what-are-our-lives

Poem 10-23-17

don’t you know

of the first injury-

did you leave your body standing

in between resignation and its end?


Our story is spiked with

that which we can’t name-

although we will name and name again

and only be cleansed in the light of the moon-

or else as the sun observes- close enough

to give light, far enough not to burn.


Someone built a dwelling place

and made of it an apothecary-

the remedies are held up

like signs in the dim part of time


and we are touched

by something

and we cannot say

if it is the same presence

as was described-


but all is well in spite of this.


Paved over again and again,

the ground of this thread,

this cycle of cycles

brings the eyes through the fog,

the garments shining.


No matter what the words are

the tire and its rubber rests

in the dark of night.

Where have we been led

and what will be of our lives?


The incision lets itself

into the scene

as if it hadn’t been there

the whole time.

The 3 Elements of a FLAWED Character

You know that moment when you find an old notebook, and you start reading the story you were writing years ago, and after about one page…  

And then after a few more paragraphs … 

This has happened to me several times. On every occasion I want to curl up in a small box and wait until everyone forgets I was ever a writer. And every time, no matter which old story it is, what sends me crawling into that box is the same thing: the main character. Even after I had learned to incorporate empathetic qualities into my heroes (as listed in the last post), my protagonists were still deeply annoying – if not more unbearable than before. 

Why? What made them this way? They had winningly empathetic traits! Were they terrible people still? No, and that was the problem. They were perfect. Smart. Noble. Brave. They had dazzling martial arts skills. They loved people and people loved them. They were Chosen in some way and destined for greatness. Angst-plagued though, of course. They were tragic little heroes, misunderstood and abused, driven by the desire to vanquish all who caused them suffering.  

I could’ve composed a Gaston-like song enumerating their virtues and sorrows. 

And the only thing that would’ve made them more punchable is if they did use antlers in all of their decorating.

Characters can’t be completely likable. Yes, they must possess strengths that win the reader’s empathy, but without an equal amount of flaws … they can’t function. If they’re not flawed, they shouldn’t be the main character. Story is about someone changing, for better or worse. Under the surface, all good stories are about this process of human growth or decline. So if a hero is perfect from the beginning, there’s nowhere they need to go. And consequently, there’s no reason for a reader to follow. 

The inclination to follow a story is begun with interest in the premise, of course – but it is locked in when empathy occurs, when we begin to care – the moment the reader transposes their own external and internal lives onto a character’s life. A process which starts when a reader recognizes a shared something between themselves and the hero. Sometimes, this is a goal or strength or situation. And sometimes, it’s a flaw. We meet a character that is weak in the same way we are, and a strong internal connection is born between the reader’s life and the life on the page. On a deep level we’re thinking “This person is like me. What happens to them? How do they deal with it?” And because of this connection based on what is lacking in our lives, we want to live the story, see how it ends, and find out how the main character – who is just like us – reached that ending. Because it’s our lives we’re reading about, and if we play it out in advance, maybe we can reach a positive ending too. 

So! In what way should a main character be FLAWED? 

1) Weak in a way that only hurts themselves. 

Let’s call these MIND.

2) Flawed in a way that hurts others. 

Let’s call these MORAL.

The most realistic – and most compelling – characters have both types.  

And if a character has these flaws, the story must be steering them towards what they NEED to overcome them. The main character needs to learn something, a truth, a new way to live. This is the theme of the story. Theme is a statement the story seeks to prove, to the main character and the reader, about how to live a better life. It’s the solution to whatever moral and mental conundrum they’re facing. So … 

3) The SOLUTION to their moral and mental weaknesses. 

How does that work? To illustrate, let’s look at Stitch and Alexander Hamilton. (What a combination.) 

STITCH

Moral: He’s destructive. Violent. Rude. Vindictive.  Manipulative. Enjoys the suffering of his enemies.

 And in general, pushes everyone and everything away.  

Mind: Despite his violent ways, he yearns to belong, and senses that he can’t.

He believes he’s alone, he’s unlovable, he’s monstrous, he’s never had a family and never will – he’s lost, like the Ugly Duckling. He’s missing a family he’s never had.  

Solution: He just needs to start treating people like family to be accepted into one. 

HAMILTON

Moral: He’s selfish. (“Be careful with that one love, he will do what it takes to survive.”) He’s arrogant. He’s self-centered. (Think of the entirety of Burn.) And in his obsessive journey to succeed, he pushes everyone out of his path.  

Mind: He has a fixation on death, on time running out, which drives his manic desire to achieve. (“I imagine death so much it feels more like a memory.) He’s insecure. ("Graduate in two and join the revolution. He looked at me like I was stupid. I’m not stupid.”) 

Solution: Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story? Eliza tells his story. Hamilton’s goal throughout the story is a legacy; he strives to achieve this immortality in any way possible, even if it means neglecting his loved ones, or even ruining their lives. He needs to learn that his loved ones are enough. Eliza is enough. And through her, he will live on. 

