As promised to my Carousel readers, here is the winning entry in my design contest for the mark. The first is from Shady Creek (season one).
The second is from The Myst (season two).
As promised to my Carousel readers, here is the winning entry in my design contest for the mark. The first is from Shady Creek (season one).
The second is from The Myst (season two).
Remember when I said I was an enneagram 1? You probably don’t, so here it is. If you don’t want to look back at it, I’ll sum it up by telling you that I was frustrated by a situation at re:generation, and I was convinced that my “oneness” made it a particularly cruel hurdle.
Well … turns out I’m not a 1. In fact, I’m so not a 1 that when I start acting like a 1, it’s a red flag, warning me that I’m not healthy.
So what’s my real number?
My real number kinda blew my mind. The enneagram seven is nicknamed the enthusiast. The one is the reformer, and it’s where I go when I’m unhappy. So basically, this means that when I’m not healthy, I go from loving everything to trying to fix everything.
I go from sprinkling glitter everywhere to vacuuming that messy crap up. I go from Phoebe to Monica. And speaking of Monica …
She pretty much sums up how I feel about my new number. I don’t want to make everything perfect. I want to make everything beautiful. But when I’m low — and I’ve been really low for a long time — I Monica my Phoebe. Hence, the confusion.
I tested as a 1 because I was just that unhappy.
Don’t get me wrong. Healthy ones are amazing. One of my best friends is a one, and I adore her. But a seven acting like a one is a miserable creature.
I’m getting in touch with my enthusiasm. There are days when the words are flowing, and I dance through the house in celebration of a well-written episode. But holding on to that is difficult. Sometimes I still try to put my 7 characteristics in a cage. The chaos of my creative heart terrifies me.
I worry that I’m too much and too little at the same time. Can I really write fantasy novels and enjoy myself for a living? Isn’t that too self-indulgent? Shouldn’t I be the queen of clean?
I’m currently on step 7 in re:generation. I didn’t plan to wait and share my real number on this step. But it works out great, because step 7 is to follow. It’s time to put the things I’m learning into action. No more going in my cave, no more seeking out the comfort of loneliness. I need to move forward, to be brave, and do new things.
And it’s really hard to move forward when you don’t know who you are. I’ve been trying for so long to be what I thought I had to be, that I don’t know how to let myself breathe. I feel guilty for my good days. That doesn’t sound very enthusiastic, does it?
There’s joy in the juggle, if I will allow myself to be the scattered, creative person God made me to be.
Last week was rough. I feel less like I’m on a roller coaster now and more like I’m on a seesaw. Still up and down, but not nearly as exciting.
Re:generation is hard. Inventory is hard. I thought I had knocked it out. On the first week of inventory, I got a hotel room and plowed through it. I even wrote insightful little summaries about each category. Then I found out I had skipped an important step. I had to face some hard stuff–stuff I didn’t even want to think about, let alone share with my group.
I hadn’t knocked it out. It had knocked me out.
Inventory again. Not where I wanted to be. Instead of getting another hotel room, I visited my childhood church, intending to approach my new problem using an old, trusted method.
There used to be these huge cement tables behind the building. Once when I was young, I spent hours lying on my back on one of those tables, asking God for help. I had nowhere to live and no idea what I was going to do. I think back to that day when I’m at my lowest, and I remember feeling like God met me there. So it seemed a great place to visit.
After packing up all my re:gen stuff, I drove to Providence, Texas. I needed a date with God, lying flat on my back. I brought a plastic table cloth, because the last time I had seen the tables, they were covered in weird fungi and droppings from the trees. Nothing was going to stop me climbing up there.
And this is where the tables used to be.
Now I’d driven more than an hour to lie on a table that didn’t exist anymore. I stood there and cried about it for a minute, feeling rejected. The same way I felt the last time I was there. I showed up for my date, but where was God?
Not knowing what else to do, I went around the building, searching for a place to sit that might mean something to me. But I’m allergic to wasps, and they seemed to be in all the cozy places. Alone, no EpiPen, hardly a signal on my phone, I wasn’t risking getting stung.
I took a few pictures as I wandered.
