Tuesday, April 25, 2017

How & Why You Should Bullet Journal Today

How and Why You Should Bullet Journal Today


"The Bullet Journal is a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less." - Ryder Carroll (Creator)

The Bullet Journal caters to everyone and is completely adaptable. I, a very unorganized ADHD teenager, was able to begin bullet journalling and had never been more organized and on top of my schedule in my life. After bullet journalling for months, I found myself no longer taking it seriously eventually tossed it aside, only to realize how spacey and unaware I am without it! This year I decided to get back into it, and now I want to show you how you can start bullet journalling today.


First off, if you are serious about wanting to bullet journal I suggest watching the how to video made by the creator himself. He shows that bare minimum effort it takes to successfully bullet journal.

Now that you've watched that, you should know the process of making tasks and what to do when you finish those tasks or when plans change. In the rest of this post, I will show you my journal, the collections I created, and how I use my bullet journal.

1. Index

One of the most important steps to bullet journalling is to keep and index. The more you add to your journal the harder it is to keep track of all your content and where it lies in your pages. By keeping an index you can find your spreads quickly and efficiently. Mine is very simple, since I don't feel the need to jazz it up at all, like you'll see I do with my other spreads.

Many of those who begin bullet journalling quickly learn that your index fills up quick. One of the things I do in my bujos (bullet journal), is design all my weekly pages at the start of the each month. In my index, I am then able to just record the month and the page it begins and know all the pages after that are monthly planning. While I like to have all my weekly logs made at the beginning of each month, it is also possible to have collections (explained further down) in between them. Record the beginning of the month and just continue logging the collections spreads, and when you reach the next month record the beginning of the month again. Then you are able to see that all spreads besides other collections fall under that month.

2. My 2017 Cover Page

I decided that since I got a new Bullet Journal for the new year, I would introduce the year that the contents would pertain to. The cover is a simple design with just a large 2017 written atop the page, a picture, and a small phrase. I chose to write "and so it begins" at the beginning of my journal with the intent of making a page when the year is finished with "and so it is" written in the same fashion.

3. Future Log

I am not one that needs to plan months out into the future, but for bullet journal sakes, I created a Future Log anyway. This is where you can see months at a time, and plans/ appointments you have already scheduled. For me so far, I only needed to really record an anniversary, holidays, a vacation, a few appointments, and a play I'm going to.

4. Beginning of the Year Collections

Basically every page is considered a collection. It is given a title and the content goes underneath. Most people who bullet journal, however, refers to collections as those that aren't Future Logs, Monthly Logs, Weekly Logs, or Daily Logs. For the beginning of the year I decided to make a few collections that are relevant to the entire year.

- Birthdays: This was a simple collection to track the birthdays of my friends and family. Every month when I make a new monthly log, I transfer over the birthdays for that month.

- Word of the Year: Creating a Word of the Year for yourself, is like setting an intention to work on through out the entirety of the year. I've seen words such as: grow, confidence, release, faith, balance, gratitude, simplify, etc. For my word I chose focus. I want to focus on the things that are important to me and work on keeping focus to the tasks, goals, and work I have.

- Goodreads Reading Challenge: The Goodreads Reading Challenge is a year goal of reading a set amount of books. Last year had over 3 million participants and this year almost 2 million have already taken he challenge. The average amount of books pledged to read is 45, but I've seen people pledge from 1 book to 100+ books. I've set my goal at 36 books and I'm about two books in. I have some catching up to do! Take the pledge here!

- Weight Loss: Many people have made Fitness Tracker or Weight Loss collections. After not finding one that I really liked on Pinterest or Instagram, I got my ruler and markers out and made my own. I'm very proud of this collection and am well on my way of recording my weight loss for this year. Apologies for not showing the entire spread, due to hiding my current weight and progress. Maybe I'll share the full spread (starting weight and all) by the end of the year.

- 2017 Memories: This is an entire page for recording big/important/interesting events that happened in that year. In my bullet journal before this one, I made a memory page for each month (which you certainly can do!), but I found I wasn't filling up the page every month. Since I don't do a lot of big, interesting things in a single month, I thought it would be better to have one for the whole year. You can see I did a few things in January, but literally nothing note-worthy in February or March. 

5. Monthly Planning (May)

At the beginning of each month, I create my monthly, and weekly spreads. I start out with a vertical list of all the days and draw a line splitting the weeks between Saturday and Sunday. I add a calendar view to the corner and then list birthdays, holidays, events, plans, and appointments. After my monthly layout, I usually go write into my weekly spreads, but I decided to add and change somethings for this month.
With a burst of courage, I decided to take on the terrifying thought of logging how I spend my time for an entire month. Since I've been wanting to create a daily writing routine, I've had to realize my excuse of not having time doesn't cut it anymore. I know I spend countless hours online, watching tv, and playing video games! So, now I'm committed to logging and seeing just how much time I actually waste. I'm very intrigued and scared to say the least.

