I’m keeping this image huge so that you don’t miss it. I shared this from another page on my Facebook yesterday. It not only hit a nerve for me, it hit the nerve of people who came across it. How many of you can relate to this? Are there commitments you’ve made that are now consuming your life? Are you really required to keep those commitments? Can you take something off your plate for an hour? For a day? For a week? Forever?
Last weekend I had a nervous breakdown, melting into a crazy, sniveling, pathetic creature right in front of my husband. I’ve spent months caring for his mother, something I’ve taken time off work to do. But in doing so, I’ve gone weeks without any kind of break except for collapsing into bed after putting her in bed. I’ve spent every waking moment with her. This is not exhausting work, except, it is.
Thing is, I was the one placing the shackles on me. I waited until I was going out of my mind before I finally pleaded with my husband that I needed a break. It got to the point of desperation before I said anything because I was determined to be strong and white knuckle my way through this. Also, I was the one choosing to remain in the same room with her instead of going up to my own room for some moments of solitude. I was choosing to be a martyr, giving until I couldn’t give anymore.
But that does no one any good.
This past week, I have made it a point to take at least an hour or more to myself. The difference has been amazing. Before, I felt resentful every time she needed something, and if I wasn’t careful, it showed in my attitude. But once I took regular breaks, my attitude changed. The resentment disappeared. I began wanting to spend better quality time with her instead of being in the same room and hating it.
On Thursday, my husband gave me a full day off. I slept in until 7 (I start my caregiving at 5), sat in a coffee shop for 4 hours, took a nap in the afternoon, and went to the gym in the evening. I did everything I wanted to do, which wasn’t anything exciting or glamorous, but amazing just the same. I took a day when I wasn’t needed for anything at all, and that was exactly what I needed. The next day, my MIL and I had coffee together, then we watched a movie together in the afternoon, and in between, I went grocery shopping without her and read.
If you’re life is filling up too fast and you’re feeling like you’re being pulled in all directions, it’s VITAL that you take a break. You need a margin, that empty space beside the busyness of your full-time life. It may mean you can only take one hour. If you think you can’t, you’re wrong. Ask for help. You need it. If you can manage a whole day, do it. If there’s something taking up your time without adding anything to your present or future, LET IT GO. Seriously. Remember that you’re only one person, and we’re all so much better when we let others step in and give us a hand, and when we rest so we can recharge. You are not a machine, you are human. So give yourself some grace and space.
2016 was a hard year, and like many, I felt rocked by everything that happened in the news, politics, violence across the nation and world, and the loss of so many icons. In 2017, my prayer is that we will stop being so divided.
If we look at the world as a whole, things feel pretty bleak. But when we look closer at our community, at the small things being done – the volunteers, the random acts of kindness, those bringing people up – it’s suddenly clear we live in a beautiful world, and it becomes apparent that the change starts with us.
So choose to use kind words, listen more than speaking, aim to understand a differing view instead of trying to change it, respect everyone you come across, see how you can help when necessary, do more for others than you do for yourself, pray/meditate often, put down social media as much as possible, enjoy nature, read every day, call your parents/grandparents often, learn about that thing your kids are so interested in, stop doing those tasks that make you unnecessarily busy, practice saying yes, practice saying no, practice good health, forgive yourself, spread love, and change the world.
This week, I celebrated another year around the sun. For those of you who have been reading along for a while, you may recall how much I struggle with birthdays every year. It started on the day I turned 31, and my reaction to that day took me by surprise. Before I turned 31, I welcomed every birthday. I had no problem getting older. Even when I left my twenties to turn the big 3-0, I didn’t have an issue. But for some reason, turning 31 was a bigger deal. Part of it may have been because I was no officially IN my thirties, and not just 30. But I think the bigger issue was that I chose to celebrate my birthday in Disneyland. There I was on my 31st birthday, surrounded by all these young, adorable 20-something kids and I was just some washed up hag who was hiding wrinkles with makeup and gray hair with dye.
Ever since that year, I would dread each birthday as it came closer, and couldn’t get over the fact that I was aging.
