Tag Archives: Lost

IWSG: Letting Others Be In Control

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(If you would like to join the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, take a look at it HERE.)

Hello, folks! I’ve been a terrible blogger for the entirety of my summer break. I think I’ve posted twice since finishing college. But my life has been a whirlwind of paperwork and packing. For those of you who don’t know, I accepted a job with the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Program. In just a few short weeks, I’ll be starting a new life in the quaint little town of Mikawa where I’ll be teaching elementary and junior high students. You can read more about what I’ll be doing and how I’ve been hindered HERE. That’s probably all the shameless advertising I’ll do for my GoFundMe now. Within the next few days, I hope to start blogging about Japan and travel and adulting yet again. But for now, I’m going to chat about a few things that are close to my heart.

I’ve been writing since I discovered you didn’t need a permit to be creative. It’s one of the greatest outlets for venting feelings and exploring your imagination. Let’s face it; sometimes our thoughts run a little too rampant, and it’s healthy to organize our dragons, giant robots, and werecat vampires in our little journals or laptops or restaurant napkins. Unfortunately, writing tends to be a solitary occupation. I’ve hosted some writing clubs before and most of the time, those meetings are 80% discussion and snacking and maybe only 20% writing. It’s hard to be productive without the right group.

And unfortunately, sometimes it’s hard to be productive by yourself. The world is full of distractions: Netflix, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, the fire works currently blowing up outside my window…(Guys…it’s day time. You can’t even SEE the fireworks.) I might find my quiet place one day, write 3,000 words, and be perfectly content, but I might also open up a Word document and spend the next three hours of my life researching how to hide a body. Why? Because I’m weak. Okay? Happy? The Internet is often stronger than I am. But it’s more than that. My muse can be flimsy and unmotivated. I’ll start a project excited about a new world of possibilities and later find myself buried in plot bunnies and doubt.

I started roleplaying in junior high, and I’m going to be honest and say, I don’t know why I started. I think I just stumbled upon a forum one day and decided, “I don’t want to be creative by myself anymore. I want to be creative with others.” And I don’t regret that moment at all. I’ve watched myself grow as a writer and a collaborator. Roleplaying forces you to work on a plot with someone else or many people. You have to build a world through your interactions and weave a plot around both of your wants and desires. Sometimes world building is easy because you borrow from a video game or TV, but other times you start from nothing more than an idea and watch it blossom as two writers negotiate the terms of the plot.

Roleplaying isn’t without its vices however. I’ve noticed that over the years I’ve gotten lazy. I roleplay simply to advance the plot, and I lose sight of important things like characterization and style. Sometimes I over-complicate things with horribly elaborate ideas and find myself buried in plot bunnies and doubt even with someone (or many people) to hold me accountable. It’s still possible to give up even when two people are working on a project. On top of it all, even if you have a lot of creative control, you only control your part of the world. Attempting to control a character that isn’t yours is considered: god-modding. Limited control is part of what makes roleplaying exciting, but as a writer, it’s also a pain. Don’t we want to control everything?

With a few close friends however, I’ve started playing around with an interesting idea that isn’t quite roleplaying, but it also isn’t a traditional collaboration. I can’t take credit for it at all, but they’ve given me permission to share it here. They’ve deemed it “Word Count RPing.” Its very essence is simplicity and collaboration. At the start of a WC RP, it has little to no planning. You start with an idea (usually vague), and you go from there. Each RPer is permitted around 200 to 300 words each time he/she posts. It’s still RPing because it’s back and forth between two (maybe more) writers. You share ideas, but both of you control the world. There is no “mine and yours.” It’s always ours. Without the leader and follower dynamic there’s a lot more creative freedom involved, and it’s still surprising because there is no definite plot for both of you to follow. If I want to surprise my partner, I can. If my partner wants to surprise me, he/she most certainly can!

