My blog has now transitioned to creativexplorations.com! I'm so, so excited to be hosted on Wordpress, and I hope that you'll join me as I continue my blogging adventure. See you over there!
THREE CHEERS FOR THE BLOGVERSE AND ALL THE INCREDIBLE PEOPLE IN IT! I have been nominated for the Liebster Award!
For the uninformed, here are the rules:
Huge shoutout to Jessica at The Mama Revival Series for the nomination! Her beautiful blog is all about restoring faith-based motherhood, and providing a community for Christian women. Please go and check out her inspiring posts!
So, to answer the questions...
1. How long have you been blogging?
I started in August, and have not regretted it for a single moment since.
2. What is your favorite subject to write about?
Ouch...this is a toughie. I have loved writing on a wide range of topics, but if I HAD to choose a favorite, I would say books or lifestyle tips.
R3. Who is your biggest supporter?
My dad. He was enthusiastic about my ideas from the very beginning, and has given me so much helpful advice, and ideas when I need them. I've also found a lot of support from the blogging community - I've yet to meet anyone even "big bloggers" who was unwilling to answer my emails, tweets, or comments.
4. Do you get writer's block and how do you handle it?
Yes, all the time, and not just on my blog either. I've also had writer's block when I'm trying to write short stories, etc. When I JUST CAN'T come up with a topic on my own for the day's post, I turn to Pinterest as the holy grail of inspiration. Reading books by authors I admire, and drawing from my own life at the time can also help me out of a slump. And as far as my short stories go - the best way to find my muse is to forget about it for a short time.
5. What is your favorite platform to interact with your readers?
I think that my favorite must be on my blog itself, in the comment section. Comments make my day, because it shows that somebody took enough time out of their day to read your post, and then write something, no matter how short, about it. That's not the same as a retweet. However, because my blog suffers from a lack of commenting, I also really like Instagram, and I have met some awesome people on Twitter.
6. Who are you top 3 bloggers/authors?
THREE???? Only three? This is impossible...but I'll try. Gina Alyse is such an inspiration to me. Her posts are all unique, and interesting. I also love reading Olyvia's posts for blogging advice. They are so super helpful, but also remain funny and sincere, despite her "big blogger" status. Finally, I have to say that Cait's posts crack me up every single time. I have so many favorite bloggers, but these are the three that come instantly to mind. Some of my other favorites are Mattie, Mary, Courtney, and the list goes on.
7. What projects are you currently working on?
My most immediate blogging project is the transition of my site to Wordpress. It ain't easy, folks. However, I am super duper excited for the whole redesign and I'm *hoping* (fingers crossed) to be done by the end of February. I'm also hoping to start monetizing within the next year, set up an email subscription list, etc., etc. I have big plans for this tiny space on the interwebs! Blogging aside, my current "projects" include a smashbook, a journal, and a crocheted hat!
8. Why did you write your last post?
Hmmm...that would be my lit love post on Hans Christian Andersen! I wrote that because I recently was assigned his fairy tales, and after reading them I was genuinely affected by his skill with words. I thought that a children's author from the 19th century deserved a bit of recognition for his mastery of the art.
9. What is the purpose of your blog?
To spread creativity throughout the web. To provide a creative outlet for yours truly. To show the rest of the world what a teenager can accomplish. To educate, inspire, or motivate somebody. To bring glory to Him. And to make me some $$$.
10. Do you have a favorite quote that motivates you?
A couple, actually!
Life is haphazard and full of beauties which I try to catch as they fly by, for who knows if any of them will ever return?
Enjoy the little things in life, because one day you'll look back and realize they were the big things.
(I'll admit that I'm bending the rules here. Some of these people have more than 200 followers, but I'll be honest and tell you that I don't read a lot of start up blogs. So these are some smallish (though none of them are destined to remain small) bloggers who deserve the award!)
My questions are...
Thanks for reading!
