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Book Club: August

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For the month of August, I wanted to do something a little bit different. I wanted to choose a book that had some historical moments, and was based on political motives during the eleventh century.

Queen Hereafter by Susan Fraser King is one of the most talked about books from 2011, the story is fascinating and captivating. It reels you in like you are a fish on a bait hook. The story is extremely well written, you won’t be able to put the book down. In fact, in 2011 I was transitioning between freshman year and sophomore year of college, and when I found this book I knew I had to read it. Honestly, it is one of my favorites from the 2000’s. More author’s should take notes from this amazing author.

In eleventh century Scotland, a young Saxon princess tries to fulfill her destiny, and along  the way there are many risks and trials that she will encounter. When the princess and her family shipwrecked on the coast of Scotland, along with an outlaw named Edgar of England, they ask the warrior king Malcolm Canmore for sanctuary. King Malcolm sees a political advantage with the outlaw Edgar, by giving sanctuary to not only him but to the Saxons as well, for the hand of Edgar’s sister, Margaret, in Marriage. This tells of the story of how Margaret became the queen of Scotland, and what happened to the rest of the passengers onboard.

Just like me, you won’t be able to put the book down until you get to the last page. You will feel like you have just landed in Scotland, and it will seem like you are living the lives of the characters that are portrayed in the book.

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Nyx of Hy-Brasil (Short Story)

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Floating here is all that I have ever dreamed of, now that this is happening my soul is now complete. The rush of the cool dark ocean water drenches me and she attempts to submerge me with each wave she throws at me. No fear, you beautiful watery creature. For I am not afraid of you. Not one bit. No, instead I am content. Content with your waves ramming into me, content with your sweet breeze smashing into my face as I watch the shoreline from a distance.

From a distance, here I bob up and down as if I was like another log drifting out to sea, but if anyone were to even capture a glance of me, I am doomed. For my people are not to be seen, we are not meant to be seen by the eyes of humans. We are meant to be just a myth, a myth that has been told thousands of times and with various types of skin colors and tails. There is much talk under the watery waves, of a woman on a cup with two tails for legs. She is the woman that I have heard much about, for she reminds me of my aunt Undine. My aunt Undine was born under the sea off the coast of the country they call Iceland, as for myself, I was only born with one tail and was born off the coast of Hy-Brasil. A land that is now forgotten in the minds of men, but for us merpeople it is still very much real. A young mermaid of only two hundred years old, but I only look to be twenty eight, I was born with green curly hair and piercing blue eyes with small spots, or what they call freckles, above my nose and on my cheeks. The name my parents gave me is Nyx and I swim all by myself now, for my parents are gone and they are but a distant memory, for they have passed on and have been buried since I was but a young mermaid of only one hundred and three years old. As I look at the shoreline of the mountain region of the place they call Isle of Skye, a thought races through my mind. What if someone were to find me here? I would be caught and taken to land, probably tortured and disappear without a trace. For no one will find me, my aunt will never find me nor would any of my other relatives.

Suddenly, I hear something behind me. A sound that I have heard a million times, the sound of a boat whistle. She draws nearer and nearer. Looking back, I can see the giant boat racing slowly in my direction. Dunking my entire body underwater, I will be safe. Safe from the boat and safe from the eyes that will soon find me. As I dive underwater, I look back up to see the boat slowly coming over head. Emerging from the water once again, I can see the boat in all of its glory and I can see a young girl on board. Her hair looks like the color of a pearl, soft and almost shiny. Her skin is light and pale, as if she were made from the moon. Her blue eyes were deep as the ocean waters, and it seemed as though I could get lost in them for hours on end. She stood there, on the bow of the boat overlooking the ocean with her pink dress that flowed in the wind and clung to her figure. My eyes followed her gaze, and I noticed she did not see anything except for the light shining on the top of the water. At this moment, I knew she could not have seen me, for this I am grateful. Though there is a pause in this gratefulness, for I wish she would lay her eyes on me and we would speak to one another. Suddenly, this wish of mine had come true. Her eyes locked onto mine, she erected her body even more and a small smile crept across her face. Such a sweet smile. Then she disappeared. I swam closer to the boat, and was greeted by the familiar face of the young girl on the edge of the boat.

