24 Life Lessons In 24 Years

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Life is full of lessons. Some of them we learn early on in our lives whilst others take a certain amount of time, a varied amount of experiences or many mistakes to accomplish. During my twenty-four years of life I have realised that there is still so much to learn about this crazy thing we call life. However, I can also confidently say I have already starting to create a long list of lessons that I have already learned and will continue to use throughout my life.

1. Life is too short to be unhappy.
If you are unhappy with something in your life, it doesn’t matter if it is a relationship, a job or even the place you live, change it. One day, you will look back on your life and realise you wasted a lot of time doing things that you don’t enjoy. Only create space in your life for the things that matter and the things that make you happy.

2. Travel if you can
Now I haven’t even started on my long list of places I want to travel to around the world but external circumstances have prevented me from doing so. Once I am able, I will travel to India, Thailand, Spain, France, Germany, Finland, Japan, New York and all of the other amazing places on my list. Despite the lack of funds in the last few years, I still managed to visit Dublin, Edinburgh and Vienna. I can’t wait to travel the world with the one I love and one day it will, I just know it.

3. Surround yourself with the right people
This is an important one. I have had many people leave my life as quick as they entered it because I didn’t want to be surrounded by negative people. It’s hard to push away family members or friends but if they don’t support, respect and love you in the way they should, you will be better off without them. Your happiness comes first. Surround yourself with people who lift you up, not tear you down.

4. Believe in the impossible
Remember when you were five and you believed that the moon was made of cheese and fairies really did live at the bottom of your garden? Who says you still can’t believe what you want to believe? When we grow up and become adults, we kill this part of our brains. We start to only believe what other people tell us to believe and we no longer have our own individual beliefs. I believe in mermaids, magic and aliens. Laugh at me all you want, say I’m acting like a child or that I need to grow up but it’s what I believe. I want to believe in a world where anything is possible, this mentality definitely helps me make decisions in my everyday life.

5. You only get one body, look after it
I sometimes reach for the doughnut instead of the apple and I really should go to more than one exercise class a week but I never give up on trying to live a healthier life. I want to be fit and healthy, not to look good but to really take care of my body. As the years pass and I get older, I’m starting to realise the importance of looking after myself physically. It may take me a while to reach my goal of eating healthy and exercising three times a week, but I’ll get there.

6. Don’t neglect your mental health
I have had many issues with my mental health in the past few years and I know how hard it is to accept the fact that you might need help. But your mental wellbeing is just as important as your physical wellbeing. I’m never going to get rid of my anxiety disorder, it’s part of me. I just have to hope that in time, I learn new ways to manage it. I now know the signs to look for when it’s time to seek help from others.

7. Learn to laugh
Life can feel pretty serious when you’re an adult. Bills, work, families and money. It’s an endless stream of stress and responsibility. It’s easy to get caught up in it but don’t forget to smile. Laugh until your stomach hurts. Pull funny faces. Learn to have fun and really enjoy yourself.

8. A good cup of tea can solve most things
Bad day at work? Cup of tea. Problems with your family? Cup of tea. Feeling a little unwell? Cup of tea. Now, I know there is no magic in a cup of tea but it somehow makes you feel better. It feels comforting to hold a hot mug of tea when you are tired, stressed or sad. Look for the smaller things in life that bring you comfort.

9. Find time in your life for peace
It’s a hectic life and sometimes we forget to be still and enjoy some real alone time. Meditating has been life-changing for me. Whenever everything starts to build up, a few moments of meditation can bring me back to earth, make me calm and in control again. You don’t have to meditate to find peace in your day, read a book, have a long bubble bath or do some yoga.

10. Set yourself goals and work hard everyday to reach them
It’s important to set yourself goals in life, it gives you something to focus on and work towards. I like to set myself big dreams that will take years of hard work to achieve but I also give myself mini goals every day. It could be something simple such as: exercise twice a week, eat three portions of fruit a day or read more books. Goals and dreams are the foundations of a good life. Never lose your ambition, you are never too old to dream a new dream or learn something new. Remember that failure is a big part of success and if you do fail, pick yourself up and start again.

11. Find the beauty in life
It’s easy to race through life without noticing the small and beautiful things that happen every single day. No matter how bad my day is, I try my best to take a moment to appreciate my beautiful surroundings. Enjoy the colour of the sky, the trees, flowers, sunrises and sunsets.

12. A negative attitude will give a negative life
I have struggled with a negative mindset for most of my life. It’s hard to think positive and see the good in every situation, it’s taken me years or practice and sometimes no matter how hard I try, negativity wins. I try to surround myself with positive people, positive messages and regularly watch inspiring videos and listen to inspiring speeches to lift me up when I’m feeling down.

13. Don’t compare yourself to others
One of the many negative ideas that social media presents us with is that other people lead perfect lives. People only share the good moments in their lives and when your newsfeed is bombarded with happy families, holiday snaps and promotions, it can make you feel bitter about the lack of stability or progression in your own life. I have experienced this many times but I am learning to focus on myself and ignore everything I see on Facebook.

14. Love is happiness
Love is the most beautiful thing in this life. When the perfect person walks into your life, cherish them and tell them you love them every single day. I met the love of my life and my best friend when I was just eight years old. Years later we started dating and we’ve been together even since. Every day we tell each other how much we love one another and I never take him for granted. There are so many forms of love in life: relationships, friendships, family. Grab every opportunity to love and to be loved.

15. Don’t live with regrets
You don’t want to reach the end of your life and look back at all of the things you wish you had done with your time. Regret nothing. Always do what you want to do. Ignore what other people think and embrace your authentic self. Life is far too short to be hesitant. Do whatever it takes to be happy and successful, your future self will thank you for it.

