Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘New Year’

People laugh at me because I am very predictable. In many ways, at least. Every year, I make innumerable New Year’s Goals. Every month, week, sometimes by the day, I write schedules and lists. I have made menus since I was 15 or younger. I schedule out my life as much as possible. I pursue every single interest – but rarely until it is mastered because the next thing grabs my attention and I move on. Oh, yes, there are people who laugh at me. Not cruelly, but . . . accommodatingly . . . almost patronizingly. They know it is me – it is what I do. I am a Type A.  I live off schedules, I try the next fad to lose weight, I make goals, I . . . well, you get the idea. It always hurts a little bit whenever I sense that laughter in someone’s tone. The underlying, She’s at it again, when I discuss my New Year’s Goals or the multitude of checklists I’ve made in an attempt to FINALLY reach them. The amused shake of the head as I buy another notebook, another self-help book. It always hurts – just a little, strikes at some place deep down inside that I then bury so I can laugh along with them – often even cracking my own jokes at myself for trying that next thing, that next attempt to master life. All the while, wondering inside just how much of a failure I am for always, always trying, and rarely succeeding.

But. When I allow myself a moment of Grace. When I step back and look at all my frail attempts at – everything. And most especially when I read L.M. Montgomery’s Emily books, I know exactly why. It’s because of this:

I italicize the last verse because that in particular makes something in me swell up. With tears, and hope, and desperation, and ambition, and . . . understanding. Someone somewhere understands.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t actually care if I get “fame” – it’s more the writing my name with true and honored fame. And I don’t care if it’s on earth or heaven – it just means that . . . I’ve climbed that path. I reached that goal. I’ve succeeded.

At what, you might ask? Well, at life. There is so much life everywhere. It’s why I try so hard to do everything. Because I might miss out on something otherwise. Music makes my heart fill up, so I try to learn music. Stars make me remember the glory of God, so I attempt to learn constellations. Miniatures bring me sweet memories and gladness, so I finger them in passing, thinking about how someday I will collect and even make miniatures. Dolls remind me of dress-up and dreams, so I collect them. And writing. Well. Writing makes me feel like I can live a thousand lifetimes, and experience all the world, and bring someone else that thrill of joy and hope and escape, and it makes me feel like it’s the only time in my entire life I can say things the right way. And, yes, I realize there isn’t a syllable there about glorifying God – but – the thing is, I almost feel like ALL of that is glorifying God. Every piece of that joy and experience and heavenliness makes me look up and say “God’s in His heaven, all’s right with the world” along with Anne of Green Gables and Robert Browning.  When I write, when I ask God to guide my pen, when I legitimately try – I feel the pleasure of God. I feel a rare peace fill my soul.

I guess I just want to do my utmost to live the life God has given me to its fullest and the only way I can see to do that is by checklists and schedules, and trying new things, and always trying – even when I don’t succeed. Even when others look on in amusement.

I’m not saying I have done things right. I’m not saying that I’m not a failure for having never succeeded at any of my hobbies. But I am saying that . . . I know why I keep trying. And that, I think someday I will succeed. That God is working with me on the staying part of trying, and someday it will happen. Even that, in some sense, I am succeeding just because I am trying. But until then, and even through then, I’m going to keep climbing the Alpine Path.

Gentiana 'Shot Silk', Gentian, blue flowers

Read Full Post »

I’ve been intending to do a New Year’s Post and I still intend to – but I have this super detailed plan I want to complete before I discuss it, so this is just a hold-over post to note what’s been up.

