For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
– T.S. Eliot, poet, dramatist, and literary critic, from Four Quartets
When I was in elementary school, my sister gave me a diary for Christmas one year. I had previously used a notebook and binder paper to record what happened or what I did on days that were worthy of recording. But once I got a real diary, I was spoiled and for several years afterwards I would get a new diary for each year. Soon my entries evolved from one-liners of what I ate or who came to visit to events that made me happy or sad followed by an analysis of why I was happy or sad. I created a tradition in which at the end of the year I would reflect and read what happened that year. I would write about what was memorable and what I learned. And then I would focus on my hopes and dreams for the following year.
I’ve since abandoned writing a daily diary. I rely on the e-mails that I send to friends as a record of what happened and what I was going through internally. I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions anymore, either. Or at least I don’t formalize them, write them down, and take assessment after a certain period of time has passed in the new year. When I write my holiday e-greeting letter, I do take stock of what I and my family did for the year, and at least in my head I reflect on the year and what goals I had set for myself that were achieved and what goals are yet to be met.
I think about what the New Year promises and what I want to do in the New Year. I could be detailed or I could just throw a blanket statement that covers everything. There’s something really attractive about simplicity, especially when I feel so cluttered with so many things in life right now. So yes, I’m going to make a New Year’s Resolution list this time around, but it’s going to be one that will be easy to achieve. So here goes:
Be mindful of the present, the here and now. More often than not, walking Rex in the early mornings is a task that I want to cross off my daily list of things to do as quickly as possible. During the fall, however, I took time to enjoy the turning of the leaves from green to deep reds and vibrant golds and oranges. I enjoyed the Christmas decorations on neighbors’ lawns and trees. It was a crazy busy month of December, but I made sure to enjoy our decked-out halls by, for example, bringing the laptop down to the living room to enjoy the fire and smell the tree while I worked. It kept the spirit in me. And I want to continue that mindfulness.
Get my novel out there, in whatever form and through whatever channel in which it was meant to be. I will try just a few literary agents this time around, but when I set out to finish A Village in the Fields last year, I had already come up with a plan to get it up quickly on Amazon, per the path a few colleagues from work have taken. Stay tuned.
Keep writing, read more. I’m looking forward to resuming research for my second novel, which I had abandoned back in 2006, and doing character sketches and plot drafts. I also look forward to revisiting old short stories that wise old eyes are now looking at anew and revising them, as well as revisiting old short story ideas and perhaps resurrecting them. Most importantly, I look forward to carving out more time to read – the single thing that makes a writer better.
Write more profiles for my blog. One thing that suffered a little as work overtook me this past fall to the end of the year was not having the time to interview amazing women for my blog. I have a backlog of women to interview, and I really hope to carve out time to return to this part of my blog. Stay tuned.
Take better care of my body. I cannot ignore the creaks in the knees as I walk down the stairs in the morning or the pain in my thumb joint, which I fear is arthritis and not carpal tunnel syndrome. Yes, I am getting older and with it comes aches and pains. But if I eat right, get some sleep – let me repeat that to myself again, get more sleep – and add greater variety to my exercise routine, some of those afflictions should be alleviated. I can’t stop time or growing older, but I can impact the quality of those years and the process.
Scatter joy. On my first trip to Maine perhaps a decade ago in August, my friend, Jack, indulged my request to check out this quaint shop called Flying Pigs, at least I think that’s what the shop was called. I came across a plaque with the words “Scatter joy” that was attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson. I picked it up but put it down. Then at Christmastime that year, Jack sent the plaque to me, and it has been hanging above a door in our library for the last six years. Every once in a while I look up and remember how it came to our house, and it reminds me to do just that – scatter joy.
There is nothing more gratifying than seeing someone I care about smile or laugh or be happy because of something I said or did. It’s infectious and it makes my day. It’s easy to do. Every day. Scatter joy. Happy New Year’s Eve!