turning 28: an absent year

One short (yet so, so long) year ago I wrote a blog post on thetrainridehome.com about turning 27. The United States had begun quarantine, and I was scared. Everyone was scared, to a certain degree. I was laid off from my new job that I was barely getting the hang of, and my little family consisting of my husband, my dog, and myself were in a new state away, far from family, with no income, trying to keep it together.

an entertaining game during quarantine

Take some of these ideas, add your own into the mix, and pull them at random, doing one after the other. Don’t give yourselves too much time to think between each one – just DO. The whole experience made us feel like kids again, forgetting about the weight of the world. We hope you have as much fun as we did.

collage of the unknown

Sitting down with my journal and deeply thinking about it, I can trace back through a handful of versions of myself. The free spirit Scotland traveler constantly in a green knit hat and scuffed leather boots. The stressed teacher living in the tiny Portland apartment with a guinea pig. The new wife in Germany who poured energy into friendships, reading, art. Looking back through the layers of my life, I realize that I reinvented myself every year, with new jobs, passion-projects, food tastes. A small army of Emmas stand behind me, varying styles all lined up.

rejection stings

Rejection is a hard pill to swallow, and is seemingly a rite of passage as an adult. We’re forced to take it with a smile and carry on because that’s what we’re expected to do. Don’t make a fuss. I agree with this to a point. Perspective is everything. In the future, when I’m settled with a steady income, I’ll look back on this time and appreciate the rejections. They led me in the right direction. But, to someone who is struggling, that concept is hard to be fully grasped.

the road to asheville

On a Thursday in late December we packed everything we could fit into our red Honda, including a special spot for our dog, and started the 16 hour drive to North Carolina. The first couple hours we were focused – silent. Listening to our podcasts and navigating through Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey. The traffic going around the city was clogged, drastically slowing our quick pace less than 2 hours into the trip. At this point, Pebbles the dog also chose that he was over his special seat in the back, and squeezed his way onto my lap, where he would stay most of the journey.

2000-2020 family time capsule reveal

As time passes and carries us higher into adulthood, the specifics of childhood grow fuzzy. What remains is the feeling of being in our brown home with red doors, with my mother, father, and sister. I remember it as if I am looking into a snow globe, a static moment of my life halted in time, only the warm, vague feeling lasting.
The year 2000 brought Y2K panic, the Sydney summer Olympics, and so on. But, most importantly to me, the year 2000 caused us to create the family time capsule, to be opened in the year 2020.

accept the waiting

We are standing on the edge of our life. We have been for the past 3 weeks. What people don’t tell you about making a big life change is that at first it’s exciting. What we didn’t know was how mentally difficult the state of limbo can be.

a simple writing prompt to wrap up the decade

And just like that, a decade has passed. When I think about the year 2020 approaching, I think back to New Year’s Eve, 2000. My family decided to put together a time capsule, to be opened in exactly 20 years. In my 6 year old mind, this concept was incredible. I would be 26 when we opened up the time capsule. What would my life be like? Would I still be on the coast of Maine? Would I have gone to college, gotten married? 2020 bounced in my mind every New Year’s Eve since then.

a year in photos: europe 2019

Fifteen months living on a small army base in Vilseck, Germany, coming to a close. Unlike my usual habit of talking (or writing) with no end in sight, I don’t quite have the words today. So, this Wednesday, instead of posting a series of writing prompts, or a wordy life reflection with a heavy dose of nostalgia, I’m doing something different. Something for me.

moving boxes

Our first year of marriage sealed in these 7 boxes, full of the menial, yet meaningful items that make our days go by, showing us how little we actually need to be happy. In one day this organized chaos will be systematically removed and loaded onto a truck, then a boat, then a port, then our new home. Our house will echo in the emptiness, the end of this chapter.

first pages: how to best start a fresh journal

New journal, unknown possibilities, fresh start. You ever flip through your blank journal, wondering what stories, lists, and scribbles will land there? Where will your life take you while you are filling these 120 pages?
How do I best start off this new phase? For some reason, the integrity of these bound pages depends entirely on how I choose to fill the first few pages. Here are the best ways to start a fresh journal.

final pages: how to finish your journal

When I finish a journal, it signifies the end of a life chapter; whatever happened within those pages is now in the past. A fresh journal is a fresh start. Because of this, I often visualize specific periods of my life with what journal I used at the time. My year in Scotland? Ahhh, the red hardcover. My tiny apartment Portland, Maine; teaching, getting married, and preparing for Germany? That’s the era of the turquoise lined soft cover. My life fizzles down into a bunch of Moleskines.

the truth about getting a dog

Christmas morning rolls around. A big box, wrapped in gold paper and an oversized bow sits under the tree, an eager puppy waiting inside. This puppy is a blank slate, ready to be trained, immediately loving everyone around him, and would rarely have an accident in the house. He would understand the expectations without being trained over and over again. He would adjust into our family routine without a hiccup. If you’ve ever had a dog, you know what you just read isn’t reality, even a little bit.

tips for your travel journal

Traveling can be life changing. A single trip can alter the course of your life and give you your most memorable experiences. It can also be stressful, mundane, and make you want to go home. Your journal should show every angle of traveling, the highs and the lows. It should not look perfect, because traveling is not perfect.

4 creative writing prompts to stress out your characters

One of my worst writing habits is the inclination to write happy and descriptive scenes, rather than action filled, stressful ones. In my head, it seems to all fall into place so neatly, though when I take the time to write, I realize how unrealistic it feels. People, and characters, experience pain in their lives. How they confront these stressful experiences is what molds them, and ultimately, what makes them interesting to read. Check out these prompts to give depth to your characters.

3 writing prompts that use books around your house

Sitting down with a notebook or a laptop and immediately feeling inspired to write is a huge expectation we put on ourselves, and not one that is easily achievable. I’ve found that focusing on my physical environment can kickstart the flow of ideas. Do you have a book lying around? How about a whole library? Here are three ways to use the literature existing around you to write your own.

what i wish i knew before traveling to rovinj, croatia

Rovinj is an eclectic mix of colorful shutters, winding, white stone pathways, laundry hanging from multiple stories of windows, and a summer breeze. It’s almost more Mamma Mia than the film itself. Like with any location we’ve traveled to, there were many lessons we learned during our four days in the idyllic (former) island city of Rovinj.

Stream of Consciousness

Starting a creative writing session with a stream of consciousness can empty out any personal thoughts or details that are lingering in your mind. You might be surprised by the gems that you write during this “zone out” time. Since I’ve started this routine, I have a difficult time beginning my creative writing time without emptying my thoughts and starting with a clean slate.

Creative Writing Practice: creating a character

If you’re like me, you love the idea of writing stories. Having your words be read by others. Publishing your work. If you’re like me, you’ve figured out how difficult that can be, especially if you’re creating characters and a story line from scratch. Today can be the very start of this journey – the seed that will grow into something beyond you. Let’s start with a character.

Life Writing Practice: intrinsic and extrinsic character traits

Ahhhh, another Wednesday writing session. This is a time where you shut off the white noise in your life, reflect, and hopefully end up with writing you’re proud of. Since we are focusing on life writing still, we’re now honing in on intrinsic and extrinsic qualities of character building. The twist is, you’ll be writing about someone you intimately know.