I Proudly Present:

MY DECISION HAS BEEN MADE!

This is the moment you have all been waiting for. I have teased for a little over two weeks about NaNoWriMo, which starts TOMORROW! I am excited to share my decision with you all on what I have decided to write about, why, and what you can look forward to!

I am both excited and nervous about NaNoWriMo. I was super involved in my writing but took a break which turned into a two year break, so this is my way to jump back into writing. I have been writing book ideas down and coming up with them, but not taking action and I am tired of dreaming but not doing. I do not expect perfection while doing this, I do not expect the most detailed, beautifully constructed sentences, but I am hoping it is like riding a bike. Maybe a little rusty after a break, but then you get the groove of it again.. right?

Well I guess I have delayed long enough. I have decided to go with *drum roll please* my short story compilation. Wait one moment and I will give you more details!

The reason for this, after carefully planning what each of my ideas could potentially look like (and be), is because my novel idea Scanned requires a great degree of scientific research and a very, VERY, detailed outline. I want to get that right when I go to write it and the research and planning alone is going to take a great deal of time. I want that to be the best it can be when I go to write it so I will save that for some other time.

Now, back to what I am writing. I told you all that I was going to do my short stories based around a theme or an idea. The title, well working title because I have not fully decided this is what I will do and it could change as I actually write the stories, is The Stories You Never Heard but I have a couple of other titles. I will see what fits best as I write, I usually come up with my title last, or mid-writing but NaNo wanted a title. So, what are my short stories going to be about? Well, I am going to take anything from fiction to non-fiction and completely change the story.

Fiction wise, you could see any story that is currently part of the fiction category and being completely turned around in ways that you never thought. My first short story in this little collection here is a very interesting turn around on Snow White, and will be my only fairy tale that is included. But you all get the idea of what is going on.

Nonfiction wise, I am going to take stories that you have seen on the news, or haven’t seen, or historical events, and really anything that is classified as nonfiction, and turn around what you read or what the books/media tells us. It will become fiction, by technicality, and I am super excited to share these stories with you. This could mean that I take the story on a journey that is done from a first person point of view as they are experiencing what is happening. The kicker here is that what they are experiencing REALLY happened, because the story is based on a true event.

My writing tends to be a bit dark, and with the theme I have going on, especially with the nonfiction changes, you will see a lot of sadness and sorrow throughout each story and each characters life.

Well, the party starts tomorrow, and I am excited to share this journey. I do still have about 2 more stories that I need to include in the mix here, so if you – my small group of readers – would like to suggest anything, and I do mean ANYTHING, then go for it. It can be something old, something new, or something in between.

 

Before and Now

If I were to tell you my Testimony as a Christian one year ago, I am not sure I would tell you the same thing that I would today. I am going to walk you along my journey, my testimony, and how my testimony has changed.

The Before:

You see, for the longest time I thought my testimony was related to 9 year old-16 year old me who was depressed and self harmed. The me that was bullied, ridiculed, and a danger to myself. I would have told you about the girl with no passion, no want or desire to be alive. I would have told you about a person who put up a fake front and lost touch with herself and the world. See the me that I was in the 7 year time span that my life just seems to be a black hole was a different me. I stopped going to church, I stopped working hard at school, I pushed my friends and family away, and I lost who I was because I was not being anyone. I was a body, pretending to live while dying inside. This happened to me in a time when I cut off my connection with God and shut the door on him and myself.

The Middle:

I find it funny how the people in our lives are the people God puts in our lives. I met my current, and closest friend in 10th grade. (Though we later found out we went to the same daycare together for 2 years, had the same friends, but have no memory of one another). Bear in mind that I  was in “The Before” stage of my life. Well, she invited me to her church one night to help with the two year old class that she taught. Hesitantly I went, and that was the beginning of how my life changed. Sometimes God uses those around us to influence our lives. During a time in which I shut him out, he used my friend of mine to bring me back to him. After all of the kids left, we had to clean the room. We weren’t the closest of friends at this point but we were friends. She had asked me, “so what’s going on in your life?” I found it a bit personal, especially for someone I did not have a close relationship with, but for the first time in years, someone genuinely wanted to know. This was the first time I ever told someone about my depression and self-harm. Long story short, she told me to be smarter than that and reminded me how loved and blessed I was. Secretly this is something my heart desired for a long time – a person who cares, a spark of hope, help. It was an important and influential moment in my life.

