Tomorrow…

Well, tomorrow, like it or not, a new year is upon us.  This is the day we make all those resolutions that we’ll try hard to keep for about a week before we settle back in to “comfortable.”  I think part of the reason New Year’s resolutions generally fail is because we make so many and we start them all at once, and in doing so, we send our body into shock!  Seriously.

I once read somewhere that the human body can focus on one change at a time well, and anything more than that disturbs something in our brain that causes us to go into “fight or flight syndrome” and makes the task impossible.  Also, I’ve read in several places that it takes twenty-one days to make or break a habit.  So when someone resolves to lose weight, eat more vegetables, exercise daily, stop smoking, stop drinking, go to bed earlier, cut down on television, wake up earlier, read a book every week, blog daily, eliminate their debt, volunteer each Saturday, and go to church every Sunday, and they start all of those on January first, they will likely be done by or before January seventh.

We spend at least the latter half of December mentally preparing for the huge changes we wish to implement on January first, and we get geared up to follow through with each and every one of them.  Then, when we fail at sticking to our resolutions, we feel like we’ve failed our bodies, our minds, and even at life!  We crash hard and may even become more engaged in the bad habits than before we resolved to give them up.

Experts recommend prioritizing your resolution list and tackling only one of those items each month.  That gives you twenty-one days to make or break the new habit, then an extra week to live with the new change in place before shocking your body or brain by adding another one.

However, what I have decided this year is that I want to do something entirely different.  Instead of setting myself up to fail at resolutions of how to entirely overhaul my body, my mind, my income, and my work day, I’m just going to be making small, short-term goals.  For example, I want to lose five pounds before the end of January.  That way, if I have a horrible day and don’t succeed at whatever diet, it won’t mean I am a failure.  It’ll still give me the entire rest of the month to work a wee bit harder and meet my goal.  Then on February first, I’ll set another goal for the next five pounds.

Instead of saying I want to write more in 2015, or I’ll write daily no matter what, I’m going to set a goal to write 45,000 words in January.  If I meet that goal, that would roughly average half the length that my books usually are, meaning I will have completed a 90,000 word manuscript every two months.  That’s less than 1,500 words a day if I write daily, which is less than one chapter.  If I can write more than that, I’ll feel way ahead of the game each month.  I don’t even know if it’s realistic to start working on a new first draft right away while simultaneously editing the old, or if I might prefer to edit the old works completely then start something new.

Instead of saying I want to participate in the Halloween half-marathon in October, I’m going to set my goal to participate in the Zombie Run 5K in October.  That means I only have to start at zero then add a third of a mile to my distance each month until then, and that will be my monthly goal.  If I add more, I’ll feel way ahead of the game, and maybe I just will get to run a half-marathon.

Other than those goals, I want to travel more and make more money.  But I feel that those will happen as they’re meant to, and I’m not going to set any particular goals for them.

So all in all, I want to write a lot, run a lot, get in better shape and be healthier, and work on getting my books published.  And now that I’ve shared this with you, whether you signed up for it or not, you’re all my accountability partners.  Hopefully I don’t embarrass myself by making this public proclamation and not following through.

Time to talk:  What are your goals or resolutions for 2015?  What was the biggest or most difficult resolution you ever made and stuck with?  Do you have any special plans to celebrate tonight?

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Flies

They say, “Time flies when you’re having fun,” but it also seems to slip right away from me when I’m busy with things I’d rather not be doing.  I can’t believe 2014 is almost over!  It feels like I blinked toward the beginning of February, and now, here we are at the end of December.  I’ve been feeling a little disappointed that I didn’t get as much done this year as I did in 2013.

Last year was much more productive for me.  In the summer of 2013, I started a running program.  I hadn’t run for years prior to that because my shin splints were so painful, and every form of relief I had tried for them failed miserably.  But in 2013, I found a new exercise for shin splints that literally cured them almost immediately.

By autumn 2013, I ran in a 5K — my first time running that far since I was in middle school!  I also lost 35 pounds during those few months.

Also in the summer of 2013, I dreamed my story, The Prison, and decided to pursue book writing.  I wrote the first draft of that as well as five other manuscripts before the end of the year.

Later in 2013, my neighborhood association was giving me problems regarding my photography studio being located in my home, and it looked as if I was going to have to move.  So I took a break from running and writing, and I packed to move.  The only problem was that I couldn’t find a suitable place to move.  So I repainted my house and decided to stay and just deal with the neighborhood association.  Then I had to unpack everything and settle back in.

