’d watch it again but it was certainly enjoyable.

Sing –

I saw this in the theater and, while it didn’t live up to my expectations, it was very good.

A Koala named Buster Moon owns a once-grand theater that has fallen on hard times. He loves his theater and will do anything to preserve it. So, he takes one final chance to restore the theater by putting on a singing competition. Five contestants are the main characters through the film: a Frank Sinatra-esque mouse, a timid elephant, an over-worked mommy pig, a gorilla from a shady background and a punk-rock porcupine.

The movie was beautifully done and had the singing/acting talents of Matthew McConaughey, Tori Kelly, Scarlett Johannson, and Reese Witherspoon… to name a few.

I was especially blown away by the real life issues and emotions the characters dealt with AND Taron Egerton’s performance as Johnny the Gorilla. Man, that boy can sing.

This is a fun, family-friendly movie and will get your toes tapping.

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Eat, Pray, Love –

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This is my new favorite movie.

It’s romantic, it’s funny, it’s relevant, it’s beautiful.

It soothed my heart and surprisingly enough touched me on a personal level, shedding light on some struggles I’m going through.

It’s based on the bestselling book of the same name, in which a woman with a heart for travel realizes how very unhappy she is. Then, after her painful divorce, she takes off to find herself in Italy, India, and, finally, Indonesia.

The movie accentuates the need for good food, time to pray, and room for love. As always Julia Roberts is stunning, just like the rest of the movie. The main character, Elizabeth, reminded me a lot of myself and made me long for pizza in Naples.

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Same, girl, same.

Other Things

This month was lovely and contained many amazing things.

Back in December, I entered a short story contest and early in January I was notified that I had won an Honorable Mention. It’s just an Honorable Mention, but oh gosh did I need that win… and the t-shirt.

I started and completed insulin pump training, which has been both incredibly helpful and incredibly emotional. I’m not quite sure how I feel about the pump yet. I only know it’s helpful.

In addition to that I turned 19, on the 12th. It’s odd and I can’t seem to completely grasp how old I am. It’s exciting and frightening, this thing they call adulthood. Anywhoo, I had a wonderful Birthday filled with Cantonese takeout and, as I said above, Die Hard.

I attended a winter camp, which was really nice. I needed that break aND GUYS I SAW SNOW FOR THE FIRST TIME.

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(I went sledding and yes I wore converse. Bad idea. Don’t be like me. PICTURE CREDIT: my youth pastor)

After the camp was over my youth group drove into the mountains to go sledding. It was so cold and white and quiet and I want to go back.

And finally, I have begun the process of opening an Etsy store, where I will sell crafts, prints, and cards. I’ll post a link once it’s completely set up :3

This year I want each month to have a theme, a word. My word for the month of January was “New” and, although I didn’t try as many new things as I’d hoped, there were many new situations and experiences and I am content.

 

What about you all? What were your favorite parts of January?

The Shawshank Redemption – movie review

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The Shawshank Redemption is one of those movies you can’t get out of your head. An impactful one, a shocking one.

I watched it for the first time this month and it truly is one of the greatest films of all time.

Set in 1947 and the years following, banker Andy Dufresne is convicted of murdering his wife and her lover, and is sentenced to two consecutive life sentences at the Shawshank State Penitentiary. Andy is befriended by contraband smuggler, Ellis “Red” Redding, an inmate serving a life sentence. Andy’s indomitable will earns Red’s friendship; his resourcefulness brings hope and change to the prison itself. He’s full of surprises… and he saves his best one for last.

First, content concerns…

It is an R-rated film. There is at least 100 f-words, just as many sh-words and sooo many other words that you refer to in alphabet form in polite company and in front of your mother.

Along with the language comes scenes and discussions of violence: beatings, shootings, suicides, and murders.

There’s a short, sort of coy sexual scene in the beginning but it’s not as shocking as the references to and scenes of prison rape. Nothing is explicitly shown but you know what is happening.

The Shawshank Redemption is intense and adult

A quick note on these things

While I am not a fan of strong language or violence, in this movie they belong. The setting is a prison, a horrible and corrupt one. I truly believe without the language and violence the story would’ve been cheapened and frighteningly unrealistic.

It would not have made sense to see a table of criminals going “aw shucks” and “gosh darn”.

I really don’t want to start a discussion about immoral elements in movies and books, I’m just saying this is why I was ok with that level of adult content… it just made sense context-wise. Not one f-word was meant to be humorous, the violence was not meant to be thrilling. It makes you squirm, it does its job.

