Adults Should Read More Fairy Tales

For my job, I read a lot. And I usually come across some truly interesting pieces. I’ve read satires, plays, allegories, dictionaries, and yes, nonfiction.

But what seems to be the most accessible for me (due to good ol’ and the copyright laws of this land that enforce the “public domain”) are children’s stories and fairy tales.

I simply find it so beautiful that there are so many stories around the world that have the same  moral or lesson as some of our most familiar tales but are couched in a uniquely different culture with recognizable and distinguishable characters. And you can find them all, spanning entire nations but all having a common thread. They truly unify humanity in a way that no other medium can.

I’ve actually had so much fun reading fairy tales and children’s stories that I had to ask myself: why do we leave them on our bookshelf after only a few years of enjoyment? Sure, there are many media empires that have been made from a product that was geared toward “children” but have since captured the imagination of all ages. And yes, many children’s stories have a decidedly darker and sharper edge that makes us scratch our heads, wondering, “Why did my parents let me read this as a child?”

And yet, there are some that I believe to be so universal and applicable that we should carry them with us throughout our lives. I’ve selected two for you tonight, to share with you and that will (hopefully) provide you with the right message at the right time.

The Sailor Man

Once upon a time, two children came to the house of a sailor man, who lived beside the salt sea; and they found the sailor man sitting in his doorway knotting ropes.
“How do you do?” asked the sailor man.
“We are very well, thank you,” said the children, who had learned manners, “and we hope you are the same. We heard that you had a boat, and we thought that perhaps you would take us out in her, and teach us how to sail, for that is what we most wish to know.”
“All in good time,” said the sailor man. “I am busy now, but by-and-by, when my work is done, I may perhaps take one of you if you are ready to learn. Meantime here are some ropes that need knotting; you might be doing that, since it has to be done.” And he showed them how the knots should be tied, and went away and left them.
When he was gone the first child ran to the window and looked out.
“There is the sea,” he said. “The waves come up on the beach, almost to the door of the house. They run up all white, like prancing horses, and then they go dragging back. Come and look!”

“I cannot,” said the second child. “I am tying a knot.”
“Oh!” cried the first child, “I see the boat. She is dancing like a lady at a ball; I never saw such a beauty. Come and look!”
“I cannot,” said the second child. “I am tying a knot.”
“I shall have a delightful sail in that boat,” said the first child. “I expect that the sailor man will take me, because I am the eldest and I know more about it. There was no need of my watching when he showed you the knots, because I knew how already.”
Just then the sailor man came in.
“Well,” he said, “my work is over. What have you been doing in the meantime?”
“I have been looking at the boat,” said the first child. “What a beauty she is! I shall have the best time in her that ever I had in my life.”
“I have been tying knots,” said the second child.
“Come, then,” said the sailor man, and he held out his hand to the second child. “I will take you out in the boat, and teach you to sail her.”
“But I am the eldest,” cried the first child, “and I know a great deal more than she does.”
“That may be,” said the sailor man; “but a person must learn to tie a knot before he can learn to sail a boat.”
“But I have learned to tie a knot,” cried the child. “I know all about it!”
“How can I tell that?” asked the sailor man.

I love this story because it seems to be directly aimed at every know-it-all (me) and millenial (also me) that I know. We all think that we know how to do certain things, and maybe we do. But take my advice, if you are starting a new job or beginning a new career path, do not scoff when they teach you how to do something you know how to do. They will never understand the true extent of your talent unless they see it. (An unfortunate trait of humans, yes, that we must see to believe, but it is true.)

