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2017: Journey

Creating Journal entry by Christy V.

Creative Journal Entry by Christy V. (aka me)

Journey: a passage or progress from one stage to another. I decided to make this theme, that my best friend Tabitha suggested, as my focus for this year. I’ll explain why in a moment. There are multiple journeys in life, including life itself. The most difficult are the ones where the odds are uncertain. No matter what, we have important people in our lives to give us strength to push through any difficulties. Sometimes the difficulties push us to be better than we once were.

There is fear in the unknown, but for me, my faith in God reassures me that things will work out even if they are not what I expect them to. He is there always by our side, even when it feels like others are not. By focusing on “journey” this year provides a way to view this year differently than others: an opportunity for growth, compassion, and faith, but these are things that can be continued on way beyond this year and onward. It is a reminder to focus on the important aspects of life when the future seems even more uncertain than before. It is a reminder that we’re all a work in progress.

What can we do to make this journey of 2017 worthwhile? Pay attention a bit more of your surroundings. Listen to those around you. Reflect on what you’ve done each day and see what you can improve on for the next day. Grow your passion for learning, especially with reading and writing. Allow yourself to be open to new ideas, while still holding strong to what you believe is right. I grew up being a girl scout, and recently, I’ve been reminded of the Girl Scout Law and Promise. Both are what I want to keep in mind this year.

On my honor I will try to serve God and my country, to help people at all times, and to live by the Girl Scout Law. I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout. 

This year we need to seek healing, hope and unity to move forward stronger and better than before. We also have to remind ourselves what truly makes us happy, and what we’re doing that could hold us back from happiness. We can’t let things like procrastination and negativity hold us back. With step by step we can move forward together.

We must have patience as we work out the difficulties because it will ultimately lead to our happiness, but most of all, lean on those who matter the most, especially best friends who encourage and challenge us to become the best version of ourselves. Just as Matthew Kelly said in his book Resisting Happiness, “The power of one friendship can change the course of a life.” The people around us changes us, and we change them. It’s the secret of life. Remember “Life is short. Never waste a day.” Set out this year to do the things you’ve been wanting to do. Don’t let time pass you by. Be stouthearted. Lastly, remember “The strongest stars have hearts of kyber.” If you do not understand what I mean by this quote, I recommend reading the novelization of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. For now, here is one of my interpretations of the quote: Live with your heart open for love, even if it breaks your heart. It’s more powerful and stronger than you think it is.

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Goodbye 2016 – Reflections

door closing

No matter what has happened in 2016. Remember that you can start new again in 2017. We start the new year with hope. It is up to us to keep that hope going through out the year. It is also wonderful to be able to let go of the difficulties we had in the past, and yet realize how much we have grown to be better than we were. Reflect on what you have done this year, and be proud of your accomplishments. That is including moments where you’ve struggled, or you feel that you’ve failed in some way. It has made you become a stronger and wiser person than you were before. Each step forward leads you towards something even if we don’t know it yet. There have been sad moments, and happy moments. They have all lead us to who we are now.

Something did not work out this year, let it be something to make you grow. It’s like what the movie, Ice Sculpture Christmas, on the Hallmark channel said, “Things come to us not when we want them, but when we are ready.” Remember those relationships that have impacted your life. Wm. Paul Young said in his book, Cross Roads, “Faith takes risk… and there is always risk in relationships, but the bottom line? The world has no meaning apart from relationships. Some are just messier than others, some are seasonal, others are difficult, and a few are easy, but every one of them is important.” Be grateful for all your relationships because they have helped you, and many have illuminated the way this year. You know for the year ahead that you can trust and lean on them when you need them the most. Remember all the moments that you’ve impacted others. These moments present light to what ever darkness you had this year. What goals have you accomplished that you set out to do? What have you done that you did not expect? Even if you don’t feel like you’ve done much this year. You’ve done more than you might even know.

