The journey

I am on the journey to becoming a published author.

I am already an author. I have already finished two first drafts of novels. I have several more in the works. I have written a myriad of short stories. I am an author.

I am now attempting to make money doing it.

Right now, that entails creating some social media channels – right now, that’s youtube, instagram, and facebook. I’ve also set up a website that will have a blog – all dedicated to my authoring journey.

I have editing to do, I have blog posts to write, I have videos to record and edit, a study to print, assemble, and mail… the list seems to go on and on. I feel overwhelmed. I feel perpetually behind.

I am wondering right now if it’s going to be worth it. I am wondering if I can do this. I am wondering if I can make this work. I am wondering a lot of things. I feel a lot of things – most of them are negative right now. I wonder and wonder and wonder. I try to move on and just do one thing at a time but it’s hard. I don’t have enough time. I don’t have enough free time. I have too many other responsibilities, most of which involve the two tiny darlings of my heart.

How do I continue? Do I just keep plugging away, one piece at a time? Do I stop and throw in the towel? Do I acknowledge all the feelings and let them overwhelm me?

I’ve already broken this down into the smallest steps possible and it seems like so many steps. It seems impossible to do.

Really, though, what else can I do?

I must carry on though, must I not? What else can I do? One step, one little box on my spreadsheet at a time. One spec of free time at a time. That’s all I can do. Nothing more. Nothing less.

To pursue our dreams will always take work. It will always take sacrifice. It will always take just a little bit more than we think we have. So we push on, we move forward, we do what we need to do. We don’t let feelings get in our way of what needs to be done.

Push on, friends. Do that one thing you need to do to pursue your dream. And so will I.

 

 

 

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Footprints in the snow

The story of Allyandrah and Kru’Nah continues.

The prompt is: It’s winter. There is a thick blanket of fresh snow on the ground. A lone set of tracks leads away in the snow.

Read Part 1.

Taiga snowshoe path winter landscape Yukon Canada

 

Allyandrah sat, unable to believe her luck. How had she been pardoned by the queen? Her only task was to leave the kingdom and never return. Her heart ached at the thought of leaving Kru’Nah behind, but she must. After all, he was the prince and who was she? Only a lowly Kjelger slave.

Even so, he had come to save her from the flames of the fire. He had shown up on his very own Grojodan to save her. She would never forget the feel of riding atop the marvelous stag, his horns stretching out wide, his body firm and sure underneath her. Sitting behind, she had clung to Kru’Nah with desperation as they fled, thankful for his taut muscles, his strong arm wrapped around her to help keep her on the beast.

The small fire in front of her crackled and spat resin from the burning Hornothol Needle tree. These were the only trees this far north. She had fled to the far north, hoping to survive. There were fewer threats in the north. It was hard to survive her and not enough reason for even the Hoomverdauns to visit. The short, stocky creatures were able to live anywhere, but even this cold was too much for their hairy bodies.

Allyandrah shivered, trying to decide what she would do now. She supposed she would need to make a shelter first. There was no point in trying to settle here without a shelter. Sighing, she thought there was no point in trying to settle here at all, but what else could she do?

The sky above was black and dark, the sparkle of stars pinpointing the blackness. Tonight, she would simply have to sit and keep her fire burning, her blood moving. In the morning, she would begin assembling her shelter.

Allyandrah tossed another branch on her fire, the wood slowly catching flame. The warmth radiated out and she huddled closer into herself, wrapping her body with the long fur cape Kru’Nah had sent with her. It was on his suggestion she had gone north. He had provided her with a pack of thick fur clothes and a stash of food. Despite the electricity sparking between the two and their aloneness, he maintained his regal dignity and kept his distance from her. His eyes told her another story, though, and it was to that story that she hung her hope.

Exhaustion began to take over and Allyandrah found her eyes closing, her head drooping. She fought the sleep as long and as hard as she could, but eventually, sleep won.

