Saturday, February 16, 2019

BEGINNINGS | Beginning Again: Dealing with Change and New Seasons

The journey from 2018 to 2019 has been such a wild ride. I know we're already more than halfway through February, and really the new year isn't so new anymore, but I can't help but still feel in awe at how different everything feels from last year. All the change. All the forward momentum. The direction I'm going in, where I'm headed.

Yet sometimes, I don't see how far I've come until I look back.

On my lunch break a while ago, I wrote out my thoughts on this, on the back of whatever paper I had at the time (scraps of card stock and the back of an envelope). 
I never published them, but the sentiment still rings true: Change is sudden, but it also happens slowly, and then suddenly, the things that scare us don't scare us anymore. That's the best way I know how to summarize this new season, jumping into 2019 after a crazy 2018.

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

Life is weird because you can feel like you aren't moving forward, but then all of a sudden you look back and you can see how everything has changed and is different now. The people I surround myself with, the church I attend, my confidence in myself and at my job. How the Lord is surprising me with His 100% better plans for my life, when I was so busy focused on my own. Things I was so nervous about don't freak me out as much. When God provides, He also provides peace.

I remember the beginning of college, and my very first day.

I remember that feeling of absolute terror I had, waiting in my mother's idling car in a one-hour parking space for Creative Writing class to start. And then, how over time, without my even noticing it, that terror transformed into intrigue and joy, and then routine. And now I can't imagine that I was ever afraid.

Maybe there will always be new fears on the horizon, and maybe it will still be difficult to navigate new seasons with faith and trust.

But if there's anything 2019 has taught me so far, it's that God's got me. He can take a weary spirit and a scared soul and calm all the fears, doubts, insecurities and worries you have and turn them into something beautiful. He can give you a fresh start that you didn't even know was possible. He can walk you into a new season of life that only He could have provided, and hold your hand along every step of the way.

Here's to a new, beautiful beginning.

What about you?

What has life been like for you lately? I genuinely want to know. What kind of season are you in: a beginning, middle or end? Also, major shout-out to my sister for letting me borrow these stellar photos. Happy weekend, friends!

Miss last week's BEGINNINGS post? Check it out here, my dudes!
Or click here to browse all of the posts in February's BEGINNINGS series.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

BEGINNINGS | Introducing February's Theme & Some Quote Love

Before we move any further into the already super-short month of February, allow me to introduce this month's theme: BEGINNINGS. It may seem kind of counterintuitive to post about new beginnings and fresh starts in the second month of the year, after all the New Year's inspiration for goal setting and reinvention has somewhat cooled. But that is exactly the point!

This February, I am finding myself in search of balance, rest, and restoration.

The Lord has shown me that with Him, I can begin again and again and again, and that He always has grace for my mistakes. If that looks like a fresh start on February 10, and not the super shiny January 1 #BestSelf I craved, then so be it. I am longing for that new life that the Lord can breathe into a familiar routine as He helps me navigate this season of life.

To start off BEGINNINGS, I compiled a list of inspiring quotes and lyrics about rejuvenation, time, beginning. As I feel refreshed and encouraged to move further into 2019 in God's strength, I find that I am still looking for my own words to share. So please enjoy these lovely little bits of goodness, in a new segment I'm calling Quote Love, woop woop, cheerio, pip pip and all that:

Quote Love: BEGINNINGS Edition

"To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance."
- Oscar Wilde

Oh dear, is this one ever true. Knowing yourself and prioritizing time to preserve the person that you are is vital. No one is perfect but working on yourself and learning and growing are the best steps to take in becoming who you want to be.

"For last year's words belong to last year's language
and next year's words await another voice."
- T. S. Eliot

I could snap, this is poetry in motion. Gone now are the words and the thoughts of even five minutes ago. So long as we have breath, there is always a chance for us to start over again. Now is the time to lean into a fresh goal, perspective, head space or moment of grace for ourselves.

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning,
great is Your faithfulness."
- Lamentations 3:22-23

There is nothing I could possibly add to increase the impact of this phenomenal passage,
so I write only to say that it's a promise, and we can cling to it. My heart!

"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end.
But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
- Winston Churchill

I don't even know why but this one hit me so hard, I actually said "OOF" aloud. 

"Woke up in the corner store, someone saying my name,
Everybody moving around, acting like nothing had changed,
But something had changed in me."
- Bleachers, "Good Morning"

I will never cease to be amazed by this song, or Jack Antonoff's music in general. To me, that whole second Bleachers record feels like moving on, starting over, saying goodbye. It hits me in the heart. My fave, my fave, my fave.

What about you?

What kinds of things do new beginnings bring to mind? Does anybody else struggle to live up to the pressure of a January New Year's #BestSelf? And do you have any Quote Love to share with me?

This is the first post in the BEGINNINGS Series!
Stay tuned for more posts in the series coming atcha real soon.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

NOURISH | My #1 Tip for Learning How to Love Your Writing

Earlier this week, I was holed up in my room, writing my novel,
when I realized the impossible: I was actually enjoying myself.

This might sound ridiculous if you are genuinely pretty confident about your writing, or if you really dig in and lose yourself in your story. While I have moments like that now, for a while there, I felt really stressed about my novel.

I struggled to enjoy crafting my own specific story because I was constantly thinking with the end in mind: When is this project going to be finished? Will this ever get published? What will people think of my words? What if they're absolute garbage?

When I realized that I was legitimately enjoying writing my book, even in its (very) rough draft form, I knew something had changed.

It wasn't my story. It's still in shambles, with lots of editing left ahead of it (bless). No, it was my perspective. *Light bulb* I was no longer writing to please others, or to meet a deadline, or because I felt I had any semblance of responsibility to anyone or anything.

Simply, I was writing for moi. And it was awesome.

Perhaps this is something you have known for a while and you are reading this thinking, "Duh, Erin! Write for yourself. Enjoy the process already." And to that I say, wow, you're totally right. But also, WHO ARE YOU. Somewhere along the way (and I suspect comparison plays heavily into this), I lost a little bit of the wonder of novel writing and instead started to think about the end result and what other people would think of my words (ew). So I tried to write Really Resonant Prose (double ew), but it just came off feeling inauthentic to my voice.

Hear me out: Trying to sound like someone else is exhausting.

In writing for myself I realized that my writing voice is a bit weird. (Big surprise.) It's a little humorous, a little out there, and if I don't sound like some of my favorite writers (I totally don't), THAT'S OK. I sound like me. I'm the only one who can. So why has it taken me so long to embrace that?

Once I was able to put aside the all-consuming thought that Real Live Humans will read my novel one day (oof, my child), I started to sound like myself and have fun.

Does a character seem too flat? Let's give them a love of opera and rainbow sock hats. Are certain scenes too introspective? Let's add some Stellar Quips. I just started doling out ridiculous sentences into this story like Oprah gifting people new cars. 

After all, how can you expect another lovely soul to enjoy your writing if you (its metaphorical mother or father) aren't having fun with it? If it's not authentic to you?

Y'all: YA GOTTA LOVE IT. That's my number one tip: Write for yourself, and the joy that encouraged you to write the story in the first place will nourish your heart and actually make you a better, more genuine writer. So let yourself write that really indulgent, cheesy first draft. And then edit it to pieces.

What about you?

Have you ever struggled to enjoy your own writing, and if so, what has helped you nourish your process? And if you could describe your own writing style in an aesthetic, what would it be? Thanks for reading, as always!

This is the last post in the NOURISH series!
Click here to browse through all the posts in the series.
I'll see you all in February to reveal a new theme!