I think writers often get too absorbed in their own little world. I’ve seen a lot of creative people who can only think about “MY” stuff. Collaboration is difficult because you’re thinking about how things have to work out to feed “MY” desires. You find yourself buried underneath…..plot bunnies and selfishness. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a selfish writer. Explore your ideas. Be proud of what you create, but don’t exclude other people and ideas especially if you’re working on a creative project whether that’s roleplaying or collaboration. Maybe if you let people control your characters, you’ll get to see how the world views them. Maybe you’ll find things you can improve, or maybe you’ll even learn something new about that little figment of your imagination. (NOTE: I do not recommend participating in a WC RP with writers you do not know very well. While it has its benefits, you may also become frustrated with a partner that isn’t familiar with your style and flow.)

Perhaps this is a bit of a radical change to suggest that god-modding can be healthy. Sharing a creative thought with another person or a group of people is kind of scary, isn’t it? But I love it. I work better with people urging me to create. Is it really so scary to work together with others?

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A Personal Writing Update

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March was a pretty good month for writing. That isn’t really saying much considering the fact that I spend very little time writing for pleasure. I wanted to take the time to actually brag about myself for once in my life. I rarely do that, and I always feel a little bit better after I look at my successes instead of my failures.

I started a creative writing group on my campus. We’ve had three meetings so far, and I know that means very little to me since I’m a senior, and this is my last semester, but I’m hoping this lasts for a little while. At least right now, it means that I have an hour out of my week where I can write. That’s an hour more than before! Who knows? Maybe one of the people at my meetings will decide to continue it?

I’ve consistently received good grades on my poetry in my class. Right now, I think what I need is different feedback. Instead of hearing from only my professor, I think I’d benefit from hearing from a number of different opinions rather than just one. When we do group discussion, my peers often have vastly different opinions and hearing a variety critiques is great. I may look into finding more readers…quite possibly starting with my mom. (Lame. I know. But my mom is actually a GREAT resource. So I’m going to use her.)

I’ve kept up with my blog. Now that doesn’t mean much, but I took up the A to Z challenge, and so far I’ve kept up with it. I tend to fall behind, but so far I’ve kept up everything. I’m going to give myself a pat on the back.

Now…in addition to my bragging, I’ve been digging through some older stuff (from…quite possibly elementary school to junior high–I never throw anything away). It was humbling to see all my older work, but it was also horrifying. I suppose as a little bit of a silly post, I wanted to post some of my original work from when I was…eight or so. Maybe how dreadful some of it is might encourage a few of my #IWSG readers? Nevertheless, I’ve been enjoying every bit of it. Typos and all. It makes me happy to know that I’ve always loved to write.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

From “The Return of Arther” – Intotra (2003)
Once upon a time in the land of Excalaber lived a brother and sister. They were both about 11 years old. They looked so alike that they could be twins except for the birth mark on the girls neck that was in the shape of a heart. The girls name was Cara and the boys name was Mark. One day they were sleeping in their house when they woke up with a start for they had heard a loud scream from a dragon. Dragons were usually peaceful unless you messed with them. 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

From “Revolution” (2008)
“Master Vaughn!” muttered Derek after he finally managed to gather the nerves to speak. He bowed quickly and stood at attention. “I apologize, sir. I didn’t hear you come in.”

“I’ve been here for quite some time now.” The Master arose from his chair and set his glass down on the table. “You seem quite enammered with my niece.” 

Derek couldn’t reply. He swallowed hard. Beads of sweat began to form on his forehead and his hands began to shake.

His master strode slowly up to the fireplace and took the picture off of the mantle. His smile softened as he gazed at the young girl sitting on a bench in a garden surrounded by blossoming flowers. “It really is a lovely picture, don’t you agree, Mr. Splendor?”

Derek nodded. “Y-yes, Sir.”

His master ventured a question further. “You wish to court her, do you not?”

The young man didn’t reply. His eyes widened and his breath quickened. Once again, the rebellious strands of hair fell over his right eye.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

From “Rain and Fire: A Romantic Tragedy Part 1: Lovesick Villain Fugue” (2008)
Claves: He sounded cute. Could I meet him some time?
Ocarina: No you cannot!
Claves: Why not?
Ocarina: He’s kind of…well…(looks down)
Falsetto: Spit it out!
Ocarina: He’s our mortal enemy
Falsetto: (angrily) You’re in love with the enemy
Jazz: You didn’t know?
Falsetto: And you did?
Jazz: Yes. Where do you think Ocarina’s been getting her information.
Claves: So there’s no romance.
Ocarina: Actually………..(looks down again)

 

Home Sweet H-…where am I again?

