My Life in 2016 So Far

Last March, I wrote a post called What Life Has Taught Me So Far in 2015. Almost exactly a year gone by and my life has completely changed. Since that last post, I’ve experienced 3 major life changes:

  • FINISHED COLLEGE
  • GOT ENGAGED
  • WENT BACK TO WORK FULL TIME

Yeah. Graduation officially happened in September last year but my engagement to the BF and new job happened back to back at the beginning of the year so when I say it’s been a whirlwind, I mean Whirl. Flipping. Wind. And I know you know what it’s like cause these seasons come to us all. For better or worse, everything gets flipped upside down and inside out and you’re left trying to catch your breath and find a new equilibrium. I can happily say however, that this whirlwind is definitely for the better. Still kind of catching up with everything but while the year is still relatively young and while I’ve got a few moments on the treadmill (yes, I’m on the treadmill), let me catch you up on my thoughts on my life in 2016 so far.

I had plans to write some pithy post about what life has taught me but right now, I just need to dump. Nothing profound, nothing special–just simple, raw thoughts. You may pass it up if you’d like, I don’t mind. This one’s for me. I need to unclog my brain and share a little of what’s been going on up there.

Thoughts on finishing college…

I feel like I’ve been working on my degree forever! I took a slow, more unconventional boat to getting my B.A. and now, in my mid-twenties, I can finally say I’ve got a degree. And while I must say it is quite lovely not to come home from work and have assignments waiting for me, my education has only just begun (and best better believe Karen Carpenter is singing in my head right now too). It was during the last year of school when I discovered that there were so many other things I wanted to learn about. Things like content marketing, passive income, writing, neuroscience, relationships, the benefits of reading, healthy lifestyle habits, productivity, etc. My reading list has just gotten longer and longer and I keep thinking, goodness, if I could just get paid to read and research I’d be set! In no way does my degree mean that I’ve arrived. I took some great classes and it’s a great foundation I wouldn’t trade but that’s what it is – a foundation. And a foundation is only worth something if you build on it. So even though I’m done with college (for now, anyway) I’m continuing my education. I’ve just shed the assignment deadlines :).

I don’t have as much time as I’d like with a full time job but one of my goals is to really take time to further my personal education, to indulge in the things that spark my intellect and creativity.

Being engaged to your best friend is the most wonderful thing ever 🙂

I was thrilled when the BF asked me to marry him. Being engaged to my best friend is the coolest thing and I love it. I truly love the man more and more every day. However, this new phase of our relationship does have its own set of difficulties that I wasn’t anticipating. Nothing bad, just challenging. We live over an hour away from each other and mostly only see each other on the weekends so finding time to get things done is sometimes tricky. We’ve got different priorities and navigating through and coordinating our own processes and procedures, if you will, is uncharted ground for me. And while sometimes it feels like the wedding is so far away, the days are flying by at such a pace that I feel like I’m never going to get anything done! That’s why I’m so thankful that God gave me a man who is not only a sweetheart, he’s also reasonable, understanding, and not high-maintenance. Cause while being engaged is all very romantic, it’s also a time when you’re forced to think practically and seriously about the future. We’re building a life, after all, not just planning a wedding. Being engaged to a man who gets all that and helps keep me balanced is such an incredible blessing!

HE ASKED SHE SAID YES
HE ASKED SHE SAID YES

New jobs are like new mission fields.

If there’s one thing I know about jobs, it’s that you’re not there just to make money. When you spend the bulk of your week at a place with a group of people, you have one very important responsibility: shine a light so that people’s lives are made better because you were there to be a positive influence for God. I believe that if you let Him, God will hand pick your place of employment, not just so you can pay the bills, but so that lives can be touched-yours included. I love the people and environment of my job, I couldn’t have asked for a better situation. My goal for however long I work at my office is to stay positive, work hard, and be His hands, feet, and voice. It’s not easy, especially when the day is stressful but I count it a privilege and I’m every grateful.

And for now, that’s all she wrote! I’ve been hard pressed to find time to write this year and I’m working on finding a new groove. I’ve got so many ideas for posts and things I want to share so I will get it together eventually. In the meantime, I’m going to take it all one day at a time, allowing God to lead and things to fall in place in His time.

Y’all enjoy the rest of your day <3        

5 Books to Read to Jumpstart the New Year

Looking for some inspiration to get you going this year? I read some great books last year that challenged both my faith and creativity and motivated me to pursue good work and cultivate a deeper devotion. If that’s what you need as you work through goal setting and resolutions, then consider the following titles. These are great books to read to jumpstart 2016.

5 Books to Read to Jumpstart 2016

(this post contains affiliate links)

Start by Jon AcuffStart: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average, and Do Work that Matters by Jon Acuff

I love Jon Acuff! In Start he challenges you to face your fears and pursue awesomeness. We all want to do work that matters in this world and that can only happen when you determine to ditch the mundane and start on the journey to awesome.

I HIGHLY recommend the audiobook (or any of his books on audio for that matter) because Acuff reads his books really well and it’s an extremely entertaining listen!

The Art of Work GoinsThe Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do  by Jeff Goins

Jeff Goins is another of my favorite authors and in his latest book, he talks about looking at calling and creativity and what it takes to pursuing what you were meant to do in life.

When you can take a passion, that thing that you wake up dreaming about every day, and pair it with the mission to to fulfill the needs of others, you’ve got something wonderful. But it takes rising above the status quo and chasing something more than what society expects of you. No gimmicks here. Just hard work, passion, and a love for your fellow man. I read the hard copy I have (which was great cause I did much underlining!) but you can get the audio as well. Goins reads it himself and it is a pleasure to listen to as well!