I guarantee you that if you had asked me a month ago, I would have had no idea I would be writing this post.
Hans Christian Andersen? Pshaw - that was what I read when I like, 10, right? But then, I was assigned his fairy tales for English reading.
And despite my best intentions, I found that side of me that worships words and language bowing in humble submission. His fairy tales are enthralling. Each one is a little pearl of exquisite sentences, flawless descriptions. They are full of childish innocence, woven into tales that are pure, delicate, and slightly magical. Reading them is like stepping right into an enchanted world where pixies really do exist, and the most wild flights of imagination can be realized. They brought with them a sense of nostalgia, memories of hours spent in their company as a child, the rainbowy fantasies I built in their world.
Here are some of the choicest, most beautiful moments from the three tales that touched me most as I read them, with older, more worldly eyes:
Read it here.
“It is a beautiful flower,” said the woman, and she kissed the red and golden-colored leaves, and while she did so the flower opened, and she could see that it was a real tulip. Within the flower, upon the green velvet stamens, sat a very delicate and graceful little maiden.
Every morning when the sun rose, and every evening when it went down, she would creep out at the door, and as the wind blew aside the ears of corn, so that she could see the blue sky, she thought how beautiful and bright it seemed out there, and wished so much to see her dear swallow again.
At length they reached the warm countries, where the sun shines brightly, and the sky seems so much higher above the earth. Here, on the hedges, and by the wayside, grew purple, green, and white grapes; lemons and oranges hung from trees in the woods; and the air was fragrant with myrtles and orange blossoms. Beautiful children ran along the country lanes, playing with large gay butterflies; and as the swallow flew farther and farther, every place appeared still more lovely.
“Farewell, farewell," said the swallow, with a heavy heart, as he left the warm countries, to fly back into Denmark. There he had a nest over the window of a house in which dwelt the writer of fairy tales. The swallow sang "Tweet, tweet," and from his song came the whole story.”
The Little Mermaid
Read it here.
Far out in the ocean, where the water is as blue as the prettiest cornflower, and as clear as crystal, it is very, very deep; so deep, indeed, that no cable could fathom it: many church steeples, piled one upon another, would not reach from the ground beneath to the surface of the water above. There dwell the Sea King and his subjects. We must not imagine that there is nothing at the bottom of the sea but bare yellow sand. No, indeed; the most singular flowers and plants grow there; the leaves and stems of which are so pliant, that the slightest agitation of the water causes them to stir as if they had life. Fishes, both large and small, glide between the branches, as birds fly among the trees here upon land. In the deepest spot of all, stands the castle of the Sea King. Its walls are built of coral, and the long, gothic windows are of the clearest amber. The roof is formed of shells, that open and close as the water flows over them. Their appearance is very beautiful, for in each lies a glittering pearl, which would be fit for the diadem of a queen.
They were six beautiful children; but the youngest was the prettiest of them all; her skin was as clear and delicate as a rose-leaf, and her eyes as blue as the deepest sea
To her it seemed most wonderful and beautiful to hear that the flowers of the land should have fragrance, and not those below the sea; that the trees of the forest should be green; and that the fishes among the trees could sing so sweetly, that it was quite a pleasure to hear them. Her grandmother called the little birds fishes, or she would not have understood her; for she had never seen birds.
...the mermaids have no tears, and therefore they suffer more.
“Never had she danced so beautifully; the sharp knives cut her feet, but she did not feel it, for the pain in her heart was far greater.”
“It was the last night that she would breathe the same air as he, or look out over the deep sea and up into the star-blue heaven. A dreamless, eternal night awaited her, for she had no soul and had not been able to win one.”
The Little Match-Seller
This story is short enough that I decided to copy it in its entirety for your perusal.
