Image

That Was Easy!

Dear Friend,

Wow! I cannot believe how long it has been since we saw each other last. In your previous letter, you wrote quite eloquently and used all the proper grammatical mechanics. As a friend and mentor, I was impressed by your advanced and powerful writing techniques. Although your experienced writing is admirable, there are still some guidelines you should follow to truly flourish in your gifts.

  1. Never stop learning. Although it is easy to become content with your writing skills, you should continue learning about the minor details of grammar and reasons behind such mechanics. If you take the time to dive deeper into the whys, you might begin to realize errors in your thoughts. You will no longer reply to grammatical inquiries with, “because that’s just the way it is.” Instead, you can produce concrete, valid answers to properly explain the grammatical situation at hand.
  2. Teach others about writing mechanics. When you begin to teach the material, you will discover gaps in your understanding as well as specific areas of improvement. If you realize that you do not understand a specific comma usage, then investigate it. The more you know about writing, the more you will be able to help others in their pursuits of knowledge.
  3. Avoid editing for other people. As mentioned earlier, teaching benefits both you and your friend. If you simply edit papers, the original authors are not learning the reasons behind the edits. They are simply making the changes and moving forward without a second thought. Although you might feel like you are helping them, you are actually hindering them. You are taking away opportunities for them to learn and grow as writers. By teaching them, they will understand new elements of writing and flourish in their new knowledge.
  4. Learn another language. This step might seem confusing and out of the ordinary, but it is important. Not only will this allow you to connect and communicate with more people, but it will also help you learn more about your first language. Before learning another language, it helps to have a strong understanding of the mechanics in your first language. Because you are an experienced writer, you enter this learning process with more tools. Then, as you learn more information about other cultures and their languages, you can begin connecting the dots and discovering new elements of your first language. For example, did you know there are different rules pertaining to syllables in English? I did not until I started learning about grammatical concepts in Spanish!
  5. Never stop writing. Perhaps you are writing for academic, creative, or leisurely purposes. Regardless of your reason, it is crucial that you never cease. Not only does writing more often allow you to become a better writer, but it also allows you to express yourself concisely. As you continually gain experience, you will learn how to make your writing more effective and efficient. You are no longer confined to the people with whom you interact physically; you can express your ideas and thoughts to the world. 

Employers are always looking for people with advanced writing skills because of the value they add to any company or project. Learning how to write properly can be difficult, but with dedication and practice, you can become one of the best writers. Never give up, friend.

See you soon,

A Fellow Experienced Writer

Written by Trisha

Image Credit

Image

Veterans Day Deals

Veterans Day is November 11th, and it is just around the corner! While it is a pretty well-known American holiday, many people are unaware of the retail and restaurant opportunities for discounts. Through the help of Military.com, I have compiled a list of deals (and some freebies) that you can use to celebrate a veteran. Most of these deals are for November 11th and for veterans and active-duty military members. If the dates extend beyond November 11th, or if other people are included, it is stated in the section.  Veterans, today is your day, so please treat yourselves!

Restaurants

Applebee’s:  Get a free meal from a special menu.

54th Street Grill:  Get a free entrée up to $12 value.

California Pizza Kitchen: Get a free meal from a special menu.

On the Border: Get a free meal from a select menu at participating locations.

Zoёs Kitchen: Receive a free entrée with the purchase of another entrée.

Stores

Bed Bath & Beyond: Get 25% off an entire purchase November 9-11. Spouses are included!

Great Clips : Get a free haircut or free haircut card to use on a later date at Great Clips. Customers who are non-military can purchase a service and receive a free haircut card to give to a veteran. Haircuts are redeemable until Dec. 31.

Kohl’s: Get 30% off an in-store purchase November 7-11. Immediate family of veterans and military personnel are included!

Staples: Active-duty military personnel, reservists, retired or disabled veterans, and their immediate families can get a 25% discount November 10-16.

Stargazer Cast Iron: Get a 30% military discount from November 8-11.

Entertainment

AMC Theatres: Active-duty military and veterans who purchase a ticket using their AMC Stubs membership can enjoy a free large popcorn November 8-11.

Main Event: Get 30 minutes of game play and a free entrée from a special menu.

Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA): Receive free rides on November 11th!

