Saturday, May 11, 2019

QUIET | Why Being Quiet Isn't Being Lazy (Guest Post by Victoria Grace Howell of Wanderer's Pen)



Today on the blog I have a special treat for you: A guest post written by the one and only Victoria Grace Howell of Wanderer's Pen! I was so excited when Victoria reached out to collaborate, and am so happy to share her essay on why time spent being QUIET and restful isn't time wasted. Without further ado....let's jump into her essay!

I spent my childhood around a previous generation that believed
hard work was the key to success in life.

They’d work themselves to the bone to keep their families going and/or to pursue their dreams. For years, I adopted this practice because it felt like if I wasn’t working myself into exhaustion, I was being lazy. I’d take on tasks from waking till sleeping and I was productive, yes, but so exhausted. While I felt like I was accomplishing so much, at the same time I was withering and suffering from burnout.

Going on the occasional vacation never felt restful enough because although I was away from work, I was still going, going, going -
just for recreation instead of a paycheck.

It wasn’t until I was working a day job, involved with three different writing organizations, trying to write my own stories, and being diagnosed with depression and anxiety that I realized I have to take some regular time to be QUIET. I highly do not recommend coming to such a low place to have such a revelation, but I do strongly recommend finding time within a week or even every day to rest and reflect. I’ve started taking one rest day a week where I sleep in, relax, and not burden myself with a never-ending to-do list. I also take an hour or two every day to just refresh myself before
going to bed.

I know not everyone can take a day out of the week, but try taking an hour or two every day to just do things for you.

Watch a show, read Scripture, take a walk, draw, whatever brings you joy. Spending time being QUIET is like hitting the refresh button. When a web browser page has been working too long, you often have to hit the refresh button to get it working again. You have to do that with yourself, too.

Since taking that time, I've felt even more productive, I've slept better, my mental health has improved, and I've felt like my life is fuller.

 I believe strongly in hard work, and I don’t by any means believe it is a bad thing, but it needs to be balanced with QUIET and peace, too. Resting doesn’t equal laziness.

Erin here: Can we all just give it up for Victoria?

I loved reading her thoughts on taking time to wind down, because it truly does make us more joyful and productive in the long run. And I believe it vastly improves our quality of life. A big thank you to Victoria for sharing these thoughts!!
Everyone go give her blog some love!

What about you?

What kinds of things do you like to do to prioritize your self care and QUIET time? For me, it's all about listening to new music, taking a park walk, writing my novel and watching Harry Potter movies with my family. Thanks again to Victoria for the awesome essay! Have a stellar weekend, my dudes.

This is the second post in the QUIET series.
Miss last week's post? Fret no more, find it right here.
Or click here to read through all the posts in the QUIET series.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

QUIET | Why I Want to Say Yes to More Quiet Time in May





Easter morning was spent on the back porch of my parents' house in the country, swathed in a sweater and drinking chai tea. The day before, what seemed like my entire extended family arrived to celebrate, but the next morning was quiet, still. There is a certain amount of peace surrounding these kinds of places that words can't do justice. Whenever I visit small towns and this little country house in particular, I feel whole. My only job is to unplug and be present.

Even so, I don't always do the best job of this.

Our lives are so easily filled with noise these days. I'm not saying that we all need to move out to the country to escape it all (wait that's exactly what I'm saying) but I think we have to find ways to cope with the constant surge of sound present in our daily lives. At least in my own experience, any given day can be filled with noise from the media, social networks, texts, emails, music, even my own thoughts. That's why this month will be devoted to posts about pursuing QUIET.

The posts will kind of piggyback on last month's theme, VOICE.
I think that we can create best and really have an impact with our words
when we take time away from everything and rest in the silence.

So, what does QUIET look like? Why should we value it, and what does it mean in terms of places, faces and mental spaces? (I promise I'll stop rhyming; it was just super good timing. OOPS.) I hope to explore posts about this in May, and *throws confetti* we will also have a special top-secret guest poster sharing her thoughts as well!

As always, if you guys have anything you'd like to
see me post about this month, let me know!

I'll leave you with a verse that has been a favorite this year (emphasis mine):

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life,
to mind your own business and to work
with your hands, just as we told you."
- 1st Thessalonians 4:11

I don't know about you, but the quiet life sounds pretty darn lovely to me.

      What about you?

      What do you do to step away from the noise of everything? What kinds of activities do you enjoy that allow you to unplug from the constant stream of sound?
      Hoping your May is off to a stellar start! 🌸


      It's the first post in the QUIET series!
      Which I actually managed to publish on the first day of the month.
      Not too shabby if I do say so myself!

