Posted in The Ponderings of Life

5 Things I Took For Granted

Today marks one month since I returned from my trip to Texas to attend a friend’s wedding. When I left for the trip, everything was normal. When I came back, the restrictions had begun. A week into quarantine I started writing a journal, so that one day I could look back on these strange times and remember what I did to pass the time and how I felt as the days went by. When I started it, I thought I’d only be writing about all this for a month, maximum. It’s funny how much things can change in such a short amount of time. I don’t know for how much longer quarantine will be in place. I may only fill up half my journal before we’re “released” or it may last long enough that I’ll have to pull out another journal.

But as I reflect on the past 30 days or so and the many changes that have happened in my life because of the pandemic, this time in quarantine has helped me realize 5 things I take for granted in my normal, everyday life.

1. Work

As most of you know, I’ve been working at a half-day preschool at my church for almost four years now. Going into work every morning has been a part of my daily routine for so long, I don’t think twice about it most days. It’s just a given. It’s just what I do. Did I love it? Absolutely. But did I fully appreciate it? I used to think I did. I’ve always known that I have an amazing boss and co-workers and I’ve always had fun with the kids. But did I know what a blessing it is to wake up in the morning and have somewhere to go, somewhere I needed to be? To have people waiting for me to arrive and get things prepared? To have children hanging off my arms and begging me to play? I took all that for granted. Complaining (even about things we ultimately love!) comes second nature to us as humans. Why did I used to complain about getting up early? One thing I’ve noticed during quarantine is I have little motivation to get up in the mornings because I have nowhere to be. I’d give anything to have a reason to get up early now! (Well, most days… 😉 )

2. School

This one is easy. I knew before this that I took school for granted. I’ve always complained about homework, deadlines, exams. I’m not pursuing anything beyond a Bachelor’s degree solely because I’m tired of exam stress. But there again, schoolwork was another reason besides work that I got up in the morning. Because there were deadlines! There were assignments! There were things that needed to get done. Because my schooling is online and I take one class per month (usually) I’ve been in between classes for a bit while waiting to see how my financial situation would pan out due to this situation. This week I’m starting my next class (yay!), but until then, I didn’t even have homework to get up for. It was fun to have no homework for about two weeks and then I found myself missing it. I literally have never ever ever missed schoolwork before. I’m even surprised at myself as I type this, but it’s absolutely true. Because I love learning–I love history–I love learning about history–and I love my classes. Besides College Algebra (which made me cry), I have loved almost every class I’ve taken in college because it’s taught me something about myself or the world around me, and that knowledge is invaluable. Simply having something to learn about is definitely something I took for granted.

3. Friendships

This realization surprised me. I’ve always loved my friends and tried to be intentional with them, and while I’m still reaching out to them through Zoom or FaceTime, I didn’t realize how much I took for granted being able do things with them: go out to lunch, see a movie, go to an event. To be able to hang out at each other’s houses and be with each other. I have quite a few long-distance friends, so I’m used to having to find other modes of communication besides being in person, but now all my friends are “long-distance”! I didn’t know how much I enjoyed hugging someone or being present with someone until I couldn’t.

4. Ministry

This one is hard to admit, but I’m hoping by this point, you may relate to some of what I’m describing anyway. I have the privilege of teaching choir to 1st and 2nd graders as well as participate in the adult choir, both at my church. But again, how easily do we slip into the mundane and monotony of ordinary days. Every Wednesday night, I go to adult choir practice. Every Sunday morning, I teach kids choir. And every week, it’s the same. While I love both greatly, I would complain about getting up early on Sunday mornings or having to prepare for a difficult song. But I called both a privilege above because that’s what it is! I didn’t appreciate the fact that I get to serve God in this way–in a way I enjoy! And there is beauty in doing the same thing every week, in knowing what to expect and being able to participate in it.