Why the Evergreen Trees Keep Their Leaves in Winter

One day, a long, long time ago, it was very cold; winter was coming. And all the birds flew away to the warm south, to wait for the spring. But one little bird had a broken wing and could not fly. He did not know what to do. He looked all round, to see if there was any place where he could keep warm. And he saw the trees of the great forest.
“Perhaps the trees will keep me warm through the winter,” he said.
So he went to the edge of the forest, hopping and fluttering with his broken wing. The first tree he came to was a slim silver birch.
“Beautiful birch-tree,” he said, “will you let me live in your warm branches until the springtime comes?”
“Dear me!” said the birch-tree, “what a thing to ask! I have to take care of my own leaves through the winter; that is enough for me. Go away.”
The little bird hopped and fluttered with his broken wing until he came to the next tree. It was a great, big oak-tree.
“O big oak-tree,” said the little bird, “will you let me live in your warm branches until the springtime comes?”
“Dear me,” said the oak-tree, “what a thing to ask! If you stay in my branches all winter you will be eating my acorns. Go away.”
So the little bird hopped and fluttered with his broken wing till he came to the willow-tree by the edge of the brook.

“O beautiful willow-tree,” said the little bird, “will you let me live in your warm branches until the springtime comes?”
“No, indeed,” said the willow-tree; “I never speak to strangers. Go away.”
The poor little bird did not know where to go; but he hopped and fluttered along with his broken wing. Presently the spruce-tree saw him, and said, “Where are you going, little bird?”
“I do not know,” said the bird; “the trees will not let me live with them, and my wing is broken so that I cannot fly.”
“You may live on one of my branches,” said the spruce; “here is the warmest one of all.”
“But may I stay all winter?”
“Yes,” said the spruce; “I shall like to have you.”
The pine-tree stood beside the spruce, and when he saw the little bird hopping and fluttering with his broken wing, he said, “My branches are not very warm, but I can keep the wind off because I am big and strong.”
So the little bird fluttered up into the warm branch of the spruce, and the pine-tree kept the wind off his house; then the juniper-tree saw what was going on, and said that she would give the little bird his dinner all the winter, from her branches. Juniper berries are very good for little birds.
The little bird was very comfortable in his warm nest sheltered from the wind, with juniper berries to eat.
The trees at the edge of the forest remarked upon it to each other:
“I wouldn’t take care of a strange bird,” said the birch.
“I wouldn’t risk my acorns,” said the oak.
“I would not speak to strangers,” said the willow. And the three trees stood up very tall and proud.
That night the North Wind came to the woods to play. He puffed at the leaves with his icy breath, and every leaf he touched fell to the ground. He wanted to touch every leaf in the forest, for he loved to see the trees bare.
“May I touch every leaf?” he said to his father, the Frost King.
“No,” said the Frost King, “the trees which were kind to the bird with the broken wing may keep their leaves.”
So North Wind had to leave them alone, and the spruce, the pine, and the juniper-tree kept their leaves through all the winter. And they have done so ever since.

I absolutely love this story. If I had enough space on my body, and if I could find a tattoo artist with a steady hand I would get it permanently inked on my body, I love it that much. I love the fact that this poor little bird was sheltered by these awesome, generous trees. I love the line in which the other trees stand up tall and proud for turning away someone in need; I can almost feel their foolishness. In the end, it’s a simple lesson but such an important one. Be kind to those in need of help. You may not receive anything for your generosity, but do it anyway.

I’ve just given you a taste of a world you knew when you were young. Find these and more fanciful stories here: 

Now, my lesson for you is to not ever grow up, but if you must, do us all a favor and try to remember these important lessons from your childhood.

4 Things I’ve Learned from Food Allergies

First of all, how do you like the new digs??? My amazing friend, Emy Christodoulou designed it, and I have to say, I’m incredibly pleased. Thank you, Emy!!! Looks like a legit blog, doesn’t it???

Speaking of noticing things, I’m noticing some great changes in my body. The last time you heard from me, at least from an allergy standpoint, I was talking about my lactose intolerance. However, after two trips to the doctor’s and two trips to my local pharmacist, we discovered that I possibly have yet another food allergy. We’re not sure what I am actually allergic to yet. It’s sort of like expecting an incredibly painful food baby. We hope it’s soy, (instead of a boy) but as long as I am healthy, it doesn’t matter. Right now, I’m eliminating any irritating possibilities with a food allergy diet. It basically means nothing but rice, protein, fruits, and vegetables. In a few weeks, I’ll reintroduce potentially inflaming foods until I figure out who the winner is.

In the meantime, I’m really enjoying the effects of this diet, and I’m learning things about my body that I never knew before. Join me as we count them down, and who knows? Maybe you’ll discover something about yourself, too.