The Little Match-Girl
It was terribly cold and nearly dark on the last evening of the old year, and the snow was falling fast. In the cold and the darkness, a poor little girl, with bare head and naked feet, roamed through the streets. It is true she had on a pair of slippers when she left home, but they were not of much use. They were very large, so large, indeed, that they had belonged to her mother, and the poor little creature had lost them in running across the street to avoid two carriages that were rolling along at a terrible rate. One of the slippers she could not find, and a boy seized upon the other and ran away with it, saying that he could use it as a cradle, when he had children of his own. So the little girl went on with her little naked feet, which were quite red and blue with the cold. In an old apron she carried a number of matches, and had a bundle of them in her hands. No one had bought anything of her the whole day, nor had anyone given her even a penny. Shivering with cold and hunger, she crept along; poor little child, she looked the picture of misery. The snowflakes fell on her long, fair hair, which hung in curls on her shoulders, but she regarded them not.
Lights were shining from every window, and there was a savory smell of roast goose, for it was New-year’s eve—yes, she remembered that. In a corner, between two houses, one of which projected beyond the other, she sank down and huddled herself together. She had drawn her little feet under her, but she could not keep off the cold; and she dared not go home, for she had sold no matches, and could not take home even a penny of money. Her father would certainly beat her; besides, it was almost as cold at home as here, for they had only the roof to cover them, through which the wind howled, although the largest holes had been stopped up with straw and rags. Her little hands were almost frozen with the cold. Ah! perhaps a burning match might be some good, if she could draw it from the bundle and strike it against the wall, just to warm her fingers. She drew one out—“scratch!” how it sputtered as it burnt! It gave a warm, bright light, like a little candle, as she held her hand over it. It was really a wonderful light. It seemed to the little girl that she was sitting by a large iron stove, with polished brass feet and a brass ornament. How the fire burned! and seemed so beautifully warm that the child stretched out her feet as if to warm them, when, lo! the flame of the match went out, the stove vanished, and she had only the remains of the half-burnt match in her hand.
She rubbed another match on the wall. It burst into a flame, and where its light fell upon the wall it became as transparent as a veil, and she could see into the room. The table was covered with a snowy white table-cloth, on which stood a splendid dinner service, and a steaming roast goose, stuffed with apples and dried plums. And what was still more wonderful, the goose jumped down from the dish and waddled across the floor, with a knife and fork in its breast, to the little girl. Then the match went out, and there remained nothing but the thick, damp, cold wall before her.
She lighted another match, and then she found herself sitting under a beautiful Christmas-tree. It was larger and more beautifully decorated than the one which she had seen through the glass door at the rich merchant’s. Thousands of tapers were burning upon the green branches, and colored pictures, like those she had seen in the show-windows, looked down upon it all. The little one stretched out her hand towards them, and the match went out.
The Christmas lights rose higher and higher, till they looked to her like the stars in the sky. Then she saw a star fall, leaving behind it a bright streak of fire. “Someone is dying,” thought the little girl, for her old grandmother, the only one who had ever loved her, and who was now dead, had told her that when a star falls, a soul was going up to God.
She again rubbed a match on the wall, and the light shone round her; in the brightness stood her old grandmother, clear and shining, yet mild and loving in her appearance. “Grandmother,” cried the little one, “O take me with you; I know you will go away when the match burns out; you will vanish like the warm stove, the roast goose, and the large, glorious Christmas-tree.” And she made haste to light the whole bundle of matches, for she wished to keep her grandmother there. And the matches glowed with a light that was brighter than the noon-day, and her grandmother had never appeared so large or so beautiful. She took the little girl in her arms, and they both flew upwards in brightness and joy far above the earth, where there was neither cold nor hunger nor pain, for they were with God.
In the dawn of morning there lay the poor little one, with pale cheeks and smiling mouth, leaning against the wall; she had been frozen to death on the last evening of the year; and the New-year’s sun rose and shone upon a little corpse! The child still sat, in the stiffness of death, holding the matches in her hand, one bundle of which was burnt. “She tried to warm herself,” said some. No one imagined what beautiful things she had seen, nor into what glory she had entered with her grandmother, on New-year’s day.
