Personal

Personal

Bible Journaling

Sometimes it's a little intimidating to talk about my faith. As a Christian, I'm never quite sure how I'll be received. But as I've been Bible Journaling lately, lots of you have seemed interested in it and have had some questions, so I thought I'd try to get to them in a blog post.

First, my new Bible is an ESV Single Column Journaling Bible. I was very tempted by another one, but it was so expensive! But this one is great. There's plenty of room for notes or art, and my pastor uses this translation a lot, so I thought it might be good. Usually I prefer an NLT. Really, I think any Bible would work if you're comfortable with slightly overlapping onto the text and use the right stuff so you can still see the words. Totally doable!

Second, the materials I'm using are plain old crafting and scrapbooking supplies that I have on hand. Anything you see that isn't actual printed text was made by me. Which some people seemed confused about. It didn't come with pre-made art or backgrounds. If you're just getting started, some stickers and markers will get you pretty far. I'm a nerd and bought some new stamps and letters just for this, but you really don't need to. Even in black and white, you can make something lovely.

Third, my inspiration is simply coming from the text. If I see a verse or word, or maybe sense a theme, that's what I focus on. My hope is that by creating something next to it, I'll hold onto a piece of the verse a little better. You can usually see the words I've accented near by.

 So how do you get started?

1. Get a Bible or a notebook. If you feel guilty about marking up a Bible, get a journal instead. No worries.

2. Pick your favorite book and start there. I'm a nerd for the Psalms! If you feel inspired early on, I think it makes it easier to make something like this a habbit.

3. Use what you have! I found dabbing a marker on a tissue and smooshing it on the paper makes a really nice background. No need for fancy ink! Don't have pretty stickers? Google doodle lettering and boarders and make it pretty yourself!

4. Let it matter. It's really not about making something perfect, it's about making something period. For me, being creative has always made me feel closer to my Creator. As long as that's happening for you, don't worry about the final product and enjoy the Word.

And that's pretty much it. If you look around, you can find much better examples than anything I've made, and it's inspiring me to try new things and keep this going. I'll probably continue to post my favorites to Instagram using the hashtag #BibleJournaling. If you're making some too, use the tag, so I can see! Hope you enjoy this as much as I am!

Personal

Hi Dad

It’s late in the day, but I thought I’d take a moment on this Father’s Day to mention what seems to be one of your favorite things about The Selection: the dedication. You’ve all seen it. You’ve taken pics and sent it back to me with smiley faces next to it. I know you dig it.

hi dad.png

So let me explain where it came from. A million years ago, we were talking about how all these people— athletes, movie stars, and pretty much anyone winning an award— will get on TV and yell out “Hi, Mom!” So I promised my dad that if I was ever on TV, I would wave and say “Hi, Dad!”

When the book deal came around, I figured this was the closest I’d ever get, so the first book went to Daddy. Without him knowing, which made it so much better! He's a pretty rad guy. Sucked snot out of my nose once when I couldn't breathe, so he pretty much earned it.

Anyway, as it is Father’s Day, I thought I’d get the story out there. Hope all the dads out there had a spectacular day!

Personal, The One

The Inevitable

So, I feel like this is bound to happen. If you’ve preordered The One, there is a huge chance that it will ship early, or maybe a bookstore will stock it a week in advance. And, because you have waited so long, there is no reasonable way to ask you not to open it up.

If you come across a copy in the next two weeks, I hope you get a chance to enjoy it. And I also hope that you will allow those who have to wait to have the exact same experience as you.

I’ve been guarding these secrets for years, guys. YEARS! Please do me the favor of keeping them a handful of days. What would that mean exactly? Well, don’t make plot points your status updates, and maybe don’t tweet your reactions directly at me as lot of readers check my replies. Maybe share the book with your BFF and make them read it really fast so you have someone to gush/rage/whatever with.

You guys are smart. You’ll figure it out. Just know that this tiny little favor would mean the world to me. Thank you guys for sticking with America and company through this journey. I hope the third book is worth the wait.

