How Ted Met Penny

Today, Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day. A day to reflect on the brevity of life and a day to celebrate romantic love. I thought it would be fitting to share something from a story of mine that captures the spirit of this day.

My short play To Whom It May Concern was performed back in May of 2015 by the Words Players Theatre in Rochester, MN as part of their 10th Annual Thornton Wilder Play Festival. It was an incredible experience writing, casting and directing what became a deeply personal and powerful work of art.

The play opens with newlyweds Penny and Ted getting moved into their first house. While unpacking, Penny discovers a stack of letters from her deceased husband, Howard. The letters are addressed “to whom it may concern”, and Penny realizes they are for Ted.

I’m planning on talking more about this play and the profound impact it had on my life in another post, but for now, I want to share an excerpt from the novelization of it that I’m working on.

Happy Valentine’s Day, hope Lent gets off to a good start for you!

ToWhomItMayConcernPoster2

Photo credit: Joel Kuhlmann

Jordan had absolutely insisted that Ted come to the party. Ted would have much rather stayed home, read a book, and gone to bed at 9:30. But Jordan said he would not be moving again for forty years, at least, and Ted owed it to him to come and warm his house with everyone else. So Ted found himself getting out of a taxi on a picturesque suburban street in front of a shabby but quaint little house. Jordan was getting married in a few months and planned to work on improving the place before the wedding. It began to rain as Ted walked up the steps, and he was greeted noisily by Jordan who was already tipsy. Jordan promptly introduced Ted to twelve people who greeted him politely and proceeded to ignore him for the rest of the evening. They were all dressed as though this were a formal affair and Ted regretted having worn his favorite sweater, keenly aware of the small hole in the left sleeve. He knew one other person, Ralph, the fellow who played the piano the entire night, but Ralph was not much of a talker.
There was a woman there who stood out to Ted because, though she was not the center of attention, people seemed to gravitate towards her anyway. She was a woman in her late twenties who dressed and styled her hair simply but elegantly. She didn’t say much, but she laughed loudly and appreciatively at everyone who spoke to her.
Jordan tried to get everyone to play parlor games for an hour and finally, they urged Ralph to play them a slow one and paired off to dance around the piano.
So Ted, feeling underdressed and out of place, had gotten himself a glass of scotch and handful of oyster crackers and went out to the back porch. He found he was not alone — the woman who laughed loudly was sitting on the steps, watching the rain, swirling her champagne around in its glass.
“Oh, hello,” she said, startled as Ted came out the back door.
“Oh, no, I’m sorry,” Ted said, staring at her and taking a step back. “Am I…”
“No, no, please, come on out,” she replied. “There’s all the wrong kind of noise in there right now, I know,”
“Ah, yes,” Ted laughed nervously and walked till he stood at the top of the steps, glancing nervously down at the top of her auburn head. He noticed she had her shoes off and was resting her feet in the puddle forming at the bottom of the steps.
“So, uh, how do you know Jordan?” he asked.
“I’m good friends with Cynthia,”
“His fiance,”
“Yes,”
A distant clap of thunder could be heard echoing over the trees and houses.
“Go on, sit down,” she invited, patting the space beside her on the step.
Hesitantly, Ted sat down beside her, stealing a look at her out of the corner of his eye. She was so beautiful in a soft, easygoing way but something about the crinkles on the corners of her eyes revealed a deep sadness in her heart, somewhere.
He looked away and cleared his throat. “You know, Jordan is the first of my friends to get married,”
She nodded absentmindedly. “Mm. I was the first of mine,”
“Oh,” Ted was surprised how crestfallen he felt at hearing this. “Is your husband here tonight?”
She glanced at him and smiled so sadly it melted his heart. “No. I haven’t got a husband anymore. He died,”
Ted raised his eyebrows. “I’m sorry,”
“Don’t be. It was years ago,”
Ted didn’t know what to say, but she changed the subject anyway. “They’ll have a nice backyard,” she observed. “Once Jordan cleans it up a bit.”
“That tree would be perfect for a tree house.”
She laughed. “You’re right.”
“And I think Cynthia was talking about putting in a garden.”
She sighed heavily, a contented sigh. “I like rain.”
“Mm. I like it during the day, but not when it’s dark out like this.”
“Mm, yes. I wish it would clear up so we could see the stars,” She looked upward at the curtain of raindrops coming down out of the inky night sky.
“Do you know how to find the constellations?” Ted asked her.
She looked at him. “No! Do you?”
“Most of them,” Ted said, smiling nervously at her.
“I lived in the city for so long, I got used to not bothering to try and see the stars,”
They fell silent for a while, listening to the rain in front of them and the merry sounds of the party behind them. They sat, soaking in the quiet between them, a quiet that was comfortable and full, like a body after a good meal.
Ted looked at the woman, at her feet wet in the puddle, at her not caring that the hem of her dress was also getting wet, and back again to her face. He took in the imperfections and the colors in the dim, warm light of the porch lamp. In that moment, her softness made him brave, and he scooted slightly closer to her.
To his delight and surprise, she reciprocated the scoot.
“Do you live around here?” he asked her.
“No, I live downtown,”
“Really? So do I,” Ted said. “I have a little studio apartment,”
“What do you do?” she asked.
“I’m an editor — or, I’m becoming one,” Ted replied. “I’m up for a job with a small publishing company,”
“Really? That sounds wonderful. Do you edit books, newspapers?”
“Books.”
“So you like to read,” she said with a smile.
He nodded. “I love it,”
“What do you read?”
“Mainly mystery novels,”
She laughed that loud, pretty laugh. “I don’t know much about mystery stories. What are the good ones?”
“The classics are always good — Sherlock Holmes and all that,” Ted replied.
“I should read more,” she said softly.
They were quiet for a while. She drew her feet up out of the puddle and shivered a little.
“Here,” Ted took off his jacket and placed it over his shoulders. He started to take his hand away, but she caught it, holding it on her shoulder. She turned and looked at him, smiling warmly.
He smiled back bashfully, but she scooted closer and so did he.
Now here’s a real woman, Ted remembered thinking. Nothing fake or put on about her. She had a genuine sincerity that matched his, something he hadn’t encountered before. By the end of the night he got her number, and, from then on, he had eyes for no one else.

