Encouragement

Today, around 10:00 a.m.

Hi, blog! Long time no write. Well, I have been writing, just not for you. Which is dumb, but I’m remedying this problem right this very second! Yay!

Grad school has been a whirlwind so far. Truly. I’ve loved it, but it’s been an adjustment. Ellie and I are finally settling into a little routine (I think), and I’m really good at heating up Lean Cuisines and Stouffer’s French bread pizza.

Right now, my stomach is in knots and I’m just a nervous bundle of energy. Today, I turn in my first bit of fiction for one of my classes.

I’m so terrified, guys! I just hope my piece is sort of up to par with all the PhD and the second or third year MFA students in my class. I just hope that my school didn’t let me in by accident, and that my professor and my fellow students won’t read what I wrote and say, “Holy cow, where did this girl come from? How did she manage to get here?!” I know this is a common thought and fear among grad students–“imposter syndrome,” it’s called–but I hate it! I hate thinking I’m not good enough. I hate thinking that other people might think that I’m not good enough.

Isn’t that silly?!

Here’s where the title of this post comes in: encouragement. I’m going to write a bit of encouragement to me and to all of you.

Dear You,

Maybe you will be horrible. You might not be good enough. There’s always that chance that you won’t be good at something. There’s a chance  you’ll fall flat on your face. 

(Wow, strong start, am I right?)

BUT. Even if you are horrible, why is that such a big deal? If you want to be good at something, just put your head down, work like you’ve never worked before, and you’re bound to get better. You might never be the best, but gosh darn it, you can be your best!

(So much cheese; I cringe. But I’m a huge fan of all things cheesy.)

What you wrote is your very best at this moment in time. That’s all you can do. Take the criticism, take the feedback, and then run with. Get better. Work at it. Keep your optimism and grit and your stupid little Pollyanna smile. 

(I smile a lot. Former cast member probs, I suppose.)

You got this. Work! Know that you won’t always get gold stars, and embrace that feeling of uncertainty. You get to work at what you love to do, and you’re going to get better. 

Sincerely, 

Me.

annnnnnddddd….

Today, around 4:29 p.m. 

UPDATE: The class went well! I did a happy dance in my car before I drove home! I got some great notes and good feedback, and everyone was so nice. I’m happy to be here, and I’m so happy to be learning from such talented writers.

My anxiety has been lifted (for the moment, at least), but the bit of encouragement I wrote this morning is still relevant. I hope it helps you, because my little pep talk really helped me “buck up” and embrace my fears. If I acknowledge my anxieties, I can face them head on and accept them. Why stress about being good enough? What’s the worst thing that could happen?

I hope you have a great day, my friends. Do your best today and every day.

 

 

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Adventures

I just want to share this photo of my pup, and I want to caption it with one of my favorite puppy (and adventurous people) quotes of all time:

Behold, the cutest photo in this world, taken by my sister (follow her at @klemsonphotographydesign on Instagram, people!):

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And here’s the caption:

“There’s a great big hunk of world out there with no fence around it. Where two dogs can find adventure and excitement. And beyond those distant hills, who knows what wonderful experiences? And it’s all ours for the taking, Pige.” 

It’s from Lady and the Tramp, and I absolutely love it. And I love little Ellie’s face in the photo–it’s like she’s saying, “Oh! There it is! The biggest and prettiest world I’ll ever know…I’m just…kind of…frightened. Can I go? Will I go? Should I go?”

And, if you’re like me and Ellie, you might think these kinds of things right before you embark on new adventures. I’m about to begin grad school and a graduate teaching assistantship and a new life and in a brand new town and have to meet new people and do new things and shed fear of failure and experience apprehension and step out of my comfort zone all over again so…yes. These thoughts and feelings are quite relevant at the moment.

I’m human–of course I’m afraid of failure. I’ll be working on an MFA in creative writing and I’m already nervous–will I be horrible? Can I keep up with my fellow writers?

Will. I. Fail. Miserably?!?!?

I hope not. And if I do, hey. It’s cool. It’s fine. I’ll be okay. I’ll just work harder and find my way and my place in this big, fence-less world.