5. Free Time

This one is a little different, mainly because I wanted to end on a more positive note instead of just talking about all the things I can’t have right now. 😉 During my normal, very busy life, I don’t necessarily have a lot of free time, but there is definitely a decent amount. So, why is it that I’m always saying “I don’t have time” to write, read, take a walk, etc.? I used to think I had legitimate excuses–but now that I see all that can be done in a day, I’m starting to wonder if that’s all they were: excuses. In the past 30 days, I have finished reading a book (as well as started a couple others), written in my journal almost every night, went through the self-publication process for The War Within (my favorite achievement so far! 😉 ), written 8,000 words in Everlasting’s prequel, chatted with someone virtually three or four times a week, gone on a walk almost every day and made great progress on my Beauty and the Beast cross-stitching project while watching a number of movies and TV shows (many that I’ve been meaning to catch up on for a while…). I’m willing to admit that because I don’t have work or a social life anymore ( 😛 ), I have more head space to be creative, but still…I know I could be implementing at least some of these things daily–if I really wanted to–if I really tried.

In conclusion, I’m beginning to think that God is using this quarantine to help me reevaluate my priorities and what I put my identity in. When literally everything is stripped away, who am I? This has been such a humbling experience for me, as I’m sure it has for many of you as well. What do I put value in and why? At the end of the day, what really matters? I’ve pondered these questions and more as I’ve gone through the ups and downs of several emotions in the past 30 days. Ultimately, I know three things for sure in this uncertain time:

God’s plan is not my plan.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. – Isaiah 55:8

But while I am not in control and am confused, God has complete control and understanding.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars; He gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; His understanding is beyond measure. – Psalm 147:3-5

And my job is simply this:

Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! – Psalm 27:14

I hope this encouraged you. We are living in very strange times, but we have a very powerful and loving God! I hope when all this is over, we hug our friends, go into work with a huge smile and love our life more than we did before. I hope we don’t take any of it for granted.

 

 

Posted in The Ponderings of Life, Words Upon Words

The War Within: Published!

I’m so excited to announce that The War Within is officially published as of yesterday!!

There are always a lot of emotions that go into self-publishing: joy, exhaustion, pride, anxiety. Usually there’s a bit of frustration toward the end due to the complications of the formatting process, but this time things went really smoothly, all things considered (except when I was working on the cover, but it’s fine, it’s fine). Just like in the past, I’ve felt all the above mentioned emotions in the past couple weeks.

Now that it’s finally published, I feel some anxiety (will people actually read it? will they like what they read?), but mostly joy. It’s so thrilling and so fulfilling to self-publish a novel. I haven’t felt these feelings in a long time and it’s strange to feel the familiar, yet somehow still different, feelings again. Then as soon as all is said and done (every single time) I come to the conclusion that I must self-publish again–soon! I’ve been looking at the other novels I have finished in my documents and thinking how soon I can get the next one ready for self-publication, because it’s just so fun. But I know each novel takes its own time and I just need to be patient through the editing process. (I still hope to do it again faster than four and a half years, though. 😉 )

Well, back to The War Within. It’s available for purchase on Amazon for $9.99! I’d love it if you’d let me know if you get a copy and what you think after you’ve read it! ❤ Check out the official cover below!

The_War_Within_COVER_COVER 2         received_204106724350855

Posted in The Ponderings of Life, Words Upon Words

The War Within: Proof Ordered!

Good morning, everyone!

Since announcing that I have begun the self-publishing process for The War Within about a week and a half ago, I’m ecstatic to update you on the latest developments! About 10 days ago, my sister, Sandrine, finished painting the absolutely gorgeous cover. It came out even better than I was anticipating! (Keep reading for a cover reveal!) I finished touching up the manuscript a few days ago and let it sit before scanning it again yesterday. After one last look, I uploaded the cover and manuscript on KDP and just like that, I was ready to order the proof!

The proof copy should arrive this Saturday at which time I will flip through it and make sure everything looks the way it’s supposed to. Needless to say, my original release date of Tuesday, March 31st, is tentatively rescheduled to Sunday, April 5th. Regardless, it should be available for purchase on Amazon by this weekend–what a crazy thought!

