A Better Question

Did I ever share this article with you guys? It’s important.

Instead of asking, “What do I want?” ask, “What is worth struggling for?”

I hope you’ll read this and share your thoughts.

It begins:

Everybody wants what feels good. Everyone wants to live a carefree, happy and easy life, to fall in love and have amazing sex and relationships, to look perfect and make money and be popular and well-respected and admired and a total baller to the point that people part like the Red Sea when you walk into the room.

Everyone would like that—it’s easy to like that.

If I ask you, “What do you want out of life?” and you say something like, “I want to be happy and have a great family and a job I like,” it’s so ubiquitous that it doesn’t even mean anything.

A more interesting question, a question that perhaps you’ve never considered before, is what pain do you want in your life? What are you willing to struggle for? Because that seems to be a greater determinant of how our lives turn out.

Click here to read the rest.

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Life Indeed

Honestly, I’ve been heartbroken since the election, and when I try to blog, anything I say feels a little trivial in comparison to what this country is facing. But I trust in a God who personifies love and grace, truth and justice. That is not lip service. That is not a platitude. I really do trust him, or at least I am trying.

And so, while I will continue to fight for the underdog, today I’m not going to write about the election. I need to hammer out a few posts while letting the outcry for justice stir in my heart before I figure out how to put it onto my blog. I’m not sure if that makes sense to anyone but me. Just know that it is never far from my thoughts, even if I do not write about it for a little while.

Instead, an update on my life (for you sweet readers who care enough to wonder!):

Salt Novel

I turned in my draft about two weeks ago. It feels so good to have it out of my hands for a little while. I know it’s not there yet, but it is improving the way drafts do: slowly, and then all at once.

(Okay, couldn’t resist the TFIOS jab there.)

Of course, it’s not like I can just “turn it off” after spending 10.5 months in that world. I am still thinking of my characters, and I’m especially working on brainstorming titles. Titles are HARD, y’all. Makes me feel for the poets and songwriters who have to title each piece and not just the collection.

What are some of your all-time favorite book, poem, or song titles?

Reading

Right now, I’m about halfway through Illusion by Martina Boone. It’s the third book of the Heirs of Watson Island trilogy. I’ve also started or am starting a few books of poetry: Yes Thorn by Amy Munson, who teaches at my university; Ultra-Cabin by Kimberly Lambright, a friend from undergrad; and The Rain in Portugal by Billy Collins, always a delight. I’ve purchased a small truckload of YA novels, but I still need to get myself back into reading mode after being in full-on writing mode.

How about you? What’s the best book you’ve read lately?

Winter

I’m never ready for it. Snowed in Minnesota this weekend, and it’s snowing now. My book event for tonight (up north) was cancelled (my choice), and I’m fighting those winter blues, where all I want is to be in bed.

Do you like winter? Tell me why. I need to hear positive thoughts about it.

Anniversary

On this day in 2013, I had my first conversation with my editor at Harper and first announced my book deal on my social media. And then promptly had my first panic/anxiety attack that wasn’t OCD-related. So I think back on this day with mixed feelings. But OH how I have grown in the last three years. So much growth, so much healing. It’s maybe ironic that this morning I reached out to my therapist, not even because I’m in a bad place. I just felt prompted to contact her last night while I was praying. We’re gonna meet up next month and chat. I’m delighted.

Hope you are all well! I’m hoping to post a lot more frequently in the coming weeks. I miss hearing from you. Drop me a comment please. It helps to know you’re still there.

Dear Diary

Dear Diary,

I love the writing rhythm I’m in right now. It feels good to sit down nearly every night and hammer through something. It’s been quite varied: some nights I will sweep through two chapters and others I will spend all evening on just 250 words. It all feels good. I am just now running into the part of my story that I have the least experience with; I am trying to tap into raw emotions over situations I’ve never been in. It’s intimidating, to say the least. But I keep rotating between my desk and my prayer journal.

I just binge-watched Stranger Things on Netflix and quite enjoyed it. (And I don’t even enjoy being scared … but I do love a good psychological thriller.)

Waiting for my copy of Melina Marchetta’s new book Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil to arrive. In the meantime, I re-read Saving Francesca and its companion novel The Piper’s Son. (P.S. Salt Novel, my current work-in-progress, was born out of The Piper’s Son + a “what if.”)

Jacob Wetterling’s remains were found on a farm in Paynesville, MN. His abduction hit way too close to home for those of us who grew up in central Minnesota, and this has been a question that people my age have had for most of our lives. I remember when he was abducted in 1989. I was seven years old, and St. Joseph, where he was taken, is only about 20 miles from where I lived. Paynesville, where he was found nearly 27 years later, is about the same distance. The man who led them to the body was living in Annandale, just 11 miles from my parents’ house. This case has changed both MN and national laws, and while it is a heartbreaking ending to this decades-long mystery, I hope it will somehow bring the family some closure.

