Keep The Faith · Prose

Mosaic

Hey everyone! This is a post from my other blog “There Is Light In The Dark” Just wanted to share it here as well. Enjoy!

via Daily Prompt: Heal My heart was broken a long time ago. People I loved callously and carelessly broke it. Then it was broken again by other people, and again by circumstances, and again, and again. When my heart was broken the first time, it was like a big knife sliced it in half. Then another knife sliced one […]

via Mosaic — There Is Light In The Dark

Stray Thoughts

Redhead Adventures: What I Love And Hate About Being Redheaded

I love being a redhead-a NATURAL one, that is! I’ve always had this weird pride about being a ginger. I wasn’t one of those kids who hated it or got teased for it, so maybe that’s part of why I love it so much. My whole life I’ve taken tremendous pride in having a hair color that so many don’t and so many try to emulate. I’ve had several redheaded friends, in my life as well. My childhood best friend (and her twin sister) are redheads, one of my closest friends in middle school was a ginger (and looked a lot like me, incidentally) and even a high school friend had the same coppery hued hair as me. As an adult, I have also had several redhead or auburn haired acquaintances. Heck, I even dated a red haired guy for awhile. It’s like I have some sort of bat signal for the gingers of the world.

Well, if that’s true than I’ll have ginger friends coming out my ears! Did you know that there are between 70,000,000 and 140,000,000 redheads in the world today? That sounds like a lot, but really, it isn’t. It amounts to only about 1%-2% of the world’s 7 billion people. The largest concentration of redheads are found in Scotland and Ireland. Estimates on what percentage of the poulations here vary but suggest that 10-13% of their countries have red hair.  In the US, though, only about 2%-6% (or 6-18 million out of 300 million) of the population have red hair. Flame colored locks are also found in northern mainland Europe and Australia in notable concentrations as well.

Having a rare hair color is great, but can often invite jokes, though. Growing up I got called Pippi Longstocking (because of her red pigtail braids), Rusty, and I heard the very famous ‘redheads don’t have souls’ joke. Haha. (We do, by the way, lol) The most common one I hear, though is ‘Red’. I’ve heard almost every redhead joke there is. But none of this dulled my joy at being ginger. The rarity of my hair color is part of what makes having red hair so much fun!

There are plenty of pros and cons about being a redhead, many of which have been heard again and again; you get compliments, you sunburn easily, etc. But I have my own set of pros and cons of being in the rare hair color club.

 

THE FUN STUFF:

1)I love standing out. I don’t enjoy being like anyone else, so having a rare hair color is perfect for me and contributes to my uniqueness.

2)I am naturally super festive at Christmas time if I wear green, hehe!

3)I’ll probably have amazingly healthy skin since I can’t go out in sunlight for long and have to wear sunscreen for everything.

4)Clothing in almost any color looks good paired with red hair. My personal favorites to pair with my hair are green, yellow and lavender.

5)There are now redhead conventions. The Netherlands, Ireland, the US are amoung countries that have redhead festivals. They sound like so much fun! I’d love to be surrounded by a large group of my fellow flame haired people. I really want to go to one of these some day; it’s on my bucket list.

6)Solidarity with other redheads. When you come upon another redhead, whether you know them or not there’s an instant connection and camaraderie. It’s nice to belong to a fun group of people. It’s also a kind of fun and a unique way to meet people.

7)The gene that creates red hair, MC1R is actually a mutated gene. And because it’s mutated, other genes in a redhead’s body are also mutated. So this means we’re like our own cool breed of X-Men or something!

 

THE NOT SO FUN STUFF:

1)One word- Burning. Redheads have fair skin and burn in sunlight very easily. Now I’m not talking about summer time sunlight, or being out in direct sunlight for hours; no, I’m talking about ANY sunlight. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be direct. Even driving during daylight is enough to do it. And there’s no way we can stay out for hours. 30 minuets is more like it. Heck, I once burned after being outside for 15 minuets– in WINTER. Yes, that’s how easy it is to burn when you’re a redhead. That means no beach for us. Or outdoor carnivals, or baseball games, or picnics, or……

2)You can’t use the flash on a camera when taking a photo of us- or take a picture outside in sunlight. When either of these things happen we end up looking like ghosts. And it’s even worse if we’re next to a tanned person in the picture. Then we look like we’re severely anemic or something.