What would have happened if they weren’t flawed? The stories would have been boring. What would have happened if their flaws had been treated like attributes that didn’t have to change? The stories would have ceased to be. Progress couldn’t happen, because by accepting the status quo of their mental and moral states, we’re refusing the call to adventure outright. They’d just exist in the same state they were in the setup, stagnant, somewhat lifeless. Flawed characters must motor towards that NEED, or solution, that will save their lives. 

(I realize this “need” element is rather vague, so it’ll get its own post.)  

But in conclusion, this balance of strengths and flaws – and how this fictional person deals with the adventure they’re thrown into – is what makes a main character compelling, empathetic, and real. 

So when I unearth a notebook years in the future, containing one of stories I’m writing now, maybe the main character won’t make me feel like this:

Maybe it’ll even be like this: 

And best of all, maybe one of those characters will make a reader somewhere feel understood and helped and not alone. Wow. That would be amazing.

Well, there’s my writing motivation for today. I’m going to go make my main character more of a lovable jerk.

Quit your anti tech bullshit!

Anti-tech is anti-disabled people.

Tech is what makes many of our lives possible.
Much accessibility relies on tech.
Many accommodations are tech!

Without technology, many disabled folks wouldn’t be able to read, write, use social media - or the Internet at all, watch TV and videos, work, take online classes, take notes in class, record the class, have social lives, draw, do other hobbies, leave the house, take fucking care of themselves.

That story about the teacher who banned laptops just fuels this kind of thinking. Bet neither the teacher nor the article’s author even had a passing thought that technology is more than just a distraction, or that, y'know, disabled people exist?

Sincerely,
A multiply physically and mentally disabled person who wants you to quit your ableism.

Normalcy is a very important thing. You don’t realize it when you’re doing it. When you get to that place where you don’t even notice that something is a huge step forward, that’s a huge victory. Fuck yeah! It should be the norm, why not? Something that feels so normal should be portrayed in media as normal. You’re like, yes! This isn’t an issue anymore. Putting Cosima and Delphine at the center of the show insofar as the central romantic couple, it’s not sidelined or about anything else but true love and challenges and how they’re going to overcome that. Graeme and John are amazing. Normalization is a huge challenge and can have a huge impact. Right now, we need that impact. The President legitimizes misogynistic comments and normalizes those behaviors, but if we’re on this side of the fight, we have to pull on something positive for what values we want in our lives and push forward.
—  Évelyne Brochu on  the importance of Cophine (x)
sentence prompts ➝  reign
  • ❛ You have no power because I’ve taken it all away. ❜
  • ❛ How many people have you killed? ❜
  • ❛ I know I’ve made mistakes. ❜
  • ❛ But it’s all meaningless without you. ❜
  • ❛ Have you ever wanted something so much that the fear of not getting it makes you wonder if you ever should have wanted it at all? ❜
  • ❛ Something we both want so deeply warrants a bit of fear. ❜
  • ❛ No one will ever keep us apart again. ❜
  • ❛ Men in general like to win ❜
  • ❛ Well, your taste in men always did leave something to be desired. ❜
  • ❛ In the darkest of times you were my conscience. ❜
  • ❛ The more we try to help each other, the more harm we do. ❜
  • ❛ Have you learned nothing? ❜
  • ❛ I lose everyone I love. ❜
  • ❛ What odd turns our lives have taken. ❜
  • ❛ Your life is more valuable than this. ❜
  • ❛ My life is once again the sum of my choices, not someone else’s crimes. And I choose to help my friends. ❜
  • ❛ Tell me, what would hurt more. Knowing the person you love will die, or knowing they’re alive but you cannot have them? ❜
  • ❛ I don’t give my heart or give up easily. ❜
  • ❛ Despite your heartbreak, I must warn you, I show no mercy. ❜
  • ❛ I’m not sure I trust my own fate anymore. ❜
  • ❛ You have to admit, your fate does have a sense of humor. ❜
  • ❛ I need to forget a ridiculous, childish idea that I could love someone, they could love me, and nothing else mattered. ❜
  • ❛ Choose because of what you think, not what others might. ❜
  • ❛ There is always risk. At least when you love someone it’s worth taking. ❜
  • ❛ I never said I was a good person, but one can receive good advice from a bad person.❜
  • ❛ Please, let there be one honest thing between us. ❜
  • ❛ You want to hear something honest? I would do anything to keep you. ❜
  • ❛ Love is never simple. Not that I’m any expert. ❜
  • ❛ We can’t do this. ❜
  • ❛ We were supposed to dance under the stars. ❜
  • ❛ Maybe there is no magic but what we make for ourselves. ❜

So I made another collection! This round of inspirational quotes goes to the philosophers. Like the other times, I hope you enjoy these inspirational quotes and find them inspiring too!

Plato

  • “The beginning is the most important part of the work.”
  • “A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers.”
  • “The good is the beautiful.”

Lao Tzu

  • “From caring comes courage.”
  • “Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”
  • “When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.”
  • “At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”
  • “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them - that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

Aristotle

  • “Happiness depends upon ourselves.”
  • “You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.”

Socrates

  • “Be as you wish to seem.”
  • “It is not living that matters, but living rightly.”
  • “Let him that would move the world first move himself.”

