To the People Who Gave Me Everything I Needed

Thursday Greetings!

Maybe it’s one of those introspective times in my life when I’m preparing to charge full speed ahead, but I can’t do that until I look back on all the things that carried me steadily (and sometimes less steadily) to where I find myself right now.

I am one of those fortunate ones that can say they were readily handed everything they needed to succeed in life. Just like that.

To the people who gave me everything I needed:

I want to say thank you. In all the years that I’ve wanted to be a writer, I’ve been far less afraid of what critics may say than of not living up to what I know myself to be capable of doing. Do I say that out of conceit? By all means, no. I blame it entirely on you. In those years, I’ve been told the cons of a career in writing; I’ve been told to prepare for unemployment, but a great deal more importantly, I have never not been told that I can and that I will.

It is you, Dad, that reminds me my bestsellers will put you in a nice retirement home and talks about me as if I’m already Alyssa Dulaney: world renown author. It is you, Mom, that gently reminds me I actually have to write to get there, while simultaneously telling me how proud you are. I hear and appreciate every word. It is you, Jamie, my best friend, that mapped out fantastical plot lines and created whimsical names with me at ten years old in a backyard camp out. It is you, Misty, that reads my writing, exaggerates its quality, discusses it with me, and listens to me ramble on about ideas and dreams.

I could go on in a never-ending list–Brookie-lynn, Spencer, grandparents, strangers that have left such kind comments–but suffice it to say that in the mind of this young writer, the voices of faith in me have drowned out any roars of doubt, impossibility, discouragement, and even lack of faith in myself.

Only this afternoon, I rediscovered the photo book from my high school graduation. In it are comments from you all, my dear friends and family. Here are a few that made me tear up (maybe):

  • “Keep walking tall, standing strong, and HE is going to take you farther than you can ever dream.” -Dad and Mom
  • “I love you a latte and am excited to see God use you mightily.” -Spence (Big brother)
  • “I am so very proud of the beautiful, talented, and genuine person you are. I couldn’t have asked for a better sister or best friend.” -Brooklynn (Big sister)
  • “Oh my beautiful Alyssa, you’re one of the most sweetest, happiest, and anointed girls I have ever met.” -Jordan Parks
  • “And I hope your future is as excellent as boiled potatoes.” -Karaline
  • “You’re a very brave person, you’re funny, smart, capable, and are both anointed and empowered to do amazing things.” -Josh F.
  • “I also can’t believe I have managed to put up with you for 7 years… I love you anyways.” -Jamie Marie

So to you all–friends, family, strangers–thank you. You have given me, and continue to give me, everything I need to succeed in life. Because of you, I know that I can and that I will, whatever it may be that I am chasing or dreaming.

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A Reading Life: {Guest Post} How Jane Austen Changed My Life

I so enjoyed writing this guest post for Pages and Margins, an incredible and perfectly literary blog! Please read, and follow Beth’s site!

Pages and Margins

How Jane Austen Changed My Life

By Alyssa Dulaney


alyssa-2
Hello all! I am Alyssa—avid reader, aspiring writer, ambitious college student, and lover of coffee, Jane Austen, and Jesus. Did I mention blogger? I started Pen to Paper Collections having utterly no clue what I was doing, but knowing I wanted to share my passion for literature (and random musings) with others. I leapt blindly into the world of blogging. Two years later, I’ve yet to have it all figured out, because it’s a journey, as it must be with all things worth doing, but here I am. I’m honored that you are now a part of that journey!

curlicue1

Once upon a time, there was a girl who was very fond of once-upon-a-times. She read many books; and not just the ones that were required. She carried them in her purse and in her heart, and she wrote them in her…

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Why This Busy Girl Loves to Make Extra Plans

I would say “Thursday Greetings,” but it’s 1:50 am, so there goes that.

Hello All!

Time and sleep are precious and limited commodities in my life right now. It often seems like reading, writing, and other things I love are taking a back seat, which breaks my heart. What’s a girl to do? Homework has a deadline, commitments must be fulfilled, and work calls my name.

I’m exhausted; but what keeps me going?

Plans.

In all the business and bustle of life, one thing I love the most is to have plans. What in the world do I mean? As if I don’t have enough on my plate! But hear me out. There’s just something about making an elaborate plan to do something that makes you happy. Yeah, it’s another date and time on your already-full calendar, but it’s not like the others. It’s escape time. This is why I go to theatricals on a more-and-more regular basis. If I were being completely honest, I would say it’s one of the things that keeps me sane. Just the knowledge that if I can survive until that Thursday evening (or whatever it may be), I can have a few hours to take in something wonderful and catch my breath from running life’s race…

Don’t get me wrong, I love my life. There are countless good things in it: my family, education, relationship with Jesus, books, and the list goes on. But great things can still be “busy” things when they are part of the day-after-day. So, I provide myself with something extra special (to me) to look forward to: something for which to count the days down. Recently, it has been another opera (La Traviata), which I went to a couple weeks ago; The Phantom of the Opera, which was a last minute plan that took place tonight;  and in only 14 days, a spring break trip to Vancouver Island. Some are big plans, some are small, some are last minute, and some have been on the calendar for quite some time, but they are all a block of time in which I am not a student, employee, or *fill in the blank,* but instead I can be the person I would try to be if I had all the time in the world.

