WORDS, WORDS, powerful WORDS!

“Don’t ever diminish the power of words. Words move hearts and hearts move limbs.”
-Hamza Yusuf

Words are powerful.  And they are especially powerful in influencing and impacting young children, who have often not fully developed discerning critical thinking skills and are easily convinced that Santa is real, or eating carrots will make them see in the dark. Prevalent themes and topics in children’s literature are constantly changing – How these themes develop and change over time and how authors adapt to this transformation can be observed both in the progression of their individual works, as well as the progression of all literary works. The words about these themes and topics have the power to significantly influence people, not only about things trivial, or specific opinions, but also about beliefs, ideas, ways of thinking and how to be a human.

“Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.”
-Pearl Strachan Hurd

Some consistently common topics and themes are those of obedience and questioning the traditional, looking beyond appearances, and envisioning and exploring the possibility of a better future.  While these overarching ideas have remained fairly stable in their appearance, associated opinions and perspectives regarding these portrayals are always in flux. With the power of words, the authors of children’s literature can spread awareness of current issues, encourage and develop new and modern viewpoints, and impact readers in a variety of ways.

“All I need is a sheet of paper and something to write with, and then I can turn the world upside down.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

Historically, viewpoints on obedience and tradition have been more positive and encouraging of these values.  Today, strict obedience is more and more frequently depicted as undesirable, and the questioning and challenging of the traditional is depicted as more acceptable -thank goodness! We need a little healthy rebellion in our lives every now and then in order to fight for the creation and development of positive advances and an altogether better world. Literary characters question their reality by choosing alternative paths and practice critical thinking about the world around them, especially in regards to appearances. Frequently, characters that look beautiful, are, in fact, villains, and those with physical or emotional differences or defects prove to be heroes or redeemably praiseworthy. Even words can be misjudged based on their appearance. Interpretation is already subjective, and even when an author’s intent seems clear, language exists in such a way that they may actually be saying something entirely different!

“The pen is mightier than the sword”
– Edward Bulwer-Lytton

The protagonist of Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials series, Lyra, is often disobedient and rebellious, and grows to be suspicious of beautiful and/or powerful people, but these behavior patterns are not depicted as inherently negative, and are actually regularly rewarded.  Many of Ursula Le Guin’s characters rebel in similar way against traditional societal behaviors, those of their constructed literary world, as well as those of the world outside the books.  The dragons even reject gender at all! Fantastic! Let us all be more open-minded, like dragons! Through these consistent rebellions and questions, (now) standard fantasy characters develop unique identities and supply valuable contributions to develop and enrich their worlds. In this way, authors can influence readers to aspire to similar identity development and enriching contributions. Powerful. And hopeful.

“Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.”
– Rumi

It was initially a bit disheartening to read Ursula Le Guin’s intro of ‘Earthsea Revisited,’ just because it is sadly still so relevant that “women are seen in relation to heroes: as mother, wife, seducer, beloved, victim, or rescuable maiden” (1). She wrote this in 1999, and even today it is depressingly very applicable to the majority of ‘heroes’ in literature, film, and REAL LIFE!  It was really interesting to see how Le Guin herself was aware of society’s impact on her own writing choices in terms of female roles and limitations: “I simply lacked the courage to make my heroine doubly Other” (2).  Even when she included powerful female characters, they were not necessarily defined as typical heroes.  While Earthsea has a male-dominated society and emphasis, her series seems to develop over time in complexity and grow more organically inclusive.

“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.”
– Albus Dumbledore

Through the convincing and compelling enrichments of fantasy worlds, the outside world can be enriched simultaneously through new developments and insights.  The words used in the exploration of possible peaceful and harmonious futures can encourage peaceful and harmonious futures for modern society.  Even exploring dismal futures can inspire change, also encouraging a future of peace and harmony. Le Guin’s dominating theme of her first trilogy was “the quest for inner harmony and personal wholeness” (Marek Oziewicz, Rediscovering harmony: Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea sequence”), a thematic quest idea that is congruent with the search for a better future.  “Le Guin’s vision is neither Utopian nor dystopian, but rather what may be called ‘melioristic,’ meaning tending to betterment through human effort – or maybe through the opening of human hearts.” (Lenz, 2001, pp.77) Through the encouragement of the development of personal peace and harmony, in literary works as well as reflections upon those works, perhaps a future of real peace and harmony can be achieved.

