On Writing

I haven’t made quite the progress on my book that I hoped I would. Having a full-time job and writing is hard, ya’ll! But I am farther along on it than I was on the novel I attempted to start last November, and I count that as improvement.

I am not giving up, though. I will persevere. I will keep writing. Because I think it’s a message that other girls need to hear.

I have been publishing with an online publishing company, Coffee House Writers, for the past year, and I have learned so much. I quickly progressed from a writer to being an editor to being a COO of the team, and I love everything about the group. It has helped me become a better writer, and it has helped me plan out articles. If you’re interested in joining such a group, shoot me an email at digitalinkandparchment@gmail.com or comment here, and I would be happy to provide you with information.

Not only did it help me rediscover my passion for writing, it also led to a bit of healing. I was able to find my writers voice again, discover the things I want to write about, discover my passions, and say things I never thought I could. It has helped to shape me into who I am now.

That is why I am thankful for not only the abilities and passion God gave me for writing, but also that He led me to Coffee House Writers at the time I needed it most. I can honestly say that I would not be as sure and as motivated as I am today about making writing and blogging a career if it were not for this team.

Our passions and abilities were given to us for a reason, and God has a purpose in leading us to opportunities where those passions and abilities are used. I encourage you to think about and be thankful for those opportunities. Because there may come a time when those opportunities help you more than you thought they did.

A Career

Have you ever felt like you’d never move past the “job” phase? That you could never call what you do, or what you want to do, a career?

On Friday, I had my 90 day review for my job, and it was good. I came out of it feeling valued and proud of myself and with a desire to keep pushing and working hard. And I realized–I have a career.

After the struggle I faced post-graduation and last year, I never thought I would be able to say that. I always called what I did a “job,” and now I can transition that language. I am a writer, a blogger, an editor. This is what I’ve always wanted to do. My husband used to tell me “if you want to write, we can find a way to make it work.” I finally found a way.

I’m not anxious at this place. I don’t feel like if I don’t answer emails on my days off, the world will end or I’ll get yelled at. I don’t walk into work dreading the interactions I may have that day. I don’t dread the people or the work itself. That doesn’t mean I’m not tired after working all day, because I am. That’s part of working. But I’m proud that I’m tired by the end of the day. I feel like I’ve earned that exhaustion. And I really needed that feeling.

This job, actually beginning my career, has showed me the things I needed to see. I can see why my husband was always exhausted coming home from work. I can see why no one wants to go out after work, even if you are in an office all day. I can also see why it can be tiring to come home and make a meal, even if it’s just you and the animals. Having never experienced those things before, I didn’t know what they were like, so my reactions and my attitude were off. Now that I know, I feel better prepared.

So, today, I am thankful for my career. I am thankful I had the opportunity to truly begin it. I am thankful I found my calling. I am thankful I have a good work environment. I am thankful God granted me this opportunity. And I am thankful He used this opportunity to show me how to be better and to provide me the proverbial tools I need.

I want to encourage you to be thankful for your job. No matter what it is to you right now–whether it’s “just a job” or a career–God is using it in your life. If you don’t think He is, I challenge you to think about what your job has taught you. How has it changed you? What have you learned? Because every experience teaches us something.

Communication

This whole thankful challenge is about challenging myself to be thankful for even the small things, because I know God uses those small things to make big changes to–and for–us. Which is why today I am thankful for, what sometimes seems like, the smallest of the small: communication.

As someone with a master’s in communication, I know this is a vital component of interacting with the world. Everything we do is communication, even when we don’t think it is. An eye-roll can signify annoyance or boredom or just plain attitude. Silence can signify thinking or lack of attention. Even not communicating is communicating something. As someone who studied the subject, I know this. But as someone with anxiety, it means I look too much into every form of communication I experience (which may explain my interest in the subject).

For me, that also means I hate small talk. It’s uncomfortable. It seems meaningless. It seems fake. We often gloss over the truth in small talk. When I feel things, I feel them very strongly, so small talk for me is like asking me not to feel. But, again, as someone who studied the subject, I know that small talk can have a whole set of meanings of its own.

I remember the conversations between my husband and I before we began dating, and even when we were dating. The amount of small talk there astounds me. That’s really all our first conversations are when we begin relationships with someone. As I look back, I realize it came naturally then. It was easy, and I don’t know why. Maybe it was just him. Somewhere along the way, I lost the knack for small talk, especially with him, and trying to get it back has been tough.

So, as much as it can pain me to say this, I am thankful for that. I am thankful for small talk. For “hello”s and “just thinking of you”s. For simple “how’s your day” questions and one sentence responses. For small talk from people who know I am feeling too much to go into detail, so they give me a reprieve. For brief conversations with those I love because it means there is a connection. I am thankful for “meaningless” conversations, because even those hold meaning, and I am working on not looking into them too much. I am thankful for small talk because it leads to relationships and community.

In light of this, I want to encourage you to have small talk with someone. Maybe that’s your spouse or a colleague. Or maybe with someone you want to build a relationship with. Because small talk can lead to big things.

 

 

Thankful for…Community

It’s been difficult for me to make friends, and that’s my own fault.

I used to be a social butterfly, but as I got older–and had some bad experiences–I took on the mentality of “I have 3 friends; I don’t need more.” Throughout my marriage, my husband and I have moved every 2 years. Not for the military, but because we changed universities. When I first started college, I had a desire to make friends. I wanted to have those late-night, candy-fueled study sessions in a dorm.  I wanted to giggle with girl friends and walk to class with people and go on adventures with others. And for the first year or two, I did that. I made friends. We studied together, we did projects, we had Bible study, we went on weekend trips.

But then my husband and I moved. And I was devastated. Not at the move, but at the loss of my friends. There were nights I cried. There were nights I begged to go back. There were nights I insisted we move back to our home state because I knew I had friends there.