16. Always learn something new
Education doesn’t end when you take off your school uniform. Life is a classroom, never stop learning and always encourage yourself to try something new. Travel the world, learn new languages, learn to paint and draw, learn to play the trumpet or the guitar, buy some books and learn about Greek mythology or Astrology. You’ll never know whether you’ll like something until you try it.

17. Not everyone in life is going to like you and that’s okay
You can’t please everyone, no mater how hard you try. I have this uncontrollable need to please people and sometimes I have to remind myself that not everyone in this life is going to like me and I have to accept that. Not everyone will have the same heart as me, I’ve come across many selfish and narcissistic people in my life that don’t see the world the same way that I do. We’re not all the same, that’s what makes life interesting. Just remind yourself that if people don’t like you, that’s their problem, not yours.

18. Plans don’t always work out
Life is unpredictable. I have learned to accept that things don’t always go my way. Unexpected things happen that I have no control over, the best thing to do when this happens is to deal with it and learn from the experience. Sometimes things happen for a reason and failure leads you to another path to success. I learnt that after years of rejection, that I was chasing the wrong dream, picking the wrong career for myself. This experience lead me to discover my passion for teaching.

19. Stand up for what you believe in
When we’re young, we think that our voice doesn’t matter and what we have to say is invalid because of our lack of life experience, this isn’t true. If you have a strong opinion about something, speak loud and proud. Stand up for what you believe in and don’t let anyone make you feel inferior. Be yourself and never let anyone negatively influence your faith, your opinions or your perspective on life.

20. Learn to forgive others and yourself
A lesson I have definitely learned in the last few years is that forgiveness never comes easy. Holding onto poisonous emotions such as hate, anger and resentment can send you spiralling down a road of unhappiness. As well as learning to forgive others for the way they have mistreated us, we must also learn in this life to forgive ourselves and be at peace with our past mistakes.

21. Enjoy the journey
It’s so easy to live in the past or focus on the future but if you don’t live in the moment, you miss all the wonderful things that are happening in your life. It’s good to focus on your big dreams and goals but don’t forget to enjoy the journey. I am learning that giving myself a few moments during the day to take a deep cleansing breath and allow myself to be in the present moment really helps me to focus on the journey, rather than the destination.

22. Believe in yourself, no matter what
If you don’t believe in yourself, then nobody will. People will treat you based on what you think about yourself. If you have no confidence in your abilities to succeed, then no one will give you the opportunity to reach your full potential. If you don’t believe that you are worthy of a good and happy life, then you will never achieve one.

23. Good things take time
I’ve learned in the last few years that good things take time and that patience really is a virtue. It’s frustrating when you life isn’t going the way you planned or the goals you want to achieve are still our of reach. However, timing is everything. Sometimes things happen for a reason and we are actually where we need to be, even if it doesn’t feel like it. I have to admit, it has taken me a long time to accept that the timeline of my life isn’t going to be how I imagined it. But I have to trust myself and know that if I want something badly enough, it will happen.

24. Gratitude is the key to happiness
When you don’t have a lot in life, it’s easy to feel bitter about it and shout from the rooftops that ‘life isn’t fair.’ However, there are a lot of things to be thankful for in your life; having a home, a wardrobe full of clothes, fresh food and clean water. If you think of a three things you are grateful for every day, it will enrich your life and bring you more happiness. The more you express your gratitude, the more things you will have to be grateful for. I believe in the law of attraction, that it is up to us what we choose to focus our attention on, think of the negatives and you will life a negative life. Choose positivity!

 

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Teacher Training Diaries: Summer Preparation.

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I have decided to start a series of blog posts about my experience on my teacher training course, which begins in September. It will be submitted as evidence of my progress, a reflection of my pedagogy as a trainee teacher and a perspective of my journey from PGCE to NQT.

It is four weeks until my course begins. My summer preparations include: taking as much time as possible to relax before the craziness starts, reading up on the national curriculum and familiarising myself particularly with KS1 (as this is my main school placement), learning about phonics and all the jargon that goes alongside it and doing a short course online provided by the university to remind myself of the academic writing standards and referencing systems.

I am training to become a primary school teacher through the school direct route. What this means is that I learn all of the practical aspects of being a teacher in a chosen school and two days a week, I complete the academic side of the course, the PGCE, with a university.

I decided to do this route because I wanted the hands-on approach to learning. It’s been three years since I graduated university and I didn’t want to begin my training by returning to a lecture hall. I wanted to observe, be in the classroom environment and see every side to teaching, the good and the bad. I have one years experience as a Teaching Assistant, but I doubt it will prepare me fully for how difficult it is to be a teacher.

I feel a mixture of nervousness and excitement as September approaches. My biggest worries are my overall confidence in the classroom, managing behaviour and juggling the academic side with the practical aspect of the course. Luckily, I am one of those organised-obsessed-colour-coding-highlighting-everything kind of people, so I will have no problem with staying organised. I am good at managing my time and creating to-do lists is second nature to me. I also think the reflection part of the course will be naturally easier for me, as the basis of my Creative Writing degree was learning to reflect on yourself and your writing. The only difference is, I will be reflecting not on my writing, but my teaching practice.

The next blog post will probably be after my first week on the teacher training course. I can only guess that I will probably be exhausted, I will be running on caffeine and adrenaline and I’m sure I will be feeling overwhelmed but excited about the year ahead. Wish me luck, I’m going to need it!

Camp NaNoWriMo 2015

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So, I have decided to do Camp NaNoWriMo. After the success of winning NaNoWriMo in November last year, completing 50,000 words in thirty days for my first full length novel 1:58, I decided that it was time to do it again. Camp NaNoWriMo is the same as NaNoWriMo but there is more freedom, I can choose my own word count goal. However, I’m still sticking to 50,000 words. I can do it. I know I can.