3)Number three on the Pros list. Having to wear sunscreen for EVERYTHING. Seriously. If I’m not wearing long sleeves and pants, I have to put on sun screen. And in the warmer months it does not matter what kind of fabric I wear, I can still burn. So sunscreen is a must. I’m glad my skin is protected and all, but having to put it on all the time is a huge pain. -And wearing ‘au-du-sunscreen’ is no fun, either. Sometimes when I’m in groups I hear people exclaim “Wow! I smell sunscreen! Who the heck is wearing that much!?” Me. That would be me. And I’m doused in it.

4)SPF 50? 50?! That’s all there is?! Really?! Ok, that might work for normal skinned people, but redheads aren’t normal. Can I get something in SPF 300, please?

5)Science has proven that redheads are more sensitive to cold, heat and certain types of pain. Medical journals have also stated that redheads need about 20% more anesthesia than people of other hair colors. I know this is true for me. Every visit to the dentist is traumatic. I need to be shot up like a drug addict just to get through a darn filling!

Despite the ups and downs, I love being a redhead! And luckily I have more positives than negatives here. Being a redhead is great! What are your pros and cons?

 

Photo: Free Images/Vanessa Zanini Fernandes

Cited Sources:

March, Brigite. “13 Amazing facts about red hair that everyone needs to know”. Cosmopolitan.com. Apr. 5, 2017.  http://www.cosmopolitan.com/uk/beauty-hair/hair/a32357/redhead-facts/

Smith, Oliver. “Mapped: Which countries have the most redheads?”  The Telegraph.co.uk.  Jan. 12, 2017.  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/maps-and-graphics/country-with-the-most-redheads-gingers/

 

 

Prose

“Elliot” (Short Fiction)

Today is my Dad’s birthday. After work tonight, my family is getting together to celebrate it. I love Dad’s birthday. We’ll all be there: Mom and George, my two sisters and their husbands and my step brother. I only wish Daddy was here. I think about him a lot. Not every hour like when he first went away, or every day in the first couple of years after he died, but still frequently. Now I sometimes go days without thinking of him, but he always comes to mind when his birthday rolls around. It’s still tough to live without him, but I’ve gotten better at it with time.

I was supposed to be named after Dad: Elliot Ian Boyd. When my birth mother was pregnant with me, Mom and Dad were told twice that I’d be a boy. But surprise, surprise, I popped out a girl. They didn’t have any names picked out for a girl, so they called me Elli Iana instead. I went by Elli for a long time day to day with family and friends. But a few years ago, I officially changed it to Elliot in honor of Dad. People still call me Elli, though.

He was a good Dad. He loved Mom and us so deeply, and we loved him back just as much. One of the things that made Dad so great was his desire to provide for his family. Mom and Dad hadn’t had a lot growing up in, and they didn’t for a while after they were first married, either. They wanted to make sure us kids had more than they did. They didn’t want us to struggle. Dad worked hard at his job and saved as much as he could. He wanted to make sure we never missed out on anything we needed, and he did what he needed to do to provide it. One of those things was a nice, safe, comfortable home.

That house was the collective family dream. You see, when I was little, we lived in an apartment building in Concord that wasn’t the best. We wanted to have a nicer place. Mom and Dad had gone to college after high school in part so they could get degrees that would help them find jobs that would support the family they wanted so much. And they got those jobs. Mom worked before I was born, but decided she wanted to stay at home with us girls when we were adopted. She figured she’d go back when we were old enough for school. It was alright because Dad had a good paying job, thanks to that University education. Everything was ok till I was about five years old. Then Daddy lost his job. The economy took a dive and his company had no choice but to lay off half of their staff. Daddy was forced to take any job he could after that. He struggled doing odd jobs and eventually ended up in a low paying job as a telemarketer. My younger sister Margie, the middle of us three girls was only 3 and had medical challenges and needed help someone around. Mom tried working from home so she could be with us girls.  But it was tough. There wasn’t much money, and it’s hard to raise a family when you don’t have much of that.

