How Starlight Found Her Light By Carolyn J. Braden

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 Art by Carolyn J. Braden, Media: Sakura Gelly Roll pens, Sharpie marker and BIC pencil

Art by Carolyn J. Braden, Media: Sakura Gelly Roll pens, Sharpie marker and BIC pencil

Story written by Carolyn J. Braden, 12/5/2018

There once was a little girl named Starlight. Her mother named her Starlight in the hopes she would go onto light up the world.

Unfortunately, from the moment Starlight started talking, everything that came out of her mouth was negative.

“Oh, my shoe is untied. My shoe always comes untied. It’s an awful shoe!” she said.

“Now Starlight.” said her mother. “It’s not the shoe’s fault. You probably didn’t tie it tight enough.”

“Humph!” shrugged Starlight.

“Starlight…” began her Mother, “Please start being more positive. If you don’t, you may wake up one day and not be able to speak.”

“Well, everything bad always happens to me, so I can’t help it.” said Starlight.

Starlight carried on with her negative day, saying negative things and went to bed in a negative mood.

The next morning, Starlight woke up earlier than usual because the light from the sun peered at her through an open place in the curtain. Just as she opened her mouth to complain and say something negative, the only word she could mutter was “Blah.”

“Blah, Blah, Blahhh!” she exclaimed.

She yelled. “Blah” only came out.

She whispered. “Blah” only came out.

She cried. “Blah” only came out.

Her mother heard her crying and ran to her room. “What’s wrong Starlight?” she asked.

“Blah, blah, blah!” Starlight cried.

“Oh Starlight.” said her mother, calmly. “All I hear is ‘blah, blah, blah’.”

Starlight could understand her mother, but was very frustrated her mother couldn’t understand her. Starlight ran to her desk, grabbed a pencil and a piece of paper and tried to write words for her mother to read, but all she could write was ‘blah, blah, blah”.

“Well, Starlight. I’m sure this has something to do with all that negativity I told you about. I guess you’ll just have to not talk for a while. I’m sure your words will come back soon.”

Starlight wiped a tear from her eye as her mother left her room. Not talking was going to be hard for Starlight. She pulled herself together, got dressed and went outside to play.

As soon as she stepped outside the door, a bird flew by and pooped on her head. “Blah, blah blah!” she yelled in anger, but alas, no one could understand her.

She decided to swing and just be silent for a bit. As she began to swing, the sun went behind the clouds and it started raining. “Blah, blah, blah!” shouted Starlight at the sky, but the complaint went undetermined by nature.

Starlight stomped her feet and went inside to watch television. The sky poured rain and the thunder and lightning grew louder and louder until the electricity in her home went out. This scared her, yet she decided to stay calm and not speak.

“Starlight, are you okay?” asked her mother.

“Blah.” answered Starlight calmly.

“Okay. I’m sure the power will be back on soon. Here’s a flashlight. Why don’t you use it to read for a bit.” Starlight took the flashlight to her room and found her favorite book.

She quietly read for hours until she finished the book. Then, she found another one and read it cover to cover too.

She then got out her art supplies and started drawing until she had filled almost every page of her sketchbook.

Her mother peered inside her room “Are you doing okay?” she asked. Starlight held up her sketchbook to show her mother what she had worked on. “You did all these?” her mother asked.

Starlight nodded her head.

“Maybe you should enter them in the school art contest you told me about. Remember, the one that you said you wanted to enter, but swore you’d lose because your art wasn’t good enough?”

Starlight nodded her head.

She remembered the exact one her mother was talking about. She remembered saying she thought she would lose, but it actually wasn’t because she didn’t think her art wasn’t good enough. It was because she thought everyone else’s would be better.

“I think your drawings are amazing. I really think you should enter.” encouraged her mother.

Starlight felt a warm feeling take over her and she smiled.

At that exact moment, the electricity came back on.

“Well, look at that! Yay!” her mother exclaimed. “I’ll get started on dinner. Keep working on your art and I’ll call for you when it’s ready.

Starlight nodded her head.

Not talking was one of the hardest things Starlight had ever done, but as she sat and continued drawing, her art got better and better and she felt better and better.

As the night continued, Starlight ate dinner, but continued to work on her art until the sun went down and the stars appeared in the sky.

“Starlight,” her mother peeked inside her room, “it’s time for bed. I have your backpack ready for school tomorrow. Make sure to pick out some drawings to enter into the contest.”

“Okay.” replied Starlight.

“Starlight! Your voice! It’s back!” exclaimed her mother, as she ran to hug Starlight.

Starlight hugged her mother and quietly said “I love you”.

“I love you too, Starlight.” said her mother.

Starlight put a few finishing touches on some of her art pieces, picked out her favorites, and went to bed.

At school the next day, she entered her drawings in the school art contest. She wasn’t worried at all throughout the day because she knew that even if she didn’t win, she got her voice back and it was full of joy, love, and light. And that made her the happiest she had been in a long time.

Later on that day, the contest winners were announced and Starlight was one of them. Actually, two of her drawings won.

