Reflecting and Looking Forward

My husband and I just passed the one year mark since we sold our house, packed up and moved to the Florida coast. It was the culmination of close to two years of work to downsize and simplify. I admit I envisioned calm, serene, simple days ahead during which I’d take leisurely walks on the beach and write flowing prose. Well, 2016 had other things in store.

new-years-eve-1941665_1920My father-in-law got really ill and my husband had to spend three and a half months in Kentucky with him while he was hospitalized and then as he recovered. No matter where you stand, no one can deny that 2016 was a year of upheaval and too much ugliness. We also lost a lot of iconic figures from my youth. It was so bad that people began to dread seeing a person’s name trending on Twitter or Facebook, afraid they’d also been claimed by 2016. I mean, it was truly a sucky year for celebrity deaths. George Michael was one half of the duo Wham, whose album Make it Big was the first cassette I ever bought with my own money. I grew up with the original Star Wars series, so Carrie Fisher’s death was traumatic. And the cast of my all-time favorite show, Firefly, will never be able to all be together again since we lost Ron Glass, who played the wonderful Shepherd Book. On top of all this, I began suffering from a particularly nasty case of burnout. Where once I could write 15 pages a day with little problem and turned in my books early, I struggled to get two books finished and turned in on their due dates. I wasn’t late, but it felt like it to me. Cutting it that close causes me stress.

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At the National Naval Air Museum on Pensacola Naval Air Station, home to the Blue Angels.

But the year wasn’t all bad. I did go for walks on the beach, bought myself a beach chair and umbrella and would sometimes take them to the beach to work. Though I still really miss my friends in Nashville, I got into a pretty regular schedule of long lunches with the two other writers I know in this area, Lenora Worth and Sherry Lewis. My husband and I have done a little exploring, visiting the National Naval Air Museum in Pensacola and the lovely Eden Gardens State Park in Santa Rosa Beach. I met some really cool actors at DragonCon, including a personal favorite, Arthur Darvill from Doctor Who and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. I attended my first writing conference in two years in September. And contrary to my natural tendency to want to please people, I got up the courage to renegotiate the delivery dates on the final two books on the current contract so I didn’t have a mental meltdown. The relief I felt after doing so was tremendous. I felt like I had time to take some deep breaths, not work over the holidays and take some time to refill my empty well of inspiration.

The fishing pier and beach a couple of miles from our apartment. A lovely place to go walking.

The fishing pier and beach a couple of miles from our apartment. A lovely place to go walking.

Before moving, January was one of my two least favorite months. In Tennessee, it is often gray and cold. I hate being cold and the gray weather was depressing. Today (it’s Jan. 11 as I write this), here in Florida it was sunny, in the 70s and I had the windows open. This difference helped me to make plans for the year ahead. Yes, there are goals related to writing, but I made the decision to not push myself so much and to do some fun things I’d been putting off. Thus, I signed up for a beginning sewing class (with the idea of eventually being good enough to make my own cosplay outfits) and I’m getting back into genealogy, including doing one of the Ancestry DNA tests to learn more about my family history. I’ve already signed up for the Novelists, Inc., conference this fall, and I’ll be attending the Romance Writers of America conference in Orlando this summer. And Disney fan that I am, I plan to have some Disney parks time in there too since the conference is being held on property. I’ll be back at DragonCon, letting my geek girl flag fly with my geek girl peeps. I set a goal on Goodreads to read 50 books this year, and I plan to meet that goal.

goal-976853_1920And if I don’t finish everything on my to-do list each day? Well, I’m going to try not to stress about that. One of my main goals is to alleviate all the stress that is under my control. I think I’ll be happier and healthier. I’m going walking every day and listening to books and writing-related podcasts. Basically, I want to craft my days so that I lead a happy, well-rounded life.

Do you plan for the year ahead? If so, did you approach anything differently this year?

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