La Quinta by Wyndham: Any active or retired military personnel, veterans, and their families who book and stay at La Quinta hotels in the U.S. and Canada can receive a 15% military discount October 22-December 5.

Planet Fitness — Veterans and active-duty military can work out for free from November 8-15. They are also invited to enjoy full access of club services, to bring a workout buddy at no additional charge, and to relax after the work out with free HydroMassage and chair massages.

Ultimately, Veterans Day is about honoring those who have fought or are currently fighting for our country. Though I’m sure a veteran would enjoy any of these deals, I encourage you to show appreciation for our soldiers and their service in other ways such as writing them a card or buying them a gift. If you know a veteran, make sure to thank them for all they do!

Written by Deneen

Image Credit

Sources:

https://www.military.com/veterans-day/restaurants-veterans-day-military-discounts.html

Image

Letter to the Slow Writer

Dearest Slow Writer,

You’ve been staring at the blank document for hours by now. Your fingers have done no typing for quite a while, for nothing worth typing has entered your brain. The silence, both physically and mentally, has been pulsating for what seems like days until finally, a stream of inspiration cascades from the heavens. Your brain grows thrice in size, and the ideas flowing to your fingertips are abundant. You ascend into intellectual heights no human has dared yet soar before. 

You are unstoppable, for you have finally put a heading on your paper.

“Yeah, that’s probably enough for today.”

Perhaps what I’ve just laid out is a painfully accurate description of your writing process. You may have just undergone that exact sequence of events last month, last week, or even a few days ago. In my case, I’ve been experiencing this on a regular basis for years. Writing is an arduous task by itself, but for writers like us with a slower building process, writing can develop into a nearly impossible achievement. However, there is hope. I cannot promise that we will suddenly transform into the speediest writers in town, but I have found that these steps have made my very slow, gritty writing process much easier to handle. I do hope they are helpful to you, as well.

Get Out of Your Head

One of the worst habits a writer can have is constantly circling through ideas in their head without getting them onto paper. When you mentally labor over what to write without writing it down, your battle remains abstract, as you’re wrestling with things you can’t actually see. When you put your ideas onto paper, it makes your ideas more concrete and visible. It is far easier to rearrange ideas on your paper than in your head. Now, this is a habit all writers generally have trouble with, but for us slow writers, the struggle intensifies immensely. If ideas are slow to arrive, it will take much longer for them to appear on paper, meaning more time will be spent agonizing over ideas. The faster you can get out of your head, the faster your writing process will be.

Don’t Be Afraid to Mess Up

As a slow writer, my biggest struggle is editing myself as I write and trying to write the perfect sentence on the first try. This is not a good practice, as there is no such thing as a perfect sentence. Even if there was, it definitely wouldn’t be possible to achieve on the first try. However, it’s a mental block I must wrestle with every time I want to write something meaningful. The biggest thing that helps me overcome this habit is knowing that writing is a process. In order to get your ideas exactly the way you want, there are going to be missteps and redirections. Things will take time and that’s okay! Messing up is a part of the process; don’t be afraid to embrace it.

Don’t Limit Yourself to Linearity

Another unhealthy habit I have as a slow writer is always trying to write everything in the order that it will appear in my paper. While it isn’t inherently flawed, committing to linearity can significantly stall the writing process because your ideas don’t necessarily come to you in the order they appear in the paper. If you stick to linearity, it is easier to get stuck in your head, which we’ve established is a bad thing for us slow writers. It may seem unnatural at first, but abandoning linearity gives your writing process much more fluidity and freedom. You can write whatever comes to your mind and reorganize later. When you give yourself more flexibility while writing, the chances of you getting mentally stuck will drastically decrease.

Step Away If You Need To

Now, as college students, I know we often find ourselves frantically trying to piece together an essay late at night, and this creates an environment where we feel like we can’t take a break. On the other hand, we may be staring at a document for hours with absolutely no ideas coming to us. In both cases: take a break! It is okay to not be working yourself to death constantly. Breaks can renew your focus and allow for a much clearer writing process, as opposed to glazing through your paper with messy, 3 AM clarity.

Stay Confident

Alright, whether you’re in public or by yourself, say this next sentence aloud: Slow writers are not bad writers! The speed of your writing does not dictate its value. Don’t get down on yourself just because your writing may take more time than others’. There is no such thing as a perfect writing process, so don’t stress yourself out by trying to achieve that. Your writing is a reflection of yourself, and you are someone to be confident in!