After revisiting his writing, I don't wonder that Andersen's stories have survived for decades. Each of them is, to varying degrees, both poignant and bittersweet, yet they are all so beautiful in their simplicity, purity, and hopefulness.
I hope I don't sound affected, cliche, and meretricious. That wasn't my intention at all. But I think I must begin to wean myself off my flowery, profuse, and much-loved adjectives.
I will leave you with a final short story, called "The Pen and The Inkstand." Tell me if it does not bring a tear or two to your eye.
The Pen and the Inkstand
In a poet’s room, where his inkstand stood on the table, the remark was once made, “It is wonderful what can be brought out of an inkstand. What will come next? It is indeed wonderful.”
“Yes, certainly,” said the inkstand to the pen, and to the other articles that stood on the table; “that’s what I always say. It is wonderful and extraordinary what a number of things come out of me. It’s quite incredible, and I really don’t know what is coming next when that man dips his pen into me. One drop out of me is enough for half a page of paper, and what cannot half a page contain? From me, all the works of a poet are produced; all those imaginary characters whom people fancy they have known or met. All the deep feeling, the humor, and the vivid pictures of nature. I myself don’t understand how it is, for I am not acquainted with nature, but it is certainly in me. From me have gone forth to the world those wonderful descriptions of troops of charming maidens, and of brave knights on prancing steeds; of the halt and the blind, and I know not what more, for I assure you I never think of these things.”
“There you are right,” said the pen, “for you don’t think at all; if you did, you would see that you can only provide the means. You give the fluid that I may place upon the paper what dwells in me, and what I wish to bring to light. It is the pen that writes: no man doubts that; and, indeed, most people understand as much about poetry as an old inkstand.”
“You have had very little experience,” replied the inkstand. “You have hardly been in service a week, and are already half worn out. Do you imagine you are a poet? You are only a servant, and before you came I had many like you, some of the goose family, and others of English manufacture. I know a quill pen as well as I know a steel one. I have had both sorts in my service, and I shall have many more when he comes—the man who performs the mechanical part—and writes down what he obtains from me. I should like to know what will be the next thing he gets out of me.”
“Inkpot!” exclaimed the pen contemptuously.
Late in the evening the poet came home. He had been to a concert, and had been quite enchanted with the admirable performance of a famous violin player whom he had heard there. The performer had produced from his instrument a richness of tone that sometimes sounded like tinkling waterdrops or rolling pearls; sometimes like the birds twittering in chorus, and then rising and swelling in sound like the wind through the fir-trees. The poet felt as if his own heart were weeping, but in tones of melody like the sound of a woman’s voice. It seemed not only the strings, but every part of the instrument from which these sounds were produced. It was a wonderful performance and a difficult piece, and yet the bow seemed to glide across the strings so easily that it was as if any one could do it who tried. Even the violin and the bow appeared to perform independently of their master who guided them; it was as if soul and spirit had been breathed into the instrument, so the audience forgot the performer in the beautiful sounds he produced. Not so the poet; he remembered him, and named him, and wrote down his thoughts on the subject. “How foolish it would be for the violin and the bow to boast of their performance, and yet we men often commit that folly. The poet, the artist, the man of science in his laboratory, the general,—we all do it; and yet we are only the instruments which the Almighty uses; to Him alone the honor is due. We have nothing of ourselves of which we should be proud.” Yes, this is what the poet wrote down. He wrote it in the form of a parable, and called it “The Master and the Instruments.”
“That is what you have got, madam,” said the pen to the inkstand, when the two were alone again. “Did you hear him read aloud what I had written down?”
“Yes, what I gave you to write,” retorted the inkstand. “That was a cut at you because of your conceit. To think that you could not understand that you were being quizzed. I gave you a cut from within me. Surely I must know my own satire.”
