Category Archives: Challenge

500 Word Challenge: Day 22

FearDay 22: Write about fear. 

What comes to your mind when you think about fear? Maybe it is creepy crawly creatures, the darkness of the night, or even a combination of the two. But what about the deeper things we worry about? The fears that keep us awake at night. You can’t deny it, because I think that everyone has something that worries them. Some fears are short term and seem like such trifles in the aftermath, and there are others that seem to follow us around.

Despite the fact that I really am afraid of spiders and could tell you some funny stories, this prompt asks us to go a little deeper than that. So I ask myself what am I really afraid of. I don’t come up with anything groundbreaking: I am afraid of something going wrong with my car and not having the money to fix it; I am afraid that I will get fired and not be able to find another job; I am afraid I will let people down; I am afraid that I will never be become the best version of myself. I could go on with the little worries that cross my mind every day, but honestly, what’s the point?

There are always going to be things that scare you or that you worry are going to happen, but what is the point of worrying? It won’t change anything. We have enough to worry about today, never mind worrying about tomorrow or yesterday. I read a quote this morning on Facebook, and it was just what I needed after the day I had yesterday. I don’t know who said it, but here it is: “Don’t start your day with the broken pieces of yesterday. Every day is a fresh start. Each day is a new beginning. Every morning we wake up is the first day of the rest of our life.” So, if you can stop dwelling on yesterdays then that is one less thing you have to worry about. As far as for the future, I think all you can do is take each bump as it comes. If you can take what needs to be done today and do it to the best of your ability, then that is the best you can do. If today’s best wasn’t good enough, you can wake up tomorrow and try again.

Though fears aren’t fun when you are dealing with them, there can often be a lesson or something gained when you have come out on the other side. With each car trouble that I have had, I have learned something else about cars that I didn’t know. The thought of losing my job in this economy has made me push myself harder than I have ever had to before. This has shown me that I am capable of more than I thought. As for becoming the best version of myself, I think many of us had a picture in our heads of what our lives were going to look like when we grew up. Mine: 25, married, successful job, house, kids, and have it “together”. Well, when I turned 25 and none of that had happened it was an awakening. Those weren’t necessarily things that I really wanted, but for some reason that is what I thought was the “right” thing. When we compare ourselves to others we make it harder for ourselves and we have enough stresses that we don’t need to add more. I think that it is important to just be yourself, try your best to improve, and take one day at a time.

One of the goals of this writing challenge is to just write – not over think. That was very hard to do because I had so many things running through my head for this topic. I guess that is another fear that I have – that I won’t be any good at writing. But I have decided that in 2015 I will see if I can become a more confident writer and figure out if I actually really love writing or just the idea of loving to write. Anyway, I could continue on, but I am reaching 700 words and the clock is telling me I need to get this posted soon.

WC: 710

500 Word Challenge: Day 21

500 word challenge day 21Day 21: Confess something

My confession: I am obsessed with television shows. That sums it up. I am a binge-watcher. Most of the time, I am proud of it, but it isn’t something that I bring up in every conversation. I don’t want people thinking I am crazy. But, this is my blog, so I am going to lay it all out there. I spend most of my free time watching (or rewatching) TV shows. I have a wide range of interests when it comes to what I like to watch: Stargate SG-1The West Wing, American Pickers, and the craziness goes on from there.

To put the complete truth out there, I thought I would give you an example of what a random day in the life of Leah looks like.

I get up about 5:30 in the morning, feed the animals, and take a shower. I have an iPad, which has probably enabled my binge-watching quite a bit. The damn thing is so portable! So I usually set it up on the bathroom vanity with whichever show I am currently watching. It probably takes me twice as long to get ready, because I am constantly pausing to watch an especially riveting part of an episode. The only time that I pause it while I am doing my hair and makeup is when I have the hairdryer on, because I wouldn’t want to miss any dialogue of a show I have seen a couple times already. Once my hair and face are done, I have to find something to wear, which usually means ironing some clothes. Well, that iPad goes with me. It sits on my dresser as I pull out clothes; it sits on the ironing board as I iron my shirt; it sits on the vanity as I pick out jewelry. Basically, it is attached to me. If I have time to make breakfast – which I normally don’t because I wasted too much time watching the iPad – the device goes with me and sits on the counter as I make my food. As I am walking out the door, I turn the iPad off and drive to work. I don’t usually think about the show too much while at work, but as soon as I get home I kick my shoes off and jump into some comfy clothes. For the evening portion of my binge-watching, I usually put Netflix on the TV so I can be comfortable while I watch. But, if I need to make dinner or do some house cleaning, I get the old iPad out and set it on the sill above the sink. And I watch it until I absolutely have to go to bed. I even fall asleep watching TV some nights.

