Back to Joy

I’ve been a dreamer and a make-believer as far back as I can remember.  Honestly, I always thought I was just a late bloomer, that my mental maturity developed at a slightly slower pace than my peers.  Then, during a talk with my mother shortly before my graduation from grad school, I told her how anxious I was about being a real adult and how I was afraid I was still so behind my friends in terms of “real world achievements.”  Instead of assuring me that I was completely normal and that I had nothing to worry about, however, she told me, “Well, maybe you’re just different.  You have always marched to your own tune.”

At first, I really wasn’t sure that was a compliment, though now that I’m older, I’m pretty sure it is.  I like being me.  I like the things that I do and the way I see the world.  Somewhere along the line, though, I’m afraid a vital part of me got lost.  Even though I’ve made it a priority ever since I was a teenager to hold on to the dreams and ideas that have always brought me so much joy over the years, I can feel the harsh demands of money and status and reality striving to pull them away.  Above all, the artistic soul craves freedom, and in a world where money and power are the Alpha and Omega, true freedom is hard to come by.

Like several new adults, I’ve let the idea that “I have to do this” and “I have to do that” in order to be successful get in my head.  Guess what?  It’s made me miserable.  That’s not how it’s supposed to work, is it?

I’ve never believed that there was only “one true path” to success or happiness, though I’ve met several people who begged to differ.  I’ve decided that I’m going to take the next few months to see if I can prove them wrong.  The new book (the title of which I will hopefully be able to reveal soon) will be out on July 1.  Along with editing, formatting, and working on new manuscripts, I’m going to try to get back to what it means to be joyful, to be confident, and to live each day the way I’m meant to live it.

To be honest, I don’t really want too much out of life.  I like being outside.  I like blue skies and green fields and forests and rivers and oceans.  I want a good book to read.  I want to get healthy, in mind and in body.  I want to do good and take pictures and write.  I honestly don’t care if anyone knows my name or if I get a fancy car or designer jewelry (though a lake house would be AWESOME).  Or maybe the truth is I want everything out of life, it just doesn’t seem like all that much by today’s standards.

Regardless, I’m going to try to make it all happen.  Wish me luck!

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All Photographs Copyright © Jacqueline E. Smith 2014

Feels Like Home

This entire week has been kind of strange.  Although I’ve gotten a lot done, I’ve also had a lot to worry about and I haven’t been feeling very good myself.  I’m very ready for it to be the weekend.

However, this afternoon, I stopped by my friend’s house to drop off a copy of the new manuscript (she has graciously volunteered to be one of my beta readers).  To my surprise, I saw several cars lined up outside her house, but they’re doing a bunch of construction around her neighborhood, so I didn’t think anything of it.

I know on the door, however, and she answers it to reveal a bunch of friends that I used to work with at my summer camp up at Texoma!  I was so thrilled!  I hadn’t seen several of them in so long!  I got to stay and visit with them for about an hour, and even though I hadn’t seen several of them since last summer, it was like no time had passed at all.

Over the years, Camp All Saints has become like a second home to me.  I began working there as a counselor in 2009, but I’d actually been there once before, in 2002, back when it was a Lutheran retreat.  No offense to the Lutherans, but I did not enjoy it at all back then.  We had to eat at an outdoor pavilion filled with wasps and the water in the fountains was yellow and disgusting.

Today, the camp is absolutely beautiful.  I didn’t even know our church’s diocese took it over until I received a flier in the mail about it.  I applied for a job there on a total whim and ended up working there for three summers.  I’m going to go back in May also for a labor of love weekend.  I honestly can’t wait.

I grew up in the suburbs, about a thirty minute drive from Downtown Dallas, so big cities have never been much of a thrill for me.  To be honest, I really don’t enjoy them all that much.  I’d much rather spend my time in a small southern town, outside, in the fresh air, on the lake, running barefoot through sprinklers.

Before camp starts each year, the small town of Locust throws a local fish fry.  It’s probably one of the most small town things you could ever hope to do.

