First and foremost, I want to wish all of you a Happy New Year! I sincerely hope that all of you had a wonderful Christmas holiday and that you spent time with family and friends and, hopefully, even got in a little, well-deserved relaxation. We had a quiet holiday, filled with laughter, delicious food, and weather that seemed more like autumn than winter, but that didn't matter--I felt festive, anyway! And I know this is a little cliche, the whole "New Year, New Me" bit, but I like setting goals for myself, nonetheless. Plus, it's something to look back on, a way to hold myself accountable when I get down in a slump.
1. Read more. You'd think this was obvious, right? Writers read. That's what we do. But I tend to find time to do other things (like surfing social media!), rather than dedicating thirty minutes to an hour a day to another author's work. When I'm reading, however, I write better, harder, faster. Ideas pop up more often, and I have less moments of writer's block. And while I'm on that note...
2. Spend less time surfing the internet. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. I love Facebook. Love to see what everyone's doing, keep up with my high school buddies, laugh at all the funny photos and memes. But it's a time sink I can ill-afford, if I want to be consistent with writing and publishing books. My goal is to write for a living--for writing to be my actual "day job." However, if I don't start taking a more professional attitude toward being an author, a part of which is limiting my internet time, then I'll have a slow, slow road to the goal. That said, I do think social media is a marvelous avenue for promotion and putting yourself out there, as an artist. I just feel like limitations need to be set in order to allow more time for actual work.
3. Interrupt anxiety with gratitude. I actually stole this concept from Tanya Burr, but I just couldn't resist. The idea really resonated with me. I work in an environment that oftentimes proves highly stressful. On top of that, I'm a wife and a mommy who's desperately trying to put out her next book. Add keeping up with a house and laundry, four dogs, and making sure my kid eats a nutritious meal every now and again, you've got a recipe for SOMEONE GET ME OUTTA HERE RIGHT NOW! However, I love my family, and I actually do love my day job, so I have to find a healthy way to cope with the anxiety sometimes. When anxiety creeps in, Tanya's suggestion is to think of three things for which you are grateful. What's actually good in your life? What's great? Beauty can be found everywhere. The other day, when I was on my way home and feeling rather down because of the weather and a tummy ache that could've been avoided if I'd only eaten a healthier lunch...I saw an elderly man with a cane, walking from the end of his driveway to his front door. He took two very slow steps, then brought up his cane. A second or so would pass, then he'd take the next two steps. Bring up his cane. Two more. And then his cane. I imagine the total journey from one end to the other took close to ten minutes. But it hit me that I shouldn't allow weather conditions to dampen my mood, because I have two eyes that got to see the weather that day, as they do every day. And I shouldn't be upset by what I ate for lunch, because I have the energy to chew and swallow. Finding joy in the face of anxiety takes discipline, but I believe it's a very doable venture.
4. Call my family more. Like a lot of people, we live away from our family, my husband and I. Sisters, brothers, parents, grandparents...they're all spread out around the country. But I want to hear their voices more often, ask them about their lives, how they're getting along. Even if it's only for a few minutes, communication with our loved ones is important to healthy family relationships.
5. Travel more. The issue with traveling for us is twofold: time and money. But, seriously. Unless you're a royal, isn't it like that for pretty much everyone? The thing with us, though, is that we have a little one who I very much want to see the world. I want him to experience different cultures, cuisine, to know what it's like to sleep on a beach or wake up to a mountain view from your back porch. To explore ancient castles, museums, cathedrals, and ruins. To see, with his own eyes, the glory of our small planet. And I want us to experience that wonder with him, as a family. When he's grown and on his own, I want him to remember how nice the people in Ireland are and how green that grass is, how spectacular it is to see a live volcano or to stand at the summit of one of the tallest mountains. I want him to crack open his World History book and say, "Hey! I've been there!"
So, those are my New Year's Resolutions. I started small for a reason; hopefully I will add more as the year progresses. Here's to a happy, prosperous 2017. Cheers!
Peace, Love and Junior Mints,