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We’ve established that I have a terrible sense of direction, right? Right. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have this blog. Well…I might, but it would probably be named something entirely different, and I’m sure I would have run out of stories to talk about a long time ago. But for the first time in a long time, I’ve decided to talk about an actual “lost” story. Sit back and relax. Feel free to skim over the angsty quote from my poetry, but it seemed appropriate.

“I am terror, the dripping cold sweat down the back of your neck;
you imagine the worst, and you should. Can’t turn back. Not now. Ring
the doom-ridden device once more. I’m there. Still waiting for you
and your cumbersome smile that hides that unspeakable thing.”
-from “Home(less)” an original poem

A little known fact about myself: I didn’t get my driver’s license until the day I left for college. I had planned to get it earlier that week, but I erm…well failed that test which was deceptively easy. The driving instructor pitied my existence after I failed it the first time, so she let me retake it after a few days (even though I think I was supposed to wait a month), and I passed it the morning I left for college. My first road trip involved weaving through the construction outside of Little Rock and my father yelling at me, saying that driving under the speed limit was not acceptable. I lasted about an hour before I lost all feeling in my hands from gripping the steering wheel.

That was part of the reason I traveled home infrequently. I. Hated. Driving. My first semester away at college, I think I visited home a handful of times. I returned for holidays, of course, but I never wanted to drive back for the weekends. I wanted to hide in my room, sleep for 16 hours straight, and “catch up on homework.” (Note: I’m fairly certain I never caught up. I might still be behind.) But I remember traveling home for the first time, not very well, but the memory’s up there in my noggin. I wanted to go see my friends at a football game at my old high school.

My old high school terrified me at the time; actually, it still terrifies me. I returned there recently, and I was too scared to go to the bathroom because the little high school Kat in my head was saying, “Just hold it. You don’t wanna’ sign for detention. It’s not worth it.” (Note: If we wanted to use the restroom at my high school, we had to sign for detention.) But it was just a football game. My father drove me to that school five days a week for two years. I figured I could get there without much trouble. Eight minutes of driving. Right?

Wrong. I left with thirty “just in case” minutes to spare, and I was still half an hour late. I must have taken a wrong turn in Albuquerque or something, but I ended up in quite possibly the scariest neighborhood I had ever seen. As my car slid past a few beat up houses, people came out to stare at me. I finally turned into a gas station, activated my GPS, and let it do the navigating for me, but I’m still ashamed of that moment. How in the world could I get lost in my hometown, a place I had lived for a few years?

Maybe I’m unobservant (or selectively observant). Maybe I could blame my bad sense of direction. Maybe it’s because I was seeing my hometown through the eyes of a driver for the first time. Or maybe it’s not home.

My family doesn’t live there anymore, and I doubt we’ll ever return. I left behind a few good friends, but after I graduate from college, part of me doubts I’ll ever live in Arkansas again. (I’ll probably regret writing this statement sooner or later.) It’s weird how a home can feel as though it isn’t one. My dorm room (even though it changes every year) has almost always felt like a home to me.

It’s weird thinking that in a few months, I’ll technically be homeless. But here’s to hoping that I’ll find a new one, a better one.

Anyone else ever feel lost when you’re at home?

I Keep My Confidence in a Tiny, Tattered Box

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I never realized how self-destructive I am. It’s never intentional, but I have an excuse for absolutely every compliment someone throws my way. I’m that girl who answers a professor’s question with a half-raised hand and tiny voice even though I know my answer’s right. I’m that girl that says, “I’m so dumb” every time I make even a little mistake, laughing the statement off as if it’s a fact everyone should know by now. They’re little things, but they’ve taken a toll on me. I didn’t realize how much of a problem these mildly destructive statements were until last week when I was asking for interview advice from my adviser. Her number one tip for me specifically?

Don’t self-deprecate.

