How's life? Hopefully pretty great; probably pretty busy, right?
The beginning thoughts of this blog post have been twirling around in my head for couple of weeks, and I'm just now writing them down... so here we go.
"Be happy with what you have while working for what you want." -Unknown
That's been one of my favorite quotes for a while now. Short and sweet; easy to remember. Harder to live by.
I'm graduating high school this Spring. Surprisingly enough, I have a pretty clear idea of what I want to do with my life from here on out. Not all of the details and "when's"/"how's" are ironed out, of course; I can never pretend to know exactly what's going to happen... even so, I know the general direction I want to take towards the goals I want to achieve. I'm enthusiastic about life; I'm looking forward to finishing college and getting a degree and I'm excited for life after that: moving out and living independently, starting my own business, getting married, having kids, etc., etc., etc.
All of that is awesome and wonderful; I am looking forward to it, and I cannot wait.
However, I am currently "stuck" here. I'm in high school/dual-enrolled in college. I spend most of my time going to classes, doing homework, and trying to figure out a job. It easily becomes monotonous and dull; it feels like the things I am forced to accomplish in my everyday life are keeping me from my goals. In reality, of course, I actually am getting myself closer to my goals... teensy tiny almost-imperceptible step by teensy tiny almost-imperceptible step. You can't accomplish goals overnight.
But it is heckin' annoyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyying. (Almost as annoying as when I use an obnoxious amount of "y's".)
It is so easy to get carried away looking towards your next big "milestone". It gives you tunnel vision, and suddenly the things you're currently doing in your everyday life are nothing more than steps you have to take and blanks you have to fill- hindrances, if you will. You have a goal in mind, something you're working towards, and it isn't happening right now.
And it is aggravating! It's frustrating and discouraging! It makes you want to put your fist through a wall!
But you can't live only for "big" goals. You have to learn to embrace the smaller goals, the tiny victories, the everyday triumphs. It's okay to be happy, excited, or proud of yourself for the smallest of reasons. You have to focus on whatever you're doing right here, right now.
If you've got to organize your desk, make that your life's mission for fifteen minutes. If you're with friends, being with friends is what is most important right now. If you're making a cup of tea, focus on that for three minutes and make it the best freaking cup of tea in the world. Having goals for the future and being motivated to get yourself to those goals is awesome (and important), but it can easily take away from the life that you're living right here, right now.
Finding the balance between planning for the future and enjoying the present is hard; I cannot for one second claim to have found it. However, as I continually try to be better about this, I find that it really does help to actively think "Okay, this is what I am doing right this second, so I will focus on that for right now". It seems a little silly at first (petting the cat is the center of my universe for the next five minutes? Okay...) but honestly, it helps slow you down when you're feeling the urge to fast-forward your life and jump into the future.
Another thing to remember is that you are always going to have certain things that are "far ahead" of you. Once you accomplish one goal, there will be another one looming. You're (probably) never going to accomplish every single goal you've ever set for yourself, because as you're succeeding and crossing things off of your list, you're simultaneously adding more items to it. And that's life.
I also have to constantly remind myself that life is never going to be exactly like this again; enjoying the present while working towards the future is very important.
Another note: You can feel this way even if your life is good right now; even when seems nearly perfect, human nature stills says, "But what about this? We need that. What we want is ahead of us."
No matter how frustrated I might get on a really boring Tuesday afternoon, my life really is great right now. I'm incredibly blessed with an awesome family, amazing friends, and fantastic opportunities. I'm happy where I am, but I still have to remind myself constantly to slow my mind down, breathe, and focus on/be grateful for today.
A great Bible verse that is related to this topic is Matthew 6:34:
"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Another of my favorite verses is Psalm 37:3-4; this one is a good reminder about contentment:
"Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pleasure. Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart."
This was a rant that was maybe meant to be somewhat helpful...? Either way, I hope some of you are encouraged by this. If there are ways you fight the urge to "fast forward" or keep yourself motivated each day, please do let me know in the comments. What are some areas of life you find yourself stressing over and trying to rush?
Thanks for reading, friends. Stay cheerful and grateful.
I’m pretty sure I started out my 2017 “end of January” post very, very similarly, but even still…
How is the first month of the year already gone??!
Even though the end of the month always comes sooner than I expect it to, this month went by particularly fast. I feel like I was sleeping for most of it and just woke up last week. Because of this, I really don’t have a lot to say about January, but I’ll do my best...
