Thursday, July 28, 2016

Halfway to Ninety-Two. Feels Closer than That.

Today is my birthday. I slept in, talked to my son in Wyoming and my Mom on the phone, enjoyed a deluxe pedicure (hot-rock leg massage), laid in the sun, swam in a pool, played with my husband and kids, endured a sudden and vicious foot cramp (at least it wasn't in the middle of Costco this time), laid in the sun recovering, floated like a jellyfish, ate a perfectly grilled hot dog, Skyped with my beautiful daughter, son, and grandchildren, broke down in tears after they said goodbye because Carly was crying too and I miss them so much, cheered myself up by eating a perfectly constructed banana split, then put a perfectly tired little boy to sleep. THEN I opened some thoughtful, perfect gifts. What a full day. Thank you, Mary, for letting us use your pool. Thank you, Laura and Sara for the pedicure. Thank you Brandon for the yummy dinner and new toys. Thank you, kids, for all the smiles. Thank you, friends, for all of your Birthday wishes. Thank you, Heavenly Father, for giving me such a contented heart on this day.














 I hinted for these. I've actually read the first one--on my phone. 
I wanted the heft of the paperbacks.
 He also got me the companion novella, 
A Slow Regard of Silent Things. Can't wait.

And then . . .
Yes! A new laptop!!! It's so shiny and speedy and not dying a rapid death!
So much motivation to finish my next book.
Thanks, B. You did so very good.

Turning 46, at least for today, was pretty great.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Climbing

photo by skeez. public domain.