Personal

Anxious Kiera

            Over the years, I’ve tried to let you guys into my life. One, because my filter is pretty low, and I just like to share, and, two, because I think it helps you guys to know that I’m more than a name on the spine of a book. I’m an actual person. But in the same way I can delete words to shape the stories you love, I can edit out specific scenes of my life, showing you the best bits, so it looks a certain way.

            Yes, I’m generally a happy person and love to play around. I’m all about my family and my faith. I do obsess over One Direction and cake, and I still have my life size Edward Cullen cutout in my closet. It’s not a completely inaccurate picture that I paint for you. But I’ve been cutting out some of the tough stuff.

            I’ve always had some problems with feeling low. When I get worked up and stressed, it can sometimes take me hours to come back down. When there’s too much to do, I might get paralyzed and not be able to do anything at all. I cry, I have negative thoughts on repeat in my head, I start sweating. I get stomach aches almost every time I have an event, even if I think I’m feeling pretty calm that day. When I go anywhere, usually my first question is where the bathroom is. I already know where the door is, so between those two things, I’m set. I’ve had to start planning out things months in advance. Not just for tours and stuff, but for life. My brain doesn’t always shut off at night, so it takes me hours to fall asleep. It’s exhausting.

            About the time The Elite came out, it started feeling more intense, and by the time I got done with all my international trips last fall, I was on edge basically every day. Though, looking back, I wouldn’t have said that. I would have said I was fine.

            It wasn’t until after my stomach problems got so bad I needed to see a doctor that I even noticed how consuming this was. Once she said that if I didn’t calm down that things would only get worse, I realized anxiety mode was basically my normal. I decided I needed some help managing my stress.

            But in trying to find some help dealing with the stress in my life, I’ve discovered it’s a bit more than that. I’m now seeing a counselor and have been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. What that means is the things that normal people worry about (like family problems or work or money) I take to another level. I can get amped up over what seems like nothing (like trying to get a coat on one of my kids) and be upset because of it for hours. There’s not much logic to it, and it steals hours and days from me.

It’s comforting to have a name for what’s happening in my head, and I’m finally learning some skills to stay calm when I would otherwise get wound up, and how to relearn the way I talk to myself when I can barely think straight. We’ve only just started, so I’m nowhere near better, but it’s nice to have a plan.

            I share all this to say, this is why a death threat makes me freak out for days. This is why Question Monday isn’t something I can manage anymore. This is why my poor family has to deal with a mommy who asks her son to hold her hand when she starts crying… and how he’s started reaching for me before I even say it. There are some days when I just can’t deal.

            I’m very excited about my upcoming year. I can’t wait for you to get The One, to talk about all the secrets I’ve been keeping, and to see you all when I tour. I feel very fortunate that the bad stuff usually unfolds in the privacy of my home and never in front of a crowd, but I worry it won’t stay that way.

            You guys have been supportive and enthusiastic through this absolutely amazing journey. I hate to ask you to give me anything more, but I’m hoping you can have grace with me if I don’t respond to tweets, or even disappear for a little while. If I’m at a signing and need to pause for minute, I hope you can understand why.

            I’m still figuring this out, and I don’t always know what’s going to make that tight knot in my chest show up or put the worst worries in my brain on replay. But I do know that talking with my friends and family about it has made it not seem as scary, and I’m hoping that being honest with you all will be part of the healing process, too.

            I want to thank you in advance for how cool you’re going to be, because I know you will. You always are. And I’m so grateful to have such an awesome community of readers surrounding me. I’m not sure how much I’ll be talking about this, but I think it’s important to at least share that it’s happening.

            I’m a wife and mom. I write books. I dig desserts and boy bands. And I have an anxiety disorder. It’s one of those things that slows me down a little. But that doesn’t mean I have to stop.

Neither do you. :)

Personal

The twitterverse

I wanted to talk to you guys about twitter and three main things that I think need to be addressed about the community there. I have to say, I really love it on twitter! It’s so nice to be able to talk to you guys! But as the fandom gets bigger (which is awesome) it gets a bit harder to manage (which is unawesome). So, for now, I’m going to have to suspend Question Monday.