I love taking pictures, but it wasn’t what I came for. So I kept walking, eventually into the cemetery. Providence is a small community, so I knew a lot of the names on the headstones. It was nice, and a little sad, to think of them. I loved this broken headstone that used to say GONE HOME.
I wondered if God was telling me to go home. I couldn’t do what I came for. I wasn’t really trying to accomplish anything specific anymore. Just reminiscing, trying to make some use of what felt like a pointless trip.
And then I came across this, and it brought me to my knees. I knew Carolyn and Buddy were there, because I had been to their funerals. But this was the first time I saw their headstone.
They were the answer to that prayer I prayed the day I was on the table. Carolyn came and got me and took me home with her.
Maybe not completely new. I’ve come to the conclusion many times that my story isn’t one of abandonment, but one of rescue. It’s easy to lose perspective when you’re listing every horrible thing that ever happened to you.
This was the reminder I needed. I’m not doing this alone. I can’t see the full plan yet, but there is one. God showed up for our date, just not where I thought He would. His plan was better than mine, as usual.
I wasn’t supposed to lie on a crusty table, focusing on feeling lost and alone. He wanted me to remember that when I’m flat on my back, I should be on my knees. Still looking up, but also forward, because there’s something good on the way.
I made a little wildflower bouquet for Carolyn and Buddy, and then I spent some time right there, thanking them both for what they did for me. And I’m still processing why I also felt like I needed to apologize to them. I’ll be working on feeling like a burden for a while yet, I’m afraid. But at least I know I need to work on it.
The last picture I took is a reminder to myself to put the past where it belongs. I have to dig some stuff up in my recovery process, but I don’t have to dwell on it. I certainly don’t have to relive it. It’s time to let it go.
I’ve always been a pencil person. I have a power sharpener by my desk, and I zip a pencil in it every time I so much as jot down an item on my grocery list. Then back into the pencil cup it goes, tip upward, one yellow beast in a bouquet of wrist stabbers.
Mistakes get erased. No dull-tipped pencils, and certainly no pens, ever cross my desk. My eraser dies before I run out of graphite, so I keep a pack of extra erasers handy. Because what good is a pencil if you can’t erase mistakes? What good is any writing utensil if it betrays you by revealing your imperfections?
This is, of course, why I have 15 novels sitting here unpublished. When I was in therapy, I told my therapist what I felt my headstone should say.
On Valentine’s Day, my friend gave me a gift. A journal and a pack of glitter gel pens. I’ve had some of these babies before. I doodled with them, admiring the slick way they lay down ink, turning the page to watch the sparkles. But I’ve never really written anything with them. Especially not in a wonderful new journal! It’s even my favorite color!
So what was I to do? Every pretty pen I’ve ever owned has dried out, wasted, owned by the wrong girl. A pencil person, unable to shine. Girls like me don’t deserve shimmery ink. Do we?
Deep breath. It’s just a pen and a journal. The pages can be torn out. I worried that I would have bad penmanship or get behind trying to record a scripture while the pastor was talking. I worried that the ink would bleed through the page. I hate that. I might misspell a word. The horror.
But, wielding a glitter pen, I committed words to the page. And I made a mistake. I knew it! No eraser. I needed to start over, maybe tear it out and rewrite all my notes later. Then it occurred to me that I could take notes in an ugly notebook, in pencil of course, and then transcribe carefully, slowly, into the journal. That’s when I realized that my perfectionism was rearing its ugly head, not only making me feel horrible, but causing me to miss the sermon.
So I stopped. And I wrote this verse, because it was from my re:generation book, and it had hit me just right.
“For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
I wrote it in green glitter and then added some red, which made it look like a bad attempt at making it 3D. But I didn’t care. I’m free. Flawed, but loved. I went back to my sermon notes and scribbled out my error, and it made a nice little glittery blob on the page. Man, you could really see the sparkles in a blob! Beauty from ashes.
I’m officially a glitter pen girl now. I still try to turn my mistakes into perfect round spots, or even better, hearts or flowers. But I’m not so worried about erasing everything now.
