Daily Journey Journal #282: branching out

From March 5, 2015

branching out


30 Day Blogging Challenge, Day 15: Creative Writing in the Future

Prompt: Give us your opinion on ways that creative writing can remain relevant long into the 21st century.

When I first read the prompt for today, I simply didn’t understand why such a question was being asked. It has never once occurred to me that creative writing may not have a place in the future. Books are such a part of life for many people, but beyond novels, creative writing is used everywhere. People interact with creative writing everyday- in ads, TV shows, radio shows, movies, theater, even informative writing- and don’t even know it. As such, I firmly believe that creative writing won’t be going anywhere. In fact, I think it will become only more important as life goes on.

These are the top seven reasons I believe that creative writing has a strong place in the future.

1. As much as I hate to start with this one, I honestly believe that it is one hundred percent true: without creative writing, most marketing ploys would fall flat and without marketing, companies would loose their contact with consumers, thus negatively impacting the economy.

2. In most societies, people rely on entertainment for escape, whether that is in the form of TV, movies, books or radio. Creative writing is behind all of that.

3. As long as language continues being taught in schools, people will keep reading. The literary canon ensures that students are exposed to many of the great creative writings, and chances are, throughout students’ time in school, one of those books will inspire them to continue reading.

4. There are people like us, and have been since writing began, that feel the need to tell stories, to capture our worlds and share them. I would say it is safe to say that the group of people drawn to writing will continue forever.

5. Creative writing helps humans to process the world and events. While reading about the Civil War or pilgrims or factual history in general may not be that engaging for many, reading about these things in the context of a story draws us in and helps us to understand history and enjoy doing so.

6. Similar to the above, as long as humanity keep doing horrible things to each other, there will be stories, fictional and non-fictional, inspired by them. We cannot help but write tales about the events that impact us.

7. Reading is addicting and as long as we pass down our own loves of reading, the future generations will also appreciate the written word.

Daily Journey Journal #219: resolution all the way

It’s the first day of a new year and such promise hangs in the air. Or, maybe that’s just the latest cold snap…

Whatever it is, I love this feeling and I’m going to peg that on the idea that a new year means a new start, in whatever needs to be started again or for the first time.  Lots of people think that the new start and making resolutions thing is hokey- which it very well may be- but I prefer to look at a new year as a time to stop and think about life. What happened last year? Was it satisfying? What do you want your life to look like? Does it look like that? What can you do to make that ideal life happen?

Sure, you can ask these questions at any point in the year, and maybe should, but there is something about a new year on the calendar that helps me to stop life and simply reflect. During the rest of the year it feels like I’m too involved and wound up in things to really give life a good ponder.

Besides, I like the idea of having a whole year ahead of me, a set time frame, in which something could happen, if I work to make it happen. Being a goal-oriented sort of person, I love the idea of resolutions, of setting some goal for the year and working little by little to see that resolution come to fruition.

In the past, I’ve made some pretty vague resolutions like Be happier, Do something exciting, Run more often. In the most basic form, these were great, things I needed to do, but I didn’t really have a plan for making them happen. I needed a outline, I realized, and began to make more concrete, specific resolutions with some idea of how to make them happen. Two years ago I made a resolution to not bottle up negative emotions or to only express them in writing. I spent the year learning to communicate calmly and verbally about things that made me upset. It look two years before I finally found a way to do so comfortably and I have been happier for it.

Last year, my resolution was shadowy, something I understood internally but which I couldn’t quite articulate for some time. In the end, I came to see that my resolution was a mantra: Appreciate and live each day fully.

And I did.

It is cliche perhaps, but when taken to heart and repeated daily, it made a difference. On days I was dragging, I reminded myself over and over again how lucky I was to be alive, to be doing the things I could do, to be me. Those little reminders brought so much happiness and fulfillment to my life that I will continue with that mantra this year, keep it close to my heart and embrace the lifestyle it brings.

However, my biggest resolution this year is about relationships. It is my goal to do more listening and less talking. Lately, I’ve found myself talking too much and not appreciating the words of those around me as much as I would like to. To do so will be a daily practice, again relying on those quiet little self-reminders, but one that will ultimately enrich the relationships in my life. For me, the relationships in life are my greatest happiness and being a better part of them will bring happiness to us all.

Do you make resolutions every year? What are you hoping for in 2015?


Last Mission

A bit about our adventure today in K.L.

Korea Bound

After work on our last day of teaching last week, Headmaster took all the teachers out for a goodbye/welcome drink. A few drinks in, when we were all feeling emotional, he looked at Andy and me then said, “Are you ready for a last mission?”.

During our year at his school, Headmaster often phrased tasks like grading essays, meeting a goal in a specific class or making lesson plans in such a way. Somehow making it a mission seemed to make it better, I guess. Well, being buzzed and feeling sad about leaving, we of course accepted his mission.

“Take the school banner with you,” he said. “Take photos with it. It will be exciting to the students.”

We thought nothing of it and took the banner without question later in the evening when he stopped by to drop it off. He had folded it and put it in an…

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Daily Journey Journal #24: a beginners guide to…

…happy early (um…earlier) mornings!

Mornings are not the easiest time of day for me. Although they have vastly improved from my teenage years, getting myself out of bed and fully conscious is a rather lengthy process requiring quite a bit of coaxing. Lately, I have been sleeping in far more than I would like to and so I am striving to leave bed a bit earlier for the next few weeks. Thus, a self-guide on vacating the blankets before 9 a.m. is necessary.

Step 1: Before going to bed, set two alarms half an hour apart with your sound of choice. Place the alarm across the room from the bed or the snooze button will be pushed an embarrassing number of times in the morning.