For so many years, I took pride in being the younger person in the crowd. Having had my kids young, I’m often the youngest parent in the room at every school function. At my work, I was one of the youngest people in the newsroom. At my kids’ camp, I’ve been the youngest chaperone. And because my husband is 14 years older than I am, I’ve always been the youngest when we hang out with other couples. I placed a lot of pride on my youth. So when the tides started to turn, things began to get uncomfortable. As my kids got older, I stopped feeling like the young and fresh mom, and started feeling old and out of touch. My work started hiring all these young and brilliant millennials who are way quicker at learning new technology and social media skills. Younger chaperones signed on at camp, and have way more energy than my old body can handle. And so on.
Aging just became uncomfortable, because I had placed so much of my worth on my youth.
This year was different. I turned 39 on Dec. 7, and I didn’t have my annual freak out in the days leading up to my birthday. I think it’s because I’ve embraced the process of growing older. This is mostly apparent in the fact that I stopped dying my hair over a year ago. I am now sporting a brilliant streak of white in my hair.
The decision to stop dying my hair was huge. I found my very first gray hair at 19 years old, the same week I discovered I was pregnant with my first child. I do believe the two go hand in hand. When plucking these pesky grays became too big of a job, I resorted to coloring my hair. At first, I went with all-natural dyes to ensure I wouldn’t harm my hair. But soon, I was grabbing any chemicals I could get my hands on to ensure my youth would be preserved.
Last year, I’d had enough. I knew I had a section of my hair that was all white, and it was apparent whenever I was between colorings. I realized that I didn’t want to be one of those “old ladies” who continued hiding their true color even when the jig was up. I wanted to go gray while my face still held some of its youthfulness. So last year, I decided to see what would happen if I just stopped dying it.
At first, the process was awkward. It looked silly. I wanted to hide my head in a scarf until I no longer had three-toned hair. But gradually, I began to look at my hair differently. The white section created this new and interesting feature to my hair. I’d play it up with different hairstyles, and starting receiving comments on how cool it looked. But most important, I actually stopped caring (for the most part) about how anyone saw it at all because I liked it. I thought it was beautiful.
Because my hair is long, it will be a while before the gray is completely grown out. I have about 5 inches of white, followed by another 7 or so inches of dye. But my hair has never worked as well as it does now. It feels better, it isn’t weighed down by dye, and it’s fun to play with.
My hair is only one aspect that’s allowed me grace in growing older. My perspective, in general, has changed. Each year, I learn something new about myself and the world I live in. I learn what I can tolerate, and what I need to stop wasting so much energy on. I’ve learned to depend less on what other people think of me, and depend more on how I view myself. I’m learning to focus my attention more on my accomplishments and to stop putting so much weight on all I still have to do (this is a work in process, but I’m getting better).
Here are a few cool things that I’ve made happen this year:
I enrolled in college and am finally taking the necessary steps in taking control of my career path
I wrote another book, even while taking college courses, by implementing the skills I preach in Reclaim Your Creative Soul
My husband and I went on a gorgeous Hawaii vacation that we paid for out of pocket
I’ve also lost my fear of being older. I still place importance on my age, but it’s in a different way. I’m now proud of being one of the older people in the room. In my college classes, the younger students turn to me to help them understand what the teacher is saying. I’m one of the more experienced people at work. I can relate with the crowd I hang out with. And at camp, I let the young and fun chaperones burn themselves out while I rest my tired bones.
I have grace about growing older. Each new year means new opportunities. Each gray hair serves as a badge of my experiences and time on this earth. Each wrinkle is proof that I’ve spent a lot of time smiling and laughing. Each birthday is a celebration that I’m still here, and I still get time to fulfill my goals.
Growing older is not a curse. It’s a blessing. And I’m 39 years blessed, and still going.
I thought I would write a couple of posts while I was here, but honestly, I’m having too much fun to be on the computer (besides cramming in a bit of homework in the early mornings. We’re still on mainland time, which means we’re waking up between 2:30 and 3:30 a.m. in the mornings, lol).