 

Thank you for reading, God bless!

Clare

 

More posts like this:

What I Wrote Today 1

What I Wrote Today 2

What I Wrote Today 3

Good You Were Here, Chapter 17

 

A Love Letter to Anxiety

Dear Anxiety,

We go way back. I didn’t know your name for a long time and I don’t remember exactly when we met, but I do recall when I was five or six, having that chronic fear of being lost, being locked in rooms or being locked out of the house. You stole a lot of fun and joy out of my childhood.

I got to know you better when I was twelve years old and became convinced that my chronic headaches had to mean I had a brain tumor. I still didn’t know your name, so every time you showed up, I just assumed you were a symptom of whatever was killing me. Finally, I found out that I needed glasses, and when my vision was corrected my headaches went away. But you stuck around in the form of that crippling fear of death, which took years to ease off.

And then, December 2014. That was your big breakout, wasn’t it? I was sitting on my bed and thought I was going insane from the all the thoughts and fears spinning around in my head. I felt so physically ill, I wondered if I’d caught a stomach bug. I grieved a relationship that wasn’t even over yet because you had me so, so, scared. I fought with you for six more months, and finally, I was able to get past you and make the decision I needed. With nothing I could love and lose to torment me over, you faded into the shadows.

But you’re still here. You got a good grip on my heart that night in 2014, and now it’s easier for you to sneak back up on me. (Kind of like heat exhaustion.) You keep flaring up whenever I have to do something new, whenever I fly on a plane, whenever things get too crazy at work, whenever I’m alone for too long, whenever I drink too much caffeine, whenever I perceive something wrong with someone, and whenever I care about something a lot. Could you stop doing that?

At the end of the day, you aren’t me. I believed that lie for a long time. But you’re not. You’re something that happens to me. I know you come from some weird survival instinct, this need in me to protect myself from getting hurt, to weigh the risk vs. reward before doing anything. I’m learning that it’s not my job to protect myself from everything because that’s impossible. At some point, after I’ve thought things through and done my best, I have to trust God enough to let my future be uncertain. 

You and I are probably going to spend the rest of my life together in some capacity. And that’s okay. I won’t live my life afraid of you. That being said, you better believe I’m going to work every single day to be stronger and smarter than you. My life is so much better when you’re in your proper place: keeping me from jumping off of bridges and away from possibly-rabid cats.