“Hello there, who are you?” she asked in a sweet soft voice.
“H-hello, I am Nyx. Who are you?” I said with a stammer in my voice.
“My name is Fannie. Aren’t you cold?” She said as she studied me in the water.
“No, I am warm.”
“Would you like to come aboard?”
“I could not come aboard even if I wanted to. For your people would hurt me.”
“Why would my people hurt you?”
“I am not human.”
“If you are not human, then why do you look like one?”
“I am what you would call a mermaid.”
“A mermaid? I thought you were but a myth.”
“That is what we would like you to believe. But we are very much real dear Fannie.”
“Aye, I can see that.”
“Are you not afraid of me?”
“Why would I be? You are harmless, and you seem to be gentle and kind.”
“Aye, I am. But most mermaids are not, they sing their songs and they lure you to the depths of the ocean to never return.”
“You will not do such a thing, will you?”
“No, I will not do that.”
“Thank you, Nyx.”

I nodded my head at her and smiled, she seemed to be so kind and s0 gentle. Nothing like the stories that I had heard growing up under the water. For awhile we stared at each other and just smiled. I floated next to the boat as it sailed slowly closer to the shore. Once it had gotten even closer I knew that I had to turn back to the ocean.

“Fannie, I must go.”
“Why?”
“I cannot be seen by humans.”
“But I am human.”
“Aye lass, you are. But you will not harm me, unlike your people who will certainly do so.”

Sadness came across her face and she knew very well what her people would do to Nyx, they would take her and lock her away. Study her and try to dissect her, maybe even maim her and sell her for money.

“Will I get to see you again soon?”

“Aye, there is a shoreline not too far from here where we can meet. Come in two days time and meet me by the mountain with two points on it.”

“I meet you there in two days time Nyx.”
“Fannie! Fannie, where are you?” a voice yelled from the other side of the boat. It was an older woman’s voice and it sounded frantic.

“I must go, my mother calls me.”
“Goodbye Fannie.”
“Goodbye Nyx, till next time.”

Staying in my spot, I watched the boat get closer and closer to the shoreline of the Isle. Soon they docked the boat and everyone started to get off, I did not get to see Fannie get off for I had to dive back under the water before any of the other humans could see me. But it did not matter, for I knew I would be able to see her once again.

Two days later….

Today is a cold day, even colder than yesterday. Frost has begun to settle on the shoreline of the Isle. It is so beautiful this time of year, fall has passed and the winter has begun. I sit in the water with my tale covered by the icy cold waves and my upper body bare and exposed to the elements. My green curls will not keep me warm for very long, soon enough I will have to submerge and get warm from the water. Suddenly the sound of footsteps draw near, my eyes scan the entire area finally stopping on Fannie approaching me.

“Good morning Nyx.” She said as she strolled up to me. Her long dress was partially covered by a large coat that seemed to keep her warm. Her pearl like hair flowed in the wind, she didn’t mind it, in fact she didn’t even bother to mess with it. The shoes she wore upon her feet were of a dark brown color, they kept her feet safe from the shoreline, from the rocks and from the water. She climbed up on a rock that was next to me, and stared out into the ocean.

“Good morning Fannie.” I said with a smile upon my face.

Soon both of our eyes were fixed on the thrashing water out in the distance.

“Do you enjoy swimming out in the open ocean?”
“Aye, I do. It is a beautiful place to be, and it is the only place that I’ve ever called home.”
“I wish I could go out there and swim forever.”
“Although I love it, it does get rather lonesome.”
“Oh.” she said with a confused yet sad face.
“Could I ever swim with you?”
“The question is, can you swim at all?”
“Yes, I can swim. I have been swimming since I was a wee lass.”
“Then you may swim with me when it becomes warm again.”
“That won’t be until next year.” Fannie said with an irritated voice.
“Aye, but it will be for the best. For right now, it is too cold for you to swim in it. The first frost has settled and you will certainly get sick.”
” Tis true.”