That’d be hella sweet.

“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”
– John Keating

I dunno… he’s telling me with words…. should I believe him?

… wait… I’m using words… Am I influencing YOU? Do I mean what I am saying? What message am I even communicating!!?

WORDCEPTION.

What is the use of stories that aren’t even true?

What IS the use of stories that aren’t even true?


The oft-asked question in Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories is, “What is the use of stories that aren’t even true?”

While Rushdie’s book is described as an example of a more comical and light subdivision of the fantasy genre, each form of fantasy contains within it a variety of aspects that resonate within additional fantastical categories. Rushdie’s question can be applied to and answered through any genre of fantasy.

There is truth in every fictional story, and the uses of fictional stories, while dependent to some extent upon author intent and reader response, are, in fact, infinite.

If fictional stories had no use, why would anyone write fiction or fantasy? 

Storytellers may not be aware of their subtexts, attitudes, or perspectives about the purpose or benefit of their words and stories, but that does not mean they are not present.  While ideas about use may vary and differ, each author must believe that their storytelling will be put to some use or another.  These uses are often subjective, multifaceted, and numerous.  Just as an author may communicate many different ideas, meanings, and uses, readers may also interpret or superimpose many different ideas, meanings, and uses.  C.S. Lewis communicated tenants of Christian theology through many of his works, but he also reiterated the use of fantasy as a way for readers to address real-life issues, through a fantasy world to explore “emotional dilemmas (they) feel faced by in their everyday lives” (Rustin, 1987, p. 40).  The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is clearly representative of the important use of fantasy as a tool to address cultural, societal, emotional, and psychological needs, understanding, and development – a prevalent perspective about fantasy’s value and use.

The primary, overarching importance of the use of children’s fantasy literature is the idea that the genre addresses and fulfills vital “psychological, cultural and aesthetic needs which are disregarded by most other forms of contemporary literature” (Oziewicz, 2008, p. 66). 

Fantasy allows the fears and worries of society to be addressed and explored, as well as providing a great deal of “potential as an emotional survival strategy” (Bharat, 2015, p. 305).  In addition, “stories can be a cohesive force in constructing a community” (Mukherjee, 1998, p. 175), a force that allows communities to overcome obstacles and experience positive growth and development.  Lloyd Alexander’s “The Grammar of Story” emphasizes this importance by detailing the ways in which words and storytelling can work magic.  Rushdie’s narrative in Haroun and the Sea of Stories provides valuable political and cultural implications about the intrinsic value and power of words and stories. This is just one narrative that articulates the importance of stories and storytelling and the ways in which they can be applied to resisting terror and oppression by conquering fears through living life instead of through grand, cosmic acts of courage.

Through the creation of a fantasy narrative such as this, an author can invent their own logic and use and incorporated it into each aspect of the story, so it has a sturdy base: “We don’t dig the foundation after the house is built” (Alexander, 1981, p. 10), and the fantasy world must have “identifiable and workable laws underpinning it” (Yolen, 1996, p. 173).  While each work of fantasy is unique, they are all bonded by their structure and interconnected in their capacity to encourage imaginative exploration and address very real concepts, dilemmas, and threats, such as the “tyranny of fear” (Bharat, 2015, p. 304).  New fears are constantly arising, and all types of fantasy literature can help to confront and explore these fears through large societal battles of terrorism and oppression as well as smaller, but no less important, battles of personal conflict, growth, and development.

Conflict is the dynamic element of any story, and the fate of the world can be affected by cosmic, mythopoeic quest and conflict as well as by the conflict-response behavior of a single person, as revealed through interactions with themselves, others, and the world around them.

While each fantasy story may be categorized according to a general consensus of its overall purpose, use, or tone, each fantasy story is an amalgam of diverse components that draw on a variety of ideas about the truth of untrue stories.  “What is the use of stories that aren’t even true?”  The use of Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories is to answer this very question, and in many ways, this is the use of every work of fantasy literature.  Storytellers create illusions, and the truth in that illusion is “how thoroughly it convinces us of its reality; how strongly it resonates in our emotions; how deeply it moves us to new feelings and new insights.” (Alexander, 1981, p. 4).