Even though I have not written much on this blog, I found much joy in filling in one of my favorite journals. I’ve written story stories, poems, personal and spiritual reflections, and favorite quotes. I’ve made drawings and colored into my journal. I’ve done creative journaling before, but I find this year that I’ve journaled more than ever and I still have a part of my journal left for next year. I’ve also written on my computer, but it’s usually to continue a story I’ve written in my journal. If you do not write creatively in a journal, I recommend it. Even if it is just to write a list. You’re able to find that writing down your thoughts, and ideas can push you to do more than you can imagine and push your boundaries. I set out this year to be more open minded. I’m not sure I succeeded, but what matters is that I tried my best. I did find myself more open to exploring my faith in God through books I’ve read this year. I hope to write some things similar in the future for others as well as myself because these books made an impact on me. I would love to be able to do the same. I’ve struggled this year, but I know all the struggles I’ve had will ultimately benefit me in the future. There have been some friends that have made this year special. They have changed me in a good way. I’m thankful to God for them. We all have the power to make the next year better than the year we’re leaving behind. Make it a good one.

Happy New Year everyone! Best wishes on the year ahead.

2016: Be More Open-Minded

Clara Oswald (Doctor Who, BBC America, Series 9)

Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald (Doctor Who, BBC America, Series 9)

Open-minded (adjective): having or showing a mind receptive to new ideas or arguments. 

“I try never to understand. It’s called an open mind.” – The Doctor

As an English scholar, I feel studying literature has given me a chance to explore, and to be more receptive. Yet I’m always conflicted. Even though I love being a Catholic, I’ve grown to realize that there are issues in life aren’t easy to pick one side or another one. I want to follow God, and have compassion for everyone, no matter what they believe in or stand for. I feel like some times society pushes us in ways that we must decide to be on one side, and not the designated other side. Why do we have to pick? I think it’s more important to focus on what we share, than what divides us, yet both need to be discussed so that everyone gets their voice heard and is valued.

The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Clara Oswald [Doctor Who, BBC America]

The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Clara Oswald [Doctor Who, BBC America]

When I started grad school, I became more interested in Feminism, especially because of Emma Watson (who played Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies). For a long while before, I felt unsure about what Feminism was about and supporting it. Through Emma’s work with UN Women & HeForShe (check out the new and improved website), she has made me realize that Feminism is ultimately about equality and that both genders need to work together to accomplish this.

Emma Watson

Emma Watson

Equality doesn’t mean that we are all the same, but that we all have equal rights and opportunities. Everyone should have the opportunity to study what they are interested in, work towards having careers in which ever field they want to pursue, and should be able to be paid well. Another organization, GirlsRising, promotes education for girls all around the world, and spreads awareness that many girls sadly don’t have the opportunity to go to school.

GIRL MEETS WORLD - "Girl Meets STEM"

Rowan Blanchard as Riley Matthews and Corey Fogelmanis as Farkle Minkus (GIRL MEETS WORLD – “Girl Meets STEM”)

On the latest episode of Girl Meets World, Girl Meets STEM, the main character Riley realizes that science shouldn’t be something that the boys study and the girls just assist. She stands up for the girls to show that we should question the world around us, and not let things just go by. Riley loves science and wants to grow to be better at it. Her long time friend, Farkle, ends up realizing he isn’t giving Riley the opportunity to grow, and motivate her to explore her interests, especially in science. When they work together in science class, they succeed. Even though this episode is about promoting STEM subjects to girls, as well as Feminism, it isn’t the most important aspect. Riley’s mom, Topanga, brings it up when talking to Riley and her female classmates, “Don’t talk yourself out of pursuing something because your afraid of how it’s gonna make you look. What you need to know is don’t let anyone get in the way of pursuing your growth and curiosity no matter what you wanna do.” We shouldn’t let fear get in the way of our exploration, no matter what we do, and not matter what our age.

GIRL MEETS WORLD - "Girl Meets STEM"

GIRL MEETS WORLD – “Girl Meets STEM”

So what does this have to do with being a writer? We have to be open-minded to new ideas and experiences. It’s tough in our world, but we have to do it. Otherwise, we don’t realize what’s really happening around us. We have an important job to do. Share our voices, thoughts, and stories to make others critically think and motivate each other towards striving our full potential. How can we do this? First by reading, watching, listening outside your comfort zone. Second, exploring what you’re interested in, even if you don’t feel confident in your abilities. Third, decide on your immediate and long-term goals for yourself. Fourth, writing what ever you’re drawn to, but also looking towards inclusion of unfamiliar along with the familiar. I was brought to bring up this because I feel it’s really important at this time for both genders to realize what’s going on around them, and working towards doing our part to improving the world in any way that we can, while still striving towards what we hope to accomplish with our lives.

