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Monthly Archives: September 2016

How I’ve Been Doing the Past Three Months

This is a guest post written by my younger sister, Tiffany, who has a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. Tiffany has shared regular guest posts on my blog since February 2015. The purpose of her posts is to raise awareness of what it’s like to live with mental illness. I’m also hoping the posts will help readers recognize that we all have hopes, dreams, challenges and mountains to climb regardless of our mental health status. If you’d like to read the posts I’ve written about Tiffany’s journey and all the guest posts she’s shared on this blog, check out the mental health page. Without further ado, here’s Tiffany.

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It has been more than two months since my dad had his lung transplant. My parents have been staying in Minneapolis since the surgery. They usually live a few doors away from us. How has that time away from them been for me and my kids?

As you may know from previous posts, my parents are a major part of our support system. I have struggled, but I have also become the independent woman I know I am and can be. I’ve utilized my support system, accomplished tasks and handled situations I never thought possible. I have weeded people out of my life and have become closer to some. I continue to tell myself that I am a good mom, and continue to live my life in an honest and open way. I can’t honestly say that every day I am completely happy, but I am living with hope in my mind, body and soul. I have heard great feedback from the professionals I work with and family and friends about how I am doing while my parents are gone.

Everyone has stories to tell about the best days of their life. I really have not had typical experiences. The best days of my life have not been normal. Yes, my kids’ births were pretty spectacular, but there were complications that made those days a bit horrifying. I was a single mom both times. My daughter had a CCAM, which was a large growth in one of her lungs she had removed a couple days after she was born. My son was born via c-section.

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The day after my dad’s lung transplant turned out to be one of the best days of my life. My dad was sick for about 16 years before his transplant. For years, I was full of both worry and hope that his life could turn around. Hope for more time and years to spend with me and the kids. Nobody knew what was going to happen with his health. He was at the end of his life if something wasn’t done. When my dad got the call that a lung was ready for him, I was full of hope and excitement. This is going to work out, I told myself. The same type of feeling I had when my daughter was just days old and had a large lobe of one of her lungs removed.

I was SO happy that my kids and I could be at the hospital in Minneapolis for the procedure and be there when he woke up. I was the first person in my dad’s hospital room when he woke up from the surgery. I sat there with him as he nodded his head with big eyes open and a breathing tube in his mouth. I held back the tears as we experienced an emotional moment. That day was one of the best days of my life. We were feeling together that the hope was still alive. Seeing the excitement in my dad’s eyes, knowing the lung transplant finally happened and at that moment, my dad was going to be okay.

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My family prepared for the lung transplant for months, even years. My dad was staying optimistic, as he is, yet preparing for both the best and worst that could happen. My family wanted to prepare me and the kids for the time that my parents would be away. I’m not a cook, or at least I thought I wasn’t before my dad’s transplant. I have felt pride letting my parents know that I have been cooking for myself, the kids and sometimes friends, while they have been away. One of my favorite meals I’ve made while they have been gone was Hawaiian marinated pork chops, white rice and vegetables. I am experimenting with the food that we have available to us. I hope to experiment more during the remainder of the time they are away. I am going to cook for my parents when they get back home. The plan is for them to come back in about a month if my dad’s health is stable.

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Since my parents have been away, I have occasionally been attending church and a group called Celebrate Recovery. We sing, learn and are able to talk in a group setting. We go when we can and if the kids are not too tired. I listen and isolate myself at times, and focus on the voices in my head. My psychiatrist said that isolation is a way to end up back in the hospital. I enjoy talking in the group setting with people who are also experiencing life. It’s nice to actually express my feeling and thoughts to real people. We are often told to talk less and listen more. One of my friends recently told me that she feels like she is in an interview session with me. I guess I just like to learn about peoples’ lives. It’s pretty awesome when I get to express myself too, and when questions are asked of me.

Overall, some consistency is coming into my family’s life. Kids seem to thrive on consistency.