I feel like I have lost a lot of motivation in the writing side of my life and the less I write, the more confidence I lose and I knew that it was time to transfer the novel that I have been planning for months in my head, down on paper. I have started to outline and plan a novel called The Last Letter. I have it planned up to chapter twelve and I am going to spend the last few days of June planning the rest to start the Camp NaNoWriMo on July the 1st.

I have planned many novels and many of them have never been written but this one, it just feels different. I can’t really explain why but this is the story that I really want to tell. Completing the challenge last year boosted my confidence enormously because I had never completed a longer piece of writing from start to finish. I had written poetry and short stories but never succeeded in writing an entire novel. Now I can say I have. And I am going to do it again.

I have so much time on my hands right now and I feel like I am wasting it. Day in and day out, I do nothing productive and it is only getting worse. I don’t want to be the writer that doesn’t write. I don’t want to be the woman who says she wants to be an author but never even tries to make the dream a reality. I want to write this novel.

The Last Letter is my chance to prove that I can write novels. It is easy for some writers to just write a 100,000 word novel from start to finish, start revising it, complete it and then send it to publishing houses. But what about the rest of us? The struggling writers that don’t always have the discipline to complete what we start? The writers that listen to the voice in their heads that says they are not good enough and believe it. The writers that know they can do it but have to convince themselves that they won’t fail.

I can manage 1,600 words a day. I have done it before. There are a few days in the month of July that I will be busy but I will have to work around my plans and make sure I get my daily word count. I know I can do this. I have done this before.

July has one extra day than November. I have thirty one days and 50,000 words to write and this time I am going to revise the novel and redraft it and get it ready to be published. No more messing around with ideas and wondering if I am good enough to be published. I need to start believing in myself. I can be an author, no, I will be an author and doing NaNoWriMo is just a stepping stone on my journey to achieving this dream.

Writers Write

There is nothing more frustrating for a writer than a blank page.

For the last few months there has been a lot of blank pages. I have made no progress with any of my writing projects. I haven’t settled on an idea yet for a novel, I’m not writing poetry or short stories. I’m struggling to write articles and I have to sit down and remind myself to constantly update this blog.

It’s like I have nothing to say. I try my best to write but the words don’t come. I sat down at my typewriter a few days ago. I started to write a short story. I got about ten lines into it when I decided that it was rubbish, I threw it away and sat there with my head in my hands. I was frustrated with myself and I still am. Why can’t I write at the moment? I feel like I have lost all of my confidence and I have no ideas, nothing.

Writers write but right now, I’m not writing. I don’t know what to do. I feel like I have tried everything. I have given myself time, I have tried to read a book to try and get inspired, I have tried writing prompts. Some writers have to feel pain or sadness to write, for me, I think I need to be happy. At the moment, I’m not entirely happy. It’s hard to explain. I feel tired but it’s a tiredness that cannot be fixed by sleep. I don’t find writing enjoyable right now and this is hard for me because writing has always been an escape. I feel like life is trying to bring me down but I have to try and stay positive.

One day soon I will pick up my pen and write, for now, all I can do is wait until that happens…

 

 

The Muse Has Returned

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For a while now I have been leaving my novel alone, not intentionally of course. I’ve been avoiding writing all together. I don’t know why I do it. I love to write. I feel better when I write. I ignore my compulsion to write. Why do I depriving myself of it? I’ve figured something out about my writing process though in the last few days. I can’t focus on just the one writing project. I blame university for that. I got so used to juggling several projects at once, short stories, poems, scripts and novels that I can’t help but do the same thing now I have finished my degree (I got a 2.1 by the way, go me!!). So now I’ve started a new poetry collection from scratch, a new short story collection and I’m carrying on with my novel. I don’t understand the impulse I have to do this but it’s worked, my muse has returned.

Today I have written two poems, I have three new story ideas for my short story collection and I have started writing chapter nine of my novel I Choose Life and it’s only 1pm! Hopefully this will be the end of my writers dry spell and I can finally get something done. I love the feeling of finishing a piece of writing but I have yet to complete an entire first draft of a novel. That will change by the end of the year. If I work hard, I can get my first draft done by the end of December. Most writers claim that the editing stage is the hardest but I think I might find that easier than getting the story written. The problem is, I question myself. I think about all of the things that I am going to change once I get to the second draft stage and I really need to focus on just writing the story from beginning to end.

I need to believe in myself like I do when I write short stories or poetry. Anyone who claims that writing a book is easy, obviously isn’t putting their heart and soul into it. Anyone can write words but it takes a truly disciplined person to be a writer. Although I sometimes lack motivation and give in to the negativity that tells me that my writing isn’t good enough I know that I have the strength to eventually start writing again. There is no way that I am giving up. I will finish the first draft of my novel. I might decide in the second stage of editing that I hate my story and I no longer want to pursue it, if that happens then I will still be pleased that I reached the milestone of writing a 50,000 word draft of a novel.

I’m going to leave it there because I have to get back to my novel. Then I have to write another article for Women Make Waves. Then I might start another short story this afternoon. My mind never stops. I might need another two coffees to help me but today is definitely going to be a great writing day!

The Girl In Red

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Antonia

Mi Bella. Mi Princesa. Mi poco Isabella. Gone. I could not find the right words to say. I spoke two different languages but I could not allow any words to escape my lips. Trapped in my throat, the words were dry, they cut my throat. I tried to say the words out loud to myself because I knew that it would help me. I took a deep breath and finally said them. My daughter was taken from me.
I sat with my eyes fixed on the front door. I was waiting for my mamá to come home. I knew that I needed to phone the police but I was afraid. How did this even happen? She was playing outside, my darling Isabella. I always sat in the front room and watched her play with her toys. She was perfectly safe. I would never let anything happen to her. They have to believe me, I am not a bad mother. I just wanted my Isabella to laugh and play, enjoy this new house, this new country. We came here to give her a better life, a better chance, more than what was offered to me. I tried to understand how my Isabella was taken. At first I thought she had managed to escape from the garden somehow. But, she couldn’t unlock the gate; she was only four years old, turning five in a few weeks time. Someone must have opened it. These were all assumptions at first until I ran frantically down the street to find her.