  1. I was sick through New Years and it was almost more stressing to me that I didn’t have the mental capacity to create my New Year’s goals prior to the year starting. This is still an element of stress in my life, which makes me think I need to reassess my priorities since I feel like I can’t “start” my New Year’s goals until they ARE carefully plotted out. I even had to convince my psyche that it was okay to take time and kneel down and pray before I had “officially” noted my goals for praying this year. I have major issues.
  2. We have officially started the moving process. I felt well enough last weekend to scrub about three quarters of the kitchen, and hope to get much, much further this weekend. But I also have a church event, a dentist appointment (to get another crown), and my goals to finish! Yes, this goals thing is really stressing me out. Speaking of which, Daniel and I are also taking a few hours on Sunday to go through our 10-year plan progress and financial goals and reassess our budget after buying a house. That will be fun. Assuming I’ve finished my New Year’s goals and therefore am not secretly thinking about those instead.
  3. I’ve been having work issues. As I think I may have mentioned before. Currently they are looking at moving us all to shift work. And by looking at, I mean they are. We have a pilot on Monday. On the bright side, they are not going to force me into “second” or “third” shift, AND I have high hopes this means no more on-call. However. This also means the end of any flexible hours, and I suspect, the end of telework days, though that has not been confirmed. So, I have been looking at getting a new job (yes, even more so than for them putting me on-call). But God hasn’t given me any clear guidance on that and I’m trying to use wisdom. I did have a thought the other day though. I was talking to God about how much I hate going into work, and how I know I am far too ungrateful about this amazingly well-paid job He gave me and asked Him to please help me with an attitude adjustment. Now, this isn’t anything new. I’ve talked to Him about it before. Thought about it before. Known quite well my fleshly issues in this regard. But this was interesting because, the thought flashed through my head, “You have figured out how little you have to do in your job to still do your job. Why don’t you figure out how MUCH you can do?” I thought that was actually a pretty cool way to look at it. So I’ve been attempting that the last few days at work, and, not saying it’s going to last, but so far I’ve been much happier mentally, even if I don’t have time to do everything I actually want to. I mean, all these analysis items have been occurring to me that I could work on, thereby furthering my experience and expertise AND having fun doing it – And I haven’t been able to yet because I am doing three jobs because both my coworkers are out, but just the attempt to do AS MUCH as I can at work instead of AS LITTLE has, I feel, just helped me feel better about myself as both a person and a Christian. I still think God has plans for me to move on shortly. But until then, I’m going to try and remain grateful for what He has given me and give it my all.

inspirational-quotes-william-james-1562000241

Read Full Post »

As part of my new year’s resolution, I have a new schedule (as anyone who knows me at all would have already guessed).  I get up at 5:00 AM, do a quick 10-minute workout (sometimes Calisthenics and sometimes stretches as instructed by the chiropractor), get dressed, do hair and makeup, grab the lunch my husband has packed up for me and am out the door by 5:45. I am in DC by 6:00 and at a Starbucks down the street from my building by 6:10, where I get a small coffee and do devotions for half and hour. Then I pack up and am at work by 6:45 AM. This allows me to take a 45 minute lunch break, which I have been using to write. I am trying to do some sort of writing exercise and then work on editing my God’s Masterpiece book.

Today’s writing exercise/sort of lesson was a common theme – making your character suffer. Apparently a lot of authors don’t want bad things to happen to their character. I have never had that issue. I have stopped killing off every one in my books, relegating it to only a few, but those few must go, no matter how much I cry while I write it.

Today I discovered, however, that when it comes to making my characters’ suffer, I am fine with emotional suffering, but I have a hard time with physical suffering. Oh, they can starve to death or be exhausted or things like that but – the book I am going through (Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine) made me write out the scene in which Red Riding Hood is eaten by the wolf, with instructions to describe exactly how she felt, what she saw, etc. etc., and fairly strict instructions that she was to actually be eaten. I did so, reluctantly – because how horrifying is it to write out a scene in which someone is eaten? Especially since you know that, in non-fairytales – they aren’t actually swallowed in one bite. I wrote it out as much as I could, shuddering inside the whole time, and probably ended it faster than the exercise wanted me to.

But that experiment taught me two things. One, which is what I already mentioned – there is a difference in physical and emotional suffering – and I may have one down, but am terrified of the other. And two, that as terrible as suffering such as that is, it is prime for description and feeling. So, while I doubt I will ever write a book in which someone is eaten, or even physically assaulted outside of perhaps being hit, I am going to work on the physical suffering side, particularly when it comes to descriptions.

And now my 45 minutes are up, so it’s back to work with that awful scene still in my mind. Thanks, Gail. Thanks.

cool-girl-phone-blanket-work

Read Full Post »

So, I know last year I said I wasn’t doing resolutions – I was just doing goals (ultimately the same thing, right?) More and more people do that, I think – shrug off resolutions as an overrated thing that are made and broken year and year (true enough!). Therefore, in an attempt to fit in, I occasionally refuse to do resolutions. But secretly? I love them. And you know what I love about them? Nothing too unique. Just that it’s a legit excuse for a new start. Again. While the middle of the year, it may feel silly and perhaps useless (at least for me) to be like, Okay, I messed up the last three months, I’m going to start again, no one few people ever laugh at you for doing that on the new year. It is a time of fresh starts and perspectives. My goals are the same as last year – losing weight, writing more, being a better Christian – but every year I get back that motivation that I seemed to have misplaced throughout the year and I think – Okay, maybe this time. Not saying I shouldn’t try harder during the year – but I am goal and list oriented, and New Years feels like my ISTJ/Type 1’s time to shine. I should probably just embrace the fact I love that, and move forward with the same resolutions year after year without being embarrassed to admit it.

