Tag Archives: change

How to Start a Quest

Step one: Recognize and Answer the Call to Adventure

My inner writer died. 

I’m not really sure when it happened, but I came to the stark realization that it did a few weeks ago. I’ve been trying to push past what some people I guess would call “writer’s block”, but it’s not a block—it’s a death. Life got busy. Priorities shifted. And I just did take time to breathe life into my inner writer. 

So I mourned her death. Struggled with a little depression…and then began the process of rebirth. 

“ None of us possess a life devoid of magic, barren of grace, divorced from power” 

Julia Cameron

Photo by Yeshi Kangrang on Unsplash

That’s the beautiful part about our creativity—as we grow and change we will often kill off the playful and inspired part of ourselves that wants to push limits and think outside the box…but we can get it back if we are willing to do the work. 

So, I invite you on my QUEST to resurrect a part of myself that I lost sight of. 

Step two: Get help–Assistance is always required to complete a quest

I mentioned in my last post how much I enjoyed Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way and that book was incredibly inspiring several years ago during my golden age of writing. So, naturally, I went back to Cameron and have found another installment that seems to be exactly what I need right now. I am starting my journey by reading The Vein of Gold, a book whose primary concern is healing the inner child. And let’s face it—I pretty much ignore my inner child. I’m sure she’s in there somewhere—probably sleeping. If I want my creative juices to start flowing again I’m going to have to wake her up. So I’m embarking on this quest with Cameron at the helm and one goal in mind: resurrect my inner writer and return to my golden age of creativity. I invite you to join me (through my blog posts, of course, but if you are feeling a little fuddy-duddy-ish, grab yourself a copy and take the journey with me literally!

Photo by Everton Vila on Unsplash

“Something has changed within me. Something is not the same. I’m through with playing by the rules of someone else’s game.” Defying Gravity—Stephen Schwartz—Wicked

Step three: Depart—and don’t let the valid excuses become reasons to avoid the Renaissance

“We are romancing our creative urges. Nothing kills a romance more quickly than a few broken promises” Julia Cameron

I started in several ways this week. First, I said yes spontaneously (me???) to an unexpected invitation to see Wicked with a friend—which just reminded me how much I really do love musicals…and the theater…

So I spent most of the rest of the week singing different broadway musicals at the top (and I do mean the top) of my ever-so-off-key lungs. 

And I realized that my mood journal took a huge upswing this week—so many more positives than negatives. Coincidence? Well, maybe. But it sure did feel good. Did I do a lot of writing? Not really, but I don’t expect the world to right itself overnight. And hey—I did a blog post 2 weeks in a row, so that’s improvement!

So stop fearing the worst, continue to hope for the best, and take a few leaps of faith along the way and you might be surprised by when and where the Lord meets you in your unadulterated neediness. 

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek” Joseph Campbell

Photo by Ian Chen on Unsplash

One Voice

Election cycle is upon us, but don’t worry, this post is not political. However, this time of year reminds me of a conversation I had during the last presidential election. We were talking about the candidates and I said something to the effect of:

“I’m researching the Libertarian candidate right now. I like to know all my options”

The other person scoffed before replying with:

“That’s throwing your vote away.”

I don’t remember the rest of the conversation, but I do remember feeling hurt and angry because that statement is simply not true—but it is shared by a large portion of the population! That’s a shame because the way change happens in a nation, government, institution, and society is always the same. All it takes is one voice. One person who is willing to go against the established norm. Sometimes, exciting times, that one voice catches like wildfire and society shifts.

Photo by Joshua Newton on Unsplash

And sometimes it doesn’t.

Regardless, things CAN’T change if people aren’t will to at least look for alternatives, and they certainly CANNOT change if we keep perpetrating the LIE that our singly voice is TRASH!

Currently, I am in the midst of the Night unit with my E2H kids, so we talk a whole heck of a lot about voice and speaking up when something is not right. One of my favorite diagrams is the pyramid of hate.