      Sunday, April 28, 2019

      VOICE | 12 of My Favorite Songs in 2019 (So Far)


      It would be kind of ridiculous to write about this month's theme (VOICE) without mentioning music. I actually don't talk about music on the blog as much as I'd like to, which is kind of odd considering my blog name. But for those of you who don't know, I am capital-o Obsessed with music and am always looking for new songs, albums and artists to add to my playlist. Here are some of the songs I've loved in 2019. Keep in mind these are songs that weren't necessarily released this year but that I've adored anyway.



      Aesthetic: Floating gently to the bottom of the sea as the sun reflects off the water.


      Why this song: Ok, so maybe I was initially a little late to the Billie Eilish party, but now that I'm here, WOW, my dudes. I love Billie's full-length LP (honestly all of those songs are the jam), but this one in particular is so hauntingly beautiful. Her voice is so young, pure, and innocent, but coupled with genuine pain and heartfelt lyrics. Love the layered vocals towards the end of the song. So sad and beautiful, I DIG.


      Related image
      Aesthetic: Parading around your living room in a full black cloak for sheer theatrics; background music for reading Edgar Allan Poe.





      Why this song: Why not this song? It's ridiculously short, sweepingly dramatic, beautifully breathtaking and an absolute gem of a track that easily takes the cake as my favorite song by this band. It's Queen, of course (read: maximum drama), but somehow more pleading and soft than anything I've heard from them. I went out and bought the full album on vinyl the other day just so I could listen to this track.





      Aesthetic: Foot-stomping your way down a woodland path in the park, as the sun dapples down and your spirit soars at the joys of living (WOW what are my words today).

      Why this song: My sister and I saw Hozier in concert this year, and before that night, I hadn't heard this particular track from his new album, but OH MAN. His raw vocals (and stellar background singers) on that killer chorus make this one an instant favorite. Worth a listen, or twelve. DANG IT ANDREW HOZIER-BYRNE. Be right back, just going to be scream-singing this one for the rest of all eternity. 





      Aesthetic: You're literally these two from Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom, and you're going on adventures, darn it.


      Why this song: It's Miike Snow but with a sort of whimsical twist. I love the playful keys and the whistling, and the marching-band style drums give it a youthful feel. It's cute, very summery, and simple enough to sing along to after literally one listen.




      Image result for there is more live hillsong

      Aesthetic: Breathless declaration of identity while gently swaying from side to side.


      Why this song: I usually don't listen to a ton of worship music (which I'd actually like to change), but I heard this song at a Bible study and WOW, the lyrics and powerful vocals just move me. I have sung this song at the top of my lungs more times than I can count, just leaning into the promises of God. Love the live recording because it feels like there's a whole stadium of people singing with me. Also, the song just keeps going....it gives you time to let the lyrics wash over you. 


      Image result for lumineers gloria

      Aesthetic: Leaving town with only a suitcase to your name and a long woodland drive ahead of you.


      Why this song: I can't even begin to describe how much the Lumineers' music affects me. It's relatively simple and often acoustic, but there's an urgency to it, and the raw vocals from their lead singer are like a wound. He believes every word he sings, you can tell. Those keys towards the end of the song also have my heart. Eagerly awaiting the third record.


      AND THESE GUYS:
      What about you?

      What are some of your favorite songs this year, my dudes? I look forward to hearing your recommendations! So far 2019 has been a wonderful year for music.

      Miss the last VOICE post? Check it out here.
      Or click here to read all of the posts in the VOICE series.
      Looking forward to announcing a new theme very soon!

      Saturday, April 20, 2019

      VOICE | It's Not Too Late: Don't Let Perfectionism Stifle Your Words





      On Tuesday, I sat down with a woman I'd never met before and listened as she told me stories about places and faces half a world away. I was interviewing her for a podcast series at my job, but we talked about so much more than the questions on my list. In that hour, she taught me about perseverance, how you've got to continue to move forward even when your spirit is crushed, how you must keep on using your VOICE even when it feels like you're shouting into the void.

      When I meet people like that, it just lights something up inside of me.

      I couldn't help but think of this space, and my own little assortment of words. I thought about all that I want it to be, and how I want it to matter, even if it's not there yet. That's been something that's been stewing on my mind for a while - blogging (or just writing in general) and perfectionism. It's something some of you have shared that you struggle with, too. It's the post I've been trying to write as I sit in coffee shops, but, ironically, it never comes out sounding right.

      It's taken some time, but I'm realizing that my fear of not having the perfect words (or the perfect blog) shouldn't be enough to stifle my VOICE.

