I’m in Italy right now! Just before I left I finished a deadline and edits! Since I was pressed for time, I hope you don’t mind if I share a post that I wrote a while back. I promise when I get back to share some of the pictures and notes from my travels. Until then, xoxo!
Revisiting The Happiness Project: A Different Way To Look At Goals
In January, I read a book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. It’s an account of how she spent one year “test-driving” the theories and practices of happiness. Before starting her research, she’d had an epiphany: “The days are long, but the years are short.” She realized time was passing and she was not focusing enough on the things that really mattered.
The book resonated with me. As a writer, I find life to be a constant juggling act. I’m always mindful of striving for balance between family and work. More often than I’d like to admit, life gets out of balance. The result: my family and I get very unhappy.
Enter The Happiness Project.
I loved Gretchen’s method: after analyzing what made her happy, what made her unhappy and what felt “right,” she developed twelve personal commandments and devoted one month each and explored short lists (different each month) of resolutions designed to enrich her life and make her truly happy.
Among practical and profound tips for living a happier and more fulfilled life, the book also made me realize that all my New Year’s resolutions and goals didn’t necessarily have to be tackled at once. Why not break them down, assign them specific months in 2013? Why not look at it as my own personal Happiness Project? I set out with the intention to make it easier to achieve my goals without feeling overwhelmed, with the hope of keeping each ball in the air as I add others (after the previous goals have gained traction). As we prepare to enter the last third of 2013, I wanted to share what my goals were and what I have left to tackle in the final third of the year.
Here’s what I’ve been working on:
1. January – Set office hours and guard them
I have definitely been more mindful of “reporting to work.” Because of that, I’ve been more productive this year. I’ve met my Special Edition goals and have been working on some other projects, too.
2. February – Limit social media time to make room for other things in life.
This is a struggle for me. I can get *so* caught up in social media – especially FaceBook and Pinterest. I’ve had to really reign myself in. Sometimes I fall off the wagon, but I get right back on. Many of you know I’ve been MIA on FaceBook recently. I will continue to strictly limit my time until after I meet my October 1 deadline.
3. March - Learn to say, “No, thank you.”
Another difficult task. However, I’ve started to look at time as currency and I’ve been on a pretty strict “budget.” This, along with maintaining my “office hours” had helped me be more productive.
4. April – Mental declutter: Let go of what weighs me down/doesn’t make me happy.
This was one of the best things I’ve done for myself. However, I’m often plagued by “mind squirrels.” I use affirmations to keep the under control.
5. May – Refill the well: dedicate at least one hour once a week to art journaling.
As much as I hate to admit it, this one had been hit and miss. I need to focus on it more. See, by revisiting these goals, I’m reminding myself what I need to work on.
6. June – Make more time for reading
This had been going well. I should’ve kept a list, and I think I’ll start. I want to concentrate more on the classics – one of my goals (not on this list, but on my actual list of 2013 goals was to read all of Jane Austen’s works this year. I’ve read three so far… I have some catching up to do. Right after I finish MY LIFE NEXT DOOR by Huntley Fitzpatrick. It’s one of the best books I’ve read all year.
7. July – Physical declutter part 1: tackling my closet
Just in time for RWA! I did go through my closet and try on EVERYTHING. I sent donated fifteen bags of things I no longer needed. Then, of course, I went out and purchased things for the RWA conference. Not fifteen bags worth, but I didn’t feel as guilty adding more to my closet.
8. August – Physical declutter part 2: tackling my office
This had been interesting. I’ve been deep in deadline since returning from the RWA conference. So, I’ve used the Fly Lady’s suggestion of throwing away or donating seven things every day. It’s a slow method, but I can see the progress. This task will probably stretch to the end of the year.
That’s it so far. I still have the following on the list:
9. September – Time to get healthy – yoga, water and vitamins
10. October – Continuing education
11. November – Gratitude
12. December – Take inventory and plan for the new year
I’ll check in toward the end of the year and report on my progress. In the meantime, have you revisited your 2013 goals? Or what would you like to accomplish between now and the end of the year? I have some books that I brought back from the conference to give to a couple of people who post.
