Another New Year

I have a love hate relationship with the new year. On one hand I love the clean, fresh slate, all of the possibilities waiting for me. On the other hand I hate the disappointment of, once again, not meeting my so-called resolutions. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do better, be better, try harder, produce more. It’s kind of exhausting. And not a little overwhelming. So this year I’m trying something different. This morning I worked with these free worksheets from Susannah Conway that helped me reflect on what worked and what didn’t in 2012 and develop a vision of what I want 2013 to look like.  I ended up with three words that will inform 2013: vibrant, focused, connected. I won’t go into details here, but all three will impact all areas of my life.

Then, instead of making a list of all the things I want to do or change I chose the one thing that I believe will make the greatest difference in my life. When our kids were little, my husband used to say that how we started the day set the tone for the rest of the day. If we started off hurried and irritable then the day was pretty much doomed. But if we regrouped and started over, pretending to wake up again with the girls, we all had a chance to start over. And that silliness of restarting the day usually jumpstarted everyone’s mood. I thought about how I begin most of my days: feed the cats and dog and go straight to the computer where I check email, Facebook, blogs, the news. Next thing I know an hour has passed. And it’s not the loss of the hour that is the biggest problem, it’s the mindset I’m in from that point on. I find myself exposed to all the drama the world has to offer whether it’s personal or political, weather or culture related. I soak all that in and it clutters my mind, my energy. So, the one change I am going to try and make is no computer until after lunch. I am going to look into buying one of those internet blocking programs for when my own little willpower falters. This morning I did some yoga, meditated, made a bowl of oatmeal and came into my office to write morning pages and work with the Unraveling worksheets. No internet, no TV. Two and half hours later I had accomplished a lot. I felt clear and focused. I had planned on doing this last night so before I went to bed, I prepared my writing area. I had my pens and notebooks ready to go, my space cleaned. All I  had to do was sit down. That’s one thing I learned from the worksheets, that I do much better when I plan and prepare. It helps in every area of my life from eating healthy to staying on a budget to my creative life. You don’t usually associate planning and preparation with creativity but I find it provides a necessary structure.

So, I still have many things I want to accomplish and change this year. But instead of focusing on each one separately I am trying to start each day from a clear, focused place that will then allow me to accomplish all that I want to in 2013.

How about you? Do you make resolutions? I’d love to hear what works for you.

I wish you all a happy, productive year filled with wonder and creative adventures.

Happy New Year and thank you being a part of my creative adventure!

© Hareluya | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Hareluya | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

 

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Five on Friday

1. I like these ideas for setting blogging goals in the new year.

2. Maeve Binchy’s writing secrets.

3. Tips on preparing for a new year of writing.

4. I am intrigued by this challenge to be more thoughtful in our use of technology. To be more real.

5. The importance of mastering “the art of being still” for a writer.

Five on Friday

1. I discovered this amazing website from this article and I am thoroughly hooked.

2. This fave story collections of 2012 turned me on to 6 collections that I have not read yet. Shocking, I know.

3. Love these sketchbook pages!

4. 9 books on reading and writing.

5. A site that matches you with a book.

Books Read in October/ November

“Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” a novel by Lisa See

I am what they call in our village ”one who has not died”–a widow, eighty years old.  

Set in nineteenth century China, this novel explores the bonds and roles of women in the Hunan culture. At seven years old, Lilly is matched with her laotong, or “old same.” It is a deep, sacred bond meant to last a lifetime. Throughout the years, they pass a beautiful silk fan back and forth with messages for each other written in a unique language created by women to keep it from being read by the men. We follow them from innocent girlhoods through the misery of footbinding to arranged marriages to childbirth to their possible fracturing of their abiding bond as laotongs.

What I learned: How deep and substantial research can enrich an exquisite story.

“You Came Back” a novel by Christopher Coake

Mark Fife was being watched.  

I fell in love with Coake’s writing after reading his story collection, “We’re in Trouble.” He was able to transfer his skills to the larger form of the novel with great success. The story, about being haunted by memories, failures, who you used to be and by an actual ghost will haunt the reader as well. Seven years after the accidental death of his son, Brendan and divorce from his college sweetheart, Chloe, Mark Fife, newly engaged to Allison, is visited by a woman who now lives in their old hose. The house where Brendan died. The house where his life fell apart. The house where this woman now claims his son’s ghost is stuck. Chloe returns to Mark’s life and they are faced with the memories that both brought them together and tore them apart.

What I learned: Coake does an awesome job of balancing the emotional inner turmoil with physical sensory details of being in that character’s body.

“every day” a YA novel by David Levithan

I wake up. Immediately I have to figure out who I am.

Every day A. wakes up in a different body. A different gender. Different family. A different life. It’s always been this way. A. has learned to accept it and to make as few waves as possible in the person’s life. Then he wakes up in Justin’s body and meet Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. For the first time A. imagines a normal life. for the first time A. aches to wake up day after day in one body, in one life, one life with Rhiannon. This story was mesmerizing. First there’s the premise which fascinates me. So many lessons in literally walking ion another person’s shoes. But ultimately this is a love story and what will we do for the one we truly love. Simply beautiful.

What I learned: To care as much about the characters as the premise.

 “The Trial of Fallen Angels” a novel by James Kimmel, Jr.

I do not remember anymore.

Brek Cutler is a young attorney who has been enamored with the idea of justice all her life. The book opens with her covered in blood, standing on a deserted train platform with no recollection of how she got there. Why? She is dead. She is stuck in this place with distant relatives and people from her past, trying to help her adjust to her new surroundings. She learns that she has been selected to be a part of an elite group of lawyers whose job it is to prosecute and defend souls at the Final Judgment. Each soul she meets and each trial she witnesses brings her closer to remembering what exactly happened to her. This thought-provoking novel explores the practice of compassion, forgiveness, redemption all wrapped up in a page-turning mystery.

What I learned: After reading his author’s note I realized how important it is to follow the  subjects, characters, ideas that pursue you throughout your life. Only you can tell the stories you are meant to tell.

Five on Friday

1. Interview with Molly Ringwald. Much too short in my opinion.

2. Tons of best of book lists for 2012.

3. 1001 books to read before you die.

4. Daily Goals Board– I may have to make myself one of these for the new year.

5. In honor of the Powerball mania that swept the country this week. How to spend that money if you’re a book lover.