Students are asked to study the pyramid and decide where one person (presumably the individual reading it) can stop the upward movement. In other words, where can one voice pipe up and stop society from reaching the zenith? There is a lot of mumbling, but not a lot of confidence here. So I ask this question:

How many of you have heard a racist, prejudiced, or stereotyping joke lately?

They squirm. No one raises their hand, but there is a lot of murmuring, indicating that it was probably 20 minutes ago in the hallway. So I ask a second question:

How many of you have laughed at or made one of these jokes lately?

Now the squirming is uncomfortable and all eyes are looking at the floor because they know that I know. Earlier that week a kid made a blonde joke, you know all in good fun, but I called him out on it. I asked why it was so important to him to make the girl in question feel bad about herself?

And that’s where it (hopefully) hits them: jokes at others’ expense lay the foundation for hate. Your voice, speaking up when others are doing wrong, matters. It doesn’t have to mean putting your life on the line like the thousands of unnamed heroes who saved as many lives as they could during the Holocaust. Speaking up starts with your own sins, then your friends and family, then your school. Our voice matters because it can have a ripple effect.

Photo by Kai Dahms on Unsplash

I have been teaching for 13 years now. At approximately 6 classes per years (a couple of. Years I only had 5–I miss the 7 period day…), that’s 78 classes of students. Most had at least 25 (sometimes as many as 36) individuals. That makes for 1,950 students, give or take, who have come through my classroom over the years. Have I changed every one? NO. But I have impacted some and they’ve gone on to do amazing things in the world! So, I have to believe that one voice matters, because if I don’t, every day of my adult life has been a complete waste.

Which is where I challenge you to find your voice and use it to make a real difference. No, I don’t mean posting a rant on social media in which your opinion is meant to make other people feel bad, I mean a real difference. First in yourself, then in others around you.

Because who knows? Maybe your voice is the spark the world needs.

The Hubris of this Generation: My journey through Psalms (52-53)

“Why do you boast of evil, you might man [woman]?” Psalm 52: 1

I spend most of my days in the company of teenagers. As such, it has become a habit for me to end each week with the following statement: “Be good, have fun and make good decisions!”

It is a well known fact that teenagers often make very poor decisions, but what I couldn’t fathom was why they wanted to brag about the stupid things they were doing. I mean seriously. Every time a super-villain stopped to explain his ‘brilliant’ plan, he or she gets caught and defeated. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. So what should that tell you about bragging and boasting of your stupidity? I just don’t understand, which is what inspired this decision making flow chart for my students.

Still, the bragging continues.

“I refuse to look at that chart, Ms. C,” one student tells me. And when I question this student, the answer is simple: “Because then I would have to actually think through some of the things I am doing. Where is the fun in that?”

Insert groan here.

We like to believe that as a culture we are more civilized than the barbarians of yester-year, but are we? In many ways we are still as barbaric as our ancient ancestors. In my English 4 class we have talked a lot about heroes lately, comparing ancient civilizations to modern culture. Interestingly, in most cases, what leads to the hero’s downfall?

Boasting, bragging, and pride–often in the stupidest things.


So why don’t we learn from these barbaric heroes? Why don’t we live smarter?

I used to hate the story of Romeo and Juliet. Glorifying teenagers for making stupid and impulsive decisions seemed like the worst story you could ever teach to impressionable teenagers.

Until I realized this story is exactly what they need–if it’s taught with a different approach.

I don’t teach it as the greatest love story.

Because it’s not.

It’s a warning to the younger generation. A warning that could maybe even be traced back to the first impressionable person who decided to make an impulsive, stupid, emotion-driven decision.

David’s time was not the first, nor was it the last, moment in history where God looked down and saw that people had turned from him. Turned from wisdom (53:2).http-www-pixteller-com-pdata-t-l-541870

As a culture, well even as a species, we need to stop glorifying people who make decisions like lovesick teenagers who can’t spot wisdom even if it punched them in the face.

