Writing

All Things Considered

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Today I cried. It was the first time I had cried in a long time. At least from what I can remember and I haven’t been remembering too well lately. Short-term memory loss tends to make life difficult in that way. Anyhow, I cried and it felt really, really great. I cried first with my sister and then with my mom.

Moseying around our room at home today,  my sister asked me “are you OK?” I responded with “yeah, sorta, well actually no.” Cue tears. And she said that’s OK. Nothing is wrong with not having it all together. No one is asking or expecting you to be totally with it. I had a similar conversation with my mom. I am so thankful for these women in my life.

After coming home from spending two weeks in the hospital in Seattle, I wasn’t sure the kinds of emotions I would experience, but after one week in I’ve mostly felt overwhelmed. After being home for one week, there is still so much to process. That is to be expected.

Two weeks ago, I had a seizure that caused me to become unconscious. After not being able to communicate with me, my parents started reaching out to my school friends via Facebook. Finally, after sending my friend Andrew directly to my dorm room finding that I did not respond to his knocks, the police were called and the door to my room was broken down.

Before being flown to Seattle Children’s Hospital from Washington State University, where I had been enjoying my first semester.  I spent a short time in the ICU at Pullman Regional Hospital.

Things were bleak. I am no doctor, but I’m pretty confident that a lot of people were unsure of if or when I would wake up, and if so, what damage would follow?

Waking up, while clearly a great step towards recovery was nonetheless very confusing. I didn’t know where I was, who my parents were, or even what had happened.

In all of the confusion, there has also been  a lot of clarity. I’ve had to rely and trust entirely on Jesus and my doctors. Jesus has shown me that my priorities are out of place and I also need to take it easier on myself. His presence has been so imminent. One of the workers in the hospital told me “I am so glad you have your faith!” I am too. I cannot even begin to imagine where I would be without my faith.

I have never felt so loved in my life. By God, friends, and complete strangers. I’ve also learned that just because God throws us curve balls in life and we don’t receive what, does not mean at all that he does not care for us. This is not the case at all.

I feel strongest in my weakest moments. People have been calling me “miracle child” and more commonly, “fighter.” And while I know this is meant to be flattering, I rarely ever consider myself either one. I call it being human. I am who I am because of hope. Side note: many people who follow my blog, read a blog post I wrote in March titled Hope is Hard. If this post interests you in any way, I’d also encourage reading my thoughts about hope as it is a topic I have brought up.

When people ask me how I’m doing and how I’m handling everything, my typical response has been along the lines of “All things considered, I am doing great!” However, internally, I’ve also recognized it’s perfectly healthy and normal to recognize that there have been large bumps in the road and recovery, especially emotional recovery, will only come with time.

Everyone, whether diagnosed with epilepsy or not faces trials and tribulations of various sizes. Sure, the events which took place two weeks ago my not occur to everyone, but everyone has a story-one that is unique!

No matter what I write about, storytelling almost always becomes incorporated. I write and share with you only because I hope that it’ll prompt you to do the same! So tell me, what’s your story?

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Writing

10 Summer Reads

It’s amazing, really, that considering all the books I’ve read, I haven’t already compiled any reading lists!  So, without further ado, I give you ten of my personal faves:

Top 10 Summer Reads to check out! Tweetable

1.  Hotel  on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. I highly recommend this book. I’m not the best critic, but I remember absolutely loving this one. Also, if you doubt my credibility, it’s a New York Times Bestseller. If you’ve been a reader of mine for any amount of time, you may have noted this fact: I’m a total nerd.   I’d honestly be somewhat surprised if you have not seen or heard of this title. It’s received a lot of attention from various newspapers, magazines and even schools. Bonus: it’s set in Seattle!

2.  Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Total classic. Ladies, I do hope you’ve indulged yourself in this book at some point in your life. If not, this book is for anyone.  I read it as a child, however, I’ve read it numerous times.

3. The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Twenty, thirty years down the road, I have no doubt people will still be talking about this story. If you’ve only seen the movie and you are wondering if the book is worth your time, let me be the first to tell you that it’d be a waste of time not to. Readers of historical fiction, inspiring characters, and Southern humor will adore this page-turner.