After I ordered the proof last night, we went on a walk around the neighborhood (something we’ve been trying to do every day since Quarantine began a couple weeks ago), and as we walked, I realized that within a week, my book will be published. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. For the first time in over 4 years, I’m self-publishing again! It’s been a long, arduous process with lots of breaks in between to focus on school, but at last, the day is almost here! I truly think The War Within is probably the best story I’ve ever written and because of this, I cannot wait to share it with everyone and hear their thoughts!

With these types of things, the work is hard, but the reward is great. There’s nothing like holding your own words in your hands…I suppose it’s a glimpse to what holding your newborn baby is like. But maybe that’s stretching it. 😉

Last, but not least, before I finish this post, I want to reveal the amazing cover Sandrine painted for me…

The War Within - Cover Final

Ta-da! Isn’t it beautiful?! ❤

Hopefully the next time I blog, it’ll be the official announcement of The War Within  being available to order on Amazon!!!

Posted in The Ponderings of Life, Words Upon Words

The War Within: An Exciting Update

{ Photo credit : Liana Mikah }

With all the craziness concerning COVID-19 going around, I thought it was about time to change things up and let you know something super exciting happening over here that has absolutely nothing to do with a virus. 🙂

As some of you will remember, in the fall of 2017, I wrote a short story and entered it in a fairy tale retelling contest. The following April, I got an honorable mention for it. I was very content with my honorable mention, but since my story wasn’t picked for the compilation novel Rooglewood Press was putting together and I still wanted to hold it in my hands, I decided it was time to self-publish again.

Later that summer, I added another 10,000-15,000 words to flesh out the story and turn it into a novella. Then I spent the last two years editing it with my aunt on and off while pursuing my BA in History. There have been ups and downs and everything in between (mostly in betweens 😉 ), but after earning 6 credits in this past January and February, I decided I needed a brain break and it was about time The War Within got its day in the spotlight.

Once I was officially confined to my home this week, then I knew I really had no excuse. 😉 SO the process on CreateSpace (which has now been merged with Kindle Direct Publishing) has begun, my sister is currently painting another beautiful cover and I’m putting the finishing touches on my manuscript.

It’s really, really hard to believe that within a few short weeks, I’ll be holding another book of mine–again. I haven’t self-published since December, 2015–almost five years! There was a time in 2018 when I thought I might be on the road to traditional publication, and when that fell through, I became really discouraged and didn’t write or edit anything for almost a year. But with the support of family and friends, I got back on my laptop and now I’m on the verge of not only self-publishing The War Within, but also finally finishing writing Endeavoring (and that’s another blog post for another day).

In conclusion, I wanted to give you all an update on The War Within and let you know that it’s almost ready to order on Amazon! My current “release date” is Tuesday, March 31st, although release dates are pretty flexible when it comes to self-publishing. Either way, I’m so, so excited to share another story with all of you and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts soon!

Keep an eye out for future updates and have a safe, healthy day. 🙂

Posted in NaNoWriMo, The Ponderings of Life

NaNoWriMo 2018: Thoughts and Results

This is the first year in quite a few where I didn’t introduce my NaNoWriMo project in October and/or give one or two updates in November. C’est la vie!–as they say. My October was absolutely nuts and my November was pretty busy as well. (One of the reasons being a trip to New York City I took with my mom and I’m looking forward to blogging about meeting my FAVORITE childhood author, Gail Carson Levine, soon!) Needless to say, now that I’m here, I’m excited to talk about NaNoWriMo.

Some of you might remember that two years ago my NaNo project was a prequel to Everlasting (which I call Endeavoring). It was an opportunity to peek into the lives of Azalea’s parents, King Zechariah of Memiana and Queen Crystal of Orutia, and find out how on earth an optimistic human and a pessimistic fairy fell in love. I succeeded in writing 50,000 words that month and continued to write another 10,000 throughout December of that year into March of the next.

Continue reading “NaNoWriMo 2018: Thoughts and Results”