Thursday, May 30, 2013

Happiness and Love (and power)

New Years Eve was five months ago. Yet, I somehow have managed to keep up to date with my resolutions. Before 2013, I started each year trying to quit smoking, lose weight, or write more. This year I took a different approach and gave myself three things:

                1) A goal

                2) A mantra

                3) A trio of words to appreciate

First, the goal is to publish or perish. Most of my adult life, I held delusions that I would have a book picked up by a power publishing house and maybe even change the world with my words. Ha! So rather than dreaming this little dream, I decided to set a tangible goal: I will move the heaps of words stored on my terabyte, in copy paper boxes, in notebooks and legal pads, and collected in desk and file drawers. The new location for these will be in front of an audience. In taking advice from Seth Godin, I am hoping just one person reads it. Maybe that one person will recommend some of it to another person and so on until a crescendo of readers could occur — maybe not. Either way, the goal remains. If I do not publish, the work will perish and therefore my voice will remain absent despite the time I spent developing it. I’ll end this thought with another respected authority’s perspective on creativity, “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art,” Andy Warhol.

Second my mantra for the year is, “If you don’t change directions, you will get where you are going.” This is pretty silly and straightforward. Yet it reminds me to not be tempted or lured to other worthy pursuits, but rather stay the course! It also reminds me of something my middle son said to me on a walk around the block. The then 3-year-old boy kept sitting down on ant piles or picking dandelions from the terrace while I rushed him ahead. He said, “Mom, I don’t ever quit. I just take lots of breaks.” So I may take a break now and then, but I’m not quitting and I’m not adjusting the sails.

Third, my three words: Love, Happiness, and Power. A friend put a word search on FB late in December and the task was to pick out the first three words that came to you. These were my words. Again silly, but I journal each day what in my life gives me love, happiness, and power. This is usually just a word or two and occasionally a phrase. Generally, the variation is that I garner love from my family and friends, happiness from my writing and hobbies, and power from stomping out doubt and making measurable progress.

So far these three things work for me; I am living with more peace and optimism than before I set up this system. It takes away the anxiety and calms me into a sense of purpose.  

As a writer, each day I pick up my journal and see a blank page. I write the day of the date and time just to start the ink and remove the intimidation of the pristine sheet of paper. From here I write something new every time. My two real jobs in life have been as a journalist and as a waitress. These both have something in common — made fresh daily. This mentality of making/creating something new daily is a good metaphor for setting goals and resolutions. There is no need to wait for Jan. 1, your next birthday, or the beginning of swimsuit season. Today is open. Start, take breaks, resume the pace.