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Posts Tagged ‘New Years resolutions’

Un-Glumming the New Year

In early January, the universal urge to be ‘better’ in the New Year is nearly palpable. But this year, in addition to the usual January dark days and foul weather, glum is everywhere. I’ve never seen so many gloomy faces. Face Book is full of status updates about Dry January, diets that should have been assigned to horror novels and workouts from hell — all attempts to make us better, by god! Even if it kills us!

 

The days are getting longer. We’re getting more sunlight, more warmth — oh maybe not much just yet, but we’ve finally turned the corner on the dark days. It’s all happening now! Spring will come, buds will bud, and the season will turn again. Rather than glumming our way into the New Year like naughty children being punished, it does seem to me that
we might want to approach this new beginning more like it’s a wild beast that we’re seriously hoping to befriend — not to tame, because where would be the fun in that? I’d like to take that analogy one step further and suggest that maybe it’s actually our own wild beast that we need to be communing with instead of browbeating our inner naughty child.

 

I’m not saying that it’s not a good idea to drink less or eat healthier, to get a little fitter, write more, be more creative. Those are all good things. I’m just saying that life is too short for us to begin the new year dreading the Herculean
austerities we’ve set before us.

 

Giving up something, or setting goals that intimidate us and defeat us before we even begin is counterproductive. It’s also abusive to ourselves. If that wasn’t the case, then why are we so glum? After all, we are implementing those goals and resolutions to better ourselves, right? Bettering ourselves is a hateful phrase, when you think about it. Isn’t it possible that we’re already really amazing human beings, and we just need to remember that? Shouldn’t there be some celebration in that fact somewhere? The chance to challenge ourselves, the chance to celebrate and uncover the best in us, is an exciting opportunity to make better, rather than more austere choices. It’s the opportunity to dig deeper, to know ourselves better, to explore some of the vast uncharted territory within ourselves. Instead of treating this new beginning like a trip to the time-out chair in the corner, perhaps we should treat it as the incredible journey it is, the journey closer to ourselves.

 

I would suggest that we embrace the beast. Isn’t it possible that our overindulgence leading to the austere resolutions for 2017 are perhaps the wild beasts longing for a little more reason to celebrate, perhaps something a little kinder, something that’s maybe more of an actual challenge than a hardship or a punishment? I think we quite often mistake embracing the wild beast with overindulgence, when the wild beast within is really the powerful self that has what it takes to prowl into the New Year on softly padded tiger paws, but is always prepared to use claws when necessary.

 

Yes fit and healthy and not hung over and a little better organized are all good things, but the real challenge is how we view ourselves in relation to those goals, and how we get to those goals in a creative way that takes us closer to befriending that wild beast and helps us understand that those resolutions are, at the end of the day, just surface improvements. The choices we make in how we go about achieving those goals make the difference in whether or not we succeed and how much we grow and discover on that incredible journey to ourselves.

 

New Years Resolutions — ish

 

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! As I started thinking about the way I now view New Years Resolutions and IMG_5258what resolutions are most important to me, I began to formulate a blog post for my end of the year navel gaze with that in mind. It was then that I discovered I’d already written that post for the ERWA blog a couple of years ago, and it still applies. What I’m sharing below are my every-year, every-day resolutions, starting off with the most important one — I WILL BE KIND TO MYSELF!  If in doubt, always refer back to number one!

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I used to start thinking about all the changes I’d make for the New Year in the middle of November. My New Years Resolutions would be preceded by pages and pages in my journal of navel gazing and reflecting on the year past and on what I saw as my successes and failures before I finally got around to writing a list of resolutions longer than my arm and impossible to remember, let alone implement. Success was spotty at best.

I don’t do resolutions any more because it’s easier not to than it is to fail. Still, it’s impossible not to view the New Year as the ideal time for new beginnings, and the best time to make changes for the good. With that in mind, I’d like to share a very short list of resolutions that I plan to do my best to implement this year and that I would encourage other writers and creative folk to implement as well. I’m not promising success, but I think these resolutions will make my life better on a lot of different levels.

