Things I Do To Stay Sane: Push Myself


Last week, I did something crazy: I tried out for a musical. Now, I haven’t been in a musical since I graduated college three years ago (split-role of Narrator from Joesph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat). Before that, I hadn’t really been active in theatre since I was taking classes at the Academy of Theatre Arts in middle school. I love theatre, but circumstances in high school had discouraged me from pursuing it, so I had essentially let that dream die in the water.

Recently, however, I had been showing my fiance the things about theatre I had learned. The things I loved about theatre. He suggested that I should start doing them again. I had laughed at him: who would take me seriously? I might still be able to sing, but I hadn’t done acting classes since I was twelve.

Fast forward to last week. A local  theatre announced that it was holding open auditions for American Idiot. I haven’t ever seen the musical, but I love the CD and I liked the general story. Even better, they were considering females for one of the traditionally male leads. At first, I simply dreamed about what it would feel like to go to the auditions. And then I mentioned it to my mum, off-handedly. She suggested that I go for it. My fiance started picking out songs.

So I thought “What the heck?” and went for it. I chose ‘Disenchanted’ by My Chemical Romance as my audition song, and practiced it with a YouTube video of a piano accompaniment until I literally almost lost my voice (thank you, Throat Coat!). And, heart hammering in my chest, I went to the auditions Friday night. I tried out with four other girls- sang my song, danced a wicked cool dance combination, and then went home.

I woke up the next morning the to e-mail: I had been invited to callbacks, being considered for the traditionally male lead. I’d proven myself wrong- they’d taken me seriously. I had a full day to prepare for the callbacks and take this shot at getting myself back into theatre.

Unfortunately, this story doesn’t have a fairy-tale ending. Come callbacks that Sunday, I ended up losing my place in the duet song and botched it horribly (my own reason for why I feel I deserved to get cut earlier on in the callbacks, there are a million of other reasons that I might have missed). Casting went out, and there was no role for me. I was disappointed in myself for messing up and ruining my own chances for going further. I ended up in an almost three-day funk because I had been so close to that dream again, and again was not good enough.

But the thing about this whole episode that keeps me sane, that makes me a better person and writer, isn’t the whether or not I got into the musical. It was the lesson that I needed to take myself seriously to have other people do the same. It was the lesson that I can still do things spontaneously. That I was good enough for a second look just as I am. Maybe if I worked at it more, who knows? I could try out again. Maybe get into the next one. Or maybe I take this lesson with me when I try to contact book stores for readings, or English classes for guest-lessons. Maybe I allow it to be just another one of those experiences that make up the vast library of experiences that I can put into my writing, both poetry and fiction. Maybe I take away the fact that I had an entire horde of people willing to support me, believe in me and back me up no matter what the outcome of the auditions.

New experiences don’t have to have one goal in mind for them to be considered good for us. We don’t have to complete things the way we wanted to. We don’t have to win for them to become another part that brings us to a more complete whole. That audition has become a part of who I am now, and propels me forward with what I’ll do tomorrow. What kind of decisions I’ll make. What kind of risks I’ll take.

So go for the new experiences. Even if you feel ridiculous. Even if you feel like people won’t take you seriously, or that you aren’t good enough to come in first place or do the experience ‘right’.

What new things have you been wanting to experience lately? What has been holding you back?

New Tattoo: Gerard Manley Hopkins


On the first of this month, I ended up getting my fifth tattoo. It’s a quote from a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem (my first poetry tattoo!), called “As Kingfishers Catch Fire”. The poem itself is about vocation- about that place where our deepest desires meet the deep need of the world.

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For me, this is a huge reminder to have on myself. I placed it close to my heart because it is something that I need to be reminded of every day- that I am what I do, and what I say and what I feel- not what others have done to me, or what evil they have brought into my life, or what other people think or say about me. I am also what I do, meaning that I have a duty to be active in living out my vocation in the world. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and no one will know the good in my heart, the passion in my heart, the God in my heart, if I do not make a conscious choice to do so, every day. And for that I came- not for the purpose of being successful, or being the most holy, or saving every person I meet or even being happy. I came to ‘do’ that which is ‘me’- to be the Self that God made to the best of my ability. He only made one me, and I’m not going to waste His gift by being someone else.

So in honor of all that, here is the poem in it’s entirety: (I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!)

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.

 

I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

 

Slipping off the Grid


When I knew I was going to commit to getting back into my blog writing this week, I hadn’t realized just how much I had neglected ‘The Amber of the Moment’. It’s been since the end of January- two whole months have gone by without a single post. I must sound like a bit of a broken record because I get into this cycle of posting-religiously to posting-never to promising-to-post and back again. But that’s life. Sometimes my writing gets stale, and I need to take a break. Sometimes real-life things get in the way and I get laser focused on them and can’t really see the big picture of all the things I’m letting fall by the wayside.

