Bays, Biology, and Pygmy Bisons

Okay guys. This one is so important, I haven’t even taken a real shower yet… sitting here in my grimy travel clothes to get some important thoughts out. Let me tell you about a little camp, on a little bay, on a little side, of a medium-sized island, off of a big state called California. Lost yet? It’s the Catalina Island Marine Biology Institute.

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   Ask  yourself, if you had three science teachers who you absolutely adored, and they came to you with a plan to take a school trip to an island off the California Coast to go snorkeling and play with the Sea Lions, would you also stand up and salute the flag of the United States of America? Probably not, unless you were pretty patriotic and into that sort of thing… but you’d probably sign up wouldn’t you? Great! We have some common ground then.
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   Right off the bat we went snorkeling in blueberry-colored wetsuits. Loved it. A few hours later we went out again after the sun went down and when we had gotten the hang of it, we were splashing the water in the dark until we could see bio-luminescent glitter sparkling around our feet and arms. Later, we hiked to see the sunrise and instead of just that, we were given a morning light show featuring every color in the paint palette, complete with a molten-orange sun, which we realized was not the one moving, we were. For the first time, I actually saw the figures in the constellations as described by their names. A belt, a sword, a bull, a dog, there they were like glittering connect-the-dots with a series of confusing yet compelling stories attached. At another point, I thought I was really cool and painted the seascape while my feet contracted hypothermia in the sand. This morning, leaving, it felt like the final scene to a movie. We were piled on the ferry. We waved goodbye to our counselors and as we slowly slipped away, they waved back and dove into the ocean in waves.
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   Don’t you love being humbled by cool things? Nature for example. I feel like a krill or a plankton right now. I am nothing compared to everything, yet I am something and that’s important too. My religion teaches similar lessons, but it doesn’t sink in until applied and here was a prime example. I found peace in a place where I could accept myself and be boggled by Heavenly Father’s masterpiece at the same time.
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   Unbelievably sad on the trip back home, I wrote down some lessons I never want to forget. Mostly these are for me and my future self, but they’re also yours if you want them too.
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1) My she-homies and I were sitting on a bridge during some minutes of free time at some point with our feet dangling over a stream that led out to the ocean a few feet away, and ironically enough, we were talking about friends who we experienced bridge-burning experiences with and whether or not that was a bad thing. On one hand, some bridges have to go sometime, the “friends for a season” theory, and that can be totally okay and on the other hand, sometimes it’s better to work on the bridge and make it stronger.
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2) How important it is to stay busy, and not be idle. If you run out of things to do, leave your comfort zone. Be interactive with the human race. Push what you believe your limits are. Challenge old doubts and set new goals.
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3) Wake up early and crash hard each and every night.
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4) Kind of a weird but solid sea metaphor: Without Plankton, the entire ecosystem would crash and burn. Without the small things we take for granted, we wouldn’t be here. So appreciate them on a greater scale.
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5) Bison. I apologize, another metaphor. There are small Bison on the island, which are still huge creatures but I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. I thought the counselors were having an elaborate leg-pulling fest when I saw one dozing in the quad when we came into camp. They’re pygmy bison though, their structures have shrunk to adapt to a smaller ecosystem. So don’t be like the bison and get trapped on a metaphorically small island, like your house or a small community. Let yourself move and expand. Maybe that means travel, maybe that means reach out to people you normally wouldn’t, whatever the case; give yourself room to grow and build a larger character.
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6) Your 20’s are a time to go and have an adventure. Take care of your body and get good at what you love while not being afraid to learn something new. Mix it with seeking a great education, and don’t be afraid of smaller schools.
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7) Take advantage of all the natural wonders in your community. Earth is a gift, unwrap it.
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8) Friendship shouldn’t have age boundaries. Don’t prevent yourself from building those bridges just because they happened to be born a year that wasn’t same year you were. And if those bridges stay strong, it won’t matter in 10… 20 years, and you’ll be so glad you made friends with a fifth grader on the way to Catalina Island when he’s a rock star Paleontologist and great listener who you’ll be able to call and complain to someday.
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9) Any idiot can take a picture. It takes someone special to sit, watch, and wait and for something beautiful. Those memories will be more useful to you in your brain storage than in your computer storage. Then take the picture, but let the memory of the moment sit with you.
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10) And lastly, sometimes social media can make us feel like we can never be alone. Like when we’re walking by ourselves, and see a stranger coming from the opposite direction, that we need to pull out a phone and pretend we’re texting or calling someone. You know yourself better than anyone, so why not get to know your own mind and strengths before you put them out in front of the world? Work on not just building a self-esteem, but retaining it, so that eventually, you can be sure of yourself in front of anybody.
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Slideshow time! To set the mood:
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Thanks dear reader for doing what you do best here… have an amazing week!
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-SJT
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p.s.
Oh yeah, guess who said yes?utahlogo
   When the family picked me up from the airport they said that a big envelope had come for me while I was gone with a big red U on the front. We got to the parking garage where I opened it and started bawling into my dad’s shoulder. I’m going to college.
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Feminist Film Camp