If you’re looking for inspiration, I would recommend exploring the shows and organizations I’ve already mentioned, but also: the completed web series Classic Alice (if you haven’t already) and the book club created by Emma Watson, Our Shared Self. As well as the new Sherlock special, The Abominable Bride (no spoilers, but it’s worth re-watching multiple times to get all the details of this incredible story). The web series explores Alice’s journey in living life according to classic literature, but grows to realize how important making her own decisions. This recommendation is two fold, it first will inspire you to push towards reading books outside of your comfort zone, and then hopefully inspire you to reach for your own dreams. Second, the series is a great way to see how characters and a story plays out in our ever growing modern world. The show goes from telling the story on film, to giving their characters their own twitter accounts and podcasts, etc to create an interactive experience that makes the viewer not only learn more about the characters but also critically think about the story.

The feminist book club, Our Shared Shelf, was recently created, and Emma hopes it will be a way to have an open discussion about though-provoking and empowering literature. The first book is ‘My Life on the Road’ by Gloria Steinem. This turns to the last point of this post, I don’t want to get stuck in my ways that I’m not open to new ideas. Even though Feminism brings forth issues that what the Catholic Church says is contrary to their teaching of what our values should be, I don’t want to close off hearing what someone else has to say. I’ve been taught that we should listen to all sides. I’ve also been taught to have mercy and compassion. I think they all are needed to have a better future. I’m already receptive, but I hope to be more receptive to new books from this book club, as well as the books I study in the semester ahead and in the future. I want read & explore more about science because like Riley, I love science, and sadly don’t explore it as much as I used to. I want to continue exploring and creating new adventures, on and off the page, and not be afraid to take chances. I also hope the same for you. May this year be filled with inspiration and opportunities.

Kate Hackett as Alice Rackham and Tony Noto as Andrew Prichard (Classic Alice)

Kate Hackett as Alice Rackham and Tony Noto as Andrew Prichard (Classic Alice)

The Next Chapter

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Jenna as Clara Oswald in BBC Doctor Who

Every year we are positive that this year will be our year. The year that we will do everything we have ever wanted to do. We start out determined, and as we go on, it gets tough. We have to remember to make the year worth while. Sure, we can’t do something amazing every day, such as go on adventures but it’s important to make your days, no matter what happens, enjoyable. Even if you have a stressful day, make sure you take some time during that day, to do something you enjoy.

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Julian and Michelle as Charles & Mary in BBC Downton Abbey

We all have hopeful goals for the year. It’s good to have goals that way when the year ends, you can say that you’ve had a successful year. I felt that at the end of last year, even though I had some low points, the high points made the year worthwhile. It’s the journey that makes the story interesting.

Here are some of my goals for 2015:

1. Don’t worry too much. Everything will work out as it should.

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Rebecca & Noah as Eve and Flynn in The Librarians

2. Drink more tea.

Paddington

Paddington movie

3. More hugs and chats with friends.

Alex and Meredith (Grey's Anatomy)

Alex and Meredith (ABC Grey’s Anatomy)

4. Be inspired by stories, and try to live them out. Plus create some of my own.

Classic Alice

Kate & Tony as Alice and Andrew in Classic Alice

5. Enjoy every moment I have with my family.

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6. Look for mystery.

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Nathan as Richard Castle (with a Sherlock hat) in ABC Castle

7.  Remember to love always.

Hogwarts castle in Harry Potter (WB & J.K. Rowling)

Hogwarts castle in Harry Potter (WB & J.K. Rowling)

8. Hope for an adventure in every corner.

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Peter and Jenna as the Doctor & Clara in BBC Doctor Who

What are your goals for the new year? May you accomplish all them.

Every December is Last December

Harry Potter (WB)

Harry Potter (WB & J.K. Rowling)

Yes, the title is sort of referencing the latest Doctor Who Christmas special. I just couldn’t resist.

