Truth in Fiction Blog

Farewell to Facebook

Photo by Paul Skorupskas on Unsplash

I don’t know about you, dear friends, but this year hasn’t looked anything like I imagined it would on January one. Back then, I’d been optimistic and full of purpose, with the confident swagger of someone who knew where she was headed and how she was going to get there.

After months and months of hard work—turning struggles into strengths and inconsistent habits into persistent practices—I had a complete novel manuscript in my possession, along with a solid strategy for getting it published. For the first time in years, I had momentum on my side, and—embracing the memes about 20/20 vision—I had focus.

Yes, this was going to be my year. The year I found the clarity and courage I needed to let go of distractions and excuses and finally, FINALLY, experience tangible progress on some big goals.

But then came the great plot twist. The wrench in the plan, the unexpected obstacle on the highway. As if I’d been cruising along in a driver’s ed car, oblivious to the instructor’s presence until he slammed on the passenger-side brakes reminding me that I am not in control.

The jolt was a wakeup call, and in the midst of grieving what has seemed like an immeasurable number of losses, I have also begun to see this time as an opportunity for growth. A chance to reflect, reevaluate, and refocus. A gift through which my 2020 mission—to create space for stillness in order to hear God’s guidance—might become a reality.

With a suddenly cleared schedule and the unknown fate of the publishing industry at the forefront of my mind, I have found myself stuck in a holding pattern with some newly available empty hours. Although many times I’ve turned to mind-numbing activities in order to quiet the anxiety and fear and doubt, there have been moments—beautiful, blessed moments—when an immersion in silent prayer has produced an undeniable nudge to adjust my attention.

In all honestly, I don’t know yet exactly what that means or what it looks like, but in my heart, I feel that it starts with less time in the digital sphere and more in the physical realm. That said, after much deliberation, I have decided that this will be my last Facebook post.

With that in mind, I wanted to thank all of you for following my page, reading my posts, and just being an overall source of encouragement for the last couple of years. I truly believe I wouldn’t have made it to “The End” without your support and accountability, and more than that, I wouldn’t have made it to this new beginning (whatever it may be).

I’m not sure where my journey goes from here, but as long as I have something to write about, I will be keeping my blog active, so if you’re interested in continuing to read, be sure to sign up for my newsletter.

I wish you all health and happiness in the second half of this crazy year.

Peace and love,

Sandy

NowHere

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Have you ever noticed how a simple reimagining of the letters in a word can create a shift in its meaning? For example, the word nowhere. The definition as we know it is ‘not in, at, or to any place; not anywhere,’[i] and for weeks, many of us have felt its effects.

Nowhere to be. Nowhere to go. This forced nowhere has been stressful and inconvenient, but viewed differently, NoWhere can become an opportunity to be NowHere. Because although our choices of places to go and be are limited, we are all still somewhere and in fact, Here is where we are. Here is always where we are whether we are rushing around from place to place or stuck within the confines of our home.

But how many of us actually know how to exist in the realm of NowHere? When schedules get busy and calendars fill up, it’s easy for intention to get lost in the shuffle. We run on automatic, fueled by a drive to be, do, and have as much as possible until something out of the ordinary happens and snaps us out of our routine. An injury, an accident, a diagnosis, a pandemic.

It is in these instances of loss or change when we may wake up from our unconscious living, becoming fully aware of what and who is really important. But more often than not the effect is temporary, the altered perspective a mere bump in the road before we are off and running again.

The good news is we have the power. We can carry with us the wisdom gained from these experiences or we can slowly sink back into the monotony. We can grow and learn as a result or we can remain rooted in obstinacy. We can lament the NoWhere or we can celebrate the NowHere. What will you choose?


[i] Webster’s New World Dictionary, 2nd college ed., Simon and Schuster, New York 1982: 975.

Nowhere To Go

Photo by Nick Abrams on Unsplash

I’ve got nowhere to go and all day to get there.

I’ve heard my dad say these words many times in the years since his retirement—usually when I’m worried about inconveniencing him or taking up more of his time than I intended to—but never before have I actually related to them.

Although time itself is the same today as it was six weeks ago, it feels different somehow. Slower. Pre-pandemic this was a concept I couldn’t even grasp. I may not have had somewhere to go every day, but I always had plenty on my to-do list, along with a perpetually deficient number of hours in which to get it done. I was goal oriented, achievement focused, and if I’m being honest, completely exhausted.

Looking back, I can’t seem to pinpoint the purpose of all the busyness. I rushed and planned and hustled and called it progress. But what was I progressing toward? Prosperity? Success? Proof of my own worthiness? It all feels trivial in light of current events. Events that are so uncertain and uncomfortable that talk of returning to normal fills many people with anticipation, and understandably so. But if ‘back to normal’ means a reversion to the hectic and hurried, I’m not exactly chomping at the bit to get there.