That being said I still don’t think I would recommend this movie to anyone under 17, although (like with every movie) it really depends on you and your thoughts/feelings about content matter.

If this is something you would or could watch, though, I wholeheartedly recommend it. For many different reasons…

The Performances and Characters

The acting in this movie is above and beyond great. It’s a character driven movie and oh what characters.

Tim Robbins is absolutely stellar as Andy, playing his quiet brilliance with fervor and emotion. You care deeply about Andy before the movie’s even hit the 30-minute mark.

Morgan Freeman is practically perfect as Red the mentor-type. He’s funny and serious and plays the important character with his usual class and subtlety.

I also have to note the incredible chemistry between Robbins and Freeman. Their characters just click and they pull off the dialogue and scenes together so well.

There are many other side characters that are just as rounded and interesting…. I’m quite partial to the old man with the bird in his pocket.

The Cinematography

While this isn’t an artsy film and doesn’t quite have the breathtaking scene set-ups and symmetry like in Big Eyes or Pushing Daisies, it’s still a work of art.

The Shawshank Redemption is filmed in dark and somber colors that match the emotion. It’s filmed smoothly and in ways that allow you to feel somewhat involved. There are a few very nice landscapes shots too… my personal favorite is the pan over Shawshank Prison from above.

The Story

This story was so well crafted I felt like squealing.

The twists and turns were unexpected, and small things, seemingly insignificant things, were tied in at the end. It gave you the ending you were hoping for but in a way you might not have suspected.

It’s a story of smarts, perseverance, hope, and freedom. Andy’s spirit is never broken, he’s a hero to care about and root for and his character arc is incredible to follow. His inner character is shown as the movie goes on and you can’t help but like him.

The theme is also pretty clearly stated, shown, and supported: “hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies”

If I was an official review blog, maybe with a fancy rating system, I’d rate this 5 out of 5 stars and it’s definitely something I’ll watch again.

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December Monthly Wrap-up

Chilly cold fingers on bright sunny days,

Insulin for cocoa and math in the kitchen.

Sappy, sweet movies and shopping with mom,

Fuzzy new blankets, fun books to read.

Kaleo songs and a bit of Owl City,

Snuggling a dog too big for my lap.

Cookies and slippers and staying up late.

Novels and werewolves and English muffins.

December.

 

Here are some of my December faves. Be prepared for a gif-heavy post.

Tv Shows

How I Met Your Mother –

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I started watching this show last month, so far I’m on the fourth season and enjoying it “too much” (according to my sister who I force to watch it with me).

It’s basically just about a group of friends living in New York and muddling through life, love, and such together.

The characters and humor are delightful and it’s a fun show to watch. It’s a bit adult, but overall cute, insightful, and funny. A few of the episode plots have been strangely applicable to different life situations. I’d definitely recommend this as a fun, late-night show.

Also Marshall and Lily are the cutest tv couple ever.

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Leverage –

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This month I finished Leverage and I just have a lot of feelings about that show. ESPECIALLY THE FINAL EPISODE OK.

It’s about a group of thieves who decide to pull elaborate cons on the greedy and corrupt. Kind of a modern-day Robin Hood story.

The plot is different, interesting, and the characters are the best. I’ve honestly never seen a show with better characters or better character arcs. Watching the characters grow and change was one of the most interesting parts of the show. Eliot found a family and became more trusting, Hardison seemed to mellow out, and Parker got better at socializing and loving.

And don’t even get me started on Sophie and Nate. They just love each other so much… oh my heart.

10/10 would recommend this show. All the seasons are on Netflix so shoo and watch them.

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Bones –

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While searching Netflix I was interested to find a show about a forensic anthropologist, as I am interested in both forensics and anthropology.

I assumed Bones would be another cliché crime show. And while I was partly correct, I wasn’t prepared for the rounded characters, the wonderful anthropological and medical terms, delightfully gory corpses, fun friendships, and a sweet romance between Bones and Booth.

It’s a really nicely done show and I’m almost finished with the first season. I’m enjoying it immensely, but don’t recommend it if you’re not into flesh-eating beetles and decomposing bodies.

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Books

The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo –

A story about a little boy looking for his sister after a fortune-teller informs him she is still alive, this book is lovely. It was witty, profound, and sweet. Kate did a beautiful job of painting emotional and descriptive pictures, working with quite a lot of different characters.