Before I share pictures and details from our trip (so far), I wanted to alert you to a special sale on Loving the Wind that starts tomorrow. DO NOT MISS THIS SALE! Sign up for my newsletter HERE and I’ll email you tomorrow so that you can read the story of Tiger Lily and Peter Pan at a discounted price (plus, you get a different free book!).
Here’s a quick recap of our trip so far. We traveled all day on Tuesday to get here. All. Day. Seriously. We left the house at 5:30 a.m. California time, and arrived at our condo around 6 p.m. Hawaii time. Added up, that’s about 15 hours of traveling (and a lot of sitting). We were spent! But we arrived just in time to see the sunset from our lanai. It was well worth the wait. Because we couldn’t wait, we hiked down to the beach and took an evening swim in the ocean. The water was warm and refreshing, nothing like the freezing ocean in Northern California!
Wednesday, we woke up at 2:30 a.m., and after an hour, it was clear there would be no going back to sleep. So we got up early and got our busy work out of the way, had breakfast out on the lanai, and enjoyed the early morning before anyone was awake. Then we took a drive out to Hanakapi’ai for a 4 hour hike. This hike was 2 miles to a beach, with lots of steep hills, slick mud, and rocky trails, surrounded by stunning views, greenery, and tropical smells. I seriously used up half my breath just smelling the air. It was heavenly. It was also a really tough hike. It wasn’t so much the uphill climbs (though some of those were brutal), it was the downhill slippery slopes that did me in. I managed to stay upright the whole time, but took everything I had.
We reached the beach and chilled for a little while, enjoying the surf (which was intense) and the sun. Then we hiked the 2 miles back. At the last 1/2 mile, Shawn (my husband) stepped down wrong and twisted his ankle. We had already passed one woman who had hurt herself and was being helped by her family to make the trek back. Without help, they’d probably reach the bottom of the hill in about 8 hours. Luckily, we found out she was getting heli-vacced (sp?) out of there. When I saw Shawn go down, I was worried it would be the same for him. afraid he had broken his ankle. Luckily, that wasn’t the case, just twisted or sprained. A Good Samaritan happened to be near us at the same time with a First-Aid kit that had an ice pack. We found out they were from San Jose, California, just south of us, and were transitioning into retirement on Kauai. What a good life….
We made it to the bottom with hands up in the air, our muscles reminding us we weren’t the 20-year-olds who practically sprinted the slick trail. Nope, we’re seasoned human beings who tackled a difficult hike with battle wounds as our bragging rights. We made it!
On the drive back, I told Shawn to stop at a place called Sushi Girl, which I had learned about through a cool Instagrammer that shares Kauai food posts. There, we had some of the best ahi poke bowls the island has to offer, plus a shared bowl of miso soup. We had used up so many calories, this food was SOUL food. I swear, nothing has ever tasted better.
The rain started as we got closer to our condo. It had been sunny the whole morning, and we realized just how fortunate our timing had been. By the time we got to our condo, it was pouring. We chilled at the condo, reading and resting as the rain served as our soundtrack. For dinner, we had grilled ahi and steak, our own surf and turf made by my talented chef husband. Then we went to the resort’s hot tub and soaked in the hot water in the rain. It was a perfect end to the evening.
This morning we slept in until 3:30 a.m. Lol. Both of are feeling our old, tired muscles. I have no idea what’s in store for today. We had an itinerary, but the plans we had kind of fell through. We see this as a blessing in disguise, as we can now create our own adventure depending on our mood. I can still hear the rain outside, so today might be a shopping and sightseeing day.
I don’t think I’m ever going to leave. 🙂
Here are a few pictures from our trip so far.
Watch out for falling rocks! This cave was pretty cool.
Seriously, that view.
The hike was brutal, but how can anyone complain when it was this gorgeous? I couldn’t get over the sheer beauty of our surroundings.
Preparing for the next uphill battle.
If you are ever in Kauai, check out Sushi Girl. Food to die for!