The After:

So much changed for me after that 2 hour long talk that night. I took on a challenge with myself. I took on a challenge to open the door and find my way back to God – and I challenged myself to truly be happy. Let me tell you though, this was not an easy path. It was similar to playing Chutes and Ladders, but with more Chutes and less Ladders. It took me about 2 1/2 to 3 years to get to the spot I wanted and needed to be at. Every time I climbed up the ladder, one incy-weency-tiny detail would send me spiraling down a chute. I gave up a couple of times – but I tried again, and again, and again, and again. Luckily, I had a friend who kept pushing me and reminding me why I was trying to take on a better way of living and that is what got me where I wanted to be. I was able to find things I was passionate about-writing, filming, photography, helping people, working with the 2 year olds at church.

It wasn’t until last year in January that I got to a really good spot in my life. It was the first time since Elementary school that I took on having a relationship with God and actually put the time and effort into my faith. I started a daily devotional and a Bible plan, I started praying, I started to write my experience and what I was feeling. I could have been doing better, but I was doing good and I was making progress. My dark cloud was slowly fading away.

The Now:

This January, one year after I truly started putting my faith into action, I decided to give God 100%. I mean, Christ died for me on the Cross, He gave his life to save me and for that I should give Him everything I have. I remember watching War Room (and if you haven’t watched it, you should), and there is a part that has stuck with me. Miss Clara says, “People drink their coffee hot or cold. Nobody likes it lukewarm. Not even the Lord.” I felt like I needed to stop being lukewarm in my relationship with God. I needed to stop listening when I wanted and just listen, I needed to stop following his plan when it was convenient for me and acknowledge that He has a plan for me and it is the best path I can walk even if I am scared and hesitant, and I needed to stop daydreaming about the person God was calling me to be and that I wanted to be and start BEING the person I want to be and the person God called and created me to be. So, with that in mind, I went for it. I remember my prayer on January 1st, I remember telling God that I was in this life with Him; that  I would act, that I would follow, that I would listen. That I would turn to Him instead of away from him when times got rough and when life got unbearably difficult.

In “The Before” I became depressed because I lost my Grandma, and she was the person I was closest to. By the time I was 9 I had lost all of my grandparents. At the age of 4 my parents got a divorce, at the age of 3 my dad got cancer, and when you throw in bullying at school it just go to the point where it seemed like it was too much. I didn’t know how to handle and understand what was going on in my life. 

I  tell you that here to emphasize the underlying reason of my depression. Remember that now, in January 2016, I have decided to go full-force and give God 100%. So what happens after that? Well in November/December my mom and step-dad are on the edge of divorce. They decide not to go through with it but it has created financial problems and tension in the house that carry over into this year. January 20th, my dad dies. February my lawyer for my dad’s Estate dies. March my dog is attacked, my step-dad is threatened and assaulted (mildly, but the police refuse to do anything, see this Be a Responsible Pet Owner for more info), my parents truck got repo-ed, and the house payment is 3 months late. And since I have been so open about my depression, and the cause, as each event has came to light, the people around me are constantly checking on me. I know they worry about the ripple effects of the events of this year, and they worried about how I would handle each event.

But the amount of strength that I have found through God is almost incomprehensible to me. The amount of change I have had in my mental strength astonishes me. I have somehow managed to handle all the trials of the year on top of my school and work load (which is also surprising to me). I find it amazing how different I am experiencing these trials because with each thing I have turned to God. I have acknowledged that He is in control and when I need strength He will give me strength, when I need peace and comfort He will give me peace and comfort, when I need guidance and understanding He will provide me with guidance and understanding. He has done that and more.

I hope that any of you who may be struggling with depression, or the loss of a loved one, or if you just feel like it is to much, find comfort in this post. Even if you don’t believe in God, I hope that you reach out for help. I want you know that you can make it through, and it may not be easy, it may not be what you expect it to be, but it is worth it. I have found many passions, great friends, a wonderful and loving boyfriend, and a life that I want to live. I accredit my healing to God – I find my solace through Christ who lives in me. Life may not be easy right now, but I am the strongest I have ever been. I even found myself telling God to give me all he has because this time I will lean on Him and this time I am not giving up on myself, and more importantly I am not giving up on God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Final Countdown: NaNoWriMo

Okay guys, as you know I have had this internal, never-ending debate about what I am going to write about for NaNoWriMo. Well it is crackdown time, because the writing starts Friday and I need to make a choice so I can start my character developments and a basic story line. So what do I pick?