A must-read if you enjoy elephants, magic, singing beggars, and snow.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler –

I just started this one and oh dear it’s funny. A nonfiction book where Amy talks about life, love, and lessons with her signature wit. It’ll make you laugh, it’ll probably make you cry. The book is chock full of fun stories and truths (and pretty bad language, so sensitive readers beware) and there are many quotable sentences.

Amy Poehler is my idol and I love her very much.

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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling –

My sister gifted this to me for Christmas, as she knew this was the next book I was on in the Potter series. I’m reading through the series for the first time and man is it good. I knew it was good but I promise Harry Potter exceeds your expectations and while get irreversibly and completely hooked

This, the Goblet of Fire, is my favorite book so far, even though I’m only in the beginning chapters.

Don’t mind me, I’ll just be over here with my tea and longing to attend the Quidditch World Cup.

Movies

Love Actually – 

I watched this for the first time and it is a wonderful Christmas movie. I laughed so hard.

Everything about this movie is good, every single story is compelling. It follows nine intertwined love stories, some happy, some sad, and is set over Christmas. It is rated R, and rightly so with all the language and sexual scenes, so be aware that it isn’t really a family Christmas film even though it is very cute and romantic.

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While You Were Sleeping –

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This has been one of my favorite Christmas films for a while and it’s oh-so-sweet. I’m a Sandra Bullock fan and this is one of her best feel-good films. It’s about a lonely transit worker who pulls a man she’s had a crush on from the train tracks, saving him and inadvertently making his quirky family believe she’s his fiancée.

This becomes even more complicated when she falls in love with his family while he’s in a coma and then meets his handsome and dashing older brother.

This movie just makes you feel happy and is the perfect wintery film. Sandra Bullock’s character is also extremely relatable.

Exhibit A:

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Rogue One –

I can’t even talk about this film. It wrecked me.

It was brutal, intense, brilliant, and beautiful and you should all go see it.

Cassian Andor is a precious cinnamon roll and very special to me.

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Other things

I started a new novel this month, mostly just plotting and outlining, but stay tuned as I might share snippets and synopses :3

I also discovered and listened to far too much Kaleo, an Icelandic band with a soulful rock sound. They’re very good and needless to say I’m a bit obsessed.

That’s all for this December wrap-up. I hope you all had a lovely Christmas, a wonderful Hanukkah, and are looking forward to the New Year.

 

What were your favorite parts of December? What did you read/watch/do that you enjoyed?

Getting to know your characters

Characters.

The life blood of a story.

Sure theme, structure, setting, plot, and disasters/dilemmas are vitally important. But characters are what drives our stories and are the part our readers remember most. When you think of the Hunger Games you instantly think of Katniss. Call of the Wild brings images of Alaska, but mostly you remember Buck and his brave heart. And no one can mention Harry Potter without conjuring thoughts of the trio.

This is because stories are about people, not events. You can’t tell a story about a salad bowl (however if you do succeed in writing such a story, send it to me right away so I may gaze upon such brilliance).

So, what do you do, then, when your characters feel flat and lifeless? Maybe their dialogue isn’t different, they sound monotone and without personality. Or you can’t for the life of you figure out how they’d react if their dog died. They don’t seem like heroes or villains or even real people… and quite frankly even you, the writer, don’t really care about them.

How do you get to know someone you made up? How do you turn an idea into a person?

I, personally, am a very character-oriented writer, so here are my tips and tricks.

(disclaimer: this post is assuming you already know what your character looks like and what their name is and this will not help you create a character, merely flesh them out. If there is enough positive feedback or enough people request it, I will endeavor to write a blog post on names and physical details/descriptions.)

Give your character good qualities

Yes, this seems so stupidly simple, but when someone is brave or selfless or patient or loyal we tend to like them at least a little bit. So a good place to start when trying to make a character that both you and your readers care about is by giving them an “ideal”.

Normally it’s best to give your main character an ideal that fits with the theme of your book. If the theme is “bravery in trying situations pays off”, then selflessness might not fit perfectly. But if the theme is “selflessness is brave”, then selflessness would fit even better.

Care about your character enough to give them good qualities, likable qualities.

And the same goes for your villain.

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Yes, even your villain needs to have a redeeming trait. I mean, even Voldemort was brilliant… he just used it for evil purposes. My villain is quite graceful and lovely, but deep-down she is greedy and manipulative. She’s just not all bad.

Bad guys are not completely bad. Just like good guys aren’t completely good. Which brings us to…

Give your characters bad qualities, weaknesses, fears

Giving your character negative qualities will not only make them more realistic, but also more likeable.