An elderly man was walking towards me; I asked him if he had seen a little girl. With dark hair, brown eyes, a red dress with matching red bows in her pigtails. He nodded softly and my heart skipped up into my throat at this revelation. He told me that he saw a white man in his late thirties walking hand in hand with a little girl of that description. He also told me that they were walking towards a parked white van but he didn’t see anymore. I thanked him with a hug and we swapped addresses, his eyes locked onto mine.
‘I will pray for you and your daughter.’
‘Gracias, Gracias, Gracias. God bless you.’

I wanted to stay strong but I couldn’t contain my emotions for much longer. Tears started to fall down my cheeks, as I wandered back to my front door; I grasped the door frame to prevent me from falling. My mamá Georgina was due back from the store soon. I was afraid to handle the situation on my own. Where was Mi Bella? It was my job to keep her safe and all I knew was that someone was strange was holding her hand. It’s a thought that I could not bear. I was breathless as I heard my mamá open the front door. She looked at my face, stained with tears, Isabella’s ragdoll clutched to my chest. It was a mother’s instinct, she knew. Something terrible had happened and I needed her help.

Georgina

It had only been a short while, living there. I and my chica moved to the states because we wanted a better life for my nieta Isabella. I knew when I got home from the store that something was wrong. The aura around my daughter screamed desperation, she needed my help. I clutched her hand tightly, my child was in pain and I didn’t know why. She took her time with her words, as I waited for them I held my breath. What had happened?
‘Isabella is gone.’
‘What do you mean she’s gone?’
Antonia was trying to catch her breath, I tried to calm her but she was breathing too quickly.
‘Sweetie, you need to calm down.’
‘She’s gone mamá. What are we going to do?’
‘We need to call the police, now! Did you leave the gate open?’
‘No we can’t. Of course not!’
‘We have to stay calm Antonia. I’m sure she just wandered off somewhere.’
‘She didn’t, I know what happened to her’ Antonia inhaled deeply.
‘What?’
‘Mamá, someone saw her when she was taken.’
Before we knew it the street was flooded with blue lights, the police had arrived and they were asking so many questions. Antonia and I were sat at the kitchen table, staring at the cold coffee swimming in our mugs. They kept asking us the same questions. Why were they sat here asking us? Why were they not looking for my nieta? The police man asked my daughter again if she knew what had happened. Her eyes were empty and distant; it was hard for her to accept. I was trying to be strong for her sake but inside my heart was showing the cracks of grief.
‘Madam, do you know anything at all that would help our enquiries?’
‘The man’ her voice was too soft for the police man to hear.
‘Sweetheart you need to speak up.’
‘The man.’
‘Did you get a good look at this man?’ the police man asked.
Antonia shook her head as tears formed in her eyes.
‘Officer, could I have a moment alone with my daughter please?’
He nodded and as he left the kitchen, I turned to Antonia and hushed the tone of my voice.
‘What’s the matter with you?’
Antonia’s expression was blank.
‘They might get suspicious if you don’t co-operate. I know the last thing we need is the police snooping around but you have to answer their questions. Do you want to find Isabella?’
‘Of course I do!’
‘Well, answer their questions and there is a better chance that they will find her. I will bring the nice police man back in here and we can bring Izzy home, OK?’
‘OK’ Antonia wiped away the tears from her eyes and tried to find some composure.
The police man asked his questions and she replied with every detail that she could think of. She mentioned the neighbour, the white van, the man in his thirties and the description of what Isabella was wearing.
‘She was wearing red.’
He wrote down the word red on his notepad and circled it a few times. Now that they had everything they needed, it was time to find our Isabella.

Jim

It was something that I did every day, my morning walk. I liked my neighbourhood; the people were always friendly to me as I passed by. But one morning, I encountered a grumpy sort of fellow with a young girl. There was something unusual about the way he was holding her hand, he was almost dragging her. I hadn’t seen either of them before, but there were always families moving in and out of this neighbourhood. He glared at me with his steel eyes when my eyes met his.
As he walked past me, the little girl turned her head. I vaguely remembered her face from somewhere. Then it occurred to me that I had seen her playing in her front garden a couple of days before when I was walking past. I didn’t act on my suspicion and forgot all about it until a woman approached me on Hall Park Drive, half an hour or so later. Her face was fear stricken; her eyes were wide with desperation. She needed help. Her daughter had been taken and it didn’t take long for me to realise that the little girl I saw was hers.
I then felt a pang of guilt. Maybe I should have acted on my gut instinct when I knew something wasn’t right? I told the police everything I knew. Hopefully my description of the guy would help with their investigation. I hoped that they would find that little girl. It was such a sad time. Nothing had every happened like that before, it was a really nice neighbourhood.