Do I pick Scanned? The novel I mention only a title for? I do promise that I know what this is going to be about. I am just keeping it a secret in case I save it for a later time.

Or do I pick my short stories? I have my theme down, I have an aim for the amount of short stories. I have made my decision and my goals if I were to go this route.

Well I will tell you ALL what I am going to write about on Thursday – the day before NaNoWriMo because suspicion is fun! And maybe because it will take me that long to decide… Tonight I will be sitting down and writing out the outline and characters for both of my options. This will hopefully lead me to make a choice. As the day nears and as my time lessens I will come to a conclusion. Wish me luck!

The Great Cucumber Battle: Lightsaber Edition

***This is a true story***

***DO try this at your local grocery story***

***No cucumbers were harmed in the making of this story***

So my brother and I do the weekly grocery shopping for my family and we go to the store on Friday night because they are not as busy. Now the store is always a fun trip, he may be 23 and I may be 20 (okay I will be 20 in 1 month but close enough), but let me tell you right now, we do not act our age at the store. We have epic song battles, concerts, competitions, and each isle brings new fun! Well here is an interesting story from our trip yesterday..

So as we were walking through the produce isle, and as my brother was on his phone as I grabbed various items, this kid (probably about 7-8 years old), walks by me holding a cucumber and says, “Zzinngg,” and this is what happens after:

I looked at my brother and said, “I think we just got shot by a cucumber.” He gives me that look (the are you crazy, what are you talking about look) and proceeds to say, “What?” Well by this time we have made it across from this kids family on the other side of the produce isle we were in. I look at my brother, motion my hand toward the kid (okay I pointed, dare I say, but I did), and I told him, “That kid just shot us with a cucumber.” However, each time I told him that I was laughing so it took me a little bit to get the words out.

Before my brother could respond, the kids mother looks to be and tells me, “Oh, he wasn’t shooting you. It is a lightsaber so he was probably stabbing you.” We are all getting a really good laugh out of this. Well, it just so happened that the spot separating us was holding the tomatoes and cucumbers, and there were only TWO cucumbers left. I grabbed a cucumber, looked to my brother who immediately knew what I was about to do, so he grabs a cucumber and we had a mini lightsaber-cucumber showdown in the produce section. The mom of the kid was with her mom, and she had rejoined them at this point. I wish I could describe in words the look she was giving us but it looked something like this:what-the-heck-post

The mom of the son then proceeds to tell her mom that her son was using a cucumber as a lightsaber, so we (naturally), did the same thing. The mom just nodded and said, “Okay,” but she still had that look on her face. Trust me though, it was pretty funny!

Well, needless to say we said our goodbyes to each other, we put the cucumbers back where they belonged, and we sang some more songs, and went on our way.

All in all, I would say it was a fun and successful trip. How many times does one get to go the store and have an epic ,fight-to-the-death, cucumber lightsaber showdown in the produce section?

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These images are not my own, I did not take the pictures or create them.

The Last Two Weeks

I have been silent for the past two weeks. That was not my plan, really, I have a lot of posts written/in my head, but there are only so many hours in the day. If I did not sleep then that would help, but I do (sometimes). However the weeks have been crazy. Here is what my two weeks looked like:

 

Last week: 3-14-16 to 3-19-16

Last week I made 214 cookies, 54 of which were decorated sugar cookies, and baked and decorated two cakes. Saturday the 19th, my mom was hosting a HUGE dog-Easter egg hunt for her dog rescue. The event was 5 hours long with various activities during each hour or 30 minute interval. This is why I baked so many cookies last week and those cakes, not to mention 8 hour work days Monday-Friday, cooking dinner, taking care of animals, and what not. Needless to say I had a hectic, busy, crazy week last week! But my cakes were the first to go at the cake walk, so huzzah!

This week: 3-21-16 to 3-26-15. 

I had a person who wanted 30 decorated sugar cookies for her son’s school event Thursday, so I baked and decorated another 30 cookies this week. Along with the weekly 40 hour work week (really I think we should have Good Friday off), animals, cooking dinner, and so on. However, it is EASTER WEEKEND! And as a Christian, this is one of the most meaningful holidays to me. It is a good time for friends, family, reflection, thanksgiving, and to just simply enjoy the simple pleasures in life.