My college classes started on the 8th. I’m taking five classes this semester (versus the two very easy classes I took last semester), and that’s been a pretty big workload. The classes themselves are going great; my teachers are awesome and I’m interested in what I’m learning. But the homework, of course, is...less than great. Just keeping up with the reading from five different books has been a challenge. However, it keeps me busy, and I prefer being busy to having nothing to do. There’s always a bright side, right?
Due to classes being randomly cancelled (for reasons unknown to me), class locations getting switched around, MLK day, and lots of snow, the first and second weeks of the semester were pretty disorganized. I didn’t have class at all the second week, so I felt like I was starting all over again when I went back. I like routine, so the chaotic scheduling (or lack thereof) kind of stressed me out. But the third and fourth weeks have been nice and normal (thank goodness).
I haven’t done any actual writing of “Continuing Forever III”; due to lack of time/inspiration, that was put on hold in December/January. I have, however, done some reading-through of what I’ve already written and planned out the plot a bit further. I’m already to plow into it (as best I can) and get the rough draft finished next month.
Even though I wasn’t writing my novel, I did add another installment to “Wings” (and it was about time). If you want to catch up on the latest chapter or start from the beginning and see what it’s all about, you can do so here.
I didn’t read a whole lot in January (*cries*); however, I did finish the "Gifting" Trilogy (finally) and made some more progress in the Mistborn trilogy and the "Seven Realms" series.
The only music update I have from this month is the fact that M A N I A finally came out and Fall Out Boy is as fantastic as ever.
I saw “The Greatest Showman” twice in January and it was the most beautiful film I’ve seen in awhile. I teared up a lot while watching it just because of how amazing the cast/story/music is. If you haven’t seen it, I suggest doing so ASAP. I’m eagerly awaiting the day it is released on DVD.
My family has also been watching “Grand Tour”; I know nothing about cars but I’ve really been enjoying it (and learning a bit about cars in the process). It’s quite hilarious.
Lastly, I’ve been finishing up season two of “The Crown” on Netflix. 10/10 recommend.
All in all, it’s been a pretty chill month. So hurray for the first wrap-up post of the year! (You can now place bets on how long you think I’ll stick to these this year. I think August was my accomplishment in 2017?...)
How was the start of your year? What was the best part of your January?
Thanks for reading, friend.
After many months of its absence, I am happy to announce that "Wings" is back!
If you're unfamiliar with "Wings", it's an ongoing collection of short stories featuring witty banter and border-line cheesy romantic comedy (basically everything I try not to include in my Sci-Fi novels...).
If you want to read the first five installments, click here.
Without further ado, please enjoy the sixth installment in this series.
When my phone vibrates in my pocket, I almost hurl it against the wall. I’ve made two mentionable mistakes in my life: The first was revealing myself to Eva. This was necessary of course, and I suppose it wasn’t all bad… but even so, I place it firmly at the top of my “mentionable mistakes” list.
My second mentionable mistake was giving Eva my phone number.
“Why do you even need a phone?” She’d asked when she found out I had one.
I shrugged. “Why does anyone need a phone?”
“We humans need phones to communicate with friends, take photos, keep up with the times…”
I sighed. “Eva, for the last time: I am a human.”
“A human with wings,” she pointed out. “Do you even have any friends other than me? No offense,” she added quickly. “It just doesn’t seem like you… get out much.”
I rolled my eyes. “I don’t. I’m too busy making sure you don’t die in some ridiculous fashion.”
“Yes,” she says complacently. “Exactly. I’m your only friend, so you should give me your number so that I can call you.”
“Why?” I asked. “I literally live right outside your bedroom door, and I follow you around twenty-three-and-a-half hours a day.”
“What’s a phone for if you don’t even have any contacts?”
“I take pictures.”
“So get a camera then!”
In the end, I had, as usual, caved. And since then, my daily half-hour “Eva breaks” had often been interrupted.
“What?” I growl into my phone now.
“I have a question.” I can hear her answer through both my phone and the wall.
“Save it for later, please. I’m on break, remember?”
“It can’t wait,” she insists.
I sigh. “Fine. What’s your question? Make it quick.”
“Would you rather have your closet painted orange or purple?”
“Your closet,” she says in an exasperated tone.
I look up at the wall of the linen closet I call “home”. It’s currently painted pale grey, but I don’t usually notice the color since it’s pretty dark in here.
