Taking Stock of the Year

So you’ve survived yet another year. YAY! Glad you’re still with us. 😉

And at this time of year, it’s only suitable to start to look back and consider the year. Remember those goals you were supposed to write down at the beginning of the year? Yep, those ones. Go drag them out now, hmm? I’ll wait.

(waiting. Tapping fingers. Playing with iPad.)

Back? Excellent. Now, take a deep breath, close your eyes for a minute, and start to read back over your goals. DO NOT jump to your first conclusion of “gee, I didn’t get this done … or this … or this.”

Instead, check off the things you DID achieve. There are at least one or two in there, right? Maybe expand on it a little, going over how you achieved it, maybe padding the achievement a bit. Did you only get one book written? Yes, but this was exceptional circumstances, and it’s now the best book you’ve ever written, with blood and tears,  a steep learning curve, and the potential for bleeding fingers. Did you achieve some of those bigger goals? Woohoo! Celebrate and be happy (though you were celebrating those things at the time, right?)

Now it’s time to start a new list. Write down what you DID achieve this year. If you want to stick to career only goals, or if you want to branch out to all areas of your life, write it down. Did you learn a new language? Paint your house? Do something you’ve always wanted to do? Maybe celebrated a milestone, or completely changed your life with a new child, a marriage, a move, etc.

Now add this to the original list. And take stock. It’s strange to see an entire year summed up that way, and it’s very easy to forget some of the things we have achieved, especially if we’re focused on the negative or perhaps mired in a bad mood at the time we look at the list. And while it can be easy to say it was a “bad” year, or “hard,” guess what buttercup? Most years are. Because that’s how life is, and it’s why our victories seem all the sweeter. So remember gratitude and the wonderful things you’ve experienced this year, and all that life has brought you. And then get ready, set, go, because a new year is about to come, and it’s ripe with potential and waiting for you with all the best intentions.

Happy New Year to you, and may 2014 be a fantastic one! 🙂

Thanks for reading, and see you in the new year.

Spread Some Good Cheer – Personally and Professionally

I happen to love this season, despite the stress and the craziness of it all, and how we try to cram way too much into one poor little month.

And I’ve been thinking about gifts, of course, being that time of year. I have an idea for you all that is guaranteed to be something everyone needs, and everyone will like.

Be nice. Be kind. Share the love.

Rolling your eyes at me? Yes, it sounds trite, but only because we let it be so. Because we don’t sometimes consider how important it is, especially if someone is in a dark place, or when we’re busy with our own problems, our own business, our own lives. But here’s the idea: send three people – perhaps even strangers, or perhaps especially strangers – kindness. Why not? What’s it going to hurt? Read a fabulous book recently? Why not drop the author a note and let them know. Experienced terrific customer service, take the few minutes it takes to fill in that survey or send a quick note to the store about how pleased you were. Closer to home, take the time to smile at the bedraggled clerk, and leave a nice tip for the waitress. If you’ve ever worked retail at this time of year, you know it can really suck (I have. It did.) If you haven’t, perhaps you should to find a bit more sympathy.

So go out there and play nice, hmm? I really would like to believe we can change the world and make a difference in small ways. What’s the harm in trying, right?

Have a good one, and thanks for reading. 🙂

Sending You Peace and Calm … Just When You Need It

It seems like come the end of November, the craziness factor starts to spin out of control, and by the time you hit December, you kind of feel like running away into the snow screaming and never, ever coming back. Or, you know, that could just be me. 😉

I love Christmas. I love making presents with the anticipation of the reaction of the recipient. I actually woke the kidlet up last year because I couldn’t wait for her to experience Christmas morning (and yes, I still find it hard to sleep on Christmas Eve). And for me, a big part of Christmas is the annual party I hold every year, which has almost become like I get two “Christmas days” since I work to have everything ready before my party (when the conditions are ideal). And, seeing as the party comes before Christmas, it leaves me the rest of December to anticipate Christmas without stressing out.

taoofpoohProblem is, this year it was the party itself that was stressing me out. It was this past Saturday, and frankly, by Friday night I was about ready to call everyone and tell them not to come. Now, it’s not even a super formal party, it’s not big, and we’ve done it so long everyone kind of knows the routine with what we’ll have to eat, what they’ll bring, what we’ll do. But with the arrival of kids, things have shifted a bit. And then there were issues. And then …

Well, remember that image of wanting to running away into the snow and never coming back?
Then I picked up “The Tao of Pooh” by Benjamin Hoff. And as I was given a simple introduction to Taoism, I found calm seep over me. While I strongly recommend you pick up this book (totally worth it!), I wanted to share some of what I got from it, and what helps calm me as I read and consider it each night.