But this week I have for homework: 5 chapters to read out of my book, 5 lectures to listen to, 1 exam, 1 paper to write, and 1 discussion board to do with 2 replies. I will fit that in somewhere on my list of things to do! Not to mention, NaNoWriMo is right around the corner and I still have not decided what I am going to write about but I have narrowed it down to….. *drum roll please*……………… either my Novel “Scanned” or a compilation of short-stories based around one theme. Do I know the theme? Yes. Do I know what my novel would be about if I went that route? Yes. Have I picked which one yet? Definitely not. I will though, I only have 1 week left to decide!

Some weeks are definitely busier than others, and I can honestly say I don’t think I am going to be baking cookies for a little bit because I am cookied-out. But be on the lookout for some new posts! And be on the lookout for the story that I decide to pick for NaNoWriMo!

The News: Brussels

I found it deeply saddening that the first bit of news I had after I woke up was in regards to yet another terrorist attack.

First and foremost, I would like to express my sympathy and condolences to those who are in Brussels, and to the people who lost friends, family, and loved ones today. I want to express the sorrow I feel for those of you who lost someone today too soon and to those of you waiting at a bedside with those who were injured. My prayers go out to all of the hearts that are currently hurting. I pray that those of you who were involved in the attacks find strength, peace, and healing. I cannot even begin the fathom the fear, panic, chaos, and pain that has been unleashed due to the attack today, but my heart goes out to you.

And to those of you who are opening up your homes and opening your hearts to all those affected, the kindness and generosity you are displaying is beautiful and comforting.

-Shauna

Lets Talk NaNoWriMo

Alrighty everybody, I promised I would explain NaNoWriMo as the time got closer and I am officially 15 days away from it (if I do not count today). Well if you have never heard of this event, it happens twice a year – April and November. The goal is to write 50,000 words in 1 month, or 30 days. That is about 1,667 words a day – not a day before, not a day after. Now I attempted this once, four years ago, and I failed.. an epic kind of fail. You do have the option to set your own word goals, higher or lower, and you also have the option to write anything.

Why, oh why, did I fail the first time around? Well…. I set my word goal to high and I became a bit obsessed with reaching the word goal and I did not focus hard enough on the actual story and the quality of the story, and though I got 2,000 words away from my 40,000 word count goal my story honestly stunk.

SOO why am I doing NaNoWriMo this time, what is my word count goal, what am I going to write about? Well, out of these three questions I can only answer one. I am doing NaNoWriMo to use as a motivator to get me back writing again. I stopped writing when life got unbearably crazy and emotionally difficult back in June last year. I miss it dearly, and this will be a good push to get me back on the wagon.

With that being said, I am still determining my word count but I am thinking about cutting it in half to 20,000-25,000. That at most could be 834 words a day. I find that to be a tad bit more manageable for me and my crazy schedule. This is not set in stone though, especially since I do not have the slightest clue what I want to write about but I have a few ideas:

Novel option 1: Title “Scanned”   About: well I won’t share that yet.

Memoir: My friend actually suggested this to me and the more I think about it the more I like the idea.

An accumulation of poetry, who knows how many poems, but I love poetry.

OR

An accumulation of short stories based around one theme. Again though, I won’t share specifics at this time.

No matter what I pick , I, for one, am excited. I will share my journey through the process throughout April and might make another post or two about it in the next couple of weeks. Wish my luck!

Be a Responsible Pet Owner

Okay, I must rant for a tad moment. I was out of town with Ryan yesterday, and got a phone call that did put me in quite a rage and today has had me in a bit of a trance for lack of a better word.

I am sitting in this retro ice cream shop and my mom calls to tell me that one of our dogs (of 3), had been attacked by another dog at the park. Our German Shepherd – the dog attached – is well trained. He knows his commands and more: sit, down, stay, heel, speak, whisper, shake, no, and so on.  So here is the story:

The owner of the Pitbull mix (the attacker) was walking his dog around the park and had his dog on leash. He was across the park, but for some unknown reason he let his dog off of a leash and the dog came barreling through the park, grabbed our dog by the neck, and latched on. Now WHAT IF that had been a child? Or even a smaller breed? What if that had been my mom or step-dad? My mom was with a friends who has young kids, what if they would have been attacked?

