Words That Burn + Poems About Identity And Two Big Announcements!

As part of my home school curriculum, I am doing a project called Words That Burn. It was launched by Amnesty International and is aimed at teaching young people about human rights, whilst encouraging them in their creative writing, mainly poetry. Learning at its best, in my view.

So, today I wanted to share a poem that we had to analyse in my project. It’s a really powerful and beautiful piece by spoken word artist Dean Atta, on the topic of identity. After that, we had to write our own poem, about our identity.

However, before we go into all of that exciting stuff, I have an important announcement to make! 🙂 You can now go vote for the nominees in Megan’s Part 1 of the Best Of 2017 Blogging Awards! I am literally jumping up and down right now because I WAS NOMINATED IN TWO CATEGORIES! Wow, I never expected that.  Anyway, go vote! And good luck! *proceeds to dance around the room*

Okay, so coming back to the poem. I present, I Come From by Dean Atta.

I come from shepherd’s pie and Sunday roast
Jerk chicken and stuffed vine leaves
I come from travelling through my taste buds but loving where I live

I come from a home that some would call broken
I come from D.I.Y. that never got done
I come from waiting by the phone for him to call

I come from waving the white flag to loneliness
I come from the rainbow flag and the union jack
I come from a British passport and an ever-ready suitcase

I come from jet fuel and fresh coconut water
I come from crossing oceans to find myself
I come from deep issues and shallow solutions

I come from a limited vocabulary but an unrestricted imagination
I come from a decent education and a marvellous mother
I come from being given permission to dream but choosing to wake up instead

I come from wherever I lay my head
I come from unanswered questions and unread books
Unnoticed effort and undelivered apologies and thanks

I come from who I trust and who I have left
I come from last year and last year and I don’t notice how I’ve changed
I come from looking in the mirror and looking online to find myself

I come from stories, myths, legends and folk tales
I come from lullabies and pop songs, Hip Hop and poetry
I come from griots, grandmothers and her-story tellers

I come from published words and strangers’ smiles
I come from my own pen but I see people torn apart like paper
Each a story or poem that never made it into a book.

I just love love love some of the lines in this, they’re so poignant. “waving the white flag to loneliness” “crossing oceans to find myself” “being given permission to dream, but choosing to wake up instead” I could go on and on and on. Seriously

Now comes the challenging part. I had to write a poem like his: an I come from….. poem. So I sat down and made a list of the things that have shaped my identity and then crafted them into this poem.

I Come From by Gracie Chick

I come from words springing from emptiness,

I come from the pages of a book, 

I come from misty mornings in my mind and conversations long into the night,

I come from the flames of a candle and the glowing embers of a campfire

I come from struggles and determination and an overwhelming desire for true friendship. 

I come from missing the sunrise and waiting all day for it to set.

I come from craving beauty in a world I want to change, 

I come from tears and discontentment, 

I come from dreaming big

I come from two amazing hearts that never lose faith. 

I come from wanting more than black and white

I come from music that no one else hears and stories that no one else sees,

or writes.

I come from a river of ink and a land of where the honey is too sticky and sweet and the milk soured long ago.

Hope that made sense to you guys! Now, the big question is……

Where do you come from???

Please answer in the comments, debating is more than welcome!

And now, time for the second big announcement. Some of you might remember reading my discussion post on makeup a few weeks ago. If so, you’ll probably recall that I included a section detailing the thoughts of many different teens throughout the blogosphere. The result was amazing and everyone really got into the discussion element of it. So, I was thinking I’d make this a regular thing. If you’re interested in contributing your opinions to these future discussion posts, please drop me an email at graciechick29@gmail.com

Then, whenever I need your thoughts, I’ll send out an email (probably monthly) and you can reply with your contributions. This is aimed mainly at teens, but if you’re older or younger and would still like to participate, feel free. Also, if you sign up, you don’t have to participate very time. If you’re ever too busy or just don’t want to contribute that’s totally fine.  Hoping to see lots of interest in this!

What did you think of Dean Atta’s Poem? What about mine? Complete this sentence: I come from…

Are you going to sign up to give your opinions in my future discussion posts?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Extracts From My Journal + The Best Of 2017 Blog Awards Have Arrived Again (Yay!!!)

