The Gift

Imagine that each day on your doorstep, a brightly-colored package shows up. You choose the colors, ribbons and such — whatever works best for your own personal visual. For me, I prefer green shiny paper with a big red ribbon. 

You rush outside every morning to retrieve this gift. Some days you savor the pattern of the paper and hold it in your hand a few moments. Other days you tear into it, rushing off and quickly putting the paper in the trash can.
Inside this package is a gift — the gift of a new day. You pull out the pieces of paper and they say this:

  • Today I’m going to have a good day.
  • Today I choose to be positive.
  • Today I choose to be kind.
  • Today I choose to be angry.
  • Today I choose to be bitter.
  • Today I choose to be mean.
Each day, you choose a piece of paper — visual aside — quite literally.
The choice to be positive, happy or angry and bitter is very much ours. Each and every day.
There are the days where you choose to get up just a bit earlier, go onto your doorstep, get that package and savor that cup of coffee while watching the sun come up. You’re enjoying the package your gift is wrapped in.
There are the days when you pick the package up, don’t even open it and still make a choice to stay angry or hurt about something. The gift goes wasted.
If we’re lucky — and many people aren’t — that gift will show up on our doorstep again and again, day after day.
Not all days are going to be rosy. Not all days are going to be easy to make a conscious choice to be happy or positive.
But many days we can make that choice. We can choose to pull that piece of paper out of the box that says “Today I choose to be happy, positive and kind.”
And the option is even available to us to choose another piece of paper from that package after we picked the first one. We don’t have to stay with our original choice all day.
This column came to me after a particularly challenging week, when I realized I was not just picking the negative piece of paper out of my package, but many mornings I wasn’t even going outside the challenges to go look at the package that showed up on my doorstep — my new day. That package is precious indeed.
Which piece of paper will you choose today?


Kindness: “The quality of being friendly, generous and considerate.”

So lately I’ve been thinking a lot about kindness and what it truly means to be kind.

The above definition is the best one I’ve found.

For me, kindness means being kind, friendly, generous and considerate…no matter what. Rather than returning anger with anger, return with kindness. Rather than return a rude word or an inconsiderate act with the same, return it with kindness.

THAT is what kindness means to me.

Is this easy to put into practice? No. Not at all.

It’s so easy to feel offended by someone’s completely inconsiderate gesture or their lack of gesture at all.

That is what I’m working on in my life. As I try to put this into practice, I realize when I return with something kind and helpful, I feel better. If I return with the same anger or inconsideration, I generally regret it later when I’ve had the chance to calm down. Because, you know what? It makes me NO better than them. I believe in always striving to be the better person.

Something to think about. Something to put into practice.

Something I’m striving to make a habit rather than an afterthought.

Twitter oh Twitter

So, since my Twitter profile is public, I thought I’d take the time to explain myself — and explain my Twitter feed.

Every Saturday night you could say my tweets might get a bit confusing if taken out of context if you’re not watching the movie I am watching.

Each Saturday evening at 8 p.m. Central, ChillerTV plays a horror flick — sometimes the movie sucks and other times it’s fairly decent — and a group of us tweet under the #ScarySocial hashtag.

The tweets can range from questionable to funny to downright confusing if you aren’t following along.

We’re an interesting, snarky group, us ScarySocialites. We really and truly did meet on the Internet, like the promo for the event states.

So if you see a tweet that goes like this: “and they thought going into a dark hole was a good idea because??” or like this “go away truck driver, this doesn’t concern you” followed by the #ScarySocial hashtag, I’m watching a Saturday night horror flick on Twitter.
If you’re reading this, you should totally join us.

