RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: September 2014

Dear Teen Me…

Dear Teen Me…

Recently, I was scrolling through Twitter and saw that my friend, YA author Lish McBride, had posted a link to her entry on a website called Dear Teen Me.  I’d never heard of this website before, but I was instantly charmed.  The idea is simple:  authors write letters of advice to their teenage selves.  There’s even an anthology, and one of the contributors happens to be Stephanie Kuehnert, a former writing teacher of mine who I interviewed recently.

Having not published a book yet, the creators of Dear Teen Me probably don’t want my letter on their website (yet), but I liked the idea so much that I decided to write a letter here, on my blog.  If they ever ask me to do one for them, I’ll just write another one.  Won’t be too hard.  I can think of lots of things to say to my teenage self.

And maybe you can, too.  This was an interesting writing exercise, and I recommend it to all.

My Barnes & Noble purchases from Saturday:  Lish McBride's new novel, and a bottle of poison.

My Barnes & Noble purchases from Saturday: Lish McBride’s new novel, and a bottle of poison.

Dear Teen Me:

Hi, Teen Eva!  This is Adult Eva!  Don’t be too scared.  I’m not wearing Mom Jeans, and I still like Nirvana.  We even look sort of the same — at least, that’s what people tell me.

Anyway, you’re sixteen-almost-seventeen, and right now you’re visiting England as an exchange student for a few weeks, which you should enjoy as much as possible because you’re not going back there any time soon. It’s been seventeen years, and you haven’t gone back to England yet, though you have been to Germany, Spain, Portugal, the Dominican Republic, and three times to Mexico. So I kind of wish you hadn’t dropped out of Spanish freshman year…

But don’t worry, I’m not asking you to do anything differently because of the whole butterfly effect thing. If Teen Eva does one little thing differently, it might totally change things for Adult Eva, and to be honest, I embrace your mistakes and embarrassments because they make us who we are, and, as vain as it sounds, I rather like us — both the teenage version and the Eva I am now.

Speaking of vanity, though, you should stop worrying so much about what you look like. Years from now, when you’re complaining about what terrible acne you had as a teenager, your high school friends (like Nikki and Chris and Melissa and Degra — because yeah, you’re still good friends with all of them) will say that they don’t remember you having bad acne. As cheesy as it sounds, no one really notices the blemishes except for you, so you should stop letting your skin make you feel bad about yourself. In fact, years from now, Nikki will say to you, “Eva, I don’t remember you having pimples in high school. I just remember you being so pretty and having such fun clothes.”

Teen Eva (far left) and high school friends she is still friends with to this day!

Teen Eva (far left) and Teen Nikki (far right).  Everyone is wearing Eva’s clothes in this picture.

So there’s the news flash, Sweet Little Eva:  you’re pretty.  Now you can stop worrying about whether you are or not. And you know what, even if you weren’t pretty, that would be OK, too. In the end we all get old and fat and wrinkled and spotted,and you need to be worrying about who you are on the inside much more than what your outside container looks like. The thing is, I know you do care about who you are on the inside. You’re a very thoughtful, introspective girl, and I like that about you, Teen Queen Eva. Try not to lose touch with that side of yourself later on when you’re in your twenties and partying a lot and dating people who only seem to care about your container.

Anyway, you’re about to go “off to pub” with Nikki and a bunch of the British kids, and you’re going to have a good time, but from what I recall, you’re also going to worry that the beer you’re drinking is going to make you fat. And you’re going to feel awkward because your cold is making you sound stuffed up, and you’ll worry that people think you’re gross for constantly blowing your nose.

So, first of all, you should go ask your host mom for some cold medicine.  I honestly don’t know why you didn’t do that.  Second of all, instead of changing what you do, work on changing how you feel. Stop worrying so much about your body.  Trust me, it’s not worth it. And definitely don’t worry about your hair so much. As your future fiancé will tell you, “boys can’t see bangs,” so when yours are misbehaving, just remember that they’re invisible to half the population.

Adult Nikki and Adult Eva -- see?  You guys are still friends.

Adult Nikki and Adult Eva — see? You guys are still friends.  And see — you STILL wear that green sweater!

Basically, Dear Young Eva, I want you to feel more confident.  Stop trying so hard to please everyone and worrying so much about whether or not people like you. Guess what:  they do! So relax and enjoy the moment. Be kind to yourself, and learn to accept the way you look, remembering it’s only a container for the important stuff on the inside.

