Posts Tagged ‘graduation’

I know this post is long, but I hope you’ll find it worth it.

I’m 21. I have three books published and a fourth in production. I have memorized 2/3s of the New Testament, made sweet friends in Indonesia, lived in South Carolina, and gone on two major book tours. I’m putting together an album for recording and dabble as a worship leader. I am the founder and leader of Rebirth Publishing, Inc. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Management. I have escaped all of it without debt. And I thought I knew myself…

But since graduation I have realized just how little I actually know about myself. I know a whole lot about what I can do, but not a lot about who I really am. So, like the perfectionist student I am, I have poured the last few months into a character study–not of Pallen or Marcus or Cressa from Mark of Orion. No. This is a study of my own character. And with each new learning, I celebrate a victory that leaves me feeling a good deal more fulfilled.

First, let me say that I think labels are probably some of the worst things in the world. If you had ever tried to sum me up as ‘Lyme patient’ or ‘college student’ or ‘Christian’ or ‘publisher’ or ‘writer’ or ‘musician’ or ‘homebody’ or ‘extrovert’ you would have missed who I really am. To give you a glimpse of just how much I don’t like labels, check out this personal entry:

It is easy to believe labels are fulfilling.

 Not just the ‘popular’ label. Those of us who know better than to believe that success will fulfill us find other labels to put our stock in. Like the ‘loved’ label; the ‘happy’ label; the ‘work-a-holic’ label. After so many movies full of people finding their labels right alongside their soul-mates, we have begun to believe that if we could just find our label, our movie-moment, our montage of effective work and budding love alongside the perfect soundtrack, then we could feel fulfilled.

 Only, labels aren’t actually fulfilling.

 Not ‘hipster’ or ‘rock-star’ or ‘author’ or ‘healthy’ or ‘wife’. Labels in and out of themselves can never, ever satisfy. All they can do is make us feel bitter that we aren’t happy after attaining them or devastated that we cannot achieve them. Labels are a deadly lie.

So why does the girl who rejects labels find joy in figuring out that she is not only a perfectionist but also 1) passionate and 2) innovative? Aren’t those labels too?

To me the difference is that I can’t achieve to be an innovator. I just am. When I see a problem, my first instinct is to scrap the old system and create a new one. I can’t force myself to be passionate 100% of the time. Often I wish I could turn it off. Only, passion is part of who I am. If I offend you, believe me: it hurts me more than it ever can you. Because I care. And if I can make your day brighter, I’ll do my very bestest. Because I care with all my heart. It’s passion. I can control it, but it will forever be my default setting. And, yep, I want my new innovative system that I passionately care about to go perfectly. But those things aren’t based in what I can do or in the success of my efforts; they are based in who God made me to be. The core of who I am is not ‘author’. Perhaps you could say that I am a storyteller. Each song that I write, each book that I craft, each conversation I have revolves largely around stories. But even if I had never published a book, I would have been–I was–known as a storyteller. It is an attribute, not a label.

You see, sometimes trying to live up to the labels can be really devastating. I won’t forever be a ‘young achiever’ and, as much as I love that label, it can often do more harm than good as I achieve for achievement’s sake alone. I may not forever be ‘worship leader’ and that’s okay too. The ‘traveling artist’ day may pass; the sickness may fade; even the book writing may fizzle out. And if I all I was was an sick, book-writing, traveling artist I would be in a LOT of trouble when the day of change came.

So instead of setting my sights on a list of un-fulfilling and really frustrating labels, I want to discover who God made me to be. I’ll gladly accept the attributes that God created me with, but I am very ready to be done with the labels I set for myself or others set for me. Take heart, my friends, and revel in your uniqueness. It was designed that way by the greatest Storyteller ever, the God Who knit us together.

Psalm 139:13

13 For you created my inmost being;

   you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

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I have been in over-drive since my unexpected midterm Tuesday and the beginning of a Visual Arts class. Plus, I’ve been enjoying people: friends home from college and gym-time with my sister. (Then there’s the writing that is filling up my brain.) I guess I might have pushed a little too hard. How do I know? Well, when I get over-tired my dyslexia (or lexdysia, as Brad Stine jokes) gets worse. A writer with dyslexia? Yeah. There’s irony for you. I limp along okay, but it is one of the reasons I type instead of write. I have to use the backspace key: a lot! Here’s how I know that I’m too tired: since last night I have not been able to spell my own name. Hodsdon just never comes out right. I get lost in the ‘s’ and ‘d’ and ‘s’. Now maybe that is because I have a bunch of Greek terms for art stuck in my head; or maybe I should try for a few hours of extra sleep this weekend. Either way, it just seems funny.

