a wish

“I’d like to add some beauty to life. I’d love to make people have a pleasanter time because of me… to have some little joy or idea or happy thought that would never have existed if I hadn’t been born.”
—L.M. Montgomery

NaNoWriMo?

Happy November! I can’t believe this year is nearly over. Only a few weekends left until Christmas! I have significantly less people to shop for this year, so hopefully that will go far towards making it The Most Wonderful Time of the Year instead of The Most Stressful Time of the Year. 😉

Have you ever heard of National Novel Writing Month – NaNoWriMo, as it is affectionately known for short? It is a fun, misery-loves-company exercise in creative writing that happens each November The basic premise is that from November 1st – 30th, participants (and there are hundreds of thousands!) dedicate focused time and effort into writing a 50,000 word novel. NaNoWriMo believes that your story matters, and that the world needs your novel, and it is a wonderful way to jump-start the creative processes through fun competition.

I signed into my account at the beginning of the month and the little italics at the top of the page told me that I had been a member of NaNoWriMo for 13 years. Thirteen years! I’ve only participated for perhaps half of those, and I’ve finished with 50,000 words maybe half of that, but how in heaven’s name has it been thirteen years since I first came across it and wrote my first (terrible!) novel?

My girl Jacinta convinced me to join her in the challenge this year, and in a fit of recklessness and ambition, I actually agreed.

The truth is, I haven’t written fiction in years. Six or seven, perhaps. I’m just no good at it anymore, or perhaps it’s that it no longer holds the same appeal for me that it once did. It was always one of my childhood ambitions – to be a writer. I’m not sure if I wanted it so much because I loved writing, or because I loved books, or because so many of my friends wanted to be writers. I do have some modicum of talent in the area, at least I fondly like to believe so – but I am beginning to wonder if God has a different direction for me.

But I digress. I started off the month like a house on fire. Then I started losing momentum, realized I was stuck, and took a two-day writing break while my husband and I were road tripping together. Then I went back to the beginning and changed over my modern-day novella into a mid-Victorian historical. I was pretty excited about this, and completely caught up and maybe even surpassed my word count goals.

Now I’m stuck again. I utterly hate my heroine – you know, the biggest part of the whole story? I can’t relate to her at all, and that makes me hate writing her. I keep wanting to add secret depths to her, but right now that just isn’t who she is supposed to be, so I have to resist. And that makes me not want to write about her.

Jacinta, on the other hand – now I think she might have found her niche. She is posting her story publicly, and I for one am an absolutely riveted reader. I’m absolutely loving it! Go visit her website at A Walk In The Forest and check it out. 🙂

100 Days…

…to Brave.

<100 Days to Brave>

I impulsively ordered this book off of Amazon after listening to the author’s podcast one day. She was talking about how she had just moved to a new place and knew absolutely no one, and one thing she said stuck out to me in a really big way: She said YES to every single invitation she got. To meet up for coffee, to attend a Mary Kay party, to go out with a group. The answer was always YES.

And I thought to myself, how brave! As an introvert, I value my alone time. I glory in my ability to say NO to things. But often I tend to over-indulge this grown-up privilege and withdraw, keeping far to close to home when I should be out there being brave. So when she started talking about the devotional book she had written for girls just like me, perhaps more courageous than we allow ourselves to live, those surrounding themselves by fear (aka safety!) and living smaller than we should, I hopped right online and bought it.

The challenge for Day One is simply this: tell someone that you’re starting this journey. So I’m telling you. I don’t think I have massive amounts of blog readers so far, but sometimes it’s better that way, isn’t it? Imagine we’re sitting at a coffee shop, and it’s sweater weather and the fireplace is crackling and our lattes have that gorgeous art on the top and we’re Instagramming it all and sitting in the light surface-y conversation and then I draw a deep breath and confess to you, “I want to be brave. I’ve been living my life so small, and allowing fear to hold me back. So I’m taking this challenge called 100 Days to Brave. Do you want to take it with me?”