30th November 2017

It’s a proven scientific fact that any energy that keeps getting larger and larger will eventually explode. For example, friction will  eventually burst into flames. Well, there’s friction in my mind right now.

My Mum called it emotional turmoil, my Dad called it being lost, but I think friction is a good word at the moment. I’ve already burst into flames a few times, the energy always seems to die down, simmer quietly for a little while and then begin to build up until, you guessed it, I explode again with emotion again. Most of the time I don’t even know what causes all of these feelings. 

I need to look towards my future, focus on the positives that lie ahead and stop clinging onto the negatives of the here and the now. Being sad and discontent never made anyone’s life better, I’ve got to take action. 

2nd December 2017

Today I went to see Wonder at the cinema. As the scenes from my favourite book flashed past my eyes, I immersed myself in the story, rediscovering the powerful themes that run through it. Many of them are relevant to my life right now – being different, going to school, fitting in, standing out, real friendships, finding your place in this world, staying true to who you are. 

In all of the characters that I’ve known and loved for so long, I suddenly saw myself. When I read the book (and I must have read it 100 times, no kidding) I am an observer in Auggie, Via, Miranda, Jack Will, Julian, Summer, Justin and everyone else’s lives. However, watching the movie made me see their story in a different light. I felt like I was there, I was part of it.

I was Via, struggling with friendships. I was Miranda, just trying to fit in with the crowd, wanting to be liked. I was Summer, trying to be a good friend and Jack Will, trying but not always succeeding.There are no words for how much I loved this movie and how much of an impact it had on me. 
4th December 2017

I went to my teen yoga class today. Although I’m not flexible enough to do half of the poses I still love it. It’s amazing for relaxation, concentration, exercise and the releasing of stress. 

My yoga teacher, Luna, says that in yoga thoughts are like clouds, we let them drift by without holding onto them. You go into your body and just observe your mind. It makes you less anxious and stressed plus it helps you concentrate on your thoughts and make more sense of them. This was great for me, for someone who’s brain is especially active and often anxious, it helped me chill out and bring things into perspective. </

In other news from the life of Gracie Chick, my prize for when I cam runner-up in a poetry competition arrived. I received a certificate and a small bundle of writing supplies (a notepad, two pencils, one pen and a bookmark). Exciting! 🙂 


I’ve also been really into cooking with foraged goodies. This time of year is brilliant for wild food and I’ve been making the most of the abundance of it on the farm where I live. 

</I made this delicious lunch for my family, it’s a chickweed and lettuce salad with a berry vinegar dressing and crumbled parmesan on toast. It was SO good. 

</A yummy snack of roasted burdock root chips sprinkled with sesame seeds. Okay, I hope you enjoyed that little peek into my life at the moment. I felt like doing an update and I wanted to be honest.<Now, I have an exciting announcement to make ~ Megan is hosting the Best Of 2017 Blogging Awards for the third year in a row! By taking the survey now, you can vote for all the amazing blogs and posts out there that you’ve particularly loved. So, what are you waiting for? Go VOTE!

What’s going on in your life at the moment? Don’t be afraid of honesty, I often am and it never makes you feel better when you bottle it up. You can send me an email if you feel like talking. 🙂 🙂 🙂 Oh, and will you vote in the Best Of 2017 Blogging Awards? 

Make Up – A Discussion Post With Thoughts From Teens Of The Blogosphere

Makeup – a tool for masking insecurity? Or an artistic way of expressing creativity? 

Recently, I had a conversation with my amazing friend  Liv, via email, which inspired the idea of writing a discussion post about makeup. I’m really interested to hear other young people’s ideas because it’s something that really does not have a straightforward answer, yet is a massive thing amongst our modern society. So I decided to ask around the blogosphere and find out the opinions of some girls of my own generation. I’ve been able to put together a kaleidoscope of thoughts, each one unique and valid.

First off, here are some extracts from my conversation with Liv:

Liv: I don’t wear makeup, and neither do any of my friends. At my school, it’s only the mean(ish) girls who wear makeup – the same girls who wear revealing clothes, etc. I don’t really care if anyone wears makeup, although I hate when people put it on me. My mom tries to sometimes for special events and I get really mad haha 😜

Me: I understand why people want to wear it. I’ve been told it’s a mask for anxiety, insecurity about what you look like. I’m not saying that’s true in every case, but I think it can be the truth amongst many teenagers.

