Adjustment Period

It’s been awhile since I posted. Part of that was calculated. The election season was fraught. The aftermath even more so.

And a lot of why I wasn’t here wasn’t on purpose. Not consciously. But the fact was, I was struggling with what to say. Struggling with a lot of things.

Struggling since the move.

A few weeks ago, some ladies on my street got together for breakfast and invited me. I had a wonderful time getting to know these different and wonderful women I can see as part of my new village. They are good people. Fun people. People that get it – most of them have also moved here from somewhere else at some point. But I got in my car afterwards and felt a strange compulsion to cry.

And I didn’t know why.

The next day, I was meeting up with some ladies that also live in my neighborhood that I had only met through an online exchange about helping to coordinate an upcoming event for the neighborhood kids. I was a little nervous about this meeting. I didn’t know these people.

My husband told me to try to have fun as I walked out the door.


That’s what it was. I was just so tired of trying.

We are settling into our new lives, but there is a constant amount of trying. At our old school, I had already gone through the random volunteering to finally land the position I wanted as newsletter writer for the PTA. A position I sadly had to abandon after a year of shadowing when we moved. Now I’m starting over. I’m back to randomly picking up shifts at the book fair and spirit night events. It’s all great – these are all events I love – but I’m taste testing, meeting folks, working out where I best fit here.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s all great. I love our neighborhood. I’m in love with our school. Everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) has been nothing but welcoming and supportive.

But it’s still all new. All the time.

Even yesterday, I wanted to take the boys Christmas shopping to pick out gifts for the cousins. I had to Google where the independent toy shops were. Then map them so I wouldn’t get lost.

And Facebook reminds me daily of all the Christmas traditions we had in Atlanta. The santa we visited every year. The lights at the Botanical Garden we visited each Friday after Thanksgiving with the rest of the city and their out of town guests. The neighborhood Christmas party. The streets with the best lights. We knew how early to get to church on Christmas Eve and to head straight for the cathedral’s gym since the cathedral itself and overflow room were filled hours in advance.

Now, I feel like I’m starting from scratch again. And while the boys are just happy that their Elf on the Shelf is back and our advent calendar of activities is as comforting and fun as usual, I’m left trying to make sure that I find a Santa with a real beard since my kids have never been to one with a fake one (something that probably means nothing to them and I have latched onto as being of the utmost importance).

Trying. Again.

Then there’s today. Today the boys went back to school. They’ve been out since Veteran’s Day. Adjusting to year round school means adjusting to their three week breaks every nine weeks. The bonus was we took a nice trip to Washington, DC – partly because we love our old stomping grounds, partly so I could do some research for the current book and partly because most everything to do in DC is free (yay Smithsonian!), we hosted Thanksgiving in our new home, we hung out with my sister-in-law in town from Louisiana, we went for walks, the boys learned how to ride their bikes (no more training wheels here), we shopped small business Saturday with my sister in our new, adorable downtown. But through it all, I didn’t do a lick of writing except for scrawling down on a post it note the physical descriptions and mannerisms of a guitar player at a concert the hubby and I went to who will most definitely be showing up in the work in progress.

But when I sat down in the chair today. Ugh. I had lost it. Three weeks was too long to be away. I reread the last two sections I wrote, determined not to edit as I went but to find the thread. I went back to some research materials I collected on our trip. And hopefully the words will start to come back tomorrow.

So I sit here blogging instead. Trying.

And that’s all I can do. I keep trying. Trying to meet people. Trying to find new experiences. Trying to balance being near family during a time of year when we were used to being alone. Trying to write this impossibly daunting work in progress.

The trying isn’t bad. It’s everything really. It’s just that sometimes the trying can be, well, trying.

So if I’ve been missing or I’ve been distant, it’s not you. It’s me. Trying.



The End

I typed the words “The End” in the middle of a page with blank space below it. No new chapters. The words were done. The story complete.