There are three main reasons I have to cut this off for the time being. One, a lot of the questions are things mentioned on my FAQ page and are easy to get the answer to. Two, a lot of the questions are spoliery these days, and I can’t say anything even though I REALLY want to. And three, when people see I’m online for a long time, they start spamming me with requests for follows and shout outs. It clogs up the feed, and I miss the questions that might be worth getting to. It’s a bit of a mess. This doesn’t mean I won’t answer questions that come my way. It just might be less frequent is all. I still want to chat with you, and I’m trying to find better ways to do it.

Another thing that gets asked a lot on twitter is if I will follow someone. Almost 100% of the time, the answer is no. Here’s why: twitter is kind of my hub. I get a lot of book news there as well as updates from fellow authors. If I tried to follow all the people who asked for it, that information would get crowded out. My wee brain has a hard enough time keeping up as it is! So, I’m sorry, I can’t follow you. I promise you though, I do see all of my replies. I may not be able to answer you, but I absolutely see you. So if you want to say hi or let me know about something you’re reading or whatever, feel free to do so. I’m always happy to hear from you, and that will never change.

This last request is a bit of a downer, but it must be addressed. PLEASE STOP SAYING YOU’RE GOING TO KILL ME OR YOURSELF IF THE TRILOGY DOESN’T END A CERTAIN WAY. I don’t know you personally, so maybe what you’re saying is a joke… or maybe it’s a threat. It makes me very uncomfortable, and I would really appreciate it if you could stop tweeting that at me. First of all, I have very little control over my characters. Things turn out the way they turn out. If you don’t like it, that’s what fanfics are for. And second, saying you’re going to take someone else’s life or your own is no joke. I’ve known a handful of people with some serious issues in this area, and I don’t take that lightly.

If you’re genuinely having problems and are thinking of hurting yourself or someone else, PLEASE SEEK HELP. I am not the person to send that to.

I like books, especially ones that take me to a world different from my own. And if that world somehow lets me down, there are thousands in line behind it to make me forget or win over my heart or do that magical thing that books do, and I know you know what it is, but I can’t describe it. So please, feel free to be in love with or angry at my books and my characters. Just don’t feel like you have to stay that way.

Again, I’m still working on communicating better with you guys. A huge help to me would be for you to look at the FAQ page, and if you think there’s a broad or important question that’s been missed, please leave it in the comments.

Thanks so much for hanging out with me and reading my books. I like you.

Personal

Making Other Things

As if you didn’t already know, here’s everything that’s going on:

The Selection is out in the world, and thanks to you all, it’s doing very well. I get notes every day from people saying it’s one of their faves now, and there are some great tumblr pages dedicated to it, and I’m super happy.

The Elite is all but done! The next step is the first pass pages, which means I get to see the book the way it will be printed. And I’m pretty sure I get to show you the cover art next month! Eeeee!

I’m working on the novella right now, and I can’t tell you how much fun I’m having. I’m so stoked to share it with you next March!

And, of course, there’s Book 3, still in its awkward teenage years, all gangly and tucking its hair behind its ears all the time. Once the novella is done, I’m going to help her adjust to life, and in two years, she’ll win prom queen. Wait and see.

...So, yeah, a lot’s going on. But have you noticed a theme? All I’m doing is writing. I used to create in lots of ways. I sang and was on a dance team. I baked, made tons of videos, and ripped up books to make art. Unless you count the tiny human, I haven’t made any non-writing stuff in a while.

People ask about conquering writer’s block a lot, and while I’m not having any at the moment, one of the things I do is make stuff related to the story. Designing clothes, making family trees, drawing blueprints. This stuff excites me about my writing and makes me want to dive back in. But I also think non-writing creativity benefits your story telling.

Last night I decided I was going to make something, and what ended up happening was an art journal. I figured I’d share my book and its theme, just in case it inspired you.

For my book, I decided to use an actual book. This one came from a thrift store. I bought it for its illustrations.