To be honest with you, Lil Eva, I’m still working on all this now at thirty-three. I’m still trying to stop worrying about my looks and stop worrying about whether or not people like me. I’m still trying to be kind to myself and learn to relax and enjoy the moment.  So if you want to go ahead and get a head start on all of this, it might help me out.

OK, off to pub with you for now, and say hi to your host-boy for me. After you go back to the U.S. you’ll lose touch with him for a while, but later you guys will become friends on facebook, which is this weird thing we have in the future.

Take care, My Lovely Teen Eva, and by the way, go ahead and buy those Spice Girls platform shoes when you see them– they are going to be an integral part of several Halloween costumes to come.

Love,
Adult Eva

 

Blurry Vision, Being Productive, & Deserving the Cupcake

Blurry Vision, Being Productive, & Deserving the Cupcake

*Check out the people I tagged for the Writing Process Blog Tour:  Tawni Waters, Lisa Gouldy, and Daniel Wallace.*

I like to feel productive. At the end of the day, I like to feel as if I’ve gotten a lot accomplished, and therefore I deserve to sit on the couch watching Parks and Recreation and eating a chocolate cupcake. Which is why I have been feeling a little cranky lately. Because, although I’ve been eating cupcakes and watching Parks and Rec, I have not been feeling like I deserve it.

Lately, with moving to a new city and starting a new job and planning a wedding and trying to get new health insurance (which, in Minnesota, seems to be IMPOSSIBLE), I have not had as much time as I’d like for writing, and my to-do list of non-writing-related tasks keeps growing exponentially. In short, I feel unproductive when it comes to my chosen career.

On Tuesday, I had my whole day planned out nicely: First, writing in the morning. (Finally!  A whole morning uninterrupted!) At 11:30 I’d Skype tutor then head to my job working with college kids.  After work, I’d go on a Target run, followed by an actual run along the river if I could squeeze it in before sunset. Then I would make hamburgers for dinner, and after dinner I’d work on the wedding gift registry.

But things did not go as planned. First of all, it had been so long since I’d worked on my novel, I had to spend the whole morning reading what I’d already written just to remember what exactly the story was about. So although I caught a few typos and added a descriptive sentence or two, I didn’t actually make any forward progress.

At work, I thought about my post-work plans while helping a student study for a bio test. “And how do eukaryotic cells differ from procariotic?” I asked him, looking down at the flashcard and trying to remember what I needed to buy at Target.

Then I blinked. Half of the word “eukaryotic” was missing, and, when I looked up, I realized that my student’s face was similarly marred by white blotches. I blinked again and tried to remain calm. My vision had suddenly become a slice of Swiss cheese.

“OK, let’s talk about different types of bonds,” I said. I picked up the white board and started to draw two smiling atoms sharing an electron. I could barely see anything I had just drawn, and when the white spots momentarily subsided, the atoms on the board blurred in and out of focus. Along the edges of my vision were squiggles of pulsating light, and the student’s face looked like it was melting. I knew what was going on, of course.  I was having an aura, and I was about to get socked with a major migraine. Either that, or I had accidentally swallowed some acid.

But it was probably a migraine.

Having an aura is sort of like this, but not as fun.

Having an aura is sort of like this, but not as much fun.

By the time work was over, my vision was mostly back to normal, but as soon as I walked out into the parking lot, some of the shimmering squiggles returned to the edges of my vision. I called Paul. “I just want to warn you that I was having an aura earlier, and I’m probably about to get a terrible migraine,” I told him. “My aura was really bad. I could barely see.”

“Maybe you shouldn’t be driving,” Paul suggested.

“No, I can see now,” I said, thinking it best not to mention the pulsating squiggles.  It would only worry him. “So I’m just going to go to Target to pick up some stuff we need, and then I’ll be home, probably with a terrible headache.”

“Maybe you should just come straight home,” Paul said.

“No,” I said. “Because my headache is probably going to require me to lie in bed in the dark for the rest of the evening, so I’d like to get something accomplished before that sets in.”

You see, I was still worried about being productive. I knew that my headache was going to render me useless for the rest of the night, and I was afraid of not getting enough stuff done to deserve my cupcake. Already I had made no progress on my novel. Now this migraine was going to mean I would make no progress on the gift registry or the long list of household items we needed to buy for our apartment.