My new favorite food is ahi poke bowls. Seriously, this is all I’m going to eat from here on out.
Life has been a bit busy this week, which is why I’ve been a bit quiet for the past few days. I’ve been working on a research paper that took up most of my time, giving me a glimpse of what it will be like to write for NaNoWriMo and do well in school at the same time. As NaNo gets closer, I am working on building up grace for myself. I hate to project a loss this year, but I am. This will be my first year since I started that I won’t write 50,000 words in a month. However, I will start my novel in November, so that’s exciting!
At any rate, my research paper isn’t actually due until Nov. 2. However, tomorrow we leave for Kauai!!!! I did not want to stress over this paper while on vacation, so I put my nose to the grindstone and worked it out here. There may still be a few tweaks needed for the intro, but other than that, it’s DONE. This is somewhat of a miracle since I have Kauai on the brain. Even now, I keep interrupting my blog writing to check out things near where I’m staying (Princeville, btw, if you have any suggestions!).
A few things I want you all to know:
My husband wrote a book! After 3 years of hard work and digging deep, he has finally finished his memoir, Beyond Recovery. The book tells about life before and after his father left his family, his struggle with alcohol addiction, his journey into recovery, and what life looks like after giving up alcohol. I loved being one of his first readers as his editor, book formatter, and cover designer. The book will be available Nov. 11. Follow him at shawnlangwell.com. …
One of my friends just got back from Mexico, and he took Loving the Wind: The Story of Tiger Lily & Peter Pan with him so he could finish it. He told me he couldn’t put it down, which is music to an author’s ears! I’m telling you this because I will be having a special sale on the Kindle version at the end of this week, and I don’t want any of you to miss it! Please sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss out. If you have read it, I’d be so appreciative if you’d leave a review! …
While I’m in Kauai, I’ll be working on the outline for the next book after The Road to Hope. I am itching to work on this novel! It’s been a whole year since I’ve written any kind of book. I really needed the break to just recollect myself (and to also recover from the awesome experience of writing Loving the Wind). But now I’m ready to get back into the game.
That is all! The next time we talk, I’ll be in Hawaii! Aloha!
Last week, I was honored to speak to a group of people from my church about Reclaim Your Creative Soul, the book I published earlier this year about making more time for creativity. I began by telling them about my journey toward that book, and then I shared a quick rundown of the necessary steps to varying types of organization—both body, mind, and the space around them—so that their craft can be a priority.
This book is very personal to me. It shares many of the things I’ve come to know in my journey as a writer. I lay out the details of my writing practice, and the different ways I’ve created order in certain areas of my life to free me from distraction and allow me to focus on my craft. But more than that, it shares the spiritual journey I took toward actually writing this book. I’d like to share that with you here.
In August of 2015, I reached my breaking point. My writing was suffering because I felt like I had no creativity left in the tank. My eating habits were out of control, which resulted in weight gain, lack of energy, and a feeling of gross worthlessness. I felt overextended at my job, which was eating away at me even when I wasn’t on the clock. The successful writing career I thought I was going to have was nowhere to be seen. I actually felt like my desire to be a writer was a curse, because everything I wanted was so out of reach, and I was sure I’d be chained to being a 9-5 worker for the rest of my life.
That August, I reached a point where I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I felt like this huge weight on my chest was consuming me. I knew if I didn’t do anything about it, I was going to go off the deep end. Something needed to change, I just didn’t know HOW. So I did the only thing I could think of doing. I took a day off from everything to focus solely on the three areas of my life that were consuming me the most: my career, my health, and my creativity.
I called this day my “soul retreat.”
During that day, I spent time with God, addressing each area that plagued me and seeking answers on what I could be doing better. I not only came away with these answers, I also received a better understanding of who I was, my worth as God’s creation, and my purpose as a creative person. I gained clarity I was unable to reach before. Most of all, I learned how to breathe again.
