Surprise!

My sister is finally, finally home, after traveling about like a crazy adventure woman for six months.

I am so happy she’s here.

Don’t get me wrong, living alone is lovely. The house is quiet, I have my own space, and—and that’s the only plus sides I can come up with right now.

Now that my sister is home, I have someone to read with in the evening, someone to bounce ideas off of when I’m in a creative mood, someone who makes dinner when I am at work and has it ready when I come home, someone to grocery shop for, since grocery shopping for one person is no fun at all . . . 

Basically, I have about a thousand reasons to rejoice that she is finally home and isn’t planning to leave again for—some amount of time. Hopefully not in the near future. But we’ll see. World travelers sometimes don’t stay in one spot very long.

Now that she is here, I can tell you the secret I have been saving up since the beginning of May! Or was it April . . . or . . . never mind, it doesn’t matter.

Ta-da!

I painted my house!

As you can no doubt guess, it was badly in need of it, and this was my welcome home surprise for her. Thus the reason I didn’t post about it.

I started painting sometime around the middle of I-Don’t-Remember-Maybe-April when I was waiting for news after several job interviews.

So, yes, I was stress painting.

I got the first coat finished with the help of some semi-enthusiastic siblings and then . . . I got sick. So things paused for a few weeks while I laid around on my couch in a cold-medicine induced stupor and watched episodes of Winnie-The-Pooh on Youtube to keep my stress levels from crashing through the roof. Because obviously, I couldn’t stress paint anymore.

You do what you gotta do.

But eventually—after a very long wait—my cold got better and I was able to finish the second coat. Now that my beautiful tiny cabin is no longer an awkward shade of pink, it has turned into a sort of secluded hermitage. (For those of you who are extroverts, I just want to clarify that this is a good thing.) The green and brown blends into the trees, and when you’re driving up the road, you’d have to know just where to look to notice that there is a house hidden away up here after all.

Which, as a secluded sort of hermit, is just right for me.

Also, my sister loved it. So all my stress painting ended up all right.

Have you been working on any home improvement projects this year? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Finding Normal

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My new morning commute is forty-five minutes.

One way.

Does that sound a little crazy to anyone? That means every week I am driving about 7.5 hours back and forth to work . . . not including the time spent on the road if I happen to need a trip to town on a weekend.

I’m scaring myself just by adding up the numbers.

But do you want to know a secret?

I love it.

When I was first offered the job, one of my friends asked me if I was going to move into town to be closer to my new building.

I said no.

She understood.

First of all, I live in the middle of absolutely nowhere and have a tiny writer’s cabin tucked away in the middle of a pine forest surrounded by farmland and country roads. When I wake up in the morning, I hear magpies and bluejays and woodpeckers outside my house . . . not traffic and people and all the other city noises you can think of. I have deer and turkeys in my yard. I can go for walks at midnight down our dirt road if I feel like it. (I don’t usually feel like it.)

But besides loving where I am, I just . . . don’t hate my commute. In fact, as an author running a blog, writing books, and working full-time, my commute is some of the only time I have to really remember how much I love books myself.

Thank goodness for libraries that let me borrow 24 audiobooks at a time.

Really, my commute has been the saving grace for my reading habits. Thus far this year, I have read 66 books. Most of those have been audiobooks. With 7.5 hours of driving to do every week, I figure I can plow through at least a book a week. Maybe more, since I have lunch breaks too.

Finding out my library loaned out copies of audiobooks was a revolution for me. I have been devouring them while I paint for my mum, while I drive, while I work sudoku puzzles on my phone to keep my brain sharp . . . really just any time I have a few minutes of silence. I’ve been rediscovering some old favorites—right now I am listening to A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engleas well as discovering new treasures—Michael Hyatt’s Living Forward and as many of Agatha Christie’s books as I can find. As an author who still believes the best way to learn to write is to read, I am very grateful to have an unlimited library on my phone.

And plenty of time on my way to and from work to take advantage of it.

What are you reading these days? Any suggestions for me? I’d love to hear them!

On Your Mark . . . Get Set . . .

Panic!

No, not really. Nobody panic. Especially not me.

Although I do happen to feel a little panicky right at this moment.

Know why?

Today is July 1st, and also the first day of my new job, working as a writing assistant for Focus on the Family.

Are you shocked? I was. Also very, very excited. This will be my first experience with an office job and with working a nine-to-five, so I’ve been rushing around the last month to get myself prepared and brush up on my business casual knowledge.

Oddly enough, this meant buying a lot of clothes.

Like, a lot of clothes.

A whole wardrobe, actually.

