Sunday, October 22, 2017

Zooming Along


This fall has been zooming along super fast!

My last five weeks have included presenting at the fabulous ANWA conference for the first time, (I have to go back again. LOVED), chaperoning a high school Shakespeare competition trip, and attending the ANWA Northwest Writing Retreat at a gorgeous beach in Washington. And I just got back from the Kanab conference, where I had fun teaching a class and an intensive. I. Had. A. Blast.

Back to the retreat, because writing by the sea was a bucket list item for me. I took so many pictures. Soooo many. How could I not?

Here's one of the sun coming out through the clouds as I was about to write the climactic scene in my latest work in progress. Guess where the book is set?

THE OCEAN. I know, right? Well, my book takes place off the coast of Australia near rocky beaches. This rocky beach was totally inspiring.

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My friend Tammy took me to the tide pools where I first ever saw a live jellyfish in the wild . . .

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. . . until I realized that it was actually dead. "Yeah, it's missing its head," Tammy proclaimed. You can see it at the top of the photo below, as well as the sea urchin thingys she made me poke. I squealed when one closed itself on my finger.

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And look at this sunset. I want to go back now.

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It's been a waaay busy five weeks. But I loved every single bit.


Friday, April 14, 2017

Watch Me KonMari! Goodbye, Zumba Clothes

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by [Kondo, Marie]  A few weeks ago, gearing up for a major cleanout of my home, I finally read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I'd heard of her book on organization before, and thought reading reviews had taught me all I'd needed to learn as far as her KonMari Method went. Oh, how wrong I was.

Even though parts of the book seem a little odd, like making sure your clothes are comfortable and happy, I admit that a lot of that talk resonated with my inner child and felt good. And the entire focus of the book was positive--on keeping what "sparks joy," which was a huge paradigm shift for me when it came to giving things away. 

Basically, the book prompts a mind shift, and one that my brain really responds to.

So I began with my bedroom. Last week, as I went through my things during spring break, I found all of the Zumba clothes I put away when I stopped instructing. Because of my slipped vertebrae, just doing Zumba hurts a lot--hip motion like that causes a bone-on-bone movement that puts me in bed for a while, so even though dance is something I have always loved, it no longer loves me back.

As I looked through the bag and plastic storage bin, buried emotions rose to the surface, and they hurt. I was surprised at just how many feelings had been stored along with cute jackets and mesh overshirts. 

I pulled out a cute fedora here, a brightly colored pair of pants there--all of it physical reminders of what I used to be able to do. Of a dream I had felt prompted to chase after--one I did chase after until I reached the end of that road, and then it was time to give up.

So I put all those clothes into bags to give away to a local church Zumba group. As I piled the bags near the door, I had to grieve. To let go of a dream that fizzled out and ultimately ended. But I realized that in order to move on, I couldn't let the clothes stare at me from the top of my closet anymore. All they were doing was causing emotional pain.

So I let them go. And I received a message this morning from the group's instructor that her class loved them, and that going through the clothes felt like Christmas. And now I can think of those clothes having new life, and the memories that were mostly painful have their edges softened by sweetness. My path turned and changed to a new one, and it's one that fits me well, unlike those too-small and unused Zumba clothes. Now I'll settle for my favorite soft, gray lounge capris that I love writing in.

By letting my Zumba clothes move on, I'm a lot more ready to move on, too.

I'll be posting more adventures on my journey to organizing my home over the summer! Marie says it should take six months, but I'm hoping to get the main areas done before school starts in the fall. And I'll post pictures--no before pics of my bedroom since it was that embarrassing, but I'll post some after pics when it's finished.

Friday, February 24, 2017

In Which Hair Causes an Epiphany

Image result for butterflyI got so many responses on my post about hair yesterday on Facebook that I want to talk about a few things. First of all, I have the most amazing, caring, loving friends. I love the sharing and the that went on there and is still going on! I've teared up more than once at the love and support shown. I had no idea that would happen from a simple post about whether I should put blue streaks in my hair or not.

When I said that I might want to wait to do anything like put other colors in my hair until I was trimmer, what that ultimately meant was a few things.

1. I was looking at it from an asthetic standpoint. I know the kind of cut I want to go with the streaks, and I feel like certain looks go better with certain face shapes. My face is rounder right now, so I'm not sure it would look right on a rounder face than on a more elongated or squarish face. 

2. My other reason wasn't one I realized until my friends began talking about it. And this is hard to share. But several things have happened in the last two years that took me down HARD. I've had depression and anxiety for years, but this was another level. It was so bad over a year ago that I couldn't go to church on occasion because I'd panic. There's a plethora of things that went into all of this, which I need to keep private, because no one else really needs to know those details. But I found where my limit was, and I've learned that I can never, ever let myself get back there again.  