Next I made a "Habit Tracker" (a very common bujo monthly collection). This collection is to track habits you need or want to stick to (i.e. taking your medication), as well as tracking how often you do bad habits (i.e. eating fast food). The past few months I have been making a few individual trackers and putting by my main monthly spread. For this month, I decided I wanted to dedicate my time more regularly, and track more than just taking my medication, not spending money, and not eating fast food. To my list of three habits, I've added eight more including writing an hour, calling my Abuelita, seeing how often I do my hair/makeup, and getting up before 10 (I've been getting up at 8:30 the past couple weeks, so I may change this to earlier).
Since I didn't have a huge list of habits to track, I decided not to waste a full page and combined it with a new collection I've been wanting to do for awhile, a Mood Mandala. While I got the idea from BohoBerry, I believe the original idea comes from @bujo.mama on Instagram. The idea is to track your mood everyday for a month, and color in a ring of your mandala. A lot of people use the colors and do individual designs for each day, but I'll be following BohoBerry's lead and color ing each day the corresponding color and using black to create a mandala design on top of the colors.

Finally, I began my weekly logs, and plotted all fives weeks of May in a vertical fashion. I wrote the week on top (i.e. May 1st-7th) and gave each day a box of space labeling the day of the week inside and the date next to it. Lastly, because I want to be writing everyday, I gave myself a word count goal with a box split by a dotted line. The idea is to put my goal above the dotted line and my total below it. For the first week of May, I made a goal of 5,000 words. On my last weekly page, I had about half the page left over, due to there only being three days of the month left in that week. In that space, I decided to put a monthly word count table to add up all my weekly totals and see how much I wrote for the entire month! I still have some space on the side where I may put a quote or use it to doodle.
Lastly, to end my monthly section, I created an expense page to track my spending as well as income for the entire month. I haven't been spending a lot, and am not currently working, so I think one page will be enough, but I do see a lot of bullet journals with a full two-page spread.

6. Extra Collections

The last thing in my journal to share, is my extra collections. These spreads don't necessarily pertain to a set amount of time like my monthly or yearly collections, but rather are just general things. I would love to add more, might follow through with that soon, but for now I only have a few extra collections in my journal.

- Packing List: In January, I spent an entire holiday weekend up in the Malibu mountains leading a church camp. I had a lot of responsibilities that required more packing than usual, and I can't exactly say I'm the lightest packer to begin with. My packing style is more of pack-a-week's-worth for a three day weekend kinda style. Ya know... just in case.

- Books to Read: While I've seen many fancy books-to-read collections, I decided to go with a very simple layout. Since I already drew a bookshelf for my Goodreads Reading Challenge, I didn't think I needed to (and I didn't want to) do a similar collection for this one. I decided to make four columns to track the books, their authors, if I finished reading them, and what I would give the out of 10. First, I left a single square row to put a dot next to the books I ended up reading, gave room for the title to fit in the next column, before giving  slightly less space for the author's name, and, finally, a few squares to rate the book.

- Creating a Daily Writing Practice (and other note collections): This was a collection I made to take notes on The Divine Guide to Creating a Daily Writing Practice by Pernille Norregaard. I really wanted to stick with my goal of writing regularly, and thought there was no better way than to have notes on the book that really kicked my butt to make the goal in the first place. By placing it in my journal, I always have it with me, since I take my journal everywhere. I have another collection for notes I took during a writing webinar, and will most likely continue to create note pages for other writing books/ classes.

- Social Network: In my bujo, this collection lists all my emails and social media accounts for not only my personal accounts, but also my business and writing accounts. While I didn't include the passwords to each of these accounts, this is a good place to put that, and I might make another collection solely for all my passwords to different websites. I did, however, decide not to share a photo of this two-page spread, due to all my account information being on it, including business pages that aren't ready for interaction.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Pinterest Prompts

To my fellow writers, this is a list of some of my favorite prompts that I have posted on my Pinterest. Thought I'd share a few. If you'd like so see more, feel free to go to my Pinterest and follow me; I have a board called "Prompts" (clever I know) with more of them, as well as a board for writing called "The Write Way".

1. His eyes were cold and lifeless as he stared at me.
    "You have no idea who I am, do you?"
2. You find a stack of "Missing Persons" news clippings under your parents' bed. All with your photo.
3. "Yes, but last week a dragon almost set my hair on fire, so it's your turn to negotiate."
4. She pulled the knife from her chest and smiled.
    "Was that supposed to hurt?"
5. "What's our exit strategy?"
    "Our what?"
    "Oh my god, we're all going to die."
6. My beach had no fires, no 'HELP' sign written in driftwood or 'SOS' made from coconuts. I did not want to be found.
7. There was frost on the carpet.
8. "Where is he?"
    "My lady..."
    "Answer me."
9. "I've been to nine planets in twelve years and it is starting to show."
10. You sold your soul to the Devil some years ago. Today he gives it back and says, "I need a favor."
11. "How many times have I died for you? And you STILL question my loyalty!"
12. "What is it?"
      "I can't be sure - but I think it's human..."
13. Scientists have developed a pill that temporarily disables the part of the brain that feels fear.
14. "What's the little blinking light mean?"
      "It means... wait, blinking?!"
15. Killing someone gives you all the time they had left.
16. "You know what your problem is? You lack imagination."
      "Hardly... I created you, didn't I?"
17. The world didn't end in a band, or in a whisper, but rather one scream at a time.
18. When the young die too soon, death takes them on one last adventure before sending them to Heaven.
19. A child is born with an imagination so strong it leaks into reality.
20. "There is no need to involve my family in this."
      "Why not? I like them, and they appreciate my witty remarks way more than you do."
      "It's true, hun. You've got to admit, he's pretty funny for an evil mastermind."