There is a great big hunk of world out there with no fence around it, so new adventures will always be limitless. I’m excited to try my hand at this new venture–let’s write stuff! Lots of it! Let it be horrible or wonderful or kind of okay! Either way, it’s a start and a new beginning, and I love those suckers.

You ready, Ellie?

 

 

Adventures In Puppy-ing

Ellie Kevin Lancaster, meet everyone. Everyone, meet Ellie Kevin Lancaster.


This is my sweet little Shih Tzu. She weighs only two pounds and has rank puppy breath, but she is mine and mine alone. She  happens to be a little terror and have quite the rambunctious spirit, but that’s why I’m so smitten.

Ellie has been a hoot since bringing her home. She arrived on the scene with a bout of fleas and worms–common puppy problems, but inconvenient and worrisome for this new puppy mom. Don’t worry, we took care of it, but for our first couple days of furry friendship, Ellie was calm. Stoic. Tired.

Of course she was. She felt sick, poor baby.

After getting her treated and cured of her puppy problems, my sweet Ellie blossomed into the minuscule maniac she was destined to be.  She sprints across the living room to the kitchen in a furry frenzy, in frantic pursuit of “Big Dog’s” food and treats. Big Dog is Kasper, our former “little” dog.

He’s now the big one.

She plays with her dog bed as if it were an oversized toy, dragging it across the floor and gleefully ripping her claws into the soft fabric. I’ll have to invest in a new one soon.

She leaves tiny little puppy puddles on the kitchen tile. At least she doesn’t like peeing on the carpet too, too much. She gets so busy explorin’ her new world, she forgets she has a teeny tiny little bladder.

She’s my little explorer.

Why the name “Ellie Kevin?” She’s named after two beloved characters from Disney’s Up, of course.

She embodies Ellie’s (the character) adventurous spirit so well. Seriously–each morning she sprints from her kennel and begins to explore her brand new world; she’s full of joy and puppy curiosity, and she’s so sweet and good natured. She wiggles and squirms when you pick her up. She’d rather be discovering new nooks and crannies; she loves to cuddle when she’s tired, but she loves stretching her legs.

She’s my adventurer. She’s my Ellie girl.

And Kevin? You know: Kevin, the bird from Up. Her middle name’s Kevin, ’cause Kevin’s a girl. (Duh.)

I love you so much, Ellie. I can’t wait to begin a new adventure with you soon. Graduate school is fast approaching, which translates to a move to a new town and a fresh, shiny beginning. I can’t wait to take it all on with you.

Adventure is certainly out there.

 

 

Writer

I recently changed a few bullet points under the “about me” category.

First: “recent college graduate” transformed to “graduate student in creative writing.” Yes, you read that right! I’ll be heading back to school in the fall, and I am thrilled to continue my education. Who knows? Perhaps a doctorate is in my [distant] future?

I like school, okay? Let me stay forever.

Second: I changed “aspiring writer” to simply read “writer.”

Because I realized something.

I don’t have to wait until I’m a “grown-up” to fully realize my “grown-up” dream. And heck, I am a grown-up! Painfully so. I’ll be 24 in less than a month, and that’s scary. And kind of cool. But mostly terrifying.

You see, reader, I’m a writer because I write. I am not published in the sense that I have novels under my belt, but I write. A lot. At least I try to.

I do have a few articles published in a local magazine, and that’s cool. I’m so grateful for  the opportunity to contribute to a wonderful publication. But I still have a hard time considering myself a full-fledged writer.

But I am. And now that I’m realizing it, I’m so excited about my future and all the possibilities yet to be.

I write stories before bed! Fiction! And I love doing it! I’m using exclamation points because I think I found what I love to do! Making up stories to fill our dark little world with hero[ines] and characters that came to be because I used my brain muscles and created them out of nothing!

Now, yes, eventually I’d like to be semi-successful in this writing endeavor. But I can’t become successful or good at anything without a little elbow grease and a whole lot of doing.

