Treating It Like A Job

Something happens in your head, in your heart, in the way you see things when you finally make the conscious decision to move forward with something you feel called to.

I have felt called to writing for quite some time, years in fact, and I have really only recently begun to move forward with that calling in a conscious, viable way. I started looking for articles on writing and found one on Medium that sought to inspire writers to turn from “wannabe” to “pro” with their craft. One article in particular, though, said exactly the thing someone like me needed to hear: you have to treat your writing like a job.

As I have expressed previously, I started working on an assignment for my creative writing class in college, and I had hoped to turn it into an actual novel. When my instructor told me, however, that the only way it would be believable was for it to end in a way I didn’t want it to (read: not have a happy ending), I stopped writing. On top of that, I was down on myself—no one would ever read this crap I told myself, even though my husband insisted I continue working on it. (Lesson: listen to your spouse.)

But a quote from the article on turning pro really struck me: “a professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” Well, in the past, I quit. I don’t want to be that person anymore. I quit…quitting? (Does that even make sense?)

All of this has led me to the idea of rebranding this blog. Not because I’m not writing about what I want to write about (because I am!), but because I want to truly solidify what it is I do and what I write about. I started this blog as a place to just…write, but it has helped me to grow and realize what it is I want to do. If I want to be taken seriously, I have to begin to take myself seriously. So, over the course of the next month, I will be changing things up a bit. The biggest changes will most likely be a new domain name and a new layout on the blog itself.

The topics will not change. The overall goal of my blog will not change. I’m just going to actually work on developing that goal into a type of mission or vision. I will also keep writing during these updates.

I feel excited about this. The thought of treating my writing like a job brings me joy and an excitement I didn’t know I still had. I feel I am finally putting my calling to use, like I am finally honoring God with the gift He has blessed me with.

I hope you all will join me on this mission I’ve created for myself. And if you have any thoughts, I’d love to hear them!

Making Mistakes

Today was the first day in a few weeks I broke down in tears and fell on my knees, literally crying out to God.

Even though this past weekend was enjoyable as we spent time on the beach in Delaware and I watched Belle frolic in the ocean for the first time, I could feel something bubble up, just beneath the surface. I could feel it in the way I had trouble focusing on anything other than Belle, in the way I couldn’t control checking my phone though I knew there was no reason to, and in the way I could barely finish a thought without a heavy mental sigh. Another episode.

I missed my therapy appointment last week because of our trip to Delaware. I thought I’d be okay for a week, but I guess I didn’t realize how much therapy is helping me.

I left work early today, explaining I “don’t feel well,” that I’m “taking it one day at a time,” and requested to work from home the rest of the week in hopes it will help me recoup some of myself. I don’t know if it will.

Honestly, the only thing I know to do at this point is cry out to God.

A few days ago, I woke up with this idea in my head: we can acknowledge we made a mistake without dismissing that we learned from it. As the day wore on (and I do mean wore on), I began to wonder if it was God trying to speak to me.

For weeks, I’ve been told by (some) family members not to view past decisions as mistakes. But why not? These people seem to think I’m somehow dismissing that I’ve learned from the mistake. I promise you, I’m not. I just learned the hard way. But the fact of the matter is I did make a mistake. If I don’t admit it, if I don’t say it out loud, if I don’t own up to it, then nothing can ever change.

I made a mistake.

Now all I can do is thank God for letting me learn, for not forsaking me, even in the midst of my mistakes, and for keeping His promises, even if I cannot see them yet.

Since my positivity challenge ended, I’ve struggled to write. It goes back to feeling I have nothing to write about, nothing that anyone else would care about.

But that is the enemy speaking.

I know that because one of the comments the Editor wrote on my draft of my final publication for the positivity challenge was telling me that she followed each of the posts and that I have inspired others to challenge themselves. And what better praise could an aspiring writer get than to hear you’ve inspired others?

So, yes, I made a mistake. But already God has kept a promise to me, and He has used that mistake to turn me back to a gift He blessed me with.

After falling on my knees, and with tears still streaming down my face, I took a nap. (Because when I’m depressed, I sleep a lot.) I slept longer than I meant to, but when I woke up, I felt a little better. Maybe not 100%, because that will come in time, but a little. My tears had stopped at least. But in that tearful crying out, I felt close to God. In the admitting of making a mistake, in admitting to trusting in my own will above His, I felt relief.

I hope I can encourage you. If you made a mistake, cry out to Him. It doesn’t make you weak. It brings peace, relief, and new insight. It is in those moments, when you give yourself entirely to Him, that He will speak to you.

Day 30: Mindset

How did it go?

Here we are. Day 30. The end of my 30-day positivity challenge.

You’ll probably notice I didn’t post yesterday either. My mom, Belle, and I left for a weekend getaway to a beach town in Delaware. We got out of town later than expected (I had to drop the cats off at my Nana’s for babysitting), so we didn’t get to our destination until about 9:30 at night. Since it’s a new place for Belle, and it was a 3-hour car ride, we spent an hour before bed letting her explore a bit and getting some energy out.

