Well, hello there.


“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.”
~Rumi

Surprise! I bet you all thought you’d never see a post from me again, right? I certainly don’t blame you. The fact that it’s been over two months since the last time I sat down to write in this space … well, honestly, it makes me sad. I’ve genuinely loved keeping up with this blog over the past six and a half years, and I’ve missed it – and you guys! – so much. It’s been such a strange year so far, both busy and trying at the same time, but I’m really hoping to get back into a regular blogging schedule now. I figured I’d begin with an update post of sorts, so …

What I’m Writing: I finished the first draft of my WIP last Tuesday, and oh my gosh, did I have such a great time with it. The ending of a novel is always my favorite part to write. There’s such a unique kind of magic about it, this sense of possibility and hope and inspiration all tied into one. Melina and Bradley’s story has been a delight to tell. I’m so proud of them for how far they’ve come and how much they’ve risked. The book may be about an election, but it’s not a candidate who ended up as the biggest winner — it’s me, for having the chance to hang out with these characters and go on their journeys with them. I’m taking a little time off right now, but I already can’t wait to dive into revisions. There are a lot to make, and I’m so very excited to jump in.

What I’m Reading: I haven’t had nearly as much time to read lately as I would’ve liked, but I did manage to squeeze in a couple great books. Katherine Center’s HAPPINESS FOR BEGINNERS and Sarah McCoy’s THE MAPMAKER’S CHILDREN top the list of my favorites so far this year. They are beautifully written, evocative and inspiring and emotional. I’m not surprised, because these two talented ladies are always on my “must read” list. Right now, I’m in the middle of Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS, which I’m very much enjoying, and next up is Sarah Pekkanen’s THINGS YOU WON’T SAY.

What I’m Listening To: Rachel Platten’s EP is on repeat lately – and it seems I’m not the only one who adores her music, because her single “Fight Song” hit #1 on the iTunes chart! I am so, so thrilled for her. It’s crazy to think that the same person I used to help sell merchandise for is now taking the world by storm – but I’m not at all surprised, because she is super talented and deserves every bit of this success. Her story is one that constantly serves as an encouragement to me. After working so hard at her dreams for thirteen years, after refusing to give up on herself and choosing to keep fighting and keep believing, those dreams are finally her reality. You’d better believe I use her story as an inspiration to keep writing my own!

What I’m Marveling At: Earlier this month, I had my ten year college reunion. I honestly can’t wrap my head around the fact that it’s been a decade. It was so nice to be back on campus again for the evening and to spend time with some of my favorite AUers — proof that, even though so many things change, so many others stay the same.

What I’m Wishing For: My heart is positively yearning to be at the shore. We always go for a week in June, but it didn’t work out this year — probably the time we needed it most, after the six months we’ve had, but hey, what can you do? My fingers are crossed that we’ll be able to make it down there for a little bit at the end of the summer, at least. I miss it fiercely and would do just about anything to feel the ocean air kissing my cheeks again.

What I’m Loving: This little guy right here. I adore my sweet jellybean. He’s my love bun and my furry best friend. Adopting him is the best thing I’ve ever done, and I am so grateful for the wonderful Luv-N-Bunns people it’s brought into my life. It’s a joy to work with them and to play even a small role in helping the bunnies.

Now tell me … what have you been up to lately?!

Catching My Breath.


“Catch my breath
No one can hold me back
I ain’t got time for that
Catch my breath
Won’t let em get me down
It’s all so simple now.”
~Kelly Clarkson, “Catch My Breath.”

Sometimes I think Kelly Clarkson can actually see inside my brain. What other explanation is there for how ABSOLUTELY PERFECTLY her new song coincided with my week off from work? Catching my breath, letting it go? Laughing hard with the windows down? Leaving footprints all over town? Keeping faith karma comes around? I mean, really … MINDREADER. And can we talk about how awesome this song is? Kelly wrote it about her journey since winning Idol – what she’s learned, who she’s become, where she’s going. It debuted last Wednesday and, no exaggeration, it has literally been stuck in my head ever since. Not that I’m complaining, because it’s one of my favorites of hers (yes, already). You should all do yourselves a favor and listen:

So, how have I been catching my breath during my break from edits?

There was a visit to the Franklin Institute.

Pendulum staircase!

Only I would take a picture “with” my heart murmur…

LOVE this quote.

Ancient bird in the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit … they are STILL following me.

And a hot chocolate/pumpkin-buying spree.

Decorating my desk for the season!

A Sofie pumpkin and an Ellie pumpkin … it’s completely normal to name things after your characters, right? :)

And a lovely day spent at Arcadia for Alumni and Homecoming Weekend.

Mom and me.

Soccer field, library, and the new (beautiful!) building on campus.