No one really likes a  completely perfect goody-goody. I mean, you might admire them but in the end, they’re a bit annoying. Especially as characters.

If your characters don’t fail and aren’t vulnerable we can’t connect to them 100%.

What is your character afraid of? What is their weakness… is it connected to their strength (ideal)?

One thing that helps me, when brainstorming negative things to add to my character, is to to figure out their MBTI, their Myer-Briggs personality. I do not recommend using this solely to develop your characters, although a few authors swear by it. Not every person with the same type has a personality exactly as described and if you base your character off of this alone then you will get a rigid, stale character. BUT it’s useful when coming up with fears and weaknesses and negative personality traits because most often these negative traits go hand-in-hand with the rest of their personality.

For instance, an ENFP type is gregarious and friendly and one of the listed fears could be being abandoned or lonely.

What is your character’s Starbucks beverage of choice?

You’ve started creating a character. You’ve given him curly copper hair, a scar on his cheekbone, long gangly legs, and a name. Next, you gave Alphonso Pigeonfoot (or whatever his/her name is) a good quality. He’s kind and patient, an upstanding gentleman. And then you gave him a few negative characteristics.

Maybe he can be a really condescending without meaning to. He second-guesses himself. Alphonso could possibly be overly shy. He’s frequently worried.

Now, you need to get to know him even more and here is one trick I love.

Alphonso walks into a coffee shop. He waits in line without complaint (because, remember, he’s patient) and then timidly steps up to the counter. The barista asks him what he’d like to drink and he orders                     .

What does he order? Is he a coffee person or a tea person? Dark roast or medium roast? Maybe he likes frappuccinos?

This may not seem important in the slightest and chances are you will never mention this in your novel. But in order to create a rounded character you need to know them well, and to know them really well you need to know basically everything.

So don’t even just stop at Alphonso’s favorite coffee-type beverage. What’s his favorite form of comfort food? What was his relationship like with his mother when he was a child? How do his clothes normally fit him? Are they tailored? Loose and comfortable? What was his first kiss like? Is he a dog person or a cat person?

I suggest filling out a character sheet like this one. It has a lot of helpful and quirky questions.

Mirror characters

Sometimes you start writing or developing a character and suddenly realize they are pretty much the clone of yourself.

I’ve noticed that all my characters have at least one small trait of mine, even the villains. And I think this is fine, helpful even. You connect to that character, even more, when you’re writing them because you understand a little part of them.

But having many characters similar to you inalmost everyway is probably not a good idea… mostly because then they just feel like clones off an assembly line. They’re all the same, they’re all like you, and that, my friends, takes the challenge out of writing.

Because instead of asking yourself “how would Alphonso react to this situation?” you’re asking yourself “how would I react to this situation?”. And although you should ask yourself that when writing a scene, it’s not the first and only question you should be asking yourself.

How do you fix this, then?

Well, first, you need to be ok with writing characters that have views that don’t agree with your own views and are different. I have a main character that is spur of the moment to a fault and is fairly moody. He is nothing like me and at first I balked at the idea of writing him, but soon it became a fun challenge and allowed me to see situations and scenes in a new and different light.

Not every person has the same moral, religious, or political views as you do and this goes for characters too. Now, I’m not saying to write a character that goes against your beliefs or values. That’s not a good idea because you don’t want to up-hold or encourage something you don’t believe in. And you should absolutely believe in what you are writing. But you just need to be ok with writing a character that is different from you. Acceptance is the first step and tip.

Another thing I find useful is this test. It’s a Mary-Sue test and will tell you if your character is too similar to you AND whether or not your character is cliché. It’s helped me a lot and is kind of fun to look into.

Something else to do would be to simply write down what parts of your character are similar to you and change those things. I had a character that was completely me except for the way she looked. So I figured out exactly what the similarities were and changed a few, not all of them because some facets of her character that matched mine worked for her well. I made her even more optimistic than I and changed a few of her fears. She became more of an extrovert and a younger soul than me.

Because secretly I’m an angry, old Ron Swanson inside. True story.

Backstory

Backstory, backstory, backstory. Figure out your character’s backstory.

This is so important because it shows you why your character is the way they are.

Things that happened in our past change us, whether it’s evident or not. We are influenced and shaped  by things that have happened. The same goes for our characters.

So actually taking the time to write out in detail your character’s backstory will be extremely helpful. Trust me.