Because of that, I've been making choices lately to help me slowly build some of that confidence back that I lost, but the honest, raw truth is that I don't like myself at the weight I'm at. I don't feel like me. I don't feel like the brave and fun me who owns who she is anymore. I worked so hard to find her, and I did! I found her a few years ago, then I lost her. I tried desperately to hold on to her through the move and the mountains of stress and job loss, and all the blessings and wonderful things that happened, like flowers popping through a garden of manure--and still, I watched her turn into sand and trickle through my fingers as I stress-ate cheese and my pants grew tighter. 

I was strong. I grew strong, and then I broke. And something about the breaking fundamentally changed me. 

This is the point where some people will say, "Well, it's your fault because you stress-ate cheese. You should have had more faith." And I know it's my own fault. I hate that. I hate that I did that. But when you feel like your only choice is to stress eat because it gives you the endorphins you need to move on, you do it without even thinking. Kneel down, pray for help, and get up and eat cheese. And if you've never felt that, then I'm glad for you, and maybe you'll have compassion on someone who chose to stress eat instead of running away from her family (but she couldn't because no money and that would hurt them) or stepping in front of a car. I could have gotten counseling help from the church, yes, but I felt like nothing would help because the situations I was in wouldn't change. This is common for people suffering from depression, but it's also true regarding certain of the situations I was in. I didn't want to be more of a financial burden to anyone, including my church. (If you are feeling like this, please get the help. I should have.)

Sometimes I think it was worse finding that old me, because I miss her. I miss who I became. And because of what has happened, I can't go about finding her the same way again. I've always had a tenacity about things, that I never wanted to give up--no, I never gave up on anything until God told me to. I tried to get fit for years, then I finally did it several years ago, and I found ME again. But now--now, she's gone. And I can't physically do what I did before because of what's happened to my body. I tried, and it put me in bed. The way to fix me is to do less, not more. Doctor's orders. I knew if I didn't listen to her I'd end up in the hospital or worse, which tells you how bad it was. And for my personality, that's HARD. 

So I started saying no to things. I'm trying to get more sleep. I can't change some of my situations, but I have to be more gentle with myself so that I can better handle them. I'm learning the limits of my own body, which means stopping before I'm in too much pain to sleep. I'm learning the limits of my brain, which has been hard, because it requires me to realize the actuality of its limitations instead of what I feel like those limitations should be.


I had a better day yesterday, and today is rough. Chronic pain drains a person. I'm learning to pace myself so I can have more good days, trying to learn how to do less, how to commit to less, even though it's making me feel lazy. To say yes to only things I want to do unless God tells me otherwise--things I love like doing work for writing conferences and making time to write my own books, and saving energy for my children. Because they need their mom to have the mental stamina to help them. Gosh, even writing that feels horribly selfish, but I've tried it the other way for years and that's not only gotten me nowhere, but into a downward spiral.

But, no matter how I don't want to, I do worry what people will think of me. I've always greatly admired people who can accomplish loads of things with barely taking a break. But maybe I've been valuing the wrong thing. I think I have been. I've been tired, emotionally tired, since the election. The most important thing is kindess and love no matter what you think of someone, and that means I have to include myself in who I'm kind to.

Guess what? I've also learned it actually, physically hurts to say no. And that just plain sucks.

Anyway, writing this has felt . . . cathartic. I have a whole lot of blessings in my life. This post is really serious, and most people who know me know that I am not usually that way online, especially. Laughter is how I deal. I love life, and I love goals, and I love my family, and there is so much to be joyful about. It's those demons who are begging to be offed, and I'm doing my best to off them. I'm not living every day in awful depression anymore, thank goodness. I'm setting goals--less than I used to set--and accomplishing a little at a time. 

And regarding what I said about being broken-- I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. You know how scientists discovered that a caterpillar changes into a butterfly? In the cocoon, it breaks down into goo (this is where I try not to barf) and somehow--they don't know how-- it reorganizes into a butterfly. So right now, I'm the goo.

I just want to tell you that if you feel like this at all, if any of this has resonated with you, that you're not alone. Life is full of ups and downs, and sometimes there will be more downs than ups, and lots of the time you have to search for the ups rather than having them fall in your lap. But oh, this life is so worth living.

And I'm doing my best to make the most of it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

What's Up? Wednesday #15 Of Vampires and Schoolchildren

Hi! I realized I forgot to tell you that I did finish that book I was telling you about, and I HIGHLY recommend it. Hilarious and so fun! Here's a link! My Lady Jane

I hope all of you are staying warm and enjoying January!


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

What's Up? Wednesday #14 Wherein I Get Real and Also Spill the Beans on My Project


Howdy! Happy first Wednesday of the year!

I didn't quite mean to get so personal here, but I did, and sometimes sharing is caring involuntary. One thing I forgot I was telling you about was when I did the yoga video today, the instructor talked about being accepting of where you are right now. I pulled a groin muscle over a month ago, and I can't quite move the way I did before. It's healing really slowly. So that advice sank into my brain and just permeated my thinking on everything today. I need to accept myself where I am.

Oh, the yoga videos are Revolution Yoga with Adriene on YouTube if you want to join in. Many thanksn to Jolene Perry for posting about it on Facebook Monday.