Hey, Hi. It's occurred to me that I haven't posted since September. I was shocked to see that. Not because I'm so punctual when it comes to this blog, but because it seems like only a couple of months ago that I was posting about Jacob's football season. So much has happened--things kind of derailed at the end of football season, so I thought instead of a long, drawn-out explanation of things, I'd just make a bullet list and try not to meander...as I tend to do.
  • My back took a turn for the worse. Probably because of all the extra work of a toddler. My injured back was injured more and nose-dived around Halloween. I didn't get to take Will trick-or-treating. He was a little dragon. My costume was "writer with a back injury." Brandon stepped up (a sign of things to come) and took Will around the cul-de-sac. They both loved it. Will was astonished by candy bars.
  • After an MRI it was determined that I (finally) needed surgery to repair a collapsed disc. The image was scary. I was very eager to have it fixed. Surgery was scheduled for January 12, 2016.
  • My sister hosted Thanksgiving. It was the first time I didn't bring pie. Or maybe I did. I don't remember. I was on heavy painkillers. I do know I brought one of the turkeys. It was beautiful and the whole dinner was delicious. I remember Will hated his port-a-crib and I got two hours of sleep between 6-8 am, when Brandon finally took him out of the room. It was his first time staying somewhere else since we brought him home. I don't remember much else.
  • Will's first Christmas was so fun. I'll do a separate blog post for that. It was wonderful to have a little one seeing his first Christmas. The older kids were awesome. We got to Skype with Braeden from Riga, Latvia. Lots of laughter and gratitude. I made our traditional chiles rellenos dinner, but this time I had lots of help.
  • Chelsea, Matt, and Carly came for the week of New Years. They got to meet Will for the first time! Carly and Will were shy at first, but they recognized each other from our Skype sessions. Then they were pretty inseparable/adorable. We got lots of snow! The kids had lots of snow play in the yard. Will loves snow. It was sad to say good bye.
  • My surgery (my first ever) went well. So weird to be awake and blinking one minute and then waking up to a new world--a world of agonizing fire the size of a basketball in your back. They hurried and got the pain meds in me. Gah. I went home an hour post-surgery. I had my phone alarms set for meds. Brandon took really good care of me that first week. I don't really remember it. My surgery was on Tuesday. The next morning I said, "It's Wednesday, right?" He said, "It's Friday." He must have taken really good care of me.
  • A week after my surgery, Braeden returned home from his 2-year mission in the Baltics. I didn't get to go to the airport, so I waited at home. I was using a walker at this point but couldn't get in a car. My friends Sara and Laura went and took lots of pictures and video. Yay for friends! When Braeden came to the door, and I was able to hold him, it felt like a piece of my heart was in its place again. He stayed by my side and talked to me a lot while I rested.
  • The following week, Brandon had to return to work and Braeden was job hunting, so Will and I went to my mom and dad's house. That was a dream. They both took such excellent care of me and Will. The craziest thing was when they set up our (me and my sibling's) old crib for Will! They still had it! They helped me through tears, we laughed, they made sure I rested and exercised, and fed me a lot of really good food. Will absolutely loved it there. I stayed for two weeks. I did a lot of healing, inside and out.
  • My second grandchild, Brady Robert Bare, was born on February 10. He's adorable and has the biggest blue eyes I've ever seen. It broke my heart not to be there, but Matt's mom, Gigi, was able to be there and help Chelsea afterward. I'm so grateful for good, helping mothers.
  • Back home, Braeden had found an afternoon-to-late-hours job, so he was able to take care of Will (and finally get to know his new brother) and me until Will's naptime. Maren would come home from school after that. Braeden went from never having changed a diaper to being Mr. Mom. It was great. I was up to walking 0.9 miles in 40 minutes. That's the lowest speed on the treadmill, but the fact that I could be upright and walking for 40 minutes was awesome. I was starting gentle yoga. My back pain had gone from a burning sack of lava to two small jagged rocks pressing against each other. I was pleased with that.
  • Most of my family and some of Brandon's family were able to come for Will's baby blessing. I was worried about Will having a meltdown during the blessing, I prayed about it. My answer came simply: Have Will shake hands and say the name of all the men taking part in the blessing, and then give him a cookie while he sits on Grampa Anglesey's (my dad's) lap. Maren made cookies that morning. It worked beautifully. Brandon gave him a blessing while Will happily munched on a big homemade cookie on Grampa's lap, surrounded by all these friends he'd just greeted. And know what? The cookie was made by Gramma A, Because they'd had the same idea. Will ate Maren's cookie afterward. :)
  • That same Sunday, Braeden gave his mission homecoming talk. It was a memorable day, and the first day I'd been to church since December. The family came over for food after. I loved that. I love my house full of people.
