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Monday, July 27, 2009

Fantasy World

I love my life, however, that's not to say I don't have problems, frustrations, and flat out trials--with a capitol T and that rhymes with P and that stands for Portland.

That's right; Portland.

This is where I go in my mind when life get so overwhelming that I just want to chuck all the great things I have in it. I close my eyes and I imagine that I live in a studio apartment in Portland, and it's raining, and my shift at K-mart doesn't start for two hours. I'm hungry--and guess what? I don't have to feed anyone but ME! If I want the last piece of cake from last night, I can eat it all by myself and not have to give a bite to anyone, much less eat it in the bathroom so that no one sees me. Guess who's clothes are in the dryer? MINE! and they are clothes that need to be ironed because in my fantasy world I buy that kind of clothes because I have time to iron them! And guess what my couches look like? Floral patterned. Yep, great big peonies and daisy's and stuff. They are girly, and they are cute and I love them and that's all that matters. Not a single other person made decorating decisions. Just me. My TV uses one remote, I wake up when I want to, and I read all night if I feel like it. My calendar fits in my purse because only my appointments are written on it. I keep chocolate out ON THE COUNTER and save up my money so I can take cool vacations which are cheap, because it's just me! I don't go to amusement parks out of obligation; I don't spend all my money on school clothes while pining after a new pair of jeans for myself. I watch The Scarlet Pimpernell over and over, saying the dialogue with Percy and Margarite. No one makes fun of me for it. I have three bills--gas, power, and car insurance. I drive a VW bug that never breaks down. Food costs me $100 a month and I don't buy chicken because I don't EAT chicken, which means I never have to touch the gross slimey stuff just to make someone else happy. I go barefoot because there is never sand on the floor and I can't tell you how much it costs to enroll a kid in high-school because I don't care about that stuff.

My husband is well aware of my fantasy world. He has one too--but his involves a New York City apartment that overlooks Wall Street and Central Park. He's a billionaire that doesn't worry about homeowners insurance claims or incidental expenses like shoes for the kids instead of new tires. He never eats at home and works 16 hours a day. He owns about eight cars--but pays someone to drive him around in a Bentley.

I mentioned this fantasy world to my friend Julie Wright once; I thought she'd tell me I was unstable (though it's probably not a good idea to tell unstable people that they are unstable--maybe over the phone, but not in person) and she admitted she had a fantasy world she escaped too as well. We're both unstable!

And so I'm curious; are we the only ones--Lee, Julie, and I? Or does everyone have this 'escape' in their mind that serves to allow them to re-appreciate what they do have? In your fantasy world can you leave chocolate out on the counter instead of hiding it in your sock drawer?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Fall--phew!

I didn't learn to ride a bike until I was nine years old. Why? Because I was terrified of falling. Each time someone would try to teach me, I would fall and refuse to try again--until my embarrassment of being the only kid my age that couldn't ride got me on the bike again. finally, at nine years old I figured it out--and didn't fall. At our house no one 'owned' a bike. Because there were so many of us we simply had a plethora of sizes, you would choose the one that fit you best and it was yours until you got back home. If you ended up with the yellow sparkly one with the banana seat and white wicker basket--well, show up in the garage earlier next time!

Once I knew how to drive, I don't think I ever rode a bike again.

About four years ago I bought a bike for our oldest daughter and I got the idea to buy one for myself. My first bike!

I got a nice one--a cross-something or other that could do road and mountain trail. The next day I strapped on my helmet (first time I'd ever worn one) and set off. I was home two miles and ten minutes later. My legs and lungs were on fire. I parked the bike, very disappointed that it was so hard. I wanted a nice easy, fast moving exercise. I'd been robbed! Over the next four years I probably put about 25 miles on that bike and most of those trips were with the kids to the church and back.

Last summer I started running with a good friend, Tiffany. Tiffany is amazing and different from any woman I've ever known as an adult. She LIKES exercise! She and her family all swim like freaking dolphins, they run, they bike. But not in the freaky-guru "I only wear Nike t-shirts so you'll know what an athlete I am" kind of way, but in the "I love the satisfaction of having had my body in motion."

Well, I'm a satisfaction freak. I love 'finishing' something. So, with her as my running buddy I got up to 3 miles. When an injury caused her to cut back, I kept going. I went four and five miles! I ran a couple 5K's and came to love the accomplishment at the end of a run.