Epictetus

  • “No great thing is created suddenly.”
  • “The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.”
  • “It takes more than just a good looking body. You’ve got to have the heart and soul to go with it.”
  • “First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.”
  • “Practice yourself, for heaven’s sake in little things, and then proceed to greater.”
  • “There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.”
  • “Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens.”
  • “Do not seek to bring things to pass in accordance with your wishes, but wish for them as they are, and you will find them.”
  • “It is not he who reviles or strikes you who insults you, but your opinion that these things are insulting.”
  • “Neither should a ship rely on one small anchor, nor should life rest on a single hope.”
  • “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”
  • “The greater the difficulty the more glory in surmounting it. Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests.”
  • “You may be always victorious if you will never enter into any contest where the issue does not wholly depend upon yourself.”

Soren Kierkegaard

  • “Be that self which one truly is.”
  • “Life has its own hidden forces which you can only discover by living.”
  • “The highest and most beautiful things in life are not to be heard about, nor read about, nor seen but, if one will, are to be lived.”
  • “Face the facts of being what you are, for that is what changes what you are.”
  • “Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.”

Hypatia

  • “Life is an unfoldment, and the further we travel the more truth we can comprehend. To understand the things that are at our door is the best preparation for understanding those that lie beyond.”
  • “Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all.”

Confucius

  • “The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.”
  • “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”
  • “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”
  • “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”
  • “When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.”
  • “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

Albert Camus

  • “To be happy we must not be too concerned with others.”
  • “Basically, at the very bottom of life, which seduces us all, there is only absurdity, and more absurdity. And maybe that’s what gives us our joy for living, because the only thing that can defeat absurdity is lucidity.”
  • “I know of only one duty, and that is to love.”
  • “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”
  • “You cannot create experience. You must undergo it.”
  • “You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.”
#LOAThursday

The Law Of Attraction 101

The Basics - the reality we experience is created based on the dominant thoughts we hold in our minds - positive thoughts = positive life. This is where the saying “whatever we focus on grows” comes from - if we’re focused on what we love, our thoughts will be positive & the reality we experience will revolve around what we love.

Vibration - everything in the universe is vibrating at a certain frequency: people, animals, thoughts & feelings. Love is the highest vibrational frequency, when we want to experience a life we love - we need to raise our frequency to attract more love into our lives and distance ourselves from anything fear-based.

Attraction - we attract what we are. In this universe like attracts like - who & what we attract is determined by our vibrational frequency. If we are acting in a lower-vibrational manner, which revolves around fear, we will attract people, places and situations that reflect what we’re focusing on. See that everything & everyone is a reflection of who we are & what we’re focusing on.

Vision - we become what we think. Whatever the mind can conceive - we can achieve, if we think we are capable of greatness then we can achieve it. Building a clear mental picture of the life we want to live makes it much easier to create our reality - rather than just hoping things will change naturally. Vision boards, visualisation meditations and speaking about our visions with manifestation buddies is a great way to strengthen the mental image.

Intention - state what you want. To get anything we desire we must first set the intention, from getting a date to making more money - the intention is key. Once we’ve set the intention we can then start to assess the way we behave and adjust our actions based on what we want to attract into our lives.

Gratitude - when we are grateful for what we have we shift our focus toward what we love, which raises our frequency and brings us closer to the love vibration. Gratitude is also a great way for us to attract more of what we love into our lives because we’re sending a signal of abundance into the universe. 

We have the power to create our reality.

Peace & positive vibes.

Solar Eclipse: Astrological Houses

The Eclipse In Your Houses

On Monday, August 21st, the Solar Eclipse will be in Leo. It will be a time of reevaluation as this powerhouse begins to transit through our houses. I will assume that everyone knows how to check transits in their chart, but if you have any questions you can send me a message (I’ll be happy to assist but give me some time). At first, I was a bit apprehensive, but after reading and learning some interesting things, this will be an exciting time for us all since we will be able to pinpoint what aspects of our lives we need to work on to truly become better. Astrology should not be used as a way to see the future but a tool to help guide us through the present. If you are not aware of how this will impact your astrological house, here is a quick summary to guide you:

First House: Issues with self esteem? Self identity? These are all major points in the first because it is the House of Self. If you’ve been feeling out of place lately (with all the retrogrades clouding us and driving us bonkers) Leo will shine a light and will help you carve out the path to self discovery for the upcoming months.

Second House: Perhaps you’ve noticed a change in your bank statements. Money is leaving you faster than it’s flowing in. The Solar Eclipse will tell you that it is time to be more wary of how you manage your finances. Make sure to analyze what you’re doing and most importantly, how you can improve. Open up a savings account, if you have the money, seek a financial adviser or just read up on ways to be more financially literate. 

Third House: Mercury is in Retrograde, so communication could be a bit…frustrating. If Leo is illuminating your third house, you have to see what it is YOU could be doing that is making exchanging information a bit tougher. When the much needed light of Leo shines on your house, you will receive a boost in creative energy, your thoughts will be fresh and you may even help people unclog their thought process.

Fourth House: Family drama? Not sure why you’re feeling like you’re trapped in a whirlwind of constant domestic arguments that just seem to never be resolved? Time to take a step back and consider what could be missing in the equation.

