Intentionally naming 10 things that made me smile during a month’s time is something that keeps me forging ahead. It’s easy to get bogged down in the negative woes of the world and our own personal narratives, but each month as I scroll through the photos of my phone, I find plenty for which I am grateful. Even though we’re already into March, I wanted to document 10 things that made me smile during the month of February.
1). Music: We kicked off the month with a Lumineers concert. They have been one of my favorite bands since their first album release in 2012. Their music has seen me through many ups and downs. This is the third time I’ve experienced them in concert and it was incredible. Other than the two frontmen, some of the other musicians have shifted over the years. They group they have now is beyond talented.
2). Snowboarding: I started snowboarding when I was fourteen and have loved it ever since. In college when friends were going to Cancun and Panama City for spring break, a small group of us traveled to Canada to snowboard. I started with Brooks several years ago, but this year was Case’s first time. They’ve both made so much improvement. It’s hard to find time to get on a mountain, but I’m trying to make it happen. I really want this to be something they can enjoy for a lifetime.
3). New York City for SCBWI: We traveled to New York City for the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators winter conference. It was an incredible experience where I learned a ton about the industry and craft. We also took some time to visit several book stores to promote my picture book, The Jolt Felt Around the World.
4). My first school visit: School visits go hand in hand with picture book authors. In February, I hosted my first author visit at a school in our school system. I spoke to 3rd-5th graders, which worked very well with the themes and lexile level of my book. The kiddos were really responsive and asked the most amazing questions. I’m quite positive they inspired me more than I inspired them.
5). Frolicking in Asheville: This activity always brings me joy. There’s nothing to it other than going to downtown Asheville, parking and walking around with no specific agenda. The boys did have haircut appointments on this particular day but after that, we walked, shopped, talked and simply enjoyed being together and seeing the sights and sounds of our favorite little city.
6). N.C. Book Festival Fair: During February, I also attended my first book festival. These events give authors an opportunity to connect with fans, meet other professionals in the industry and sell books. There wasn’t a huge turnout in general, but it was still fun and a great learning experience. It would probably be more beneficial to attend a children’s book fair or festival, as opposed to a broad-topic book festival. Nevertheless, I’m grateful for the experience and especially for meeting and learning from other authors.
7). Hiking: Matthew and I have made a committment this year to do a lot of hiking. We’ve decided just because it’s winter and there is snow on the ground, we can’t sit inside all the time or workout at the gym. We’re the kind of people that need fresh air, nature and sunshine. We went on an awesome snow-covered hike in February. The two of us are learning that not only are hikes great for the body, they are wonderful atmospheres for deep conversation.
8). Ash Wednesday: February 26 began the season of Lent. I love this time of year. For me, it’s a time of reflection and listening, to God and the universe about what’s next. It’s important to me that my boys watch me embrace Lent so they can formulate their own beliefs and personal faith.
9). Empty Bowls: Haywood Pathways is a local nonprofit organization that provides rehabilitation and overnight shelter for homeless folks in our community. This yearly event is one of my favorites. The empty bowls represent all of the empty bowls in our community. Attendees pay for live music and a soup tasting event and leave with a beautiful hand-made piece of pottery.
10). Mardi Gras: This yearly event fun and exciting, and all proceeds go back into our local school system. Matthew is on the board. This is my third year attending. These girls are two of my closest friends. We had a blast trying on dresses, getting ready for the event, having our faces painted and dancing the night away.
I hope you found some things to smile about in February. These months are ticking away too quickly! We’re already into March and spring is just around the corner. I must stay, though, I am ready for warmth and sunshine. Here’s to an awesome month, my friends.