I’ve got a confession to make…I’ve been phoning it in a bit with this 365 Project.
I know that’s not coming as a shock to anyone who’s actually been reading this thing.
There have been far too many late nights, far too many days that got away from me and the writing became an afterthought. And wasn’t that the point of this whole project anyway–to get me writing regularly again?
I”ve got no one to blame but myself. No real excuses, other than the fact that life is busy and there’s so much going on during the day at work that sometimes it follows me home and takes over those hours late in the evening after everyone else in the house has gone to bed, those hours when I should be writing or sleeping or doing anything BUT working.
What can I say? Experiment. Fail. Learn. Repeat.
I’m finding my way, slowly. And I’ll get there, eventually. I just have to give myself some time to adjust and find my balance.
Until then, I’ll just keep trying to do some good and do a little better every day.
Bear with me.
I had someone ask me recently how I got where I am. She wanted to know if I had all this planned. If I’d always had a master list. If I planned this life, step-by-step, and crossed off each task that added up all led me here to this place.
In all honesty, I’ve never been a super-detailed planner, unless the situation warrants it. It’s been my experience that life just never quite goes the way you plan. So I like to leave things a bit open. I like to read the room, to readjust and strategize as needed. I like to respond to the circumstances and be adaptable when life starts leading me in a new direction.
Shortly after Stevie and I moved to Arizona I read the book A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. I enjoyed Tolle’s focus on being present, on separating the “noise” that clouds our minds from who we really are beneath it. It was around the same time I started working on my memoir, and the deep introspection got me thinking a lot about my purpose. You know, the whole “Who am I? And why am I here?”
So no, I never had a detailed master plan for any of this. I never sat down and plotted out my life. I’m just here, every day, doing the best I can with what I’m given, making the choices I think are right as each new situation and issue arises. And I’m blessed beyond measure to have a beautiful family and loving friendships and a job that lights me up and challenges me and makes me feel like I’m spreading some good energy out in the world.
While I may have some goals and lofty dreams and things I’d like to accomplish, I’m excited to see what life has in store for me, where I’ll have the opportunity to go from here, the ways I can continue to grow. And whatever life wants from me, I’ll be up for the challenge.
Okay, so I set some goals for myself at the beginning of this year. Nothing too crazy (at least I didn’t think so at the time), but nothing ever goes according to plan now does it? After these whirlwind first two weeks of the year, I figured I better do a little check-in with myself and see how things are going.
Goal #1 – Write every day. Surprisingly, so far so good here. Now, I’m not writing the great American novel, or even a whole lot worth reading, but at least there has been time set aside and words being put to paper every single day. Gotta say, I’m proud of myself on this one.
Goal #2 – Write one letter every week. Two weeks down. Two letters written. Boom! Onto the next.
Goal #3 – Read one book a week. First up, Radical Candor by Kim Scott. To be fair, I started reading this just before Christmas, but it was slow going and got set aside with the holiday craziness. I didn’t want to try and start another book until I finished this one, so I decided to count it. (Hey! My blog. My rules.) Great read. Stepping into a new leadership role in my career and hearing about this book from some of the leaders I look up to made me want to read it. A lot of the advice and suggestions should be obvious–things like caring deeply about other people, giving the time and space needed to look at things from multiple perspectives before making big decisions, and the importance of being honest and direct without letting emotion take over. Leadership has become something of a buzzword, and I think a lot of people spend a lot of time talking about leadership without really being able to clearly define what good leadership actually looks like. The book is well-written, and it definitely prompted me to reflect on the people in my life who showed me what a leader should be.
My second book of the new year is Five Plots by Erica Trabold. I found out about this book when I was catching up on some of my writing magazines over the holiday break. Erica Trabold is originally from Nebraska, and the book is a collection of her lyrical essays that explore how her life story was shaped by the Nebraska landscape, just as the Nebraska landscape was shaped by the people who lived and settled there. The writing stunning. Trabold was the winner of the inaugural Deborah Tall Lyric Essay Book Prize, and if you take the time to read her debut collection, you’ll see why. Anyone who was born, raised, or feels a connection to Nebraska should pick up a copy immediately. I already ordered one extra copy to send to some family who have moved away and still miss “home,” and I’m sure there will be more orders coming soon. The book is way good good not to share.
