. . . and, as always comes the resolutions. This year, like last, I’ve resolved to not make any.
There, that’s done.
As it is a new year, however, I can’t help falling into the trap of looking back and wondering what I can do to improve myself, or make better use of the life I have. Therefore, I have come up with the following ‘to-do’ list, or perhaps ‘want-to-do’ list, might be a better way of putting it:
1. Each day, do one thing that makes me happy — this could be to write a poem, take a picture, read a book, help someone in need, write a letter (a dying art, and one that I’ve tried numerous times to revive), post a blog, watch a silly sit-com (How I Met Your Mother; New Girl), visit the art gallery, take a walk in the sunshine, play a game with my grandkids, there are many, many things that make me smile, make me happy — I need only do one a day to keep my balance.
2. Stay true to my goals — this means WORK on my novel. I did not spend an entire month of my life writing like a fiend to just let those 50,000 words grow mold. It also means focus less on work and more on life — at 53 (damn near 54 years of age) I have come to the realization that work, though necessary, is not the keystone of life. Life is.
3. Read a book a month. I love to read. Really love it, almost as much as writing. But, for the past 5 – 10 years I have not been reading as much as I once did. I have let work, and work-related obligations, my unrealistic expectations of myself and what it means to be ‘successful’ take control of my life and my time and have, sadly, let reading slip away. I have a small library of books that I’ve been given and that I’ve purchased just sitting collecting dust. No more! I will make friends with reading again.
4. I will waste time looking through home renovation and decorating magazines. And I will watch HGTV from time to time. I love reading about ways to make your home beautiful. Though I may not do any of things I read or watch I can gain excitement and grow enthusiasm from them, and who knows? Maybe, just maybe I’ll find something that sparks my creativity. I used to be quite creative — stencilling tables, walls, furniture, painting old chairs, sewing dolls, making things out of wood — I would love to find that in me again.
5. Start crocheting again. Once upon a time I used to crochet all the time. Over the past 15 years all I’ve done is buy wool and patterns. Those materials that I haven’t donated or sold at garage sales are sitting in baskets and in cupboards. The basket of wool makes a nice, ‘homey’ decoration in my living room, but, really, that wool would make a lovely shawl or scarf. For me. Ha, ha!
6. Paint the bedroom my grandkids stay in. It is such a hideous space right now. Plain white, ugly grey accordion closet doors, makeshift shelves Tim put up shortly after we moved in. I envision lovely sky-blue walls with billowy clouds on the ceiling. I would replace the plastic mini-blinds with a venetian shade and light, cottony curtains. I would remake the closet into a toy closet and add a small bookshelf for the books I’ve started collecting for them. It would be a space as delightful as they are.
7. Become a better, more accomplished cook. It’s funny. I’ve always liked cooking, but as I’ve matured I have come to love it. I’ve always collected cookbooks and recipes — just ask my husband who is constantly telling me there is a better way to organize them than in the one cupboard and two drawers where I have them stashed and stuffed — and I like nothing more than to sit on the floor with recipe books and cut-outs spread all around me reading through them for inspiration. I invested in a Kitchen-Aid food processor this Christmas — fantastic sale at London Drugs on Boxing Day! Can’t wait to put it to the test.
8. Develop a system for keeping my office neat and tidy and actually follow it for more than a week. ‘Nuff said.
9. Dream more. Plan trips I might never get to take. Fantasize about money I’ll most likely never have (the current Lotto Max commercial? That’s me and Tim.) Imagine a bright future for my son and his family in which money, stress and worry is non-existent. See Tim and I living ‘down east’ temporarily like we’ve talked about ever since our motorcycle trip to visit my brother and his family in Dartmouth, NS. Actually getting to meet Stephen King and blubber on to him about how great I think he is and how his writing and his life have inspired me. Be short-listed for a writing prize or award.
10. Organize my photos! My lord I’ve got gazillions of them. Digital cameras are wonderful, but the hundreds of pictures I’ve downloaded that never get erased, shared or printed is ridiculous. So, I have decided to become ruthless. And actually take the external hard-drive I bought for storing my pictures on out of its package and use the damn thing!
11. Exercise regularly. I walk a lot, but not nearly enough. Once upon a time I used to walk for at least an hour every day, now it’s a half hour 3 – 4 days a week. I have a treadmill and free-weights that I barely use. I will endeavour to use them at least 3 times a week. Yoga starts again on the 16th. I bought myself a good mat and am determined to start doing a few exercises each morning before work. This sounds exhausting. Don’t know how successful this ‘to-do’ item will be. Perhaps I’m just getting lazy.
12. Blog at least once a week, but not more than twice a week. Trying to blog everyday had become a major source of stress for me. I was comparing myself to many other bloggers, some of whom post two to three times a day. In my job I don’t have the time to blog (I’m rarely sitting at a desk) and, even if I did, my employer would not take kindly to me using my work time for personal pursuits. I’ve tried blogging during my breaks, but that never works because I take my break in the classroom and there are always others in the room and you know what that is like. No concentration, constant interruptions, etc. Mornings are too rushed and in the evening, well, if I’m going to work on my novel I need the time for that. So, once a twice a week it will be.