I was excited, though, that my Week 3 wrap up was published this week. Can you pick out any of the themes I’ve discussed in my posts?

Other than that, the day itself was simply uneventful.

I’m beginning to think maybe most of my days are. (And that’s okay.)

What did I learn?

I’m definitely the type of person that decisions affect my mind, which affect my mood. (Your mind affects your mouth, and your mouth affects your mind.)

I’ve noticed that since I’ve made a decision, the “don’t care attitude” I feel I have is actually coming across as positive and strong-willed to others. Who would have thought? Making a decision, even in my head, and adopting a different attitude has actually changed my environment because it’s changed the way I interact with my environment.

Mindset is everything, it seems.

And I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned from this whole thing: it’s all about your mindset.

If you’re willing to fight and “dig in” for what you want or what you believe, then don’t let the actions or thoughts of others deter you. Keep persevering, keep pushing forward. (God rewards the committed.)

My decisions won’t change; I will remain committed to not only having small faith, but also what I am called to do.

I will keep my mindset because my mindset will help to determine the outcome (or at least how I see it).

Days 28 & 29: Figuring Out the Next Goal

How did it go?

As you’ve probably noticed, I did not post yesterday. I don’t know if I’m still struggling through a depressive haze or if I just don’t feel there’s enough to write about.

My days seem pretty boring. I get up much too early, I get ready for work, I take Belle to daycamp, I have an hour and a half commute, I work all day, I commute home to pick up Belle…by the time I get home, I feel emotionally and physically exhausted (sometimes without really knowing why), and I just want to relax with Belle.

I’m beginning to feel I don’t lead an exciting enough life to write. I guess I have to create the excitement to inspire myself.

My creativity feels stifled.

What did I learn?

There was a long period of time I didn’t write as often as I’d like, and I’ve spent the time thinking I wasn’t meant to write, that I was no longer a creatively-driven person.

These past few days I’ve realized that isn’t true.

What drives me is writing. It’s what I want to do when I get home from work. Heck, it’s what I want to do for work. It’s what I want to focus on, spend energy on.

God only provides us so much time in a day, and it is up to us to use that time wisely. It is our job to use the time He has given us for His purpose. I want to use my time better.

I think I know my next challenge (or at least my next goal).

Day 25: Like Jesus Does

How did it go?

It took me a little while to get my husband at all interested in any type of country music. When he came around, he decided he liked Eric Church. As our First Dance song at our wedding, we played Eric Church’s “Like Jesus Does.”

Part of the chorus of the song goes like this:

She knows the man I ain’t,
She forgives me when I can’t,
The devil, man, he don’t stand a chance,
‘Cause she loves me like Jesus does.

The last time I heard the song, it was on the radio on a two-hour drive home with my husband. And he turned it up and held my hand, which is something he always does when it came on the radio. I remember smiling and feeling how full my heart was.

The song randomly popped into my head this morning as I was getting ready. I caught myself humming and trying to hold back tears.

I always end up crying when I hear it because I’m reminded of not only how I love him but how God loves us. The name of the song says it all.

What did I learn?

As a Christian, it is my belief that Jesus died for our sins, for all the debt we could never repay. He gave His life so we may have ours.

He knows who we are, even when we are not who we want to be (or who He wants us to be). He will always forgive us, even (and possibly most especially) when we cannot forgive ourselves. Because of Him, the enemy does not stand a chance against us.

I was reminded that we are, above all, called to love.

We must love in all we do, regardless of if we feel someone else deserves love, regardless of how others may judge us for loving that person.

I truly feel that the fact that this song popped into my head this morning was a gentle reminder from God: love, love no matter what, show how I love.

And He loves unconditionally. That’s what it means to love “like Jesus does.”

Because of this reminder, I am going to strive to approach each day with love. Believe me—there are definitely days I don’t feel like the people I am around deserve love. But God doesn’t ask us to love because others deserve it; He asks us to love because they don’t always deserve it. I hope I can wake up in the morning feeling a little more positive simply because of this decision.

I am choosing love.

Day 22: Where Is Home?

How did it go?

Today has been full of small positives to celebrate.

For example, my article on week 2 of my challenge was posted today on Odyssey. Even if you read my blog, take a look at how I connect a theme to my experiences throughout the week.

My first article with Medium was posted two days ago. If you love dogs and want to know how you can save a dog’s life, I think you’ll find it pretty informative. I was excited to see that people (besides my mother) liked and recommended it today.

I’m finding I’m very excited to tell people I am trying to get my content out there. I know you’re thinking of course you’re excited, it’s your work! But it’s the first time I’ve actually taken any steps to write for an audience (apart from this blog), to be published. It’s exciting. The look on my dad’s face is also a little funny. Don’t get me wrong; he supports me, and he’s happy that I am excited. But he’s also the one who, when I switched my bachelor’s degree from Biology to English, said, “can you find a job with that?” He’s just a dad—concerned about my wellbeing and making sure I can support whatever my future may hold.