After 21 years of shoving my confidence into a tiny, tattered box to hide it from the world, I’m supposed to be proud of my positive traits? My interview with my dream job is a week from today. I have less than 7 days to completely change my attitude. Talk about a daunting task…

I spent today beating myself up about the quality of my blog, my schoolwork, and my personal writing. I don’t put enough thought or time into any of it. I never feel as if I have enough thought or time. I was struggling to figure out what to write for my Tuesday blog post when I had a (brilliant) thought. Why not practice positivity? So this week, my blog might not be the high quality stories I want to tell. But I am going to address a problem that has kept me wandering for ages. My goal is to post something positive about myself every day leading up to my interview to get my head in the zone. If I don’t post everyday, then that’s fine. I’m absolutely human. I won’t beat myself up. But if I don’t get into the swing of things now, I may have too much baggage to deal with later.

So here it goes…

I am a hard-worker. I work my butt off almost every day of the week. I am a student ambassador, section leader in my church choir, Supplemental Instruction Leader, and social committee chair for my sorority. I’m an active member of Alpha Chi and Sigma Tau Delta. I act in plays because it’s fun even if it sometimes takes up 18 hours or more of my week. I’ve had only one B in my entire college career. I turn my schoolwork in on time. I plan huge sorority events. I plan Taco Bell escapades. I volunteer my weekends to tour prospective students.  Last semester, I worked three jobs, had 8:00 AM classes every morning, and was never late to anything. I am a very hard-worker.

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Confessions of an Addict

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I have no idea what's around the corner.

I have no idea what’s around the corner.

I knew it was a problem before, but now I can see just how big it is.

Keeping up with a blog is harder than I thought it would be. I’ve been told about the “Three S’s of College Life” which include: studying, sleeping, and socializing. You only get to choose two apparently. However I’ve somehow managed to balance the three. I usually sleep for 7-8 hours on most nights and finish all of my homework on time. Last semester, I worked three part time jobs as well and performed in a school play which took up three hours of the day for six days a week on most weeks. I still found time to have lunch or dinner with my friends or just hang out and play video games on the weekend. Was I busy? Oh yeah. But I made it work.

You see, I have a fourth element in my life that gets neglected most of the time instead of the Three S’s. I call it “Kat Time.” It’s the time I spend reading a book, praying, or writing. It’s where I get to sit alone in my room and reflect on my day. It’s the ten minutes I take to give myself a facial, attempt to paint my nails (which never works out by the way), or pick out my outfit for Fancy Friday. Usually, as the school year wears on, I can study, socialize, and sleep, but my “me” time dwindles down to the ten minute warm shower I get at the end of the day, sometimes at 2AM. I savor those ten minutes in the hot water.

As midterms approached at Akita International University, I found myself lusting for more “me” time. At the end of the day, I was tired of learning and socializing. I loved sleeping, but at the same time, my shower at the end of the day wasn’t enough. Up until this point, reading, writing, and blogging had been my “me” time. So what changed last week?

My roommate got Wi-Fi in our room. Suddenly, I could use the internet for whatever I wanted in the privacy of my room and not the library where I feared my peers would judge my unproductivity. Yes. You’ve probably guessed it. I spent my free time last week watching Let’s Plays of horror RPGs. How did this happen? Simple. YouTube is a trap, but I crave it. I want it to suck me into its mindlessness. The oddest thing about this kind of “me” time is that I rarely feel fulfilled by it. It’s more of an addiction that I turn back to time and time again. I tell myself, “One more video clip, then you’re done. Just one more.” I suddenly need to do something mindless rather than productive. And the more mindlessness I subject myself to, the less productive I become. I spend my day daydreaming over what I could write instead of writing.

I could blame the internet all day for my lack of willpower; I felt the most productive at the beginning of my stay in Japan, when I didn’t know how to use the Wi-Fi. I read 5-6 books during my two weeks. I started writing again for the first time since college started. I started this blog. I finished all of my homework early.

But blaming the internet doesn’t help me grow. Plenty of people in the world create masterpieces and keep up with life without falling prey to the black hole that is YouTube.

I suppose this is a length apology of sorts for the few followers I have. I know people were expecting a story instead of a revelation. I promise I have lots to tell, and I plan on posting far more often. Rest assured, I hope to turn “Kat Time” into a time where I can proudly declare that I’ve been productive in my personal goals as well as my scholastic goals.