Then it was silent. We sat there for so long, that neither one of us knew what time it was. The sun had not been out all day, and she was sure to get in trouble for being out here all by herself for a long period of time.

“Tis time for me to take my leave Nyx. Will I see you again soon?”
“Not for awhile, I am afraid.”
“Why not?”
“For I am must take my leave and head south until the snow has stopped and it is no longer cold here. I shall be back in spring time.”
“Promise?”
“I promise.”

She bent down and gave my cold cheek a kiss and whispered, ” goodbye my dear friend.”

I watched her walk away as she strolled back up the shoreline, back to her village on the Isle. Friend? Is it true, have I made a friend who is but only a human girl? The thought of this gave me a unique feeling that I’ve never encountered before. Soon she disappeared from sight, and it was safe for me to disappear into the water. Diving into the water, I emerged off into the distance in the water, far away from the shore. Poking my head out of the water, I looked back at the shoreline where I had just spent time with Fannie, my friend and smiled. Then I dove back into the ocean waters and swam towards the south, towards the place they call South America, where all of my family was and where everyone else had migrated to.

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Surviving in Mother Nature

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Many of you out there love the outdoors, just like I do. So during the spring, summer, or autumn season we all strap on our hiking boots and grab our camping bags for a trip under the stars and mountains. For those of us who know our way around the earth and around nature we have no problem with getting ourselves out of a rough patch when we come to one. However, there are those who have no clue what they are doing and they are novices to the outdoors, which leads them to getting lost and confused about where they are at and then things start to turn bad.

Ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to proceed into the great unknown that is Mother Earth, then there are things that you must know if you wish to go camping or hiking, even if it is just for a day or night. Please, read this, print this, take this with you; because I can guarantee you that you will need it when you encounter such situations.

1. Getting lost. This one is the major one that I will be talking about because novices always get lost and then things start to go awry. When you get lost and your map is not helping you at all, let me tell you this…please do not panic! That is the last thing you want to do. When you panic, you end up creating the worst scenarios in your brain, then when that happens you end up running around in circles screaming as if you were a chicken with its head cut off. So please do not panic. What you need to do is calm your ass down (sorry, but this is the only way I will get your attention), assess the situation and start to look around for signs. Trying to figure out where you are while being anxious is the worst thing in the world, so please for the love of god, calm down. If you are near a river or stream, assess it, grab a drink (with a filtered bottle), and then proceed north of the river or stream. This will lead you back to civilization.

2. Make shelter. This one correlates with the first one. If you are lost in the forest, mountains, any region where you cannot reach civilization, the first thing you need to do is create shelter before night falls. You can make a make-shift tent with branches, broken trees (skinny ones), twigs and tie them together with either rope or some other material that you have brought along with you. More often than not, you can always find earth based material throughout the forest to help tie the branches together. Once you have created shelter, then you can go about and gather logs for your fire for the night.

3. Find food. Now, on this one it might be tricky for a lot of you, especially if you’ve never fished, hunted or have never studied plants. Making a make-shift spear will be great for when you go fishing in the river or lake, because once you have locked onto a fish that you wish to capture, throw that spear into it. With much larger animals, what you need to do is be very quiet and try not to startle the animal (now, I’ve never hunted because I don’t like to, but I know how to fish and know my way around the plants).

4. Burn baby burn. Fire, the best thing in the world. Not only does it keep you warm throughout the night and heat up your clothes when they have become wet, but it is also an excellent source of communication. Smoke signals are the best thing that you can use to attract the rangers attention and that way they can find you at your location. Granted, it would be nice if you knew any of the smoke signal codes, but if you don’t it is okay, just the signal alone will alert the rangers to come your way.

