Thursday, December 31st, 2015 • No Comments on Fierce and Fearless in 2016
Here I go, into 2016 and adventures unknown. What I know is both kids will be in school at least 3 days a week until June 1, Jay will continue teaching middle school at least through June when he completes the requirements for his license and I will keep doing what I do best– write. What I don’t know is where I’ll be living after the school year comes to a close, as we will likely move before the new school year starts in the fall. I keep saying “likely” though I know it’s a near certainty, barring any unforeseen circumstances (which is nothing to scoff at, as I had several unforeseen circumstances in 2015). And so, with a move in mind, and changes I can only imagine, here are my goals for 2016:
Do my best to stay alive. This is last year’s “Drink more water” resolution, now with a lot more awareness of my own mortality and how quickly things can go from, “I don’t feel well” to “I think I have the flu” to “We weren’t sure you were going to make it.” So, with that in mind– and with the full knowledge that some health issues can’t be prevented, only managed– I will be aware of my health in 2016 and not take chances.
Find our last house. After almost 16 years in our current house, we’re ready to move on. But it’s hard, finding the right place to live (we’ve already changed our minds a couple of times) and the right home. I’ve said that I want our next house to be our last house– I want this yet-to-be-revealed house to be the home my children grow up in, the house we retire in, the place our kids return to for holidays and vacations after they’ve gone off to build their own lives. I want my dream house and I know no such thing exists, but I want to come as close to possible and begin our new life in our new home.
Make a few friends. I have friends of all backgrounds all over the world, but it’s hard to maintain in-person friendships when my job is fairly solitary and I spend most of my non-writing time with kids. With a new house comes new friends and I hope to find a few new friends who get me. Birds of a feather, as it were. Writers, creative types, dreamers who are still grounded in the real world, people with optimistic spirits and kind hearts. All the better if they love books and movies.
Write more, aim bigger. The bulk of my writing this year has been nonfiction– something I didn’t think I could write, much less sustain all year. I love it, but I miss fiction. And so, in 2016, I want to write as much NF as I did this year while also getting back to fiction writing. As far as aiming bigger– I want to pitch and submit to those dream publications, editors and publishers that are on my list and shoot for bigger projects across the board. Who knows, maybe 2016 will also be the year I finally self-publish something, which scares the crap out of me, but it’s good to be scared because it means I’m challenging myself.
Take care of myself and what I love. This goes back to #1, but it also ties into all the things that are important to me. My husband, my children. My true friends. My writing. My home. My pets. My causes. My heart. I need to take care of them all and not give my time and energy to anything (or anyone) that steals my joy, undermines my goals or hurts my heart (or the heart of those I love).
I’m going into 2016 fiercely and fearless– motivated, strong, loved, changed. It’s going to be a beautiful year. I’m ready.
Thursday, December 31st, 2015 • No Comments on 2015 Resolutions: What I Did (and Didn’t)
Before I can move forward, I need to take one last look back. 2015 was unexpected in many ways, but I went into it with enthusiasm and a long list of goals. What did I accomplish? Where did I fail?
The bracelet Jay got me for Christmas 2014. It proved to be a good mantra for 2015: “She believed she could, so she did.”
Goals for 2015:
1. Drink more water. I probably drink twice as much water in an average day than I did a year ago, which is good and something I plan to continue. Ironically, I spent nearly a week in the hospital early in the year and one of my numerous issues that required post-hospital follow up for several months was my kidney function– my kidneys had shut down and were slow in coming back to normal. Nothing to reinforce a “drink more water” resolution than kidney failure. Drink more water– check!
2. Read more books. I didn’t read nearly as many books as I planned, but I did read about a dozen fat novels, a half dozen anthologies and shorter books and several books for review. I also read probably twice as many essays and articles in 2015 as research for my own budding non-fiction writing. I’ll call this one a win. Read more– check!
3. Ditch social media. Nope. Not even close. But… I did confine most of my social media to down time (while putting the kids to bed, while waiting in lines, while cooking) and I have to say, Facebook was invaluable to my career this year. I found markets for my writing, I made some friends, I met some editors, I expanded my writing repertoire all through those posts, groups and friend requests. Yes, I still goof off too much on social media, but I think I balanced the goofing with working quite nicely. Ditch social media– nope, but that’s OK!
