2014 Reflections and 2015 Prognostications

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I don’t know about most of you, but for me 2014 was a real mixed bag. There were some amazing things: pulling off the ANWA Conference in February, the birth of my sixth (and last) child in August, the baptism of my oldest son, and the publication of my first novel in October. I also discovered Mexican hot chocolate, The Pioneer Woman (and thus the concept of adding cream to nearly everything), and Pinterest.

There were hard things, too. Some of it very personal, some ephemeral in nature, and some that is just par for the course when you have a romp (a large group of otters)of children under the age 8. I’ve developed severe reactions to certain social situations. I have panic attacks (less so now that medications and essential oils are on board). I feel like the Lord has spent 2014 trying to teach me about humility and compassion for individual people. I’m not sure how effective it’s been, but I do feel changed.

I’m just not sure it’s for the better. My New Year’s tweets from last year were all about making it through by the skin of my teeth and being ready for something lighter in 2014. I really hope God got a good laugh out of those because this year has just been hard. Even the good stuff was taxing. And now that I am looking into 2015, I feel like I am peeking around the cracked open door, more than a little trepidatious of what lies in store. If what lies ahead isn’t healing and warm and fuzzy in nature, I’m not sure I’m ready. I need a year of comfort, a year that convinces me I am in the right place and safe, again.

I am choosing to take the rain (it’s raining here in AZ) as an omen. See, in the desert rain is hope. Rain is the promise that tomorrow we won’t wither away, and that the place we have put our roots will nourish us a little longer. Rain is life here. I have also had more than one encounter this year with hummingbirds. Most of you will shrug and say, “So?” For me and my family hummingbirds are also a sign of hope. They are a sign that we are watched over and loved from above. They signify that we are not alone in our journeyings and that heaven is aware of us. Moving to a home with a hummingbird feeder and the flowering plants that attract them in AZ was not coincidental. It was part of a decision to draw closer to the Spirit. And I know this year will see me filling my cup with that which is, “lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy.” –LDS Articles of Faith 1:13.

So as far as 2015 goes, I think in some respects it’s going to get harder. I will be out and about in the world (at least a few times) selling my book and me as an author. I will be diving into the task of writing the next book in the series, The Ideal Apprentice, as well as a middle grade piece I am working on. I still have kids to raise and a house to clean. I have a husband who has taken just as large a hit over this year as I did, and could use a little T.L.C. But I am confident that somethings will get easier, and that I will find ways to sustain myself so that this coming year leaves me feeling full and ready for 2016.

I hope your goals leave you feeling optimistic, as well. Happy New Year, everyone!!

Literary Advent Update

So, this week wasn’t much better than the last. We made it through Max Lucida’s The Crippled Lamb and another, more traditional version of The 12 Days of Christmas illustrated by Laurel Long (it’s so gorgeous, I could just look at it forever), and then last night my mom read them a story that I haven’t read in years, but is one of my childhood favorites, The Ox Cart Man by Donald Hall. So much in there about work and family and love. It’s got layers. This week I am determined that there will be a story every night, but the fact that I have Piano Guys tickets for Tuesday might hamstring that. We shall see.

Anika Goes to the Movies: An introduction

I like movies. I particularly like the theater going experience. And despite having been a theater manager for a while, and thus retaining some post-traumatic stress associated with the smell of movie popcorn, I still prefer to see a good movie on the big screen. The emphasis on “good.” Just maybe not the way one might think.

The more I see of what Hollywood is offering up the more I feel like, “meh.” Especially this time of year when the posters on the cinema walls are full of blood and gore and fear. It’s not that I’m a total Puritan. I don’t feel indignation that there would be films with graphic content in the world. Mostly, they just make me roll my eyes, as they tend to be a filler for things like plot and character development. I did my stint of graphic content in late high school and college thinking that I was being rebellious and worldly. It just holds no sway for me anymore. Moreover, having lived a portion of my life where I viewed that kind of stuff, and contrasting it to the content I prefer now, I have no desire to go back. It wasn’t all that fun. The thrills were cheap, when the creepiness or the salaciousness lasted it made the whole world feel like a dark, scary place, and I was never a better person for having seen what I saw. So when I say I like good movies, I don’t just mean well made movies. I mean film that brings goodness into the world. That doesn’t mean it’s all flowers and sunshine around here. Titles like The Book Thief, Amazing Grace, and The Monuments Men come to mind. Good movies. Good messages. Sometimes grim or sad or just a little tough to watch. But still worthwhile. I also like light, fun, and funny as long as it isn’t stupid. And I enjoy a good Kung Fu flick or series of awesome explosions as much as the average American. So you could call my tastes eclectic with a few specific exclusions, I guess.

I tell you this because, as I said in the beginning, I like movies. And so from time to time the post title will read, “Anika Goes to the Movies: Title Here.” There may be spoilers, there may be contempt or praise for the creative choices made, but there will never be anything with graphic language, sexuality, or gore. I’m not a professional film critic. *sigh of relief* So I won’t see everything. And everything I say will be my opinion, which I am allowed to have. You are allowed to agree or disagree, with respect and thoughtfulness, in the comments if you like. And I genuinely hope you will. Vitriol and rudeness will be deleted.

I hope this will be a fun way for you to get to know me, my tastes, and ideas. To also see a bit of the worlds I choose to inhabit that inspire me in my creative endeavors. And also provide the periodic break from, “I’m an author talking about my book(s) again!” So sit back and enjoy the show.

Welcome!

I decided that since I am soon to be a real author, with a book published and everything, I ought to have a website. It will be built slowly, over time. So please contact me with your thoughts and the things you would like to see here. Hopefully, with all your good feedback I can make it awesome.

The forthcoming novel, The Accidental Apprentice, will be available for purchase October 4th, and then we will celebrate with a launch party on Facebook October 8th. There will be prizes! And artwork done by my sister, Tessa Durrett.  There will be all manner of fun with the launch of this book, so please follow the website now so that you stay up to date with all the news.

I will also be doing a weekly blog post here, occasionally crossing over with my other blog Necessary Nurture. So hop on board and go on a journey with me!! Thanks for stopping by.