End of an Era

I don’t remember much of my life before Harry Potter, mostly because there isn’t much to remember. I was 8 when my sister first tried to get me to read it, and because I’d never read a novel before, I didn’t finish that bad boy until I was 9. But once I finished the first installment, books quickly became the loves of my life, and I’ve never looked back.

I have always felt so lucky to have grown up in the Potter Generation—falling in love with the books as a child, being 11 when I saw the first film, being the same age as the trio as they grew too. My life has always been bound to this book series. Hell, more than anything, it is J.K. Rowling who first inspired me to pick up a pen and tell my own stories. But there was one element of the Potter experience that like a good wine, only got better with age, and that was my experience with MuggleNet.com.

I must have been 10 the first time I came upon it. I didn’t even know the word fandom then. Social media did not yet exist. But MuggleNet did, and my love of that site and the feeling it gave me a sense of belonging that I had never felt anywhere else. In school then, being a nerd wasn’t cool. I got made fun of for carrying around books that were hundreds of pages. I was called a loser for daring to believe in a story about witches and wizards. But when I logged on MuggleNet, people from around the world were as excited as me. They were teaching me how to make Butterbeer, freaking out about who got cast in their favorite roles, and there was speculation for days about how each of the books would turn out before they were released. It was the closest I’ve ever come to witnessing real magic.

So when I graduated college, and got my internship with MuggleNet, it was a dream come true. I’d lived for their in depth theories, always loved their memes, and it was an unfulfilled item on my bucket list to see a live MuggleCast show. It was the most incredible thing watching the friends across the internet that I’d never met start to become real people who were there for me when times got darkest. When I became staff on November 3rd, 2013 (Sirius Black’s birthday), you’d have thought I got an actual acceptance letter to Hogwarts. That was also the year we learned Fantastic Beasts was happening. I remember making some cheesy graphic called us The Fandom That Lived. It was everything.

The last five years with them have taken me from the Studio Tour in London where I opened the doors to the Great Hall, to the cafe in Edinburgh where Jo wrote the books. They’ve put me on panels at New York and San Diego’s Comic Cons, sent me on boat parties for the SyFy channel, and got me to the red carpet premiere of Fantastic Beasts. ​(Where with my own eyes, I saw Jo in real life!) I have watched people come and go, but have also made friends that I know will be with me ride or die for life. But one of the most surreal moments came last summer, when I attended the Nineteen Years Later event on Sept 1st.

I thrilled to be there because of the significance to the books, but that night also was a night in which I felt like I came full circle as a creator. Remember that bucket list item I mentioned? (It was seeing a MuggleCast live show, in case you forgot already.) They did a show that night, and so even though it has been years since I have listened to their show, having this moment happen on such an auspicious day was the thing that finally made me cry from joy. (For the first time that night, anyway. There were lots of happy tears. Looking at you Cheyenne… 👀👀)

But what made it so astronomically unreal, was that not only did I finally get to witness my fave podcasters from childhood do a show, but I actually had several people come up to me and say the phrase, “Are you Elayna from SpeakBeasty?” One of them asked to take a photo with me, and I damn near lost my shit entirely. So basically, on the night I saw people who inspired me, I met people inspired by me. That folks, is the dream.

By now you are probably wondering why I’m spending a random Thursday gushing about MuggleNet being basically the best thing to ever happen to me. But it is because as of this week, I did something I honestly never thought I would have the Gryffindor guts to do, and that was step down from my role on the Social Media Team and as a Producer of SpeakBeasty.

While MuggleNet has given me, like, all the top five best moments of my life, I have come to a point in time where I am coming into my own as a creator. Years and years worth of collaborating on projects and helping others create content has been the honor and joy of my life. But as I began to in my post My Turn, (where I spoke on chasing my publishing dreams) it became apparent that I no longer had the kind of time to commit to something that was as big a responsibility as MuggleNet had become, while still focusing on my own work. It breaks my heart to walk away from something that has meant universes to me, but like Harry, I have to know when its time to pursue my own destiny. This quote from the fourth Potter film said it best…

Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.

