Day 5 – That Busy Road

The road is busier than usual today and each driver appears to feel the urge to speed faster than the last. There were days when I would only witness one single truck slowly trekking down the road early in the morning and again before noon. Baxter had coffee with his sister every morning. Then the school bus came after three to drop off the lone kid that lived further out than we did.

In those days I was just a ghost running barefoot on a slab of dirt and rocks. No one knew where I was or how far down into the backwoods I could go. It was only me, no cars or trucks. No one else existed down the road.

I drive the four wheeler down the road. The rain has shown the true, poor quality of the gravel the men use to “fix” things. Ruts as deep as tires fill the center. Several spots in the ditches show signs of cars being stuck for hours. 

Three cars zip past me before I’m a mile down. I don’t recognize them. Where are they going? 

Four new trailer houses have been placed in the pasture I used to camp in. Last week there were only three. 

I pass the purple fence my friend and I used to climb on. He was my best friend until middle school, when boys and girls realize they can’t be friends without it meaning something more. Now he’s a cop far away. 

Five more cars pass me, along with an 18-wheeler. There can’t be this many houses down the road – where are they all going? 

Passing Mr. Baxter’s house, I see his old Ford rotting in the backyard. He used to be the only car to pass me while I was running. He never stopped, but he always waved. We’re both loners. I think he knew that.

The tiny creek across the 4 way stop is where I found Puppy. Someone had dumped him out, trying to get rid of him. He was too scared to come to me, but he followed me home anyway. And he was a great pet. He ran with me, no matter how far I went. A speeding truck with a trailer ran him down a year later, right in front of my home. 

I pass An old cemetery a few miles down. The headstones are weathered and fading. I’m not sure anyone comes to visit anymore. Surely doesn’t seem like it. The ditch next to it is where I wrecked the four wheeler in high school. No damage done, but a great story to fabricate to my friends. 

I’m passing houses with each quarter mile, but I don’t see them. They’re not part of the story, no matter how obstructing they may be to my childhood. 

Cars continue to zoom forward while spraying me with rainwater and mud, but they don’t get it. And for that, I feel sorry for them.

To them it’s just a road – a poorly constructed piece of dirt covered in chunks of gravel. 

I turn around and let it take me home, as it has done a hundred times before. 

The Wings of New (530 Word Story)

Barbara has seen three gruesome wars and multiple economic depressions. She had witnessed decades of societal changes and dozens of presidential races. She watched friends around her slowly wither away until death overcame them. She lost her husband to cancer. She had even watched two of her sons take their own lives. 

Through it all, Barbara remained resilient and continued along her path of creating a better world for her descendants. Her body was ready to leave the earth and decay in the dirt, but her mind and spirit still had much work to accomplish. 

“Are you ready, Mrs. Kelsey?” The nurse asked gently and held out a cold, soft hand.

Barbara nodded her head and grabbed the nurse’s hand.

“Are you afraid?” Asked the nurse.

“No. If it is my time to go, I will not argue.” Barbara clenched the rosary in her hand and brought it to her face. Silently, she said a prayer.

The nurse took Barbara to a room down the hall of the serpentine hospital. The room was white and reeked of sterilization. In the center sat a clean metal table. 

The nurse helped Barbara lie down on the table and then asked one more time, “Are you certain?”

Barbara said one final prayer and sighed, “Yes.”

The nurse injected a clear liquid into Barbara’s neck. Peaceful sleep overcame her.

—-

“Alright, we are all finished.”

Barbara couldn’t see anything but blackness, but she began to register voices all around. 

The wings of steel were the first appendage she felt. She felt them, as if they were her own. They were her own. And for the first time in her life, it was time to fly. 

It was time to fly away from the life that had beaten her down day by day. It was time to fly away from the institutions that had failed her and the people who left her high and dry. 

Barbara’s vision finally began to clear. Her vision went from blurry to immaculate perfection – every tiny detail in the surgical room was sharp and defined. Nurses walked around the room covered in scrubs, gloves, and masks. 

And then Barbara saw her new shiny vessel. Gone were the days of barely getting around on two twice replaced hips and wretched knees. The days of flight were coming. Barbara’s birdlike body shimmered under the surgical lights. She brought her wings into view and smiled with her newly placed beak. 

“Goodbye,” Barbara whispered as she spread her mechanical wings across the room. Glass shattered and nurses screamed out in shock. 

Flapping the powerful appendages, Barbara rose from the gurney and shot up through the foam ceiling panels. She broke through to the next floor up and sped towards the first widow in sight. People all around screamed and ran, but Barbara was determined. 

She steeled her body and closed her eyes as she braced for impact with the glass. She barely even felt the widow shatter all around her polished frame. 

Feeling the sunlight hit her new feathers of steel, Barabara opened her eyes and saw the sun for the first time in weeks. 

She flew towards the sun, smiling and radiating freedom the entire time. 