Fifth House: If your fifth house is being illuminated, prepare yourself for a much needed “fun” boost. Perhaps you’ve been feeling a bit melancholy because you have not been able to express yourself in the way you’ve wanted or you are caught up in a romance that doesn’t seem to be fulfilling, now is the time to make a choice that will help you pursue your happiness.

Sixth House: For those that will have Leo illuminate their Sixth House during this eclipse, it is time for you to think about yourself. This is the house of service but maybe you have been helping too many people to consider that not putting yourself first could be hurting you. Leo takes pride, it is the ruler and their self love could border on the narcissistic. Take some pointers and focus on you while also helping others. Make lists of things that need to be taken care of so you can be prepared for what’s to come.

Seventh House: This is the House of Partnerships, so it is obvious that you may be focusing on the status of your relationships whether intimate or friendly. Very much like the eleventh, you’ll discover who is there for you and who is not, giving you the courage to let go of things that are dead-weight. This is a time for growth and understanding and the eclipse will reveal the answers you’ve been craving for some time.

Eighth House: The time for change is happening. This house will have several convoluted questions from those that have this placement. Scorpio rules this house, which is represented by Sex, Death and Rebirth. This could be the ending of relationships accompanied with the rebirth of new ones. It could also be something involving the self. Perhaps old habits will end and you will evolve into something new.

Ninth House: You might feel anxiety over school, religion or your views of the chaotic world we live in. The Solar Eclipse will guide you and give you the confidence to challenge the norm. You will receive the clarity needed to focus and improve, especially if you’re a writer. Very much like the third house, the Eclipse will boost your communication skills and your thought process will flow clearer.

Tenth House: Leo will shine a light on your career and goals. Is your job satisfying you? Have you met your purpose? Do you crave for more? The Eclipse will shed a light on your progress or it might even provide a nice boost to your ambitions and drive. Tis your time to shine, best to grab on as you catapult to the stars.

Eleventh House: Time to reflect on those people that are truly there for you and the ones that want to see you crash. This Solar Eclipse will guide you to face those questions that have been troubling you for some time. Make sure to think things through and weigh the good with the bad regarding those people. Once you’ve made your choices, do not fret, the world is filled with plenty of people and you will definitely find better ones along the road.

Twelfth House: The House of Secrets and mysteries will definitely benefit from this Solar Eclipse. There will be a brief light in the dark road. The ethereal house questions, pushes and can take you to the brink of madness, but fear not. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Hold on to hope and make sure to remember that being optimistic doesn’t hurt, even if the twelfth house constantly pressures you. You can face your demons and win.

Happy eclipsing!

hamilton ( cut songs/workshop versions ) sentence starters !!

the reality is not a pretty picture.
tell him to stay home!
you have invented a new kind of stupid.
i begged you to take a break, you refused to.
you’re the only enemy you ever seem to lose to!
i look at you and think ‘god what have we done with our lives, and what did it get us?’
i’m not here for you.
 i will choose her happiness over mine every time. 
she died. she’s gone. ❞
 she changed my life. she made my life worthwhile. 
 sometimes it seems that’s all we do. 
 you and i will build a strong foundation. 
 you’ll blow us all away, someday. 
 just apologize, we have worthier pursuits! 
that’s when i realized this was not a game. 
 i want the world to know what i intended to do. 
 he must have been so scared. 
 i never had his instinct for self preservation. 
 it’s not in his political interest to kill me. 
 god, i can’t wait to see her again. 
 bitch, please! you wouldn’t know what i’m doing! 
 the line’s behind me, i crossed it again. 
 you fat mother f– ! 
 we in the shit now, somebody’s gotta shovel it. 
 if you knock me down i get the fuck back up again. 
 you swing at my family, you better not miss. you better have another punch to throw. 
 you could let it go. 
 people will always be critical. 
 let other people be cynical. 
 you’re smiling because you know i’m right. 
 you didn’t kill him, did you? 
 were you here this whole time? 
 you don’t have to bring a gun to a knife fight. 
 you know you really ought to listen to your wife, right? 
i hope you’re happy. 
 you could have given me a word of warning. 
 shhh. haven’t you talked enough? 
 i need you by my side. 
 i have a plan, but it’s risky. 
 but i couldn’t turn my back on a nation in need. 
 PAY YOUR FUCKING TAXES! 
 teach them how to say goodbye. 
the enemies i’ve made won’t have anything on me now. 

inlovewithoppa  asked:

안녕 ^^ could you please explain in 밥 잘 챙겨 먹어 what 챙겨 means and what is the actual meaning of the sentence? ~~ 고마워요 ^^

안녕하세요! 챙기다 means ‘take’ so this sentence could mean something like ‘take your meals well’ or could have the meaning of ‘don’t skip meals’

