Looking Back, Looking Forward
Updated: May 14, 2020
I suppose it’s about time I post something on this poor, neglected little blog again. It’s hard to believe it’s been a little over eleven months since I last shared anything here.
Of course, when I look at what happened between then and now, it’s not so hard to believe. Since my last blog post, I:
scrapped my manuscript that was ten years in the making and came up with two new story ideas
attended the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference and made some wonderful connections there (but sadly, didn’t organize my thoughts soon enough after coming back to write another detailed blog post about my experience)
unpacked from Mount Hermon, did some laundry, packed my bags again, and went on our annual girls’ birthday trip with my mom, my aunt, and my daughters
took part in an annual local performance called “The Bucket List,” where I got to perform a song from the Broadway version of Beauty and the Beast
got a horrendous virus that knocked me out for a good two or three weeks
was one of three production managers for a local children’s stage performance of Willy Wonka Jr.
went on our annual family vacation to the Trinidad, CA area
took the girls to various voice lessons, art lessons, acting lessons, and camp
looked into the possibility of moving or refinancing (and eventually realized it was best to stay where we are)
got the girls back to school for the 2019/2020 year
also got back to my official crazy chauffeur position, driving three girls back and forth between two schools and a college campus
was hired by West Coast Christian Writers to be one of their social media coordinators
started teaching myself digital art in earnest
started a kitchen cabinet project that is STILL in process 😉
had to say goodbye to our family dog and two of our cats within the space of three months (Teddy, our dog, suddenly turned on our youngest and bit her in the face, so we ended up having to put him down, and Pumpkin and Sam, our two orange tabbies, disappeared within a couple of weeks of each other)
welcomed my uncle and aunt to a house just a few houses down from us on our street
Did Inktober 2019
Celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas with our family
Then I blinked, and it was January again. 😉
Thinking back over all that happened last year, one of the biggest emotions I feel is gratitude. Even though we went through some hard things, our family had so many amazing opportunities and made some incredible memories.
Last year, I wanted to focus on contentment and fearlessness. As I look back at my own personal journey through 2019, I can honestly say that I made some good progress in both areas.
I went from being incredibly frustrated with our small house and longing to move to accepting the fact that, at least for now, it’s the best place for us. My husband and I ended up switching rooms with our two oldest, which gave them enough space to feel less crowded and stressed. We figure in around seven years, we’ll have all the rooms to ourselves, so it’s no big deal to give up the master bedroom for a while. 😉
I’ve also tried to stop just “existing” in our house. I feel like for most of our years here, I didn’t really pour myself into this house because I always saw it as a stopping point, not a destination. Now that it looks like we’ll be here for the foreseeable future, I want to try to make it as homey and welcoming as possible. I want to be better at having people over. I also want to find that balance between keeping the house clean enough that I don’t panic when people drop by unexpectedly, but lived-in enough that my husband doesn’t feel uncomfortable in his own space.
As far as my health/weight/relationship with food/body image, I made some good headway there, too. At the beginning of the year, God brought a friend from church to the same WW meeting I was at, and she asked if I’d like to be her accountability partner. I can’t tell you what a difference that’s made this past year. I’m still not where I want to be health or weight-wise, but I’m learning to be content where I’m at as I work toward my goals. Having a sister in Christ who understands the struggles I’m going through and is there to cheer me on and celebrate every little victory along the way is a priceless gift.
And then there’s my bookish dreams. I still don’t have that shiny contract, but I have two stories I really love (even better, my critique partner also loves them) and I’m so excited to see where they will lead. If I’d gotten a contract for my former manuscript, I’d be stuck in a story that, frankly, was stressing me out and leading me in circles. Now that I’m writing two original tales, I have much more freedom. I’m so incredibly excited to see what my characters do next!
I’ve also realized how precious this crazy season of my life is, and how quickly it’s going to fly by. While I’d be completely open to a book deal any time now, I’m also okay if things continue on this slow and steady route.
And that fearlessness I wanted to focus on? I feel that my biggest fearless moment of 2019 was letting go of my lofty and complicated dreams of writing a meaningful six book allegorical fairytale retelling series with themes of redemption, truth, hope, and light (no, I’m not overly ambitious at all) and giving those dreams to God. The work He did in my heart over one weekend (see the previous post for the whole story) was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever experienced. Had I not been open to fearlessly moving in a different direction, I would never have met these new characters and stories that are now so dear to me, and I would never have experienced God’s incredible sweetness as He worked on my heart.
I’m so excited to see what 2020 will bring. It’s especially poignant when I think of where I was ten years ago this month. In January of 2010, I was a stay-at-home mom with an almost six-year-old, an almost four-year-old, and an almost two-year-old. A local writers group, Quills of Faith, was hosting a mini writers conference at a church just five minutes away from my house. Hubby told me to go for it, so I did. I attended, clutching my illustrated Beauty and the Beast retelling I’d put together for family and friends a few years earlier.
That little conference was the start of this whole incredible journey. Because of that one step, I officially joined Quills (I’m still a member to this day), got a writing coach, began writing in earnest, and started a mommy blog.
This January, I’m a stay-at-home mom with an almost sixteen-year-old, an almost fourteen-year-old, and an almost twelve-year-old. A lot of things have changed, but storytelling is still my passion, whether I’m writing, drawing, or speaking. It’s been amazing to see God lead and guide me through every step of this crazy adventure. I can’t wait to see what He has for me next.
As I pondered a word or concept to focus on this year, the one that kept coming back to me was “Healthy.” I want to be intentional about having a healthy lifestyle physically, spiritually, electronically, and emotionally.
I want to continue my journey toward a better relationship with food and exercise, and I want to find ways to share that with my family, whether it’s taking walks or riding bikes together, doing a fun dance workout together, or taking turns picking a new meal to try from one of our cookbooks.
I want to make sure I’m spending time reading the Bible every day and talking to God. My stories are not going to reflect the joy, light, and truth I want them to if I’m not spending time with the original Author of joy, light, and truth.
I also want to find ways to limit my screen time and social media time to a healthy amount, setting a good example for my girls. As a hopeful author, this can be especially challenging since I’m “supposed” to be building my platform. My hope is to rethink things and condense things a bit so I’m not spread so thin … or always staring at my phone screen.
I feel like emotional health goes hand-in-hand with electronic health. I want to make sure I’m not so focused on what’s going on in the digital universe that I neglect the relationships I want to cultivate in real life. Making time for my family, my friends, my church, and my community is something I want to prioritize this year.
I do have a few specific goals in several areas that I’m still working through and trying to prioritize. I want to finish the first draft of my WIP. I want to continue to learn and grow in my digital art. I’d love to set enough money aside to purchase an iPad pro and Apple pencil, and also have enough to revamp my website in May. However, I’d also like to start implementing some of the Total Money Makeover tips by Dave Ramsey to work on our debt. I have a few house projects I’d like to finish, and some I’d like to begin. I wouldn’t mind losing between ten to twenty pounds and gaining more muscle.
But I feel like those are things that all kind of fall under that “healthy” category, and I don’t want to dump a huge pile of goals in my lap as I begin the new year. My thought it to try to focus on one thing at a time and slowly add new projects and priorities as the year progresses, instead of doing my typical “I’m going to change EVERYTHING about my life in ONE WEEK” thing that I normally do, followed by complete burnout about a week or so after my crazy plunge into change. 😉
So, here’s to 2020. A brand new year full of unknown adventures. Praying this year brings growth, change, and dreams to all of you, my dear readers.
And hopefully a few more blog posts from yours truly. 😉