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New Years Resolutions and Navel Gazing

Here it is the last day of 2018. I don’t mind saying the last month has been a total gut punch for me with the loss of my sister. I’m more than ready to shed 2018 and move forward. As of tomorrow, the gym will be overflowing with New Years Resolutioners; all around the world new diets will have 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, and the list goes on. Since Boxing Day, the universal urge to be ‘better’ in the New Year has been nearly palpable in the soggy English air.

 

It happens every year, that urge to reflect on what has been and plan how the New Year will be better. 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 dohave 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.

 

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 the 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 in early December 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.

 

I’m my own harsh task master. 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 gentleness, 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 snatched 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 the New Year.

I wish you all the very best in 2019 in a very gentle, very peaceful sort of way.

 

 

 

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.

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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