Challenge XIII: My Personal Letter

Heart of a Lion

I’ve tasked each and every one of you signed up for the current Rebel challenge to write a personal letter addressed to your future self 3 months from now to be turned in on Saturday, August 3rd. The goal is to author a time capsule of emotion, showcasing your fears and who you are NOW while addressing the person you envision yourself being 3 months from this point. Not only is the process very therapeutic but it can open up realms of your brain that have been holding you back for a long time… you’ve just never pulled enough courage together to run toward those things rather than running away from them. Here’s your chance. If realization of self worth and helping create an awesome experience for yourself isn’t enough incentive for ya, well then every letter turned in on Saturday is a dollar donated to CHOPS Teen Center. Jamboom.

I decided to share my own personal letter in the hopes that it will help some of you who might be in a rut about what to write about or are unclear on what is expected. Mine will be the only one shared. Once I get your letter I will lock it away for 3 months only to be brought back out on October 19th. I won’t read a single word of any of your letters. It’s for me, not you. There is no wrong way to write your letter as long as you are open and honest with yourself. These are MY fears along with my excitement and pride for where we are now. Thank you for your time :).

My Personal Letter: Part II

                Well, here you are big guy. Challenge number 13 is happening and like a freight train at full speed with no conductor there’s no stopping it now. That’s good though, that’s the goal. This train that is the Rebellion is a growing organism, pushing for survival beyond one person alone. You want to be lost among a sea of awesome people doing awesome things and this challenge will prove to be no different than the rest where that’s EXACTLY what will happen. It’s already happened. It’s happening!

                The last time you wrote one of these your biggest fear was that people won’t see it the way you see it and inevitably it will fail. The fall from Grace will always thrive quietly in the background of your circus brain but I think it’s safe to say that you can lay that fear to rest. Take pride in the fact that what keeps you up at night NOW is the excitement for where the Rebellion is going, not the fear of where it’s falling. I mean damn man… you got the biggest ballroom in Chicago to sound off and now you’ve been asked to lead a Rebellion chant for thousands on a Florida Island all because PEOPLE GET IT! The essence that makes this such a magical thing… the essence that you believe in to the depths of your soul and shout from the rooftops every chance you get… Well, it’s not just you anymore! the potential of the human spirit and what we all strive for as we steer the same boat only holding on to different oars is a beautiful struggle that not everyone gets the chance to experience as a tribe. This revolution has been a long time boiling and is bubbling over with the kind of organized chaos that only a ragtag group of bad news bears know how to lead. Simply put, the Rebellion cannot fail because you are no longer the only leader! That sea of awesome people bonding together and doing something legendary is no longer on the horizon, it’s here and NOW. The Rebellion and what it stands for has not merely left an imprint in its path, its Hulk smashed a crater and is growing every day.

                I’m proud of you. No matter how exhausting this journey gets, the hardships and tribulations that come with what you have chosen to dedicate your life to will always pale in comparison to the light that shines bright from positive seeds planted. To struggle is to learn and to pass on the knowledge of how to deal with that struggle is to help make the world a better place. Too many people are focused on how GIANT of an impact they can have and not enough people realize the impact we can have as individuals doing the best we can. The ripple effect that spreads from person to person has a greater impact than any individual ever could. Case in point if you were to try to wrap your arms around the world your reach only goes so far (your arm span roughly equaling your height according to Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man) but if every human being joined hands we could wrap around that baby roughly 300 times. I’m proud of you for doing everything you can do spread that message. You’ve been effective, and that’s not easy. If it were easy though…

                You really bit off quite the mouthful with this challenge. Not quite more than you can chew, but if you were playing a metaphorical game of “chubby bunny” there definitely wouldn’t be any room left for even half a mini marshmallow to squeeze in there. By the time you read this again though, that means it’s done. The key to the city, the “test” bracelets, donations to Chops and the succeeding celebration, themed workouts, team song presentations, the Anytime Fitness conference… it’s all over and you’re still standing baby. You set your own bar high and now it’s time to breathe a big sigh of relief. You and the rebels earned it. Rule #8; Never Quit Fighting.

                I leave you (me) with a song that has pulled me (you) out of darkness many a time and has given an injection of strength when there was thought to be none left. As I put the lyrics down they are a lion’s roar of motivation. When you read them on October 19th, they will be the soundtrack to your victory lap.