How many of you knew I was a nanny before I got this job? Well, I was a nanny. And when you’re earning your rent playing hide-and-seek and going on trips to the park with little boys, you don’t wear business casual clothing.

You wear a t-shirt. And jeans.

Because when you hang out with toddler age boys, stuff happens. Stuff with water, stuff with mud, stuff with food.

And stuff with snot.

Yep. I said snot.

So, no, my wardrobe did not include anything remotely business casual.

Believe it or not, I loved being a nanny. I loved my boys and all the stuff we got to do together. We have many cookie memories. And jumping-on-the-tramp memories. And how-did-you-beat-me-at-this-game-you’re-five memories. I learned so much from those jobs.

Mostly that my memory is terrible and if I play matching memory games with a five-year-old, the five-year-old will win. Every. Single. Time.

Don’t ask me how.

Leaving my nanny positions for an office job—albeit a writing position—has been a little tough. I’m going to miss those boys. I was there for a lot of memories. Learning to crawl, losing their first tooth, kindergarten, first grade, baseball games, and so many more. I’m not saying I cried a little bit when I left on my last day, but I cried a little bit when I left on my last day.

Okay. A lot a bit.

But the leaving is all finished now, and today I am starting something new. If you think of it, wish me luck! I’m pretty nervous, so any good thoughts or prayers are appreciated!

Anyone have any tips for the first few weeks in a new job? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Headed For Home

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I’m going to be honest with y’all.

I’m writing this while we drive.

I think we’re in Alabama right now. Somewhere near Birmingham, I think, although I am directionally challenged and it’s very possible that I’m wrong.

Guys. Alabama is hot. Like, ridiculously hot. Like, if it wasn’t so beautiful I would never come here again kind of hot.

But the trees have flowers and leaves instead of needles and the grass is lush and green, and everything is beautiful. Also, the dirt is red. And today is cloudy and misty. So I’m trying to ignore the heat.

We’re headed for Texas right now. Then, tomorrow, our wheels will be pointed toward Colorado and home.

I’m excited.

I miss my cat. And my family. And my house.

I can’t swear that anyone misses me, but I have a little—possibly vain—hope that my cat missed me. A tiny bit. A very tiny bit. Like, she went to sleep at night in my big empty bed all alone with no one to cuddle with and thought, “I wonder what happened to that one person who used to feed me and would whine back when I whined at her.”

I’ll admit, that’s a little bit of a stretch. But I can hope.

As much as I am excited to get back home, this has been a trip and a half. We’ve been through twelve states so far and have four more to go, and I have loved seeing the country change along the highway. We’ve crashed in hotel rooms, been hosted by wonderful friends, eaten way too much fast food, baked on beaches, swam in the ocean, in hotel pools, lakes, and backyard ponds. My brother made friends with a lizard, I found baby clams and ate my first Po’Boy sandwich, my dad drove us through the town where he grew up and showed us where his dad’s mechanic shop had been and the house he’d lived in. We saw flooded rivers, Florida swamps, the sea, and a telephone pole shaped like Mickey Mouse.

It was wild.

And now we’re headed for home. Tomorrow night, I will sleep in my own bed, and one week from today, I will start my first full-time office job and get paid to be a writer.

Life is crazy, y’all.

Anyone have any crazy road trip memories to share? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Road Trip

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Guys.

I’m probably lost.

Like, lost lost. Somewhere in-between Virginia and Florida. I think the GPS knows where we are, but I lost track way back in Missouri. This has been a TRIP. And it’s not even halfway over yet.

As far as I can recall (because I blacked out a few times and slept like a log), we have driven through Kansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia.

I’m sure we’ve been to more places by now. We’re driving just now, you see. Things are in progress. I shall let you know by the end of the trip where all we’ve been and what we’ve done.

Most of the time, we’ve just been driving. Seeing the world pass by. Cruising.

While we were in Missouri, I stayed with my editor and her family. We had a blast. I caught a frog. His name was Reginald. I did not kiss him, but I did almost accidentally squish him, which was mildly horrifying because he was so tiny. (No frogs were harmed in the making of this post, I swear.)

We also swam in a pond, played with paddle boards, and fished. My sister dropped her hook in the water and pulled one out immediately—like, within seconds. My little brother caught four.

Guys. I love fishing. I do. But guess who is the worst fisherman among the three of us?

You got that right.

Me.

I did catch one though. After waiting. And waiting. And losing my worm. And waiting some more. And giving up.

But I did catch one. Finally. I was so excited.

You know what else I saw in Missouri?

Fireflies.

