|Christmas Day, 2011|
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?