Truth is not always convincing, and a fantasy story can help a reader to recognize and understand the truth in the world around them.

‘Untrue’ fantasy stories are incredibly valuable in an infinite number of ways.  Each fantasy genre, and each fantasy story, has unique and distinctive qualities.  In mythopoeic fantasy, adventure has momentous scale and consequences. However, while lighter fantasy genres may seem to lack cosmic battles of good versus evil, the adventures and battles still have consequences that are momentous to the characters experiencing them.

While mythopoeic fantasy suggests big answers to big questions, small answers to small questions are just as substantially cosmic to those affected by them.

A child can have an adult adventure that articulates hope for all humanity by the simple act of articulating the hope of one human. 

One human is a part of humanity, and the truth is that one child can change the world.


References

Alexander, Lloyd. (1981). The grammar of story. In Betsy Hearne and Marilyn Kaye (Eds), Celebrating children’s books: Essays on children’s literature in honor of Zena Sutherland. (pp. 3-13). New York: Lothrop, Lee, and Shepard Books.

Bharat, Meenakshi. (2015). Creative fear in Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and Luka: The ‘safe house’ of children’s literature. In Marvels & tales. (pp. 304-323).

Lewis, C.S. (1950). The lion, the witch, and the wardrobe. New York: Harper Collins.

Mukherjee, Meenakshi. (1998). Politics and children’s literature: a Reading of Haroun and the Sea of Stories. In Ariel: a Review of international English literature. (pp. 163-177).

Oziewicz, Marek. (2008). One earth, one people: The Mythopoeic fantasy series of Ursula K. Le Guin, Lloyd Alexander, Madeline L’Engle, and Orson Scott Card. New York: Simon Pulse.

Rowling, J.K. (1999). Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. New York: Scholastic.

Rushdie, Salman. (1990). Haroun and the sea of stories. New York: Penguin.

Rustin, Margaret and Michael. (1987). Narnia: an Imaginary land as container for moral and emotional adventure. In Narratives of love and loss: Studies in modern children’s fiction. (pp. 40-58). New York: Verso.

Strimel, Courtney B. (2004). The politics of terror: Rereading Harry Potter,” In Children’s literature in education. (pp. 35-52).

Yolen, Jane. (1996). Turtles all the way down. In Sheila Egoff et al. (Eds) Only connect: Readings on children’s literature. (pp. 164-174). New York: Oxford University Press.

Music Monday: Start it All Over Again

Music Monday!

It’s not Monday*, and I don’t even care.

Music can be a great source of comfort and inspiration when you’re feeling down.

Today’s song is: “Start it All Over Again” by Heidi Talbot

Listen to the song here:

Lyrics:

“I’m the sea that surrounds you
The garden that grounds you
The sun and the wind and the rain
I am every season
You’re every reason
To start it all over again

Soon you’ll sail a wild river
We’ll set sail together
And oceans will call out your name
And by stars you will follow
Your hopes for tomorrow
And start it all over again

And if you stagger or stumble
If dreams start to crumble
I’ll pick up the pieces of pain
I will cradle you cry with you
Pray that you’ll try to just
Start it all over again

Who has eyes that can see
All the things you could be?
Who has ears for the sweetest refrain?
May your heart sing forever
Where the sea meets the river
And start it all over again”

Why this song’s so cool:   Don’t think I could say it better than this guy in the comments: “Makes me feel like I’m in The Shire, smoking a pipe with Gandalf. In a good way.” – Dane Cobain

Oh, HEY, apparently he has a website about writing and music…. 🙂 http://danecobain.com/
And also a fun book blog!!  http://www.socialbookshelves.com/about/

I guess I could only add that if I could marry someone’s voice, it might be Heidi Talbot’s.