Then, I gutted it. I tore out a few pages every so often to give room for the bulkiness I knew I’d be adding eventually. Then, I grabbed what was sitting around and used that to make some art.

For my journal, I’m going with a booky theme. Of course. I decided I would pick up a book, turn to a random page, pick a sentence, and just make something surrounding it. My first page comes from Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson.

It’s nothing spectacular. Just because I like to make art doesn’t mean I’m particularly good at it. That’s not really the point.

Anyway, I had so much fun, I made another one. This one comes from Shannon Hale’s Book of a Thousand Days.

So this is the start. I’m hoping to make at least one of these every week, just to give me another outlet. If you’re like me and working away, I encourage you to step away from the keyboard. It’ll make coming back so much fun.

Personal, The Elite, The Selection

Maternity Leave (I'm not just being lazy)

Honestly, I’d been kind of hoping I could skip any sort of maternity leave and just power through because… well, that’s kind of what I do. But, alas, my body is saying otherwise, so here is what I can leave you with before I take some serious downtime… starting right about now.

We’re scheduled to go in July 9th to have Zuzu. I VOW to at least tweet some kind of picture so you all can see her. It makes me giddy that so many of you have been with me through this pregnancy (and some with Guyden’s, too!) and listened to me fret and be excited, and you’ve done the same right along with me. So, yeah, you’ll get to see her. But I hear recovery from c-sections can be tough, so it’ll still be a while before I’m fully back.

Also, some FAQs I get in my emails:

  1. Your book is rad! Ok, not exactly a question, but I am grateful to anyone who takes the time to not only read The Selection but write and tell me they enjoyed it. Thank you SO MUCH! Each of these little notes is precious to me.
  2. When is Book 2 out? What’s it called? What happens? We don’t have an official date yet, but I’ll put it on the website once we do. Everything else I can tell you is in this video.
  3. Would you do an interview for my blog? I so wish I could! I love book bloggers! Right now, no. But maybe later in the fall. We’ll see.
  4. Can you send me some swag? Again, I wish I could, but no. The only exception to this is for people who want to have their book signed. If you send your copy of The Selection (or The Siren) to my PO box with a self-addressed stamped envelope or box, I will sign it and send it back to you. I will have my minions checking the box for me, so it might be slow, but it will come back to you signed.
  5. How can I be a better writer? Here’s the short version of what I usually say: Read everything, don’t neglect the technical side of writing, let yourself daydream, and get a thick skin. There are much better people to ask that than me anyway, so get on twitter and stalk some authors.

I’ll still be popping onto twitter and FB from time to time, but blog posts and videos will be few and far between. Gotta take care of me and my wee ones. And you want me to get the rest of these books written, right? So know I’m still hearing you, I just won’t be able to interact as much.

Thanks for being so cool.

UPDATE July 7th:

     6. Tell me more about the TV show! Okay, if you're just getting into the swing of things The CW passed on adding The Selection to its fall lineup. BUT they are very eager to continue working on the show. All I know right now is that the script will be reworked and a few actors might be recast, and with any luck we'll see it on TV next spring or summer. Stay tuned for updates this fall!

 

General, Personal

Remembering

This is a repost of a blog I wrote last June. It just feels like the best way to remember those we lost, be grateful for how we’ve grown, and acknowledge that we’re still moving forward without forgetting our past. I might be really sad at some point today, but right now I feel hopeful. And I think that’s good.

Thanks for listening.

 

June 5th, 2011:

So The Wall Street Journal has written an article about darkness in YA. And they aren’t happy. It seems they rarely are, but whatever. In the wake of this, Miss Maureen Johnson started a hashtag #yasaves and has asked people to share how YA has saved them. My story needs a bit more than 140 characters, but here it is:

I live in Blacksburg, Virginia. If you’ve heard of this town at all, it’s probably in reference to Virginia Tech and our fantastic football team. Go Hokies!

But about four years ago, we were famous for an entirely different reason. A gunman opened fire on our campus killing 32 people and himself. It devastated the school as well as the town. If you don’t live here, it’s kind of hard to explain how integrated the two are, but they’re both fluid and impress upon each other.

