Reflections on ‘Write 31 Days’

It’s been 10 days since Write 31 Days ended.

I didn’t realize how exhausted I was until a few days went by and I had absolutely no desire to write. I felt like I had nothing left to say and no wish to dig around and find anything.

I didn’t even finish all the days. I missed a total of 6. And that would have greatly upset me before but by the time I got to the end of the month, I was okay with it. I was out of town that last weekend and I wasn’t trying to stress about getting writing and posting done. I just wanted to enjoy my weekend. So I did.

Twenty-five out of thirty-one. Not bad. I should have blogged last week but I felt like I needed to recover so I gave myself that time. I think that what this experience showed me was that,

  1. It’s okay to change plans mid-course.
  2. It’s okay to reprioritize.
  3. It’s always good to try.

I didn’t stay on topic. I found out that, while I liked my plans for the podcast, I’m not quite ready to launch and as much as I hate admitting that, I’m okay with it too. I didn’t finish all the days but I made a go of it and did better than I ever have on any kind of writing challenge in my life and I’m cool with that.

So, now I’m ready for the next writing project. I’m two weeks into NaNoWriMo and already behind but I’m going to keep plugging along. I have a couple other things up my sleeve before this year is up so I’m going to get to it. It’s only the 10th and there’s so much going on that I feel like the month is already almost over!

28. Sometimes

This is post 28/31 of Write 31 Days. See full list HERE.

It’s technically tomorrow cause it’s midnight. I really just want to go to bed and forget about blogging but I already skipped two days, I don’t want to miss a third.

But it’s one of those nights–I have nothing to write. Not to the blogosphere anyway. Right now, I’m longing for my journal. And maybe the relief of a few tears. There’s nothing terribly wrong, I’m just a bit frustrated with myself and need to work through some of my thoughts.

It’s funny how writing works. Those past few sentences already make me feel better. Maybe I’ll just go to bed.

Sometimes now isn’t a good time. Sometimes there just aren’t any answers yet. Sometimes the solution has yet to be found. Sometimes frustration is just what you have to deal with cause that’s what’s in front of you. And when that’s the case, you deal with it. You open it up and examine all its prickly, uncomfortable edges until you can make sense of it and know how you feel about it all. You never sweep it under the rug. If you do, it never get’s taken care of and nothing ever gets resolved. Sometimes, you just have to make do and deal until you can figure out what needs to be done.

Sometimes, for the time being, it just is what it is and that’s all she wrote.

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27. Self Discovery | 31 Days

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I love personality tests. I love answering the questions and then reading the descriptions about the different types. There’s something satisfying about reading about the quirks and functions of your personality in black and white. Sometimes you find truth that you weren’t even aware of.

In the past, I’ve kind of haphazardly identified with a type here and another type there. But then, a couple of weeks ago, I really started considering things like my working style and whether or not I’m truly an extrovert or an introvert or somewhere in the middle. I thought about how I process information, what makes me tick and why and how I react to different situations. It’s weird to admit that I haven’t truly examined myself, because it would seem that I should know myself pretty well by now, but it’s true–I haven’t taken the time to really examine myself. I know this because I don’t know how to answer personality test questions sometimes. I know this cause I had to ask other people to tell me about my behavior. For real, I do thatI always considered myself to be fairly self aware but lately, I’ve realized how much I haven’t been paying enough attention. I have strengths that I need to capitalize on and weaknesses that are quite childish and need to be worked on.

I believe that a good healthy self awareness is one of the things that separates the men from the boys and the women from the girls. Think about the immature adults you know. When you try to gently point out a weakness you perceive in them, they don’t want to hear it. Or when something doesn’t go as planned, they have a hard time adjusting. Or it’s never their fault. Or they’re inconsiderate of other people’s opinions and feelings. Or it’s their way or the highway. Or they never have a kind word to say cause they’re too busy gossiping about everybody else’s lives. Immaturity isn’t like skin you grow out of and shed; it’s something you have to intentionally work hard to overcome. 

The truth is, we all have weaknesses and we all trip up and bump heads every once in awhile. But a healthy self-awareness is a necessity for healthy lifestyles and relationships. You can’t grow if you don’t know that you’re still clinging to childish parts of you. You can’t mature if you’re not willing to make changes. 