It didn’t help that the apartment we lived in growing up was getting old. It wasn’t run down, per say, but it certainly wasn’t fancy. It had once been a decent place- about thirty years before I was born. It wasn’t quite as nice anymore. The bricks on the outside were old, dirty and crumbling at the edges. The paint inside was peeling in places and just looked shoddy. The worst part was that we couldn’t get a unit on the ground floor, only upstairs was available. This wasn’t so good for Margie; she needed something accessible.  The neighborhood wasn’t the best, either. I think the complex had at one time been safe, nice and comfortable with a lot of families, but wasn’t attracting that crowd anymore.  Now we heard screaming fights and loud music at all hours. We even saw police cars sitting in the parking lot or passing through the complex late at night.  Mom and Dad began worrying for our safety and we all started dreaming a little harder about the house. Then one day, we heard what sounded like a gun shot late at night. A cop showed up soon afterwards- one of the regulars. This was enough for us.

We crammed into my Grandparents’ home for awhile. Finally Daddy found better work and we started planning for the house when I was eight. It wasn’t going to be the fanciest, or the biggest house in the world, but it would be designed just for us. There wasn’t enough money yet when we moved out of the apartment from hell, so we took a big loan. It was a little bigger than Mom and Dad were comfortable with, but they figured they could just pick up a few more hours at work to pay it off.  We began plans, getting more and more excited as we looked at the options. I was especially excited.

The house was going to be so great! First of all we were going to have more space. That cheap apartment was so small my two sisters and I had to share a room. Mom and Dad had given us the master bedroom because it was bigger and three young girls needed room. This time each of us would have our own bedroom! I would dream of how wonderful it would be having my very own space this time. It would have a big window with a nice window seat covered in soft, comfy pillows. The walls would be painted yellow- my favorite color. There’d even be a nursery for the fourth child Mom and Dad were planning on. They were planning to adopt a boy this time. And the rest of the house would be great, too! We’d have a big family room with soft, cushy couches, a big kitchen with room for all of us to gather and cook, a dining room big enough to host dinners for friends. It was going to be perfect! It was right around that time when Dad began having pain.

The diagnosis was tough to take. All those tests, all that hope we maintained, only to be told there was an 85% chance he wouldn’t make it. The tumor was inoperable. Taking it out would kill him, but not removing it would kill him too. With treatment he would have more time, and maybe a chance, but it was all the same to me. The image of our family in that lovely home I’d had in my head suddenly came crumbling down as if a wrecking ball slammed through and toppling it. It almost felt as though that wrecking ball of cancer was slamming through our family and taking Daddy and our dream with it. We clung to hope anyway.

Treatment took the house fund-even with insurance. Mom and Dad had to abandon the plan to adopt another child, too. Never the less, Daddy still talked about it like nothing was changing. That was always difficult for us to hear. How could we build our dream house when part of the dream wasn’t going to be there? Was it still the dream without him? But he wanted so much for us to have it. He’d worked so hard to save up for it before test results took it away. Cancer was eating him alive, and he didn’t want it to take any more than it had to. Other things didn’t have to-and shouldn’t die, he said. You must go on without me, he said. He even urged us to go on. We could still have the dream, he said.

I was eleven years old when Daddy went away.

Despite the grief, we kept planning the house anyway. We all wanted it so much. My friends didn’t understand why. To them it was nothing but a structure. But to me it was like rebuilding our family. Abandoning the plans was unthinkable. Daddy wanted it, worked so hard for us to have it. We wanted it too. As we worked with builders to sharpen our plans, find materials, get another loan, I felt Daddy’s presence. It began as something for him, a wish he’d had, a way to keep him alive; but ended up becoming about us. Planning and building helped us heal in a way. As the foundation was poured and the walls of the house went up, it was like the structure of our family was coming back together. When the windows went in, it felt as though light was shining on us again, when the furniture was set up and the décor put in, it felt like we as a family were finally whole and beautiful again. It took a few years longer to complete, but it didn’t matter. When it was finished it was wonderful; and so beautiful. And Daddy was there to see it- in spirit. I feel his presence there sometimes, warm and friendly, watching over us. The year after we moved in, Mom met George. They married and he and his son moved in. We had all finally healed and moved on, just like Daddy had hoped. The family and the dream wasn’t quite what we’d imagined, but it was still good.  Tonight we’ll sit on the deck of the house Daddy designed, eating supper and birthday cake, celebrating the memory of the man who dreamed it up.