Several hours later, Allyandrah woke with a start. It was light and the fire had been buried in several inches of snow. She looked around trying to see what had woken her. Was it a sound? She pushed the oversized hood off her head, dumping snow off herself, revealing her cropped blue hair and blue skin. Scanning the horizon, Allyandrah searched for any sign of movement. Turning around, she saw a lone set of tracks from as far as she could see to as far as she could see, leading to the woods.

Standing up, Allyandrah pulled her hood back up and shook off the remaining snow. She was stiff from the cold and her heart hammered in fear, but she needed to know who, or what, was there. They looked like Kjelger footprints but she had to be sure. Who else would be up here?

Looking around again, she saw no movement. Quickly, she moved over to the tracks and then followed them precisely. The tracks went on, mile after mile. Fishing out some of the supplies from inside her coat, she munched on some food and scooped small handfuls of snow for water. She began to grow warm moving and she knew she needed to slow down even more. She couldn’t risk getting too warm and then dying when she got cold later. As she passed by the trees and closer to the mountains, she saw the tracks continue on and on. Looking at the sun dipping ever lower in the sky, she needed to make a decision. Either she would need to stop for the night again and sleep or she would need to figure out how to follow them by night. What if it snowed again?

Against her better judgment, Allyandrah continued on and picked up her pace. She continued to eat more of the food even though she knew she should ration it. She grew warm and began to sweat as she more and more recklessly followed the prints. Just as the sun reached the horizon, she came to the base of the foothills. The tracks curved sharply and suddenly to the east, around a tall rock spire. Slowing down, Allyandrah caught her breath and as silently as possible, followed the tracks in the quickly darkening sky. She was running out of time.

She then heard the crackling of a large fire and froze. It was someone, but who? What could she possibly do to defend herself? She had no weapons.

Looking at the rock spire, she saw the rough surface. There must be rocks under the snow. Quietly, she crept to the spire and dug under the snow. She silently rejoiced as she found a fist sized rock with one fairly smooth side and one jagged side. Cupping the smooth side in her hand and holding the jagged side out, she continued forward. As the darkness crept in, she began to see the light from the fire.

Steadying her breathing, she crouched down and peered around the edge. Just more rock. Slowly moving forward she reached the next semi-corner. A small cave loomed in front of her with a large fire. Someone was in it, watching the fire, clothed in fur skins just like hers.

Allyandrah crept back until she could just see the cave and knelt down, watching. Suddenly, the person in the cave looked out her direction. She sat completely still, hoping to blend into the rocks around her. The person walked out to the mouth of the cave and looked around before turning and heading back in.

Soon, Allyandrah began to shiver as her body cooled down. She had gotten too warm and sweated. There was no way that she would warm up now without the fire. Taking a deep and slow breath, she stood up and slowly approached the cave using as wide a berth as possible given the surrounding rocks, watching the movements of the person inside, who still seemed to be engrossed by the flames.

Using the large fire as a block between the two, Allyandrah crept to the mouth of the cave in a low crouch, still holding onto her rock weapon. The warmth from the fire reached out to her and caressed her frozen cheeks. It was time.

She stood and watched as the other caught her movement.

“Allyandrah? Is that you?”

Shocked, Allyandrah dropped her rock and backed out several steps. Could it be?

“Allyandrah?” He pulled down his hood, revealing his auburn hair and peachy iridescent skin.

“Kru’Nah? What are you doing here?” Allyandrah fairly shouted.

“What do you think?” Kru’Nah replied. “I am here for you!”

Allyandrah’s mind wouldn’t work. It simply went blank. There was no possible way that he would leave for her. It must be a trap.

“If you are here to kill me, I accept my punishment,” she said resolutely.

Kru’Nah rushed over and embraced her. Pulling back, he looked in her eyes, down into her very soul.