And the doing–the writing, the doing the writing–makes me a writer. It’s the same concept as running. I’m currently training for a half marathon, and the act of running makes me a runner.

I’m slow as dirt, and it’s hard to wake up early before work to “pound the pavement.” (That’s runner’s speak.) But I run, so I am a runner.

I’m a writer, I’m a runner, I’m a dreamer. And I love and cherish all of those titles.

Have a magical day, my friends.

 

 

 

I Love You, Snoop

My best bud passed away the other day. My best bud had four legs, shaggy black-and-silver fur, a beard, and a stubby tail. He had the sweetest eyes, loved swimming in the summer, lounging on a pool floaty, and eating pizza crust.

His name was Snoopy, and Snoopy was seriously the best dog in this whole wide world.

I miss his howl. I miss his stub wagging back and forth every time I talked to him. I miss the way he used to paw at my hands, wanting me to pet his ears and his head.

I don’t think I could ever understand a person who doesn’t comprehend a pet/human relationship. Snoopy wasn’t just a dog–he was truly part of the family.

My whole little heart loved (still loves) him. He would lick my face when I cried. He was a part of my family for so long; we got him when I was in the fifth grade. I’m twenty-three. Snoop has been with us for the hardest–and happiest–of times. He grew up with my sister and me. We raised him. We carried him on our hips as if he was a toddler.

Our younger dog, Kasper, doesn’t understand. He still looks for Snoop. He doesn’t know how to bark when we walk in the door; that was Snoop’s job, and Kap followed suit. He rapidly blinks as if he’s about to burst into doggy tears. I try to give Kap lots of cuddles. He just lost his very best friend–the only friend of the same species he’s ever had.

It’s ok. I know we’ll feel better, and tears will give way to laughter and smiles, as cheesy as that sounds. We are already beginning to laugh at little things Snoopy did. He loved the words “cookie,” “leash,” “go,” “outside,” and “floaty.” He had a habit of laying in the middle of the floor on his back with his legs splayed in the silliest of ways. He’d relax and just go right to sleep. He loved snuggling under a bed–any space that was dark, quiet, and compact was his favorite space.

He would lay in the hallway that connected my room to my sister’s. He protected us. He would bark and growl at every unidentified noise. He would howl at every doorbell, he would tell the big dogs through the fence who was boss. He was only 20 pounds, but he could handle anything.

He was the bravest. He was my best bud. He was Snoop Poop, because his name unfortunately rhymed with “poop.”

I loved him so much. I know he’s lounging on a floaty, eating pizza, drying off in the sun, and laying in the shade somewhere that has an endless summer.

He loved summer because all of his girls were home.

I hope he knows his girls loved him so, so much.

Scratch that. I know he knows. He’s our Snoop Poop, and Snoop knows everything.

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To Be Determined

You know. Things really don’t ever turn out just how you thought it was going to be.

I thought I was going to be bored to tears in my college town, home of the University of Itty Bitty.  Its  population is tiny; barely over 10,ooo when school is in session. Main Street is peppered with mom-and-pops and fast food. The school was “average,” “undistinguished.” I was a Division II athlete, “lesser” than the best of the best.

I thought Animal Kingdom was going to be so-so as a  home park. I wanted Magic Kingdom; everyone does.  Classic and magical and the best of the best in entertainment. Animal Kingdom, in contrast, is new, environmental. Slightly smelly to be quite honest. I loved Disney with all my heart, but I was never sure if I loved Disney’s Animal Kingdom before my college program.

Preconceptions are stupid, my friends. I know it’s a “bad” word in Kindergarten , but they are stupid. And sucky.

The University of Itty Bitty? It turned out to be the very best experience possible. I became an English major and fell in love with writing and reading and analyzing and academia. I excelled as a college athlete, even though my version of excelling did not involve a Division I national championship. I discovered my love for autumn and authentic blizzards. My heart belongs to the miles of miles of uninterrupted patchwork views, littered only by immense wind turbines and their blades that rhythmically beat against a brilliant, red dirt-dusted sunset.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom? My goodness. It’s my home. I will always remember walking through an empty park at 7:50 in the morning, marveling at how the sun glinted off of the Tree of Life’s  foliage, how the distinct morning shadows highlighted the tree’s animal carvings. The mouthwatering aroma of Flame Tree Barbecue would overpower the stench of the birds that make the Oasis their home. Multicolored macaws noislily squawked and beat their wings, stirring the sweet humid air that forced my hair into its signature braid for six months. When the nighttime offerings began, I would park myself in front of the Tree of Life to watch it awaken.

