I’m (finally) on Instagram!

I’ll be posting about my fun filled weekend at the #SCBWIFL2016 workshop on Instagram so hop on over and check it out!!

SO excited! 📚📚📚✏✏✏✒✒✒

@IamRedPhoenix10

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Things just got real!

As you know from last month, I am registered for a writing workshop in June.  My manuscript was sent off to the coordinators a few weeks ago. Earlier this week I received my homework for how to prepare for the seminar and what to bring. And today I was given the name of the person who will be critiquing my story!  Eek!!

I have received writing critiques in the past through peers and teachers in college but nothing like this. My first thought was a ping of terror – what of he hates it?!

But my rational side followed suit…so what? And I don’t mean that in an I-don’t-care kind of way. I mean it in a positive, I-care-so-much kind of way. The purpose of attending this workshop is to learn and grow as a writer, to understand what publishers are looking for and to enhance my writing.  I am excited to have a professional author – yes, author! – review my writing and tell me what he thinks. I’m anxious to hear the feedback that he has for me and perfect my manuscript so that it will be loved by a publisher and kids some day.  I’m thrilled to meet new people – people who have a passion and love for writing and reading.  I can’t wait to take in the entire experience and grow as a person and as a writer.

So, things just got real.  I am venturing out of my comfort zone, exposing myself and my writing to criticism (on purpose!) and taking a BIG step towards accomplishing my goals as a writer. How awesome is that?!

Do you think he’ll sign a copy of his book for me?  :mrgreen:

Oh, sweet weekend

Happy Memorial Day, friends!

This weekend has brought a mix of fun, productivity and relaxation for me. We spent time outdoors, went to church, cleaned out the garage, enjoyed a cookout with my in-laws, grocery shopped, meal prepped for the week, the house is clean – and there is still half a day left before the work week begins! I took the weekend off from running but still made sure to exercise in different ways to make up for it. Don’t worry, I rested lots in between. Friday’s expansion was bothering me pretty good on Saturday so I was quite uncomfortable. Thankfully, that’s gone now. Treatment continues to tire me out and I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I was asleep by 9pm all weekend. It was wonderful to grab the extra time to sleep and let my body – and mind – rest.

Having such a productive weekend has my mind wondering a bit. Summer has started and I’m antsy to spend time outdoors with my family but still try to get things done around the house, while keeping up with the day-to-day necessities of the house, exercise and writing too. Being almost two weeks out of radiation, we are beginning to find a new routine and the summer hours are allowing more hours with daylight.

I don’t necessarily want to rank all of these activities as a matter of importance because although some will absolutely outrank others, they are all things that I want to be a regular part of my daily routine. I’m learning to grab up the time that I have let slip by me in the past and fit things in small windows of time throughout the day.

Joe & I have the luxury of carpooling to work every day, so this has become my go-to time to write. Whether it’s my blog, catching up on emails, making appointments or free writing, this is a 30 – 45 minute ride each way that I used to spend just daydreaming. Since I’m using my phone to do these things, I can easily put it down to chat with Joe or help Jacob sing a song that he likes along the way.

Dinnertime has been a point of stress for me in the past, as I always feel rushed to get home and cook. We’re using the crockpot more (especially with the summer heat coming!) and making a larger meal on Sundays when we can to have leftovers throughout the week. On run days, Joe will heat up food for all of us and we’ll eat together when I’m done. On non-run days, we all go for a 30 minute walk after dinner. This might be Jacob’s favorite part of the day! If I haven’t hit my step goal by the time Jacob is asleep, I’ll pace while watching a show before bed – looks silly, I know, but it works!

So it’s a work in progress and I’m learning to fit things in where I can without compromising family time or household duties. I’m wondering, what tips do you have to fit more into your day?  Do you keep a list of things you want to accomplish?  Do you plan out what activities to complete each day of the week?