I’m choosing not to be afraid of you. Even when you jump me and pin me to the floor, sitting on top of my chest and asking me a million questions, I’m trying to choose not to be afraid of you. You drive me straight into the Garden with my God who was so anxious, He was sweating blood. He knows you better than I do, and you didn’t stop Him. You won’t stop me, either. 

As I wrote in my journal back on January 21st: “This is just anxiety. It’s just something that is happening to you. It will go away, and when it does, you will still be here. Don’t be afraid.”

Love,

Clare

What I Wrote Today – 3

They headed out of the city on US-63. Isabel drove very fast and efficiently. She rolled the windows down and leaned back in her seat, a small smile on her face.

Tony gazed at her, his heart pounding. He looked across the car at her and took in the sight of her, windblown but the happiest he’d ever seen her. She was beautiful and wild and all he wanted was to touch her. He reached out and rested his hand on her knee. She rested her hand on top of his and kept her eyes on the road. Her small smile widened for a second.

“I haven’t done this in years,” she said.

“What?” he asked.

“Drive,” she answered. “Drive just to drive. Just to go fast and go far away,”
“Is that what you and Daniel did?”

She nodded. She lifted her hand off of his and turned on the CD that was in the player. Tony had never heard any of the songs that played, but the music seemed to turn their drive into a scene from a movie.

“What is this?” he asked.

“Thriving Ivory,” Isabel replied. “This album is from 2008,”

“I love it,”
“Really?” she asked. “Some people think the lead singer’s voice is weird,”

“No, I like it. It’s different,”

They fell silent and lyrics filled up the car.

You’re talkin’ in your sleep like there’s nothing more to lose/ Well hey you know you’re not alone,

‘Cause honey, I get lonely too, and it feels so familiar, must have been here before, singing ‘I don’t wanna go, but I don’t wanna hurt anymore’.

Tony kept his hand on her knee and she kept both hands on the wheel.

About half an hour later, Tony saw a sign for Lake Louise State Park, and Isabel signaled to exit. They drove into the park and Isabel let Tony pay the entry fee at the front office, then kept driving. They passed camping grounds and a picnic area, and finally, Isabel stopped the car and parked in a small lot beyond a sign that read Lake Louise Dam. She got out of the car, taking her coffee along with her, and led him towards the sound of steadily flowing water.

As they exited the parking lot, Tony saw the dam. It looked like a huge version of a fake waterfall set up in someone’s yard, with water from the lake spilling into the river, flowing down over the sloped concrete barrier.

There was a family with three small boys playing noisily around on the far bank, running in and out of the trees, but otherwise, the place was deserted. Isabel walked right up to the dam and slipped off her shoes before sitting down on a portion of the barrier wall. Tony took his shoes and socks off and sat down beside her. She had a melancholy expression on her face as she stretched her leg out to let the water from the dam spill over her foot.

The little family came back across the shallow water and left, taking their noise away with them in a minivan. It was quiet except for the sound of the water and Tony’s heart pounding away in his ears. He broke the silence after a few minutes. “Why here?” he asked.

“This was our place,” she said, looking out at the lake. “We’d come here whenever we needed to talk.”

Tony popped the lid off his cup, sloshing a little on his hand. He licked the coffee off his knuckles and looked at her. Her gaze was fixed on the water, as though she was were seeing something that made her very sad.

“So that’s what you want to do right now?” he asked. “Talk?”

Being Daniel – Concept Art

Do books have concept art? They do when I’m writing them, that’s for sure.

I am a highly visual person and it can be hard to translate the ideas in my head to words on a page. With Being Daniel in particular, I’ve had a hard time staying focused. Sometimes when that happens, the best thing for me is to do something else creative but still related to the book. That usually means making soundtracks or graphics to kind of a set a tone or capture the aesthetic I’m going for.

Here is the piece that I made yesterday for Being Daniel.

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I just used some free domain silhouette images and PicMonkey and this is what I came up with. In case you haven’t been clued in, Being Daniel is about a dysfunctional relationship between two people who need to love and forgive themselves before they can love anyone else. Because I’m a sucker for romance and can much more easily write a beautiful story about true love, it helps me to have this image in mind while I’m working on this story.