      To you worrying if your novel is good enough, if you should just quit writing, if your blog is pointless, or if your VOICE even matters: It does. You do. Just the other day I was thinking about how intricate the world is, how there are so many of us on Earth, but how each one of us has a personal impact. Only you know the people you know, and only you can reach them. When your best friend calls you crying or your sister has a panic attack, they are not looking for Perfect Words. They just need you, your true and authentic self.

      Often I think that the biggest blessing comes when we have doubts,
      but we write the thing anyway.

      When we share our VOICE in a post or a text. When we write the book even as our hands tremble. When we take a step of faith and believe in ourselves and hit that big orange Publish button. I think often times there is opposition and difficulty in getting that message into the world simply because someone out there needs it. Even if it's you.

      So that's what this is.

      April, all of it. The VOICE theme. It's refusing to give up even when it feels like I don't have the pretty words or motivation to keep bringing words into this space. It's waking up and writing my novel and having a good laugh at what I wrote even thought it's just me and the word doc. It's forgetting about page views and just pouring out my heart. It's believing that the Lord gave me the love of writing for a reason and that it's never too late to Do the Thing. And it's not too late for you, either.

      What about you?

      What has been holding you back from sharing your VOICE? What would you write and say and do if you were completely unafraid? Wishing you a wonderful Easter, my dudes.

      Miss the last VOICE post? Check it out here.
      Or click here to read all of the posts in the VOICE series.

      Saturday, April 6, 2019

      VOICE | Finding Peace in All the Noise



      "Hey, God has you." 

      It's the short text sent from an Asheville airport that finds me in an exhale. My father, hundreds of miles away and experiencing anxiety of his own, sends the text anyway.

      God has you.

      When circumstances change or our emotions run rampant, it can be hard to find peace. When demanding deadlines and confusing questions fill our days, it can be difficult to slow down enough to remember Who is behind it all, weaving beauty into our lives and sprinkling little joys throughout our days. Butterflies and birds soaring and someone sharing cake in the break room. A bouquet of carnations and a Switchfoot song to sing at the top of your lungs.

      I went for a walk in the woods this week to get away from the noise.
      To be present in nature, even if just for a little while.

      This week, the Lord has been whispering to me about peace: "Trust in Me. I've got you." I'm learning that I don't need to know what lies ahead and that when my own anxious thoughts try to solve everything and see the end of my story when I'm still at the start, there is One who speaks to me in a soft VOICE.
      He tells me to take it one day at a time.


      I want to put this VOICE first. Sometimes it can be hard to hear Him, when I'm so focused on my own thoughts, the blare of social media, the magazines I read, the lyrics I listen to.

      I need to carve out more quiet spaces devoid of technology,
      media and other people to really hear Him.

      I'm not there yet, but I'm on my way. And in case you were wondering, or maybe in the midst of it all you've found you've forgotten: Hey, God has you.

      What about you?

      What do you do to unplug from the craziness and spend quiet time with God?
      Any tips for taking time away from technology (it's such a distraction)!
      Hope you all are having a wonderful April.

      Miss last week's VOICE post? Check it out here.
      Or click here to read all of the posts in the VOICE series.
      Talk to you soon!

      Monday, April 1, 2019

      VOICE | Hello, April: Introducing a New Theme

























      If March was a month of taking a step back from writing to focus on the ESSENTIALS of life, then I want April to be filled with words.

      Words, loads of them, rough draft sentences or polished phrases, I want them all. This month, I don't want to let my focus shift to perfectionism and hold me back from actually Writing the Things. My words may not be perfect every time, or even some of the time, but they're still my words, and I'd rather write them and express them then keep them neatly folded into unread pages and unpublished drafts.

      So: I am hitting publish on this post in hopes that declaring April as a writing month will inspire me to follow through and make it work!

      The theme for this month is VOICE. With my April posts, I want to celebrate everything expression, whether that takes the form of music or writing or speaking words of encouragement into someone's life. More to come soon, but for now, enjoy your April, hug a friend, and remember to go outside and sit in the sunshine for a bit, because that can do wonders for the soul.

      What about you?

      What are you looking forward to in April - any special goals? The picture up above was from the Hozier concert, by the way, which was EPIC, my word! P.S. If you have any post ideas you'd like me to write up this month, I'd love to hear them. Until next time, friends!

      Sunday, March 24, 2019

      ESSENTIALS | Resting & Re-Centering Myself in March




























      This month has been a lesson in focusing only on
      what is absolutely necessary.