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Word Count Wednesday

What am I working on?

Right now I'm not working on anything specific, but instead working on creating a daily writing practice. You can see my post before this one about it. I'm going to attempt to write at least an hour every day. This morning I wrote for three hours composing my earlier post.

Word Count this week: 3,546

Word Count Total: 12,037

How do I feel about this process?

I'm nervous but also really excited. I want to show myself that I'm committed to my writing and am willing to put in the effort. Plus, I'm excited to see what I produce and how much I write.

What am I reading?

The Divine Guide to Creating a Daily Writing Practice by Pernille Norregaard

The New Author by R.A. Barnes

Writing a Book a Week by Alex Foster

How to Land (and Keep) a Literary Agent by Noah Lukeman

Why Do You Write?

If you are a writer, or especially if you are in my Creative Writing class, ask yourself this:
Why do you write?

I had to really ask myself this over the weekend. While on my long drive back home from my out-of-town Easter weekend, I decided to spend my time reading some free kindle books I downloaded that all have to do with writing. I've been really lazy with my writing and haven't been as committed to it as I'd like to be, so I first read The Diving Guide to Creating A Daily Writing Practice by Pernille Norregaard. (Click the link to get the free e-book!) Surly, good ol' Pernille must have the secret to success and will show me the rainbow bridge I need to cross to be writing everyday.

How dare I think it would be so easy! Good ol' Pernille had me rushing to get out a notebook and write notes as her words whipped me into mental shape! So let me share with you some of the things I've learned. Heads up, it's gonna be a long post, but it really helped me and I'm hoping it'll help you. Everything in bold are the notes I wrote down in my bullet journal (planner), to carry around with me in case I need reminding, or have highlighted on my e-book.


So apparently there are only 24 hours in a day, and no matter how much you pray to the writing gods, they won't give you any extra time to add daily writing to your busy schedule. Dammit! Norregaard tells you like it is: you and only you can make yourself write everyday, which also means you are the only one who can make the commitment of finding time to do so. As the author puts it, "Your family, your boss, your coworkers, or your clients will not suddenly offer to help you work less or reorganize your life so you can write for a couple hours a day. You have to decide to do it."

"I don't really have time to write everyday, though."

"I'm so busy at work/school right now."

"Next week I'll have more time."

"There's so much going on in my family and the kids are sick, but when everyone is well again..."

I get it, really I do. I'm a nineteen year old, full time college student, desperately looking for a job, living with my mother (which means listening to her and doing chores now, not later), and I like to think I have a social life that really includes a few friends and of course my boyfriend. However, as it turns out, there will always be an excuse, my friends. But let me give you the secret Norregaard gave me:

Time is not something you are given. It's something you take.

That's the ugly truth. Writing and pursuing writing easily becomes a "when I have time" task. Norregaard says this is why so many "dabble" in writing. If writing is something you want to be successful at, you absolutely have to make it a priority. 

Finding time in a busy schedule to write everyday means prioritizing. Often, it means that you have to give up things you love.

Now let me be clear, I am AWFUL at time management, so prioritizing is hard enough. I'm more of a doesn't like to watch one episode every week, but more so a season per day type girl. I love running over to my boyfriend's house to have dinner with him, watch him play video games or get lost into the depths of youtube, and then have him tell me we need to go to bed at 2 a.m. If I would just use half that time to write, maybe I'd have a book done or have time to blog everyday!

When you start a daily practice, it's natural to feel resistance. Resistance to writing shows up in 3 ways:
1. Perfectionism
2. Procrastination
3. Multitasking

Perfectionism - You fixate on writing the perfect text. The red line under that misspelled word drives you mad, so you go fix it, and you need to search that one fact. This disrupts your flow of writing. The cure? Write for your own sake. You can always edit and improve later!

Procrastination - I know you do it. I don't need to explain it, because you know you do it. Hell I'm procrastinating right this second on a number of things!

Multitasking - We are mentally doing too much at once. Say you are writing and a blog post pops into your head, so you jot it down as well as a possible basic structure for it. You don't want to forget right? Wrong. Actually, it distracts you from the real task at hand. I have ADHD, so a silent work environment has never really worked for me; I actually get more distracted with utter silence, so I usually have music going, or have background TV on of a show I've already seen (so I don't have to pay attention). Turns out, according to Norregaard this is a no-no...

The solution to procrastination and multitasking: Norregaard's Seven Steps to Monotasking.

