There's something strangely beautiful about a porch on a late summer afternoon. A whiff of fall carnivals and peanuts almost reaches your nose. It's the kind of day when even busy streets are quiet -- afraid they'll awake the sleeping summer again. Everyone's ready for a new season, for the rush of summer to fall away and the warmth of slow crisp days to begin.
No one will miss the allergies, sticky heat, and lawn mowing. No one will care about Yard of the Month, or those pesky five pounds that made your swimsuit look like rubber bands around sausages.
All the cares will hibernate until next year. There will be new worries, sure, but cool air brings people together. We will celebrate surviving the brutal heat by feasting on turkey and fruit cake -- stuffing rolls under sweaters.
This is the season of warm colors, loving faces, and enjoying front porches. It's a time for masquerade parties, wishbones, and kissing Prince Charming under store-bought mistletoe.
For everything there is a season, and this season is mine.
serious thought or consideration.
Ever had a birthday get you down? I never thought it would happen to me. But here I am staring thirty face-to-face, and all I want to do is run. The actual birthday event was wonderful. My sweet Prince Charming planned a lovely vacation in my favorite city. We ate well, did a little shopping, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. But something was still there, like a dark cloud hanging over my now graying head. Turning the leaf of a new decade made me reflect on the last one.
Did I accomplish all I hoped for in my 20s?
Did I read enough, exercise enough, play enough, DO enough.
The answer is yes and no. We have lived in four states, traveled more than I thought possible, graduated college, bought/sold houses, and secured our tiny lil place in this world. But (there's always a but), I still feel like I've done a whole lot but accomplished very little when it comes to writing. Sure, I've written books. Several, in fact. I've been published in literary journals, yes. But I still haven't made it to where I wished I'd be at this age.
I know what you're thinking. I've got a lot more time to work out this writing career thing, and you're right. Only it doesn't feel that way. I'm a doer. I see a problem; I fix it. No. Matter. What.
Writing doesn't work that way. Writing is waiting. Waiting for your next idea, waiting to hear back from agents, editors, publishers, readers... the list goes on and never ends.
I've never claimed to be patient, hence my doer attitude, so this is a difficult process for me. It's been six years, and each year I somehow convince myself that this one will be different. This will be the year.
This weekend I realized I've been thinking about it all wrong. Life isn't about conquering goals, as much as it is about living goals.
I have an entire Pinterest board about productivity. We live in a world where we often equate value to the measurable amount of work we do. We know it's not right, but we do it anyway.
Proof of my crazy...
We believe in working hard, which is good. But we sometimes forget to know when enough is enough. When six o'clock rolls around, are we still thinking about word counts, or are we thinking about dinner with our families?
When nine o'clock comes, are we checking Twitter, or are we engaged in a meaningful (or even playful) conversation with our husbands?
I haven't been as productive as I've wanted to be this summer, which has made me feel guilty. I worked hard the early part of the year to prepare and release my book Fabled. Then my husband and I completed a major rehab project on our house and sold it. Then we bought another house in a new city. We don't know many people, and we've been trying to connect. All this takes time, but mostly, it takes energy. My creative energy has been wiped for months, and only recently has it been trickling back.
Carrying around the burden of guilt does not help your creative spirit. In fact, it silences it.
I say all this to remind myself and maybe even you that life is about living well. It's not just about what we do. It's more about who we do it with and creating a joyful place our soul can reside and create.
Not to say that we shouldn't have goals. Just that we shouldn't live for those goals.
On my birthday, I challenged myself to reflect. I have a good life -- an amazing husband, four cuddly fur babies, and a home to call my own. I am blessed. I took a few minutes to write out a mission for my life. What is my end-game?
I want to live a joyful life devoted to Christ, my family, and my art.
I want to live a life worth writing.
Simple as that. What about you? What's your life's mission?
Vanessa K. Eccles
Books, life, and travel.
Author of FABLED, RED RIBBONS, and OF LOVE & LEGEND // Founder of The Faithful Creative Magazine