Tag Archive | Colorado Christian Writer’s Conference

When Joy Takes Over

I’ve meBird in cagentioned on this blog before that I struggle with depression. I learned early on to put a good face on my inner darkness because I was told that to tell anyone I was depressed was manipulative and a lie.

Way to validate my reality, huh?

And I fought the first therapist who insisted this was my struggle. So I charted my emotions, and I was shocked at what I saw. I really was depressed.  Since then I’ve taken medications on and off over the years and have one that works well for me now. I tried the natural methods to no avail. I defeated Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (an autoimmune disease of the thyroid for which depression is a side effect). Having been educated and worked in the mental health field I’m very aware of my symptomatology and the kinds of things I need to do to stop myself from sinking further into the pit of despair.

That’s why sometimes when joy breaks through it is a remarkable thing for me to take note of, to savor and to hold on to-because it’s rare.

Some of my circumstances do limit my expression of the good in my life because not everyone in my world appreciates all the aspects of who God created me to be. Not everyone supports or cheers me on in my writing and publishing pursuits. Because of this I’ve had to develop a more extended circle of support. So my cheerleaders are not physically close but they are there when I need them.

Flying Dog

But joy. It breaks through like a dog let off his leash, gate open and free to run in wide open spaces, ears flapping and tail wagging. Unhindered by expectations. Free to be fully who he is.

The filters come off, the darkness slips away and bright light shines from inside as I let loose to live more fully who God created me to be. That’s a high energy thing though and can’t be sustained for long. It happens in places were my gifts and calling are validated and my wacky weird personality is appreciated and not condemned.

A place where I can set aside any thoughts of how overweight I am or be self-conscious about my appearance.

It’s a place where people around me appreciate and love me for being – me. Imperfections and all.

That sometimes happens at church and I’m blessed to have people there who love me like that. But there are still some barriers because there have been those who have condemned me for my high spirits and effusive personality when it’s been expressed. Not everyone likes the bubbly, silly, sassy, “high-spirited” side of Susan.  Or maybe it threatens them. Joy at fully living one’s purpose can make others jealous.

Dee Dee and Lori laughingA few weeks ago I had several moments of uninhibited joy. I was in the beautiful Rocky Mountains at a YMCA at Estes Park for the Colorado Christian Writer’s Conference where I served as faculty. I enjoyed my entire time there. It was work. I taught classes which I enjoy and encouraged writers. I willingly poured out love and encouragement to others and was glad to be able to do so.

Dee Dee and I met last year and a friendship was born. The picture above is of Dee Dee and another new friend, Lori at dinner in town. I love the expression on their faces and only wish I could have caught Megan in there too as she sat next to me. A dinner filled with deep conversation, belly laughs and love.

A writer’s conference is about writing, but more than that, it is about relationships and that night at that restaurant is a treasured memory of joy. It was later that Dee Dee and I sat and talked in the lobby and our relationship grew deeper. Dee Dee hasn’t led a perfectly wonderful life and has suffered her own share of struggles too. But together we laughed and cried and out of that is born joy.

Why? Because Dee Dee accepts and loves me just as I am. Wild, silly, weird, authentic, wounded and seeking to follow God imperfectly in my own circumstances. And I love her that way too. There will be many wonderful reasons to return to Colorado – but Dee Dee would top the list. And I’m grateful that with computers and phones the distance doesn’t have to be a barrier to our friendship.

Today as I write this, it’s raining and gloomy. Even as I type, tears roll down my cheeks, not out of sadness, but gratitude for those brief moments when the sun shines through the cloud and God has given me the opportunity to live more fully as “me”and be loved and accepted for that.

Praying you find safe places for joy to break through too.

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Re-entry: When the Conference is Over and You Go Home

Estes Park 1As I wrote a couple of weeks ago – it’s conference season for writers. I was blessed to attend the Colorado Christian Writer’s Conference this past week, returning last night to a home grateful to have mom back. No one was happier than my dog!

I was thrilled I didn’t succumb to altitude sickness high up in the Rocky Mountains. Even though I did have laryngitis for the majority of my time there, it didn’t slow me down. Some said my voice sounded “husky” which is quite appropriate for a romance author/editor, dontcha think?

I was honored and blessed to meet with many writers and encourage and pray with them. I also met with many faculty as well. Hugs, laughter and the moving of God’s Spirit combined to make for a fabulous time.

Because people tease me that I am now a Whoovian I can say I feel like I’ve now traveled through time and space (on Delta Airlines) to a different dimension as I returned home.

The fact is, whether you are faculty or a conferee, you will have to return back to real life. Many of us lamented that we could just stay in that place, explore, write, and rest. Authors escape reality all the time but let’s face it, it is still work. Faculty, like me, were blessed to be there but again, it is work.

I’m still sick and exhausted and my kids are out of school now so we are officially into summer vacation. I’m grateful my husband cared for them well and even cleaned out the back entry way and scrubbed the downstairs, most often used, bathroom!  Those are painful for me to do with my herniated disc. Makes me wonder what else might get done when I leave in two weeks for Write to Publish?

The one thing I do know is that I am richer for the experience of having gone. I have met some of God’s most amazing humans and heard some of the coolest stories of how God is working in their lives. Those are more important than the stories pitched to me and I was incredibly blessed that the majority of those who sat and talked to me saw me as a sister in Christ, not just someone who might buy their novel. I have memories of great laughter and joy surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation–including his people!

Today I’m tired. And sick. And it’s a crazy start to my week. I slept in and am now praying or those at the Blue Ridge Christian Writer’s Conference where I have many friends. I know they are in a beautiful space and soaking up so much in the way of information and connections. For many writers, being introverts, this can be a stretch!

So, if you have been to a conference, at one now, or going to one, make sure you take into account the re-entry when you return and be good to yourself. Build in time afterwards to refuel, sleep and let all that you experienced gel in your heart and soul as treasures and gifts from our wonderful God.