1. Choose the text you want to work on
2. Set a specific amount of time to write
3. Clear your desk of everything else
4. Have everything you need to write in arms' reach
5. Turn of your cell phone, close your email, close the door, put up a "Do Not Disturb" sign on it
6. Set a timer for the designated time and write until the timer goes off
7. Take a break (or do another interval, if you've got your flow on!)

For this blog post I tried to follow these rules (meaning I don't have music on or TV!), and oh my Atlanta! I'm writing at godspeed and plowing through this blog post. Turns out, maybe when it comes to things I'm passionate about, I can focus without background noise. Take that ADHD!


This really goes hand-in-hand with that procrastination problem, that you and I both know you have. In seventh grade I did my entire science fair project the night before; I had two and a half months to do it. That's what Norregaard explains as Parkinson's Law.

Parkinson's Law - the law that states that any task will swell in (perceived) importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for its completion

In other words, your tasks grow to fill the amount of time you have to complete it. If you have a week to do the task and a day to do another, which is more important? The one with the sooner deadline! So if you set a deadline earlier than it's actual deadline, completing it becomes more important. 

Setting deadlines keeps tasks from growing to fill all your time - and if they do fill all your time, it is only for a limited time.

The author wrote, "If you have 24 hours to finish a task, you have to focus on getting the job done, so you focus on what's necessary, not what's possible. This increases productivity immensely. If you have a week to do the same task, you have six extra days to make a mountain out of a molehill." Deadlines are supposed to be a gift not a punishment according to Norregaard.

She suggests breaking down your book, script, article, or blog post, preferably into bits that take no more than 15 minutes to write, and to set deadlines for each bit. Lots of short deadlines.


Here it is, the daily part of creating a daily writing practice. There are two ways to set daily deadlines for your writing. 

1. Write a specific amount of words each day

It's really up to you and your writing genre to declare your word count goal. Norregaard suggests at least 1,000 words, but notes that some of the most productive writers write about 2,000 words a day, like Stephen King. 

2. Write for a set period of time

Some people write slowly, so the thought of producing that many words makes their blood run cold. Writing for a set period of time allows you to always have a set period of time to produce whatever you can. I think you'd be surprised with how much you write if you give yourself 1-2 hours to solely focus on writing. Also, if you are looking to create that daily writing routine, I feel it might be easier to plan your writing in time so you can make a schedule. When it becomes a habit and part of your routine, then up the ante to a set word count goal.

The focus during your session should be on producing text, not editing, research, or fact checking. Just write.


If you are critical like me, you might spend more time editing than actually writing. I suggest learning how to turn of spelling and grammar check as you type, then go back and do your editing at the end. That way those annoying squiggly lines won't bother you, making you stop and fix them.

Don't stop if there's something you don't know. XX marks the spot.

If there is something you want to research for your writing or maybe you want to thesaurus another word, put an XX where you may want to add your research or after the word you want to change. Highlighting is another option; One that I probably prefer, so those XX's don't disrupt your writing or word count. 

Perfection can kill creativity, flow, and joy of writing.

Norregaard states the scary thought that whatever you write will never be perfect. You can rewrite, change the opening sentence, spell check again, or research a better example for chapter 4 as much as you like. It still won't be perfect. The author tells of her severe case of perfectionism when she took journalism, and how she constantly turned things in late cause she always had to check one last thing. 
As she read over her paper again after everyone had left, her teacher told her, "I don't want it perfect. I want it done." Her teacher was right. Norregaard says as a writer it is your duty to share your talent with the world. If you constantly try to edit that one last thing, you'll never get it out there. So just write.

Find your peak writing time (when you have the most energy, drive, and focus to write).

Maybe you are a morning person. You like to hear the birds wake up singing as the sun rises. Go to bed an hour or two early, set your clock earlier than normal, and then wake up and write if that is when you feel energized. If you hit your peak writing time as the sun hits its peak height in the day, take your lunch to go and spend and hour or two writing. But maybe you are a night owl like me. I like the world to be asleep and all their energy to be silenced, as I write into the depths of night. I love it to be dark outside and that's when, after a long day, I find myself the most focused on finally being able to write.


Now all that is left is to fully commit to writing everyday. It only works if you commit to making your daily writing session sacred time, not to be traded, squandered, or ignored. Create a schedule, hold yourself accountable and don't let excuses or fear stop you. Of course you can take a day of every week, but only one. Don't slack off and really put your everything into writing everyday. Remind yourself why you do this. Remind yourself how this daily practice will change your life. Find out why it truly is that you love to write. Now use that to fuel your writing and your new daily practice.

So before I end this, let me ask you one more time:
Why do you write?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Not the Chosen One - Chapter 3

I have spent days trying to up load this to fanfiction.net. The process of copy and pasting on their website makes it so hard to upload a chapter. It took me three days and hours of my time trying to save paragraph by paragraph because it won't do all of it at the same time. Alas, my birthday present to myself was getting this chapter done, which has pushed me over 10,000 words for this one document!