Isabella

I didn’t have my lollypop. The man told me I could have one. He promised me a red one. I said I wanted a red one cos it’s my favourite colour and it matched my dress. That’s where we were going, to get my lollypop. I think. I didn’t know any of these houses; they were different to the house that I lived in with my mamá and abuela. I liked that house a lot better than our old one. Our old one was tiny and I had to share a bed. I didn’t mind though, we always got to snuggle. Now I have my own bed. All to myself, my mamá says I am a big girl now so I don’t need to share. I do miss the snuggles though. I jump in mamá’s bed sometimes because I miss the snuggles.
I missed my mamá now. Maybe this man can take me back to her when we get my lollypop? I didn’t want to ask him, he had a frowny face. My mamá made the same face when I was bad. Did I do something bad? I only wanted a lollypop. My mamá didn’t like me having lollypops cos she says that all my teeth would all fall out. The man with the frowny face didn’t have many teeth. I think I had more teeth than him. His mamá didn’t tell him to brush his teeth like my mamá did, his teeth was yellow. My mamá helped me brush my teeth every morning after breakfast and before I went to bed, I didn’t want my teeth to be yellow. I don’t like yellow. My favourite colour is red. I was wearing my bestest red outfit today. I begged mamá to let me wear it. It was my favourite dress. I wish she didn’t put the red bows in my pigtails too tight, I want to pull them out. Maybe the man with the frowny face can help me?
‘Too tight’ I pointed to my pigtails but he ignored me so I shouted louder so he could hear me.
‘Pigtails too tight!’
‘Will you just shut up!’ his voice was scary and his frowny face was more frowny that it was before.
I didn’t say any more words because I didn’t want to hear his scary voice again. He stopped the van and looked at me.
‘We’re here.’ He held my hand tight as we got out of the van.
‘Lollypop?’
‘Yeah, yeah. It’s inside the house.’
I was excited about my lollypop but I was missing my mamá. I hope she doesn’t have a frowny face cos I didn’t tell her about the man. I will get my lollypop and the man will take me back to my mamá and abuela.

Phil

I couldn’t wait for her to go inside. She left her alone before. Why wasn’t she going inside? My hands were trembling with excitement; I was so close to getting what I wanted. Another beautiful little girl, and beautiful she definitely was. I was only watching her play in her front garden for a few moments. I wanted to make sure, to time it perfectly. As I edged closer to the house, I got a perfect view of her. Her hair was dark and so were her eyes. She had delicate Latina features, she was unfamiliar and this concept was alluring. I could hear the joyful laughter escaping from her mouth as she played with her dolls. I glanced at my watch, timing was everything. Her mother checked on her every ten minutes, almost like clockwork. If she was mine, I would never take my eyes off her for a second. I would give her the attention that she deserved.
My favourite part was watching them. I admired the innocence and delicacy of their nature, little girls faces were always perfect, undisturbed like a china doll. This little girl had rosy red lips; it was the first feature that I was drawn too. It was the day before that I spotted her. I didn’t want to wait but I knew that I must. I had to observe and make sure that she was the right little girl for me. I was a little bit too selective sometimes but I am glad because this little girl was worth waiting for.
The lollypop trick always worked. I never thought it would. The one time it didn’t work was a few months ago, when I lived in a different state. A little girl, with beautiful fiery red hair left her mum’s shopping cart to explore the sweet aisle. I waited patiently and offered to buy her a lollypop but her mother came around the corner before I even had a chance. I may have missed out on that little girl but this girl, with her foreign eyes and perfect red lips was a prize, another chance. She was easy to persuade but was going to be a handful I could tell.

I was almost at the house when she started complaining about the bobbles in her hair. It was always the little things. I preferred the quiet ones. The little girls that didn’t speak unless they were spoken too, they were my favourite little girls.

Antonia

Why was there still no news from the police? I sat by the window, watching cars pass by and people walking with their dogs and children. My mamá was cooking in the kitchen. How could she think about food at a time like this? I could feel the insides of my stomach growling and purring with hunger but the thought of letting anything pass my lips made me feel sick. I had a salty taste on my tongue from all of the tears. My chest ached with sadness.
I knelt down to pray. I placed my hands together and squeezed my eyes as tightly as I could; I tried to resist the urge to cry again. I put my heart and soul into my prayer. I told God that I would never ever take my eyes off Isabella again and I begged for his forgiveness. I prayed for Isabella’s safety and I hoped that she would return and the police would find her unharmed. My mamá entered the room. She had no words to say. She knelt down next to me and prayed for Isabella with her own thoughts. We helped each other up and she went back into the kitchen and brought back some paella on a plate. The smell made my stomach flip with excitement but my brain was forcing me to reject it. I pushed it away from me.
‘Chica, you need to eat.’

Isabella

I felt a rumbly in my tummy when we got to the man’s house. I wanted more than a lollypop. I decided to wait until we got inside to ask the man with the frowny face if I could have something to eat. It was darkerer than my house. Maybe he didn’t have enough lights? We have lots of lights in my house. My favourite is the lamp in my room. It had lots of colours, red, green, blue, red but not yellow. I didn’t like yellow.

I got to turn the lamp off all by myself when my mamá finished reading. I really really liked the book she read to me last night. It was a story about a bull named Ferdinand who liked to smell flowers. I like flowers too. Especially the red ones. Frowny face didn’t have any flowers in his house. He didn’t have many colours. Everything was grey, black and brown. Boring colours! I never had boring colours when I was colouring at home. I drawn a picture for my abuela of a mermaid and she put it on the fridge cos it was her favourite picture I had ever drawn. There was no boring colours in that picture.

I followed the man up some stairs. They were very big and hard to climb but I did it with no help. He took me into an even darker room and then closed the door and left me there. I didn’t want a lollypop any more. I wanted to go home. My eyes were crying cos I missed my mamá. I thought I was alone in the dark room until I heard a whisper and then another whisper. The curtain was pulled to let a tiny bit of sunshine in. There was another little girl and another. I counted on my fingers. Five little girls. Me. Add one. Six little girls. They had been crying too. I was only four but mamá said I was a big girl now. So with my big girl brain I counted. I cried. There was no lollypop. Was I going to see my mamá again?

Phil

I was in the kitchen, cooking my dinner in the microwave when I heard the new little girl crying. I knew it was her because the others knew better by now. I couldn’t stand the tears and more importantly, I didn’t want my neighbours to suspect anything. I paused the timer on the microwave and went upstairs; the room fell silent when I entered.

