Day 212 – February 28, 2015

Last night’s event, which I wrote a bit about yesterday, was put on by the church’s marriage ministry, and it had a superhero theme. The general idea of the superhero tie-in is that we can be heroes to our spouses in our everyday lives. As we were decorating, I was looking for famous superhero quotes, which we were putting on tables and balloons. Some were just fun – “HULK SMASH!” – but as I dug around I found some which apply to life in so many ways! I mean, we all know “With great power comes great responsibility.” Uncle Ben says that to Peter Parker, aka Spiderman. That’s a good one. But I was struck by a few others as well.

“This is the Golden Lasso. Besides being made from an indestructible material, it also carries with it the power to compel people to tell the truth. Use it well, and with compassion.” Queen Hippolyta said that to her daughter Diana, aka Wonder Woman. Yes, she’s talking about a magical lasso. I realize in that regard it doesn’t seem very relevant to our lives. Or not mine, anyway. (Do you have a Golden Lasso??) But that last part… “Use it well, and with compassion.” With great power…

“I believe in an idea, an idea that a single individual who has the right heart and the right mind that is consumed with a single purpose, that one man can win a war. Give that one man a group of soldiers with the same conviction, and you can change the world.” Captain America was talking about actual soldiers. An actual war. But couldn’t that just as easily apply to…everything?

And Superman said, “There is a right and a wrong in the universe and that distinction is not hard to make.”

Superheroes are very wise.

Day 211 – February 27, 2015

The past two days have been long and exhausting. Actually, the entire week has. I am part of a ministry team which hosted a big event tonight, and there was a lot of work involved as we prepared for that. On top of that, I am trying to get way ahead on everything because in a couple of weeks I will be going to Kentucky — for two weeks. I’m doing all I can to make sure no one even notices I’m gone, because everything is done. (Don’t worry…I don’t expect anyone to actually not notice that I’m gone. This is not a secret trip.)

Late yesterday evening I met with two of my fellow ministry team members at Walmart, to get everything we needed for tonight. As I walked in, my past and my present collided a bit. Preparing to exit as I entered was a former co-worker from the banking days. Just so you know…I love this woman. We were officers together, and very much went through the fire together. She is someone I value greatly, and we were forever bonded by some of our shared experiences. The only difference is that once we made it through the hottest part of the fire, I walked away while she stayed to rebuild what had been destroyed. I have great respect for her – for that and a million other reasons.

Anyway, she and I got to talking. I haven’t seen her nearly enough in the past eleven months or so – after seeing her nearly every day for thirteen years. We covered the personal stuff, and then the conversation naturally transitioned to bank talk. When I think about the banking days, I think of it generically and it barely affects me at all. But once in a while, when I think about the specifics, and I think about the way I felt for the last two or three years of that career, I can’t help but feel it again. Momentarily, I feel the weight on my shoulders. I feel the dark cloud. I feel the dread. But then I shake it all off and thank the Lord that all of that negativity is my past, and not my present.

I finished talking about banking and then I went to work, preparing for tonight’s event. And all of that weight and darkness and dread was a distant memory. And then I realized something.

Before this realization, if you’d asked me why I was so miserable in my banking job, I could have given you a ton of little reasons, but the big one would have been, “It just wasn’t where I needed to be anymore. I was trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.” Or something like that. And I believe that’s true. But now I realize that I spent years going against who I am. Not by doing anything unethical or anything like that, but by trying to make myself not care. I had to fire people, and take abuse from customers, and schmooze. Sometimes people deserve to be fired, and sometimes customers need to vent, and sometimes you just have to laugh at jokes which aren’t funny. I get that. But so that I could live with myself, I had to convince myself I didn’t care. But I did care. So much. But at a certain point, caring makes you a weak leader in that corporate world. Compassion is one thing, but losing sleep over it is another entirely. For way too long, I had myself convinced that it was just business. I cared, but rarely did I lose sleep. At some point, I lost the ability to fool myself. I began losing a lot of sleep.

Now, I get to care for a living. This evening’s event wasn’t really part of my “job” – we were part of this ministry team long before I joined the church staff – but it was representative of my job. At least to me. It was a lot of work, but there was value in every task. There were frustrating moments, but they still somehow radiated with joy. This is my career now! Value. Joy. Dare I say it? Fun! Making a difference. Being a part – however small – of the ways God is at work.

I’m just feeling so overwhelmingly blessed. Before, I worked so hard. And for what? To move up the ladder, so that I could work even harder? Now, well…I still work so hard. Tonight, I’m exhausted. And I’m not really exhausted because of the work. I’m exhausted because I am emotionally drained. I’m exhausted because I care so stinkin’ much!

And I’m going to sleep like a baby.

Day 208 – February 24, 2015

There was this brief, though glorious, period of time yesterday during which my children weren’t too cool for me, or each other. They didn’t think they knew best, they didn’t deliberately make decisions with the intent of annoying each other, they didn’t mind hugging me, and they weren’t afraid to laugh with me – thereby admitting that they think I’m sort of funny. They had a snow day. When they went to bed on Sunday evening, there was no significant snow, and not even any reason to believe any was on its way. By the time they awoke, the world was white. We live in Colorado at more than a mile in elevation, but we don’t usually get very much snow. In fact, Noah is in 3rd grade and yesterday was his first snow day ever. They were in the best moods yesterday morning, and they both climbed into bed with me and we talked and giggled, and I couldn’t help but love the snow.

Today, it’s all melting away. And with the return of dry roads and clear skies, I have also seen the return of my pubescent son’s “too cool for everything – especially my mother” attitude. Everything is met with sighs and grumbles and arguments, which always brings out the fighter in me.

I’ve never liked little orphan Annie, and I think I’m beginning to understand why. “The sun’ll come out tomorrow.” Yep. And how annoying it is that she thinks that’s a good thing.

Day 207 – February 23, 2015

Yesterday I had a bit of an epiphany. My “problem” in the publishing world is that I am too unique, right? At least, that’s what agents are telling me. They love my ideas, they love my writing style, they love how unique my stuff is…but that’s exactly why they can’t represent me. Okay, fine. So what are my options? Keep being a struggling indie author with unique ideas, or conform a bit more and write something less unique, and maybe be given a more widespread opportunity? Well, sorry, but I’ll keep struggling.

So here was my epiphany: if I’m going to be different anyway, I may as well be really different. Thus, a new marketing approach. Thus, giving up a day of self-promotion every week – just because it makes me happy to give back to others. Thus, my fictional character live tweeting from the Oscars.

As one of my dearest friends said last night as this was going on, “Go big or go ice skating.” I love that! You can fully expect that to be on an Abigail Phelps t-shirt before all is said and done. (Okay, there may not be a big market for Abigail Phelps t-shirts…) But why not? I have weird ideas, and I come across as rather fearless about it all sometimes. Truthfully, I’m not fearless at all, but I do tend to jump in and do things before I really have a chance to think about them. And actually, that has mostly served me well. So that’s my new approach. Go big or go ice skating.

Day 206 – February 22, 2015

I decided to live Tweet the Oscars. No, actually, that’s incorrect. My fictional character is live Tweeting the Oscars. FROM the Oscars. I tell you that to tell you this:

I HAVE NO TIME TO BLOG TONIGHT!

But guess what? I’m going to anyway. But it will be brief.

I really feel like my moment has come. And, of course, by “my moment” I don’t mean my moment to be discovered, or my moment of achieving all I have dreamt of achieving. I mean my moment of great insanity has come. Perhaps my moment of finally getting sued by a celebrity? Hooray!

It was a last minute decision. I just realized it was too good an opportunity to pass up. So I did what I do and jumped in.

Great insanity.

Day 205 – February 21, 2015

Self-promotion resumes tomorrow. But tomorrow I have two church services, followed by a marriage ministry meeting, and then we have to go to the grocery for the first time in…forever. Ugh. (The ugh was only for the grocery. The other stuff is good.) Add to all of that the Oscars, Downton Abbey, and The Walking Dead, and my Sunday is packed! So, today I scheduled four different blog posts across four different blogs. (Which of course raises the question: WHY DO I HAVE FOUR BLOGS?!? Oh wait. I don’t. I forgot about this one… Make that five. Oh! HOLD ON! This one is on WordPress AND Blogger! Six.)

I’m all blogged out for the day, so forgive me if this one is short. But I will leave you with this:

The University of Kentucky Wildcats basketball team defeated the Auburn Tigers today by a score of 110 – 75. Fifteen different guys played for UK today. Fifteen!

That is all.

Day 204 – February 20, 2015

Okay, so this is the personal blog. This is where I lay it all out there. Those of you who have been around for a while (some of you for the full 204 days) know pretty much everything about me. You know about challenges in my household, you know about my financial issues, you know where I lack confidence and where I have a bit too much ego. I really don’t hold much of anything back on The Year of Blogging Faithfully, so I get to tell you the funny side of some things which I maybe wouldn’t share with just anybody…

As you all know, this is my Pay It Forward week. I have so thoroughly been enjoying it! Here’s the thing: I am not afraid of being in the spotlight. There is a part of me which loves being in the spotlight, in fact. I was a theatre major, after all. I just don’t like shining it on myself. But I really do love shining it on others. That’s what I’ve gotten to do this week, and I have enjoyed every moment of it.

As I’ve also said, though, self-promotion is vitally important to an indie author. Necessary, even. And when you get these fantastic opportunities to promote yourself, you do it! Sometimes you work hard for the opportunities, and sometimes they are just bestowed upon you. Regardless, you don’t let them pass you by without making the most of it and promoting the snot out of yourself.

You know…things like an author interviewing you for their website, or making arrangements to promote on a prominent celebrity (a celebrity who is a character in your book, even) fan page which has more than 12,000 regular followers. Or it could be something really monumental in your life. You could receive a huge honor from an author group of which you are a proud member.

“A traffic jam when you’re already late. A No Smoking sign on your cigarette break…” Ah, you’re right, Alanis Morissette. It is ironic. Kind of like when you receive all of those self-promotional opportunities which I just mentioned. AND YOU’RE ON A WEEK-LONG SELF-PROMOTION HIATUS!

I think it’s hilarious, and it really does feel like a wonderful gift. All of these things, and I get to keep shining the spotlight on others. Ironic, and fantastic.

Day 203 – February 19, 2015

Man! The Bible app verses of the day are really getting me the past couple of days. Today was Proverbs 16:3: “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” That isn’t anything I don’t know, of course, and it isn’t anything I haven’t blogged about in a hundred different ways over the last 203 days. But today it was the reminder I needed. God’s word always has something for us, of course. Any problem, any question, any uncertainty, any conflict…the Bible has the answer. But there’s just something extra special about it when it feels as if God is delivering a message specifically to us. I love that. Sometimes it’s a verse of the day, sometimes it’s in your daily reading, sometimes it’s something someone says, sometimes it’s a thought which for one brief second seems to come from nowhere, and then you realize it came from God.

I love that!