A&R🍱

Hamilton — Workshop songs {Sentence Starters}

  • “Bitch, please!”
  • “I’m not here for you…”
  • “You didn’t kill him, did you?”
  • “PAY YOUR FUCKING TAXES!”
  • “Were you here this whole time?”
  • “Let it go. Live to fight another day.”
  • “Go make sure the door is closed.”
  • “Go ahead, you can call me the devil.”
  • “You know what? I don’t like your tone.”
  • “Now, are you capable of such a thing?”
  • “The reality is not a pretty picture, kids.”
  • “The reality is messier and richer, kids.”
  • “The line is behind me, I crossed it again.” 
  • “You could’ve given me a word of warning.”
  • “No sign of disagreement. Not one rumble.”
  • “No one knows who you are or what you do.”
  • “You’re smiling because you know I’m right.”
  • “You don’t have to bring a gun to a knife fight.”
  • “It’s not my fault people think you’re crooked.”
  • “Let everybody know you can learn to let it go.”
  • “I begged you to take a break, you REFUSED to!”
  • “I will choose her happiness over mine, every time!”
  • “She changed my life. She made my life worthwhile.”
  • “Congratulations, you have invented a new kind of stupid.”
  • “You’re a nuisance with no sense. You’ll die of irrelevance.”
  • “We bleed and fight… sometimes it seems that’s all we do.”
  • “God, what have we done with our lives and what did it get us?”
  • “He’ll consider this a personal slander. I’ve gotta stop a homicide.”
  • “My god, your pride will be the death of us all! Beware: it goeth before the fall.”
  • “You swing at my family, you better not miss. You better have another punch to throw!”
  • “So scared of what your enemies will do to you? You’re the only enemy you ever seem to lose to!”

Summary: Sansa is sent as an emissary instead of Jon to meet with the Dragon Queen [Season 7 Spoilers - some of the dialogue is word for word from the script]

Dedicated to the lovely @qinaliel for the prompt!! 


“Then send an emissary!”

Jon paused, turned towards her and sighed. In the few short months since they’d been reunited, Sansa had come to learn his sigh’s and this one said that she had won. He was finally beginning to listen to her.

“Sansa,” he said slowly, coming to stand before her. They had been arguing in his solar for most of the afternoon. “Who will I send? You?”

Without hesitation, she nodded. “Yes.” She didn’t want to leave Winterfell, not after everything they’d done to get it back, but for Jon? For their home? She would face down Cersei if she had to. What was a Dragon Queen to that woman?

Immediately, Jon shook his head, stepping closer, until she could feel the heat radiating from his body. “No. No. I will not send you. She is a queen, only a king can get through to her.”

“You are more needed here than I am,” Sansa said. She reached for his wrist, circling her fingers delicately around it. “Jon, let me do this for you. I know women like her. And I am not merely anybody you’re sending. I am the Lady of Winterfell. She will listen to me.”

He twisted his hand from her grasp only to retrieve it back in his own. “I can’t protect you in the south.”

“No one can protect me anywhere,” she reminded him. “I will have Brienne with me. And Podrick. I will not be alone.”

Jon furrowed his brows. They both knew there was sense in her words, but she could see the struggle, the conflict warring in his mind. He was so noble, always so honourable, and it made her heart ache for him, fear and love mingling like the warmth of her breath fogging in the cold winter air.

He turned away from her, dropping down in his chair. Jon rubbed his face. “How can I plan a war when all I’ll be doing is worrying about you?”

Sansa let out a soft breath, a half-hearted laugh, as she came to kneel before him. “If it is any comfort to you, at least I will be far away from Littlefinger.”

His head snapped up at that and a small rueful smile broke over his face. “You heard then?”

“There is not much that happens in Winterfell that I don’t hear, Jon Snow,” Sansa grinned. “Although if you must wring Littlefinger’s neck, try not to do it in full view of the guards. You know they like to talk.”

He laughed. “I appreciate your counsel, my lady.”

Sansa made to stand up, but this time, Jon wrapped his hand around her wrist, the hard callouses grazing over her soft skin. It made her heartbeat spike unbiddenly. “You will be careful, won’t you? You will go, say our peace and come home?”

“I don’t want to be away from Winterfell more than I need to,” Sansa answered him, keeping his gaze, so he knew the words she didn’t wish to say out loud, that it was him she didn’t want to part with most.

Jon nodded once and let go. “Get some sleep, Sansa.”

That night, she tossed and turned, dreams of Winterfell lit on fire, blazing orange and red against the blinding white of winter. She dreamed of dragons screeching overhead as her people screamed for mercy, for reprieve from this slaughter, and then, just as she could feel the flames licking her own skin, she heard the keening howl of a wolf, as big as a mountain.

Jon, she whispered, reaching for him. Jon

Sansa woke with a start, sweat matting her hair to her forehead. She was warm, so much warmer than she had been in the night, but when she turned, she found the reason for the heat. Ghost lifted his head, blinked at her, something like concern shining in his eyes. She carded her fingers through his fur and pressed a soft kiss to his head. “You came to save me, didn’t you, boy?” His tongue lolled out from his mouth and Sansa laughed. “My hero.”

It was the day she would leave Winterfell. Sansa never thought that she would have to again after winning it back from Ramsay, but soon when the winds burned like fire and the sun refused to shine, her people, her Jon, would have to pick up their swords and fight, and Sansa needed to ensure they survived the Long Night. If this Dragon Queen could be reasoned with, then she would go and speak to her. Never mind that a Targaryen could never be trusted; never mind that this woman had stolen into their lands with a foreign army and three dragons. Sansa could understand the necessity of her alliance – although the feeling of trepidation did not ease, not when she broke fast sitting beside Jon as he watched her carefully and not when she sat with her maids to pack her belongings.