When I think over last year, I feel like rather a failure. I did succeed in losing weight – temporarily – and then gained it back during the holidays. And I submitted nothing for publication. And I only wrote on a regular basis every now and then. I didn’t study a new language. I did move forward in my career – in a rather unexpected direction – but that is it. I don’t have an excuse for any of it except lack of discipline. (Perhaps that should be my overall goal this year – installing discipline!)

I make no false promises to myself or God this year – I know that more than likely I will fail again to fulfill all my goals – but that isn’t going to stop me from making them and from trying – again and again. And one thing I am especially going to try to commit to – is to try not to be afraid to be myself. Not to adjust my opinion to fit in with other people – but to realize that it is okay to have my own view of things. Many people don’t think I struggle with that – but every single time I hear someone express something, I instantly start to rationalize why they are right in my head, assuming I am wrong or should adjust my thinking. It is a constant struggle that I hope to someday get the better of.

So here’s to a new year, resolutions, lists, schedules, perfectionism, not being afraid, and trying again and again.

new year's resolution(1)

Read Full Post »

Did I finish writing that book in December? No, no I didn’t. Lest you think I was just not posting updates, I assure you I did not write another word. I cannot believe how busy this year’s holidays were. I know I say that every year, but seriously! This year’s Christmas in Minnesota was defined by three specific things: 1. We all traveled 2 and a half hours on Christmas day to my grandparents for the family party for the first time in over a decade. 2. My sister had a baby due on the 20th so we kept waiting for her to go into labor, but she didn’t until I left the state on Sunday the 31st, and the baby wasn’t born for 44 more hours after that. 3. The temperature in MN never rose above zero and most of the time was around negative 10 or, with wind chill, negative 20 – 40.

Daniel and I celebrated New Years Eve in a hotel Sunday night. We brought a bottle of champagne and bought a bottle of wine as well. We sat in the hotel lobby after about 8 hours of driving and played games while we drank the wine and ate stocking candy and split a personal sized pizza since no one believes in delivering food or keeping their restaurants open on New Year’s Eve. As one of my friends said, it will make a great memory!

No New Year resolutions this year. I am deflated from last  year’s failures. I do have some goals in mind, however. Yes, I know technically they are the same thing, but let me have my nuance!!

  1. Write more
  2. Finish reading the Bible through
  3. Lose weight, however much
  4. Most important: Pay off my student loans
  5. Mutual goal with friends: read a minimum of 12 books

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

Read Full Post »

I have been avoiding writing a New Year’s post. Why, you ask? I think a majority of you can already guess the why. I have been thinking back to last year’s goals and how I didn’t meet a single one of them and wondering why I try to make goals at all and feeling like a complete and utter failure. No, I didn’t finish my book, lose any weight, or make money writing. What exactly did I do with the last year?

Well, I traveled – a lot! – for work. I . . . didn’t GAIN weight, even if I didn’t lose it – and that is a first for me in several years. I wrote half of a different book, even if I didn’t finish the one I was working on yet. I wrote a lot more regularly, and it isn’t nearly as forced as it was at the start of last year. I have mentioned my love of writing to at least 5 people, which is 5 more than I have told in probably 10 years. And I realized that I don’t really care if I make money writing. I just want to write what I want to write. And I got several articles (granted, very non-fiction) published for my work. Does company/government publications count? I have decided they do. At least to an extent. It is far more than I have done in a long time.

So, after much deliberation, I have decided that although I met none of my goals last year, I TOOK STEPS toward meeting them, which, again, is more than I can say for previous years. So, I am going to chance it yet again:

  1. Lose 20 pounds (yes, I am making my goal less than last time. Trying to be more realistic here, people – stop judging me.)
  2. Finish the first draft of at least ONE of my books (no, I am not going to say which one, because I am going to write whatever I want to write, and I am cutting out the editing part because I already know how long that is going to take)
  3. Submit something for publication at least once every two months (yes, I am being easy on myself. And Writer’s Digest contests count.)
  4. Have a rudimentary knowledge of Russian by the end of the year (I did when I graduated and completely let it slip – so there is no reason I can’t have a basic knowledge of the language again in a year, right?)