So how about it. Be brave with me?

my girls

My girls. My tribe. Encouragers, truth-speakers, and some of the most courageous and strong women I have ever known. Words cannot express how honored I was to have them all by my side on my wedding day. They’ve been with me through so much, never wavering in their friendship, love, and loyalty. These are the ones who will circle the wagons, and be there for me when I need them – which they have proven over and over. Theirs is no friendship of convenience or ease, but fierce once-in-a-lifetime loyalty. I can’t imagine my life without you!

My only regret is how far apart we all live! My sister lives in Connecticut, Rissa in Mississippi, Heather in South Dakota, and Jacinta in Virginia! Honestly, when I look at all of us it’s amazing how we all stay connected. But some people are just special, and neither time nor distance separates you.

There are others I could list, others I wished I could say were there with me but who were not. But though my heart ached with the loss, they were all there with me, held close in my heart, and I’m overwhelmingly grateful I was able to share the day with these four. (Stay tuned, because I’d like to do a feature with each one of them!)

one month

It’s our anniversary! We have officially been married for ONE WHOLE MONTH! Technically, I suppose it was yesterday, but I completely forgot. I’m not sure how that happened, because normally I’m incredibly sentimental about anniversaries and dates. (DJ thinks he’s rubbing off on me. He’s not.)

I’ve been thinking back over the last month, and while I’d really like to give this a clever “Ten Things I’ve Learned In Our First Month of Marriage” or “Seven Things I Wish I Knew Before I Got Married” title, but I don’t have anything quite so neat. I have a few thoughts and observations, though, and some of them are likely completely unique to me and to my marriage.

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Our Honeymoon in Isla Mujeres

I’m a big fan of the road less traveled, and flying by the seat of my pants. But I also like to know that “it’s all taken care of,” too. That kind of describes my relationship with my husband, actually – I’m the dreamer and the free spirit and he’s the steady frame that keeps me centered. I like not knowing exactly what we’ll do or where we’ll end up, but DJ’s always there to make sure we have a hotel room to stay the night and a rental car to take us places. You know, responsible stuff like that. 😉

But I digress. I had asked DJ to surprise me with our honeymoon destination, and though he couldn’t resist letting me in on the final few options he’d narrowed it down to, I left the ultimate decision up to him. I couldn’t have been more thrilled when he chose Villa Rolandi on the tiny, tiny (only 4 miles long!) island of Isla Mujeres in Mexico!

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Wedding Day

I can’t believe how quickly the time has been going by since our wedding day! We’re at nearly a month right now, and I can’t decide if it feels more like just days, or half a year! I feel like I’ve learned so much since I married DJ, but at the same time like there wasn’t nearly the adjustment I was led to believe there would be. More on that later, but right now I just wanted to write down some of my thoughts before they start fading around the edges.

It was perfect. More than anything else, that’s what I remember about our wedding day: its sun-soaked dreamy perfection. So much of it is just hazy impressions and feelings. My first “real” memory was that morning when I heard DJ’s voice downstairs. He’d come by to pick something up and was trying to be in and out quickly and quietly because according to tradition, the groom isn’t supposed to see the bride before the wedding. But I heard his voice and I flew down the stairs in my dressing robe to see him, and that is one of my most favorite moments of the entire day.

It rained, and this pushed back the ceremony a good half hour. But it worked out incredibly well because we’d gone a bit overtime with the getting-ready photographs! DJ and I had planned to have a First Look before the ceremony, and this is one thing I am INCREDIBLY happy that we did! His face when he saw me is one of my most treasured memories and I will never, ever forget that moment. It took all the pressure off of us, because as no one was watching we were under no obligation to “perform” and could simply be ourselves and soak in the moment with each other. I’m not going to lie, I’d had butterflies up until that moment. The moment he turned around, though, and I saw him, I was ready to say “I do” right then and there! It absolutely crystallized in that moment: I am his and he is mine, and he is my future.

His face when he turned and saw me in my gown for the first time is probably my clearest memory of the entire day. Everything before and after that is a bit of a blur. I know I didn’t wait for my musical cue before I rushed off down the aisle to DJ, and part of me wishes I’d waited because my song was literally so gorgeous, but another part of me loves the fact that I was so eager to be DJ’s wife that I couldn’t wait.