“I thought I would find you here.”

She didn’t turn, only wrapped her arms tighter around her body. He came up behind her. She could hear the crunching of his boots on the soft powdered ground.

“You don’t have to go.”

Sansa made a noise and he sighed in response.

“I wish you didn’t have to go,” he amended instead, his voice low, barely audible above the whistling wind. “Some days I think…” Jon paused and gave a soft chuckle. “I think, what if we had just run? Gone south and never looked back.”

“This is our home,” she murmured to him.

“Aye, and I will fight with my last breath for it,” he said firmly. “But maybe it keeps me sane to imagine what our lives would be like if we had run.”

Sansa turned then, eyes sweeping over his face. “And?”

“We would have a house,” Jon answered immediately. “Maybe by the sea.” He averted his gaze, staring up at the heart tree. “We’d be safe.”

She reached for his hand. “I’ll come home.”

“Promise me,” he said softly, squeezing her back.

“I promise, Jon.”

But promises were meant to be broken and Sansa would soon realise that the Dragon Queen would not be so easy to persuade.

“You stand in the presence of Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, rightful heir to the Iron Throne, rightful Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms, the Mother of Dragons, the Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, The Unburnt, The Breaker of Chains,” the woman spoke.

Sansa refrained from grimacing. She had met another once who liked to shout his titles at anyone who would listen and he had been a monster. She desperately hoped this Daenerys was different.

“This is Sansa Stark of House Stark, eldest daughter of Eddard and Catelyn Stark, blood of the First Men, Lady of Winterfell and Sister to the King in the North, Jon Snow,” Brienne immediately replied, standing tall and proud, Podrick a step behind her.

“Forgive me. I never did receive a formal education, but I could have sworn the last King in the North was Torren Stark who bent the knee to my ancestor Aegon Targaryen in exchange for his life and the lives of the northmen. Torren Stark swore fealty to House Targaryen in perpetuity. But do I have my facts wrong?” Daenerys asked, poison hidden in her polite words, but Sansa had lived with lions. A dragon did not scare her.

“No, your grace,” Sansa answered, keeping her tone equally as polite. “You are well-versed in your history, but mayhaps you have forgotten that House Targaryen was overthrown during Robert’s Rebellion when your brother kidnapped my aunt and your father had my uncle and grandfather burned alive.” She paused to let this sink in. “House Stark has not been loyal to a Targaryen in many years.”

Daenerys’ lips twitched as her brows furrowed infinitesimally. “My father was an evil man. On behalf of House Targaryen I ask your forgiveness for the crimes he committed against your family. And I ask you not to judge a daughter by the sins of her father. Our two houses were allies for centuries. Those were the best centuries the kingdom’s ever known. Centuries of peace and prosperity with the Targaryens sitting on the Iron Throne and a Stark serving as Warden of the North. I am the last Targaryen, Sansa Stark. Honour the pledge your ancestor made to mine. Bend the knee and I will name your king Warden of the North. Together we will save this country from those who would destroy it.”

She couldn’t help think that peace was the farthest thing this woman wanted. A Targaryen’s house words were not ‘fire and blood’ for nothing, but she could hear Jon’s voice in her mind, reminding her of how important it was to ally with the Dragon Queen.

“I cannot judge you for your father’s crimes any more than you can hold me to my ancestor’s vows,” Sansa told her. “The North will not bend the knee, your grace.”

“Then why are you here?” Daenerys demanded, the politeness fading from her tone.

“Because we need each other,” she said easily. “To survive, House Stark and House Targaryen must form an alliance.”

The Dragon Queen turned, smirking at Tyrion. When Daenerys finally returned her gaze back onto Sansa, she caught her former husband’s apologetic glance. So it would seem even the Hand of the Queen was aware of her arrogance, but it was hardly surprising to Sansa. Those with power tended to believe they deserved it. The only king or queen Sansa had ever met who wished for less power was the one she had left behind, the one of whom she missed so achingly she would turn around right this moment and swim back to him if the survival of her people didn’t rest in her hands. With an inward sigh, Sansa steeled herself as the Dragon Queen spoke once more.

“Did you see three dragons flying overhead when you arrived?”

“I did.”

“And did you see the Dothraki, all of whom have sworn to kill for me?”

“Yes, your grace.” She fought the urge to roll her eyes.

“But still, I need your help?” Daenerys asked, looking amused and patronising, but Sansa had learned to weather all manners of insult, those personal and evasive, and those from arrogant rulers.

“Yes,” Sansa answered simply. “My…” she paused for a fraction of a second, “king has seen unspeakable horrors beyond the Wall and there is an army marching towards us at this very moment. If we do not band together, there will not be a kingdom for anyone to rule.”

“And what is this army you speak of?”

She sighed. It was impossible to imagine the kind of army that Jon spoke so fearfully of and yet she knew his words to be true. It didn’t, however, make convincing Daenerys Stormborn any easier. “The Army of the Dead.” Sansa straightened her shoulders. “I know how it may sound, but my king is no liar. If he says they are coming then it is true.”

