Self-Reflection

This is what my success looks like nowadays

It's been seven days since I wrote a story, thanks to a last-minute decision to take my kid to the beach for the first time in her life during the holiday. I'm still smiling over the look of utter joy as she pranced in the water, kicking at the waves as they crashed into her small frame. I want to laugh out loud as I think about how she lost not one but two toy shovels, and then subsequently took to throwing her last one into the water just so she (that is, I) could chase it as the water moved it up and down the shore. 

But it's been seven days since I wrote a story, which means it's been seven days since I did "work" to get paid. I guess the short getaway did me good because I'm actually not freaking out too much about that. The work will come.

Checking in on my writing goals: I'm petrified to tell my own stories

Recently, I was flipping through an old notebook I use to free-write late at night. Well, at least I used to. It only took flipping a few pages back to find where I'd chronicled the time and minutes between contractions during labor with my daughter. She was born in February — of last year. 

Here we are, about six months into the year, and I've been thinking a lot about my writing goals recently. In addition to maintaining my daily news writing gig at VICE's Broadly, I've broken into a couple of new publications, including Brides.com and the newly unveiled VICE Impact. I've also been blogging regularly over at Creative Loafing Atlanta, which allows me to work with my mentor again, in addition to keeping tabs on what's happening in my home state. 

What I haven't done thus far this year, though, is place a piece that tells one of my own stories. I love narratives for the way you can play with language to paint a vivid scene that draws a reader in. It's my favorite kind of writing to read and do. 

What's holding me back, though, is that lately I haven't been so keen on the kind of self-reflection that yields a great personal narrative. Many writers keep a journal to help them work through stuff: ideas, random thoughts, even memorable conversations. But I haven't written anything for myself in almost a year.

Simply daunting.

Simply daunting.

I could blame my never-ending fight to find the time, between working and mommy-ing, but that feels like a cheap excuse. If I'm being honest with myself, I think I'm a little afraid. I don't know what I'll find once I start digging within myself. Since almost simultaneously starting this mom journey and full-time writer journey, I guess I've been nervous to check in with myself about how it's all going. 

I suppose that's what being a writer is all about: Making yourself uncomfortable for the sake of your work. And I know once I start writing, the good stuff will eventually flow out so easily. It's just a matter of getting those first few words down on paper.

Then I wonder: Do I even have interesting stories to tell? 

What I'm reading: Not a damn thing. Oh, wait, actually, we recently got a subscription to The Atlantic and the digital version of the Washington Post. What's waiting for me to read but I'm too sleepy at the end of the day to dive in? Moms Who Drink and Swear by Nicole Knepper.

On the last day of 2016, writing goals, and my kid

It's the last morning of 2016, and my kid and I are hanging out in my home office. Correction: I'm hanging out in my office; my kid is wreaking havoc. Toys, office supplies and books I've yet to read are scattered everywhere. The play area I've set up for her under the window remains neat and untouched. 

I'm in planning mode, but half-heartedly. What do I want to accomplish next year, professionally and personally? How do I continue to grow my business and manage the never-ending needs of my tiny human? What am I going to do about childcare, now that she's so close to walking and will undoubtedly no longer be content to sit in my office and play while I work? 

Then I look over and see my kid. She's got a marker in one hand and a book in her lap -- the picture of a future liberal arts major. 

An update from Motherland

As I tap this out, my baby girl is sleeping in the next room. Occasionally, she grunts or cries out, but I've finally learned to resist the urge to run to her until she's fully awake and hollering like a ...

And there lies the reason for why I've been absent from my personal writing. Since Kalina Gi Hee Holmes made her debut Feb. 3, 2016--three weeks before her due date--I've been struggling to find my words. Whatever eloquent or thought-provoking messages I thought I had to share with the world have been tucked away in some chest I've lost the key to.  

An unexpected encounter brings some comfort for 2016

For the first time in many years, my ex-fiancé and I sat across from each other in the Korean church we grew up in. It was lunchtime on the Sunday after Christmas, and we were seated in the former Pizza Hut turned cafeteria, eating rice, kimchi and ribs.

We avoided each other’s gaze.

The holidays bring people home, so I shouldn’t have been surprised to see him. But I was.

He’s a Marine stationed in North Carolina with family who long ago moved to Korea. As for me, this was only the second time I’d visited the church since I returned to Augusta six months ago from almost 10 years in Charlotte; I’d only come because a good friend and her family was in town, and this was my last chance to see her kids.

Despite the awkwardness I felt at sharing a meal with a complete stranger I’d once planned to marry, I made small talk. “How are your parents? Where’s your brother at nowadays?” I think he felt as uncomfortable as I did; he kept staring off toward the kitchen, where the older Korean women, my mother included, were milling about.

Afterward, when we had nothing left to say, I latched onto my good friend like she was my bodyguard, left the lunchroom, and waved awkwardly when he drove off in a black truck.

Now that I’ve had a little time to digest this peek at my past, and reflected on 2015 in general, I’m realizing just how much I needed that unexpected encounter.

I've been M.I.A. for three months -- here are three reasons why.

It's almost October, and I'm ashamed to say this is the first time I've logged onto SquareSpace since July. Allow me to offer you meme-generated excuses for my absence.

1) After living and breathing my full-time job for nine years, I anticipated a mourning period when I finally left. I did not, however, expect to question my entire identity. I should have seen it coming though. It's happened before.

In seventh grade, I had the highest average in my grade. I brought home trophies on top of trophies on Honors Day because, frankly, I was a nerd who always did well in school. I was known as "the smart girl," and I was OK with that.

The following year, though, I discovered boys, and eventually fell to second place in grade point average to a kid named Douglas. 

I was devastated. If I wasn't "the smart kid" anymore, who was I?

A couple of months ago, I found myself with the same self-doubt. If I wasn't a newspaper editor anymore, who was I?

As a result, I struggled to find the fire and inspiration to publish on this site.

2) When it comes to my own personal affairs, I'm not a great planner. Quitting was the right thing to do, but I wasn't prepared financially. By July, I started to freak out about paying bills, and started focusing a majority of my time on searching for and applying to jobs -- even gigs I knew wouldn't make me happy. Plus, that minor freakout stilted my creativity, and I found it difficult to come up with story ideas for this site as well as for others.  

I'd taken a leap of faith when I moved down here to Augusta, but within only a couple of months, that faith had vanished.

Sometimes I wish I didn't keep up with what's going on in the world. At times, it stresses me out. Take, for example, the last Republican debate. I didn't want to watch it because I knew I fundamentally disagreed with every single one of the candidates on that stage. But I did tune in that night, at the insistence of my boyfriend. And because I couldn't quell my curiosity.

As I listened to Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina and the others attack President Obama, Hillary Clinton and one another, I could only feel my blood pressure rising. Not only because I was frustrated at what they were saying, but also because I know there's a very good chance one of those folks will be my next president -- and there's nothing I can do about it.

The feeling of helplessness is what gets me. The amount of injustices and plain stupidity in the world is so overwhelming at times that I want to burrow myself in a dark cave with a year's supply of candles, books and magazines just so I can forget it all.

Metaphorically, that's what happened this summer. I (mostly) stopped paying attention and started coloring. (No, really.) I sought peace. 

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But the summer is over (at least, that's what the calendar tells me) and I'm ready to be accountable to something of my own again. Maybe I needed that break to figure out where I want to take this site. Maybe I'm just saying that because it sounds better than admitting laziness. Well, stay tuned.