At the time, I didn’t know I was going to write this book. But the seeds began to sprout on the day I took my soul retreat. A few months later, I began laying out the bones of Reclaim Your Creative Soul: The Secrets to Organizing Your Life to Make Room for Your Craft. At face value, it was my answer to those around me who wondered how I was able to write books while holding a full-time job, raising a family, and everything else that kept me so busy. But more than that, it was a love letter to myself and those who needed to hear this message: The two biggest obstacles between you and what feeds your soul is fear and a feeling of unworthiness. More than following my guidelines toward structure and organization, my hope is that readers will began to believe they are worthy of contributing their creativity to the world, and that the world NEEDS this creativity.
Don’t get me wrong, the struggle I felt in August is not something that just magically went away . I still reach moments of overwhelm and an inability to focus. Right now, as I’ve rearranged my life to include college courses, I can feel that same weight bearing down on me. But whenever I feel this way, it’s when I know I need to pause and reevaluate where I’m at, where I’m going, and what I need to do to get there. And because of this book, I have a reminder on what needs to happen so that I can keep going.
If you are in a place where your creative life feels out of reach, I encourage you to pick up Reclaim Your Creative Soul and start working the steps toward creative freedom. Writing this book changed my life. I hope reading it changes yours.
Last month, I went back to college. Actually, back isn’t the right word. I’ve never actually been to college before, unless you count that time when I taught a college class (true story). While my peers were racking up college loans to further their education, my world was filled with diapers and sleepless nights, and trying to find new ways to soothe a colicky baby. I was so jealous back then, even though this life path was my choice. But when I was stuck at home with a crying baby, I would have given anything to be out doing stupid stuff with people my own age, plus taking college courses.
Of course, I would never have appreciated it as much as I do now—the college courses, not the stupid stuff, lol. The first time I had to meet with my English professor during office hours, I must have repeated how happy I was to be in college at least 3 times. But I am. I’m sitting in classes with students who are 20 years younger than I am, learning stuff I’ve almost completely forgotten since the last time I was in school. There are a few new ways to do things (like, when did all the rules change in math???). But there are also a few things I do remember how to do. And it just feels good to learn new things. In the adult world, things are the same day in and day out. But in school, we’re on this steady incline of learning. I feel stretched and pulled, and I like it.
Plus, I’ve been on top of all my homework. Back when I was in high school, I managed to keep my homework levels to a minimum. Often I’d be doing my assignments during tutorial on the day they were due, or studying for a test the night before. I had the freedom to do this back then, as time was only my own. But now, I have a full time job, a family, and other obligations outside of school. Being lax on my homework is not an option. This week, for example, we had a huge essay assigned on Monday, due Wednesday. I knew this was coming, so I researched my topic over the weekend before it was assigned. I started writing the essay on Tuesday morning before work, then I worked on it during my lunch break, and finished it Tuesday night after my math class. If I hadn’t researched the topic beforehand, I would have choked on this assignment. It really helped to have an outline of what I was going to write before I wrote it.
The one drawback of being in school, however, is my writing is taking a backseat—at least in novel form. This was fine with me when I signed up for classes. I was ready for a break from novel writing so I could catch my breath a bit. But now, I keep getting jolted by novels I want to write, the ideas pulling at me when I’m supposed to be studying. I’m getting bit by the writing bug bad! I’ve even started an outline for my next novel with hopes to write during NaNoWriMo. But honestly, I don’t see how I’m going to be able to write a novel during November. My classes will be in full force at that point, and I use my writing time now for homework. There just isn’t a pocket of time for me to write a book at the speed I need to write for NaNoWriMo.
This is all ironic, of course, since I just wrote a book on finding time for your creative endeavors, even while living a full-time life (Reclaim Your Creative Soul). However, there is one passage in this book that is offering me the grace I need in this busy season of my life:
Your time is important. And if you are dividing your time between your art, a full-time job, raising a family, and the many other arenas of your life, you don’t have much time to waste.
Or, perhaps you feel like you have no time left for your art.
