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Posts Tagged ‘Past’

We were supposed to be booked solid last week between me getting back from Cleveland and a variety of engagements throughout the week, but somehow or another, we managed to get two evenings (mostly) free. It was delightful. Last Tuesday we biked to the library. Daniel doesn’t quite understand the concept of just browsing all the beautiful books, so he selected one book, and sat down and read for a couple hours while I took my time perusing all the shelves. Blissfully talking-free, quiet, and rejuvenating. I may have come away with 12 books. I am not sure I will actually get through them all, but it was just lovely to take any book I felt like. Our library seems to have a propensity to murder mysteries – I swear, a majority of the shelves were murder mysteries – and almost no inspirational fiction, but I still managed to find a lot of intriguing covers, including murder mysteries related to baking and disowned gentry.

I came home and pulled out all the books, showing them one by one to Daniel, and then informed him that instead of starting one of them, I was going to start on the book I borrowed from my sister “Princess Academy”. But he just started laughing. He pointed to the book that I was going to start reading and several of the others, many of which related to fairytales in some way, and informed me that I had very specific tastes. I didn’t deny it, but it did get me wondering. Why do I read so many fairytales-based books, yet I don’t write fairy tales at all? I noted this to Daniel, commenting on how I loved being transported into the alternate worlds of fantasy and fairytales, but most of the books and short stories I write are – not necessarily gritty, but underlined with hardship and sorrow. The only fantasy book I’ve ever written has very little lightheartedness in it, and focuses more on him getting through trials than fairytale aspects.

Daniel thought about it for a moment, and then said, quite eloquently, I might add, “The books you write are where you are from and the books you read are where you want to be.”

I think he is a right, to an extent. I am a firm believer that everyone is a maker of their own destiny (with God’s guidance, of course) and that while your past/childhood can inform choices, it should not be used as a crutch, nor is it to blame for choices currently being made. However. I still thought he brought up a good point. I’ve made a lot of hard decisions in the past, grew up pretty fast, and have had a fair share of difficulties. They helped make me into who I am, and I don’t regret any of it, but it still has impacts you don’t even think about. Like the stories I write. Stories of people “growing up”, no matter how old they are, and learning how to deal with difficult things. Learning the world isn’t about them. Learning to grow out of their comfort zone and forge ahead into a better life. They do relate to my past whether I realized it before or not, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just means I am taking lessons I have learned and showing them to the world, hoping to ease someone else’s way.

Someday, though, I will also write fairytales.

strong person

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I am getting ready to take a new step in my writing life. For the first time ever in my life, I am planning to . . .pay *gasp* . . . to enter a writing contest. I have a short story all ready to go – well, almost. I am waiting for edits from two of my favorite people because I have to cut it down to 1500 words and so far I have only been able to cut it down to 1600. I just have to remind myself that just because I pay to enter it doesn’t mean I am going to win. It is certainly inspiring me to spend more time on the story, however, and even allow people to edit it – which is another huge step for me.

I don’t need first prize – I would be perfectly happy with an honorable mention! But even if that doesn’t happen, at least I am taking my writing life in my hands and moving forward.

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I am home for Christmas this week. It is always fun to return home and get a taste of the chaotic, busy life that used to be mine. Not that it isn’t chaotic or busy in my life anymore – well, at least it is busy – but they are very different types of busy. Here in my parent’s falling apart house that was built in the 1900s, it is constantly a mess and in constant need of repair, but that doesn’t change the joyous attitudes of most of the people going through it. Every time you enter, you can count on being greeted with a gracious smile and welcome – and be offered food or drink every few minutes or so. My siblings are growing up fast but it has scarcely changed the chaotic nature of the house, as they bring friends through constantly. Friends who love coming over, despite the state of disrepair because of the love flowing through the house. Oh, don’t get me wrong – there are most certainly times with anger and impatience and well – let’s just say you don’t want to be around if my dad is in a bad mood. But a majority of the time, you will be welcomed with open arms and feel perfectly comfortable around my family. It reminds me every time that it doesn’t matter what circumstances you are in or how you grow up or what life throws at you. It matters what you make of it and who you choose to be.

