Whelp


I ended up sticking really good to that resolution about posting twice a month, didn’t I? It shouldn’t surprise you that I also haven’t been doing very well with my writing schedule, either. The dream job offer I got ended up being, well….. even better than I had prepared myself for! But with that has come a larger amount of responsibilities, and a lot of emotional and physical energy being expended on not only building my new family, but also in learning the ropes to take over an entire ministry department, running events, learning, etc.

I was ecstatic when I found myself writing again for the first time in a while at a large conference that I was chaperoning at. One of the kids wanted to read some of my pieces, so I showed her some of my personal devotionals. We had a long discussion about creativity and faith… long story short, it rekindled in my heart the realization of why I write, and Who I ultimately write because of and for.

In the next couple of months I would like to share with you all some of my favorite pieces from the things that I haven’t shared quite yet. I’ve had less and less time to submit to formal journals, and though I haven’t given up on that path in any way shape or form, I would still like to be able to share myself in a way that might not take as much time as I get myself back into the swing of writing and sharing.

 

I would ask for your prayers as I continue to work towards my vocation, and try to balance all of the different facets of myself at this critical time in my life!

And feel free to let me know how your 2017 has been going in the comments- hopefully it won’t be as long of a wait between posts from now on.

 

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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?

Been Adulting Pretty Hard Lately


So it might seem like I’ve been a little AWOL lately. Even this week, I’m posting on a seemingly arbitrary Tuesday instead of my customary Sunday. I am genuinely sorry that I have fallen short of my own expectations, especially so close to the end of the year as we are.

However, I do have a pretty awesome excuse: I’m now engaged! My significant other ended up surprising me on Halloween weekend with a carved pumpkin and a live band (we got engaged dressed as Fred and Daphne from Scooby Doo, of all things).

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Of course, once the excitement settles, what is left is the realization that we suddenly have a ton of things to do: engagement photos (finishing up round two of those this weekend), house showings (fiance wants us to be able to give each other a home for Christmas), scheduling time to figure out when we can reserve my home parish for the ceremony, scheduling marriage prep and so on and so forth ad infinitem. It’s a lot of fun, it’s a lot of being equally stressed and equally thankful for even the opportunity to be so stressed about such wonderful things, but it is very time-consuming.

We are starting to get into a good rhythm, however, so I should be able to get back on track with most of my social media. I’ve been keeping up with my writing work well enough, at least, so never fear. I’ll keep myself as much on track with my social media as well.

Prayers and good thoughts are very welcome at this time!

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?

Updates: A Bit Frazzled


So we’re only five months in to the year and I’m already falling behind a bit on my blogging schedule. I would first like to apologize for that. I have unfortunately been full up to my ears with schedule changes and life shocks. Just this week I had a graduation, a funeral, a giant family crawfish bake and attended a comic-convention at the last minute. At work, my normal rhythm has been interrupted by changes in schedule as well as the boys I nanny now being out for the summer.

It’s a good lesson for me to learn. Sometimes you set schedules, and then life happens. At the moment, I have dealt with that fairly poorly. I have let something important, my writing, fall by the wayside just because I have become busy, instead of juggling my time in a more efficient manner. I have done plenty of self-care in the past weeks, and hopefully will be able to hold myself to a better standard in the months to come. Life won’t always work by my schedule, and I need to learn how to better handle that while making sure that I don’t give up things that are important, hoping that my good will will be enough.

Look forward to regularly planned blogs coming back again for the rest of the year. Thank you for being patient with me!

Falling Off the Wagon


As much as I would sometimes like to think I’m the most productive writer I know, sometimes… I get caught up in life and I end up not… writing. Or submitting. Or editing. Or anything having to do with writing, whatsoever. Today, while trying to update my submission tracker on Duotrope, I realized that I hadn’t actively submitted hardly anything since at least mid-June. For someone who had, at one point, been submitting at least five poems a week to different journals, this is turning into quite a dry spell. It’s a bit frustrating, to say the least.  I guess when I finally committed myself to this whole writing thing I had imagined myself as being a bit more of a publishing machine- consistently cranking out new material and submitting (and having my submissions accepted) at a consistent rate. It’s safe to say that, going into this, I most definitely underestimated the time and effort required to really pull off being a professional poet (at the same time as being a professional fiction writer, and student, and nanny, and Sacristan, and newspaper editor….). It’s been a hard lesson to learn this summer, but an invaluable one.  I am coming to learn my limits, as well as my strengths and weaknesses regarding writing and submitting pieces for publication. I’m beginning to figure out how much time, and how much breathing space, I really do require in order to perform at my peak.

So today, I’m hoping to get back on the writing wagon. With a week off from work before returning from school, I’m pledging to renew my efforts in submitting pieces for publication, work out a more doable, and more consistent schedule for posting on this blog, and schedule at least one poetry reading event a month for me to attend (whether its to read or just to sit and listen to others read). I’ve gotten off to a good start this morning- went through my latest Duotrope e-mails and narrowed my efforts today to six markets. After I go to mass, I’ll narrow it down to the markets I will actually submit to and go from there.

Thank you for sticking it through with me, even through this stagnant summer! Here’s to a productive final semester of college!