Not every day is like that, but I have to admit that it happens frequently. Other people have friends, sports, and clubs they attend; I just prefer to spend my free time with my favorite characters. I am completely aware that there are many problems with this obsession, as there are with any obsession. I have recently made some changes in my viewing habits so that I can work on some of the other things that I like to do (such as writing, reading, and playing the piano).

WC: 550

500 Word Challenge: Day 20

500 word challenge day 20Day 20 – Write about justice

There couldn’t be a more appropriate day to use a quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. — Well, yesterday would have been a MORE appropriate day, but I digress. I have recently found myself falling into a state where I am happy to be ignorant about politics and world events. It seems that the news and everything going on in the world are just so depressing that I feel it is better not to know. However, after reading this MLK quote, I have to admit that I feel guilty. Though I always vote, and try to do some research so I can go into the voting booth and make an educated decision, I definitely do not feel that it is enough. There are always going to be bad things that happen in the world and ignorance won’t change that. How can we help make a difference if we are unaware of what needs changing? A little research before voting isn’t really giving you the whole picture, and you don’t have time to form your own opinion. You are mostly relying on other “smart” people to tell you how to think. One of my professors in college would start every class with a quick discussion about some of the top stories in the news. At first I thought it was a complete waste of time, but as the semester went, I realized that I was able to participate in a lot more discussions that people around me where having. I had knowledge! And I wasn’t just listening to people talk, I was joining in. Those few minutes at the beginning of class three days a week changed the way I interacted with the world around me. It is amazing what a little knowledge can do. Sadly, once that class got over, I didn’t keep up with it.

I think more and more people these days are happy with other people making decisions for them; they are happy being ignorant. The problem with this is that they end up complaining that things in this world are messed up. I think that if you don’t participate, you don’t have a right to complain. I understand that sometimes it feels that one vote isn’t going to change anything. Your one vote may not, but I guarantee that you are not the only person thinking that, and if all the people who thought that went out and voted instead of staying home, it would make a difference.

We encourage people to go out and vote, but do we ask these people if they even know what they are voting on/for? If those people aren’t educated voters then what really is the point? Merely voting doesn’t change ignorance. Sure, getting a “I Voted Today” sticker makes you feel good, but did you have any real understanding about what you were voting on? Along with getting people to go out and vote, we should also make sure they have sufficient education, information, and an awareness of what is taking place and what is at stake. As I stated at the beginning, I have found that I have been happy with being ignorant. I figured educating myself on the topic of the current vote was good enough, but smart people can still make stupid choices. If you aren’t willing to educate yourself then you shouldn’t go out and vote. It is one thing to not know what you should know, because that person can learn. But if you know that you are ignorant and you are okay with that – I think that is sad. And unfortunately, I have heard too many people say “I don’t wanna learn how to do that.” They rather stay ignorant and lay the blame on someone else.

So, I am working on staying up to date on the current news. Right now I am focusing on local news, but will soon start including world news. Gotta ease into it. I think that this will make me a more knowledgeable person, it will help me make better decisions, and maybe it will even seep into my writing.

WC: 715

(Was that really about justice? I think I got carried away with the quote and forgot what the prompt was. Oh well, I wrote – that is what really matters.)

500 Word Challenge: Day 18

500 word challenge day 18Day 18 – Waiting

I sit at a bus stop. My knee is bouncing, and my eyes are darting back and forth along the stretch of road that I can see. I have never had to wait for a bus before. I try to look nonchalant as I sit with my earbuds plugged in and my iPod hidden in my pocket. This is a part of town I haven’t found myself in before, and though I am usually a friendly person, the cigarette smoke and the random grumblings from the man standing by the road have me a little on edge. I couldn’t tell you what song was playing, because I was walking through every possible scenario of what could happen to me on this bus trip. I had definitely watched way too many episodes of Law & Order: SVU. My hands unfolded the piece of paper that held the schedule of buses. I had carefully planned out all the connections so that I would make it to my destination on time. But there were too many things that I couldn’t predict, and it was driving me crazy. This always happened when I tried something new. Everyone around me seemed so calm, but my heart was racing. It was necessity that had me here, because I would never have chosen this if I had had options.

