How Poetry Found Me

On my last post, someone commented wondering how it was that I got into writing poetry, so today I decided to post about it.

When I was about 10 years old, or possibly younger, my mom was teaching a writing class at my school to the 9th and 10th graders. Somewhere in there I overheard her talking to her class about limericks. The idea of words having that specific of a rhyme and rhythm pattern fascinated me, and I immediately tried my hand at limerick writing. The poems that came out of that stage were weird and disjointed, but they sparked an interest in poetry that has only grown since.

It was around that time that my sister Amy purchased a book of poems by Emily Dickinson, and sometimes she would read them to me before bed. I loved these poems so much that I would memorize them and quote them to myself under by breath before I fell asleep at night. My favorites were “A Wounded Deer” and “Success Is Counted Sweetest”.

It was Emily Dickinson’s poems that inspired me to branch out of limerick writing and try different poetry styles. However, my topics were still a bit odd. I distinctly remember one poem about a sick girl who danced at midnight and that cured her of her sickness. Another I wrote with a friend, who shall remain nameless to save her from embarrassment, was centered around a girl who loved a boy and basically stalked him, but then he ended up marrying her sister.

When I turned 13 I started going to the ACE Conventions, and I began to write and enter poems there. My first one was about an Anabaptist man named Dirk Willems, and, to my surprise, it placed second. The next year I wrote about my great-great grandpa (you can find the poem here) and I placed first. Our school went to Internationals that year, and I took my poem, and it placed 4th out of 86 entries. Needless to say, I was quite proud of myself.

I entered poems at Regionals the next two years as well (you can find them here and  here) and I placed first both years. The second one I took to Internationals, and I won first there as well.

But poetry isn’t just something I love to write, I also love to read and recite it. In fact, here’s a list of some of my favorite poems:

“Song of Slaves in the Desert” by John Greenleaf Whittier

 

“Stanzas on Freedom” by James Russel Lowell

 

“‘Hope’ is the Thing With Feathers” by Emily Dickinson

 

“If” by Rudyard Kipling

 

Of course, there are many more that I love, including pretty much anything Longfellow wrote (at least that I’ve read).

I think what I love most about poetry is that it needs structure. It’s more than just finding words, it’s finding the exact right words, finding words that fit the rhyme, and fit the rhythm, and sound cool too. When I feel like my life is unstructured and chaotic, poetry is the outlet that provides me with some structure, and helps me to make sense of my life.

So, that’s the story of how I started writing poetry, and why I love it so much. If you have any poems that you love, comment and tell me what they are, and I’ll read them and probably love them as well.

This was Day 9 of the April Blogging Challenge. You can read Day 8 on Mom’s blog, and Day 7 on Emily’s blog.

I hope you all have a great day!

TTFN

Morning Song

 

For Day 6 of the April Blogging Challenge, I’ve decided to share a poem that I wrote about a month ago, and attempted to polish up a bit today.

I hope you enjoy.

 

Morning Song

By Jenny Smucker

 

Every morning I arise

And look to greet the dawn.

And as Earth shed’s it’s dark disguise,

I faintly hear this song.

 

“Wake up darling, morning’s here,

The new day is a-breaking.

I promise there’s no need to fear

The steps that you’ll be taking.

 

“Don’t waste a moment of your life,

Make use of what you’re given,

For as you further climb your climb

You’ll only be more driven.

 

“So boldly go attack the day

And take the world by storm.

Throw your troubles far away,

And love will keep you warm.

 

“Then carry with you everywhere

That love for all around,

And if you can’t cause love’s not there,

It’s waiting to be found.

 

“Finally, darling, serve your God,

Without Him you will fail,

But guided by His staff and rod,

No doubt you will prevail.”

 

So with this song upon my heart,

And love within my soul,

I’ll greet the day with a fresh start

And living as my goal.

 

 

That’s it, folks. If you’d like to read more posts from the April Blogging Challenge, you can catch Emily’s here and Mom’s here.

I hope you all have a wonderful day.

TTFN

The Books That Changed Me (April Blogging Challenge)

Throughout my life, there have been 5 books that I can point to and say, that book changed the way that I looked at and lived my life. So today, I’m going to be sharing what those books are with you, and what it is that I loved about them.

