Goal, No, Make that GLEE SETTING

It’s that time of the year again. Time to make goals. *sigh*

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I’m talking about setting life goals, the things you want to do in the next year, five years, ten years, whatever. Resolutions. *Oy!*

If you Google “goal setting,” you’ll get 62,500,000 hits in .21 seconds. That’s sixty two MILLION places to read about some part of goal setting, and getting there in less than a second. W-H-O-A!

There are all kinds of helps out there–videos you can listen to, songs you can tap your toe to, and tons (!) of suggestions, helps, templates, and rules for setting goals.

So what do I have to say on the subject that someone else hasn’t said over and over again?

Absolutely nothin’! (Say it again.)

Yep, nothin’. The truth is, I’ve found that setting rigid goals isn’t right for me. If I get too specific about them (write 3,000 words a day, 200 by 6:00 am, another 200 by 8:00 am, etc) I’ll go on strike.

I don’t mean my brain will quit and start picketing or anything. What happens is my stomach hurts when I think about whatever it is that goal is set about, so I don’t think about it. (Yep, I’m weird. Don’t let anybody tell you different.)

I’ve learned over the years not to get too controlling with my goals. (One year I called them suggestions, but it didn’t help much.)

Trouble is, if you don’t set goals, you’ll never know when you reached them. What’s a person to do?

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Well, how about making them fun? For instance, I really enjoy Greer Garson movies. (I told my husband once that if we had a baby girl, I’d name her Greer. I think he was glad we were past the baby making time in our lives.)

 

In fact, I’ve never seen her in a movie I didn’t like. Why  not set a goal to see every movie Greer Garson ever made? I might do that, but it’s not really going to do me a lot of good to achieve that goal since I’m not a movie critic or film maker.

I might just keep that goal, but only because it’s FUN. Something I want to do because I want to do it. What’s that got to making goals that’ll work for me?

If my goal is something I think is fun, something I love doing or something I’m passionate about, then I’m absolutely going to keep it.

I could make a goal that says, “Grind out three (hard-to-write as well as boring for me) books this year” or words that’ll make me feel that. If I do, I can pretty much guarantee you, I won’t reach it.

But if my goal says, “Write three fun books involving engaging, delightful characters I love spending time with as well as plots that keep me humming from the start to the very end,” I might just do it. 🙂

So for me, attainable goals are ones I enjoy. I might even write something about what Heaven on earth would look like for me. “Wake up each morning with a smile, overjoyed to get back to the story bubbling inside me, anxious to spend fun time with my Savior, my family and my friends, and dance off to work each day where I accomplish meaningful, enjoyable tasks and earn a fair wage–not necessarily in that order.”

My goals would come from that. But I probably won’t call them goals. I’ll be more likely to get where I want to go if I call them something else like, GAMES, PLAYTIME, JOY or GLEE.

This year, instead of making a list 1, 2, 3 . . .  I could print out the words in large pretty letters and pin them, helter-skelter, on my corkboard.

Some of the fun things I want to do this year? Take a photography class. Start the Christian House series sitting in my brain. Find a fun and painless way to write a synopsis. (Is there any such thing? If so, please LET ME KNOW!) Be a beach peach for a week.

What fun things do you imagine doing this next year?

Are you a strict, list making goal setter or a lazy  laid-back free spirit glee setter?

Just asking.

 

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Christmas Day

It’s Christmas! (In case some of you might have missed the date. hehe)

I was MIA last week. Sorry about that, but hubby and I were in Nashville celebrating our anniversary. We stayed at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. VERY impressive. And huge! The below picture is just one small part of the hotel.

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Of course they were decked out for the holidays, with lights and decorations hanging from the ceiling and Christmas trees everywhere. Check out that roof line. Wow.

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I sincerely appreciate the effort it took to wrap the outside trees and shrubs in lights.

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Despite all the hustle and bustle, I haven’t forgotten the reason for the season. Neither did Opryland.

The one thing that impressed me the most was the nativity scene out front. Here are some pictures taken during the evening.

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Here’s a shot during the day.

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They also had an audio telling of the birth of Jesus.

It was a great trip and we had terrific weather the entire time. Today? Um, not so much.

Depending on what the roads look like, we may or may not be spending the day with family. 😦  If you have to travel, be extra cautious and stay safe. We care about you.

Merry Christmas, everyone!!

HO, HO, HO!

This is the time that as a writer I love…and hate. I love the decorations, the lights, and the excitement. There’s the feeling of good will and peace on Earth. Families who may rarely talk with each other because of busy lives get together to share holiday meals. And, of course, there are the presents.

And those are the reasons I HATE the holiday season. All these things can really cut into writing time. Baking, buying, wrapping, decorating. Right now, I’m writing this blog while finishing up my Dad’s laundry and fruitcake in the oven. But it’s important that we celebrate this season.

Writers tend to be solitary creatures. Most of us do have families, but truthfully, when mid-project, we spend long hours with our characters. Even when we’re away from our computers, we have our stories simmering in the back of our brains. But this is a good time, not only to reconnect with life, but with year’s end approaching, writers need to re-assess.

Have you made your goals for the past year? Is your career where you want it to be? What about the coming year? What goals need to be set and will there be major life changes that might sidetrak you?

All in all, a season to love…and hate.

Sunrise, Sunset

Not much news going on here. I finished my final step on A HERO TO COME HOME TO — the page proofs — and am now concentrating on the next Harlequin book. It’ll be out next Agust — that gives me books in April, June and August — and it just got titled last week: COPPER LAKE ENCOUNTER. I’m putting my words into the book, so I don’t have much to say here today. Instead I decided to share a picture from my last walk.

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A SIMPLE REQUEST

This will be a short blog because my heart is too heavy. I know that Friday’s tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School affected us all. I am not just a mother and fellow human being, but spent 33 years caring for sick and injured children. While the rest of the world reels from the horror, those of us who deal with children and guns have an added pain. Have you any idea of the damage weapons of this power can do to small bodies? Trust me, it’s not an image you want in your head.

That said, I’m going to make a simple request. No finger pointing. No shrill demands. No offer of a quick solution to a complex problem. Just one simple fix.

Do whatever has to be done so our children are safe, no matter where they go.

Fix the gun laws so only responsible people have access. Improve the mental health facilities provide the services so badly needed. Forget politics. Forget agendas. Ignore fears, prejudices, and pre-conceptions. Just work together so that we never have to live with another school shooting.

Whatever it takes…work together and fix the problem.

No more dead children…please.

Deadline: Christmas

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Santa: (Ho, ho, ho!) What do you want for Christmas, little girl?

Me: Oh, Santa. I want more hours in my day and more energy so I can fill every minute of those hours. I want to be the perfect gifts for my family and friends, I want to be the quintessential employee, and the best author since Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament. I want to out Martha Ms. Stewart, and for my spiritual life to show without me ever opening my mouth, and to meet challenges head on and conquer them.

Oh, and I want grandchildren. (Hey, he asked.)

Santa: (Ho, ho, ho!) Sorry kid. Only one wish to a customer.

Me:: Okay, I want more time in my day.

♥  ♥  ♥

As of this morning, it’s ten days to the Christmas deadline. I don’t know about you, but for me, CPM just set in. (CPM=Christmas Panic Mode.) I did read something this morning that helped a ton. It’s from Loops, the knitting store I frequent.

Don’t listen to anyone who tells you it’s the last minute.  You’ve got more than 15,000 minutes to go!  Plenty of time for all the knitting you need to do.

Great attitude, huh? (Faulty math if it was written today, but fantastic attitude.)

So how do  you take advantage of those 15,000 minutes?

How do you meet that Christmas deadline? (I do not want to learn where the word ‘deadline’ came from.)

Most of the time, when we start doing something new (such as writing or going to school) we have to do it in addition to what we’re doing already. If we aren’t careful, the things that are important to us are forgotten until it’s too late.