I am sleeping much better (and with NO sleep aids)! The insomnia doctor I’ve been meeting with is the kindest, gentlest, sweetest man. I am so grateful for the way he has thoughtfully pursued answers to my long-standing issues with sleep.

Work has been insanely busy– due in part to the last-minute closing of another private school in Minnesota (we ended up with maybe 8 or so of their students transferring to UNW and registering late) and in part to the implementation of new software in my office. But I feel good. I feel like I’m doing some of my best recruiting I’ve done in years. I am overflowing with creative ideas. It’s like a dam burst.

I’m thinking ahead to next month– which includes OCD Awareness Week– and planning to meet with the OCD Twin Cities team to plan a special event for it. (Anyone have ideas?)

My parents’ dog had puppies! Five purebred German shepherds– four chubby dark-colored male pups and one little all-white girl pup. In all our batches of puppies over the years (to different dogs), we’ve never had a purebred white shepherd before!

puppies

Well, I’d better get back to the manuscript. It’s being fussy.

Love,
Jackie

P.S. What’s going on in your worlds? I always love to hear from you, friends.

 

 

Shattering Stigma as Book Advocates [Guest Post at It Starts at Midnight]

Today, I’m honored to be over on my lovely friend Shannon’s blog, talking about the power of book advocates to break the stigma of mental illness.

ShatteringStigmas-2-e1472245713311It begins:

My young adult novel Truest, which came out last year with HarperCollins, features a teenager with a depersonalization disorder that makes her question whether real life is actually real—or if she is just dreaming it all. To me, it’s a compelling concept, sparking thoughts around philosophy, reality, and the nature of existence, not to mention mental illness and depression. Although I’m not a doctor or psychologist, I still felt qualified to write this story. Why? Because I dealt with solipsism syndrome myself.

To read the rest, click here! Thanks for taking the extra time to hop over and read my thoughts.

 

 

5-Year Blogiversary

blog fiveMy blog turns five today!

Since I started this site, I have:

  • written and published a book
  • left management (which allowed me to write and publish a book)
  • written a manuscript (Salt Novel), set it aside, written another manuscript (Yes Novel), then set it aside for the earlier one
  • met and/or interacted with hundreds of brave people with OCD and other lovely people in advocacy
  • partnered with the International OCD Foundation
  • became the communications director for OCD Twin Cities, an IOCDF affiliate
  • recruited hundreds of students to my university
  • become a feminist
  • grown in my faith
  • bought a house and remodeled it
  • listened to the books in The Chronicles of Narnia at least 250 times (but probably more like 400-500) (and The Horse and His Boy makes up probably 33% of that, ha!)
  • successfully maintained my OCD remission
  • met and/or interacted with some incredible bloggers
  • had several incredible babies enter my life (i.e. my friends had kids!)

I’ve been so blessed by everyone who follows my site. Your support and comments and friendship mean the world to me! Here’s to year number six!

Humor me, folks: what accomplishment are you most proud of from the last five years?

Image credit: The Delicious Life

I’m an emotional tornado, but my mascara doesn’t run.

Hi friends! Hope you’ve all been well. Thought I’d offer a little update on my life, for those who are interested!

Salt Novel
I finished my synopsis. It’s a long, detailed, color-coded one.
Plotting is done. Brainstorming is done (for now). Research is (mostly) done.
Now I just need to pull all of this together into one smooth narrative.

 

Work
My best work buddies just left the university, and I’m spontaneously a mess. I have kinda been overly emotional my whole life. When I used to come home from summer camp, I’d cry and mope for a week. I start to tear up at random moments these days. I’m tempted to say that I’m pathetic, but I don’t think it’s pathetic to care about people.

Sleep
Going to the sleep psychologist this week. I’d love to be able to fall asleep at a regular time, sleep all night, and wake up well. Shouldn’t be THAT hard, right? Ha. Last “night” I was up till 6 am (I read a book, wide awake), then finally went to bed once it was light out. #sleepdisorder

Endorsements
So, I’ve sort of just believed that makeup is makeup is makeup and that people are foolish for paying an arm and a leg for fancy mascara when Cover Girl does the trick. But I was wrong. I’ve been using this Buxom mascara (Sephora, $20), and it’s UNREAL. I need to take pictures sometime to show you the difference. I also started using this Urban Decay makeup setting spray (Sephora, $30), and frankly, I’m shocked. I’m used to having my makeup sort of melt off my face throughout the work day. With this stuff, my makeup looks the same on my way home from work as it looked on my way to work– in fact, it looks the same even after dinner and writing and a nap. I’m a believer.

