Dear Inspiration,

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Dear inspiration,

Dear spark of imagination,

Dear intense, unfailing dedication to sharing my inner conflagration,

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Where have you gone today? Correction, where have you been for a while now? I remember the days when we would sit in Central Park, me with a pen and paper, you swarming through my whole being, igniting the cobwebs in my mind and turning every silken thread into a tapestry of thoughts. These days my thoughts feel less substantial. My writing less inspired. My blog sadly missing you and your flare for the dramatic honesty.

Something was lost between New York, California and Florida. Perhaps you lost track of me in my travels. I tend not to stay in one place for long, if I can help it. The fault is yours, for I travel to experience more of you. But lately when I sit down to write, what comes out is a cacophony of words that have no cohesion. A maelstrom of thoughts with no clear conclusion. Where have you gone, my inspiration? Did I leave you in New York? I thought I felt your breath on my neck when we went to California. Every sunset we saw together would inspire poetry. I wasn’t seeing those sunsets alone was I?
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I know, I know…sometimes you visit me in the wee hours of the morning, when I’m still drunk on dreams. But what you leave behind, I cannot seem to grasp. The mere whisper of magic…the faint scent of the divine. I wish I could lasso your power and harness your energy. I wish I could keep you in a bottle and pour you on when I need you most.

But you are not to be caught in my fisher’s net. You, imagination…you are fierce and wild and will not be tamed by a mere mortal. Even one who thinks as highly of you as I do. Even one who puts a store of dreams in the mention of your name. Even I don’t deserve to keep you locked up, like a tiger in a zoo. Locked up and caged where you do not belong.

There are others who call upon your influence. Others who need you as much as I do. And I know you have to answer their siren call, for their call is no more important than mine. You have to be in so many places at once. God made it so. The way He made it so Santa Claus could travel through the night and need no rest till his work is done. You, too, are undaunted by the call of your duty to the dreamers of the world.

Galaxies are created in your name. Brand new worlds uncharted by human cartographers are discovered. Characters spring to life, upright and fully functioning in the minds of the creators, your offspring. Those who write and draw and sing and dream. Those who make empowered speeches that inspire others to write and draw and sing and dream. This is the evidence of your majestic influence. The bright colors splashed upon our world to brighten dull days and give bold words to mundane moments. You, the paintbrush of God himself, are hard at work in someone else today.

Don’t forget to return to me. Don’t forget your faithful friend. I await your return with eager anticipation. My pen still finds the paper in your absence. My voice is not gone. I use the remnants of what you left behind when last we were together and I will write and draw and sing and dream until the day you come back to me.

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Sad Day

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I didn’t know I was gonna start this day with a grave digging. And as I drove the shovel into the ground till the hole was deep enough, I thought to myself “And this was the last day Lizzie ever had a pet…”

The pain of losing someone or something you care about deeply does not diminish one minute of the time spent together. It doesn’t diminish all the staircase conversations that Rihanna and I shared. Or the fact that every time I went to do a task in the apartment she had to get right up in my business because she wanted to be a part of my day. Or the fact that I would often step on her when I’d cook at night because she liked to stand right behind my feet and was so stealthy about it, I’d forget to look for her.

I took her companionship these last few months for granted. I didn’t actually go looking to have a pet in the first place. Rihanna had been my cat back in high school (so that tells you about how old she was) and when I went away to college and to New York, she stayed behind. My fabulous city life had no room for a cat. I didn’t think my fairly mundane Florida life had any room for one either.

But one night a Tom cat that lives in the neighborhood was terrorizing her (what a troll) and she was caught up on my stoop, so I opened the door and let her into my apartment and back into my heart. And she just decided that I was gonna be her home for a while.

Today I’m sadder about her death than I really thought I would be. Finding her body lying peacefully on the driveway this morning, almost like she wanted to make it easy for us to find her, was hard. It sucked actually. Wrapping her up and carrying her to her final resting place was even harder.

My Aunt Becky is the exact person you want to have around when there is a pet funeral going on. She knows exactly what to say. She is a feeler and she puts such beautiful words to emotions that sometimes feel hard to explain. With her you don’t need to explain. She gets it. So she picked some flowers, said a few words and thanked God for giving us animals, like Rihanna, to be our faithful companions.

Someone once told me that God is the kind of God that knows exactly what you need and when you need it! And that if you need to have a pet in Heaven, you will. I sort of love that idea. That picture of God providing something so small and delightful for the people He loves. Knowing that He gave me Rihanna right when I needed her and provided my open door to Rihanna makes me know that He is taking care of her still. He cares about all His creatures.

