Resolutions 2014

“Believe you can and you’re half way there.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

New Year’s Day rings in with lists of resolutions. It’s a natural time to reflect on last year’s mis-steps and the new year’s missions. “This year,” the lists read, “I resolve to eat less, to exercise more, to stop procrastinating, to quit smoking, to spend less money and to save more.” happy_new_year_fireworks_and_special_effects_highdefinition_picture_170356Resolutions are posted in magazines and newspapers, on refrigerators, on Facebook and Twitter. Now there are even Smartphone Apps to keep us focused on these promises. Time’s article “10 Apps to Help Your New Year’s Resolutions Stick” helps assure adherence to improvement.

Like some of my Facebook friends, though, I’m not sure I want to write a list this year. Yes, it can help focus resolves. Writing down a goal is a first step toward achieving it, right? But will I stay focused? Is putting it on paper or online enough? Author Sharon Sala writes, “If you want to do better…or you want a change in your life, don’t make a big deal out of it. Just do it!”  Solid advice from a practical woman.

Paris - Seine - Copy 1

Tom & I cruising the Seine

The world is a scary place. It’s made scarier by those things out of our control – accidents, disease, violence, death. New Year’s Resolutions may improve our day to day life but they can’t guard against life’s tragedies.  What can help us get through is another sort of resolve – a desire to adjust our attitude toward life.  Toss out the bad.  Resurrect the good.  Cherish each day — past and present.  “Just do it!”

About four years ago I received a diagnosis. Eating healthier to lose weight would help.  That wasn’t easy considering weight loss is probably the number one fail on each list of New Year’s resolutions. But I told myself repeatedly that, if I didn’t do it, I would grow sicker and die. I told myself so often that I came to believe it. So I lived my life eating healthy. I cut out junk and counted calories.  Amazingly I lost weight and became healthier. I’ve backslid some since then, but parts of that belief are still ingrained in my brain, still nudging me toward health. I must listen. I have my sons, my family, and my goals to live for. (One is to publish the great American novel. Gotta do that before I leave this earth. 🙂 )

Two years ago my soul mate and sons’ father unexpectedly left us. His sudden passing devastated me and his family. Those who have endured such loss know more than anyone that no words can describe the pain, the paralyzing grief.  On the day of his funeral, a dear family member quietly told me that if ever I felt myself slipping into despair, imagine instead that I was the one in Heaven and he was still alive on Earth but now sinking into darkness. Would I want him to grieve in such a way? Or would I want him to learn to live without me? Would I want him happy? In the shock of my beloved’s death, I forced myself to put one foot in front of the other. I did what must be done.  That led me through the first many months. Her compassionate words are leading me through the rest.  I would want him to be happy.

My new home in Wisconsin
(Thank you, Sue, for the winter photo)

It takes a change in attitude, learning to adjust and move forward. I believe that’s what is needed to see any sort of resolution succeed. For me, that means adjusting my mindset to help achieve my goals. At midnight, as I heard a few fireworks exploding in the distance to celebrate the birth of 2014, the word brave came to me on a whisper, Tom’s voice.  I need to be brave this year and in the years to come.

There’s so much ahead.  I’ll retire this year and say goodbye to my job of twenty years. I’ll move 800 miles back to my hometown, to my new home. There’s so much to do. I’m eager for my move, but it’s also a huge change and a bit frightening. It will take bravery to make it all happen.  A list will help but this year I must focus on attitude and my new found word to guide me. In 2014 and in the years to come, I must be brave.

What word will help you achieve your New Year’s goals?  ♥

Day by Day

In 1993 two friends had a dream.  Anne Kelleher (Bush) and Lorraine Stanton sought to form a group in the Lehigh Valley for writers who shared the goal of writing and publishing book length fiction.  The first meetings of the Greater Lehigh Valley Fiction Writers’ Group (GLVFWG) were held in Lorraine’s living room in Phillipsburg.  Although a novice, I was pleased to be among the first five attending.  For a short while, I served as President of the fledgling group.

As the group grew, we formed strong critique groups. Soon we relocated to a private club.  Then, seeking to control luncheon costs, we moved on to a public library.  We discussed becoming a chapter of Romance Writers of America (RWA), but it was felt that would exclude writers of other genres who had already joined. At some point “fiction” was dropped from the group’s name.

There were growing pains along the way, as members and officers came and went.  Within a year or so, personal reasons caused me to resign my position.  I subsequently left the group.  My writing dwindled.

When I started seriously writing again, my interest had shifted to RWA. I was, after all, writing romance and I liked the support of the national organization.  Still, over the years I’ve watched GLVWG.

The group still meets in the same library, not far from my home.  It also hosts a solid spring conference in March.  The Write Stuff brings together writers of all genres.  But January’s meeting was on Indie Publishing, a hot topic now, and one I’m delving into. And so on Saturday, I attended.

My Daily Pic - January 29

After the business portion of meeting, writer Joan Zachary gave an inspiring mini-presentation on using your camera every day.  She advocated always having a small camera at hand, and to shoot every day.  She’s done this for the past year and posts on Flickr.  Over time, she said, story ideas emerge from photos taken.

I love this day by day mini-goal, a kind of photo journal.  So today around 4:20 pm, when the sun was in the western sky, I took my camera outside and shot a picture of our bird feeder.  To me, it’s a sign that spring is coming, even if it is only late January.

Bart Palamaro speaks at GLVWG on Indie Publishing

Saturday’s main speaker, Bart Palamaro, gave a superb talk – Indie Publishing 101 – what it is and isn’t, the current state of publishing, finances, skills needed, legal matters, and so on.  The primary areas to “hire out” in Indie Publishing are editing (finding a genre specific editor), and possibly cover design.  He referred us to many online sources and links.  The best rule of marketing an Indie (or any) book, is to write a good book, then another, then another.

After lunch, Bart led about twenty-five writers through an informative, well-organized two-hour presentation on the nitty-gritty, step-by-step process of actually publishing a book on Amazon KDP.   Excellent!

So good to see the growth and maturity of this group that was once only a dream.

On February 1st I’m starting a new project.  Under the guidance of Nancy Herkness, twenty-seven New Jersey Romance Writers have vowed to each write 30,000 words in February. We call ourselves the 30Kers. Using a Yahoo Groups loop, we’ll keep each other motivated, and submit our number counts along the way. It’s new stuff, no editing as we go.  The goal is to simply produce.  Nora Roberts‘ words are a favorite….”You can fix anything but a blank page.”

I need to write again.  I need to immerse myself in a new story, to lose myself in my characters’ lives.  So, day by day, I’ll write.  And, day by day, I’ll take a picture, too.  Maybe I’ll even post a few.

To all my writer friends, thank you for sharing your knowledge, your ideas, and your friendship.

Day by day.