Letting the readers get to know your character

We want our reader to care about and empathize with our characters. We want them to love our characters. And caring or affection grows out of knowing that character. Give the readers details about your character that are meaningful.

I once listened to a webinar on writing heroes and the teacher talked about a person who bought him donuts every Saturday.

This seems like a trivial detail but this shows us some important things. This person was generous, thoughtful, and enjoyed donuts.

Don’t just say Alphonso’s favorite color is orange. Show it to us in a way that makes us remember and realize something important about him. Maybe orange is his favorite color because his mom always wore an orange sweater.

Also, something to remember is taking the gravity of your characters and story seriously. Don’t force emotion. Use the above tips, or others that work for you, and really care about the characters you’re writing about.

Give your characters meaningful lives, let them have meaningful quirks and your characters will be meaningful to your audience.

 

The bottom line is:

You can never know too much about your character.

Keep learning. Write drabbles and short stories. Pick out a fun alternate universe and write about your ninja-assassin going to Disneyland.

Have fun writing your characters and your characters will be fun ❤

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Procrastination

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Sometimes I imagine procrastination as a pudgy little swamp creature sitting beside me. He leans over and says reasonable sounding things as I look at the schoolwork I must do, the novel I must write, the clothes I should wash.

He speaks in a low and squishy-sounding voice…

“Ok, two minutes of chores… then reward yourself with ten minutes of Pinterest.”

The novel can wait until tomorrow… when you have more time.”

It doesn’t have to get done now… Chemistry isn’t that important.”

And to me, these things sound good and make sense. So the schoolwork piles up as do the clothes. The novel sits on the desk, dusty and unwritten. That drawing sits sad and unfinished.

If any of you are reading this and thinking to yourself “oh dear. That sounds like me.” Then this post is for you.

KICKING PROCRASTINATION IN THE BEHIND

Step one: START

Just start. I know it sounds good to do something else right now but start whatever project you should be doing. Close this laptop, don’t even finish reading this blog post (but come back later because I have more tips xp).

Sometimes starting is the hardest part of a task. Once you start, you’re committed. And “tomorrow” sounds so much better than “now”.

It’s time to get out of that slump. Just START.

Doing something now is better than putting it off and putting it off until the task grows bigger than a giant and seems impossible to complete.

Trust me.

Step two: STAY FOCUSED UNTIL IT’S DONE

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Once you start sometimes it gets easier and you fly through the project… but sometimes, if you’re like me, you get distracted.

Now the hard part is sticking with a project until it’s done.

One thing to do, something I struggle with personally, is put away whatever is distracting you. That book you want to read? Put it back on the bookshelf. The phone that contains your Instagram app? Put it out of reach.

Actively make decisions that will help you, not hinder you.

I especially struggle with “rewarding” myself. I have such a hard time focusing on something for a long time and need to take breaks. I’ll do a few Algebra problems and reward myself with a few pages of the book I want to read… which turns into a chapter… then two chapters…

If you’re the same way, then give yourself a break. But in a way that’s not distracting.

Instead of scrolling through Pinterest, do some jumping jacks. Instead of reading “just a few pages” of your book, refill your water bottle.

One trick that I’ve found helpful is the “15-minute cleaning rule”. Set a timer for 15-minutes and clean one spot until it goes off. When the 15-minutes is up, move to a new spot. EVEN IF THE PREVIOUS SPOT ISN’T COMPLETELY CLEANED/FINISHED.

Set the timer up again and when the 15 minute sis up, move to a new spot or the one you didn’t finish from before.

This technique works wonders for me. So often, when I’m decluttering or cleaning, I get burned out and hear myself saying “when can I stoooop”. This way you get a change of scenery and when you return, you may find that the place is cleaner than you thought. Or maybe there’s something you overlooked.

The point is there are ways to stay focused other than just buckling down, sucking it up, and not doing ANYTHING ELSE UNTIL YOU FEEL YOUR BRAIN LEAK OUT YOUR EYES AND THE TASK IS DONE.

Step 3: PRIORITIZE

Sometimes our to-do list is as long as the Amazon river and you’re not sure there are enough hours in the day.

So, if you can, prioritize. Figure out what NEEDS to get done and do it first. Is it more important to change your sheets? Or go for a run? What can you put off till tomorrow if you have to?

Obviously, some things you have to get done… like school. But in the times around that, you can prioritize.

And hey, maybe at the end of the day you can get everything done. But if you can’t at least the things that absolutely could not wait were completed.

Step 4: IT’S OK IF NOT EVERYTHING GETS DONE

This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the above step.