The foreign girl looked up at me. Her dark eyes were bloodshot with tears. They all did this, she will get used to it, just like the others. I didn’t have to say anything, my presence was powerful enough and I loved this feeling. They listened to me. They provided me with everything I would ever need. They were quiet, once they understood that I was in control. I was walking through the living room when I saw blue lights outside the window.

I pinned myself up against the wall and peered through a gap in the curtains, my palms were sweating and I could hear my heartbeat in my ears. The lights went past my house and once they had disappeared out of my sight, I drew a breath of relief.
I never experienced the feeling that I was going to get caught until now. Maybe this was one little girl too far? I was always careful with my methods. I was clever enough to get away with it. They wouldn’t catch me. I left no traces. But then, I remembered the old man and then I panicked.

As I was walking away from the house towards my van with the little girl, I noticed an elderly man walking in our direction. I looked down at the floor but I could feel his eyes scanning me, I gripped her hand tightly and got in the van. I looked in my mirror as I was putting the van into gear and he was still there, watching. I didn’t think of it at the time, only now as fear crept in my mind at the reality of blue lights passing my house. It might be time to move to a different state again. It would be harder to transport six little girls, last time I moved, I only had three. I glanced at the clock. It was seven thirty.

Isabella

It was very quiet in the room when frowny face had left. I sat down on the floor when another little girl with brown pigtails moved the curtain more to let light in. I then saw all the faces of the five little girls. They was probably the same age as me. The girl with the brown pigtails sat down next to me, she was maybe older.
‘What’s your name?’
‘Isabella’ I told her that she could call me Izzy if she wanted too.
Her name was Charlotte. I like that name. She was very nice but very quiet.
‘Why are you whispering?’ she put her finger on my mouth.
‘He doesn’t like it when we’re noisy.’
‘Why are we in this room?’
‘None of us know but it’s better than being in the special room.’
‘What’s the special room?’ I didn’t want to go there.
They all went quiet again; I could hear Mr Clock ticking on the wall. We had a clock at home, when I was three I called him Mr Clock and my mamá laughed at me. I missed Mr Clock. I missed my mamá and abuela. I wanted to go home.
The pointy hand was on the twelve at the top and the little hand was on eight when we all heard Mr Frowny face come up the stairs. All of the little girls were scared but I was scared the most. I hid behind the big curtain but my feet could be seen so I sat down on the bed next to another little girl with yellowish hair, it was curly and long, she started to bite her fingers so I did too. He opened the door and grabbed Charlotte and pulled her arm until she nearly cried. When she left the dark room, I cried and so did all of the other girls. We cried quietly. They wouldn’t tell me what the special room was but I didn’t want to find out.

Charlotte

It had been a long time since I had seen my mum. I was stood at the school gates waiting for her when a grumpy looking man offered to buy me a lollypop. I thought he was a daddy of one of the other kids so I followed him. It was only when he locked the doors of the van that I got scared. I was alone in a dark room and after a couple of weeks a new girl would arrive, scared like I was when I got there. I was six when I was taken by him, I think I am seven now. It was only three weeks until my birthday and I know that I have been here longer than three weeks. I was the oldest. Marybeth was a little younger; the girl he brought today must be only four.

I was used to Phil’s special time. I was the only one that knew his name, he told me to say it when he was hurting me. He told me that I was his favourite. I learnt not to cry cos he would only hurt me more. I closed my eyes and thought about my mummy. She must miss me like I miss her. Every time I hear a car come past the house, I hope that it is her coming to find me. Once the special time is over he puts me back in the dark room with the other girls. I sit next to the girl in the red dress, the new girl. She was so little. So scared. I held her hand and we all sat in the quiet dark room, waiting for someone to rescue us. Some of the newest girls had hope, but I was losing it. Was I ever going to see my mum again? Was I going to play with my baby brother again? Was I going to go back to school? I really liked my school. My favourite part was the colouring, I really liked to colour.

My belly had been hurting for lots of days now. Phil hadn’t given us food for a while and when it did it wasn’t very nice, but bad food is better than none at all.

Georgina

My heart shot up into my throat when the newspaper landed on the doormat with an unexpected thud. It had been twenty four hours since Isabella was taken and in that moment, as I saw a large faded photograph of her wearing her favourite dress on the front page the reality hit me. HAVE YOU SEEN THE GIRL IN RED? A young Latina girl aged four was last seen yesterday afternoon in her front garden of 74 Hall Park Drive. Police are looking for a white male possibly in his early forties, medium build, dark hair and stubble possibly driving a white van. Any enquiries contact Dallas Police department.
‘What’s that?’ her eyes were deep with naivety.
‘You don’t need to see it.’
‘They put her picture in there didn’t they?’ she was close to tears again.
‘Yes they did.’
‘Where did they even find that picture?’
‘I gave it to them chica. It was the most recent one I could find. Do you want a cup of tea?’
‘No, I don’t want a cup of tea. I want to go out there and look for her.’
‘Antonia, the police are doing their jobs. All we can do is sit and wait.’
‘I don’t want to sit and wait ma. I need to get out of this house. I need to look for my baby. I cannot stay in any longer and do nothing. Are you coming with me?’
‘I should stay here and wait by the phone in case the police call.’
‘OK, I will go out and look for her on my own then.’
‘Come on; be a little bit more practical now. Let the police find her.’
‘I can’t ma, I can’t. I have to go.’

Antonia

I left my mamá in the kitchen and went into my bedroom to fetch a cardigan; I put on my shoes and walked out of the front door. I had no idea where I was going; I just had to find my little girl. I walked for miles and miles until I realised I was lost. We had only recently moved to the neighbourhood and all of the houses looked alike.

