Off The Hook

I started writing a different blog entry today. I’ve been on a weekly blogging streak since the end of November and felt compelled to get something out today. But the piece I was writing got so bogged down in heavy questions, without a lot of satisfying answers, so I left it for another day.

Once upon a time, I wouldn’t have allowed myself to do that. I’d have forced myself to plod along miserably until I’d made my point and finished my task. But, life is short, time is precious, and I decided it’s ok to let myself off the hook once in a while. It’s one small step in learning to take better care of myself.

What about you? When was the last time you let yourself off the hook for something? With no guilt allowed? Beating yourself up for what you haven’t done is highly overrated, you know. Nobody wins.

So, instead, I’ll say: It’s Sunday afternoon, the last day of February. The snow cover outside is shrinking, and I actually saw green daffodil tips poking out of an exposed patch of garden earlier. Spring is coming. And I’m good with that. ๐Ÿ™‚

First Month Check-in

We’ve come to the end of the first month of this new year. The year still feels new-ish, despite some lingering difficulties from 2020. And it’s a good time to check in with our goals and expectations for 2021. (Notice I didn’t use the word resolutions. Goals sound more hopeful, don’t you think?)

Did you set some goals โ€” general or specific, long or short-term, written down or mentally noted โ€” at the beginning of this year? How’re you doing with them? I’m not here to judge, believe me. Instead, I encourage you to ask yourself that question. And if you didn’t set any goals, it’s not too late, you know. Never is. Like I’ve said before, just make them realistic and achievable.

One of my goals is to create new garden beds before this year’s planting season, complete with rodent-proofing. After several design attempts and pricing quotes, I’ve settled on building them myself (with some much appreciated help). The wood has been purchased, other supplies will be purchased soon, and construction will begin in my daughter’s garage (since that’s where the saw is. ๐Ÿ™‚ ) It feels good to take steps toward the final goal. Each step is an accomplishment in itself.

I’ve also made progress on some of my writing goals already (although a few have been put off until after the garden beds are built). Today also marks the end of Storystorm, hosted by Tara Lazar, a realized goal of mine in which I had to come up with a picture book idea every day for the month of January. Challenging! And another goal is to create a collage using a new (to me) painting technique. Again, I’ve taken steps in the direction of this goal. (See the photo above.) It’s been fun, stretching my creative muscles! And it’s been a great distraction on cold, snowy days.

Setting goals and reaching for them is worth the effort. However, life is a process, and sometimes goals need to be revisited, adjusted, and refined. That’s ok.ย  But I encourage you to care for yourself, and those around you, by living with purpose, setting goals and taking daily or weekly steps toward them. Every small accomplishment can be satisfying. And if you’ve taken steps toward one of your 2021 goals, give yourself credit. Celebrate your success. And have a happy new year!

Gratitude Spiral: Day 364

Today, I’m grateful for all of you who read this blog.

I appreciate that you are reading this Gratitude Spiral, whether you’ve followed it from the beginning or joined in somewhere along the way. I hope you’ve been encouraged to consider what you’re most grateful for in your lives. And I’d like to know…

What are you grateful for today?

Gratitude Spiral: Day 332

Today, I’m grateful for the opportunity to focus on the craft of writing.

Sometimes, I spend more time crossing trivial tasks off my to-do list than focusing on what I really want to do, which is to write and to improve as a writer. This weekend’s writers conference is a gift, allowing me to focus on just that for a few days. ๐Ÿ™‚

What are you grateful for today?

Gratitude Spiral: Day 331

Today, I’m grateful for spending this weekend at a virtual writers conference.

Back in the spring, I decided to take a big step (for me) and attend a writers conference. The Hollihock Writers Conference, actually. It was to take place at a hotel on the south shore of Massachusetts in May. Well, you know what else happened last spring, don’t you? So, the conference was pushed to August. But the in-person conference was eventually scrapped, and set up to be virtual instead, at the end of October. So, here we are, and I’m so excited! Thankful for all it has in store. ๐Ÿ™‚

What are you grateful for today?

Gratitude Spiral: Day 304

Today, I’m grateful for today’s agent/editor day sponsored by SCBWI New England.

I’ve never taken part in something like this. I’m excited and a bit nervous. I’ll meet (online, of course) with other authors in a small group, led by a professional editor. We’ll each have the opportunity to share a picture book manuscript and receive feedback from the editor and the others in the group. If nothing else, it’ll be a learning experience. And I’m grateful for it.

What are you grateful for today?

Gratitude Spiral: Day 295

Today, I’m grateful for the small objects I keep on my desk to finger while I’m thinking about writing.

There something about the tactile experience that can help connect the dots in my thinking sometimes. Or maybe my fidgety hands just need a distraction. Either way, I’m thankful for these small treasures.

What are you grateful for today?

Gratitude Spiral: Day 272

Today, I’m grateful for The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

I learned of this book in an online writing class. Although, in my humble opinion, the author goes on for too long about creative blocks (coined ‘resistance’) and what it means to be ‘professional’, he had me at his introduction, titled ‘What I Do’.ย  It made me think โ€” or rethink โ€” what I do. And it gave me the push I needed to organize my time more efficiently and effectively. So, for that, I’m thankful.

What are you grateful for today?

Gratitude Spiral: Day 253

Today, I’m grateful for a good poetry challenge.

Each month, the facilitator of my local library’s Poetry Circle challenges us with a new poetry form to try. This month, we’re to write a Triolet. It’s an eight-line poem with some repeating lines and a few rhyming ones. A good poetry challenge really works the brain and gets the creative juices spritzing! If you want to try one, check out the Writer’s Digest explanationย of the rules. Have fun!

What are you grateful for today?

Gratitude Spiral: Day 246

Today, I’m grateful for the online seminars in creativity that I’ve been able to take in the last few weeks.

So many free or inexpensive offerings of classes and workshops can be found online right now. And each one I’ve attended has left me with a new nugget (or two) of information to help me on my creative path. So, I’m thankful to our local libraries, as well as online writing gurus, for these opportunities. ๐Ÿ™‚

What are you grateful for today?

PS: What’s a Gratitude Spiral?? See how it all began, here.