journal

5 Unexpected Benefits I've Received from my Writing Career

5 Unexpected Benefits I've Received from my Writing Career

Five things I’m grateful that have happened because I chose this winding road that I may not have been blessed with otherwise. Plus, I finally share the story of how I ended up in the mud!

The Secret to Breaking Writer's Block: Do It Anyway; Also, an update.

The Secret to Breaking Writer's Block: Do It Anyway; Also, an update.

Whether it’s fitness, professional, emotional, or spiritual goals—the only way to reach them is to do the work, whether you feel like it or not. The same is true for Writer’s Block. And, since it’s been a while, there are updates on multiple topics in this post.

I Saw This Going Differently in my Head

I Saw This Going Differently in my Head

I’ve always had a semi-structured writing style, but recently discovered that I’d been running my business like a writing pantser. (As in, “flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants.”) But times, they are a-changing. How a little “plotsing” will (hopefully) make a big difference.

Adventures in Authoring

Adventures in Authoring

Being an author, I have discovered, is nothing like anyone ever expects it to be. And today, I made a decision to go down a road in my career that surprised even me.

Insanely Optimistic

Insanely Optimistic

Some days, writing fiction for a living feels like walking through sludge in a mudstorm. I'm going to be honest—I spend a little bit of every day wondering if I'm actually going to be able to pull this off. But no risk, no reward. Right?

Getting Unstuck

Getting Unstuck

A day at a time, the log jam is loosening and the ideas are flowing. The sun is coming back, energy is returning, and I am pulling myself blinking from the retreat of hibernation. For my own mental and emotional health, this year needs to be less about driving myself and more about reducing commitments, taking care of myself, and finding my passion again. It needs to be about healing.

Muddled

Muddled

As predicted in my last post, the last couple of weeks have been pretty hard in the grieving department. There have been pretty bad days. And some okay days.

Today is one of those days when I want to do something, but I can't. Or maybe I am doing something. I'm not sure. But I feel like if I actually did something, then I would stop feeling so sad and angry and scared.

Grow

This has been a mind-expanding week for me on multiple fronts. Some of it has to do with what I am learning to teach the class on online marketing next week, and some of it has to do with what I am learning as I work through my grief (referenced in my last post.)

It has been good. And busy. And tiring. My head feels bigger. My heart feels softer... and much bigger.

It is early spring, after all--the season for things to grow.

In anticipation of spring, and because my old ones are in sad, sad, shape indeed, I covered some pillow forms with some cheerful fabric a couple of weeks ago to brighten up my living room. I had had the pillow forms in storage for at least four years.

Every time I see the bold yellow and black and red and white prints covered in dandelions, owls, polka dots, and stripes, I smile. They are all just so darn cheerful! (Now if only I could make my couch look as good as my throw pillows!)

(The red stripes are on the back of the "owls pillow," which was actually a much-loved pillow I just recovered.)

So no matter how long one has been stagnant, new things can be learned. New horizons can be seen. And little things can help make life better.

Happy Thursday, friends. What small (or big) things brought you joy today?

Let the Holidays Begin! PLEASE!!

This week, I have been having some serious deja vu moments harkening back to last December.

Like how the last week of school in 2013, I had all three school-aged children home sick at various points for most of the week, rounding it off with my husband catching it too (which he now denies), just before the holidays. What a lovely way to begin time off. This year, Jabin has had a weird stomach-cramping lethargy all week, and Jude is now home with the bug, too. Last year, Jude and Noah both missed their school Christmas concerts--after I had stayed up into the wee hours making angel and shepherd costumes for them. This year, it looks like Jabin gets to miss, since his is tonight. I am praying that Noah and Levi and the parents all manage to stay healthy. This bug looks like a nasty one.

(I don't think I ever got around to blogging the story behind these costumes, or even posting photos to the blog, so here is what kept me sewing instead of blogging last December--photographed several months later, obviously!)

Last year's shepherd costume - at least I'm not making another one of those this year!

Cool "Boy Angel" costume. Right?

Last December I spent the better part of the month writing the first draft of The Friday Night Date Dress. (Then did nothing with it for months and months. Ha!) Well, I got the revision back from my editor this past Sunday, and have been going through it and "fixing" things ever since. Given that it is my first real novel (okay, okay, it's only a novella), I am quite pleased that the suggested changes were mostly grammatical, with only a few comments about strange turns of phrase and one or two scenes that needed heavier revision. There were no comments about major plot points that needed revision or anything, so I am just thrilled. This is my first time through the process, so everything is an estimate at this point, but I am hopefully only weeks away from publishing this baby!

And, as is typical in December, I am working to finish a knitting pattern to put out by Christmas (don't think that will happen) or immediately after for the "holiday bored knitters rush." I was trying to hit the "last-minute gift-knitters rush" with a quick, bulky bootcuff-and-mitten-set pattern, but with everything else I am trying to juggle this week, I think that might be pushing me beyond my limits. (No photos of that yet, sorry.)

Sure, there are some differences between Decembers 2013 and 2014--like, instead of being in the minus thirties for three weeks straight at this point, with only a few hours of sunshine here and there, we have had a remarkably mild and snow-free December. It was actually above freezing for a few days! We can't see green grass like they can in Calgary right now, but not having to shovel twice a day has been wonderful!

Hanukkah began last night, and with its much later arrival, I am feeling much better prepared for it. I am looking forward to using up some garden potatoes to make latkes once this stomach bug flees the house!