The bus finally came, and I paid the driver and found a seat. I had heard how horribly buses smelled, but I was not prepared for the body odor, cigarette smoke, and too much perfume combined. The trip was short, but that had only been the first bus. The bus pulled up to a tall brick building. There were so many people waiting for buses. I usually enjoy people watching, but these people were as close to The Walking Dead as we are every going to see in real life. They were like robots. No emotions. Standing around with their cigarettes just trying to make it through the day. There were no benches, so I stood against the wall – as close to it as I could with my backpack on my back. I noticed slight movement from amongst the drones. A young man had some headphones on and was beating the air like a drum set. It was the first smile that I had cracked since getting out of bed that morning. My earbuds were still stuck in my ears, and I tried to breathe and listen to the music, instead of freaking out about whether the next bus was going to get me where I wanted or not. The bus came, I got onto a bus that smelled like the last. This trip was even shorter than the last, and I got off to see familiar surroundings.

Normally, having to sit and wait is a great time for me. I usually have a book with me, so I can pull that out. Waiting is usually the only time I have to read. I also like to people watch, which can usually fill up hours of waiting time. But when it is the first time that I am doing something, and there are many steps, and many things that could go wrong, I can’t focus on a book, music, or even watching people. This wasn’t even a big deal – I was just going from my apartment to college. I had been in a car accident and my car was totaled. My only option was to take the bus route that went through town. All of that stress just waiting for a couple buses to take me across town. Since that experience, I have learned to take new things a little better. I still double check all my paperwork and run through things in my head, but I have learned to relax and take it as it comes.

WC: 640

500 Word Challenge: Day 17

500 word challenge day 17Day 17 – Pick a fight. I am not comfortable picking fights and usually keep things to myself, so this was hard to put out there. And I didn’t even know what I was going to write about until I started ranting to a fellow teacher this afternoon, and I was like “Oh my gosh! I can write about this!” Anyway, here it is:

Most of the time in my job I work with adults who have been out of school for a long time. They want to either improve their skills to get a job or go to college. I applaud these people for wanting to improve their lives in any way that they can. However, a small percentage of my students are right out of high school – some of them are actually still in high school when they come to me. I am not placing blame on them, because it is really the system that is broken. It makes me so frustrated that high school students have to come to Adult Education to get help to bring up their college placement scores. They are in school! Isn’t that what the schools are there for? To prepare these kids for college! At a conference I was at last month, someone gave a statistic that said when students graduate from high school they are four levels below where they need to be in college. I would have to say that 90% of the students who come to me to take their college placement exam fail some part of it. I know that not all schools are like this, but I think that in several cases, the education system is a mess.

If these students were to go take the placement test at the college, the college would sign them up for a couple developmental education courses. These courses will cost the student just as much as a regular class, but the credit does not count toward their major. They may have to take one or even two of these developmental classes in their first semester. The statistics say that only 9% of students who have to take developmental education courses their first semester continue on in college. Only 9%! How sad is that? High schools should be addressing this issue. At this point there is nothing that I can do about the schools, so all I can do is help these students as much as I can. I will do my best to give the best services to these students that Adult Education can offer.

However, these students usually come to me a couple weeks before graduation. This does not give me time to work with them enough to bring the scores up before the college needs the scores. College courses fill up fast, and if scores are not in, the students cannot be placed into classes. I would love to work with guidance counselors a little more closely so that I can work with the students through their last semester. With that amount of time, we can work a couple hours a week and make sure that they are where they need to be by the time they graduate. Then they can enjoy their summer, because their scores were high enough and have been sent to the school, and the students have been registered for the English and math classes that they need for their freshman year in college. And all of our classes are free! So they have saved themselves hundreds of dollars and have a higher rate of success.