Tortured for ChristTortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand

Okay, so let’s shift gears to something a bit more intense. I lie — way more intense. I listened to this as an audiobook and amazing doesn’t do this book justice. I’m going to take the liberty and assume that your spiritual life could use some bolstering. Mine always does.

I don’t spend enough time truly considering the religious freedom I enjoy and what Christians have suffered and continue to suffer for the cause of Christ. Don’t start another year forgetting what being a Christian truly means. Start off the year with a spiritual awareness, humility, and boldness to live for Christ in all you do. This book isn’t for the faint of heart but I HIGHLY recommend it. It will give you a series kick in the pants and should send you to your knees in prayer.

Radical David PlattRadical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt

This is another kick-in-the-pants kind of book. Not quite as intense as the previous title but inspiring nonetheless.

It’s easy to get comfortable in our microwaved, mega-sized, over-hyped, suburban church culture. But is what we have what Jesus had in mind when He was here? No doubt our experience is worlds different from that of the 1st-century church.

This year, take a counter-cultural look at your Christian experience and challenge yourself to embrace the walk Christ set out for us. I listened to the audiobook version of this one and it was quite enjoyable!

Make it Happen CaseyMake it Happen: Surrender Your Fear. Take a Leap. Live on Purpose by Lara Casey

This one’s for the ladies. Casey tells the story of her life before she truly got a life. I remember listening to this audiobook in the car and thinking “Yes! I so needed this!”. Life is full of surprises and takes turns that we couldn’t have anticipated. Living in fear isn’t the answer. Embracing purpose and taking chances, trusting God leading and timing is the way to live a meaningful life. If you’re nervous about starting something new, if you’re tired of being stuck in the mundane and don’t know how to get out, if you need encouragement and the assurance that you’re not alone, then read this book. If you haven’t noticed yet, I’m a heavy audiobook listener and can definitely recommend this one!

Lara Casey also has a great website with some great products that are definitely worth checking out!

What titles do you have on your book list this year?

Happy Reading! 


The blogger at Purple Ink Studios is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com


The 2016 Reader's Notebook Page

6. Practice Not Included | 31 Days

This is post 6/31 of Write 31 Days. See full list HERE.

When I was a kid, I took ice skating lessons. I loved the rush of cold past my face as I sailed across the ice. I was given my own pair of beautiful white skates. My slender kiddo form was a great asset to the sport and I loved every minute of it.

But I was afraid to fall.

I was too cautious and afraid to lose control that I failed the second level. So I quit. My skates just sat in my closet until they were too small to wear anymore and, now that I think about it, I don’t remember what happened to them. We probably gave them away. I’ll never know if God had professional skating in His plan for my life but I do know that fear falling at prevented me from developing a solid talent on the ice.

My brother is better at the piano than I am even though I’ve had more formal music training than he did. We both have a natural ear and deep love for music and while I have a few more technical skills then he does, he is, hands down, the better musician.

Why?

Cause he’s has the patience to figure it out. He’ll sit there and piece out the chords and melody lines ’til he gets it right. I know how some things are done but I don’t have the patience to sit through sour notes, missed chords, and the reputation that’s required when mastering an instrument. So I stay in one spot, not growing in my craft of piano playing.

Yesterday, I wrote about not being good at everything. Those things we don’t have a natural talent or liking for that require an extra push to get done. For me, that’s math. But what about the things we may have actual talent for? Our creative God gives us creative talents and passions as a gift. But while He may have given the gift, the practice isn’t included. That’s your job.

Every artist must refine her craft. This is why they’re artists. Their very soul craves the art but they must still pursue the process. Being an artist isn’t about being a prodigy, it’s about the tireless pursuit of that which you can’t help but want to share with the world.

We still have to practice the things we love. An athlete wakes up before dawn to get to the track. A singer exercises and strengthens his vocal chords on a daily basis. The homemaker is intentional about finding new ways to manage time and economize. The teacher makes a point to get to know her students so she can best reach them. This is art. It must be practiced so we become better at it.

I still like the cold against my face when I’m on the ice but I haven’t mastered a basic sliding stop and can’t do much more than go around the rink in cautious circles. I love the feeling of the keys under my fingers but I haven’t taken the time to patiently strengthen my coordination and music reading.

Pursuing your art, the work you naturally love and want to share, means letting yourself fall over and over and over again until your leg muscles learn and master what you expect of them. That means pushing through the pain of exercises until your fingers fly across the keys without you thinking about it. It’s a process. It’s a practice. It’s showing up consistently and not quitting even when you feel like you’re not getting anywhere.

That’s why I’m doing Write 31 Days. I’ve been told I’m a good writer and I definitely have a passion for the written word. But I sorely need the practice. So every morning this month, I’ve committed to sitting myself down and not getting up until I hit the  publish button. After years of struggling to ‘make time’ to practice the craft of writing, I decided to take the bull by the horns and just do it.

Being afraid to fall is a function of a deeper artist issue that’s plagued my life: the pursuit of perfect work.

Perfection in art will kill your craft faster than anything else.

It killed my skills on the ice.

It’s killing my talent for the piano.

It could kill my abilities as a writer.

Allowing yourself to fall and fumble through sour notes while practicing is one thing. It’s still a relatively safe place. But shipping art to the public in an imperfect state is a totally different story. And it’s that need for perfection that keeps us from shipping anything at all.

But you have to ship. And you have to ship imperfect stuff so you can learn to create better stuff. It’s an ongoing process that never ends. Your art will never be perfect. Your craft will always need tweaking and there will be new tricks of the trade to discover.

So practice! Let yourself fall. Force yourself to listen to the sour notes. Hit publish. Don’t let the pursuit of perfect art keep you from experiencing and sharing the art itself. You’ve been given a gift and a unique life voice. Don’t get in your own way of sharing it with the world.

#write31days