4.Packing Light: Thought on Living Life with Less Baggage by Allison Vesterfelt. This book blew me away. The risks Allison  took in her book to make this grand adventure happen, has significantly encouraged me to see risks as opportunities, and not scary giants. Follow her journey as she travels to all fifty states and discover what she learned about Packing Light. Learn more about Allison here.

5. Love Does by Bob Goff. There are very few titles I’d consider re-reading. However, Love Does  is one of those rare treasures. If you are somewhat new to my blog, or a first time visitor, you may have missed my more detailed review of this particular book. This book is for the world-changers, the doers, and non-fiction lovers.

6. Rooms by James L. Rubart. It’s not everyday that the opportunity arises for me to support local authors. Roomsdefinitely grabbed my attention. It’s very unique in that it didn’t quite fit many of the popular story plots. In a nutshell, the story is about one man and one soul-searching journey as he finds God after years of living the “good life.” A series of uncanny  events causes leads him to serious introspection.

7. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. I didn’t know how much I loved murder mysteries until I discovered this stupendous author.

8. As Waters Gone By by Tina Bustamante. This book is one of hope and redemption. There are no other two words which better fit the bill than these. Except maybe grace and love. I love Tina. She put her heart and soul into this book and the result is beautiful.

9. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday. Every once in a while, I unearth a gem in a secondhand bookstore  such as the one Torday has brilliantly written. While I may not know much about fishing, I walked away from these precious pages with a little more faith in humanity. And an increased respect for fish and fishermen.

10. The Vow: The True Events that Inspired the Movie by Kim Carpenter and Krickitt Carpenter. One word: wow. I can tell you right now, had I read this book prior to seeing the movie, I would not have paid money to see the Hollywood film. This here is the real deal.

 

Did I leave out any must-read in 2014 titles? Share your suggestions in the comments below!

 

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Writing

Pause. Breathe. Decompress.

More than convinced. I was more than convinced that while on vacation, I would get an incredible amount of writing done. I’d write everyday in my leather travel journal and share all the details with you, my readers, the very moment the plane ascended, the blue Wi-Fi light turned on, and I trudged into the chilly terminal in Seattle. After all, I somewhere in the description of this blog, I threw something in there about loving to travel, right?!

I’m sure, at some point in time, I will talk about my crazy Hawaiian adventure. But on this particular vacation, more than any other trip in recent years, I realized just how hard it is for me to live and breathe and function in the moment. I’m sure , whoever you are and whatever you, you can relate to this feeling. No matter how hard you try, there always seems to be a thought lingering at the back of your mind. A task on your To-Do list, which hasn’t been completed yet. An e-mail you need to respond to. A phone call you need to make. A conversation which needs to be held with a friend or family member.  You get the idea. It’s too easy, in the midst of all the bustle and hustle to forget to pause.

For me, personally, writing is my best escape. Not only do I take the chance to pause and write, but because I decompress at the same time. So when I say writing isn’t going all that hot, it means I’m stopping to pause, but all those crazy thoughts are building up inside of my head. And with nowhere to go, the pausing and breathing doesn’t do too much good.

That being said, last night, I finally started out my crazy thoughts. With no intention of anything being perfect or even making sense. The random nonsense probably isn’t blog worthy. However, there’s power in putting words on paper. It restores some sanity. Especially when we can’t always hop on a plane and escape to the beach. That vacation taught me the importance of creating a consistent sabbatical. Whether that be Sunday or Wednesday  is not important. Perhaps frequent staycations are the answer.

How do you carve out time in your day to pause? Feel free to share in the comments below.

 

Enjoy this long weekend! Don’t forget to Pause. Breath. Decompress.

 

-Kayla

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Writing

Empty Shelf Book 14: Rooms

Title: Rooms

Author: James L. Rubart

What’s it about: When Micah Taylor inherits a mansion in Cannon Beach from a long dead uncle who he has never met, he’s not quite sure what to think. After stepping out of his comfort zone, Taylor decides to visit this mystery house. In the house, he encounters rooms which force him to face bits and pieces of his painful past-and the faith he thought he had abandoned for sure.