  1. I WILL BE KIND TO MYSELF! This is first and foremost, and likely most difficult on the list. Most of the creative types I know – writers among the worst – are way harder on ourselves than we would ever be on anyone else, which means, not only do we fail at that massive list of New Years Resolutions, but we thoroughly and completely beat ourselves up about it, just like we thoroughly and completely beat ourselves up about all of the many impossible goals we set for ourselves during the course of the year. I wish I could give advice on how to implement this first and most important resolution, but I fail miserably at it multiple times every year. The best advice is just to keep on trying. I’m trying to teach myself that this is not a resolution to see through March and then forget. I constantly need to make an effort to be kind to myself, to understand that I can choose to be my own worst enemy or my own best friend. I’ll never be able to do enough to satisfy myself when it comes to my writing. It’ll always be a work in progress. That being the case, I have to make being kind to myself a daily resolution – maybe even an hourly resolution, which includes forgiving myself when I fail to meet my own expectation. Each day I’m kind to myself I will consider a huge success worth savoring!
  1. I WILL DO SOMETHING PHYSICAL. Like all writers, I live in my head. I create whole worlds in kettle bellsmy head, I make the characters I create in my head do amazing and sometimes terrifying things, but that means my characters get their exercise while I sit on our arse in front of a computer. This is not a resolution to spend two hours at the gym every day. It’s a walk in the sunshine when that’s all I have time for, a half hour at the gym a couple times a week. Walking instead of driving, gardening. I will breathe deep, stretch, move, sweat. I’m sure I’m not the first writer to discover that the more physical I am, the more creative I am, and the more productive I am, which helps majorly with number 1!
  1. I WILL READ MORE! It’s another strange paradox, but at least for me, the more time I spend Book stacksreading, the more I actually manage to write. It isn’t just that I write more, but it’s that time spent in the imaginations of fellow writers stimulates my own imagination, makes me think, makes me imagine. I’ve heard writers say that they’re so afraid they’ll copy someone’s ideas if they read. I find myself much more inclined to think of every book I read as a chance to learn, a chance to become a better writer from example – even in those cases when it’s a bad example. It’s also just a pleasure that feels guilty but isn’t. There are too few of those in life.
  1. I WILL LOOK UP! Living in isolation is a huge risk for writers. I work at home. I live in worlds I raindrops 2
    create, and most of the time, I’m very happy to be in those worlds and often very anxious to go back to them when I’m forced to walk away. But I need to be connected. I need to talk and laugh and share and look around me and observe. Everything inspires. Everything sparks the imagination. A part of what I do is to create something new from what already is. A part of what I do is to see things through different eyes and to translate what I see into ways in which it’s never been translated before.
  1. I WILL GET IT DOWN! Once I look up, then it’s essential to record what I see, even if it’s just Writing pen and birds 1_xl_20156020making a mental note. Everything is seed for a story and everything can be seen from multiple angles. The very act of taking a mental note, or even more, of scribbling something down that gets my attention, is a view from a different angle, a possible story waiting to happen.

It’s simple, but it isn’t easy. But simple is always the best start on things worth striving for. Yes, this year’s resolutions are exactly the same as last years, which were exactly the same as the years before, and I’m going to go out on a limb and predict they’ll be exactly the same next year as well.

 

Wishing you all good things in 2016, the very best of those, I’m hoping you’ll give to yourself and I’ll try to do the same.

 

New Years Resolutions Through the Back Door

Well what do you know? Here it is the 7th of January already! 2015 is well and truly under way, and I’ve revamped this P1030134post from the archives because it’s a post that I need to re-read for my own benefit every year, and I hope it will be something to encourage readers as well.

The gym was overflowing with New Years Resolutioners yesterday when I went to Kettle Bells class; all around the world new diets have been begun as soon as the New Year hangover wears off; people stop drinking, stop smoking, begin learning Spanish or French, people promise to take better care of themselves, spend more time with good friends, waste less time in front of the telly, read more, exercise more, write more, and the list goes on. On January 7th the universal urge to be ‘better’ in the New Year is nearly palpable in the soggy English air.