Every december, we prepare for the holidays, as a Catholic for me it’s Christmas. When the day is over, isn’t really over that excitement is suppose to last all year around, or at least a bit longer. That joy we have is hard to sometimes continue, as well as share, but it’s the best way to make our life worth while even when things don’t look quite well. This isn’t the last December, but maybe we should look at it that way. Have we completed our goals for the year? Have we showed kindness and love to others, as well as our family? It’s time to reflect back on the past, and look towards the new year. Even if things haven’t quite turned out has we hoped they would, we still have time to do something about it. Remember we don’t know what day is the end, so why not try to make every moment like it’s the last.

Doctor Who: Last Christmas (BBC America)

Doctor Who: Last Christmas (BBC America)

It’s been incredible year filled with ups and downs, but overall, I feel it’s been one of my best. As I look at my goals that I wrote in January, every thing I mentioned are still things I need to work on in the new year, but I feel that I’ve tried my best to accomplish those goals. By this point, I’ve completed the best that I could three semesters of Grad school, and I still have one more year left to finish, at least for my Masters. I’ve tried to let go of things that bring me down, tried to maintain my stress (tea really helps, especially from Lotus Dreams Tea), and pray when I could. I had an incredible 25th birthday party (with tea & live music). A downside, I still struggled to write and read more this year, outside of my classes, but I did have a course on Creative Writing, so that was a nice break from academic writing. Additionally, I started to read this year a great book series, GILDED, by my friend Christina Farley. I felt this recent semester, I was able to improve on having better balance. I felt that planning, drinking tea, and small breaks really helped me get what I needed done for grad school, and even complete my special essay (soon to be published, hopefully… I still don’t feel it will be real till I see my name printed). Did I really live life to the fullest this year? Well, I don’t know, but I tried, and that’s what counts. I did do something unexpected this year which was write a review & conduct an interview for the awesome web series, Classic Alice. I hope it helped bring more interest to the show, as well as support for next year during their crowd funding campaign (starting January 6), so the web series can continue through the next year. I think it’s worth continuing. There are so many things I’ve done this year, I’m worried I’m forgetting something. At the same time, this shows some good highlights. I hope you had some great ones too. Much thanks to all who have made this year special.

It’s great to look back and see successes, as well as great moments. It’s almost that time again to see what goals we need to do to make our new year worth while. Are you ready? I know I’m ready for my next adventure.

Doctor Who: Last Christmas (BBC America)

Doctor Who: Last Christmas (BBC America)

 May you all have a wonderful 2015!

A Quick Update

Set the time, Doctor. (BBC Doctor Who, The Caretaker)

Set the time, Doctor. (BBC Doctor Who, The Caretaker, Peter Capaldi)

I have to write a quick blog post for two reasons. One, I’m a bit busy right now keeping up with my grad classes & working on my essay project (more on that a bit later). The second, is that I feel like I’ve done a good job so far posting something on this blog at least once a month. I can’t break that good cycle.

Like always, I find myself working on figuring out how to schedule my time and try to get as much done of what I need to do (school, church, my essay project), so that way I have free time to do stuff that I want to do (aka time with my family, chat with friends, exercising, additional reading & watching TV).  So I’ve tried schedule out my time on paper that way I can get everything done. You know what I’ve forgotten to add to my schedule… Creative Writing time. I know I don’t have to do much, but if I do a bit each day, or per week, I could do more than I already am. Some times sprints can force you to write, and forget what your unsure about. I need to find time to pencil that in.

I’m working right now on revising my essay (that going to be published some time in the future). I found that it’s been better for me to revise a section at a time on at least one day out of each week. I’ve got to keep up the momentum because my next draft is due by October 15th. I think it helped a bit to have signed a publishing contract. It made it feel even more real to me. It pushed my determination to do as much as possible without slacking on my school work. I’ve got one large section left to revise, but I’ve realized that I’ve got to narrow down my essay more because my word count must be around 4500 to 5500. If you know my writing, especially when I worked at the university newspaper, I had a bad habit of going over the word count. It bugged me to cut because I felt everything was important in some way. That’s kind of how I feel now on my essay as well, but to say in the word count and include everything I need to, I have to cut what isn’t quite necessary. I’ve worked on this long enough that I know what isn’t as important. Please send positive thoughts/prayers my way. I would really appreciate that. Thanks.