Why did I read it:A friend recommended it to me and I thought “why not?” It’s probably something I wouldn’t have chosen for myself, but I’m glad I read it nonetheless.

Favorite idea: “Despite the unanswered questions and being within miles of where his heart had shattered, he felt at peace.” This feeling resonated deeply with me.

Where you can buy it: here

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Rhymes With, Writing

Some Days It Rains

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There are days when bus stops are no fun.

But still, you drag yourself  on and on.

Lectures are taught when the sun is  behind shrouds of clouds.

The coffee isn’t strong,

And your tea  is not hot, but nonetheless, you step out the door to whatever lies

Beyond.

Sweaters are too bulky, particularly around the cuff.

Parking lots are still empty,

Some students seem tipsy.

Your brain is still fogged–

It shows right there on your blog.

Words not coherent ‘n’ all that good stuff.

Socks aren’t quite long enough,

and rain-boots too squeaky,

You find yourself thinking of your trip to Waikiki.

It’s the first week of classes, don’t forget your school passes, bus passes, or glasses!

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I’ve noticed a recent influx of articles from various venues such as Relevant Magazine and USA Today College telling me I should give up or attempt weaning off of the internet.

For example, I watched a 10 minute long video promoting #nointernetweek (see video No Internet Week). And yes, it was worth my time. Believe me, I have a short attention span and am convinced I’m slightly ADD when left alone to be “productive” or at least appear productive.

Did I mention I had seven tabs on Google Chrome, Outlook, and Microsoft Word open? Twitter, Facebook, and just to balance things out a bit Wordle and Dictionary.com were among a few things I was reading/skimming over.

But, come on, I had Microsoft Word open. I was being productive! In fact, I was multitasking A.K.A. being “multitastic” as my little brother enjoys calling it.

OK, point taken. I’ve been using the dumb phone excuse for two long now. New Year’s resolutions: evaluate my face-to-Facebook ratio, write more, read more, experience more. I’m pretty sure people could survive without me posting a daily status or changing my profile picture. Everyone knows it there was snow on the ground in Washington yesterday.

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Writing

What to Write When You Can’t Write

I’m going to cut straight to the chase. I hate writing prompts. “What is your earliest childhood memory?” or, my personal favorite,“Write about a memory associated with a certain smell.”Um, what?!With all the books and websites out there dedicated to overcoming writer’s block, I’ve found very few helpful.  Not only are these prompts unhelpful, they’re also constricting. Instead of using the bank loaded with our own ideas, prompts tend to produce cookie cutter results. Where does all the extra dough go?! With roughly 15,700,000 search results for “writing prompts” on Google alone, I expect more original and fresh ideas. Writing often feels more complicated than it actually is. Depending on who you’re writing for–yourself, an audience, or both– you shouldn’t feel the constant need to crank out a novel every time you sit down with a piece of paper. Every bestseller, freelancer, blogger, and journal-keeper had to start somewhere. So, instead of suggesting cliche writing prompts, I’m going to take you on a trip back to the basics. 

I’ve come a long way in my writing–at least I’d like to think so–but one thing I know for sure is that I still have an incredibly long way to go. My starting point included lists of my favorite foods and games of MASH from long, hot, and non-air conditioned bus rides to camp.  My journalism journey–if you even consider lists and games of MASH journalism–moved from the Little League team to the All Star team. I waved goodbye to “listography,” and in ninth grade  I committed to being more consistent. I wrote down as many details, big and small, that I could remember from each day. Although I was fairly consistent, the amount of content in my entries varied. I found that when I attempted to write lengthy and wordy entries, I ended up writing LESS. I had to face the fact that some days, my most exciting activity might very well be having a dissection in science class.

Moral of the story? There is no shame in lists and “Dear Diary” entries. Trust me, inspiration doesn’t fall from the sky the way rain falls in Seattle. That would be waaaay to easy.