“Do you want me to go to Target for you?” Paul asked.

“No. I’ll do it,” I said.

“Ummm…. OK.  But if you can’t see, you should pull the car over.”

“I will.”

I drove out of the parking lot and headed towards the highway. The front of my forehead was starting to throb. I merged into the jumble of five-thirty traffic, and when I looked into the distance, I couldn’t quite get my eyes to focus on the green signs. But still, I was determined to get to Target and cross at least one thing off my list.

I managed to make it to the downtown exit and stopped at a red light. Out of the corners of my eyes, I saw soap-bubble-colored squiggles and the sun was sort of acting like a strobe light. I put on my blinker and tried to change lanes so I could make the turn towards Target. A large crinkle of pulsating light slashed across my vision. And it suddenly occurred to me that I was being insane. I was having trouble seeing.  I should not being going to Target, much less driving around downtown Minneapolis.  I needed to go home and stop worrying about my productivity.

A few minutes later I was, thankfully, parked in the lot outside our apartment building. I went inside, drew the shades, and laid down o the bed, letting the headache rip its way through my skull.

Cross Country Trip 027

Surprisingly, my migraine didn’t turn out to be as bad as I expected. It was terrible for an hour, and then mostly manageable for the rest of the night. I was even able to work on the gift registry with relative ease.

Then Paul and I watched two episodes of Parks and Recreation, and I ate a chocolate cupcake. But still, I didn’t feel like I deserved it.

The question is why? Why am I so obsessed with this idea of being productive all the time? Why was I willing to sacrifice my safety (and the safety of other drivers around me), just so that I could cross something off my to-do list? At the end of my life, am I going to be looking back, reminiscing about my own productivity?

Yesterday, I finished reading through the fifty pages I’ve written of my new novel.  Then I brainstormed about what’s going to happen next and wrote a few new pages. So it’s not like progress isn’t being made.  Things get done in their own time.

I might not make progress in writing every day. And that’s probably OK. Two steps forward and one step back will get me there eventually.  And some days I might not take any steps at all.   That’s probably OK, too.  I’ll take two steps tomorrow.  Maybe life isn’t about constantly moving forward and always being productive. Maybe it’s about learning to be content with where I am for now.  Even if that place is only on the couch, eating a chocolate cupcake.  Actually, when I think about it, that place doesn’t sound too bad…

 

 

Paul Steals Books from Me, or, My Favorite Memoirs

Paul Steals Books from Me, or, My Favorite Memoirs

It’s not that my fiancé doesn’t read. It’s that he normally reads stuff like this:

This is one of Paul's "favorite parts" of Eintstein's Theory of Relativity

This is one of Paul’s “favorite parts” of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity

We’ll be going out to spend a few hours in the park, and he’ll take his Stochastic Calculus book or Einstein’s Theory of Relativity with him as “light reading.”

Paul always says that physics is like story-telling (with math). And sure, I’ll agree with that, but the stories I read are a bit different.

Since living with me, though, Paul’s reading habits have begun to change. It all started last year when I was reading Next of Kin: My Conversations with Chimpanzees by Roger Fouts. I read some interesting bits to Paul, and the next thing I knew, he had convinced me to read the entire book out loud to him.

A few months later, I bought Piper Kerman’s memoir, Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison. I read a few bits out loud to Paul then put the book away to do other things. He promptly stole my Kindle and spent the next four hours reading. “Uh… Can I have my book back?” I asked at one point.

“This is such a good story,” he said, ignoring me. I didn’t get it back until he had finished it.

And that’s pretty much exactly what happened when I was reading Jennifer Buhl’s memoir, Shooting Stars: My Unexpected Life Photographing Hollywood’s Most Famous. Paul started reading it and refused to give it back until he had finished the whole thing. Annoying, I suppose, but when he said, “since meeting you, Eva, I’ve read so many good books I never would have read otherwise,” it was hard for me to complain.

Sometimes Paul also steals my sunglasses...

Sometimes Paul also steals my sunglasses…

Paul has definitely found his favorite genre: the personal memoir. When I’m reading a novel, he might ask me what it’s about or look up the plot on Wikipedia (Paul cares most about what happens, and he can’t stand not knowing the ending), but he doesn’t steal the book away from me the way he does with memoirs. What Paul can’t resist are true narratives.