Journaling

Journaling: A How To

Have you ever thought about starting a journal? I’ve been journaling for years and I have loved it! I’ve tried all sorts of journaling techniques and styles and have found every one to be fun and has encouraged a lot of self-development. I started young, actually- in elementary school. I began with a little empty book someone gave me and haven’t stopped since. I just really love writing down what’s going on in my own life, my thoughts and feelings, scriptures and prayers, world events, putting in photos of people I care about, photos of artistic designs and logos I love, being creative with pens, art and creative supplies, doing prompts, lists etc. (more on different types of journaling later!). I’ve tried pretty much everything and love it all!

Another cool thing about journaling is the benefits it gives you. Besides being a record of your life and memories it serves as a tool for personal development. It’s really helpful to look back on your life and self to see how far you’ve come. And if you’re a writer, journaling will help you develop and practice your skills, which helps improve your work. Actually, many famous writers kept their own journals and recommended it to others.

So how do you start? There are a few steps you’ll want to take to get started keeping your own journal.  So here’s what you do:

1)Figure out what kind of journaling you want to do. What does this mean? Do you want to just write? Do you want to write and doodle? Or do you want to write doodle and have room to glue or pin things like pictures or keepsakes in? Knowing this helps you figure out the rest.

2)Once you settle on that, you can decide what kind of journal you’ll have. There are several different options: you can use a regular lined notebook for just writing; an empty book designed specifically for journaling that allows writing and maybe doodling or room for pictures, etc.; a partially empty book that has journaling prompts built in with space to write, a sketchbook for writing, doodling and drawing; or type your journal on your computer.

3)Choose what you want to journal about. Journaling can be about so many things! Recording life events, recording thoughts and feelings, recording ideas, writing and reflecting on scripture, prayer, expressing yourself through art, having fun with doodling, photos, mementos, etc., or maybe you aren’t sure and just want to experiment; whatever you want!

4)If you’ve never journaled before, or you’ve tried without success, I recommend setting some rules for yourself first to help you get into the habit of it. Once it’s a habit, you’ll have an easier time allowing it to be spontaneous. First, decide on frequency; how often do you want to journal? If you’re new I actually DON’T recommend every day as it’s too hard to keep up. Even experienced journalers have difficulty getting it done on a daily basis. Be realistic about your schedule and your desire to write. But the important thing is that you find a frequency that’s right for you.

5)Once you have your frequency, set a date and time for it. Say you want to journal once a week; then choose a specific day during that week and a specific time and stick to it as best you can. The structure will help you be more successful at it. Now, when you have your day and time chosen, decide how much time you want to spend on it. Once again, be realistic with the time you have. Also, consider your frequency and what you want to include; if you want to just write about your life and only journal once a month, you might want to allot more time since you’re covering a whole month. Same is true if you’re putting artwork in your journal. Now, if you’re doodling or writing more frequently, you might not need as much time. Please feel free to experiment with what works.

6)The last step is to find a place to journal. It doesn’t have to be the same place every time, just somewhere where you feel comfortable.

Now you’re ready to journal! So go have fun and see what develops! I hope these tips have helped you and I hope you enjoy your journaling!

 

Photo: Free Images/Lynsey O’Donnel

 

Stray Thoughts

Commit

via Daily Prompt: Commit

Commit to you. Commit to being you. How do you do this? Commit to what you love. I’m sure that you have things in life that you love. Maybe it’s a hobby, maybe a career, maybe it’s certain people in your life; but whatever it is commit to doing it. It’s so easy to get busy and overwhelmed with the daily grind, getting ahead or the stressors in life, but whatever you do, don’t forget what lights your soul up!

When you do the things you love you become more fully the person you were meant to be and are better able to give to the world the things you are meant to give. For example, I love to write. I love doing creative and journalistic writing. I’d do it all day if I could! When I do it, my soul feels more alive and I feel happier. I love crafting a great story or a fun piece of prose. I also love writing about issues that are important to me. My soul just thrives when I write. If I don’t do this, my soul begins to wither away and I become sad and depressed. You see, I NEED to write. There have been times when I haven’t written or I felt discouraged because I thought I couldn’t do it well enough or I thought it was useless. But those thoughts were wrong, and I had to begin breaking free of them. I HAD to do what I love so my soul won’t wither away. How can I be the person I was meant to be when my soul is crumbled? I can’t. Just like you can’t be who you need to be without your passion. You NEED to do whatever it is you love, too.

So do what you love to do; keep on doing it even when life tries to pull you away from it, or even when people say it’s not practical. Commit to doing what you love and you will be the person you’re meant to be and be better able to bring your light into the world. Just do what you’re passionate about, and things will work out as they should.