One thing Tiff and her family do is biking--and I mean BIKING. Last summer she biked around Utah lake--it's 100 miles. Each time she would tell me about these excursions I would think of my bike sitting in the garage. I asked her questions about riding on the side of the highway--had she ever been hit by a Diesel and put in traction for 6 months? In fact, she had not. What if her chain fell off? She FIXED it, all by herself. The woman is amazing. Finally, a couple weeks ago I bit the bullet and rode my bike to a church meeting, three miles away. I'm sure the women there thought I was dying when I arrived--I was sweaty and my face was bright red and I had to excuse myself so that I could catch my breath. I wasn't sure I liked it. I had to ride on the highway and every time a car passed me I would hold my breath, sure it was going to take me out. My hands were sore by the time I got home because I would clench them each time a car came up on me from behind. But I did survive, and therefore I had 'success' and, as I said, I'm a success freak.

Since that night my husband and I have gone on a few bike rides together. It's been a lot of fun to push ourselves and cover so much ground. We're up to about 8 miles, and it only takes about 40 minutes. We live in a beautiful place and love getting out into it. But in the back of my mind has been a niggling fear. What if I fall? I mean, I KNEW I would fall eventually, and at times that thought terrified me to the point of letting Lee ride alone. Remember, I love success, not failure, and falling is a failure I don't want to face. Every time we get on the bikes I think about it, worry about it, and then proceed with extreme caution. I don't WANT to fall. I want to ride.

Last night we went up on the canal road, which overlooks Willard and Willard Bay. It's breathtakingly beautiful, but the road is rutted and has a drop off on one side. I tried not to think about falling, but it was hard not to. Tt was not the road I wanted to fall on (not that there was a road I wanted to fall on, but you get my point). My rear brake is out on my bike--something I manage to forget between each ride. Every hill had my heart pounding as I pictured the back wheel of my bike cartwheeling over the front. We turned back when the sun began to set, with Lee in the lead, and came to a portion of road that was deeply rutted. I decided it would be best to stay up on the ridge between the two ruts. It worked for a little while, until my back wheel fell into one of the ruts, forcing my front wheel to the side. I yanked back on it, tried to correct and instead went down on my left side. I wasn't going very fast, and I didn't fall very far, but I caught myself with my hands. I sat there for a minute, my hip throbbing, my hands burning and then felt the strangest sense of relief.

I'd fallen. But I was okay. The thing I had feared all along was over with.

The fall hadn't destroyed me, it hadn't damaged me beyond repair. I got up, brushed off and got back on my bike so I could catch up with Lee and take advantage of his sympathy. When I got home, I had to clean the rocks out of my hand--OUCH! But I continued to have the thought go through my head "I'm okay."

Not only that, I'm smarter too. On Monday, I'm going to get my rear brake fixed--it's silly for me to ride a bike that's missing half it's stopping ability. I'm also going to get some hand guards, so if I fall again, I won't imbed rocks into my flesh. I've LEARNED something from the experience, and that is a SUCCESS. Bring it on!

And it got me thinking. How often does the fear of falling keep us on the ground? And have you ever 'fallen' only to realize that it wasn't nearly as bad as you thought it would be? AND, if not for those inevitable falls in life, would we ever learn anything at all?

I'd love to hear your stories.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Follow, Follow Me!

I feel so special! I have 38 followers; now if that doesn't make a girl feel loved, I don't know what will. And it's nice to feel loved.

Yesterday was my 'Throw Rocks at the World Day" I have them about once a month. Sometimes it comes on a day when I am too busy to notice and so I manage to brush it off until it slithers back into the moldy undergrowth where it came from. Other days, like yesterday, it's claws dig into my flesh as it crawls up my back and cackles in my ear. All.....day.....long.

Nothing went horribly wrong, but nothing went right either. Everything and everyone annoyed me and the only thing I wanted was silence. Which is impossible. Therefore I was just irritated all day. Lee finally asked me if I was mad at him (after asking me six times what was wrong and me saying "NOTHING, OKAY!") and I said no, not really, I was just . . . mad about everything. Then I listed everything that had me annoyed--to which I believe he was thinking "Why did I ask?"

Today, I felt better--especially when I realized I had 38 followers--almost double what I had when I started the contest last week :-) So thank you, to everyone that posted reviews and followed me and helped me get over myself.