A few weeks ago I sat down with my college counselor for about the fourth time and something weird happened. She looked me in the eye, and without hesitation or a shadow of doubt, said that she had a good idea about what she wanted me to do in college. As in major and minor. As in future. As in career. As in something nobody had ever had the want, need, or inclination to tell me. But she did. She and her decades (but she absolutley doesn’t look it) of experience in the service of young people and more specifically their academic preparedness for college. I trust her. And that’s why what she said blew my mind, because I believed her. Whereas before I had never believed that someone would sit me down and tell me what to do with my life. Not that it matters, but I’ll tell you because it’s cool.

 

“Film… with an undergrad in business just to be safe”

 

Film. Well that part wasn’t a shock, but at the same time it was. I love it, and the people I know and love know that I love it. But even many of them wouldn’t volunteer the idea to me, for reasons I can’t really guess because it’s my blind dream we’re talking about. But I can get a feel for people, and what they usually tell me without words is “Oof that’s gonna be rough” or “Aw cute, until she decides she doesn’t want to be poor”. But again, my blind dream. And my counselor’s more than just my counselor, she’s my guru. (Yes, that good) And so she knows that when a teenager has fostered a love for something, by paying attention in that class or taught themselves a skill and has just simply made that time to love that time with that thing, whatever it may be, it’s important to not just to encourage it but to support it. So shoutout to my college counselor. And shoutout again when I’m receiving that Oscar.

It’s taken me months to get the energy to post again. It’s draining, this writing thing. Thoughts to fingertips to keys. You wouldn’t think so, but it’s a tough hobby to keep consistent with. It can only really be done when it’s from your being, because math says you can only give what you have and much as I hate to admit it, math is usually right. Math won’t allow me to write about things I haven’t fostered a care for, because the words won’t be there. So giving more of what I have is probably what I’m going to work on, and finding what those things are too. It’s easier with pictures. Anyone with my snapchat or following my instagram could tell you that. Sydneyjoto is kind of a mess there.

WHICH leads me to my next trick topic.

Film camp. More specifically, Feminist Film Camp. It has a better and more official name, which I’m not sure if I can share so we’ll just call it the former. I found out about it several weeks too late and then there was nothing short of a miracle; somehow they let me in. They turned out to be fabulous people who were incredibly talented at each of their varying jobs within the film industry. We met and skyped with movie directors, editors, PR people and went through what must be the process of making a movie because we did. We made a movie and aired it at a real premiere in a theatre. It’s two weeks later and I’m still feeling butterflies from that one. In teams of five, we wrote, directed, acted, edited, and finally produced a piece all while learning from the professionals about ways to do the best visual, audio, and story work possible. Oh and storyboarding. Almost forgot that.

