I’m on tour so that must mean I’m finally in a band…or just a writer…

No but for real, I am a part of this group called Arkansas Women Bloggers. And what that means is that I don’t participate very much and add virtually nothing to a club, and still get a lot of insight and advice from seasoned veterans. Sounds fair right? Anyway, Sarah White of Our Daily Craft posted in there a couple of weeks ago and asked for volunteers to be a part of a blog tour talking about your personal writing process, and in the nature of getting out of my comfort zone, I hopped on board!

So here ya go, My Writing Process:

1) What am I working on?

Right now, I still consider myself as a blogging newbie, so I am working on finding my niche and learning all about the blogging world and where I fit into it.

On a more “professional” side, I also ghost-write blog posts for smaller companies, and I am working on expanding that.

For my personal blog,  I write about my marriage, God, myself, and just all that is life in general. I occasionally post a recipe or a rare successful craft, but mostly I just talk about being a Christian woman in her 20s. Simple as that. I try to be funny, because I’ve been told that I am, and because I personally think I am much funnier on “paper” than I am in real life, so we’ll see how that one works out. I would love to write a book someday, but for now, we’ll just stick to posting about growing up and being refined into a better person (hopefully!) with each day.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

When I started this blog, I decided to be myself in it. I see a lot of women posting about crafts and DIY stuff and I’ve been very open about the fact that I am terrible with anything that requires being patient. (I would also much rather support those people by hiring them to make things for me!) When I do post about a project, it’s usually because if I can do it, a monkey probably could too, so that baby needs to be shared with my other craft-handicapped friends!

This is a place for me to be real and share my struggles, wins, and lessons learned. I think I am different because I don’t try to paint the picture of a perfect person on here. If anything  I am a tad overly self-deprecating, which also happens to be much of my humor style, so it works out nicely. 🙂
3) Why do I write what I do?

It took a long time of my husband bugging me to start writing before I finally realized that I may actually have something to say and to not sell myself short.

I’m pretty new to this whole “being obsessed with blogs” thing. I have found that I enjoy ones that are funny, Christian, about life, real, etc, and so that’s what I strive for mine to be like. I want to follow in the footsteps of many of my writing role models and someday be able to write books and speak at conferences, and to share what God puts on my heart to share.  I find it refreshing to read humorous accounts of real life issues and if I can add to that by honestly writing about my own, then that is awesome.
4) How does your writing process work?

I try to find God in everyday circumstances. This is something that I’m getting better at with time. I’m figuring out what sharing those small lessons and struggles looks like on this blog. I’ve always been a decent writer, but writing in this form is completely new to me, so It’s been fun to figure out how I make it work. I usually take a layer approach.

As I experience something or have an idea, I will usually make a draft with just a title or idea description.

When I have time, I will go back and write a post on that topic and then at some point realize that this is not a paper for school that I will be graded on.

I’ll go back through it a few times, adding more line breaks, changing sentence structure, making it sound more like me when I talk, try to make it funnier, adding bolds and such, make it less boring, etc.

And then sometimes the words pour out of me and I do virtually no editing and go back after publishing it and think “Oh. My. Gosh. Please nobody have seen this” as I scramble to speed-edit.

You live and learn. I just hope that my typos and waaaaay too many “like”s give someone a chuckle!

 

So there you go, my extremely complicated, well-thought-out writing process!

Tune in next week for more awesome band-members….writers: Alex Clark, Jacqueline Presley, and Sarah Skvarla!

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Here’s to a Crappy 2009

So I am in the process of reading the archives of a very funny blog I recently came to know (Jamie The Very Worst Missionary– for real, check her out! And do so before you make any kind of judgements about her blog name.), and I just got to her New Year’s post from 2009/2010. She had a really crappy year that she was happy to see end, and I have binge-read all about the reasons why within a couple of weeks.

That’s nice right? To be able to see a snapshot of someone’s life and learn in a day what took them a whole year to figure out. What if we could do that with our own lives? What if we could fast-forward or “binge read/watch” to see how it ends, or speed up the hurt and pain, or just at least KNOW THAT IT’S GOING TO BE OK IN THE END. Don’t we all feel that sometimes? I mean we know it’s immature, and impossible, and ridiculous, but sometimes the circumstances just have us wishing we could get to the “lesson-learned” part of the story. To know that the resolution will come soon.

The truth is, I remember my 2009. I remember that it sucked too. I remember talking with some friends that I still have today about how much 2009 seemed to suck for everyone we knew.

I was a second semester freshman/first semester sophmore in 2009.

I broke up with my first college boyfriend that year, the first boyfriend that ever truly meant something to me.

I had my first TERRIBLE roomate situation. I mean terrible y’all. They like, burned pictures of me and stuff.