When I look at the two paths I can take, the one where I go off on my own and try to chase my dreams of being a writer is terrifying and scary. Continuing to stay in my fandom bubble while my dreams are put aside would be the easier, safer road. I am so goddamn scared to do this. But the line which follows the above quote reminds…

But remember this: You have friends here. You’re not alone.

MuggleNet has always been home, and the friends I have made there will always be family. And though it is the end of an era of me working for them, by leaving, a new era begins of working for myself, with my beautiful magical friends I’ve made still be my side, reminding me I have the strength to do this.

Thank you MuggleNet. Thank you for making my life magical… always…

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A Million Things I Haven’t Done

Way back in the day, when I was a wee 13 year old, I had a Xanga. If you don’t know what Xanga is, I’ll just be over here dusting off my cobwebs and trying not to feel ancient. If you are in the know, you know that it pre-dates Insta, Twitter, even Facebook. It was a blogging site that for some reason, I adored, and it was my first foray into the blogging world. I used to write on that baby all the time, even up until college, letting it serve as a means of chronicling my life and years. And so, as I reflect back on how much I miss than dang blog, I thought I’d bring back an old tradition, which was writing just before my birthday about everything I’d done in the past year, and then looking ahead to what comes next.

So 26.

What a damn year, yo. Let’s break down some of the highlights, starting with last year and working up to the most recent highlights…

OCTOBER 2016
Mere weeks after turning 26, I went to my first New York Comic Con, where I proceeded to meet Guillermo del Toro, Ron Pearlmean, Steven Yeun, Andy Serkis, and this little guy you may have heard of named STAN F**KING LEE. *breathes a moment* Sorry. I get carried away about that last one. We also hosted our first live show for SpeakBeasty at that con, which was unreal and magical and definitely didn’t make me cry. (Narrator voice: she definitely DID.)

NOVEMBER & DECEMBER 2016
As any American without a MAGA hat will tell you, November was hard. Gut wrenching, heartbreaking, soul crushing hard. I went from standing in the shadow of Independence Hall the night before the election, hearing the Obama’s and the Clinton’s speak, thinking, this is it. History is happening right in front of me. I’m here the night before the first woman president gets elected. As we all know, the story didn’t pan out that way, and that has led to our very frightening current climate. To add insult to injury, the depression I experienced that month was so intense, that I didn’t finish NaNoWriMo.

But, because my life is weird like that, there was one thing that happened the day after the election that managed to be a beacon in the darkness. A patronus memory in the making, if you will. For on November 9th and 10th, I got to see an advanced press screening of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and I got to cover the goddamn red carpet, where I saw J.K. Rowling in person. Yeah. I don’t talk about this moment of my life enough. But it definitely happened, and no fronting whatsoever, I SOBBED. I wish I’d gotten a picture with her or a signature or said hey thanks for my childhood and life and stuff, but that’s an adventure for another day. 😉 Seeing her was enough to turn on the light even in the darkest of times.

Oh, and I saw Hamilton. That happened. #StillNotOverIt

JANUARY 2017
It’s true what they say that when one door closes, another one opens. The only thing of note that went down during this month was finding out my short story wasn’t going to be published by Inkshares, and subsequently entering it to be published in a literary magazine, which led to…..

FEBRUARY & MARCH 2017
The month I found out/got my first work of my life legitimately published. I still look at my copy of Wizards in Space sometimes, in sheer disbelief that it exists. That my story is printed within its pages, and that strangers out there somewhere who I may never meet have heard a story I had to tell. And apparently at NerdCon: Nerdfighteria, John Green bought a copy of the mag, which means that there’s a small chance John Green has read something I wrote. Being 26 could have dropped the mic here and been fine cause IT DOESN’T GET BETTER THAN THAT KIDS. (Or does it???)

