Sued51's Blog












Resolute

Boat Owners Summarize It…The Ultimate Tweeters…

“Resolute” is the adjective version of “Resolution.” My desk’s version of Webster’s dictionary defines it as “marked by firmness or determination; unwavering.”

The last couple of years, I can’t say that I have been a shining example of that word, but I have also realized I didn’t do a good job of setting myself up for success. The “resolutions” I wrote in my 10-year journal were too broad and unspecific (e.g., send out poems, learn Photoshop), and thus, impossible to accomplish. For example, I did send out poems (a few) but out of those few, none were accepted for publication, which left me with a feeling of complete failure. This year I decided what I needed was specific goals, not RESOLUTIONS; strong as that word appears to be, it didn’t work for me. (I know it doesn’t work for many other people either…how many people join the gym and try to go every day…giving up after a week or two?). So I thought I’d share my process this year in case it might help someone else.

I began by creating categories for different areas of my life: health (which included food, exercise, and spiritual and emotional health); education and career; money and finance; and hobbies/social. I also created an “other” category to be a catch-all for organizational goals and all those practical things we all feel we “should” want to do. Then I took some time and just wrote down whatever came into my head…a type of free writing. After I felt I written down quite a bit, I examined the goals and tried to make them specific: for example: “eat better” became “make a recipe from a cookbook once a week,” which is certainly a relatively easy goal to accomplish. I classified my goals also into “easy,” “doable,” and “stretch.” I also looked for overlaps, which would imply that those were more important goals to me, such as taking classes (which appeared in the education and hobbies category). I knew I couldn’t or maybe didn’t want to accomplish everything I wrote down, so I tried to see which were the ones I felt most strongly about. The ones I wrote up as weekly tasks will be scheduled into my calendar (something I vow to be better at…keeping schedules), making them more likely to get done.

This is the gift I give myself this year: I am setting myself up for success. The “easy” goals will allow me to feel I am accomplishing things; accomplishing them will give me the energy and keep me encouraged enough to tackle some of the harder goals. I think at the end of the year, I will feel more successful and more content.

The other thing I realized when I sat down to write my “summary” of my year in my journal was that I knew I had accomplished a lot of practical chores — thanks to monthly “to do” lists — but because I didn’t keep my lists, I didn’t remember what all those chores were. Again, this kept me from feeling successful. So…I decided to create a “to do ” book instead of just “to do” lists: a “chores” journal I guess you could call it. Now I can write my list weekly, move anything that doesn’t get done to the next page (the next week) and have a record of what I accomplished to look back on at the end of the year. I will be giving myself “homework” assignments for the week.

This may seem like a waste of time and overdoing things, but I think it will teach me a lot about myself: what things do I procrastinate on? Which things do I find are easy for me, and which do I find difficult? Also, maybe I will find that some of the things I tell myself I want to do, just aren’t really important or maybe I have some “fear” issues to overcome. These thoughts lead me to share one of my favorite Joan Didion quotes:

“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”
Joan Didion

Happy New Year to all…may you feel it is a successful and productive one!

 

 




I make resolutions every year — or to put it another way — I set goals every year, as most people do with varying degrees of success. I believe the motivation behind the resolution or goal is the key to its success: why do you want to do it? Because you think you should? Because someone else wants you to? Because you feel like circumstances are forcing you to?

As I got ready to set my goals for 2013, and as I hand-wrote a rough draft of this blog in a notebook with aching hands, I pondered my writing habits. I’m thinking the time may have come when I have to change them. I don’t know what is wrong with my hands (tendonitis…arthritis?), but it has already been a few weeks and the pain is not only not subsiding, it seems to be escalating. I could use this as an excuse not to write, but I can’t allow it. Should I get an ergonomic pen? Speak into a dictaphone (which I actually have; I can’t afford Dragon)? Would typing be better?