Other people describe makeup as warpaint, like clothes that you match your own style, that make you feel strong. That sounds pretty cool, but I’m not sure it’s true for the majority of people.
 I don’t really want to start wearing makeup. I also don’t want – in theory – to conform to others, but one thing I’m worried about is people treating me younger just because of what I look like.
Okay, so let’s delve deeper into the world of makeup.

The Backstory….

Makeup has been in use all over the world for around 12,000 years. Starting with the ancient Egyptians, it has adopted by many cultures for beauty enhancement throughout the ages.

A Kaleidoscope Of Thoughts featuring teens of the blogosphere. 

Incomplete Thinker – Makeup is an interesting topic, I find. I personally don’t wear it a lot – and not just for skin benefits. It covers up a lot of your natural beauty, and over time you will feel pressure to wear it consistently. You may even be scared to leave the house without wearing a pound of eyeshadow, or perfect eyebrows. When in reality, we were not born to be perfect. Makeup is fun, yes, but that’s what it should be for. Not for twisting you into something you’re not. I only wear makeup for special events. I’m not saying everyone should do the same… but I do struggle with the concept of having to be “on fleek” or having “the perfect contour” before stepping outside your own bedroom.

Brooke Jade– Well, I think makeup is okay to wear as long as you’re parents are okay with it, and if you’re doing it for yourself and not for other people. I personally wear a bit of makeup, but only when I feel like it. 

Little Helper – Do not allow makeup to be who you are and don’t use makeup only if you are trying to cover up all your blemishes because at the end of the day our blemishes and scars make us who we are.

Of course, we can apply but don’t think that without makeup we are ugly.

 

Elsie – My opinion of makeup is that if it is to be worn it should be not to please others but to feel more confident in yourself alongside feeling comfortable and loving the way you look without it on too. If people want to wear makeup it should be for them and/or to show a side of their personality that can only be shown through the medium of makeup. It can be viewed in another way too: people who wear makeup are wearing it for the people around them as they are the only ones who can see you and make you want to feel confident whilst under pressure in their eyes (I can see where this point of view is coming from but makeup is loved by many and is more so a way of expressing yourself!) if you feel better in yourself wearing it than wear it and if you don’t then don’t feel like you have to either. I myself do not wear makeup. I have nothing against it (I love reading makeup product reviews 😂), I just feel like I’m trapped with it on and like I’m hiding. I may very well change my mind in the future and start wearing it 😂 but for now it’s not me. Everyone is different. Whether you wear makeup or not, as long as you are comfortable that is all that matters 💕…….

Loren – I don’t wear makeup because I don’t like the way it feels, but I don’t care how much makeup anyone else wears — it’s none of my business. You could wear a full face everyday, none, or anything in between, and you would still deserve to be respected and taken seriously. And I believe that makeup is gender neutral, so boys should be able to wear it if they want without being made fun of. If you wear makeup, make sure it’s because you want to, not because of peer and societal pressure. 

Mukta – When it comes to makeup, my feelings have always been kind of mixed. While it is an essential aspect of many careers, dance being a major example, I haven’t been a fan of makeup as far as I remember. But speaking of it in general I find no reason to hide your natural features or enhance them in any way, and neither do I believe that makeup is very necessary to be able to live a good and fruitful life. I have no objection with others wearing it but only want people to know how much is too much.

Charis Rae –When it comes to makeup, I think it has to do with your intentions . Many people view makeup as an art form and enjoy practicing new techniques and trying out different looks. Others like me wear makeup because they want to accentuate the beauty that they already have.

The problem is that so many people use makeup to cover up their faults or attract attention from others, namely boys. There’s nothing wrong with covering a breakout or dark circles after a bad night of sleep, but in many cases, we rely on the makeup to make ourselves feel pretty and accepted. Or we might try to make ourselves more appealing to boys and attract their attention. The problem is that this bases our self-worth on their opinions and can lead to other dangerous behaviors down the road.
God made each and every person beautiful and He loves you! And believe me, it’s more attractive to be friendly and Godly than to be beautiful but mean.The makeup itself is harmless, but we need to make sure that we’re using the right intentions when wearing it. Have fun, enjoy your makeup, but most importantly, embrace your inner beauty!

