Currently-November

General- This month started out great with my annual women’s retreat that I attend. I even got some solid writing time while enjoying beautiful mountain views. I got home and was promptly sick for two days. I got back to normal and then got blasted with the flu. Seriously guys, I’ve never been that sick in my life. At least, from what I can remember. I’ve never had no energy. I’m usually the one powering through illness to get to work and do what I need to do. There was no overpowering this bug. Seriously, this would have knocked the Hulk out. However, I’m recovering, feeling better, and we decorated for Christmas a week early! Whoo hooo!

Since my husband and I have been married, we have spent black Friday decorating the house instead of going out into the chaos of the world. About 4 years ago we started a new tradition. We spend all morning decorating the house and then in the afternoon, we’ll get lunch (sometimes) and then go to a store and pick out a new ornament for our tree. Each year someone gets a turn. Since Thanksgiving fell so late in November this year, I made the argument that we had to decorate a little early so I get the same amount of time to be holly jolly. My husband being a logical man, agreed and we decorated over the weekend and this year was my turn to pick our ornament. I picked a cute little red truck. It looks great on my tree. 

Reading– I’m still hooked on the Luminaries by Susan Dennard on Twitter. This is a choose your own adventure style story that Susan started about 5 months ago. Seriously, I’m conditioned to check my twitter at the same time every day for the update. We’ve managed to keep our last life hanging on for a bit now. We’re in the climax and things are making me stressed. But the story is so good! You have to check it out. I’ve also started and finished One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus. This is a YA murder mystery that makes you think everybody is a suspect. This was my second time reading it but it was even better the second time. SO GOOD. Plus they just finished filming the pilot for the TV show. (And I’m desperately hoping it gets picked up) This book is perfect for TV. Think Harper’s Island with fully formed characters. (Don’t get me wrong, I loved Harper’s Island. But you didn’t get all the info on all the characters because, well it was a mini-series and someone had to die at the end of every episode.) I’m currently reading Two Can Keep A Secret by Karen M. McManus. While reading One of Us is Lying, I developed theories and whatnot the moment I started reading that book. Two Can Keep A Secret however, I know nothing. I’m halfway through the book and I only have the small inkling of a theory but cannot explain why I think that and well, I know nothing. It is such a good book though. I love how McManus puts a lot of characters in her book and each character is distinct and has their own voice. It’s wonderful. 

Listening– Christmas music! I’ve been jamming out to my Christmas playlist for a good minute. I also discovered a podcast called Relatable by Allie Beth Stuckey and I’m hooked on it! She is speaking wisdom in every single episode I’ve listened to. So good. With being sick, I haven’t been listening to much though. Hopefully next month will have some more things for you to check out. 

Watching– The Masked Singer! Can someone explain to me how Kelly Osborne got everybody convinced she was from the south? That was my favorite reveal so far. For some reason I think the Fox is Robert Downey Jr. No idea why, when I see the Fox on TV I end up thinking about RDJ. It probably isn’t but who knows. Also, I feel like the Leopard is gonna end up winning. I know there are stronger singers but that animal has been in the bottom two twice now and survived both smack downs. Those judges want him to stay in. I’m also back on the Resident. I love the characters on this show. However, it is very Man VS The Man and the little man never wins and there is like NO forward progress on that storyline so it is hard to watch sometimes. Grey’s Anatomy is a staple in my house. With being down with the flu, we watched A LOT of Disney+. Hello all my favorite childhood shows. I started off with 10 Things I Hate About You and then when it was over I had my husband restart it. 

Writing– My WIP is currently at 6K words, almost 7K. Thanks flu for killing my writing streak. I don’t know if I’ll finish in time for NaNo but I’m definitely going to try. 55,000-ish words in like 5 days? I’m sure someone has done it. 

Honesty Hour

*This post has nothing to do with dinosaurs. Sometimes, life just feels like it is sneaking up behind you like a raptor.

I’m a very honest person. While I tend to keep most of my personal matters close to the chest, I also have no problem dropping hardships I’ve gone through in conversations randomly. I have no problem sharing my story but usually I won’t share it until I’m on the other side of whatever I’m dealing with. I can talk about it easier that way.

Today, I’m throwing that idea away and just writing from my heart. I’m going to share what is on my heart and the things I’ve been dealing with and struggling with lately. If you’ve been following me for a while, I feel like I owe it to you if you have been wondering where my posts have been. There are going to be some changes coming up around here and I’m also going to share about that. 

