A belated Merry Christmas and an early Happy New Year to my readers.
Christmas was . . . tranquil. There was only a splash of drama. Overall, I realized how much I love being home. I found myself wishing for more time to sit on the couch and stare at the twinkle lights on my tree. We got our stockings embroidered this year, and I only had a week to admire them before the holidays. I saw a few of my favorite holiday movies (White Christmas, The Holiday, Family Man, Miracle on 34th Street, and the good part of Home Alone), but I still have many titles I want to see. We spent time with family, but all of the festivities went so fast. And the time celebrating with friends went doubly fast.
I am not complaining. I am realizing how much I love the quality time that comes with the holidays. And I have decided I will keep my Christmas decorations up longer than usual. I just can't say goodbye to the twinkle lights and Christmas stockings yet.
On a completely unrelated side note: I've been thinking a lot about my new year resolutions, and I am really excited about 2009. I can't wait for the year to start and my life to start on a new path--focused on a new goal. Bring on the next 4 day weekend, and all the fun that starts after!
As I've mentioned before, this Christmas has turned into a storm of to-do lists and busy-ness and not a lot of fun, festivity, and focus on the real Reason for the season.
Next year we plan to do things differently, and I've been discussing with my hubby how we can make that happen.
It all comes down to priorities. What are the priorities we are going to focus on so that Andie learns our perspective on the season?
A few priorities so far:
1. Celebrating the birth of Jesus, not presents
2. Giving, not getting
3. Family & friends
Some ideas bouncing around in my head now are to only give presents to family, and even scale back on that. Until I can keep things simple, I'm not going to drown myself in the deluge of what to buy, only to be stressed at the end that I didn't get the perfect presents for my friends and even missed some people I love dearly. I may donate/volunteer in their honor. I used to scoff at this idea, but I see the value in it now.
I'd like to create an advent calendar that suggests something to give each day--give a smile, give a plate of cookies, give your time, give a friend a call, etc.
I've read many testimonies of people who give their time at local soup kitchens and retirement homes. Perhaps we'll look into those options next year.
I heart traditions. I have quite the list for the Christmas season. Perhaps I should scale back on this too. If it again turns into a to-do list for mama, where's the fun in that? The focus should be on quality time with family and friends.
Your thoughts? Your ideas? Your traditions? I think I might just talk about traditions later. We'll see!
I realized later that I left another resolution off--Blog 3x's a week.
Also, I was looking at another blog and a "writermama" plans to only query 3x's a month. I'm beginning to wonder if my goal is realistic. We shall see. Anyone have insight on this?
As promised on my facebook, here are some of my 2009 resolutions and strategies to make them happen. I've always been a believer in not only writing goals, but writing HOW I'm going to accomplish them. 2008 has been a big year of, excuse the now-cliche phrase, change. Becoming as some bloggers term themselves, a "writermama" has been more difficult than I expected. It started with everyone telling me to "nap when she naps" and "give yourself time to adjust," and it continued with justifications to put all of my writer career pretty much on the back burner while I figured out this whole mama thing.
Well, now that we've established a semi-routine, and now that the proverbial fire is once again lit underneath me, here are my goals for the new year concerning my writing/editing career.
1. Write 30 minutes a day, five days a week. The one thing that has had the most influence on my writing career and actually getting it started is what I learned from Peggy Fielding in a free class she offers locally, "You're not a writer unless you write." Simple. Profound. Rocked my world. I must be a writer.
2. Submit a query to a magazine/publisher/agent 3x's a week. Mainly magazine. Am actually planning on applying at a local magazine, and I'm on the hunt for community-based writing jobs. Of all I've read, the people making the big bucks started local. I wanted to skip local and go straight to national and then universal! But, it turns out, the local community is not to be overlooked and many times provides steady assignments.
3. Read 1-2 books per month. I know, that's not a lofty goal for a writer, but I must read. I read slowly, so this is a realistic goal. If I made it more, I wouldn't accomplish it. Granted, this goal's focus is on novels. Picture books I will read ad nauseum (is that spelled right?) with my baby girl.
4. Go to a major national writer's conference this year, fully paid for with my business money. When I go, I want to have at least 3 manuscripts and 5 agents that I've researched and am ready to pitch to.
The resolutions continue to include health resolutions and spiritual, but we'll stop here.
Now, the plan of attack.
I find that I get the most accomplished first thing in the morning. If I don't do it first thing, I generally don't get it done. With this in mind, I've also noticed of late that I have two "first thing in the morning" opportunities per day. My hubby works two jobs, bless him, so I can stay at home. I usually wake up to see him off to his first job, then spend 40 minutes lying awake in bed wanting to go back to sleep. Then I wake up again to get ready for the day. Why not take advantage of both wake-up times?
So, for 2009, I will get up and do all writing during my first wake-up moment. Then I will either work through to my second, or I will snooze and wake up again an hour or more later. During that second wake-up time, I'll work on health and spiritual goals.
That leaves the rest of the day to focus on my daughter, and maybe, just maybe, I'll try that "nap when she naps" theory. We'll see. Housework has to fit in somewhere. . .
I borrowed this idea from a friend. Yes, borrowed, I will kindly give it back if she insists, wink. It turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself. I tried again with a different pillow and ended up with Christmas tress under a starry sky. Perhaps I'll post it later.
The Christmas craziness is finally feeling like it's beginning to slow. I've been taking a hard look at our priorities/to do lists, and I think our Christmas next year will be very different. Before I post all my thoughts, dear friends, tell me about your holiday experience and what you might change for your family next year.
hugs and kisses!
*Gingerbread house I appliqued for my baby girl
This year I've taken to crafting, primarily because that's what most of my stay-at-home-mom friends are doing. It started as something cute to do, then turned into a money-saving option for upcoming Christmas gifts, and now has overtaken my living room couch with a number of projects looming over my To Do list. Suddenly the holidays have become a goal, not an event. Right now I'm not dreaming of present possibilities, wishing for a white Christmas, or simply sitting back and being thankful for all the fun, family, food and so many more things that the holidays promise. My goal is to get my presents bought/made and wrapped a week ago. And instead of joy, I feel stress.
Stress? That's not what the holidays are about! Where did I go wrong? From this point forward, everything changes.
1. Presents are no longer items on my To Do list; they are opportunities to bless others.
2. The bottom line changes from how much to spend on each gift to how much love I can sincerely pour from my heart into each present.
3. If it's not perfect, it's perfect. I must keep reminding myself that perfection is not necessary or realistic.
4. I'm not setting any more dates that I have to get something done by; I do what I can, when I can, and most important, I live in the moment.
5. This is my daughter's first Christmas, and even though she may not remember it, I want it to be as memorable as possible. I refuse to get too old to remember the little things that made the holidays special and that I looked forward to each December first.
Since we were out of town for Thanksgiving weekend, we haven't decorated yet. This weekend our holiday begins with cutting down our own tree. From there we break out the rubbermaid boxes and adorn the house in red and gold. And, as Christmas day approaches, we will consume ourselves with traditions such as making an ornament to commemorate the year and will continue with going to as many Christmas parties as possible and remembering the true Reason for the festivities.