Here’s to Hope

Here we are. 2018. To be honest, after the past year, I honestly can’t believe we made it.

Hopelessness permeated the nation and the world last year. Hurricane after hurricane, shooting after shooting, scandal after scandal. I thought people had been happy to see 2016 go last year. But then 2017 rolled up and was like…

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You know nothing of pain, 2017…

But with all that dread and fear, came some moments of true inspiration which reminded me maybe the world hasn’t gone entirely to shit. The Women’s March turning out astronomically more people than a cheeto’s inauguration. The triumphant releases of films like Get Out and Wonder Woman and Girl’s Trip and Coco, proving that audiences are ready AF for more inclusive media. In a response to certain bigots getting elected, we saw a backlash of people running for office, and WINNING, like the amazing Danica Roem. 2018 looks to be even more promising on many of these fronts, what with things like Black Panther, A Wrinkle in Time, and the elections that could flip the government in favor of, oh, I dunno, general human decency?

But this post isn’t meant to be a political commentary or an analyzation of media, even those are obviously both things I care about. It is meant most of all to say, 2017 was quite a year, and I’m ready to put it to bed and look forward to this year.

In terms of personal things this year, it was pretty fucking majestic. I finally got a promotion, moved into a new place with my best friend, published my first short story, launched a new podcast, traveled to Seattle and Orlando and New Hampshire, began a writing website with my friends, and nearly finished the first draft of You Are the Dawn. I think about all that I’ve done this year and I’m overcome with joy, that despite all the financial struggles and social struggles and mental health concerns I faced this year, I did what I said I hoped I would last year. I made things. I read books. I told stories. I lived.

It seems my experiment of putting down less concrete goals actually friggin worked, and so too this year, I want to do the same thing. As I go forth, I hope to blog & vlog more. I hope to go further into my work on the Alteria series. I hope amazing things happen for IndiePen Ink, and that all the ancillary things that are part of it will flourish. I want to *hopefully* move somewhere new where I can really spread my wings.

But there is one more concrete goal I have that I will put into words, in the hope that writing it here might help me speak it into existence. In 2018, I really hope I find my literary agent so They Are the Last can finally see light break on the horizon.

Here’s to hope. Here’s to love. Here is to 2018 overflowing with light for you and yours and for all of us. Live loud and be blessed, friends.

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Camp NaNo: Day 7

NEW WORDS WRITTEN: 0

NEW TOTAL WORD COUNT: 6261

CURRENT MENTAL STATE

No words makes a sad Layna
No words makes a sad Layna

This post is coming a day later than it should, but there’s just something about a day where not a single word happened that can feel discouraging.

Now to be fair, I got quite a bit of brainstorming done, and also completed a layout for how I want the next several chapters to go, but I also found that as I was sitting in the cafe thinking of these ideas, I was getting more worried about what kind of video I would make when I got home than I was about writing what I’d been planning, which is not good.  Part of this month’s writing experience, and my journey as a writer/blogger as a whole, requires that I be honest with myself, and if I’m being honest in this moment, I was so determined to do a vlog about my writing every day, that I wasn’t writing as much as I could or should have, and given the words are what this whole month is supposed to be about, this made me feel like I was heading in a bad direction.

10/10 Not A Pleasant Experience
10/10 Not A Pleasant Experience

SO! That being said, as I head into week two of this writing/blog&vlog extravaganza, I’m going to try something a little different, based on an idea I had while in the cafe on the night of the 7th.

The thing is, I LOVE finding new places to write. It physically gets me out of my normal head space, which is extraordinarily helpful for me trying to come up with new things and look at things from a new perspective.

“I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.”
-John Keating, Dead Poet’s Society

I honestly think about this phrase whenever I’m feeling trapped in a rutt. In addition, as a photographer and journalist of my own life, I love capturing moments in time, via both images and words, which frankly is why you’re sitting here reading this. So as I sat in that cafe the other day, I decided the new direction I’m going to go in for the videos.