“Ink-pitcher!” cried the pen.
“Writing-stick!” retorted the inkstand. And each of them felt satisfied that he had given a good answer. It is pleasing to be convinced that you have settled a matter by your reply; it is something to make you sleep well, and they both slept well upon it. But the poet did not sleep. Thoughts rose up within him like the tones of the violin, falling like pearls, or rushing like the strong wind through the forest. He understood his own heart in these thoughts; they were as a ray from the mind of the Great Master of all minds.
“To Him be all the honor.”
Thanks for reading!
You read that right. There hasn't been a television in our household since I was born, and there absolutely never will be. It's odd to me that in so many other homes, the TV is almost similar to another person - always there, always on, providing you with instantaneous updates about the world. I am personally so grateful that my parents have never allowed me to watch TV. Sure, I'm not as up to date with world politics, celebs, and the weather as I could be. But does that matter?
I'm going to propose something that may rock your world. You should turn off your TV, and throw it out the window. Here's why:
1. It really isn't worth it.
TV is a lot of good things - I freely admit it. But in the end, those things are easy to find elsewhere. If you're one of the many people who have been around an always-on television set your whole life, I understand that this may sound a bit insane. But think about it for a few minutes. Are you really missing out on anything? Do you have to receive updates about how truly evil and depraved mankind can be and what Taylor Swift ate for dinner on a moment to moment basis? Do you want you (and those around you) to be constantly absorbing the immoral, inappropriate things that pervade most tv shows? (Hopefully, you aren't offended by this statement. I won't name any shows specifically, because I know everyone has there own standard of right and wrong, but I think we can all agree that there are some things on TV that are so not worth it.) Woah, I just got really philosophical right there.
2. There are awesome alternatives.
I should say here that I don't want anybody on the planet to be an uneducated dunce. It's important to be knowledgeable about relevant topics in your world. I'm just arguing that you don't need to be bombarded with information from every direction for every moment of your day.* You can listen to the news in your commute - NPR is my favorite station for all around cultural literacy. 40 minutes a day is plenty of time to hear what you need to hear. You can also listen to radio on your smartphone. You can read on the CNN website, Huffington Post, etc. There is absolutely no need to be paying for cable when you can get all the essentials for free!
"But what about my favorite TV shows," you say? First off, like I said above, most of the shows on are junk anyway. Secondly, I'm not recommending that you stop watching TV shows entirely...because then what would you do on Sunday afternoons? Moderation, guys, not abstinence. OBVIOUSLY I wouldn't dream of depriving you of "When Calls the Heart", "Merlin", "Once Upon A Time", "Sherlock", etc. That's why you need to have Netflix. (Heheheh. I should be a Netflix affiliate.) All of the shows I love, I have found on Netflix. It's very worth it.
*It's interesting to note that in Ray Bradbury's novel, Fahrenheit 451, books have been banned. The hero's job is to burn all the books he can find. And what does his wife do all day? She has her "family," in the "parlor": three gigantic screens that are bombarding her with light and color and noise. It is absolute sensory overwhelm, replacing culture, relationships, literature, everything. Talk about information overload, or TV on steroids. Here's a quote from the book: (source)
"Thank God for that. You can shut them, say, ‘Hold on a moment.’ You play God to it. But who has ever torn himself from the claw that encloses you when you drop a seed in a TV parlour? It grows you any shape it wishes! It is an environment as real as the world. It becomes and is the truth. Books can be beaten down with reason. But with all my knowledge and scepticism, I have never been able to argue with a one-hundred-piece symphony orchestra, full colour, three dimensions, and I being in and part of those incredible parlours." (2.138)
3. You could be doing better things.
Think of the all the time you can redeem just by not watching TV. I remember once talking to a friend who said she didn't have time to do homework. She got home from school and watched TV for three hours before getting started. After that, I wasn't surprised to hear that she had to stay up until 2 doing her homework. I'm not making this up.