Recognizing it as a problem is the first step to conquering the addiction.

(As a minor note, I found a 30 Day Writing Challenge which I plan on challenging myself to do to. I think this should help me get into the swing of really blogging.)

A Few Legos Short of a Castle

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Sometimes, I wish life came with an instruction manual and not one made by IKEA either. It would love to see that I’ve arrived at Step 6, and my life should look something like Figure 9.2. And then when I get to the end of the book, I could see how everything has been built perfectly. I see some people seem to have it together as if they own their own life manual. Unfortunately, I think I came with a Lego instruction guide at birth. I look like all of my pieces are fit together just right, but in reality, I’m missing a few pieces here and there. (I’m just really good at jamming parts together.) My foundation is a health hazard in the making.

But if life did come with instructions, I probably wouldn’t have stories about how a boyfriend dislocated both of my knees at once or how cayenne is not similar in any way, shape, or form to cumin. I may be jamming pieces of my Lego castle together, forcing it to look like the picture, but my castle has something others don’t: character. And a horse in the scorpion pit. (Okay, sometimes I’m not good at jamming the RIGHT pieces together.)

One fundamental part of life I have never quite mastered is art of the greeting. Sometimes I smile too much and seem “fake.” Sometimes I don’t say enough and seem like a fuddy-duddy. I want people to remember me, but I don’t want to annoy them. I want them to think I’m kind, but I don’t want to seem as if I’m flirting. I want to be unique without being weird. It’s a very difficult thing to emit your entire essence in a few brief exchanges.

Unfortunately for you, my dear reader, I don’t have any advice on what to do about that. (If you have any advice, I’d appreciate it!) I haven’t learned any profound lessons nor have I mastered the art of the “hello.” In Japan, I’m learning all new ways of greeting someone, and I’m afraid that when I return to the US, my greetings will be more awkward than ever as I combine Western and Eastern cultures.

But fortunately, I have learned that you should never under any circumstance feed an awkward situation with a burst of spontaneity.

My senior year of high school was when I began to blossom for the first time. Prior to that year I rarely went out with friends. (Honestly, I’m still not much of a social butterfly.) But my senior year, I can proudly say that I possessed something resembling a social life. My first day, I owned the school. Everyone was beneath me at last, and I had taken my place as master of the universe (or at least my dinky Arkansas high school). I had just one more year…

I congregated with my friends inside the classroom of our favorite history teacher so we could pray over the day as we always did. We chatted about our summers and mourned the end of our sleep, and then I noticed a new face in the crowd. Someone new in the group. I had been the new kid last year. Having found my place with my group of friends, I knew I had to be the one to welcome anyone who had wandered into our midst.

He blended in with the rest of us in our drab school polos and khakis. As he shuffled between the exit and the corner away from the rambunctious crowd, I caught him. Introducing myself, I decided to ease him into conversation with idle chatter about the weather, summer, and life in general. I expected a dip of the head, a shy hello, or at the very least a smile. Instead his eyes practically glazed over with confusion as I spoke, my speech quickly moving from light conversation to rapid fire questions.

This kid wouldn’t talk back. I couldn’t even get a name out of him.

I started to sweat. I talked faster and faster. I repeated my name. I spoke louder. I asked him more about himself. Still nothing. In a panic, my fight or flight instinct told me I had to break the silence, or I was going to lose a potential friend. And what is the best way to break the ice? Make someone laugh of course! Any normal person would have told a joke, but me? No. I have to go above and beyond. Prior to my senior year, most of my social interaction occurred through the internet and with my cats. Yes. Cats. And what makes cats happy?

Yes. I petted him. Right then and there. I assaulted his “fluffy” black hair and continued to go on and on about it. I watched his eyes widen twice the size of his face, his body stiffen, his lips curl into something akin to a voiceless scream.

I will never forget that look of horror on his face.

Thankfully, we ended up circling up for the morning prayer, and I sneaked off to another spot to avoid standing next to him.

And that, my dear readers, is how I met the Chinese exchange student.

Thankfully, I did manage to show him that I’m not a hair tousling freak after all.

