Life in Three Words

Ah, New Year’s Day—that one day of the year designed for self-flagellation and list-making and vows and whatnot designed to make us all 21st-century Bionic Men and Women (“We can rebuild her…we have the technology…”). It’s exhausting. It’s demoralizing. It’s abusive in its own twisted way. Is it any wonder so many resolutions fail before January sees itself out?

This year, I’m not making a list. And although I do need to write down some goals for myself, since visualization aids with realization, today isn’t the day to do that. That task will take some reflection and a bit of butt-kicking from the Puffs (more on them later). For now, I’d like to share the three words I’ve chosen as my keys to success in 2015.

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.  —Maya Angelou

Passion can fuel a life. Passion can give you purpose, energy, direction, all things for your good and, perhaps, the world’s. For a long time, my two passions—teaching and writing—have been uneasy roommates. Concentrating on one has meant neglecting the other, which makes it feel too much like “survive” and not much like “thrive.” No more. This year, room to grow for both. In teaching, I have a new room and a zillion new ways to make a difference. In writing, I have an obligation to cultivate instead of smother. My self, my desire to write, need the same touch of compassion I effortlessly extend to my students. Time to be kind on the inside as well as the outside. Time to laugh. Time to forge that unique style in words. A little something every day, whether it be a school task, a blog post, a brainstorming session, or dictation during a walk. Forward motion for something I love, which leads me to my second word:

Progress lies not in enhancing what is, but in advancing toward what will be.  —Khalil Gibran

At RWA National this summer, my Puffs (Bubbles, aka Nancy Robards Thompson, and Buttercup, aka Katherine Garbera) surprised me with an avalanche of presents and good wishes to celebrate not only the release of Fortune’s Fool, but also that I’ve been contracted by Tule Publishing to write a novella for their Holiday imprint. THIS IS GREAT STUFF. But stubborn me wouldn’t really let myself enjoy it. Enter the butt-kicking. Those two are merciless, and they’re right. Progress of any kind takes movement, and that’s something I haven’t allowed myself as often as I should. As Bubbles says, “Perfection is the enemy of the very good.” Perfection paralysis: my Achilles heel of writing. This year, I’ll focus on progress instead. Butt in chair. Keeping at it. Working instead of wishing. Next time we’re together, there will be even more to celebrate, and I plan to be properly excited.

Anyone’s life truly lived consists of work, sunshine, exercise, soap, plenty of fresh air, and a happy contented spirit.  —Lillie Langtry

I spend too much time worrying over what I don’t have and not enough appreciating what I do have. It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing you’re not thin enough, smart enough, rich enough, organized enough, talented enough, what-have-you enough, especially when you make the fatal error of comparing yourself to others. So, enough. Time to remind myself I have plenty of what counts: love, safety, food, ideas, friends. Time to act like it, too. More walks in the sunshine, more doing what I love, more time with those I love. That’s a recipe for a happy year!

I played this Kid President pep talk for all of my classes at the beginning of the school year. It’s a great message for today as well, one I need to watch more often!

Enjoy 2015, everyone. Make it awesome.


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