Step 2: Go to sleep! Relax, think calming things. Find a positive from the day and a positive for tomorrow to focus on. Let go of worries. Wiggle about until you find your comfy position, maybe the yearner or starfish and snuggle into it before drifting off. Wonder what your sleeping position says about you? Why not find out in the morning by watching this cool video as you wake up?

Step 3: Sleep, sleep, sleep until the first alarm goes off, yanking you from slumber (hopefully it is a gentle yank!). Take a moment, if needed, to prop eyes open and adjust to the morning. Crawl from bed and turn off the alarm, then evaluate your well-being. Sometimes the short walk from bed to the alarm is enough to shake away the sleepies. If so, proceed to step 6. If not, proceed to step 4.

Step 4: Leave the alarm across the room and go back to bed for 30 minutes. Think happy thoughts as you drift off.

Step 5: Alarm two pulls you awake. Take a moment to let the remnants of dreams settle then get up, shut off the alarm and leave the bedroom, or you’ll crawl right back into that lovely, waiting bed and it will be approaching 9:30 before you know it. Perhaps you feel good now. If not, do not worry. The haze of tired will wear off before you know it.

Step 6: Set the kettle on the stove to make a beverage of your choice. Begin visualizing the day. What great things will happen? What things are you looking forward to? What are your plans?

Step 7: Drink your warm beverage, continue visualizing and allow the stupor of sleep to wear off, perhaps with some mindless, yet positive activity, like watching that video from step 2 or maybe something less mindless, like gentle yoga stretches or meditation.

Step 8: Make breakfast. Maybe a pancake or two? Eggs? A fruit smoothie? Yogurt with nuts, berries and granola? Whatever floats your boat! Let it be something that awakens your taste buds, gives you energy and fills you with positivity about you, your choices and your day. Guilt or worries are not an appropriate breakfast dish.

Step 9: Add the last touches to your beautiful visualization of the day.

Step 10: Begin the day! Wear a smile and off you go.

Have a happy morning!!


Writing 101 #6: Character sketch

Monday morning’s meeting begins in typical fashion- a solid twenty minutes late and commencing with the customary prolonged silence once we were all gathered in the Fox 1 classroom. We sit at the pencil graffitied desks, listening to the air con gurgle into the silence while our eyes rest expectantly on Boss. He sits in a desk at the end of the U shaped configuration, slightly distanced from the rest of us. Across the room sits his wife Jenny, then A, me, the third American teacher at our school named Jai, Coco, and Kay. We sit like this every week.
On this particular Monday, Boss begins not with an announcement of bad news as he usually does, but rather with an inquiry as to how we spent our long weekend. No one particularly enjoys answering his questions, especially first, so after a few seconds delay, A briefly mentions our recent hiking adventure.

Boss asks if we made it to the top.

We didn’t.

“Mmm,” he says.

As of yet, we’ve been unable to really decipher what this noise means besides that our words have entered his awareness. Boss crosses his arms over his polo and looks next to Jai. Every time he wears a short sleeved shirt I am surprised by the lack of hair on his round arms. His arms somehow feel mismatched from his personality.

Jai begins to tell about her weekend seeking sun. Boss watches her, his narrow glasses making him appear to squint, even when his eyes are wide open. The expression on his face is a mask, not of interest or disinterest, but rather of tolerance. It is a look that makes me squirm, for the meaning behind that mask is invisible to me.
We continue down the row until we get to Kay. When she says she stayed home this weekend because her husband had to work and she had to make him dinner, Boss seems to perk up.

“I don’t remember the last time my wife made me dinner,” he says. “For kids, yes. For me, no.”

Our strained titters of laughter try to cut through the instantaneous increase to the normal tension between Boss and Jenny, but to no avail. Jenny, angular in every way that her husband is paunchy, crosses her arms and I can see her gearing up to parry. Despite having given birth to five children, she is still narrow, pointy of both limbs and manner. Digging at people, unearthing them from the stories they tell themselves is one of her specialties.

Boss attempts to brush away our discomfort by turning to business, but Jenny is having none of it.

“I did not tell about my weekend,” she says.

We all smile. In all her snarkiness Jenny is quite funny at times.

“It was horrible,” she continues. “My husband wanted to go camping but he has no reservation.”

It was a holiday weekend and a busy time for travel. Reservations anywhere were pretty much necessary as we found out during our own planning adventure.

“We drove for four hours,” Jenny goes on. “Four. We stop here. No opening. We stop again, no opening. And my children, they begin complaining. ‘Mom, I’m hungry. Mom, I’m tired.’”

Jenny does an amazing impersonation of her whining children. I can’t imagine all seven of them crammed together in their little four-door, five-seat car, let alone the unhappiness from children ages five to thirteen.

“We camp with no water,” Jenny says. “Only a river, but the water, it is not good for drinking. For food we have only beef. And the next day, I go to Seoul, so I walk, walk, walk for an hour and a half back to Yeosu. Cars keep stopping, asking to take me to town. But I walk. One man, he ask two times to take me.”

At this point, Boss unbuttons the top of his polo. He turns to the computer screen facing the room, but I can tell he is still listening, aware of all of us listening to his role as a husband.

“The man, he says to me, ‘I cannot leave you,’ but I just walk, walk, walk,” Jenny says and I can’t help but laugh a little, picturing her speed walking down the highway in the purple blouse she is wearing this morning.

Boss however, isn’t amused. He reaches for the computer mouse and starts into business.

Writing 101 Day #5: Be Brief

You discover a letter on a path that affects you deeply. Today, write about this encounter. And your twist? Be as succinct as possible.

On the back of a Hooters receipt, really?

And oh God, that pick up line!

‘Babe with nice butt’ won’t be too upset if I just stick this right in here.

Whew! The trashcan really needs to be emptied.