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I also love hiking.  I need to find more friends who will hike with me.  Most of my friends are married and boring.

Just kidding, I love you guys.

Even if you are married and boring.

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The Texoma skies are incredible.

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And the wildlife is abundant.

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And then of course, there’s the camp itself.

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It was good luck to kiss the fish you caught, okay?

Finally, this is a picture of me and Kit Kat, my beta reader, at the fish fry.  Kat is seriously the sweetest person I’ve ever met and this June, she will be leaving for the Peace Corps for two years!  I don’t know what I’m going to do without her!  I guess I’ll just keep writing.

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I’m so grateful to have found a place like All Saints that will always feel like home to me no matter what, and to have made the friends that I did there.  Seeing them this afternoon was exactly what the doctor ordered!

In writing news, I started on the new book last night.  I swear, the hardest part of any book is the very first sentence.  Do any other authors feel that way or is that just me?

Feel free to sound off in the comment section!  Good night, all!

Is It Summer Yet?

Today was my favorite kind of winter day; the kind where I can run around town in shorts and a T-shirt.  

Real winter with snow and icicles and gray skies is great for about a month, and fall is great for about three months before that, but unless it is September 1 – December 26, I do not like the cold.  When asked that age old question, “Would you rather be hot or cold?” my answer is always “Hot.”  I’ve heard the “But you can always add layers” argument a million times, but the thing is, I can tolerate the heat.  I mean, yeah, I’ve been overheated to the point of dehydration before and it’s no fun at all, but I hate being cold so much more than anything that heat’s managed to do to me so far.  It’s probably because I grew up in Texas where a “chilly” day is like, 75 degrees.  

Last night, I was working on a sequel and I got write a scene I particularly enjoyed and actually longed to experience myself.  I’m not going to tell you about it since, you know, it’s a secret, but I can tell you it involved kayaking and I love kayaking and I wish it was summer so I could be outside all the time and hiking and kayaking and swimming.  That would also work a lot better if I wasn’t an adult with grown up responsibilities.  Oh well.  Hopefully someday, I’ll find a way around that.  

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In other news, the #Plague is still running rampant throughout my sister’s old high school.  Needless to say, I did not end up attending their show.  I hate it because I’ve been looking forward to seeing it for so long, but I just can’t risk it.  It’s all over the local news here how 676 students and dozens of staff members are sick with it.  Yeah, that is a big NO THANK YOU.  

Also, Cemetery Tours ended up selling TEN copies in the last few days!  Oh my goodness!  That might not be a lot for a mainstream author, but for an indie, it is HUGE and I thank you all so much!  It’s also up to twenty-two exceedingly positive reviews on Amazon, so I really can’t thank all of you enough.  85 people have either added it or marked it as “Too-Read” on GoodReads, so I’m hoping that in the next month, we can raise that number up to 100.  In the meantime, I will be working furiously on finishing the sequel and getting it out there.  I hope you all enjoy it as much as the first one!  

Thank you all again and have a great weekend.  

And stay healthy.    

Photography

Last night, my mom and I went out to eat at our favorite restaurant.  We got to talking with our waitress, who told us all about her love for photography and her aspirations to earn her Master’s Degree so that she may one day teach photography at a university.  I love meeting people like that who know what their dreams are and who believe in making those dreams their reality.  I like to think I’m like that, but sometimes I wonder if, even though I wrote my book and am trying my best to get it out there, maybe I not quite brave enough.  Some days, I think I’m doing the absolute best I can, but most days I think, “No… there’s a lot more you could be doing.”  I just need to figure out what those things are.

In the mean time, however, our discussion last night reminded me of my own love for photography, and how I enjoy nothing more than spending the day outside on a warm sunny day (not today) and taking pictures.  I know this blog is predominantly for my writing updates, but I thought that I could take a day to share my other passion with you.

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All images Copyright © Jacqueline E. Smith 2014.