What an Armadillo Can Teach you

In southern states of the U.S. and all the way down into South America, armadillos of different shapes and sizes roam the lands. Here are ten awesome facts about these peculiar creatures:

File:Nine-banded Armadillo.jpg

1. Armadillos live and love to dig.

In fact, their digging is what keeps them alive. Whether it’s digging burrows or scouring the ground out for insect meals, this is what they’re known for.

Image result for armadillo burrow

2. The digging habit of armadillos is closely related to their location on the map.

In southern areas, the soil is soft enough for these creatures to dig as much as their little claws desire. The harder the soil, the more difficult it is to do their work. This is why an armadillo won’t be spotted in the northern states where the soil is cold and callous.

Armadillo Close-up

Aside from needing soft soil, armadillos just aren’t built for cold weather. With little stores of fat in their anatomy, they’re often forced to cuddle up in burrows when cold weather hits their habitats.

3. There are 20 different varieties of the armadillo and only one, the nine banded armadillo, can be found in the U.S.

So if you want to see the diverse sizes and colors of the armadillo species, you’ll have to venture down to the warm climates of South America.

4. The nine banded armadillo is the state mammal of Texas.

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The scientific name for this specific variety of the armadillo is Dasypus novemcinctus. Though Texas has claimed this animal as Her official state mammal, nine banded armadillos can also be found in the U.S states of Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Kansas.

5. Armadillos found in South America can be much larger than those known in the U.S. They can even grow up to five feet long and 120 pounds. 

Image result for giant armadillo

On the other end of the spectrum, they can be as small as five inches and weigh 3 ounces.

6. The word “armadillo” comes from the Spanish language and means, “Little armored one.”

The term “nine banded” is in reference to the number of bands on the shell of the armadillos found in the southern U.S. The scientific name for armored mammals is xenarthra cingulata.

Image result for armor clipart

Mammal + Armor = Armadillo (Xenarthra cingulata)

7. The rough and tough looking shells on the backs of armadillos are there for protection.

Everything serves a purpose, right? Though the shells may look odd to humans, these creatures depend on their firm coating to guard against predators. They are the only mammals to sport these shells of armor.

Image result for armadillo shell

Unfortunately, their soft bellies are prone to attack from predators, but the armadillos will sometimes sink down into the dirt when they are under attack to protect the soft side and let their enemies face the rigid shells.

8. A diet of an armadillo primarily includes insects, but they also eat plants and small vertebrates (this could include anything from a tiny fish or lizard up to a little mouse).

Image result for insects

9. Armadillos have terrible eyesight, but make up for this with their amazing sense of smell.

When digging down in the dirt, they use their long snouts to sniff out their dinner.

Image result for armadillo snout

With such poor eyesight, it’s pretty easy to sneak up on an armadillo, especially one who is hard at work digging out a new burrow. A close encounter with one of these creatures can be common, but one should always respect the territory and be careful not to spook the armadillo.

10. Armadillos are descendants of a prehistoric creature called the “glyptodon.”

Apparently, these big guys were around the size of a small car.

Image result for glyptodon

Life advice from the armadillo: When facing stressful times, focus on your strengths. Though they look a little odd and might destroy your yard from time to time, armadillos are awesome creatures that deserve to live on this planet just as much as any other unique species of earth.

Thank you very much for reading this post. My armadillo buddies and I are eternally grateful.

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Image result for three armadillos

References “Nine-Banded Armadillo (Dasypus Novemcinctus).” Texas Parks and Wildlife, https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/species/dillo/. “Armadillos.” National Geographic, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/group/armadillos/

“Armadillo (Xenarthra cingulata).” San Diego Zoo Animals and Plants, http://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/armadillo

5 Wholesome Lessons from Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland was published in the 1860s by a man named Lewis Carroll. There have been movies made based on this fantastical book and it continues to be popular in the 21st century. It’s a fun read full of madness and anomalous events.

Here are five wholesome life lessons found in this classic tale:


1 – Falling into a hole isn’t always a bad thing

“I almost wish I hadn’t gone down that rabbit-hole – and yet – and yet – it’s rather curious, you know, this sort of life! I do wonder what can have happened to me!”

Alice

Just like Alice, we all occasionally fall down the metaphorical rabbit hole. We take a tumble, look up, and think, “How did I end up here?”

At first, the fall always seems scary and unpredictable. But maybe unpredictable isn’t a bad thing. Maybe we need to fall in life from time to time to have an adventure and discover more about the world around us.

Purtis Creek State Park

2 – Search for yourself.

“‘Who in the world am I?’ Ah, that’s the great puzzle.”

Alice

Exploring ourselves and what we’re made of can be a lifelong journey if we have the courage to step out and discover new things. We might have a general idea of wants, needs, fears, and likes, but there’s always more to be found out about who we are.

Collin

3 – We, as humans, change all the time and can be many things in this life.

“…I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.”

Alice

“How puzzling all these changes are! I’m never sure what I’m going to be, from one minute to another!”