4. You Don’t Need Caffeine

Okay, so caffeine was an absolute staple for me in college. I had to have it, and I had to have it several times a day. In tea, in soda, in iced tea, in Red Bull, do you have an IV of that? But on this diet, I’ve had to say goodbye to all of that. Yup. No straight shot to the heart when I wake up and none when I’m really feeling the effects in the middle of the work day. But do you know what is weird? I haven’t felt like I have needed it. Sure, I get sleepy. But I feel more alert overall. I feel good. So, I’m starting to think that maybe caffeine is a little overrated. (I know that’s a hard truth to swallow.)

3. Healthy Foods Can Taste Good

I know, I didn’t believe it, either. Until I had some amazing gluten-free waffles. Then I had some great oatmeal with lactose-free milk. Did you notice that everything I’m eating has the word “free” after it? Because that is how I feel: free. I’m not sure if I have new adult taste buds, but I am glad to have this new lease on life. When you eat right, you feel right.

2. You Can Feel Emotionally Better

Although I post a lot about positive messages that I encounter on this blog, I’m a little bit of a downer in real life. I’m tired most of the time, and I have trouble seeing the brighter side of things. But somehow, yes, a change in my diet has also helped me with this. As I’ve said, I feel more alert, but I am also feeling more whole. Sure, I get stressed and frustrated. But I feel less weighed down, which is a great thing when you are trying to be positive.

1. You Have More Will-Power Than You Realize

Have you ever been told that you need to cut things out of your diet? Do you remember how you didn’t do that at all? Well, you will not believe how fast you stop eating something when you realize how horrible it makes you feel. Take my obsession with cheese. I would have a pet cow if I could, if that would mean I could have fresh cheese all the time. But I had to give that all up. And I feel like I am not even missing anything. (Well, most of the time.)

So, what can you cut out to feel better about yourself? I won’t say it is easy, but I will say it is worth it. Of course, I’ll eat all of my favorite food once these few weeks are up. But I might be a little bit more mindful of what goes into this mouth of mine.

Please, Laugh at my Funeral

Author’s Note:

I think about this blog post a lot. Probably because I commute a lot. And maybe because I think about death a lot. But the more I think about it, the more it rings true. 

As you may know from reading my blog before, I have a bit of a commute. And if you haven’t read my blog before, then now you know I have a bit of a commute. We all spend a lot of time in our cars: listening to music, stepping on our brakes, and following slowpokes. While I’m driving, I like seeing new models of cars and how much duct tape can be used to fix a bumper. And with my commute, I have seen a lot.

But today, I saw something a bit different. I was driving behind a rather beat-up truck with a large load. When I got a little closer, (not close enough to tailgate him, I know better) I noticed that there were four vending machines in the bed of the truck. As I stared at the soft drink logo and those curlicues made of metal that sabotage you when you try to get a bag of crackers, I morbidly wondered what would happen if one of them fell off the back of the truck and onto my waiting car. I mean, there would be no wondering if it happened. I would most certainly be dead. But I started to laugh when I thought that the headline would have to be something like, “Snack Attack: Vending Machines Kill Girl on Highway.” And I realized that if I had to go out like that, it wouldn’t be a blaze of glory, but I would be alright with it.

Laughing all the way home, thinking that I would probably need Dorito dust and honey bun sugar to be wiped off my corpse, I realized that what I want more than anything (besides to make it home every night not being killed by a rogue vending machine) is for people to laugh at my funeral. If I die in a really ordinary way, then can you at least set up some board games at the wake? I don’t want everyone to be in such a somber, sober mood that they forget all the times I (tried to) make them laugh. Sure, life can be difficult. But mourning me isn’t going to help you appreciate life, help you smell the flowers and see the sunrises. Only you can do that. And what is death but a final reminder to celebrate the life you lost? Giving you the pause in your life that you may not have given yourself when the person was alive to remember them and their legacy. Death keeps us honest but also whole.

I’m not saying it’s easy (or correct) to laugh at a funeral. But please try to at mine. Assuredly, I’m somewhere, (up? down? around?) laughing with you.