 

Maggie –  I am very appreciative of makeup because it’s a great way for girls to express themselves. Whether it’s used to conceal blemishes, be artistic, or a bit of both, I love seeing what others come up with and trying natural looks myself. When makeup inspires girls to be more confident and happy, I am definitely glad that we have it!

Maddy – I have been wearing makeup pretty much daily for the past two years and I think that it is something fun and girly to wear. Makeup has become a huge thing in our culture today but if it’s not something you want to wear that’s totally fine! I think that the whole makeup thing has gotten a little bit out of hand with the amount some people put on, the colored in eyebrows, etc but I think that light makeup is great. 

Gracie Marchiani – Hello! Gracie(not myself, but the lovely young lady who runs A Light In The Darkness.haha) has asked me to share my opinion on makeup! Let’s go!! — I think makeup can be very nice, it can cover up pimples, and I think just the right amount can help bring out your true beauty but not to the point of you looking like a magazine model. I have slightly mixed emotions on makeup. But, I mostly like it. I did not start wearing makeup till I was 13. I don’t think you should start wearing makeup till at least 12. I am now almost 16, and I still do not wear a ton of makeup. I wear mascara, eyeliner, eyeshadow, and foundation. If you are a girl who has not yet started to wear makeup, but you want to, talk to your mom and see what her rules are. Even if you don’t wear makeup, don’t feel like you are less pretty, you are made in God’s image, so you are already gorgeous! ❤ Thanks for letting me talk about makeup!! ~Gracie 

Nejra – Makeup for me is art. I wear makeup every day, I do lighter makeup for college and heavier for night outs. I love makeup and I view it as a positive because I’m using makeup to enhance my natural beauty, not to hide myself. I always loved this quote ‘Skin first. Makeup second. Smile always.’ And that’s really nicely said. I think that every girl or women should take care of her skin firstly. If a woman can’t leave home without full face of Maybelline and find her confidence dependent upon using it, then I’d say there are likely some deeper self-esteem issues that should be examined. But, if a woman finds it a creative and enjoyable outlet, then I don’t see a thing wrong with it. This girl thinks it’s fun. ❤❤❤

May – I personally don’t wear makeup, but I have nothing against people who don’t! I feel like a lot of people shame girls who don’t wear makeup, and they tell them horrible things like, “You’ll never be pretty without makeup.” Obviously, this is super mean and should never be said, but it’s something that happens in real life. Other people shame girls for wearing too much makeup, so that shows how society is very contradictory. I believe that girls should wear as little or as much makeup they want. It is their choice, and if wearing no, little, or a lot of makeup empowers them, that’s great! But I think that they also have to realize that they are pretty and gorgeous and beautiful even without makeup.

The Girl With IronWings – Actually I think wearing make up is not a bad thing, that is, if you don’t go overboard and spend hours everyday applying 10 layers of concealers and eye shadows.

I personally like make up, and I don’t think anyone should be judged on how they like to present themselves. But to those who entirely alter themselves with too much makeup, I’d like to say that too many add-on’s only makes the person look artificial and freaky, and not attractive. And that’s not a nice thing, because why make yourself hideous when you have a fresh and lovely face on the inside?
Any amount of lipstick and mascara is fine as long as you look yourself. 🙂
Thank you to everyone who contributed!

My Conclusion

I agree with all of these teens on certain points. You should feel confident without makeup, you are who you are, don’t try to change that, but then, makeup is fun and many girls enjoy putting it on and experimenting, what harm is there in that? Yeah, but, think of the consequences! Think of how it makes them feel! Pressured to fit in? Ugly without layers and layers of paint?

Personally I believe that the beauty on the inside – compassion and light – is more important than your exterior appearance. I’m not saying I’ll never wear makeup, but I don’t think I’ll ever be obsessed with it.

I’m also not against it. I know some people use to make their skin look better and others as an art form, using a human face as their canvas.