I hope you find these tips helpful. Remember, you are reading the words of an incredibly slow writer (that’s me!), so don’t feel like this characteristic is specific to you. Honestly, I feel like I’ve been talking to myself this entire time, so I certainly share your struggle. However, our struggles do not define us, nor do they define our writing. Keep your head high even amidst the lowest trenches, for you are capable and equipped! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go stare at a blank document for four hours while my big dumb brain functions at a snail’s pace.

Best wishes,

Ryan

Written by Ryan

Image Credit

Image

Nailed It or Failed It: Halloween Edition

Hi friends,

Happy Spooky Season! The heart behind this blog, regardless of your personal Halloween convictions, is to make you smile. I personally believe that Halloween is a time to have fun, so why not dive into some of the fun elements: candy, costumes, and treats? I hope it is obvious which side of the image is the fail. (Hint: the right side is wrong.) Again, this is all for fun and contains silliness.

The Right Candy vs The Do Not Even Think About It

Ok no debate here… TOOTSIE ROLLS ARE THE ABSOLUTE WORST. Need I go on?

  1. I do not think they are even chocolate. Please do not fact check.
  2. They stick to teeth.
  3. The flavored ones are the worst.

Trust me, kids want a toothbrush or even a fruit over a tootsie roll.

Jack-O-Lantern vs. The Face Says It All

Image Credit/Image Credit

A well-done jack-o-lantern is a fun Halloween staple, but a not so well-done jack-o-lantern is a sad pumpkin. Perhaps if you are not a successful pumpkin carver, a fun alternative would be to paint them. Every artist needs to have the opportunity to find his/her preferred medium.

Booo vs. Not Today

Ok you got me; neither of these pups are truly a fail. However, the one on the left is arguably more Halloween ready. If you disagree, here is my last point, one is wearing the sheet and the other is wrapped in it.

Costume-Ready vs. Snack Time?

Again, sweet puppies cannot really be a fail, but appreciate the difference in pumpkin application.

Halloween Treat vs. I Guess That Is Spookier

Everybody knows that a good Halloween-themed cupcake really hits the spot. However, maybe it is just me, but I would never eat a ghost that looks deflated. I am sorry and will concede they may very well taste the same, but none for me, thanks. Who knows; maybe the terrifying look adds to the Halloween charm?

Ghost Surprise vs. the Ghosts Were Surprised

Oh, these poor melted ghosts. It probably started with a good idea in theory, but OH my word.

Thank you for bearing with me and, hopefully, a few of these tickled your funny bone.

Your Friend,

A Big Time Halloween Enthusiast

Written by Jordan L.

Image Credit

Image

A Letter from One Middle-of-the-Night Writer to Another

Dear Middle-of-the-Night Writer,

Let me paint a scenario:

It’s 3 AM, and my fingers are tapping the keys so fast that the words appearing on the screen fail to make any sense. I stop for a second, take another swig of coffee, and continue to murder the keyboard. “I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore,” I think to myself. Regardless of my dissatisfaction, this paper is due in the morning, so I must settle for whatever is plastered on the document by 9 AM.

Does this situation sound familiar to you? I frequently partake in these frantic middle-of-the-night frenzies, as I am a college student who specializes in procrastination. I often dump whatever my brain can salvage onto a word document at four in the morning and disregard its quality. I am here to say that this practice is not one I would encourage. Many times, when we write this late (or this early), we are exhausted, caffeinated, and agitated in the midst of high adrenaline. It is not an ideal situation. However, despite how sleep deprived we may be, success is within reach. As someone who has been in this same position an embarrassing number of times, I want to provide some tips on how to get through this procrastination nightmare. It is possible; there is light at the end of the tunnel, and yes, it is brighter than your computer screen.