I got a demotion at work (yes it was at a restaurant, but cut me some slack, in college-world, it was a huge deal!) which lead me to switch jobs from the first one I ever had since moving to NWA.

I was a pretty good kid, but the only phase where I sowed oats of any variety, it started happening in 2009.

Of course there are other things too, these are just the highlights. (Lowlights?)

I probably cried more that year than I had in a long time.

I wish I could go talk to that girl. I wish I could tell her that it gets better. SOON! I wish I could tell her that college graduation does come, that she survives the homework, tests, and teachers that seem like they will be the death of her. I wish I could tell her that next year, she meets the love of her life. I wish I could tell her that some of the friends that she feels like are all she has don’t last and she finds amazing ones that she could never have imagined. I wish I could tell her so much more.

In the end though, I learned from all of that. God tells us that we will go through trials. We’re supposed to grow in all of our hurts. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger and all that stuff right?

But it doesn’t feels like that in the moment. It feels like we could just die right there because NOTHING will get better. The not knowing is the worst part, but later we can look back on the experience and grow. That’s what refinement is all about. If we knew the end of the story while we’re still in the middle, we’d never learn from the experience, and we’d never learn to trust God, and we’d never learn to CALM THE EFF DOWN and lean not on our own understanding.

Sometimes I think back to a younger Alex and how she thought that when she was 24 she would be so smart and successful and mature and wise. And then I laugh my head off. Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this. Who thinks “When I’m *that* age, I’ll have it all.”

I learn a lot about my own faith and how little I have of it each time I go through something tough. I like to think that I have more faith at the end each time, but who knows. Hopefully one day I will have the trust for God that I should. The trust to get me through, knowing that God has sooo got this.

As I pray for some friends who have gone through something so gut-wrenchingly hard recently, I’m thinking about all of this. About how my faith will be tested next, and how I’ll need to remember that sometime in the years to come, a future Alex will look back and want to tell me that God has it under control RIGHT NOW. That it is ok in the end. If for no other reason than the fact that God. Is. There.

—————————————————————

On a lighter note, I dug up some photos of me from 2009 in honor of this post, and let me just say that I came across a slew of really embarassing selfies from 2009 that I apprently LOST MY MIND during because I ACTUALLY POSTED THEM TO FACEBOOK. I am so not plastering them on here, but they’re there, if you’re willing to find them.

Oh man. I feel like it would be hard for me to convince you that these ladies weren't my only friends based on this photo.

Oh man. I feel like it would be hard for me to convince you that these ladies weren’t my only friends based on this photo.

Just look at that skater hat cocked to the side. I mean I totally *don't* still have that hat...if you were wondering.

Just look at that skater hat cocked to the side. I mean I totally *don’t* still have that hat…if you were wondering.

Sqeezing out the Yuck, or Something Like That.

Before we got married, Bryan and I went through premarital counseling with our pastor and his wife. I’ll never forget how she described marriage on several occasions. She said that marriage has a way of bringing all of the yuck inside of you to the surface and then squeezing it out. Lovely isn’t it? Somehow, I love that analogy. Like it has a way of showing us all of our ugly parts and forcing us to either rid of them or call it quits, and we all know which one of those is the healthy choice.

So Bryan and I have been looking at houses. We are becoming all too familiar with the phrase “Catching the house bug.” We’ve caught it. Oh has it been caught.

We rent right now, and neither of us has ever owned a house, so we get to go through this little taste of hell adventure together. The problem is, we see this process very differently from each other, and it’s bringing out all of the yuck in me. I think I’ve made it clear how refinement and the realization that I am not perfect makes me feel.

Bryan has always lived in smaller houses and grew up not having a lot of money, so he sees every house we look at with such amazement, I swear he thinks he’s looking at the Wonka Chocolate Factory. He is just so grateful for the fact that a house like that is even in the realm of possibilities for us. It’s all so sickeningly charming.

I, on the other hand, grew up living in decent-sized, while certainly not huge homes, didn’t have a share a room for most of my upbringing, and am just generally a selfish person, let’s just be honest. I look at each house as imperfect and not something I could possibly settle for.

I knew that admitting this would not be fun, but as I type it, I realize just how much yuck I have in me.

Sheesh am I the worst. How much of a horrible a-hole can you be if you find ways to complain about something that most of the world does not have. Gross gross gross. I am officially disgusted with myself.

I hate that I can’t see things with as much contentment as he does. His grateful heart and the sheer thankfulness that he encounters with each house we look at is astounding, and it simultaneously makes me feel like a terrible person and makes me want to be a better person.