Here’s my challenge for you: make some plans! If you’re feeling the blah of the mundane or just tired of pushing all day to crash at night, make a plan! Whenever, wherever. There’s something liberating about watching the time tick down on that countdown app. It’s not about forgetting to savor every moment, but it is about setting aside a time that’s tailor-made just for yourself. Then all those other moments seem a little more important, because they’re the stepping stones to the big shebang!

P.S. It’s okay to take yourself on a date. (Even on Valentine’s Day. I did!)

The Dulaney House at Christmas

There is now a grand total of seven stockings hanging… they have outgrown the mantle, so this year one hangs on either side of it as well. There would be nine, but Mum and Dad aren’t much interested in hanging some for themselves. Thus, seven it is–for my older brother, his fiance, my older sister, her husband, myself, my younger brother and my younger sister–all shadowing a dancing fire. The stockings, the fire, the tree–they are all mere spectators of our laughing family at Christmastime.

I’m learning that things like Christmas change as you, and those around you, grow up; but not necessarily for the worse. While some things do slink into the past, like having a the whole family there to decorate the tree, new things begin to emerge, like catching up over a cup of hot tea after the long (and eagerly) awaited arrival of my sister and brother-in-law. I know that things will never return to what they once were, but then, things don’t have to be the same to be marvelous. It is, after all, the most wonderful time of the year, no matter what.

I rather enjoy laying upside-down on the couch (feet in the air and all) in a Christmas sweater and Santa hat, surrounded by my family, listening and contributing to the endless chatter; most of which is provided by the 5 year old sister, who entertains us all. I love migrating to my Wurlitzer piano to play and sing Christmas hymns in constant anticipation of Dad’s inevitable request for me to “play softly” in light of his headache. I relish an evening devoted to a Hallmark Christmas movie and a cup of hot cocoa. I take great joy in the celebration of Jesus’ birth–the reason for the “Christ” in Christmas.

Times change, and traditions with them, but I will always cherish a Dulaney Family Christmas; may it be past, present, or future… Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to pour myself a hot beverage and check on the progress of the gingerbread houses!

The Merriest of CHRISTmases to you all and the most blessed of New Years.

Much love,

Alyssa Dulaney

 

Poem: A Blank Page

Hello All!

I jotted this poem down earlier this evening on a piece of scrap paper, and decided to share it with you all. Enjoy, and, as always, feel free to share your opinion on it!

A Blank Page

How could I let this blank paper go to waste

With yet so much potential between its light lines, meant to guide?

Crumpled as it may be; hardly at its best

But still as willing to hold words: powerful, exact, honest

How dare I rob it of the opportunity to hold–

To contain the beauty that is a poem; may it be sonnet, prose, or ode

Or may it be these few simple phrases about a blank page with guiding lines

And its right to bare the ultimate power that is words

Whether rhymed or not rhymed

The Obscure Poet- Oma Carlyle Anderson

Thursday Greetings!

The other day I picked up a book of poetry entitled “I Hear the Lark Singing” by Oma Carlyle Anderson. I opened it to find a handwritten note from the author herself to a dear friend of hers, and here it was lost in a pile of random books being given away. I was amazed by the beauty and depth of the poems within… They were incredible and spoke with such conviction. I thought that surely Miss Anderson was a well-known poet and I had simply been missing out. Without hesitation, I took the book home with intentions of researching Oma Carlyle Anderson, which I did. I found something on her, eventually. I found out her dates of birth and death from a website that documents grave sites… 1901-2000. Believe me, I searched extensively with no luck. That’s all one can find on Oma Carlyle Anderson, the poetic genius.

The author of these marvelous, meaningful masterpieces is no more than another poet lost in obscurity. It saddens me to know this. I can’t help but feel that she and so many others have been mistreated. Of all the human beings that go down in history for one thing or another, they were somehow left behind. TV stars manage to be remembered, as if being in front of a camera is more difficult or more meaningful than pouring your soul out as ink onto paper and allowing others to feel your own emotions by reading the words that you arranged. I don’t say this to demean those that gain fame or to recklessly claim that they don’t deserve to be remembered… I only want to speak to the habit that we have of failing to appreciate those that came before us and paved the way through written word.

Oma Carlyle Anderson put her heart into a book and shared it with humanity. Although she died, she can never be gone now; But she can be forgotten, and I refuse to allow that to happen. Because I cannot prove otherwise, I am willing to assume that her passion for writing allowed her to be content in being only an obscure poet in her lifetime. This certainly sounds romantic… But I hope that over the years, her name grows into more than one only recognized by her family and the young dreamer who happened to pick up her poetry from a pile of free books. She deserves to be remembered as poet whose words marked the world.

Dreams

From the starting gate of slumber,

by moments and degrees,

what random alchemy determines

the silhouettes of dreams?

What strange omnipotence

of curtained eyes to touch the past;

what borrowed journeys, guilded

and disguised, span in sleep

a hemisphere or universe?

Until awareness of the mind

cancels the racing streams

of imagery, and covers with

diaphanous light the little graves

of restless and unbridled dreams.

~Oma Carlyle Anderson

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Proud to Be An American

Happy Monday and Memorial Day to you all!

I wanted to take a moment as our day of hikes, cookouts, and family time ends to remember what this day is really all about. Honoring those who have served to keep our country free. Those who loved their nation enough to sacrifice. To fight. To take a stand and say, “For our children and our country… We are willing.” 

It is these soldiers – these patriots – that make me love America. It their willingness that makes me cry and swell with passion when I sing the National Anthem. 

I may not always like where our nation is heading, but I am proud of where it has been. I am proud of its soldiers, and I am proud to be an American.