At the beginning of November, I went to my annual women’s retreat with my church. I am involved with the women’s ministry at my church and have a hand in helping set up retreat as well as helping out during retreat. Prep for retreat took the entire week that lead up to it. I got up to Zion and was ready for God to move and speak into my heart. I was ready for whatever God had for me. I was excited.

Retreat was everything I was hoping for and more. God spoke to me. God touched my heart. God reminded me of the season I am currently in. I’m in a season of life I’ve prayed for. A season I’ve asked God multiple times for. I am standing where I’ve prayed for. I’ve also been blessed by answered prayers that I was too afraid to actually pray. Things that hung out in my heart but I didn’t think I could ask. I didn’t deserve it. I already asked for something else so I shouldn’t ask for that. I made stronger friendships, I felt seen by God. Retreat was absolutely amazing and I still get excited when I think about what God told me while I was up on that mountain. 

Then I came home from that mountain. I came home and promptly woke up the next morning sick. My headaches, that were minimal, are more frequent and back to being daily. I’ve been trying to make sure I get quality time with my son and my husband and as a family. (We are still adjusting to our new schedule.) and perhaps this only happens to me, but when the sun is suddenly setting at 4:30 in the evening, everything gets thrown off. It happens every single year and no matter how I try to mentally prepare for it, I get thrown off and all of a sudden my schedules are a moo point. 

I’ve been trying to get back into the swing of things and it just feels like things keep popping up. I’m one of those people who just handles things as they come up because I don’t see the point in delaying something if I can just handle it right then. 

This is probably something I should probably stop doing. When things pop up, it isn’t an emergency and it can probably wait. Unless something is on fire, it can most likely wait. As I write this, I’m realizing I feel my time getting sucked away is because of the things that pop up. The things that I could make a note of and put on a list for another day, are becoming the things I handle right now, instead of what I want to be working on.

Did that make sense? I hope so, I don’t know how else to word it honestly. These little pop-up things are what end up taking up the most of my time. Honestly, most of these pop up things could not only wait, but they might not even need to be done by me. I talk about saying no to big commitments and things that will take away from what you want to do or working on your goals, but I need to also start saying no to the little pop-ups. 

Which I know I can do. I’ve done it this week when I’ve realized we ran out of some things. For example, strawberries. I went to make Little Man’s lunch for school on Tuesday and boom, no strawberries. Instead of telling myself I had to go to the store after work, I said we will grab strawberries when we go grocery shopping this weekend. There are other options for what I can put in Little Man’s lunch. 

This is a very small example and most of the time, I’m not dealing with pop ups that involve waiting for the next store trip. It ends up being starting Thing A and then getting distracted and following up with Thing B before finishing Thing A. Then my dog needs something or Little Man needs something and instead of asking for patience, I jump up to respond. While I’m working on their need, Thing C walks over and causes me to pay attention to it and then next thing I know, it is Friday morning and I didn’t record my podcast. 

This also leads to me feeling overwhelmed. I know I have time for the goals I have and the things I want to do. I’ve purposely said no to other things to allow time for these things. So how come I’m getting nothing accomplished on the goal front yet feeling stressed and overwhelmed? What is even happening? 

I’m allowing the pop ups to dictate my life instead of allowing God to guide and following through. When I feel overwhelmed, it becomes hard for me to make decisions. It becomes hard to make healthy decisions. When I’m overwhelmed, I just feel tired and exhausted. So when I look at a stretch of time, if I’m already overwhelmed and exhausted do I want to work on my book or do I want to sit in front of the TV and allow my brain a break?

Guys, I definitely didn’t pick the first option. I believe in taking care of our bodies (I could be better about mine. I’m getting there) but in that taking care of our bodies, we need to be taking care of our minds. 

We need rest, real rest. Rest that only Jesus can give us. 

Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, “Come to me, all who are weary and I will give you rest”

The main thing I took away from retreat was that God gives us strength and energy and when we are living in His will, the to-do list still gets done and you don’t feel drained. I got that because my week leading up to retreat showed me that. I spent a week living it. 

I came home ready to keep walking in my calling, in the season of life I’m in. I’m ready to settle in. I have no idea how I got so distracted and I’m betting the distractions are what is causing my overwhelm and tiredness. It made me walk on the path.

So I’m ready to get back on it. I’m ready to keep going where God is telling me. I’m ready to enjoy the season of life I am in. I am ready to settle in

So that is where I am at. That is my honesty talk. 