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Since my parents have been away, I have really felt the social stigma about mental illness. I can pretty much guarantee that a few people reading this are scared of the mentally ill, or they just don’t know what to think about them. We are not all scary, no more than the normal population. Like it or not, I am an individual with the label of mentally ill. I admit, I used to feel the same about people with the label of mentally ill. My grandfather used to work at a state hospital in Jamestown, North Dakota. When I was young, I recall thinking of the mentally ill as being locked away, shut out from society, walking around with nowhere to go. Weird, strange, do not talk to them because they are dangerous, living a different life. Yet, I found them interesting and found some connection with their lives. Little did I know that I’d be one of them someday. These days, the mentally ill are usually given respect and people are talking out about their illness. We are able to thrive and live normal lives. I spent a lot of time in a state hospital years ago, and know how frustrating it can be to be shunned from society. I have met many people in different institutions that I have found much in common with. Many people who are just scared of being themselves. Some people who are just reaching out for someone to be there for them. I do not feel that I am scary, I just have a gigantic label placed on me. We are all unique and different.

I cherish friends, family and strangers who have accepted and allowed me to be the person I am meant to be. I am grateful that God blessed me with two kids who make my life worth living. I am more than just a face. I am single and talk often in my posts about finding love in any kind of relationship. Sometimes I have found a false love that I wanted to be there, to be real.

Recently, I met with my psychiatrist and let him know what was going on. I also told him that my dad was doing great! I told him that often I don’t know what to say while having a conversation. The rules we have as a society are tough. I’ve learned that people can either accept me or reject me. I have a strong support system either way!

My dad and my daughter have had major health issues with their lungs. Dealing with these life-threatening illnesses has made me a stronger individual. I have become much more realistic about what is important in life and what really doesn’t matter. In dealing with real-life trauma both in my life and others’ lives, I have become stronger and more focused on moving forward and not looking back.

Tiffany

Hello, Readers! We Will Do Better Together.

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Two months ago, I celebrated my four-year blogging anniversary! Today, I’m getting real about blogging and writing. Would you join me for this conversation? I’d love to have you.

Six months ago as I was reflecting on my writing journey, distinct words came to mind.

This isn’t about you anymore.

Those words were so distinct that I wrote them down in my journal with the date. March 22, 2016. I knew EXACTLY what they meant. My writing isn’t ultimately about ME. It’s about YOU, my readers. There’s absolutely NO point in sharing my writing publicly if it’s NOT making a difference in your life as a reader. I’m not putting my writing and my life on display for the fun of it. I’m not putting my writing on display so you can be fully informed of every nook and cranny of my inner life. My intention is to make a difference, to inspire you, and impact you. I want to celebrate joys with you. I want to encourage you as you pursue your dreams and a bold vision for your life. I want you to know you’re not alone in whatever trials and pain you’re facing. I want to journey with you as you navigate the ups and downs of life. I want to sit with you, wherever you are. I want to encourage us to look at life differently. I want us to discover the divine in the daily…together.

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When I started blogging more than four years ago, I thought I’d arrived. Finally, I made this dream come true! Finally, I have a blog! Finally, I get to write on a regular basis! Finally, I get to help people, inspire people, and make a difference! Finally, I get to be creative and artistic! Finally, I have an outlet for sharing my innermost thoughts and feelings that might actually help someone else through life! Finally, I’m writing for others and have a place to call my own!

Yes, I had a vision for my writing, and was well on my way to achieving that vision!

The only problem was that it took nearly FOUR YEARS of writing on this blog for me to get to a good sense of where I’d come from and where I wanted to go.

This isn’t about ME anymore.

In fact, it NEVER was.

If writing is one of my God-given gifts, then that gift is to be used to help others. I know my writing has helped you because of the “likes,” “loves,” comments, emails and messages you’ve sent these past 4 years 2 months. I know my writing has helped you because many of you have shared my posts with others, and many of you have shared your own guest posts on my blog. But I can do better. So much better. It’s time to take this writing to the next level.

