Catching Up

I’ve been blogging again over at The Campbell Chronicles, trying to recap the last few months of 2013. You can catch up with all our family news over there. I will link to individual posts below as I get them up.

Eventually, I’d like to start writing here again, but I’m not sure when that will happen. I think it’s safe to say that the Writing Project 365 was a total bust. But I did enjoy writing again, doing something just for me. I should probably rename this blog at some point, though, since I doubt I’ll try to write daily, at least for awhile.

Two Weeks Later

I’m back. I think. Honestly, I suppose only time will tell.

The last two weeks have been busy. We had a field trip with our homeschool group. Alex had a school festival. We had overnight guests for nearly a week and spent several days taking them to see the sights. We had a group of folks from church over for dinner one night. We had Date Night. We went to my niece’s birthday party. In addition to all that, we have been continuing with our Spanish studies. We committed the months of April and May to focus on formal study (3 hours per day, 4 days per week) because once summer hits with all the short-term groups coming, we will not be able to devote as much time to that. And I have been focused on research curriculum and planning for our next year of homeschooling, so much of my computer time in the evenings has been given over to that, leaving me little in the way of time or functioning brain cells for writing.

This blog is never far from my thoughts, though. I “think” things to write all the time. If only there was a way to actually translate that thinking into a blog post while I was thinking it! On the other hand, maybe that wouldn’t be very pretty! Writing helps me take my muddled thoughts, organize them, and then present them in a way that is (hopefully) clear and understandable to others. And in the process, I come to a better understanding of myself as well.

Taking the Stay Awake Challenge

When I first started this little experiment a month ago, I really wasn’t sure the direction it would take. I didn’t want to assign myself a topic to write about for the entire year because I thought that would be too restrictive. I didn’t want to follow a series of writing prompts for the same reason. I wanted the freedom to follow my heart in choosing what to write about each day, and while I enjoy that freedom for the most part, there are also days when I sit down to write and have no idea what I’m going to write about.

But a few weeks ago, I discovered the Stay Awake Challenge on Awesomely Awake, one of the blogs I read. You can go read all the details about the challenge here and join in if you would like. Basically, it is a once-a-week thing. (I can do a prompt once a week… that still leaves six days for free-writing.) Each week, a writing prompt is posted along with some photography tips and suggestions. (Cool! Combines two things I want to get better at this year!) But beyond that, I love the whole idea of the challenge, which is to be mindful, to be present, in short to stay awake!

I have been ruminating a lot on the concept of choosing a word or a theme for my life for the year. There is a website, My One Word, and even a book by the same name, which detail the process of choosing your word and then living it for the year. I am intrigued. Since I have foregone New Year’s resolutions for several years now, this seems a viable alternative that would still give my life focus and direction.

And I already know what I want my word to be for 2013: Be Present (Yes, I know, it’s really two words. Get over it.)

I spend a lot of time either feeling sad and regretful and guilty about the past or worried and fearful about the future. I feel like I’m missing a lot of my life right now because I’m not fully present in it. It’s like living underwater. I look at my kids and I think, I want to be here for them, I want to enjoy them right now, at whatever both-frustrating-and-delightful stage they happen to be in. I don’t want to look back when they’re 18 and realize, I missed it. I missed it all because I wasn’t fully present in the days as they were happening. I want to wake up and really experience my life, the joy and the pain together, because I think I’m starting to realize that you can’t anesthetize yourself against the one and still expect to feel the other.

So. Be Present. My word (okay, two) for 2013. And it fits pretty well with the Stay Awake Challenge, which is one reason I decided to give it a go. Since I’m a little late to the party, I’ll be using the next few days to catch up.

Journaling (written Jan. 15)

We have spent the last three nights away from home, from computers, Internet, and technology. I knew I wouldn’t be able to post to the blog, so I took my journal with me and wrote in it each night while we were away. This is the first entry, written Jan. 15 in the city of Ibarra, where we stayed the night on our way to Kumanii.

I am trying to write a little each day, but I am doing it on a blog, “Laura’s Writing Project 365.” Still, when I’m away from my computer or there’s no Internet access, I need a way to still get in my daily practice, so I turned to my journal. My sadly neglected journal. It has been 15 months since I last wrote here. So much has happened. So much has changed. So much water under the bridge. (Note: 15 months ago, when I last wrote in my journal, our family was visiting Spain with my parents (we were still living in Portugal), and Benjamin was only 1 month old.)

I used to be such an avid journaler, used to pour out my heart on lined pages at least once a week. But over the last decade, it’s really fallen by the wayside. I still “write” — in my 10-year journal, in my prayer/gratitude journal, on our family blog. But I’m not “writing my heart” in any of those places.

Honestly, I think the practice of writing my heart has must become too difficult in recent years. Too many conflicting feelings, too many raw emotions. Writing used to help me sort all those out, but these days, it’s almost like they’ve become too complex to deal with through the time-consuming process of writing. Or maybe, I’ve just become more busy and less patient. Easier just to push them to the back burner, to never really deal with them, and all the while they simmer, barely beneath the surface of the “me” I present to the world.

Not the healthiest thing, I realize. I think that is part of what I am trying to redeem through the practice of daily writing.

New Year. New Blog.

The new year is a time for goal-setting and resolutions. The idea for this new blog has been percolating in my mind for some time now, and the New Year seemed like the perfect time to begin. It’s true I already blog at The Campbell Chronicles, so why the need for this second blog?

I have increasingly felt a little stifled when it comes to writing on our family blog. It certainly serves its purpose. It keeps us connected to family and friends all over the world, and now that we are on the mission field, it serves as a window into our world for our supporters and churches back in the U.S. On a personal level, it serves as a sort of online family scrapbook, a record of the places we’ve been and the things we’ve done. But, as I alluded to in this recent post, I often find myself engaged in an internal censoring process when I write because you just never know who will be reading!

It’s true that the same holds true for this space — I don’t really know who (if anyone) will be reading! But I don’t come here as a missionary to report on our work, or even a proud mama to post pictures of her kids. I just come here as a person with doubts and fears, longings and dreams, opinions and ideas. Don’t come expecting to find someone who has it all together — I most definitely don’t! This blog will give you a glimpse of life as I see and experience it… the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly.

What I want most of all when I write here is to be real. To write unmasked. Vulnerably. This is something I feel like I haven’t been able to do for a long time now. But I’m ready to try. I want to try.

I really hope I’m up to this challenge!