God is really showing me a lot with this process. I am learning how yuck-filled I am and how thankful I should be that the wonderful man, friends, and Family that I have been blessed with put up with the apparent ton of crap I put out in the universe. I am learning that my dream home can definitely wait, and that all of this is God’s anyway, duh. I think I need to take a harder look at the yuck in me and do a better job of forcing it out instead of harboring my negativity.

Besides, I could never forgive myself if I made Bryan as jaded as I apparently am. I love that he sees the world in a brighter hue than I do, and I am going to start trying harder to rise to his level instead of bringing him down to mine.

Oh the joy of finding new areas of life that need work. Sooooo much yuck.

Please tell me I’m not the only who needs a dose of humble pie. What about you? What areas of your life have you recently found that need work?

…And Then I Came up Short.

So I had my first weigh-in since my little change of heart that led to this post, and I only lost 1.5 pounds this week, and not 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 like I was hoping.

Naturally, I freaked out and wanted to cry, but then Bryan was like “Good job Babe! You didn’t gain any weight and you actually lost some even though we haven’t been to the gym in the past couple of days and we didn’t eat great with my parents last night. You should be proud of yourself!”

I wasn’t proud of myself. I hate that some people can like, sneeze and lose weight. OR DO NOTHING AND LOSE WEIGHT. I hate that I have to try. I hate that I can’t eat and COOK what I want. I hate that I didn’t lose 5 pounds instead of 2. I hate I hate I hate.

I seriously let this ruin my morning.

It’s slowly hitting me, though, that he’s right. I SHOULD be proud of myself. I did eat not-so-great last night. I did succumb to not working out for the past two days because we’ve had stuff going on. And I still lost weight!

I’m slowly becoming as proud of myself as Bryan apparently is.

I am reminded of how I am such a brat to God. I try to be so independent, and worry instead of pray, and I don’t trust Him completely, and I don’t see the world and my life through a lens of Him like I should. And then I act all upset that I can’t do it all on my own. I let it get me down and I kick myself for not getting it right, like ever. Much like that whole weight thingie, it makes me feel like I will never get better or change or grow, and something in me refuses to see any growth that actually is there!

Ugh! This refinement thing is so hard in all areas of life! And yes I know that the definition of refinement implies the difficulty and pain. My blog is called REFINING ALEX, duh. I’m still allowed to forget and be shocked and surprised by it right? AAAGGH.

I AM learning though, I am. I am better with my weight and self-control than I was yesterday, and I’m still going to strive for that to be true tomorrow. In the same way, I can only hope that I grow more in God each day. And God doesn’t expect me to be perfect, in fact, He’s counting on me not to be, and He already has it covered.

I turned down a cookie the other day. A chocolate chip cookie. A FREE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE. I am so Superwoman right now y’all. I don’t even care that I’m I’m self-complementing. I can do this.

I’m not giving up. I will be there.

I Will Be There.

In light of my last post, I have some thoughts and brags about my fitness/nutrition over the past couple of days. You see, in true Alex form, I typed that post on Friday, and didn’t get around to posting it until yesterday. Ahhh the life of a type-A perfectionist. Forced procrastination, I know you’re all jealous. That being said, I’ve had 3 days to put my awesome plan into effect. GET EXCITED FOR ANOTHER LIST!

Thought 1: I genuinely feel like I am more motivated now than ever before, even more than my wedding, and that’s saying something!

Thought 2: I have learned that I will not die or have a conniption if I skip on the pizza we ordered into work, the leftover mac and cheese that I made from scratch (OMG), and the sweet tea. Who knew?!

Thought 3: You guys, I did it, I caved. I vowed that I was done with MyFitnessPal forever and now I’m not anymore. It’s not that I don’t love the app/program, it’s great! It’s just that I become crazy uptight OCD girl while I’m using it, and then I get soooo disappointed in myself when I go over my calorie limit or something. I’m starting clean and trying to use it as a guideline, not a lifeline. I also started weighing myself again, another thing that I vowed to stop doing. This time around, I am weighing myself on Friday mornings. That’s it. No more obsessive “Oh my gosh I didn’t lose any weight in the last 24 hours!”

There was Dickies BBQ. I limited myself. I am awesome right now.

There was Dickies BBQ. I limited myself. I am awesome right now.

Thought 4: They may be cheesy, fake, ridiculous, what-have-you, but I LOVE those little fitness inspirational meme things! They really do work and get me going. Yesterday during my workout, I pulled up my Pinterest board “Fittin Getting Fit” (Yes I came up with that all on my own and it is in the rankings for most clever thing I’ve thought of, thank you for asking.) and scrolled through the pins to keep me motivated when I wanted to quite literally throw in the towel. They are also great for the times before the gym when you’re reeeeeally thinking that Chinese, the couch, and my shows sound just wonderful.