Goal #4 – Exercise 30 minutes every day. Well, if I’ve fallen off the wagon anywhere, it’s here. Now, I will say, I was good right up until this weekend when Henry got sick. Some mornings I was waking up at 5:00 to do 30 minutes of rowing and 30 minutes of writing (how’s that for two birds with one stone?). Other days, I was making sure I took a break during the day to get my steps in around campus during lunch, or simply counting the amount of walking I was doing in between meetings and from my car to my office and back toward my daily amount. As busy as last week turned out to be, I’m giving myself a little grace here and saying that I earned two full days of being lazy with my sick kiddo snuggled in on the couch.
Tomorrow’s a new day. Back at it. Let’s go.
The first day of 2019 started just like the last day of 2018–lying in bed, trying to soak up a few extra moments of sleep before getting out of bed, trying to soak up the last moments of laziness left in this holiday break. But even if the days are largely indistinguishable outside the numbers on the calendar, there is something exciting about the beginning of a new year. The next 365 days stretch out before me with the unblemished smoothness of a field of fresh fallen snow. I’m holding a blank notebook in my hand, and I’m excited to see what sort of adventures will unfold.
If we’re taking a bird’s eye view, I’d say 2018 was a pretty good year. (But you know I default to optimism). We finally finished the renovation project on our investment property. The kiddos are both healthy and doing well in school. Stevie got to spend a few days in New Orleans (even if it was for a work conference instead of a vacation or our long-awaited honeymoon). And I had the opportunity to step into an exciting new role at work.
But all that said, there’s still plenty of room for improvement (there always is). And there is a definite need to find some balance. The kids are hitting an age where we’re busy with activities. Cadence is currently involved in swim team, piano and guitar lessons, and wants to do dance team at school next year. Henry is starting soccer in January. And 2018 was definitely a year where Stevie and I both felt pulled in a few too many directions–bringing work home nights and weekends, serving on committees, playing in sports leagues, volunteering. The new year gives us an opportunity to try and find that balance–to scale back where we need to scale back and to tackle some new challenges.
For me, regaining balance means setting aside the time to do the things that feed my soul.
It also means protecting that time.
My writing has always been the thing that keeps me balanced, yet it’s always the first thing that gets shoved aside by…well…by anything and everything else that comes along. I’m constantly back burnering projects, using work or kids or other obligations as an excuse to push my writing to the bottom of my priority list. Neglecting my writing and shutting down that creative outlet always ends up taking a toll. So, that’s where my focus will be in 2019. Well, that and continuing to work on getting physically healthier–that’s aways a work in progress.
So, here are the goals I set for myself:
- Write something every day – Even if it’s just one sentence, I’m committing to putting pen to paper every day in 2019 and I’m going to fire up this blog again to help hold myself accountable. Brace yourselves.
- Write one letter a week – There’s something fabulous about a handwritten letter, and I’ve been seriously neglecting keeping in touch with some of the people I love the most who live far away. So, I’m going to spur my writing momentum by choosing one person each week and send a handwritten note.
- Read one book a week – Cadence had an assignment over the holiday break that included counting all the books in the house. There are 1,571. Call me crazy, but I’m ridiculously proud that we have cultivated such a library. But at the same time, I’m ashamed that the busyness of life has stunted my reading just as much as it has my writing. So, I’m recommitting to reading by challenging myself to read one book every week in 2019. I’ve already got a few lined up, and I’m ready to dive in.
- Exercise for 30 minutes each day – Walking, using the rowing machine in the basement, Insanity, fitness apps, yoga…doesn’t really matter what it is, I’m committed to getting in better shape this year. In 2018, I managed to shed almost 15 pounds just by paying closer attention to what I eat and cutting down on sugar and empty calories. Now it’s time to get my ass moving.
How about you? Got some goals for the new year? Share your goals in the comments and we can be accountabilibuddies!
Alright 2019, let’s get this started!