Here are some notes from lunchtime speakers I took in my nerdy film journal 

• It takes both brains & luck
• Have people back you up with a common goal, but never give up creative control, even if that means you have to turn down an offer from Disney. (They have a thing about that)
• The documentarian women making “Code” always just wanted to make a film.
• On choosing a topic for a documentary, “It has to be something really important and topical.”
• Show before you tell, or just show and hope that tells enough.
• Honestly, you have no idea how an audience will take a movie. You’re just feeding your home made food to the kids and hope they like it.
• A director is the one who carries the production with his or her drive alone. The director needs to be the most passionate, the story is their baby and they want to see it succeed.
• You need a team that fills the many gaps of what you can’t do, and in the end work to create something a thousand times better than what you could’ve come up with. Notice how as movies have improved over time, the credits roll longer and longer?
• Editors push the scene layer upon layer, they have artistic license and mad organization skills
• Both creative and technical people are necessary to making movies. You just have to learn how to speak the two different languages.
• Actresses with cool roles really are the role models for young girls. Thanks to CSI, the number of women entering college since 2000 under Crime Investigation or Criminal Justice has dramatically increased
• As women, we tend to doubt ourselves. More women will walk into a job interview thinking that they’re hardly qualified, whereas men typically think “it’s all good I got this”. Know that you have got this as much as the boys do.
• Code, the language of computer code will be more and more invaluable to you in the future. Learn it, and you will almost be guaranteed to use it someday and get paid for it.
• Light is everything. In animation it makes the world seem like a place you can actually go to and visit. It converts kids to Disneyisms and in live-action can make adults cry and laugh or scream sometimes more effectively than just acting.
• A documentary is a hell of a lot of work. But so is a live-action film. And animation. All need smart and creative people and all are necessary to help tell the stories that need to be told.
• When trying to sell your movie, smile. Give gifts. I have seen grown men in suits almost get in a fist fight over a ballpoint pen that said “Sundance”.  Also, the best parties don’t serve caviar they serve hot dogs. People are hungry!

And lastly, favorite quotes:

“Smile. Love the process, and if you don’t, go be a dental hygienist.”

&

“If you love it, you’ll find a way to do it.”

let me repeat that for the haters

If you love it, you’ll find a way to do it.

 

You’re darn straight.

Something else I really love, is finding flaws in society and coming up with my own dumb solutions to fixing them. So I found a way to do that at this camp, with my production team. My problem, my solution. Please pay no attention to the lead actress she’s no Jlaw, but I think the message is something to think about. If you know a teenager or anyone with a picture-posting problem, or anyone really, please feel free to share.

You can only give what you have right? Subtraction and addition? Well here’s a story I wrote about a girl with an Instagram problem, and how I think kids should start viewing the way they view the world, which is not on a phone screen.

[youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HFRjtwmjbY%5D

Thank you dear reader for doing what you do best here, and I wish you all a wonderful day/evening/morning/birthday/holiday/drive/whatever else awaits you.

All the best,

Sydney

What Sandwich Summer Taught Me

This summer has been the best yet. Hands down, without question.

And I would say it’s because it’s been a summer full of firsts.

First drive alone with a license, first time trying crocodile, first time to Washington, and first boy :)

In case you’re wondering, I’m not nervous for Junior year to begin tomorrow.. not at all. Rather, just sad to turn the page on the sandwich summer, and letting my fingers dwindle on the corner of the paper. If only we could pause the clock and savour a little longer.. mm I’m sure we’ve all thought that.

If life had a pause button, when is a time when you would have used it?

Feel free to answer that question, I’d love to read your answers.

Maybe this whole post is my inadvertent attempt to delay tomorrow, to cling to these sunny days of yesterday for a little longer.

Oh well :)

But if there’s any lesson to take away from summer 2013 going into the 2013-2014 school year, it’s that well, humans have happy batteries.

I’ve found that going somewhere beautiful, or doing something wonderful with someone or for someone, is something that get’s added to a person’s “happy battery” shall we call it. Sometimes, people forget they’ve got these batteries. And so, I’ve found that for me personally, doing things that suck is much easier when one uses the energy from that happy battery. An example:

I went on a really awesome daytrip to the beach a few weeks ago with that really awesome boy. Awesome right? Then I found out I would be getting my first blood test later that week. (Mm, another first). Needles and blood and doctors offices. **Ew. But going into that blood test was so much easier when I could close my eyes and remember that cloudy afternoon holding hands and taking pictures of seals. Those memories made me legitimately cheerful as I sat down on that pristine white chai knowing that it was all going to be okay. And it totally was.

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The lesson today dear reader, is that when life makes you drink lemon juice, use your imagination and remember what lemonade tastes like. Cause  you won’t pucker as much. And if you’ve never had lemonade before, I suggest you try it. It’s delicious.

