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?


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!)


Gratitude and A New Year

Hello All!

The New Year season is a time of reflection and resolution, is it not? We think back on all the things we accomplished or experienced… or didn’t accomplish or experience; then, with fresh determination, we plan for what will be accomplished or experienced in the future.

I have been among the ponderers and planners of New Years. In 2016, my sister got married, my brother got engaged, twelve college classes were completed, I spent a week in Quebec, and I started a novel, among other things. Of the many events taking place in 2017, my brother will get married, I will graduate with an associates degree, and I will transfer to Salem College (hopefully). Aside from these are the things that I had hoped for or hope for in the future. Naturally, I had resolutions for 2016: I wanted to exercise more, I wanted to improve my piano playing, I wanted to become more fluent in French, and so on. This coming year, I wouldn’t complain were I to get fit, or finish the manuscript for my novel, or discover the love of my life, or…, or…, or… We all know the story.

My point is, we all come up with these grand schemes, and by all means, we can work toward them, but things don’t always work according to our carefully laid plan. In fact, they almost never do. Sometimes, I map things out in my head, then scold myself for doing so because now that I’ve got it all planned out, it is certain not to happen that way. C’est la vie–That’s life.

I am about to baffle you… Are you ready? Here goes:

I am thankful for all the things God has blessed me with–for every time He’s worked things out just like I thought they needed to be–but more than that, I’m so very thankful for the times that God withheld from me my own desires. For when things didn’t go just how I wanted them to, or in my own timing. For every relationship that didn’t start, despite how I felt in the moment. For every argument I didn’t win, every time I didn’t get my way, and every cancelled plan. Am I out of my mind? Maybe a little. But I believe that God’s plan for my life goes far beyond the human-sized life map I’ve drawn up. His ways are higher than my ways, and His timing is always perfect, even when it is ridiculously difficult for me to understand. So whether its 2016, 2017, or twenty years from now… Whether I’m where I had wanted to be in life or in a place I had never imagined for myself, I will be grateful in all things. I desperately hope you will join me.

One last thought for your New Years:

“Destinations are where we begin again.” –Josh Groban, “Believe.”

I thought this was suitable for the end of one year and the beginning of another. What does it mean from your perspective?

Happy 2017.

Love, Alyssa.

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 Gettysburg Address and Its Influence

Happy Monday!

Yes, it is still Monday, although barely. Enjoy this history-loving side of me!


The Gettysburg Address is arguably Abraham Lincoln’s most widely-known speech. More than that, it is among the most influential speeches in history. This renown did not come of its own accord, but of the convictions of its author. Abraham Lincoln believed resolutely in the power of words to shape a nation; to direct it towards its destiny.[1] With this belief in place, he wrote with passion and integrity that was incomparable to other orators of his time. It has been said that Lincoln was “both of his time and unique within it.”[2] The Gettysburg Address, given on November 19, 1863, is not only proof of this statement, but also an affirmation of Lincoln’s theory concerning the capacity of the right words.


Lincoln’s style of writing is unique, to be sure, which grabs the attention of any reader, making his communication more effective. While some label Lincoln a literary genius, others pessimistically claim that he was no master of the English language; he struggled to put his ideas into explicit words. For this reason, he practiced other tactics that came easier to him: “Lincoln’s art then, is an art of indirection, of finding a way of representing a deeply personal vision indirectly through parable-like stories and jokes, and, we might add, images and symbols.”[3] Here, Hurt addresses Lincoln’s use of imagery and symbolism to carry his message. For example, Lincoln uses the phrase “new birth of freedom” in the Gettysburg Address, not to imply a literalbirth, of course, but rather as a metaphor and an image for what was being represented by the death of thousands.[4] Another critic mentions his “cunning use of repetition” that gives the Gettysburg Address “thematic and linguistic power.”[5] This style permeates the writing of Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln made an oratory conquest in writing a speech that united two sides of a war in agreement, if only for two minutes. He addressed a people who, though divided in opinion, were, in that moment, united in purpose. Lincoln did in those two minutes what his companion, Edward Everett, did in two and a half hours—he created a “profound expression of the self-perception of the nation.”[6] One that would not, nor should, be forgotten. He implies that the devotion of the dead led to their consecration of the grounds of Gettysburg, which should, in turn, lead to the devotion and dedication of the living. He does this first by saying that the dead “have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract,” followed soon after by, “we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion,” and that “it is for us living, rather, to be dedicated…” Through this sequence—the devotion then consecration of the dead leading to the devotion and dedication of the living—the “dead shall not have died in vain.”[7] It was this sincere content of the Gettysburg Address that touched the grieving hearts of the American people and staked its claim in history.

The writing and presentation of the Gettysburg Address was Abraham Lincoln’s response to one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. The hearts of the American people—whether from the North or the South—were broken by the cry of ghosts on a blood-soaked, tear-stained battlefield. According to Charles A. Kent, in his article “Lincoln and Gettysburg after Fifty Years,” Lincoln’s address at Gettysburg could easily be compared to the funeral orations of ancient times, when a great number of people would gather for the sake of fallen heroes to hear the funeral speech in their honor by a fellow citizen. Abe.jpgIn this context, Lincoln was compared to Pericles and Athene.[8] This is fitting, since Lincoln so obviously cherished the past as it leads to the future. In another article, Jacqueline Laba says that “both Pericles and Lincoln do more than honor war dead; they seize the historical moment in order to inspire their listeners to the task of shaping the future.”[9] One would never say that Gettysburg was not a historical moment, nor that Lincoln’s response to it did not inspire its audience to shape the future of America.

