That’s all she wrote.

Today is our daughter’s 17th birthday, and, while I could write a novel on how great she is, I long ago decided not to tell my daughters’ stories. Being their mother doesn’t mean I own them. Maybe some day she’ll write a memoir on how awesome her 17th birthday was. I truly hope she does. In fact, the only reason I’m mentioning it now is that her birthday has long been a kind of threshold for our family, a sort of “last hurrah” to summer. The fall bug hits us all heavily in August, so we try to use this birthday bash as a chance to celebrate the turning of the planet.

With that, I’ve been giving some thought to my novel, which takes place during this September and October. I’d like to finally finish the first draft during that time frame. I know that’s ambitious, considering the whole purpose of this semester off was to, you know, take a semester off. But it’s scratching the inside of my brain, which means it’s time to get back to work. I am, after all, a writer.

There’s a hidden agenda, though, with declaring a return to writing. I feel like this is a situation I repeatedly find myself in, but I have gotten far from where I want to be in life. Granted, I’m doing fun, adventurous things most people never have the bravery to even try, but I let the tide carry me too far out to sea sometimes. This summer was one of those times. I’ve packed my days too full of activity and people that I have no space to honor my introverted nature.

By returning to writing, I’ll be returning to myself. You can’t be a writer and not observe the world around you. Mindfulness is a necessary tool because you can’t very well write the world if you don’t live in the world fully. Slowing down, listening to the breath of life, feeling its pulse, that’s how you write. One word, one heartbeat at a time.

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