Mantras | Scribbling in the Margins blog

“Don’t spend your precious time asking ‘Why isn’t the world a better place?’ It will only be time wasted. The question to ask is “How can I make it better?” To that there is an answer.” –Leo Buscaglia

I found this quote in a box my friend Jordan keeps on her desk, a square little thing that allows you to switch out a quote whenever the mood strikes. Buscaglia’s quote, the first one I came across, really struck me. A part of it is recent events in my life, but also after seeing the Cinderella movie last Saturday.

“Have courage, and be kind” is the mantra of the movie, the words Cinderella lives her life by. Yet they seem to fail her, causing her to let others bully her around while she just waits for something to happen. Instead of working to better her predicament, she just accepts it in order to remain “kind” and “courageous.”

When I first left the theater, I wished I was more like Cinderella- always kind and never letting others affect my character. Which is fine, but I’ve realized since then that you have to be more than that. Wishing is not enough; you have to act to get what you want.

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On Location | Indiana State Library

On Location | Indiana State Library

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been researching and editing a history paper about Indiana Quakers and slavery I wrote last semester for an upcoming competition. My research led me to the Indiana State Library last Thursday, where I sat down with a letter from Levi Coffin and every Indiana Yearly Meeting Minutes record I could ever want. For three and a half hours I sat in a hard-backed wooden chair and poured over those minutes, thinking about the people who created them 180 years ago. A man across the aisle from me looked at several large maps intently, and stacks of other documents waited in the wings inside climate controlled rooms and drawers.

It’s a beautiful thing, hundreds of documents waiting to be read by some twenty-first century person who prefers paper to pixels.

Leeann | Scribbling in the Margins blog

#DearMe | International Women’s Day

Dear Me | International Women's Day

Dear Me,

Sweet, beautiful, 13-year-old Leeann. You are so smart, and so clever. You have a big heart for a teenager, and that’s why those girls pick on you. They don’t understand what it means to have empathy, or to defy peer pressure and be who you want to me.

I know it doesn’t feel like it now, but you will be so strong because of them, because of this swirling mist of doom they call junior high. You will never let people tell you how to feel or who to be again, because it doesn’t make you happy. And walking around miserable all the time isn’t doing you any good. You have so much potential, so much talent. Mom and Dad see it. I see it.

Life is not junior high, thank goodness. And although you’ll love it, life is not high school either. Or college. Life is what you decide it will be. Right now, life is words. It’s writing them, reading them, shaping them into something completely new. Life is taking control over what you say and what you do, and most importantly how you feel.

Don’t let the bad stuff become you. Do not become the bad stuff. Soak in the good, let it enter your soul like an endless stream, flowing into your mind until you can’t remember why you were upset or what discouraged you. Surround yourself with people who make you feel special. Walk away from the people who don’t. Taste the content on your tongue, sing it out to the world, for that is what life is. A song to be sung, and only you can sing it.

As Walk Whitman wrote:

The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

In that powerful play we call life, what will our verse be? In that powerful play we call our life, what will your verse be?

For each thought we have and action we do (or don’t) take shapes us into who we are. Every word we say slides into a slot of the bookshelves of our lives and becomes our verse in the world.

“Life exists, and identity.” It’s the power we gain from our life, our identity, that can change us.

That can change you.