Thought 5: My ultimate goal is to be a size 6 by the end of June, the time of my brother’s wedding. Apparently I am so ridiculously lazy and inefficient in getting crap done that I need teeny-tiny baby goals as well. The other day, my husband, who is a freaking genius and knows me so well, told me I should estimate the amount of weight I would need to lose by then and divide it up to see how many pounds per week it would be. So I did! And it turns out I only need to lose 2 pounds a week which is TOTALLY doable! Now that my goal seems within reach, I know I can absolutely do this! (And yes I am aware that this seems like a fairly “duh” concept, but as someone who is afraid of the scale, pounds aren’t exactly on the forefront of my mind.)

Last thought: I am learning to use what used to squelch my enthusiasm and make me sad to motivate me even more. I’ll admit it, I am usually THAT girl looking at other women in the gym and comparing myself to them. Now I still do that, but instead of wanting to quit because of it, I say to myself that I will be there. I WILL BE THERE. I WILL BE THERE.

Although this is not a fitness blog, I am committing to be open and honest on there about my progress. I may even post some before photos in the near future! I’ll be working on the courage for that one. 🙂

Alright, I’ve Fooled around Long Enough.

I told you about my New Years plans (I still refuse to call them resolutions), but not a lot of concrete change has happened. I know what you’re thinking: “Whaaaaaat? That NEVER happens with resolutions New Years plans!” and “But you’re so organized and self-controlled!” and “You always seem like you have it so together, though!”

Yes. All of this. BUT actually none of it.

I am failing, you guys. I’m tired of failing too. I am too competitive and too prefectionist of a person to put up with this crap. And by this crap, I mean my 20’s so far. When did I get so lazy? With my diet, with my household stuff, with just all of it.

The other morning I woke up early for some reason, and I always wish for that because that’s usually when I have the “want to” to get stuff done, but this morning (much like most times like this), the one where I actually woke up at 6:30 without my alarm clock, it was like “woe is me, booooo.” I kid you not: I started praying that God would give me the motivation to get up and be productive before work. As soon as I started, God was all: “You have got to be kidding me. You’re seriously praying that I will help you TO GET OUT OF BED.” That may seem harsh, but I make a practice of praying that God will give me the motivation to complete simple tasks that are so not a big deal and will take like 5 seconds. I have got to realize that grown-ups shouldn’t act like this and it’s time to pay the Piper and own up to my responsibilities.

This is such a balancing act for me. I feel like I’m either lazy as all get-out, or I’m super uptight perfectionist crazy girl. I need to find the healthy in-between of letting go and finding joy in spontaneity sometimes, and NOT GETTING THE HECK OUT OF BED.

So I have developed a highly skilled, technical (<– not that) plan for getting myself out of this rut:

For my diet: I’ve realized that saying “I’m going to eat healthy!” is not cutting it. I need a specific, guideline-filled plan for myself to succeed, so I made one. While we are at home, we are eating recipes and dishes that consist of only the following (and you may notice that it is reminiscent of the Food chapter in 7: An Experimental Mutiny on Excess, and that’s because we lost weight while doing it. Simple as that.):

  • two meat types: chicken and fish
  • all produce: fruits and veggies
  • one carb: Brown Rice
  • one dairy source: plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
  • eggs
  • seasonings: any dry seasoning (excluding sugars), olive oil, honey/agave nectar
  • drinks: water and coffee (Almond milk and sugar may be used in coffee only)

So this is the plan. I feel it is fool-proof because we are allowing ourselves to cheat when we eat out, although we are planning to try and eat better at those times too! You guys, yesterday, I ate at Mexican restaurant (<– my kryptonite) and ate fajitas sans cheese, sour cream, or tortillas. I EVEN SKIPPED THE QUESO! I am superwoman right now.

Look at that grocery supply! I am so proud of myself! The only boxed items are the rice and flavor packets for my water!

Look at that grocery supply! I am so proud of myself! The only boxed items are the rice, salad dressing, and flavor packets for my water!

For day-to-day crap: I am planning to try and rebel against myself in the will-power deficient times. I’m stubborn enough that I am determined to make a habit out of doing what needs to be done instead of being lazy. It supposedly takes 21 days to make or break a habit, so what if I made it a habit to get up earlier, to get out of the shower quicker, to finish one of the million project I’ve started, to get my laundry folded on the time-table of a sane person?

I’ve got to pull myself together. I’m over having breakdowns every couple of months because I feel so out of balance and ungrounded and out of control. Surely I am not the only one. I struggle with looking at other women who seem to have it all together and are able to juggle the thousands of hats they have to wear AND THEY HAVE KIDS! Oh my gosh what will I do when I have kids if I can’t even keep it together now?

What do you guys do? What are your plans for keeping yourselves sane? How do you overcome the lazies?