State of the Ellie: August 2019

A (not so) brief summary of my July. Featuring a nagging case of FOMO, professional maturity, toddler attitude, and being bored with my health updates.

Another Way by Justin Peters - A man in a black leather jacket holds an umbrella with a road and landscape on top

The State of the Ellie is a monthly reflection on what’s been going on in my world for the last 30ish days.

Since the last one was late, this month’s update is of the quick ‘n’ dirty variety to avoid belaboring past points. Also, while July wasn’t calendar-busy, it was internally busy, so buckle up.

Florida

The news here is the same as last time: we’re shooting for November. As we get closer to Thanksgiving, I’m sure things will get nuts again, but for now, we’re back in hurry-up-and-wait mode. Which has given me existential whiplash. It took me a while to figure out why I’ve been feeling so tender, distracted, and lost after the timeline shift, but it’s so obvious now. We were running full tilt getting ready to go for August, then had a concrete wall slam down in front of us. Of course I’m discombobulated—going from 100 to 0 hurts.

I’m also coping with a nagging case of FOMO (as inadvertently evidenced by the story I wrote last week). Most of our team is heading south this month, and frankly, I’m jealous. The delay in our departure makes sense (for more than just immigration purposes—see “Family” below), but there is a huge part of me that just wants to go. To be there, to be starting. There’s another, crappier part of me that’s sulking about feeling left out. I know God’s using this to root out pride and abandonment issues, which is good, but uggggghhhhh. Unpleasant. Right now, I’m choosing to be excited for everyone else and to be as patient as possible until our number is called. It’s not how long you wait but your attitude while waiting that counts, right?

Work

There’s a serious leveling up happening here right now. While I don’t have a full slate of clients (yet), the work I’m doing with them, the way I handle my schedule, and even the rates I charge are morphing from wobbly-legged amateur to sort-of-confident professional person. I’m taking on challenges that make me uncomfortable but not uneasy. I’m valuing my time and skills more. I’m finding new ways, places, and times to work that seemed impossible five years ago.

I’m growing, you guys.

There’s still a fair amount of chaos, and I’m still looking for clients, but there’s a new undercurrent of competency I’ve never felt in my business life before. And I kinda like it.

Also: I wrote my first fiction last week for the first time in two years. I had to double check the dates because that doesn’t seem real. I miss it so much. I have tons of story ideas, and I want so badly to finish Forgotten Relics. But I can’t seem to pull my mental/creative/temporal shit together. Then I fall into the comparison trap—“XYZ author person writes all their novels while working 40 hours a week and homeschooling their five kids and…”—you know. Anyway. The desire is there. I can’t make any promises, but I will say there’ve been inklings in my prayer time that full-blown fiction is returning. Someday.

Family

Less than a week after we had to delay Florida, we found out why we needed to: Lino’s mom was rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night with heart issues that resulted in her getting a pacemaker. I’ll spare the long story, but the upshot is that we’re really glad we decided to stay. She’s facing a lot of changes in her life that we need (want!) to be present for and to support. On top of that, my sister-in-law is expecting her second baby mid-August, so we get to be present for and to support her through that newborn season, too. So it turned out that what we’d been angsting about as a setback to building the Kingdom was actually a green light (reminder) to be doing it here, now.

Parenting

I always feel like I should have so much more to write here. How do those mommybloggers do it?!

Each month that goes by intensifies Mackenzie’s toddlerness. The last couple of weeks, her attitude has ratcheted up to teenage Valley Girl levels, including once telling her daddy “don’t worry about what I’m doing and mind your own business.” I….what. We’re at a bit of a loss as to how to discipline that, but are doing our best to be consistent with what we know to do. We also suspect that, after six months of not needing a nap, she might need one again. The couple of times we made her lay down due to a late night, her attitude was markedly improved. Hrm….*strokes beard*

Also (TMI ALERT): Mack’s big accomplishment this month is that she all the sudden decided to start pooping on the little potty in the morning and then get right back in bed to wait for her wakeup call. WHAT. She’s been daytime trained since May, but we’ve purposely not started night training because we don’t want to deal with any stress-based regressions in the mattress department due to moving. But, hey, if she wants to poop on the potty, I’m all for it.

Health

Guys, I’m so bored with this category. It’s one of the regulars, but honestly, it’s the same stuff all the time. Cold symptoms, aching joints, weird stuff doctors don’t care much about because it isn’t bad enough. Blah, blah, blah. You guys deserve better than this. Suffice to say, I’m on sinus infection #2 of the year. Two more and the ENT will give a crap about what I say. Hooray?