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I don’t know how to end a post like this. She was very old. It’s ok that she died. I’m sad that she did. I guess I want to say, love your pet and the time you have with them.

New Year, New Word

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As you may (or may not, if this is your first visit to my blogosphere) know, I gave up New Year’s Resolutions a few years ago. I decided it was time to stop changing things about myself and start challenging myself to simply be better.

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Each year I choose a word that will become a mantra, a creed, a manifesto to use for the whole of the year.

2016’s word was “Free” and to be honest, it was the opposite of a free-ing year. At times I wanted to be anywhere other than where I was. But in the aftermath of the year that seemed interminable, I can’t help but reflect upon those inalienable rights that I have taken for granted, like…you guessed it, Freedom.

But I don’t want to start this year with the same mistakes as last year. The challenge is to be better. And better is what I intend to be.

With that being said, this year I have chosen the word “Believe” to represent my journey through 2017. Somewhere between New York, California and Florida I stopped believing. I stopped believing in myself, in humanity, and in basic human decency. And while my belief in God never wavered, my trust in Him sure did and my belief in His plan over mine definitely took a hit. God and I have been in a bit of a knock down, drag out for the majority of the year.

But let’s be honest, I was only one doing any fighting in this relationship.

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Believe is one of those airy concepts like “Dream” or “Imagine.” It’s not quite as tangible as other words might be. “Trust” is a word you can sink your teeth into, but Believe…it’s more abstract. There are a lot of ways it can be applied.

That’s exactly what this year is gonna be about. What exactly do I believe? What do I believe about myself? What do I believe about the world? What do I believe are the best practices from a political standpoint? And how does my belief in faith translate to my daily life?

This is a big one, guys. You know how you never pray for patience because if you do God’s gonna throw something or someone at you that will force you to BE patient? This feels like that kind of mine field. Figuring out my core beliefs could take me anywhere.

The Liz of 2016 wasn’t ready for that kind of adventure. The Liz of 2016 wasn’t ready for that kind of challenge. The Liz of 2016 was merely treading water. But no more!

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I hope you’re ready to share in this journey with me. And I hope you choose a word that will represent your year. If you decide to give up on resolving to change, then share your word in the comments below and I will do my best to encourage you this year.

What I’ve learned most from 2016 is that community and encouragement are more important than ever. There are way too many things in this world, in this country that will divide us if we let them. The way we speak, the words we say, the colors of our skin, the religions that we practice. That’s why we have to find common ground. The fact that we are all flawed human beings is a great place to start!!!

Have a Happy New Year and know that I BELIEVE in you!

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Yes…YOU!

A Thought on Alderaan

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I want to take a moment and share a couple thoughts I’ve been having about the fateful planet of Alderaan.

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When we are first introduced to Alderaan (in Episode IV: A New Hope) it is the home world of the one and only Princess Leia. Which in and of itself is enough of a reason for us to care  about it’s fate, but beyond that we know nothing. We don’t know what it looks like, whether it’s a rocky planet or a lush planet, whether the people get along on Alderaan. Do some people side with the Empire and others with the Rebellion? The fact is, in those early moments of A New Hope, we know so little about Alderaan. Therefore, the fact that an entire planet is destroyed is tragic, yes. But we are not deeply invested in Alderaan itself.

Jump ahead to the prequels and the Clone Wars and Rebels and the comic books and the many novelizations both canon and legend that are out there. Some are chalk full of information about the mysterious planet of Alderaan. And just like that, years later…posthumously, we come to care for it quite a lot.

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We see what it looks like in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. We know more about Bail Organa and the upstanding man he is. The kind of man who would take an orphaned Leia and raise her has his own. The kind of man that believed in the Jedi to the bitter end. The kind of man that died on the planet of Alderaan that sad day when Governor Tarkin chose to use it as an example to keep the galaxy in line.

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It’s no longer a mysterious planet, it’s a tragic, ill-fated planet. Obi-Wan sensing that not only an entire planet full of people had been killed, but an old friend as well means that much more when we start to see the whole picture.

In some story telling, we may be treated to the whole picture from the get go. Like say…starting at the beginning and working through to the end, but not with Star Wars. No, we start in the middle of the story. Not knowing about Darth Vader and his past as Anakin Skywalker, hero of the Clone Wars. Not knowing about Alderaan, the peaceful planet with the beloved Bail Organa on it.

The more the picture broadens, the deeper we understand. The more we care. It’s what I love so much about Star Wars. It’s what keeps the expanded universe going. It’s what makes it so interesting.