WC: 588

500 Word Challenge: Day 16

Gosh. “Give hope” is the prompt for Day 16. As I sit here staring at my screen, I am wondering exactly how I am supposed to “give hope” and the only thing that is coming to my mind are the lyrics to “Tomorrow” from Annie. But I think that such a topic deserves some serious thought.

I am a religious person and have always found hope in knowing that God is always in control. It has taken me a long time to understand that trusting God to take care of my needs does not mean that He is going to prevent bad things from happening. But He will help me get through those bad times. I honestly do not know how people get through their daily life without the hope that is in Christ. 

Romans 12:12 “Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times.” I chose this verse because it is one of my favorites. I believe that as Christians we can have hope, because Jesus has promised us eternal life (Titus 1:2). No matter what comes our way, there is a purpose for it. I really believe that. Though I have not had any truly awful things happen to me, I have had my fair share of trials and tribulations. It has only been by steadfast prayer and patience that I have been able to make it through. It is amazing to see how you have changed when you reach the other side of the storm. God has perfect timing. Isaiah 40:31 “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Knowing that if we put our trust in Him, wait on his perfect timing, pray for his guidance and strength, He will give us hope. If we do not have hope, how can we have true joy? Being able to put my faith in God, gives me the hope and joy to face the day – no matter what comes.

A lot of people do not have family and friends that will stand by them in hard times. And even if you do, sometimes you want to keep your struggles to yourself. The same goes for rejoicing when you have made it through the struggles. I have heard the saying: You are either going into a storm, in a storm, or just coming out of a storm. It seems like a very negative way to look at life, but I think it is far better to know in advance that life is not easy. If you know what is to come, you can be prepared and take advantage of the good times. Zephaniah 3:17 “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Christ is always with us, no matter where we are in relation to that storm. This verse is full of hope! He is always with us and has saved us from eternal hell. He rejoices with us in times of laughter, and His shoulder is always there for tears. Just writing this brings such joy to my heart, and I wish everyone could feel the hope that Christ has given us. I know storms will come, but He is my firm foundation and without it I honestly don’t know how I would get through life. I read a Joyce Meyer quote some time ago, and it has always stuck with me: “Hope gives us the ability to look at things the way they are and still be confident that something better is coming.” You still have to face the daily struggle of life, but you don’t have to do it alone, and you can have hope that there will be better days to come.

WC: 661

 

500 Word Challenge: Day 15

500 word challenge day 15Day 15 is about evaluating yourself and the challenge so far.

I have to say that this challenge has been easier than I expected. Not that the prompts have been easy, but that I have been so excited to jump on my computer and write! I did have a little trouble last weekend staying on track, but I didn’t give up. This challenge has brought out the passion that I have for writing. I had really forgotten how much I love to write my thoughts down. On the first day, I had a hard time just getting 500 words down. But with each passing day, it became easier and I found myself writing passed the 500 word count. Though I would love to have more discussions/comments, I am enjoying writing just for myself and seeing what comes out of my head.

Continuing on with the challenge once work started up again was harder. I haven’t been able to get up first thing in the morning and work on it, so it usually gets done during my lunch break or later at night. But other than Days 11 & 12 I have gotten it done and really looked forward to doing it. I started Day 11, but for some reason didn’t finish it. Day 12, I have to admit was a tough one. I didn’t even give myself a chance to try it. It looked too challenging for the day I was having, and I doubted my ability to do it. Though I wish that I had pushed myself to try it, I am glad that I picked up the next day and carried on. In order to become a better writer, I need to push myself to try things that I don’t think I can do. Deciding to do this challenge was a great start, but just doing the prompts that I feel comfortable doing isn’t going to help me out. In order to finish NaNoWriMo this year, I am going to have to get outside my comfort zone. As long as I don’t expect too much too fast, if I just do my best, I will continue to be challenged and not frustrated.

This challenge has definitely charged my writing! I actually sat down the other day, and though I had already written my 500 words for the day, I had something else I wanted to write about. I ended up writing about 1500 words about binging on television shows. What started out as kind of a rant turned into a 2 part blog post! I probably should have gone back and edited a lot of it so it could be fit into one post, but I was so excited that the words were pouring out of me.

Even though I am only halfway done with this first challenge, I am very excited to find another challenge to start after this one. Along with the challenges, I am excited to put together some research for my NaNoWriMo, work on writing some more reviews, and find random other topics to write about.

WC: 502