“I would never kill you. This is not a trap to punish a slave.” He backed off and raised his hands. “I swear. I am here on my own, of my own accord, without the blessing of my mother. She will hunt us. She will try to find us. She will try to kill us. She will not succeed because we will work together.”

Finally, the stupor in Allyandrah broke and she rushed forward into the arms of Kru’Nah.

“I knew it!” she cried. “I knew you loved me! I never doubted, I swear!”

“I know,” he said soothingly. “I know.”

Allyandrah’s excitement quickly was replaced by violent shivers as her body became colder and colder.

“We need to warm you up!” Kru’Nah cried. “I did not come all this way just to watch you freeze to death!”

Kru’Nah rushed Allyandrah into the cave and began stripping her of the clothes that encased her cold body. Peeling off his own outside layers, Kru’Nah helped her redress into his furs and pushed her as close to the fire as either dared.

He offered her some food to eat and hot tea that had been sitting near the fire. She gratefully and wordlessly gulped it all down.

“We must leave in the morning.” Kru’Nah said as Allyandrah ate. “I know which direction we must go. We have a guard stationed up here to the southwest, so we must move northeast, away from them. They patrol up here, which is how I knew about this cave. I was going to stay here the night and then try to find you.”

Allyandrah nodded in agreement, her eyes sparkling with hope realized. She knew. She just knew. Catching her eye, Kru’Nah smiled and took her hand.

“We will celebrate soon. For now, we must conserve our energy and survive,” he said tenderly.

“I will follow you to the ends of the world, my love,” Allyandrah declared.

“We just might have to go that far. For now, sleep.” He kissed the top of her head and helped her lay down. Even though her mind was buzzing, Allyandrah quickly drifted off to sleep. Kru’Nah watched her from a distance, a mixture of fear and love on his face. He had acted rashly and it might cost them everything.

Flames

Here is a short story I wrote for in my writer’s facebook group.

The prompt was to write a short story based on your favorite painting. I don’t actually have a favorite painting, so I just perused google images until I found one that spoke to me. This is the story.

abstract-painting-change-of-seasons-largeThis is the image.

 

Allyandrah paused for a moment. What was that sound?

The faint roaring was vaguely familiar but she couldn’t quite place it. Her heart began to beat faster as though it recognized the sound as a threat. She glanced up through the trees, the black bark reaching for the sky, which was obscured by the red leaves at the very tops of the trees. The ground was moist under her bare feet and she felt the continual shifting of the insects everywhere. She had long grown used to the pinches, burns, and bites of walking across the forest floor.

Looking behind her, Allyandrah continued to move toward her destination, the rich mushroom garden where the forest sank into a low bowl. She relished the change in smells from the spice-infused forest to the dank, wet, musty smell of the mushroom garden. The oppressive heat of the forest even lifted as she descended. Quickening her pace, Allyandrah passed by hundreds of trees, looking for the cluster of six that indicated where she should curve slightly south to find the mushrooms.

The roar slowly but inexorably grew louder as Allyandrah moved through the forest. Her heart still pounded and she considered abandoning her usual silent walking for the careless crashing of the Hoomverdauns. The short, stout creatures moved loudly through the forest always giving away their positions. Their hair grew coarse and wild and their eyes always seemed to match giving an air of instability recklessness.

The Kjelgers, like Allyandrah, were much more reserved in every aspect. Tall and slender, they moved silently and purposefully through the woods. All Kjelgers kept their hair cropped short to avoid getting tangled on anything in the forest. Only the queen grew her hair and it was tremendously luscious with its silky, auburn look against her smooth peachy, iridescent skin. Allyandrah could always see the contempt for her people written on the queen’s face and Allyandrah loathed being in the queen’s service. She had no choice, though. One does not refuse the queen and live. The queen especially despised the blue-skinned and blue-haired forest Kjelgers. Their tasks were always the hardest, most dangerous, longest lasting.