Tip #1: Take Breaks

Writing is especially frustrating during the nighttime because our tolerance is low. Sometimes it feels as if one more typo will cause my brain to completely fry, or that the inability to get past that one sentence will lead me to spontaneous combustion. These thoughts signal that a break is needed. Frustration is the brain’s way of saying, “Hey, we’ve been at this for a while, I’m tired.” This is why breaks are important; they allow us to take a moment away from the screen, gather our thoughts, and gain some peace. Stretch, listen to a calming song, or make a snack. A small distraction is helpful before jumping in again. I know, taking a second to breathe sounds like a foreign concept, but it’s amazing how much a break can improve progress. In a speed-typing frenzy, it may be difficult to stop for a second, but cramping fingers will appreciate a small time away from the keys. Don’t break for too long or too frequently, though; remember, time is of the essence. A 10 to 15-minute break should be sufficient to rejuvenate, and any longer can lead to permanent distraction. 

Tip #2: Don’t Dismiss Writing Elements

I know, I know, it may seem difficult to maintain flow and organization while barely maintaining sanity, but basic writing elements are important. We do want the professor to be able to read the paper, right? The most important components to look out for are the thesis, conclusion, and citations. The thesis is the roadmap of the paper, and though your brain may feel lost, you don’t want your reader to be. Make sure the thesis statement is in the introductory paragraph with the three points to be covered in the subsequent body paragraphs. The conclusion should tie everything together, and it should not include any new information. It was hard work to reach the end, so finish strong! Lastly, make sure to note what format the professor wants before citing. Formatting is already confusing, and when you can barely keep your eyes open, citations can feel like an attempt to type in a different language. Though our wonderful University Writing Center is not open 24 hours, we do have a website with over 90 Quick Reference Flyers, covering topics such as composing a thesis, composing a conclusion, and citing in MLA, APA, and Turabian formats. Now, I know the struggle. When a procrastinating student waits until 2 AM to start the assignment and it’s due by 8 AM the same morning, what is being put on the page isn’t the highest priority. However, don’t dismiss the opportunity for a quality paper just because it’s being written in the middle of the night. Efficiency in the writing process does not have a curfew. Reach that word count and use correct grammar while you’re at it.  

Tip #3: Persevere

Writing in the middle of the night is a battle. We are fighting off sleep, combatting the urge to just give up and use a citation generator (we can’t do that, we have dignity), and plotting to seize the main opponent: the due date. The most important tip I can share is to persevere. I know that everyone else is asleep, fingers are starting to become numb, and what was being written about in the first place has been forgotten, but don’t give up! Every writer more than capable of forming a strong and organized essay, just keep going and stay on task. Resist the urge to go off on a hysterical tangent, and consistently refer to the thesis. It may feel as if there are numerous factors to work against, especially since it’s the middle of the night, but extreme progress has been made, and this challenge can be conquered. Victory is near, and a lesson can be learned from this experience. 

In the unfortunate circumstance that you are caught in this frantic writing adventure, I hope these tips can provide some ease. This ever-so-daunting task can be completed! The sense of accomplishment that follows after pressing submit is so sweet, it calls for a proud, sleep-deprived smile. Breathe, get it done, and afterward, take a nap. It is well-deserved.

Kindest regards,

A Fellow Middle-of-the-Night Writer

Written by Deneen

Image Credit

Image

A Question of Passion

Humans are jealous creatures, often lusting after lives, skills, or even people we wish we had.

However, I would venture to say that one of the deepest desires that many of us possess is to one day awaken in a world of magic, fairy tales, and adventure. For my entire life, I have often longed to become a wizard, mermaid, or magical creature. In Fangirl, a book by Rainbow Rowell, the main character muses that to be a true nerd, a person must want to belong to another world more than they desire to stay in this one. I think that’s an experience many readers can relate to.

As a young reader, I developed a deep distaste for stories about people attempting to give up magic. A lover of fantasy novels, I couldn’t understand why anyone would ever be so stupid or ungrateful as to give magic powers away. This seems to be a trend, as fans across the board tend to reject endings that conclude with the protagonist leaving their world of wonder for one of safety and normalcy.

No one writes stories about Alice after she leaves Wonderland, readers often scowl at Wendy returning to the nursery, and I don’t know many people who would want to go back home through Lewis’s magic wardrobe.

At this age, I came across E. D. Baker’s book A Question of Magic. Baker is a middle-school author who is best known for her series The Frog Princess, which was the (very, very loose) inspiration for Disney’s The Princess and the Frog. I adored her books when I was younger, but my least favorite was A Question of Magic.