WRITE SPACE is going to be a new photography/writing project I start this week in which every day, I must go somewhere new, that isn’t my apartment, and write. What else will I do? I will bring along my camera and take a photo from my perspective of where I’m sitting, so as to capture not just the moment of writing what I’m writing, but the space in which that work was written in. How does this become a vlog you ask? Each of these days, in addition to a photo, I will capture little bits of footage of those spaces and on July 14th, I will release a video featuring each of the spaces I spent my week writing in (from the 7th to the 13th) and perhaps talk about the experience of it at the end of said video. As I go through this experience, I will still post a new blog each day, and that blog post will include my progress of what I wrote about in those spaces. So while I won’t be having a video released each day as I planned, I will be writing, which is what matters.

If being a writer has taught me anything, its that sometimes things change along the road of your story. Plot twists change your path, obstacles and roadblocks get in your way, and characters decide to change their minds and do what they want. So before you know it, you’ve gone from a miserable 11 year old on Privet Drive to a legendary hero who’s sending your children off to Hogwarts when all is well. I can’t predict where this story – or the journey of writing it – will take me any more than Harry could have predicted his, but you know what? I think that’s fucking beautiful.

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#BrbSobbing

JULY 7th WRITE SPACE

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Space: Chapterhouse Cafe & Gallery in South Philadelphia. Time: 8:45pm, July 7th, 2015

 

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”

Well, I’m Back

As the great Samwise Gamgee said at the end of the adventure that was the Lord of the Rings trilogy: Well, I’m back.

Back from London and from Edinburgh and what was honestly two of the greatest weeks of my existence on this earth, and that friends is no exaggeration.

I arrived home Wednesday afternoon (which felt like Wednesday night, thanks to the time difference) and needed a few days to catch up on sleep, to remember once again which side of the road vehicles belong on, and get reacclimatized to my favorite skyline – which includes a very different clock tower than the one I’d been getting used to. There were so many days and so many adventures to recount that one blog post just really isn’t going to cut it, so over the next two weeks, you’ll be getting a nice lil bundle of blog posts that will document my journey from the moment of my last post (getting ready for lift off!) to the return home this past Wednesday.

So many amazing, beautiful and down right miraculous things happened that I now can add to my pensieve of memories to cherish. (No really, I mean miraculous. I spent over a week in London AND NOT A DROP OF RAIN!) I’ll also be putting together a number of exciting video blogs about my journey, which will be uploaded to my YouTube channel, and shared here as well with some commentary. I can’t wait to get it all down and have the chance to recount my amazing adventures to all you out there in the interweb. I came home feeling happier, more refreshed, and more ready to live my life than ever.

I guess that’s the most surprising thing of all, really: I thought coming home would be sad, heartbreaking and make me hate everything about home that isn’t like the wonderful things I experienced abroad. But I’m not sad – I just feel incredibly blessed and can’t wait for the next adventure.

Back to that #BlanketFort life.
Back to that #BlanketFort life.

Just Believe

This may be my shortest blog ever since we all know how long winded I can be, especially about things that are exciting to me, but just wanted to post an update before take off.

Sitting in Philadelphia International Airport and feeling more grateful than I can ever remember feeling. The people who helped make this trip happen can never fully know how much their support has meant. I’m feeling so overwhelmed as I sit here getting ready to board, getting ready to go on the trip of a lifetime with some of the people who matter most in my life for an event I cannot believe I am blessed enough to be a part of.

The point of this post is plain and simple, and here’s a hint – it’s not about me gushing any more about how wonderful I feel, cause I’ve done that enough in the above text and in real life. This post is about me reminding every person reading: people told me this trip was going to be impossible, but I believed, I held on to hope, and I refused to give up faith – and it’s happening. No matter how insurmountable the odds may seem, you must try with every fiber of your being to stay positive and to believe, and then friends, magical things will happen.

Best wishes and all the love,
Elayna

See you snitches on the other side of the pond. xo

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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.

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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.