APRIL & MAY 2017
As if getting a story published wasn’t enough, these two months finally saw me getting a new job, the job I’d honestly been wanting ever since graduating college and starting to work at the company I’m with. It’s not a dream job, nor a job I plan to stay at forever, but its the first time in my life that I have ever made a livable wage. I’m by no means making big bucks or anything, but it allows me to function more like a normal person, and man, it sounds insane to say, but being a person without wanting to die every minute because of financial stress is just bliss, I tell you.

JUNE/JULY 2017
Much of this summer blurs together, since most of it was spent doing one of two things–being at the new job, or working on the rewrite for They Are the Last. I made a lot of progress during these summer months, taking the story a bit slower and steadier without the worry of a publishing campaign looming over my every moment. July and August blazed by as I worked lots of extra hours and then spent what weekends I could stealing away to cafes to write. I also got a lot more into my love of poetry, which led to me doing my first spoken word event.

AUGUST 2017
This one was a bit of a month, as I finally moved into a new apartment and at long last, started getting treatment for my anxiety and depression. These two things happening at just about the same time made for a really interesting combination, and as exhausting as the move was (I managed to sprain an ankle the day I was originally supposed to) it was a process I needed. It was the closing of a door, while opening a shiny new one. It was a sign of progress that I desperately needed to feel like I’m moving forward with my life. And the medication has honestly been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for myself. I’m finally starting to manage my conditions, in a way that doesn’t rip me apart as much as it used to. It’s been incredible.

SEPTEMBER 2017
Only 19 days of this month, and already, unparalleled moments and memories I’ll treasure forever. My vacation to Orlando to attend MuggleNet LIVE 19 Years Later was too unbelievable to comprehend. I spent a magical day at Disney with a number of my SpeakBeasty friends, ushered in the only canon date in Harry Potter that fans have been able to live through together (September 1st, 2017, the day Albus goes off to Hogwarts) and spent lazy days strolling through Universal with people I love more than anything. I got to live out my dream of spending a day writing in the Wizarding World, sitting outside Florean Fortescue’s with a Butterbeer ice cream working on edits, and enjoyed a delicious dinner in the Leaky Cauldron as I worked on the book. It was too beautiful for these measly words to convey. I wish life could be like it every day.

Which brings me to the now. Or rather, the tomorrow. Tomorrow, I turn 27, an age that doesn’t come with much pomp or circumstance, and which forces me to face the fact that I was 17 10 years ago. But I feel energized for it. I feel an anxious kind of ready that’s trapped in my bones. I look back at how my life has progressed over especially the last 3 years, and each time, life gets ever more complex which makes it ever the more beautiful.

My life still gets messed up. I’m still broke some days. I still get majorly stressed. I still don’t always accomplish the things I set out to do. But the one thing I have yet to do, and which I pray I never do till my time on Earth is done, is give up. I hope that 27 is a year in which I keep pushing forward, and boldly going after my dreams, even though the thought of it scares the hell out of me. But as my fave said in a tweet earlier this year, which I put to paint…

“Courage. Even when panic’s at the back of your throat, courage.”
-Lin Manuel Miranda

I hope as I go forth into my 27th year that I can have even a shred of the courage exhibited by my heroes. I hope that even as I struggle, beautiful things come of it. I hope that no matter what comes my way, I don’t give up. Because for all the amazing things that happened to me while I was 26, there’s still a million things I haven’t done. But just you wait… 😉

 

Thankful

To me, Thanksgiving is not a day about the dinner, or celebrating any of that crap about pilgrims that they make you enact in elementary school. It’s not about Black Friday and deals and getting your Christmas shopping done a month early. For me, it really has just become another day of the year. But the one reason that introspective little me does enjoy it, is it calls to the forefront the idea of thankfulness, which is something we don’t often recognize enough. The world would be better if we took more than just one day a year to focus on it.

2015 is probably the year where I have more to be thankful for than I’ve ever experienced in a single other year of my life. I think back to 15 year old me, and I feel if she could have seen where 25 year old me would end up, see the things I am blessed enough to be able to do, she’d be pretty proud. So while I don’t want to spend an incredibly long post recapping my year (that will come in December) I do want to take a moment out of this day to detail for you five (of the many) things I am truly thankful for this year.