Miscellaneous

  • My reading life is picking up! I wrestled that Tolkien to the ground, finally, and rewarded myself with Redshirts and a few YA graphic novels I randomly grabbed at the library. Going on to Murakami shorts next. Gotta retrain my flabby brain after four years of basically just reading nutritional labels.
  • Our local libraries show movies for free in the afternoon, and we’re taking Mack to train her up to go to the Real Theatre. Moana tomorrow. Let’s see if she can sit still for the whole thing.
  • It’s starting to be too dark at 5:30am for me to safely walk our neighborhood. This makes me sad because a) I need to exercise, and b) it reminds me that winter is coming. Argh. I might have to find some room in the budget to get back to the gym.

That’s it for me this month! Now it’s your turn.

Jump in the comments to tell me how YOUR July went and what you’ve got planned for August.

State of the Ellie: July 2019

The (not so) brief summary of my June. Featuring a revised timeline, freelancing joy, receiving help with grace, and nothing being wrong with my hearing apparently.

A grey short hair cat with a takeout box on its head that says "supreme"

The State of the Ellie is a monthly reflection on what’s been going on in my world for the last 30ish days (a bit delayed this month because life).

I don’t know about you, but my June was IN-SANE. Just looking back at my day planner is stressing me out, and it’s stuff I’ve already done.

Let’s see if I can break down the madness into bite-sized chunks.

Florida

Honestly, not a lot happened with this in June. Which is sort of the refrain of this year’s song. We continued to prune our house and make arrangements with doctors, etc, but aside from the plan finally going public, we had to pause everything for the vow renewal (see below). I’ve certainly grown a lot in terms of being able to spin more plates than ever, but handling an international move and a (re)wedding at the same time is too much for one human.

BUT! We spoke with our pastors and an immigration lawyer this week, and yada yada yada we’re staying in Hamilton at least until November 1–together. (And this could get changed again, depending on processing times.)

Which, I realized after having a meltdown about more delays, is actually a relief. Now we don’t have to DO ALL THE THINGS in the next three weeks, plus we’ll be here when my new niece arrives. And, you know, not splitting up the family for an indefinite amount of time is certainly a bonus.

Work

Is it unprofessional to say I’m shocked at how well this is going? Because I am a bit. Since going freelance in May, I’ve started working with a handful of clients who have super interesting, fun projects on the go, and I love that I get to help them bring their writing babies into the world! I even made each one their own themed Trello board. And now that Lino is home, he and I split the childcare week, meaning I get three whole days to do whatever I want (read: work like I’m on fire), so although I’m busy, I’m also more productive and more peaceful than I have been in my working life for a long time.

There’s room to grow, though! I’m always looking for editing and writing gigs, and there are only 3 consultation spots available. If you or someone you know needs a boost on their writing project, let’s talk!

Money

This part is…less good. While I’m bringing more to the table these days, June saw Lino’s last official paycheck after being laid off. He’s applied for employment insurance, but it hasn’t started yet, and our savings are dwindling. We’re cobbling together a best-case scenario for both of us to work, pay the bills, have Mack taken care of, and also prepare for the eventual exodus. It’s a lot. And we’re scared. But. Some embarrassingly-kind people have stepped in to help us out: two gave us unsolicited grocery cards, one threw huge bags of frozen meat at us and ran away, many are inviting us over for dinner. God is taking care of us. We might be living way closer to the edge of disaster than we’re comfortable with, but that’s where He does His best work.

Parenting

Mackenzie continues to be three. The fact that I can’t think of much in the way of wins and losses tells me that either I’m getting acclimatized to toddler life or I’ve lost my mind. Our day to day is a whirlwind of activities, meltdowns, laughter, half-eaten food, and wondering if I can get away without bathing her for another day because it’s already so late and she doesn’t smell like pee so it should be fine right. I will say she’s loving having Daddy home on the regular, although it’s been quite a mental adjustment for Lino. He’s gone from a high-stress corporate management job handling hundreds of employees and millions of dollars to a high-stress small human management job with one employee and no dollars. He loves it, though. They’re so stinkin’ cute together.