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Influence

The first weekend of November, I’m going to a writing conference. Actually, it’s a writing WORKSHOP, which means we’re not just going to be LISTENING to words of wisdom about writing, we’re actually going to be WORKING on our writing. We’re actually going to be DEVELOPING a bold vision for our writing, and CREATING a specific plan for helping that vision happen in very real and tangible ways.

So this fall, I’m going to be cracking back open my children’s book series and beginning the proposal, but I’m ALSO going to be making some changes to this blog and my writing as a whole.

This blog, Divine in the Daily, is in need of some major updates. I’m planning on making those updates late fall after the writing conference. If I’m completely honest, those updates might run into the new year. For that reason alone, I want to have a clarified vision for my writing moving forward.

But there’s no need to wait until November to move towards the changes I’m envisioning.

Effective immediately, there will be changes on this blog. Specifically, in the next six weeks, I am going to begin making changes to my writing. From your perspective as a reader, the change might seem slight. I’m not sure yet. But from my perspective as writer, there will be a massive shift in the way I’m thinking about my writing.

Please bear with me as I work through this period. 

Please bear with me as I attempt to grasp more thoroughly and accurately my vision for writing moving forward. If I could show you a picture of where I’m at in my mind, I would. I’m nearly grasping the vision, but I’m also not quite there yet.

I need a little help. 

The writing workshop is going to help quite a bit. I need someone to guide me through a bold vision for my writing. I need someone to help me see my areas of gifting when it comes to writing. I need to process these things through with writers and writing mentors, as we’re seated, pen and paper in hand, trying to determine HOW it is we help others with our words. I need to revisit where we’ve been with this blog, and where we’ve yet to go. I need to piece together my unique areas of gifting, and how I can use those gifts to help you, my readers.

There is something more for us to see.

There is something more for us to discover.

There is more waiting for this blog.

There is more of life to be revealed and lived through the words on this page.

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But the fact remains…

If I leave YOU, my READERS, out of the equation, I will have done us ALL a disservice.

It’s time to invite you into this process as well!

I’ve done two niche reader surveys this past year (one on friendship, the other related to my children’s books), but I haven’t done a general reader survey for almost two years.

It’s time to get to know you again.

It’s time to see where you stand.

It’s time to get your input.

And honestly? Rather than shrinking back from your input, I might be seeking it more often from here on out.

Why?

Because this isn’t about me anymore. 

I always wanted my writing to touch others’ lives, to make a difference. Therefore from my perspective, writing publicly is completely pointless if it doesn’t help others.

Once again, I know my writing has positively impacted your lives. But I also know I can do better.

When one of your comments made me cry in a not-so-good-and-healthy way this summer? Well, that was it for me. Clearly, I’d come at this from the wrong angle. I hadn’t written in a way that helped my readers process the bigger point of pain beyond my own story. I knew exactly what I was trying to say, and I thought it came through loud and clear in my writing, but the truth is, I didn’t go far enough as far as generalizing my learnings. Not okay.

This blog is titled “Divine in the Daily.” As many times as I try to reframe and revision this blog and my writing, I MUST keep coming back to the title. What does Divine in the Daily mean? How can I help us ALL reframe life so we can find the divine in the daily, WHATEVER our daily looks like? So if I decide there’s a lesson to be learned from the PAIN I experienced in real life, I MUST be able to help my readers process the BIGGER POINT of PAIN within the context of the story I’m sharing. I MUST. It’s not an option.

I can do better.

I will do better.

We will do better together.

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With that in mind, dear readers, I would LOVE you to take a SHORT survey for me.

I need your help.

I need your input as we move forward together.

I want to help you. Will you please take a few minutes to help me?

