October 21, 2011

Playing Dress Up


As a little girl, I simply loved to play dress up. I’d pull out my sparkly pink dress, my mom’s old heels, and my mini-tiara and pretend I was a princess in a faraway land. I ordered my servants (aka my little brother) around and waited for my prince to come. It’s probably when my penchant for acting was first born.

And again tonight, at age 26, I’ll be playing dress up. We’re hosting a costume party for our Sunday School class. I didn’t figure adults liked playing dress up.

But oh boy, they do!

So what is it about dressing up that we love? Is it simply the fun of it? The fact that it makes us feel like kids again? Or does it go deeper than that?

Could it be that we like being someone other than ourselves, albeit temporarily? Maybe sometimes, our own lives are too difficult and we want an escape. Or maybe we gain a sense of confidence in someone else’s shoes that we can’t seem to find in our own.

I don’t have the answers. All I know is I love pretending to be someone else.

Maybe I don’t need to know why.

Questions for you: Do you like dressing up in costume? If so, why? If not, why?

October 19, 2011

Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah Stayin' Alive...

The other day, I came across a simple, yet profound quote:

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." -- Howard Thurman, theologian

So, if I believe this quote speaks truth, then does that mean I don't have to get all tangled up with worrying about what God's purpose for my life is? That by doing what makes me come alive--that is, what I feel passionate about--I can have a purposeful life that will have an impact on the world?

Wow.

It's so easy to get caught up with worry of this type: Should I take this job or that? Should I major in this or that? Should I take the time to do this or that? (Personal example: Should I actually take the time to pursue this crazy dream of becoming a published author, because writing is something I love and simply cannot stop myself from doing?)

It seems to me that if we stopped worrying about what we SHOULD do, focus on what God MADE us to do (indicated by what we're passionate about doing), and trust Him to take us where He wants us to be, we'd get a whole lot more living done.

Of course, one caution is to remember that we also have responsibilities like God and family that we cannot simply forsake in order to pursue a dream or passion. But if God made us to do it, then He'll provide a way for it to happen.

So, if you love cooking? Open your home, invite over a bunch of friends or co-workers, and feed them. God can use your cooking to make those people feel nurtured and loved.

If you love singing or acting? Try out for a community theater show. God has used music and the laughter theater can bring to soothe people's souls.

If you love mothering? Devote your time and energy to your own children or being a mentor to others.

The point is, God can use you wherever you are, whatever your passion is. He planted that passion in your heart. I challenge you to use it. Come alive, and you will leave an unbelievable legacy in this world.

Questions for you: What makes you come alive? How are you pursuing your passion?

October 15, 2011

But I Didn’t WANT a Do Over!


So, I was writing yesterday. No, not just writing. Flying. Soaring. Racing. My fingers were flying and flapping across the computer. Ideas were coming to me, lightning bolt-ing through my brain. 500 words. 1,000 words. 1,500 words. Go, go, go.

And then, my computer shut off.

NOOOOO!!!!!

Yes, I lost my work. Not all of it, but a decent amount. I press the “Save” button on my computer almost neurotically, because I’m always afraid of this very thing happening. I guess my neuroticism was interrupted this time by the flowing ideas.

Sooooo…what now? I was sure what I’d written had been brilliant, and now it was gone, gone, gone (like Frank Sinatra, like Elvis and his mom, like Al Pacino’s cash, nothing lasts in this life…sorry, good song…just popped into my head).

So I had to redo it.

And you know what?

I think it’s better than the original.

But I never would have had the improved material if I hadn’t lost the original. It makes me wonder how many things in life would be improved if I only had the courage to venture out and “rewrite” the way I do things in life.

Interesting thought.

Questions for You: What would happen if you stepped outside of your comfort bubble and “rewrote” some aspects of your life?

October 12, 2011

Oh Time, Where Art Thou?


I’ve always prided myself on having killer time management skills. I love to use lists, calendars, and basically any other tool to help me in my somewhat-neurotic pursuit of discipline. I start off listing everything I want to accomplish: in life, that week, that day. Then, I try to figure out how much time each activity is going to take me.

Inevitably, I always land myself 80 hours’ worth of work, 40 hours’ worth of social activities, 15 hours’ worth of cooking/cleaning/grocery shopping/being a wife, and about 5 hours of working out per week. That leaves only about 28 hours for sleeping, relaxing, and personal hygiene per week.

Yeah, like THAT’S gonna happen!

When I look at my schedule and start to hyperventilate, worry kicks in. Will I ever finish X? Will Y ever happen? How will I manage Z? Oh, and in the midst of all of these things that I’m juggling right now, at this moment, HOW IN THE WORLD WILL I EVER ACHIEVE ANY OF MY LONG-TERM GOALS? I mean, I only want to get in shape, eat better, be a better wife, spend quality time with God, and you know, become a published novelist. No biggie.

Gulp.

It’s really hard to remember that, in the midst of it all, God has a plan for me. He doesn’t want me to live a frazzled life. Yes, achieving my dreams will take discipline, but it also will take a lot of prayer and prioritization (darn, couldn’t think of a 3rd P word…would have made for some great alliteration!).

If I look at my goals and all that I have to accomplish, there are ways to cut some of it out. Maybe it’s OK to ask my husband to go to the grocery store or run that errand. Maybe it’s OK if we don’t have an amazing meal every night – leftovers are great! Maybe it’s OK if I’m not the amazing party hostess/domestic goddess I long to be. And maybe it’s OK to work out 3 times a week instead of 4.

Then again, there are some things that I wouldn’t give up, things like time with God, my husband, my family, and my friends. Things like writing a novel this year.

Questions for You: Do you ever feel overwhelmed with all that you have to do? Have you found great ways to manage your time? Please share!

October 2, 2011

My 20-Step Writing Process

The process of writing can be many things...fun, torturous, humbling, energizing, inspiring, etc. Even though it's easy for doubt to take hold while I'm writing, for the most part, the good things about writing outweigh the bad.

For me, the writing process goes a little something like this...

  1. I outline what I'm going to write.
  2. I start writing things as I think them, not stopping to wonder about whether what I'm spewing onto the page is complete garbage or jewels in my crown (usually it's a combo of the two).
  3. I become tempted to edit as I write. Note: This does not get me very far in terms of word count. 
  4. I try to kill the editor in me...temporarily.
  5. I write a scene. It flows from me. I think it's amazing.
  6. I read that scene over again. 
  7. Frustrated with my complete inability to capture what I wanted to capture, I close my laptop and go eat something sweet to cheer myself up.
  8. Mid-bite, I think of a way to improve the garbage-like scene I just wrote. 
  9. I rush to my laptop, sweets forgotten, and flood the screen with brilliance (ha).
  10. For inspiration, I read someone's else's novel. 
  11. I go back to my sweets, thinking I'll never be able to write as well as those who are published.
  12. I talk through my doubts with my husband. He tells me to just go write and then I can edit it later and make it brilliant then (such a smart guy!). 
  13. I listen... I go back to the laptop and just write and write and write.
  14. I leave the work alone for a few days. 
  15. I come back to it fresh and edit.
  16. And edit.
  17. And edit some more.
  18. I bring it to my writing group and they tell me what needs to change, what they didn't understand, what doesn't make sense.
  19. So I edit again.
  20. And eventually, after lots of care, doubt, frustration, love, and humility, I submit the work for publication. 

I look forward to the day I reach Step 20 on this novel!

But in the meantime, I'm learning and growing and loving every minute of a process that, hopefully, is shaping me and my future.

It's a long, sometimes painful process, but it's worth it to reach the ultimate goal!