Writing is my life.
It’s the vessel that breathes color into my otherwise bland and boring world. It fills the empty space inside me and it allows me to organize and process my thoughts. I’m a terrible speaker, but give me a blank Word document and a keyboard, and I come to life. If I could paint a picture of my mind to you with words, it would look like sentences, phrases and ideas in all shapes and sizes running forwards and backwards simultaneously, and all at different speeds. It’s just a matter of what words happen to be buzzing along the home screen of my brain when my fingers hit the keyboard.
Some of my earliest memories include writing stories for my parents and teachers to read. I grew up in a small town in East Tennessee. I remember being bored in elementary school and constantly writing stories to pass the time. My teachers would grade them for me for fun, and some of them gave me extra credit. I wish I would have kept some of them, but they probably didn’t seem important at the time. My 4th grade teacher sent me a Christmas gift last year and included a story I wrote when I was in her class. It was in response to me having to go to the emergency room for getting a piece of chicken stuck in my throat. (I have Eosinophilic Esophagitis, or EoE. You can Google it, but it basically means I have an allergy that only affects my esophagus. It causes lots of inflammation and closes up, so swallowing is very difficult and food often gets lodged. I’ve had to go to the emergency room for this a handful of times. It took doctors 25 years to FINALLY diagnose me.). Mostly, I’m happy to see I was able to take a tough situation, even way back then, and write about it for some comedic relief. Writing was therapeutic for me even as a young kid.
I went to school in this tiny, one-hallway building, with a coal furnace that would fill that hall with black smoke at the beginning of every winter. Our janitor would have to occasionally chase rattlesnakes out at the beginning of the school year. It had about 250 kids and included K-8. You basically stayed with your class each year and you always knew who your teacher was going to be since there was only one teacher per grade level. My mom also worked there so I always had to entertain myself after school until it was time to go home. I spent most of my time in the tiny gym playing basketball. We played kickball in the front parking lot and did archery in the field in the back. It was nothing fancy, but most all of my elementary memories include this building. I went to sports camp there and had cheerleading practices there. I participated in spelling bees and speech competitions, assemblies and special events. I played countless basketball and volleyball volleyball games, and I made some lifelong friends in that building.
One of the most exciting days was when the school got a pencil machine. (Ok, maybe this was the second most exciting day. The first was when the school got a vending machine!) For a whopping $.25 (which really was a whopping amount at that time), you could buy a brand new no.2 pencil.
I remember struggling to come up with an idea for an essay contest (because I wanted to win everything). I was sitting on the floor beside my mom’s bed talking to her about ideas and I so vividly remember her saying, “why don’t you write about being a pencil in the pencil machine?” The second she said that, a hundred ideas started to flow through me and I left and started to write as fast as my fourth grade fingers would go (in cursive, of course). I wrote from the perspective of a neatly tucked away pencil and what life was like inside that machine. I wrote about the day it flew out and I wrote about its new owner. I was in Heaven and so happy to be in this seemingly entirely other world as my brain was flooded with ideas and how I could put those words together to tell a story. (And yes, I totally won the essay contest! I’m a little bit competitive. 😃)
My love of writing grew as I grew. I was the kid who wrote way too much on worksheets and never had enough space to accurately record my thoughts and answers. I was terrible at math, but I always joked that I could write a persuasive essay on why I thought the answer should be whatever number I came up with. If there was white space on the paper, I filled it with words. It seemed like a tragedy not to.
I bought cute journals like all teenage girls do, but I quickly realized those wouldn’t work for me because there was never enough space. I turned to buying huge spiral notebooks to record what I deemed to be important aspects of my life. I don’t know what happened to a lot of them, but the ones I do have talk about all the important teenage girl things like music, bands, friends, school and boys.
I moved to Colorado right before high school and eventually went to college at Colorado State University to study TV journalism, where all of my classes consisted of writing stories and papers. I could pretty much do them in my sleep. I started working at the college TV station where I got to write about all the fun stuff my little heart desired in the entertainment department. This is where my love of writing really took off. I loved telling stories. I loved entertaining other people with my words and the way I personally chose to tell those stories. That’s one of the wonderful things about writing: you give 100 people a prompt and you will get 100 different versions of a story, each one as unique as the one before it.