I wish this had been there when I was a student!

Murphy Hall, Room 108 … AKA my home away from home for four years.

The castle will always be my favorite part!

So pretty inside.

Can you imagine living here?

Hangin’ out with a knight.

Fireworks over the castle!

It looked like Christmas lights were dancing in the sky!

And a great concert!

Graham Colton!

After the show!

Always enjoy Graham’s shows and his wonderful music!

There has also been lots (L-O-T-S) of cleaning and reading. And, now that I’ve had a week to rejuvenate and refuel, I am ready – and excited – to jump into the second round of revisions tomorrow. I’m looking forward to tightening up the story even more and getting to visit with my book-babies again. Because, as Kelly sings, it’s always important to make time for “the ones who count.”

The College Years.


“The quality of a university is measured more by the kind of student it turns out than the kind it takes in.”
~Robert J. Kibbee

Yesterday was the start of Arcadia’s annual Fall Fest, their big homecoming weekend on campus. Saturday is always Family Day for current students and Alumni Day for those of us who already went to classes, ate in The Chat, and walked across the expansive soccer field for graduation (or the makeshift stage in the gymnasium, because torrential downpours not only forced Commencement indoors, but also caused an hour-long power outage first … I may still be just a tad bitter over that). Anyway – it’s always a lovely day, and this year was no exception. The air was cool and windy, but the sun spread a blanket of warmth. The first fallen leaves crunched beneath people’s feet, balloons popped around in the breeze, and happy chatter abounded. And, when day turned to night, an explosion of twinkling fireworks lit up the velvety sky over the castle. They were a sea of sparkles, a statement of vibrancy.

Grey Towers

Knight

Water Feature

Fireworks

Now, I will be the first to admit that my five years at Arcadia were sometimes frustrating. There were things I wish were done differently, many things. But there were also – there are also – wonderful memories. Being on campus yesterday brought them back and instantly made me reminisce about all the time I spent there during college. Early morning fieldwork for Education courses, afternoons working as a consultant at the Writing Center, evenings editing in the video lab as I pieced my senior thesis and tv station newscasts together … I had some truly great experiences. They’re in the past now, each one a square in the tapestry of my years at Arcadia, but all it takes is one step onto the picturesque campus for them to once again play like a movie in my mind. Sometimes it seems like a lifetime since I spent every day there. Sometimes it seems like only yesterday. In reality, it’s been six years since graduation and five since I did my internship at WPVI and student teaching in a sixth-grade classroom. Not gonna lie, that feels crazy. Part of me is still the same person, but so much of me has changed. And that got me thinking: if I could tell my College Self a few things, what would they be?

College Graduation

1. You will find a passion that fills you up completely and makes you deeply, innately excited to work every day – it won’t be what either of your degrees are in, but that’s okay. It is okay. It’s more than okay. Yes, you spent five years fulfilling all the requirements for a double major and minor. Yes, you were absolutely certain of how you wanted to spend the rest of your life. Yes, your experiences foraying into that are ones you will treasure always. But dreams evolve. People evolve. Sometimes it takes several journeys before you find the one your heart is meant for, and even then, it’s ever-growing. That’s a good thing. Keeping yourself open to possibility helps possibilities open up to you.

2. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Putting yourself out there can be hard, so hard, but it’s worth it. It sounds cliche to talk about following your heart, but it’s not. It’s important. It’s necessary. And it can be life-changing. Personally and professionally, you will never move forward if you don’t take that first step. You’ll never get your homerun if you don’t step up to the plate and try. Will those risks always pay off? No. There will be cracks in your heart and disappointments that feel overwhelming, but you’ll get through it. You’ll realize that things happen for a reason. You’ll grow stronger. And when it comes time to take that next risk? Maybe you won’t be as afraid of falling.

3. Don’t go to graduate school right away. Give it a few years, see how life unfolds and how you unfold, and then consider it. Sometimes we walk along the same career path. Sometimes it veers off in a new direction. Why not see where that path leads? Also: do your very best to win the lottery, because holy wow, are grad classes expensive. That Masters in Editing and Publishing is calling out to me, but I may need money to start growing on trees in order to answer.

4. Meet as many people as you can, and savor the friendships that feel more like family ties. Some of those friends will drift away, and it’ll hurt deeply, but others will stay close and be such a blessing in your life. Thank them, love them, and enjoy every moment of the way you grow even closer with time. Be grateful for something as seemingly random as sitting near each other in a Broadway Musicals class or being rescued from a gigantic bug sitting on your shoulder (true story!), because it just might be the start of a lifelong friendship.

5. Embrace every minute, every experience, every memory made, because before you know it, they’ll be part of the past and not the present. Times passes too quickly. Don’t let it pass you by.

What about you? What advice would you give your College Self?