I feel like I am letting myself off easy this year. But as most people know, there is always a secret hope that you will accomplish more than you set out to do. So I figure if I set my goals lower than I actually want, maybe I will actually reach them?

And my 15 minute break at work is up, so that is it for now! Breathe deeply with relief, everyone – you just barely missed an irrational outburst of the meaning behind goals, how I have changed over the past year(s), and who knows what else?

 

Read Full Post »

As I sit in my lovely living room, the Jim Brickman station playing softly in the background, curtains drawn, a cup of tea (yes, in a teacup) and the beautifully lit Christmas tree in front of me, it feels more like early morning than almost 11:00 AM. Of course, the magic of the moment keeps being rudely interrupted by my need to blow my nose. Dratted colds. But that is the besides the point. The point is, my husband, during evening prayers last night, thanked God for several things over the last year that left me in a reflective mood even to this morning. God has so blessed me!

Last year, and even the year before, were full of fun and joy, and I welcome the year stretching before me with open arms. How different from the years before I met my husband, where years stretched before me with pain and trial, and the constant prayer that God would get me through. How it was worth going through those years to get to these happy ones! Years where I want for nothing, where I live in the capital of the free world, where I can afford, without any injury to myself, to send money to my family! This, this is what I dreamt about and prayed for all those years going through college, working three jobs, taking 18 credits, not eating because I couldn’t afford or didn’t have time for food, watching my bank account drop to $1.50 and praying for another babysitting job so I could make the next bill. Crying tears of joy in my car after that babysitting job did come through and God moved on them to give me a few extra dollars, which would allow me to just make my next car payment.

Oh, I am not bemoaning those years – by no means! Nor the years before, when I watched my family go through more suffering than any family should and worked to put food on the table for my family while my mom tried to find help for my dad’s dreadful chronic condition. No, I believe going through that is what made me into who I am, what gave me strength to work my way through the world and put myself through college and find a good job, what laid such a strong foundation for trusting Him, for knowing that no matter how bad things appeared, He always came through. So, for that, I am grateful. But for what He has now blessed me with, I am even more thankful -and so much more thankful than I would have known to be had I not gone though the trials first.

So, enough of my poetic reflections. 🙂 Highlights of my last year!

1. A free cruise to the bahamas!

2. The swim-up bar at the all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic (the trip for our first anniversary).

3. Paying off multiple credit cards!

4. Getting a job I love! (so far, at least! 🙂 )

5. Getting curtains for our new apartment!

6. Last night, seeing my American girl dolls, Felicity and Samantha, dressed in their Christmas best by the Christmas tree. Now how is that for a childhood dream come true?

As if you haven’t had enough of my rambling, I am not done yet. I did, for once, create goals for the New Year! And, for the first time in my life, I didn’t create them based off of everyone asking me if I was doing any New Year goals! I created them because I wanted to!

1. Lose 30 pounds. I have gained so much weight since meeting Daniel, which is probably due to actually eating, that it is now time to get back down to an ideal weight, though, per entreaties from friends and families and comments about how unhealthy I looked, I am not going to go back to the 120 I weighed when Daniel and I started dating. Instead I am aiming for a more natural 130.

2. Complete my novel A Picture of the Past. I mean complete as in, completed and edited – ready to be submitted to a publisher if I should so choose.

3. Make money writing. I know, I know, very general. Mostly goals should be quite narrow and easy to measure, but this one is different for me. The truth is, I don’t know what a reasonable number to put would be. What I want, is to begin submitting stories to contests and articles for freelance and see what happens, with the intention of giving myself an idea of how hard it would be to make a good living writing if I were to do it full-time. Not to say I am not grateful for the job I do have! I am! And I intend to work it for a minimum of a year, probably two! But that doesn’t change the fact that writing for a living has been my dream since I was 8 years old, and Daniel and I have discussed many times how feasible it would be to make it work. So I figure, if I can make any money writing while I work full time, maybe it will give me an idea of what to expect.

I feel like I should make a fourth goal, like a financial or other more responsible adult-ish goal, but I don’t really feel like it. Besides, Daniel and I already have our financial goals, set shortly after we married! And, with his recent raise, and my new job, it looks like we are back on track to meeting our goal of being completely debt free by the end of 2018! So I will leave it at that.

You will all be relieved to know that I am now done rambling and ready to release you back to your own New Year!

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and God bless us, every one!

American Girl Dolls

Read Full Post »