My current morning pages notebook

My current morning pages notebook

Although I’m a decent typist (having worked as a secretary right after college) I still prefer hand-writing in a spiral-bound notebook with ruled pages. Friends over the years have gifted me with some lovely journals, which sit there like “good china,” waiting for the special occasion, that SOMEDAY when I will feel like I am finally the writer I want to be, when everything I write will be brilliant and worthwhile, clothed between luxuriant covers. SIGH…

My new beautiful journal

My new beautiful journal

I’ve always been like this: saving the “good jewelry” for special occasions that never seem to happen; saving the “good poems” for special publications that I never get up the courage to submit to. When I was a young art major, one of the best drawings I ever created was done on newsprint paper. My art teacher asked me why I did that. There was no creative reason; it wasn’t elemental to the concept or an essential factor in the art produced. My answer: “I didn’t think it was going to come out that good and I didn’t want to waste good paper.” I have to ask myself, “why don’t I think I’m good enough to use good paper or good journals?”

Just change your habits you say; it is simple, just go ahead and write in the good journals. I have tried that a few times. My closet contains some lovely leather-covered journals with a couple of entries, abandoned because their beauty did not inspire me to new heights; their outsides did not elevate what was inside.  Morning pages are just morning pages whether they are written in a cheap cardboard-covered notebook or a leather-bound book with handcrafted paper.

What are “Morning Pages” you might ask, if you have not read Julia Cameron’s books. I have turned to the “Artist’s Way” every year with the best of intentions. This time I’m reading “Finding Water” for a change of pace. Same author, same principles: sit down and hand-write 3 pages as soon as you get up. Get rid of all the random negative thoughts you may have as you start your day. Get in touch with your feelings and your “small still voice” inside. In Julia’s words (from page 14 of  “Finding Water”):

Be trivial, be petty, whine, grump, groan, and complain. Morning Pages siphon off a haze of negativity through which we normally face our day. The negativity goes onto the page instead of just wafting around us as we make our way through our daily lives. “These pages are boring,” you might complain. Write them anyway.

Julia recommends doing it for twelve weeks to make it a habit you will stick with; I never seem to be able to do that. I ultimately fall off to a couple of days a week, and that is the never-ending story of my “journaling” activities. But a funny thing happened as I read the next paragraph, sitting down to write my morning pages. I understood why I prefer to write in the spiral-bound notebooks!

Julia goes on to say: Sometimes we try too hard to have something to say. We feel desperate but we don’t want to act desperate. We want to pose a little–even on the page. Posing gets us nowhere. We do better to just come clean. It can take getting used to, this nakedness on the page…We want to pretend we have momentous things to say when the truth may be that we yearn to say something but we don’t know what.

I think when I write in the beautiful journals I feel like I’m posing. I’m putting pressure on myself; I’m not allowing myself to be “naked” on the page.

I started this post to write about the tendonitis or arthritis I’m having in my hands that is making it difficult for me to write right now, but the actual writing has revealed that this is just the latest excuse. (How can I write in these beautiful journals when my writing is cramped and nearly illegible?)

Breaking the habits seems difficult in itself, but facing the reasons behind those habits is more difficult still, and that confrontation may be the only way new habits can be created after all. Morning pages are worth their weight in gold, even if they are clothed in cardboard covers.




For some reason, I made 100 the number — the number of followers I wanted for my blog this year. Why?

It seemed like a round number; it seemed like an accomplishment (maybe not for others –but for me –yes). I thought WordPress would give me a star, some fireworks…(hmm, it could have been the earthquake day 🙂 ) It came and went and I didn’t notice until now.

I thought it would make me happy, but it makes me feel…responsible. I can’t give up; I must find time to write and find time to visit and comment on other’s blogs. I must find time to complete posts for awards that I was blessed with weeks ago.

Should I set a new goal? Another random number? I don’t think so.

I am grateful to my followers for giving me some fun, some encouragement, something to look forward to and a reason to keep going, TRULY…but today, I just feel tired.

Despite that, I say to my followers, “Party On, all You Fabulous Bloggers!”

My alphabet of music will be ending this week, and I’ve got to find the next hill to climb…I love to see you all climbing beside me!