Alice

As we venture through life and explore more about ourselves, it’s very likely that we’re going to change – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Welcome changes and embrace new discoveries. Everyday is a new day to learn more about who we are and what we are.


4 – If the destination is unknown, you’re free to take any path.

“‘I don’t much care where -‘ said Alice. ‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.”

Narrator

If you find yourself lost or wandering, enjoy the limbo. It can be so very intimidating and mysterious, but that’s the beauty of having no direction. If there’s nowhere you feel you have to go, you’re free to explore any path available.

Fairfield Lake State Park

5 – We’re all crazy.

“We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”

The Cat

Seriously, we’re all insane. We all have issues and different perspectives on life. We all have unique beliefs, values, opinions, and styles. So don’t judge and never be afraid to be yourself.

Owl at Dallas Zoo

On a medical note, if you find random bottles of liquids that say, “Drink this,” it’s probably a good idea to NOT drink them. To be fair, Alice is a child who just fell into a hole full of fantasy, so she’s off the hook.

Thanks for reading this post and I will leave you with a goodbye question:

“Why is a raven like a writing desk?”

The Hatter
Purtis Creek State Park

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5 Ways Running a Marathon Teaches About Life

Back in 2012, I ran my first (and only, as of now) full marathon in Dallas, TX. For me, it wasn’t easy. I didn’t pay attention to my finishing time because I didn’t care. I just wanted to complete the run. I’m slow, but I made it. And I wore that shiny sweaty finisher’s medal with pride.

Looking back, the marathon taught me much about myself. It taught me five important life lessons as well. Here they are:

Photo by Thgusstavo Santana on Pexels.com

1 – Always prepare wisely.

Thankfully at the time of the marathon, I was in pretty good shape. I didn’t give myself enough time to train properly, so I had to skip some stepping stones on the progression chart.

When event day arrived, I was sort of prepared. I had ran twenty miles a couple weeks earlier, so I knew I could finish the famous 26.2. But improper preparation led to some serious pain and misery during the run.

Whatever your goal is – prepare the right way. Give yourself plenty of time to progress and learn. Because going from zero to one hundred in anything in life is not good for the mind and body.

Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Pexels.com

2 – Music is a life saver.

Figuratively and literally.

I wouldn’t have finished that marathon without music. I doubt I would have made it halfway without songs to motivate my tired soles.

Not just in running, but with all aspects of life – music gets us through it all. There’s a song for every mood, every occasion, every feeling, every relationship – it’s perfect. Music keeps us from going absolutely insane. It distracts us from the mundane parts of life and excites the rhythm of our souls.

Music helped me finish that marathon. It also helped me finish college. recover from bad habits, and meet some great friends.

Music is Life.

Photo by Elviss Railijs Bitāns on Pexels.com

3 – Keep moving forward.

Literally in a marathon, the only think you can do is keep moving forward. Maybe you have to stop and walk, get some water, use the bathroom, or stretch, but you’ll always return to that motto of moving on.

Take one more step. Run ten more yards. One more mile. Two more songs.

Whatever motivates you to keep going in life, hold onto that for as long as you can. All we can do in this mysterious universe is keep taking steps forward. Life goes on. The race goes on. Time goes on. So we have to go on.

When you’re in pain and all you want to do is give up – keep moving forward. Always.

Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

4 – We’re all in this together.

Maybe the first one hundred people in the marathon cared about beating others. Most of us there either wanted to finish or beat our own personal times. We didn’t care if a thousand people finished before us. Comparison is useless when the goal is to meet a personal goal.

So if a person falls or fails, help her up. Let someone run ahead if has nothing to do with your own goal. Once you cross the finish, cheer for others that are coming afterward.

In life, we’re all in this together. We don’t have to compare and compete with anyone but ourselves. Congratulate others in their successes and encourage those who are struggling. We are one massive, giant team of people trying to live life and be happy.

Photo by Juliano Ferreira on Pexels.com

5 – Our bodies are fascinating.

You will never know how strong and awesome the human body is until you push yourself to the limits.

How can we be so mean and judgmental of our bodies when they can do all these fascinating things?

I’m not saying you have to run a marathon to see how amazing your body is. It’s awesome right now because it’s going to adapt and adjust to your personal lifestyle. You want to run twenty miles? Your body will increase its cardiac output so you can go further. You want to eat processed food? Your liver will detoxify the chemicals. You want to live in a very hot place? Your body will increase its tolerance to heat.

The human body is amazing. It’s a biological masterpiece. Be grateful for it and be kind to it.

Photo by Wesley Carvalho on Pexels.com

Marathons are madness, and people out there even do much more than run 26.2 miles. It’s a good goal, if you’re interested. It taught me how strong I can be – mentally and physically. And to recap what it taught me about life – prepare wisely, move forward, listen to music, we’re all in this together, and the human body is a wonder of science.

On geographical note, I was able to see A LOT of Dallas I had never seen before. Run twenty miles in any city and surely you’ll see a lot of details you normally miss in a car.

Thanks for reading. I hope your day is filled with joy and pleasant music.

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