Remembering her task, Allyandrah began to run. She knew she was close to the trees now as the ground slowly began to incline. She could not quite place why she felt so panicked, but indeed she was. Her breathing had quickened and her body trembled slightly. Finally! The six trees, four fat and two slender in their unmistakable pattern. Veering south, Allyandrah suddenly noticed the forest creatures running in her direction. Stopping suddenly, she looked around. Every creature was moving north.

Then she saw it.

The red horizon. It shimmered even from so far away.

Fire.

Turning to run with the animals, Allyandrah pushed her body as fast as it would go, trying to stay ahead of the flames. These trees burned quickly and easily and fire spread quickly. At least that’s what she had been told. In all her 89 years, she had never seen a forest fire, but her grandmother had. Allyandrah recalled the horror on the face of Gree-na as she told the tale of the last forest fire. It had wiped out the entire forest. Since then, Gree-na had been trying to plead to the queen to separate the sections of the forest so that should a fire ever start again, it would only burn part of it.

The roar now chased Allyandrah and she ran with the same terror as she could feel in all the forest creatures. She could feel the wind blowing through her cropped hair and her hands were a blur of blue in her peripheral vision. Weaving and dodging, she dared not glance behind her for fear of slowing down. It grew louder faster than Allyandrah could outpace it. The other creatures were faster than her and soon she found that she was being passed by all manner of creatures.

If only she was allowed to use Grojodans! The mighty, hooved beasts moved quickly and gracefully through the forest. No other creature came close to the majesty of the Grojodans. It was why the queen had captured them all for her own personal use. Tears began to stream from Allyandrah’s eyes as she realized her fate. There was no way she would be fast enough to leave the forest before she was burned alive. Still, she ran, her legs and lungs burning, refusing to give up.

She could now make out the crackling of the fire and not just its roar. She tried to push her body to run even faster. It must be right behind her if she can hear the crackling. Trying to keep her composure to maintain her breathing, Allyandrah pushed. She was by herself now, having been passed by all the forest creatures ahead of the fire. She felt terribly alone as she ran in terror.

Suddenly, ahead of her, she saw a tan dot grow larger. Something was running toward her?
She squinted to see but refused to believe her eyes. She must be imagining it.

Within moments, it was close enough for her to know that it was no hallucination. She knew that only one Kjelger could be atop. He commanded the majestic beast with a bit and some leather reins, his auburn hair and peachy, iridescent skin. He held out his arm as he approached.

“Kru’Nah?” Allyandrah cried out.

“No time! Hurry! Grab my arm!” Kru’Nah reached down as Allyandrah reached up. Pain seared through her shoulder as they grabbed and she was yanked up and back. He skillfully swung her around to be seated on the Grojodan behind him. She wrapped her good arm around his waist and clung tightly as the Grojodan turned sharply and began to run the other way. Allyandrah buried her head into the black silk shirt of Kru’Nah and squeezed her eyes shut. She would surely die now. The queen would never forgive this.

Allyandrah did not care anymore. Her love had come. He had saved her and she would happily and gracefully walk the stairs to the execution platform.

He had come.
I’m extending the challenge to you! Use your favorite painting or find one that speaks to you and write a story to go along with it! Share your link in the comments or head over to facebook to share there! I’d LOVE to read your story!

Honor Who I Am and Where I’m At

I’ve been trying to incorporate exercise and daily movement back into my routine of life and right now I’m going through Yoga Revolution  over at Yoga with Adriene. The theme of Day 3 is honor who I am and where I’m at every day when I step onto the mat. Or just in life.

As I was going through the practice and she repeated that phrase over and over again, I really thought about who I am and where I am in life.

Recently, my friend Katie wrote a post about an interaction we had over text message. I was so blessed to read this post because after my second or third reply, I started to get this nagging feeling that I was annoying her. That I was bothering her and I needed to close down the conversation so that she could get back to things that weren’t, well, annoying. Like me.