Love

Of everything that happened in June, our 10-year anniversary and vow renewal was far and away the best. There was a fair amount of drama leading up to it–mostly because I panicked and bought a totally different dress, then had the tailoring adventure of a lifetime and didn’t get it until the day before the ceremony–but! like all major events you plan yourself, once the day rolled around, everything went perfectly. Keep your eyes peeled for an awww-inducing post as soon as the photos are ready.

My favourite part, though, wasn’t the ceremony or the party. It was the next day when my husband turned to me after a long silence and said, “I know it’s stupid because it’s not actually different, but it just feels different today, you know?” Nothing could have made me happier. Because it is different. That’s the whole point.

Health

On one hand, I’m happily exercising sans gym by doing physio stretches and walking around the stadium weekday mornings (thank you, 5am Club). On the other hand, the ENT appointment I waited four months for to diagnose my constant low-grade cold symptoms and a slow but appreciable hearing loss turned up exactly nothing. I managed to hold it together afterward just long enough to make it to the bathroom where I burst into tears that didn’t stop until I got back to my car. I have a history of being “too early” with things happening to/in my body; I report illnesses and wonkiness long before it’s of concern to doctors. And this is no exception, it seems. I was given a prescription for FloNase and welcomed to being middle aged. It broke my heart. For now, I suppose I’ll keep going to the doc too early and asking people to talk louder until the day it’s bad enough to get help.


That’s it for me this month! Tune in the first week of August to hear how July went.

Now it’s your turn!
Share your June thoughts and July plans in the comments.

State of the Ellie: June 2019

A (not so) brief summary of my May. Featuring a 90-day no-spending challenge, being okay with talking about my marriage, and the shock of missing working out. Read all about it, then share your May with me!

A woman asleep on a pile of open books holding several coffee cups on strings like balloons

The State of the Ellie is my monthly reflection on what’s been going on in my life for the last 30ish days. Everything you ever wanted to know but weren’t sure you should ask.

WORK

In perhaps the least-planned launch of my life, I went official with my writing and editing services last month, which is exciting! and scary! and wow! The announcement only went out two weeks ago, so I’m not full up yet, but I have a handful of leads/offers already, which is rad. I’m also hanging out the ol’ shingle on freelancer sites (they’re so competitive and official that it’s intimidating) and setting up a LinkedIn profile. So there’s that.

One of my biggest work goals is to get back to regular writing. I’m starting small: publish one blog post per week. This sounds ridiculous to me since I did that for years, but a four-year break weakens even the strongest muscles. I also want to write monthly short fiction. And write another novel. And run a writing workshop. And and and. One step at a time.

If you have any questions you’d like me to answer on the blog or topics you’d like my take on, leave me a note in the comments! Writing prompts are super helpful to get me moving.

MONEY

Obviously, the big news on this front is Lino being let go from his job. We spent the second half of May preparing the budget (and our souls) for what will be a massive shift in expectations. It’s going to be tight. Tighter than tight. But through a lot of late-night talks and a lot of prayer, we’ve agreed that this is actually a good thing. Lino has been struggling with golden handcuffs and relying on work for his sense of worth. Now, he’s free. The plan is for him to take EI for a couple of months while I ramp up freelancing (and possibly find a part-time job) to make up the difference. In the meantime, he’ll be growing his not-for-profit, connecting with related organizations, volunteering in the community, and serving more at our church. Come August, we’ll be off and running again, I’m sure! Until then, we’re cutting unnecessary expenses, eating more simply, and trusting God to provide as we go through this lean season. Think of it as a 90-day, no-spending, no-grocery challenge.

PARENTING

This category used to be called “baby,” but since she turned three, I feel compelled to change it.

Toddler life is a daily encounter with a double-edged sword. One side is bottomless wonder, curiosity, delight, and love; the other is unrepentant rebellion, fury, manipulation, and defiance. The first side is amazing. Her innocent joy is infectious and has done miracles in me. She’s asking more and better questions every day, and walking her through how the world works is deeply happy-making for me. Those are my favourite moments of the day.

It’s that second side that’s the trouble. That edge cuts deeper, more fatally. And when it’s your first kid, you don’t know the best way to equip yourself for battle–what armor, shield, tools, and weapons you need to both defend yourself and to land tactical blows that knock them down but don’t destroy them. Some days, you get it right. Most days you don’t. With Mack, she’s just upgraded her arsenal, and I am not doing a great job of keeping up. Like, she’s doing less acting out/blatant disobedience and way more emotional stuff now. She’s saying things like “I don’t love you” and “I want people to be sad” to hurt me on purpose. And it does hurt.

