When the Smoke Clears

I feel like myself today. That’s rather huge, as it’s been probably the better part of a year since I’ve been able to say that. The work drama/reorg of late 2016 sapped a lot of joy and confidence from me, frankly, and it’s only been since I started working at Thurston County that I feel a sense of peace and distance from it all. Who knew driving 23 miles south would take me to such a different world? I am so grateful for new beginnings.

I know my blogging – well, any writing – has suffered because of it. I don’t want to write downer posts as a general rule. In fact, I considered shuttering this blog. Why keep the pressure on myself to find a topic and time to write for public consumption? I keep a journal (sort of). Isn’t that enough?

I’ve spent a bit of time asking the Lord about it, and praying. It has seemed a trivial request. So many horrible things going on in our world right now – devastating hurricanes, mass shootings, hatred rising from every corner. I do pray about those things as well.

Maybe you’re in a similar season. You’re beat up, tired, ready to lie down on the couch and eat circus peanuts while watching Matlock reruns.

circus peanutsNot that I know anything about that.

So…where to now? No thunderbolts tore open the sky. No answer dropped on me via passenger pigeon. But I do feel a peace. I’m not done here yet. God’s not done in your life either, friend. I hope to write more, and more often. Thanks for sticking with me.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. – Philippians 1:6

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Why Write?

i-am-a-writer-image

“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.”
― Kurt Vonnegut

“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of.”  ― Joss Whedon

“Write what should not be forgotten.”  ― Isabel Allende

If you read these, you start to think writers are adrenalin-seeking, split-personality, absentminded scribblers.

Yes and amen, to all of those descriptors.

Recently, I was fortunate to be able to alter my schedule to attend my old writers group once a month. I typed up a memo, got it blessed, and started up again just last week. Last week consisted of a poetry reading session. Everyone brought poems to share with the group. We echoed back lines that resonated with us. We went on trips to lakes, back in time to childhood memories and even heard songs.

It was glorious.

So, why do I write? Because processing life, for me, often works better this way. I don’t hurt people with my poor choice of words to their face, in the moment. I think things through and make connections. I gain understanding as I put pen to paper, or in this case, fingers to keyboard.

Also, because truth must be spoken.  Because real life goes down better, sometimes, inside a fictional capsule. Because taking risks makes for the best stories. I think all people who indulge their creative side are risk-takers at heart.  They birth something brand new out of their imagination and inspiration.  I admire those brave ones so much.

Why do you create?

Grasping 2016

2016.jpg

Happy New Year! I made it to midnight for the first time in at least a decade. Thank you, coffee! The old year handed off the baton, and we’re off! I’ve made a decision. A few of them, actually.

My first resolution:  No desserts in 2016.

I’m deserting desserts. This means no more cake, cookies, candy, chocolate, cupcakes, pudding, pie, Oreos, etc. for one year. Why? Because I don’t seem to have any “moderation” button. Or if I do, it’s small and hard to reach. And I have troll arms.

I want to reset. I want to rediscover the natural sweetness of fruit. I have a sneaking suspicion I am too emotionally invested in treats. I want to cut the cord. Like our pastor has said many times, change your thoughts and you can change your life. So…anyone care to join me on this? All are welcome.

Which leads to my second resolution: Lose 10 lbs.

I think this has been on my list, either in written form or as a mental note, for several years. Now that I’m working full-time, I don’t have  a ton of time to work out. This has resulted in less muscle mass. Ergo, I need to weigh less. In fact, it’s in my best interest to do so. I want to feel and look my best the majority of the time. I can’t serve others well 0r enjoy the moment if my pants barely button and I fear a wardrobe malfunction is imminent.

And the third:  Write every day.

It might be on this blog. It might be in the 2016 journal I bought yesterday. By the way, journal choices are astronomical now. Some have rubber covers. Some have sequined covers. Some are the size of ledgers, and some light up. Some have lined pages and some feature blank sheets. If I dug deeper, I’d probably find some that talk or play music upon opening them. Anyway, I need to write more this year.