Which is why, the other day, when I was reading Susannah Cahalan’s memoir: Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness, I turned my back for one second, and the next thing I knew, Paul had the book in hand, furiously flipping pages. “I can’t wait for you to read this, babe,” he said. “It’s such a good story.”

He binge-read the whole thing over the weekend and then complained that I hadn’t finished it yet because he wanted to discuss.

Eva and Paul

Eva and Paul

Even though I’m a fiction writer and an avid fiction reader, I like to mix things up with a well-written memoir every now and again. It’s really the story I like, whether it’s true or not.

Below is a list of some of my favorite memoirs, but in looking at lists on the Internet (like this one and this one), I see there are many more fabulous memoirs for me to to read.  Yes, Paul will probably steal them from me and read them first, but that’s part of the fun, I suppose.

No one can resist a good story.  Not even him.

This, in my opinion, is a must-read.

 

Some of my favorite memoirs:

Next of Kin: My Conversations with Chimpanzees by Roger Fouts – (A scientist teaches chimps to speak sign language.)

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed (A heartbroken and thoroughly unprepared woman embarks on an intense hike and a journey of self-discovery.)

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King (Stephen King gets personal about his writing and his demons of drugs and alcohol.)

The Dark Side of Innocence: Growing Up Bipolar by Terri Cheney (Absolutely fascinating look at the highs and lows of a girl with bipolar disorder.)

Eat, Pray Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert (Way better than the movie with Julia Roberts.  This book made me want to meditate.)

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson (Two old, fat men try hiking from Georgia to Maine; hilarious and informative.)

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (An account of a crazy, dirt-poor childhood with two parents who are terrible at parenting.)

Girl, Interrupted by Susannah Kaysen (A young girl gets diagnosed with borderline personality disorder at a mental hospital in the 60’s.)

Expecting Adam:  A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic by Martha Beck (A Harvard couple conceives a child with Down’s Syndrome and bizarre/miraculous things begin to happen.)

Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman – (Definitely different from the TV show.)

Shooting Stars: My Unexpected Life Photographing Hollywood’s Most Famous by Jennifer Buhl – (A paparazzi photographer makes it big in the business and looks for love)

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan (A young journalist contracts a mysterious disease that sends her into psychosis.)

My New Job, or, What It Feels Like to Have Dyslexia

My New Job, or, What It Feels Like to Have Dyslexia

At the beginning of September, my fiancé and and I drove from Seattle to Minneapolis. We arrived at our new apartment late in the afternoon on Saturday, September 5th. Less than 48 hours later, before our furniture had even arrived, we both went to work:  Paul at the University of Minnesota, and me at my new job of tutoring and counseling college students with dyslexia.

On my first day, I was expecting to do paperwork and have some sort of orientation to the program, but instead, twenty minutes after arriving, I found myself helping a student with his Calculus homework… GULP. I hadn’t done Calculus in over a decade, so I babbled crazily at the poor guy while frantically searching through some dusty, old files in the back of my brain. I felt stupid and self-concious, but somehow I managed to help him with most of his assignment.

By the end of the week, I was pretty much running the show at work. And by that, I mean I was actually running the show. Both the director of the program and the other tutor were out sick, leaving me in charge of the room full of college kids. I talked to a student about test-taking tactics, helped make some flash cards about quadratic equations, and tried to counsel a student on how to best organize his essay on e-cigarettes for Freshman Comp.

View of the Mississippi from our new downtown Minneapolis apartment.

View of the Mississippi from our new downtown Minneapolis apartment.

This isn’t the first time I’ve worked with students with dyslexia and other learning disorders, so I know that their disabilities can make classes and assignments difficult and frustrating, and that this program is likely what will help them get through college. But as a writer and a life-long book-lover, I’m not sure I’ll ever fully understand what it’s like to be dyslexic. For people with language-processing disorders, reading isn’t easy or fun; it’s a constant struggle.

Most people think of dyslexia as “that thing where you reverse your letters,” but dyslexia is actually a general term for any difficulty with words when reading, spelling, and writing — despite having average to above average intelligence and ability. It’s a neurological disorder with several subtypes, and dyslexia can manifest itself in different ways and with varying severity.