You see, friends, this is where I am in life. I am constantly worried about annoying people. Let’s get some honest truth going on around here for a moment. I was ANNOYING as a kid. I was loud. I was energetic. I was obnoxious. I didn’t know when to quit or shut up. Oh Lord have mercy I was a handful. At least, that’s how I perceived myself. I suppose there are those around here who could probably speak to the accuracy of that statement, but I didn’t bother polling them yet again some random question.

I had a hard time making and keeping friends in school – in elementary, my closest friends always seemed to move away. In high school, I had friends, yes, but they were kind of strange friendships that ebbed and flowed and cycled and recycled. In college, I made some questionable friend choices. From ALL my  years of schooling, I still talk to ONE person on a regular basis. A small handful of others on a very irregular basis. And maybe a large handful of still others with whom I connect on social media (which to say we’re facebook friends but very little if ANY interaction actually occurs).

This lack of solid friendships has led me to believe that I am in some manner defective, because I am the constant in ALL of these relationships, and that other people would rather be around or talk to pretty much anyone but me. I imagine people rolling their eyes when a text from me pops onto their phone. I hesitate calling people because they are probably doing something much more important than talking to me.

This is where I’m at, friends. So, to circle back around to Katie, to read that she was blessed by our conversation, that she was excited to engage in it, that it actually made a difference in her day was INCREDIBLE. It had never occurred to me that she might feel that way. That she might be glad someone is excited about a project she’s working on.

I struggle a fair bit with doubt. Maybe this is normal. Maybe it isn’t. I doubt all kinds of things about myself. I have a hard time seeing the good things. I easily beat myself up over and over and over again about the bad stuff.

I don’t want to be like that anymore.

I used to think I needed to be someone else to be acceptable. If only I was Megan or Kristin or Ashlee or Kelly or Alli or Rachel or Anna or Jeney or Katie or Nicole or Kari – if only I was one of THEM instead of me, then people would like me. I spent a long time, years, imagining being someone else. Trying to be someone else. Never wanting to actually be me. Never really stopping to see who I was, what I liked, what made me special and unique, what made me likable. Never realizing that I was special or likable.

It’s only recently that I’ve begun to give myself a little credit and start exploring and EMBRACING what makes me unique. What makes me me. I’m finally embracing  my love of yarn crafts, of writing, of running, of reading, of connecting in a meaningful way with others. I have a gift of encouragement. I LOVE to see others succeed in their quests and journeys and goals. I LOVE helping to encourage them along. I love reminding them that yes, someone else cares about it too.

So stopping for a moment for another really honest moment. It’s been a real challenge to be an encourager because I always feel like I’m being an annoyance. Can you smell what I’m stepping in here?

God has been doing a real work in me lately to help shed some of these lies, to help me understand myself better. To give myself more grace. To see me as I really am and not as the twisted mess I see myself as. I have seriously spent so many years just surrendering to these demons, not even trying to fight them, that I cannot see myself clearly. I see my achievements as noteworthy and cool, but not who. I. am. Without those notches on my belt, who am I? What am I? Is there anything special about me at all?

Over the weekend, I tried very hard to honor myself – who I am and where I’m at in life. Instead of beating myself up, I tried to give myself some grace, to try to see some positivity.

Can you relate? At all?

Friends, it is high time we start seeing ourselves clearly. It is high time I start seeing MYSELF clearly. I only peel back one layer at a time, but I need to start working on those layers. I have to stop believing the lies that who I am as a person isn’t enough. I have to start seeing my hobbies as things I enjoy instead of things that give me worth.

I already have worth. As a human. As a child of God. I need NOTHING else to give me worth. To give me value. My worth, my value, just as a human, cannot be measured. It wouldn’t matter if I’d never done a thing in my entire life. My worth and value would still be far beyond measure.

It’s time we start seeing ourselves and living our lives in light of this truth.

Especially me.