Everyone asks what you’d do differently. I can honestly say it wouldn’t be much. I would have tried to focus more on people than things. I tried so hard to keep everything low-key and relaxed, but I think the empty space of not having plans locked firmly into place stressed out more people than it removed pressure. It was perfect for me, but with my heightened sense of empathy I not only picked up very quickly onto the stress of other people, I took the responsibility of it upon myself. So I ended up a stressed-out bride after all! Oops. COMMUNICATION, ya’ll.

Ok, fine. Two things I would have changed. BUT JUST TWO.

-MY VEIL WAS IN BACKWARDS AND NO ONE NOTICED until Heather did after the ceremony. I think about this little detail (hopefully literally NO ONE NOTICED) far too much. It was also twisted which is pretty obvious in many of the pictures but oh well. I have to keep reminding myself it really doesn’t matter, anyway. 🙂 But yes, if I could have changed the veil I would have chosen one with more fullness at the top so the wind wouldn’t twist it so badly. And put it in the right way. 😛

-NO ONE PRAYED. We were supposed to have a time of prayer and blessing over us and our marriage and everyone gathered around us, but literally NO ONE PRAYED AND IT WAS AWFUL. If there is ONE THING I COULD DO OVER it would be this. We had discussed it with the pivotal people beforehand – obviously the most important being the pastor, who was supposed to start and end the prayer time but he was dead silent and so was everyone else. I thought that the pastor was just taking his time but the silence settled….and went on…and on… and I felt this MASSIVE WAVE OF PURE PANIC rise up in me and DJ felt it because he squeezed my hands and whispered, “they’re praying silently,” which I am SO glad he did because otherwise I’m certain I would have burst into hysterical tears. Honestly, I still want to cry when I think about it. This was literally one of the most important moments of the ceremony to me and it was just skipped. There are no words for the level of my disappointment here. But I guess we’ll just have to go with “they’re praying silently,” because that’s way better than thinking no one wanted to bless our marriage. I still feel that panic welling up inside me when I think about it…so I try not to. haha

Are there things I would have done differently? Yes. I’m going to be honest, and admit that yes, there are things I wish could have been different. But in the grand scheme of things, none of them matter.  It was mostly exactly the way I had envisioned it. Our wedding was beautiful and gloriously wonderful and it felt like God was smiling down at us.

I get to be married to this amazing man, and life gets better every single day. Life is good.

God is good.

Happy Independence Day

Hey friends. 🙂 Happy Fourth of July! For the longest time, this has been my second-favorite holiday, right up after Thanksgiving. I love having a day in the middle of summer to celebrate freedom. That sounds super cliche, but it’s true! I love it when people -friends, family, strangers even- come together over something greater.

There’s so much I should be doing today. My wedding is 28 days away, and there are still SO many things to be done. But I have my dress, and my shoes, and my veil, and my handsome groom, and we have a minister, so really what more is there? I was beginning to quietly freak out and feel overwhelmed the other day and DJ stopped me. He reminded me what this is really about: the start of our lives together, not a production for other people. We are inviting other people to witness our covenant before God, not so we can put on a show and impress them with our perfectly chosen chair-ribbons and placeholders. This is about a marriage, not a wedding.

SO I’m not doing anything today. I slept in until I woke up naturally (do you know what a luxury that is!) and got up slowly. Made coffee, did some yoga. Put on my face, curled my hair, headed over to DJs. Made dessert. Went out and bought fireworks. I’m super excited about the fireworks! Basically I am being as lazy as all get-out, and I don’t feel the slightest bit ashamed of it.

PS. 28 days. If anyone’s counting.

Today I turn 30.

And I have a few thoughts on that.

Another year, another new milestone. Sometimes I catch sight of myself in the mirror and think with a sigh, “Yep. I definitely look thirty.” My baby fat is all gone, and I’ve (mostly) made an uneasy sort of peace with my nose, but there’s a wrinkle on my forehead from squinting in the Colorado sun, and I put on a face cream with retinol before bed these days. By body can’t recover from things as quickly anymore, and the other day I woke up with a fat elbow because presumably I did too many skullcrushers and bicep curls at the gym? At least my metabolism isn’t slowing down yet!

