Not Just Another New Year’s Resolution


images treeI LOVE the New Year holiday because we get to make whatever we want of it.

It’s the holiday that asks the bigger questions.

What do you want to make of this year?

What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? (Okay, I stole that line from poet Mary Oliver).

New Year’s appeals to the list maker and the goal setter in me.

I was not always a goal setter.  For years I had vague and marvelous things I wanted to do on replay in my head, but never a plan.

I am an excellent dreamer.  I could dream with the best of them. And as other introverts know, there is plenty going on inside my head to keep me occupied for years.  Take action? But I am so very entertained right here inside my own noggin. 

This can be a bad thing, in case you didn’t know.  Without a plan that includes specific action steps and time limits I would be, well, dreamin’ my life away.

Then I started to have concrete goals and planned them out and what do ya know, when I take action things actually start to happen!

Why didn’t they teach me this in school? Oh wait- this is real life we are talking about here- it’s more like quantum physics than academia.

I like the ‘work backwards’ technique. What do I want to accomplish by the end of 2017? What would that require of me?  Then I break it down. What do I need to do on a weekly basis?  Daily? What time block? And I write it down.

Most of my own goals are writing ones, and are pretty easy to define,  but I think even broad, vague sounding goals such as “get healthy” or “enjoy life” can be broken down into specific actions if we get clear on what those goals mean to us.

Perhaps it should be called a New Year’s plan instead of a New Year’s resolution.  Maybe that makes all the difference.

So what do you want in 2017?

As the poet John Anster famously said:

 Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.

Reading and writing and inspiration overload

It is only six days into National Novel Writing month and already I have fallen off of the book-reading-wagon.  Six days.  I have been writing, I really have.  A lot, in fact. It occurred to me that Julia Cameron’s advice given in her book The Artist’s Way is spot on:  If writers stop reading for a time, they will write more. It’s not to say writers shouldn’t read because they should.  But at some point we have to put down the books and pen our own words, which is exactly what I’ve done for six days.  Once I stopped being such a book pig, I couldn’t stop writing.

But then alas I had to return an overdue book to the library (it was a book by Deepak Chopra and I loved this book. I had such a hard time parting with it; it was a week and a half overdue, and that’s after I renewed it the maximum number of times. It was the kind of book that  had to be absorbed slowly.

During my six days of I can’t stop writing, I also could not get out of my head my next book idea, and a shift I may want to make to this blog.  For reasons I won’t bore you with, this led me to want to read Julie & Julia, written by Julie Powell, the woman who successfully churned a blog-to-book-to movie.  I’d seen the movie, but hadn’t read her book.  So while returning my overdue library book, I found her first book, and her second one, Cleaving.

And since I was at the library anyhow, I picked up Lean In  because I may use the term lean in in a future blog post, as in “lean in to less” or “lean in to midlife“, or something like that.  And if I’m going to steal Sheryl Sandberg’s phrase, I figured I should at least read her book.

So there it is. My confession of I can’t stop reading even for the sake of focusing on my own damn book for one single month.  But the good news is, I skimmed Powell’s Cleaving in one day, and I can set that book aside now.  However, I am rather disappointed  that her marriage was in such turmoil by the time she published Julia & Julia.  Okay, it’s more than that, actually. I was full out distressed for an hour after reading Cleaving. It distracted me to the point of needing to do a google search to find out that they are still in fact together and it tainted my perception of Julie Powells, not that she cares. It’s my problem really, that I am wasting  thoughts on her life, instead of writing more in mine.

Things build on themselves, for sure.  The more I write, the more I want to write.  The inspiration floods me to the point where I wonder if I will get anything else done. But then the more I read, the more I want to read. One book leads to another.  Thank goodness I blocked off specific writing times at least, that leave reading or other distractions ‘off limits’. I guess it’s about balance, or timing, or something else that I haven’t figured out.  I’m lost in a sea of words and ideas and inspiration and I think I might burst.  I just have to make sure I burst onto the page in the form of a  finished draft by November 30, as that is the Nanowrimo goal.

* On Point NPR