          Hagrid took us out to a brunch before it was time to deliver Harry and I to King’s Cross train station. I was talking to Hagrid about the different things we would be learning at Hogwarts and all the amazing wonders it has to hold. Moving stairs, talking paintings, and feasts every night! Harry, however, remained silent.
         “You all right, ‘arry? Ye seem very quiet,” Hagrid took notice.
         “He killed our parents, didn’t he? The one who gave me this. You know, Hagrid. I know you do,” Harry spoke for the first time that meal. Hagrid sighed looking nervous.
“First, and understand this you two, ‘cause it’s very important. Not all wizards are good. Some of them go bad. Years ago there was one wizard who went as bad as you can go. His name was V-… his name was V-…” Hagrid struggled to get out.
“Maybe if you wrote it down?” I offered trying to ease his discomfort.
“No, can’t spell it,” he admitted. “All right. ‘is name was Voldemort,” he whispered the name.
“Voldemort?” Harry questioned aloud, taking no note that Hagrid would rather our conversation be as quiet as possible.
“Shhhh… It was dark times, very dark times. You-Know-Who started gatherin’ followers. Turnin’ witches and wizards bad. Yer parents fought against him! But nobody lived once he decided to kill ‘em. Nobody… Not one. Except you ‘arry.”
“Me? Voldemort tried to kill… me?” Harry asked bewildered.
“Yes. That ain’t no ordinary cut on your forhead there, ‘arry. A mark like that only comes from being touched by a curse, an evil one at that,” Hagrid shook his head.
“Hagrid, what happened to Vol-” I began to say, before I saw the poor half-giant wince, “to You-Know-Who?”
“Some say he died. Codswallop in me opinion. No, I reckon he is still out there, too tired to fight. Something about you Harry, stumped him. That’s why you’re famous, Harry. That’s why e’erbody knows yer name. You’re the boy who lived,” Hagrid revealed.
“What about Rena? Did he try killing her? Why is it everybody knows me and not her?” Harry questioned. To be honest, I was quite curious as well.
“I don’t reckon You-Know-Who ever saw little Rena. When I found ye two at yer ‘ouse, Rena was in the wardrobe. Silent as a mouse, ye were. Took a while to find ya. Caught a glimpse of that fire hair of yers through a crack in the closet. That’s ‘ow I found you,” Hagrid explained. Harry was the boy who lived, while I was the girl in a closet.
As Hagrid finished an image ran through my mind. A flash of green, a scream, crying, another flash, and pain. A sharp pain from behind my ear burned as I heard that scream over and over.
“Rena!” Harry shouted.
“What?!” I jumped.
“We got to go! You were staring in space for quite a while…” Harry informed me.
“Best be off, if we are gonna make it to King’s Cross,” Hagrid smiled gathering his things.
“Right…To King’s Cross…”
Hagrid was walking us through the station, unaware of the copious amount of stares the three of us were receiving. Hagrid fumbled around in his overcoat, before pulling out two tickets labeled: London to Hogwarts, for ONE WAY travel, Platform 9 ¾.
“Stick to yer tickets, you two. I must be off. Dumbledore will be wanting his packa- Well he’ll be wanting to see me.”
“Platform nine and three quarters?” I wondered aloud.
“Hagrid, there must be a mistake. This says platform nine and three quarters. But there’s no such thing is there?” Harry asked staring at his ticket. I looked up when Hagrid didn’t answer to find he was nowhere in sight.
“Um… Harry? Yeah, I think we are on our own for this one…”
With Hagrid gone, we walked around aimlessly looking for platform 9 ¾ before we decided to risk looking crazy, and go ask a station guard where it was.
“Excuse me sir,” I approached the guard, “But where can we find platform nine and three quarters?”
“Think you’re funny do you?” He asked, instantly annoyed.
“No sir, sorry. We are looking for the train headed to Hogwarts,” I tried again, hoping we may get insight on where we are to go.
“And what part of the country, would you be thinkin’ that is?”
“Ummm, we don’t actually know,” Harry admitted.
“Get lost you two!” He snapped before whispering under his breath, “Damn kids these days.”
Harry and I continued to wander around platform 9 and 10 as we watched time ticking. I was beginning to fear we would miss the train all together if we couldn’t even find the train to Hogwarts. Harry was beginning to panic.
“Hagrid, must’ve forgotten to tell us something. Do you think we have to tap the wall between them, like he did at Diagon Alley?” Harry asked me.
Before I could answer, I noticed six heads of fire red hair, one of which looked very familiar.
“Harry do you see that family? I think I met one of those boys in Diagon Alley!” I said with excitement.
“Packed with Muggles, of course!” A plump woman leading the whole group exclaimed, confirming my suspicions. Harry and I gave each other a glance before attempting to follow them. “Come on. Platform 9 ¾ this way! All right, Percy, you first.”
What looked like to be the oldest boy, ran with his truck and owl straight for the brick wall. Right before my eyes, the boy completely disappeared through the wall.
“Alright. Fred, you next,” the mother said.
“I’m not Fred! I’m George,” said a boy standing next to a boy whom looked exactly like him. “Honestly, woman, you call yourself our mother? Can’t you tell I’m George?”
“Sorry, George, dear,” the woman apologized.
“Only joking, I am Fred,” said the boy, and with that he disappeared as well.