I don’t think their’s ever an age where you “arrive”. I think every season comes with some kind of self discovery. But you have to start somewhere. You can’t let life happen to you, you have to go out and live life on purpose. And part of that living is knowing the quirks and functions of your personality. That knowledge gives you a place to work from, to relate from, to play from, and even to ask forgiveness from. 

Oh yeah, I’m an ENFP. Like Carol Burnett. Ooooh and Meg Ryan. I’m independent and I crave creativity and freedom. I tend to overthink and I am easily stressed, and find it difficult to focus sometimes. I’m working on it. However, I do know how to relax and I’m a good communicator. I can work with that!

What are you? If you’ve never done it, take the test at 16 Personalities. It’s fun! You may be surprised at what you find 🙂 

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26. Happens Every Time | 31 Days

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Well, it happened. I was counting on seamlessly getting through all 31 days but I skipped 2 days. Agh.

And you know what? It felt sooooooooo good. Sort of. I mean, I felt bad skipping, knowing that I’d just broken my streak but it felt good to not write. To not have to come up with something.

It happens every time. Like when you’re on a workout streak and, for whatever reason, you break your rhythm. A day or two or three go by and even though you feel bad, you also feel sort of good. That stress is gone because the challenge has been abandoned. I always feel guilty and disappointed for allowing myself to get derailed but sleeping in an extra 30 minutes instead of working out feels so incredibly good!

Then there’s the struggle to get back on track. Two days of not posting made it hard to decide to write this morning. Sure I want to get back and finish the last week of this challenge. But I wouldn’t have minded turning over and going back to sleep for a few extra minutes either. I got kind of comfortable not writing in the morning. Happens every time. Get derailed and I’m arguing with myself about whether or not I should get back on track. Of course I should! But it’s hard and I’m tired and, hey, 24 out of 31 days isn’t bad, right? And plus there’s the thought that I’ve already failed. At the end, I will have known I skipped. I messed up and won’t have a perfect 31 days to look back on. The perfectionist in me cringes.

I feel rather ambivalent about skipping two days. Part of me is really disappointed. Part of me just wants to forgive and forget and keep moving forward. And still another part of me feels too tired to care. For me, that’s the thing about challenge: when I allow myself a taste of an easier choice, I have a hard time keeping up with the hard thing I’ve already chosen to do.

Five days left in thirty-one. I’m seriously running really low on steam and I don’t want to write anymore. Sometimes I wonder, what’s the point when I’ve completely gone off topic? And then I remember the simple truth that writers write. Writers write even when they’re drained and don’t feel like it. And this is something I promised myself I’d push through and get better at. Even though I won’t have a perfect 31 days to look back on, I won’t allow my inner perfectionist to win. I want everything to be right so much, sometimes I miss out on the experience altogether. Holding out for perfect keeps us from having something that’s real and vulnerable and complete. It’s hard to allow myself the grace to just keep moving forward and sticking with an imperfect situation. I’m too fond of scrapping and starting all over again.

Not this time. Five days left. I’ve got five days left.

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23. If it Makes You Happy | 31 Days

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Last night, I was gushing to the BF how much I love writing. Not just coming up with words and putting together sentences. I do like that but I love the act of writing. Having a good pen in my hand, the feel of ink on a page and the look of the letters between the lines. It’s so nerdy but I love it! I know I mentioned this in my post My Writer’s Heart, but I have to say again how much I love the look of handwriting on a page. It’s almost inexplicable but it makes me happy. 

Last night, my family gave me a bouquet a roses to congratulate my getting my diploma. The flowers make my desk look lovely. I love flowers. I love the way they make a room look graceful and homey. I love looking at them. It makes me happy.  

The things I really love about life are simple things. Ink on paper. A vase of flowers. Books lined up on a shelf. Piano music. Baking cookies. Time with my family. Singing my favorite songs. I’m not a complicated person but sometimes I allow myself to be a bit too complex. I’m not sure that’s really called for. Too often I let situations rob me of my simplicity. Life isn’t simple but that doesn’t mean I can’t be. 