Oh, but don’t ask me for help in trying to get your snack out of the machine when it’s stuck. I’m not even sure God has the power to do that.

Be Like a Tree and Leaf It Be

Happy Autumnal Equinox!

This is the time when all of the trees lose their leaves but not before they turn a beautiful port wine, russet color. It’s a gorgeous sight to see all the crowns and tops aflame (figuratively, of course, before you get the wrong idea). But besides being an ephemeral beauty, what can trees teach us?

We know that trees can provide us with the entertainment of the season, the crackling of their leaves’ husks under our feet. But they bear a simple message that we need to remember, not just now, but all year round. It is this:

If you don’t need it, drop it like it’s hot.

After all, what do trees do in fall? They lose their leaves due to the simple reason that they do not need them anymore. They’ve made enough food to last them, and they know that they can easily grow more leaves if they need them. But for now, it is time to shed the extra weight and simply be.

Now, I’m not saying that evergreens are emotionally disturbed because they do not drop their leaves in winter. However, they are the victims of a certain Christian holiday and  are cut down shortly after this season. (Coincidence? I think not.) So, maybe the Oaks and the Black Walnuts of the world know something that the evergreens don’t? They at least know something that we (humans) forget.

You need to let things go when they no longer serve you. When things have run their course, you need to leave (leaf) them be. It will not help you to dwell on things–picking them back up, turning them over in your hands, even crunching them under your feet. You need to let them wing on the breeze, and you need to say goodbye when something or someone isn’t absolutely supporting you. Even if this act leaves you bare for a few months.

It’s okay to leave a good thing because it is no longer good. But always remember your roots.

Week of 9/15


I’m really sorry, but I will not be updating this week. I am trying to enter a fiction writing contest, and I only have enough focus for one writing project right now.

In the meantime, you can catch up on all my other posts or go do something that YOU love (like I am.)

Maybe, if you’re extremely good this week, I’ll throw up the finished piece on here. (Well, not vomit it…you know.)

I’ll be back next week with some awesomeness!



When Words Fail

I’m a writer. Words are kind of my thing.

There isn’t really anything that I can’t turn into a story (or a darkly humorous joke, for that matter.)

Except today.

13 years ago, we endured a devastating tragedy. The world was robbed of so many lives due to the hatred of a few evil people. America has never really recovered from 9/11, but I do not think the world has, either. I know that I haven’t, and it will continue to haunt me for the next 13 years and the next 13 after that…

You see, words are failing me. There is not much I can say that can sum up the events of that day. Even a decade and some later. At the age I was, I could not comprehend what was happening when it occurred, and even at the age I am now, I cannot seem to wrap my head around any part of it.

All I know is that I am still amazed at the sheer violence of it all. And I am also in awe when I hear about the valiant efforts of (extra)ordinary citizens who ran toward the danger instead of away from it that day.

In honor of the lives that history must never forget, I will end it here. As I’ve mentioned before, the world is too inundated by words. And what we really need now is some peace (and quiet.)

Adult Middle Finger with a Child’s Bandage

Actions always speak louder than words. Especially when a certain action is representative of a certain choice phrase that is incredibly offensive (at least in American culture).

I mean, flipping someone the bird can really be a slap in the face. Literally. It is basically the equivalent of taking off your glove and slapping someone to start a duel. Really, can you think of a quicker way to start a fight with someone than giving them the finger?

Which is why we need to be really careful about who we flip off. Not just because you have no idea who has a gun (or a crossbow for that matter) these days but because we need to check ourselves before we wreck ourselves. 

And here’s how to put this into some perspective.

Every day I have a commute to work. Inevitably, every day I encounter idiots, imbeciles, and people on cell phones. I would like to believe that my tolerance is much higher, but occasionally (usually), after the third time I get cut off, I feel like speeding past the parade of a**holes and giving them a piece of my mind. That is, without rolling down the window. 

But when I thought about doing that today, when I thought about giving the car next to me a righteous glare and a certain digit (not a number), I looked down and saw the How to Train Your Dragon bandage over my precious finger, that I had to have from the grocery store a few months ago. And I absolutely needed it over the weekend when I cut myself with a potato peeler. 