And a Merry Start of School to all you studious students out there and everywhere!!

Up and Coming: What it’s like to have your dad as a teacher.

-SJT

Just Thinking About Colleges Tonight…

My history teacher’s a basketball buff. Today in class, he passed around a sheet along with a hat {the black silky kind, resembling that of Abe L} filled with slips of paper. On each was a college basketball team on the roster-thing for March Madness. The point of all this was to 1) have us research a college we would have never probably heard of, and 2) get extra credit points for each game won by our team during this season. I can’t say that I’m happy with leaving bonuses to chance especially because mine is ranked number #16… Southern U {now all you March Madmen groan.

march madness pick ugh
Can somebody explain the “(23-9)” por favor?!

So I got on my school’s college search website. It’s actually pretty cool how technology can help kids make educated decisions on a personal level, by comparing important factors like majors offered, tuition fees, and campus life according to how I’ve tested during

College Blog
decisions decisions…

personality evaluations.

You wanna know what my compilation came to?

    University of Oregon. Yeah… the Ducks.

I perused College options out of interest and boredom. A dangerous couple.

Then I got frustrated because, well, I don’t want to think about all that. Dorms and majors and fees  and the future…

•••

I want to pig out in my parents kitchen with friends and enjoy my schoolwork while hating at the same time. I don’t want to take my final driving lesson because it means that I’m that much closer to taking my license test… with the little bald man in the passenger’s seat with his nose hairs brushing the clipboard. I want to pick the grass in P.E. class as kids try to draw out the workout by asking stupid questions to the teacher. I want to be there when the last of my brothers graduates 6th grade. I want to watch Downton Abbey and Sherlock Holmes and think I can pull off a fabulous British Accent. I like my backpack and I think it’s funny when the person who has gum in class is suddenly the most popular. I love dem boys {or at least talking about them }. I love babysitting for really nice families. I love being sixteen.

•••

Pop-culture, technology… it all changes and so do the Youth it raises. The teens I mean. We are taught to live in a world we have not yet experienced, a world no one ban predict. So we must be taught to adapt given basic skills and then not-so-basic, which would be developing our talents. And that will determine if our future consists of a cubby-hole career or other.

But for now, I’m going to enjoy my life as it is. Light as a feather and fun. I’m going to take advantage of the benefits of living at home and develop those talents as well as find some new ones. Blogging, yes. You are most certainly here to stay. {As much as my parents dislike it ;) } And those pesky poopy brothers… I hope they know that the tackles and noogies are out of love. Three big buckets-full.

If there are any words of wisdom I have developed in these last few years of developing maturity they are, “Life is good, even when it sucks.”

And with that dear reader, I bid you adios. Because I have a spanish test tomorrow. Your lovely advice to teens everywhere would be much appreciated down below :)

-SJT

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“It’s about a girl who is on the cusp of becoming someone.. A girl who may not know what she wants right now, and she may not know who she is right now, but who deserves the chance to find out.” ― Jodi Picoult

The Foul Ball

Blessed blessed weekends. Later, a more serious post, that will tell you why I so needed a break, why school was so especially backbreaking these last few days.

But first, a story.

It’s Blessed Saturday. My brother T plays baseball. Little League Baseball. (No I don’t live in Petaluma although we have several baseball-ecstatic relatives who do.) T had a game yesterday at a middle school, and I went bearing my Canon THANK HEAVEN. Or else you wouldn’t have believed me when I told you he chased off a motorcycle gang with a foul ball.

Backstory

Next door, there’s a church, and they were having some sort of Walkathon Fundraiser behind us on the track. Bouncy houses and hundreds of people cheering for their Athletes was enough. But then we heard the revving. They weren’t exactly a motorcycle gang, but more like a christian group of harley owners… all sitting on the opposite side of the field figuring out how to get across to their event, which was behind us. “Awh NU-uh they BETTER not cross our field!”

Thankfully they chose the other way, but they were still sitting on roaring, oil spitting dinosaurs. My brother was up to bat, but procrastinated getting into his stance until they’d mostly passed.

