My favorite time of year is always the start of the new year. Christmas, Easter, and July 4th are some of my favorite celebrations and seasons, but as for my favorite…New Year’s. I love that I get to keep building myself, learning new skills, making new goals, and reflecting on the growth of the previous year. 

Sometimes growth just looks like surviving, and other times, growth is more intense. 2019 was a year of intense. I was stretched emotionally, physically, relationally, and struggled with a writing block. And I survived! Actually, I think 2019 will go down as one of my favorite years. How, you might ask, when it was one of the most difficult? I love growth. I love real. And, I love seeing what I am capable of overcoming. Interesting, as this year is the year of 20/20 (perfect sight). 

So, as I reflect and rebuild, I’ve decided my 2020 word (and yearly theme) is INTENTIONAL. 

Interestingly enough, it’s also the yearly theme of a podcast I highly recommend (Better Than Happy by Jodi Moore). In fact, it was her words this morning that solidified this word choice. 

Jodi Moore says we should strive for being happy 50% of the time. Usually, if we strive to be happier more than that, it means we have to give up on doing hard things and accomplishing our goals (i.e. we can be happy 80% of the time just watching Netflix and eating chocolate. We won’t feel as many negative emotions…even if our happy is a little more muted).

That means 50% of the time, we will experience negative emotions. However, we get to choose those negative emotions. This idea BLEW MY MIND. Here…see if you can follow my gist…

I get chocolate cravings all the time. Seriously. If I resist, I will feel disappointed. However, if I eat the chocolate, I will also feel disappointed (i.e. tighter pants and disappointment in myself). Either way, I am going to experience a negative emotion—DISAPPOINTMENT. So, why not choose the one that serves me best—being healthier and happier in the long run? 

Oh my gosh. This was huge. I mean, I always knew we get to choose our life, but this specific idea (that we will feel negative emotions either way and get to choose how or why) changed my perspective completely. 

We can’t expect to feel empowered on every part of our journey to attain goals or grow or become better. We will, and most likely should, feel negative emotions. However, I hadn’t realized the power we have to choose which ones and how long. So…with that, my mind started spinning with ideas. Out of control. I’ve got so many ideas and goals for this new year, ones I am committed to accomplishing in an intentional way. Relationally, spiritually, physically, and writing wise—I’m coming for you, goals! 

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Ever since I was a little girl, I heard the stories of my great-grandmother Stella.

Orphaned. Mistreated. Escaped to America on her own at the age of 16. Bet in a game of cards. Stella overcame much in order to secure her freedom, the happiness of her future posterity. Her strength continues to inspire me, daily.

When I decided to write this book, my mom had mixed feelings. She worried about how I would portray other family members, how I would portray her grandma. At last, I showed it to her–just before the manuscript went to press.

She called me with tears in her eyes. As a college student, my mom said Stella came to her in a dream (years after Stella’s death). In the dream, Stella hugged my mom and said, “You are the only one who has not forgotten me.”

I did not know that story when I wrote this book or when I chose the title, THE FORGOTTEN GIRL. However, I get emotional thinking of my mom’s dream and my choice of title. Stella is not forgotten, and my book was a small way I could ensure that. Sometimes the stories we create don’t come from us; sometimes the words aren’t ours. I know that to be the case in this story. The writing isn’t perfect.

But, the story is.


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