Which of these images is more appealing: a kid staring open mouthed at a screen, or a kid buried in a book? In the first case, he is passive - his brain is simply absorbing the bright colors, shapes, and noises. In the second, his brain is actively working to make sense of black and white squiggles. At the same time, he is discovering all the mystery and magic hidden in the written word. Before people had TVs, they were reading books! Timeless stories that live on are found between two covers, not an LCD display.
Outside of reading, the possible things to do instead of TV are endless. Learn a new skill. Crochet, knit or sew. Paint and journal. Bake something. Clean house. Write a story. Do your homework. You could even start blogging. There are so many wonderful things you might be able to accomplish in time that might be otherwise wasted!
Yikes. That turned out to be rather longer, more in depth, and more serious then I intended. Please remember that in this entire post, I'm advising moderation. You might not be a fan of throwing out the TV for all time. Maybe you could try to only watch it for half hour a day. Maybe you could record your favorite shows to watch on the weekend.
I'm going to issue to you a challenge, to turn off your TV for a week. See how much good it's absence can do you. Then try a month. Then try forever, and get Netflix. TV can be us addicting as anything else, so this probably won't be easy. Yet stopping the habit can make a difference in your life.
I'll leave you with this laugh-out-loud, subtlely brilliant poem by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory author Roald Dahl:
The most important thing we've learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set --
Or better still, just don't install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we've been,
We've watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone's place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they're hypnotised by it,
Until they're absolutely drunk
With all that shocking ghastly junk.
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don't climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink --
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?
IT ROTS THE SENSE IN THE HEAD!
IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!
IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND!
IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND
HE CAN NO LONGER UNDERSTAND
A FANTASY, A FAIRYLAND!
HIS BRAIN BECOMES AS SOFT AS CHEESE!
HIS POWERS OF THINKING RUST AND FREEZE!
HE CANNOT THINK -- HE ONLY SEES!
'All right!' you'll cry. 'All right!' you'll say,
'But if we take the set away,
What shall we do to entertain
Our darling children? Please explain!'
We'll answer this by asking you,
'What used the darling ones to do?
'How used they keep themselves contented
Before this monster was invented?'
Have you forgotten? Don't you know?
We'll say it very loud and slow:
THEY ... USED ... TO ... READ! They'd READ and READ,
AND READ and READ, and then proceed
To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
One half their lives was reading books!
The nursery shelves held books galore!
Books cluttered up the nursery floor!
And in the bedroom, by the bed,
More books were waiting to be read!
Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales
Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and whales
And treasure isles, and distant shores
Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars,
And pirates wearing purple pants,
And sailing ships and elephants,
And cannibals crouching 'round the pot,
Stirring away at something hot.
(It smells so good, what can it be?
Good gracious, it's Penelope.)
The younger ones had Beatrix Potter
With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter,
And Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland,
And Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and-
Just How The Camel Got His Hump,
And How the Monkey Lost His Rump,
And Mr. Toad, and bless my soul,
There's Mr. Rat and Mr. Mole-
Oh, books, what books they used to know,
Those children living long ago!
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books,
Ignoring all the dirty looks,
The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,
And children hitting you with sticks-
Fear not, because we promise you
That, in about a week or two
Of having nothing else to do,
They'll now begin to feel the need
Of having something to read.
And once they start -- oh boy, oh boy!
You watch the slowly growing joy
That fills their hearts. They'll grow so keen
They'll wonder what they'd ever seen
In that ridiculous machine,
That nauseating, foul, unclean,
Repulsive television screen!
And later, each and every kid
Will love you more for what you did.
What are your thoughts? To watch, or not to watch? What are you going to do instead of starting at a TV?
"Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead."
"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you"
"Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world."
"I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters I am not.. I write to explore the things I am afraid of."
"You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.'
"A WORD after a WORD after a WORD is power."
"We read to know that we are not alone."