I want to pause here and acknowledge that your time is different from my time, and the time of everyone else who is reading this book. I do not know your circumstance, and I cannot dictate how you spend your time in your life. Some of you who will be able to uncover a few extra hours for your art after reading this chapter. And some of you may only be able to uncover a few minutes. Different priorities require different responses. For example, you may have very little wiggle room if you have a full-time job or are raising a family. However, I’m certain you can amend the time you spend perusing social media or watching TV.
I also want to remind you that there is a season for everything. Parents of young children probably feel more than frustrated about the lack of time left over for their creative endeavors. However, children don’t stay young forever. Eventually they become more independent, and require less of your devoted attention. Same with your job. You may be frustrated because you are working so hard at making someone else money, when you really want to be devoting your time to your art. Your time will come. You may only have an hour or so a day to give to your art, and are a slave to your cubicle for the rest of the day. This makes that one hour so much more valuable. But if you keep at it, using that hour as best as you can, the day may come when you can decrease the amount of hours you spend working for someone else, and increase the amount of time you spend creating. (Reclaim Your Creative Soul: Chapter 8, Managing Your Time)
Here’s where the grace comes in. This season is about furthering my education. It’s where my focus needs to be. In the long run, it will help me to be a better writer. Novel writing will happen, but I have to be patient. Winter break is coming up, and I’ll have 3-4 weeks to lose myself in the novel writing process. Summer break will give me a full 3 months to write seriously. But now? My writing muscle will stay toned through journaling, blogging, and, of course, school and work writing. And this is okay! I’m just getting stronger for when my writing season begins again.
Let me tell you a story. It’s about a girl who grew so afraid of what people might think of her, she became paralyzed in that fear.
It starts with a back story.
This girl was born to be a storyteller, stemming from an early love of reading. It began with stories read to her in her mother’s lap, graduated to recognized words on the milk carton, and finally came to fruition when she read the book, Jack and the Beanstalk, to her preschool teacher. At just 4 years old, this girl was a reader! And two years later, upon learning to write, she realized she could create stories, as well. At night when she went to bed, she entertained her sister in their shared bedroom with made-up bedtime stories using a flashlight and shadow puppets. At birthdays and holidays, her gifts of stories were always highly anticipated. And she swore that one day when she was grown, her career would encompass her love of words and storytelling.
Fast forward a dozen or so years, and life continued to happen. But the path this girl was on twisted and turned in directions she hadn’t anticipated. Never being one to make risky moves, she allowed this path to take her from her dreams. It ended up being the riskiest move of all. While her goal had been to remain in her comfort zone, her path, instead, brought her into unfamiliar places and moments of danger and despair. It came time for her to decide – refrain from making a change and lose herself in the process, or make an uncomfortable bold move and try to find the person she lost.
She chose the latter, leaving her to raise two young kids on her own when she left a suffocating, abusive marriage.
It would take a year before this girl was able to drag herself off the couch. It took a few more for her to feel even remotely human. And eventually, with the love and support of her family, she was back out in the world on her own, caring for her kids the best way she could, and surviving life as a single mother, flaws and all.
It was during this time that this girl rediscovered her writing voice. It started with just writing. Then it was telling personal tales to amuse her friends. Eventually it migrated into a blog she called Wine Country Mom. The title was a little tongue-in-cheek, as she was definitely a mom in the heart of the Wine Country, but she was hardly living the Wine County lifestyle. There were some weeks she wasn’t sure the food in her household would last to the end of the week. And if it weren’t for her generous parents’ endless supply of TP, bathroom time would be plenty awkward. But there were many good times in this poor season of life, and countless moments of laughter, as well. This girl wrote about all of that – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Through her writing, she made friends with people who could relate to her triumphs and sorrows.
This new community of readers weren’t the only people who noticed. The local newspaper, where this girl now worked in the ad department, caught wind of this girl’s blog. And because they loved it, they offered this girl an even larger platform to share her stories. Naturally, this girl said yes.