There are a few things I’m changing around here. My podcast episodes are now going to be every other week. If I can do every week, I will. I love doing my podcast but I want to make sure I am creating relevant and relatable content and I don’t want to put an episode out every week just to put an episode out every week. I hope to move back to every week by next year. However, for right now, while I’m learning, I want to have space to figure out the next right episode. I also want to do more writing on the blog. I might even start a fiction series to follow along with. (I have one started that I would love to continue, maybe.) I think all my passions are interconnected. I love writing and speaking and talking and sharing my stories and hearing other stories. These loves are all connected. You write what you’re going to speak and you write what you’re going to publish. I want this blog to be more than one post a week and then the weekly podcast and a weekly devotional. It feels too structured and while I’m a scheduled person and I believe in consistency, I don’t think this format is working for me. I feel like I cannot share what I want to sometimes because then next 10 Saturday blog posts are already scheduled and this topic might not be relevant in the next 11 weeks. That is, if I remember to write it down to schedule later. 

I don’t believe in reinventing the wheel or fixing what isn’t broken. Things can always be improved though. So that is what I’m working on, improving this blog, my podcast and future things.

I just want to follow my call and do what I’m created to do that is the best way to serve others. You are my heart and I want to make sure this blog is something beneficial for you.

*Yes, I meant moo point, it’s a cow thing.

Personality Quizzes & Thoughts

True Colors VS Enneagram

If you listed to my podcast episode on being task minded, you probably heard me talk about being a Gold. Gold is a color that falls under the True Colors personality quiz. I’ve learned that many people haven’t heard of True Colors because True Colors is used a lot in the public sector, big companies use it. True Colors isn’t used to put people in personality boxes but more to help us understand each other better and work better together. It is great for understanding communication since we all communicate differently. 

You’ve probably heard of the Enneagram though. It’s become the new Myers-Briggs when it comes to personality tests. Which, I’m okay with because remembering my what my Myers-Briggs means is rough. I know my initials but I cannot tell you what they mean. I had to google. However, with Myers-Briggs I am an ENFJ, if you are curious. 

I took the enneagram test last year, I actually first heard about it in an issue of the Magnolia Journal. I appreciate what enneagram does and I was easily typed. The thing that caused me to pause on enneagram was that I had multiple friends that couldn’t figure out their type and every test typed them as something different. My friends couldn’t figure out their type and I didn’t understand how tests could have such different results. Plus, with the enneagram, I’ve heard multiple times that you just pick the type that sounds like you. I have actually heard multiple people who are basically experts in Enneagram talk about how you just sort of pick yours based on which one describes you the best. (Podcasts teach you things, you know.)

When I took my class on True Colors, I felt like I discovered new things about myself even though they were things I knew. True colors is the personality quiz that really helped me figure out how I communicated and when I made my husband take the test, it completely changed our communication. I already knew my husband and I were very different but his True Colors results were the opposite of mine. What I liked about True Colors is that you will fall within each of the four colors when you take the test, everybody has a spectrum. And different parts of you, or different colors in your spectrum come out depending on who you are around, what you are doing and where you are.

My true colors spectrum is Gold/Blue/Orange/Green. My enneagram is Type 1. I’m going to compare what the these different personality quizzes say about who I am and if they match up. 

Starting with Enneagram! (From the Enneagram Institute)

Type 1: The rational, idealistic type: principled, purposeful, self-controlled and perfectionistic. 

Type ones have a sense of mission and and desire to improve the world. Ones strive for higher values. They wish to be useful. They feel like they have to justify their actions to themselves and to others. Ones tend to reign in their emotions and they come off as rigid. Ones believe that being strict with themselves with eventually lead to becoming perfect and will justify themselves to others and in our own eyes. 

I just basically summed up what the entire page of Type 1 says. Say hello to all the crazy thoughts inside my head. The need to be perfect is a daily struggle and something I am constantly growing and working on, accepting that I am not perfect and I will never achieve that is a daily reminder. 

Switching to True Colors (From True Colors International)

Golds enjoy being (even need to be) extremely organized. They like the sense of accomplishment and checking off items on the to-do list. Their strengths are being trustworthy, detail-oriented, prepared, responsible and organized. They value authority, structure and procedures.

I’ve always said I like True Colors over any other personality quiz because I felt like it covered true humanity in the ebbs and flow of personality with the spectrum. I knew what being an enneagram type one meant and I just thought each personality quiz said the same things about people they just had a different way of putting the information together. 

Now that I have put my True Colors color next to my Enneagram type, I see that personality quizzes focus on different aspects of our personality. Each of these results are true about me and both of these results explain who I am. 

However, just looking at the enneagram, you wouldn’t figure out that I am task minded, seeing the world in the form of a to-do list. My enneagram will tell you that I’m hard on myself and that I strive for perfection but my color spectrum doesn’t tell you that. 

