So, this year marks my 55th trip around the sun. So far, it's been a fun ride. Every year as June 14th (my actual birth date) comes around, I sit back and reflect on where I've been, how I've grown, and I realign my goals for the next year. I tend to look into the reflecting pond at this time of year, rather than in January, with the rest of humanity for two reasons:
First, It's cold in January, and I'm usually still in hibernation mode, trying to keep the old processes warm, adding kindling to the fire that keeps the past year's goals breathing; no small feat. It's tough to keep things growing in the arctic frost. Drake tends to migrate during the cold of winter, so no great help there.
Secondly, everyone else on the planet seems to take that same month to reflect, and albeit with good intentions, I think, also with a foreshadowing of acceptable neglect. The people I've come in contact with, those that make "new years' resolutions", tend to choose things that they don't really want, so that they don't feel like failures when they don't achieve their goals; and they know they won't, because everyone else fails, too. It's rare for your peer group to rave with you when you celebrate a January resolution. Usually, they feign happiness for you, secretly, or not so secretly, frustrated that they couldn't stick to it. Regret is at a high premium in February... I think that's why Hallmark came out with Valentines' Day, so we'd have something to look forward to.
I simply don't like setting myself up to be surrounded by that kind of negative energy, or failure. So, I wait until I feel like my head is in a space where I can reflect and follow my goal setting path with conviction. I do this during a time when we least expect failure - both me and those around me. For some reason, when you announce to the world that you are going to do things differently, and it's not January, there is an energy shift that works to your benefit, rather than your detriment. I like taking advantage of that... the fact that my birthday just so happens to fall during a time of comfort and renewal doesn't hurt, either.
I've raised an amazing little person who has grown into an incredible man... I married an incredible man who has grown into an amazing husband... I've learned more about business than I ever thought possible in one year... I've started a new business... I've established a TV program... I've made a ton of new friends... I've reconnected with some old friends... I've said goodbye to a beloved dog and I've invited a new puppy into my life... I've written more words toward publishing more books... and I've read more words written by spectacular authors. I've spent time sharing with people I care about, and continue to be a cheerleader for those who sincerely want to move their lives and their creativity forward.
How does one celebrate another year? For me, it's all about zero stress. I escaped the "regular world" for a few days, choosing that time to live off-grid and nearer to nature. I feel most at peace when I'm at our little cabin in the woods. And even closer to peace when the rain lasts for hours, and the thunder reminds me of my insignificance. There's something refreshing about being reminded about my smallness in the world. It relieves the pressure of all I want to do, and allows me the energy to simply do what I can... well.
Over the decades of my introspective journey, I've tried to establish a pattern of living that includes this path:
Choose a Goal... Apply Intention... Make A Viable Plan... Research and Learn about what needs to be done... Take Action... Manifest the Outcome... Enjoy the Celebration... Rest... Repeat.
In the coming year, my focus will be on WRITING AND READING BOOKS! There are four writing projects that I have started, each (of course) in a different genre, and each with at least a five-digit word count already created. This indicates to me that Drake thinks they should be written. I've also amassed a TBR shelf that is about forty books long (and I'd really like to buy more). So, I'm resurfacing as a Writer and Reader for 2019. Sure, I'm also pursuing my business and community service work - but that's only because boredom and hunger aren't any fun. But primarily, my emotional energy - and that really is what we're talking about when we discuss re-evaluating one's direction in life - will be focused on writing and reading.
Each November, I try to participate in a program called NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. The challenge, 30 days, 50,000 words. It's absolutely a challenge easily reached - it's just 1,667 words per day, after all. I do that in a blog post - sometimes in an hour. However, waiting until November each year messes with my intention and momentum. So this year, I'm doing what I'm calling, NaNoWriMo 365. Yes, I'm making a commitment to write a minimum of 1,667 words every day from now until June 14, 2020. On days when I miss, I'm making up for it on another day. I allow myself this little bit of wiggle room because sometimes life intercedes into our strongest intentions and derails our concerted action toward our goals. We become ill and need to recover... We need to celebrate the lives of others... Sometimes, we just need to sleep and recharge after a particularly grueling moment or two; and sometimes, the momentum is so strong that it's difficult to stop - that's when we can take advantage and move a bit slower on a day afterward. So, I've downloaded a word count tracker to my phone and I'm keeping a log of my daily word counts. I'm devoting Monday and Wednesday evenings to sacred writing time, and turning on the focus.
The reading goal is a little bit trickier. I spend so much of my time writing, that I don't indulge myself that down time I used to allow for curling up with a good book and a cup of cocoa on the couch. So, I'm allowing myself "old fashioned reading". What does that mean, exactly? Well, remember when you were a kid and your parents, or a teacher at school used to read out loud to you? We all still considered that reading - we were just doing it orally. We called it storytelling, and I'm embracing that again, now. Instead of criticizing myself for not actually picking up a book and turning pages whenever I want to, I'm allowing myself to read via storytelling... or as we like to say in the 21st century, audio books. Whenever I get in the car, fold laundry, or clean the house, I'm listening to audio books instead of being distracted by television, and my goodness, is it fun! Nothing passes the time like a really great story read out loud. In fact, I'm hearing some new vocabulary words I've not run across before - and when you consider the size of the dictionary, it's not a great surprise. So, just like being in class in second grade, I'm learning, too. Tone inflection, empathy of character, pronunciation, definition within context, secrets about craft that you can only learn from another's mystical practice of putting words to paper, and most curiously, a magical effect on time - from dull to exciting. It's amazing what oral reading can do for you.
Now, don't misunderstand, I am not abdicating printed books for the audio ones... I'm just doing both. My goal is to read two books each month, one orally, one from the printed page (or perhaps digital page). The pure joy of this is to acknowledge that we can get story into our heads in a myriad of ways now, and we shouldn't feel "less than" simply because we're taking advantage of all the methods at our disposal, rather than remaining vigilant to only one. Truth be told, there are some books that I simply haven't been able to find in physical form, but can find them digitally - so I think that's a win - a book discovered and read is wonderment, no matter the form of it's delivery.
So, two books read per month, and 1,667 words written per day, tracking both. I could use a good mutual accountability buddy in human form, but the truth of the matter is that I have yet to find someone with my tenacity for follow through, who can also be nice, as well as firm, with reminders. It's a rare combination. So, my digital nagging system will have to suffice, for now.
The rest of my energy will be spent with those daily "keeping myself alive and the household going" things, as always.
And we will see what my reflection looks like when staring into the pool of my 56th year.
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