(If I can remember, I’ll take a picture of my makeup before and after the wedding/reception I’m going to tomorrow. I don’t know if anyone else cares about this at all, but my mind is blown. Ha!)

Weddings
Wedding season is most definitely upon us. So happy for Brittane and Ben and for Emily and Joe. ❤

Politics & My Voice
My gosh, does my big mouth ever get me into trouble on social media! I try to always approach social media carefully, never posting anything that I might be later ashamed of. That said, I’m not a particularly ashamed person, not about most things. I think I’m smart and my voice is important. So I’ve been contemplating whether or not I should write a blog post about how I’m going to vote in November and why. I’m not sure. Letting the idea percolate. Crazy how much politics stir people up. Wish everyone would get that stirred up about, say, mental illness stigma.

Reading
I’ve read so few books in the past couple of months. I hate it. I’ve been far too busy for my own good, and as an introvert, I kinda hate it. I really want to settle into new routines this fall. This will be my fourteenth year of recruiting. How did I get so old?

How are you? I’d love to hear!

 

 

 

When a Week Sets Out to Kill You

And throws goodies your way like:

  • A personal attack that goes for your weakest spots: mental illness and singleness.
  • No alone time for your highly introverted self.
  • A heat index of 115 degrees.
  • One million appointments at work … and you’re only one of two people in the office.
  • NO TIME TO WRITE.
  • Continued issues with sleep.

BUT YOU SURVIVE IT.

  • I do not have a fragile personality; God, my friends, and even I myself have been reminding me of this.
  • I can fake extroversion like a pro.
  • My office installed a ceiling fan in my office to supplement the window A/C unit; my home office is so chilly I’m wearing a sweatshirt! Win!
  • Hannah and I rocked this WILD afternoon in admissions alone!
  • I’m about to write now, even just for a little bit.
  • I napped for three hours after work today.

This week was hard. But I can do hard things.

I’ve done harder.

I like life.

This was a really busy– but ultimately really good– week for me.

Last week, I was (pre?) diagnosed with a sleep disorder– Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome, which sounds totally fake but isn’t. Basically, my circadian rhythm is off, which is why I stay awake so late (even with Ambien!) and then feel impossibly paralyzed in the mornings. I’m meeting with a specialized sleep psychologist next month, and in the meantime, I had blood work done to see if it’s safe for me to go back onto Risperdal. I took that tiny .5 mg (notice that is POINT-FIVE not FIVE mg) pill for eight years, and when I went off of it (maybe six months ago?), I’ve just gone haywire. I know that for most people, mornings are not fun. But, for me, they’ve been impossible. I don’t know how else to explain it.

My favorite kiddos came over on Saturday, and later I found a sweet note from the six year old. Allow me to translate: “Ava loves Jackie’s house.” Jak E with a backward J leaves you with cake. I like cake.

My editor was in the Twin Cities, so we hung out on Monday, brainstorming and discussing Salt Novel as well as writing and publishing in general and all the things we’ve been learning lately. It was wonderful! I left feeling energized to write and excited about my manuscript. Now to find more time …
The rest of the week consisted of therapy (yay), haircut (yay) and dye job (yay? see pics.), getting paid for the German translation of Truest (YAY), and ice cream with my bestie (major yay).

How about you? I can’t believe July is half over. Where is summer going? I’m ready for cooler temps (it’s been in the nineties in Minnesota and miserably humid, though the end of this week was better) but I’m not ready for the ruckus of fall recruitment quite yet.

Think of me as I sort out my sleep/novel/work/life.

Up/Down

Hey peeps, hope you had a lovely Independence Day weekend! I sure did. I was able to rest and read, plus I put in lots of hours of writing.

I’ve had a lot of UPs lately:

I feel good about my novel outline. I’ve been enjoying writing and doing it regularly. Work is going great. I actually had an amazing and productive day yesterday that reminded me how much I love my job. My friends are so lovely, and so is my family. I had a heart-to-heart with my daddy. My coworkers are so fun and smart and terrific. My fingernails are a pretty pink.

I’ve had a couple DOWNs too:

There is a mouse somewhere in my house who is smarter than my EIGHT traps. There was a storm last night in which my city got three inches of rain in 45 minutes, and some of the rain found its way into my basement. I was not exactly loving homeownership last night, but thankfully, my roomie knew what to do. I have at least one morning each week where I wake up in a depressive funk that is unexplainable except for brain chemistry.

But that’s life, right? I’m feeling good and grateful, and I feel full of ideas and drive (usually) and feel like a sponge with all that I am learning (book research FTW!). I have a long way to go toward my ultimate goals (writing/health/work/etc.), but I’m on the road.

Wave as I drive past!