Runner Up In A Poetry Competition!?!? + My Winning Entry 🤣

Although I am meant to be a writer, right now I have no words to describe my feelings. Instead I will enlist the ever helpful services of emojis and allow them to do what they do worst best: capture my feelings.

🤣🤣🤣

Imperfection.

Okay, I suppose you get the point. When I heard the news my face went through a progression of successive phases: 🙂 (small, disbelieving smile) ☺️ (large ‘oh my goodness, this is REAL’ smile) 😃 (‘Wow. Wow. I’m in shock, but so happyyyyy’ smile/laugh/scream) 😆 (‘I think I might hyperventilate’ scream/laugh) 🤣 (My ‘action’ scream. *jumps up and down*)🤗 (‘Hey, everybody! I nearly won’ wave) 😊 (I’m so content right now, but so tired. That took effort’ smile).

Hey wait! Was I actually funny there??? *gasps* Gracie, the deadly serious world-change advocate, ‘light in the darkness’? Funny? Ha, I don’t think so. 😉

Okay, enough rambling (although I did quite enjoy that). My posts are usually so well thought out and heavily edited. Written and re-written. I guess this one makes a change. Do you think it could be the excitement in the air? *wafts hand around dreamily* *rolls eyes*

Basically I entered Small but Mighty Writers poetry competition and I was placed as a runner-up! I would like to share with you all my winning piece, the judge’s comments (!) and the story behind the poem.

Here goes:

Defiance On The Wall by Gracie Chick. Dedicated to Wesley Binks*

Remnants of rebellion, echoes still alive
Whispers of a tragedy, carried on the tide
A life lived lonely, lost in a world,
of bitterness, misery, where storms of anger swirl.

A stand against society, defiance on the wall
These words scrawled on concrete, they represent us all
However careless and however cruel,
these words come from a heart that’s torn
It could be mine or it could be yours…

A little soul that wants to care,
But whom’s existence is locked in despair.
No means of escape, no hope to be seen.
No light in sight, no room for dreams.

*more on him later…..

Here’s what the judges had to say about Defiance On The Wall:

Your poem was beautifully written and you used such varied and wonderfully formed vocabulary to really create a strong theme and development throughout. Your rhymes were perfect and not overly used which is often the case. We received a lot of entries and your poem really stood out for us so you should be so proud of yourself. 

Now for the beautiful story behind this poem:

During the summer I really got into these auto-biographical books by an author named James Herriot who was a vet in a Yorkshire town in the 1930s. He shared a story about a boy he once knew and it very nearly broke my heart, but (before it cracked right in two) it also inspired me to write this poem. I’ll just go die now, okay??? See ya. XD

The story was about a young lad called Wesley Binks. He came from a rough part of town and was real trouble, his parents were alcoholics and unemployed and he was pretty much neglected for his entire childhood. He was a big nuisance, playing nasty tricks and stealing stuff, just being a bad kid. No one loved him. 

One day this boy goes into the vet’s surgery with a little dog. Obviously the vet is a little wary of him – knowing his reputation – but he checks the dog over anyway. Upon inspection, I turns out that the poor animal is quite seriously ill. 

Over the next few weeks Wesley is a changed boy, he works hard and is focused on earning the money to pay the vet’s bills and for medicine and special food. He’s kind and respectful and people begin to like him.

The vet does all he can, but the dog does, sadly, pass away. And something in Wesley dies too, maybe it’s hope, maybe it’s his faith in the world. Who knows? Anyways he goes back to his old self, except much worse. He steals cars and gets sent to juvenile prison. No one really knows what happens to him after that.

Years later the vet is speaking to the local policeman, Wesley Binks comes up in the conversation. The policeman makes a remark that went something like this ‘That Wesley Binks was a bad boy, never loved no living thing in his life.’ And the vet thinks about it for a moment and replies ‘I reckon you’re wrong, Mr so-and-so, there was one thing he loved alright…’

So yeah, that’s where the inspiration originates from. This poem (and win!!!) is dedicated to Wesley Binks and all other kids like him. Let them find hope….somewhere…somehow…😐🕯️🕯️🕯️

(Is your heart broken or what!?) Let me know…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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‘Gracie’s School’ Q and A Post + An Exciting Blogging Announcement

In my last post I introduced to you to my very own school, students and classroom. I shared my happiness at being able to fulfill my dream and making it happen through my own determination.  I  also asked you to submit your questions for my school themed Q and A. Well, many of you had lots to ask so read on…and enjoy!