      A few weeks ago, I was all geared up to launch March's theme, ESSENTIALS, to better explore the things that are vital in my life. The things that are there when all of the frivolities get stripped away. What I hope to build my life on: God, family, nature, creativity, music, rest. My own personal ESSENTIALS.

      Interestingly enough, I never got to draft that full first post,
      because March had other plans.

      This month has tested my limits with stress and made me essentially (pun wholly intended) have to start practicing what I wanted to preach: When stress starts to rage, how can I dial back, take a breather, and build my life around what is absolutely necessary?

      This is something my sister likes to remind me of when I get overwhelmed.
      Only do what you have to. Go to work, come home, and sleep.
      Don't do more than you have to do during difficult seasons.

      As a person who wants to constantly push myself to work harder, create more, run faster, this is welcome advice. Dialing it back to only what is essential in my life means protecting my time, putting the pause on creativity in favor of a full night of sleep (still not the best at that one), and setting boundaries so that I don't push myself too hard and burn out.

      Oh, March. I wanted this month to be full of so much blogging.

      But instead I tried to focus on Jesus, my tribe of loved ones, and allowing my spirit to rest (via nature walks, chai tea lattes, and reading books in the backyard). Unfortunately, I realized this blog was not one of my ESSENTIALS. It is an outlet that I adore but I can only pour into it when I have the time, energy and creativity to write something I resonate with. And if that means fewer posts and more resting, that's a trade-off I have to be willing to make.

      I am curious to know what falls into the ESSENTIALS category for all of you.

      What are the things that, even at your lowest and weakest, you know you need in your life to thrive and bring yourself back to a normal state? This could take any form, really. I know personally that a morning run and a cup of tea with some good reads will recharge me. Throw some vinyl in there and a vanilla bean candle and we're all set.

      What about you?

      How do you go about taking things off of the table (RIP my novel) when life gets too stressful? What kind of ESSENTIALS help recharge you? Oh, and how was your March? Mine has been a doozy, but I've learned so much. Looking forward to hearing from you in the comments!

      I hope to be back in April with a new theme. We'll see!
      Until then, I wrote a thing for Burning Youth and if you'd like,
      you can read that here.

      Thursday, February 28, 2019

      BEGINNINGS | Q&A Interview with Nabila About Blog Beginnings

      Today on the blog we have a very special treat: To conclude February's theme of BEGINNINGS, I interviewed Nabila (who blogs over at Hot Town Cool Girl) about the beginning of her blogging journey and what she has learned! Please give Nabila a warm welcome and check out her answers in the segment below. Happy reading! 

      Q: What sparked your interest in blogging?

      A: My friend! She had a blog and was showing it to me. At that point, I didn't have any social media and neither did any of my friends. The thought that you could have this space that was truly yours that you could do anything with made me so, so happy.

      Q: How did you go about creating your very first blog?

      A: When I came home from my friend's [house] that day, I immediately asked my parents [if I could have a blog]. They said yes! They knew a bit about it because they also had blogs for work. I named it "Nabila Eve." It was very dark and had about a thousand gadgets.

      Q: What advice would you give to your younger self about
      beginning a blog now that you have more experience?

      A: Design really counts. Also, proofread. I think one of the most important things, though, is to reach out to people! In the beginning, I thought I was a lonely blogger and there were no other bloggers around my age at all. When I actually found other bloggers and started talking to them, I felt so crazy accepted and they helped me so, so much.

      Q: What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start a blog?

      A: Just do it! So many people want to do things but they never do because they're too scared or anxious. Also, write about stuff you're actually passionate about. Don't start a blog just because you think it will be popular or you will make money off it.

      Q: What is your biggest blogging victory?

      A: I haven't done anything amazing with my blog like go to New York or get some award [but] I think one of the biggest things that has come from my blog is it has helped me find myself. I used to think I was boring and had no skill. With writing my blog, though, I found out that wasn't true. I have lots of skills and people actually like me? Like what?  

      Thank you again to Nabila for the fantastic interview! It was so fun getting to 
      read your answers and share the story of your blogging journey.

      What about you? What kind of advice would you give to current bloggers and/or your younger blogging self? I remember when I first started blogging, I crafted an entire post dedicated to Pi Day. You read that right, folks. Share your embarrassing blog beginnings stories with me below!

      This is the last post in the BEGINNINGS series! (Boo hiss.)
      Click here to browse through all the posts in the series.
      I'll be back in March with a new theme for you all soon. 

      Saturday, February 23, 2019

      BEGINNINGS | Learning to Replace Negative Thoughts with Biblical Truth



      I will be the first to admit that a lot of the time, I struggle to believe what is true.
      I could blame it on our culture and its constant stream of media, but that wouldn't really be fair. What is more often the case is that I choose to listen to my own thoughts instead of what I know my family and friends and the Lord are all saying to me: good, beautiful things. Why is that?