5. Be prepared. Now with this, you can’t be prepared to get lost. No one ever thinks that they will get lost, but in the event if you do become lost there are a few things that you need to have on you at all times. Wallet – you must keep your wallet on you at all times. Keep in your backpack in one of the zipped pockets, so that the rangers or whoever can identify you if things have gone horribly wrong (not saying that they will, but there is a possibility). Medications –If you are one of those people who are medications and you need to take them everyday, please take it with you. Your asthma inhaler will help you when you are hyperventilating and having a hard time breathing. And if you are diabetic, please keep your insulin and glucose monitor with you at all times. You don’t want to go into some diabetic coma because you forgot your insulin. Snacks – Granola bars, nuts, perishable items that won’t go moldy within a couple of days will help you. Yes, they are the worst things in the world (i.e. chips, jerky, etc. ) but you will be thankful that you had them in the first place when you are starving and wishing you had some hamburger or big salad. Water filter bottle- You can obtain these at your local stores, more likely at a camping gear store. Having one of these will help you in the long run when you are needing something to drink and all you have is some water that is holding feces from fish and other animals, and whatever chemicals that mankind has dumped into it (sorry, but our corporations are ignorant and they don’t realize what the hell they are doing). So it is best that you keep this with you at all times. Compass – This magnificent object is and will always be your best friend. When you are trying to find North and trying to go upstream this little guy will help you out. Baby it’s cold outside- not really, but you get the point. You never know what the weather will be like. One minute it can be bright and sunny, then all of a sudden it is raining so hard that you have to take shelter in a cave. Bring a jacket, I don’t care if it adds more weight to your pack., you will be lucky that you had it once it started to rain or even snow.

6. Talking body love. Sorry about the title to this one, I really enjoy the song. But when you are about to go on a trip, to anywhere in the world, you need to communicate. Tell a friend, relative, coworker; whoever it may be, tell them where you are going and how long you will be there. Let them know that when you expect to be back, and if something were to go wrong, to send people out that way so that you could be found. Look, I am not the first person to admit this, but I love going on trips and camping on my own, but for most people they cringe at the sight because I am a single woman in my mid-20’s and they see the world as something completely dangerous. Hell, I have more of a chance to be killed in a city than I will be killed by a mountain lion. But nevertheless, I let a coworker, friend or a relative know where I am going that way they can do what they need to do in case of emergencies.

7. Aw, I want to pet the pretty bear. No! Do not go near any wild animals that are ten times bigger than you and that are clearly dangerous. If you see a bear, there are several different ways to approach this. Slowly retreat, do not run! If you think you can outrun a bear, then you are sadly mistaken, because even though bears looks big and fat, they have the ability to out run you and have you for dinner. So the best thing to do is just to slowly retreat without it even detecting you doing so. If you are able to, climb a tree. And if you do climb, climb up very high to the point where the bear cannot even reach you. Now with this next solution, I don’t like it because it can cause much damage to the bear, but if you happen to have a pepper spray can on you, let the bear get close enough to you to where you can use the pepper spray and while it is disoriented, then you can make your escape. If it is a grizzly bear that you have encountered, then you might want to be prepared and have your backpack on. Grizzly bears are the most defensive type of bears (black bears being more timid than most), you will want to be on the ground in the fetal position with the backpack facing up towards the bear. The grizzly bear will see you as non-threatening, but there will be a chance of the bear trying to jump up and down on you, so the backpack will give you some protection from that. After the attack, do not, I repeat do not get up so fast, wait a few minutes after the bear has left and then you can proceed to get out of the area before anything else occurs.

 

Now, all of you who have been doing this for some years now, you should know by now what to do and what not to do, so this doesn’t fully apply to you. But it is here for you to reread. For all of you novices, please read this and then reread it, getting lost is not the greatest thing in the world for anyone. But if you don’t know what you are doing then please don’t go hiking or camping, unless you bring a buddy with you.

Happy camping and hiking everyone, hope you all enjoy the spectacular views that mother earth has to offer.

 

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The Nomadic Soul

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For those of you who have been following and reading me for any length of time, you know that I am a person who loves to travel. In fact, there are times where I will spontaneously get in my car and drive off to some random place that I’ve never been to before and just explore the area. That is who I am, and that is how I will always be. There is nothing wrong with that. My entire life, all I’ve wanted to do is get a van, rebuild the interior and live out of it and just travel while I work and focus on my books. Who wouldn’t want to do that?