Suddenly, I realized I had no grounds, (I mean no grounds whatsoever) to be giving the middle finger to anyone. To the driver next to me, I was just a girl who didn’t know how to keep her obsessions out of her first aid choices. I was just an overgrown child sloshing through rush hour. But most of all, I realized that I knew what it was like to (accidentally and intentionally) drive like an idiot, and I certainly have known what it is like to be late.

And somehow, my tolerance of people grew three sizes today.

So, I don’t really care how you do it. If you need to wear a really childish bandage on your middle finger to remind you that we are all just one step away from barbarism and that we are all one step away from our childhood at any given time. But the overall message I want to convey is that we need to be kinder to each other. We need to put the middle fingers down and put the thumbs up! (Too cheesy, even for me?)

Okay, maybe that’s not going to happen. But at least we can be more patient with each other as we walk (and drive) this earth together.

When Writing Was Relevant

Ah, wouldn’t it be wonderful to go back to the days of minstrels and ballads? When your only form of entertainment was hearing about the derring-do and exploits of some roguish knave, spun into lyrics and cooly couched into a lilting melody? Wouldn’t it be nice to go back to the days of AM radio, when family members put aside their differences to huddle a little closer to a small speaking box that delivered their news with finesse and enthusiasm? To be blunt, what happened to the power of words? Has it all but disappeared into the dust that could fit on the dot of an “i”?

Well, I spoke with a professor of mine tonight, and he made an incredibly poignant point: forensic scientists are not tossing and turning at night trying to decide whether they should follow their passion. But those in the humanities are faced with a difficult decision: pursue it or eschew it.

Indeed, society’s pendulum has swung back, and we no longer treasure the humanities or the arts. We perceive people who want to develop a career as a writer (for example) as selfish. But forensics science? Well, you are contributing something to society then, if that is your major. And you are putting the needs of society first (because we need CSI: Omaha, Nebraska), so you can have a fat paycheck as well…

After all, the English majors are just as important as the pre-med/pre-law students in the world, just in different ways. You may be discovering a cure for cancer, sure, but we are the magazines in every treatment waiting room. We are the stack of books you can escape to while receiving your chemo therapy. Hell, we are why you chose the hospital you did. It was because they marketed themselves to you in a way that you couldn’t refuse. That all exists due to language, my friends. And it has power, and the people who wield it have power. Even if society refuses to acknowledge that.

Or perhaps, we acknowledge it too much. Now, with everyone playing the author and everyone existing as a reader through social media, maybe we are putting too much on blast. Maybe we are so surrounded by words that it becomes difficult to distinguish what we should pay attention to. And yet, by the same token, wouldn’t that make the most inspiring prose or uplifting poetry all that more refreshing?

It’s sort of like when you are swimming in a pool, and you feel a warm spot. You notice it, and suddenly you are trying frantically to find its source. That’s what good writing should do: make you feel kind of warm and make you want to know more. And in this way, we need to make writing relevant again.

After all, the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

But more importantly, the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

Happy Birthday, Mom

When you have your own blog, it is only customary to highlight your mother on the day of her birth (because, you know, she sort of birthed you).

I could not think of a better way to honor you, mom, and thank you for the gift of life than to use my own gift. Most of the time, we act like two different people, and we don’t see eye to eye. But it is hard to see eye to eye with yourself sometimes, and I know we are very alike. (You may not understand the reference, but I am kind of your horcrux. Just trust me on this one.) We both remind each other to be the best that we can be time after time. And so without further ado…


The words do not come so quickly

this time

(and how could they?)

I’m condensing a lifetime in a few keystrokes

(you made a lifetime in a few brushstrokes)

and we were 

hoping that I would arrive into this world, swirling with so many stars

from captured constellations, made from galaxies you could pinch between your thumb and forefinger…

and then I arrived, all thumbs



You suddenly realized you would have to 

impart   imbue   improvise

your knowledge 

upon    in    through  

me. So, you started to knead out your ideals

you started to flatten your flaws beneath your knuckles

hoping to disguise them under the rug


other mothers have done the same

with varying degrees of success

and by success, I mean

prayers and pleas to the gods and goddesses that you would not

could not

pass down the bad with the good.