“I have no reason to believe in a man who wishes to oppose me –”

“Jon does not wish to oppose you,” Sansa interjected. “He does not wish to sit on the Iron Throne, not now, not ever. Your grace, you are not grasping the severity of the situation. Cersei is a formidable foe, but the Dead will kill us all if we don’t work together.”

Daenerys let out a scoff. “You will have me place my trust in a man I have never met?”

“Do you trust your Hand?” Sansa asked, looking to Tyrion. “Because he will tell you that neither Jon nor I have any reason to lie to you. Nothing good comes from a Stark leaving the North, but I am here because it is necessary.”

Tyrion sighed. “Your grace, I trust Lady Sansa and I trust Jon Snow. They are honourable people.”

There’s a long pause that fills the room, so tangible Sansa could feel it crowding her, pushing up against the cloak she still wore. Daenerys stood up and began to descend down the stairs, eyes unwaveringly locked onto Sansa’s, but she refused to be intimidated by a woman not much older than her.

“I was born at Dragonstone. Not that I can remember it. We fled before Robert’s assassins could find us. Robert was your father’s best friend, no? I wonder if your father knew his best friend sent assassins to murder a baby girl in her crib. Not that it matters now of course. I spent my life in foreign lands. So many men have tried to kill me. I don’t remember all of their names. I have been sold like a brood mare. I have been chained and betrayed, raped and defiled,” she said, the emotions making her voice rise. It was the first time since they had arrived that Sansa saw something more than just pure arrogance. She saw defiance and strength, but if Daenerys thought she was the only woman to have ever been violated, she was mistaken. Cersei was defiant and she was strong, but she was as bad as the men who underestimated her, if not worse. Sansa won’t be swayed so easily by sad stories; she’s had her fair share.

“Do you know what kept me standing through all those years in exile?” The Dragon Queen paused, only a few feet away from Sansa now. “Faith. Not in any gods. Not in myths and legends. In myself. In Daenerys Targaryen. The world hadn’t seen a dragon in centuries until my children were born. The Dothraki hadn’t crossed the sea. Any sea. They did for me. I was born to rule the Seven Kingdoms. And I will.”

Brienne shifted behind her, but Sansa was not here to trade trauma for trauma. Her pain was her own and no one else’s, not even Jon knew the full extent of what she had gone through. She didn’t need to sink so low for this alliance, but she did need to get through to Daenerys somehow.

“The world is not a kind place for any woman,” Sansa said slowly, evenly, while observing the queen for a reaction. “For many men, we are no more than a womb for their seed to grow and that is if we’re lucky. But this war cares not if you are a man or a woman, Daenerys Stormborn. It will devour us all if we don’t act.”

“My lady,” Tyrion spoke up, his eyes were soft, kind and pleading. “I understand your brother may believe that he saw something beyond the Wall –”

“He did,” she reaffirmed.

“Yes, but you cannot expect us to halt hostilities and join him in fighting in the North,” he continued. “If Jon bends the knee, swears fealty to Daenerys, then we can defeat Cersei and take up arms together in your war.” Tyrion moved forward. “Sansa, you know what my sister is capable of. You know you will never be safe while she’s on the throne.”

“With respect, my lord,” Sansa said through gritted teeth. “I do not need reminding of what Cersei is capable of. As you said, I know far too well, but I also know when there is a far greater threat and that is the one in the North. You may believe me or you may not, but the Long Night is coming. Winter is here.”

“Then bend the knee,” Daenerys demanded once more. “Do it now and we can cease with this squabbling.”

“The North has suffered too long under southron rulers. We will not bend the knee,” she said confidently. “Jon will not bend the knee. The people have put their trust in his hands and he will lead them for as long as he can.”

“That’s fair. It’s also fair to point out that I’m the rightful queen of the Seven Kingdoms. By declaring himself King of the northern most kingdom, House Stark is in open rebellion,” she concluded, eyes narrowed.

That night, she dreamed of fire, bright and orange, flickering up the walls of Winterfell as screams pierced through the air. She could feel the heat on her skin and she wanted it to stop. She tried to remove her cloak but the heat persisted. Sansa opened her mouth to scream, to beg for mercy, for anything that could stop the pain running through her, but her voice would not work.

The thundering flap of wings had Sansa peering up into the ashen sky. There amidst the clouds, she saw two of the most fearsome creatures circling her home. Fire rained from their mouths, turning stone walls to pebbles and people to nothing more than dust. When Sansa could feel the skin peeling away from her bones, she felt it, looming great and big over her, its shadow turning day into night. Sansa moved, whirling around to face it, and immediately, she was struck, jaw gaping open, as she stared into the grey eyes of a pure white dragon. It looked back, sentient like it knew her, and flapped its large wings. The gust of air cooled the fire away and soothed the pain running through her body.

Sansa dropped to the ground and wrapped her arms around her legs. “Just kill me,” she whispered. “Kill me.” It bent its neck towards her like it was bowing, eyes cast down. Confused, Sansa shouted at it, angry and hysterical, “what do you want from me!”