Honestly, there’s a lot of yelling right now. At the end of the day, we’re both exhausted. Logically, I know this is her growing, testing limits, searching for holes in the fence to make sure she’s safe, that I’m consistent and really who I say I am. But the older she gets, the less I see her as a baby and more as a tiny adult, so when she’s coming at me like a teenager, it takes a huge mental effort for me not to respond in kind. Not cool, mom.

This is (as always) an exercise in day-to-day grace. For me and for her. New mercies every day.

At least she’s potty trained now.

LOVE

I’m…hesitant to write anything here. Which feels silly given how open I’ve been in the past (I even got up in front of hundreds of people at Easter and talked blatantly about how we almost got divorced). But over the years, I’ve developed a reticence towards talking about stuff that involves other people. Part of that is from becoming visibly Christian. While a lot of my inner critics fled the scene when Jesus arrived, I did gain a new one by accident: the fear of what my faith family will think of me being super vulnerable and overshare-y online.

But you know what? No. That’s just another lie I’m buying into that smothers my soul, and I’m not beholden to that BS anymore.

Lino and I are actually doing great! Although the past couple of years have been a blind-corner rollercoaster due to the struggles with his work, the moment we found out that was over, it was like a switch flipped inside of him. All the weight, stress, and worry he’d been carrying–the poisons leaking into our marriage and keeping us from being close–evaporated. He even shaved his beard, which I do like when trimmed to Tony Stark proportions, but was long and smelled like stale coffee and was getting up my nose, which resulted in less kisses (and other things *waggles eyebrows suggestively*) than we’d like. We’re also united in purpose in a way we’ve been longing for since we stopped LARPing (if you don’t know what that is, message me. Have I got a story for you). Yet another way that the job loss has been more helpful than anyone could rightfully expect. As we go into the summer, we’re both paying closer attention to one another, being intentional about our precious time, and finding our intimacy again after spending so many years living under the same roof as strangers.

HEALTH

Man. This has been all over the place in May. I’m pretty sure I had the same cold all month in various stages, which added another level of difficulty to everything. But my hip surgery recovery went swimmingly, aside from the usual muscle weakness, butt pain, and whatever is making my neck weak (probably my phone) that we’re dealing with in physio.

The most shocking health thing for me, though, is that I MISS THE GYM. I have never even thought that sentence in my entire life. I had to stop at the start of April because surgery, but my gym accidentally cancelled my contract instead of holding it for the six weeks I needed off. So, no lifting for me. I can feel my weight creeping back up as my strength fades, and it is not cool. My body is antsy, and I need a bigger calorie allotment, dammit. There are cakes to bake. So I may have to take up actual running. Please don’t watch.

MISCELLANEOUS

My dear baking-nerd friend and I made the most incredible lemon and strawberry rolled cake the other day and you guys don’t even know. I also frosted Mackenzie’s three-tiered birthday cake with a butter knife and am immensely proud. The challenge of tackling a project more complicated than banana bread has become a surprising source of satisfaction this past year. I’ll never be a pro, but it feels so good to make something with my hands.

I’ll probably write a proper article about this soon, but I bought all three of Austin Kleon’s books on creativity for myself for Mother’s Day, and I cried three times reading the first one in public. They’re ministering to my soul. And changing how I want to interact with social media: less noise, more art, more learning.

I’m also trying to figure out how to do meal planning for a family of three on a major budget, so suggestions are greatly appreciated.


Your turn! What was May like for you? What are you looking forward to (or dreading) in June? Share in the comments!

A prayer for my somehow three year old baby on her birthday

Let her be quick to forgive and quick to say sorry.

Let her not seek her own way but Yours.

Let her give lavishly of herself and what she has without thinking of debt or payback.

Let her have strong boundaries that serve her and others, to keep connection without sacrificing sanity or health.

Let her love with abandon, never fearing being hurt or giving thought to what’s in it for her.

Let her be confident–the kind based on her position as a child of the most high king, never proud or arrogant.

Let her be curious, exploring the world in all its wonder and mystery.

Let her be brave, never letting fear rule her even though she may feel it.

Let her see the truth and express it with overwhelming gentleness.

Let her be running over with big faith, the kind that moves mountains.

Let her question all things but never doubt Your great love for her.

Happy third birthday, Mackenzie.