Dyslexic readers spend more time and effort decoding language.  They have trouble with directionality (left, right, up, down), symbols, and breaking words down into phonemes. They often have trouble comprehending what they’ve read because all of their mental energy goes into deciphering each word. Furthermore, I’ve had dyslexic kids tell me that the words “move around on the page,” and once a few years ago I caught a student reading her paper upside down. I flipped it around, and she continued reading like it was all the same to her. Because it was. Just imagine for a moment if you thought reading upside down was the same as reading right-side up.

And maybe you can imagine it, because it’s estimated that 10 to 15% of the population struggles with some form of dyslexia. If you can’t imagine it, like me, here is a little peek into the world of a dyslexic. Try reading the following passage (a translation can be found at the end of this post):

We pegin our qrib eq a faziliar blace, a poqy like yours enq zine.
Iq conqains a hunqraq qrillion calls qheq work qogaqhys py qasign.
Enq wiqhin each one of qhese zany calls, each one qheq hes QNA,
Qhe QNA coqe is axecqly qhe saze, a zess-broquceq rasuze.
So qhe coqe in each call is iqanqical, a razarkaple puq veliq claiz.
Qhis zeans qheq qhe calls are nearly alike, puq noq axecqly qhe saze.
Qake, for insqence, qhe calls of qhe inqasqines; qheq qhey’re viqal is cysqainly blain.
Now qhink apouq qhe way you woulq qhink if qhose calls wyse qhe calls in your prain.

If you didn’t give up, you’ll find that you CAN read it — or get the gist anyway — but it takes effort and time, and it’s easy to get frustrated and mentally exhausted. That’s probably what it’s like for the college students I’m working with now. A lot of these kids also struggle with their self-esteem and motivation. They’re not stupid, but too often in their school careers they’ve felt stupid and self-conscious and overwhelmed.

Luckily, we live in an age of audiobooks and podcasts and assistive technology. One of my students found Plato’s Republic read outloud on youtube and is (somewhat) happily listening to it and taking notes for class. Other students use a program called Kurzweil; you scan in a set of book pages and wait a million years for it to process, and then the program can read the text outloud (although a lot of the students dislike it because of Kurzweil’s “robotic” voice.) So Dyslexia is not something that can be “cured,” but there are ways to live with it.

Still, it makes me a little sad that some of my students may never know the joy I feel when I snuggle up  with a good novel. Podcasts and audiobooks are great, but to me, there’s nothing quite like the experience of reading. It’s ironic that that I happily spend so much time reading and writing, and yet I work with a population who tends to avoid and/or dislike those very activities.

The other day, I told my students that I’m a writer and my plan is to write in the mornings then work with them in the afternoons. “When I get my book published, I expect you all to buy it,” I joked.

“Oh, we will,” they promised.

I hope they’ll read it, too, but I know I’ll never quite understand what it feels like for them when they sit down with a new book.

When I worked at another school for dyslexic students, I had to get a pie thrown in my face.  I forget why, exactly.  I think it had something to do with prom.

When I worked at another school for dyslexic students, I had to get a pie thrown in my face. I forget why, exactly. I think it had something to do with prom.

To learn more about dyslexia, check out these links:

Typography book explores what it feels like to have dyslexia.

What is dyslexia?

FAQs about dyslexia

 

Translation of passage above:

We begin our trip at a familiar place, a body like yours and mine.
It contains a hundred trillion cells that work together by design.
And within each one of these many cells, each one that has DNA,
The DNA code is exactly the same, a mass-produced resume.
So the code in each cell is identical, a remarkable but valid claim.
This means that the cells are nearly alike, but not exactly the same.
Take, for instance, the cells of the intestines; that they’re vital is certainly plain.
Now think about the way you would think if those cells were the cells in your brain.

Winners of the “I Like My Books Like I Like My Men” Contest

Winners of the “I Like My Books Like I Like My Men” Contest

Recently, I held a contest in which contestants chose an opening line about books or writing and filled in the blanks.  Examples I gave were  I like my books like I like my men – they keep me up all night.  Or, Writing is like a unicorn vomiting rainbows — magical, but messy as hell. Read more about the contest here.

Imagine that this unicorn is vomiting...

Imagine that this unicorn is vomiting…

AND NOW FOR THE WINNERS….

FIRST PLACE:  Jessie Benenson

I like my books like I like my men– banned in all fifty states. 

 

SECOND PLACE:  Allyson Ayers

I like my books like I like my nachos – I never want them to end.