Why this song’s helpful: Still don’t think I could say it better than this other guy in the comments: “With a little faith, this lovely song allows for hope beyond what at times feels as if there is only hopelessness.” – Legrand Bakker

No website for this deep thinker. 🙁


More about Heidi Talbot:

http://www.heiditalbot.com/

More about the Mahogany Sessions:

About

*It feels like a Monday to me…

Ella Enchanted and Being an Ordinary Hero

One of my ultimate favorite fantasy books as a child, and still today, is the reworked fairy tale, “Ella Enchanted” by Gail Carson Levine.  It retells the classic literary fairy tale of Cinderella with some new twists: Ella is, in fact, under a fairy’s gift (curse) to always be obedient.  The tale is a familiar one, but provides more depth and detail about the protagonist and her own journey to discover herself and break the curse herself.  In addition, it answers that question that was always infuriating to me about the size of Cinderella’s feet – surely there was more than one girl in the kingdom whose feet could fit the glass slipper!  Well, in this story, Ella has fairy ancestry, and fairies have significantly smaller-than-average sized feet, so THERE!  Levine’s attention to details such as these really grounded the story and made it more believable to me – it was definitely logical and made sense within the framework she created and expanded upon. While it certainly shares many patterns and characteristics with both more traditional fairy tales as well as reworked fairy tales, this is by far my favorite retelling of Cinderella.  I like that it addresses the real-life issues of the importance of being strong by making your own decisions, standing up for what you believe in, and the worth of sacrifice in relation to love and the protection of those you love.

“Ella Enchanted” provides a universe that is similar to one children have already experienced, but includes a great deal more in the way of explanations, possibilities and self-driven opportunity.  It is a great example of a way to challenge a reader to see beyond more simplistic explanations and search for new perspectives and explanations.  A retold fairy tale is a great example of this, because the concrete universe has already been established, and by telling the same tale from a new perspective, new questions can be unearthed, alternate mindsets discovered, and previously unconsidered horizons can be expanded.  This particular retelling is also consistent with the idea of concepts carrying over from the fantastical worlds to the real ones.  In “Ella Enchanted,” Ella is a real girl with a flaw that she has to work to overcome.  This is certainly a concept that is applicable to many people.  While Ella may not fit the traditional archetype of ‘hero,’ she is still heroic.  She becomes, through her own strength of will, her own knight in shining armor – in the process, saving herself, her prince, and the entire kingdom.  If someone as seemingly average and insignificant as Ella can create such a vast and positive impact, surely this will inspire those who read about her to feel hope and optimism that they, too, can overcome significant challenges and obstacles to create a positive impact on themselves and the world around them.

Fairy tales have been around for a long time.  And with each retelling, they have continued to change and grow ever since their inception.  “Ella Enchanted” is a distinctive example of 21st century fantasy with an alternate world that is still attached to a familiar and long-standing one.  While it may lack the grandeur of Tolkien, or the epic tragedy of Rowling, it is accessible in its realism and its message – one that, while not political or catastrophic, speaks to the more personal internal battles that still must be fought and are no less important than those larger-than-life clashes between good and evil.  “Ella Enchanted” has no evil villain to be abolished or grand quest to be completed.  There are good characters and bad characters, but the main struggle is simply one between a girl and the unwarranted chance restrictions and conditions to which she finds herself bound.  Ella is ordinary, but she is strong.  And it is that kind of inner strength and conviction that is an amazing resource in struggling through such challenges as anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

Read it.  Or else.

(If you were Ella, you’d HAVE to obey me, but as it is, you have the freedom of choosing.)

I’ve had this copy for NINETEEN YEARS! I think it looks pretty good considering how many times I’ve read it!

Music Monday: The Fighter – Gym Class Heroes

Music Monday!

Music can be a great source of comfort and inspiration when you’re feeling down.

Today’s song is: “The Fighter” by Gym Class Heroes

Listen to the song here:

Lyrics:

“Just waking up in the morning
And the be well
Quite honest with ya,
I ain’t really sleep well
Ya ever feel like your train of thought’s been derailed?
That’s when you press on Lee nails
Half the population’s just waitin’ to see me fail
Yeah right, you’re better off trying to freeze hell
Some of us do it for the females
And others do it for the retails

But I do it for the kids, life through the tower head on
Every time you fall it’s only making your chin strong

