Ruminating on 2018

As the year comes to a close, it invites reflection. What did I accomplish? What do I regret? How did I grow?

Ruminating on 2018

Accomplishments and Growth

In comparison to 2017, I can honestly say that I’ve been in a much better mental place. I still miss my dad–and I always will–but time and new experiences have offered their salve.

  • Writing, both journaling and the three novels I’ve been readying for release,
  • Drawing, whether little doodles or letter art or sitting down with my sketchpad,
  • Language learning, because Duolingo is awesome (Spanish and Hindi for now)
  • Reading, especially to the munchkins but also some great series I’ve discovered,
  • Gratitude practice, which I can’t recommend highly enough, and
  • Exercising, from HIIT to yoga, barre to Zumba,

These activities have all helped changed my perspective, keep me busy, and bring different kinds of joy. An analogy that really resonated with me was that grief or loss is like a bubble of a fixed size in the ever-expanding bowl of our life experience. As additional bubbles fill the bowl, the loss bubble doesn’t get smaller, but its proportion in comparison to our life experiences starts to shrink. I think we also get used to the new normal of not being able to share the new experiences of life with our lost loved one. Regardless, it still sucks and the strangest moments remind me of my dad, but I don’t want to dissolve into a puddle of helpless tears at every juncture.

The kids are also more independent and conversant, so it’s fun to see the thoughts coming out of their heads and to play games with them that I genuinely enjoy too. Their personalities are so different, and their capacity to learn and to help and to love brings such satisfaction to my lifelong wish to be a mother. Whether cooking with T or folding laundry with D, we find ways to work together productively and teach each other life skills. T’s love for science, D’s for cuddles, and both of theirs for having someone lavish attention on them warms my heart.

Growth as a writer? Not that you’ll notice since I haven’t released anything, but my writing provides better description and pacing than before. I’m conscious of active word choices and I’ve developed a draft-edit-complete method that really works for me. It helped me speed through Book 2 and is going to help me wrap up Book 3 at pace.

Regrets for 2018?

Can one have regrets without having regrets? Because while there are things I would like to have finished (ahem, release Sea Dreams), I do know that the delay will benefit the book’s quality. Finding time to finish the first draft of Book 3, Sea Treasures, has been a struggle despite having taken time off for medical stuff.

After surgery in mid-November to remove what turned out to be a benign liver cyst, it took rather longer than I anticipated to get back on my feet. Work stuff took priority, and then we had family travel plans thereafter. I’ve really tried to be present for the time I spend with the family, to make the best memories I can, so I can’t regret that choice. All of these activities translated to limited writing time in the last quarter of the year, inevitably delaying the release of Book 1.

The delays in the writing also paid off: I found more beta readers who were willing to share their feedback, and the slow pace of my draft have resulted in some quality writing that should (hopefully) require less editing time. I’ve also updated some things in Book 1 to make more sense and add consistency to the series.

Looking Forward

I’ll be discussing resolutions for 2019 in my next post, but obviously the first three books of Sea Deception will be released in 2019.

Previous Posts

2017 2016

A Father’s Day for Building Memories

We’re home from a few lovely days in Orange Beach, Alabama. Generally cooperative on both car rides, the kids still made “are we there yet?” a constant refrain. D napped a bit but T couldn’t get comfortable. I remember road-tripping with my parents in the ‘80s, when we rode in the back of station wagons and could lay out across the bench of the backseat. I could nap pretty comfortably, and as one lovely older woman recently told me, her parents always said “we’ll get there faster if you sleep.” She and I agreed that maybe it was just a ploy on her parents’ part to get some peace and quiet while trapped in a small space with bickering kids for long hours.

Our trip was chockfull of good memories:

My father-in-law and I finally went parasailing. As the only height-loving adventures in the family, we individually longed to go parasailing but never managed to be on the same beach at the same time in cooperative weather and booking conditions. Until this week. While I was expecting a rougher ride, the boat portion of the experience was a bumpier experience than the actual aerial portion. (And the boat ride was just like you’d expect, a few bounces and not rough at all.) Perched high above the water, the boat now toy-sized, the swing harness lazily swayed as we looked down and out to the horizon. Cool breeze on our faces and a solitary peacefulness made me feel like I was on top of the world (certainly more than any Titanic passenger). Dad and I agreed that we could have stayed up there all day. The captain brought us down toward the end of our ride to dip our feet in the ocean before sending us up again and then bringing us back in. We can’t wait to go again. And now that we know that the age limit is 4, it won’t be long until our littlest adventurer, D, joins us too.

The kids got to ride on a small Ferris wheel too, a little ~100-footer, for the first time. They were riveted by my description of the Texas Star (from the Texas State Fair), which is roughly twice as high, and the fourfold-taller London Eye, which I enjoyed on a sunny October day back in 2007.

Although the ocean was plagued by masses of slimy algae, the sand was powdery white and soft. We enjoyed building sandcastles, race tracks, and burying a young wannabe mermaid, who impressed us with her fearlessness in the pool. You can see the fruits of our labors, including her tail and a castle-themed race track, in the picture. Shortly after, our resident demolisher, the “Devinator,” took care of eradicating our carefully constructed infrastructure.

Building Memories for Father's Day

Perhaps my favorite part was during our evening walks on the beach. D came with us but wanted nothing to do with actually walking in the cool sand, making the moonlight walk an actual workout for anyone hauling around a ~26-pound munchkin for over an hour. The first day we collected shells, with T and me finding small shells washing up with the waves. The second day, hundreds of stars glittered brightly over the ocean. We came upon some folks searching for ocean critters. They showed us their bucket, which contained a few small fish, a sand flea, and a very unhappily captive little crab. They even demonstrated how the sand flea burrowed in the sand and offered to let us hold the crab or pet the sand flea. Unsurprisingly, K and T didn’t want to touch anything, D was too sleepy, and I would have touched them except that I was on flashlight duty.

All told, this trip made some beautiful memories just in time for Father’s Day for my father-in-law and my husband. It’s bittersweet that I won’t get to tell my own father about parasailing or hold his hand walking along a beach. But when I think of his last few months, when I think of a friend who just lost her father to a protracted cancer battle this week, I can’t imagine prolonging his suffering just to selfishly keep him with me a little longer.

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The Hardest Father’s Day