Wholehearted

bracelet

Hey there.

Sorry I haven’t kept in touch.

My excuse is seven weeks old and, in this mama’s star-struck eyes, she’s absolutely perfect.

She arrived on a November morning a few weeks before Thanksgiving. I can’t stop feeling thankful for her. She’s all I wanted for Christmas this year.

A friend mailed me a little box with a bracelet in it for me and a pair of pink leather moccasins for my daughter. The gifts were not necessarily meant to be connected, and I think the meaning of “wholehearted” (see the photo at the beginning of this post) that my friend was implying is the way that I put all of my heart, soul and spirit into what I do. But as I looked at the little shoes in the bracelet’s message, my eyes filled with tears.

Because this time last year, my heart was anything but whole. It was broken. A piece eaten out for each baby that I’d brought to the beginning of life but lost before I could hold him or her in my arms.

And now my girl, who will one take her first steps in these little moccasins, is making my heart whole again. She’s my balm of healing.

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The Thanksgiving Baby

I’m no longer subject to fearful thoughts that zing my bloodstream. Somehow, now that she’s born, I feel I can trust again, breathe again, and that I’m finally free to love her. I didn’t realize I had a love-block, but it hit me as a held her while sitting in my rocking chair. I pressed my nose against the soft fuzz of her hair and apologized. For being so scared that I wouldn’t let me heart wrap around her tiny soul.

Perhaps this grief and fear is natural and the time-delay in bonding is nothing to be ashamed of, but I want to love with courage and not shy away in fear, even though this is the harder path. I want to be wholehearted, like my new favorite bracelet tells me to be.

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Smiling already!

Life for me is filled with busyness, but this blog post is the first writing I’ve done in a long while. My three-year-old is not sure whether he loves his new baby sister who has finally come out of Mommy’s tummy or if he’s so jealous he’d rather pinch her hard when the parents step out of the room. We are actively encouraging him toward the loving side of the debate and setting strong boundaries to help him adjust to his new world.

big brother

Big Brother

I’m taking joy in learning how to be even more efficient with parenting two kids. “Let’s sing songs while I burp the baby!” “I’ll scrub the toilet while the toddler plays in the bathtub and the baby naps in her bouncy chair!”

I’m also slowly trying to figure out the easiest things I might cook for dinner. And I’m aware that this intense season of having practically *no time* to myself is just that, a season.

I finally miss writing. My creative energies were so funneled into my daughter during her pregnancy, I stopped needing to create in other ways, which was a bit disconcerting. But now the itch is back. I just need to be patient as I seek moments where writing can slip back in.

WOTFGood and very encouraging news: I entered a fantasy short story in Writers of the Future and received an honorable mention. This is a wonderful thing due to the contest’s prestige but also because it means my writing it good enough that some high-profile judges considered it noteworthy. Anyway, if you want to see my name in the official announcements, search “Elise Stephens” under the Honorable Mention category here on the WOTF blog.

Sometime in the near-ish future, I’ll be releasing a new edition of Forecast, my Young Adult fantasy novel, and the updated cover is stunning. Excited to share it with you when it’s ready!

All right, friends. There’s your update. Thanks for your patience with me and for all of your faithful encouragement. And since it’s traditional to set some goal or mindset at the beginning of the New Year, I’ll make mine:

Wholehearted.

About Elise

Elise Stephens began her career in writing at age six, illustrating her own story books and concocting wild adventures. She earned her degree in Creative Writing at the University of Washington. Stephens counts authors Neil Gaiman, C.S. Lewis, and Margaret Atwood among her literary mentors, and has studied under Orson Scott Card. She dreams often of finding new ways to weave timeless truths into her stories. She is a recipient of the Eugene Van Buren prize for fiction. Her novels include Moonlight and Oranges(2011), Forecast (2013), and Guardian of the Gold Breathers (2015). She lives in Seattle with her husband and son. Follow her on Twitter @elisestephens

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