And so the time has come… Get ready, this is a lengthy blog. Grab a cup o’joe and relax as you read for a bit.
First, let me give you all a big HAPPY NEW YEAR! I pray that everyone is showered with love and blessings this coming year.
I, for one, am glad to see 2011 gone. Not to sound like a Debbie-downer, but surely I’m not the only person on this earth that felt like 2011 royally sucked (for lack of better words).
In 2011 I suffered a deeper depression than I have ever been through. I struggled with new footings as a divorcee. I suffered such an unimaginable loss – so great that I realized the term brokenhearted was vastly an understatement … a newer term I’ve yet to come up with. First my heart was occupied with pain, then just emptiness. Occasionally, the pain would return for a pounding. I struggled with unemployment. My laptop crashed. I struggled with identity, not just as a human being, but as a mother and a musician. As a one, not a plus one. I lost faith. I was broke. I was angry with God. Stress aged me. For the first time in my life, I struggled with weight. Not five or ten pounds – I’m talking WEIGHT! Guess what? I look horrible chubby. Not only do I look horrible and OLDER, but I feel horrible & OLDER. I battled rage. I battled my do over.
But I refuse to enter in this new year with baggage from the last. Some things will continue to hurt in the next year… maybe some will hurt forever. And plus, I was blessed with some of the most precious encounters this year. Few, but amazing enough to fight to balance out the year.
So I release them as I think fondly…
I found that in the midst of a divorce – that even though many have spoken out of turn and assumed as to why it happened and who was at fault – who my true friends are and that my mom was right when she said years ago that my closest and most trustworthy friends could be counted on one hand alone.
My mom is one of them. Sure, like any mother & daughter who are forced to live together under some unappealing circumstances (like a divorce), I could strangle her to death at times. But over all, at the end of the day, I know she has my back and that my stresses bleed onto others – as if they don’t have daily stresses of their own to deal with. My sisters, Mandy & Jess – holy crap, how is it possible to even have three women of three very different personalities all on the same “schedule” and after a tad of cattiness, still be best friends? Only God makes this possible by sisterhood. My dad? Sure he’s a friend. Who else can I talk “Days of Our Lives” and politics with? (Yes, I just outed my DOOL-closeted fan dad for the new year.)
Then there are the friends that should be family with the way we come together. Holly, who checks in from time to time. Prays for me. Confides in me. I question why weren’t friends in high school. Jen. She’s probably one of my greatest local supporters whether we are talking music, books, or my hair. I now get to worship with her from time to time and nothing can bond a friendship stronger than a mutual love for God. And then there’s my Matty. Amazing and wonderful in every essence. Funny – even if the humor is only something he & I can grasp. Quirky. Neurotic. Spiritual. The Dawson to my Joey. The Laurie to my Jo. He’s my best friend… and more so. He’s dragged and put me in places that I was destined to be so I could finally find my spiritual path again…well, actually it’s a new path. One I’ve never been on before. He pulls me out of darkness by just a simple text message or mischievous grin. Even an unfiltered joke. He’s irreplaceable as far as friends go… as far a human beings go. Love doesn’t even cover what I feel for this guy. Muchly.
I was able to spend the better part of the year doing what I do best at and what I love. Music. I was unemployed, but where I was not bringing in a steady check, God showed provision. I gigged regularly and made good money. Though nothing quite felt in line until October. Maybe because it had been spoken over me last January that God was going to use me – use my voice. I denied this at first. Tried avoiding it at every turn for a while. Then, there was a stirring for something greater. A stirring I had been ignoring my whole life. I didn’t seek it out. The opportunity presented itself when God felt it was time. His time. I did my first worship service in November. lead my first service in early December. Even visited another church on Christmas Day to lead Worship as well. The music fills me almost as much as His love does. For the first time in my life, I play music where I not only feel unhindered in my expression (spiritual expression, in fact), but don’t suffer from Ricky-Bobby syndrome as far as what to do with my hands. Did you all know that that’s why I’ve always made a point to play an instrument? Besides wanting to be taken seriously as a musician, I didn’t know what to do with my hands. Even watching performers on television move their hands in expression, made me uncomfortable.