Here’s a funny example, I let two friends (three and eight years old) do my makeup once. Here’s what happened –

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Liv: Wow! They really were into the glitter 😂. You look really pretty though. Yesterday, my friends brought a bunch of makeup to school for theater and put it all over my friend’s arm. They maybe caked on ten layers of makeup, no joke. It was pretty funny though since she couldn’t rub it off or it would smear all over her. 😂

Me: Hahaha, yes they definitely were! The others just splattered makeup all over their faces. One of my sister’s friends mixed foundation cream and bright green eyeshadow together and plastered it all over her face. She looked SO WEIRD.

Okay, back onto the subject of makeup. What do you think?

 

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Inside My Classroom

Hello and welcome to my classroom! If you are a regular reader of A Light In The Darkness you will know that I dream of becoming a teacher in my own school one day. Well, I am well on my way to achieving that. Today I am going to share a load of photos from the class that I teach. To meet my students, find out more about my views on education and ask any questions you may have, click here.

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Okay, so these photos have been taken over the past two lessons. Let’s go!

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The classroom from the outside. We call it The Lodge.

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Welcome! Come on in…

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This photo gives you a good idea of what the actual classroom looks like. There’s lots of space and light and I’ve tried to make it as classroom-y and welcoming as possible. Here we have Jessie and Evan writing and Irys and Joey doing some art.

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We made leaf bunting during one of the lessons and I love how it looks like the leaves are suspended in midair. The autumn colours really shine in the light too.

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As you can see in this photo, the school is buzzing with activity. Everyone is painting masterpieces inspired by the weather. I love it when everyone’s concentrating, enjoying and immersing themselves in their work. It’s a beautiful moment.

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The boys are getting messy! Evan is at the back, Joey on the right and Sani on the left.

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This is the girls being creative. Libby is at the front, Jessie is on the right and Irys on the left.

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This is (left to right) Emma, Libby and Jessie researching and preparing to film their very own weather forecast. I love hearing all their ideas and watching then evolve into something amazing.

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Emma drawing a map of Great Britain.

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Jessie and Emma working together.

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Jessie deep in thought….

Irys, my sister, scribbling away!

Evan, my brother, writing.

More leaf bunting (’cause I love it SO much)

Some of the finished weather masterpieces, skyscapes and paintings.

Our amazing mini library. Asdfghjkl!!!!

The kitchen. I hope to do some cooking and baking in future lessons as they are valuable and fun life-skills.

I put all their work up on display boards for people to see and admire and to remind my students what they’re capable of. They can be so creative and produce such colourful, beautiful, amazing pieces of art and writing.

A few more pieces laid out on the floor.

You guessed it, MORE leaf bunting!

Finally, meet the teacher!

Erm…hi guys!?

Okay, so I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek inside my classroom? What photo was your favourite? Do you fancy coming to my school? What are your lessons like? What are your dreams for the future and what are you doing to work towards them?

Introducing My NaNoWriMo Project: The Melody Of Life

I’ve always loved writing, but this is the first time I’ve ever participated in anything like NaNoWriMo. It’s always been short stories here and there, the odd poem, attempts at novels (but never getting past a few chapters) for me. I usually write when I’m inspired to, which has worked out well in the past, but I’ve decided to take my writing more seriously and develop a more structured approach.

I’m hoping NaNo will really help me with that.

1. What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

I get ideas from the most random places -memories of summers gone by, crazy sleepovers, dramatic arguments,  falling out and making up, best friends and worst enemies, cooking pancakes, talking for hours and hours, singing, laughing, running away on long walks, sharing stories and secrets with friends whilst the sun flickers on my favourite spot by the river. Hiding from the rain, late night games of dreaded ‘truth or dare’, ukuleles strumming under a starry sky.  Voices blending together.

Running through the woods in the dark, away from my friends to write poetry under the trees, sitting on the stairs watching music videos and creating artwork. Riding my bike down the road.

This idea just sprang out of nowhere and grew in my head until I was too attached to throw it away.

2. Describe what your novel is about.

*alarm bells* This question has to be every writer’s worst nightmare, right?! Or am I the only one!? *panics*

In answer to this question, I am going to give you my crudely written synopsis which you have full permission to dislike (its horrible, even though it took so many attempts to get right). Here goes:

Fourteen year old Dante has never met his Dad and his life revolves around caring for his disabled Mum, who was severely injured after an explosion whilst reporting in war-torn Syria.