The re:gen book asked for my first impression of the inventory process. Usually, I find narrowing down my response difficult. I can write thousands of words in minutes, but summaries slay me. Today, not so much. In a word:
In a few more words:
NO NO NO NO NO
I don’t want to leave it there. Someday, some unsuspecting person might fall onto my blog. Maybe they’ll find it because they’re starting re:gen and want to get an idea what it’s like. Maybe they’ll find me when the group starts whispering about inventory. And I don’t want to scare anyone away. Heck, I’ll probably be the one who sent them here. Having survived, I’ll look back at this post and chuckle wisely. So let me clarify.
Just kidding. But seriously, I’m not looking forward to this. And to make matters worse, a storm came through last night and caused us to shut down the church on the very evening we were supposed to be trained to do inventory. Trained and encouraged, which I NEEDED.
If you’re an enneagram person, let me explain by giving you my number.
If you’re not an enneagram person, let me explain what it means to be a one. I need order. I need to know how to do a thing correctly before I can do the thing. I’m driven by a need to make things better. Straighter. Cleaner. PERFECT. Hence, the re:gen journey. I’m doing re:gen to work on perfectionism. And now I’m supposed to start the one part of the experience that kept me from signing up long ago … without training?
I’ve never felt so connected to Bill Murray in my life.
If you haven’t seen Groundhog Day, I judge you. Don’t worry, I’ll beat myself up for it in my inventory.
I’m working on my need to be seen. In today’s Bible Recap I read Psalm 104. The author is unknown, which I’m realizing even as I write this, helps me to make my point. Tara-Leigh mentioned in the audio portion that this Psalm, all about creation, makes her think of creatures on the bottom of the ocean that we won’t ever see. Creatures God made for His own enjoyment.
They may never be discovered and appreciated by humans.
I experience so much joy when someone reads my work and engages with me about it. I was afraid for a long time that if I ever released my books, I would be disappointed by the lack of interest and interaction they brought me. It kept me from sharing. You can’t be disappointed by an outcome if you never let it come out!
But now I think I’d be okay with remaining as obscure as a tiny, glowing snail on the bottom of the ocean. No one has to find me as long as God enjoys me.
Some things never change. Depending on circumstance, I may see that as a good thing or a bad one. Today I feel torn.
This week, I’ve been filled with joy. People have commented on it. I radiate joy, they say. And it’s true. I’m in a much better place now, relying on God. I’ve released so many things into more capable hands.
I earned my first bonus on Kindle Vella. A tiny paycheck, but a victory for me. It isn’t the journey I once dreamed of, but it’s sufficient for me. More than sufficient if my behavior is any indication. I ran through the house celebrating.
My lesson today forced me to look at my patterns. It was good timing, because I was in a funk last night. After gushing with excitement in group Thursday night, proclaiming that I had unlocked the secret to being joyful in all circumstances, I found myself slumped on the couch, my arms crossed, refusing to laugh at my favorite sitcom the very next night. Actually resisting feeling good.
So have I changed? I need to, because the person whose attitude toward me keeps bringing me down isn’t going to. I’m so close to getting past the thing that’s holding me back. How one person sees me. This person’s view of me is neither good, nor bad, nor ugly.
It is indifferent.
One person, who doesn’t hear me or see me, no matter what I say or do, has the power to steal my joy.
That has to change.
I’ve noticed a pattern in my recovery that isn’t exactly following the steps in the re:generation books. They say to trust the process, so I’ve been doing that. But today I feel it’s important to point out that even trusting the process can be problematic. At least if you take it literally. For my current struggle, I need to rephrase it.
Trust God to work in you through the process.
I know I’m nitpicking here, but it makes a huge difference in a mind like mine. (Still working on the perfectionism.)
When I first started Groundwork, I also did a women’s Bible study on the book of Isaiah. I’m an overachiever, often teased for my tendency to get ahead of the lessons and finish first. But I was seeking God, and I heard a message loud and clear.
So I did. I had my gallbladder removed during that study, but it wasn’t why I didn’t complete the work. I simply needed rest. I stopped filling in my book halfway through, and then I even fasted from writing from Thanksgiving to New Year.