Not here. Not with God. In worship, I am no longer myself, but only a vessel for his Message & Love.
Because of my divorce, I am no longer obsessing with how miserable I am or what went wrong. That energy is now being spent on getting to know my boys. Aidan is the personification of compassion and creativity. Ethan is the epitome of courage and fun. I look forward to this next year of learning more about them and see how time molds them.
I became a published writer. I self-published my first book ever in early 2011. By July, I had three offers from small publishing companies. I made my choice and now ShadowShifter will be re-published this Winter of 2012. Meanwhile, I am wrapping up on its sequel book, Lycanthrope. I learned that I enjoy writing and though I may not be a Stephen King or Anne Rice, I’m still pretty good at it. Different, but good.
I went on some fabulous hikes and camping trips.
I made new friends.
I gained three new families… My Grace Community Family, my Global Fire Family, and The Clyde Family. No, I do not feel like my Ellis family was insufficient, but I enjoy extensions for sure.
I got a new niece. Affectionately referred to as “Bree-bree”. (Her name is Aubree)
Captain America became one of my newest boyfriends.
Transformers 3 kicked major A.
Though I am not done with the full trilogy, I was able to sneak in The Hunger Games (books 1 & 2) by the end of 2011. And I do not over-exaggerate this. As I finished Book #2, Catching Fire, I looked down at my watch and saw it roll from 11:59 to 12:00. These books are AMAZING. I haven’t finished book #3, Mockingjay, but I have faith that Suzanne Collins isn’t going to bomb with a Breaking Dawn-like fizzle. Read these books!
I read the life-altering book, The Shack. I will never see things the same way again.
I got better at guitar.
I started playing piano again.
I released an all acoustic CD called Just Me.
I got to see Mindy Smith in a stand alone concert.
I GOT TO SEE NORAH JONES!
I saw Les Miserables.
The Walking Dead came back… and will return again on my birthday in a little over a month from now. So far, this season has not disappointed.
I was able to get back to the Winding Staircase (a beautiful waterfall hidden in Lafayette, TN) for the first time since I was 22. I can’t wait to take my boys there this year. Many family/childhood memories from that place.
I flew on an airplane without drinking alcohol or taking a xanax… and I didn’t freak out… not too badly, anyway.
I got a Kindle for Christmas. 🙂
I will not send 2011 off with a kiss but a simple wave. Bittersweet. 2012, I welcome you with open arms. You will not be flawless. You will not be perfect, for I am not perfect. I do not plan to change my imperfections, they will just change to other imperfections.
I embrace 2011 for what it was. A season – a hard one. A season of learning. A season of testing. You see… I was born into a Christian family, saved by Jesus’ blood & God’s wonderful grace by the age of 10. I know nothing more than what I have been given. I’ve never had a real struggle in my life aside from my diagnosed depression. God has had plans for me – long before I was even born. He has work for me to do and he doesn’t want some “waffling-warrior” on the front lines. I’m being put to the test. He knows I’ll pass. There are no right or wrong answers as long as I put my Faith in Him. You know that saying “what doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger”? This is it. 2011 didn’t kill me. At times, I thought it had killed my spirit to the point where I would not be able to pick myself back up off the ground… until I surrendered to Him – His love. His grace. His mercy. His destiny for me. These struggles, he has not forced on upon me, but has allowed them to enter. I’m building character. He’s preparing me, to place me on the front lines. His desires, at last, have become mine.
2012 will a year of revelation for me. I will actually break through these trials and step into where I belong, bringing on a whole new and exciting journey.
In this journey, these are my resolutions. My realistic resolutions…
1. I want to know my Father’s love for me. Deeper than I’ve really ever known before. To love Him is to know Him… just as He knows me. I know Him through intimacy and His Word. In His love, I want to drown myself and never return, making me a different person spiritually. I want to hear His voice when He calls and not question if it’s really Him or myself. Aside from Worship, he wants me to broaden myself for His work, to counsel others. Empathize. Help. For far too long, I’ve been too self-absorbed. He has called me to show compassion for others who may be experiencing the same, less or more than my own hardships. People will see Christ through me as I follow His lead in this pursuit.
What do you think My mid-life Do Over is? I’m reaching out to others who are divorced or turning over a new leaf. I’m following His lead, so that others can see my lead. Leading by example.
2. I’m going to work even harder on my relationship with my boys. They are at a crucial time in their life, growing up as men. The more I speak to them, the more I listen… the more my life and walk with Jesus will influence them and stick with them in the long run. Besides, they are amazing little human beings with so much hope & possibility!
Gosh, I love my minions.
3. I’m going to write more. This last year I’ve been solely focused on Lycanthrope because I can’t manage my writing time well enough. My goal is to post a blog a week – here and/or my other Author’s blog site, “I’m a Writer! When Did that Happen?
This also includes songwriting.
And I will be writing more books. Many different kinds – however I am led. Not just paranormal romance, but I am heavy in heart to start an actual “Mid Life Do Over” book.
A romance book. An all-out thriller. So much in my head is screaming to get out.
4. I hope to post a new music video of myself every week. Sigh… the hardest part about this is the make up & hair. Wish I could just roll out of bed & just record, but who wants to watch Pee-Wee Herman’s Large Marge croak out a tune? *shudder*
5. I’m investing more time in my relationship with Matt. It’s too special to pass it off as a casual friendship. I’d like us to spend more time in God-talk, prayer… making Him the center of our friendship. That’s what it’s all about. I know it sounds strange, but it’s what God has laid upon my heart.
6. I’m going to camp more and take part in many more outdoor adventures! Oh yeah….
7. I’m going to get healthier. ah-ha! I didn’t say lose weight – though it is sort of the plan. I’m going to get to a point where I look and feel good about myself again. Take off the ten years I feel I’ve put on in the last year. If I think I’m cute, then I will not look at a scale to verify that for me. Healthy. This also means cutting back on my caffeine consumption. I started this a few weeks ago already and have been fairly successful at it. I’ve been replacing my usual 3 – 4 cups of coffee with caffeine free tea. Already, I’ve felt a change! And sleep. Unless writing beckons me at night, I’m working towards an “early to bed, early to rise”.
8. I’m making my first attempt ever to learn football, follow a team and become a fan. I’m more of a baseball girl and I hate being left out of “talks” during football season. Who’s the lucky team you may ask? Well, many things have factored in on this decision… and I realize that not everyone (especially here in Big Orange country) is going to like my choice. But isn’t that what makes it all the more fun? I didn’t want a team that EVERYONE ELSE seemed to like. Plus, I always felt that Maroon was a good color for me.
Hello, Aggies. I’m going to be your newest fan this next year. I have months to learn your game in the meantime.
9. I’m going to accept the struggles that come my way. I may have a melt down or two in them, but I’m going to smile and try my darndest to give them to God. It’s what we’re supposed to do anyway.
10. I’m going to enjoy life. All of it. Every small moment. Every secret discovery. Every sunny morning. Ever rainy afternoon. Every new blossom. Every fallen leaf. I will savor every embrace from the tiniest arms. Value every spoken word of affection. Take pleasure in every kiss – even if it may be our last. Endure and learn from every trial. Take time for thanksgiving at the beginning of every morning and at the close of every day. Life here on earth is too short.
10. I’m going to accept that I’m going to be 35. Yes, this knowledge hurts, but my age will be determined by my outlook and my approach to life. My youthful ideals. Not by the ticking of a clock. I’m going to be young for a very long time. I have too much Spirit & heart to offer.
11. My two big goals this year – as far as projects go. I’m going to work on my first full band album since 2009… Worship music. And even if it doesn’t get released this year, it will be released next year.
I also want to put out a Christmas album.
12. Matt and I are going sky diving this summer.
Every new year, we are given a do over. Every year we start with outrageous plans to make our do overs more effective. We fail most of the time. This list I have prayed on for a considerable amount of time… and it will be conquered. Even the whole Texas A & M thing. I will live this year deep in prayer & meditation, taking life one day at a time. My do over will not be wasted. 2011’s official start to my mid life do over was not wasted. It was only my start.
In closing, I leave you with a “Go, Aggies!” (haha!) and this Serenity Prayer:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.