Besides all the literature I’m reading for classes, I really want to finish reading my advanced copy of SILVERN. Even though now it’s not advanced anymore since the book is now available for everyone. This book is the second of the GILDED series, written by my friend Christina Farley. It’s an amazing modern Korean myth story, with an amazing female main character. I recommend reading the series, if you haven’t already. I’m trying my best to read a bit at a time. It’s surprising that I haven’t finished it by now. I read many Young Adult books very quickly. At the same time, I’m glad that I’m taking my time and enjoying what my friend has written. Plus it’s nice to have something different to read outside of my classes.

I’m really enjoying my classes, especially since they are literature focused. My only issue is that I feel we’re rushing a lot because we have to read books quickly and we don’t have much time to discuss. It does keep everything interesting. Plus the stories aren’t boring, even if they aren’t my favorite stories ever. Every class period, I’m reminded why I choose to study literature. I need that more than ever because the world around us can make us doubt everything. I’m thankful that I have my family, friends and God on my side.

I hope you all are doing well.

Chapter One of 2014

Molly Hooper (BBC Sherlock)

Molly Hooper (BBC Sherlock, The Empty Hearse)

Beginnings never truly start at the beginning, but when the story has already started. We’re all works in progress hopeful that the next chapter will bring something worthwhile. At the same time, we forget to live in the moment, and enjoy what we have. It’s not quite our fault though. We’re ingrained to plan ahead to help us decide what choices we make. Some times the choices are small, and other times difficult, and each one changes where our plot turns. Just like a writer on its first draft, we don’t really know how everything will go, but we’re determine to do what ever we can to make the best of it. Many goals don’t really need a deadline, but we choose to put one, because we’re afraid that we won’t complete that goal without it. Goals are different from resolutions, because you can never truly fail. If something doesn’t work out, you can change or rework the goal to become something doable. A goal can be possible any day, any year, and any time in your lifetime, it’s just up to you to decide when it will be. At the same time, a lot of things in life are out of our control. They are in God’s hands, at least that’s what I believe. He can see the full picture, while we only see parts. It’s the unexpected that makes life bittersweet. It can either be amazing, okay, or painfully difficult. We need all the parts of what makes a story to live life to its full potential.

Here are some of my goals for this year book:

  • Grad School: Just because I’ve finished my first semester, doesn’t mean that everything else will be easy. I’m determined to work just as hard this year to do my best in all my classes.
  • Moving On: Last year, I had to let certain things go (people, situations, memories, emotions) in the process of working on the next chapter of my life, which is grad school. It was difficult, but I felt there was no other option left. I trusted God would get me through, and he did. There are still moments, that make me feel like I’ll never move on, but some things take time. I just have to keep going, and not let it bring me down. Even though, those who meant something are very hard to forget, no matter what I do. It’s important to focus on the good that came from it.
  • Less Stress: I must take everything one step at a time. Freaking out about a final paper, in the beginning of the semester even though it’s due at the end, doesn’t help. Complete what needs to be done first, and then plan and work on the rest. It’s easier said then done. Some times it helps to just have some one to talk to, and to remember to reach out for help when I need it.
  • Pray More: No matter what, unless I’m really ill, I go to Mass every Sunday, and when I’m not traveling, I sing in the church choir. As it’s been said before, singing is like praying twice. Even with that, I still feel like I need to pray more each day. I pray before meals, and when ever I feel drawn to doing so. I want to continue to pray for my family, my friends, my teachers/professors (past, present and future), and all those who need him, no matter where they are in life. I also want to continue to thank God always for everything that I have, and that he has given to me. I just don’t want it to be something quick, but actually reflective.
  • Write & Read More: As an English scholar, this should be an easy goal to accomplish, but it’s still difficult. When it comes to classes, it’s all about being prepared as best as you can, with the time that you have. So there is a lot of scheduling, and planning when to get everything done. At the same time, since there is so much to do, it doesn’t give much time to write and read for pleasure. By the end of the day, I’m usually so tired, all I want to do is watch an episode of one of my favorite shows, though I don’t do that every day, but I still try to because it’s a reward. Some times I read for enjoyment, when I can as well. I tried writing poems when I could in November, during NaNoWriMo. So when the semester was over, I was ready to read the list of books, that I’ve been wanting to read lately. I’ve gotten some of them read. After going to a writers meeting, this past weekend, and visiting family in Mexico, I was reminded how much I was slacking on writing my own stories. I want to keep writing, especially stories and poems. As well as continue to write on this blog. I might not write often, but I’ll try my best to write when I can.
  • Better balance: Even though there are things out of my control, I want to make sure that I still make time for my family and friends this year. There were times last year that I felt so over whelmed with my classes, that it made me decide to stay home more to get things done. It helped when it came to grad school, but it pained me to put school first over the people I cared about. Many understood, and I’m thankful for that. I still want to try my best to make time whenever possible. Thankfully some of the break time in between has given me a chance to enjoy that time with them, as well as relax. I’m so thankful that I got a chance to visit my family in Mexico during the Christmas holiday. It’s not often I see my mom’s side of the family, so when I do, I treasure every moment of it. I think I treasure the time I have with those who I care about now more than ever before as the years have gone by.
  • Carpe Diem: I want to make sure every day is another opportunity to live life to the fullest.