And I be in the corner like mick, baby, til the end
Or when you hear this song from that big lady
Until the referee rings the bell
Until both your eyes start to swell
Until the crowd goes home
What we gonna do y’all?
Give ’em hell, turn their heads
Gonna live life till we’re dead.
Give me scars, give me pain
Then just say to me, say to me, say to me
There goes a fighter, there goes a fighter
Here comes a fighter
That’s what they’ll say to me, say to me
Say to me, this one’s a fighter
And if I can last thirty rounds
There’s no reason you should ever have your head down
Six foot five, two hundred and twenty pounds
Hailing from rock bottom, Loserville, nothing town
Textbook version of the kid going nowhere fast
And now I’m yelling kiss my a**
It’s gonna take a couple right hooks, a few left jabs
For you to recognize that you really ain’t got it bad
Until the referee rings the bell
Until both your eyes start to swell
Until the crowd goes home
What we gonna do y’all?
Give ’em hell, turn their heads
Gonna live life til we’re dead
Give me scars, give me pain
Then just say to me, say to me, say to me
There goes a fighter, there goes a fighter
Here comes a fighter
That’s what they’ll say to me, say to me
Say to me, this one’s a fighter
Everybody put yo hands up
What we gonna do?
What we gonna do?
What we gonna do?
What we gonna do?
What we gonna do?
What we gonna do?
What we gonna do?
Y’all
If you fall pick yourself up off the floor (get up)
And when your bones can’t take no more
Just remember what you’re here for
‘Cause I know I’ma damn sure
Give ’em hell, turn their heads
Gonna live life till we’re dead
Give me scars, give me pain
Then just say to me, say to me, say to me
There goes a fighter, there goes a fighter
Here comes a fighter
That’s what they’ll say to me, say to me
Say to me, this one’s a fighter
Till the referee rings the bell
Till both ya eyes start to swell
Till the crowd goes home
What we gonna do kid?”
Why this song’s so cool:  Catchy and fun to sing along with in any mood, the only part that bothers me is the lyric “And if I can last thirty rounds, there’s no reason you should ever have your head down.”  I get that it’s supposed to be inspirational, but the reality is that everybody’s battle is different and we are all fighting different things.  Just because one person can win a fight against something doesn’t mean another person can do the same – because every situation is different.  Just because I can do one thing, doesn’t mean that you are not a fighter if you can’t do something similar . . .  or even something different.

Why this song’s helpful: A great reminder to keep fighting. And  just a great conceptual idea to think about especially if you are battling something not visible or physical.  Picturing depression as something you can physically punch in the face can help you take steps towards beating it.  It’s  a visualization tool and can be a helpful method when dealing with whatever you may be struggling with.  Just because you can’t see a struggle doesn’t mean that it’s not there – and overlaying a more visible aspect can enable you to find your fighter’s strength and realize that your fight matters.

More about Gym Class Heroes Here:    http://gymclassheroes.com/

Brainy Trainers

Another Writing Assignment


Looking for a personal trainer? You’re in luck – you’ve found one!

Are you ready to stretch yourself every day farther than you’ve ever gone before? Are you ready to increase and expand your proficiency and dexterity? Are you ready to tone, condition, and build strength you didn’t know you had!? I can teach you to do all of that, and more!

The regimen I provide is varied – you’ll never get bored! It also easily adapts to fit the needs of any lifestyle. you already have the basic skills I can build on to help transform you into a strong, fast, confident champion! I focus on strength, flexibility, toning, cardio, and diet.

A diverse set of exercises is the ideal way to build up your stamina. Heavy lifting is important, but you can’t do that alone. You need a balance of a variety of drills and training in order to maximize your success! And, naturally, a planned and nutritious diet is key to your improvement. What you eat affects everything – your energy, actions, and results.

My program doesn’t focus on performance, but should that appeal to you, this program is a great foundation for high achievement. In addition, I can provide you with the basis to continue your own, personalized training program. I simply build on what you are already doing.

It’s my job to motivate and support my client. If you’re not confident about your abilities, my development system can easily change that! No sweat!

Although I may not be technically certified in the most typical way, and I only currently have one client, I am extremely experienced. Right now, I’m both the trainer and the trainee. Every day I perform innumerable complex exercises to train the most important muscle: my brain.

The Reliable Rubber Band

Yet another random assignment for my writing class.

Spoiler – it’s about… ***rubber bands!***:

such fun.


I’m searching for something. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know where I’ll find it.  I don’t even know how to find it.  I just don’t know. Sometimes I will unconsciously go to the junk drawer when I’m looking for anything at all.  I’m looking for a book that won’t even fit in the drawer, yet I still gravitate toward the drawer. I’m looking for my cat.  How would he even get in there?  Something inside the drawer is calling me to reevaluate and redefine my quest.  I am hesitant to open the drawer itself.  Is it worth it?  What if what I think I want or need isn’t even in there?  But I discard my hesitation and pull open the drawer – sometimes with ease, sometimes with a struggle, sometimes carefully, and sometimes in a hurry.