There’s something in your heart
And it’s in your eyes
It’s the fire, inside you
Let it burn
You don’t say, “Good luck”
You say, “Don’t give up”
It’s the fire, inside you
Let it burn
Yeah, and if I’m ever at the crossroads
And start feeling mixed signals like Morse code
My soul start to grow colder than the North Pole
I try to focus on the hole of where the torch goes
In the tradition of these legendary sports pros
As far as I can see, I’ve made it to the threshold
Lord knows I’ve waited for this a lifetime
And I’m an icon when I let my light shine
Shine bright as an example of a champion
Taking the advantage, never copping out or cancelling
Burn like a chariot, learn how to carry it
Maverick, always above and beyond average
Fuel to the flame that I train with and travel with
Something in my eyes say I’m so close to having the prize
I realize I’m supposed to reach for the skies
Never let somebody try to tell you otherwise
One love, one game, one desire
One flame, one bonfire, let it burn higher
I never show signs of fatigue or turn tired
Cause I’m the definition of tragedy turned triumph
It’s David and Goliath, I made it to the eye of the storm
Feeling torn like they fed me to the lions
Before my time start to wind down like the Mayans
I show ’em how I got the grind down like a science
It sounds like a riot on hush, it’s so quiet
The only thing I hear is my heart
I’m inspired by the challenge
That I find myself standing eye to eye with
Then move like a wise warrior and not a coward
You can’t escape the history that you was meant to make
That’s why the highest victory is what I’m meant to take
You came to celebrate, I came to cerebrate
I hate losing, I refuse to make the same mistake

 – Rebel8, The Roots, & John Legend

Chapter 3: The Heart Felt Fallout

Chapter 3 - The Heart Felt Fallout

Chapter 3: The Heart Felt Fallout

                The State of Rebellion buzzed with unease as its inhabitants came from every direction to see what was going on in their usually unassuming place of residence. A dark cloud hung ominously over the mass exodus, shrouded in mystery as all eyes couldn’t look away to save their lives.

If only they knew the irony.

                As rebels far and wide huddled together in an attempt to calm their rattled nerves, the air was charged with an electric current using their bodies as conduits. “What do you think is going to happen?” a Demolitionist faintly asked a nearby Rock Republic member. “I have no idea, I’ve never seen this before…” was the response as the two divisions of the State nervously pressed shoulders together in a rare form of co-mingling. Usually both sides kept to their own, believing that “the grass is always greener on the other side” referenced the side OPPOSITE the other. No one could really give a concrete reason as to why each faction chose to snub the other, most of the time simply observing “that’s how it’s always been.” Sure, both sides had committed atrocities in their tenure as citizens living in the State of Rebellion but hell… we’re ALL Rebels, we ALL make mistakes… None of those mistakes mattered in this moment as new-to-each-other faces mirrored one another with little resolve and lots of worry.

                When the first boom sounded through the landscape it was felt… not heard. A thunderous burst coursing through the hearts and souls of everyone gathered bringing with it a stir of change felt deep within. A gentle hymn rode the wind as it picked up in time with the roar of the drumfire. Before the Rebels could register what exactly this cosmic melody was, a voice emerged from the zephyr. As cool as the breeze it traveled on it immediately occupied all in its auditory wake;

Steady now… Steady now…
Don’t fear what you can’t see…
Ready now… Ready NOW!
I hold on to you… you hold on to me…

I found the heart of a lion…
In the belly of the beast…
I held it in my hand… and I could feel…
I could feel…

… Feel the beat…

                With only the words they had just heard as a warning a swift darkness blanketed the Demolitionists and Rock Republic throughout. Devoid of all vision and lost in a world trying to crush them somehow, every person came to the same sudden realization; a midst the depths of confusion, fear, and chaos… all they had left was each other.

                As Rebels linked arms in a show of solidarity among everything around them seemingly falling apart they marched towards the music with purpose, compelled by something greater than they knew. “This way!” someone shouted as natural leaders took their positions. “I’m lost! I’m over here! I can’t see anything!” an anxious voice cried out as the human chain began to wrap around like a centipede in an attempt to wrangle the stray comrade. As the unknown straggler rejoined the survival driven Rebels a husky voice yelled;

“Looks like we’re not in Kansas anymore!”

The reference highlighted a particularly popular line in an Emerald City legend of a refugee by the name of Dorothy who saved the Land of Oz from an evil Witch from the North West. Even though the State of Rebellion was located just beyond the Nonestic Sea and outside the boundaries of Oz the story of Dorothy was an integral part of Rebellion lore. Whoever had yelled out the “Kansas” quip was almost certainly referencing the Tornado that mythically carried the outsider from “the Midwest” into the Land of Oz.