What are your goals for 2014? You don’t have to write them out, but sometimes it helps to see them written out. You can always go back and look at them, but most of all, it helps to understand where your headed. They are like maps to help guide you where you want to go.

Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014

Frozen (Disney 2013)

Frozen (Disney 2013)

Alert: Possible spoilers ahead!

As the end of 2013 begins to close, it’s time to reflect back on the past year. I began this blog, this year. It was an incredible experience, along with writing my first novella, and completing my first semester of grad school. There has been difficulties along the way, but they have made me stronger. The happiness that I’ve had, this past year, has made everything worth while. I’m so thankful to God for all my family, friends, professors and classmates. For all of them have made a difference in my life. There has been many happy moments with my family and my friends that made this year wonderful. I hope I have many more of those moments next year.

This year I’ve had to let go of many things. Even though it’s difficult, it’s part of life. Without endings, there is no beginnings. As we start the new year, it’s a fresh start. 365 empty pages that we can write. All I want to do this coming year is take one step at a time to make all those pages worth while. Less stress, and more living life to the fullest. The story of my life is all about words… music, faith, stories, writing, and relationships… and I look forward to seeing where my story goes in 2014.

The Time of the Doctor (BBC)

The Time of the Doctor (BBC Doctor Who)

Goodbye to all your regrets, fears, and pain. Never forget you who’ve been. Say hello to all the new possiblities.

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The Time of the Doctor (BBC Doctor Who)

May you all have a wonderful 2014.

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Sherlock (BBC)

Live Out Your Imagination

“Indulge your imagination in every possible flight…” – Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice.

There is three things I like to imagine… besides traveling to Greece, having adventures in the UK, and imagining myself in my favorite stories.

Now which three things may I be referring to? Well, I’ll give you a hint. It’s several things that I would like to accomplish in my life.

Have you ever had a “Bucket List”? You know, things that you would really want to do in your life before you pass away. I know it can sound a bit depressing, but I think it’s a great way to make sure you take every moment for granted. As much as bungee jumping is thrilling, it’s not all about dangerous thrills. It can be just things that you haven’t done yet, but you’ve wondered about doing. For example, the National Novel Writing Month. I took the challenge to write a novel and though I didn’t finish in time, I was able to write more than I could ever imagine. (more…)

Strive For New Adventures

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Photo by Christy

A friend of mine, when I was in high school, told me that you could experience adventures in life just as much as the ones I read on the pages of my favorite books. It wasn’t until I went to my university, and after I graduated, that I realized how much that held true.

Some times an adventure can just be exploring our own backyard. I don’t mean the backyard of our house, but it could still work. What I’m referring to is the city you live in. Have you ever driven around your city just to look around? Or go downtown, just to walk around? Or stop at a place, and ask to look around because the place looked interesting? I’ve done all these. Some of these, and other experiences, have inspired me to write and made my life a bit more interesting. (more…)