  • Late February something went really wrong. I had a sore throat and slight fever, no biggie. Then one night my legs started burning, like they were on fire. By morning the fire had spread through my whole body and by the next morning every joint--from my toes, ankles, knees to every joint and  knuckle in my hands were frozen hot. On top of this, it felt like every nerve in my body was plugged into an electric generator. I couldn't move. My muscles were slack and I was terrified. I called the doctor and he could see me in two days. I would spend an hour working out the stiffness in my joints enough so someone could help me out of bed to use the bathroom. I walked like a drunk robot, having to really focus on my muscles for them to move. I couldn't raise my arms to eat. I had no appetite. I lost 6 lbs in a week. One night my breathing was very soft and shallow. I felt like a burning husk. My eyes teared constantly. I was scared. I took stock of my life and thought I'd done okay. Dramatic, I know, but that's what I did.
  • The doctor referred me back to my surgeon as soon as possible. In the meantime, he prescribed me Neurontin. It helped dial back the burning and I no longer woke up with frozen joints. It smoothed out my movement. It helped me sleep. I love Neurontin. I still felt a continual buzz coursing through my nerves, and the whole inside of my mouth and my tongue tingled like pop rocks.
  • The next week my surgeon referred me to a neurologist. The appointment was at the end of May, two months out. He guessed that a virus was attacking my nervous system. So I had two months to dwell on that. I had a brain MRI and blood work. Both came back normal.
  • Physically, I had to start back at the beginning, walking 10 minutes, completely exhausted after. I'm so grateful Braeden was home for a while before going to BYU for spring semester. And Brandon totally stepped up to take care of anything else on top of his own demanding responsibilities. He became Super Brandon. He did things I didn't know he could do. He's been holding out. ;) I love Super Brandon.
  • I couldn't write anything during all of this time. The pain would just overpower any focus. I could barely read. The medicines made me tired. The idea of writing romance was as far away from me as was running a marathon. My publisher, Covenant, was so patient with me, moving my deadline dates further and further ahead, and encouraging me to put myself and my family first. Thank you, Covenant.
  • Separate from the nerve issue, my back was getting lots of rest, and gratefully, continued to strengthen. So much so that as long as I was careful and didn't lose my balance or get jostled, the back pain became secondary to everything else. That was helpful, and as the pain subsided, I was able to focus and start writing again. As long as I could stay awake. I started back up on the novel I'd had to abandon, and the words came.
  • Braeden left for college. Brandon took him to Provo and that weekend they were able to attend Brady's baby blessing. I missed them both. I missed them all.
  • Jacob gashed his shin open on a hurdle. For the first time ever, I took Jacob to the hospital. For the first time ever, I saw my kid's bone. Kinda cool. I'll spare you the pics. We were there for 4.5 hours and I didn't bring my pain meds. He sang songs to me while we waited. My favorite was Pat Benatar's "We Belong." We were both hobbling back to the car when all was done. But we were rock stars.
  • Maren's knee caps had been randomly popping out over the past year. Very painful. She'd shove them back in and cry and we'd get her on ice and ibuprofen. It was becoming more frequent. The doctor took xrays and found both of her patellas are an inch too high. She'll need surgery on both knees. We're enjoying trips to the PT as they strengthen her up in preparation for that. Hooray. O_O
  • Will has been a champ with all of this transition. When I was down, he'd bring me books to read and pretend meals from his kitchen. He'd say, "Mommy back hurt." Or "Cheek?" and I'd lean as best as I could while he reached up and rub my cheek softly, saying, "It's okay. It's okay." Melt. My. Heart.
  • I worked hard to keep walking and tone up my muscles the best I could. Brandon and I decided that I would fly to Provo the first week of May and attend a day of my favorite writers conference and see my friends, and then spend a few days with Chelsea and her family, Braeden, and finally hold my grandson. Physically, the trip wore me out. Emotionally, it was very healing. I loved it. My friend Sarah Eden loaned me her cane, and I'm so glad she did. By the end of my conference day I could hardly walk, but without the cane I would have been done a lot sooner. Hooray for the cane brigade!
  • I'm skipping to the end, because really I've just been resting and exercising and waiting for my neurologist appointment without trying to self-diagnose with unnerving online information.
  • NEUROLOGIST APPOINTMENT: The neurologist suspected either a lesion on my spinal cord (formed as I healed from surgery), or a virus attacking my myelin sheath (the protective covering of the nerves themselves). I had another MRI of my back to look for signs of lesions. We looked over all my other images, too. That was trippy, seeing side and top cross-sections of my head. Hello, eyeballs. You are HUGE. Anyway, it all looked clean. My back is healing well, nice spaces there. No signs of lesions anywhere. Which is GREAT, but he had to go back to my symptoms and test results.
  • Diagnosis: Transverse Myelitis. Which means a virus (or trauma of some kind) compromised the myelin sheath. It will take a long time (months to years) to heal. But the odds are very good that I will heal. Here's how I explained it to my family: 
The neurologist compared it to hitting your funny bone (on a much larger scale). Something hit my nervous system and the onset was big and painful and rendered me pretty useless for a time. Then that twangy pain spread out to the rest of my body and is lingering. I thought that was a pretty fair comparison. Another description of how it affects my nervous system is that the connection between my brain and nerves is interfered with like static on a phone line.
SO. There's no cure. I just keep working at getting stronger. Exercise. Be careful. Vitamins. I'll probably add oils, too. It may take months-years, and the tingling sensation might never go away. But I should regain my strength and coordination as my myelin sheath heals. And that's good.