Inside, the drawer is a refuge.  It’s a treasure chest of haphazard miscellany.  It’s a delightfully unexpected estate sale bargain you happen upon randomly one late Sunday afternoon.  Despite all of these, there is one consistency.

I can always find a rubber band in there.

Sometimes the rubber band is buried beneath an assorted plethora of other small and seemingly helpful, yet ultimately insignificant objects.  Sometimes it’s caught in the corner and stubbornly refuses to even consider coming to my aid.  And sometimes it’s right on top – front and center and eager to spring to assistance.  I swear they’re inside stretching and shoving and jumping and rearranging themselves whenever the drawer is abandoned and shut up tight.

Sometimes the rubber band is new and springy, full of excited exuberance. Sometimes it’s old and brittle and reluctant to leave the comfortable sameness of the drawer. And most often, the rubber band is somewhere between these two extremes.  Thin, but resilient and durable.  Or thick and tough, but somewhat lacking in its supple elasticity.

Their appearance is rarely a direct reflection of their usefulness, but then appearances rarely are.  Big, thick rubber bands have their uses.  So do tiny, slender ones. And every combination in between has the potential to facilitate some sort of discovery or creative solution.  Despite their visible stains, or the fact that they have already been used tenfold, they endure in their obliging and practical support.  If I select the wrong one for the task at hand, they will quickly let me know. And there is always a backup rubber band – a patiently waiting friend ready to help me try again or look at my problem from a different perspective.

I don’t know how they get in there.  I can never distinctly remember putting a rubber band in the drawer.  They just appear.  They seem to know that I will need them someday.  I will need their versatile durability and their flexible strength. I will need their constancy and keen enthusiasm.  I will need a rubber band.

You never know when you’ll need them, but they’re always there.  Watching and waiting- inconspicuous in the dark, yet consistently inspiring in their own, faithful and uncomplaining way.

It’s like Where’s Waldo, but for rubber bands!

How Depression Is Like a Zombie Apocalypse

It’s dark.  It’s dire.  It’s dismal. It’s deadly.

The future looks grim, and you are going to have to make some sacrifices and be fierce and strong as hell if you want to survive.

You gotta stock up on weapons and survival gear.  You gotta have a strong, supportive gang to have your back.

YOUR ZOMBIE SURVIVAL KIT NEEDS:

  • A compass – Helps you know what direction is what. Make some goals. What do you want to do and where do you want to go?  What direction is that? Use your compass to help you get there. If you see that you’re straying off the path, use your compass to reorient yourself in the right direction.
  • A first aid kit – You’re gonna get wounded.  It’s inevitable.  This is war, and you’re fighting for your life and your right to not be consumed by the enemy. Make sure you know how to mend yourself up and heal. When you’re hurting and in pain, what helps comfort you and alleviate your symptoms? Make a kit that is full of practical support, special treats, soothing remedies, happy things to revive you, and reminders that you are loved.
  • Duct tape – When you gotta patch things (or yourself) up in a hurry. Sometimes there’s no time for a first aid kit.  You need a tough, quick fix that will hold until you can regroup and come back to reevaluate. When there is an unexpected emergency or sudden crisis, you need something sturdy, durable, and dependable.  Have a strategy for coping and dealing with unforeseen calamity.
  • Food – the healthy (keep up your strength), easily accessible (you may have to eat on the run) and hopefully non  perishable (grocery store runs are going to be a difficulty) kind. Can’t fight off them zombies on an empty stomach.  Everything feels better when you’re well-fed. (But not TOO well-fed – zombies are unpredictable and you never know when you’ll have to be running and fighting again.)
  • Practical, multi-purpose, comfortable clothes – Can’t fight zombies barefoot or in a tight, pencil skirt .  Well you could… but why make it harder on yourself?  Let’s be efficient here. Layers are great.  Keep warm with your favorite blood-stained and battle-scarred hoodie.  Wear something that makes you feel confident – like you CAN take on those zombies!  That might mean something different for everybody.  Something loose so you’re cozy enough to sleep in it – saves time and energy.  Lots of pockets for carrying around those tools and accessories and chapstick.  A sarcastic t-shirt to show those zombies you don’t give a fuck.
  • No-nonsense hairdo – Zombies can pull long hair.  Don’t let unruly bangs and fly-aways distract you from the fight of your life.  Keep that hair secure and low-maintenance with a rugged bandana and no damage hair tie.  Otherwise, it’s just a constant annoyance and drain on your focus and energy.
  • Something to do – For downtime between zombie attacks.  Strangely, there’s not always a constant onslaught of frenzied zombie attacks.  You want to make the most of the times when you’re feeling okay and there aren’t that many zombies on the horizon.  Deal with necessities first: self-care (food, water, rest, hygeine). Then work on maintenance-type things. Stock your pantry and replenish your first aid kit.  Work out new strategies with your zombie-fighting team. Resolve disputes, repair the border fences and clean and practice with your weapons.  Next, try to make progress on your goals.  Scout the vicinity for supplies, tools, allies, and anything that can help you on your quest.  And don’t forget to relax, have some fun, and release some tension.  Maybe a deck of cards?
  • Flashlight – Sometimes zombies attack at night.  They are just not that respectful of your sleep schedule and plans. Deal with it.  Shining light on your surroundings will help you see them more clearly.  Start with a broad sweep of the entire area around you, then focus in on potential problem areas.
  • Lighter/matches – Even flashlights fail sometimes.  Your batteries run out eventually.  Or they malfunction.  Or fall out. You need a backup light source.  It”s hard to fight blind, so don’t let that happen.  You want to know what is going on around you.  Also, a way to start a fire so you can keep warm.  Sometimes body heat isn’t enough, and you will need to look outside yourself and your fluffy jacket for safety, warmth, comfort, light, and hope.
  • Binoculars – Be on the lookout for the threat. Do regular checks and sweeps of areas you know are weak points.  Learn to recognize the signs. Know what’s coming. You can’t just look at the things right next to you – you have to organize your troops and plan ahead. If you have some idea of what is coming and about when it will affect you and your situation, you can more easily and efficiently take action to mitigate or eliminate the danger in advance.
  • Swiss army knife – A versatile multi-tool to MacGyver your way out of awkward and dangerous situations.  Something you can apply to all sorts of predicaments in order to get positive results or avoid negative ones.  Cut bad things out of your life.  Uncork your feelings.  Build a better mindframe.
  • Melee weapon – Things are going to get up close and personal and you’re going to get dirty and feel gross.  If you only use a gun all the time you are going to come to depend on it and not see any other options or opportunities. And do you want to attract more zombies and make things worse?  Besides, you think there’s an endless supply of bullets out there? NO! So unless you have extensive experience as an ammunition engineer, and you’re also conveniently a crack shot, invest in a good, sharp machete, and a heavy baseball/cricket bat.  That way you can really show those zombies who is boss and have the satisfaction of personal triumph in your conquest.  And you will be assured that your adversary is irrevocably and indisputably dead.  With each success, you are establishing a pattern of success that will grow exponentially stronger and increase your confidence and likelihood of succeeding again against future foes.
  • Long-range weapon – Okay, fine, I guess you can have a gun.  It’s not ideal, but sometimes there is no other way to take down a zombie that is far away, and the benefits outweigh the risks. You’d be a fool not to take advantage of every tool in your arsenal, and this can help to save you trouble in the long run.  But make sure you’re aware of the risks and be careful and safe when you have to bring out the heavy artillery.  Train yourself up, don’t point it at your allies, know how to use it, and be precise so you don’t waste your shot.
  • Good health – As good as you can get it. Take care of yourself.  Doesn’t matter how many machetes you have if you’re too weak and exhausted to use them.  Drink lots of water, take vitamins if you can find them, and don’t forget to stretch your body before and after a vigorous zombie killing.  Also, don’t forget to exercise your body so you can protect yourself.  Also… endorphins.  Remember to pay close attention to what your body needs and keep training yourself in positive habits.  Tools are great, but YOU are your best weapon.    You’ll never be without yourself.

Zombies are going to try to eat your brains.  Be prepared, have resources you can trust, and always remember the double-tap.

KEEP FIGHTING AND DON’T GIVE UP.