by Donna Alward
It sounds strange to think about New Year’s Resolutions in July, but that’s how I feel right now. I’m at the end of my current commitments, writing the last book in my contract, and in a spot where I’m looking back over the last 18 months and cautiously looking at the next year and a bit to come.
I’ve made some pretty big mistakes.
And I’ve been pretty awesome sometimes too.
Next week I’m giving a workshop at the RWA National conference about Keeping Your Sanity in an Ever-Changing Industry. Have I maintained sanity over the past eighteen months? At times it’s been a toss-up, no question. I think I’ve held it together where work is concerned, even though I got behind, which is really rare for me. I broke one of my own rules: don’t commit to more than you can deliver.
Still, all deadlines have been met except for this one last one, and being on the last book is a good feeling.
The stresses have largely come from that nebulous concept of “Balance” that we talk about so often and rarely achieve. Life got in the way. My schedule was based on no flies in the ointment, perfect conditions and no snags. And then snags happened. A bunch of them.
So what happened?
I put on nearly 20 lbs. I felt oncoming burnout, and started requiring a nap most days—just twenty minutes or so, in the early afternoon, to keep me going the rest of the day.
The twenty pounds really bothers me. That being said, I’m not beating myself up about it. I got through the winter and spring, and it’s almost time to turn a new page. But, vain as it may sound, conference time is big for me. I think it all started with my first conference back in 2009, when I had a marvelous time and then saw the pictures of myself afterwards and cried. And what’s really crazy about that was that I’d already lost 17 lbs or so before I went to conference that year.
I didn’t go to conference in 2010, but I did go to New York in 2011…and loved the pictures of me. I felt healthy and strong. I’d lost 38 lbs total, and more than that I was in much better shape. In 2012 I was right around the same weight, and again last year too. In fact, last year I was slightly lighter but I didn’t like the pics as well because I could see where I didn’t have the same muscle definition.
And yeah, I feel like this year, I blew it.
But here’s the thing. I could tell myself that I suck and really talk trash to myself, but I’m not going to. Because I know that this year I did the best I could. And I can’t change it. I also learned some lessons. There’s not time to turn this around before conference, so I’ve made peace with that. In my workshop, part of what I say is that while we KNOW what will help our stress levels, above all we have to be kind to ourselves. It doesn’t mean lying to ourselves, by the way. Or ignoring what is in front of our faces. It’s about accepting it and not beating ourselves up over it. I’m getting too old for that crap.
So what resolutions am I going to make?
First of all, work less. I’m not sure how I thought writing 9 books in an 18 month period was smart in the first place. Now that my “transition” year is over, I’m meeting with my agent and we’re going to talk career plan. It will not involve that many books. J
Second on the list is be stronger. As in physically stronger. I miss healthy me. I’ve been focusing on eating less processed stuff for a while now, though my kid tells me I have a long way to go (everything has corn in it, by the way. It’s crazy). But the dh and I went out for lunch the other day and I actually felt sick most of the afternoon because it was too rich. I’ve started buying local a lot more, even if it means a higher price tag. We put in a vegetable garden. I’m making my own bread. Go me.
But I need to get my cardio health back up to par and I really miss working with weights, so that’s on the agenda, particularly in September when everyone is back to school and we get on regular schedules again. I’m really not going to worry too much about this until my current book is in and I’ve had a vacation. Vacation is priority 1. I need a break to refill the well.
Third on the list is an all-encompassing commitment to walking the walk. It stung a little when I was talking to my kid today and she said “Mom, you’ve been saying that for a year now.” The truth is, by over-committing myself, I’ve sometimes ended up going for “easy and fast” over making things from scratch simply because I don’t have time. Or I’ve been so busy carting kids around that trying to find time for a workout was crazy. Later this fall kid one will be able to drive herself—and go pick up her sister now and again too. Besides, if I have a slightly lighter schedule, I may actually be able to fit a workout into the morning. Imagine!
Anyway, I’m actually excited, because I know the shift is coming and I’m feeling a little more energized each day. I only had one mid-day nap all last week!
I’m going to post 2009 and 20011 pics of me, and who knows? Maybe next year I’ll post 2014 me and 2015 me. New York seems to be good for me that way, and conference is back there again next year.
And if you’re in San Antonio for the RWA conference, be sure to stop and say hi!
With Fi and the Harlequin Party, NYC 2011
With Jennie Lucas, 2009