Megan Stielstra Is A Powerhouse Of Modern Storytelling

Megan Stielstra Is A Powerhouse Of Modern Storytelling

“I shook like crazy and I was terrified, but I didn’t get back down.”
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During the winter of 2015, I met author Megan Stielstra for the first time. She was conducting a master class and giving a reading at my high school, Interlochen Arts — a school I’d just started earlier that year.

I was still scared of everything around me, while also experiencing my first ever real winter, and in walks the woman who would become one of my biggest motivators to write essays of my own one day. While I admit every artist that walked through Interlochen’s front gates found a way to amaze me, few have left me so simultaneously inspired and astonished as Megan did.

I took down furious notes while she was talking, answering questions, and throughout her reading later that night. I left with a pad of poorly written quotes and a lot of chicken scratch, but there was one that felt so important I typed it out and made it my phone background for the next year.

I believe the world can be changed by a story just like mine was changed by a song.

Before Interlochen, before meeting Megan, I don’t think I fully recognized the power art can have in society.

The way it can make you rethink, reimagine, and reevaluate all that is precious in your own life. The way it can make you want to help the world. As a current college student studying psychology and writing I find myself tasked with these questions every day - how can I write a story that’s going to help people?

How can I create a story that will change a life? How can I tell my own truth?



Megan returned to Interlochen the next winter to conduct another class, this time forcing all of us students to really consider our own stories and our own lives. She told us to stand in a line - age 1 at the beginning and continuing linearly up until the age you were at that time. She said to stand at the age you were when everything changed.

Where a switch was flipped, where something bad happened, where something good happened. The age you were during the thing that shaped who you are today.

And then we wrote an essay about it. Ten drafts later, this was the essay that convinced me I had to tell my own stories.

Stielstra is the author of two essay collections, "Once I Was Cool" and "The Wrong Way to Save Your Life," the latter of which was just released earlier this month.

I bought it the day it was released, leaving my day job and immediately heading to the bookstore where I sent the employee on a manhunt for their most recent deliveries where I knew the book would be. Twenty minutes later I walked out with Megan’s second work, another book that undoubtedly shaped the writer I’m trying so hard to become.

She teaches how to be resilient, brave, scared, and strong all at once. She shows me that long distance friendships are possible. In the turbulence of today’s political eruption, she shows me how to react. How to check my own privilege. How to explain what’s happening to a child, how to learn from it and keep pushing forward.

I have countless favorite quotes by Megan, but it would be unfair to you to say them all here. You need to pick up her books and read them yourselves. Feel what she is feeling as these words come out of her and onto the page. My quotations won’t do them justice. Trust me, they’re more than worth your time.

Many times in my nonfiction career I’ve doubted the worth of my own writing. But during that winter in 2015 Megan said something that stuck with me, “Everything comes out of you for a reason. You have to be open to not being so precious with it all.”

So I’m not anymore. I’m writing essays and publishing them everywhere I can. I’m hungry for a collection, a book deal, or even just a new story.

“I shook like crazy and I was terrified, but I didn’t get back down." These are words that I’ve come to live by.

I can’t get back down. Because my stories, all of our stories, are too important for us to keep to ourselves. We have to react.

I know I just said I wouldn’t go on to quote her essays, but I think it’s fitting to end it on this. Megan taught me how to live, how to live hard, and how to feel everything as deeply as possible. Because that’s where the art comes from. That’s how you tell your stories.

These are the final lines of F, one of my favorite essays in her most recent collection.

There’s only me, on the edge of life.

The whole world is spread out before me.

God, what if?


Links to purchase Once I Was Cool and The Wrong Way To Save Your Life

Cover Image Credit: allwrite-already.com

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5 Surprising Reasons to Take Up Ice Fishing This Season

Why Ice Fishing is the Best Fishing
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Winter has arrived and since we live in the real world and not in Game of Thrones universe, it won't last for years. That's why instead of being cooped up in your own house, you should make the best of this season. And how can you do it?? Of course, by ice fishing. 

Yes, I am perfectly aware that, when we hear the word 'Winter', fishing is not the first thing that comes to our mind; but it should. 

Ok, I admit that winter is cold, bleak and sometimes boring. However, ice fishing is the best way to spice up our winter. There is no activity that would cheer you up in this gloomy weather more than fishing through the ice. Yet, if you are still skeptical about ice fishing, then below I have given 5 reasons that would certainly convince you to take up ice fishing this winter. 

1. Saves Money

Money matters to everyone, unless you are Bill Gates or his lucky lad. And, you can save a lot of money by fishing in winter rather than in summer. For, during the summer, in order to catch fish, you must own or rent a boat, and a boat requires maintenance, and all of this will cost you a huge sum of money. 

On the other hand, in winter you won't need a boat, and without a boat, there would be no maintenance. This would certainly save you an ample amount of money. Besides, instruments of ice fishing aren't expensive and you can purchase them for less than $100. However, you must make sure that your equipment such as rods, auger, and fishing reels are top notch to ensure that you are fully prepared for any kind of fish. 

2. Perfect for family outing

One thing that I particularly love about ice fishing is that we can do it with our family, unlike fishing in summer, as it is quite difficult to go fishing with 5 or 6 people in the boat. It is also worthy of note that ice angling is extremely popular among kids as a winter activity as they love playing in the snow, and their happy faces will certainly brighten up your mood. Thus, it won't be an exaggeration to say that an exhilarating fishing adventure is the best outdoor activity for family outings in this freezing weather. 