And that's where we are now. It's been two days since the diagnosis and a few things have been running through my mind. 1) I'm grateful to have a "something" to work toward instead of a blank. 2) I'm so grateful to those who've stepped up to help me and my family. 3) It's incredible how the absolutely important things rise to the top and the rest fades away simply because you are rendered incapable. It's a paradox, how freeing and how caging it feels. 4) You. My friends and family, and all of those who've prayed on my behalf, who are still praying, and who are wondering how I'm doing and hoping I'm okay. That's why I wrote this post. Because I know you're wondering. I'm overwhelmed by the number of you who care. But knowing that has buoyed me and helped me work harder.

So I'll keep working. And counting blessings. And doing what I always do. 

Climb.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Jacob and Highland Football

Jacob was interviewed by the Yakima Herald for his role in helping bring back football to Highland High School, and frankly, I'm so impressed with his spirit. His seminary teacher said that when she saw this picture of Jacob, she thought, "That is not my Jacob!" But when I saw this picture, I thought with a smile, "There is my Jacob." Klamath Falls peeps will back me up. They knew Jacob from the age of 2-7 years old, what I call the "Destructo-Boy Years." From the time he could scoot across the floor, Jacob has been pushing mightily through life with a determination and passion--and a grin--that made me second guess my parenting skills and had me drawing the conclusion that Jacob's soul must be HUGE and crammed into that tiny little body, so he's just busting to make a place in this world and see what he can do. He's not so tiny anymore and he doesn't break all my stuff anymore, and I don't have to grip his hand so he doesn't run headlong into the heavy traffic of life, but he's still pushing mightily, and his grin is still as big as it was when he was three. I have loved watching this kid tackle what has come at him with grace and ingenuity, determination, humor, and his feet pushing him forward. Often leaving the ground to slam into the ball-carrier.



Read the article here:
http://www.yakimaherald.com/sports/prep_sports/kickoff_2015/the-comeback-trail-highland-scotties/article_107ef654-51bb-11e5-bc1c-cfc5330ca34b.html

The Scotties have a long road ahead of them, and it's still a struggle watching their games. The road blocks? Lack of knowledge and experience, language barrier, and trepidation. How often do you feel a touch of victory when the half-time score is 0-40? And an even greater victory when the final score is 0-47? That was a great second half, by the way. So yeah, it's rough. But man, I get to watch my boy all over that field. "Tackle by Jensen." "Tackle by Jacob Jensen." "Tackle by number 51, Jacob Jensen." "The ball stopped by Jensen." "Number 51 with the tackle." How many ways can they say that? He scrambles over and under and through. He torpedoes from out of nowhere and takes the runner down. He comes from the other side of the field and stops forward motion. He blocks kicks with his chest. He. Never. Lets. The score. Slow. Him. Down. Seriously. Fun to watch. And you know what? It's contagious. During second half, different numbers, different names with the tackles. You can feel it. The team is watching. The team is getting brave.







When Jacob was in 2nd grade, I got a call from the principal. Jacob had been in a fight. A classmate was being bullied, and Jacob had had enough and launched himself at the bully. I was told it was a full-out rolling on the floor, punching fight. On top of that, I was told that Jacob was lying about his part in the fight. The principal asked me to come in and get my son.
I was full of mixed emotions: proud of Jacob for defending a bullied child, worried about finding him bloodied or bruised, confused about discipline, and embarrassed that he would lie. He was my most honest child.
I arrived to find Jacob with a swollen lip and scratched neck. The principal (who was the most disengaged principal I've ever known at a school) briefed me on what happened, expressed his understanding that Jacob was defending against bullies, but made a very big deal over the lying. "I asked him if he had punched the other boy, and Jacob said no. It was very plain that they were throwing punches. We have witnesses. He's lying, and so he's expelled for the day."
The lying was the thing. I just thanked him and we left.
On the way home (we were walking), I gave Jacob a hug for defending  someone who was being bullied, and asked him what happened. He got to the fight part and said, "So we started hitting."
I stopped. I asked, "So, you were punching?"
"No," he said. "Hitting. But he hit me first. I just tackled him away from (the smaller kid)."
I said, "Show me what punching is."
He closed his fist, and acted out hitting himself in the face and head.
I said, "Show me hitting."
He closed his fist and acted out hitting his body all over. Just his body.
I said, "So you were hitting."
He nodded.
"But not punching?"
He shook his head no. "I wasn't punching."
He wasn't lying. His definitions were just different than ours. And he stood by them. And I gave him a big hug. I taught him about the words. We talked about what to do about bullies and friends, and frustration and anger. I wanted to go back into that office and tell the principal my son wasn't a liar. I wanted to tell that principal that I wish somebody would have done for his brother Braeden what Jacob did for that little boy, when Braeden was being bullied. In HIS school, on HIS watch.

But from that point on, I knew I didn't have to worry about Jacob getting picked on, or Jacob worrying about what other people think, or Jacob fearing much of anything. He'll have trials, he'll have obstacles, he'll make mistakes and have heartache like the rest of us. But he's one of my heroes.

He won't sit back and let things fall apart. I can just picture his response to that suggestion.

"Why would I do that?" And then he'd grin.