This is my home.

At the time, my husband worked on campus, my best friend lived on campus, and since we go to a campus-based church, nearly everyone I knew was a student. Even as a townie, I lost someone I knew. It’s hard to explain just what this did to me, and I know I’m not alone.

At first, I kept busy and did okay, but as the year passed, I was emotionally unstable. I would cry if I tried to experience any emotion. I cried at Disney World, I cried in church, I cried doing anything. I started forgetting things, and poor Callaway was in a constant state of repeating himself. I stopped smiling. I remember that now, just how little I smiled or laughed.

In the fall, I caved and went to a therapist, and she helped me find some things to give me order and routine. That worked a little, but the thing that helped the best was something I stumbled into accidentally.

Just after the first anniversary of the shootings, I was like “That’s it. I’m just going to write a story and give my problems to a character and see how she deals with them, because I can’t anymore.” And I did. But I never finished that story. A few weeks in, I woke up with the idea that would become The Siren. I wrote every day for a month to finish that story, and after that the idea for The Selection and a bunch of other little stories were born and are waiting their turn to be told.

The Siren has language, a near rape, assault, and thoughts of suicide. And it saved my life. It was my path back to normal. The Selection (pending editing) will have some heavy issues in parts of the trilogy too. It’s just part of the story. But now, a year out from publication, it has become something amazing and is already making people excited, and every second of this journey is a gift to me. It’s saving me.

Maybe YA is dark sometimes, sure. But you know what? A few months ago when I sat down and read Jennifer Brown’s Hate List, I felt comforted. I’m glad someone wrote that story, because I needed to read it. I felt stronger when I was done. And I’m 30.

It’s okay to talk about the bad stuff because the bad stuff is out there. It makes us weirdos feel not quite so weird. The lovely thing about this country is the right to not read or listen to or watch things we don’t want to. It’s freedom. So I’ll write what I want, and I’ll be stronger for it, and if you don’t want to read it… don’t.

General, Personal

New Years Goals

I am pleased to say that, even though they were a bit vague compared to my usual goals, I accomplished everything I wanted to in 2011. I was more spiritual, worked hard on my book, AND Guyden is still alive! I'm so stoked!

For 2012, allegedly our last year on earth, what should I do this time around?

Here's a hint: NADA!

I'm putting out a book this year. And I'm building a person. I think that satisfies my need to accomplish things. Anything else is frosting.

What about you? Any goals?

General, Personal

Much Later

Disclaimer: This is mostly for me. I have a harder and harder time remembering things, particularly in the last few years. I just wanted to have something written somewhere. You know, for later.

 

In 2001, I was a sophomore at Radford University. Classes had been in session three and half weeks and were at that point where the routine felt normal but not boring. Not yet. It was my first semester as an RA, and I was excited about the possibility of mattering to someone. I was placed in Bolling Hall on the second floor in a room unlike any other I’d seen on campus. It was shaped oddly, kind of like a large closet. I grew to love it. I think the major of the moment was Communications, but by spring, it would be History. I was in the process of dealing with some choices I’d made my freshman year. I’d call them bad, but they led to good things. Still, not great.

I had a real life crush on a boy named Ben, and a fake life crush on the Dell computer guy. I think he turned out to be a pothead. I either hadn’t met Callaway yet or had met him a week or so before. Clearly, he wasn’t on my radar at that point.

My walls were covered in art that I painted myself. They weren’t very good, but I liked them anyway. I had a loft which I’d painted yellow and a floral bedspread I wasn’t crazy about, but I was broke, so they stayed. In a line on the wall were my Broadway Playbills. I think I had seven. In May, my best friend from high school Tara and I had gone to New York on a road trip, just the two of us. We saw RENT and Chicago and were on TRL. I have a videotape of it somewhere. We visited a lot of places, but we didn’t make it to the Towers. I do know that’s how I knew when we actually made it to New York. Those buildings made the skyline recognizable. I’ve been back twice since and wasn’t totally sure we were there. Anyway, that trip was just days before I turned 20.