The thought somehow brought with it a strange reassurance… What was on the other side of this unexpected and abrupt departure from reality? Could the legend be real? Was a childhood story told for generations as far back as Rebels could remember much more than just a fun cure for boredom? The possibility that a fairy tale of old was a historical forewarning for this momentous occurrence swirling all around them was much more than the Rebels had time to think about however. Butterflies churned tsunamis in their stomachs as each foot strived toward the harmonious howl drawing them in like a gnat to a flashlight.

Without so much as a sneeze of a sign the gripping winds and ominous tune dispelled as quickly as they had begun. In their place was a blinding flash of light painfully forcing everyone’s pupils that had adapted to the nothingness to adjust back to the blue skies and rays of sunshine that once again overlooked the State of Rebellion. As everyone’s arms unlinked Rebels found themselves face to face with people whom they had lived in the same community with for years and years yet somehow had never even met. The sun cast a vivid new light on each rebellious face as passionate wonderment took the place of fear and anxiety. With the sudden blackout leaving with the speed in which it came, more questions were left than answered. Still, the Rebels felt a sense of… something… “The Divide” was gone. On the outskirts of the mass, two familiar strangers could be overheard greeting each other for the first time;

“Now that we’ve held on to each other in a panic and I’ve accidently grabbed your boob twice… Hi! I’m Cara!”

“I’m Erin… Nice to meet you Cara! That was crazy…What do you think is going to happen next?”

“I’m not sure, but something tells me that it’s going to be up to us to decide…”

– Rebel8

Coming Soon

Chapter 4: ???

Rebels Made of Brick: Official Roster

Welcome to the Rebellion...

Welcome to the Rebellion…

Rock Republic (Tuesday/Saturday)

Devin Medrano
Nicole Nelson
Mireya Perales
Lucy Perales
Cliff Durham
Rayray Ponce
Sandra Casey
Denise Stiles
Rita Colthurst
 Cassie Colthurst
 Ruben Martinez
 Malena DeMartini-Price
 Stephanie Stevenson
 Cliff Crocker
 Marco Avalos
 Alyssa Solberg
 Karen Solberg
 Maggie Schuck
 Lori DeMarco
 Jody Livingston
 Adam Gray
Kathi Tyler
Annabel Ponce
Angelica Ponce

Demolitionists (Wednesday/Saturday)

Tami Tuminello
Abbie Tuminello
Austin Finch
Suzanne Pelz
Pete Macias
Alyx J. Livingston
Jamie Bywater
May De La Serna
 Cara “Unicorn” Jones
 Lucy Avalos
 Nykky Graydon
 Justin Zuiderweg
 Carlo Piscitello
 Kaila Finch
 Leah Bayly
 Michelle “Hulk” Huntley
 Christine Routh
 Darlene Catania
 Sam Enos
 David Moody
 Kelly Moody
 Kelly Dawson
 Rick Dawson
 Cheryl Taylor
 Alaura Finger


Chapter 2: Misery’s Best Friend

Chapter 2 - Misery's Best Friend

Chapter 2: Misery’s Best Friend

                It was the puddle forming between his head and the pillow that brought John back to consciousness. His clothes were so soaked through with sweat that there was a human imprint on the sheets he would surely have to change again in the morning. For now, all he could think to do was throw his wet clothes in the corner with the others, put a couple of towels down, and hope for at least a half-a-blinks worth of sleep before the sun forced its way into his room like an interrogator inquiring as to why he wasn’t up yet. If John weren’t used to this nightly protocol he might be a bit more stressed about it. However, consistency is the friend of those searching for comfort (we’re creatures of habit after all) so all that was left for him to do was counting stars while sinking back into his vaguely damp bedding.

                John had always feared the night. Not because of the darkness (“Don’t fear the things that you can’t see” was his no-nonsense approach he’d had since a youngster) but more so the misery it always entailed. Making it through his daytime routine was easy! He loved putting on his apple red work vest in anticipation of heading to the laborious occupation he’d grown so fond of because it meant he had something to occupy his worst enemy; his thoughts. It also meant he had survived another nightfall. John had a mind that whirred at a thousand crazy miles per hour but because of his schedule and habit it was kept at bay like a dog with a steak chained to a tree. Once the day was done however…  that meant his “dog” was done with its “steak” and was looking for the next thing to chew on, which just so happened to be EVERYTHING.

                As he absorbed the obnoxious luminescence coming off the digitized numbers of his alarm clock John couldn’t help but do the mental math of how much time he had before getting out of bed became top priority. 45 minutes… 45 godforsaken minutes. Just under matching how much cumulative sleep he’d gotten to that point. “If you can’t beat them, join them” John thought. In this case “them” being the thoughts scattering through his head like Godzilla-sized cockroaches scurrying everywhere at the sudden shine from football stadium floodlights.