5) Getting to travel to London & Scotland.

This was without a doubt one of the coolest things that has ever happened to me. Getting my plane ticket a whirlwind seven days before flying, being able to be part of MuggleNet’s very first fan convention, spending time with those MuggleNet friends at the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, and spending five of the most beautiful days of my life in Scotland, in the city where my favorite novels were written . . . it was powerful to say the least. And on top of all that wonderment, it was that very trip that led to me working on my novel again. (Which I’ll get to in a moment.)

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Standing up by Edinburgh castle, with Arthur’s Seat at my back.

 

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My last sunset in London, sitting outside the Globe Theater.

4) Becoming an Municipal Liaison for NaNoWriMo.

This experience has been so rewarding in so many ways. I’m someone who has participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) since November 2004, so the opportunity to finally do more than write by giving back to people of my region through encouragement and support has been indescribable. Not to mention that I was fortunate enough to become part of the @NaNoWordSprints team, where I got to run word sprints for people around the world, and even began the #NaNoHouseCup, where Wrimos compete to write the most words for their respective Hogwarts Houses. Combining my loves of encouraging others, writing, and being a Harry Potter nerd is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.

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Some of the writers at the 11/7/15 PhillyWrimos Write In.

3) Getting back to telling my story.

Piper. Alteria. They Are The Last. These are words that have been a part of my life and consciousness since I was 13 years old, and for the majority of those years, they became nothing more than a name, a place and a title that “I’d get to one day when the time was right.” Well turns out that time was 2015, because after a truly miraculous day in Edinburgh, Scotland, I realized that it was Piper’s story that I was always meant to tell. Since then, I’ve written almost 90,000 words worth of drafts, and am still going. This story is what I’m supposed to be doing with my life, and I’m so thankful that I finally accepted that truth.

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My work space from Day 10 of NaNoWriMo 2015

2) Finding God again.

Ever since losing my dad in 2005 and then my mother in 2009, God and the idea that there was an all powerful being in the universe that cared about me was something I just couldn’t accept. My depression and anxiety ate away at me, and despite being surrounded by loving friends, I felt at times to be very, very alone. But this past year, I’ve gotten more in touch with my faith again, and honestly, it is an integral part of what I believe made this the most positive, life changing year I’ve ever experienced. There is just too much beauty in the cosmos for me to think it’s all just an accident and that everything is chaos and chance. I couldn’t be more thankful for God and all they’ve done for me to remind me that I am loved and worthy of this life I’ve been blessed with.

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Edinburgh Scotland (April 23, 2015)

1) My friends.

Always and forever am I thankful for my friends. As I’ve gone through my life from phase to phase – elementary to middle schools, middle to high school, high school to college, college to ‘real life’ – I have had to grow and learn that not all friendships are forever. It’s a hard lesson, because the people I used to love in my life but have fallen away from for one reason or another still leave imprints on my heart, and whether things ended badly between us or not, I still cherish the moments spent with them and the inside jokes that still make me laugh. It makes me think about my friends now, and as sad as it is to think, not all of them will stay with me.

Life changes as the seasons, and who knows which trees and flowers will continue to bloom and which ones will wither and become a memory? All I know is right now, on this Thanksgiving Day of 2015, there are so many people that come to mind. So many people surrounding me who make me realize my life is worth it, who make me laugh, who believe in me fiercely enough that for the first time, I’ve begun to believe in myself. Know dear friends, I consider you all precious gifts, that I am now, have been, and always will be, thankful for.

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Friends from MuggleNet staff at Expo Patronum 2015.

 

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Me with friends at MISTI Con 2015.

 

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Friends and I at the ball during Geeky Con 2015.

Life Is My Patronus

This past week on September 4th, I spent much of my day crying . . . but not for the reasons you might think.

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The Doctor gets it.