 

 

 

 

Did this resonate with you today? Leave a note of encouragement below or hop on over to facebook and join in the discussion! Thank you for stopping by!

Remembering What We Love

I stole the title of this post from my MOPS devotional book.

I just read Chapter 8 today, Confidence Over Conformity: Remembering what we love.

The author talks about how she made a friend at a playdate for her son. They were talking about finding time for the things they like – writing for the author and painting for her friend. The author was writing a book and her friend lamented having no time for art anymore.

I have encountered that sentiment a lot as I somewhat publicly pursue my own interests. I have had people tell me that I’m lucky to be able to do what I love because not everyone can. I’m told that there just isn’t time for mom or dad to focus on themselves. I’m told that to do lists are just too long and the days too full and the nights too short to spend ourselves.

The author goes on to share a story of when she was in a spelling bee in second grade. She got second place and her mother considered it a waste of time. The author never entered another spelling bee. And she struggles to pursue her creative interests because they are “time wasters”.

How often do we all fall into that trap? There are so many more things I could DO instead of knit. Or write. Or run. Or read. Or create. Or consume. Or enjoy.

I could do that load of laundry that’s been staring at me for days. Or just quick unload the dishwasher… and then load it… and then wash down all the counters. Or clean this thing. Or that thing. Or find something “developmental” for my kids to do. Or whatever else. The list just goes on.

In the past few years, I’ve really started to embrace who I am and what I enjoy. At first, I felt like I needed to make money doing these things to make them worthwhile. If I could sell what I knitted, THEN it would be worth my time to spend hours knitting. If I could just get paid to write, THEN it wouldn’t be a waste of time to write. If I could just start on the path to being a famous, sponsored ultramarathoner, THEN it would be worth all the training time required.

Now, I do these things simply because I enjoy them. Because I need to do things I enjoy to maintain my sanity. Because I am me. I am Cari. I am not JUST mother or JUST wife. I am not defined by my relationships to others. God has given me gifts that are intended to simply be enjoyed.

It’s hard to break out of that mindset, isn’t it?

That our interests are only worth pursuing if they accomplish another means. Because enjoyment somehow isn’t a good enough reason to engage in our hobbies.

Growing up, my parents, like all parents, weren’t perfect. They did stuff that screwed me up just like your parents screwed you up and like I will screw up my kids. One thing they did really well, though, was to encourage us exploring interests. I was in Girl Scouts and band and choir and track and cross country and plays and musicals and church and youth group and on and on. I was never the best one, though. I wasn’t first chair. I wasn’t section leader. I wasn’t the perennial winner. I didn’t even get my Gold award.

What I did get, though, is much better. I got support in the things I liked to do. And now, as an adult, it’s been pretty easy to throw off the chains of “I should…” and embrace “I do it because I enjoy it.” I don’t need to make money to make it worthwhile.

How about you? Did you feel supported in your interests? Did you have to be the best for it to be worthwhile? Did you have to have the right interests? Were you completely different from your parents and they were totally cool with it? Did they pursue your interests with you?

What struggles do you have with pursuing hobbies today?

What lies are you believing that say carving out time for yourself is wrong?

God made us all unique. And that includes our hobbies. That includes finding things to do that make us happy. Finding our passions and our interests and using our skills. Even as a Christian, not everything we do needs to be overtly Christian. Perhaps simply enjoying who God made us to be is a good enough testimony. I am worth spending time on myself.

Being creative for the sake of creativity is a great use of our time and energy. God is the ultimate in exploring creativity. How could a creative God think that spending time in creative pursuits is not worthwhile?

Friends, you are worth spending time on yourselves doing things you enjoy simply because you enjoy them. We need to stop believing the lies that say unless we make money or are “accomplishing something”, that our pursuits aren’t worthwhile.