Before it could respond, Sansa woke with a start, her chest pounding loudly in her ears, and the overwhelming feeling that washed through her was that she missed Jon. It was not the first time since arriving at Dragonstone that she thought this, but now knowing that Daenerys was holding them prisoner on this godsforsaken island, she missed him all the more. The thought of never seeing him again made her ache down to her very bones. She had to find a way back to him; she refused to let that moment at the gate be their last moment together.

“I should be going,” Jon said, touching a hand to her cheek. “It is not too late to change your mind.”

Sansa leaned into his touch, uncaring that Brienne, Podrick and Ser Davos were only a few feet away. “We cannot have this argument again, Jon. You’re king. The people need you here.”

“You would do just as well leading them,” he countered, thumb stroking the curve of her cheekbone. “I may be king, but you’re their lady. They love you. They trust you just as well as they trust me.”

“It’s better this way,” Sansa said with a small smile. “Smarter.”

Jon sighed. “I will not convince you otherwise, will I?”

“Have you ever?”

“No,” he said, chuckling softly. He kept his gaze on her, lingering, and drawing out the silence before he finally spoke again. “Be safe.” Without another word, Jon leaned forward to kiss her gently on the forehead, so familiar yet so different, as when he parted, he dropped his forehead to hers, allowing their breaths to swirl in between them. “I’ll miss you, Sansa.”

Tears pricked at the back of her eyes. She ran her hands up his chest to grip onto his furs. “I’ll miss you too.”

Sansa wiped at her eyes with the back of her hand as she stared out unseeingly towards the horizon. The wind blew gently, tossing her hair away from her face and neck, leaving a cool breeze to ease the heat of the south. The sound of footsteps announced his arrival.

“I came out here to brood over my failure to predict the Greyjoy attack, but I can hardly do that in the presence of my lady wife,” Tyrion said, that teasing lilt to his voice.

“I have been a prisoner many times, Lord Tyrion,” Sansa said coolly. “I have been kept against my will at the hands of your family, forced to swear my loyalty to the people who murdered my father, brother and mother. I have been kept and sold by Littlefinger to the Boltons where I was imprisoned in my own home.” Her chest rose up and down rapidly. “But I will not be a prisoner to your queen. Jon is my king and I will make it home to him.”

“Lady Sansa, you are not a prisoner. You are free to roam the beaches and –”

“Do not trifle with me, my lord,” Sansa turned to look at him. “Or have you forgotten how long I spent under your sister’s tutelage?” She pursed her lips tightly. “Your queen does not believe me. It is fair. I hardly believed Jon when he first told me and every rational thought in my mind is saying to look to Cersei. She is our biggest threat, but you don’t know Jon the way I do. Not as he is now.” She returned her gaze to the sea, imagining the man in question and what he must be doing in this moment. “He is a great king, a greater man than you and I ever thought possible in these hellish times, and if he says the Dead are coming, I suggest you heed his warning and act accordingly.”

“My lady, it is not a question of belief,” Tyrion said. “Daenerys could have sailed for Westeros long ago but she didn’t. Instead she stayed where she was and saved many people from horrible fates, some of whom are on this island with us right now. While you’re our guest here you might consider asking them what they think of the Mad King’s daughter. She protects people from monsters, just as you do. That’s why she came here. And she’s not about to head north to fight an enemy she’s never seen on a word of a man she doesn’t know after a single meeting. That’s not a reasonable thing to ask.”

Sansa smiled, though it was derived of humour. “You will forgive me if my faith in rulers who believe themselves entitled to a throne is lacking, Lord Tyrion. But I appreciate your advice and will consider your counsel with great thought. May I suggest you listen to mine as well?”

Feeling all at once exhausted and weary of this conversation, Sansa moved past her former husband and went in search of a quill and parchment. If she could not see Jon, she could write him. He’d need to know that Sansa wouldn’t be coming home for awhile yet, and that as long as she was alive, she’d find a way, not just to return to him but to convince the Dragon Queen to help one way or another. He had tasked her with an important mission and Sansa would not fail him.

But does anyone really know and understand how much Sleeping with sirens helped me and many others? It’s like, more than just a band. It’s what saved our lives. They mean more to us than anything else. They help us through everything. They helped so many people out if depression, and in glad to say they are helping me too. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them. I cant thank them enough for what they have done to help.

It has always struck me as funny that we, as Christians, prioritize what is most important in our lives. It always begins with God being the foremost important thing, then we list other things that fall after Him, such as sports or school or friends. But what we aren’t realizing is that by doing this, it is very much like crossing God off our to-do list and then moving on to the next most important thing. We, instead of listing what is most important to us and creating for ourselves a routine to follow, need to understand that He is so much more than the first thing on our list of things to do. We need to let everything we do be done with Christ central. Instead of saying “God first, then school, then friends, then sports,” we need to be saying “God and school, God and friends, God and sports.” He is in every compartment and category of our lives. Who are we to limit where we will and will not allow Him?

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus…” -Colossians 3:17

Let’s challenge ourselves to keep Him at the center of our lives, instead of checking Him off our daily to-do list.