My "Aha" Moment

>> Wednesday, December 12, 2012

As a child, I adored Christmas.

While we didn’t have a lot of money and there were many lean years, my parents always managed to provide wonderful Christmas memories.

I remember one particular year. We’d been warned to not expect much. My dad was a truck driver and had been laid off that winter. I braced for disappointment yet stared at the gifts piled around me, amazed and loved.

But all too soon, childish things faded, replaced with the stark reality of adulthood.

I found myself in a crisis-filled marriage marred by abuse and alcoholism. Each year I panicked, wondering if he would be sober enough to make it to our family Christmas gathering. I stressed out and tried to keep him from drinking. Disapproving stares from my parents left me shamed and humiliated.

Eventually I ended up alone during post-divorce holidays, wondering if I’d ever have a happy Christmas again.

Another marriage resulted in more pain and heartache. And a second divorce.

Years slipped by and I continued to dread every holiday season, wondering if I’d always be alone. Maybe next year…

Disclaimer: I have a wonderful family that cares about me. I have friends, acquaintances, co-workers, and a terrific church family. I’m so blessed.

But it’s just not the same as being loved by that “someone special.”

My faith remains strong despite emotional entanglements. I celebrate the true meaning of Christmas and know it isn’t about presents and trees and tinsel. 

My head knows it’s about God’s love and the gift he sent us in Christ.

My heart doesn’t always get on board.

This year I determined things would be different. I vowed to accept that I’m exactly where I belong. His timing—his path. And to focus on the ‘reason for the season.’

I forced myself to decorate and put up a tree. Christmas carols blared from my iPhone as I unpacked the nativity scene, arranging each piece just so. I’d just pulled out the manger when God whispered to my heart: “Keep your eyes on the baby.”

I puzzled over the phrase, unsure of the meaning. But during the next few weeks, God started to take me to scriptures about Jesus. Who he is and the sacrifice he made for us. And how much he loves me.
And I experienced my ‘Aha!’ moment.

I see it every time I glance at the nativity on the mantle of my fake fireplace. Or bask in the glow of twinkly Christmas lights. Or hum along with a carol.

The love I crave. It’s been there all along. Born in a stable as a tiny baby.

Oh sure, it’s not the same as having a significant other. Or being folded in a warm embrace. And I still pray, “God, bring me someone that loves me as much as you do.”

But for right now, it’s all good.

As long as I keep my eyes on the baby.


'O Blog, 'O Mine

>> Monday, November 19, 2012

I adore my blog.

I love everything about it: the banner, the design (thanks to Mari,) the concept. All of it.

Yet, sometimes we have a love-hate relationship. There are days it yearns for my attention. And my muse turns his back. Times when I know I need to do a post, but my creative brain cells have fled the scene and I got nothin.

I’m sure most bloggers struggle and I’m not unique. (At least not in this area.)

The thing that plagues me most is whether I’m wasting my time and does anyone ever read it? Do my ramblings just float in cyber-space, meaningless and unloved?

It probably would have been easier to create a blog that zeros in on a niche, area of expertise, or hobby. Something that really interests people. But I’m not a professional golfer (I wish!) nor do I have fashion savvy that people wanna to hear about *blah*.

I’m a writer.

We published-wannabes are encouraged to begin platform building early: Twitter, Facebook, blogging. It’s important to establish a presence well before your first book hits the shelf or e-store.

So I did what I was told—I always do.
For the most part.
And I blog.

But doubts continue to niggle at me.

Blogger dashboard provides stats on blog hits, but from what I understand, they are not accurate. Kind of a bummer--this report got me pretty excited:

Kimberly Russell’s blog
Roar Of A Lioness
9986 pageviews
(The number represents total number of people who have looked at the blog since its inception...supposedly.)  

Then the next day, this:

9994 pageviews

The next day I happened to be off work, so I kept clicking ever few minutes, until I saw this:

10,000 pageviews

I was elated and did a little happy dance. I’ve been blogging about a year and a half. My traffic has steadily picked up and even though I don’t know how it compares to other blogs, it seemed like a milestone.

Albeit deceptive.

According to my research, there’s all kinds of technical gobbledygook reasons why your stat count goes up. And most of the time it isn’t because someone stopped by to peruse your blog greatness.

Then there is the area on the dashboard that shows web sites that people came from to get to your blog. It can be quite alarming. (Why is it so many porn sites send referrals to my blog? Oh well, maybe they’ll read something that will point them to God…)

And therein lies the bottom line: Why do I write anyway?

I’m trying to do what God wants me to. And he told me a few years ago that I’m a writer. Took me a long time to believe it and often I still don’t buy into the whole thing. Then he gives me a little slap upside the head and I come back to my center. Yeah, I’m often my own worst enemy.

Aren’t we all?

So, to heck with the stats. Upward and onward, full steam ahead, off we go, and every other euphemism I can muster.

It’s time to write.


November Nostalgia

>> Monday, November 5, 2012

It's November and I’m in grief mode.

For the last three years, November has generated an excitement in me like no other. My creative juices gushed like an overflowing river with fingers twitching in anticipation.

Because of NaNo.

Pig latin? No.

NaNo is short for NaNoWriMo. Which is short for the National Novel Writing Month.

It’s about words.
50,000 of them, to be exact.

Started several years ago in California by a bored bunch of writers, NaNoWriMo has become a world-wide phenomenon (at least amongst the writerly-type) with over 200,000 participants this year.

The premise is to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. That’s around 1600 words a day or about 1 ½ typewritten pages. It takes discipline, billions of brain cells, and gallons of coffee. You have to be willing to set aside your life, ignore the family, and farm out the animals or let them starve.

In other words, it’s all consuming.

And I never regretted one minute of it.

My first time out, I hit the 50,000 word goal, but didn’t finish the story.

Year two found me off in an entirely different direction. While I don't intend to pursue the story any further, it was a great learning tool. It taught me how to construct a story arc from start to the finish (around 70,000 words,) about plotting, and proved I had it in me to build a novel.

Year three was momentous because I picked up the storyline from year one and finally completed the manuscript: Photo Finish was born.

While I adore the challenge and adrenalin rush of NaNo, you don’t have time to edit: it’s all about getting words on paper. Consequently, the finished product is anything but finished and re-writes are mountainous. I’ve been editing and revising my completed manuscript for quite some time and have a long way to go.

Which lead to my decision to sit out the 2012 NaNo challenge. And the subsequent dive into my current grief-filled status.

I’m determined to forge ahead with Photo Finish. And I couldn’t justify starting yet another large project when my current manuscript is in need of attention. (Look at me all mature and acting like a big girl…)

Yeah, I could have given in to the fun and excitement generated by thousands of people typing their fingers to nubbins for a month (we keep track of each other’s progress via the NaNo site) but it really would be kind of irresponsible.

Winners certificates from three years of NaNo
It wasn’t a popular decision: My inner-writer threw a temper tantrum and my muse went on strike.

But I’ll deal with them and slog along with edits during November.

It’s the “write” thing to do.



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