If you like to write, write even if no one will ever read it. If you like to run, run even if you will never race. If you like to read, read even if you never discuss what you’ve read with anyone. And so on. Even if you never make money. Even if those around you don’t understand. Even if those around you try to make you feel bad for investing in yourself.

I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full. That’s what Jesus said. The thief comes to destroy and Jesus comes to give life.

Are you believing the thief? Or Jesus?

What can you do today to start eroding your belief in the lie and start building your belief in the truth?

Recap of 30 30s and goals for 2017

I suppose it’s about time that I share how I did on my 30 30s. In short, it was a series of goals I set for myself to complete during 2016, the year I turned 30. I wanted to push myself to explore new hobbies, to grow in different ways, and to achieve things I may have previously thought impossible.

As far as completion of items, I did terribly. I only completed 9 of 30 categories. I came close in 6 others, but didn’t have the drive to push myself to finish them.

Part of my problem at the very end is that I only wanted to do the things just to check them off my list. It felt really inauthentic, which made it hard for me to push and do it.

However, I don’t see it as a failure. In fact, I learned more about myself through failing to complete things than I would have otherwise. I realized that I really don’t care for working out – either strength training or yoga. While I know these would help take my running to an entirely new level, I don’t have the patience or the drive to do it. At least not on my own. I found that to be very valuable.

I do enjoy writing on my blog, but I didn’t manage to eek out 30 posts in one year. Part of the time, I didn’t have anything to say and sometimes I really just didn’t have the time. However, I have learned that my blog is an important way for me to process through things and I really look forward to processing through some pretty deep and painful hurts over the next year. We are all a product of our experiences and choices and it is high time I let go of some things from my previous prodigal life.

The other thing I realized is that I have lots of hobbies that take time and cannot be done concurrently. I can’t read and knit or run and write at the same time. I also can’t write a blog post and a novel at the same time and each of these takes time. The important thing I’ve realized is that I just need to go with whatever creative whim I happen to be on at the time. It’s okay if I don’t write for weeks at a time while I read or knit a sweater. It’s okay if I give up knitting to write a novel or train for an ultramarathon.

Previously, I had thought I needed to find time during each week to participate in each of these hobbies, but I have realized that as long as I’m feeling fulfilled by the current hobby, it’s okay that I only engage in one or two at a time. I don’t see an uproar here when it’s days or weeks between posts, so it seems you all are living life just fine apart from my musings, though I do want to try to muse with a little more regularity this year. We will see, though.

Some of the goals I had set were things that weren’t actually important to me but I wanted them to be. I haven’t really played guitar for a couple years now and having a $500 guitar hasn’t changed that, even though I wanted it to. It sounds really nice, but I don’t know what to play on it. I don’t know when to play that doesn’t draw toddlers around to pull and pluck and poke and yank and hit it while I play.

I finally did read the entire Harry Potter series this year (actually, in a span of about two weeks…) and it was really enjoyable. I have a stack of other recommended reads by a friend to get through and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m really excited about the books and I’m excited about my growing list of other books to read. I am excited about writing my novel and seeing where the story goes. Maybe I’ll publish it, but maybe I won’t.

In all, I found the challenge to be a great success. I feel proud that I even tried to tackle something so huge. I did grow a lot and I see where I still have areas in which to grow. I have really accepted the things that make me happy, the things that I enjoy, that I want to spend my free time on. I have better learned who I am and I have deepened some relationships with friends that I really wanted to do. I’m being more honest, more encouraging, more open, more vulnerable. The best part about it is that my friends really seem to appreciate it. They aren’t scared off like I had thought they would be. They seem to like me for me and that was actually pretty surprising.

For the majority of my life, I’ve been trying really hard to be someone else – whether I tried to be Megan or Kristin or Katie or Cheryl or Alli or Jenna or Nicole or Katie (a different one) – I was always trying to be someone else and not myself. This year, I’ve learned that people like Cari. People like Cari because she is Cari. I have great things to offer if I would just give myself the chance to offer it.