But like I said,

it does not work that way,

and I soaked it all up

like your bread in the milk 

before you squish it in the bowl.


As your daughter, I am familiar to you,

and so strangely cold,

that you

take off your rings 

as to not lose them when you

mold me.


And now, that my shoulders have grown to their full wingspan

(I had to stretch my skin to fit my own dimensions)

I find the star stuff that you wanted for me, in the beginning.

Because it was in you

the entire



I love you, Mom. Happy Birthday.

Don’t Listen to Anyone

Don’t listen to anyone. Ever. Because no matter what they say, they are always going to be right because you believe them.

How so? Let’s think about this for a minute. There are people, right now, in the world, that are making money by telling other people, no, strangers, that they are or, more often, are not good at something. We actually pay and want people to pass judgment on us. I mean, Simon Cowell has millions of dollars right now because he was rude to a couple people. Well, accurately rude, rightly rude. But yes, rude. 

And you have to wonder, as he is looking up at his gold ceiling, lying on his revolving heart-shaped bed at night, does he ever feel bad about it? 

The answer is undoubtedly no. He’s mean, and he gets rich because of it. Simple equation even for a non-math major here.

But let’s imagine a quick little scenario. You’ve been singing your entire life. I mean, since the time that you could hold a microphone. You grow up, learn to play guitar, and moonlight as a solo act in a few bars in your hometown. You’ve got stars in your eyes when you finally get an opportunity to sing in front of the American Idol panel. And then some British guy with a bad haircut says that you’re rubbish and that you shouldn’t quit your day job. And that’s it. POOF. There goes any chance that you’d actually continue singing because there it is. One of the most popular talent coaches in Hollywood just told you that you can’t sing. And of course, if you do sing again, all of the pigeons in NYC will burst in a puff of feathers a la Shrek. 

Except that isn’t the conclusion you should come to at all. Simon Cowell can afford to be mean. But you? You can’t afford to give up your dream, the one you’ve had since you were a child. 

So, what are you supposed to do? Well, you shouldn’t listen to Simon Cowell, for one thing, but, then again, you should never listen to anyone. Once you hear their side of things, suddenly they’re right and you’re wrong. You can make people right just by following their advice, by assuming that they know something that you don’t. But sometimes they aren’t right. Actually, people are wrong a lot. And mostly, they aren’t right about you because, well, you’re the only person who is you. And you know you best. I know, mind blowing.

Yet, people are still told everyday that they can’t do something by someone else, and they believe them. It makes me want to add a footnote to every millionaire’s net worth explaining how many times they doubted themselves or were rejected by the “right” people (who turned out to be the wrong people because look where they are now). The amount of times they failed would outpace their fortune ten times over. I think it is so interesting that people forget and forget and forget how many times J.K. Rowling sent the HP manuscript out or how Stephen King would spear rejection letter after rejection letter on one of those short-order cook nails. Do you honestly realize how many people were told they couldn’t do something time and time again and did it anyway? If anyone was stopped from doing something simply due to the fact that it “could not be done,” we would have nothing to show for modern civilization. I sincerely want to shake really angry, loud maracas at anyone who has ever believed that you can get something right on the first try. So loud would my maracas shake that I could drown everyone’s fear of failure and that little critic’s voice in our heads.

So, in the end, don’t listen to anyone. Not even me. In the end, I should be like a car passing you with my speakers blaring bad 90’s rap. You hear my mix tape (full of Notorious B.I.G.) really clearly when I am directly in front of you, but when I start to speed on down the road, I start to fade. That is how you should perceive all advice. It’s clear and direct in the moment, but what does it sound like down the road? Maybe it doesn’t apply so far ahead in the future. 

That’s where you come in. You start to make decisions for yourself. And you don’t have your ear pressed to the highway, waiting for someone to ride along and tell you what you should do and think. All advice eventually runs out of gas. And when it does, you’ll have to pick up the slack with good, old fashioned intuition when you turn your ignition.