Happy New Year! As has become a tradition for me, I am closing chapter 2018 with a review of how my word of the year turned out, and choosing a word for the new year. For those of you that don’t know, back in 2015, at the beginning of a journey that would change my life, I came across a blog post from my friend Melissa Dell that talked about the concept of choosing a word to guide you through the new year. The word is supposed to be a touchstone, or something to help focus or keep you moving towards a goal, dream, or path. My word that year was EMERGENT, and the year proved to be the beginning of letting myself emerge; shedding layers I’d built up over the years to conform, to protect, to hide “me” and to start building the life and me that I wanted. The words that followed were RESILIENT, DEVELOPMENT and last year’s word, BALANCE. All those words served me well in their respective years and continue to teach me new lessons. Balance has been the most challenging word for me so far.
2018 was chock full of action. It was the first full year of the New England Speculative Writers group (NESW) that I co-founded with fellow author Jeremy Flagg. Our little group grew from an idea and a Facebook page to a full-fledged organization that managed to produce its first anthology of New England spec fiction which is coming out next month, as well as planning our first conference which happens in April. I also continued marketing The Empire, my first novel, and began developing and writing the first books of a spinoff series. I checked a couple items off my bucket list too with a trip to a dude ranch in June and a trip in October with some of my family for a reunion with lifetime military friends that had the added bonus of being in Hawaii. In between all that I managed my full time job, as well as the work I do with a realtor.
Lots of action, lots of things happening at the same time and I managed it. Somehow. However, if I were to grade my success in balancing all things in my life last year, I would have to give myself, at best, a C minus. I made it through to the other side, but that’s not to say it was always smooth progress. There was a lot of stress, a lot of stops and starts and deadlines I made just under the wire. I didn’t like the feeling of being overwhelmed and a lot of times feeling like I was always in a rush from one event, project, chore, etc to the next. I didn’t like the feeling that I was struggling, that I wasn’t succeeding. My old internal voice, would chalk that up to failure – that I am a failure, but I don’t use negative words like that about myself anymore. I know now that it’s self-defeating and unproductive. Instead I try to find the lesson, so that I can do better next time and move on.
Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot of time spent feeling frustrated and sometimes even anger about all that had to be done, until I remembered that I had done it to myself. These weren’t things that I had no control over, that were happening to me, these were things I chose, in one way or another, to do. Perspective. I had no one to blame but myself for whatever cluster I found myself in. Changing my perspective from feeling put upon, to taking responsibility changed my attitude and in some instances reminded me to make better choices or use the word NO more readily.
Striving towards balance, as I mentioned earlier, has been the toughest word challenge yet. I chose it because, like most people, my life has a lot of moving parts, and I have struggled to keep everything on an even keel, and moving forward. I used to operate my life on a system of priority, but as my list of priorities has grown, the ability to keep everything moving forward has become ineffective and is more like running from priority to priority putting out fires. It’s exhausting and usually ends up being counterproductive. I did not master BALANCE in 2018, but I understand it better. It will remain an active goal in my life and hopefully this year I’ll be more successful.
Now onto 2019 and my new word. I chose this year’s word for many reasons. I love the life I have begun to build, and I have many more dreams and goals I want to reach. With all the moving parts to balance and more to come, I decided this year I needed a word that embodies strength and steadfastness to keep me focused and pushing forward towards my goals, as well as help me continue to work towards attaining balance. To me, this word represents determination and strength.
My word for 2019 is PERSISTENT. May it guide me well.