So this year, I have some pretty specific goals, and far fewer. They are all important to me and they are manageable. They are direct, they are measurable, and all of them are either fun or fulfilling.

So, my goals for 2017 are as follows:

  • Finish writing Tamerna book 1.
  • Run an ultramarathon (paid race).
  • Watch all the Harry Potter movies.
  • Read Lord of the Rings.
  • Take the kids to the park more often than I did this year.
  • Purge more unnecessary stuff from my house.
  • Read to the kids from their Bible more often.
  • Read the entire Bible.
  • Finish reading the Sword of Truth series.
  • Engage more intentionally with my friends to deepen our relationships – check in via text message or calling, do more than just push ‘like’ on facebook, etc.
  • Finish knitting my sweater.
  • Play with the kids more AND let them play outside alone more
  • Date my husband more

 

I am always a fan of accountability so any time you want to check in on me, I am a fan of sharing how things are going.

How about you? Do you set goals for an entire year? Do you call them resolutions? Are you experiencing any success yet? I’d love to hear what you’d like to accomplish in 2017!

NaNoWriMo

Nearly an entire month has passed since my last post.

I have started to write two different times, but alas, it hasn’t actually come through to finished posts. That is undoubtedly because I have been up to my eyeballs in NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. Yeah, it’s a real thing. The premise is to write 50,000 words in the month of November – whether a novel or otherwise.

I have been working specifically on a novel. I had originally intended for it to be a stand alone novel, but it sort of morphed into book 2 of a series I hadn’t intended to write. A fantasy series about an elf named Tamerna (more like night elf from WoW and less like Santa’s little helper) and some things happen and she reacts, etc. You know, general story stuff happens.

Book 2 , currently titled The Legend of Tobias Snow, is based off a short story I wrote a couple months ago to submit to an anthology put together by a facebook group I once was in. Well, as fortune would have it, I broke one of the rules and now no longer have an anthology to submit to, but I still have a pretty darn good short story. Everyone who read it said they wanted to know more about Tobias, thus this novel. I had originally planned it to be a nice little history of Tobias, but it simply took a completely different direction.

I am a discovery writer, or pantser as some say, which basically means I write as I go. I don’t do very much planning and certainly don’t do anything in the way of outlining, so the story more presents itself to me than I plan it and write it out. For me, that is the beautiful thing about writing, the flow of words from my brain to my fingers and then onto the paper (or screen as it may be). Watching a story take shape in front of my eyes is one of the most fun things I do with my free time. Going back and watching it evolve seeing where I have to go back and fix the front end so it matches the back end is a different task entirely, but I do enjoy that part too.

I have definitely learned quite a bit about myself in this process of making and trying to reach goals. A terrible habit of mine is to give up if I think I can’t reach a goal or if I think that it feels fake to make a big push right at the end in order to reach a goal. That hasn’t been the case with NaNo. It ends in three days (including today) and I still have 10k words to write, which means I need to bust out more than 3k words a day to make it. Usually, I would throw in the towel and say “I can’t do it, it’s not worth making a huge push to get there” but not this time. This time, I am doing it.

It’s also given me another little nudge to make a good push to end my 30 30s strong. There are several categories I will not finish. I know this, but I still have an entire month to make a push for some I KNOW I can finish and that is precisely what I’m going to do. The point of NaNo, the point of the 30 30s, is to stretch myself, to push myself, to help myself grow in ways I might not have grown otherwise.

I watched a documentary recently called The Barkley Marathons and the race founder at one point says something like ‘It’s such a privilege to watch people push themselves farther than they think they can go’. So my 30 30s, my NaNo, my ultra – all of these are attempts to push myself farther than I think can go. Those are the moments, the times, where we learn the most about ourselves. I’ve really enjoyed these challenges and I want to do my best to achieve as many goals as I can, to push myself to walk just outside my usual boundaries.

When is the last time you really pushed yourself?