Backtracking a bit, for anyone who’s been following this blog since I began it back in January, it has kind of been a really great freaking year for me. From starting my YouTube channel to London, from Scotland to MISTI Con, from my first Camp NaNo to Orlando for Geeky – it’s been a wildly excellent 2015 I’ve been having. Sure there’s been plenty of downs in that time frame, but for the first time in forever, the amazingly good is outweighing the bad in such a way that it’s much harder to get me down right now, when I have so many happy memories to make patronuses with.

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Take THAT depression & anxiety. 😛

But in the wee hours of September the 4th – just when I was thinking I might go to bed since it had become so late it was early – my phone buzzed. It was a notification that J.K. Rowling had just tweeted something. (When you work for MuggleNet, you kinda need to know when the Queen has something to say.)

The night before, we had just begun a campaign with MuggleNet called #PotterItForward, in which we’re encouraging people to leave a note about their positive experiences with the story in a copy of Harry Potter at a bookstore or library, so that a new person picking that copy up can know what a life changing tale lies between the covers of what they’re holding. I think it’s brilliant, and I am so proud of my friend at the site who came up with it. It’s one of those things that reminds me why the Potter fandom has always been so important to me – we’re all about the love & feels. So naturally, when I saw Queen Jo tweeting, I decided to tweet at her.

I’ve done it plenty of times before, but she never has interacted with one of my tweets before, which tbh I don’t take personally. The woman’s got over 5 million followers on twitter! Everyone and their mother tweets at her, and probably hundreds of thousands of people have their phones set up to know when she tweets, just like me. Every time I tweet to her, it feels like a shout into the void, but I’ve continued to do it every once and again hoping she catches it.

Well guess what kids?


THE QUEEN KNOWS ME

SHE FECKING CAUGHT IT.

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Guys, I really tried so hard to not freak out and wanted so much to just be like:

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Ah yes, the Queen has seen my tweet. How pleasant…

But to be honest, my reaction was much closer to:

HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIT
HOLY ROWLING IT HAPPENED
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IS THIS REAL LIFE?!
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ME AF RN

I’ll be honest in saying I pretty much immediately started crying. The really good kind of crying. The kind of crying where you’re more so crying for the sheer disbelief that such beautiful moments could happen in your life.

I have looked up to J.K. Rowling since I was an 8 year old girl who fell in love with a magical story. The more of her books I read, and the more I learned about her as a person . . . there was just so much about her to admire and respect. And for just a moment that morning, the woman who’s inspired me more than anyone, saw a lil icon of my face, read the words that I had to say for a change, and liked it so much she felt compelled to give it a little gold star of approval.

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Me, myself, and I at that moment.

Some people might think it’s crazy for me to have reacted in such a way – crying, having trouble breathing, being incandescently and ecstatically happy for the entire ensuing day – but if J.K. Rowling (and Luna Lovegood) have taught me anything, it’s to not care what others think of you, especially if it means not being yourself.

After a night of not being able to sleep, having a mediocre day at work, and then a night spent mostly online talking to my MuggleNet friends who mean the world and a half to me, I found myself sitting alone, and I once again started to cry. Like really, genuinely, happy cry. But the reason, I realized in that moment, was not just because some author took 2 seconds of her morning to like a tweet.

I’ve been happy crying because I have reasons to. While I have spent so, so much of my life, crying because of depression, anxiety, loss, rejection, self loathing, and a million other things, I have finally reached a point in 2015, where I have so many loving, genuine people surrounding me and filling my heart with joy and reminding me that I’ve got so much light in me that I can share, but only when I stop to realize I have it. I’ve got a job that’s okay with an apartment that I love, I’m giving back to my school through an amazing LGBTQ Alumni group, I’m starting to lose weight and feel healthier, I’ve traveled to two new countries and two different states in the last five months, I’m working for the Harry Potter fan site I’ve loved since childhood, and I’m writing again. Writing a story that’s been with me for 11 years, and which most recently helped land me a leadership position as one of the Municipal Liaisons for Philadelphia for this fall’s upcoming NaNoWriMo.