There are four questions in the SURVEY LINKED IN BOLD BELOW…

  1. What hopes and dreams do you have for your life at this moment in time?
  2. What is your biggest struggle?
  3. How has this blog – Divine in the Daily – impacted, influenced or inspired you to date?
  4.  What would you like me to write MORE about?

The end. That’s all I want to know!

Your responses are completely anonymous. To put it simply, when I receive these surveys, I have absolutely NO IDEA who left each response. But please note that I will be using your responses to guide my writing moving forward.

Thank you, friends! I appreciate your help so much. I can’t wait to see what you have to say, and can’t wait for this next chapter in our journey together.

CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE READER SURVEY CLICK HERE!

Have a blessed weekend!

pinksig

Moms of Girls 2-9 Years Old: I’d Love Your Help!

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My dream to write books began with you, mama.

You, sweet you.

13 1/2 years ago when my first born was just five months old, I cracked open a new book titled Mother Shock: Loving Every (Other) Minute of It by Andrea J. Buchanan. It rocked my world. Andrea’s words spoke to my needs as a new mom, but they also spoke to my needs as a woman. She got it! She understood me! I wasn’t alone in this thing called mothering. Finally, somebody was speaking truth. At that point, I’d been writing in diaries, notebooks and journals for 15 years, but for the first time ever, I understood the healing, transformative power of words on readers. Nobody had written so honestly and tenderly to my heart. Nobody had bared their soul so brutally and beautifully on the page.

I wanted to move people like that. I wanted to touch peoples’ hearts like that. I wanted my words to make a difference in peoples’ lives the way Andrea’s words made a difference in my life. I wanted to write raw and real, tough and tender. I wanted people to know they weren’t alone.

I wanted to write books.

Four years later in the spring of 2007, I set a goal to write ONE book on mothering in my lifetime. In the summer of 2014, that goal morphed a bit. Perhaps I’d write a book on mothering when I was older, wiser, and through the hardest and longest days of motherhood. But now I had a fresh vision for reaching mamas. What if I could impact mamas’ lives and touch mamas’ hearts through children’s books?

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Between January and April of 2016, I spent every Tuesday and Thursday morning writing and editing three children’s books. This summer, I received clear vision for book four! While the first book could certainly stand alone, the books are intended to be part of a series.

BOOK ONE is about being bold and brave. The manuscript is complete! It’s been edited by me numerous times and by my husband two times. Even after all the edits, I still sense something special about this story. Of all four books, I have the most peace about this one. If I had to put it in the hands of an agent, editor or test reader today, I have confidence it would read and resonate well, especially with anyone who’s a parent.

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BOOK TWO is about growing up. This story has been to the chopping block with a major rewrite, and is richer because of it. The manuscript is complete and REFUSES all thoughts of being discarded! As all moms know, there’s an undeniable push and pull when it comes to our babies growing up. This book speaks to the hearts of moms and their girls transitioning from one stage of development to the next.

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BOOK THREE is about becoming comfortable with who we are and fixing broken things. The manuscript is fully written, but is still in rough form. It’s been cut by 900-some words and edited several times through. There’s definitely a book there, but it needs a lot of development before it’s ready. The challenge of this story is piecing together our identity and our brokenness as moms and girls. I’m bound and determined to write this one, even though it’s the most challenging of all four books.

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BOOK FOUR is about dreaming big and was just conceived (unexpectedly) this summer! I’ve jotted a FULL page of notes down, and have a clear vision for what the book is about and the unique way it would be illustrated. At this point, I need time to write the first official draft of the manuscript. With all the notes I’ve taken, it should get off to a solid start! I’m very excited about this book. It’s fun and fresh, and will take the series in a new direction.

