What I’m Most Thankful For in 2016

I can’t believe Thanksgiving is already upon us! Where did the rest of 2016 go?

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Well, as this year draws to a close, it’s time to look back and think about all the things I’m thankful for. Compared to 2015, this year has been a great one. No, it wasn’t  perfect, but it definitely had more ups than downs. I gained a new nephew, I made significant process on my novel, I got a new job, I paid off my car and student loans, I met some amazing people…The list goes on and on. But, the things I’m most thankful for in 2016 are:

New Job

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I knew going into 2016 that at least one major change would occur: a new job. With no promise of tomorrow at my current one, it was time to move on…even though I really didn’t want to. I liked my job. No, it didn’t pay great, and no, it wasn’t close to home. But, I loved my co-workers, and I could call myself a writer by day and night. Unfortunately, the reality of my situation couldn’t be ignored. If I lost my job, I’d be in deep trouble. So, after a few months of frantic searching, an opportunity all but fell into my lap. Within a week, I had a job offer,  and after many tears and a severe case of denial, I accepted it.

Looking back now, I’m so, so, so grateful I was forced to leave my old job and accept my new one. Even though I no longer get to write during the day, I’m learning a lot, I’m making more, and I’m less than ten minutes from home. And I love–LOVE–the people I work with. It’s been a fantastic change and I’m so thankful God put me in the situation he did. If He hadn’t, I might never have had the motivation or nerve to leave my old job.

Family 

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Yes, they’re loud. And, yes, they’re a little crazy. But I absolutely love my family. Not only are they there for me during the good times, but also the bad. As kind as 2016 was to me, it still had its rough patches, and  I couldn’t have gotten through those moments (job change, heartbreak, bad days, failures, fender benders, etc.) without my family. They’re always there to pick me up, brush me off, and say, “Everything will be okay.” And they’re always there to make me laugh, especially my nephews and niece. There’s nothing that can bring a smile to your face faster than a child. The things they say, the hugs they give, the laughter they create–it’s magical.

I’m just so blessed and thankful to have so much support and love in my life, day in and day out.

Writing Group/Friends

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Writing is a lonely job.  But, it’s a lot less lonely when you find a tight-knit group of writers to share the experience with. And I found that with an online writer’s group a few years ago.

Now, when you think online, you don’t think it’s going to be very helpful or personal. But, this group is exactly that. Not only have they made me a better writer, but they’ve been there for me during the high and low points in my life. In fact, I’d consider many people in the group some of my closest friends. We talk every day, we offer each other constant support and encouragement, and we laugh, cry, and vent together.

I’m so thankful for these amazing friendships (and the ceaseless support for my writing).

Health

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In early 2016, I had a slight–SLIGHT–health scare. It thankfully turned out to be nothing, but the fact that it could’ve been something made me stop and think how lucky I am to be healthy. To wake up every day free of aches and pains (well, mostly), to exercise as much as I want, and to move about my day with ease. And, most importantly, to not suffer–mentally or physically. So, I’m very–VERY–thankful God has blessed me with a healthy body, mind, and spirit.

Faith 

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Above all else, I’m thankful to my Lord and Savior. I know not everyone reading this is a believer, but I am. And, I must say, He’s the one I turned to the most during 2016. When I refused to believe I had to get a new job, He pushed me into getting one. When I couldn’t tell my family everything because I didn’t want to worry them, I told Him. When I feared I might be sick, He kept me calm and sane. I could not walk through life without Jesus Christ by my side, even if I sometimes ignore Him because life gets busy or I lose sight of what’s truly important in life (oops).

So, that’s my list for 2016! It’s a bit more serious than usual, but this was a semi-serious year. A good year, yes, but one loaded with significance. How about you? What are you most thankful for in 2016?

Happy Thanksgiving to all those who celebrate it. Be safe, eat lots, and take a moment to consider what you’re most thankful for.

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P.S. I’m also thankful for Gilmore Girls and the show’s decision to do a revival. I’ll be hunkered down the day after Thanksgiving with some friends to watch all four episodes. Eeks!

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Photo credits: giphy 

 

Friday Funny with Mad Editing and a Merry Christmas

Since today will be my last Friday Funny until after the New Year, I thought I’d have fun by kicking things off with some dancing from one of my favorite Christmas movies, White Christmas.

Are you getting into the holiday spirit and shaking that booty? Come on, you know you want to…at least a little. 

Hey, if Bing Crosby can do it, so can you! 😉

Anyway, as I mentioned, today will be my last Friday Funny for the next few weeks. With the holiday hoopla revving up, a two week vacation quickly approaching, and a mad dash to the finish line of my third draft, I need to take an itty bitty break from my blog. But don’t worry. I’ve decided to run a small feature while I’m gone:

My Top 10 2014 Posts.