 

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How I feel about me and my life rn.

No low balance in my bank account or any hate that anyone could try to fling at me right now can take that away. My happiness is so strong that it could hold back 100 dementors any day. I’ve got so much passion, friendship and love in my life right now that I can honestly say I’ve never felt this unstoppable. But all of this realization, came from a single little gold star on a tweet that I thought would never been seen.

So if you’re feeling like your opinions (or tweets in this case) don’t matter, or that you yourself don’t matter – remember this story, and remember these words:

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I Can Fly!

DAY ONE

I flew in a plane for the first time in my life.

That. Shit. Was. Bananas.


It’s funny how even as an adult, certain new life experiences can make you feel like a 5 year old again, and that certainly describes how I felt my first time flying. I lucked out with a window seat to myself that was right by the wing, which made the experience all the more epic. As the plane took off, I found myself clinging to my seat, excited and freaking out CAUSE I WAS IN THE SKY PEOPLE?! HOW DO Y’ALL MANAGE TO BE SO CHILL ABOUT THIS ACTIVITY?! Soaring above my city at night, watching as everything I know become pixel sized below me on a grid of lights that reminded me of a circuit board – I tell ya, nothing makes you realize how small you are in the world like being able to see the curve of the Earth and how big that Earth is.

People have been saying to me that they cannot believe I chose an international flight as my first, but I can say with sincere honesty that it was an entirely pleasant experience. We took off at night, found ourselves in British airspace in the morning, and I was able to see the coast of the Emerald Isle below me through the clouds. While it was still dark, I even watched Interstellar – which was an experience in itself. Nothing can prepare you for watching a movie about people launching into space, while you’re 40,000 feet in the air, can see your stars out your window, and feel the turbulence of the plane. 10/10 would recommend this 4D movie watching experience. To say it was tremendous would be an understatement.

And so at around 8am, my flight landed, touching ground on English soil, and at that point I began the perilous journey through the seemingly endless and cavernous Heathrow Airport, with my too heavy/awkwardly sized duffel bag in tow. Rule Number One of international travel, kids? GET A FREAKING WHEELED SUITCASE. (But I’ll be touching more on that in an upcoming video) Eventually though, I made my way through, and caught the London Underground for the very first time. (The Picadilly Line to Cockfosters . . . . . . . seriously, England? Who do you let name things?)

That’s where things got weird.

I managed to successfully take the tube to my hostel, only to discover that I’d booked probably the sketchiest hostel I could have possibly booked. Tiny, tiny narrow stairs to a high up floor (with my duffle bag that I already wanted to set on fire), guys at the desk who totally lied about the place’s policies, no locks for the lockers so I had to go out and buy my own, only to return and discover the remaining lockers were broken, realize I’m sharing a room with a rather sketchy lady who says she lives there (even though this is a hostel that has a 14 day stay limit) and labels it the kitchens and bathrooms that say the water is NOT SAFE to drink from the tap. (Even though everywhere else I visited said the water from the sink was fine).

I was not about that life, so after just having booked in, I booked it the hell out of there. Thankfully a awesomely lovely new friend from MuggleNet was able to let me crash with her, and thus began fun adventuring, which pretty much went non stop from there for my remaining two weeks. That very night we met up with some other MuggleNet staffers, and took the tube to London Bridge and walked along the South Bank, which easily became my fave place in that city, to THE GLOBE FREAKIN THEATER.

Safe to say, fangirling levels were at maximum for that one. Thats where I took my first photo of the adventure: me, smiling like an idiot, outside Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. Once I’d calmed my inner theatrical fangirl, I found myself even happier to be reunited with the rest of the MuggleNetters for the convention. I got to see old friends, makes brand new ones, enjoy Pizza Express doughballs – which are pretty much the yummiest things this side of ever – and walk along South Bank all the way to the London Eye. That evening could honest to goodness be described as blissful, and feeling that great after about 27 hours without really sleeping is saying something. But then again, I went to sleep knowing the next morning was probably going to be the happiest day of my life.