“You’ve got to get your oil changed. I know you haven’t forgotten, but it needs to be reiterated”

“You didn’t e-mail Jennesis back… Should you do it now or would it be weird when she sees the timestamp and realizes you’re some kind of red cloaked vampire…?”

“Did you know ET’s alien race is in the stands for the pod races for Star Wars: Episode 1 and that when ET sees a kid dressed as Yoda for Halloween he says “Home! Home!” meaning that ET and Star Wars exist in the same universe?”

“Do you think George Lucas is happy to have sold off Star Wars and the pressure is off him now?”

“Have you ever cooked with a pressure cooker?”

“Is Top Chef on tonight?”

“Did you text your mom back?”

“You didn’t do the laundry… now you don’t have the clothes you need for the meeting with the VP of the Demolitionist’s Union. Better come up with a ‘plan B’ so as not to come off as a Rock Republic Reject!”

“What ever happened to ‘The All-American Rejects’?”

“What if you blow the meeting with the VP… you could lose your job… you don’t know how to do anything else but work the quarry…”

“How are you going to go to sleep if your hearts racing like that?”

“You were a little out of breathe 5 days ago when you climbed that extra flight of stairs at the office. We should be worried about that.”

“Could Jurassic Park really happen?”

                That’s when “I Got You Babe” blasted from his alarm clock like it was projectile vomiting after a long night of drinking all the thoughts that had kept him up in the first place. John chose to let the song play rather than turn it off so as to give himself something else to listen to for a while instead of the circus clown routine under the big top that was his cranium. Through the clutter, his first morning task was to sort out which of those urgent screams of wondering that occupied his rest were TRULY important and which could be ignored until the following evening when they’d rear their devious heads again.

                With a groan John rolled himself out of bed and made his way to the kitchen. As he wiped the sleep from his eyes he felt his foot smash against flesh as he rounded out of his door and in to the hallway. “Oh, sorry man…” John muttered groggily as his pet rat Trinks, who had been sleeping in the hallway, got up out of his rudely awakened slumber and accompanied John on his trek to get his morning pick-me-up started.

                As John packed the coffee filter with the strongest roast “Stateway Grocery” had to offer he felt the frame of his house give a gentle shudder that slowly steeped to an ominous rumble. As if straight out of a scene in a movie John heard the trembling of dishes inside the cupboards and in that moment realized his body was doing the same thing.

“Here boy, COME!” John called to Trinks who had taken refuge on the counter as he stormed towards the door to get outside and away from the dangers of what HAD to be an earthquake. Trinks hopped off the counter and scampered at John’s heels with his tail between his legs as his rodent brain wrestled with the uncertainty of what exactly was going on.

                Moving swift with unease, John flung open the door to a burst of… shadow. The sunlight that had pried its way through his blinds moments ago was nowhere to be found as he stared directly into the face of pure chaos. His gut wrenched as John immediately got the feeling in the pit of his stomach that he only got when he knew it was going to be a particularly anxiety and stress riddled evening. Before him was what he could only describe as the visual representation of all the things that kept him up at night. With an ache in his heart, John wrapped his arms around Trinks as he stared into the unknown coming his way with the ferocity of a Tyrannosaurus Rex on the hunt.

“I’ll hold on to you, you hold on to me…” he whispered to Trinks as they braced themselves for the moment of impact…

– Rebel8

Coming soon

Chapter 3: The Heart Felt Fallout

Chapter 1: The Forgotten Sun Remembered

Chapter 1 - The Forgotten Sun Remembered

Chapter 1: The Forgotten Sun Remembered  

                She awoke to the sharp fleeting jabs of sunlight as they snuck through the cracks in the curtains and directly into her eyes like they were the only destination they had ever known. A wince on the outside and a long exasperated moan on the inside overcame Jennesis simultaneously as she flung the covers off her body in a desperate promise to herself that “she’s getting up this time and she means it.” Unwilling in body and a procrastination of the mind (mixed with a little OCD) forced Jennesis to go over the mental checklist she makes every morning while Sonny and Cher continue to bleat in the background;

1)      Change ring tone on alarm
2)      Get up
3)      Eat breakfast
4)      Leave the house for work at least 5 minutes earlier than the last 3 months
5)      Forgive yourself for missing #2
6)      Then forgive yourself for missing #3
7)      Lunch break: Eat breakfast for reals
8)      Try not to punch “Red” Ryerson in the face
9)      Make it home with as little interaction with people, RR especially
10)   Don’t stay up too late watching TV
11)   Promise yourself to really do steps #2 and #3 tomorrow