The morning of September 11th, 2001, I was in an English class. We were talking about irony and war poetry, but the professor said later that this fact was not ironic. I don’t know. The class was from 8:00-9:15, and it was less than a five minute walk back to my dorm. As I went in the building, one of my residents was coming down the stairs. This girl was sort of a hero/freak to me. She had to be close to 300 pounds and regularly modeled nude for the art department.

As she passed me on the stairs, she said, “You need to turn on the TV. A plane just flew into the World Trade Center.” I’m pretty sure she said plane, as in singular, but by that time it was two.

I did what she said, turning the TV to one of the many channels showing the footage of the towers engulfed in smoke. The images of the second plane hitting were shown over and over again, and for a long time I was never sure if I saw it live or not. All it would have taken was to look at a clock and check what was being said, but I couldn’t figure it out. And it didn’t seem quite real anyway. If you could rewind the shots and play it again like a movie, couldn’t it be just that? Something that didn’t really happen?

After that, there isn’t much, which I now know is how my body responds when it’s overwhelmed. I remember talking to my parents but have no clue what was said. I remember dry heaving in the shower. I remember being terrified because I was supposed to be a leader now and had no clue what to do. I remember one of my residents— an asshole whose parents apologized for me having to deal with him when they visited the school once— asked if I thought classes would be cancelled. That’s all he really cared about. I remember the Pentagon and Flight 93. I remember worrying there would be more.

I have a vague impression of people stopping by my room, and that I stayed there all day with the door open, except for when I went to get food. I don’t remember much crying. That seems strange. I don’t even know if I cried, but I must have. I cry a lot. Whole hours have disappeared leaving no hint of their whereabouts.

I’m pretty sure I was on duty that day, meaning from 6 PM that night until 8 AM the next morning I had to stay in the building in case anyone needed anything. I don’t remember anyone needing me. There was a drum circle in the quad outside my building that night. Radford is driven by the arts, and there was always an art exhibition or dance show happening. I listened to the drums a long time and wished I could go out and play myself, if only to do something.

…And that’s mostly it. It bothers me sometimes that something so big doesn’t take up more space in my brain. It’s important, so shouldn’t it? Another part of me is grateful I’ve been spared too many details.

These days, I think of September 11th through the lens of April 16th. Those pictures of missing people who were just anonymous faces to me at the time now move me deeply. I understand what it is to know one of those faces who just isn’t there anymore because something that never should have happened did. And I approach it with a level of respect. I can still feel what happened, and I think everyone does. It was a national event that was meant to change our country, and New York is a place that is sort of shared with the world. Everything happens there. At the same time, it was something local. New York City is not my home, but it is home to a lot of people. I get what it’s like when someone dramatically screws up home.

Maybe it’s silly, but one of the things that stuck was this sense of patriotism. I know our country is far from perfect, but it is kind of amazing. I’m so grateful for my freedom, and I’m mindful of the people who we lost in someone’s desperate attempt to ruin it. I’m still thankful, and I remember. Not much, but I do.

General, Personal, The Selection, The Siren

YA Saves

So The Wall Street Journal has written an article about darkness in YA. And they aren’t happy. It seems they rarely are, but whatever. In the wake of this, Miss Maureen Johnson started a hashtag #yasaves and has asked people to share how YA has saved them. My story needs a bit more than 140 characters, but here it is:

I live in Blacksburg, Virginia. If you’ve heard of this town at all, it’s probably in reference to Virginia Tech and our fantastic football team. Go Hokies!

But about four years ago, we were famous for an entirely different reason. A gunman opened fire on our campus killing 32 people and himself. It devastated the school as well as the town. If you don’t live here, it’s kind of hard to explain how integrated the two are, but they’re both fluid and impress upon each other.

This is my home.

At the time, my husband worked on campus, my best friend lived on campus, and since we go to a campus-based church, nearly everyone I knew was a student. Even as a townie, I lost someone I knew. It’s hard to explain just what this did to me, and I know I’m not alone.