The nomadic lifestyle has always called to me, and it was pointed out to my parents very early on. They didn’t know what to make of it, and quite honestly they still don’t. Within a few months I will be 25 years old and they are still hoping that I stay put in one spot and just stay there, but sadly I am unable to do such a thing. Let me explain to why I am unable to settle into one spot.

Picture this; you are driving in a van with your bed in the back raised up and you have things stored underneath, suddenly you have found the perfect spot to park your van and you flip a switch to unlatch the back door of the van. You climb on out and open the door wide open and then you climb onto the bed. As you lay on the bed, you reach for a book that is in your little library and you begin to read under the lights that are placed on the ceiling of the van. Once you’ve finished the chapter/book, you look out into the world and you can see for miles the mountains, hills, the rivers and lakes, the star filled sky with the moon shining down so brightly. Off in the distance you can see the elk and deer trotting through the forest to find a place to rest for the night. You fall asleep and when morning comes you are greeted by the most beautiful sunrise imaginable. You start a campfire, make some breakfast and a cup of tea while you place your yoga mat on the ground and do yoga while everything is getting ready. After breakfast, tea/coffee, and yoga; you walk over to the lake with a towel in your hand and you strip off your clothes. Taking a dip into the lake, you feel refreshed, rejuvenated and calm. As you wash up in the lake, the glow from the sunrise welcomes you into a new day and a mist begins to fall into place around you. Grabbing your towel, you make your way back to your van to change into clothes, brush your hair and teeth. Then you can start your day by hiking, checking out the local museums, whatever your heart desires.

That is the best possible way that I can describe to anyone about why I cannot settle into one spot. It is nearly impossible, because I am wanting to constantly be somewhere new and explore. There is nothing wrong that whatsoever, some of us are meant to live that nomadic lifestyle. My dad is the polar opposite of me, he would rather put down some roots somewhere and stay there until he passes away. He loves to travel, but he wants to be able to have a home to come to. Whereas, my home is wherever I go, my home is what I take with me and where I live. I don’t have a town or state or even a country for that matter that I could call home. It is just who I am.

 

 

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The Hill Overlooking the Village (Poem)

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On top of this hill I can see for miles,
over the hills and pass the bushes and trees.
On top of this hill I can sense peace has entered my soul,
while the village that I call home sleeps beneath.
On top of this hill I can hear the birds calling me,
while I sit and ponder what meaning of life is to me.
On top of this hill if you close your eyes you can sense the love enter your heart,
just as you begin to lay your head down on the grass beneath.
On top of this hill the sun sets slowly,
letting you take it all in and making you hold your breath very briefly.

On top of this hill late at night,
the stars come out to play and the moon shines on the rooftops throughout the night.
On top of this hill late at night while everyone sleeps,
the sounds of crickets chirping and the sound of the church bell ringing loudly.
On top of this hill late at night,
I camp out underneath the stars for my bed wishes to keep me from my home under the night sky.

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Being Thankful Everyday

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We live in a world where pretty much everyone is basically saying “gimme-gimme” and has the attitude of thinking that they need more to fulfill their life. They seem to believe that materialistic things will bring happiness and joy into their lives, and they seem to think that bringing in more people into their lives will make them feel better. But they do not realize that materialistic things will not make them happy and having thousands of friends will not fulfill that empty spot that they feel in their lives. Even though Thanksgiving is the day where we all sit around the dinner table with our families and say what we are thankful for, we should be saying what we are thankful for everyday and not on just one holiday out of the year.