So, on that note, I put all the names (multiplied by how many times you entered) into www.random.org and ran the list 4 times because I have four angelic children, even when I don't like them. The poor dears--to be vexed with such a mother as I, sigh.

I had 53 entries! That totally rocks, so thank you everyone.

Anyway, so ran the lists and the winner is . . .

Jenna! Which is particularly fitting because she's the kind of mom I wish I were, especially on days like yesturday. If you don't read her blog at www.cranberrycorner.blogspot.com, you should. You're life will be enriched by her perspectives on life and family.

Jenna, will you e-mail me your address off-list, I will then forward it to Julie who will sign the book and send it out to you.

Thanks again everyone who entered! Preciate it.

PS--English Trifle shipped to stores on FRIDAY--almost 2 weeks early! My Opening Night Party will be on July 30th at Reflections of Utah Bookstore at 47 S. Main in Brigham City 5:00-6:30. More info to follow.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

CONTEST!


I mentioned in my last post about the amazing people I have met during my writing journey--one of those people is the phenomenal Julie Wright who has enriched and blessed my life in ways too numerous to count. I am continually impressed with her optimism, compassion, work ethic, and just the plain ol' joy she finds in life. I have watched her work so hard for so many years and create amazing stories that blow my mind--one of which has JUST been released by Covenant Communications. AND, because she's awesome and because I love you guys, you get the chance to win a copy of her book, Eyes Like Mine.

I had the chance to do some editing on this book in the early stages of it's development, and it is AWESOME. I don't do many book giveaways on my blog, so that in and of itself ought to attest to how highly I think of this book. While it's categorized as YA (most you know how I feel about most YA) it's a GREAT book and worth the read no matter your age!

So, here's how you enter:

1) Become a follower of my blog and leave me a comment to tell me so. If you're already a follower, just put it in the comment trail and you're entered automatically.

2) Leave an online review for one of my books. Links to my books on DB's website can be found via my website www.josikilpack.com--just go to the book you want to leave a review for and click on the 'buy the book' icon. Once you've left the review, either e-mail me or leave a comment here on my blog so that you get entered into the contest.

You get an entry for becoming a follower as well as an additional entry for every review you leave (copy and paste the same review into multiple review websites--I don't mind!). Just be sure to tell me how you've entered.

AND, if you're interested in winning a copy of English Trifle, check out Julie's blog where she's running a similar contest. Double prizes, baby!

Contest will end on Sunday, July 12. I'll post the winner on Monday!

Monday, July 06, 2009

So, why Write?

From the post I put up here last week, one might think that my writing is sometimes like cooked spinach on my plate--why on earth would you eat that? Ever since that post (and thank you all for being so dang understanding :-) I've been thinking about the other side.

If it's SO much work and SO hard to do, why DO it at all? Here's why.

I am a daughter of a Heavenly Father that loves me, and one way that he has shown his love for me was to send me to earth with a wide array of little packages that through my life I get to open. One of those packages was presented to me about ten years ago in the form of bedrest, Lifetime Television for Women and Anita Stanfield. I was on bedrest with a pregnancy, I was battling depression induced by this circumstance and I was bored out of my mind. The next three months looked like a very long and dark road for me. But there was another road that worried me even more. As I'd grown up and had children I had been a bit worried to realize that I didn't feel 'filled up' the way I thought I would. It's not my kid's fault or my husband's fault, in fact I think most, if not all, mothers of young children feel this way at times. There is so much that needs doing, and we feel so incapable of being the one to do it all. I read a lot at that time--it was my escape and I cherished the opportunity to travel the world and live different lives for a few hours here and there. I think most, if not all, mothers of young children find similar escapes. If it's not reading, it might be sewing, if it's not sewing, it might be geneology, or crafts, or home decor, or welding. We need the reminder that we are someone. We are an idividual and while raising my kids would hands down be the most rewarding and important job I'd ever had--I was not sent to this earth JUST for them. THEIR plan was not MY plan. I still had to find a way to be me, and to enjoy who I was.

When I started writing in October of 1998 I unwrapped a gift that had lurked beneath the surface--sometimes way beneath the surface--for a long time. I started a journey I never imagined I would ever make and my life blossomed. Despite the hard parts of it, I was opened up to a whole world of possibilities I'd never even realized were there. And through my journey I have continue to unwrap many, many gifts I'd have never realized if I hadn't opened that first one. Here are a few:

1) Friendships. I have met some of the MOST amazing people through my writing. Between fans and fellow authors, I have been blessed with wonderful friendships with people that love and support me. This is something I didn't expect as an adult and, without my writing, I'm not sure I'd have ever realized it was possible to have such great friends, to have girls-nights out, and conference weekends where we stay up until 2:00 a.m. And my life would not be the same without these people in it. My writing invited many of these freinds into my life, without it, we'd have never met.

