Recently, I have been listening to the Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin, on Audio book and it has stimulated my long dormant journey of self-acceptance and discovery. “Be Gretchen” she says. “Be Lauren” I repeat. What does being Lauren look like? I am a wife, I am a mother of three children, I am the second youngest of four siblings, I have blue eyes. By tangible definition I am all of those things, but beyond that there is so much more. I have a wild imagination, I love to make. I love to figure out the how and why of whatever has currently captured my attention. Baby hugs. I over share when I’m nervous, and talk too fast when I am excited…or mad. I can’t do accents to save my life, but does that stop me? Nope. I have a thirst for knowledge and am a recovering (sort of) smarty-pants. Coffee. I will stop whatever I am doing for an impromptu dance off, I mean when the beat drops I can’t stop.
I listened to a Super Soul Session by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat Pray Love (I’ve seen the movie but have not yet read the book) and she said something interesting that helped me to understand myself a little bit better, “Follow your creativity”. What I was able to take away from that talk is that not everyone has a passion, Gilbert, also profusely apologized for trying to bully people into finding their passion in past talks, when they simply just didn’t have one. At the time I thought that was slightly humorous but also extremely relieving. I truly thought that I was a person who did not just have one, singular passion. I like a lot of things but do I really love something enough that it fuels me into passionate action that my life revolves around? I honestly thought the answer was no. When I got to the month of September in the Happiness Project Book, Gretchen (we’re on a first name basis because I have listened to over nine hours of her lovely speaking voice) briefly talked about her research on knowing what your passion is. It’s what you think about when you are on the toilet. Just do what you do and you’ll know. (I am severely paraphrasing). Then it hit me. Stories. Stories are my passion, reading them, writing them, listing to them, discovering them, wondering about them. Every facet of the story telling process fascinates me. So often, I am composing a string of words together and arranging and rearranging them in my head. Plot lines go through my head on a daily basis, like a time traveling muse, who becomes mortal once she falls in love, or a siren in 19th century Scotland, with double identities who falls in love with a devastatingly handsome sailing master.
My mother read to my siblings and I every night before we would go to bed, all throughout my childhood. Little House on the Prairie, The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe and The Bible, just to name a few. I would go to bed thinking about those stories and all the next day, I would always be so excited for bedtime to hear more of those stories. The sound of my mother’s voice narrating the incredible unfolding of those beloved tales is quite possible my favorite memory. My brother Nick and I would camp outside in the back yard during the summer and I would make him tell me any story that came into his head. The story would usually involve an epic space battle where the hero acquired a new planet of some sort due to his valiant victory. Nick and I played a lot of make believe, acting out stories of space heroes, underground fort architects, explorers, scientists, master chefs (ok that was mostly Aron) and sometimes plain old goofballs.
I was born a book worm, thanks mom. By the time I was 12, I had read every Babysitters Club book that Ann M. Martin had ever written and I still firmly believe the film adaptation was a horrific monstrosity. Three of the four Twilight books were devoured in a 5-day period. I have torn through Wuthering Heights too many times to count, oh Heathcliff you bloody fool! Outlander, you slay me, Je suis prés forever. Jen Hatmaker, don’t get me started, bless. Jane Austen please be my pen pal so I can tell you how ardently I admire and love you.
I began journaling at a young age and I was quite the fibber. I used to make up stories for the fun of it. Who cares if they were not true, they were much more interesting, thought my 8 year old mind. I start a new journal for each year, not always full entries, sometimes it’s short musings, quotes, prayers, or a bible verse. Something about the physicality of putting pen to paper anchors my mind from aimless wandering in my jumbled sea of thoughts
The journaling eventually turned into poem writing and when I learned how to play the guitar at 17, it turned in to song composing. My early 20’s were recorded in a vast array of complicated love songs that were only a glimpse of a much larger story partially unfolded. “Over”, “Burning man”, “I Could” “The One”, also known as Justin, Jesse, Dylan and Matthew my the beloved husband. Man I was busy but songs weren’t enough. I needed more, there was so much more to be said. Dozens of stories swirled around begging to be told.
Shorty after having William, my darling second child, I was nursing him to sleep one afternoon and I began to think of a little blue bird with an orange belly. A tiny little bird that’s bravery was underestimated. My tiny little son, who would one day not be so tiny, inspired this story. I wrote it in poem form in about five minutes. I couldn’t believe it. Where did this sweet inspiring story come from? MY HEAD! It seemed like an out of body experience, could I have possibly come up with this so quickly all on my own? Yes. The proof was sitting right in front of me in my notes on my iPhone. I had written stories before, children’s books mostly, but nothing had come to me this quickly. I didn’t get it copyrighted for a couple years after that and I didn’t really share it with anyone. After receiving the copyright certificate I sent it out to a dozen or so publishers that accepted unsolicited manuscripts. I received one reply, a rejection letter, which I will cherish FOREVER. For me, sending out my manuscript was huge accomplishment because that meant that I had overcome my fear of rejection and failure. I believe in my story enough to know that one day others will too. Recently a friend put me in touch with one of her colleagues, Joya, who is an incredible watercolor artist. We decided to collaborate on the tiny blue bird project. It is still in progress and I am incredibly excited about that.
I have many writing projects that I am working on currently. My first novel, half a dozen essays, blog entries, and a poem or two. I remember watching an interview featuring the incredible author, Diana Gabaldon, and she explained that her writing process includes working on more than one project at a time so that if she gets writer’s block on one piece she can hop to another one all the while keep the creative juices flowing. I have adopted this method because it really has worked for me in that my creativity, once sparked, stays lit no matter what project I am currently working on. There is electricity that starts to run through my veins as I begin to write and I know that in those moments I am fully me, being Lauren. For me, to mold and manipulate a word picture is by far one of life’s greatest pleasures, because after all there is no story unless it’s told.