“Excuse me,” Harry called out to before any more red-heads could disappear. “Could you tell us how to…?” he asked pointing at the brick wall.
“How to get on the platform?” the plump woman asked.
“Yes ma’am. I’m Rena and this is my brother Harry. You see, it’s our first time at Hogwarts.” I told her.
“Yes, well not to worry, it’s Ron’s first year as well,” she said pointing to the boy I met while getting my robes. “Now all you have to do is walk straight through the barrier between the platforms. Best to give a bit of a run if you’re nervous. George why don’t you show them how to get on the platform.”
My eyes followed to the boy she was addressing. The boy looked at me and gave a wink before running off straight for the wall. He miraculously vanished as his brothers did before, and it wasn’t until he disappeared that I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding.
“Ladies first. Rena, why don’t you give it a go?”
With her request I began to run, a hand on my cart with luggage and a hand on Winnie’s cage, so she wouldn’t fall over. Within seconds I too went through the wall. On the other side was a platform where a beautiful red train was docked with a sign naming it the Hogwarts Express. Kids and their families were saying goodbye, owls were hooting, mothers were crying, and cats wound in and out of the crowds’ feet.
“Woah,” I heard my brother let out.
“Isn’t it brilliant, Harry?” I said with a smile. “C’mon! Let’s get a seat before they are all gone!”
The first few carriages were already full. Students hung out the windows and some fought over seats. Harry and I continued down the platform looking for a seat.
Harry and I pressed forward before finding an empty compartment near the end of the train. We put our owls inside before trying to lift our trunks up the steps. However, with both of our small statures, neither of us was making much progress.
“Want a hand?” I turned to see one of the boys that went through the barrier right before me. I found myself instantly smiling at his kindness.
“Yes, please,” Harry panted before I could respond. The boy just chuckled before calling out for help.
“Oy, Fred! C’mere and give us a hand!” He yelled to his twin before picking up my trunk. With the twins’ help, Harry and I got our luggage tucked away in our own compartment.
“Thanks,” Harry said pushing out the sweaty hair from his eyes.
“What’s that?” one of the twins said suddenly, pointing to Harry’s scar.
“Blimely,” the other said. “Are you-?”
“He is!” the first one exclaimed. “Aren’t you? He added to Harry. Harry gave me a confused look, in which I just shrugged.
“What?” he asked stating his confusion.
“Harry Potter,” the twins chorused together. They were so much more in sync with each other than Harry and I were. Maybe it had something to do with being identical…
“Oh, him. I mean, yes, I am,” Harry said already turning a few shades redder. The two identical boys just seemed to gawk at Harry, before a voice took their focus.
“Fred? George? Are you there?”
“Coming, Mom,” they called out in unison. They both took another look at Harry, and the one who offered their help in the first place gave me a final glance before they were off. It was hard to tell them apart, but the boy that offered to help was slightly taller than his twin. I would have to see if I could find anything else to tell them apart, or else I wouldn’t know who is who unless they were together. Though I doubt they are rarely apart…
Harry started talking to me about how he had a feeling the whole ‘boy who lived’ thing was going to come up a lot and how he wondered if there was anyone who didn’t know who he was or something. I pretended to pay attention as I truly watched the twin boys meet up with their family.
“Can’t I go too, mum?” the only girl of the siblings begged her mother.
“Next year, Ginny. You are still too young. Where’s Percy?” the mother inquired as the little girl gave a pout. The oldest boy came into sight already dressed in his robes. I noticed in addition to his robes he wore a red and gold badge with the letter P on it.
“Can’t stay long, Mother. I’m up front, the prefects have got two compartments to themselves,” He boasted. While he looked as if he was to continue one of the twins cut him off.
“Oh, are you a prefect, Percy?” one of the twins asked with a thick sense of surprise. “You should have said something. We had no idea!”
“Now wait a minute there, Freddie. I think I remember him saying something about it,” said the other twin. “Once,”
“Or twice,”
“A minute­,”
“All summer!” the twins listed back and forth.
“Oh, shut up,” said Percy the Prefect.
“How come Percy gets new robes?” the boy I met in Madam Malkins’ shop asked with a look of disappointment and annoyance.
“Because he’s a prefect,” said their mother fondly. “Alright dear, have a good term— send me an owl when you’ve arrived,” she addressed the prefect. She continued now facing the twins, “Now, you two. You best behave yourselves this year. If I get one more owl telling me you’ve—you’ve blown up a toilet or—”
“Great idea, Mom. Thanks!”
“Not funny you two! And look after Ron,” she said with a motherly worry.
“Don’t worry, ickle Ronniekins is safe with us.”
“Shut up,” said Ron. As I watched I noticed Ron was already almost as tall as the twins, despite being younger.
“Ren, are you even listening to me?” Harry asked snapping my attention back to him.
“What? Yeah, of course, Harry!”
“Really? ‘Cause I called your name like four times and you didn’t answer,” He informed me while glaring.
“Sorry, but-”