2)Assurance of my Father in Heaven's love. I know without a doubt that my writing is a gift from God because I could never have done it myself. I did not set out on this path, I found it and I believe it was God's will that I did so. When I struggle or succeed I feel the prodding of something bigger and much smarter than myself. I have written scenes that a wriggling-squirmy feeling has told me to delete. I have also had ideas fully land in my brain that ended up being powerful realizations--not only of the story I'm writing, but of the life I'm living. Second only to holding my newborn children in my arms and looking into the eyes of my husband, I know that writing was something I was sent here to do. That's a powerful knowledge to have in my heart and one I am so grateful for.

3) Example to others. This last winter a Friend came to me and shared an award she'd received at work--she said she pecifically told me about it because she knew I wouldn't be jealous and I would fully celebrate it with her. I knew success and I knew the joy of a job well done, therefore I could appreciate it in someone else. This was one of the best compliments I've ever received, and yet other people tell me how they started a book after reading mine, or felt better about taking time to pursue their hobbies after I told them how I try to make it all fit in. I LOVE that. It is inspiring to me to see other people doing those things, and to be one of those people for someone else? Wow. We really are all part of one big whole, each of us feeding off of and giving to one another. The more we develop ourselves the more we have to offer. It is a sense of purpose that is both exciting and humbling to be part of that for other people.

4) Example to my children. While they make sacrifices for my dreams, they also benefit from it. Because they see me working at something, they are not afraid to pursue their own talents and interests. I work hard to support them like they support me and it allows them a base of confidence when they start something new. Each of them have gone through an "I have to be a writer" phase because that's what they see, but they've all realized that just because writing is my thing, doesn't mean it will be theirs. But whatever THEIR thing is, they know that it will take work and energy and that I will cheer them to the very end. They have enjoyed every triumph with me and that has created bonding moments for all of us that will never be forgotten. I think my girls will be great mom's one day because they won't EXPECT their children to fill every nook and cranny of their head. They will feel okay with being who they are, and yet still fulfilling the roles they take on.

5) Public Speaking. When I was about 14 I went to a fireside and this lady talked about . . . something I don't remember, but she made us laugh. And I felt the spirit at the end of her talk and I had this thought "I want to do that someday" which I was immediately embarrassed about. Who was I to think I could stand in front of a group of people and tell them something important? As I grew up this thought would enter my head, and it always embarrassed me. It was so far out of my sphere and ability it was ridiculous. Well, low and behold, I do that. I'm not great and I get queasy when I stand up in front of a room--but I do it and I love it! I'm improving all the time and I like to think that one day I really will give to people what that woman gave to me. I always look over the audience and wonder if there's someone down there embarrassed by the thoughts that they might want to do that too. (See #3)

6) Faith. Faith is something that has never come easy for me, but as I look back on my journey of a writer I know that there is a plan for me, and that there are details that have lined up perfectly for me to arrive where I am. This allows me to look forward and have much more faith in where the journey might take me. I trust that God is out for my best interest--even when I rage at Him (which he always forgives me for). There is no remedy for panic except faith and I'm learning that more and more all the time. My writing has made the gospel much more real for me. I've delved into feelings and attitudes that are not my own, and yet which help me relate to other people better than I did before. I've learned so much about God through my playing 'God' with my characters and going through their trials of faith.

7) Being a partner. Because I am well aware of the sacrifices made by my husband on behalf of my writing, I am always looking for ways to pay him back. I do not have problems with my husband going out of town, or spending time with Friends. It would be hypocritical for me to call him on those things when he sacrifices so much for my interests. Because I know how important 'my stuff' is to me, I try to look for 'his stuff' that needs my support as well. I know many women in a constant tug-of-war with their husbands for time, attention, and equal responsibility. I can honestly say this isn't an issue in our house (well, most of the time :-) I still have my moments). I look for ways to support him so that when I'm on a deadline or am scheduling a weekend away, I don't have to justify it.