{January 3, 2011}   The Worst is Over…Now What?

The title of this blog refers to a lot of different things for me.  It initially came to me in the context of dealing with my father’s death and burial just before Christmas.  It was mentioned over and over at the wake, funeral service and burial what a bad time of year it was to deal with such a thing, but when is it a better time?  A year was coming to an end; a decade was coming to an end; a special person’s life had come to an end.

That unforgettable week was a whirlwind of activity and emotions, and brought me more-than-I-could-have-hoped-for support and sympathy from a lot of people.  But now that the most obvious emotional part is over, there is still so much to be done and worked through — for my mother most of all, but also for my family and myself.

Talking with my husband about our plans and goals moving forward (as we all must), I realized the title could mean so many things: economists and the media have said the recession is over, now what?  Now that one of the reasons I was working part-time has resolved itself (my father’s deteriorating health), now what?  Now that my wonderful father’s life has been summed up, what does that mean to me?

At my father’s wake, we set out a notebook containing a fraction of his extensive artwork and cartoons—it was something he wanted.  There were constant lines at the notebook; so many people had never seen his work—even I have never seen it all (but that’s another blog).  A couple of people he knew from the senior center were talking to me about how every time my father would show them one of his cartoons they would ask why he didn’t send it out to a newspaper and he would just shrug.  Family always came first for my father; he was long past having the required time and energy to publish his material.

Initially, my father’s death left me feeling no desire to move on; I felt lost and empty. But a strange thing happened as I watched people looking at his cartoons and artwork.  I felt like…I’ve got to DO something about that. I’m not sure what, but I’ve got some ideas, and somehow I feel like he is giving me a new strength, and new determination.

I also said to myself, “That’s not going to happen to me.”  At one point, I tried to do with my poems what my father did with his cartoons: I tried to put most of the poems I have written in a notebook in chronological order.  I didn’t realize what a daunting task it was —I am a disorganized writer; most of the poems had no dates and there were too many versions of the same thing.  I was never finished, always tweaking, and sometimes the initial off-the-cuff version was the best.  I realized it’s impossible to sum up a life in one notebook.

I’ve got some projects in front of me that are important to me emotionally, and I am looking forward to working on them.  It won’t happen overnight; I need to plan.  It could take me the next decade, but I feel ready to go.  Thanks, Dad.



{December 30, 2010}   Happy Anniversary…to Me

It was a year ago yesterday that I started my blog; I had noted it in my 10-year journal.  Just days from now, I will write my assessment of my year for all areas of my life and my goals for next year in a special area of my journal, but it seemed appropriate to assess my blogging effort here and now.

I’ll start with the disappointments (so I can end the blog on a positive note).  I never developed a rhythm; I never picked a particular day to post and stuck with it.  I never found one overwhelming subject I wanted to write about or became an “expert” at anything.  Consequently, I never developed a wider following other than my dear, dear friends (although I did have 60 readers for one blog and 40 for another).  Hmmm…seems pretty discouraging, but…

I actually kept at it and averaged more than one blog a week (except for the last few weeks as I dealt with the serious illness and death of my father).  Ironically, the flip side of one of my disappointments (not finding one particular focus) was also something I felt good about: I found many different things to write about because I was trying to write for others; I was less one-dimensional in my writing.  Before creating my blog, I was only writing in my journal, and very rarely in recent years, writing some poetry.  Put that one in the “pro” column: kudos for writing more than I had in the last five years (more writing, more often).

So what goals do I want to set for next year?  When I sit down to write, I don’t want it to be a rushed, last-minute activity.  I want to stay ahead and write several blog entries at a time. (In 2010 I kept a notebook with ideas, many of which I never had the opportunity to develop.)  This practice should allow me to pick a particular day to post and STICK WITH IT!  That goal is good enough for me…if I can accomplish that for myself, I won’t have to worry about the audience.  Like in “Field of Dreams” if I build it, they will come.



et cetera
%d bloggers like this: