Close up picture of a white woman's throat. She has long reddish brown hair and is frowing.
“Who or what is pressing on your vocal cords every day?” – first thought of the day. – Posted to my Instagram account on August 1, 2020.

Turns out the answer to that question was me. In midst of the worldwide tragedy and harshness that was 2020, I found my writer’s voice again. It started as slowly as trying to wedge the cork out of a champagne bottle, but on August 2, it became apparent that there was a lot in me that wanted to be released. This collection of thoughts began on that day.

Both avid readers themselves, my parents introduced me to books at an exceedingly early age. I became consumed by them. I remember checking out the most books they would let me take home from the library as a young child and having half of them read by the time we got home. As I got older, I developed the knack of being able to read and walk in between classes. I would crawl into the stories like the boy in the movie The Neverending Story, and the world would disappear around me.

In middle school, with a friend I imagined six male gymnasts preparing for the Olympics as we did round-offs, cartwheels, and other tumbling in her yard. I am fairly certain it was a Summer Olympics year and that seeing gymnast Bart Conner as a young child is why I chose male gymnasts that summer, but I honestly don’t remember what truly inspired it. Those six characters stayed with me after that summer ended, and I began imagining their lives outside the gym, giving them children and grandchildren.

It was those stories and my attempts to write them down that led me to my career path. When it came time to choose an undergraduate major, I knew I wanted to do two things in my life – write and be involved in music. I found what I thought was the perfect match for those two things in music publicity. I wrote stories in college, and when I moved to Nashville, TN for my last internship, I started writing almost daily. I was telling artists’ stories during the day and my characters’ stories at night. Writing gave me purpose as my life began to unravel.

In 2007, I stopped writing stories. After years of an undiagnosed and untreated anxiety disorder and a lot of bad decisions, I reduced my writing down to bittersweet entries into my journals. Those became painful to write and read. Eventually, my voice stopped.

A stack of colorful journals.

In the thirteen years that passed from the last story I wrote until the day I found my writer’s voice again, the six gymnasts stayed with me. Their stories became a coping skill for me to manage my still undiagnosed and untreated anxiety issues. It was one of these stories and almost two years of counseling that unlocked things for me again.

In the early summer of 2020 while on a walk with our dogs, I shared with my husband a scene about one of those gymnasts ordering Irish whiskey on a date with a beautiful dancer. With his encouragement, I wrote the rough details of that scene down and the scene that came to me after that. For several days, I got up in the mornings and wrote. Then, one day, I wrote this:

Jal woke to the sound of the bathroom door hitting against the wall down the hall. He kept his eyes closed as he listened to the quiet swish of his son’s socked feet on the hardwood. A moment later, the bed sunk a little as Ryan climbed on it and snuggled up next to him.

There it was. My brain had remembered how to write a story and not just disjointed details on a page.

Then came August 2. On that morning, I read the first challenge post from a new 8xcommunity Instagram account. It was a simple challenge: set a goal. I told my husband that I was going to choose a goal based on the writing that I had been doing. He suggested I choose something deeper, so I decided to find and document joy for one week. That first week became months of exploring my anxiety, my past, my future, and the things and people in the world that I found fascinating. That first goal freed my voice again in a way that I will never fully understand.

So, I offer up what is on this site not as polished, perfect works, but as ramblings from a mind that has a lot to say. I hope that you find your own joy, healing, and voice somewhere in all of this.