How is everyone doing today on this amazing first day of another new year? It’s all I can do to contain my urge to climb up on the rooftop to shout HAPPY 2016…except my roof is covered with snow and ice and I’m scared of heights, so I’ll just shout HAPPY NEW YEAR from my favorite spot in the whole wide world, right here in my home office where I can connect to the rest of the world and all of you.
For the past year, I’ve let myself be guided by a single word. PROLIFIC. It got me through the insanity of the last year and a half while I was deluged with family stuff, and helped me focus my spare time and spare brain cells on the writing.
This past December, I began the process of selecting my Word of the Year for 2016. I went through several words—expand, trust, passionate, open-hearted—and then I found the one that encompassed it all.
I want to spend this year being MORE. More heart, more passion, more prolific, and more social. I want to go deeper into my characters and stories. I want to publish more books than I did last year. And I want to talk more about books and writing and life, and connect with people once again on Facebook and Twitter.
In other words, I’m coming out of the cave I’ve been in for the past year and some, and reengaging.
Do you have a Word of the Year? Or do you make New Year’s resolutions and goals? Talk to me. I love to hear from you!
This morning I woke up filled with worry about things that haven’t even occurred yet. You know what I’m talking about. Those thoughts that distract you with what may—but probably won’t—happen next week or next month or next year (next year being on my mind because it’s only six weeks away).
Will I be able to weasel my way out of going to youngest son’s house tomorrow to help hang doors, because really, at this stage of the rebuild, I’m mostly standing around taking up space until we get to the cleaning stage.
Will I be able to fit in a quick vacuum next week?
A visit to my mother?
PANIC…there’s no edible food in the house! (which may or may not include red licorice…just saying.)
Then I remembered Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now which is all about living in the moment. With a vow to focus on one thing at a time today, I pushed my worries away, climbed out of bed, got ready for the day, and grabbed my first cup of coffee. As I set the full cup on my desk, the cup caught the edge of something and in an instant, coffee spilled everywhere.
Okay, so I hadn’t really been focused on setting the cup down. And I hadn’t really been all that enthused about working today…
For the next hour, I wiped coffee from the carpet, the chair mat, under the desk, on top of the desk, inside the desk drawers, off my papers, my sticky notes, my keyboard, and every nook and cranny in-between. For the first time since I woke, I was totally focused on the moment.
There’s something powerful about complete and total focus. It lifts the spirit and sets it on fire. It makes the passage of time unnoticeable. It brings enlightenment out of the dark.
I have a practice of sitting still and quiet for five minutes before I get down to the writing each day. Well, actually it’s less of a “practice” and more of a “I really need to do this every day” wishful thought. But when I manage to discipline myself enough to practice mindful meditation for several days in a row, I quickly notice that I’m more focused and I have less “interruptions”. It’s like the universe recognizes my mindfulness and rewards it with stressless and productive days.
Do you have a technique that helps you focus on the here and now? Or are you often unmindful—and therefore clumsy and scattered—like I tend to be when I let my mindful practice go? Let me know in the comments. I love to hear from you!
Last weekend, we celebrated the Canadian Thanksgiving. My brother and his beautiful wife hosted the event, and we celebrated with lots of good company and good food.
Thanksgiving Day is a reminder to be grateful, and when so much bad happens in our world, it’s important to remember to be thankful. And yet, gratitude is easily pushed aside by the busyness of every day life.
What I know for certain about gratitude is that I’m fortunate to be filled with it.
1. I’m grateful for my family and friends who have always supported me on my writing journey…my husband and boys and oldest’s beautiful girlfriend who listen to my plotting woes and celebrate my writing victories; my parents who gave me the gift of life and encouraged my dreams; my brother, his lovely wife, and my three sisters who give me glimpses into their lives that occasionally <gasp!> find their way into my stories and characters; my friends who read my books, tell me how wonderful they are, and love me enough to point out the errors within the pages.
2. I’m grateful for an overactive imagination—sometimes too overactive—that allows me to daydream about possibilities, and come up with plots and characters that keep me entertained.
3. I’m grateful for this job that I love. I get to make things up, wear pjs to work, and the furthest I have to commute is across the hallway.
4. I’m grateful for today’s technology which keeps me connected to my family and friends no matter where I am, and has allowed me to be the CEO of my own publishing empire.
5. And finally, I’m grateful for the readers who read my books. Your kind words keep me working, even on the days when I’d rather scrub the floor with a toothbrush than face the challenges of unraveling a muddled first draft.
I’m a September baby, which means that my favorite time of the year is the fall. It’s the time of year when life settles out. The kids go back to school. The garden gets pulled out and cleaned up. The flowerbeds get one last trim before the winter freeze sets in.
And everything slows down to a snail’s pace again. There’s time to breathe, time to sit and reflect, time for just me.
In our fast paced world, we like to cram every moment with busyness. It makes us feel productive, worthwhile, important. I know because I’ve been there, done that, tried to be the center of the universe for everyone but myself.
What I know for certain is that time never stands still, but we can. So grab a few precious moments from your day to enjoy your guilty pleasure, whatever it is. Relax in a hot bath. Read a great book (and may I recommend one from here?). Or stare at the ceiling and simply let your mind drift where it will.
This time is your gift to yourself. Enjoy it always.
I’m usually a mess. Scattered and splattered and easily brought down. I used to blame it on my creative nature. After all, I’m an artist. I wholeheartedly embrace the insanity gene I inherited from some long-dead ancestor. I mean, how else can I account for those voices whispering in my head?
But I’m in transition now, working to separate THOSE voices from MY voices.
If I allow it, MY voices loudly berate me because the dust bunnies are on the rampage and the fridge is empty…again. And listen, the roads will be icy tomorrow and I might have to leave my house and navigate ice covered streets better made for skates. And gosh, wouldn’t it be fun to head somewhere warm—sans computer—and lie on a beach and listen to the waves crash against the shoreline? Maybe spend the winter chilling with a bottle of sunblock in my hand instead of a snow shovel?
However, with a deadline fast approaching, my life and my thoughts must revolve around the keyboard, and the voices that whisper their story in my ear. So when MY loud voice intrudes, and I get caught up in thoughts of tasks undone, past regrets, and unlikely-to-ever-occur fears, I take a deep breath, release it, and remember…all that exists is this moment, this day…and I unsplatter and get back to the business of completing this book.
It doesn’t matter our age, whether we work inside or outside the home, whether we have children or not, whether those children are at the diaper stage, or full grown and on their own.
Life is too short to focus on past regrets or future fears. There’s only enough time today for…well, the moments that make up today.
So tell me…do you celebrate each moment as it happens? Or do the voices in your head demand you spend time on past regrets and future fears and everything in-between? Please tell me in the comments below what you plan to do in the moments after you leave this page. And then tell me whether or not you’ll intentionally and deliberately block out the disruptive voices so you can immerse yourself in the joy of each moment.