The story centers around Serafina, who takes a trip away from her small village when an aunt she has never met leaves her an inheritance. The inheritance turns out to be the name and powers of the enchanter Baba Yaga, which gives the current title holder the ability to answer any question at the price of her youth. Serafina’s world is opened to magic and excitement; however, she wants nothing more than to return to her family and the boy she loves. The book was easy to read and engaging, like all of Baker’s work. Still, when I first read the book, I couldn’t understand the desire to get rid of magical powers. The romantic that I was, I even found the name of true love not enough to convince me that letting go of her incredible gift was worth it.

It’s been years since I first read A Question of Magic, but it wasn’t until a few months ago that I started to understand the message and story that Baker was telling. While it wasn’t something that my middle school-self understood, it is a message that my current-self needs.

I have always had a passion for music and theatre. I started doing acting camps when I was 6 years old and had my first lead in a community production of the Wizard of Oz when I was 12 (funny enough, I was the witch). Since then, I have taken years of vocal lessons and traveled across the nation to compete in singing competitions. I’ve acted onstage, run stage tech, along with serving as a musical director, and assistant director. Theatre was my life, and I was good at it. Very good at it.

I remember rehearsing one evening for a recital with my voice teacher and her pianist my junior year of high school. During a short break, they started talking about one of my teacher’s former students and how disappointed they were that she had left her prestigious musical theatre program to pursue medical school instead.

What a waste of talent. wouldn’t she have been amazing if she could cut it? I wonder why she changed her mind? What a shame. 

That conversation replayed over and over in my mind throughout the next few years. “What a waste” as I changed my google searches from College Musical Theatre Programs to College Communications Programs. “What a shame” I heard as I dropped out of my theatre classes so I could work more and save for college. “Wish she could cut it” replayed as I came to DBU, a school completely without a theatre department. “What a waste” kept echoing as I stopped taking vocal lessons and quit the improv team my sophomore year.

I felt terrible. As a Christian, it is my job to be a good steward of all that God has given me. I was also wasting the money and time my parents and I had poured into this passion. I had been given opportunities that so many would never get to experience, both in my talents and in my training. Yet here I was, wasting it.

 Even with the increasing guilt, I didn’t waver in my decision. I didn’t want to go into theatre professionally. I wasn’t called to it by God. It didn’t match my dreams, goals, or passions. Going after the career my teachers had encouraged and my past-self envisioned would make me unhappy.

Yet, the guilt persisted.

Until, three years into this journey, I came across my copy of A Question of Magic.

When I first read the book years ago, I couldn’t understand Serafina’s thought process.  Who wouldn’t want to have magic? Who wouldn’t take that opportunity if they had a chance? Well, maybe a person who knows they will find fulfillment in something else. I used to resent Serafina. Now, I am better able to understand the resentment I have against myself.

I need to make a public apology to E.D. Baker. Giving up a chance at magic for a life of happiness is a story usually told by those who sell the desire of mundane happiness as lesser and foolish. I thank Baker for writing a story which encourages us to pursue the things in life that makes us the happiest. This is still something I’m working on, but I give want to gift the encouragement that I now have myself.  Have no guilt over pursuing the life God wants you to have, even when it doesn’t make sense. The gifts He has given you have a purpose, but that does not necessarily mean they are your purpose. It is up to you and Him to find you path. But most importantly, remember that this world is too magical for you to waste it dreaming of another one. 

Written by Robyn

Image Credit

Image

How Do I Put My Thoughts Into Words?

Putting thoughts into words can perhaps be described as the process that takes place before writing begins. This is the step many writers find to be the most challenging. Though thoughts and ideas flow; they don’t always necessarily arrange themselves into a specific order. This makes the writing process less convenient. In your mind, there isn’t a blank sheet of paper; you imagine words have filled the space so much so that pages are accumulating. One idea builds on another which reminds you of that one topic and that one book by your favorite author—the cycle continues. This can easily get overwhelming, and if you’re anything like me, you are going to wait until you find those elegant words before you put your thoughts on paper. More often than not, when you do finally decide to write it down, those same ideas aren’t there anymore. The pretty words you came up with seem purposeless; they no longer have ideas to adorn. But don’t you worry! Below, I have shared some tips that have helped me that I hope also helps you turn your thoughts into words.

Whatever it is, write it down now!