4. Entertain more. I mentioned in my resolutions that I was inspired last fall by the article Friday Night Meatballs by Sarah Grey to consider hosting a weekly dinner party. It didn’t happen, though we probably had friends over as much as we did any year pre-kids (which is to say, more than we have in the past 6 years). A possible goal for 2016 is to try the weekly dinner party thing again at some point, especially as we’re likely going to move and making new friends will be a top goal. Entertain more– half check!
5. Write stuff I care about. Did it. Still doing it. Will continue doing it. Check, check, check!
6. Ask for help. This is one I’m always going to be working on. I did it, to some extent, but–oh man!– it’s hard. Ask for help– half check!
7. Adopt (or foster) a shelter dog. As we decided earlier this year that we want to move, it seemed best to wait until we’re settled before we bring another dog into the house. But we did entertain the thought for a couple of weeks last month, as a friend was in need for a new home for her dog. Unfortunately, while we were willing to give it a go, our dog wasn’t so keen on this new dog in her house and their relationship seemed a little too confrontational for comfort. And so, the visiting dog went home and we’ve returned to our plan to try to find a good match for Clementine (and the family) once we are settled in our new home. Adopt a dog– nope, but I tried!
8. Slow down, breathe, focus on the moment. Again, that near death experience in the spring kind of hammered this one home. I can say I succeeded at this, though of course I could still use some work. But overall, I feel like I was very present and in the moment for almost all of 2015– and that is a huge accomplishment for someone who is always planning the future. Focus on the moment– check!
9. Spend more time outside. Hmm. I think I succeeded at this one. Clementine and I continued our nightly walks except for the weeks I was sick, we went on family trips to Disney World, Charleston (twice) and Hot Springs, VA, all where we spent quite a bit of time outside. I didn’t do any gardening, but I enjoyed backyard time through the spring and summer. Maybe it wasn’t a planned and organized kind of thing (mostly because I totally forgot it was on my list), but I think I did okay. Outside time– check!
10. Connect with others. Professionally, a huge success. Personally, I was a hermit for much of the year and preferred to be home with my family rather than out with friends (not a bad thing at all, but I need more social interaction!). Something to work on in 2016. Connect with others– half check!
11. Say “yes” to the things that I really care about, that speak to my heart and my intellect, that enrich my life. Oh man, yes, I did this. Again, nothing like being gravely ill to put things in perspective. I said “yes” to things that are important to me and said “no” to (most) things that felt like a time suck. I still have some work to do on not feeling like I have to take care of other people (other than the ones I really supposed to take care of) or write for every deadline that crosses my path, but I feel like 2015 really belonged to me. And that’s a good feeling. Saying “yes” to the right things– check!
2 failures, but each turned out to be a good thing in it’s own way
And now, onward to 2016… Happy New Year!
Wednesday, December 30th, 2015 • No Comments on 2015: Phoenix Rising, Lioness Roaring
There have been days (weeks) in 2015 when I felt like this
2015. The year I almost died. The year I reinvented my writer identity to include memoirist and essayist. The year we became a retired military family and Jay became a teacher and I became a teacher’s wife. The year both of my children were in school for the first time and I regained a regular 3-day-a-week writing schedule after being a full-time stay-at-home mom for a year. The year I learned to say, “No, I can’t” without apologizing or explaining– or feeling (much) guilt. The year I realized longevity doesn’t mean blind loyalty when it comes to either my personal or professional lives. The year I embraced the unfriend/block/unfollow/delete button, both literally and metaphorically. The year I decided life is too fucking short to endure toxicity, drama or bad behavior. The year I celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary. The year The year we decided it’s time to move. The year that was one of the best years of my life.
2015 has brought change to my life. And as I think back on this year, the expected and the unexpected, I realize that I am stronger that I’ve ever been, but also softer. My heart breaks more easily these days, for myself, for my children, for friends who have hurt, for a world that seems so unkind at times. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But those who mistake my tenderheartedness for weakness have found that I can turn as cold and hard as ice. I protect what is mine, whether it’s my family, my writing or my own heart– and I have done that this year in so many ways.
My increasingly blond hair (so hard to remember it’s no longer red/auburn) prompted a friend to call me a lioness earlier this year. I took it as a compliment, though of course a female lion doesn’t have a mane, right? But then I read this article about how researchers have discovered some lionesses who have, through a genetic mutation, taken on the traits of males– including growing a long mane and roaring like their masculine counterparts–which increases the chances of survival for their pride. I have moved through this year, getting tougher with every professional and personal disappointment, learning to roar louder and be stronger and speak up for myself in ways I never have before.
A lioness with a long mane protecting her pride– that image of myself will carry me into 2016 with strength and heart.