Between waiting to get my bag once I got off the plane, the hour drive back, and then getting ready for bed (plus that random I’m-not-really-tired feeling I sometimes have after flying), I didn’t get into bed until about 2 a.m. So, because of travelling and my late landing yesterday, I got to work from home today, which meant having Belle by my side all day. And that was probably the most positive thing about today.

What did I learn?

Aside from the fact that I still get anxiety from flying, I realized I don’t get any sort of thrill out of it unless I get to share it with someone. Since I’ve wanted to just be alone, even at times I’ve felt like I want to be around people, that realization surprised me.

But I also realized I don’t really feel like I have a home right now, and that maybe that is where some of my negativity stems from.

I am so grateful to my mom for allowing me to stay in her place while I figure things out, but it’s not my home. It’s not even where I grew up. The “comforts” are different, the atmosphere is different. I’ve just often felt more lost than at home.

I also miss my friends from California. Yes, of course, I have friends from Colorado and Arizona that I am close to, that I love and miss. But there are no friends likes your friends from home.

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The picture perfectly describes how I feel about those friends in particular, but also about the 5 or 6 friends I still keep in contact with.

Going back to California, which is home since I grew up there, hit me like a ton of bricks. Every place I passed had some memory attached to it, good and bad, and each of those experiences has helped make me who I am. The place my husband and I went to on our first date, a salad bar (hey, we were in junior college and didn’t have any money!), is no longer there. Everything that was so familiar to me seemed even slightly different. And, of course, being with my dad was emotional, because he’s my daddy—enough said.

What hurt the most, though, for the first time in a long time, was that I couldn’t remember how to get anywhere because I haven’t lived there in 6 years.

Every time we would go back to visit, my husband would laugh good-naturedly about my terrible sense of direction and how he couldn’t believe I couldn’t remember the roads. Before, that didn’t bother me; he had lived in one location his whole life, whereas I hadn’t. I had had to learn new ways to get places once my parents separated, so it was natural I would get confused. This time, though, as I drove around with my dad (or on my own, with navigation), it broke my heart.

And I began to think maybe that was home after all.

Weaving that experience into positivity, I take it as a learning opportunity. I now know a little more about what makes me tick, about where my true priorities are: family. I fought for so long to move away from home, get a job, live my own life. But I see now that doesn’t necessarily lead to happiness. And maybe I thought I was ready to leave before I really was.

I don’t know what will happen next or what the future holds. I have to put my faith in God for that. But I know a little more about me now. And that’s the beauty of this positivity challenge—learning more about myself. Because I can’t learn about myself and be negative.

Days 20 & 21: Small Faith

How did it go?

Yesterday marked Day 20 in my 30-day positivity challenge, which means I am almost “done.” My goal, though, is to not be done with positivity just because the challenge itself is over. I was (and still am) hoping the challenge could transform, or help transform, the way I think and process through my anxiety and depression. I can feel the change that just trying to think positively has brought on, and that has made a difference in my overall outlook.

Having said that, I am combining Day 20 and Day 21 for a few reasons. The first is because yesterday was an emotional day that I needed to process. I had a friend visit me at my dad’s last night and we were all up until midnight, chatting. Between the emotions and the late night, I was tuckered out. The second reason is because today is yet another day of travel. This time, I’m heading back to the East Coast (“home”). While I have layovers, I won’t make it home until past midnight, and, even though I’ll sleep on the flights, I’ll be exhausted. Plus, let’s face it, I can only do so much positive reframing of flying before I’m lying to myself. (I hate flying. It gives me a ton of anxiety. I think it’s a control thing.)

Like I said, I can feel even a small change come over me when I work to reframe my thoughts into positivity. It’s somewhere between a fog and a physical feeling of being lighter. It just provides me a better way to go about my day: my tears come to a halt (though maybe not abruptly), my heart rate (sort of) slows down, I can breathe a little easier. Maybe the biggest change in feeling, though, is the feeling like my brain has changed.

Everything we think releases chemicals in our brain, and focusing on negativity can quickly drain our brain of its life force. In fact, negative thinking literally programs our brains to receive negative chemicals, making you more likely to be negative. In other words, it can turn into a constant cycle.

No matter what happens, I don’t want to be in that cycle.

What did I learn?

As usual, I need to reprogram myself to speak with God and listen to Him consistently each day. I haven’t quite figured it out yet, but I think that acknowledging that it’s a need is the first step.

Part of positivity is “keeping your head up.” That is, believe in the best possible outcome. It’s amazing what simple belief can do.

So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. – Matthew 17:20 (NKJV)

How powerful, right!? Just a tiny bit of faith can move mountains! I am determined to have that faith. But it’s something I can only achieve if I meet with God each day.

I want to also say this: note that Jesus did not say “and it will move immediately.” He only said it would move. In that word (or, really, the lack of a word), I am reminded that everything will happen in God’s timing. The mountain will move, even if it doesn’t happen immediately. Heck, it will move, even if it seems so incremental we can’t even see it. But our faith will move it because He is on our side.

What do you need believing for right now? What mountain do you need your mustard seed sized faith to move? I encourage you to plant that small seed of faith and see what fruit grows.