The move was for the best. We weren’t happy at the first university, and we wanted a different environment. My learning style required small classes, and I was about to change my degree from biology to English, and the college we transferred to was a small liberal arts school. But after marriage and the move, I felt like making friends was hard. Not because of any fault of my husband’s, but because I struggled to find people who could relate. I was young and married, so I was a bit of an anomaly. I also knew we would be graduating in two years, and I would be headed to graduate school. I also wanted to keep my head down and study to get the best grades I could.

So, instead of pressing in and trying, I stepped back. My husband became my best friend, and the only time I talked to classmates was really while I was on campus.

When we moved for my graduate program, that mentality didn’t change. I knew I would be graduating in two years, so I thought it would be pointless to make friends. I didn’t want to be distracted from my studies, and I thought having friends would negatively impact my grades. I even recall telling my husband once, who wanted me to make friends, “What’s the point? We’ll be gone soon.”

I had grown close to a few girls my last year of high school, and we have stayed friends. I always thought I didn’t need anyone else. What the issue really was was fear. I was afraid to make friends that would make it difficult to leave. I didn’t want to fall in love with where we were or who we were surrounded by because if we left, I would be devastated and feel alone, just like I did when we left the first university. I was protecting myself.

So I never thought I would again see a time that I made friends and was happy about it, regardless of what my future may hold. But now is that time. Thanks to my church.

I have become friends with a few girls from church, and I find that, for once, I don’t feel entirely defeated after spending time with them. I don’t get my energy from being around people. Social situations, especially ones with more than 3 other people, take an emotional toll on me, and I tend to have to go home and decompress. While where I get my energy from hasn’t changed all that much, I don’t feel completely drained after spending time with these people.

They have welcomed me with open arms when I was beginning to think no one would. I am fearful, I have anxiety, I’m uncertain, I love my pets more than most people, I have a pseudo non-traditional job, I often feel broken and unprepared for life…and yet, they have accepted me. They encourage me to grow and think and be myself.

And it is for that I am thankful.

I am thankful for the community I have found. I am thankful I know people who make me look forward to going to a small group every week. I am thankful for people who allow and encourage me to be open. I am thankful for people who accept me. I am thankful for new friends.

If you’ve struggled, or are struggling, to make friends, no matter the reason, take your time. Allow yourself to come to a healthy place where you would be willing to accept friendships. Be thankful for even that one person you trust. And if you blog, you have a welcoming community here. Because we all need community of some kind.

So, to my girl friends–all of you–if you’re reading this, thank you. Thank you for knowing me and knowing my struggles and accepting and loving me anyway.

And to this wonderful blogging community, thank you for following me on my journey and for helping me to grow not only as a person but as a blogger.

Today, I am thankful for community.

. . . . . .

What community are you thankful for?

Thankful for…Physical Abilities

This past weekend, I ran my first 10K.

I finished the 6.26 miles in 59 minutes and 33 seconds. Around mile 3.5, that mean voice in my head started up: I can’t believe you signed up for this. If you’re tired now, you’re never going to be able to do that 15K next month. You’ll never be able to do that half-marathon. So what did I do? I checked my pace. I was probably going faster than I should have been, which was wearing me out quicker. I took a deep breath. And I told that voice to shut up. Once again, she retreated. I know she’ll be back, especially as I start my next Beachbody program and continue half-marathon training, but I’m getting better at shaking her off.

And fitness is just one way I am doing that. That is why this week I am thankful for the physical abilities God has blessed me with.

A year ago, I would never have dreamed of doing a 10K, let alone of signing up for a half-marathon. I thought my capabilities ended at 3 miles and a few reps of the same workout. But I started small–with 1 mile here and there and a 1 month exercise program. Five months after signing up and beginning my first Beachbody program, I realized I have more in me than I thought I did.

Each day, I pray for continued strength and commitment to my physical fitness goals and that the Lord would guide me each step of the way. Each day, I pray He would help me overpower that voice, the enemy. I have truly felt this commitment is a God thing.

If you’re finding you need a change too, start small. I guarantee you’ll be thankful for it in the future. And if you want to join me on this fitness and faith journey, sign up for the email list for weekly insight and motivation.

Time to be Thankful

When November arrives, we all seem to get a little more thankful. Maybe it’s the cold weather, the reprieve from the blazing summer months. Or maybe we just feel a little guilty about not feeling as thankful or being as good at expressing our thanks during the rest of the year. Or, maybe it’s just the holidays. Either way, the month of November and the Thanksgiving holiday remind us to be thankful.

Throughout the past year, I’ve had a difficult time reminding myself to be thankful, even for the little things. The first November I was swept into this storm, I felt like I had nothing to be thankful for. That wasn’t true, of course–I was alive, I had Belle, I had the cats, and I had a loving and supportive family. And all of those things are still true. So why has it been so hard to be thankful?

I started creating a gratitude log in my bullet journal, but I struggled to remain consistent and fill it up. I always ended up writing the same, non descriptive things, and when I looked at it, instead of feeling thankful, I felt sorry for myself. Is this all? I would think.

So, this year I am challenging myself to be thankful for at least one thing a day and to be specific in that one thing.

For the month of November, the theme here is going to be thankfulness. Each post will have one thing I am thankful for, with a brief explanation as to why. At the end of the week, I’ll sum up what I was thankful for that week.

But this isn’t just for me. I want to encourage you to find reasons to be thankful, especially if you struggle. If you want to join the challenge, join my email list. I’ll send some reminders and motivation and ask intentional questions to get you thinking about what you can express gratitude for. And feel free to link back here if you decide to share this journey.

I am looking forward to finding all the ways I can be thankful, and I hope you are too.