Courage is 75% of the Battle When Writing Non-Fiction

Short non-fiction is my jam. I gobble up the words when I read it, and feel rays of enlightenment when I write it. Writing non fictional pieces about the experiences in my life is exhilarating, but it’s also terrifying. There is the ever-present fear of do I remember that correctly? or what if I insult someone by telling MY truths? And then there is this little thing called social media where people don’t forget it you say something incredibly stupid. Nope, you can’t burn that embarrassing opening line because it’s on your blog and guess what, hundreds of people have already read it.

I will be honest, there are things that I have wanted to write about, but are so personal, embarrassing, raw, etc. that I have held back. I know that family and friends read my pieces (thank guys), and I want to make them proud. I don’t want to hurt anyone by the things I say. And then I read about women and men who tell their sexual assault stories. Young boys who were gang beaten and had the courage to speak up. Parents who lost their children to mass shootings, the horrible list continues. My point being that thousands of people have to face the verbal assault on social media after telling their horrific stories and I want to tell them all how much I deeply admire their courage. When I think of the writers who have been persecuted for their work I am deeply humbled.

The women of Mirman Baheer, a women’s literary society based in Kabul Afghanistan risk their lives to have their voices heard through their poetry every day. Let me say that again, RISK THEIR LIVES to have their poetry heard….it’s 2016. One woman by the name of Zarmina committed suicide in 2010 after her brothers beat her and ripped up all of her poetry notebooks. She was reading her poetry to her fellow female members on the telephone and they assumed she was talking to a man. Another female Afghan poet wrote this about the tragic death of Zarimina,

“Her memory will be a flower tucked into literature’s turban.
In her loneliness, every sister cries for her.” – Amail

My writing dismay is incredibly petty. I know that my fears are minuscule in my privileged life. Sure I may get a few troll attacks, I may offend, but like Kingsley Amis said,

“If you can’t annoy somebody, there’s little point in writing.”

Thank you to the men and women who have made significant change through their words. Thank you for giving other writers the courage and confidence to stand behind their writing. I humbly bow my head to the people who know true sacrifice by telling their experiences.

♥R♥

Featured Image found @:http://weheartit.com/entry/174554343

Me Being IS EXACTLY AS INSANE AS You Being You: A Book Review

Darren hasn’t had an easy year.

There was his parents’ divorce, which just so happened to come at the same time his older brother Nate left for college and his longtime best friend moved away. And of course there’s the whole not having a girlfriend thing.

Then one Thursday morning Darren’s dad shows up at his house at 6 a.m. with a glazed chocolate doughnut and a revelation that turns Darren’s world inside out. In full freakout mode, Darren, in a totally un-Darren move, ditches school to go visit Nate. Barely twenty-four hours at Nate’s school makes everything much better or much worse—Darren has no idea. It might somehow be both. All he knows for sure is that in addition to trying to figure out why none of his family members are who they used to be, he’s now obsessed with a strangely amazing girl who showed up out of nowhere but then totally disappeared.

Told entirely in lists, Todd Hasak-Lowy’s debut YA novel perfectly captures why having anything to do with anyone, including yourself, is:

1. painful
2. unavoidable
3. ridiculously complicated
4. possibly, hopefully the right thing after all.

The theme of this novel that really stuck with me was the family unit breaking apart. A pivotal point in your life is when you realize that your family unit consisting of you, your siblings (if you have any), and your parents will lead separate lives. If you are the one who had a harder time grasping that concept, then I think you can relate to Darren.  I had a hard time with my parents divorcing and my older brother leaving for the military, I felt abandoned and alone. I don’t blame anyone for moving on with their lives and finding their own way, but it was fucking tough for me.

At one point in the novel Darren is talking to his older brother Nate and Nate tells him a story about being lost as a young boy when Darren was still a baby. Nate explains when his parents found him,

“Eventually, of course, they found me. And they were freaking out, crying, and pretty much hyperventilating, especially Mom, who was wearing you in that baby carrier they used to have. She hugged me, just smothered me, with your legs dangling in my face. And I was glad to see Mom and Dad, relieved I guess, because I knew living by myself was going to be hard. But, I don’t know, I as mostly thinking , Okay , that was some kind of test and I passed it, because I had to, I could be okay on my own. You were literally tied to Mom, but I was surviving on my own; that’s how I felt then.” Nate continues to explain to Darren that he figured out at a much earlier age than Darren that eventually your parents leave and you must learn to adjust and make it on your own.

As a teen you really start to see your parents as the individuals they were before they became your parents. They don’t work as hard to keep the image of innocence alive for their children. How would they ever help us grow and prepare for the “real” world if we didn’t get to see them as flawed humans? Their defects allow us to forgive ourselves when we make similar mistakes as adults.

I had a wonderful time reading this novel. With each scenario Darren comes closer to finding himself, and ultimately walks away from the family chaos and begins life as an adult.

I highly recommend this book.

Happy reading,

♥R♥

The Maturation of Creative Writing

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I try to forgive my writing; if I had to put an age on my creative writing skills I would say it is still in the high school phase. Yes, I myself made it through high school and graduated from college, I even spent 3 years in the technical writing world, but my creative writing skidded to a halt after high school.