We need to value those who seek wisdom (not just learning, but TRUE wisdom) and boast about good decisions people make rather than making celebrities out of people who kill, get drunk, abuse drugs, abuse people, and live in a narcissistic bubble of selfish desires. We not only need to be olive trees flourishing in God’s house (52: 8), we need to teach the future generation HOW to do this, and more importantly, WHY it is important and VALUED.

We value the wrong things.

We think if we prove we are right on a topic, then we win. But we don’t stop to see how we’ve pursued our quest to be right. How we hurt others. How we’ve set an example for those who are searching for value and we ripped that rug out from beneath them because we need to be validated.

We never stop to think that it’s maybe not so much about being right as it should be about living right.

The decisions we make shape the future.

Even if we don’t realize it.



The Pavement Ends

I was driving a couple of weeks ago, rushing from one place to another and not paying attention like I should. As a result, I missed the sign.

Pavement ends.

At 45 miles an hour this is an especially important sign to not miss, but just as I realized what was about to happen, it was too late–off I flew into a dirt and gravel road.

I won’t repeat all the words or thoughts that raced in my head or out of my mouth as the dust flew up around my car, but as I finally came to a grinding, horrifying halt–surrounded by a cloud of dust and miraculously unscathed–I ended with:

“Thank you God for protecting me even in my stupidity.”

What an appropriate expression of gratitude.

We live in a world of narcissism and self-promotion. A world that screams “Me! Me! ME!” and then “More! More! More!” and sometimes we get so wrapped up in that we forget to pay attention. Until the pavement ends.

Until something gets our attention.

Often there were warning signs, but we either ignore them or don’t see them in our ignorance. Those are moments of truth where we can either learn something or continue on a path of destruction. It’s time for us to stop allowing distractions keep us from the truth that is right in front of us…before the pavement ends.

After praying my thanksgiving, I turned my car around and got back on the pavement, but this time I slowed down, put away the distractions, and continually praised God as I drove out of my studpidity and into his arms.

Adjusting to Change

“Just keep swimming!”

“To infinity and beyond!”

“Adventure is out there!”

“Keep moving forward!”

The words are different, but the message is the same. In order to be successful, you can’t be stagnate. You have to move, change, adapt, evolve. It’s a basic principle of life…so why are we so resistant to it?

Because change is scary. Unknown. Different.

It’s the same reason why things like discrimination and hate exist—humans, for some awful reason, are programmed to be terrified of anything that is different than what they are “used to”; what the “know”; what they think is “right”.

Personally I think it stems back to the Garden of Eden—instinct and reasoning, fear and hate, knowledge of good and evil—none of it was ever supposed to be a part of the equation. But once it was introduced—once it became a part of the equation, well, now we have to deal with it. Now we have to use it for good, and not evil.

Because change doesn’t have to be scary.

The unknown doesn’t have to euthanize common sense.

Differences can unite rather than divide us.

If we let them.

This is not a post crusading for a cause, it is simply a reflection—because recently I decided to move. To change everything I’ve known, uproot myself from one place and leave all my friends and most of my family and settle in another place. Granted, it’s not totally foreign—it’s closer to my sister and her family—but she’s all I have here. That’s different.

I thought I’d be more nervous about this change—but sometimes change is exactly what you need to move forward. And if you have stopped moving forward in your life…then what, exactly, are you doing?

That’s not to say that making changes is easy, (I’ve already Xena-ed a cockroach and sprinkled toxic holy water over a couple of ridiculous sized spiders for one thing) but as I continue down this path I’m reminded of 2 Timothy 1:7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

Living in fear of the unknown is not an option (In a perfect world, it wouldn’t be an option for anyone, but we’ve not achieve perfection, so I’ll just keep praying on that one). Living for a future where the possibilities are endless—well, that’s my kind of change.

So I guess I’ll keep swimming forward to infinity and adventure somewhere over that rainbow.


Ashley Carmichael is the author of Valerie’s Vow, a Christian Romance which can be purchased at www.secondwind.com or Amazon. Follow Ashley on twitter @amcarmichael13 and Facebook.