They park their giant stereos and wheels behind us, and T swings.

Foul Ball, right over our heads, “Heads Up!”, and into the sea of Cyclists.

They Shortly disperse thereafter.

‘Atta boy T!

Writing a Paper

via Coroflot

Let’s call this a warm-up. Did one of those in Alg 2 today, and I’m going to do one in about t-minus 70 minutes before my first game of the season. Setting: Dad’s class with his 7th period discussing Roger Williams and Galileo in APUSH, little Sophomore me in the back on my laptop thankfully unintroduced)

The Golden Key

Jacob and Wilhem Grimm

Summary: Once Upon a Time there was a boy who found a golden key, and shortly after found a little chest in which the key fit.

The narrator ends the story with this sentence;

Then we shall find out  what kind of wonderful things there were in the little chest.

Blow your minds people.

My quest is to flip, add to and sculpt a climactic story out of THIS. I love mysteries, but this is another Lady or the Tiger . A “choose your ending” story, or is it more? It has to be because the Brother Grimm were the Brothers Genius’s and always had a resound ending and moral to each story. So simply, what is the hidden moral?

You decide.

(But seriously, help me out here :)

[Edit]

GOT IT!!!

Warning: This is a Draft, This is a Draft, This is a Draft

Unfinished Tales

In “The Golden Key”, the theme that surfaces is that mystery is the best kind of climax. To make the story’s peak end on a frayed rope left to the audience to mend can only be a stroke of genius.  The climax begins when a young boy initially thinks in the snow after finding a key and wooden box with the fitting keyhole,  “Certainly there are valuable things in the chest”.  Certainly, there’s an object worth guessing in the wooden hollow. The ending of the story neither denies nor confirms this, but rather leaves it so intriguingly to the reader’s discretion with not a bias to slant off. There is in addition another version of the story, which is contains a much more dynamic and literally colorful plot. In this version, through a complicated series of events involving rainbows, fairies, and little girls with tangled hair, a young boy and his friends find themselves walking up a staircase to where the reader will never know, because the narrator ends the story with, “ They knew that they were going up to the country whence the shadows fall. And by this time I think they must have got there.” A much more beautiful example of mystery, and letting the reader choose the character’s fate. However in this example, the author at least hints at the happy ending that he believes occurred, giving the reader a slightly biased slant to build on. Outside of “The Golden Key”, there are other examples of absent endings. One famous sample is, “The Lady or the Tiger?” When the young lover of the princess is put into the Roman Arena by order of the king, he must choose between two doors. Behind one lies a lovely unwed maiden and behind the other a starved and ferocious tiger. The story ends with the famous line, “And so I leave it all with you: Which came out of the opened door – the lady, or the tiger?” In conclusion, people love mysteries. But even more so, they love predicting endings, or at least debating about what the author would have wanted you to predict using the clues he or she had given. When given the key, people will open the door.

 

Night-Time Epiphanies

Hit the Regina Spektor Radio on Spotify, pop over to WordPress, “New Post”. I got words today man!

Hey this fire
It’s burning
Burning us up
Hey this fire
It’s burning
Burning us up

The fire of words baby! I swear they’re eating at my soul this day and unless I pour them out on my keyboard I may be ashes in minutes!

Night-time epiphanies. Have ’em? Thought processes really do take place at night, when things are quiet and muscles are tired. Well, your brain isn’t a muscle. True story bro. Something about the dark and waiting for unconsciousness to come… thoughts run into genius strands that are so frustratingly forgotten the next morning. Solution:

Write it down! I had to turn on the light a few times but it was soooooo worth blazing my eyeballs out. Otherwise you’ll think you’ll be able to decipher your writing that was written in the pitch-black darkness, but really you won’t. (Testify: middle bottom picture, middle of pad.) Anyways, there was something my half-conscious self came up with last night that I liked.

More sleep.
More water.
More grains.
More Color.
More right.
More clear. 
 

Read it over again. Now you should know that I love self-improvement, and at night like think of ways to make SydneyJoTo a better SydneyJoTo. That’s pretty much all this list is. An eclectic gathering of goals for the soon-to-be sophomore.

