How open is your mind?

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Photo by Melissa Van Gogh on Unsplash

Almost everyone loves a good ghost story. Sitting around a campfire while swapping tales or under blankets with a flashlight at a sleepover, jumping at mystery noises are a rite of passage for many kids. Those memories remind us of spine-tingling stories about phantom hitchhikers, mysteriously vanishing prom dates that turn out to be actually dead, or any manner of things that go bump in the night.

When we’re young, those stories are exciting and scary in a safe way. The chances of encountering any of these things are remote but spooky enough to give some harmless, delicious shivers.

But how many people actually do believe in ghosts, spirits, and/or other paranormal beings? …

A time of reminiscing.

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Author’s collection

I fell in love with horses when I was quite small, I don’t remember exactly when. One Christmas, I received two families of Breyer toy horses, Arabians, I think. Each set was composed of a mare, a stallion, and a foal and I played with them constantly. I remember admiring how very real they were as opposed to the other sparkly toy ponies that I had. I preferred the realistic Breyers, even if they didn’t have tails that I could brush. …

Life lessons in a pandemic year.

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Photo by Sven Brandsma on Unsplash

I think almost everyone agrees that 2020 has been pretty craptastic. It didn’t start off that way, though. Back in February, (it seems so long ago now) I took a short-but-sweet solo trip to Salem, Massachusetts to do some family research. I had a great experience in January, performing in Laughing Stock, and then had some intense and awesome rehearsals for The Glass Menagerie, playing one of my bucket list roles. My family was doing well, and my husband and I were planning a summer vacation in NYC. It would have been my first time there, not counting when I changed planes at La Guardia or when we drove though Brooklyn a couple of years ago, the majestic Manhattan skyline in the distance. …

Think before you speak.

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Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

I’m a middle school teacher. I’ve been a teacher for more than a decade now, including student teaching and two years of subbing. I’ve taught 3rd-8th grade as a full-time teacher, but all grade levels as a sub. I prefer teaching the older kids. (Kindergarten is not my thing. At all.) I’ve tied shoes, wiped tears, cleaned up vomit, and given more hugs than I can count. I’ve learned a lot in that time, lessons that I wanted and needed to learn and also some things that I would rather not know. …

It’s the little things.

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Photo by Ann on Unsplash

Every November, for the past several years, I’ve posted daily about something that I’m thankful for. Up until now, with little variation, I’ve posted about my husband, my kids, my theatre, church, and other groups that I’m involved in. I’m given to writing syrupy musings about what I love about everyone and everything, and while those posts are written from the heart, I understand that it can get a little, or a lot, repetitive. And old.

I still wanted to participate this year, but decided to change it up a little. COVID has really done a number on me emotionally. I’m not someone who likes to take things day by day. I like to plan ahead and map everything out, every little step. I like to have things to look forward to in order to get through work or depression holes. (They often happen at the same time.) …

The commoner who changed the history of England

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Copy of a painting displayed at Hever Castle, Kent, Anne’s childhood home. This image was found at and is in the public domain.

Born circa 1501, Anne Boleyn is probably one of the most famous, and most maligned, historical figures in English history. As the second wife of the infamous King Henry VIII and mother of the illustrious Queen Elizabeth I, much of her own fame lies in the fact that her own husband had her sentenced to death and beheaded on what we know today were false charges.

Anne’s marriage to Henry was highly controversial at the time. …

A years-old desire

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Photo by Varun Gaba on Unsplash

Besides writing for Medium, I keep a personal blog for random musings, news about my writing, a place for my soapbox, etc. As a blogger, I read and subscribe to other bloggers. I like a lot of posts from all over the world (Thank you, Google Translate). Like many other people, I have regular bloggers that I subscribe to, writers to whom I can relate on a variety of topics.

I read a post by one of those bloggers yesterday and it’s been on my mind ever since. She writes of wanting to be a flight attendant in the past but not having the courage to follow through with it. That struck a chord with me because I have thought about being a flight attendant for a long time. I even applied, several years ago, and was invited to an interview in Chicago (I live about five minutes from Detroit). The airline would fly me out to the interview and back on a certain day. …

What is actually on the other side?

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Photo by Josh Marshall on Unsplash

My husband and I have a rather morbid running joke. We often ask each other if we are wearing good “ghost clothes”. Ghost clothes, of course, being the clothes that one wears when one dies and would wear forever as a ghost, haunting the living.

I don’t remember where we got that idea, online somewhere, probably, but it’s turned into one of our “things’. We like it. It suits us.

The subject of ghosts, and the afterlife in general, is one that people have many different ideas about due to their religion, lack thereof, paranormal experiences, or just about any other reasoning. …

Or, “Dammit, Jim, I’m a writer, not a marketing executive!”

“Write a novel,” they said.

“It’ll be fun,” they said.

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Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash

Actually, that’s not what they said. I have no one to blame but myself for this adventure. Has it been worth it? There’s no easy answer to that. Yes, and I hope so are the best I can do right now.

Like all aspiring writers, I want to make this what I do for a living. I’m not seeking fame and fortune, just a way to do something I love and have it also pay the bills. (Although, I certainly wouldn’t turn down a spot on the NY Times Best Seller List…) My day job does not leave a lot of time or energy for writing and that frustrates me to no end, but I do my best. …


Julie Ballantyne Brown

Future London resident. Follow Julie on Twitter: @BrownBallantyne or on FB and Instagram: @JulieBallantyneBrown

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