In 2014, I started babysitting for a friend of mine, and that took up a lot of my time.  I also started working with an attorney friend on several projects, including editing and even writing portions of a book he is authoring.  Additionally, I’ve had a lot more photography jobs than I did the previous year, and those have taken my time as well.  (Apparently weddings were on the decline in 2013 due to the number 13 being unlucky.  Numerous wedding vendors complained about the decrease in sales until someone actually took a poll and discovered this was why.  I never realized that many people suffered from triskaidekaphobia.  Weird, huh?)  Plus blogging every weekday ended up taking more time than I ever thought it would, too, though now I would miss it if I didn’t do it.

Needless, to say, my writing and my running have taken a backseat this year to other projects.  I’m sad to say I haven’t run at all this year.  I only wrote one and three-fourths new manuscript first drafts.  That was really disappointing.

But I did learn a lot more about the current rules of writing, so when I worked on editing my previous manuscripts, I feel that they were polished quite a bit.  I also realized this year that I really missed not writing.  I feel that this just cements that book writing was a good fit for me, and I’m glad that I tried it when I did.  I sold some short stories this year which made me happy.  And I obviously wrote even more short stories than I sold.  Those were fun as well.

Additionally, I started my author blog here, my author Facebook page, and my author Twitter this year.  And in doing so, I “met” many of you who I look forward to interacting with regularly.

So I guess John Lennon was right when he said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”  But next year, I hope to have a better handle on my time, and I definitely intend to make writing and running more of a priority.

Talk to me:  How did your 2014 compare to 2013 or other previous years?  Did you accomplish everything you hoped to this year?  Did your year fly by or drag on?

My New Year’s Day

For today’s Throwback Thursday, I’m sharing what has got to be one of the worst things I’ve ever written.  In my defense, however, I was only six at the time.  The whole thing is hilarious, and it’s a little scary how my six-year old brain worked.

First of all, I don’t know why all those people only had a one-bedroom house!  (Actually, I do.  I grew up as an only child.  It was just me and my grandparents.  We lived next door to an orange grove, so there weren’t any neighbors to play with.  And my grandma never wanted to “impose” on other people by allowing me to go play somewhere else.  So for me, being an only child was being a “lonely child.”  More than anything, I wanted a house full of kids to play with.)

Second of all, you’d think that everyone over eighteen would’ve been anxious to move out!  You can definitely see why Dad worked in Hawaii to get away from all that commotion.

Furthermore, when I told you yesterday that My Three Sons was one of my favorite TV shows when I was a kid, you can see here just how true that was (with the brother Ernie and cousins Chip and Robbie).

If you remember much about being little, you might remember that it was a HUGE DEAL to stay up past midnight!  So when Linda here stayed up until 4:30 AM, I can totally see why she thought it was the best New Year’s she ever had.  Of course, the fact that she’d only ever lived through four other New Year’s celebrations doesn’t give her much of a measuring stick.

I think the other hysterical part (besides the really bad spelling) is that I gave all this detail in the build-up, and then you blink and the story’s over.  There’s no conflict.  No resolution.  Just an expansive cast of characters in a single tiny room.

Below is the spelling-corrected version in case you can’t decipher my handwriting.  (By the way, do you notice how I made the star extra dark?  That was the year I finally learned how to draw a star all by myself, and it was a huge deal!

My New Year’s Day – January 1

Once upon a time, there was a little, brown shack on the side of a big, tall hill.  It had three rooms – a bedroom, a bathroom, and a kitchen.  At the house lived a girl named Linda.  Linda was only five years old.  She had four big brothers, and they were named John, Jimmy, Ernie, and Matthew.  She only had two big sisters named Sandy and Lisa.  Her cousins’ names were Chip and Robbie.  They lived with her, too.  She had a mom, and her dad was in Hawaii because he had to work there.  Sandy was fourteen, and Lisa was twenty-one.  John was twelve; Jimmy was sixteen; Ernie was seventeen; and Matthew was ten.  Chip and Robbie were nineteen.  “It’s finally December 31,” Linda said.  They stayed up until 4:30 in the morning.  Linda said it was the best New Year’s Day she ever had.  The End

Time to talk:  Did my story make you laugh?  What was the latest you ever stayed up when you were little?  If you were one of the older kids in this house, would you move?  Would you ever allow your spouse to work in Hawaii while you stayed home in a one-bedroom house with nine kids?