The influence of the Gettysburg Address far outlasted the day of its presentation, the war it represented, and the life of its author. Furthermore, every citizen should hope that its influence continues to outlive each generation. The words in that two-minute speech were too powerful to speak to only one gathering, one generation, or even one war. Just as those standing there that November day were among “the living,” WE THE PEOPLE are among the “the living” today. Just as they were charged to take on the devotion of those who came before them that “the government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth,” so are WE THE PEOPLE charged today.[10] The Gettysburg Address was mistaken in this alone: “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here…”[11] The world remembers.


[1] Ferguson, Robert A. “Hearing Lincoln and the Making of Eloquence.” American Literary History 21, no. 4 (2009): 687-724.

[2] Ibid., 689

[3] Hurt, James. “All the Living and the Dead: Lincoln’s Imagery.” American Literature 52, no. 3 (1980): 351-80.

[4] “Gettysburg Address,” Avalon.law.yale.edu

[5] Laba, Jacqueline. 1995. “Words that change our world — Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America by Garry Wills.” English Journal 84, no. 2: 124-125

[6] Hurt, James. “All the Living and the Dead: Lincoln’s Imagery.” American Literature 52, no. 3 (1980): 351-80.

[7] “Gettysburg Address,” Avalon.law.yale.edu

[8] Kent, C. (1916). Lincoln and Gettysburg after Fifty Years: November 19, 1863-1913. Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society (1908-1984), 9(3), 257-278.

[9] Laba, Jacqueline. 1995. “Words that change our world — Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America by Garry Wills.” English Journal 84, no. 2: 124-125

[10] “Gettysburg Address,” Avalon.law.yale.edu

[11] Ibid.

At the Opera: The Barber of Seville

Hello All!

Thursday evening of a couple weeks ago, I went to my first opera, accompanied by my dear friend, Misty. It was, to say the least, among the most marvelous and enchanting experiences thus far in my life. I felt as if I was in a dream-one from which I hardly wanted to wake up.

From the box seats we occupied, we looked down upon a world of musical and theatrical wonder.I was a newcomer, to be sure, but I fell in love with that world in an instant. A world of glamour and evening gowns. It was a world you could enter for an evening and be as sophisticated and cultured as you could manage. You could walk with a head held high and a confident stride, being or pretending to be one of the elite.
img_2945Misty and I feel justified now in referring to ourselves as “opera snobs.” Or perhaps that’s just our theatrical alter egos… Needless to say, it did not take long for me to realize that this would be the first of many operas for me, and by the end of Act I, we were already planning which ones we would attend in the months to come.

I must say: It was rather a shame that I was quite nearly the youngest one there.

Il Barbiere di Siviglia– The Barber of Seville. Figarro charmed me, Count Almaviva entertained me, Rosina amused me; And the orchestra thoroughly delighted me! Upon leaving the performing arts center, we were bid adieu by a brass band of street musicians adding to the enchantment of the evening and satisfied in doing so. The streets of Charlotte felt as alive as the breeze that rustled both our hair and our imaginations.

And that, my friends, was the night I fell in love with opera.


A(nother) Quick Look at Pride and Prejudice

Hello All!

If you haven’t read enough about Jane Austen on this blog, then today is your lucky day, because I’m at it again! I was given a writing assignment in a Theatre Appreciation class that incorporated noting a work (book, movie, or play) in which two major characters were in conflict with each other and briefly describing the characters, their conflict, and the resolution. My first thought was, obviously, Pride and Prejudice! I mean, what greater, more classic example could there possibly be? It was a no-brainer. Or maybe it’s just me? Either way, I chose to write about something I love, and this was my submission:


Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is a perfect example of a story in which two major characters are at odds. Many adaptions and knock-offs have been created from this story over the years, but one thing remains constant: the bitter tension between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. Despite the opinion of many pessimistic minds, the story is not a petty representation of hate turning to love overnight, but rather the story of gradual transformation; specifically, of learning to let go of first impressions, or even second impressions, and coming to terms with the fact that they might have been drastically distorted.

Elizabeth is a woman whose “lively, playful disposition” leads her to witty conversation and a generally good-natured aversion to those think too highly of themselves to be in good humor. Mr. Darcy, on the other hand, is too serious to enjoy himself much of the time and far too self-important to find the company of a witty girl from a middle class family the least bit pleasant, much less find her handsome. At least, that is how he seemed to be on first observation. Behind his proud façade, however, is a protective, dutiful man, whose standards in place for himself are far higher than those he holds for the people around him.

Conflict arises first when Elizabeth feels that Mr. Darcy slights her by refusing to dance with her, but this is something she can look over by simply labeling him a pompous jerk and moving on. It continues to increase, however, when she hears the false tale of a man who has been robbed of his hopes and dreams by this arrogant, selfish Mr. Darcy. It comes to a peak when she discovers that he encouraged his best friend to abandon the relationship he might have had with her dear sister. She soon becomes aware that none of his errors were without explanation; most of which encompassed his loyalty to those he cared about, she being one of them. She believes it to be too late for reconciliation but is fortunately proven wrong. A casual reader and/or watcher would quickly assign the pride to Mr. Darcy and the prejudice to Miss Elizabeth, but I believe Jane Austen intended us to look further and discover that both characters were plagued by both pride and prejudice, and had to overcome the faults in themselves before they were able to see the good in each other.

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