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I’m currently reading Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel with my Goodreads book club, in preparation for Rogue One’s release on Thursday night. It deals directly with the creation of the dreaded Death Star and we learn that there are other planets that were sacrificed in order to create that monstrous weapon. Another poignant reason to remember poor Alderaan. I went back and watched A New Hope with this brand new information on my mind and it made the destruction of Alderaan so much more tragic and unbearable.

Alderaan…you went too soon. And we didn’t understand at the time or care as deeply as we do now…in the aftermath. But yes…now we know!

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Bun Challenge

#12Days of Star Wars Instagram Challenge Nerds

Perhaps you’ve seen the popular Instagram account @willitbeard and if you haven’t, prepare to be delighted by Pierce Thiot and his beard. Pierce posed the question “Will it Beard?” And has set out to see exactly what kind of everyday objects, foods, toys, etc will fit in his beard and stay in his beard. Check it out:

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Pierce inspired me and gave me an idea for #12DaysofStarWars …

I call it the Bun Challenge and I’m asking you… #willitBUN

Here’s the gist: What can you strap to your head that will give you Princess Leia buns. Cinnamon buns (rather obvious), toy tires, buns made of Lego, buns made of cookie dough? Let your imagination take you away and make sure to post pictures to Instagram (@nerdinthesand) and Twitter (@nerdinthecity) with the hashtags #12DaysofStarWars and #WillitBun

I have an awesome giveaway and every picture you post and tag me in will get you an entry! Giveaway winner will be chosen on 12.8.16 at midnight! Happy Bunning!

Here’s the first one I came up with today…rather easy and obvious, but ya gotta start somewhere!

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Bagel Buns (bagels fresh from Starbucks and yep…I bought 2 bagels just to pin to my hair! That really happened! It’s called dedication!)

Can’t wait to see what YOU come up with!

12 Days of Star Wars

#12Days of Star Wars Instagram Challenge Nerds

Nerds!! There are only 11 days left till our eyes behold the next installment in the Star Wars saga. (10 if you plan on going on Thursday night!) This Star Wars is going to have a decidedly different flavor than the 7 that have preceded it. There will be no scrawl at the beginning of the film. It’s going to take place in a timeline that we are familiar with but with a whole slew of new characters. And I, personally, am on the edge of my seat waiting for opening night!! I can barely contain my excitement!

I’m doing a Star Wars Challenge over on Instagram to give myself an outlet for all my Star Wars joy! Come play! @nerdinthesand #12DaysofStarWars

#12Days of Star Wars Instagram Challenge Nerds

What are you most looking forward to seeing in Rogue One? Brand new characters like Jyn Orso, Captain Cassian Andor, K-2SO and Director Orson Krennic? The return of familiar characters like Mon Mothma, Bail Organa and Darth Vader himself? Perhaps you’re pumped to see how it’s going to set up the story to lead right into our beloved Original Trilogy? I can’t decide which part I’m most excited about.

I just know that every time a new Star Wars comes out I feel like I did in 1999 when The Phantom Menace came out and my friends, family and I waited in line for hours for that midnight showing.

I grew up with Star Wars (this you already know) so there was never a time when it wasn’t a part of my world. I don’t remember the first time I saw Episodes IV, V and VI. But I do remember when the news hit that George was finally going to give us a prequel trilogy. The impossible had become possible. There would be more Star Wars in our future!! I felt almost the same way in 2012 when Disney announced it’s acquisition of Star Wars and that  the purchase would mean that once again, the Star Wars universe would be expanding.

So yeah…I’m pumped! There is no fandom that hits me the way Star Wars does. No fandom has ever come close. And I think…no fandom ever will.

Get your tickets for Rogue One TODAY!

Insatiable Wanderlust by Disney

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I used to blame Disney for my fanciful, romantic dreams. Princes and ballroom dances and true love winning out. Don’t get me wrong…I still occasionally dream those dreams and I still blame Disney for them!

But there’s something else and I didn’t even realize it was Disney’s fault till I saw Moana this weekend and that still small voice inside me was awakened by the song “How Far I’ll Go.” The thought of something out there calling to me, it hits home. It always has.

Disney characters have long been looking out and asking “Is there something more for me?” Some don’t have to go very far to find what they’re looking for. Others, like Moana, have to sail across the sea. Some are searching for princes and others for destiny.


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Sure, I can’t blame it all on Disney. God’s the one who put that call in there to begin with. But the House of Mouse sure knows how to hit the chords that make you dream. And growing up watching the entirety of Disney’s animated film collection, well…they created a “monster.”

A “monster” who is constantly thinking “There must be more than this provincial life” and my life isn’t even provincial. But sometimes, when I’m doing something plain and ordinary like laundry or desk organization, I sing that to myself. I wonder what’s “Just around the river bend.”