13. Visit other bloggers on the days I’m not blogging. There are so many fine bloggers out there, many whom I’ve subscribed to and yet I can’t seem to keep up with visits. Currently, my email has over 400 notifications in it, none of which I’ve checked up on. Two-thirds of these notifications are from bloggers I subscribe to. I feel terrible that I never get around to reading half of what enters my in-box. There is a ton of great writing there, I just know it, but I simply don’t have the time. So, I will read what I can, when I can and comment accordingly. The blogging world is made up of some of the most amazing, understanding people in the world and I know that this will be fine with them. And really, it’s only just me.
14. Worry less. I used to joke: If I don’t have something to worry about, then something must be wrong.
15. Say “I love you” more often. Such a simple thing, and yet, so often forgotten. I want the people I care about to know it. Saying those three little words is all that is needed.
16. Thumb my nose at 2012 Doomsday predictions. I read “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy a couple of years ago. It affected me more than I thought. I have carried a seed of dread in the core of my being ever since finishing it. I have allowed it to grow and it has spread a noxious weed that has tangled itself throughout my being. It’s time to yank it out and burn it. Better to believe in present day examples of the good of humankind when disaster strikes rather than some imagined apocalyptic horror.
Well, that’s it. My list of things to do this year and beyond. I’m printing it off and placing it near my writing station. On a wall, where it won’t get lost beneath a mountain of paper. Now wait a minute, what number does that come under?
Good day, all! I’m sooo happy, because the sun is shining! Two days in a row! Can you dig it?
Consider this: CBC reported recently that since the start of the new year, we (Alberta, in particular the north-central region) have had 28 days of fog. 28! In the middle of bloody winter! Now, if we were in Vancouver, or Halifax, I could understand, but here in the middle of the prairies?
So, my happiness aside, this brings my thoughts back around to the end of the world. Strange correlation, I know, but humour me. . .
Lately, there’s been a spate of end of the world pictures — 2012, The Road, 9 — to name just a few, and I can’t help thinking that maybe, just maybe . . . but that’s just conspiracy-think, so I’ll try and stop it.
Truthfully, though, when we were experiencing all that fog and gray skies and gloom, I couldn’t help wondering what it would be like to have to live in a world with no sunshine. I’m telling you, my mood sure started to tank quickly, and I pop 2000 IU’s of Vitamin D a day. Living in that kind of bleakness perpetually we’d see some strange social dysfunctions manifest in short order. Hopefully, not as dire as those Cormac McCarthy thought up for his post-apocolyptic world.
One thing I know for sure, is that this weather really affects kids, and this comes from working with them. Their behaviours ramp up, they become increasingly restless, increasingly difficult to motivate and far more emotional than usual. More school yard fights, detentions and just plain dumb stuff happened during those dark days than we’ve ever experienced before.
Add to that their extreme impressionability after watching movies like 2012 and guess what? Their imaginations and their naivete gets the best of them. I’ve got one kid asking me doomsday questions just about every day. Like, if I knew the world was going to end, would I choose to die or to fight to live? If, after surviving, I knew that something terrible would happen and there was no way I was going to live, would I want to die quickly or live as long as I could?
I try to treat his questions with a measure of seriousness, because, after all, he’s asking because this is something he’s given a lot of thought to, but at the same time, I try to instill a little of the old you-know-the-world’s-not-going-to-end, that’s-only-a-movie, right? reassurance in there, along with a bright, sunny smile so that he doesn’t catch on that adults sometimes have those same thoughts, too.
. . . that was one helluva long run-on sentence! . . .
. . . anyway. . .
I’m doing my best today to just be gloriously happy that the sun is shining and that this is 2010, the end of February. Spring is a mere 4 weeks away. Soon we’ll have rain and green and sweet smelling air. The birds will be back, and I’ll be able to have all my windows open again.
I will not dwell on the fact that there has been another massive earthquake and another tsunami. No, I won’t.
This is an example of something called Flash Fiction. I entered this piece in a contest about a year ago (didn’t win, but got some decent feedback). I’ve since edited it taking into account some of the comments I was given.
It’s an apocalyptic little story, something ala 2012, if you will. Hope you like it.
A wistful smile crossed Sandra’s face as she gazed down at the tiny body beside her, and she thought, what better place than this? The steady rise and fall of the baby’s chest helped to soothe her, but it couldn’t stop the fear blossoming in hers.
It was warm here, beneath the bed; absurdly, she felt protected. Then, sorrowfully: Why hadn’t he stayed? Choking back a sob she drew their son close and buried her face in his blankets.
When the flash came she was telling him about the fun she and her sisters had once had playing make-believe beneath their beds, imagining golden lives in a far-off and shining future.