Even looking at my Myers-Briggs, I saw different parts of me shown and modeled for explanation for why I fall into that type and those all fit too. All three of these results do explain who I am, however, I am much more than just what some test results say.

Personality quizzes are fun and they definitely help with introspection and trying to understand ourselves better. When we know who we are, we can do life better. However, these tests are not the end all be all about who we are. If I took these tests years ago, I would probably get the same results. However, the results wouldn’t show how I’m growing out of my need to chase perfection. The results wouldn’t show that I’m learning to take things off the to-do list and delegate and allow things to slide because I cannot accomplish the entire to-do list in one day. 

Personality quizzes don’t show growth. I’m not the same person I was five years ago, even though she would have gotten the same results. 

Sugar, Spice, & Everything Niche

This website is my fourth attempt at blogging. It has grown into more than a blog. However, I started with the idea that I wanted to write and I wanted a blog to write these things at. Complete control and creative freedom to publish what I wanted, when I wanted.

Over the years in my attempts at blogging I’ve done a lot of research and read all the resources from my favorite bloggers about what they do to make their blog successful. Everybody has different techniques and tactics but one message united all these experts and their resources. The thing that united them? The message that you find your niche and stick to it. 

Every successful blogger I read about in my research said something along these lines. Find the thing you love the most and talk about that. Find the thing you are best at and talk about that. 

I think my previous attempts at blogging were failures because of this message. I didn’t have a niche, I didn’t know what I was going to talk about and I struggled with creating content because I didn’t have a niche. My third attempt at blogging I decided that I was done and I didn’t need a blog because I didn’t have a niche. I wasn’t an expert at anything so therefore I cannot talk about anything.

The desire to start a blog didn’t go away. I started working on my book which is a journaling devotional and I realized how much I loved journaling and I wanted to share that message with people and how journaling is good self-care. I found conversations with God in my journal and I wanted to share that. That is how WritingOutLoud was born. Through my desire to share my message of journaling with people.

This was supposed to be my niche. I was supposed to talk about writing and journaling and just let that exist out in the internet world. As I am coming up on a year of this blog, I’m realizing that I’ve talked about a lot more than just journaling and writing. I’ve started a podcast and I’ve added weekly devotionals. My blog posts though, the content is constantly changing based on what is happening in my life. Sometimes, I want to talk about adjusting schedules, because my schedule hasn’t been consistent my entire life. My normal is adjusting to a new schedule. Maybe someone wants to hear about it, maybe it will be helpful to someone. 

Despite knowing I talk about a variety of things on my blog, I still felt like I had an overall message- journaling. 

I was listening to a podcast the other day, where the guest on the show was talking about how she had one type of blog, got pregnant and when she had her baby she lost a whole bunch of followers. She was afraid of talking about her baby because she didn’t want to lose more followers. The overall message was her owning her new season of life and her new identity but listening to this podcast made me realize I very much dislike the message of blogs need to have niches.

Believing a blog must have a niche or that one person can only talk about one thing on their website is putting people in a box that says they are only this thing. 

I am more than a woman passionate about journaling. I have an eye for decorating and making things pretty. I am an organizational genius and all about less stuff and open space. I’m the complete opposite of a hoarder and sometimes, you have to convince me that we need to keep something in order to keep it in the house. I find freedom in letting go even when I am clinging to control like a life line. I am made up of a lot more than a niche message that I feel like I need to stick to on a blog. 

Which is why I dislike this niche blogging deal. The person I go to for examples on decluttering and minimalism, has also built up a huge successful business, why wouldn’t I want to hear what she has to say about building a business? I’m great with journaling and I love writing, but maybe you’d like to see how add fall decor to my house when I’m all about less stuff on surfaces. Maybe you want to know how I juggle a a job, my husband, my son, my blog and school and get on the President’s List. 

My point is that things that I’m going through might be relatable to you but you would never know if I stuck to the niche message of journaling for self care and to build a deeper relationship with Jesus. 

I read and I love sharing what I read with people. I love talking to authors and shooting my shot to see if I can do a Q&A (that shot was successful) and maybe you found a new author you have not heard of yet. 

We, as people, do not fit into one thing. I am more than a writer. We all wear many hats and since I can control what happens on this corner of the internet, I’m going to talk about all my hats. 

Hobbies & Why They Matter

I’ve never been someone who has a bunch of hobbies. In fact, if asked, I used to tell people I don’t have hobbies. Most people I know have hobbies like drawing, painting, hiking, sewing, etc. Are you getting the picture? So, naturally, I thought hobbies were only things that fell into those categories: nature and art. I’m allergic to nature, no lie. So I avoid it. I am also a fan of modern comforts so camping isn’t usually something I am volunteering for. I have the artistic talent of a newborn. I cannot draw a stick figure with a ruler so art is always out of the question for me. I tried sewing for a little bit, it was rather complicated and something I struggled with. Hardcore.