Questions from Mukta:

When and how did you realize you wanted to be a teacher?

I’ve always loved learning and, to me, nothing sounds more like paradise than a place where young people can gather together to learn and share and pursue their passions.

School, and the modern education system, are supposed to provide that service, but I don’t believe they are. The majority of my generation view school as a negative place, a prison, something they’re forced to attend. School should be a place everyone wants to go to.

I am home-educated and the above is precisely the reason I don’t go to school. The reason I decided to become a teacher is because I want to create the school that I dream of, the school I want to go to.

What time do you begin/end teaching?

Nothing is set in stone yet, at the moment I’m being pretty flexible. Usually we start at about 10am and finish about 4pm??? 😀😀😀

Questions from Loren:

When you start a real school, will you want it to be elementary, middle, or high school?

I hope that my school will be a place where kids and teens of all ages can come together and learn. I want it to be an environment where they help and teach each other. I am from the UK so I’m not exactly that familiar with the US education system, we say ‘Primary’ and ‘Secondary’ schools here!

Questions from Melissa:

Are your pupils allowed to direct any of your teaching and follow their own interests or are you quite strict in following your lesson plans?

There needs to be a balance. I do make lesson plans (which I try to stick to), but if I see that my students are interested in or enthusiastic about a particular subject, I’m more than happy to focus on it. I also welcome my students suggestions and ideas. I have certain parts in each lesson where I ask one of my students to lead the activity and I just watch. It teaches them teamwork, leadership and creativity, all equally important lessons!

Questions from The Girl With IronWings

Are you guys going to travel around the farm place and learn things practically or…..?

Yeah, I guess so. It’s important to include a bit of reading, writing, maths and theoretical science, but most of the activities we do are outdoors, hands on and practical. I find that my students learn better when out and about on the farm. For example, we went fishing in the stream and then identified and learnt about what we caught. They loved it! Way more than reading about the affect humans have on natural habitats! 😀 I bet they remembered more of the former too.

How is the teaching going to be – How different from today’s schools? 😊

Hehe. I would say it’s pretty different. Here’s a quick list.

  • All different ages and abilities taught together.
  • We learn about things that are important in life, like knowing and appreciating your surroundings and how to protect them. 
  • The learning (and teaching!) is FUN!!!
  • I try and think about what suits my students individually, what they need help with and what their strengths are. I keep that in mind when making my lesson plans, unlike school with its ‘one size fits all’ attitude.

Also, since it’s about the environment will you be using gadgets?

We have a few gadgets… a camera trap that we’ve used to try and capture the secret lives of wildlife on the farm. We don’t use a lot of technology, just the internet to research things and find information.

Questions from Misabella :

What is your favourite subject to teach?

I’m about to start doing a book club + English and creative writing classes. I don’t enjoy maths very much, just because I teach out of a book and have to follow a set system/curriculum. These ‘environment’ lessons are great, I get to be creative and come up with fun, unique ideas that really engage my students. 😁

Do you find particular methods of discipline more effective than others?

I’ve googled the different ‘methods of discipline’ and would say my style is a mix of them all! I do try to set boundaries, but I also try and be positive and humorous. I wouldn’t say I’m strict, I try to be patient and listen to my students – although that is something I struggle with. I think this is an area I need to look into a bit more – especially if I want to be a successful teacher!

Questions from Tom:

How long do you hope to be keeping up with this school for?

Well, we’re living at the farm over the autumn, winter and early spring so the lessons will probably continue through those seasons. After that my family and I are off on our travels, maybe into Europe, maybe even further, searching for a place to settle down and call home. When we find that place I have no doubt that my school will re-establish itself and begin again, stronger and better than before. 

School is an interesting word, I wonder if it’s Greek?