Fear

Growing up, my mom loved Stephen King and horror movies. I quickly grew to love both of these things as well. Whenever we went to the local video store – VHS! – I would head right to the horror section to see which movie looked the most terrifying. The old school Freddy Krueger and Friday the 13th are still some of my favorites. And I am still a sucker for a good vampire or zombie movie – I seriously cannot get enough of those! There were times that those movies kept me up at night, afraid to get out of bed but to me, that simply meant that they were awesome! I mean, that’s the point of a scary movie, right? To be scared? To add a little fear to your life…one that you know you can walk away from when the credits come on?

But what about the fear you have as an adult? The fear that comes with following your dreams? Fear of the future? Fear of the unknown? Fear of rejection?

Knowing how much I love to write, my mom bought me a membership to a writer’s organization for my birthday. I was instantly thrilled and have been trying to learn the ins and outs of it for the last month. This particular organization has a local chapter and that local chapter is having a workshop this summer. I’ve been contemplating whether or not to go. It is an incredible opportunity to branch out of my comfort zone and meet people who are doing what I want to do – what I dream about doing! It’s a chance to learn what the steps are to becoming a published writer. It’s a place that I can talk about writing as if it were the only thing that mattered in life – because at the workshop, it will be.

But as an aspiring writer, I am filled with fear. I fear that I am not good enough. I fear that my writing isn’t good enough. I fear that I will be an outcast. I fear that I will be the only unpublished writer there. I fear that I am not creative enough. I fear that I will be too scared to talk to anyone. I fear that I will leave more afraid than I am now.

Fear is a powerful thing. Fear can consume you and tear you apart. It can take over your rational thinking and fill your head with doubt.

I had mentioned to Joe a while back that I was interested in this workshop but wasn’t sure if it was something that I should do or not. This past week, I received a flyer in the mail reminding me that the workshop deadline was coming to preregister for the event. I stuck it in my book to bring it with me to look at during treatment today but forgot about it until Joe picked it up when we arrived. Looking it over, he started asking me which portion of the workshop I was considering and whether or not I wanted to do a professional critique. We chatted about it a little and I made comments about how I will hopefully be ready to go next year. I have a draft written for a children’s book that I’ve been working on for a while now and someday I’d like to try and get it published (or at least have an editor look at it and tell me if it’s the worst thing they’ve ever read).

Next thing I knew, I was registered. For Mother’s Day, my sweet husband signed me up for one of the workshops and a professional critique of my writing. Wait, what?!

Remember that fear that I was talking about earlier? Well, it’s time for me to put it aside. Tonight, I hit send. I sent my children’s book out into the world to land in the inbox of a professional to critique it for me. When the workshop comes, I will sit down with them and they will tell me what works and what doesn’t.

Am I still afraid? Oh, yes. Yes, I sure am. But regardless of this fear, I will walk away from this stronger and more determined than ever.

Oh, so tired

Life continues to amaze and inspire me. The way one phone call, one conversation, one word, one smile or a seemingly random encounter can put together a stream of events that fall perfectly into place. Incredible, isn’t it? The way life works sometimes…it’s like the universe (or God!) is winking at you and saying: Just follow my lead.

So what’s stopping you from taking the lead and following the path that seems to be carved for you? What’s stopping you from following your dreams and making them a reality? Excuses? I need to stop making them.

I wrote today. A lot. I felt really great about it, actually. My day was spent going from one appointment to the next with a few minutes in between that I spent scribbling away in my notebook trying to make sense of my thoughts and organize them in a way that can be understood and flow nicely. I scratched out lines and wrote in the margins and crossed out a paragraph and skipped to a new page. It was a wonderful way to spend the time in between appointments and it felt productive…and wonderful.

I came home in the late afternoon after traveling around town for these appointments, which included radiation treatment number 3. I walked in and sat down to enjoy a bit more time to write…and then it hit me. Tired. Oh, so tired. My whole body suddenly felt exhausted. I decided to lay down and nap, which I did for a quick 30 minutes. I know radiation causes fatigue but I didn’t anticipate that it would happen so quickly. And maybe it didn’t, maybe I am just over tired and the running around to appointments today got the better of me. But my goodness, I am tired. It was a reminder to me that my body is still healing and still fighting. And sometimes it needs a break.