I love fireflies so much. They’re like tiny fairies. We don’t have fireflies in Colorado, because it’s cold and dry and a desert. But Missouri has fireflies, and they made me very, very happy. I wanted to bring a thousand home with me, but I felt like they might die in the car, and it would have been weird to come home with a jar of dead bugs.

So I left Reginald and the tiny fairies/fireflies to enjoy Missouri and we kept driving.

We went hiking in North Carolina (on their cute tiny pretend mountains), kayaked in the bay in Virginia (and toasted on the beaches), and had way too much fun with my sisters who live there.

And now, we are on our way again. More updates to come!

Anyone else been traveling this year? Tell me about it in the comments!

Tying Up Loose Ends

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I am leaving tomorrow on a super special, very exciting trip.

One last hurrah, you might say, before my job begins and I have to settle into a desk and learn a new routine.

Since I love routines, I am very excited.

But the fact remains that tomorrow morning, somewhere between Very Dark and Sleep O’Clock, I will be crawling out of bed like a creature of the night and setting off on a road trip with three of my family members.

We are going many places. I will tell you about them next week when we have actually been to these many places.

Since I haven’t left yet, and my job hasn’t started yet, this last week has been all about tying up loose ends and preparing for a whole new season. I’ve gotten new glasses, a haircut, overhauled my wardrobe, cleaned my house . . . 

A lot of stuff, in other words. All the things I need to do before I show up for that first day.

One of the things that I have accomplished is to finish the first draft of my book, Of Bullfrogs and Snapdragons.

*Trumpets blare, people—mostly me—celebrate, a duck quacks*

Wait . . . what? I have a job where I’m getting paid to write and yet I’m still writing my own books?

Yes. In case you were wondering, my life plans are still the same. This job hasn’t changed them. I am still an author, I still have many books to write and many I want to publish, and I will still have a blog to keep up with.

And I’m going to manage all those things if it kills me.

No, I’m kidding.

Actually, I’m going to take it slow, learn my new routine, and adapt my life accordingly. Things will slow down a little, but I will still post on my blog, I will still write, I will still be me.

And, since I am not quite twenty five yet, I have plenty of time. My goal has always been a lifelong career, not instant fame or ten books on the market as fast as I can produce them. So, if you ever wonder what Abigail is doing with her life, just know that I am still here. Building away. Creating my empire.

And right now, that means tying up all my loose ends. Which probably means I should buy some groceries and do some meal planning.

Eh. I’ll do it when I get home.

In two weeks.

Any advice for someone starting their first ever office job? I’d love some wisdom from people are more experienced than I am!

A Solid Place

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One of my oldest and dearest friends got married this week.

I went to the wedding.

It was beautiful.

But, even though I am so, so happy for her and her new husband (who is amazing, by the way), it was also a very surreal experience for a lot of reasons.

For one, she is married. Like, to a husband. So weird. For another, my pregnant sister flew in from another state to attend the wedding. And it was the first time I’ve ever seen her pregnant. Like, ever. (Mostly because this is the first time she’s ever been pregnant.)

And last, but certainly not least, during the reception, I was surrounded by a crowd of people I had grown up with. All of them were adults now.

How weird is that?

I got introduced to boyfriends, talked to people about college and careers, and ended up with the very stunning realization that the world is moving on and things are changing.

Quite drastically.

Since this coincides with some pretty drastic changes in my own life, it left me feeling a little shaky. Remember that job that I mentioned last week? It starts on July 1st. Up until now, I’ve worked nanny jobs and anything else that would pay so that I could support my writing.

Now, I’m going to get paid to write.

And it’s going to be a huge change. It’s my first office job, it’s the first—regular—job I’ve had in my career field, and it’s the first full-time position I’ve ever accepted.

Since I write full-time anyway, I’m not too worried. But still—changes. Big changes. And not just in my life, but everywhere I look.

In case you didn’t know, I am a hermit. Big time. Like, way more than I ever expected to be when I was younger. I like my house, I like my routine, and I like things to be (mostly) the same, with a few moments of planned excitement along the way to spice things up. When I have great adventures, they are of a literary nature.

So when things start changing, I start to panic a little.

When that happens, I have to take a step back and remind myself of the places in my life that are still solid.

God is still my solid ground.

I still love him.

I am still a writer.

My family might be scattered to the four winds, but we still love each other.

And Mrs. Hudson (my cat) is still a grouch, thank goodness.

It’s good to know there are a few things in life that can always be counted on, even in the midst of embracing the changes.

Are things changing in your life, or do you have any wonderful tips for finding balance amidst the crazy? Tell me about it in the comments!