The next theme was trust. I couldn’t have released my story had I not completed this step. This one is straight out of my re:gen work, so I do see the process there. I believe the process works. But my next theme has me reevaluating some things.
In my previous post, I mentioned my quiet time routine. There are several components, and sometimes I’m in the Word for a couple hours before I start my writing. This is huge for me, because I had long held the belief that my best writing happened first thing in the morning. I was dogmatic about it. I’m still really glad I gave this over, because I see great changes coming from a switch in my priorities.
I didn’t mean to do it, but I feel like I gave credit for my heart change to that process. This understanding came to me through a couple things other people said, which generated thoughts in my head that didn’t belong there.
One was a comparison between how I study and how someone else does. As she was speaking, I started thinking her way is better. I would get better faster if I did what she was doing. Oops! That’s putting my trust in a routine. What I’m doing works for me.
The other was something my husband said, which sent my thoughts in the opposite direction. He said I was doing better than he was. It’s not like him to say something like that, to compare at all, so I stewed over it. He wasn’t being sarcastic. He was proud of me. It felt nice, but again, my thoughts lingered on the process.
My next theme is humility. I have to stop thinking I have things figured out.
I’ve always had confidence in my ability to figure things out. I felt like I had done that. Starting my day right, in the Word, kicked me off for success, and my heart was getting all lined up. And I still think that’s true. My relationship with God is getting stronger every day.
But I’ve become ritualistic. When I have to stop in the middle of my quiet time to address something, I feel angry about it, as if part of my joy for the day has been stolen from me. My joy shouldn’t come from a routine.
I’m not sure what will change as a result of this revelation. And I don’t mind that at all.
I’ve noticed that I tend to post most of my updates when I’m struggling. I said I was in free fall, and I scared a few people. It earned me some hugs and concerned questions at church yesterday.
I wasn’t bluffing, but I failed to mention the good part. The rush, the anticipation of the journey back up. Slower, but so much better. My stomach is back where it belongs, and I’m not getting off the ride. I’m going over the next hill with my hands up.
I have thirteen episodes on Vella, and I’m establishing a routine. This is difficult for me. I’m a pantser, a project hopper, a total brat. I write what I want, when I want. But no more. Now I have to figure out how to balance my episode schedule, the writing of season four, getting my illustrator to start on the cover of Sam and Millie, converting my even longer series (Collected) into episodic form, and all the CG leader and mom/wife stuff. Not in that order.
I do my quiet time first thing in the morning. Bible Recap first, then other studies. Re:generation, WBS, gratitude journal, prayer list, then the really good stuff. Talking to God. I’ve come so far. Months ago, I had lost my faith that He was good. Now I curl up and cry from relief at how I trust Him. My prayers are sometimes just lists of all the things I can see that I didn’t see before. And that’s why my hands are up.
My Vellas and my books may never be read, but I will be satisfied. Now I’m free.
Inevitably, it got me. Yesterday was so good. I felt surrounded by love and support. I was sure great things were about to happen. Then comes the drop. I know the roller coaster analogy is overused, but it’s only because it’s so accurate. I’m in free fall. Today I’m asking myself why I thought I could be a writer. Who do I think I am?
It happens to all writers, they say, and I think it’s true. Maybe there are some who are so well-adjusted, or so weathered, they can share their work without a moment of doubt. Some may just be that arrogant. It’s not really a sign that I’m a fraud. It’s a sign that I’m doing something difficult.
It’s stopping me from working today. I have plenty to do. I could schedule more episodes, work on season 4, take a gander at other projects that are ready to get their start, or do this. Dump my day-after blues on my blog. I chose this because I want to be raw and real. Also, because writing through my anxieties seems to calm them.
Part of my re:gen work includes writing a letter to my future self. It’s perfect, because I say all the time on my good days that I need to find a way to communicate my temporary clarity to myself on my bad days. I wrote my first footprint last week, on a good day. So why not check it out? I definitely need some clarity.
I won’t share it all here, because it’s long. But the last part spoke to me, and maybe it will speak to someone else.
Remember on the bad days that the devil wants to knock you down. He’s rubbing his hands together now, because your cup is getting full. You don’t have to fight him, because the battle belongs to the LORD.