IMG_4120Basically, I’ll be re-sharing my most popular posts from the past year (based on the number of views).

So, if you think about it, I won’t really be gone.

Glancing at my stats page now, I see my most popular posts include stories I’ve written, helpful articles I’ve found for Twitter Treasure Thursday, and some articles I wrote myself. So, you’ll get a little taste of everything.

I also have a dear friend who might do a guest post while I’m gone, so stay tuned for that special treat!

As far as life has gone the past couple of weeks…

Yeah, things have been on the frustrating side. I really can’t explain why other than I’m hitting a wall and simply need a break. You know, a vacation. A real one. Like, on a beach somewhere with nothing to worry about but getting a sunburn by accident…

Of course, there is no beach vacation planned, and taking a break right now is impossible. If anything, I need to work harder. My January 1st deadline is rapidly approaching and I’m only one third of the way through editing my novel.

Okay, I’ll admit it. At this point, it’s going to take a Christmas miracle for me to finish my third draft by January 1st. A combination of fatigue and diligence has slowed my progress way down.

However, I’m determined to finish it by January 16th, which is when the first round of the Short Story Challenge 2015 kicks off. I just need to stay positive and focused.

Luckily, I’m taking a week off of work starting on the 23rd, and besides celebrating Christmas and a few other holiday events, I have nothing planned, so I should have plenty of time to dedicate to finishing my third draft.

Don’t worry. Life hasn’t been all work and no play for me. A couple of weeks ago, my family and I took my nephews up to The Polar Express event at the Colorado Railroad Museum. To say it was magical would be an understatement.

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1604978_10101899434799423_3646238437629819534_nWe boarded a train with our tickets, had hot chocolate served to us by dancing waiters, and listened to The Polar Express read aloud. Then we disembarked and walked over to watch the actual Polar Express train arrive.

I don’t know how it happened, but as we watched the train chug along the track towards us with its steam billowing, it began to snow. Soft, perfect little flakes that hadn’t been in the forecast but decided to fall anyway in that moment. It made the entire experience surreal and unforgettable.

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My nephews aboard the Polar Express

10440778_10101899435468083_6522615166308918613_n-1As we rode the train, we were entertained with various reenactments from the story, as well as a visit from Santa who gave my nephews a sleigh bell. We even had our tickets punched by the conductor with the letter “B” for “Believe”.

10389674_10101916656437123_5972138565947193689_nThe entire event was amazing and will likely go down as the main highlight of this holiday season for me.

Well, time to wrap things up and get back to working on my manuscript! I searched and searched for a writing funny based on the holidays, but I couldn’t find one 😦 But here are some that will still hopefully give you a chuckle. Enjoy!

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f917926d7f239d09a7b19d9486d6090bI wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Be safe, have fun, and try to relax more than me 😉

Jen’s Roundup

In case you missed my last few posts, here you go!

Music Monday – Superheroes – The Script

My First Writing Conference – Top 10 Things I Learned

Music Monday – Bad Moon Rising – Creedence Clearwater Revival

What I’m Thankful For

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Photo credits: 

1, 2, 3, 45, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

What I’m Thankful For

Of course I’m going to celebrate Thanksgiving with a little dance. What else would you expect?

Well, since it is Thanksgiving week here in the States, and since so many of us will be taking a few days off, I wanted to do a special post before I sail off into Crazyville.

And, trust me, things will get crazy. Mostly because of my family.

They’re total nut jobs.

And LOUD!

I usually end up at the dinner table doing this:

…Or trying to yell over everyone else, because my story is the funniest one of all–ha!

But, you know what? As wacky as my family is, I’m so thankful to have them in my life. For better or worse, they’re always there for me, and they always understand my slightly eccentric ways and passion for writing. Well, most of them do. My grandpa would rather see me married off and giving him grandbabies than pursuing my dreams.

…Yeah, I basically handle that situation like this:

Okay, okay. I don’t spray mace in his face. I tend to take the less sinister road of grinning and bearing–and perhaps cracking a joke to distract him. But, in my head, I go all Black Widow on his grumpy butt 😉

Besides my family, there are many things I’m thankful for. Actually, there are so many, I can’t list them all here without risking putting you in a coma. So, I’ll just list the ones that come first to mind!

Faith

I don’t talk about this much here on my blog, but I am a girl of faith, and I do claim Jesus Christ as my savior. Without Him, I wouldn’t get through most days, especially on the writing front. Let’s face it, being a writer isn’t always the easiest thing. There’s constant rejection, criticism, and naysayers to deal with. If it wasn’t for my faith, I don’t think I could bear the negative burdens.