At first, I kept busy and did okay, but as the year passed, I was emotionally unstable. I would cry if I tried to experience any emotion. I cried at Disney World, I cried in church, I cried doing anything. I started forgetting things, and poor Callaway was in a constant state of repeating himself. I stopped smiling. I remember that now, just how little I smiled or laughed.

In the fall, I caved and went to a therapist, and she helped me find some things to give me order and routine. That worked a little, but the thing that helped the best was something I stumbled into accidentally.

Just after the first anniversary of the shootings, I was like “That’s it. I’m just going to write a story and give my problems to a character and see how she deals with them, because I can’t anymore.” And I did. But I never finished that story. A few weeks in, I woke up with the idea that would become The Siren. I wrote every day for a month to finish that story, and after that the idea for The Selection and a bunch of other little stories were born and are waiting their turn to be told.

The Siren has language, a near rape, assault, and thoughts of suicide. And it saved my life. It was my path back to normal. The Selection (pending editing) will have some heavy issues in parts of the trilogy too. It’s just part of the story. But now, a year out from publication, it has become something amazing and is already making people excited, and every second of this journey is a gift to me. It’s saving me.

Maybe YA is dark sometimes, sure. But you know what? A few months ago when I sat down and read Jennifer Brown’s Hate List, I felt comforted. I’m glad someone wrote that story, because I needed to read it. I felt stronger when I was done. And I’m 30.

It’s okay to talk about the bad stuff because the bad stuff is out there. It makes us weirdos feel not quite so weird. The lovely thing about this country is the right to not read or listen to or watch things we don’t want to. It’s freedom. So I’ll write what I want, and I’ll be stronger for it, and if you don’t want to read it… don’t.

General, Personal

In my 20s...

I got over the guy I followed to Virginia. Of all the things in my life that didn’t work out, this is the one I’m most grateful for.

I wore nothing but white shirts and blue jeans for a month to remind myself to be a blank slate and that beauty was more than… well, what I thought it was.

I got my eyebrow pierced. I also got a tattoo. Such a rebel, right?

I worked as a bookstore clerk, dance teacher, substitute, and ice cream scooper. These were all after I got my college degree. In History.

I navigated a national crisis. And later, a local one. Neither very well, but still.

I fell for a drummer. It wasn’t the best idea, but it was a fun one. And also crucial in finding the love of my life.

I graduated college... even though my last semester I skipped over 30 classes.

I managed to get an agent. And an editor. And a mind-blowing book deal. I'm still not sure how this happened.

I wrote to the Queen of England asking to become a dame, citing my recent rescue of a turtle as the prime reason. Never heard back.

Oh, I rescued a turtle.

I rode an elephant, took a road trip by myself, rode a mechanical bull, learned to hula hoop, and wrote a book. All because I wrote down that I wanted to. I didn’t accomplish everything on those lists, but I’m glad they existed.

I hit a freaking deer.

I finally met Brian Littrell. Some loves never die.

I co-captained a dance team.

After 3 kiss-free years, I kissed the man who would become my husband.

I totally snuck into Epcot.

I felt the total and absolute calm of the moment I discovered I was pregnant with Guyden. And later, the nervousness with his kicks. And then the exhausting and incredible love of his actual existence.

I embraced my curls. I embraced my curves. I embraced my weird.

I rediscovered how much fun it was to be a fan. I love being a fan.

I had a fallout with the friend from high school I thought I’d never lose. A few years later, we got over it. Some friendships are meant to be and are always worth the work.

I got married and lost my virginity. In that order. Easily one of the best decisions of my life.

I made people laugh.

I skipped my high school reunion. I can’t imagine anyone was really bummed, but if they keep them up, I want to go to the next one.

I learned how to shoot and edit videos, a skill I never thought I’d possess.

I lived a quiet life, mostly. And I was happy more than I was sad.

 

 

So there it is. Pretty much.


My advice on living after 30 short years? Give yourself room to make mistakes. Hold on tightly to what matters to you, even if it’s unpopular. And love people. Love is it.