I think that the older I get, the more I crave simplicity in how I live. I don’t want get to a point where the little things that make me happy to get swallowed up by the craziness around me. It happened during my busy college season and I wish I had been better about guarding a few precious moments with my notebook and pen, cookie dough in the kitchen, etc.. I’ve come to the conclusion that hustle seasons don’t mean that the simple things get kicked to the curb. In fact, it’s during the busy times that we need those things the most.

Even if it’s just for a few minutes. 

I’m not at all good at so many things but I’m working on them and I want to function from a place of joy and calm and beauty. And that means I have to take a little time for those simple things that make me happy, healthy, thoughtful, and present.

A good book. A bowl of my favorite pasta. My favorite playlist on Spotify. The scent of a nice candle. A walk in the park. A bouquet of fresh flowers.

Ink on paper.

If it makes you happy, if it brings you peace, if it reminds you of what’s important, if it brings you out of the chaos, if it slows you down, pay attention. God often gives gifts in small packages. Take time to open them. You won’t regret. He always knows just exactly what makes you happy.         

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22. Self Talk

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So there’s this guy. And he’s kind of a jerk. No, he’s a real jerk. But he’s got this way about him that makes it hard to totally ignore him. 

I’ve had long conversations with him about myself. We don’t really talk about much besides me. He always wants to talk about me. I don’t know why but he’s got this thing. 

Oh no, it’s not like that. He doesn’t have a thing for me. In fact, he doesn’t like me at all. He never has anything nice to say to me. Ever. These are a few things he’s been saying…

This is so stupid, why would you even try doing that?

Nobody’s going to like that. You should just stop now while you’re ahead.

Why don’t you just give all of this up? You’re never going to make it. You’re in such denial.

He also thinks I’m ugly and stupid.

So why do I entertain the conversation? I can’t help it. He gets in my head and stops me in my tracks when I’m trying to push through challenges, try new things and step outside of my comfort zone. And I…sometimes have a hard time not believing him.

This guy is the voice in my head that always has something to say about everything I do. He’s the one that tells me I can’t do it, that I’m not good enough, smart enough or talented enough. He’s always talking smack and trying to tear me down. 

Some people call this self-talk. I call him my Inner Idiot cause it’s my own jerk self trying to tell my better self that my life is stupid. It’s most appropriately just simply the devil trying to get airtime in our heads. Which is why I feel like my Inner Idiot voice is a guy. Call it what you will, it’s destructive. 

Allowing that kind of trash talk in my head is a seriously dangerous habit that has been one of the hardest things to conquer. Because sometimes I just simply believe the junk. Negative self-talk is sometimes worse than words from a naysayer. A naysayer is an outsider who doesn’t know everything about you. You can dismiss their comments as uninformed and petty. But the stuff that goes on in your head is different cause you know yourself. You know your story, you know your weaknesses, you know the variables, you know what’s at stake. But the key is not to let it stop there.

I’m trying to shut my inner idiot up with better truth. Yes, I have weaknesses, yes I know how challenging the situation is, and yes I know what my track record is. Those are true things. But the bigger and better truth is that God made me for more than all that. He gave me talents, dreams, passions, and things to do with my life and I can’t let trash talk keep me from accomplishing what He put me here on this earth to accomplish.

So whenever the negative garbage starts creeping into your mind, don’t sit there and legitimize it and let it fester. You have to knock it out with the bigger and better, life-giving truth of God’s plan and will for your life. And you just have to start with this: You are loved, you are cherished and you were made for a purpose in this world. It’s a process and it’s not always easy but it’s the best way to shut up my Inner Idiot voice. 

Don’t let negative self talk keep you from being the wonderful person you were created to be. You deserve better than that.  

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21. Dreamers | 31 Days

This is post 21/31 of Write 31 Days. See full list HERE.

I remember being in the thick of a college term and thinking, I cannot WAIT until this is over and I can get on with my life! Now college is over and there are days when I think Oh my goodness, I wish I was back in college!!

I used to spend days dreaming about all the stuff I’d do with the time that would no longer be taken up by school assignments, exams, and discussion forums. I was tired of hustling and not having time to do all the things I wanted to do. 