“You know who that black-haired boy was near us in the train station? Know who he is?” That got both of our attention, cutting off my apology.
“Who?” the red-haired mother questioned.
“Harry Potter!” the twins exclaimed excitedly.
“Can I go on the train and see him, Mom, please?” the little girl begged.
“You’ve already seen him, Ginny. The poor boy is not something you goggle at in a zoo. How do you even know it’s him, Fred?”
“We asked him. Saw the scar and everything. It’s really there – like lightning,” he informed her.
“Poor dear- no wonder him and that girl were alone, I wondered.”
“Never mind that,” Fred continued, “Do you think he remembers what You-Know-Who looks like?”
“Now don’t you dare ask him that! Do you hear me? That boy does not need reminding of that on his first day at school!” the mother scolded in a stern voice. I’m sure she would have kept going if it weren’t for a whistle blowing indicating our soon departure.
As the train began to move, I looked at Harry. I thought, while making direct eye contact, how everything would be alright.
“I know it will, Ren. Still nervous. Aren’t you?” he asked as the compartment door slid open and the youngest redheaded boy came in.
“Anyone sitting here?” he asked pointing to the seat next to Harry. “Everywhere else is full.”
Harry shook his head as the boy sat down glancing at Harry, before quickly avoiding eye contact.
“Hey Ron,” I greeted him. “Do you remember me? We got fitted for our robes at the same time.”
“Uh yeah…” he said barely lifting his head.
“Right… Well, again, I’m Rena and this is my brother Harry,” I introduced us.
“Ron Weasley… Are you really Harry Potter?” Ron asked, in which Harry responded with a nod. “Oh I thought it might be one of Fred and George’s jokes… Do you really got—you know…” he tried to ask pointing to his forehead.
Harry pulled his bangs back to reveal the lightning scar.
“And you’re really his sister?” he asked me.
“Yep. Since birth and everything,” I joked.
“I didn’t even know Harry Potter had a sister,” Ron admitted.
“Are all your family wizards?” asked Harry.
“You must know loads of magic already!” I added excitedly once I saw he nodded.
“Eh, not really. I heard you lived with Muggles! What are they like?” Ron continued questioning.
“Horrible,” Harry quickly answered.
“Not all of them. Just our uncle, aunt and cousin were pretty bad,” I tried to clarify.
“Anything from the trolley, dears?” a woman pushing a cart filled with treats.
“Uh no thanks. I’m all set,” Ron said looking at a wrapped sandwich.
Harry jumped up and ended getting almost five of everything. I think he was so excited to finally be able to have a Mars Bars, but when I looked at the cart I noticed the woman didn’t have candies like anything I’d seen before. Taking a look around I decided to get a couple Chocolate Frogs, a few Pumpkin Pasties, and a Licorice Wand.
Harry and I learned a lot about the wizarding world from Ron in the span of our trip to Hogwarts. Chocolate frogs actually jump, but Ron insists it’s the card you want. In photographs the people move and don’t always stay in the photo. Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans really means every flavor, including sardines, the one I got. Quidditch was the best game in the world and Chudley Cannons were the team to support according to Ron. We also learned Ron had five brothers and a sister, and that his dad works in the Ministry of Magic. Also we met Ron’s rat, Scabbers. He was kind of pathetic, to be honest.
Just as Ron was attempting to perform a spell on him a girl with wild brown hair and large front teeth showed up in the door of our compartment.
“Have you seen a toad? A boy named Neville’s lost one,” she said in a bossy tone a voice. “Are you doing magic? Let’s see it.”
Ron looked taken aback but continued anyway. “Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow. Turn this stupid fat rat yellow!”
When nothing happened, she rolled her eyes. “Are you sure that’s a real spell? Not a very good one is it? Only tried a few spells myself, but they’ve all worked for me. For example,” she said taking out her wand and pointing it to my brother’s face, “Oculus Reparo.”
With that Harry’s glasses, which were being held together with tape were fixed.
“Holy Cricket! You’re Harry Potter. I’m Hermione Granger… and you are…?” she asked looking at Ron.
“I’m… Ron Weasley,” he said with his mouth full.
“And I’m Rena. Rena Potter,” I smiled.
“Potter? I didn’t read that Harry had a sister…” she said looking confused. “Anyway, you three better change into your robes. Expect we will be arriving soon,” and with that she left.
By the time I got back from changing, we had already arrived and were being ushered over to boats. The first years got separated from everyone else and a boat ride later, we were standing in front of two large doors and a stern looking woman who had a very familiar air to her.
“Welcome to Hogwarts. In a few moments, you will pass through these doors and join your peers. Before you may take your seats, however, you must be sorted into one of four houses. Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, or Slytherin. Your house will be like your family here. Together your achievements will earn you house points. Any rule breaking, and you will lose points. The house with the most points at the end of the year will be awarded the House Cup,” she informed us all.
“Trevor!” a boy yelled grasping a toad that lay at the woman’s feet.
She gave him a stern look before saying, “The sorting ceremony will begin momentarily,” and taking her leave.