Well, complete for now. Step one, rough draft? Check. Notice I call it a rough draft, not even a first draft yet (not even close). Now the hard part beings. The part where I figure out what the book is really. Friends and family ask how the work is going and what the story is about and I hem and haw and keep it vague. It’s not literary, I say. It’s women’s fiction, I proclaim. It’s about four women at various stages of life, I babble. It’s still a work in progress, I defend. But truly I don’t give a clear answer because I haven’t really been sure. And that’s scary. Really scary. Keeps me up at night sometimes scary. Should I know? Should I have a goal, a meaning, a more defined story arc while writing? Who knows? This is the first time I’ve ever done this and I’m learning as I go. I’m making mistakes and finding what works and what doesn’t. The next step is all about going back. Figuring out the key ideas and making them sing. Cutting those darlings and polishing the real story.

I’m excited about the work ahead. It feels like the real work. What I’ve been doing for the last several months feels more like laying tarp, washing walls and taping off molding when you paint. It’s tedious and takes time and all you want to do is get that new color on the wall to see the completed job and enjoy the difference. But, if you don’t do the preparation work correctly, you end up with a sloppy mess and no one is happy. For the story, now comes more in-depth character study and analysis, setting development that evolved as I was writing and has finally become a clearer picture in my head, continuity checking, additional story fill, and deleting all the overwritten, trite and boring prose and dialogue that I slogged through and might be weighing down the story but helped me springboard into a more productive day of writing at the time.

But I’m trying to take a little space – not a lot, but a little – in an attempt to have some perspective on the story. It’s the last week of school and there are parties and preschool graduations and teacher gifts and other time commitments. I know it will be smart for me to simply take this week for me and the boys. To truly enjoy this time as we wind down into summer. But I’d be lying if I didn’t also admit to the pressure of knowing the next four days boast the only truly free hours I am guaranteed for the next 10 weeks.

And that’s when the fear and anxiety and doubt started to creep in. That doubt, she’s a bitch. She’s sneaky and second guesses everything I do. She laughs when I post on Facebook I finished a book, relishing the moment I’ll have to tell all these wonderfully supportive people in my life that offered their congratulations and words of encouragement that I am really a fraud. That sure, I wrote something that will never sell, never see the light of day, never amount to anything but a giant file on my laptop. She’s the one that is attempting to take up residence, snickering at the dream nearby, teasing it, taunting it, whispering to my logical self that I should start scanning the job boards for PR work now so I can have a “real” job by fall. She makes the dream hide, cowering behind practicality, hoping nobody notices it for a little while.

The thing about doubt, however, is I’m on to her. That’s why I’ve been so public about what I’m doing, the journey I’m on, the lessons I’m learning. By posting about dreams and sharing my tiny accomplishments with my friends both in person and online, I create a chain of believers who believe in me, who speak louder than doubt’s whispers, who hold tight and prop me back up when I attempt to sit down. And those moments have been invaluable on this leap of faith.

So it was with added joy that an envelope was waiting in my mailbox for me Saturday afternoon. Enclosed was my very own flower from a dear friend who has offered the kind of moral support I can never begin to thank her for. Her words are always spot on and impeccably timed. She was a coworker of my husband’s. Then we both had boys. Then she moved. Far away. And somehow, this strangely tangential connection fostered between cubicle walls and a third party has strengthened to a bond that I’m not quite sure either of us understand, but I think has been mutually beneficial to both of us as we navigate motherhood and big questions about careers and personal definitions of success. On a day when doubt was threatening to get louder, she sent me a dreamer flower.


(If you aren’t familiar with Fellow Flowers, get familiar. I’m not a runner. Trust me. But the message this organization imparts to women goes so much deeper than running, so don’t be scared off by the running background.)

The dreamer flower description states:

“Dreamer. To show grace and courage. To embrace the challenge and welcome new beginnings. Putting yourself out there. Doing it scared. I will run through the fear to feel the joy.”

Just what I needed, just when I needed it. My aunt congratulated me for completing the book by saying that “The End” was only the beginning. So true. We are all diamonds in the rough, formed by the pressure of life and challenges and accomplishments and successes and failures, that we now must polish into our best selves. Just like I’ll do with this book. We are all works in progress. Rough drafts.

Now the hard part begins.

And I couldn’t be more excited. I’m putting myself out there. Doing it scared. And that makes it feel even better. Because today? Today is the next beginning. And I can’t wait to get started. Again.