So here’s where I stand, friends! I took a break from writing the children’s books this summer because I needed to focus on my three kids and my dad’s lung transplant. This fall, I intend to open those children’s books back up. My goal is to spend a good chunk of time editing books one, two and possibly three with fresh eyes. I also need to write a first draft of book four as long as it’s clear in my mind! After that, I’m going to begin writing the book proposal for the series. A book proposal is a formal document that outlines all the details about the book you’re proposing to write and the audience for whom it’s intended. For children’s book proposals, you must also include the full manuscript of your book, which is why I’ve been working on those so hard! The hope is that someday I will pitch the children’s series to a literary agent, acquisitions editor and/or publisher for consideration.

There is never, ever a guarantee when it comes to getting published. But at this point, I just need to keep moving towards the dream that’s been in my heart for 13 1/2 years! I’m committed to doing my part and determined to make a meaningful difference through the lasting legacy of a book.

Here’s where you come in, mama! I need your help. I dreamed up this children’s book series and wrote books one, two and three with YOU in mind. But before I open those books back up and dive into the next round of heavy work, I want to hear from you!

After all, this series is for you AND your daughters. I want to know who you are. What are your struggles as a woman and a mom? What dreams do you have for your daughter? What dreams do you have for your own life? How else can I KNOW you so I can write FOR you?

The more I know about you, the better I’ll be able to tailor my writing to meet your deepest needs. The more I know about you, the better I’ll be able to touch your heart in a way that’s sweet and tender, bold and beautiful. The more I know about you, the better I’ll be able to write books that meet the developmental needs of your daughter while ALSO meeting your needs as a mama. The more I know about you, the more likely these books will actually land in your home and hands someday.

With all of that in mind, I’d be so honored if you could take a few minutes out of your busy day to complete a survey for me. If you’re a mom of a girl ages 2-9, you’re QUALIFIED to take the survey! Biological mom, adoptive mom, stepmom, foster mom, you ALL qualify as long as you’re mom to a daughter! The survey is 14 questions and completely confidential. I’m hoping for a lot of responses to ensure I get the most accurate picture possible of WHO my readers are as WOMEN, and WHO my readers are as MOMS.

Click the link below to take the survey! Make sure to answer all the way to the end, as each question has been included for a reason. Submit your survey when you’re done! Then please share this blog post with friends who have daughters so they can take the survey and share their perspectives, too!

CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE SURVEY

I’m excited and honored to invite you on this journey. Thank you so much for your time, and for all you do as a mom and woman to make this world a more beautiful place.

greensig

I Didn’t Dream Big Enough

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Before I left for my trip to Haiti in February 2014, I grabbed the ridiculously overpriced “Penny For Your Thoughts” journal my husband received at work somewhere along the way. We’d kept it safe in its original packaging on a shelf in our entryway closet for months. Perhaps we’d donate it to a silent auction. Perhaps we’d give it as a gift someday. After all, the price tag said something like $54. Even I, a lover of words, couldn’t imagine why ANY person would pay $54 for a journal. Yes, I grossly underestimated the worth of that journal. When I got to Haiti, I randomly scrawled notes here and there as the mission necessitated. Prayer requests from our two sponsored children. Info about another child we began sponsoring nine months later. An inspiring quote about Compassion International beneficiaries being “sleeping giants.” Notes here and there. As IF I was never going to use that journal again. As IF it was only good for its paper.

One month after I returned from Haiti, I opened that journal back up, turned to the first page, and began by writing insights I gleaned from rereading journals from my past. I was on a blogging break, and desperately needed to figure out where I’d been and where I was going. Nine months later, I stopped working as a speech-language pathologist to focus on writing and photography, and take advantage of time home with my children while they’re still somewhat young. Today, there’s only ONE blank page in that “A Penny For Your Thoughts” journal. I’ve carried it around everywhere, through everything, for the past 2 1/2 years. Who knew?!

I’ve adored that journal. It’s been my companion through days of transition, days of unknown, days of heartache and chaos, and days of dreaming. But the timing couldn’t be more perfect. It’s time for a new journal!