I was going to Hogwarts. I was going home.

. . .

TO BE CONTINUED IN – “BREAKFAST AT HOGWARTS”

My London Miracle

Bet you thought you’d seen the last of me . . .

Rocking the pixie look.
Rocking the pixie cut!

A lot’s been going on since I created my 25×25 list. I’ve since been able to check off 2 of those items (and blog posts about fulfilling these items shall be coming soon!) which were building a blanket fort and chopping my hair really short. Both have been rewarding and liberating experiences. However, today I’m getting back to blogging because I am about to check off two incredibly exciting items on this list, thanks to the grace and goodness of a kind hearted person and God.

When this week began, I did not know how on Earth I was going to still be making it to London for next week’s Expo Patronum, which is MuggleNet.com’s first ever convention – and the largest Harry Potter event happening in the UK this year! It all sounded too incredibly good to be true: if I attended, it would be my first time out of the country, going to the country I’ve ALWAYS wanted to visit, with my dear friends of MuggleNet, for their first convention, meeting amazing people who made the film series that changed my life. Dream scenario for nerdy little me. I tried fundraising, but with everyone else going through financial times as rough as my own, that just wasn’t in the cards. But despite every piece of logic, evidence and reason that had a big neon sign pointing to THERE’S NO WAY THIS TRIP CAN HAPPEN, I tried my hardest to keep something that’s recently become a huge part of my life in a way I could never have expected, and that’s faith.

People kept asking what my plans were, and I’d just smile and nod and say, I don’t know, but I believe it’s going to happen. Despite their looks of – Bitch, you crazy – I carried on my merry way by looking up little places I could write in London and jotted down promising cafe names. I researched the kind of hostel I’d stay in, and made a list of all the iconic London landmarks I’d need to take selfies in front of. I put all of the positive hope I could muster out into the universe, and when alone at night, I’d pray that this amazing journey could happen for me. I prayed about this dream coming true over and over again, knowing that this was going to be a trip of a lifetime, and I refused to believe it wouldn’t happen, even though everyone else didn’t think it would.

Then in swooped my guardian angel.

A friend of mine that I met in college, one whom has always been so sweet but who I’ve never gotten to know as well as I’d have liked, offered to help me so that I could make this dream adventure into a reality. Needless to say I’ve spent the ensuing days trying to not self destruct from an overdose of joy and blessedness. This person has shown me so much kindness, and acted so selflessly, that I’m now a mere five days from jetting 3,000 miles from home to soil I’ve never stood on before where the possibilities of life changing experiences I can have are endless. God is so real that I just can’t even.

Which brings me back to blogging! While I will be recording as much of the trip as humanly possible and making it into video blogs for my YouTube channel, I also know the way in which I’ve always best expressed myself is through words. While I’m in London (and wherever else in the UK I end up!) I want to make sure I record as much of the trip as I can, both for my sake and for the enjoyment of others who may need a reminder that anything you want is possible if you just have faith. These written posts here will serve as a nice compliment to the videos I’ll be sharing about my journey.

Elayna's latest youtube video - announcing the trip to the world.
Elayna’s latest youtube video – announcing the trip to the world.

I look forward to sharing this grand adventure with the people of the interwebs, because quite frankly, stories are what I am all about. I love listening to them, watching them, creating them, and most importantly LIVING them, so that I might share this crazy, beautiful mess of a life I have with all of you.

Here’s to London, here’s to making dreams come true, and here’s to kind people who use their goodness to change people’s lives. Stay blessed.