He spends his time in a world where everything is perfect, a world where the absence of his father and the state of his once brave, strong mother doesn’t matter.

Then one day he meets the mysterious Sahra, a Syrian refugee, and she, unlike anyone Date has ever met, understands.

Together, they set off on a journey, both physical and mental, the find out the truth about the things that are missing in life. For Dante, it’s the idea if being a normal teenager again, a normal son. For Sahra, it’s being able to stay in the country that she loves without being threatened by death, it’s peace in her home nation. 

3. What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

A Journey // Emptiness // Friendship // Truth // Identity // Culture // The Past // Warmth // Family // Emotion // Memories // Music // Mystery // Science

4. Introduce us to each of your characters!

Dante – is fourteen years old, fatherless, responsible for the care of his severely disabled journalist mother and living in a dream world where everything is perfect.  Although he is imaginative, but he is also very lost and confused. He finds it hard to make friends and is shy. 

Sahra – is a sixteen year old refugee from Syria. Mysterious and wise beyond her years, she helps and joins Dante on his journey to discover the truth about the things missing in his life. However, Sahra also has troubles, she longs to return to her beloved country and wishes to help her home nation escape from the clutches of war. 

Autumn – Dante’s single mother. Once a strong, passionate female journalist who specialised in reporting in war-torn countries, she is now severly disabled after being the victim of a large explosion in Syria. 

Paige – A girl of Indian heritage that Dante and Sahra meet on their journey. She helps them understand the truth about filling in the missing gaps in their lives. Very musical. Beautiful singing voice. 

Leonardo – an Italian boy who eventually leads Dante to his Father. 

There will be other, less important characters, but those are the main ones.

5. How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)

As I said before, I have a very laid-back approach to writing and I’m quite inexperienced with novels. For this project I am outlining my plot (!) very roughly and working hard on my characters.

6. What are you most looking forward to about this novel?

This novel is going to be super emotional and descriptive, very musical and beautiful and colourful. I can’t wait to weave all of those adjectives into my writing!

7. List 3 things about your novel’s setting.

A Journey – so this novel wont be set in one place, it will be a journey, a progression through many diverse locations.

Inside The Characters Mind – Dante spends most of his life living in a fantasy world that he has conjured up with his imagination and that helps him cope with the absence of his Father and the condition of his mother. At least that’s before he meets Sahra, part of the journey is her coaxing him out of that and into real life. So we get to spend a lot of time exploring his psychology!

In Real Life – this story will be very real (apart from the bits that take place inside Dante’s mind)

8. What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?

Dante just wants to make sense of his crazy life, like most teenagers. He feels secure inside his imaginary world where everything is okay, but part of him wants to step outside of it, into real life, and that’s where Sahra comes in.

There’s not really a bad guy in this novel, but Dante’s insecurities and doubts about ‘leaving’ that world behind and discovering the truth is a big obstacle for him to overcome.

9. How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

Dante is a different person. He’s no longer shy and awkward, he no longer lives inside a fantasy, he has friends who are with him in everything and most of all, he has filled the gaps in the melody of life.

10. What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over? 

I want them to feel…

INSPIRED – I’m sure everyone can relate to these characters in some way. It’s good to be inspired by characters.

EMOTIONAL – this book will be packed with feels, guys.

CHALLENGED – everyone has a comfort zone that deserves to be stepped out of.

And now, here’s a bonus excerpt that I hope will get you hooked:

There was something different about her, I knew that the moment I first looked into her whirlpool eyes.

I wanted to speak to her, but she seemed far away and I had no idea what to say. The revelation occurred when my ears detected a faint murmur spiralling from her lips, I recognised the rhythm as a recent pop song.

I sidled up to the park bench where she sat. She stopped humming. “You a fan?” I asked, attempting to sound casual.

“No.” her voice was clear and distinct. “I’ve just got a cognitive itch. You get those sometimes?”

“Um, sure. I mean, I guess so.” I hadn’t expected this, maybe just a quick exchange of opinions on some popular boy band?

She rolled her eyes, but maintained a perfectly serious expression. “A cognitive itch,” she began patiently, “is where a song gets stuck in your mind and your brain can’t help but fill in the gaps in the melody, even long after it’s finished. It’s a continuous circle with no beginning or end. Make more sense?”