I truly believe we were all sent here with gifts. If we choose to open them and embrace them, we will have to find time for them, but they will bless our lives in many ways when we take the time and the effort to do so. Life is not easy, and sometimes our greatest blessings are also our greatest trials, and yet they are BLESSINGS all the same.

I am SO grateful for the amazing support that's been given to me on my journey and I sincerely hope I have the opportunity to return it in full measure to those around me. We ALL have these gifts, and they will help us fulfill our measure of creation--something all of us have. Writing has done that for me, and I will ever be grateful for it.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Will being an author cut Into time with my children?

I was recently asked by a fellow writer not yet published if a writing career was going to cut into her time with her children and family. She was very concerned with the effect her 'career' could have on her kids. She wanted reassurance. I'm not sure I gave it to her, but she caught me in a moment of painful honesty and that was with what I answered her. I thought I would include it here, not to discourage anyone, but simply to put into focus that while we all have our own 'plan' there are sacrifices to be made for all things we bring into our life and no one, NO ONE, gets out of that. I edited this a little bit for space and for relativity. If Writing isn't your thing, insert something else that fills your mind and heart, something you long for and yet fear at the same time. We all have them:

Yes. Writing will cut into your time with your children. It will cut into your time with your husband. It will cut into your housekeeping, gardening, exercise, reading, church callings, community responsibilities, family vacations, and at times your personal hygiene. Everything we do that is not right there next to our family takes us away from them. Sometimes it hurts. I have had times when I am blinking back tears as I drive to a presentation because I know my home and family are ‘undone’ yet I’ve made a commitment to whoever I’m presenting too and I can’t simply NOT do it. I’ve had times when my husband has told me I’m overdoing it and my focus is not where it needs to be. We have argued about it. My kids have said things like "You're always on the computer!" or "I don't want you to leave again?"

Sometimes I wish I’d never started because then I would have one less thing to worry about, one less piece to cut myself into. But when these moments come I remember that I was missing something before I started writing. I AM happier now than I was then, but simply being happy doesn't take the hardship away.

I have always been ambitious and busy and when I discovered writing all of that energy went into something that felt marvelous—sharing my thoughts within framework of characters and plots I grew to love was just . . . right. At the time it was so much fun that it was easy to fit in and enjoy every moment. It was a hobby. It isn't anymore. Since then it’s grown into a BIG thing in my life and it takes up a lot of room in my head, on my calendar, on my hard drive and in my house. I’ve chosen to make a place for it and I try to make wise decisions about how much space it can have, but it is there, it is always there. I’ve missed plays my kids are in, classroom parties, sporting events, and other significant moments because of obligations tied to my writing. I hate that, and yet writing is part of my reason for being here, I know it is. My kids are part of why I’m here as well, I know that too. They aren’t going to be in my home forever and writing might not be a part of my life forever either—there is no way to know what will happen next year or five years from now and so I try to do my best and enjoy both phases of my life as best I can. Right now I find myself at the top of my game, my books are doing better than ever and it thrills me to the core, but it also demands more of me and creates more stress in my life and that of my family. To stop now would be to lose what I've worked so hard for, and it's not an option. So I keep going, and I keep asking the Lord for help in finding balance, and I keep working on my mothering so that I don’t feel so guilty when I’m not physically present, and I schedule my presentations, and read writing books, and I brainstorm and edit and live in fear of the day when this might all be over. And I write.

Every day is a balance—sometimes my family is on the losing end of it. Sometimes my church calling is, or my husband, or my own peace of mind. But I love writing. I need it. And so I sacrifice for it with my eyes wide open, always looking at the scales to see if I’m off base, always watching for empty hours I can fill with words, and always praying that the Lord will let me know when I need to pull back.


He usually does, but that hurts too.

I can’t promise that adding a writing career won’t upset the balance in your home so much that you bleed. I also can’t promise that you will set such an example to your children that their lives will be forever blessed BECAUSE of your writing, not in spite of it. Every writer I know has to find the balance, has to make the choice to move forward, and then they have to commit to all of it—family, church, writing, and themselves. If you’re not ready, don’t do it. It is hard. If you’re ready, take a deep breath, get on your knees and pray for courage, faith and that you can keep your priorities straight.

Only you can decide if you're up to this, only you can add something this big to your life and find the balance. No one can do it for you, and no one should. Your life is your own journey, and no one carries your pack for you. Decide what you can carry, and then commit to do your best. I wish you luck.