Book #1

The Giver

By Lois Lowry

the giver

This was the one of the first Dystopian books I’d ever read, and it really impacted me. It made me love the emotions I felt, whether good or bad, and the things that made all of us different people. It helped me to appreciate seeing colors, hearing music, and feeling joy and pain.

 

Book #2

Stargirl

By Jerry Spinelli

stargirl

This book taught me that being different is okay, even if people hate you for it. It gave me an insight into other people’s minds, and the way they thought, like I’d never really had before. This book gave me another perspective on how people’s minds work.

 

Book #3

The Outsiders

By S. E. Hinton

the outsiders

This book taught me to never judge other people by how they appear, that even the toughest, meanest looking people can have a soft heart. Also, it taught me that one person does not represent a whole group.

 

Book #5

To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee

TKAM

This book, like The Outsiders, taught me about not judging others for how they look. It also gave me an insight into what a racist society is like, and how horrible it is. Having grown up in a Mennonite community in Oregon, I had no space in my head for what that would be like until I read this book.

Book #5

The Book Thief

By Marcus Zusak

the book thief

This book. Oh my. It hits me right in the feels every time I read it. It gave me such a new perspective on Wartime Germany, and why people did what they did, and how thousands of people could believe that the horrible thing they were doing was right. It gave me a portal into another person’s mind in a way I had never experienced before. It was great.

 

So there you have it: the 5 books that have changed my life. Not coincidentally, they’re my 5 favorite books as well.

If you have never read them, I’d strongly recommend that you do so.

Also, if you can think of a book that changed you, tell me what it is! I’d love to read it.

 

TTFN

 

P.S. Mom, Emily, and I have once again started blogging for the month of April, but this year we’re calling it the “April Blogging Challenge”  and we’ll be posting every day, not just weekdays. You can catch Mom’s posts here and Emily’s posts here.

Have a lovely Monday, everybody.

 

 

RSC 2017

The ACE Student Convention has always been something that I really enjoyed. For those of you who don’t know what it is, it’s basically a time when a bunch of schools who use the ACE curriculum get together and compete in different areas, including athletics, music, exhibits, academics, and platform. Every night a rally is held where speaker delivers a great sermon, and everybody takes some time to worship God. I competed at convention for four years, from when I was 13 to when I was 16, and it was always a great experience

This year, my great friend, Janane Doutrich, and I, having both graduated last year, offered/were asked to help with Convention. We worked in Master Control, which is basically the office area. It’s where all the coordinating happens, where the judges forms get processed and filed, and where the powerpoints for every evening’s rally are created.

My job was three-fold. I was in charge of handling Open Events, which are the events that anybody can enter and you don’t actually get a medal for (they’re basically just for fun), and I was also the “errand girl,” running messages all over the Convention, finding people, and helping take pictures for the highlights video on the final night. Finally, Janane and I worked with one of the sponsors to plan a fun activity during the pre-rally several nights.

I had no idea what to expect when I agreed to help with Convention, and I had no idea how much it would stretch me. I was forced to handle what felt like large amounts of responsibility, and interact with people I may never have interacted with otherwise, and although this experience was stressful, I enjoyed it a lot.

For me, this reinforces the belief that staying within one’s comfort zone may be easy, but it limits growth. I never would have made the friends I made this year if I’d only talked to the people that I knew, or only the people that were from my school. I never would’ve realized how much fun the people who ran the Convention were if I hadn’t worked with them so closely. I never would’ve know that I could plan games that people would enjoy watching or participating in if I hadn’t agreed to do so.

I think what I’m trying to say here is, try new things, try things that pull you out of your comfort zone, try things that challenge you. Those are the things that will change you, and those are the things that will help you find what you love to do, and show you what you are capable of.

So go, try new things, find what you love, push yourself. You never know what might come of it.

To finish off, here are some pictures of Convention, from 2013 to now.

TTFN

The Struggle of Changing Your Mindset

Image result for growth mindsetThere’s an idea that’s been floating around the Smucker household in the past few months or so, and that is the idea of a Growth Mindset versus a Fixed Mindset. You can find an article about it here.

The basic idea behind it is that someone with a fixed mindset believes that their qualities, such as intelligence or talents, are fixed traits, whereas a person with a growth mindset sees them as areas where they can grow. A person with a fixed mindset tends to turn away and give up when he approaches an obstacle, whereas a person with a growth mindset sees it as a learning experience.

Obviously, a growth mindset is the mindset that we want to have, and it’s the mindset that successful people tend to have.

I, unfortunately, tend to drift towards a fixed mindset. I think part of the reason behind that is that, growing up, I was always viewed as smart, and school came naturally to me. I just figured that when you were smart, schoolwork was easy and you didn’t have to work that hard.

Having a fixed mindset really came back to bite me when I started college. There were suddenly all these people around me who seemed way smarter than me, and the classes were harder than anything I’d done before. I wrestle with feeling inferior and stupid because I haven’t yet mastered the art of working at learning instead of just getting through it by being “smart.”

An example of this came in the form of trigonometry. I’ve always been naturally good at math, so I was expecting to breeze through trig, but when the teacher started bringing up concepts I had never heard of that didn’t make any sense to me, I felt stuck. I was stumped on my homework, and I didn’t even know where to begin trying to sort everything out. I didn’t understand a thing, and it made me feel like an idiot. Eventually I figured out that if I wanted to learn what I was being taught, I had to  work hard, study the textbook more than I felt like I had to, practice problems, and ask questions, even if they felt like stupid questions. I still don’t have trig figured out, but I’m getting it better now that I understand I’ll have to work at it.

Thankfully, mindsets are not set in stone, and I’m working at developing a growth mindset.  I have to remind myself that having to work to get knowledge doesn’t mean I’m stupid, and when I’m surrounded by future engineers that all seem to know how all this stuff works and I have no idea what’s going on, it’s okay, I’m here to learn, not already know.

It’s really hard, though, to try to change your outlook on life. It’s hard to see things as learning experiences when they feel like huge obstacles, but I’m beginning to discover that it is possible.So don’t be discouraged if you’re in a situation where everyone else seems to know what they’re doing and you don’t. It doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it’s just a potential learning experience.

TTFN

There’s Something About the Ocean

I love the coast. 20161227_153851

I love the smell of ocean air, the feeling of sand between my toes, and the cold water. Whenever I’m there I want to run and do cartwheels and maybe scream at the top of my lungs.

My whole family, minus my sister, Amy, spent the last four days at the coast, and it was lovely.

I watched sunsets

20161228_165208-1

Played my ukulele,

20161229_104252-1

Checked out a cafe with Emily and Mom,

And toured the Tillamook Cheese Factory. They gave us free cheese samples and I kissed a cow statue.

On the last day, Mom, Dad, and Emily headed home, and Matt, Ben, Steven, and I set off down the coast, stopping at viewpoints and beaches and a Dollar Tree along the way.

All in all, the trip was wonderful, and I loved it.

Anyway, I need to go write a few New Years Resolutions.

I hope you all have a great 2017.

TTFN

 

The Importance of Learning

I love learning, and no matter where I am, I can’t seem to escape it. I started going to community college this fall, and I’m loving it. I love sitting in a classroom and feeling all this information floating around me, just within my reach. It feels like there’s a wealth of knowledge out there, and if I work hard enough, I can get all of it.

My learning doesn’t stop with schooling. Recently I’ve been spending my free time watching TED talks. I love hearing people talking about the things they’re passionate about, and learning about things I never even knew I wanted to learn about. I’ve watched talks on Syrian refugees, giant squid, and an African boy who designed a system to keep lions away from his cows without killing the lions.

Learning and knowledge have been important to me for as long as I can remember. In my family, knowledge meant winning arguments. My family really valued knowledge. All of us read profusely, and certain siblings of mine would pour over encyclopedias, atlases, and anything that could impart information. Being the youngest, I always looked up to them and wished that I could be as smart as them. Being smart was cool, not weird. Because of this, knowledge always meant power to me.

Another reason I love learning, is that I feel like, the more I know, the better I can put myself into another person’s shoes, and realize that the world doesn’t revolve around me. Knowing that there are people dying for their faith, that slavery is not a thing of the past, and that somewhere someone is dying because they don’t have access to clean water reminds me that what seems like a big problem really is manageable.

In one of my classes the instructor asked us what it was that drives us, specifically relating  to our schooling. I didn’t have an answer right away, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the thing that drives me is my desire to change the world for the better. For me, knowledge is first step I can take towards that goal.

I don’t think I’ll ever stop learning, and, honestly, I don’t want to. I want to learn new things up until the day I die. Because with learning, and with knowledge, comes the power to change lives, to put yourself into someone else’s shoes, and to leave the world in a better place that it was when we came to it.

TTFN