Today was a big day for homework. I finished up two fairly large papers that were standing between me and graduation. If those are deemed okay by my instructors, I’ll just have my Economics and Arts classes left and then I’ll be graduated. Thankfully, Starbucks was a bit less crowded today so I was able to claim a table, get a refill of coffee, and get a lot done. I even squeezed in time for a chat with a friend from far-a-way. Tonight my sister and her husband are coming over for dinner. And I think I might get to take Saturday and Sunday off from school. Hurray!

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Today feels like the first true day of the New Year. Yesterday was choppy, to say the least, and if you’ve ever read the book you’ll get this reference, “I wanted to move to Australia.” But in the end, the day turned out to be pretty good. It was really wonderful to head to the Kobi steakhouse with my parents, recline in the arms of my father, and drink in the strength of my family. It is good to have a core of people you know and love.

So now I am back into full-school mode as I approach my graduation NEXT MONTH! It is exciting to see things get checked off the master list of graduation. The remaining credits needed are dwindling down. It is exhilarating to think that in February I will be a full-time writer, living the dream if only for a little while. Perhaps longer. We will see where God leads.

That seems to be the theme of life. I can’t know the future. My best laid plans never work out. Yet somehow life has always moved in the right, the better direction. If life had gone the way I wanted it to… honestly, I shudder. Live my life and you’ll be unable to deny the hand of God. So there is peace and hope and joy and a twinge of excitement to override the uncertainty of the future and the sometimes painful moments of life. I am truly blessed. Wherever God leads I’ll follow. What an adventure!

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I finally have all the deadlines for college sorted out. I graduate February 18th. Knowing the deadlines makes graduation seem actually real. Between the joy of writing this short story and working with my new novel, Mark of Orion, I am all-too-ready to begin my adventures as a full-time writer. So without further introduction, here is part two of ‘The Man in the Attic’–the Christmas short featuring characters from The Xsardis Chronicles.

The Man in the Attic Part 2

Thanks to everyone who read and commented on yesterday’s portion of ‘The Man in the Attic’! Help us spread the news about the Xsardis Chronicles through your Facebook and Twitter accounts!

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Quite honestly I’d rather write somebody a song on my guitar than a poem in a card, but either way, I’m normally a word-girl… after all, I am a writer. Words that people give me, stick. I have a collection of the cards that mean something hanging on my wall, scrapbooked or safely stored. But when it comes to giving words to others, I am not as skillful. Perhaps it is my understanding that there is always a better way to put something or my excessive need to edit, but cards are just not my thing. I try to give a gift so sentimental it takes just a few short, cute sentences to finish the warm and fuzzy thought train.

Graduations abound around me, causing deja vu and a lot of hopefulness for the day I finally graduate college and put it behind me. Last night I attended a graduation party for two of my close friends and I was at a loss for the sentimental gift to offer. Graduations require special thought. It is the closing of a book of your life and the beginning of a new one. A simple blender will not do for a close friend’s graduation gift.

So a few hours before the party I discovered my gift. It involved few words, much creativity, and almost every moment I had left. My love of scrapbooking has continued to expand as I grow older. When I left for college I created a book recalling memories since birth between my sister and I. For my graduating friends I decided I would create one page of memories, give some extra pages and stickers so that they could chronicle their own adventures they were about to have, and then have a single page where I could write notes and thoughts. So I still ended up writing, but less. I just couldn’t resist…

I’ve got to say that creating the page made me feel all warm and fuzzy. Looking back at the memories and compiling them all together made the relationships stronger. It focused on the good; not the gaps. In a written book, there is good and bad, painful and happy, filler and adventure. And that’s all part of life, but some teenage girl books get so wrapped up in the ugly that there’s no room for the joy. That is the way we tend to think and it is those books we need to rally against! I think I love scrapbooking so much because it highlights all the best parts of life. We need more reminders of the good stuff.

Like the new snazzy guitar I just bought… or swinging with my friend in the park last night until after it had closed… coming up with secret code words with her in case of emergency (at nineteen)… laughing about the stupid moments with old friends… or hanging with my nephews tonight.

Life really does have its awful times. Lately they’ve been tough hurdles. But it also has its amazing, profound, simple wonderous moments. Maybe if we focused a little more on that our lives could be more like scrapbooks than stupid-girly-negative-novels.

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When I was a kid, we used to have ‘Choose your own adventure books’ (which, in my mind, every kid should have), where you would start on page one and then be confronted with a decision about what to do next. What you chose took you to a different page and so on.

Last Sunday I had my high school graduation party. I have never been much into party games, but I really wanted to do something to represent my writing side. S0, I wrote a ‘Choose Jessie Mae’s Adventure’ book and let my guests choose how my future should end. My sister and I found pictures of the many endings and posted my head onto them–guests could sign the pictures instead of a guestbook. Overall, I think it was an awesome graduation game. I had a lot of fun and so did my guests.

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