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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Confession: Rejection Has Made Me Stronger

So, 2015 hasn’t gotten off to the best start for me. Since January 1st, life has punched me in the gut more than a few times. I won’t go into details, but things have been rough lately–emotionally and financially. And it seems every time I regain my balance, something else happens and I’m knocked down again.

Last week, during a conversation with my family, I threw my hands up in the air and declared, “That’s it! The only way I can handle the negative is by being positive.”

Right after I said that, it hit me: My writing and alllll the rejection that has come with it has made me a stronger person.

Yes, as strange as it sounds, rejection has strengthened me. Years and years of “No!” from agents, publishers, and readers has made me more determined, more resilient, and more optimistic.

How, you ask? Well, let me explain.

Big dreams take a lot of work, a lot of patience, and a lot of perseverance. Every day, you’re forced to find “the light at the end of the tunnel,” even when there isn’t one. When your tank runs out of gas, you have to keep trucking along. When you get knocked down, the only thing you can do is pick yourself back up and fight ten times harder.

And it’s that “never say die” attitude that has gradually seeped into the rest of my life: Family. Work. Relationships. Finances. Health. When the going gets tough, I get tougher. When things around me fall apart, I pull them back together. When every possible solution fails, I find another–or make one up and pray to God it works.

Honestly, if I hadn’t heard “No!” again and again during my long writing journey, I wouldn’t be who I am today, I’d crumble easier, I’d lose hope faster, and I’d constantly get bogged down in the past and refuse to look to the future.

So, let me reassure all of you who are feeling down and out because you’ve received yet another “Thanks, but no thanks” response to a query letter, or a bad review, or some other form of “No!”

It’s okay.

Really.

I know rejection hurts–a lot. But, I promise, it will make you stronger in the long run. Whether you’re aware of it or not, every “No!” will thicken your skin, fuel your determination, and teach you the fine art of optimism.

And, before you know it, those valuable traits will carry over into all aspects of your life.

…Especially those “punch in the gut” moments that drop you to your knees and try to keep you down. Thanks to rejection, you’ll have the strength to get back up and keep moving. Keep fighting. Keep hoping.

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