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A Reflection

Tomorrow happens to be my birthday, so I'm taking this time to reflect on the past year, and things I've learned. Most of the time, these articles come around New Year, but with my birthday, changes in the weather, and the general turning of the season, early October has always been the better time. It happens to be one of my favorite times as well because cooler weather demands my favorite things: sweaters, tea and coffee.

A pot of warm tea
It's been a year of ups and downs: two more books published, but also the stress of being a published author. I didn't know what I was getting into, but I wouldn't change it for the world. I'm still finding my feet in this matter, and more often than not feel completely overwhelmed. I'm thankful for the support from my family, as well as the support from friends both ones I've met and ones I haven't met. It's one of the joys about being able to access the Internet, write a blog, and connect with people. I've learned what others think, and how my books or blog entries inspire them.

Over the past year, I've met new people, lost some dear friends, and have learned throughout trials, there are always moments of joy. Days before my cousin's funeral, his nephew (another cousin) celebrated the birth of his firstborn, and on the day we buried my cousin, his nephew brought the baby over to the house so we could celebrate new life even as we celebrated one passing.

I've learned that pursuing one's dreams isn't always a celebration. It is often hard work: getting up, doing the everyday mundane because it isn't always sunshine and roses. Being a writer and a weaver isn't hob-nobbing with influential people, but it is writing daily even when I don't want to write. It's learning that turning a hobby into a business comes with times in which I want a normal job where I work for so many hours and leave at the day's end. Running a business has its ups and downs, but I'm the boss, and I'm the one that ultimately answers for whatever happens.

Being the boss, by the way, is pretty stinkin' cool.

Over the past year, I've taken chances: some good, some bad. Sometimes life forces itself on us, making us do something we've wanted to do, but never had the courage to do. It's scary and unnerving, but taking those chances, even when they blow up in our faces, teaches us something. Unfortunately, those lessons don't come with a manual, so we can't always figure it out until later. I often feel as though I've been handed a chemistry book, expected to learn everything without the help of a teacher or instructions.

Sometimes, we need to find the teacher.

There are times when we need to leave our present situation. This past year, I changed churches not for doctrinal issues, not for personality conflict, but because I needed to leave. Sometimes, we out-grow the church group, friend group or work group where we are. Nothing wrong with it, but for whatever reason, it no longer is right for us. Take a chance to leave because leaving could be the best thing to happen. We purchased roses at Easter, and the lady told us to cut the tops of the rose bush off after we planted them. If we didn't, the bush would grow, but no roses would come. The roses looked terrible after they were cut, but eventually, the grew back and blossomed.

Cutting back is often the only way we grow.

I've grown this past year whether in confidence, understanding, or just awareness. I've processed, and continue to process, my life experiences to see what I can learn. I know my short-comings, but learning how to overcome them is hard. Fear can paralyze or it can motivate. I had a teacher in college who started writing because her husband didn't have work or may have become sick. She wanted her students to write and build the business during the good times so during the lean times, the practice was already there. I applied her wisdom as best I could, but the lean times can still take us out. It's best to have a plan for your future, with the understanding that sometimes the map flies out the window, and we're left standing in the middle of nowhere wondering how we arrived.

Carry an internal compass, and know what motivates you.

My mom and I were talking a few days ago about life journeys. There is a theory that every choice we make creates a new reality. If we can turn right or left, we, in essence, turn both ways, but we only know one reality. It's makes for great science fiction stories, but it also makes you think. How would have life been different had I taken this path over that path? If my life had gone the way I wanted it to - married with a steady job, maybe a child or two, living in a foreign country - I wouldn't be the me I am. I would be happy with the me I might be in that reality, but not the me I am in this reality. Regardless of how my life has turned out, I have dreams and aspirations to pursue. Some I will learn can never be accomplished whereas others need time and energy to fulfill. I cannot live in a world that might have been, neither can I wish for that world. I need to focus on the reality that is, and see if there is a way to still accomplish my goals.

Being happy with your present is the only way to make your future brighter.

We all have dreams and aspirations. Some dream of being a writer, others dream of keeping the family farm. Pursuing your dreams require tenacity, innate ability, and perseverance. It takes time to develop your gifts, even as it takes sheer stubbornness to hang on to the dreams. Sometimes, we realize that the dream we pursued led us to another place. I wanted to be a journalist (and would have made a decent one), but that dream veered into the novel writing I also loved. What I would have written had I taken another path is not what I have written. The characters of Azure Maris and Orfhlait are the out-growth of my personal experiences.

Over the past year, I've grown stronger and more flexible. When things don't happen the way we want, we need to re-evaluate the reason why we do something. When my books didn't sell as well as expected; when I don't sell as many items at a fair, it hurts. Yes, I want to sell items because I've entered these fields to earn a living from them. I'm an artist who uses words and fiber to create images and stories. It isn't a hobby, but the way I've been created to earn a living. It can throw you when something you've created doesn't do as well as hoped. Did I do something wrong? Am I as good as I thought? Is this really what I'm supposed to be doing?

We each have to come to a point in our lives where we look at our life to evaluate it: did I use my gifts and abilities to the best of my ability? If the answer is yes, and you have no regrets, keep plugging through even in dark times ... especially though the darkest of times. If the answer is no, ask why. Sometimes, the dreams we set for ourselves are worthless. I may want to become a multi-platinum music artist, but the truth is, my voice isn't the greatest. My gifts and abilities lie in the field of literature and fiber art. It's where I'm gifted, because if my ability to get a job is any indication, it's all I can do.

In the past year, I've learned that holding on hurts; letting go is sometimes needed, but the hardest part of living is finding out when to hold on, and when to let go. Sometimes we can hold on for too long, and sometimes we can fly if we let go.

May we each find the balance to know when to act.




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