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What do you do to stay focused while writing? Let me know!

Thanks for reading, new post coming Friday. God bless!

Clare

 

Other posts on Being Daniel

Writing Alcohol

Being Daniel – 95 Days To Go

What I Wrote Today 1

What I Wrote Today 2

 

What I Wrote Today – 2

Tony hadn’t slept since seeing Isabel at the diner. He just lay awake, staring up at the ceiling, resting his hand on his chest and feeling his heartbeat. It always scared him how fast his heart could beat. He wondered if that was how he would die; his heart would beat too fast and explode. Or something. He had no idea if that was a medical possibility. He’d learned not to Google his own symptoms after he’d convinced himself he was having appendicitis his freshman year of college.

He started getting up at four every morning and going out to sit on the steps, smoking and drinking coffee, waiting for her, hoping she would come by. He was so confused. He told himself that all he wanted was an explanation. Why had she kissed him if she was with someone else? Every girl Tony had ever been with had cheated on him. He knew had badly it hurt to be on the other side of that. But, if he was being completely honest, he didn’t care. He just wanted her to be with him. He’d forgive anything for her to be with him.

The third morning he was out on the porch, he thought he was imagining the sound of footsteps coming from the right around 6:30. He looked up, and saw Isabel…but she was on the opposite side of the street. His heart leaped into his throat.

She saw him and looked away, picking up the pace so she was practically running.

“Hey!” Tony called, getting to his feet. “Hey, wait!” He ran across the street even though he was only wearing socks and blocked her path, putting up his hands to stop her. “Wait, just wait,”

Isabel took a startled step backward. “What do you want?” she demanded.

Tony tried to speak, but his heart was beating so fast it took his breath away.

“I’m going to be late for work,” she said and started to walk around him.

“Wait!” He reached out and grabbed her arm.

She wrenched her hand away and shoved him away from her. She stood, staring at him, her eyes wide and fearful. “Leave me alone,” she said. “You were waiting for me, weren’t you?”

Tony took a deep breath. “Yeah. I needed to talk to you,”

She pulled her hoodie tighter around her. “I don’t want to talk to you,” she said softly, and turned on her heel, hurrying away.

Tony stood, feeling his stomach twist as he watched her get away from him. “So why did you kiss me?” he called after her.

She stopped and turned to look back at him. “Sorry. I…I got carried away. I shouldn’t have done that. It was really insincere. I’m in love with someone else.”

Tony sighed. “Daniel, right?”

Isabel’s eyes widened. “How do you know about Daniel?”

 

From Being Daniel, coming this year, maybe. 👍

Thanks for reading, God bless.

Clare🌻

 

More Like This:

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Good You Were Here, Chapter 17

Starting Over

I have officially started re-writing Being Daniel. I opened a new document and labeled it Being Daniel Draft 4. I’ve taken my outline and I am going to rewrite the entire book, scene by scene.

Why?

I am so horribly burnt out on this book, it makes me want to cry tears of rage just looking at it. I’ve been plugging away at it for months now and while the story is pretty good, it’s incomplete. There are holes. It’s really badly written. It’s making me mad and I want to quit.

I’ve decided that, instead of quitting, I’m going to start over. I’m not sure how but, as I was writing this book (really fast, I might add), stuff went awry. I have no sense of who my two main characters are. That is unacceptable. I believe this story is important and beautiful, but I have messed up somewhere along the line.

This is one of the perks of self-publishing. I can set my own pace and pursue the projects my heart is in. That being said, I had originally committed to publishing Being Daniel on December 14th. It’s been almost a month since then and I haven’t even touched it since November started.

So, here’s my plan. I am going to hit Being Daniel hard for the rest of the month of January. If on February 1st it’s still misery and suffering just to look at it, I’ll let it go and move on to something else. I quit writing from 2012 to 2015 because people kept telling me, “You have to finish all those unfinished books sitting on your computer before you can start something new.” And it absolutely killed any desire I had to write. The truth about me as a writer is that sometimes, no matter how much I grind away at it, a story just isn’t going to come. It isn’t ready.

That might be the case with Being Daniel, but I’m going to give it a try.