I wanted to panic but then I thought about my baby, out there somewhere, with someone strange. I went into her room last night. Everything was undisturbed, the bed was made, I peeled back the duvet cover and got inside. I grasped her pillow and absorbed her smell. Filling my lungs with the sweet and familiar scent, it triggered more tears. Her favourite book was sitting on the bedside table and it pained me to know that I wouldn’t be reading it to her. I wouldn’t be able to see the wide eye joy on her face when she picked out her favourite colours from the pictures or the way that she laughed when I impersonated Ferdinand the bull.
It was that image that motivated me to find my way back home; the sky had created every shade of blue before I made it back to my front door. Mamá was worried that I wasn’t going to return; she kept pulling me close and telling me that everything was going to be alright and the police would find her. I went to bed that night and stared up at the ceiling, my eyes wide awake in the infinite darkness, I prayed more times than I could count until my body gave in and I drifted off to sleep.
I woke the next morning with a splitting headache, feeling like I didn’t have any sleep at all. In a trance-like-state, I went downstairs to see my ma. She was sitting at the kitchen table with two policemen. The first thought that crossed my mind was… Did they find her?
‘Morning Antonia, the policemen have some news.’
‘Is it bad? It’s bad isn’t it?’
‘Shhh, just sit down and we can find out.’
‘Why didn’t you wake me when they got here?’
‘I didn’t want to disturb you.’
I sat down next to one of the policemen and listened as they told us what they had discovered.
‘We have communicated with other police stations in a few different states and your daughter isn’t the only little girl who has gone missing. There are six little girls in total, including Isabella, that have disappeared in the last two months. We have come to a possible conclusion that these cases may all be connected. We are trying to gather as much evidence as possible to try and connect the cases. Is there anything else you could possibly think of Miss Vazquez that could help us with our enquiries?’
I had no words so I simple shook my head. My stomach twisted. How could someone do something like this? She’s just a little girl. They are all just little girls. I couldn’t do anything to help them. I couldn’t rescue my darling Isabella from the cruel man that tipped my whole world upside down in one moment. They would find him. They had too.

Jim

The little girl in the red dress was in my prayers every night, for the entire time that was she was missing. It was another ordinary day. My life was built around routine and ever since my wife died, I found great comfort in knowing what I was doing and what I had to do. It was a Friday morning and I was doing the weekly food shop in my local grocery store. I was walking down the fruit and vegetables aisle when I saw a hooded figure. He was quite tall, medium build, with a dark sweatshirt on with a hood. He was trying to hide his face. I decided to follow him. This was completely out of character for me but my gut was aching again with suspicion. Something wasn’t right.

He was looking at the same shelf for a few minutes. He didn’t see me. But I saw him. He looked in my direction and I caught a glimpse of his face. It was him. The same guy. The one who stole that little girl. My heart was tumbling inside my chest and I knew that I had to think carefully about my actions. I pushed my trolley to the customer service desk and asked them if I could use the phone. I dialled 911 and called the police. I told the staff at the grocery store to make sure that he didn’t leave. It was a dramatic blur of blue lights and police men marching into a busy grocery store. I watched as they pushed him out of the front doors, his hands bound together by handcuffs, his guilty eyes looking down at the floor. It was in their hands and my part was over, well almost.

Although my heart was still pounding from my encounter, I knew that I wanted to be the one to tell the mother. I arrived at her front door later that morning. Her face hadn’t experienced joy for days and I was privileged to be the bearer of good news. The police still had to question the man about the whereabouts of the little girl but I was optimistic that the nightmare was almost over. A mother would be reunited with her child and everything would go back to normal.

Phil

That stupid old man. I knew that my mistake would cost me everything. I should have stayed at home with all of the girls but I needed to go to the grocery store. The cupboards were bare and now that I had six little girls, I had to buy more food. It all happened so fast. I saw the old man. I tried to make a run for it by before I knew it I was handcuffed and thrown in the back of a police car. They can ask as many questions as they want. I’m not telling them anything. I knew it was one little girl too far. I should have stopped at five but I gave into my selfish desires. There was something exotic about the little girl in the red dress. With her dark features and foreign qualities.

I gave in. I did it again. I was too weak to fight with the voice in my head. It always won. This time it ruined everything for me. This was it. I thought about the six little girls in my house. Waiting in a dark room, I would never enjoy their company again. I would never touch Charlotte’s smooth skin and see her innocent blue eyes widen when it was her turn for special time. She was my favourite. She always was, until I found the little girl in the red.

It pained me that I would never get to be with her like the others. Why didn’t I take her to my room for special time instead of Charlotte? I had the chance and I blew it. I guess I wanted her to be there a couple of days before I got to know her better. I wasn’t a complete monster. She was still upset and I wanted her to calm down a little. I had a little bit of hope that they would let me go. They had no proof that I stole those little girls. They only had the old man’s word for it. Maybe I will get out of here? Maybe I will get to be with the little girl who escaped my love?

The interview had started. I was sat in a grey room with two people, a tape recorder and a ghostly air of silence. They asked their questions but I said nothing.

Decided to upload a creative piece of work that I submitted for my university course this year. This is a short story titled The Girl in Red that was my final fiction piece, I hope you enjoyed reading it 🙂

There Are No Shortcuts To Any Place Worth Going

QU081-1
I sit here now and I really cannot believe that I am in my final year of university. I know the journey is far from over but I feel like I can reflect back on my time at Edge Hill from this point and smile at how much things have changed. I have learnt many life lessons, met some great friends and I have finally found my voice as a writer. The next priority on my list is to get the best possible grade that I can achieve. I would love to get a first but a 2.1 is what I am aiming for. I also believe that it is never too early to start planning the future, I have started to search for graduate jobs. We had a career talk in class on Friday and the realisation was that over three quarters of students who graduate fail to get on the career ladder of their chosen field. I want to be in the minority that manage to get their dream job. I know I am optimistic but you never get anywhere in life if you fail to try. I have become very interested in magazine journalism and I would really love to pursue this after university. The one problem I have come across is that a large percentage of magazine companies are in London and I live in the North West, so I want to work in either Manchester or Liverpool.