In the following years, this girl continued to share her stories, now with a larger audience. She wrote about life as a single mother, parenting tips she’d learned along the way, her budding romance with a new man (who would one day be her husband), and the transition her life took from single parenthood into blended family. She remained perfectly candid, a virtue that drew her audience in as she admitted imperfections, as well as the beautiful parts of her family despite their many flaws. She remained real, vulnerable, completely raw. There were times she’d hesitate before pushing that publish button, then hold her breath when she inevitably did. It was a terrifying and exhilarating feeling to bare so much of her soul. And much of the feedback she received was from people who were certain they were the only ones who’d ever experienced what she had written about, and found a soul sister in this girl through the truth she’d unveiled.
But not everyone loved this girl’s brave sharing.
Ever hear of trolls? These are little creatures with wrinkled souls who hide under the bridges of blogs as they wait for their next victim. Their main objective is to ensure no one feels too good about themselves. They plant the seed of hate, then entice people to water it through conversation. Their biggest tool is to write things so hateful, it’s almost impossible to ignore. But once you respond to a troll, you lose power. And the troll? They only grow stronger.
When your platform consists of the same people who read the newspaper, the trolls are aplenty (and if you’ve ever read the comments on any article on any newspaper, you know what I mean).
Among the lovely people who offered lovely words to any of this girl’s blog articles, there were also ugly-souled people who attacked her choice to leave her abusive husband and become a single mother, her blossoming romance with a new man while she was supposed to be caring for her kids, and anything else they could find fault with in the words she chose to share about her personal life. This girl remained strong, though all of these words stung. It was like the trolls had discovered all of her inner thoughts and fears, and were now laying them out in the comments of her blogs for the world to digest. Each comment inflicted pain, but she strengthened her armor and kept going. However, when the trolls turned their comments toward this girl’s children, she pulled the plug to her blog. The girl removed her blog from the newspaper and said goodbye to the audience she had built. Then she began blogging in a much more private arena. No one knew her. No one commented. No one said mean things, nice things…anything.
But this was just fine with the girl. It allowed her that perfect break to come back to center and figure out what exactly she wanted to share with the world. With her kids now in their teen years, it was no longer appropriate to write about them on a family blog. It seemed Wine Country Mom had run its course.
Meanwhile, this girl had tackled a new arena of writing – the almighty novel. She set up a website as she put forth her new novel, complete with a brand new blog. But with this blog, the girl found herself in unfamiliar territory. What the heck did she write about? She’d spent so long writing about her life as a mother, that writing about her life as a writer felt foreign and strange. She had no audience, no one who was familiar with her work, no one to talk to at all through this blog. She began writing about her book, but that got old fast. She felt uninteresting. So she began writing about writing itself, specifically in terms of books. But she felt like a fraud because she was still figuring this stuff out, herself.
The blog soon felt like an albatross. She was reading so many tips on keeping an author blog that she started to feel like everything she wrote in her blog was all wrong. Soon, she lost her reason for even wanting to keep a blog at all. It wasn’t about baring pieces of her soul anymore, it was about how to get attention. It all felt fake and contrived. It felt like work. And when January of this year hit, this girl stopped writing in her blog altogether.
This girl, of course, being ME.
So here I am, having ignored this blog because I’m afraid I have nothing to say, or that I’m boring people with the bits and pieces of my life, or that I might give you the wrong idea if I have an opinion on anything, or that I might get too personal, or I might not be personal enough. I’m afraid someone I know will read this blog and wonder who the heck I think I am trying to fool. I’m afraid someone I don’t know will read this and wonder how someone who thinks the way I think or writes the way I write or likes the things I like ever thought she could actually write a book and sell it. I’m afraid I’ll break some cardinal rule of author blogs by oversharing or undersharing or writing against my genre or being too opinionated or wishy-washy or attracting the wrong people or not being witty enough….
Omg. It’s just too much! I’m done with being paralyzed. I’m done with thinking there’s someone I’m supposed to be or something specific I’m supposed to write about. I’m done with thinking I need to be writing to a certain group of people or write a certain way when all I can do is be myself and write the way I write.
