Showing posts with label goals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label goals. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Every Day Is Happy New Year

I'd like to make a confession. It's not a huge deal, not a life altering something that will make people cross to the other side of the street when they see me coming, but it is something I want to get off my chest.

I hate all the New Year's Eve and New Year's Resolution and Happy New Year sentiments floating around at this time of the year.

I just don't get it. I never have. I don't care about a ball dropping in another time zone, I don't really give a hoot about the year's top songs or the best movies of the year. I don't like the idea of celebrating the end of one year and the beginning of a new one, and I despise making resolutions. Above all, I hate staying up late for an anticlimactic moment that I may have missed because my clock isn't set properly.

To me, the idea of celebrating New Year's Eve is about as silly as expressing thankfulness on Thanksgiving.

Wait. Don't start throwing rotten eggs at me, but I'm not a fan of forced thankfulness either.

I know that a lot of people see New Year's as an opportunity to set new goals, to reevaluate what works and what doesn't, and to take a step back and reassess where his or her life is heading and whether or not to change course. There's nothing at all wrong about that, but I don't view it that way. I'm much more of a live in the moment kind of gal. It just doesn't make sense for me to wait until a specified month, specified day or specified moment to show or feel things.

I am constantly reassessing my personal and professional goals. I reevaluate them  on a regular basis and change what needs changing when it needs it. I express my love and gratitude for friends and family on a daily basis. I focus on my health--physical, emotional, and mental--every day. I try and do the things that I know are good for me. I avoid the things that are bad for me. I allow myself small indulgences without guilt, like gorging on chocolate on Christmas morning, because I know that over all, I'm pretty healthy.

My life is a constant work in progress, and, strange as it may seem for a writer, I do not view the end of one year as the end of a chapter. I think that life is too messy, too emotional and complicated to be wrapped up in neat little chapters. Sometimes, out of the blue, things from previous years (or chapters that should be over and done with) pop up, and I have to deal with them all over again. But life is beautiful and strange and mysterious and damned messy. Closing the door on all previous chapters is a disservice and often counter-productive. Sure, it shuts out the bad stuff and gives you a stepping stone for the good stuff to come, but it also shuts the door on all the magic, joy and growth you can get from letting life flow about you all of the time.

This isn't the same as continuing to allow harmful  or negative influences to have access to your life. If there is something you need to move past and put behind you firmly and permanently, then by all means, do it and don't look back! But don't wait for some far off, arbitrary date to take that step. Do it when you're ready and not a moment later. Who cares if it's almost Easter or nearly graduation?

In the end, you are the only one who can live your life just as I am the only one who can live mine. If you have made mistakes and hurt people, don't wait for a special occasion to make amends. If you regret not spending more time playing with your kids, talking to your grandpa on the phone, working out, or learning to cook fried chicken, don't put it on your soon-to-be-neglected list of resolutions. Just do it. Pick up the phone. Get on the floor and build with LEGOs.  Dance like a teenager to YouTube videos. Open a cookbook and go buy a chicken. Do it now. Not tomorrow or next week. Now. Because all you have is now. And once you've made it a habit to play with LEGOs or pick up the phone now and then or to work up a sweat dancing to 80's videos, you'll find that the things some people call "resolutions" are really just the stuff of day to day living. They add up to a happier, healthier, more joy filled life. And get this: You get all the awesome gooey good feelings without any of the guilt of not seeing a resolution through. If you determine that you just don't like the way frying chicken makes your house smell or if playing on the floor just isn't your idea of a great time, you can just move on to something else, something that will fulfill you and bring you joy and not guilt.

One year has ended. I hope it was an amazing year for you and your loved ones. A new year is beginning, and I hope it will be even more amazing and wonderful. But in the end, my wish for you is that you take charge of your life every single day. Cherish the golden moments. Grieve over the rotten ones, and keep putting one foot in front of the other, always taking solid and sure steps into the life you want.

What will tomorrow bring you?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Confessions Of A NaNoWriMo Dropout

It's November. The leaves are turning, and in some cases, falling from the trees here in the high desert. The days are still warm but the nights are cool, and the smell of fireplace smoke tickles my nostrils every time I take a walk with my dog. November, time for pie and turkey and way too much dairy. Time to put away the Halloween decorations and pull out the sweaters.

It's also time for NaNoWriMo. Huh? NaNoWriMo. It's a crazy, fun, intense, caffeine and Cheetos filled whirlwind of a month that is dedicated to writing a 50,000 word novel in just 30 days. This strange name is short for National Novel Writing Month. It's a time to give yourself permission to lock yourself up in your room or hide in a coffee shop and just indulge in your wildest literary fantasies. It's insane. It's fun. It's free. And best of all, there is a ton of support and wacky goings on. I love Nano and I sign up every year.

And every year I drop out.

Like all writers, I have an entire Rolodex full of excuses not to write (though my husband has recently launched a campaign to get me to dump the Rolodex and use Google Spreadsheets instead), and they are all so reasonable: The baseboards need scrubbing, the cat needs brushing, I have to try on every piece of clothing I own so I can send a bag to Goodwill. I'm sure you get the idea and don't need me to list all four thousand eight-hundred seventy-two reasons.

I always start out fully intending to write fifty--no, seventy thousand words! No, wait! In my best Dr. Evil voice, I burst into the living room and declare that I will easily write  "One hundred thousand words! Bwwahahahaha!" My husband usually just looks up at me and offers a supportive "Wow. That's great, Dannie. How much have you written so far?" My answer to that is typically of the I haven't actually started yet. I have to make a crust for that potpie we're having for dinner, so I'll start pounding out the words tonight variety. 

At some point, I always do sit down and write, but by the time I find my writing groove, I am so far behind my daily word count goal to reach 50k words, that I start to feel panicky and resentful. Resentful of myself for having a hard time. Resentful of all the household duties that are distracting me, resentful of all the amazing, beautiful, talented writers who can easily blow right past their goal and actually succeed in finishing NaNo. So I pour myself a glass of three dollar wine and hope that loosens me up enough to be productive. Unfortunately, it only distracts me and I end up wasting an inordinate amount of time on Facebook. Most years, I just give up entirely around the third week of November, feeling guilt and shame over my pathetic 4,000 words.

So this year, I didn't sign up. This year, I am aware that it's National Novel Writing Month, and I'm genuinely happy for all those writers out there who are participating in the write-ins and camaraderie, but I'm just not playing. Instead, I'm plugging away, every day, on my novel. I have a reasonable word count goal, but I don't have a hard and fast deadline. This year, I'm giving myself permission to lock myself in my office and write, but I'm also giving myself permission to watch Mythbusters with my kid or to work on a blog post or short story if I'm not feeling the novel love during any particular writing session.

I think the main difference is that this year, I've officially given myself permission to be a writer full time, not just for a month. I don't feel like I have to pound out 2,000 words every day. Some days I do and some days I barely hit 700. But that's okay. For me, writing isn't a race, it's a way of life. The story will ebb and flow, the hours in the day will work with me or against me, and sometimes things will pop up. And that's okay.

The first draft of my novel is far, far, far from where I want it to be. I wish I had three times as many words written as I do, but I'm not stressing out about that. It's coming along day by day. And this year, as NaNoWriMo happens all around me, I feel proud of myself for accomplishing what I have. On the days where I'm not a productive as I hoped to be, I gently remind myself that there is always tomorrow.

When it comes to writing, what do you have to confess?