It's amazing how words we read, a sight that we come across, or something we listen to can evoke many different emotions, all remarkably different to each person. 

In the evolution of my reading preferences, I have gone from Junie B. Jones, to Nancy Drew, to Jane Austen, to Anne Lamott and Charlotte Brontë. (I will always have a place in my heart for little Junie B. That crazy kid.) Looking back at these authors, I realize I was kind of an odd kid since I chose to read Pride and Prejudice for fun when I was 12. Half the time, I didn't know what was going on due to the British lingo, but I enjoyed it and finished it nonetheless. I guess I wanted to know why it is said to be a classic. 

My taste in music has also evolved: Obviously I listened to Hannah Montana, JoBros, Aly & AJ, and I just listened to whatever was on the radio. Now that I am in my 20s, I have a very eclectic taste in music (pop/instrumental/electronic/indie/singer-songwriter). Do I listen to the occasional JoBros? Yes. That is called nostalgia, people, and that is totally normal. 

This past year at college, I wrote down my favorite quotes from books, interviews, song lyrics, poem stanzas, etc. on index cards and taped them up around my desk in my dorm room. I taped said index cards as well as pictures of family and friends in hopes of making it feel more homey. It did its job, and it made my dorm room feel more like my bedroom back home rather than a place that I just inhabit.

I have realized that some statements mean something more to us than others. For instance, there are many times that I get excited about something that I am reading, and I recite back to my friends. More often than not, the other person doesn't like or appreciate the quote the way I do. This forces me to tell myself: Hey, you have eccentric taste, my friend. 

This amazes me about books, poems, essays, songs, and other works of art: there will always be a different interpretation for the audience member. In my high school English classes, I LOVED the questions on exams and homework assignments that gave a quote or an instance that happened in a book we were reading, and it asked you to explain what you thought it meant. I always got these questions correct, because as long as you defended your thought process, there was no wrong answer. That's what I love about art: there are no wrong answers. 

Words, lyrics, paintings, etc. all have the power to move people. An author's words have the power to make their readers not feel so alone in the world, even alone in what they're going through. The reader and the author are able to have this connection, simply from having their words read.

This sums up why I am a writer. I know how much other peoples' words have changed me, and I want to do so for others as well. 

Reagan Fleming

It's More Than Just Good Manners

I have learned that being thankful can make a world of difference in how I live my life.

I heard from one of my mom's friends that she had recently put into practice what Joel Osteen wrote about in one of his many books. That was, to be thankful to God in every season of life, of every part of the day. After I heard her talk about what she had learned, I unconsciously decided to put this into practice as well. I began to thank God for the most random things. I don't remember what exactly, but it probably started out like, "God, thank You for providing money for this gluten free bagel. It's delicious." (The members of my family are health nuts btw). Once I started thanking Him for the little things in my life (even though they sound insignificant), it became clear to me that I didn't even take the time to thank God about the bigger things in my life, the things that I have gotten so used to having. It may sound oxymoronic, but the more substantial things such as being able to live in a house & having the opportunity to go to a university to further my education, I kind of... forgot about. I was so used to living in the house that I live in & going to the school that I go to, that I didn't stop to thank God for these things, even though they should technically be the ones that I am most thankful for.  

Throughout that week, as I began to thank God for the most minuscule things as well as the most sizable ones, I noticed a change in my disposition; I had slowly but surely been noticing myself becoming happier. I discovered that thankfulness changes your attitude about life & everything around you for the better. It's more than a verbal response to someone after they held the door open for you. 

Ever since I chose to become a Christian as a young girl, I had experienced ups & downs like nobody's business. In middle school, there was a death in the family. After that happened, I basically lost my faith & belief that God was who He said He was. It sounds pretty drastic, but my family & I were believing for healing, so when that didn't happen, I was a confused kid. I couldn't understand why He would let something like that happen. But the thing is, I don't really have to know why God does the things He does or chooses not to do some things. There are millions of things that I don't understand nor want to understand (i.e. quantum physics), so I try to let God do all the planning. Obviously, I am not perfect, & I don't have a lot of patience. Giving God complete control has been a struggle. However, everything my family & I have been through has led to a deeper & more personal relationship with God. He taught me that everything works out for His good. I wouldn't wish what I had gone through on my worst enemy, but I have had to keep reminding myself that God knows what He's doing. Through all of the mess, it made me realize that He was a big enough god to handle it all. He doesn't need me to be a perfect Christian where all we talk about is how much I love Him, He wants to know me on a personal level. He wants to know ALL of us on a personal level, & He wants it to be out of love, not out of obligation. 

God actually wants to know me for me & you for you. For that reason, I am thankful. 

Reagan Fleming