I am going to try my best to get as much experience as possible, if this means doing another unpaid position when I leave university then so be it. The recipe to success is a mixture of talent, determination and hard work. You have to push yourself to achieve your goals. Recently I have acquired a new attitude. That you have to push past every person on the way to the top, they are your competition. This is a competitive field, better yet it is a competitive world and sometimes you have to do whatever it takes to get to where you want to be. When the man who was leading the careers talk asked how many people in the room had contacts in the business or work experience that was writing related, three people put their hands up (including me) Three people! Out of a class of thirty students. He was surprised by this. He told me and the other two people that we were ahead of the others and were more likely to get a graduate job because of our related experience. I think he used the phrase – you already have one foot in the door and that’s all it takes.

I like to think of my career as a ladder and I have already placed my foot on the bottom step by working at Female First this summer. I have a long way to go and I have this ideal dream in my head that I believe is possible. I am not deluded. I know that it may not happen but I will use every bit of strength I have to make it happen. If there is anything I can take away from university, besides my degree and writing experience. I can walk away and say that I am a strong, confident women who is ready to grab hold of her dream with both hands. I want to inspire. I want to write. That’s all I have ever really wanted to do deep down. Even at a young age. I wanted to create stories. Start with the idea of a character and a place and create something wonderful.  I am one voice in a sea of people, just hoping for my voice to be heard. 

I cannot predict the future. But I would like to see myself working for a magazine, I would be happy with this career path. There are two types of people in this world, those who sit back and wait for things to happen and those who make things happen. I want to be the second type of person. I want to make things happen for myself. I want to achieve my dream. It is possible. If I keep believing this and if I stay positive no matter how much rejection I face then I will be okay. There are no short cuts to any place worth going.

There is no easy way to reach your dreams. I believe that it is never too early to think about the future. I will blink and my life will be ten years from now. Life is incredibly short and we don’t have time to sit around and wait for good things to happen. I want to make the most of the next twenty years or so because these are the prime years of a person’s life. These are the years that will be the foundation of my career. I will learn all of the valid life lessons I will ever need in this time and I will grow as a person and as a writer. I still live in the present because I believe that it is the best place to be but I still need to think about the future. It is quickly approaching. In eight months time I will no longer be a university student. I will be looking for work just like the hundreds of thousands of other students across the country. I need to stand out. Why should they hire me over another Creative Writing student? What do I have that makes me different? That is what I need to think about. A year ago I didn’t have this mentality, but now I do. Now I am ready. Ready for the long and agonising path that is, my future.

Alterations And Preparations

CHECK

So it’s almost August and I wanted a lot more of my novel written than just 3,000 words. I’m a bit disappointed in myself for not sticking to my goal of at least 6,000 words by the end of July.  However, I have been busy working at Female First and the days that I don’t go to the office I am starting my third year preparations for university.  I have managed to list the ideas I have for each of my classes this year. For the first time we are studying Screen writing and our biggest assignment is to write a short film or TV pilot episode script. I have an idea already set up but I am yet to begin writing it because I don’t have the knowledge of how a script for screen is presented. I am sure this is what I will be learning in my final year but at least I have a solid idea written out in my journal. I have titled it ‘One Step Closer’, it will be a TV pilot episode of a drama about children living in a care home. I have some character profiles and I know some of scenes that will take place in the first episode.

I am making good progress with my third year preparations, I just wish I had made more progress with my novel for my dissertation. I know where I am going with my novel it’s just finding the time and the motivation to write it. As for fiction next year, I have a few story ideas drafted in my journal. One of them is a story about a little girl that goes missing and the story is told in three points of view, the mother’s, the child and the kidnapper. I have a title because I usually start with a title when I am writing and it will be called The Girl In Red.

Although I have only written 3,000 words I am already deciding to make alterations to my novel. At the moment it is in first person, present tense. I want to keep it in first person because I believe it to be the best way to tell the story but I am going to re-write it in past tense to see which I prefer. Better doing it now with 3,000 words than 30,000 words. I have far too many distractions to do it. It’s frustrating. It’s Sunday tomorrow. I have nothing to do. I might go to the gym for an hour but that’s it. So I am going to write. I am going to re-write the 3,000 words I have and change it to past tense. Then I will decide which is better. Saying I am going to write and actually writing are two very different things. I need to stop this laziness and get something written. If not, I’m sure I will regret the heavy dissertation workload that I will be bombarded with in September.

A Change In Direction Or Just A Distraction?

poetry journal

I know I haven’t posted in a while so here we go. First of all, I’ve made some progress with my book! I’ve finished the first draft of my prologue and started the first six pages of my first chapter but I’ve realised recently, that I don’t really have the ambition, the fire in my belly so to speak to want to write it.

Maybe it’s because I know how much work writing a book is and I don’t want to burden myself with that? Especially now I have a job and have that to occupy my time. I’ve decided to start a short story collection – hoping this will be the springboard of inspiration I need.

I already have one story that will be going in the collection called ‘Hush little baby’ and last night before I went to sleep the title of the short story collection popped into my head. I know the theme of which I am focusing on and it’s exciting because I have lots of different and original ideas.

I’ve decided to name the short story collection ‘Unloved.’ That’s all the information I have for now but I can’t wait to get started. I guess it’s okay to put the book on hold and focus on some smaller projects. I will keep you all posted with more details at a later date but for now I better stop writing this blog and go to work. Ciao 🙂