25×25

The fact that I will be 25 years old recently dawned on me, and the thought of being a quarter of a century old kind of makes one feel reflective. Sometimes I still feel like I was a teenager last week, but then I have to step back and remember that its been ten years since I started high school, and now over a year since I graduated college. It’s cheesy and everyone says it, but it really is true . . . time sure does fly.

elaysBut as I’ve been evaluating my past, I end up catching myself and realizing that by thinking so, so, so much about where I’ve been, I miss out on the moments right in front of me, and I forget to live in the now. So as I think about not thinking about the past and thinking about the present which makes me think of where I’ll be in the future (timey-wimey I know) I’ve decided to create a list for my year. Not a set of vague and lofty resolutions that I won’t follow through on, but a set of 25 perfectly achievable things that I would like to do before I turn 25, which I believe will help me also make 2015 an incredibly memorable year.

There’s a little less than nine months to cross off all the items on this list, so this should be fun. The hope is that for every item I get to check off this list (which will be presented in no particular order) I’ll blog about the experience – treating each item as a prompt challenge to be fulfilled in a later post. Things on the list will vary between quirky, fun things I’ve always wanted to do, and more meaningful big items that I feel can really make this a rewarding year for not just me, but others in my life. Wish me luck!

1) Marathon all 8 Harry Potter films.
Almost 20 hours of magical movie goodness? Always.

snape

2) Marathon all 6 LOTR/Hobbit films.
Another 20+ hours of marathoning? #DoItForFrodo

frodo

3) Spend a weekend kicking back in a blanket fort.
Because nothing says turning 25 like acting like you’re 5.

blanketfort

4) Host a fancy picnic with friends.
Never had a legitimate picnic, so this Spring I’ma make it a thing.

garden party

5) Spend an entire weekend without internet.
Let’s be real, we all need to power down once in a while.

No_more_internet_for_you

6) Visit at least 2 other countries.
I’ve never left the USA and this is not acceptable. Now all I need’s a passport . . .

world

7) Pull an all nighter at a beach.
Because stargazing and the ocean. Is there any other reason needed?

ariel

8) Read at least 25 new books.
Because 2015 is the year I get back in touch with something I love most. Books.

reading

9) Send a random positive message to all my tumblr followers.
Currently there’s 1850 of them, and if there’s more I’ll add them too. #WorthIt

awesome

10) See the sunrise from the Art Museum steps.
I’ve always said I wanted to do this with someone, but screw it. I’m not going to let others keep me from doing what I want this year.

rocky

11) Create my own dish that can become a family recipe.
Hint: The secret ingredient will probably be love.

yum

12) Stargaze somewhere so clear I can see the Milky Way.
Cause nothing puts things in perspective like being able to see your galaxy with your own eyes.

milky way

13) Visit London.
Hopefully for MuggleNet Live: Expo Patronum, which is going to be the awesomest thing ever.

awesome totally

14) Go to Geeky Con 2015 and revisit Hogwarts.
Because nowhere in the world have I ever felt so at home than I did with my nerdy family.

hogwarts

15) Sing at an open mic night.
I haven’t sang like I used to in years. It’s high time I changed that.

scarlet sings

16) Write a letter to my 50 year old self.
Where will I be in the next 25 years? Who knows. 50 year old me, that’s who.

too old

17) Bury a time capsule somewhere special to me.
And won’t it be grand if one day someone finds it while I’m still alive?

doctor

18) Become a published author.
Whether its some poetry in a literary magazine or a book you can buy from amazon, I want to be able to say I’m published before 25.

good writing

19) Go camping for at least a night.
Me and the outdoors don’t tend to be very one with each other. Perhaps this will change that.

outdoors

20) Get my second tattoo.
Been wanting the next ever since the first. The time has come.

tattoos

21) Cut my hair really short.
Like, really short. Like, shorter than ever short.

mulan

22) Successfully complete a photography project.
I have a few in mind, but I need to stop procrastinating and make them happen!

sherlock camera

23) Perform spoken word poetry.
I’ve written several pieces, but always get too scared to share them. Not anymore.

poem

24) Make a new short film.
I miss filmmaking more than anything, so its high time I made a new narrative short.

giphy

25) Send a letter to all the important people in my life.

The people I love deserve to hear that, and nothing to me says I love you like a handwritten letter.

love you

Thanks for reading loves. Here’s to the rest of 24, and to making things happen.