So from this day forward, I declare this a themeless blog. If I want to write about books, I’ll write about books. If I was to write about faith, I will write about faith. If I want to write about life, especially the messy parts, you’re damn straight I’ll be writing about life. If I want to write about love, family, my dog, how much I hate cleaning, what I had for dinner, my favorite TV obsession, an author I’m crushing on (Hi Colleen Hoover!), or anything else, I’m just going to throw it up here on the pages.
This morning was really bad. My dog, the one I spoil with remnants of my breakfast and who spends the evenings sleeping at my feet, bit me. Then, just to rub salt in the wound, he ran away after one of the kids left the gate open. I spent 30 minutes trying to coax him back in, trying not to let it show in my voice how much I wanted to murder him. When he finally tired of the chase game around the block and I could get close enough to catch him, I had to throw him in his kennel to save him from me. I was so frustrated that every single thing beyond my ornery dog felt like too much. I spent a lot of time this morning crying and feeling sorry for myself, and it carried into the majority of my day.
I’m a firm believer that we manifest whatever our main focus is. If we focus on love and light and all things positive, blessings and peace will wrap us in their embrace. But if we focus on evil and hard times and all things unfair and negative, we are inviting bad things into our life. I knew this today, even as I left the cloud of despair hanging over my head. I knew that the longer I settled into my funk, the longer the funk would own me.
Know what? I didn’t care.
I eventually had to go to work. I cannot begin to tell you the exact number of times I thought about driving past my exit, and just going until I ran out of gas. I didn’t, of course. To keep driving would rid me of the incredible experience of feeling sorry for myself at work. I walked into the office, avoiding everyone, and sat in my chair. And I booted up my email. There in my email was a note from my boss, letting me know that little old me would be conducting a training on our computer system, all by lonesome. Me. In my funk. Teaching people things.
I’m proud to say that I continued my funk, except this time with tears.
I was a pathetic mess. My boss came over and I couldn’t even look him in the eye, I was so mad. How could he spring this on me? Didn’t he know I was in a funk? Couldn’t he just understand without my having to tell him that I had planned on spending the whole day not talking to anyone as I felt sorry for myself? He didn’t, of course. In fact, he pretended that my tears weren’t even there. And he pointed out all the parts I needed to cover and then left me to stew in my misery.
The dreaded hour came, and the receptionist in the lobby let me know my trainee was here. I hid my resentment and put on my best smile, knowing that even in my funk, it wasn’t fair to subject a perfect stranger with my impressive bad mood. Then I led the trainee to my desk, and spent an hour teaching him everything I knew about the computer program I was training him on. When it was over, I led him back to the front door where he promised to invite my husband and I over for a housewarming. And then we parted ways.
As I ascended the stairs to come back to my desk, I searched for my dark cloud of gloom. But it was nowhere to be found. Instead, a prayer of gratitude graced my lips.
“Thank you, God.”
Seems someone had a hand in ridding me of my bad mood with a little social persuasion. I wasn’t going to do it myself; the misery was too rich. But it doesn’t help me, or anyone around me, to remain in my funky mood forever. God knew this. And despite my stubborn resolve to stay angry, He had other plans. And He did this by forcing me to think of something, anything!, other than myself.
I found the above picture today in the moment that my funky mood vacated the premises. What caught my eye was “Having a rough morning?” Yes. I did. “Place your hand over your heart.” Okay. “Feel that? That’s called purpose. You’re alive for a reason. Don’t give up.”
There are times when that funky mood is so downright rotten, to even think about pulling yourself up out of it is simply laughable. It’s okay to feel rotten. When you find yourself in that space, take a moment to dwell on every single horrible thing that’s plaguing your life. Simmer in it for a few moments, or a few hours if you have to. And then, when you’re ready….
….let it go.
You may need to coax your way away from the funk. Enlist a friend to help you. Or take a moment to do something nice for someone else. Do whatever it takes to take the focus off of you and your bad stuff and onto someone or something else.
Because if we focus on evil and hard times and all things unfair and negative, we are inviting bad things into our life. But if we focus on love and light and all things positive, blessings and peace will wrap us in their embrace.