If you’ve never experienced these awakenings, I’m here to tell you that they create just as much magic as Tinker Bell’s pixie dust.

Now that I’m home, I’m working and applying to graduate schools. As I sit down to complete applications, I notice that I’m applying to big schools with big names and little schools with little names. I realize that I probably won’t get into every school I apply to. Once this whole process is over, I must choose the right place for me. I also know that there is a possibility that I won’t have the option to choose the “right” place–there might be an “only” place.

The “right” place might not be the biggest school with the most distinguished program. But it might be. I’m not sure yet.

What I must consider from past experiences? Preconceptions are stupid. I can’t wait to continue to add to my collection of homes:

My home town.

University of Itty Bitty.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

To be determined.

 

Real People Clothes

Welcome to the first installment of a brand-new category: “Adulting!” (Word first penned by the glorious Kelly Williams Brown; her book Adulting is seriously one of my favorites). I know I have a category entitled “College,” but I think it’s time to begin writing about my misadventures in the adult world.

As I began two bigger-kid part-time jobs this week (both involve actually using my English degree; I’m over the moon and I am enjoying learning two different aspects of the writing biz), I realized something:

I have never worn “real” clothes for an extended period of time.

Let me explain. I was a Catholic school girl throughout my primary and secondary years; I experienced K-12 in more or less a plaid skirt and an assortment of polos and pinafores.

When I arrived on the college scene, I was a college athlete who was fortunate enough to get a whole different kind of uniform–team t-shirts, team sweats, team shorts, team shoes, team everything. Most days I wore athletic gear to class, give or take the few “cute” outfits I would wear on the weekends or a precious day off. I could get away with just having a few favorite items in my closet.

At Disney I wore my blueberry costume on the daily; on my days off I would wear my Disney-fied tanks and a few Disney bounds and my worn Tevas.

When I got home from Disney a couple of weeks ago and began applying for jobs, I realized that my “adult” closet was scant. I had a few thoughts for society as I skimmed through my closet:

“What do you mean I can’t wear my sparkly silver Mickey Ears everywhere I go? They’re neutral; they go with everything.”

“Could I get away with wearing my tiara to an interview?” 

“Hot Topic disney items aren’t acceptable office wear?!” 

Of course I knew the answers to the questions above. I’ve looked at Pinterest; big-girl jobs require big-girl clothes.

I had a few things, sure. A skirt. A few plain tops. One pair of black ballet flats that I really do adore.

I just didn’t feel Pinterest-worthy.

The challenge of my two new jobs was not the job itself–I knew I would learn my way around the offices and find my voice. I found the challenge was figuring out what to wear.

Shopping commenced. The other challenge: find budget-friendly items because your home girl wouldn’t be paid for another week or so.

That’s when I discovered the beauty of purchasing a few key items in which you could mix and match with the stuff you already own. I found a gorgeous dress to pair with a black cardigan, a black skirt to pair with a variety of tops I own, and a poncho that was just too good of a deal to not pass up. It also reminds me of the flying carpet from Aladdin. That was possibly the deal-breaker, but we won’t say it was. All outfits could be paired with my ballet flats I love so much.

I think I’ve started building a pretty respectable adult wardrobe.

If you’re having trouble putting together a respectable adult wardrobe, don’t fret my friends. I was able to put together something decent and survive a whole week of work. I also have some pretty cute things to wear for the coming week.

I hope you have a wonderful week, friends. Crush the adult world. Do all the adult things, like laundry and organizing and conquering tasks at work.

I know I’ll be trying to.

Please enjoy my wannabe fashion-blogger photos of three of my favorite “adult” outfits: 

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