Believe it or not, this isn’t actually what I signed on to say. What I signed on to say was much more bittersweet/reminiscent/and I don’t know what else. So my little sister just turned 18. I remember 18. Very clearly. In fact, it is hard for me to realize I am not still 18, but 28. She proudly showed off her room to me, which she just redecorated, having her own room for the first time in her life, as one of my other sisters recently married. I appropriately admired it, looking around at the dreamy Paris decor, the carefully decorated dresser, the re-painted vanity that had once been mine, and my heart sank inside me. I knew I should be feeling happy for my sister – for her dreams, for her room, for how pretty it all was, but instead I found myself feeling bad for – well – myself. For a moment I was back in my own room I had just finished decorating myself, which, ironically, I shared with this same sister (though she had no say in how I decorated it at that time). I was young, with a whole life full of possibilities waiting before me, and all my writing stuff set up just as she had all her music stuff set up. And I remembered being young and full of hope for what the future might hold. Not that I don’t any more – but – it is different somehow. It doesn’t seem as magical anymore – that ethereal thing called future. Now I am almost 30, married, with a full time job, and struggling to make myself write on the side, struggling to recapture just enough of that magic to make the stories I have wanted to write since I was 6 or 7. I love my life, I love my husband, I love my job – but – there is always that part of you that just wants to reach back and recapture that youthful moment in time when you had no idea what was coming.

Granted, I still don’t know what it coming, but now it seems more fearful to me than hopeful. But perhaps that goes back to what I started out saying. Life is what you make of it. Is there any reason that I, as a 28 year old woman, can’t still look ahead with hope and mystery, wondering what wonders God might have in store for me? Maybe if I looked at life a little more like that 18 year old I used to be, I will find that the present life God has given me is just as magical as the future used to look.

Ah, me. How bittersweet things always seem at 2:00/3:00 AM. I know I have said this before, but I am tired of being fearful. I am also tired of getting a sinking heart any time I look at anything that brings up memories of the past or reminds me of how fast time is flying. I want to enjoy what I current have and the memories I have, no matter how much time has passed. And I don’t know how to do that instead of being sad that certain time periods in my life have passed. I guess only by looking up to God and trusting that He knows all the right timing for where I am going in life, even if I thinks something went away too fast. I don’t even know if that made sense. So I will stop now. 🙂

 

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Is it just me or does anyone else find themselves, during quiet times, thinking back over their lives, dwelling on the various times they made mistakes, said something stupid, did something stupid, or, worse, got in trouble for something? This is a particular weakness of mine. I will be minding my own business, and randomly, my brain calls back to my memory some painful or embarrassing time/moment that makes me squirm with discomfort – That time a senior student told me I needed to place more of a priority on a project I was working on for her. That time I was 7 years old and didn’t stop my friend from lying to her mother about whether or not we had eaten breakfast – and – even worse – went along with the lie. That time I asked my now-husband-then-friend to the school’s Sadie Hawkin’s dance after saying that I didn’t think girls should ask guys to dances because they would feel compelled to say yes, and, as he told me later, sure enough, he just didn’t know how to say no. And the most horrible memory of all – that time I didn’t pay the rent on time because I was out of a job and the landlord (a friend’s father) got angry with me and “uninvited me” to their party for July 4th. I was the only girl in our group of friends who didn’t get to go.

Yes, every single misstep or mistake I made in my life is branded in my memory, and no matter how young I was or how well-intentioned I was, I still shudder and get a churning stomach when I think of them. Apparently there are people who can forget their mistakes. And/Or, ask God to forgive them, and move on. I am not one of those. Whether or not I think God has forgiven me, I have a terrible time forgiving myself. I have to be careful not to wander in the past too long, because I get very downhearted and ashamed of all the stumbles, small or large, I have made in my life.

Those quotes about how failure is a precursor to success? My brain agrees, and even understands. The rest of me, however, just crumples up into a tiny ball at failure.

I have been feeling more and more convicted lately that it is time to move on. That I have to stop living in the past and look forward to the future, to learning and moving on. That I actually have to take God serious when He says He forgives me, and when Isaiah 43:18-19 says “Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it?” When I delve into past missteps, I tend to find myself living as though whatever I was thinking about was a recent mistake, that I can’t do anything right and might as well not even try, and as long as I just stick to myself and never talk, maybe I will never say or do anything stupid again.

Another verse I find very encouraging, yet hard to put into practice, is Philippians 3:13b – 14: “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

So, as I find it more and more impressed in myself to let go of the past, during the frequent times I find my mind recalled to a past mistake, whether or not related to something I am currently working on, I have begun to pray that God would take it from me, that He would help me forgive myself and move on, that I stop dwelling on the past.

I think it will improve quality of life – and I don’t believe God ever intended us to let the past keep us from pressing on and moving up – that is why He offers forgiveness. Living in the past is a dangerous habit. I can attest from experience, dwelling on the past beyond learning from your mistakes can prevent you from doing your best in other portions of your life – fear of failure is a powerful force that can weigh you down instead of causing you to put your all in something. And worst of all, it can cause depression where there is no need for it – because if you have learned from a mistake and moved on, you should be rejoicing that you have another building block on your road to success. How’s that for preaching to myself? 😛

Anyway, those are just my random thoughts on living in the past, while I face yet another issue in my life that God is graciously working with me on.

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