I expected to have life much more figured out by now, but I’m learning that everyone fakes it. You can’t make it thirty trips around the sun without learning a few things, though.

  1. Don’t measure yourself by anyone else’s standards.
  2. Make it your own: your faith, your life, your coffee. But especially your faith. 
  3. Another woman’s beauty is not the absence of your own.
  4. Neither is another’s success.
  5. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing.
  6. Comparison truly is the thief of joy. This goes hand in hand with the first five bulletpoints. When you measure yourself up against where you think you “should” be, or where your friends are, discontentment is sure to follow. 
  7. “No” really is a complete sentence. It doesn’t require excuses, and it doesn’t require explanation. 
  8. It’s always worth loving.
  9. …Love isn’t mushy feelings. Love is sacrifice.
  10. People will talk about you behind your back. People will gossip about you, and people will judge you. This doesn’t mean they don’t love you. This has been a hard lesson for me to learn, and I used to take it so personally. People are people, and they are weak and imperfect and they will gossip. Give them grace. 
  11. Rejection doesn’t define who you are.
  12. You aren’t responsible for other people’s responses, so stop carrying the weight of that. You may trigger a reaction in someone, but that response is based entirely out of who they are. And people typically react in ways that allow them to stay in their own comfort zone. Safety is the biggest motivator.
  13. People typically do the best that they can.
  14. Social media only gives part of the picture.
  15. Don’t ever change for another person. You might think you can, if it’s important enough and if they are important enough, but true change only ever begins internally. Anything else is false and will either be short-term or lead to resentment. (Compromise, however, is a very good thing, if you treat it rightly. Figure out what is important and non-negotiable, and what is just personal preference, and meet in the middle. If you can’t find a middle, walk away. Again, don’t die on the hill of someone else’s approval.)
  16. Don’t criticize others for things they can’t change.
  17. AND – only criticize others to the exact extent that you are willing to help them change. Look, I get it. We all talk about other people. It makes us feel better about ourselves, doesn’t it? But I’ve been on the other side of that. I’ve been cut down and left there. Don’t do that. Honestly, it’s just being a bully and shows off your own immaturity. If they’re wrong, don’t be all judgy and critical. Show grace and love and before you step in to try and fix things, pray about it first. Pray long and hard. If it’s a matter of personal preference: yours isn’t better just by virtue of it being yours.
  18. There are some valleys you can only ever walk through alone.
  19. Depression is real. No, it’s not a sign of spiritual immaturity. More on this later.
  20. Growth hurts. It’s uncomfortable. But don’t be afraid of it.
  21. The world doesn’t owe you anything. Get rid of that chip on your shoulder.
  22. Life isn’t fair. Live it anyway.
  23. No, what happened to you wasn’t your fault. Own it anyway.  
  24. There’s no such thing as regret. A wonderful Christian mentor told me this one time, and sometimes I can’t wrap my mind around it but mostly I can’t get it out of my head. Make amends for what you have to, and move forward. Stop dwelling on it. Resolve to make a better choice next time. Move forward.
  25. People don’t always extend grace, and they don’t always choose to think the best of you. That’s their choice, and it’s between them and God. Don’t let it make you bitter.
  26. Nothing makes me realize just how much I need Jesus than running late for something and being stuck behind someone with a Wyoming license plate who can’t figure out where they’re going. Or what the speed limit is. Or what a turn signal is. Or how to drive.
  27. Family is not forever. Friends are not forever. Jobs are not forever. Life is not forever. Jesus is forever.
  28. People will fail you. Always. Jesus will never fail you. Never.
  29. Drink the good scotch.
  30. No one else can fulfil you. There will be times when you feel lonely, and you’ll look for another person to fill the emptiness, but this doesn’t work. At best it’s a band-aid. I strongly believe that the human heart is restless until it finds rest in God, but there’s also a personal responsibility there. 

Annnnd….one to grow on:

  1. It says in the Bible that God works all things for good for those who love him and who are called according to his purpose. I believe that. I also believe him when he said that nothing can separate us from God’s love. Now with that confidence tucked in your pocket: go be brave. Take the chances. Be intelligent about your choices, but take chances. Don’t live in fear.