When I graduated, I got a job working for an entertainment TV company in Denver. I worked on shows such as HGTV’s, If Walls Could Talk, Food Network’s, Unwrapped, and Discovery Channel’s, Factory Made. Writing those stories was some of the most fun I’ve had in my entire life. Writing these scripts were life-giving for my soul. When the opportunity presented itself, I moved on to a company where I got to write stories about cows and cowboys. I traveled nearly every week to farms and ranches all over the country to gather these incredibly inspiring stories. And despite how boring that topic may sound, I loved every second of it, and it created incredibly rich experiences and memories for me. I saw some of the most beautiful places and unique hidden gems in the entire country, and I have more crazy, you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up travel stories than anyone probably has time to listen to. It also gave me a whole new appreciation for how hard cattlemen work each and every day, and what it takes to get top-quality beef on our dinner tables.
I wouldn’t trade those experience for anything! I had the space and the opportunity to craft my craft and make it my own. I soon realized there really was a place for my writing and creativity in the world, and more importantly, that I was capable of doing it and doing it well. But when it came to blogging, I just shrugged it off and was uninterested. It was not important to me in any capacity.
Why did I need to know every little detail about someone else’s life?
Why do I care about where they went yesterday or what their plans are for tomorrow?
Why does it matter if they had a lasagna bake for dinner?
And more importantly, why do I need to see a picture (or 10) of it?
I just didn’t get it.
And really, isn’t eeeeeeeeveryone a blogger??
Why put so much time and effort into something that literally every other person on the planet is doing?
Little ones happened.
Big things happened.
And lots of really hard stuff happened.
When my youngest was born, I was struck with so much grief and trauma that I couldn’t put a single sentence together (see my “About” page for the full story on that). I had complete writer’s block for 4 years! The words, thoughts and ideas that once filled my head were replaced by sadness, darkness, hopelessness and endless nothingness.
Friends and family encouraged me to write about it, but I couldn’t because my brain was completely consumed with all these other things. I turned to other people who were experiencing similar things to see how they survived. I wanted so desperately to be in a community with other people who were struggling too, so I didn’t feel so alone and helpless. I wanted to feel accepted in a place where no one around me could understand what I was going through. Shocking realization (can you hear the sarcasm oozing out of this?): perhaps there was a reason personal blogs were so popular. And maybe, just maybe, writing is more for the writer than the audience. Gasp! As a seasoned writer, I felt shocked and embarrassed that I didn’t realize the value in someone else writing about their own experiences. I had always written stories about other people, but never myself. I think the key is finding someone you can connect with and relate to. Otherwise, it won’t mean anything to you.
When I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel and wanted to try to write again, I figured there would be nothing to write about. But life does what it does; it kept going and things kept happening.
So while I might be a decade or so behind on this “blogging thing,” experience has taught me that life always keeps going and everyone faces seemingly impossible challenges at different points in their lives. Sometimes you are on top of the mountain pulling people up from the valley, and sometimes you are in the valley allowing people to pull you up. Now, instead of worrying about writing the most brilliant piece of literary text ever written before letting the world see it, I want to share my personal stories, past experiences and experiences yet to be had.
Fun fact about me: nine times out of ten, when I write a story, I start with the ending first. A quote or soundbite that sticks out like a shining star, or a brilliant way to wrap everything up with a perfect little bow on top. Then, I build the rest of the script around it with that finish line in sight. I didn’t think I could write about my experiences until I had this “all-encompassing life lesson” figured out for the end of my own story. Something to really build up to and get excited about. But, maybe that’s not the point. Perhaps the point is to be transparent, vulnerable, kind, encouraging, and to help someone else find their brave and drive in the midst of struggle.
God has put a huge burden on my heart to share my stories of loss, grief, trauma, mistakes, successes, happiness, sadness, lessons learned and lessons yet to learn. (And of course, some crafting breaks in between because that’s my personal escape from all the hard!)
We are not meant to go through this life alone and we are not meant to face things alone. We are meant to fellowship with one another and come alongside one another.
I don’t have the ending figured out yet, but I would be so honored if you would join me on this journey talking about our precious little ones, big scary things and everything else in between.
Because life is better together.