Her winning drawings:

 Art by Carolyn J. Braden

Art by Carolyn J. Braden

 Art by Carolyn J. Braden

Art by Carolyn J. Braden

You Can Jump On My Shoulders

“I say we rob from the rich
And blow down the door.
On to the next
To dance with the poor.
Jump on my shoulders.
You can jump on my shoulders.”

—Song written and performed by Aaron Bruno (AWOLNATION)

 Art by Carolyn J. Braden, Media: Gelly Roll pens by Sakura, Sharpie marker and BIC pencil

Art by Carolyn J. Braden, Media: Gelly Roll pens by Sakura, Sharpie marker and BIC pencil

This art piece was inspired by the song “Jump On My Shoulders”, written and performed by Aaron Bruno of AWOLNATION. He recently lost his personal studio due to the California fires. Looking on the bright side of a dark situation, he announced on social media “By the grace of God, my home is still standing somehow. My friends and family have been so inspiring and supportive that it brings tears to my eyes constantly.”

That definitely was good news. Not only that his home was okay, but that his friends and family took note of his very own words and became the shoulders he could “jump on”.

No matter how bright the news was that his home was fine, a loss is a loss. It’s hard when you lose something, especially when it comes on suddenly and is unexpected.

I dedicate today’s writing piece to Aaron and to all of the people and animals affected by the fires. Stuff can be replaced, but souls cannot. If you can’t support any of the California assistance efforts financially, send your good thoughts and prayers their way, for those are truly powerful things.

I have a personal connection to Aaron. It was a mere few moments, but I was “randomly” able to meet him and it was forever embedded into my memory.

Here’s my story:

I met Aaron Bruno on an interestingly warm and super windy October night in Northern Kentucky. My husband and I traveled there to see him perform live (our first time). The venue was a small performance house (it literally was an old house). His album Megalithic Symphony had just been released and I was so excited to hear it live.

We got to the venue early so I could pick my seat before the crowd arrived. As we walked among the small crowd, I spotted a balcony space that was very close to the stage. It was mostly empty except for a few people scattered about. It was perfection.

My husband and I climbed the stairs and found some seats right by someone who was quietly watching the opening band. I saw the back of the person’s head and instantly knew it was Aaron Bruno.

Now, many fans freak out when they see someone “famous”, but I did not. I really wanted to meet him as I felt he was an sensitive artistic soul similar to myself, so I suppose my desire for this occurrence won. Feeling he wanted to keep to himself and be incognito for a small second before he was in front of a big crowd, I kept my cool, knowing I would want the same.

I quietly said “Aaron?” and he turned around. We introduced ourselves quickly, as the opening band finished their last few words of their set, and he shook our hands. I asked him for a picture and my husband snapped one of the two of us. Then, as we finished our time together, I blurted out “I think you are really going places.” I felt in that moment, he needed to hear me say that. He looked at me and said “I hope so.”

We said goodbye and took our seats in the balcony. The show was amazing, and I’m happy to say his career is doing exactly what I thought. It’s definitely going places. I’ve been to three of his live shows and took my mom and friends to share his beautiful words and music. My mom particularly loves the lyrics “Blame it on my ADD baby” (and bought a shirt with those lyrics) from the song “Sail” as she’s dealt with ADD her whole life. He’s selling out larger and larger concert venues, was invited to be in a movie via a connection with Mark Wahlberg, and more.

Yes, it’s true, this fire is only a minor setback, if you look at it just like that. If anyone goes through a major life situation, you have to see the good in it. Again, stuff can be replaced, but souls cannot. I know he’ll pour his feelings and emotions from this situation into his art, which, to me, is the best form of therapy. (Just look at Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill to see art therapy turn into gold.)

Sending light and love to all who needs it!

Some song inspiration-The video below is of my all-time favorite AWOLNATION song, Sail. I was hooked from the moment I heard it. I know that’s why it’s been featured on tons of commercials and television shows. I loved it so much, that I created a simple video for it years ago with my puppet, Humphrey GoKart, and his friends. I made it when I was still teaching and my students loved it.


 Photos by Tommy Braden

Photos by Tommy Braden

Run [Explicit]
Red Bull Records

Generations of Love

“I’ve got love for you if you were born in the 80’s.” —Song sung by Calvin Harris, Lyrics written by David Devine / Adam Wiles (Calvin Harris)

Carolyn Braden Ive Got Love For You.JPG

I have love for anyone born in the 80’s (though I was born one year earlier than that!) but I also have love for all the generations in our world. I hope for everyone to understand it doesn’t matter how old or young you are….everyone is deserving of love and respect.

I love and respect my 94 year old grandmother just as much as I love and respect the young children in my life.

Every age also has something wonderful to share. You can learn something from all the generations of the world. I learned something from the children I taught EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.

It’s amazing what you can hear when you open your heart and truly listen……

Some song inspiration- The song that inspired my art and writing is below. I got a different meaning out of the song than the video creator, but that’s what is cool about art…each person can interpret it however they wish!

I honestly just really like the beat.