These past couple of months have been a huge buckling-down for me. My fiance and I managed to buy our very first house, closing on it on Valentine’s Day weekend 8d40d063-c389-40f3-9254-4e2c1d0ce052after a whole bunch of hoopla (almost losing the house, switching lenders, stuff with concessions, just a mess). I have an issue with houses that are asylum-white, so the next couple weekends were spent, every day, just painting the house. And then came the housewarming party. And the weekend of de-stressing afterward from so much work in so little time. And then Easter.

Now the house still isn’t fully painted (got two bathrooms, spare rooms and a laundry room to go), and a bunch of home improvement projects are piling up on to the list. And now that we’ve finished the push with setting up the house, we’ve got to settle down on getting a lot of our marriage prep stuff finished (meeting the photographer, beginning our mentoring sessions, meeting with clergy to begin paperwork, etc.) So I can’t promise that I won’t find myself distracted by life anymore.

I think I’m finally coming to terms with that. That I can plan all I want, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to be capable of following through. And that’s okay. Life can get in the way and it should because it’s important. I want to always be able to say ‘alright, now that I’ve finished this task I can be a real writer and keep a real schedule like the big names do’. And there is a point where I can’t just give up on these kinds of tasks because in the long run it is important to me. You all are important to me. Writing is important to me.

But I don’t need to beat myself up when things get a little jumbled up. When I slip off the track. All I can do is shrug and try to do better next time, knowing that ‘better’ is always just doing my best and attempting to discern between real-life challenges and recurring excuses not to do what needs to be done. It’ll be a life journey, for sure. Thank you for sticking through it with me.

Any big changes for you lately, readers?

Four Star Review: ‘A Rather Beguiling Find’


Here’s a new four-star review of Drunk Dialing the Divine from Shane on Goodreads:

A rather beguiling find, a book I sculpted and stained into a peculiar shape and grotty hue , by carrying everywhere. The poems are an interesting exploration of youthful ,wounded humaness and religious certainty/ uncertainity -which becomes fresh when filtered through the eyes of someone wilfully distinctive in her abrasive dialoguing and defense of seemly fading traditions, and thought patterns, all mingled with unresolved deep human aches.

I’m honored by your reflection, Shane. Thank you for carrying my words with you everywhere- it means a lot.

 

Want to read what he’s talking about? Catch your copy of Drunk Dialing the Divine today!

Acquisition Notice: Devozine


It seems like forever since I’ve had one of these, huh? But I am pleased to announce that my poem, ‘In the Whisper’ has been selected for publication in the July/August 2016 issue of devozine.  This will be the third time I have been published in The Upper Room’s devotional magazine for youth, and I couldn’t feel more honored.

Merry Christmas!


Today I’m going to a screening of the new Star Wars with the fiance, and then this week begins my week-long vacation from work for the holidays. I’m going to enjoy this little breath of fresh air, and I hope that you and yours are able to sit back and enjoy each other this holiday season as well. I’ll see you again in 2016, fresh with new New Year’s resolutions for myself. Merry Christmas!

On Loving Cold Weather


Yes, you can bet your sweet bottom that I’m one of those white girls who was putting Pumpkin Spice Creamer in her coffee as soon as September 1st hit. And I was so happy when the weather began to turn back down into the seventies that I was furious today that it was 85. I’m an autumn lover; lover of all things cinnamon and cold, crisp and cookie; I love wearing oversized sweaters and boots up to my knees and my collection of scarves and beanies is massive.

I’ve come to the realization that my mood tends to correspond with the way I feel about the weather. I know we’ve all heard about the winter blues and cabin fever, but I feel like I tend to have the opposite. When it’s summer I feel this immense pressure to be out doing something all the time. I get anxious if I sit down for too long (even if it’s to read or write), and I end up being really hard on myself if I don’t go out to enough social gatherings or don’t go on enough camping trips or experience enough new things. When it’s cold outside I feel like I can just be. I can type for hours with my tea in my hand, I can draft new manuscripts because it’s too cold to just go outside and hang out when all the shops have closed down. Fall and winter are my favorite seasons because I don’t feel so cramped, so sweaty and rushed. Something about the briskness in the air is just so energizing that I find myself in a better mood more often, and it’s easier for me to be productive.

Which just means that I need to get better with spacing myself out in the summer. I don’t think I’m at that point yet where I’ve shaken off the propensity to ‘prepare for fall’ the way that I had when I was still in school from kindergarten to college graduation. (By the time I do, I’ll probably be getting ready to do the same thing with my future children, so yay.) To a point, I think it’s alright that I go with this natural rhythm- to understand that I have this natural limitation in the summer that seems to run contradictory to what I think is going to be this time of boundless productivity. I need to work better with this limitation so that things don’t come to such a grinding halt (I get behind on my posts, I don’t submit manuscripts, I don’t produce new works, etc). It’s better for me to work at a slower pace for me not work at all, right?

So it might be too late this year, but next year I’ve got a plan: I’ll focus on working more efficiently during my summer time, instead of focusing to intently on working harder. The beginning to success if knowing where to start.

What’s your best weather, readers?