If I was a Disney character, there’d be a perfectly timed song and the lyrics would help me realize my next steps and it would be inspirational and you’d be singing it for months. As it is, we mere mortals have to figure it out without catchy tunes and perfect hair. Darn it, Disney! What have you done?

Prequels and Sequels and Spinoffs, Oh My!

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If you are someone who is tired of seeing the same 7 or 8 franchises roll into theaters time and time again, I feel bad for ya, son. I got 99 problems, but that is definitely not one of them!

I LOVE them! And I’m not saying all of them or any of them deserve Oscars.

Look…it’s true, some of them are not good at all! But for every stinking sequel there’s a Force Awakens. For every sloppy spinoff, there’s an Agent Carter (her cancellation is not her fault!) or a Rogue One (which I’m already certain will be blowing us all away in under a month.) And for every poorly written prequel there’s a Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. And I’d watch a thousand bad prequels for the chance to get something as delightful as Fantastic Beasts in front of my eyes!!

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We are certainly living in the age of reboots, re-imaginings and big budget franchises. But again I say, I LOVE IT! When word broke that Disney had purchased Lucasfilm and there would be a slew of new stories from that galaxy far, far away I was overjoyed. I love expanded universes. The deeper a story goes, the more involved it gets, the more I can lose myself in the fiction. That’s what makes the worlds of Harry Potter, Marvel and Star Wars so compelling and why they inspire the ticket and merchandise sales that they do.

Do you run the risk of overkilling something people dearly love? Of course. But the alternative is putting that franchise up in a box never to be touched. Never to be reimagined by someone who comes along and loves the world JK Rowling has created as much as JK herself. Art imitating and inspired by art is such a cool thing.

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JJ Abrams grew up on Star Wars, got into movies because of Star Wars and there he was directing his very own Star Wars movie. No matter what you thought about the film itself, doesn’t that inspire you?! JJ is one of us, one of our people (we the geeks) and he got to do what so many of us have only dreamed.

Just think, Harry Potter fans…think of the possibilities that the Wizarding World of JK Rowling holds for you. That world is not closed off. It’s not a 7 book, 8 movie story. There’s so much more and that means big things for you and your imagination!

So I say, prequel it up all you want, Hollywood. Just use Fantastic Beasts as a barometer on how to do it and do it well.

Land of the Free

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It’s Election Day! I hope you get out there and exercise your right to vote for who you want to be Senator, Congressman, Comptroller…President. You are free to do that.

I’m reading a book called “The Girl with Seven Names” by Hyeonseo Lee. Hyeonseo escaped from North Korea and a brutal life under a dictatorship. She didn’t even know the extent of her own bondage until years later. She lived in fear of things like the mandatory home portraits of Kim Il-sung and his son, Kim Jong-il getting dust on them and the almost assured punishment that would follow such a disrespectful crime. She lived in a dark world where information was restricted, lest the people of North Korea form free thoughts and opinions. Hyeonseo was not free.51dOIBoNRrL.jpg

My fellow Americans, do not be deceived, we are free. Your life may not be perfect. There’s still work to be done in this country, I’m not saying it’s a perfect world. Your life may not be what you want it to be, but you are free to change it. You are free to speak against our President, against our government, against our very Constitution without fear of punishment or retribution. Hyeonseo was not. She wasn’t even free when she finally escaped to China, constantly under the watchful eyes of the Bowibu looking to bring back escaped North Koreans. Hyeonseo had to watch her back, had to hide in plain sight, had to change her name seven times in the course of her life just to stay alive.

I’ve heard a lot of negativity in this election cycle. A lot of talk about how scary our country has become and how much people are wishing for the “good old days.” I hope you think about what the “good old days” looked like for so many people in this country. For minorities, women, immigrants…they were not good days.

Freedom comes at a price. The price is moving forward. The price is allowance and tolerance and understanding. That is a price that North Korea refuses to pay. And a price that America paid a long time ago. Think before you talk about this great nation. We don’t need to be made great, we already are. And those who are still fighting for rights deserve the chance for the same freedoms that I (a privileged, white, American, female) take for granted.

Reading Hyeonseo’s story has me thanking God for my own, flaws and all. And doubly has me thanking God for my country. This is the land of the free and the home of the brave. Don’t let anyone tell you different. If you spent a day in Hyeonseo’s shoes, you might think differently about this great nation!

Vote well. Vote wise. But most of all VOTE!!

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“O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath–
America will be!”      –‘Let America Be America Again’ by Langston Hughes