What is it that you are grateful for? In no particular order, here is what I am thankful for:

  • My family – Even though I have hard time relating to certain members of my family, I love them no matter what and I am grateful to have them in my life no matter what.
  • Being alive– I woke up this morning, grumbling and rubbing my eyes saying that I hate mornings. Even though I am not a morning person whatsoever, I am happy and lucky to be alive. There are people around the world who don’t get to wake up at all, and they have been summoned to the afterlife.
  • Opportunities – I’ve been lucky to have been given so many opportunities to chase my dreams and passions, and honestly not many people can say that they have those chances.
  • Job– In this day and age, it can be daunting to find a job and having to wait for weeks to hear back to see if you have received the job or not. Having the ability to have a job and to be able to put food in my stomach, roof over my head, and gas in my car is more than I could ever ask for.
  • Friendships– My friends are the most amazing people I’ve ever come across. In fact, I have a close group of friends who I have been best friends with for nearly twenty years, and that says a lot. Because a lot of friendships tend to break away.
  • Dreams turning into Reality– Many of my dreams have made it across the threshold into reality and it is like I am living in a fantasy world. I am truly thankful for the Universe bringing my dreams come true.
  • Mother Nature– Mother Nature is truly a remarkable sight, she has given me a home, has given me nourishment and has given me love and devotion. For that, I will always be thankful for her.
  • My Health/Body– Look, no one is completely happy with their body. I have my moments just like everyone else. My thighs are big and so is my butt, but you know what, I am thankful for them. They are strong, and they are powerful. They give me the ability to do a lot of things. I may have a little bit of a stomach but I have a very strong core and have the ability to plank up to three minutes straight. Regardless of the flaws that I have, I am thankful to be healthy and alive. That’s all that matters.

You see, there are things that we can be grateful for and thankful for everyday. It is just a matter of actually saying it out loud or in a journal and read it later. Everyday I want you to say at least five to ten different things that you are grateful/thankful for, you will be surprised.

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On the Road Again

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       “Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in an office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” These words were uttered from the mouth of an artist, a poet, an author and a traveler. These words were uttered from the mouth of Jack Kerouac. Many know him or at least know of him, and the main things that they know about Mr. Kerouac is the fact that he was an alcoholic, traveled and told others what he believed. But he was much more than that. He was the artist that got lost at one point or another, he was the artist that resorted to alcohol and died at a young age, he was the artist that captured the hearts and minds of those who share like minded views and on top of that with those who were creative. Jack Kerouac was the man who started the whole Beatnik scene, you know that group of people who are portrayed in movies as wearing all black outfits, smoking, at poetry slams sharing their angst against the world. He was also the man who got people to finally stand up for what they believed in, told others that it was better to follow their passions while living in this insane world.

At the very beginning of this article it started with a quote by Jack Kerouac, and if you think about it what he said was true. You will never remember all the days that you spent at your desk filing things back into where they belonged, you will never remember the excel spreadsheets that graced your desktop, and you certainly never will remember the chores you had done on a specific date of a specific month during a specific year. However, you will remember the roads that you traveled to get from Los Angeles to Alaska, or that one trip that you took where you lived out of your van and you camped out in the middle of nowhere, or the trip where you went to the beach for the very first time in your life. Those are the memories that you will be holding onto. Those are the memories that will forever live on in your mind when you have reached the golden age of 90 years old. Those are the memories that you need to be making right now.

Spontaneous road trips, hiking in the mountains, rafting down the rumbling river, or running with the wild horses are more important than sitting at your desk at your 9 to 5 job. Writing a novel, photographing the aura borealis, learning to cook from the locals in a new country is not runner up to answering phone calls at a switchboard, no, it is number one. Instead of just daydreaming about doing something, no matter what it is, you need to get out there and do it. Go to that country that you’ve always wanted to go to, go on a spontaneous road trip over the weekend and just head to a new state that you’ve never even been to, cross of some things from your bucket list that you have hidden away in the back of your desk or in a shoebox in your closet. Stop saying “I wish” and “One day”, no, go do it now. Keep having those dreams, keep adding new places to go or new things to do on that list of yours and once you’ve done it then cross it off and write something new again. Life is about experiencing new things, it is about meeting new people, going to new places, and gaining experiences and memories along the way. Life is not about just working a job just to pay bills, it is more than that, and you need to realize it.