Writing is like exercising – motivation to start is the hardest part.

(Be sure to check out Allyson’s hilarious Tumblr page!)

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS:  

I like my books like I like my men – thought-provoking, funny, and good in bed! 🙂Leigha Sochurek

Writing is like trying to watch a Youtube video on a bad internet connection. When it works, it’s great, but you spend ages staring at a screen with nothing happening at all.Daniel Wallace

(Be sure to check out Daniel’s fun and informative blog!)

 

Here I am in 2005 wearing this green sweater I've had since high school.

Congratulations, Everyone!

Jessie and Allyson both received prize-packs of reading material, stickers, and other fun items.  (Jessie got some Puss ‘n Boots temporary tattoos… aren’t you sorry you didn’t enter?)  Thanks to everyone who participated in the contest, and who knows, maybe I’ll have another one some day!

Getting Rid of Old Things, or, Tossing the Shark

Getting Rid of Old Things, or, Tossing the Shark

When I was a kid, my parents tried to make money in the real estate market. They would buy a fixer-upper in what my father hoped was an up-and-coming neighborhood, and we would live in half of it while they did renovations. Many of my childhood memories involve paint spackle and trips to Moore’s Hardware. My brother and I loved playing in the bathroom section of Moore’s: sitting on all the toilets and opening the shower stall doors.

Of course, as soon as the house was all shiny and new-looking, my parents would sell it or rent it out, and we’d move into the next old charmer. This is why, from the ages of infant to nine-year-olds, I moved a total of seven times.

I suppose I've always loved toilets...

I suppose I’ve always loved toilets…

As an adult, I’m not into the whole DIY renovation stuff, but I do continue to move at an alarming rate. And now it’s not just from one house to another, a few blocks away, this time it’s from one side of the country to the next. Ten years ago, I graduated college in Virginia and moved to New Orleans.  Six years later, I moved to DC, then to Massachusetts, then back to Virginia, then to Seattle, and now my fiancé and I have just moved to Minneapolis. We arrived here on Saturday.

Moving is annoying, but in a way, I appreciate the opportunity that packing gives me. It gives me the chance to go through my things and wonder: do I ever use this? Do I like this anymore? Is it worth taking up space in the cube for this?

It’s amazing the things that I hold on to. While cleaning out a kitchen drawer a few weeks ago, I found a blue plastic shark that had come as a stirrer in a drink I’d had at Lucy’s Surfer Bar in New Orleans, circa 2009. Somehow that shark had come along with me to all of my various abodes, and why? So I could be reminded of that one particular drink? Or because I thought I might use the plastic shark to stir another drink in the future ? I threw the little guy into the recycling.

One day (hopefully soon), I will stay somewhere for at least five years, and I will love being settled down, but staying in one place means I’ll start accumulating stuff. Without constant moves to help me prune, I’ll need to take it upon myself to, every now and again, go through my things and reassess. What do I really need? What do I really want?

On our cross-country trip we stopped at Dinosaur Park in Rapid City, South Dakota.

On our cross-country trip we stopped at Dinosaur Park in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Three days before we left for Minnesota, I got offered an amazing part-time job in Minneapolis. The very next day, my future employer emailed me and said that they would like to make the position into a full-time one if I was interested.

I hesitated. Full-time would mean benefits and a better salary. And the job did seem like something I’d be good at: tutoring and counseling college kids with dyslexia. But what about having time for writing? Two years ago I quit my full-time teaching position because I decided writing was more important to me than money and security. Did I still feel that way?

Yes, I decided. I do still feel that way.  Writing is my career, for better or for worse. I wrote back and said sorry, I can only commit to part-time. They were disappointed but still glad to have me part-time… I start work today!

Like going through our material belongings, every now again we have to go through the things we hold onto in our minds and hearts: grudges we’re keeping, beliefs we have, goals we’ve set. We have to ask ourselves: do I still believe that? Do I still want that? Is this still the direction I should be going in?

We have to let go of the thoughts or beliefs we don’t need anymore. We can throw that plastic shark away and feel good about it. And sometimes we need to remind ourselves about what is really important. About what needs to be packed in bubble wrap and taken with us no matter where we move to next.

View of the Mississippi from our new apartment in Minneapolis.

View of the Mississippi from our new apartment in Minneapolis.