So, although I feel good about the writing that I did today, the rest will have to wait until tomorrow. For now, I will rest.

Today’s firsts

When my husband and I bought our house years ago, I was super excited for each holiday in it. Since it was our first home purchase, I wanted every holiday to be celebrated within our walls. We hosted each event and took pictures of every detail to create a scrapbook of our first year. When our son was born, this first year of excitement was amplified. Every holiday we decorated, did arts & crafts and celebrated that it was the first of many to come. Each milestone brought pictures and smiles (and books!) and traditions that we were determined to create for our little man. All of the firsts were filled with pure joy and lots of passion. Each day felt as though it brought new excitement.

Though it’s still early in the day, today has been a great day so far! After surgery, I wasn’t able to do much. Each day showed improvement but in general, the everyday tasks were not possible. Thankfully, I have an incredible husband and support system that has continued to help throughout this journey.

Today though…today was a day of firsts for me.

  • I woke up in my very own bed. I have spent the last 2 weeks sleeping in the recliner in our living room. My sweet husband has spent every night next to me on our couch, often with little man snuggled in next to him. But not last night! I am still sleeping at an angle and mostly upright but just being in our bed was wonderful. I was surrounded by a sea of pillows, my warm comforter and my husband by my side. I was even able to get up into it and out of it all on my own!
  • Morning snuggles. Little man woke up in the middle of the night and Joe brought him into bed with us. After waking up this morning, Jacob cuddled up next to me and snuggled into the nook under my right arm. I haven’t had those sweet morning snuggles in two weeks. My goodness, how I missed them.
  • I unloaded the dishwasher. Though this is a relatively mundane task and often something I dread when coming home from work or waking up in the morning, I did this with a smile today. It is the little things in life that bring the purest joy and today’s joy had to do with being able to handle my own dishes.
  • I made breakfast – not just for me but for Joe too! Despite growing up with Chef Dad, I am not an excellent cook. Sadly the knack doesn’t reside in me, save for a few recipes that I have mastered over time. Today though, I made breakfast that consisted of roasted potatoes, bacon and eggs. Simple? Yes. Easy? Usually. The first I’ve made food for myself since surgery and therefore super exciting? Yes!

These firsts may not be things that I ever expected to get excited about but today, they made me smile ear to ear. I am tired despite the early hour and will probably go nap soon but I will enjoy this moment of progress for just a little while.

The 100th

When diagnosed with cancer, it’s hard to ignore the thought in the back of your mind that continuously asks Am I going to die?

In the middle of the night and when I feel the worst is usually when that dreaded thought creeps in and tries to wrap its tentacles around my happiness. I fight hard to keep those tentacles subdued but the reality is that I think about cancer for the majority of the day. Whether I’m dealing with appointments or phone calls or that forever painful lump or the medicine I take in the morning or before bed…cancer is always in my mind in some way.

I’ve mentioned before that I have dreamed of being a writer for as long as I can remember. I have always had an excuse as to why I didn’t have time to make that dream become a reality. My decision to start a blog came easily. I knew it was the right thing at the right time for me. It just made sense. Cancer put everything into perspective. It was the push that I needed to follow my dream.

Today, this very post, is my 100th blog post. If you had told me a year ago that I would have 100 blog posts, I probably would have laughed and been silently hopeful that it were true.

Cancer is scary. It is a reminder that life is short and that life is precious. It forces me to embrace each day and be grateful for it – for a fresh start and another chance to accomplish my dreams.

Tomorrow is not guaranteed. This is what I remind myself in the moments of darkness. We do not know what the future holds for us. Cancer is a reminder of that. But it is also the push that I needed in my life to pursue my passions. It is also a reminder that some things can wait until tomorrow (dishes, anyone?). What’s important is that today we enjoy the moment, embrace the day and love the people that make our life whole.

Here’s to 100 posts so far…and hundreds more to come!