Knowing I was going to be purchasing a new journal soon, I took time to page through my “A Penny For Your Thoughts” journal last week. I’m compelled to share something significant I learned from rereading one of the pages.

Listen, and listen closely because this is profound.

Over the course of the past 4 1/2 years, I’ve learned to dream. I’ve learned to dream BIG DREAMS. 

In all honesty, it’s crossed my mind that I’ve gone mad, or that maybe I’m losing my mind bit by bit. But the truth is, I didn’t dream BIG enough. 

Yes, you heard me right.

I didn’t dream big enough.

The first quarter of that “Penny For Your Thoughts” journal is filled to the brim with dreaming. I allowed myself to go there. In fact, the ultimate purpose of those first pages was to put all my hopes and dreams down on paper. I looked back through the past, tried to piece together the bigger storyline of my life, and used that as a foundation to dream about what the second half of my life could look like. This was an intentional exercise. Nobody was judging me. Nobody was silently critiquing. I didn’t care if my dreams were totally out of line or totally achievable. I just wrote them down as they came to me. Yes, I allowed myself to dream big all over those pages.

Yet even in my grandest and freest state of dreaming, I didn’t dream big enough.

On one side of the journal page, I wrote down my “Big Picture” vision. It’s fairly vague to the naked eye, but still spot on. The vision I have for the second half of my life has never wavered.

Here’s the kicker. I didn’t dream big enough in the details.

On the other side of the journal page, I wrote down all the details of my dream as concisely as I could. There were 10 points. Keep in mind, I thought these were long-term goals, goals I could reach or see the “beginnings of…within the next 4-8 years” if everything went perfectly as planned. As of today, I have already achieved 5 out of 10 of those detailed dreams. I’m working on #6. And I was seriously close to achieving #7, but the outcome was largely out of my control.

Needless to say, reviewing my journal was an incredibly eye-opening exercise.

I didn’t dream big enough!

I didn’t dream big enough.

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So what’s the point of sharing this with you today?

The likelihood is that none of us have ever DREAMED big enough! The likelihood is that none of us have ever BELIEVED enough.

So how do we move from disbelief to belief? How do we get from here to there? How do we move from today to tomorrow? How do we move purposefully and intentionally towards the ultimate vision we have for life? How do we fulfill our God-given purpose here on earth?

Take time.

Sit down.

Get quiet.

Listen to the still small voice.

Think long and hard about WHAT we love, HOW we can best help others, and WHY we’re here.

Dream.

Get quiet again.

Pray.

Dream even BIGGER.

Pray again.

Then mark it all down. Write it. Speak it. Share it. Remember it. Revise as needed. And don’t ever forget.

In the meantime, trust that God works ALL things together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.

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There’s a reason we’re here. Let’s live out every detail, every dream we have for ourselves and best yet, every dream God has planned for us.

I don’t know about you, but I have some work to do. In the next three weeks, I’m going to purchase a new journal. I’m also going to buy a planner. My goal is to write down that vague, but spot on lifelong vision all over again, but this time, I’m dreaming WAY bigger about the details. I’m going over every area of my life, I’m getting still and praying over everything, and I’m not holding back. I’ve dreamed MANY dreams in the past 2 1/2 years that have never been documented anywhere. In the next three weeks, all those great big dreams are going to be written down. I don’t care if they’re crazy or impossible or if everyone would say “Whatever, that’s totally dreaming and never happening.” Then I’m going to take that planner and I’m going to map out my days more intentionally to ensure I’m prioritizing the things I want and need to prioritize.

I’m 40. But If I live as long as my grandfather, I could have another 56+ years of life on earth. It’s time to dig deep and dream bigger. There’s a reason I’m still here. There’s a reason you’re still here.

So how about you?

Do you need to dream a little?

Do you need to dream a little bigger?

Perhaps you need to sit still long enough to hear…

You’re here for a reason.

There’s more in store for you, beloved.

What will it be?

greensig