My favorite verse is from Mark 4:40: Why are you so afraid? Have you no faith? Whenever my fears, anxiety, and/or doubt becomes too much, I quietly repeat those words and immediately feel stronger, lighter, and calmer.

Nephews and Niece

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I know I’ve already mentioned family, but I’m specifically thankful for these four goobers. They claim a large chunk of my heart, and I can’t bear to think of life without them. Their smiles, laughter, imaginations, hugs, kisses, silliness, and wonderfulness light up my world. Even on the darkest days, they have the power to make everything better.

Thank you Dane, Harley, Cy, and Rees for bringing such joy to my life. I love you with all of my being.

The Internet

I know, I know. General and laughable. But think about it! What would we do without the internet? No more information at the tips of our fingers. No more easy access to friends and family. No more opportunities to meet new friends. No more blogging. The internet has opened the world in an amazing way, and I’m so grateful for the way it has opened mine.

You!
I know you’re probably thinking, “Well, she has to say that cause she’s writing this on her blog.” Wrong! This blog and those who follow it have made a huge impact on my life. In fact, last August I wrote an entire post about it. The words I said back then remain true today. So, thank you for being you, for supporting me, and for letting me ramble on and on…and on… 😉

Chocolate

Need I say more?

 Writing and Passion

Besides friends and family, writing is my heart, my dream, my everything. And I’m so thankful to have that kind of passion in my life. There are many people in the world who never figure out the answer to the eternal question: “What do you want to do with your life?” Well, I know what I want, and I’m so grateful to have that type of clarity.

Coffee

Again, duh!

Okay, I’ll stop there. It’s frightening how many more things I could list that I’m thankful for: Friendships, watermelon gum, the Colorado mountains, my 9-5 job, books, breakfast, music, health, lip balm, the roof over my head, The Mindy Project, clean water…Sheesh. Amazing how many things you realize you’re thankful for when you stop to think about them. I encourage you to do the same, and not just this Thanksgiving, but on a daily basis.

Anyway, have a happy, blessed, and safe Thanksgiving! Be sure to eat lots of turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. And, my personal favorite, stuffing.

P.S. To those who must deal with pesky, nosy, obnoxious relatives this week…

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Photo credits:

http://www.mtv.com/news/1964584/friends-netflix/ 

http://www.crushable.com/2014/01/09/entertainment/sofia-vergara-jimmy-kimmy-mean-internet-comments-video/

http://included.co/5-reasons-why-coworking-beats-coffee-shops-for-getting-work-done/

http://www.tonpetitlook.com/en/2014/07/08/healthy-crustless-quiche

http://streets-of-monte-carlo.tumblr.com/

http://www.insideoverneath.com/2014/06/rest-in-company-of-love.html 

http://pentharis.tumblr.com/post/34547566915/baaaaaaaaaaaaaaatman-visitingfan 

http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/being-nice/images/9073064/title/group-hugs-photo 

http://ilovereadingandwriting.tumblr.com/

http://hellogiggles.com/running-out-of-chocolate  

https://sarahmarieh.wordpress.com/tag/lorelai-gilmore-coffee/  

http://weknowmemes.com/2011/12/emma-stone-yum-gif/ 

http://memeguy.com/photo/49031/mrw-my-computer-freezes-up-and-starts-making-loud-noises

Friday Funny with Some Hocus Pocus, Frozen, and Writing

…And now you’re mine.

Whahahaha

Okay, okay, not really. I only hope I can keep you entranced past this sentence 😉  I’ll start off this Friday by saying happy Halloween! I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for this holiday. I know a lot of people aren’t, and many of you out there feel like this:

But I feel like this:

Halloween is one of the only reasons I embrace the autumn and cooler weather here in Colorado. I just love everything about it: Scary movies. Candy. Spooky decorations. Candy. Silly costumes. Candy. Apple cider. Candy… 😉

I don’t have any special plans tonight except to watch some scary movies and eat–er, I mean, hand out candy to the neighbors. I did most of my official celebrating last weekend at my family’s Disney themed Halloween party. Despite its modern twist, my Frozen costume worked well enough that most of the kids kept calling me “Elsa”.

10711080_10101848208068203_3581436476091146286_nYes, those are official Frozen pants. If you look at my knee, you’ll see Elsa performing her icy magic.

10686824_10101848207364613_8328769457753683577_nMe with Olaf (aka, my nephew). He wouldn’t let me out of his sight all evening. “Elsa, where are you going?”… “Elsa, take a picture!”… “Elsa! Elsa! Elsa!” It was adorable and funny.

