Something to Write To: “Out of the Woods” By Anthem Lights (Original Song by Taylor Swift)

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The world was in black and white, but we were in screaming color.

Twenty stitches in a hospital room.

I walked out. I said, “I’m setting you free.”

So many lines. So many stories.

Press play. Get inspired.

Shipping Saturday: Mandy Baxter and Kyle Anderson of “Last Man Standing”

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There are some ships that are wild roller coasters of angst that keep us on the edge of our seats and rip out our little shipper hearts. Then, there are the ships that make just us go awww. Take Last Man Standing’s Mandy Baxter and her beau Kyle Anderson for example. For me, this ditzy duo are prove that a television relationship can be sweet and still be a serious OTP. They fill us with seriously warm and fuzzy feelings, and we know, no matter what, we can always count on them to work it out. The only tears they make us cry are rom laughing way too hard. In a world where everyone seems to focus on the negative, these ships give us something smile about even if it’s only for the duration of one weekly episode.

Here are a few reasons Mandy and Kyle are one of the sweetest ships in primetime.

They speak the same language.

Neither Kyle nor Mandy would ever be mistaken for being geniuses. When the Baxter family tries to have serious discussion, Kyle and Mandy are always quick to bring a little levity with an out-of-left-field remark, leaving other characters and viewers alike wondering how these two manage to function in everyday life. However, things that sound crazy to everyone else make perfect sense to them. They know they can each say anything a little wacky, and the other will understand exactly what they mean. Mandy and Kyle have also forged a serious ability to communicate openly with each other. There have been many times when an issue came up, and they were able to talk through it, like when Mandy got an internship in New York or thought about donating her eggs. Sure they fight like every couple does, but cooler heads are usually able to prevail. Where others are on one frequency, Mandy and Kyle have a wavelength that’s all their own.

They know it’s about the little moments.

Some people need big romantic gestures from their partner to affirm their relationship. Not Kyle and Mandy. These two know it’s the little, heartfelt acts that are the most meaningful parts of their partnership. From dancing in the Outdoor Man store to warm up to play an arcade game to Kyle making a doughnut number eight for their eighth month anniversary, not a day goes by where these two don’t show how much they care, even when things don’t always come together like they planned. Despite Kyle’s carved soap bird was turned to bubbles by the rain, Mandy still thought it was the best Valentine gift she ever received, because he made it just for her. Even their first date, an after-hours picnic at Outdoor Man, was a simple, unplanned affair. Sure, big moments like their wedding are memorable, but their foundation of little moments is why they continue to remain rock-solid.

Kyle helped Mandy become a better person.

Before Kyle and her became a thing, Mandy was pretty much a shallow, self-centered brat, only concerned with looking good, finding the right guy, and getting by with doing as little as possible. Things all changed when she fell for Kyle. Committing to a guy who thought of everyone else first and went the extra mile for others, Mandy found Kyle’s sweet nature rubbing off on herself. When Kyle tried to help a homeless man living on the warehouse docks, Mandy got involved in a charity that helped homeless women dress for job interviews and helped bring a solder home to surprise a military family at Christmas. Kyle was also the driving force behind helping Mandy realize she was more than just her body, encouraging her to table sex in favor of developing their emotional connection first. Sure, Mandy did the work, but she wouldn’t be the sting kind woman she is today without Kyle’s presence in her life.

Mandy gave Kyle a home.

Even though he only addresses it with humor and ditzy comments for the most part, Kyle has hinted many times that he’s had a rough life. Unlike Mandy who had a relatively stable home with two loving parents, Kyle’s family seems to consist of a neglectful mother, cruel brothers, an absent father, and a grandmother with dementia. All he had were his bosses at Outdoor Man and his never-seen roommates. Things changed when Mandy came into the picture. Not only did she give him all the love and stability he’d been craving, she brought him further into the Baxter fold, solidifying his status as an honorary member of her family. He found a place he could call his own with people he knew would always be there for him no matter what. In turn, Kyle brought Mandy and the rest of the Baxter clan much closer together.

They were meant to be.

From the pilot episode of the series, Kyle and Mandy have always been endgame. Mandy dad Mike, sick of the usual guys she goes out with, asks his new employee Kyle to take her out on a date. Sure, Kyle ended up dating older sister Kristen for a season, but it was clear he was with the wrong Baxter daughter. Mandy and Kyle were written in the stars. It was only a matter of time before they saw it too.

When it comes to Mandy and Kyle, father really does know best.

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Writing Wednesday: To My Writing Cheerleader

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Throughout my life as a writer, I’ve been lucky to encounter so many people who have helped to shape my work. There was my high school English teacher Mr. Sabatini, who made me realize that I wanted to write, and my favorite college professor Ms. McKnight, who helped me hone my skills and find my own unique voice. There were countless classmates who offered valuable feedback, and my fellow literary magazine staffers who taught me to give valuable feedback. Of course, there are the readers of this blog and the places I’ve been published, who I hope I have been able to make some sort of impact on. However, there is one person I feel has been one of the most important people in both my personal life and my career: my incredible writing cheerleader Maria.

What exactly is a writing cheerleader? I think it is very similar to the Dawson’s Creek definition of a soulmate. It’s the person who understands you better than anyone else. She inspires you to push yourself to be the best writer you can be. Sometimes, she’s a sounding board for character names and possible plot ideas, and other times she’s just an eager reader, who can’t wait for the next chapter. She knows you, believes in you, and accepts you when no one else can or will. She picks you up when you get knocked down, believes in your work even when the door is slammed in your face, and, above all else, is the first one to remind you just how awesome you are even when you can’t see it. She the first call you make when you succeed, and she’s also the first call you make when you fail. You love her and know, no matter where your career goes, that will never ever change.

Personally, I know I would not be where I am today without my own writing cheerleader. When I started DeSales University in 2007, I didn’t expect to find a a best friend who would become my sister and my greatest support in my journey as writer. Yet, I found Maria. Over the course of a decade, I have shared with her pieces I’ve worked on, ideas for posts and projects, and my struggles of writer’s block and rejection. There are many pieces of mine she has read in their roughest states, and there are some pieces only she has had the honor of reading. When I went through getting rejected from a publication, she sent me a long text message to cheer me up at work and called me that night for one of her famous pep talks. She refuses to let me doubt myself or my talent, and, when I lose my faith in myself, she has enough faith for the both of us. Without her, I may have given up a long time ago. With her, I know I can achieve anything, and, if I fall, she’ll be right there to catch me.

Writing is a hard road. The craft is often a lonely act, born of solitude and unlocking one’s own mind. The industry is a dog-eat-dog world full of rejection, criticism, and hard knocks. Sometimes, we all just need to know that there is someone out there walking beside us, cheering on our successes and comforting us through our failures.

When you find that person, never let her go.

***This post is dedicated to my best friend and sister Maria. Happy birthday! Love ya, girlie.***

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