11 Ways To Defenestrate the Down-in-the-Dumps

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NOTE: I’ve never used the word defenestrate in a sentence before. Please correct me if I’m wrong. I just want to be creative!!!!

Writing is fascinating. I know it isn’t alive, but at the same time I’m breathing life into it. Writing speaks, and its voice is always unique to the writer. One of my professors says breathing life into your characters and your world is the closest someone can get to playing the role of a deity, and he’s right. When I have the strength to move mountains so do my characters. Unfortunately, when I suffer, so do they. I unintentionally destroy everything I’ve worked to build.

Why write about this now? It seems pretty random as I’m sitting in the middle of Japan on the journey of my life. But every once in a while (usually once a semester) I notice that my writing “darkens,” especially for long periods of time when my mood sours (usually as I start to think about my future and what I’m doing with my life). Recently, I noticed my dark writing, but this time in my daily journal, not just my novel writing. I was writing a tragedy (and a sappy, angsty, young adult tragedy at that) without meaning to. And I know that tragic heroes learn their lessons much too late.

Why am I sad? I don’t know. Someone said maybe culture shock is kicking in, or maybe I’m homesick. But I think these sorts of feelings are just natural for me. That doesn’t mean I have to like them.

I read a post on WordPress the other day about 100 things you can do if you’re feeling sad. I remember thinking to myself, “Huh…I should save this. It might come in handy.” Unfortunately, I didn’t think to save it. Now, I certainly don’t have the time to think of 100 things, but here are 11 things I usually do to perk up. (I’m probably going to be doing a few of these later.)

1.) Go on a mini-trip. Anywhere. Go to the super market, the convenience store, the theatre, the mall, the bar, the park. You don’t have to spend money. Just get out. Go alone and think. Go with a friend and forget what you were worried about. It doesn’t matter.

2.) Enjoy an ice cream. Okay…I’m a stress eater, but so far, ice cream seems to be the best cure. I highly recommend Blue Bell’s “I Heart Chocolate.” (Chocolate ice cream with a chocolate frosting ribbon, fudge, brownies, and chocolate hearts filled with chocolate.)

3.) Watch your favorite episode of your favorite TV show. (Mine’s the musical episode of Psych. Unfortunately, Netflix doesn’t exist in Japan yet so….)

4.) Watch a favorite movie in a different language. The dub might just make you laugh. (I’m going to watch Meet the Robinsons in Japanese sometime soon. But I’ve heard that The Incredibles in Spanish is great.)

5.) Listen to your favorite music. (Josh Groban or Rend Collective usually helps. I’m listening to Rend Collective right now actually.)

6.) Go sit somewhere public and people watch. You can go with a friend. Share a smoothie (or an ice cream) and make up stories about the people you see. Turn said stories into a soap opera.

7.) Dress up or wear a favorite outfit. For some people, dressing up is uncomfortable, but when I know I look good, I feel good. Sometimes even wearing a bright color of lipstick brightens my mood.

8.) Do something childish. I’m a kid at heart, but I get too caught up in “adult-ing” sometimes, and it stresses me out. I’d much rather act like a kid than resort to drinking or smoking. So watch a favorite cartoon (like Sailor Moon), read a picture book, play a game with friends (like Human Knot or Sardines). Make fools of each other. Laugh.

9.) Surprise someone with a meal. Sometimes you have to do something for others to get that uplifting you need. Buy a meal for a stranger. Bake cookies for your friend. Make your kids Jello. Who can be sad when you’re watching people eat Jello?

10.) Vent all your frustration with video games. Maybe this isn’t for everyone, but I love video games. Sometimes it helps to go completely berserk in Skyrim and Assassin’s Creed. Other times, it’s better to keep it old school with Mario Kart or Smash Bros.

11.) Take a hot shower, make yourself a warm cup of tea, curl up in your comfiest PJs, cuddle your unicorn pillow pet (cats work too), pick any book you have, and read it until you fall asleep. Wake up the next day knowing that yesterday is over. Today is a new day, and it doesn’t have to tank.

BONUS: Make a list of 10 things you can do to not feel sad anymore. I think I might have just saved my little imaginary realm from any further destruction.