      Years ago when I spent a week with tanned legs and bandanas galore at summer camp, I learned that to get rid of one thought,
      it helped to ruminate on another.

      That was a big part of me beginning to realize just how I could shift my mindset
      For every negative thought I had, I found a Bible verse to replace it, so when I was feeling angry, insecure or doubtful, I could read what the Bible had to say on that particular topic. That was also probably the same summer I came home to show the weird and (literally) campy program videos to my non-camp friends and learned that one should never, ever do that. BUT I DIGRESS.

      Those verse cards helped me learn how to swap bad thoughts and replace them with truth. Which is something I find myself needing to learn again now as an adult, interestingly enough.

      My friend Jenny also created a similar resource for me when I was still in middle school. Jenny is the best, I seriously have to give her mad props for being a mentor to me at a time when I was 13 and hyper as heck. The little card she made me is still taped inside my Bible front cover to this day and has a list of all the things God says about me (and you). Cards like this have been such a help to me over the years, so I thought I'd share it with you:


      Loves me: Isaiah 43:4-5
      Cares about my feelings: 1 Peter 5:7
      Knows everything about me: Psalm 139:1-10
      Is close to me: Acts 17:27
      Forgives my sins: 1 John 1:9
      Is my friend: John 15:15
      Died for me: Romans 5:8
      Never changes: Malachi 3:6
      Comforts me: 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
      Hears me when I pray: Micah 7:7

      All credits go to Jenny. I was so blessed by these both then and now, my heart.

      What about you?

      Do you ever struggle with negative thoughts, and if so, what do you do to feel better? Did you ever go to summer camp and make weird memories? And what is one thing you're looking forward to this weekend? Thanks for reading, friends.

      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. 
      LIKE WHAT WINSTON?!



      "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!

      Saturday, January 19, 2019

      NOURISH | Cultivating One Day of the Week for Nothing But Rest

      Full disclaimer: I absolutely adore Sundays. Sunday mornings in particular, when the only things on my to-do list are to sleep in, drink coffee, and read. But Sundays weren't always so peaceful. Even after a long week of work and a busy Saturday out and about, I used to try and make my Sundays (gah) productive. BUT NO MORE, I SAY.

      Before we continue, *please* go listen to the most perfect Sunday morning song there ever was as your Required Background Music for this post.

      I don't know if any of you are like this, but I used to...not let myself rest? I used to demand too much of myself in terms of both creativity and running, which in the end led to inevitable burnout. Saving Sundays for myself has been a way to actively nourish that quiet part of me that just wants to snuggle up in bed with coffee and reflect on the week. And read #AllTheThings.

      Now I have a whole day where I know going in that I'm not going to be doing much of anything. Just...breathing. Exhaling after a long week. Looking through blogs before church. Choosing caramel iced coffee instead of chaos.

      Everyone's routine is different, but I think it's important that we each carve out time to rest. I look forward to my Sunday mornings more than just about any other time of the week, and it's because I'm consistently choosing to prioritize it for peace.

      How to Cultivate a Rest Day in 5 Steps or Less or Your Money Back






      1. Pick the day where you have the least to do. Rest days work best on those days where you don't have a work shift to get ready for or classes to attend. You might still have some small priority tasks, but generally the best time to rest is when you know you're going to have less on your plate.

      2. Get comfy. Pajama pants, slippers, blankets, beanies. IT'S ALL ABOUT OPTIMAL COMFORT HERE, PEOPLE.

      3. Grab a beverage of choice. I prefer coffee but you do you, boo.



      4. Inspire yourself. Something I've been trying to do more of lately is actively assemble a list of videos, articles and other little links for me to enjoy on Sunday mornings with my coffee. Often these are thought pieces or song recommendations I didn't get to check out earlier in the week. I save them all up in a document (and rip pages out of my old magazines, shhhhh) and read them all on Sunday. It's my new favorite thing.

      5. Go out. Or don't! But I typically find that venturing out into society on my rest day (even if it's just an hour for church or to grab yogurt), makes me feel more accomplished. No one even has to see you. You can just go for a drive. But do it! You'll be glad you did.

      What about you?

      Do you have a designated rest day that helps you recharge? Or do you carve out time for rest a little bit each day? I have now shared my Sunday morning hermit steps with you, my friends. And now, to crawl back into my cave....

      Miss last week's NOURISH post? Check it out here!
      Or click here to browse through all the posts in the NOURISH series.