girl from the north country

Month: October, 2013

Enjoy the quiet moments when you can.

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“I said to myself, ‘This is my job now, I’m a writer, and that means I have to write regularly and not just when I feel like it, and I have to come up with projects.'”
– Emmanuel Carrère

In these weeks of adjusting to a new schedule and new expectations, it can feel a bit as if the world is spinning all around me. So much change happening all at once, even if it’s good change. So, on the days that I have felt overwhelmed or uncertain, I’m hanging on to words of wisdom and encouragement that I’ve received from colleagues and friends along the way.

This summer when I was in New York, I was able to meet with an editor from Dwell Magazine. We had a lovely chat over coffee, and one statement she made really stuck out: “If you aren’t writing all the time, it becomes this sort of precious activity. If you’re going to do journalism, you have to be able to push out articles quickly, and do it well.”

This goes with Carrère’s statement, that I must write regularly, even when I don’t feel like it. In that realm, I’ve been thinking a lot about work-life balance, and what that looks like when I’m doing freelance work — when any old room is my office and any hour in the day could be work-time. How do you balance  pushing out work to become a better, more efficient writer, with still living beyond work?

When I was in college, and taking on way more that I could possibly handle (as I am apt to do), a friend sent me an encouraging note, simply saying, “Enjoy the quiet moments when you can.” That statement was so unassuming, but it took me aback. It’s stuck with me, as it wasn’t something I took the time to do back then, and it’s something I come back to, remind myself regularly.

These two bits of advice are quite different, but something about them strikes the same chord in my heart. I think it comes back to the idea of balance. It’s an allowing of myself to work hard at my craft, to make sacrifices for what I love, to become extraordinary. And yet, it’s allowing myself moments to pause, to take a breath, to celebrate little achievements and make an ordinary day special. It’s a pouring out and a filling up, things rooted in the same place — a place of love, of passion, of necessity.

And I think that’s a bit of consistency to hold onto in a time of changing. There will always be a tendency for me to take on too much, and balance is required; there has to be a give and take. And it’s good. It’s good for each of us to take the time to figure out what that looks like in our own lives. It’s good to be bold and brave and forge down new paths, but it’s also good to pause, take in our surroundings, and find beauty in small, quiet moments.

I’m excited for this new season. Finally, it feels as if big things are happening, as if the horizon is opening up. And it will take a great deal of self-discipline, of long hours and tight deadlines, of coming up with projects and writing even when I don’t feel like it. But it’s so worth it, because I love it. Love, love, love it.

 

(I honestly have no idea where I got this photo. I’ve had it saved on my computer for years. I’m sure it’s from a blog, but I couldn’t tell you which one. Sorry Internet.)

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Where the brook and river meet.

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Well, my oh my, it has been quite a while! This summer was a bit of a whirlwind. What started as a Harry Potter-induced blogging break turned into a much longer hiatus than I ever intended. And now here we are, in the middle of fall (my favorite season), and my life is changing as quickly as the leaves on the trees! So, here’s a little catch-up on my life in the past several months before resuming (hopefully) regular posts! Highlights of the summer:

  • Reading the entire Harry Potter series. I had never read the books or watched the movies before, so this was my very first foray into the great world of Harry Potter. Long story short, my life will never be the same. I love, love, loved it. Basically, I got nothing productive done while I read through the series (hence the no blogging), but it was totally worth it. I’m in love.
  • I took a spur-of-the-moment, four-day trip to New York City the first week of July. It was such a nice getaway, and my Great Aunt and Uncle were kind enough to host me at their Upper West Side apartment. My days were filled with walking, museum visits, and one very incredible Broadway play, Lucky Guy. It was Nora Ephron’s last work before she died last summer, starring Tom Hanks as a NYC journalist. So if you know me, this was basically a tear-inducing dream come true. Such a lovely trip!
  • Two of my friends and I had an Anne of Green Gables tea party, full of straw hats, “raspberry cordial”, cucumber sandwiches, apple pie and the Lily Maid. It was my very favorite day of the summer. There’s nothing better than gathering with kindred spirits!
  • I went camping a couple of times and worked on perfecting my fire-making skills. Among my accomplishments was starting a fire, on my own, with nothing but warm coals from an earlier fire. Let me tell you, that offers quite a feeling of independence and accomplishment.
  • Finally, after a five-year quest, I found the best breakfast sandwich in the Twin Cities at Our Family Kitchen Diner. A South Minneapolis gem, this place makes a killer sausage, egg and cheese while being a in a perfectly charming building. Pure deliciousness.
  • I spent the summer meeting with editors, interviewing for a real, big-girl magazine job, and increasing my freelance writing workload. Some things panned out, others didn’t, but all of it made me a more confident writer and person.
  • On that note, last week I worked my last shift at Dunn Bros, and I am now officially a full-time freelance writer + editor! I have been building up freelance work on the side, and last month I decided to take the risk and pursue it full time! I’ll write more on my new ventures later!

So, it’s been quite a defining couple of months in my life. I’m learning so much, and I’m so excited to be able to dedicate more of my time to writing. No longer am I in the post-college, what am I doing with my life, phase. I’m taking defining, definitive steps toward what I want, and feeling more clarity on the direction I’d like to move. It’s scary and exciting and so fraught with possibilities! I’m looking forward to processing through all of that in this space, giving a glimpse at my journey. I’m so glad you’re here to join me!

Photo from my Instagram.