“Yeah, I can’t quite remember if that’s ever happened to me before.” My brain seemed unable to process the right words.

She frowned and shook her head, as if chasing away her thoughts. “That’s not typical human psychology. Usually you wouldn’t forget an experience like that, it would be ingrained in your mind forever. Your brain is strange like that, it processes and stores the most random of memories. Except they’re not random, of course. Every memory forms a complex tapestry, threads in a story, the story of a life. Everything is relevant.”

She stared straight at me. And I found the courage to smile.

“Sahra.” her smooth, lightly accented voice broke through the moment. Her headscarf tumbled over her forehead and she pushed it back with a small, sparkly smile. I looked at her dark, shining skin and then down at my hands, they were pale as anything in comparison.

“Hi. I’m, um, Dante.” I could feel her black, glittering eyes searching for my face and I bowed my head, suddenly self-conscious.

“So, are you a fan then?” When I looked up, she was staring into the distance, her proud face angled so that the sun shone on her determined features.

“Oh. No. Not really. I don’t really like that kind of music.” I shrugged.

She looked at me for a moment, as if weighing me up. “Why did you speak to me then, Dante?” Her question caught me off guard. Of course she’d wonder that, especially now I’d told her that I wasn’t a fan either. I couldn’t even use that excuse.

“Well….I….er…” I envied her ability to express herself so articulately. “I suppose I just….I guess I….I mean….you know?” I waved my hand about in a gesticulating motion.

A fleeting smile crossed her lips and she let out a small laugh. “What?” I let my hands drop to my sides and smiled back, shyly.

“Oh, nothing. I’ve just got this feeling that you and I will be good friends.”

I could have punched the air.

I didn’t, obviously, just watched as she rose from the park bench and walked away.

I was just about to call after her when I saw a scrap of dusty orange paper lying on the seat. It moved slightly in the breeze. I grabbed at it.

Dante

01131192599

Call me.

I picked it up and breathed in the warm aroma of dusty cinnamon. When had she written it? It certainly wasn’t whilst I was there. Where had she found my name?

I slipped my phone from my pocket and run my fingers over the smooth surface of its screen. My fingers traced the familiar cracks. I switched it on and pressed the ‘call’ icon. I typed in the numbers carefully, check-in and double checking.

Finally I took a deep breath and pressed call. It went to voicemail. The automatic voice on the other end asked me to leave a message.

“Sahra. It’s Dante here. I, er, found your note and, well yeah, I’ve tried to call you, but instead I’m just leaving a message ’cause, yeah, you know. You’re probably really busy and whatever reason you asked me to call you, it probably isn’t urgent, but please call me back when you’ve got a minute. Bye”

I spent the seconds after I hung up cursing my inability to speak, but the almost immediately beeping and vibrating coming from my back pocket jolted me out of my gloom and into a state of nervous apprehension.

I answered the phone.

“Dante.” her voice cut me off before I could speak. “A cognitive itch is a bit like life, sometimes you can’t stop filling in the missing parts, the parts that should be there, but aren’t. Sometimes the thoughts that fill your mind and won’t go away are the ones that depict things that are absent in real life. It’s a natural psychological process, so don’t worry. Everything will be okay.”

She hung up.

Did you enjoy that? Are you doing NaNoWriMo?

 

 

 

 

 

Pursuing Your Dreams (The Grand Reveal Of My New Blog Designs)

Everyone has dreams, whether they choose to follow them or not. A dream is a passive thing that floats around in your mind, waiting to be captured. But if you want your dream to become real, you have to take action. *superman pose*

I am one of those people who try hard to achieve their dreams and so is my friend here, Mukta.

Mukta is passionate about design. So guess what!? She set up her own design platform where she offers her creative services to people for free. Design Pique Studios is still quite new and I honoured to say that I have been one of Mukta’s first customers.

Her patience, creativity and ingenuity have blown me away and I am totally happy with my new designs.

I think it’s time to reveal my designs, don’t you?

This is my beautiful new divider.

And this is my new chat graphic/prompt.

 

 

So….what do you think?

 

 

 

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…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘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???