“I don’t care what color it is,” I tell Eva.
“Orange would be bright and cheerful,” she replies, ignoring me completely.
“Orange is hideous,” I say.
“I knew you’d say that. So what about purple?”
I groan. “I guess, as long as it isn’t a horrible shade of purple.”
“Something dark?” she asks.
“Okay. Thanks! See you in ten.”
“No you won’t,” I tell her. “I’m starting my break over right now.”
And then I hang up.
Keir and I are in the hardware store, staring at a beautiful kaleidoscopic wall of paint chips.
“Look at all these colors,” I say. “Surely you like one of them.”
He nods. “Yes. I’m very fond of that one.”
I look to see where he’s pointing. Pitch black. Of course.
“You are the gloomiest angel I’ve ever met,” I inform him pertly.
“I’m not an angel,” he insists grouchily.
“Whatever.” I look around and select a pale rose-colored paint chip.
“This would be really pretty,” I inform him. “And it would lighten the closet up a lot.”
He rolls his eyes. “No. I don’t care about my hiding place being pretty.”
“Alright then… pale blue?”
“No. You know that if you get your parents to paint the closet, it’s going to smell like paint fumes for a few days, right?”
I nod. “Obviously. So what?”
“So,” he says deliberately, “I won’t be able to find my refuge in there until the smell clears out.”
“Oh.” I shrug. “Well, have your breaks in the hallway then. I’ll leave you alone, I promise.”
“Will you leave my phone alone?”
“It’s a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’”.
“Fine,” I give in. “Yes. You know, for someone with only one friend, you sure are ungrateful.”
He ignores me.
“Alright,” I continue on my mission. “I’ll bring some of these back and we can hold them up to the walls to see which one is your favorite.”
I keep the rose chip and pick up several more in different shades of blue, green, and purple.
Keir frowns. “Calm down. You don’t have to steal every single one.”
“They’re free,” I remind him.
“I know. But still.”
I sigh. “You need to learn to take advantage of what life gives you. Oh! Maybe once you choose a color we could just take all of the paint chips in that color and tape them to the wall!”
He groans, takes my arm, and begins to steer me towards the door. “Okay, we’re done here.”
Five days later, I am once again sitting in my closet and taking a break.
Once again, my phone buzzes.
“How is it?” Eva’s voice asks excitedly.
I roll my eyes, but glance up and consider the purple wall in front of me. “Better,” I concede.
“You like it?”
“Yes. I feel that my life has now been fulfilled.”
Naturally, she completely misses the sarcasm. “Good!” she says enthusiastically. “I told you so,” she adds, sounding very self-satisfied.
“Consider me corrected… break starts over now.”
I hang up.
Merry (late) Christmas and Happy New Year!
2017 went by way too quickly- I really do think it was the fastest year of my life.
But as well as (debatably) being the shortest, it was also quite possibly the best year of my life (thus far).
I've felt incredibly grateful this year, and I'm starting to see that gratitude (maybe more than anything else) truly does lead to an unbelievable amount of joy.
This year I've been learning to sit back, take a few breaths, and put my trust in God more than I've ever been able to. Being able to let go of my desire to constantly know all of the "how's" and "when's" and "why's" of everything that's going on presently and everything that will happen is hard at first, but incredibly freeing in the long run. My college/futuristic plans have changed a couple of times this year, and I currently don't feel like I have a concrete plan- but strangely enough, I'm okay with that. Things didn't always go as planned in 2017, but everything worked out and ended up okay- maybe even better than I had anticipated they would.
I can easily get caught up in freaking out about the future and worrying about how I'm going to get to where I want to be one, five, or ten years from now. But in 2017, I've tried to get myself to focus more on the short-term goals: this is what I need to do today. This is my goal for this week. These are the things I want to accomplish this semester. I still glance at my "big picture" and think carefully about the steps I need to take in order to get there, but remembering to be in the "here and now" is helpful and I've noticed that it allows me to be more productive in my day-to-day life... Not to mention the fact that I'm a lot happier if I'm not constantly worrying about something that I cannot do anything about at present. Looking back and seeing how God has pieced everything together makes me feel very content.
I'm incredibly thankful for everything that happened this past year- for everything I was able to accomplish/experience and for the amazing people I was able to spend it with.
2017 was a fantastic year and I'm looking forward to seeing what 2018 will bring.
That being said, Happy New Year! I hope you all have a spectacular year.
"There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind."