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Looking Both Ways

Happy January, everyone! And I pray you have a 2021 that is full of more hope and joy than its predecessor. At the same time, I hope you don’t count 2020 as a complete loss. The pandemic might have turned many of our lives upside down and sideways, but I keep hearing stories of all the good things that came out of having the brakes slammed. Folks have discovered new hobbies. Grown closer with their loved ones. Reached out to so many people through an explosion of virtual avenues. Etc., etc.

The silver lining, am I right? So much good can be found because of something bad, if we just switch our focus and look at it a little differently.

Although the go-go-go came to a screeching halt for so many people, I have to say that I have never been so busy! This past year has to be the busiest year I have ever had. Is that not bizarre? Like my experience with medications, this year has had the opposite affect on me than it did most others.

So, what are some of the good things that happened for me over this past year? Well, reaching all the way back to the beginning of 2020, I had 3 flash fiction stories published by Havok, and what’s super awesome is that one of those stories was even selected to be narrated for Havok’s podcast. Even after a month (or so) since its release, I’m still stoked about it! It’s the first time I’ve heard any of my work performed like that, and I’m over the moon. So thankful. (Also, a couple months ago I submitted and had two more stories accepted. One came out this past Tuesday, and the other is publishing the 29th – so keep an eye out!)

Also in those first few months, I tackled one of my big sewing projects: a pair of kimonos in reverse colors (so, one is black and white, and the other is white and black ?) I have yet to finish the alterations on one of them, but the hard part is finished. (One step closer, Ellis!)

While these things were happening, a coffee shop in town opened. They had been renovating the building for the past two years, battling setbacks and hiccups left and right, but they kept persevering and were finally able to open in March. Consequently, the day after the big shut-down. Go figure, right? The owners named the place Grind-On. It’s our theme and anthem, for sure! I was so blessed to be given a job there, and it’ll be the first regular job ever for this 25-year-old. (What can I say? I’ve always been a late bloomer ?) I couldn’t ask for a better work experience there, doing things that I love and have moderate skill with, under such a gracious and forgiving boss. It’s been a serious learning curve, though, and I’m still figuring out how to manage my time better, now that some of it isn’t my own anymore.

On top of this new – albeit part-time – job, the local farmers market opened in July (cue dramatic, slightly ominous music). I didn’t know what I was jumping into with that one, let me tell you! Our location changed from where it was in ’19, as well as the time, which allowed so many more vendors and shoppers to come. I baked like a maniac every week from August to the end of October; cookies, yeast breads, pies, granola (surprisingly popular), and a few other things here and there. That was at least another part-time job’s worth of work, too, so between the market and the coffee shop I was kept on my toes all summer! It was a fantastic experience, but I confess to being exhausted all the time. I’m not sure I have the guts to do it again this coming summer, but it’s too soon in the year to make any final decisions.

Other gems from this past year are:

Reading: Though I was worried I wouldn’t make my Goodreads goal of 40 books (summer, y’all. Hardly read a thing) I did manage to veritable vacuum the last dozen books up in December. (Manga counts, right? I say they count?) And y’all, I read some great books. And got a bunch of books for Christmas that are THE BOMB.

Writing: I’ll be honest and say I didn’t get anywhere near where I wanted to be with Falconsbane, but at the same time, I still moved forward. This story is a living, breathing thing, I swear. Growing all the time.

Life: Y’all. I’m an aunt!? My brother and his wife are expecting their first kid ever this coming March, and I am stoked to meet this new generation of the family. As her only biological aunt, I am determined to turn her into a bookworm – which will be an achievement, since 1) they live all the way out on the west coast, and 2) neither of her parents are readers. My work is cut out for me.

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Looking back, last year was pretty crazy and awesome despite all the things that we didn’t get to do. One door closes, another opens, eh? God’s got a plan in all of it. Which is actually a great segway into this next part. What’s interesting is that last week our pastor spoke about making plans and how we should be seeking to be a part of God’s plan rather than focusing so much on our own. So, here are a few things that I’m looking forward to and want to work toward in 2021, in no particular order:

~ Publishing more stories in Havok! Flash fiction is still a real challenge for me, so it’s good practice for one thing. For another it’s helping to put my name out there, sharing art and characters that I love with a tribe of amazing readers.

~ Finishing above above mentioned sewing project. I mean, it’d be awesome if I could tackle another one this year, but for the time being I’d like to just get that whole thing done and off my back. Or on it, since it’s clothes . . .

~ Ride my bicycle more, even if it’s just around the block.

~ Be more involved in the garden and homesteading projects.

~ Finish Falconsbane! Again! Or, I suppose more accurately would be setting and maintaining some sort of writing schedule. That, I think, would be better, so I don’t end up going four months at a time without touching anything (I’m looking at you, summer 2020).

~ Going across the country to see my niece when she’s born.

~ Attending a virtual writers retreat in February, where I hope to learn and grow in my craft.

~ I set an ambitious goal for my Goodreads Reading Challenge: a whopping 50 books. That’s like, almost a book a week. I’ve already got two down, so I’m starting strong, but alas, we cannot see into the future to know what life will bring. I’m still setting the bar high and looking forward to all of the adventures to be had between a hundred covers!

There is so much I’m looking forward to this year, some might come to pass, some maybe not, but what’s important is tackling each day in the knowledge and confidence that God is sovereign over all things. His will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. As we like to say around here: “God’s got this.” We need not fear, for there is joy in the presence of the Lord.

What good things did you find in 2020? What are you looking forward to in 2021?

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