Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve

Christmas Day, 2011
I am going to try something different this year. I am not making any New Year's resolutions.

I can't even bear to look at the lists - yes, that's PLURAL - I made last year. Because my three-cornered stool - music, writing, and jewelry making - is holding up reasonably well in spite of everything I didn't accomplish.

WRITING: I achieved PRO status in Romance Writers of America, attended two professional writing conferences, completed The Wishing Box, and entered the Maggies.

MUSIC: I taught my students well, gave a presentation at the state music teacher's conference, performed in four piano recitals, and I'm playing the clarinet (again) and the mandolin (sort of).

JEWELRY MAKING: I made 31 sales in my Etsy store, learned new beading and jewelry-making techniques that are taking my work in new directions, and raised $929 for Beading To Beat Autism.

Looking back, though, I believe this was in spite of and not because of the detailed to-do lists I wrote for myself every morning. Because during the month of December, when I tossed the lists aside and went where life led me every day, I was arguably more productive and definitely less stressed than I had been all year.  Let me explain.

One of the reasons I home schooled my children for so many years was so that we could immerse ourselves in learning. Rather than adhere to an arbitrary schedule - reading from 9-10, math from 10-11, science from 11-12, etc. - we followed our own path. We might spend the entire morning on a nature walk, journaling our discoveries, then cuddle up on the sofa after lunch with a read-aloud and classical music. The next day, we might hit the art museum for a field trip, go out to lunch with friends, and then do a whole weeks' worth of math problems after we got home. That kind of lifestyle might drive some people crazy but it worked well for us, and by the conclusion of each academic year, we always ended up where we needed to be.

I think that's why this month ran so smoothly for me. Yes, I have to show up for my piano students at a specific time every day, and I need to put the hours in if I am ever going to find the success I crave as a writer. But everything else is gravy. And if the daily schedule says it's time to work on French and I am in the middle of a difficult passage of my Mozart piano concerto - well, the truth is I am likely to stop practicing, pull out my laptop, and check out what's going on with my friends on Facebook. That's Resistance, and I've got to find better ways of combatting it. I'm not a lazy bum, so I need to stop treating myself like I am, with the time clock and battering ram. Instead, I must trust myself as a creative individual and learn to follow the leadings of my heart on a daily basis.

That said, I do want to develop better daily routines so that my house will stay cleaner and more orderly and I will be healthier and more fit. Toward those ends, I am officially a FlyBaby - you should see my shiny sink! - and I am renewing my commitment to daily exercise - first thing every morning - and starting the year with a 21-day cleanse. I am convinced that if I can be faithful in these small things, big results will follow.

Also, I plan to follow Hollis Gillespie's advice. In her recent newsletter, she listed Fall In Love as one of the top five most common - and stupidest - New Year's Resolutions. "Really?" she asked. "With another abusive, sex-addicted heartless narcissist?" (Hey, has she been reading my blog?) "How about you take a year off from falling in love this year and spend that time writing your book."

How about it, indeed?

How are you planning herald the arrival of 2012?


Carol Burnside aka Annie Rayburn said...

I'm setting goals, as I do every year, based on the SMART method. See my blog post here: if you're interested.

Not lofty resolutions I have no real passion for, but attainable goals that are measurable and trackable. Goals which give me direction.

I wish you well in 2012 and hope it brings everything you need.

Julee J. Adams said...

I have things I need to do, but they're things I want to or things I have to do or they'll condemn the house. My focus has to be on doing well with the new job and keeping the family fed. FIL is still in intensive care and I'm finishing another round of antibiotics. *sigh* I think I'm going to concentrate on the job, doing what I can on my manuscripts and taking care of myself. All the other things I want to do will have to be catch as catch can. I'll have to be a little more organized.
And you know, I'm okay with that. You take care of yourself and remember to cut yourself some slack.

Michele Stefanides said...

You've certainly a year of self-discovery, it will serve you well in the coming year! This past year, I dabbled in all sorts of writing, testing the waters in many ways. I feel strong now in knowing what outcomes I'm wanting for the coming year. I'm going to set my outcomes and decide on what goals to accomplish to get me there.

Pam Asberry said...

I loved your post, Carol. And don't get me wrong - I have goals for the New Year, too, but I'm not couching them as "resolutions," if that makes sense at all. That way every day gives me an opportunity to start over, as opposed to waiting for another shiny New Year. For me, that's just another way Resistance finds to rear its ugly head. I wish you all the best in 2012!

Pam Asberry said...

Julee, I think you are doing GREAT. 2011 was such a tumultuous year for you, and when you are dealing with such BIG issues - an ailing parent, personal illness, job loss - sometimes survival is the best you can do. But as I see you you have gone WAY beyond that. Here's hoping 2012 is a better year for BOTH of us!

Pam Asberry said...

That sounds like a plan, Michele. Yes, I think I have learned a lot this year, and I am hoping that inner growth will manifest itself in outward results in 2012. Good luck with everything you do!

Tami Brothers said...

You are doing a great job, Pam. I think this is an amazing plan and you will come out victorious. I have faith in you.



Carley said...

Since this is from your mom I already have faith that you can accomplish any & all goals that you want to achieve. After all of my years with living, achieving, falling, failing, & often just fluttering I have relied on my always faithful companion, my Lord & Savior, who has held me up & seen me through it all. Even through the bad times that I didn't & still don't understand I have trusted His promise in Romans 8:28. I'm proud of you & consider you a true blessing from God to have been given such a wonderful daughter. Blessings & love always, Mom

Pam Asberry said...

Thanks, Tami. I'm just going to keep chugging away, one day at a time...

Pam Asberry said...

Mom, it isn't nice to make me cry on New Year's Day! And I think I am a blessed woman to have such a wonderful mom (and dad). I love you, too!

Denise said...

Great post, Pam.

I haven't set a New Year's Resolution since my early, early teens. I just view them as one more opportunity to feel bad about yourself and what if you change your mind and realize that you really never wanted to do that thing you resolved to do?

That being said I do have focuses and these constantly change and evolve as needed from year to year, month to month, day to day, and even minute to minute.

I attempted a year end review this year and it was difficult to do as I had SO much going on. I have decided that I will sit down at least once a month and just note the noteworthy, so I can at least have a clear view of what I've accomplished and contemplate if my focus is where it needs to be.

Pam Asberry said...

That sounds like a good idea, Denise. When we home schooled, it didn't always seem that we accomplished a lot day by day, week by week, or even month by month. But when I sat down at the end of the year and wrote a summary, it was obvious that we did, in fact, cover a LOT of ground, and have marvelous experiences. I am going to attempt-again-to work through Cheryl Richardson's LIFE MAKEOVERS, and the first assignment is to make a list of 25 accomplishments from the previous year, then choose the five most important and three ways you've grown. I think that will be a valuable exercise. I might talk more about that in today's blog post. Here's to 2012!