 

Photo: Free Images/Yaroslav B.

Stray Thoughts

Quotes

“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes but when you look back everything is different.” -C.S. Lewis

“Wealth isn’t about having a lot of money, it’s about having a lot of options.” -Chris Rock

“Good times and crazy friends make the best memories.” – Fabquote.com

“There is no angry way to say bubbles.” – Unknown

“You were born an original, don’t die a copy.” – John Mason

 

Photo: Free Images/Ifelton

Prose

Or Orange

Or I could not. Hmmmm. This is such a tough decision. I’ve been turning it over in my mind forever and still can’t decide. I guess I’m just gonna have to pick a direction. But it’s just so darn hard. This could have such a huge impact! I can’t just pick ONE route! …..Wait a minuet, why should I decide? I hate the thought of having to decide between two wonderful options and can’t seem to come to a suitable conclusion, so maybe that means that there isn’t one. Both options are great. Maybe the option of both is better than the option of only one. If I do that I’ll have to ask myself if I can find a way to manage both. I want to so much! If only I can find a way! Wait, why the heck is the clerk looking at me like that? I’m not a weirdo! Ok, I have been standing here for a really long time, but I just couldn’t make up my mind. Hey, what’s that sign he’s putting up? Bananas are 50% off today!? Yes! I can do both! Bananas and oranges!

 

Photo: FreeImages/adyna

Stray Thoughts

My Vegan-ish Adventure Pt.1

I’ve recently begun to reduce my meat and dairy intake.  It’s not for health reasons, it’s because I hate the cruelty of the meat and dairy industry and don’t want to support it. It’s often referred to ‘ethical eating’ if it’s done in support of animal rights. This means giving up the foods that I’ve eaten a lot of my whole life.

I was born and raised in the mid west where meat and dairy are staples of the average person’s diet. Well, acctually, that’s not exactly true, meat and dairy are MAJOR parts of the diet out there. I grew up eating one or both in literally every meal and loved them. It was just normal and I didn’t give it a second thought.

My knowledge of ethical eating was pretty limited for awhile. I was familiar with vegetarianism and it’s rejection of meat products, but that was about all I knew. It just wasn’t well represented in society or spoken of in the media. My only example of someone who doesn’t eat meat was the character of Pheobe on the tv show “FRIENDS”. I didn’t even know that veganism existed till 2007.  Regardless, I thought both were unnecessary.

Last year things changed when I began following a veganism advocate on Twitter who shares information on the animal product industry. It finally opened my eyes to the cruelty of the foods I loved so much and disgusted me enough to make me want to stop; I couldn’t keep eating meat and dairy as much anymore.

So how the heck was I supposed to stop eating something I had eaten my whole life and grown so accustomed to? How the heck was I supposed to build a diet without meat, fish and dairy? No burgers, no chicken breasts smothered with cheese and topped with chorizo sausage (one of my former favorite foods), No milk!? How was this even doable!? Was I going to be relegated to salads, fruits and vegetables? What was I even going to eat?

Luckily I heard about a movement called Meatless Monday that is designed to encourage people to try meatless meals. It seemed easy enough. Just one day a week without meat. My first Meatless Monday was a little bumpy. Breakfast went off without a hitch; cereal and milk. Nothing out of the ordinary. For lunch I stopped by this little Asian food place and got their vegetable and tofu meal. It was pretty good. For dinner I went with the fall back food salad, fruit and bread. It was a good start.

After that first day I began researching different food options to find some variety, brands and ideas. I also got to planning for the next Monday. I figured that if I planned well enough I’d be more successful.  The next Monday I had cereal again, falafel and   went a little better and the next one wasn’t bad either. Now I’m doing pretty well with Meatless Monday’s. I still eat a bit of meat during the rest of the week, but I’m completely meatless on Mondays, and it’s no trouble at all. I figured I’d never be able to go a day without meat, and here I am doing just that. My eventual goal is to go completely vegan on Monday’s. And once I master this I’m planning to adopt a semi-vegetarian/vegan diet. Maybe I’ll only eat meat rarely and heavily decrease my dairy.

These are just my first steps into more ethical eating, and I can see myself taking more steps into a more animal friendly diet. For now I love that I’m making a difference for animals and look forward to trying new foods and a new diet.