Resist the urge to cloud your mind with words, phrases, and sentences you think would be most attractive to express your thoughts. Whatever and whenever it comes to mind, get a piece of paper and jot it down. You can go with the classic bullet points or the infamous incomplete sentences. What matters is that you have taken the time to write down your ideas. After time passes and you want to pursue these ideas for your written work, all you have to do is look at your notes. The neural pathways have already been paved, and the key words will refresh your mind on why you wanted to express these ideas in the first place.

Freewriting

If you are not pressed for time when the flood of ideas begins to drown your mind, it might be a good idea to just begin writing them. I know this sounds unorthodox, but trust the process. Write as thoughts come and go with no regard for flow or even punctuation; your goal is to compile them into written form. It builds the framework from which you will begin the actual writing process. I have found it to be rather rejuvenating; you should try it sometime.

Outline

I like to think that the outlining process is the fun part. Now that you have your ideas, you get to choose which one you’ll talk about first and create your own unique flow. This step helps you organize your thoughts and give them a sense of direction. For instance, you may begin with the major ideas and continue to break them down into three different perspectives or approaches. Once you have done that, the rest is busy work that entails finding examples and sources that support your them. If you are in the creative writing field, on the other hand, you may begin to write as soon as you have finished your outline!

Putting thoughts into words does not have to be a painful or bitter process. Hopefully, as you have learned thus far, many of us just need to break through the barriers of the need for perfection so we can truly express ourselves. When we do that, we get to exercise our ability to formulate our thoughts into words and hone it to our own unique sense of perfection in the process.

Written by Kenean

Image Credit

Image

Shalom

Optimistic lyrics, “Do you remember the 21st night of September? Love was changing the minds of pretenders while chasing the clouds away,” from Earth, Wind, and Fire’s song September quickly come to mind when thinking of Peace Day. Coincidentally, Peace Day is celebrated annually on September 21st, and its message echoes the band’s emphasis on love conquering the damaging behaviors and thoughts we constantly have. Writers for the International Day of Peace’s official website state that the holiday was “established in 1981 by [a] unanimous United Nations resolution [and] provides a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to [p]eace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace.” However, history has proven that peace is hardly celebrated, perhaps because it is rarely truly attained. Michelle Ruoff, a writer for Live 365 reports that the most popular holidays worldwide celebrate food, independence, light, love, saints, death, and resurrection. None of them commemorate peace. 

For many Americans, the entire month of September causes a whirlwind of emotions. Many developing students across the nation have returned to school to begin the next grade level. On the 7th, most take a day off or attend a barbeque to acknowledge all of their hard work on Labor Day. World Suicide Prevention Day on the 10th is used to honor those who have been affected by suicide or suicide attempts through suicidal behavior education, global cycling events, and most commonly, lighting a candle near a windowsill to show support or honor a loved one. Ten days before Peace Day, during Patriot Day, still sensitive Americans acknowledge the terrorist attack on U.S soil, 9/11/2001, that bruised the heart of the nation almost twenty years ago. The history, holidays, and traditions held in this month alone seem to encourage chaos. 

In May 2020, as I wrote this blog, the whole world was engulfed in chaos and lacked peace because of COVID19. At this time, many individuals were overwhelmed by fear-mongering, selfishness, job-insecurity, risk of infection from a deadly disease, death itself, and many other peace-stealing circumstances. Bombarded by 24-hour news cycles, isolation from people one normally sees every day, or fear that one may be assaulted or killed for asking others to abide by safety regulations can drive away peace in anyone. 

However, seeking peace is the remedy for this extremely stressful time. In order to acquire peace, one must first understand it. Many dictionaries and thesauri emphasize tranquility, calmness, or the absence of war. After further study, the word tranquility describes one thing being free from interruption or disturbance of another. Endless notification pings, breaking news, and even new thoughts prevent us from living a distraction-free life. Calm most often refers to stillness, especially in harsh weather. Alfred Nobel’s final will and testament declared that the Nobel Peace Prize was to be awarded “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses”( “History”). Many brilliant leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, and John F. Kennedy have lost their lives seeking it. Perhaps most people never possess peace because they have unrealistic ideas of what it is. 