Anyways, our dog is pinned down and the other dog is latched on. Finally they managed to get this dog off of our dog and the owner of the attacker starts punching his dog, leashes him, and walks off. Reasonably so, my mom’s friends husband follows this guy trying to get his contact information and to see if his dog is up to date on his shots. By then my step-dad has checked our dog and walked over there to get his information as well. By this time the local police department has been called SIX times and the animal control THREE times. Well my mom is checking on our dog who has a huge laceration under his throat while my step-dad is trying to talk to the other owner. The other owner proceeds to threaten my step-dad. He then pushes my steps dad, takes his phone, and breaks his phone holster. By this time our police department has been called EIGHT times and finally decides to make an appearance. After that is settled, they drop my step-dad and our friend back over to my mom and drive away refusing to file a police report. By this time two women have come forward who saw the whole thing and say they will be witnesses, which apparently was going to be needed (the other owner told the police both dogs were off leash, but we have leash laws, and our dog was on leash). These women waited an hour and a half for police to be the witnesses and the police just drove away. After a fourth call animal control shows up.

Needless to say, in the end, our dog had to be sedated, have a catheter, have IV’s and my family had been at the vet for four hours. Several stitches later, and a very dopey dog, our dog is fine. Sore, cut up, swelling, but fine. The vet bill was $500 dollars and the other guy gets a $130 dollar ticket; trust me though, I do not think that this is justice. We have been in contact with the police department to file assault charges and so on (though they were not helpful the first time around).

I share this story to say this: if you are going to get a dog, or ANY animal, be a responsible pet owner. Know your leash laws, keep your dog leashed, especially if you are in a park filled with other dogs and kids, and take responsibility for your pets actions. Be responsible.

When I Grow Up

When I grow up I want to be a……………………………

Well honestly, I have no idea. I am almost twenty years of age and have no idea what I want to do. I take college classes but my major changes all of the time. My first major was film, then it was communication sciences and disorders, then it was nursing, then it was business, and now it is English and Psychology.

I am all over the place aren’t I?

It is hard to pick a career for the rest of your life. I have one goal amidst my chaotic educational life: I want a career that gives me the opportunity to make a positive difference in people’s lives. I do not have one passion, I have SEVERAL passions. My friends know what they want to be: nurses, engineers, teachers/educators, missionaries, doctors, therapists, and so on.

See, God has not quite revealed to me what I am supposed to be yet, all I know is I am meant to help others. I always thought about teaching (especially English), because I can work with the Peace Corps, I can work with mission groups, I can work in countries that need good people to come and help. English seems so perfect to teach, but so does math. Then I look at Psychology and realize how effective a good therapist can be. I mean there are SO MANY OPTIONS!

Most of the time I think, “One day I will know what I am supposed to do.” Other times I want to know now and right now (impatient right?). I keep thinking I will magically wake up one day and just know! A girl can dream right?

My point is, just because you have graduated high school does not mean that you will immediately know what you want to do. It may take you a little longer to graduate college, if you are going to college, but do not rush into a major for the wrong reasons. Just keep trying out various courses, see what you like and do not like. For example, I HATED nursing. That is definitely NOT my path. But it was something I was interested in at one point and I gave it a chance.

Trust me yall, I know it is frustrating trying to figure out what to do at such a young age, but take the time to find something you love to do and for some of us that takes some time. But I will get there eventually and if you are struggling with this then just know that you will get there at some point too.

 

I Kid You Not…

Conversation:

Person 1: *Insert good or bad news here*

Person 2: Are you kidding?!

Now I was not specific with what news person 1 might be sharing, but there is an abundant amount of possibilities. I told you all in my About Me that my father passed away on January 20th. I found out yesterday that my lawyer for my father’s estate stuff (for lack of better word to describe the complicated mess of said estate), also passed away. I told six people about that and each person said, “Are you kidding?” Well, I kid you not. Even when I told people of my father’s passing that was the same question/response that I got.

I wonder why the response is to ask a question:

“Are you kidding?”

“Are you serious?”

“Are you joking?”

or my mom’s favorite “Nu-uh!? *pause* Really?”

It is similar to how we have conditioned ourselves to say “I’m sorry” for everything. I don’t know about you, but have you ever ran into or hit an inanimate object, and apologize to that object? I know I have, but out of habit. My point is, when did we condition ourselves to ask, “Are you kidding?” In light of news that is bad or good? Instead of saying, “Well that sucks,” or “Wow that is great news!”

During a conversation, I understand the initial shock. I understand how hard it can be to put a sentence together to respond to what you have just heard and there is no right or wrong way to handle big news. I, as an observer, am just always interested in learning how so many people react in these kind of situations and I just wonder why we react the way we do.

However, in light of the question, as a sarcastic person, I have learned to love that question. There is a window of opportunity for a beautifully crafted sarcastic answer and with that I enjoy (for the most part).