Stagnation


Looking at my last couple of posts, I feel like all I’ve been talking about lately is being overwhelmed and overbooked. This is, on the surface, a post that’s not entirely different. Right now I’ve come to a point in my life that is woefully stagnant. I haven’t written any new poetry in over a month, and haven’t submitted anything new in about the same amount of time. Normally that would be because I’m focused more over on the fiction-writing side of things, but progress hasn’t budged on that end either. With only ten pounds left to lose I’ve seemingly plateaued, things at work are bubbling together as the kids prepare to go back to school and their mother back to job-hunting and my financial goals are coming together, albeit slowly.

But I’m not stressed out about it. I was about a week back- I wanted all these goals met now, I wanted my editing finished now, I wanted five different manuscripts out on submission now…. And then I met up with a friend of mine who has also been a bit stressed out about timing. In his case, it’s a lot about a specific relationship that he really wants to happen. The only advice I could really give him that would be healthy for everyone was to be patient, and to pray. I realized that I had been missing that myself lately. I’d been seeing my stagnation as an obstacle to my goals, to my creativity; to my life. Instead of taking the opportunity to breathe, I was holding my breath until I was purple in the face. I wanted things done on my time, not on God’s time, and in that I had twisted myself up in pretzel-like contortions. Instead of being able to work harder, go further, I have become my own biggest obstacle.

So I start today with a new resolution. When I feel too tired to write, or to network, I will pray. I will take the hint when my body needs rest. I will be patient so that when I do write, when I do edit, I do so with a clear mind and open heart (instead of out of sheer frustration and desire to get things over with). I will welcome stagnation as a normal part of the creative process, and of life in general. It’s not going to be easy, seeing how much I hate being productive, but it’s a lesson I’ll have to learn.

How do you deal with stagnant periods, readers?

We’re Getting a Puppy!


We interrupt your usual serious Sunday post to bring you some amazing news- IM GETTING A PUPPY! MONKEY AND I ARE GETTING A PUPPY! Say hello to Litleo:

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She’s a rescue puppy. We know she’s mixed with a wire-haired Dachshund but we have no idea what else might be in her genes. We look forward to finding out while we watch her grow and learn. We’ll get to take her home sometime this week after all of the paperwork is filed and the initial puppy-materials purchased. I’m so excited!

On Time Management and Saying No


Lately my life’s been a little bit of a spiral. Not entirely downwards, not entirely upwards, but more of the all over the place kind of spiral that is euphoric one moment and devastating the next. At times like these, everything tends to pile up on itself and start to take over everything. Stress from one task bleeds into my ability to complete the next, and I suddenly find myself doing a million things half-heartedly. I don’t like doing things half-heartedly. So when I notice that this is all going for a loop, I begin to fall into a pit of guilt and I get nauseous and force myself into a kind of dull depression.

It’s times like these that it’s important to remember that one little word: ‘no’. When people ask me to help out, to volunteer or make posters or come take care of their pets, what have you, it’s so hard for me to say ‘no’. I’m the kind of person who wants to be able to help. I want to be able to do what I can to make the world a better place, even if that just means alleviating the stress of the people around me.

Stretching myself out paper-thin doesn’t accomplish that, though. Sure, it may be a little spot fix for the person who needed me right then but what about everyone else? What about the kids I watch who will take the brunt of my stress at work the next morning? What about my family, who get brushed off by my so that I can take extra time to de-stress after work because I didn’t want to punish them for my life? What about my significant other, who I will make feel less loved because I decided to help everyone else and then no longer have the time or emotional capability to attend to him come the small amount of time we have together a week? When I’m helping out with a million different tasks, I end up not being able to focus on any of them to the extent that they deserve. My contribution is slighted, the project as a whole is slighted, and the opportunity for something amazing, the opportunity for grace and light, is wasted.

I’m not one to say that my own self-care takes precedent over other things, or that I shouldn’t try to do as much as I can for others. But in the past couple of weeks I really have come to a greater awareness of the need to know one’s own boundaries. The need to trust that other people will be there to help. That saying ‘no’ when I have become overwhelmed is not a bad thing- and is, in fact, necessary if I am to function to my own best ability. And functioning to my own best ability will, in the long run, enable me to do more for others than if I run myself ragged for a short amount of time.

So for the next month or so, I’m going to be practicing my ‘no’s’. I’m going to practice being honest with people about my capabilities (directly saying ‘I can’t make this commitment’ versus my normal ‘I’ll see what I can do). I’m going to practice being realistic about what I can fit in on my current schedule (being able to help for large events, rather than weekly commitments). And I’m going to pray that the needs I cannot fill myself will be filled, while also praying to alleviate my own anxiety and guilt about not being able to carry my community on my shoulders. Hopefully I’ll be able to get back into a healthy rhythm in my own life, and increase my capability for contribution. Because the point of saying ‘no’ should never be to simply release yourself from all stress and constraint in life, but used in order to better prepare yourself to give an enthusiastic ‘yes’ to things you can accomplish in the future.

How do you do with ‘no’s’, readers? Has it always been easy for you? What, or who, do you have a hard time saying no to?