Well, thanks to your research, Tom, we now know that it is a Greek word meaning ‘lecture place’. It would have looked like this in its original text: skholḗ or σχολή. Great fact! 

 I hope you all enjoyed that little Q and A! I loved sharing my thoughts and ideas on education, I even learnt a few interesting things in the process. If anyone still has any questions, please feel free to comment them and I’ll try to answer.

Okay, now I have an exciting and important announcement to make: I am getting some newly designed features on A Light In The Darkness soon! Not saying anything more, but watch out for a post revealing those. This is me at the moment: 🤐☺☺☺🤐 

Xxx

Welcome To My School: A Tour + Q and A!

If you’re a regular reader of A Light In The Darkness then you’ll know that I am an aspiring teacher and that I want to start my own school one day. Well, it finally feels like that dream is coming true!!!! Allow me to introduce you…

Meet the Students:

IMG_20171011_180705 This is my younger brother Evan, 11 years of age.

IMG_20171011_180618Meet my younger sister Irys, 10 years of age.

IMG_20171011_180627Say hello to our friend and neighbour Jessie May, also homeschooled and 11 years of age.

IMG_20171011_180743Class photo plus our other friend and neighbour Joey, also homeschooled and 8 years of age.

The Backstory:

I am a naturally determined  person and I wanted this opportunity to teach real bad. So guess what!? I made it happen.

I made tons of lesson plans, went on numerous trips to the library (a massive hardship, of course), spent hours cleaning The Lodge and used most of my pocket-money on high-energy brain food as snacks. I was pretty nervous on the morning. I mean, I was teaching other kids, what if they didn’t like it? What if they were bored? Idk!

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
Um, lots. The WiFi and electricity in The Lodge crashed halfway through the morning. However, a major crisis was averted and it’s fixed now. (Yay!) . They all loved it (double yay) and Jessie May even said she’d do it every day if we could! We’ve settled for once, sometimes twice, a week plus extra English/writing classes and a book club!!
What Lessons Am I Teaching, Exactly?
The lessons are based on appreciating the environment we live in. We all live on a big farm in the countryside so we are learning about the local wildlife, plants and history. We’re finding out about conservation and how to manage and protect the earth’s resources. We’ll be learning about everything from meteorology and stargazing to cooking and foraging wild foods, from art and writing to reading and researching, from carpentry and pottery to maths and teamwork.
I hope that after this virtual tour you’ve got an idea of what my school’s like. I am SO excited and I finally feel as though I am fulfilling my dreams and pursuing my future. 
I’ve also decided to do a Q and A! So comment below with any questions you may have about the school and I’ll try to answer them. No minimum or maximum amount, just fire away! Thank you in advance, everyone. 
P.s. I hope to post more on this subject. Let me know if you’re interested???

Two Months Without Blogging: My Conclusion + What I’ve Learned!

I'm Back

It’s been over two months since I last sat down to write a post on A Light In The Darkness and I actually can’t believe it. I haven’t been active in the blogosphere at all, no commenting, no liking, apart from keeping in touch with and following the updates of a few good friends, I’ve been completely and utterly absent.

In my letter to you guys (my final post) I explained my reasons for this break:

As much as I love blogging and all the opportunities it has created for me, I feel the need to get out there and live life.  It’s the only way I’ll be a true light in the darkness, the only way I’ll make a real difference. 

I want to be young, to be free, to go out there and have fun, spend time with my family, learn, prepare for my future and spread the sunshine. Therefore I have decided to take a short break from blogging.

My decision to take a break from the blogosphere is tinged with sadness, but I know it’s the right thing to do. I’ll miss all the amazing friends I’ve made on my journey, but I hope you’ll be there for me when I come back.

Goodbye…but never forever, guys!
Love,
Gracie

But now I’m back, after two months, and I feel like I’m ready to start blogging again. Maybe this time I’ll have more of a sense of direction. Firstly though, before I get back to regular posting, I need to share with you all a few things I’ve learned about myself throughout this break and my conclusion at the end of two months without blogging.

Im-Back

Here goes:

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I was addicted to blogging. I’m being totally honest here and believe me, it’s hard. I was sucked into this whole cycle of posting and commenting and replying and completely immersing myself in a world that’s not even real. I was creating an image of what I wanted others to see me as, I was crafting a life for myself that was seperate to the direction my real life was heading in.  And what’s worse is that I was forgetting my family, all the opportunities to learn and grow in the real world.

I relied on online friends. These couple of months have been harder than ever when it comes to friendships. It’s always a nagging problem at the back of my mind (and often in the front too), but over the time period that I wasn’t blogging, things got almost unbearable. I was traveling on a boat on the canal and I hardly ever hung out with any kids at all, let alone any my own age. I realised I’d been remedying my lack of real life friendships with online ones. I still haven’t found a solution to this issue, but I’m working on it. 😃

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When you’re not distracted by blogging, life can be so much fun. The time spent not blogging wasn’t easy at all, for many reasons, but it did have good times. I don’t know if anyone else finds this, but I think blogging can be pretty stressful. It felt wonderful to be freed from that pressure. I had more spare time to spend in conversation with my family, learning new things, writing, reading, teaching and just being fully involved in day-to-day life.

You can make more of a difference by taking action and being yourself than just by writing about it. Blogging is a brilliant opportunity to be a light in the darkness, but sometimes it’s just about getting out there. I know I keep saying this, but blogging isn’t real life! It’s easy to write about making a difference, but it takes someone strong to decide to really go ahead and do it.

So there you go, Gracie is back. You’re going to notice a difference in me from now on, a positive one. I may not be quite so active in the blogosphere, but that’s only because I’ll either be out living real life, making a difference or posting about my experiences!

As I said in my letter, I hope you guys are still there. Hello? I hope you’re still willing to listen and still happy to share your thoughts with me. Anyway, here’s a goodbye from me that will hopefully spark lots of ‘hellos!’ from all of you. Xxx

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P.S. After reading this through, I actually felt quite emotional. It’s good to be back, guys. 😊😊😊😊😊😊

 

 

A Break From The Blogosphere (Goodbye…but never forever!)

It is important to have fun in life, to be passionate about living.” Turning serious, she added, “You need to fight darkness with light.” ~ Rose Swale Pope

 

As much as I love blogging and all the opportunities it has created for me, I feel the need to get out there and live life.  It’s the only way I’ll be a true light in the darkness, the only way I’ll make a real difference.

I want to be young, to be free, to go out there and have fun, spend time with my family, learn, prepare for my future and spread the sunshine. Therefore I have decided to take a short break from blogging.

My decision to take a break from the blogosphere is tinged with sadness, but I know it’s the right thing to do. I’ll miss all the amazing friends I’ve made on my journey, but I hope you’ll be there for me when I come back.

Goodbye…but never forever, guys!
Love,
Gracie

P.S. I will still be blogging on our family blog  Almost Round The Bend. So, if you’d like to keep in touch and follow, please feel free!  It’s all about our journey through life, our crazy adventures and much more…

 

Writing Is Beyond Words + A Ton Of Intriguing Snippets

Writing is beyond words. I feel as though I can’t describe the absolute wonder, satisfaction, emotion, purpose and passion that writing brings to my life and the lives of my fellow writers. Today I have decided to go back through my endless archive of scrappy paper and untitled Google Documents to bring you a few snippets of my writings from the past and the present and the future. 

Here goes:

#1 “So, um, you gonna talk to me or not?” Skye asked the girl.

“Why should I?” she didn’t turn around.

Skye thought for a moment. “‘Cause your parents told you to?” he answered, finally.

Amber snorted with laughter. “Would you speak to me just ’cause your parents told you to?”  she asked.

“Sure.” he shrugged “It was my parents who made me come here.”

Amber chuckled, took a sip of her coke and leaned back against the wall. “Since when do you listen to everything you parents say? I know I don’t.”

Skye stared at her.

“What?” she glared.

It’s just that, well, you are talking to me.” 

Amber giggled so hard that the coke spurted out her nose. 

#2 I pause to blow away some of the dust that’s trapped in the gaps between the letters on my keyboard. I smile as the tiny particles are momentarily suspended in a ray of sunlight that’s disturbing my writing session, in a good way. I cup my hands around it and watch them glow with golden light. It reminds me of myself.

“On the morning of your birth, the sun seemed larger than ever before.” my Mother’s sweet, quiet voice echoes in my ears. “ I saw it coming up on the horizon, huge and round and blood-red. It spread its life-giving light all over the earth and eventually it reached you. It seeped in through my window and into the shadowy room. Then it touched your head and you awoke. So I named you Sunrise and hoped you’d be full of life, laughter and most of all, light.”

I sigh as I pull off a floral-printed headscarf and a cascade of knotty, tangled brown hair tumbles down my back. My amber streaked, hazel eyes that are usually full of humour and curiosity sparkle as my big flashing smile makes an appearance on my smooth olive-skinned face.

#3 

I remember flying down that hill on your old bike.

I was on the handlebars,

screaming all the way.

We stop abruptly at the bottom.

In that moment you looked like an angel.

Your blonde hair was blowing in the summer breeze.

But then it was gone and you flashed your wicked grin.

So much for angelic.

 

We sat on the pavement,

eating jam doughnuts.

You drew faces with chalk and we wrote our names side by side,

scribbly and half visible in the evening light.

 

But tonight feels different.

All those years ago, when we swore ‘friends forever’,

That was the day I gave you myself.

I could never pretend to be someone else.

Did you ever expect me to?

 

It feels as if something has changed.

A cosmic shift, there’s something tearing us apart.

And I’m afraid that I’m losing you.

 

I am confused, angry even.

Saddened.

I get up to go.

You look at me with shame in your eyes.

Mine are filled with bitterness and contempt. “How dare you!?” There was no room for me.

 

It doesn’t bring me any joy to see you there, as I walk away,

leaving you in the dark, cold street.

 

I wish you’d come in to watch a movie and laugh at my stupid jokes.

What changed from when we were ten?

Nothing really mattered then.

Did it, my friend?

 

I look out of my bedroom window and dry my tears on the draping curtains.

You’re hunched over, crouched down beside the sketches on the sidewalk.

I see you tracing the letters of our names,

over and over again.

 

Then you cross them out in one sharp, motion. One angry decision.

You look up at me and our eyes lock for a second.

Your expression tells me everything:

No room for me.

 

Why all of this unnecessary pain?

Why do you push me away?

What could be more important?

 

This feels so wrong, so unnatural, so sudden.

Sometimes love can be a trap.

I feel trapped now.

But I still love you.

 

You were, and are, a part of me.

A part of every memory.

Now you’ve been torn away and left to die,

I’m dejected and alone.

 

You’ve left me overwhelmed and drenched in every possible emotion.

For once you’re​ not there to listen.

For once you’re not there to share the sorrow, the grief and the suffering.

You’re not here to help me sort it out.

 

You’ve always been my rock,

and now I’m slipping.

dragged down by a torrent of new, unpleasant feelings.

 

How can I ever explain?

I’m sure you feel the same.

Is this real?

It can’t be happening to me.

Is this all it seems?

 

You’ve always understood me.

Well, I guess this makes a change!

 

I’m still staring out of the window.

And you still haven’t walked away.

Is there hope left?

Is there room in your heart for me?

#4 It’s not complicated. It’s really only simple. Just food. Without it, your body dies. There’s no ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ about it. It’s like society without community and sharing, a part of it dies. The result? Lonely lives, stress, anxiety, tension, negativity, sadness, fighting, anger, depression, lost people. This is making my head hurt.

We don’t claim to have all the answers, in fact we have very few. But we want to help. Food brings people together, provides comfort and conversation, plus it’s yummy. What more could you want? Pizza may not be the solution to the world’s problems, but if more people sat down and shared food that would mean less hungry people.

And it’s not just about the food, it’s about the stories told between mouthfuls of a hot meal. It’s about creating an atmosphere that is open and honest and welcoming. It’s about the warm feeling we all have when we go to bed. It’s about the memories we make and the friendships we form.

So, if you ever happen to be walking down the towpath and smell something cheesy…..it’s probably Evan’s feet! Just kidding, it’ll be a pizza, cooking away. And we’ll be there, waiting for someone, anyone, to come along and share it with us. Cast aside your pride, shyness or whatever holds you back, and be that person!

Which was your favourite piece? Do you have any constructive criticism to bestow upon me? Any writing advice? Are you even a writer? If not, what’s YOUR passion? As you know, I love to hear from you…..

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~A Guest Post By Saanvi~

Hey there, wonders. You are wonders of the world. Your value is almost always underestimated, but you do have a story. I am Saanvi, one such girl, with one blog: anotebookonepenandme.wordpress.com. I enjoy reading. I write. I sing. I dance. But most of all, I think. Dream. Imagine. Believe. That’s what you have to do to get through this birth. The words that have spilled out of my heart into this post describes a general story, full of sad events, but also good ones. My dears, I want you to always remember, there is always a light in the darkness.
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Often,  this world is confusing. It makes me happy, sad, and angry all at the same time, and sometimes I wonder why I am here. They say that I have a purpose in life, but somehow, even as the days unravel, it remains a mystery. This world is both beautiful and terrible; sometimes it breaks my heart to see the smiles fade, the hands slipping through, and a last word just barely passing by between them. This world is full of ungrateful people, whose mouths cannot utter even a small thank you. Then there are those who have much money with them, and yet never thought about those that didn’t. Time passes. And more time passes. And more. And with time, goes everything that you once had, simply slipping through your fingers. There’s nothing you can do. Don’t you understand? I am grieved. I don’t want this anymore-but life goes on. Your memories slowly start to fade, and then, everything goes black. It all seems like a dream. A story with an ending. Or a movie that you can watch over and over again, but don’t want to. It makes them cry. It hurts them. Until they forget about it and everything is merry again. For most people, it’s just a matter of time until they forget who provided for them, as their memory starts to cloud their thoughts. The problem is that everyone lives for themselves. This is the hard truth of life.

Thank you for reading, my lights in the darkness. Always continue to shine.
~Saanvi
These honest, inspiring and hopeful words come from my good blogging friend, Saanvi. She sent me the draft to this guest post at a time when I was slowly drifting into a place of darkness. Thank you, my friend.
Did you enjoy this post? Are you going to check out Saanvi’s amazing blog? Would you like to guest post on  A Light In The Darkness? Collaborate? If so, please tell me so and we can get in touch. What gives you hope? Please send me a comment, I LOVE hearing from you all….

Making Fresh Pasta!!! + Italian Speakers???

Making fresh, egg pasta is one of my passions. I absolutely love creating this delicious, homemade food and sharing it with my family.  Here are some photos for you guys:

Da da!

Twiddling and twirling (not proper terminology, obviously)

Finished product! Yum!!!

My pasta story began when I started learning Italian, a huge part fulfilling my dream of going to Italy one day. I started attending an Italian cooking/speaking class and fell in love. Seeing as I am *virtually* sharing pasta with you all today, I thought I’d take the opportunity to ask if anyone knows Italian? I wondered if anyone out there is willing to help me practice my conversation, language, etc? Please let me know. Thanks! ❤❤❤

Have I made you hungry? Have you ever made fresh pasta? Would you like to try? Do you speak Italian? Tell me all….

 

 

 

The Beauty Of Shape And Colour: My Visit To The Glass Studio

The colours, the shapes, the sparkling of sunlight, the heat, the shattered shards of glass scattered on the floor, the ripples of molten glass, the proud displays, everything about this place captured my imagination. It fascinated me. Here’s the story of my visit to the glass studio, in photos:

There’s a lump of coloured glass on this rod, it’s heated up so that you can shape it.

Coming out…

Being shaped.

This cools the glass down.

All the blocks of glass, all shades of the rainbow.

The glass expands when…

….you blow it!

Again, moulding it to perfection.

Different tools were used for different things.

Making the handle.

Some of the things made in this studio…

The studio…

My favourite photo! All the ones that went wrong!

The finishing touches.

Did you enjoy this post? What was your favourite photo? Please let me know, I absolutely love hearing from you all!