“It’s true then, the rumors on the train. Harry Potter has come to Hogwarts?” a blonde boy with an arrogant smirk asked. “I’m Malfoy, Draco Malfoy. This Crabbe and Goyle.” Ron snickered at his name. “Think my name is funny do you? No need to ask you yours. Red hair, and a hand me down robe? You must be a Weasley. You’ll soon find out some wizarding families are better than others, Potter. Don’t go making the wrong friends. I can help there,” he extended his hand to Harry.
“I think I can tell the wrong sort for myself, thanks,” Harry shot back looking at his hand with a smidge of disgust.
“We are ready for you now,” the woman said returning to lead us inside what she told us what the Great Hall.
Hermione ended up next to me and was telling me about the ceiling and how she learned it’s bewitched to look like the night sky from a book.
“Alright, wait here. Professor Dumbledore has a few words before we begin,” the woman told us stepping off to the side.
“I have a few start of terms notices I wish to announce. First years, welcome and please not the dark forest is strictly forbidden to all students. Our caretaker, Mr. Filch has also asked me to remind you that the third floor corridor on the right hand side is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a most painful death. Thank you. Professor McGonagall, you may continue,” an old man with a long white beard said before sitting down.
The woman brought out an old brown hat made from a worn fabric and set it on a stool. It began to sing about the different houses and when it was done, Professor McGonagall announced that she would call our names and the hat would announce our houses.
“Abbott, Hannah!” she began.
After a moment, the hat shouted out, “HUFFLEPUFF!” in which one of the four long rows of table burst into claps and cheers as the young girl joined her house.
A few more names passed before the woman called out Hermione’s name, “Granger, Hermione!” The girl ran from my side eager to be sorted.
Neville, the boy with the toad, was sorted into Gryffindor, and Malfoy ended up in Slytherin. The hat barely sat on his head before deciding.
There weren’t many first years left, when I finally heard McGonagall call out my brother’s name.
“Potter, Harry!”
The entire hall broke out into whispers.
“Potter, did she say?”         
“The Harry Potter?”
Harry sat there with the hat on his head, when I noticed him whispering.
“GRYFFINDOR!” the hat burst out and Harry took a sigh of relief. The Gryffindor table exploded in cheers, and I could even hear the Weasley twins yelling, “WE GOT POTTER! WE GOT POTTER!” The whole table patted him as he took a seat, and I noticed even Professor Dumbledore was smiling.
Then my name was called.
“Potter, Rena!”
The entire room went dead silent. A pin could have dropped and I would have heard it as I made my way up to the stool. Once I sat down the hall burst into whispers.
“As in there’s a second one?”
“The Harry Potter has a sister?”
“Hello Ms. Potter,” a voice right in my ear greeted making me jump a little. “Hmmm, you are a difficult one. More so than your brother. A quick-witted mind, backed by plenty of cunningness. A need to prove yourself, but more so to protect those you care about. How very Hufflepuff of you… Yet, you would do anything for them, not matter the cost. Very brave, like Gryffindor… You could fit nicely in any of the houses. Where would you like to go, Ms. Potter?”
“Excuse me,” I thought to myself.
“Well, seeing as you show signs of all, I’d like your input.” I gave a glance to Harry at the Gryffindor table and he gave me an encouraging nod. “Ah to be with your brother… Your loyalty almost makes me want to put you in Hufflepuff, but no, better be…
         “GRYFFINDOR!” the hat finished aloud. I found myself sighing as well knowing I’d be with Harry.
         “WE GOT BOTH POTTERS! WE GOT BOTH POTTERS!” the Weasley twins yelled as everyone else cheered for me.
         Ron got placed into Gryffindor as well, and when the sorting was finished, we were reward with a feast. It was more food than I had ever seen in my life.
         I got to meet many of the first years in Gryffindor, including two boys named Seamus and Dean, Neville with his toad, and Lavender Brown, but I could tell I wasn’t going to like her much. I just prayed I didn’t share a room with her. We were still feasting, when I saw Harry clutch his forehead while looking at the professors’ table. When I looked up, I felt a burning behind my ear, and found myself in pain as well.
         “Who’s that speaking to Professor Quirrell?” Harry asked Percy.
         “That’s Professor Snape, head of Slytherin house. He teaches potions, but everyone knows it’s the Dark Arts he fancies,” Percy responded.
         As I looked at Professor Snape, I saw him staring at me with a strange look in his eyes, as though he had turmoil with me being there.
         After the feast, Percy led us up to the Gryffindor tower, where I learned I would be sharing a room with just Hermione. There were four other girls in Gryffindor in our year and the filled up an entire room to themselves, so Hermione and I go to share one just the two of us.
         We both got into bed talking about all we were going to learn in the coming weeks. I decided, while Hermione could be bossy, she meant well and would most likely prove to be a good friend.

         I fell asleep with a smile on my face, knowing this was the first time sleeping in my own bed. This year was just getting started and I was already excited and sure I was going to like it here.