Well I’ve learned two things since graduating:

  1. hustling has it’s place and it’s seasons.
  2. don’t dream your life away.

Okay, so my mother has been telling me not to dream my life away for years. And she doesn’t mean don’t dream at all. She usually says it when I’m wishing for things I don’t have and forgetting the important things right in front of me that need to be taken care of. 

And that’s the thing about dreams. Dreams can be a form of escape or they can be a method of motivation and dreamers are either escapists or chasers. An escapist dreams a lot but doesn’t really do much with those dreams. They don’t take time to plan action steps to make those dreams come true. Chasers are action takers. They are motivated to hustle and do what they have to do to make their dreams a reality. 

I’m a roller coaster dreamer — sometimes I’m an escapist and sometimes I’m a chaser. Sometimes I live vicariously through my future self (it’s weird but it happens) and then sometimes I’m a really good chaser of my goals. So much so that I forget to take care of everything else around me. I zero in on that one goal and my tunnel vision robs me of my balance and responsibility.

The challenge is to find the sweet spot. Granted, there are times when you have to buckle down and just get things done. But if you’re head is constantly down, nose to the grindstone, you miss the beauty around you. But if you’re head is up in the puffy clouds of a daydream, you miss just as much. There has to be a place in between. A place of contentment and peace. A place where you pursue excellence while also giving yourself time and space to enjoy what already is. Otherwise, you’ll look back and wonder what happened while you were escaping and chasing.

I’d much rather be a chaser then an escapist but I also want to be reasonable and balanced. I haven’t found that sweet spot and I think it’s something that everyone has to fight to maintain. But I think it’s a good thing. The struggle forces us to constantly evaluate what is truly important in life and give us perspective on whether or not our dreams are really worth chasing or if they’re just a happy place we drift of to while dinner’s cooking.

And you know, I suppose there’s room for both. 

#write31days

20. The Slump

This is post 20/31 of Write 31 Days. See full list HERE.

Okay, it’s for real now.

I’ve written about the dip, when you push through a setback during a project. Well now it’s Day 20 and I’ve hit the slump. It’s when you’ve got nothing but you’ve still got to show up. Yep this is it. I’ve got absolutely nothing.

But I’m still writing. And I’m still going to hit the publish button.

This is the real deal.

Tomorrow will be better.

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19. Morning Songs | 31 Days

This is post 19/31 of Write 31 Days. See full list HERE.

Still sick. My throat is sore and I can’t speak very well.

I don’t really have any words right now.

It feels weird not being able to talk.

I’ve been a chatterbox my whole life and not getting to do that is so incredibly awkward 😛

So I’ll share another song. Since I can’t talk, I also can’t sing. But if I could, I’d be singing this song. It’s one of my favorite morning songs. But I’m singing in my heart and that’s where it has to start anyway, right? Enjoy!

Hope you have a great Monday!!

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18. Childhood Speaks | 31 Days

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My bedroom in my childhood home faced the West. That meant that the sun set right outside my window. God painted the sky in brilliant reds, purples, pinks, and oranges. Like snowflakes and finger prints, no two evening skies were the same. It was most glorious in the fall because the painting would backdrop the flaming autumn trees. Couple that with a crisp October breeze and the effect was absolutely breathtaking.

I wish I had a picture to show you.

I don’t have the best recall which kills me because I have so many great memories. When I do have a random mental snapshot, they often give me great insight about myself. I remember the games I used to play or the things I used to spend hours and hours doing. And while I don’t aspire to play with Barbie dolls, there are things that I wish I hadn’t let go of just because I grew up. 

I get that not every kid who says he wants to be a firefighter when he grows up actually becomes a firefighter. But some of them do. When I look back at the things that make up my childhood, I see connections to several of the things I’ve done over the past decade. And I also see connections to what I always seem to want to do as an adult. My interests haven’t changed with time, they’ve just matured with age.

It seems the older I get, the more my childhood speaks to me. The more I think about autumn sunsets. The more I think about who I really am inside and how I want to live my life. I think that when we look back at the pure, innocent places of our childhood, the places of creativity, honesty, and discovery, we see some of our best moments. The older I get, the more I want to reconnect with those things that make me who I am today. The more I want to listen when my childhood speaks.   

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