Staying Inside the Lines

I don’t like adult coloring books. Coloring inside the lines of detailed drawings frustrates me because I lack the patience and precise tools to accomplish it well. But I stopped at the library today and passed a table inviting patrons to take a moment. So I did, with this result.

Imprecise, a little confused, very colorful: this bookmark summarizes how life has been going lately.

A major house project is nearly complete, and along the way a bunch of other stuff broke. But at least there’s a final-ish product that we can now use and enjoy. And the other items have now been replaced.

Traveling doesn’t make anything go smoother. Delayed flights, extra laundry, more stuff to put away, loss of home time, and missing the planned schedule…I feel like I’ve been on the road a fair bit of the summer.

One munchkin is about to start school…which makes both of us anxious. We did stop and get school supplies together, which was a fond childhood memory of mine I wanted to extend to her. Trying to readjust everyone’s schedule is much harder.

The other munchkin is about to have a birthday party. Some people love planning parties. Some people like crafting. I like the latter but not so much the former. Trying to balance the time I have with the work to be done is a fine line. I want to make him happy and I enjoy seeing my friends, but I struggle with doing enough and being happy with the result.

Then there’s another planned trip for which some prep work needs to be done. I’ve made a plan but haven’t executed–and won’t–until after the birthday is behind us.

Meanwhile I just started Month 2 of a three-month workout program. It’s kicking my behind: while I feel stronger, the scale refuses to budge. I am focusing on the “beginner” plan and doing it as well as I can. While it’s a hit on the ego to treat myself like a beginner, I do occasionally have to swap or add rest days to the program to keep myself going. I also don’t prioritize the time to do more exercise right now.

Work, of course, continues its daily slog.

The balance is always my writing. My remote coworker said today that we needed to regularly schedule our time together to get our work done because we always de-prioritize it in favor of everything else. There is wisdom to his words. It seems like making time to work on my writing always gets the least of my attention.

By the time the kids are abed and I get back downstairs to a desk, the question is not “how much do I care about this story?” but rather “can I do this story justice right now?”

I finished my final revision of “Sea Dreams” on a printout. This re-read and review uncovered a number of small problems with the manuscript. Right now I’m typing in the edits for the last seven scenes. After that, the story is off to beta-readers and the only changes to the story will be from their identified errors.

I’ve also got the sequel printed out to treat the same way (cutting one editing step from my original process). But I’d like to finish writing the third book before starting the sequel’s edit.

Recreation-wise, I’ve been wrapping up “Quantico” and watching the Netflix series “Anne with an E,” and I’m still only halfway through the past season for “Arrow” and “Big Bang Theory.” I’ve also been reading a few books, including a graphic novel and the memoir “I am Malala,” which I highly recommend.

So for now, it’s on to the next item on the to-do list while I try to keep a grasp of that evasive tranquility.

Do you feel like this season of life has been busy, or have you been coloring inside the lines?

Counting Blessings on Thanksgiving

Well, it’s that time again. Thanksgiving continues to be my very favorite American holiday, a time when we can put aside our differences and count our blessings.

Thanksgiving is a time to recount our blessings

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours!

Over this past year, my husband and I have frequently discussed how 2016 has been full of life experience. You know when one says that, much of that experience was simply not wanted or welcomed, but it forced us to deal with it anyway. So we feel like we’ve grown up a lot this year.

And despite having had a challenging year, God is great and I have so very much to be thankful for. Here is but a small sampling, in no particular order:

  1. My family: we’ve had a rough year and more of health drama, but right now, even though we are not all sharing the holidays together, everyone is with loved ones. We are all in stable health, and I am very grateful for that. Also, for my awesome husband, who makes every event in our lives, whether adventure or tragedy, easier to bear because we do it together. For my amazing, precocious daughter, whose imaginative mouse stories inspire my own creativity and who reminds me so much of myself and how blessed I am to experience childhood through her eyes. For my precious little man, whose wet kisses and baby fangs (seriously, just got his second tooth two weekends ago, in the same position as his first tooth) and comedic wordlessness let me enjoy the baby phase a little bit longer since it’s for the last time.
  2. My friends: I may not reach out as often as I think of you, but I would not have made it through the year without your support. You bring joy and fresh perspective to my life, and I’m a better human being for it.
  3. My job: sometimes it’s easy to let the small frustrations of work trouble us. But this job, and my husband’s, present us with so many options and more than adequately satisfy our family’s needs and wants. The people I work with are truly compassionate and caring, which makes going to work every day pleasant, and the mentally satisfying work I do so worthwhile. So far from not fearing where our next meal is coming from or how to pay for upcoming bills, our continued employment also gives us peace of mind and makes dealing with other grownup challenges (see #1) so much easier.
  4. My creative outlets: beyond writing, though that of course tops the list. I’ve learned to draw well enough that you’ll not hear me say “I can’t draw” again. I get to craft (a post about Munchkin’s latest fairy wings and costume is coming soon) and learn Spanish (DuoLingo for the win) to keep those synapses firing. I’ve learned more about blogging and developed a monthly newsletter. I’ve reached out to beta readers for one contest entry and for the first in a trilogy of novellas (Sea Deception). I anticipate doing a fair bit of publishing in 2017 because of the progress made in 2016.
  5. Time together: This Thanksgiving, I’m so looking forward to carrying on the traditions of my own childhood, watching the parade with my children, cooking up a non-traditional Thanksgiving meal (which is a family tradition of itself), and decorating for the holidays. We might even brave the crowds over the weekend.
  6. Health: Not to continue to harp on this one, but it’s a biggie. Both physically and emotionally, I’m in a much better place this year than last year. Time heals, but so does a combination of Zumba, Pilates, and yoga. Let’s not forget that I’m also thankful, if a little irreverent, that my winter clothes, which didn’t fit properly last year at 4 months postpartum, finally do fit now. I’ve still got room to go on my health goals, but I’m grateful for the progress I’ve made and for the strong, flexible, beautiful temple God gave me to house my soul.

Thanksgiving falls about a week before my birthday, and it’s no small thing to live another full year and celebrate the many blessings of a life well-lived.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my wonderful readers! I’m very grateful for your support.

Previous Thanksgiving Posts:

2013, 2014, 2015