According to the Living Word, peace, or shalom, is an invaluable gift from God, not a prize for the conquering. In fact, in John 14:27, Jesus admits that true peace cannot be obtained through man but through Christ alone, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid”(ESV). Another important theme in this verse is that Jesus consoles God’s children and tells them not to fear.

Peace is not the absence of agitation or the void of violence, it is a precious present from the Lord during the worst times.

In one’s own experience, peace comes in the midnight hour, when the heart and brain sleep. Sometimes peace is the Son that shines after one’s eyes cloud and make storms of tears. Finally, peace, when coupled with faith, provides strength to overcome all obstacles. 

Written by Ashley

Image Credit

Sources

Anonymous.(n.d.) History. Nobel Peace Prize.org. Retrieved from  https://www.nobel 

peaceprize.org/History. 

Anonymous.(n.d.) What is the International Day of Peace? International Day of Peace.org. Retrieved from https://internationaldayofpeace.org/

Ruoff, Michelle.(28 Feb.2020). Top 15 Most Celebrated Holidays in the World. Live 365. 

Retrieved from https://live365.com/blog/top-15-most-celebrated-holidays-around-the-world/

Image

Twilight: A Saga

In the world of the early 2000s and even going into the 2010s, few things were as universally controversial, or universally mocked, as Stephenie Meyer’s bestselling book series, the Twilight Saga. These books spawned movies, rocketed actors into fame, and overall, caused mass hysteria. Websites dedicated to hating and trashing the franchise popped up just as quickly as posts with adoring fans freaking out at premieres. While the series was popular, there was vicious hate towards the books, with many people voicing problems with the series. As this series has faded and others have taken the limelight position, it is time to have a critical discussion about the books. Should teenage girls read Twilight for years to come? Or is this vampire fantasy novel best left in the dark?

Many psychologists and media critics have a long-standing criticism with Twilight’s apparent depiction of an abusive relationship between Bella Swan and Edward Cullen. In a Psychology Today article, Dr. Wind Goodfriend talked about how Twilight normalizes Edward’s over-the-top protective, abusive behavior while glorifying those actions through the flowery narration of the victim, Bella. Goodfriend lists several actions Edward takes towards Bella, including separating her from her friends and even stalking her. She also points out Bella’s character, including her low self-esteem and complete obsession with her relationship, as textbook for abuse victims. Critics of the series say that it is unhealthy for people, especially young girls, to see such relationships portrayed as positive and desirable.

In a strong defense of Twilight, look at the good it has done for its readers. Many girls found their love of books because of the saga. The series has been criticized for simplistic writing, but that’s exactly what makes it so easy to read. No book series suits everyone but there is a reason that Twilight was so popular. The books are thrilling and romantic, and Bella and Edward’s relationship is fun to read about. Edward’s snarky yet chivalrous personality has become the blueprint for beloved YA love interests. He and Bella have great chemistry and will make readers laugh one moment and sigh the next. The BookTube community, a corner of Youtube dedicated to discussing books and book franchises, is filled with young women spanning ages 16 to 30, almost all of whom credit Twilight for their addictions to literature because it introduced them to the joy of reading.

If Twilight, an enjoyable but flawed book, inspires girls to continue reading other books and broadening their perspectives, then is it not doing its job fantastically?

 So, should girls read Twilight? Is it a bad influence; does it morph people’s perspective too far? Perhaps a comparison to other literature might help make the reaction to Twilight clearer.

 In the first Twilight book, Meyer continually compares the kindling love between Bella and Edward to the romance of Heathcliff and Cathrine from Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights,  a favorite text of Bella’s and an inspiration for Myer.  BBC writer Hephzibah Anderson, in her essay “Heathcliff and Literature’s Greatest Love Story Are Toxic,” accurately discusses Heathcliff’s nature. She interviews many people who loved the storyline of Wuthering Heights.

Author and Brontë buff Samantha Ellis recently struck a chord with an article titled How Heathcliff Ruined My Love Life. A self-described ‘recovering Heathcliff addict,’ she says Heathcliff was her ‘gateway drug.’ After him came Rhett Butler, Rupert Campbell-Black, Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Spike, Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell… Unfortunately, they were accompanied by real-life bad boys: ‘As I hit my teens, I actively chased bad men… In my twenties, I went out with men who were not always honest to me, or nice’ (Ellis qtd. in Anderson).

