The life and words of Ashley, Erin, and Michelle

Lists of Lists June 9, 2010

Filed under: Life in General,Writing — Erin Joy @ 8:57 pm
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I love lists.

I know, that’s kind of an odd thing, but I find myself making them all the time! I have grocery lists, lists of what I need to do in Photoshop, lists of people I need to send cards to, lists of people I need to get stuff from, lists of people I just need to get back in touch with, lists of things I need to clean in our house, lists of where I could possibly move, lists of things I need to do by the end of the week, lists of places where I plan to go in the next month, lists of whatever comes to mind.

Once I even started making a list of “100 Things That Make Me Come Alive” on a challenge from a friend in college. I think I failed that one because I’ve only managed to get to maybe about 10 … because I wanted to write explanations for them all.

Seriously, I make too many lists. I think I write bullet lists in emails for work almost a dozen times a day. I have a list of all the different ideas for blog posts—just ask Ashley or Michelle! And look, here I am making a list of all the different kinds of lists I make. I’m out of control!

And now I have another list.

Yes, I know the idea of a bucket list has received a little bit of overkill since the movie came out three years ago, but it’s only recently that I’ve started having ideas of things “I want to do before I can’t”. I have so many places I want to visit, so many adventures I’d like to embark on, so many things I’d like to be a part of, but right now, they’re all just ideas floating around in my head. None of that’s ever going to happen when they’re only ideas.

That’s why I’ve decided to make a list of what I want to do.

Normally I’d ask for your opinions and suggestions for what to add to the list, but I’m not going to ask that. This list is a list of things that I personally need to create. I’m not sure how long of a list it will be or if I will ever stop adding to it.

All I know is I need to write things down in order to not allow these ideas to escape while I turn my back to work the extra half an hour at the end of a work day.


Wedding Salutations April 28, 2010

This past weekend I was part of a wedding party. It’s always an honor, and this was especially exciting, as I introduced the bride and groom. (I made sure to brag about it, too!)

photo by Anne Harrigan

After having been in so many weddings (this was my sixth) and having been a guest at many more, I have yet to find a go-to wedding gift. I’d written earlier about finding the perfect go-to shower gift, but weddings are a whole different animal. Usually, I resort to something off of the registry.

But then there’s a new problem: what do you write on the card?

It doesn’t help when you leave to the last minute (even during the reception!) and you brain is so mushed you can’t think of much to say beyond something generic like, “Congratulations! God bless!” But when you’re at the wedding of a writer, that hardly seems to suffice.

So, I’ve tried to come up with some creative wedding salutations since then. Here’s what I have so far:

  • For those Dr. Who fans: “May your love be like a tardis, normal to the typical passersby, but unbounded by time and space by those who enter in.”
  • For those Creative Memories scrapbookers out there: “May all your memories together be creative.”
  • For all the Photoshop lovers out there: “May your love for one another be like Photoshop: able to turn a grey sky blue, a frown to a smile and change your focus to what matters most.”
  • For those supermodels who marry each other: “May you love looking at one another as much as you love looking at yourself.” (Okay, I don’t have any friends who are that vain, but I was trying to think of something out of the box.)

How about you? What creative wedding salutations can you come up with?


My Writing Verse October 26, 2009

Filed under: Writing — ashleybarrett @ 2:25 pm
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I’m not sure if other writers have a verse that applies particularly to their writing, but I have a verse that helps me type that next word.

Did God wake me up in the middle of the night with a verse in my mind? No. After discovering my “writing verse” did I hop on the computer and cheerily pound out 50,000 words? No. In fact, God gave me that verse in the midst of my biggest writing struggle and it did not end instantly.

During my senior year in college, I often found myself staring at a blank screen. Any thoughts I’d had before writing drained out of my ears. But I didn’t have the luxury of avoidance because of my writing classes. I had to extract each word like a dentist pulling out a bad tooth.  And of course when I edited my writing, everything seemed terrible. I’d shake my head and say to myself, I should be better by now. Why in the world did I think I could do this?


During my daily Bible reading one afternoon, I stumbled across this verse in 1 Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 2:3-5 (The Message, emphasis mine)

3 -5I was unsure of how to go about this, and felt totally inadequate—I was scared to death, if you want the truth of it—and so nothing I said could have impressed you or anyone else. But the Message came through anyway.

I’m not sure how many times I read it, but each time a wave of relief rolled over me.

Paul was scared? Paul felt inadequate? Yes. And despite his inadequacy, God used him to spread the Gospel. And He will use me too. Yes, I need to give my best effort, but after that, God will use my words,  no matter how bumbling, to tell His beautiful story.

That thought makes me brave enough to keep writing. Eventually, as I persisted the words came easier. One day I found myself on the other side of that dark tunnel. I think part of my problem was the pressure I’d put on myself to be perfect. (See my old post on perfectionism.) But when I do my best and leave the rest to God, writing, though still had work can be immensely rewarding.

Do you have a verse that God has specifically give you for your calling? Please share!


The Guilt Cycle June 5, 2009

Filed under: Writing — michellehuegel @ 12:25 pm
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I am feeling so convicted right now I ought to be a pillar of fire. Or was that salt? I’m pretty sure that if I hadn’t started writing RIGHT NOW my fingers would shrivel and fall off in holy retribution.

Let me back up and explain something I’ve only recently (and somewhat unfortunately) discovered about my personality. I share this trait with my genious of a father, a Renaissance man who is skilled in so many areas. He is an “idea man,” a problem-fixer, someone who comes up with brilliant plans, schemes, and solutions. What he needs is a personal secretary (or five) to follow him around and ensure that these schemes actually get completed. For example, I still have a half-completed bedroom in their basement (I moved out over a year ago). He has the personal charisma to motivate people, to help them see his vision. He just isn’t a “finisher,” and neither am I.

Can I blame genetics?? I get so psyched about a project, and I’m great at starting things – and usually I manage to start them well. I have great ideas. But it’s like my energy fizzles after a few days or weeks. Have you guessed what I’m talking about yet?

Yeah, you’re reading it. And it’s a cycle – I don’t feel like writing one time, then I feel guilty, so I avoid thinking about it, and don’t write the next time. Then I feel even more guilty so I avoid even more. Soon my head is spinning in guilty avoidance circles and getting absolutely nothing written. Because if I sit down to write, I first have to come face to face with all that built-up guilt and avoidance. This is why psychologists were invented – to deal with people’s issues so they could get stuff done. Since I can’t afford a psychologist, I’ll just have to work through them myself, and lucky you, you get to come along for the ride.

Join me here every week (or as often as the guilt beats the avoidance) as I simultaneously work through my writing “issues” and try to create something engaging, interesting, and informative for you to read!

Michelle Huegel


Another definition of Perfectionism May 26, 2009

Filed under: Writing — ashleybarrett @ 10:31 am
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I overheard two ladies in my church talk about sewing. The first said, “Maybe you could help me. I want to make a slipcover for my recliner.”

“Wow,” said the other lady, “that’s a big job.”

“I know,” said the first lady with a sigh. “I was so excited when I bought the fabric and I can’t start it. I want it done, but I have this perfectionism, I don’t want to look at it if I mess up.”

I identified with her as only a fellow perfectionist can—then my thoughts screeched to a halt. Wait a minute, I’m not a perfectionist! Perfectionists graduate with a 4.0 GPA and scrub their kitchen floors with toothbrushes. That’s not me!

Still, how many things have I never tried because I didn’t think I’d do well? Because I couldn’t live with making mistakes? That’s also perfectionism.

And nothing wakes up my insecurity like writing. I want to write excellent, well-crafted words and stories. I’m afraid I’ll waste my time by writing something lousy. I’m afraid I’ll look at it and see that I’m no good at this. I’m afraid of humiliating myself in front of other people. What if I look like one of the bad auditions in American Idol pouring my heart out while the judges snicker and tell me to find a new dream?


So I find other things to do. I check my e-mail, again. I wipe the counters one more time. I let that idea for a novel or article grow stale in my mind. The stories remain unwritten, and I become the writer who talks and reads about writing, but can’t sit in her chair and write.

First drafts in writing are like a baby’s first steps. The fumbling words must come before the confident strides of polished prose.

That’s why I’m writing this post today. Before I sat at the computer, I nervously searched my house for something to clean, something to eat, something else to keep me from writing. But I’m here now, and I’m writing. And it’s never as bad as I imagine.

So how about you? What are you afraid to try?