Thank you to everyone who beta-read Being Daniel in its original form. Please don’t feel as though it was a waste of time — I was able to come to this decision because of your feedback and concerns.

February 1st, I will either announce a tentative publication date or that Being Daniel is being put into storage indefinitely. I have a goal to publish three books this year, and while Being Daniel was intended to be the first of those three, I can’t let it slow me down or stall me out completely.

Thanks for reading. Stories coming soon, I promise — and new post coming Friday!

God bless,

Clare

 

Other posts on Being Daniel

Writing Alcohol

Being Daniel – 95 Days To Go

What I Wrote Today 1

Anxiety, Gratitude & Self-Compassion

Late in the day, but here is my post, as promised. I’m currently committed to doing a blog post every Tuesday and Friday, and today my little dinosaur-themed reminder went off on my phone, telling me that this is a blog post day.

Today was weird. So was yesterday. I had a horrible hair day that turned my self-confidence into a little pile of mush, I learned that a friend’s father passed away, I learned a man from my parish also passed away, I didn’t get enough sleep, I ate too much sugar, and my roommate has left town for the weekend.

I feel troubled, disoriented, anxious, not myself. I’m reflecting very hard on life and death. Everything feels too scary and hard right now.

As I thought about what I could possibly bring myself to post while I’m feeling all these messy, complicated things, I decided this was what I needed to write.

Here is a list of things I’m grateful for, and some reasons to be compassionate towards myself. Maybe my lists will help you. Maybe they will prompt you to write your own.

Right Now I Am Grateful For…

  • This Nature’s Truth ‘Happiness’ essential oil blend I just got.
  • These growing pains. All I have grown and will grow into.
  • The gift of writing that God has given me.
  • Hope. This hope that what is broken can come back together, what is messy will be beautiful, and that I know who I am and where I’m going, no matter how lost I feel in this moment.
  • The fact that Joe and Tweetie will be back in town this weekend. I’ve missed them.

Reasons to Be Compassionate Towards Myself…

  • You only just moved. The change is catching up with you. You are adjusting to your new place and in some ways a new life.
  • Death is scary. It’s sad. Don’t let it become an anxiety that eats you up inside. You can use this awareness of how fragile and uncertain life is to foster gratitude, love, and mindfulness.
  • It’s okay to feel disoriented and not like yourself. You are changing and growing. Growing can be painful. But you have changed and grown before; you will come out better and more beautiful in the end. Eventually, you will feel like yourself again, even if she is someone different in the future.
  • God’s got you, and you are where you’re supposed to be.
  • Life is always changing. Tomorrow is a new day. You will be okay.

 

What are you grateful for? What are some reasons to be more self-compassionate? Thanks for reading, new post coming Tuesday. God bless,

Clare

 

Other Posts On Anxiety:

A Ride Home

Winter

Journal Entries 1

How I Journal – Prayer In Spite of Anxiety

How I Journal – Prayer in Spite of Anxiety

First blog post of 2018!

Today I decided to share how I journal, specifically for prayer. As a person who suffers from a lot of anxiety, for a long time, I found it very difficult, sometimes impossible, to pray. A little over two years ago, I was feeling really anxious and out of it and just not myself, and I remembered this widely recommended grounding exercise for people with anxiety:

54321.jpg source

I started journaling, sort of following this method, only instead I wrote HOW I AM FEELING RIGHT NOW… followed by writing out how I was feeling Mentally, Emotionally, Physically, Spiritually.

It helped so much to keep me in the present moment, sort through my thoughts and feelings, and quiet myself. Prayer became possible because all I had to do was sit down and start writing tangible things, then relate those things to the Lord. Over time I’ve modified it to fit where I am in life.

How I Journal

Step 1: Open journal, blank page (string lights totally optional). My journal is a 3-N-1 from Markings and was purchased at Walmart.

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Step 2: Date, time, and location on the top of the page.

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Step 3: I write FEELING. Underneath that, I write out every feeling I can articulate.

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I bundle my physical and emotional feelings here, so whether its tired and hungry or happy and hopeful, they go here. I elaborate on whatever I need to, like what is making me sad or what I’m feeling excited about.

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Step 4: I write THINKING ABOUT.

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Here, I pretty much empty my mind onto the paper. Work, a conversation I had, a movie I saw 7 years ago, song lyrics and book characters…whatever is in my head, I write it down.