This is one of the fears many Twilight critics have. The literature of youth affecting perception of the present. This story really did change how people saw romance, in a negative and harmful sense. Heathcliff is a terrible person and has a destructive relationship with Catherine, no matter how much they claim to love each other. They go out of their way to do things to hurt each other as well. It is obsessive, repulsive, and toxic. However, many would not say that it is the same dynamic at all as that of Twilight. Edward and Bella have an unhealthy relationship; they always try to do what is best for each other, though often in the wrong way.

 However, Twilight still might be harmful to younger teens if they have not been educated on healthy relationships, which according to studies such as Making Caring Common, are not being reliably taught in many teen’s opinion. Yet, if used properly, Twilight might be a tool for just that.

 When kids find something complicated or easy too misunderstand in school or in activities, adults do not stop teaching it. Math is still taught in schools despite most kids declaring their confusion. What does a parent or school do when they want to explain something to a student? They get a teacher. A guide. Choir directors do not expect the students to teach themselves how to sing; after all, they would probably teach themselves incorrectly. Media, literature— Twilight—are not squeaky-clean pieces of art that have nothing but good morals and upstanding role models. Parents and guardians use them as a way to share ideas and then teach through them. Twilight is fun to talk about, whether it’s the plot holes or the vampire fights or which bad boy is cuter. This is a powerful advantage when trying to open discussions about relationships, healthy and unhealthy. Bella Swan is such a blank-slate audience surrogate that any situation can be easily superimposed upon the reader. While Twilight’s purpose is not to be a conversation starter, it does a really good job of it. Of course, at some point teens and children will mature and be able to go out into the world without their parents on their shoulder, but those who were prepped best beforehand will have the clearest path.

Written by Robyn

Image Credit

Works Cited

Anderson, Hephzibah. “Culture – Heathcliff and Literature’s Greatest Love Story Are Toxic.”BBC, BBC, 30 July 2018, http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20180725-heathcliff-and-literatures-greatest-love-story-are-toxic.

Bates, Robin R. “How Jane Eyre Is Not Twilight.” Better Living through Beowulf, 11 June 2014, betterlivingthroughbeowulf.com/how-jane-eyre-is-not-twilight/.

Goodfriend, Wind. “Relationship Violence in ‘Twilight.’” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers,9 Nov. 2011, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/psychologist-the-movies/201111/relationship-violence-in-twilight.

Image

Happy Grandparents Day!

What is Grandparents Day?

Just as we have days to honor mothers and fathers, Grandparents Day is dedicated to the wonderful people who brought those mothers and fathers into the world: grandparents! Grandparents Day is a national holiday, and it is celebrated in various countries around the world. Some countries even have separate days for grandmothers and grandfathers. In America, this holiday always falls on the first Sunday after Labor Day, and for 2020, Grandparents Day falls on Sunday, September 13.

The Origin

Jimmy Carter issued a proclamation to officially recognize Grandparents Day as a national holiday in 1979. He urged all Americans to take time to honor their own grandparents or elders within their community on this day. A woman by the name of Marion McQuade was recognized as the founder of this day as she worked tirelessly to unite all fifty states in recognizing this day as a holiday. McQuade donated much time in her community to teach the youth about the various important contributions that seniors have made throughout history, and she encouraged the youth to adopt a grandparent for a lifetime. Clearly, McQuade felt that the knowledge and guidance that elders had to offer was vitally important to the younger generation, and she took the steps needed to show them the recognition they deserve.

Celebration

The best way to show someone that he or she is important to you is to spend time with that person. Giving gifts and cooking food is also a good way of saying, “Thank you!” Even though COVID-19 is keeping everyone indoors, e-cards and phone calls are excellent ways to stay in touch with those you love. Perhaps even leaving a letter in the mailboxes of the elders in your community could be a magnificent way to spread love and celebrate the wisdom and life that they possess. Take time to love those around you and support those who you look up to. Maybe even remind a boss, teacher, professor, etc. of their importance to you.  Adopt a grandparent if you don’t have one, and adopt a grandparent if you do. There’s so much to learn from those that have already lived so much life, so let’s thank them on this incredible day. Thank you all for all of your contributions to our society and lives! You are important, you are amazing, you are loved and appreciated!

Written by Jonathan

Image Credit