What do you do?

Only what you’ve gotta do to get where you gotta go, and make it easy on yourself. 

  1. Minimalize the decorating. If you still need to decorate, consider putting up only one tree instead of one in every room  like you did before you started writing (or whatever it is that’s taking up your time.)
  2. Buy a candle that smells like Christmas to you. Even if you don’t have the house looking the way you’d like, the fragrance will make the entire family feel Christmassy.
  3. If you normally bake cookies for everyone in your neighborhood, cut down the list, or give each family fewer cookies.
  4. Wrap the gifts as soon as they get to your house.
  5. Use gift bags. It’s faster than wrapping.
  6. If you must wrap, set up an out-of-the-way wrap station. It’s easier than having to hunt down the paper, tape and ribbon each time you get ready to roll.
  7. Let others help. It might not look exactly the way you want it to, but that’s the thing of fun Christmas memories.
  8. Find out from your family what it is that tastes like Christmas to them. Decorated sugar cookies? Fudge? For me, it’s cashew caramel corn. And fudge with pecans. And John Vinson Cookies.) Fix only what they truly love, and forget the rest. (You don’t have to fix Divinity every year, just because your mama did.)
  9. Just before you open the presents, give each person a trash sack. (Easier to stash the trash now than to do it all at once, and fewer small gifts get lost that way.)

If at all possible, find ideas to make your “new” Christmases as much or more fun than the old.

  1. Christmas morning, hand each guest a disposable camera. Keep them when they leave, download the shots and share the best by having copies made and sharing them in not-too-expensive photo albums.
  2. Tell each guest to bring a plate of goodies, wrapped. (It can be anything from a cheese ball to a plate of fudge.) Play Dirty Santa (the swipe-a-gift game) with the goodies. At the end of the game, everyone shares the goodies. If there are any left, each person’s goodies go home with the one who got it in the game. They get to keep the container, too. (And you don’t have to make all the goodies yourself.)
  3. Christmas memories–HAPPY Christmas memories. Each person tells the story of their happiest Christmas. (Guilt tripping the parents in this game is an automatic disqualification.)
  4. Christmas movies–We like to put a DVD of our favorite Christmas movie on to play with the volume turned low. We might not watch it, but we can watch it now and then, and turn it up when it gets to our favorite parts. Our family favorites are Christmas Vacation and Christmas Story.

What’s your favorite way to make Christmas fun?

Adventures in Writing: the Mom Years, Part 2

60021_155207424504348_100000452755006_366987_7349827_nLast week, I blogged about writing while juggling family obligations. Here are a few more tips for managing your word count while raising kids:

–Explain what you do to your children as early as you can. Be specific and talk to them in ways they can understand. A two-year-old cannot see that Mommy needs to have 90,000 words edited and turned in by next week, but a teenager with homework can understand that you have a deadline and need to do certain things to reach it.

–Have a place for them near where you work. Whether you’re a kitchen table writer or have your own office, provide a spot where children can sit and do their own thing. It can be a desk, a corner or whatever. When I had my office, I had a sofa in there. My kids could hang out, read, nap, whatever, and they were with me. It was their space, which made them feel like they weren’t banished even when I wasn’t to be interrupted unless there was blood or the house was on fire–but I digress :).

–In conjunction with the previous tip, keep a calendar–preferably in a public place like the fridge. If you’re already doing this with your family, then great. Add your word count goals to the calendar just as if they were another family event such as soccer practice or a dental appointment. LOL–and sometimes it does feel like the latter, doesn’t it? If you’re a “pantser” and don’t have weekly or monthly goals, then at least put your deadline up there for all to see.

–Buy a crockpot. Use it. BBQ sauce or salsa thrown over frozen chicken breasts becomes a gourmet meal in 6-8 hours. Trust me on this.

The bottom line is this: To quote my son Jacob, “Life is too short.” Spend time with the people you love. Forgive yourself when you don’t get everything exactly right. Those are the ingredients to a life well lived. And, if you can write a few good books along the way, even better.