It is as it is. This statement is something I’ve said before, a simple chant to remember that we can rail against how unfair things are, things we dislike, things we wish to change, etc, etc, but it changes nothing. Instead, simply accepting the situation and moving forward offers a more peaceful answer. I’ve been working to accept this after some incidents at the part, and in general. But no matter what happened, or what I might have wanted to happen, or maybe what should have happened – all those suppositions change nothing. What happened, what is, IS.

Be Present. Are you too busy being busy to live? December tends to push things out of the norm, making us more stressed and feel the demands of expectation, family, etc. But there are times throughout the year when we feel like we’re running as fast as we can getting everything done, and can’t possibly catch up. We find ourselves so busy being, well, busy at something that we don’t accomplish anything – and worse, we miss out on some of the really important things, like spending time with family, appreciating who and what we have, expressing gratitude, and simply enjoying the world and being alive. The recommended solution? Be present in the moment instead of living for whatever comes next. Live today, breathing in this moment’s air, the sights, sounds, and feeling, savouring life.

Savour the time you have. Are all those time-saving devices you have stealing all your time? Fact is, time just is (see first statement). There is no saving it, because it continues to march on and doesn’t much care what we think. And the more we stare at a clock or worry about getting to the store on time, the faster that clock seems to go. But have you ever just spent the afternoon away from any of that? Away from a clock or any form of time keeping device and instead just existed? You did what needed or what you wanted to get done, and sure, time passed, but it didn’t seem to race past as quickly, did it? So take the time to breathe, to ignore the clock, and enjoy the moment rather than worry about it’s passing and miss out.

Enjoy the Journey. Christmas is an easy example for this one where we rush and make ourselves crazy to get to just that one day … then in just a few short moments, the gifts are torn open and it’s all done, all the excitement and magic we built up just sort of drained away. In the same way, we can live our whole lives also reaching for the next promotion, the next step in our career path, determined that the next book, the next project will give us all the rainbows and ponies we can want, and THEN we can be happy, even if after that step, there’s always another and another. What about today? What about now? Why now enjoy the whole trip there, paying careful attention to those moments when we know we’re content and stretching them out? Why not remember what the real purpose is behind our actions – why we do what we do. For Christmas, it isn’t just about that one day and giving a gift because you’re supposed to, is it? You don’t just write the book to make millions of dollars, do you? What about the pleasure of giving and creating?

Okay, so hope that helps make your December a little bit easier, and that there are a few less people racing off into the snow. 😉

What do you think?

Thanks for reading, have a great week, and take a bit of time to breathe and be happy yourself, hmm? Take care.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter Writing Whining

Yay winter roads. Bleh! Source: cbc.ca
Yay winter roads. Bleh!
Source: cbc.ca

Today it’s snowing. Again. A lot. Already this month we’ve had two terrible weeks of snow, including two days where my husband has even worked from home because the highways are so bad. Today is the second of those days.

I find myself staring out the window and finding it hard to actually, you know, write and work like I’m supposed to. And it’s not just the weather. I’ve been a good girl and I’ve actually finished almost all of my presents pre-December 1st (yes, I actually made almost all of them as well). I needed it done extra-early this year because of a wedding at the end of the month as well as an early date for my own annual Christmas party. No, I am not Martha; there are still pumpkins now frozen and stuck to my front steps, and the boxes of decorations are out, but haven’t spontaneously jumped onto the tree or mantle (though they better get a move on – the party is this Saturday!).

Instead, after taking all of last week “off” to do holiday-related stuff (read: shopping and getting out of the house after a week stuck in the house), I am studiously trying to write. I’ve started a new WIP (or re-started, depending on how you look at it). And mostly, I even like it, and have spurts of high inspiration for it. But mostly, I just want to curl up and do nothing, or possibly run away to my craft room and play. My excuses are plain: I have worked on rewrites almost the entire year. I have worked on making Christmas presents most of the latter part of the year (including the massive dollshouse for the kidlet, which is done too, btw – pictures hopefully next week). And right now, all I want to do is play. I do not want to be “good” and sit at my computer as I should and push out more words. I do not want to get the last few things done that I’ve promised for the wedding (and kind of need, like a dress for the kidlet). I want to be irresponsible. I want to do what I want.

Which then makes me think: but when I’m writing, aren’t I always doing just what I want to? What would be the purpose of writing a book that I don’t want to write? Rewrites are different, seeing as there comes a point when I think we all start to hate rewrites, and they’re simply a necessary evil. But just writing that first draft? There should be joy and fun there. And I am enjoying myself, especially playing with more modern language than I usually use, and two zany-type characters. And writing in a different POV is fun too, a bit easier than it sometimes is, though I miss the other perspective (no, I simply can’t be happy, can I?) 😉

And yet I still find myself longing for something else. For escape. Or maybe just to curl up and indulge myself.

What about you? Does December leave you feeling similarly? If not, how do you stay motivated to do non-holiday related things?

Thanks so much for stopping by and reading. Have a good one, happy writing, and a happy week to you out there!