2000


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Two-Month Anniversary: Gotcha Day

I finally uploaded this video and I'm amazed at the changes in Will since we first met him on July 20. In a lot of ways he was more like a 9-month old baby on that day and even that first week, instead of a 25-month old little boy. I can see his detachment and discomfort (not surprising considering he was just passed off to strangers), the way he's leaning away and even his legs are not engaged in being held. Now when we hold him we note his "tree frog" grip. Even his toes grip us tight, and his arms rest on our necks as he is happily packed here and there, asking us what everything is called. In the video he only makes eye-contact a few times. But I also see glimpses of the toddler just waiting for a chance to be heard, listened to, taught. I see a brave little boy who is choosing to observe and wait and see what exactly is happening before he allows fear to take over his emotions. It did, eventually, and what a road we've had facing those fears. But he didn't let it keep him from coming to us, and that was brave.



I simply handed him a toy car, and he was willing to come right to me. And when it was time to leave that chaotic room and see what was outside, he was willing to come with us again. He's an explorer. An observer. A question-asker. A risk-taker. Thank goodness.

I prefer watching this video without the sound. The sounds of that room and China still make me a little nuts. But I'm in total caregiver mode asking those questions. That's pretty much all the info we got. But Brandon, Will, and I had each other and we did what we could with experience and what we'd studied, and focused on what worked and what didn't. He's a different little boy now. Not totally, but it's like he'd been bucked off-track the first two years and now he's returned to becoming himself. He's finally turning over his "inner parent" to us, and trusting us to do that job for him, and to do it better. That alone has eliminated half the battles, and he's having a childhood. He plays, he laughs, he pushes boundaries and his body, and if he gets frustrated or hurt, he turns it over to us. Mama will help. Dada will make it better. Will will be okay. Will isn't alone anymore. Will has Mama, Dada, Meh-en, Eckob, Dog, and Beh. He looks at family pictures and knows Chessa, M't, A-Car, Bampa, Bamba, and Sheh. He hears Brodie barking at the front door and goes running to see who's there, and squeals in utter, really LOUD delight when it's Dada or Eckob or anyone from his little tribe. That's right, now we have the dog barking AND the baby screaming at the front door when somebody comes. WELCOME. We are so excited to have you WAIT WHERE ARE YOU GOING? WE'RE CUUUUUTE.

 He is a sweet little man. I recently read on an adoption blog, addressing the traumatic state of your adoption those first days, that "the child you get in China is not your child." It's true. They find themselves later. They just need to be given that chance.

I wanted to take some new video to post with the Gotcha Day video, so yesterday I took the camera outside. He got pretty quiet for the camera, but we had fun exploring, This is a pretty typical day out back with Willster. (Please ignore the space of dirt where the pool used to be. We're getting sod put down soon! I hope...)







What we're seeing:

GROWTH: Will has grown from being in the less-than-3% in weight and height, to 6% in weight and 12% in height. Everything is looking good in his development. We are humbled and grateful. He loves to move that little body. If his bathtime play is any indication, he should be a little swimmer next summer.

SLEEP: He's taking his bottle again. 6oz of warm whole milk (with a scoop of formula added until the container is empty) for nap and bedtime. He's doing great with sleep. He rarely wakes up at night, now. HOORAY.

REGULATION: Today was Will's first full day of church. All three hours. His behavior is very typically toddler, and that's great. He likes nursery and interacts pretty nicely with the kids. He offers them cars and gives them back things they've dropped. Today he pushed a wooden ring back and forth across the table with a little girl. I'm happy to see he gets along well with others his age. He had moments of potential meltdown, but there was always some distraction and he pushed through it okay. We kept bear handy just in case, and used it a few times, but overall, he seems to really like it in there. HOORAY. It definitely helps that my new church job is nursery assistant. Perfect!

Last week we took Will to Sacrament meeting and then a little preview of nursery.
He seemed to accept it as just part of what we do. Because we're a family.
Also, couldn't you just squish him?
COMMUNICATION: Will is pretending to talk on his toy phone. He says, "Haloo." Then nods his head like he's listening. Then he says some gibberish, then hands the phone off to someone else to say "Haloo." He started this after talking to my mom and then Chelsea on the phone. It's adorable. New words: tah...tah...tah (hot; this is whispered), tee (eat), Bampa/Bamba (Grampa and Gramma), Sheh (Shelli), gwink-oo (thank you), quock (clock), sit (kiss), nigh (good night), lebelblelblelbel (Llama Llama), MEEEEEYA...MEEEEEEYA (Come here! It's usually yelled from somewhere I am not. I noticed I say it a lot in the videos, ha).