3. No sunburn

Sunburn is a cause of concern for most of the anglers, and rightly so. Because overexposure to the sun can cause us severe skin damage. However, ice anglers don't have to worry about sunburn unless you are one of those who prefer to fish in a state of undress. 

Nonetheless, it would be wise for you to put on some warm and comfortable clothes of high-quality as it would protect you from hypothermia. And, if you are you terrified of cold weather, don't worry, for, with a new technology called ThermoLogic line by NTA Enterprise, you can control the temperature of your own fishing apparel. Therefore, put all your worries into the closet and remember, before embarking on the ice, you must bundle up. 

4. You Don't get bored

It could be quite frustrating when the fish is not biting. But you shouldn’t trouble yourself, as you can try a lot of other activities instead of waiting for the fish to get hooked. For example, you can play cards, hockey (my favorite) or enjoy a hot tub out in the open. Besides, you will have all your fishing buddies alongside you. But if you are one of those who like to fish alone, then divulge in skating or you can try your cooking skills while keeping an eye on the hole for fish. Hence, rest assured, boredom is something that you won't suffer from while ice fishing. 

5. Great for health

I am sure, you have heard this phrase 'health is wealth', but did you know that you can preserve your 'wealth' by ice fishing? Yes, you can. But how??? Well, It has been scientifically proven that being near to water is greatly beneficial for our health, even when the water is frozen. 

An Australian study has revealed that water can have a great effect on our overall fitness. For, it reduces stress (which is vital for our heart), helps breast cancer patient's recovery,and aids to tackle chronic illness or mental problems. Therefore, by taking up ice fishing in this winter you can get both pleasure and health benefits.

So Do You Feel The Itch?

By now, you should feel the bubbles in your stomach for ice fishing. It has fun, adventure and what not! Let me know your thought on taking up ice fishing this season in the comment section below.

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7 Key 'Pointes' I Learned About Dance After I Quit

It's all blood, sweat and tears, but no one outside of the studio knows.
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As a kid, I wanted to be someone as graceful and as beautiful as a ballerina. So when my mom was willing to sign me up for dance lessons, I was beyond excited to take my first lesson in third grade. For the next three or four years, I developed a passion for dance — so much so that I wanted to be a dancer for the rest of my life. However, due to family-related reasons, I had to put dance on a hiatus for a year. I played a year of catch-ups when I returned, but soon, I had to abruptly leave again. Though I may no longer be with my friends at the barre anymore, I've realized multiple key things about dance that I have never noticed before.


1. You sacrifice a huge chunk of your time.

When I first left the studio, I was shocked at all the spare time I had. I didn't know what to do with all this time, and I was constantly bored. From dancing every day to not dancing at all, I gained six more hours per week (and that was me taking minimum classes required at a company level). I know people who take around eight classes a week, and the studio is practically their home. Now, it's sort of hard to imagine how to balance schoolwork, extracurriculars and work on a tight schedule.

2. Dancing requires much physical exertion.

When I was in dance class, we worked on combinations and techniques until we felt the burn in our muscles, and we would be sore the next day (and possibly the days afterward). I would be drenched in sweat at the end of class, and my glasses would be fogged up by the hot breath. It wasn't until I stopped dancing when I realized that my daily exercise comes from dance classes. I gained a little weight, and my muscles weren't as strong as before.

3. Perseverance is key.

I didn't realize what working for something truly was until I had to do it myself. To be honest, it took me a couple of years to realize that if I wanted something, I had to fight for it. Whether it was to stretch a bit longer every night or to practice turns at home, everything required the initiative to improve. The process would seem so long and frustrating, but I would be so determined that it didn't even matter.

4. Injuries don't exist.

I've witnessed people get injured from dance. It's insane how people are still able to dance and smile through concussions and sprained ankles. I've seen bloody feet, fallen toenails and swollen feet. I've fallen more times than I could count, whether it was from preparing for a jump or just from slipping on the floor. Pointe shoes were a pain, and I'm sure my toenails would never look the same ever again. I barely made it through class back then, and I still don't know how people are able to do it now.

5. You have to be dedicated.

Dance requires so much time, so much energy and so much diligence. You really have to be passionate and dedicated to dance in order to go through this entire process. Once you set your mind on something, you do whatever it takes to improve. After all, what's the point of doing something if you don't care for it?

6. The end result is always rewarding.

When I danced, it was rewarding to accomplish the little things, such as nailing a turn. As an ex-dancer and an audience member, I browsed through dance videos and went to recitals, and it was inspiring to see everyone's hard work pay off. You could tell by their confidence radiating onstage, and it immediately drew you in.

7. You make lasting friendships.

I left the studio twice, and both times I experienced a separation and drift from everyone else. Although a part of it was due to me being an introvert at the time, time can cut friendships off or make people drift apart. On the other hand, I witnessed others bond closer and closer. I believe it's wonderful that people find friends who share the same interests and will support you through your journey. It's mind-blowing to see all the time and effort dancers put into their movements and flow.


Blood, sweat and tears. From an outsider's perspective, dancers make it all look easy. But if I hadn't known any better, I would've brushed off all their efforts off. The end result is what we all see, but we don't realize everything prior to that. Dance isn't often treated as serious as other things, so before you make a remark on dance, walk a mile in the dancer's shoes.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels | Tim Gouw

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