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Step 5: I write SPIRITUALLY.

howijournal7 (1)I write out how I am feeling spiritually. Empty? Dry? Far from God? Joyful? Hopeful? Aware of His love and presence? Whatever it is, I write it down.

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Step 6: Relate all of this to God. Write down anything and everything, but take time to just be quiet and be with Him.

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I’ll often read scripture and reflect on it here as well. As difficult as it can be, I try to let God lead this conversation. I praise Him, I thank Him, but I invite Him to be with me and to speak to me.

BONUS: GRATEFUL FOR…

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This is something I just started doing recently; taking time to write down a few things I’m grateful for every day. Gratitude can be an excellent remedy for anxiety because it moves your focus out of your anxious head to all the blessings in your life.

 

And there you have it: How I journal and pray in spite of anxiety. If you try this, I would strongly encourage you to tailor it to you. Maybe you want to be more specific. Maybe you want to just write down your thoughts. If you are severely anxious, you could actually go through the original 54321 grounding exercise and then just sit in quiet with God. That would be a perfectly beautiful way to get into prayer in spite of anxiety.

I hope you enjoyed this. If you have any other insights on praying when you are an anxious person, please share them!

New post coming Friday. Thanks for reading and God bless,

Clare

 

Other Posts On Anxiety:

A Ride Home

Winter

Journal Entries 1

 

Blogmas 2017 – Day 31/31 – 2018 Goals Pt. 2

Happy Feast of the Holy Family!

Today is the last day of Blogmas 2017. It’s been a wild ride of a December for me, but on December 1st I set out  to write a blog post everyday in Decemeber. Did I accomplish that? No. No, I did not. But I did write 24 blog posts (including this one). I’ll try again next year, but overall, I’m happy with what I accomplished for Blogmas 2017.

Without further ado, here is a revised list of goals for 2018. I’m sure this will continue to change and grow as we get into the new year, but right now, on December 31st, 2017, these are my hopes and aspirations.

2018goals2

  • Learn hand-lettering
  • Go on 3 dates (?)
  • MOVE OUT.  Check!
  • Publish 3 books
  • Actually try to learn Spanish
  • Travel 2 new places, anywhere.
  • NaNoWriMo 2018
  • Cut down/get all my stuff in neat and tidy order.
  • Create a nice summer wardrobe
  • Exercise somehow
  • Save $3000!
  • Pay off loan woot woot!
  • Road trip with friends?
  • BLOG CONSISTENTLY – Currently my plan is to post 2-3 times a week, but if I can get into a rythym I’ll aim for more posts a week.
    ADDING:
  • Write 1,000 words a day.
  • Continue learning how to cook.
  • Learn how to eat with chopsticks! Just for fun.
  • Write and shoot a short film. This has been an aspration of mine for a long time and I’d finally like to go for it.
  • Write two short plays. I love writing plays and it’s been over a year since I’ve written one. Time to change that. Plus, I was asked last night if I’d write a play for the homeschool group my younger siblings are with, so that’s some good motivation.
  • Continue going to counseling and work on building my confidence and self-esteem.
  • Discern the next steps for my life, particularly come August 2018. My roommate will very likely be moving at that time so I will have to decide if I want to stay here or move again, myself.
  • Go back through my old journals, particularly from 2013-2015. This is a very personal one, but I went through the hardest times of my life over those two years. I know it’s time to go back and see where I was so I can truly appreciate where God has brought me.
  • Read, every day. There are so many books I want to read so I need to commit and just dive in. I’m thinking at least one chapter or ten pages a day, I’ll see what I’m best able to stick to.
  • Say yes to more new things. I often just pass up oppurtunities to learn new games, listen to new music, see new movies, go new places, meet new people. I will make honest efforts in the new year to be humble enough to give new things a try.
  • Pray. Every single day. No expections. I know by now that this is the most important thing in my life. I need God, and prayer is my relationship with Him. Even if all my other goals go out the window, this must be a constant in my life.

Alright, Happy New Year everyone! God bless you and have an amazing 2018!

Clare

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Check out all of Blogmas 2017!

 

Blogmas 2017 – Day 30/31 – 2017 in Review

As the year winds down, here are my Top 7 of 2017. Enjoy!