Somedays you crawl in your unwashed sheets, realize you spent 30 minutes on the computer you could’ve used to work out. Or maybe the day got crazy and you weren’t even able to leisurely get on the internet.

I can’t stress this enough: DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP. It’s ok. As long as you tried your best, you did awesome.

Step 5: LET YOURSELF DO THINGS YOU LIKE

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Balance is so important. Just like you can’t spend your entire day watching Netflix, you also can’t spend every waking hour doing chores.

So make time for things you love. Make sure you have time to watch that show you like. Give yourself time to read. Bake that banana bread you’ve been craving. Go outside and shoot some hoops.

You could even use the above tips to organize your me-time. Prioritize, stay focused. When you sit down to watch a movie… watch that movie. Don’t start vacuuming.

Unless vacuuming relaxes you. I won’t judge.

 

That’s all the advice I have for you today… so tell that little monster he’s not the boss of you and let’s get out there and get stuff done!

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photo(s) found on unsplash.com and edited with pixlr.com

Marmalade

Something quirky and fun for your Monday.

This is a short story near and dear to my heart… it’s my little sister’s favorite and she’s been asking me to expand on it. One day maybe, but for now here is The Toast Vendor.

The Toast Vendor

Persnickety Snoot was a vendor of sorts, and a hard one to miss one at that.

With her maroon colored vest and crown of curls, she stood out on the cobblestone streets like a funeral attendee in yellow.

She pushed a cart strung with bells that jingled as the wheels bounced along. A fabric bluebird wobbled on top of the lace umbrella attached to the cart, providing shade for the pale-skinned Persnickety.

She pushed the cart down the street and she soon passed a barber shop, it’s red, white, and blue pole spinning in a slow rotation. As she passed an old man with stringy hair woke up from his nap, crooked nose twitching.

Could that be toast I smell? He thought with a start, rising from the bench on which he sat.

His nose led him down the street, following the jingling cart. Dark leather boots made a slapping noise on the stones and his hands stayed stuffed deep in the pockets of his long, lumpy patchwork coat.

And the man was not wrong, for you see Persnickety Snoot was a toast vendor. Hidden in her musical cart sat a shiny, battery-operated toaster. Every few steps the toaster would go “DING!” and up would pop golden, perfectly toasted bread. With grace, the Toast Maker would remove the warm bread, set it in its own little paper bag, and drop in two untoasted slices.

The patchwork man caught up to the cart and peeked through the top. The smell of warm toast made the corners of his mouth twitch.

“You’re selling toast, then?”

Persnickety stopped and spoke with a voice that sounded like the bells on her cart.
“Yes, indeed. But business is poor, very poor.” She looked at the man hopefully. “You wouldn’t want to purchase some toast… would you?”

The man’s eyes lit up. “Yes, I’d love some… and I have just the thing to go with it…”

Taking the edge of his coat he spread one side out wide, showing mini-jars of orange jam in various pockets on the inner lining. He reached in with his other hand and removed the jar, turning it to show the label which read: FRESH MARMALADE JAM.

The sun filtered through, making it shine a honey orange.

Persnickety’s eyes widened and she clasped her hands. “Marmalade?”

“Marmalade.”

She reached into the cart and handed him a warm paper bag of toast. The man took a butter knife from one his pockets and, after removing the lid, spread the marmalade over two pieces of toast, handing one to Persnickety.

The two merrily ate and after a particularly jammy bite Persnickety looked up.

“Not many people,” she said. “Like to eat just plain toast.”

The man nodded. “And not many people like to eat just plain marmalade.”

They looked up and their eyes met.

“Are you thinking what I am thinking?”

“Yes, I believe so, sir.”

“This could be the beginning of a beautiful partnership.”

In which I think it’s time for a blog…

I’ve never been quite sure what to put in a blog.

Should I share a doodle or two? Maybe a ghost story? Should I tell you all about my day and how I conquered obstacles armed with a whole lot of Jesus and a little bit of insulin?

Maybe all of the above?

I guess we’ll have to wait and see what pops up amongst these web pages.

But first, an introduction.

My name is Abby. A writer, an artist, and a fan of Netflix. I’m interested in art history, National Parks, anthropology, and forensics. I am a Christian, a Hufflepuff, a compulsive hair dyer (currently pink), and an avid book reader.

I like a lot of things and so there will probably be much variation in my blog posts.

I am a sprite, an Outsider, an Adventurer, a collection of contradictions.

Thank you for reading this blog.