When characters revolt

Published in The Emporia Gazette, Oct. 14, 2014

It’s no secret that many journalists are working on the Great American Novel on the side. I am no exception.
In fact, I’ve been working on one (actually two) for several years now. However, after an exhausting go at National Novel Writing Month — where you write 50,000 words during the month of November — I put the novels back down. On a side note, yes I did finish the 50,000 words both years I participated. The problem with the challenge is quantity — not quality — makes for some major editing challenges when I finally got over the burnout of writing that much in 30 days.
Until recently, I simply didn’t have a desire to pick the novel back up and work on it. A few weeks ago, I decided to get my hands dirty again and delve back in. And I’ve had some interesting results.
The problem with putting down a novel for a few years is this: you forget. You forget your own material. You forget characters, details and portions of the plot. To even begin to finish the book, I have to first read and edit what I already have written, which is no simple or easy task. I’ve had several moments with this whole process of reacquainting myself with my novel: “Oh, that’s clever!” or “Oh man, what was I thinking? That is terrible!”
But I continue on. I’ve spent countless hours after my day job here at The Gazette editing, rewriting and planning the next step in my novel. It’s a lot of hard work. But, I love the creative process and the reward (eventually and hopefully) will result in my first published novel.
A couple weeks into the process, I decided to edit my manuscript late at night, when I was having a fit of insomnia. That, I found, was a mistake.
The main character in my novel made an appearance in my dream that night — a nightmare really. She not-so-gracefully informed me that she would end my life if I didn’t re-write her part in my novel. The conversation went like this:
Main character: “I don’t like how you are portraying me in your book. If you do not change my image, I will murder you.”
Me: “But you’re not even real! You can’t make demands like that!”
Main character: “Do I look real to you?!”
Indeed, she did look real in my dream.
Again, this is my main character. The character I’ve shaped and molded turned against me. Well, at least in my dream.
The best part of this dream is I got a good clear look at her. Am I rewriting her character? No. Did I refine her? Yes. Because now I know her tone of voice, the way she walks and other characteristics I didn’t previously know.
I invite more of my characters to visit me in slumberland — I just wish they wouldn’t threaten to kill me.

—Brandy Nance is the online and news editor for The Emporia Gazette. Her blog, The Wandering Pigeon, can be found online at Brandy can be reached at

My blog’s newspaper debut

Today, my column/blog, The Wandering Pigeon, made its newspaper debut!
Below is what ran:
After much encouragement, from my co-worker, Jessie Wagoner, I have decided to write my own column.
So, without any further ado, I introduce my column, The Wandering Pigeon. The name comes from my online blog, which you can find the link to at the end of this column. But to understand the “why” behind the name, I’ll have to open with a little (and slightly embarrassing story) about myself.
My blog wasn’t always called The Wandering Pigeon. The name actually was born in New York City back in January. I traveled with two of my coworkers, former Gazette photographer Dustin Michelson and Gazette videographer Matt Fowler, to cover some stories.
New York City was incredible (this was my first visit to the city) — and as an avid bird lover — I noticed how many pigeons lived in the city. One of the mornings we were there, I became enamored with a group of pigeons who were feasting on some bread. I wanted a photo of one pigeon in particular because it had some unusual coloring. As I wandered off chasing after this pigeon (successfully getting a picture, I might add), I didn’t realize how far off my path I had wandered.
When I finally looked up, I realized I had no idea where I was. In the middle of New York City, alone. And lost. On me, I had my cell phone, my ID and $20. I had not taken my purse with me that morning. So, what does a Kansas resident who just got lost while chasing a pigeon in New York City do? Hail a cab of course.
It turned out that I was only about three blocks away from the hotel where we were staying. After several attempts to hail a cab, I finally got one to stop. When I told the cab driver where I wanted to go, he literally laughed out loud because apparently in New York City, people don’t hail cabs for only a few blocks. But that morning I did. And my mistake cost me several dollars and a lot of teasing from my coworkers after they heard what had happened. The joke the remainder of our time in New York City was “don’t chase any pigeons.”
Wandering around and taking photos is a theme in my life. I love to explore towns, cities and the countryside. Gwen Larson, former Gazette managing editor and good friend of mine, calls them my “photo safaris.”
In this blog I’ll likely wander around with topics. I already mentioned to my coworker, Regina Murphy, that it’s incredible to be able to use first-person. Murphy reminded me that I also get to use the exclamation point as well. Hey, it’s the little things! As journalists, we don’t get to do either of those very often. So, sit back, relax and have some laughs (and maybe some tears, who knows) on me. Let’s travel this wandering journey together.
And thanks in advance for reading. If you ever have any feedback, I’d love to hear it.