(pssssst! Stop reading here if you gotta get to doing, or stick around if you’re seat’s comfy enough or if you’re a teenager.)

More sleep.

Most Teens stink at time management. So usually it’s the latest thing in the day that takes the hit. Bedtime. I think ending school at 3:30 is dumb. Why? The average American household has dinner from 6:30-7 o’clock. That’s leaves a succinct 3 hours for homework, sports games/practice, friends, and travel to and from all of these. However! Many families with teens have dinner later, like from 7-8, even 9 o’clock as to not disrupt the order of early evening activities. Why don’t we just try that?! The trick must be getting all of one’s homework done before the dinner bell rings, so one can have some restful family time after dinner and then hit the hay.

Ask your boss-people if a later din-din is right for you. Side effects may include an earlier, less desperate night’s sleep.

More water.

Utah. Geeze Louise. Water not only tastes fabulous there but an excessive amount is also vital to one’s happiness at that high and dry

Water. Go get a glass NOW.

altitude. I stayed with my Aunt K. who taught me the importance of the “H2O Diet”. She told me that before going anywhere, drink a glass of water. Then when you’re done with that, drink another one. This was a few days before volleyball camp and she knew this advice would later prove valuable during my sweaty court antics. Also, I’m pretty sure water has an effect on one’s happiness. After camp, I kept up on the water intake. It’s bad but, Water made things clearer. (El-Oh-El!) But seriously, there is something about more agua in the system and  I’M SURE THERE’S A SCIENTIFIC ARTICLE OUT THERE SOMEWHERE that ties water with happiness! If over 70% of the human body is made up of water, then why not be constantly trying to maintain that? Especially since water has ZERO cals and other junk. It’s the purest and best thing for you on the planet. Plus, dehydration is found frequently in TEENS! Read about it here. With all the other social/educational/hormonal crap we’re dealing with, I’m sure water intake is very low on the priority list for most teenyboppers-and-poppers. Not good.

So go drink some now! I’ll wait.

More grains. 

If Manna was bread, (which it probably was) it took this form.

 Again, Aunt K. But also my mom. You see, I’ve just begun to hate white bread. It’s this little flower of hate that was planted by these two lovely women and has been watered by my love  for health food ever since. Oatnut bread is too good to cheat on with that white fluffy stuff that has absolutely NO nutritional value. So dear reader, I invite you to hate white bread with me. And feast on Oatnut for your breakfast toast instead. And then for your sandwich at lunch. Take a break for dinner. Teenagers, there is no “w” in pb&j. However there is a “b” which stands for bread, which could easily mean “Oatnut bread”… if you wanted it to.

More color.

I can’t stress this enough. There is color in the world but when the world chooses to paint something beautiful whether it be on the ground, down an alley, or in the sky you’d better darn well appreciate it.

Colors.

More right.

Not less left, but rather more doing the right thing. The Right Thing. We all subliminally know what that means, whether we want to or not. Some would argue that everyone has different priorities, and therefore different ideas of right and wrong. But I don’t think so. Balance. There’s a balance everywhere, and when you start looking for it, you’ll find it, especially in people. Somehow there are happy stories and there are sad stories and there’s the untold stories of people just making it through. But those are just stories. Whether the story happened to a loved one or a stranger you are still you. And you always have a choice. We all do. And so we control the balance of right and wrong. It just seems that the gusts of the world head in the wrong direction and so we have to lean against it. That’s when I come in with my belief of Heavenly Father and Satan. The Gusts are from Satan and the freedom to be blown away or lean against it comes from Heavenly Father. Then, Heavenly Father will go so far as to give you something or someone to hang on to, or will even lead you to a non-gusty area! That’s all called faith, take it or leave it.

More clear.

So I’m rested, hydrated, healthy, appreciative of the world around me, and I’m trying to do the right thing. That lifts a fog, and what I see now gives me something real to write about.


P.S.

This concludes my 100th post and first year of blogging! I would like to thank my dear dear dear readers, hug my mostly supportive parents who thought this would be just another phase, and my poor computer that has put up with a year of frustrated writers-block-induced-head-banging. This kid loves you all!

{Edition}

Just heard this song on Spotify: thought it applied perfectly to my “theory of balance”. That’s it :)