7. Solo Trip to Rochester June 23

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I had never gone on such a long road trip all by myself before, but I was free one weekend so I made plans to go back for a visit to one of my favorite cities: Rochester, MN, where I lived for nine months back in 2014-15. Originally I had hoped my teenage brother and sister would be able to come along, but the timing didn’t work out. I went anyway. I had to navigate and plan all by myself, and while there were some less-than-perfect moments, it was a huge growing experience.

I got to see a group from the theatre I interned at perform music at my favorite coffee shop and hang out with a few very good friends. It was so much fun and I proved to myself I was much more capable than I’d ever thought.

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(My friend Rae at a pop-up sale we went to together!)

6. Good Morning Bedlam Concert July 15

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This might have been the most fun I had the entire year. I heard that two bands I absolutely love and have really cool memories with, Good Morning Bedlam and Harbor & Home, were playing in Willmar, MN for Market on the Farm. I desperately wanted to go but lacked the confidance to go on my own. I was asking around, trying to find someone who wanted to go with me and at the last minute my sister Terese agreed to come along. It was fantastic. We had an absolute ball and I got to hang out with Good Morning Bedlam, four of the coolest people I know who I am proud to call friends.

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5. Total Solar Eclipse August 21

This was memorable for many reasons. Historic celestial event on the one hand, and seeing a best friend from high school who I hadn’t seen in years on the other.

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It was a rough road trip filled with rain and uncertainty and a lot of boredom and frustration, but I’m so grateful I got to experience it in person.

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I will always remember that little halo of pink light around the moon as it totally eclipsed the sun.

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4. Thanksgiving 2017

My whole family hadn’t been all together in four years or so. This year my oldest sister came with her husband and son from Ohio and my second older sister came from Arizona and we all got together for Thanksgiving at my dad’s parents in Rochester, MN. It was messy and loud and chaotic but it was ours and it was beautiful. The best moment of that week for me was getting drinks with my two older sisters downtown. We had the most amazing conversations and it made me realize all over again how blessed I am to have them in my life.

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3. Wedding October 15th

My oldest friend got married and my sister and I were bridesmaids! From navigating two airports and an hour and a half Uber ride, to getting all dolled up together in the bridal suite and posing for countless photos, it was a beautiful experience and so many happy tears were shed.

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2. Moving Out December 13

This was a totally unexpected thing. I had set a goal to be moved out by March 30th 2018, but the oppurtunity came up to move into an apartment across town from my family. I thought and prayed and asked for advice about it and I decided to take the leap.

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(New bedroom!)

I am so grateful I did; I can tell this was something I needed to keep moving forward and growing as a person. My roommate is the best. Just this morning I woke up to her starting the movie You’ve Got Mail and we watched it together while eating breakfast. Quality.

1. Publishing Good You Were Here May 17th

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I had no idea until March of this year that this was even on the horizon for me. I had committed to writing every day in December 2016, and then I learned about the Kindle Storyteller competition in March 2017. I committed to finishing and publishing this book in time for that contest, and while I missed the deadline, I did it. I published a book!

This book. Goodness. What to even say about it. It has challenged me, grown me, changed the course of my life. I’ve gotten so much amazing feedback on it from people. The most notable and meaningful response was from the mother of one of the other bridesmaids in that wedding back in October. This woman had never met me before but was in the middle of reading Good You Were Here and was practically in tears as she told me how much it meant to her and how beautiful it was.

Dang.

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I love this book, for all that it is and all that it’s done for me. No matter how little money it’s made me, no matter how many little grammatical errors I’ve found after the fact, I consider it a triumph. By the grace of God, it is a triumph.

Other highlights include starting counseling, seeing the musical Matilda in Cincinatti with my older sisters, discovering the album Gone Now by Bleachers, going to a Murder Mystery Dinner Party for Halloween, making some new friends, going on my first date in two years, having a surprise birthday party thrown for me, and seeing the movie Kubo and the Two Strings for the first time.

And there you have it. My 2017 in review. What a year. God has blessed me so much and I’m grateful beyond words.

Tomorrow I’ll post a lookback on Blogmas 2017 and my revised 2018 goals.

Thanks for reading, God bless!

Clare

 

Check out the rest of Blogmas 2017

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