Despite my lack of artistic talent, I get really creative and good ideas up in my noggin. I always tend to think I can make something myself instead of buying it. A wise woman I know once told me that DIY is always better because (usually) the cost of materials is cheaper than paying for it or hiring someone to do it, AND you get to learn a new skill. Also, my husband’s first MOS is an engineer soooo he is rather handy. I’ve always been about doing things myself.

As an adult I’ve learned that hobbies are whatever you do that makes you happy. I had the wrong idea the entire time. Hobbies are the things that give you time to yourself. While I may not be the best drawer, I’m great at making cute things with cute sayings. This is something that only got easier once I got my Cricut. I also went back to writing, which I’ve learned is my passion and something I am pursuing as more than a hobby. Writing started out as a hobby though. It was a way to kill time when I was a teenager. I’ll tell that story a different day. 

I’ve learned a few things regarding hobbies since I’ve discovered I have them. Oh, I’m a huge reader too. I’ve always had a book in my hand since I was a kid. Reading all the books at the bookstore is definitely a hobby and I refuse to let anybody tell me otherwise. I digress. Back to what I’ve learned with hobbies. 

Hobbies are a mandatory.

Some might not agree with me on this. Hear me out though. For me, ever since I discovered hobbies are not just drawing and existing in nature, I’ve learned why they are so important. People who enjoy hiking usually enjoy getting away from the chaos of life. People who draw silence out the world around them and pour whatever they might be feeling into their drawings. For me, writing is where I figured out things I was dealing with in life. It is where I brain dumped all the crap going on and figured out what really mattered. All of these are good things and get you away from the chaos of life. Everybody these days seems to be preaching about self-care and how important it is. They are not wrong. Self-care if very important. If you are not taking care of yourself, you cannot take care of others. You cannot be at your full capacity when you are in desperate need of a break. You cannot draw from an empty well. When I read, I read a lot of YA (young adult) books. One of the reasons I will never give up YA is because YA books make reading an escape. The storylines in YA books are usually simple, even with series books. Sometimes we are dealing with the toppling of a government like in The Hunger Games, but even then, Katniss didn’t wake up and decide to overthrow the government, it sort of just happened. She was just trying to keep Peeta alive. The simplicity is what I enjoy. Being an adult, life is hardly simple, there are always more problems, more things to do, more cleaning, all of the above. It takes me out of the chaos of my life and inserts me into a fictional world where the (usually) the biggest issue could be solved with communication. 

Hobbies are life-giving.

How many people do you know right now who are making a side business with their hobby? How many people do you know that were able to create a business using their hobby? In today’s day we can make a business out of everything. There are plenty of people, like me, who would rather learn how to do something and make it themselves when a problem comes up. Then there are others that would rather save the time and energy and just buy whatever they are looking for. That is where your hobby comes in! Hello side gig. However, just because you have a hobby doesn’t mean you need to make money off of it. Before getting my Cricut, I used to tell myself I cannot have it because I didn’t need it. I didn’t need it because I didn’t have some side business that required the use of it. I eventually got a Cricut so I could make my son and myself shirts for our Universal trip. Ever since I got it though, I’ve discovered a whole new world of crafting that allows me to make cool stuff for myself and for my friends. I didn’t need a side business to get it for myself. (Although, it does open potential. hahaha)

Hobbies help creativity.

Today, I spent hours creating bible tabs. It took longer than I anticipated. It was frustrating at times. However, at the end, I got a beautiful product and I’m happy about. While making it, I got to think of other things I could make with this new use I found of my Cricut and how easy it was to get the paper off my cutting mat. (Last time I tried to make a card, it was a disaster.) I got inspired for other projects though, while in the process of this one. I got inspired for my book while working on these tabs because every day things happen to characters and my frustration over how much time this project took could easily be placed into a story with different circumstances and it would help make my character seem more real. Inspiration like this doesn’t come from doing the same thing over and over again. New experiences = new inspiration. I think we don’t realize how interconnected things are. Every area of life will bleed into the others. Stretching your creative muscles in a different hobby or craft can help your creativity for your job or future problems. I am a huge fan of creative problem solving. 

This is just a short list of why hobbies are important. There are plenty of reasons why you need to allow yourself have a hobby and enjoy that hobby. Don’t let the culture of today and the demand to be cool and busy allow you to take away the things that refresh your soul.