But now, the fourth resolution:  Make time for fun.

Though a bit more nebulous, this extends into every area. I tend to be focused on tasks and goals 24/7. Part of having fun is letting go of control and trusting. Yes, it’s important to do what needs to be done; I’m not talking about shirking work. I plan to take care of obligations and the people I love, to the best of my abilities. But it also means embracing joy, thankfulness and goofiness as much as possible. I imagine this will infuse obligatory actions with a certain lightness, making them more like a game and less like drudgery.

I’m still pondering a Bible reading plan/devotional, whether to run races or not and a few other items. More on those as they become clear.

Dear friends, thanks so much for your faithful reading. May 2016 be your best year yet. I would love to hear your goals/desires for 2016. Feel free to comment below.

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. – Philippians 4:13

P.S. For those of you who like statistics, I ran 319 miles last year and worked out 265 times. Not as much as the past, but considering the huge change in lifestyle, I’m happy with it.

 

NaNo Wrap-Up

nanowrimo

Greetings!  For those of you who wondered whatever happened with my November novel, wonder no more.

I did not achieve 50,000 words.  I reached 3200 words. Which, for me, is a lot.

Am I disappointed?  Yes.  Did I pick a poor month to try to write a novel in, with the Microsoft PACs notetaking and editing taking up a week all by itself?  Yes. Yes, I did.

I kicked myself quite a bit during this month about the lack of inspiration and dearth of words. I don’t like to fail. In my often black-and-white mindset, it seemed to make the dream of writing a novel even further out of reach. But…I reread my novelette on Sunday.  It has potential.  I’m just not sure where it’s headed yet.

I got this sweet bulk email from NaNoWriMo today:

Dear Writer,

You might not have hit 50,000 words this month, but you did something tremendously important:

  • You felt a story stirring in your heart, and you began to explore it.
  • You bravely signed up to make creativity a priority in November.
  • You created a beginning—a beginning that will lead to other beginnings.

Sometimes an illness or the demands of life can sidetrack a creative endeavor. Sometimes a story just isn’t quite ready to be written. But don’t despair. A novel travels the same labyrinthian and nettlesome path that its main characters do—overcoming setbacks, facing down gnarly antagonists, and then moving forward toward the light. You built a cocoon for your novel this November. A butterfly will emerge.

Yeah.  Thanks for the encourgement, NaNoWriMo!  Stuff happens.  Life keeps on moving even when we’d like it to stay put. I won’t give up. This novel and I have tremendous potential.

There is hope only for the living. As they say, “It’s better to be a live dog than a dead lion!” – Ecclesiastes 9:4

Locked Out

lockout-temp-blowup(source)

I walked down the stairs and out of the shop garage.  I opened the heavy metal door to a glorious 4:30 p.m. sunset.  Pale blue sky held gray clouds tinged with coral.  I breathed in the fresh air and crossed the lot.  I reached the back door knob of the main office and turned it.  Locked.  Huh.  I walked around to the front door.  I jiggled the knob, which was also locked.

I finally looked up and suddenly realized the silence I stood in.  No trucks moved.  Nobody walked around, hosing down a garbage can.  Not a single voice or soul.  I existed in a ghost town, very temporarily.  Everyone else had gone home for the day.

Now what?

My boss, the public works superintendent, had a meeting downtown. I considered waiting around.  But the last words he said to me rang in my ears: “When I get back around 4:00, we’ll go over those numbers again.”  When I left the enclave, the clock stood at 4:23. I didn’t know for sure if he’d return, since the meeting ran long.

I considered leaving a note, yet I had no pen and only the bills I planned to drop off clutched in my hand. Nothing for it but to walk.  My car keys, coat and phone sat safe and sound inside shop office. I could have gone home – I’m that close – but the best solution would be to get into the office again to reach my car keys, etc.