Also, I desperately need an editor, like yesterday.

I don’t have the patience of a mature writer. I quickly come up with a new writing topic, spend maybe two hours on it and throw it out there on my blog. Similar to a high school boy going to 3rd base for the first time, he has the passion, but shall we say no finesse? Finesse, patience, and skill take time to learn. I have to make many grammar, description, and wrong word choices before I craft that perfect sentence (I have yet to craft THE perfect sentence.). I will hopefully look back on these old posts and cringe at my lack of composure. Resembling the way I look back on my high school days and cringe at my ardent and wistful claims of undying love for the boys with all of the passion and non of the patience. I will be able to see the growth from where I decided to take my creative voice and start speaking of the intangible: pain, fear, and joy.

I don’t know when my creative writing will go from over enthusiastic high school kid to mature professional. Maybe that leap can’t be measured in a single occurrence, but I look forward to blushing and cringing at these early attempts.

♥R♥

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Throw back to Graduation from Western Washington University 2010

Scents and Scentsibility

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Three books at once; I am quite the promiscuous reader.

I decided to splurge and get a facial for my birthday in August. The first thing I noticed when I walked into the spa was the amazing smell that permeated throughout every room.There is something about natural oils that can invigorate and soothe you at the same time.

On the other hand, have you ever walked into someone’s home and it’s like walking into a Bath and Body Works (guilty)? Where you smack into a wall of perfume and smoke. While it smells amazing it can give you a headache or make you feel nauseous depending on the scent. Don’t get me wrong, I love my citrus summer, and fall pumpkin spice candles as much as the next girl, but when I am trying to read and relax I want the spa experience.

I started researching the benefits of essential oils and found some really interesting information on Web MD: Negative Ions Create Positive Vibes. “The action of the pounding surf creates negative air ions and we also see it immediately after spring thunderstorms when people report lightened moods. says ion researcher Michael Terman, PhD, of Columbia University in New York… In fact, Columbia University studies of people with winter and chronic depression show that negative ion generators relieve depression as much as antidepressants.” – Web MD

Negative ions are abundant in nature. For example, a water fall produces 50,000 Ions/cc, the country 700-1,500 Ions/cc, and mountain/seashore 5,000 ions/cc. While an air condition room has fewer negative ions 0-25 ions/cc (doTERRA manual). The negative ions upon reaching our blood stream increases our serotonin and help immensely with our mood.

I searched Amazon and read many blogs for the best product to dispense natural oils and I found  a few different options:

  • Tea lite diffusers (burn the oil)
  • Plug in diffusers
  • Fan diffuser
  • Nebulizer
  • Ultrasonic mist diffuser

I decided on a ultrasonic mist diffuser: doTERRA the Aroma Lite Diffuser, because it adequately dispenses the oil and there is no smoke to inhale. I chose two oils from doTERRA: Purify (lemon, lime, pine, citronella, melaleuca, cilantro) and Citrus Bliss (Wild Orange Peel, Lemon Peel, Grapefruit Peel, Mandarin Peel, Bergamot Peel, Tangerine Peel, Clementine Peel essential oils and Vanilla Bean Absolute.)

.DSC_0292I plug in my diffuser every evening when I get home from work. I use the 8 hour setting (there is also a four hour setting) so that it runs for a few hours before we settle in at night. The diffuser is very quiet (and trust me I am a light, finicky sleeper) so we let it run while we sleep. The soft purple glow is very soothing, but I turn the light off because I can’t sleep with any light. Both scents are lovely, but the Purify has a much stronger smell than the Citrus Bliss and I tend to gravitate towards it for that reason. Follow the essential oil use chart to choose which oils work best for you.

I love to have the diffuser on while I am reading and writing. I am prone to anxiety and sometimes this hinders my ability to write. The smell helps me to relax and quiets my mind from the chaos that typically ensues after work. I don’t think this diffuser will be my “end all” for my anxiety, but if it helps in the slightest (and I truly believe it has) then it is worth every penny.

Here are some more links about the health benefits of essential oils. I chose to write mostly about the positive effect it has on my mood because that is the main benefit I have received.

9 Essential Oils with Huge Health Benefits

Benefits of Essential Oils: 10 Natural Ways to Heal Yourself

The Struggle is Real

Don’t you  just hate when inspiration strikes at 7:41am when you are sitting at your work desk? Luckily I have an awesome coworker and friend who I can bug across the aisle, “Ashley, can you listen to my novel idea?” We look at each other with data-glazed eyes and talk about creative ideas and the light of humanity begins to shine again.

I am so grateful for my day job of project management and scheduling that affords me the money for my house, bills, and fun on the weekend. Although when that writers itch begins it’s hard to focus on the Excel sheet in front of me. In fact, I just want to run from the building, jump in my car, and drive home to my novel. Why do the waves of urgency hit at the most inopportune places/moments? I document my thoughts, but by the time I get home the rush has left, and I am stuck with uninspiring notes.

I’m asking writers out there, how do you schedule the time and more importantly the inspiration (as if it can be scheduled) into your 40 hour/week career schedule?

Happy writing/reading peeps!