What to Write When You Can’t Write

1. Lists– lists and sub-lists are great ways to brainstorm.

2. Thought bubbles.

3. One line a day. This can be useful if you feel you don’t have time to keep a journal. I often leave space in mine to go back and expand on entries. Record something such as a Facebook status or something that will trigger your memory when you go back. Try and be specific. Just writing “I ate Cheerios for breakfast today” isn’t going to be of much assistance to you if you plan on going back and expanding.

4. The Method (Writing Analytically by David Rosenwasser). This is an exercise my English 101 teacher in college had us do often. This really helps turn gears. I don’t read poetry, but we had an in class essay where we read a poem and analyzed what we read. The Method asks four questions. 1) What repeats? 2) What goes with what? (strands) 3) What is opposed to what? (binaries/opposites) 4) What doesn’t fit? (anomalies). For all of these questions, ask the “SO WHAT?” question. It sounds like homework, but trust me, it is a really helpful tool.

5. Your mom’s grocery list.

6. Book reviews/reports/summaries.

7. Letters. There is nothing I love more than receiving a handwritten letter. I’m sure you know someone who would love to receive one.

8. Stories. If you want to make yourself known, sign up for a free account at cowbird.com, it’s a pretty awesome website.

9. Your school schedule.

10. Take notes in class. This is just a good habit. It doesn’t necessarily spark creativity, but repetitive learning skills improve memory.

What to Read When You Can’t Write

1. Garner’s Modern American Usage. The title is sounds big and scary, but it is a WONDERFUL reference. If you’re experiencing writer’s block, you might as well take the time you’re not using to write to improve your grammar.

2. Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis. Etymology at it’s best. Great for advancing vocabulary.

3. Books, books, and more books. If you don’t read, you’re writing is lacking its full potential.

4. The Newspaper. If I were you, I would choose something more wholesome than the Seattle Times. But, that’s just me. Flipboard is a great FREE app if you’re on the go often.

5. Word Dynamo (dynamo.dictionary.com). This is what nerds like me do over Christmas Break: expand their vocabulary count to and estimated +30,000 words.

6. Magazines. Try out Relevant: Faith, Culture & Intentional Living

7. Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing by Mignon Fogarty. This is a great book and very easy to read. I have yet to finish it!

8. Read a picture. I bet you didn’t know you could do that! “A picture is worth a thousand words”~Napolean Bonaparte.

Where to Go When You Can’t Write

(Breaks in recurring schedules are very relieving)

1. NOT Facebook.

For those in the greater Seattle area:

2. Green Lake Park. I went here just the other day. It had been forever since I’d been there. Which is a shame considering it is only about a fifteen minute drive from my house.

3. Alki Beach. If you have a lot of time on your hands, this place is awesome.

4. St. Edwards Park

5. Bothell Landing

6. Seward Park

7. A coffee shop. I find inspiration in listening, talking, and observing. The Aloha Cafe in Edmonds or The Lyon’s Den in Bothell are ideal–unfortunately for me only one of these two is convenient. Because Starbucks is overrated, just more convenient.

I don’t splurge very often, but when I do, I consider the small indulgences as money well spent. If you’ve never owned a Moleskine notebook, I highly recommend investing in one. I usually use college ruled spiral notebooks, but these often give me motivation, especially if I’m close to wrapping up a notebook. I’m sort of obsessed with gel pens as well. They bring a whole new meaning to “color the rainbow.” (I especially enjoy using them for my school planner). They add some excitement. My #1 tip is to keep a notepad with you at all times. There is nothing worse than letting a great idea slip through your finger tips. My #2 Tip is to share your writing–whatever type of writing it may be– with other people. Tip #3 Not everyone scrapbooks. I am one of those who does not. instead, I tape memorabilia into my journals with photo adhesives and/or scotch tape. You’ll be glad you did! Last, but certainly not least, Tip #4! If you’re writing for an audience, big or small, DO NOT cater your words solely to their tastes. Many people try so hard to keep up with the newest trends in the media and whatnot that their writing loses its passion. Especially non-writers. Your writing probably has a bigger effect on people than you think. We are often our biggest critics. Every expert in any field of work began with the basics. Don’t forget to review them!

P.S. I need to take my own advice more often.

I hope this inspires you!

Kayla

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