As for writing this week, I’ve continued to chug along with my manuscript. I’m just a few chapters away from finishing my second draft, and if I maintain my focus, I should have it done by early next week *fingers crossed*

I’m actually proud of myself this week. I sucked it up and said “no” to anyone who asked me to do stuff. “Jenna, do you want to come over for dinner?” No! “Hey, can babysit?” No! “Do you have time to–?” No, no, no! I didn’t even take the time to clean my house or buy groceries. I woke up this morning and realized I was out of food and my house was…Well…

Oh well. Tis the life of a writer, right? It’s not always orderly, pretty, or necessarily comfortable.

Are you tired of the Hocus Pocus gifs yet?

Well, fine. Be that way. I’ll end things here. I should anyway. My manuscript is starting to yell at me to get to work on it.

Okay, okay. That was the last one. Promise!

In honor of Halloween, as well as my enjoyable, but slightly uncomfortable journey with my manuscript this week, here are today’s Friday Funnies. Enjoy!

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25cc46c9773464db4d516275cdacd2ceHow was your week? Anyone have any fun plans for Halloween? What/who are you dressing up as?

P.S. Good luck to all who are starting NaNoWriMo this weekend! I know you’ll rock it.

Jen’s Weekly Roundup

In case you missed my posts from earlier this week, here you go!

Music Monday – Tomorrow Belongs To Me – Cabaret

Jen’s Top 10 NaNoWriMo Tips

The Last, Definitive Word On Word Count

Photo credits:

http://www.comments20.com/category/occasional-graphics/halloween-graphics/page/4/

http://www.buzzfeed.com/lorynbrantz/18-insanely-clever-pop-culture-stencils

http://www.buzzfeed.com/samimain/witches-be-crazy

https://www.tumblr.com/search/movie+flyer

http://mashable.com/2014/10/22/hocus-pocus-cult-classic/

http://www.bookaddictsguide.com/2014/10/20/fortnight-fright-2014-hocus-pocus-morgan-words/

https://www.facebook.com/Writers.Write.Company/photos/a.821983757828947.1073741831.175634409130555/920050231355632/?type=1&theater

https://www.facebook.com/A.WritersStudio/photos/a.583569911653638.1073741826.583384065005556/881224548554838/?type=1&theater

http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/gallery/#/i/321896/

Happy Thanksgiving. This year, I’m most thankful to you

The clock is counting down to the start of my Thanksgiving holiday. Phew! I’m so excited to kick back and relax for a few days. My plans are basically the same as most here in the states: Gorge upon turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. Be lazy. Spend time with family and friends. Be lazy. Pull out my Christmas decorations. Be lazy. Go shopping. Be lazy…Sensing a trend? 😉

Thanksgiving is always a great time to stop and reflect upon what you’re most thankful for. Personally, I’m thankful for: God, my family, books, my typing fingers, laughter and chocolate. This year, I’m particularly thankful for this blog and the new friends and community I’ve discovered with it. A few months ago, I’d hit an all time low with my writing and I began to fear I’d never get anywhere with it. I was alone, lost, and in general, feeling like a humongous failure. But thanks to you guys, that has all changed. My writing and attitude have transformed, and I’m feeling like I’m finally on the right path. I’ll never be able to express how grateful I am for to you and your positive comments and ongoing support. I wouldn’t be in this happy place without you. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Now, let’s go eat some turkey (and, my favorite, stuffing…yum!). If you wanna see what it’ll be like at my house, just watch this:

Happy Thanksgiving!

A toast to October, a month of thrills and chills

In my opinion, October is the best month of the year! It’s the month of red and purple and golden leaves; horror books and candy and pumpkins; spiced candles and costumes and caramel apples; scary movies and candy corn and…Okay, okay, I’ll stop. But, you get the picture, right? October rocks!  Orange sunrises and all! 

IMG_9292As you read on Monday, I had a fantastic writing weekend. I hardly took a break from my manuscript, producing over 10,000 words. However, not even my hyped up motivation or super-energized taping fingers could put a kibosh on my plans to decorate my house for Halloween. 

On Saturday morning, I climbed down into my crawl space to pull out the bins full of witches and cobwebs and BEWARE! signs. After rescuing these bins from Hell’s lair–I swear there’s a fanged beast down there, lurking in the shadows, watching and waiting to STRIKE!…Or, worse, a big fat spider dangling over my head or racing over to crawl down my shirt–shudder–I threw in a horror movie, lit my apple spiced candle and started draping my home in gloom and doom.

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IMG_9297Okay, my decor isn’t that gloomy or doomy. But, come on, I live alone and going to bed in a haunted mansion seems rather foolhardy. The last thing I need is to scare myself to death by walking into a hanging zombie or a leering ghoul in the middle of the night. 

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I raise my glass to you, October! Here’s to another golden month of thrills and chills…and, inevitably, lots and lots of chocolate 😉 (clink, clink).