Sure, there’s a part of me that wants and needs some things to become ordinary once again—like seeing loved ones in person and attending church and frequenting other favorite places—but there’s another, possibly larger part that wants to keep one foot cemented in that slowed-down, nowhere to go pace.

Maybe you can relate. Maybe that perspective is one of the greatest benefits of this strange time. One that can endure and change us if we allow it to. One that reminds us that the freedom to do anything, go anywhere, have anything, doesn’t mean we necessarily should.

If the thought of getting back to normal fills you with a sense of urgency, along with a simultaneous feeling of hesitation, I encourage you to pause before jumping in with both feet. Realize that the nowhere to go and all day to get there mentality isn’t reserved only for retirement. And take some time to reflect on what really matters, what’s necessary, and how much of the past you want to haul into the future.

Today’s To-Do List: Give Gratitude

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I’m a fan of to-do lists, of the sense of order and accomplishment they create. How simply jotting something down frees up memory space, along with the concern of forgetting to do it. My current planner is arranged nicely for this purpose, each day complete with two separate action lists: one for professional stuff and one for personal.

Just three short weeks ago that work list was extensive. It included things like daily gratitude (a practice that was, at the time, in its infancy), Facebook and Twitter post planning, brainstorming blog ideas and talking points for the next Write Way Wednesday video, and working on Book #2. More than all of that though, that list was alive with the promise of progress.

In my system, I use black checkmarks for completions, green dots for things I worked on but didn’t quite finish, and red dashes for the items I didn’t get to, those needing to be carried over to the next day. Looking at that Monday back in March I noticed there were more checkmarks than dots or dashes.

That day marked the start of the second week that my husband was working from home. The second week that we were encouraged to stay in as much as possible. As an introverted writer who already spends a great majority of her time at home, I was not prepared for how much this change would affect me.

I did not anticipate the roller-coastering emotions that would leave me weepy and lethargic and unproductive. I did not foresee the dwindling to-do list checkmarks or that some days my expectations for myself would be as low as my energy and the list would diminish to almost nothing.

But even on the days when my motivation wanes and my productivity withers, one thing has remained at the top of that to-do list: gratitude. And now that I’m four weeks into what has become a habitual practice, I realize how important it has been. How much I have depended on that small, daily dose of thankfulness to give me perspective, to uplift my spirit, to fuel my hope.

So if your energy is lacking, your patience worn thin, and you feel as if you can give nothing else of yourself today, I encourage you to give thanks. Find just one thing for which you are grateful and write it down, hold it close to your heart, and embrace it.

This may seem an impossible task during these relentless days of sameness, but it is the slowed down nature of life right now that is affording us the opportunity to notice more, appreciate more, and be more present. Though there is so much unknown and so much that is out of our control, what we do hold is the power to open our eyes, lift up our hands, and offer to God our greatest prayers of thanksgiving.

What are you grateful for today?

Saying The Right Thing

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Have you ever had a conversation with someone and immediately afterward you wondered if you’d said the right thing?

The right thing.

I’ve been thinking about that phrase for a while now, pondering its meaning. There are opinions about it everywhere. How-to articles for saying the right thing even when you don’t know what to say. Blog posts enumerating the right things to say in the case of death or divorce or despair. Books offering instruction for saying the right thing not just sometimes, but every time.

Can you imagine? Getting blindsided with bad news, yet being promptly prepared with the right words of comfort. Or having some helpful wisdom snap to the forefront of your mind at the very moment a friend reaches out for advice.

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure that’s ever happened to me. I’m not sure I’ve ever come up with the exact right thing to say at the exact moment I needed to say it. I mean, I’m a writer. Sometimes it takes me three, four, even a dozen or more tries to get the dialogue right in a scene.

But this is real life and unfortunately we don’t get to go back to edit and re-edit what we say, nor do we often have a lot of time to come up with it. In most situations we only get one shot. And sometimes I wonder if the pressure of needing to say precisely the right thing (or else risk ridicule or criticism) may lead to a lot of not saying anything at all, or worse yet, not showing up at all.

Because on the flip side of the right thing is, of course, the wrong thing. But maybe that is an illusion as well. A conclusion based solely on our own expectations and perceptions. A ruling that does not take into account the other person’s intentions. Their attempt to understand our experience, to offer the best guidance they can.

And shouldn’t that be what matters most? Response over rightness. Effort over exactitude. Presence over perfection. Maybe that’s all it really takes to always say the right thing.