Happy Anniversary, Will. It has all been totally worth it.


Monday, September 07, 2015

Zen Project

I've been working on what I call my "Zen Project" for a couple of weeks now. When Will started taking more regular naps, and I started anticipating (not pleasantly) taking him to church, I couldn't help remembering my Quiet Book from when I was little. I LOVED that thing. It kept me busy every week at church. And I thought, "It's too bad I don't have that for Will." 

And then I remembered that I can sew.

Most of these ideas are based off designs I found on Pinterest, so I'm including a link to my sewing board where they can be found, here.


This is the inside cover put together just before sewing it and the outside cover together. On the left is part of the first page of the quiet book, and on the right is a big pocket for a coloring book or board book. The spaces on the reinforced spine are where the binder rings slip through. I based this design off a couple of books I saw on Pinterest. I lined each side with fusible fleece for body and structure.


Here's the cover all sewn together, turned right-sides out and edge-stitched, rings in place, and ready to fill. I sewed the button on after it was filled to make sure the placement worked.

Name Page. The letters store in the pocket and velcro into place. The buttons all slide on the ribbons. Weee!
My pages are 10x10" and made on extra-heavy interfacing fabric (Pellon). I machine or hand-stitched everything. Nothing is glued or ironed on. Basically because I don't trust glue, and I hate ironing, though I did iron on the fusible fleece for the cover. I used fray-check for ribbon edges.


Stoplight Page. This was a basic template. I added the pocket and words, and the "hanging wire" look. The lights snap on.

Dump Truck Page. This one was pretty fun. The basic template was a solid-pieced truck and load, with wheels that turned. I loved the big wheels, but wanted more. I made everything bigger, then made the dumper into a pocket with a removable load, and hinged it using two buttons (one in front and one in back). I hope it's sturdy enough! The wheels button on and off and turn great in that mud. Vroom.


Flower Page. All the templates I found for the classic flower page had them in a vase. But I wanted them in the dirt. So I layered brown woven ribbon and "planted" those beauties. All the colors can mix and match.

Matching Page. I made this one up. Will loves peek-a-boo, he loves finding things, and as he grows he'll learn matching skills. Cars, penguins, bears, oh my! It was fun to pick out the little buttons.

Grocery Store Page. This template was for a bushel of veggies and fruit. I LOVE the patterns. But I wanted a step up from the bushel. So here we are in the grocery store. I love sales.

Hamburger Page. This is another idea I saw and changed it up. Will loves burgers and fries. The burger-building items store in the cup. 


Shapes Page. I struggled with this page. At first I had all the shapes attached to the pocked with ribbons. But that made a big jumbled mess. So I cut the ribbons off. I can totally see that semicircle getting lost first. I guess I know where I can get another one, huh?

Counting Page. This came straight from the template. I liked the simplicity of it.

Dress-Up Page. This is probably my favorite page. The only change I made was to make the facial features closer to Will's, and I created a better treasure box for the loot. Super fun. The hard part was stopping myself from making a dozen more dress-ups. I may add a few later. Scuba gear, football helmet...I drew out a template for a luchador mask...





Bedtime Bear Page. Who wouldn't want to put a soft teddy to bed? The bear and the page on the right is the original template. I added a toothbrush, a bottle, and a storybook. After all, Will loves routine.


The book has fabric pages and a real story that I wrote.
"Sweet dreams...Sleep tight...I love you...Good night."

Zipper Page. I had to throw one more page together so the bed page had a "back" and could go in the book. I'd found these zippers so I sewed them on. And I thought, "BO-RING." So I thought and I thought.
Then I remembered that I can draw.





Now, it's one of my favorite pages. Yay!

And here we are! The beginning of Will's Quiet Book! The button is really the color of that green ribbon. Not sure why it showed up chartreuse. ANYHOO...I made one engineering mistake. I should have made the cover about two inched longer on each side so as the book fills up with pages on the 3" rings, those that rise up in the middle won't stick out. But I'm not too broken up about it. I love how everything turned out!
I can't wait to show it to Will. And it was so great to create something with my hands again. It really helped me destress during nap time, and it also gave me an opportunity to think about the stories I will write next. After I finished each page, I would look at it lovingly and say to myself, "Will is going to tear this apart." Then I would add it to the pile and allow that to be okay. I didn't make it for a museum. I made it to be loved.