The other major difference, at least to me, is how busy I still am in the office. December is the month I usually relax, escape my chair, and do crafty stuff that I want to do, not have to do. Last year, I made myself a summer dress. I was hoping that I might manage a winter dress or even a sweater for which I've had supplies for a year during this month's hiatus.

Except, I don't think I'll get the hiatus. Between revising my story and getting it publishable, finishing a pattern, revising the musical, and--this is the big one that has me totally freaking out--finishing with building my new Winters Distributing store (which, although it will be lovely and customer-friendly when I am done is a huge. freakin'. ALBERTOSAURUS of a project that there is just not enough time to finish before Magento Go closes my other one down in 6 weeks), my butt has been glued in my office chair many more hours than I wish it to be. And when I'm done all that? There is always my office work to finish so I can do taxes! Whee!!

(Plus, my next story to work on, my next pattern, my next...)

And here I am, blogging. :-)

Happy Hanukkah, friends! I'll be sure to check in any time I need an escape for sanity's sake! (Among other reasons, I'm sure.)

Stay warm!

So This is Love

Ready for Jason's staff Christmas Party, December 6, 2014

It's hard to believe that Jason and I have been together for over fifteen years, now. Not because I still feel like that girl that fell in love with him--I am less rash, more confident, and more patient, in no small part thanks to my husband--but because I am still "in love" with him, and love him more every day. And I am so thankful that my Prince Charming loves me back. We are definitely a couple of the lucky ones.

Jason, you are amazing. Thank you for making my life wonderful.

The Choice

Last weekend's fundraiser was a huge success, for which I am grateful.

The performers gave it their all, and the show was top-notch. Our sponsors came through, and the fruit provided by our local Co-op received many comments as the best fruit people had ever tasted. (I was not fortunate enough to get any.) We were seated at around 60% capacity, and in all, raised a significant sum to help the children at Faith Children Home, for which I am excited, and grateful. Exceedingly grateful.

The week before, the east coast of India was devastated by a horrific cyclone that killed some, and left thousands of families without a place to live, or even clean water to drink. Thankfully, the children at the orphanage are fine, but many in their area are not. I am thankful for God's protection of those under Heart4Children's care.

And this week, a Canadian-born man, disgruntled at the delay caused by an extended investigation into his request for a passport (so he could allegedly travel to Syria), attacked our Parliament and killed one of our country's peacekeepers, who was on duty at our national war memorial. RIP Cpl. Nathan Cirillo.

Corporal Nathan Cirillo, Canadian Hero

Every time I look at that photo and think of what happened, I start to weep at the senselessness of it all.

Last week, the Faith Children Home team and I gave our all (including family time, sleep and our tip-top health in a couple of cases--excuse me while I go blow my nose) to help. To build. To love.

Why do people do such senseless, destructive things? Shouldn't we be helping each other? The forces of nature are destructive enough on their own.

At first, when it was thought that the shooter (whom I refuse to name) was acting out of militant religious motivation, and was executing some kind of indie terrorist attack for ISIS (which still may have played a role), I tried to make sense of it based on religious underpinnings.

Muslims believe: Everyone who does not know God deserves to die. His devout followers must enforce this option. (Yes, there are sects of Islam that do not believe this--but they ignore the parts of their holy teachings that command it.)

Hindus believe: To know God, you have to become God by dying, over and over and over again. Your life is the result of the karma in your previous life, and you are receiving what you deserve. This often results in a "not my responsibility" attitude among castes and people that have the means to help those that need it.

Christians believe: God loves us so much, and wants us to know him so much, that HE died to make it possible. His followers are to go out and spread the good news of this love to the whole world.

The first commands hate, the second breeds apathy, and the third commands love.

It is easy to blame God for the cyclone. After all, who else controls the weather but him?

One could even blame God for the random act of violence. He made people in the first place. If he is all-powerful, why doesn't he just stop people from doing these horrific things?

But then the still, small voice reminds me that God has laws, too. One of which is that actions have consequences, and "we reap what we sow." We live in a fallen world (because of one, history-altering choice), and just like you can't make the other kids on the playground play nice with your own children, every person has the right to choose the way of love or the way of hate.

After all, it really is all about love. Acts of hatred create vacuums where acts of love are needed.

God is a god of Love, he IS love, and every time we act in love, we are choosing his way. Every time we act in hate, we are rejecting him. Each of those actions will reap rewards.

When another's child strikes mine at the swing set, the way of love would be to gently correct them (if their parent hasn't already done so) and to strike up a conversation with their mother to let her know that it's okay. Kids are a work in progress, and I don't hold her responsible for her child's actions. (Next time, it might be my kid doing the hitting, after all.) It doesn't always work out that way, but choosing love requires putting our own hurts and anger aside and reaching out to help others.

The way of hate would be to throw a fit, create a scene, and storm off with my child in tow shouting threats to sue. In other words, to do the adult version of the very thing that upset me so much in the toddler that offended me. Because at that point, it would be all about me.

Every day, in every interaction, we are given the opportunity to love another. And whether the things we are dealing with are big or small, acts of God or petty acts of violence, they all present opportunities to love.

Sometimes, the amount of love needed is too great for one person to provide. This is what I am struggling with, personally.

I have chosen to love the kids at Faith Children Home. At the moment, I feel stretched to capacity with the amount of time and resources I have to give, so I look at the immensity of the vacuum created by a cyclone and wonder what I can do? I am trying to find out if there are relief organizations at work in the area. Do you have any ideas?

When you are faced with hurt, pain, and anger, natural disasters, raging epidemics, poverty, hatred, and all the other symptoms of our fallen world, what do you do? Do you do nothing?

I choose to do something.

I choose to love.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
-Edmund Burke