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.
Tuesday, December 29th, 2015 • No Comments on December, the month in review
Me and my iced coffee, with a very special sleeve gifted to me by a Starbucks friend
Oh, December! Here we are at the end of the month and at the end of the year. It’s a balmy 73º in Virginia, which is disheartening for this Florida girl who likes her holidays with a little chill (and even a little snow). Ah well, Christmas has past and the New Year is just a few days away. I can deal with the warmer weather as I take down the holiday decorations and return my house to its pre-holiday plainness– a clean house to start the new year with a clean slate.
But first… December. This month, my oldest baby turned 6. Patrick has given us six happy years of little boy energy and humor and creativity and it’s a joy to watch him grow. He is the kid who made me a mom and I marvel at his imagination, his independence, his kind heartedness. I can already see hints of the man he will become– probably because many days he seems more like a teenager than a little boy. I’m in no hurry for him to grow up, but I find myself giving him space and time to explore his interests, knowing he’s inherited some of my introverted, introspective ways.
Christmas was fun. The boys were excited for the arrival of Santa (and I’m so happy for that!) and though it was a small just-us-four Christmas, it was special. I made my signature lasagna bolognese on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we stayed home in our pajamas all day and spent most of the morning opening presents. It was a memorable holiday, most notably because there were no sad moments for me. It was all joy, mixed in with the madness that goes along with having 6 and 4 year old boys (can you say cabin fever?). This is the Christmas I always wanted for myself.
It’s been a light writing month, as is to be expected with all of the holiday-related activities at school and home. I wrote about everything from jump starting your sex life to the “myth” of motherhood for Mom.me and I wrote a fun piece for Book.bub on book boyfriends to keep you warm this winter. I’m planning ahead to 2016 and it looks like I’ll be writing more erotica next year. I have a new anthology (likely my last) coming out in February. The One Who Got Away is possibly my favorite anthology theme ever, a bittersweet collection of stories about second chances. I’ll post more about the book as we get closer to the release date.
December movies included Star Wars: The Force Awakens (of course) and Spotlight, a film I haven’t seen much about despite it’s brilliant cast (including Mark Ruffalo, whom I adore), terrific script and the fact that it’s based on real life events. Check it out if you have a chance. My interest in investigative journalism (and the aforementioned Mr. Ruffalo) is what compelled me to see it, but it ranks right up there as one of the year’s best.
2016 promises to be a year filled with new bylines, family adventures, unexpected surprises and probably a few unpredictable (and some fairly predictable) challenge. But as December fades away, I’m savoring all that 2015 has been– the good (very, very good), the bad (not a lot, but enough for me to appreciate the good that much more) and the ugly (me, before coffee and/or in a hospital bed). It’s been a whopper of a year and it seems fitting that it ends quietly and peacefully, much as it began. Now, if it were only 20 degrees cooler…
Me and my boys at the school holiday concert
Goodbye, December. Onward to January 2016!