And I’m behind somehow, as I have been for the last few years. New Years Eve passes me by in a daze and so does New Years Day, and in the midst of it all I have this vague notion that I should do something, or at least think something profound. That urge to reflect on what has been and plan how the New Year will be better is always there, but somehow ends up subsumed in the immediacy of everything else going on as the old year hear hammers down to the wire and the new one barrels down on me. Hope and excitement at new beginnings is so much a part of our human nature that the end of a year and the beginning of another one can’t help but be the time when we anticipate, plan change, and dare to dream of what wonderful things we can bring about in the next year. In fact there’s a heady sense of power in the New Year. I think it’s the time when we’re most confident that we can make changes, that we really do have power over our own lives. It’s the time when we’re most proactive toward those changes, those visions of the people we want to be. I think that’s because it’s the one time of the year when there is a clear delineation between what has been and what will be – even if it is really rather arbitrary.

Before I actually began to sell my writing, back when I dreamed of that first publication, back when there seemed to be a lot more time for navel gazing than is now, I was a consummate journaler. I filled pages and pages, notebooks and notebooks full of my reflections, ruminations and navel gazes. And nothing took more time and energy than the end of Sleeping woman reading181340322466666994_IswNAb85_bthe year entry, in which I reflected on how I did on the year’s resolutions and planned my resolutions for the next. This was a process that often began late in November with me reading back through journals, taking notes, tracing down some of what I’d been reading during that year and reflecting on it. Yeah, I know. I needed to get a life!

By the time New Years Day rolled around, I had an extensive list of resolutions, each with a detailed outline of action as to how I was going to achieve it. I found that some of those resolutions simply fell by the wayside almost before the year began — those things that if I’m honest with myself, I know I’m never gonna do, no matter how much I wish I would. Others I achieved in varying degrees-ish. But sadly, for the most part, a month or maybe two into the year, that hard core maniacal urge to be a better me no matter what cooled to tepid indifference as every-day life took the shine off the New Year.

It was only when there stopped being time for such ginormous navel-gazes and micro-planning that I discovered I actually had achieved a lot of those goals that were my resolutions simply by just getting on with it. As I began to think more about how different my approach to all things new in the New Year had become the busier I became, I realised that I had, through no planning on my part, perfected the sneak-in-through-the-back-door method of dealing with the New Year. The big, bright New Year changes I used to spend days plotting and planning no longer got written down, no longer got planned out. Instead, they sort of implemented themselves in a totally unorganised way somewhere between the middle of January and the middle of February. They were easy on me, sort of whispering and smiling unobtrusively from the corners of my life. They came upon me, not in a sneak attack so much as a passing brush with someone who would somehow become my best friend.

All together, I’ve written more that a half a million words this year. Needless to say, I’m my own harsh taskmaster. I’m driven, I’m tunnel-visioned, I’m a pit bull when I grab on to what I want to achieve with my writing. No one is harder on me than I am – no one is even close. And yet from somewhere there’s a gentler voice that sneaks in through the back door of the New Year and through the back doors of my life and reminds me to be kinder to me, to be easier on me, to find ways to rest and recreate and feed my creative self. I’ll never stop being driven. The time I’ve been given, the time we’ve all been given, is finite. And that gentler part of ourselves must somehow be a constant reminder of comfort and forgiveness, of self-betterment that comes, not from brow-beating and berating ourselves, not from forced regimentation, but from easing into it, making ourselves comfortable with it. We, all of us, live in a time when life is http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-abstract-black-white-writing-pen-image20156020snatched away from us one sound-bite, one reality TV show, one advert at a time. Often our time, our precious time is bargained away from us by harsher forces, by ideals and scripts that aren’t our own, and the less time we have to dwell
on the still small voice, the deeper the loss.

So my resolution, my only resolution every year is to listen more carefully to that gentler, quieter part of me, to forgive myself for not being able to be the super-human I think I should be, to settle into the arms of and be comfortable with the quieter me, the wiser me who knows how far I’ve really come, who knows that the shaping of a human being goes way deeper than what’s achieved in the outer world, and every heart that beats needs to find its own refuge in the value of just being who we are, of living in the present and coming quietly and gently and hopefully into 2015.

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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