Fortunately, Shelton doesn’t take up much real estate.  The golden light infused the walk with a certain magic.  I picked up the pace, gazing at the sky as I went. I held onto the bills. The temperature had dropped into the 40s with the sun’s departure. I reached the coffee shop and interrupted the casual meeting.

“I’m locked out.  Sorry!” I said as I stepped into the warm room

“We just talked about getting you a key today.  I’m sorry about that,” the super said. He got up.  He directed me to where I could get a key myself.

“Wait, did you walk over here?”

He looked incredulous.

“Sure.  It’s beautiful out,” I said. C’mon, man! I wanted to say.  I’m from Portland.  I used to walk 10 blocks to deposit my paycheck.

Now I knew I had the keys to get in.  It gave me a sense of security. I strode back, glad for the new knowledge and fortuitous stretching of my legs.

It reminds me of how I’m doing with NaNoWriMo.  I’ve got 3100 words so far on what’s supposed to be a 50,000-word novel.  At that rate, the website informs me, I’ll finish in March 2016.  Thanks much. The plot of my novel, it seems, is temporarily locked up.  I can’t seem to quite reach it and tell the next part of the story.

No reason to get discouraged. All I need are the keys.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11

Breathing Room

Image by chillout-soulout-freakout.blogspot.com

Image by chillout-soulout-freakout.blogspot.com

It’s been raining and raining.  Not complaining, just a fact.  We’ve gotten over 7 inches of rain so far this month.  And it’s only November 2.

I looked out the window at the sky this morning.  The rain had stopped.  The sky, palest of blues, showed through a break in the clouds.  As if on cue, the birds started to sing.  The dark green trees poked up into the dawn.

We packed this weekend full.  We helped my brother and his family move most of Saturday, church most of Sunday, afternoon meetings and rehearsals led to dinner, an hour or so of leisure time, then bed. While I enjoyed participating in all of these things, it wasn’t restful.

Sometimes we need a break in our lives.  We need a little time to think, to slow down, to consider. Spying a crack in the clouds made me think of Selah, the phrase in the Bible that means “stop and listen”. I’m at a place where that seems like a good idea. New month, new direction.

I want to take a moment and thank everyone who reads this blog, and the subscribers.  I’ve been blogging for 5 years now.  Thank you for taking the time to read and sometimes “selah” my scribblings.  You bless me.

Also, I wanted to let you know I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo this year.  I’ve never done this before.  I’m a bit apprehensive.  I need to figure out a process…and a plot!  But you don’t need to know that.

I’m taking a little break from running.  I keep getting injured and methinks I have some strength imbalances.  I want to correct those.  I’m focusing on eating less and trying some new workouts. Running will return after this short message from our sponsors, or something.

I peered outside again, this time joined by Ruby and Chloe. The sky had revealed itself even more.  The baby blue expanse glowed. I took a deep breath. Time to get going.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

Intermittent

post-milestone-1000-2xI got this badge (above) from WordPress yesterday.  Because yesterday, dear readers, I wrote my 1000th blog post.  Kind of mind boggling, yet my more driven side wonders it didn’t happen a year ago.  Anyway, it encouraged me to think about the future of this blog and what’s realistic.

Despite saying I’d try to post when I can due to taking a full-time job in January, I’ve still tried to post every weekday.  Five days a week.  Sometimes I miss a day.  But I do my best to put something up.  I’ve been thinking about this for awhile, and I think I would like to cut back even more.  I believe the term I’m looking for is intermittent.  I just can’t get it done all the time in the way I’d like, with the swirl of work, home, chores, church and trying to breathe now and then. Though breathing is overrated, in my opinion.

I guess I want you to know that I’m not going away.  But I won’t be as prolific as I used to be.

And…it’s Friday.

dancing squirrel

Have a great weekend, everyone!  See you soon.