             By the time she makes it to the car ride to the refinery is where Jennesis puts it all together and realizes where she is. Showers, clothes, and the “10 minutes late” hustle out the door have happened without so much as a hiccup for so long that they’ve all blurred together like the photo negatives of the most predictable movie you’ve ever seen. Even the sunlight managed to turn everything into a grayscale backdrop fit for a Tim Burton wet dream. The irony was lost on Jennesis, as was with most Rebels, on the natural shine from Oz’s closest star being the very cause for washing all color from the dreary, granite landscape that lacked any liveliness to begin with. What always brought her back was the music. With her hands gripped tight on the wheel, her hair feeling like “it will do,” and the ambition of a soul yearning to be alone so bad that she’s willing to interject herself amongst people to earn that introversion it’s always the song on the radio that brings her to an alternate reality; a place where she can feel.

                Some songs invoked sadness; an understanding she needed yet never knew. Some brought with them an essence of hope that made her fantasize about a new job, tropical vacation, and a comfort that had a perfectly etched puzzle piece in her heart yet carried no occupant. Some songs even brought about a fire that unveiled the cosmos as her landscape for living and she could move mountains with the stroke of a paintbrush in her mind. The magic however was that every song made the aroma of her morning coffee weave its way through her nostrils with the inconspicuousness of a marching band, the flavor attack her taste buds with the intensity of a winged monkey, and the warmth emitted from her purple go-cup (her favorite color) feel like a Warrior’s heart radiating in her hands.

                Leaving the car always carried a moment of hesitancy. Jennesis could never figure out why she would walk away from the one place in her day where she actually felt more than just existed, yet she never found herself questioning this fact long enough to become a detective. “Acceptance is the friend of the patient” she heard constantly as a formerly-defiant little girl whenever her mom was reprimanding her. Out of all of her Mom’s quirky sayings Jennesis heard growing up, it was that one that rang in her head the most. Even harsher in this moment was the glare from the refinery windows piercing through her squinted eyelids as she locked her car with a pretentious “BEEPBEEP!” reminding her that her car wasn’t worth rifling through in the first place. It was the burst of these obnoxious light rays that had the power to suck her right back into the depressing scenario Jennesis so desperately wanted to escape…

                Making it past the glare only meant she had arrived at her point of suffocation destination. Trade in one miserable moment for another. “Acceptance is the frie…”

“I know Mom. Trust me, I know.”

                 Maybe she missed it? There had to have been a continuation of the words of wisdom that went beyond simply being patient. You’re never done growing after all, and with a Mom taken from her too soon Jennesis felt lost. Like she had never quite read ahead to the next chapter and was simply piecing together her life like a piece of “Munchkea” furniture without the instructions. Sure, she made something resembling a life… but why were there so many leftover pieces that didn’t quite fit right? What was the compliment to patience?

“Who’s the friend of the miserable, Mom? I need that friend…” she pleaded silently as she begrudgingly greeted the new receptionist. Guess she could cross out achieving “#10” off her to-do list.

                Just what would make a dingy-by-default day even dingier… a new perfect bodied Rock Republica ready and willing to shame her drab existence every single time she stepped foot through those glass doors. Behind her sun-radiant smile and eyes wrapped in seductive innocence she’s sure she’s a good person, but the red from ANY Rock Republic automatically gave her a fit of imploded anger that was obvious to no one through years of practice that manifested itself only when no one could see it. Hating every new person she comes across was old hat by now made especially easier if the object of that hate donned the red of the rock.

                Before she could make it to the elevator, Jennesis felt a shadow lurk behind her. The light bouncing on the wall in front of her took a different shade before blanketing out completely. Wheeling around abruptly she found herself peering out through the very glass doors she had so painstakingly walked through moments prior. It was what she saw that made her stomach lurch with the combination of fearing what was to come and thankful she had even made it THROUGH the glass gateway to her own personal gauntlet in the first place. As Jennesis surveyed the terrifying phenomenon, she glanced left and right at her co-workers looking like they had been caught in an awkward still-shot photograph. It only took a second to realize she was far from the only one confused.

                As a sudden darkness loomed the realization of a sudden life-changing event hit Jennesis like 2 tons of bricks. She heard the shattering of her purple go-cup before she had even realized she dropped it. With her eyes wide open, chest tense with fear, and fists clenched tightly Jennesis braced herself for the something wicked this way coming. With a darkness taking over the likes of which the State of Rebellion had never seen, not a single Rebel could have possibly been ready for the blackout to come…

– Rebel8

Coming soon

Chapter 2: Misery’s Best Friend

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