RT Book Reviews gives MY FAIR FORTUNE 4 stars and says:
…Thompson shows us what happens when you pair up a Chicago zoologist and a workaholic Brit in a small Texas town, and it’s quite funny. Her depiction of the tight knit community and family dysfunction was impressive, plus she gives us enough of a series catch up for this to stand alone as well.
UNBUTTONING THE BRIT…
In the business world, Brodie Fortune Hayes is known as a man of no mercy. The all-work, no-play PR consultant is sure he’ll have no trouble correcting the image problems plaguing the Cowboy Country theme park. There’s just one complication: the green-eyed beauty sitting behind the boss’s desk who makes his pulse race like a roller coaster!
Caitlyn Moore never imagined working side by side with Brodie after sharing a most out-of-character night of passion with him a few months before! And now, thanks to her dad’s absence-by-illness, she’s his boss? Brodie’s bottom-line mentality is as infuriating as his blue bedroom eyes are intoxicating—but Cait is convinced that there’s a heart lurking beneath his designer armor. Perhaps she can prove to him that love is the greatest Fortune of all…
Friendships have always been very important to me. I’m very much an introvert in large groups but I crave the close bonds. I think this was started in childhood. My sisters and I are all 18 months apart (I feel I might have mentioned that before!) and my parents were very much 70s mother earth people so we always lived in the “country” with no real neighbours. I’m not entirely sure of this next bit but I think the reason why I often have friendships that are a threesomes is because of this early bonding with my sisters.
In school, outside of the safety of my family unit, I struggled to bond with other people. In my head I’m brilliantly funny and have a lot of things to say, but in reality I sometimes didn’t know how to break the ice and actually say any of those things. I turned to books as an escape and found some new friends. The books I read early on inspired me and helped shape me into the woman I would become. Those heroines like Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew and Meg Murray made me realize that there was nothing I couldn’t do and that I had no real reason to fear trying new things. To be honest I stilly didn’t talk as much to others as I did in my head but I was getting there.
I blossomed out of the school system. There’s a pecking order to high school that I really didn’t fit into. I could have but to be honest I felt–and I think this is partially to blame on all the reading I had done–that I was more mature than my classmates. I wasn’t! But I really felt it. I had my mom make me clothes for school that came from Vogue and Espirit patterns (she used to make all of our clothing) because I felt like I was more fashionable than my small town. Combine stand-out clothing with a very shy girl and you get someone who can’t speak when the boy she has a crush on compliments her on her Japanese print dress. :) I had two very good friends in high school once again a nice safe threesome and we had nothing in common other than we were sat at the same table in Driver’s Ed. But I soon learned that they loved books and reading as much as I did.
As an adult I found my own way. Stopped being so painfully shy that I struggled to talk to others…some say it was the fact that I could legally drink! But the truth is I finally accepted who I was and realized that I had things to say that people wanted to hear. My friendships grew and I found that some of the people I could be friends with weren’t really ones who suited me. Some people take a lot of energy. And as the years go on and I get older I can reflected back on friends I’ve had for most of life and I’m so happy for those bonds.
I used to try to make someone be friends with me. By this I mean, I see someone who I think would be cool to hang out with and then I would invite them to lunch or to meet for coffee and see if my initial impression was right. I tried this recently to not so great results but I think my internal meter was off because I know so few people in the UK. It worked great with Nancy when she joined CFRW all those years ago!
I’ve recently written a series with another friend of mine Eve Gaddy. Eve and I had our friendship cemented over an embarrassing incident! Other people I have become friends with because when I was at my lowest they were there. They just listened and didn’t judge.
Tell me about your friendships? How did you meet your best friends? I’m giving away the complete collection of my Scott Brothers novellas to one lucky commenter.
One of the best things about writing books is that everyone gets closure.
Closure is one of those things you don’t pay attention to until you’re DYING for it. Am I right? So here’s my story on not getting it, and a few words of advice given by friends and the good old Internet.
I had a friend. Let’s call her L. She…well, betrayed is a strong word, but it fits. She turned her back on what I thought was a wonderful and long friendship, and she took something from me (no, not a boyfriend) in a very calculated way, and I couldn’t undo what she did. It was shocking and devastating and required me to scramble to recover from it.
When I finally had time to process what had happened, I told L. how deeply hurt, how stunned, how sick I was that she did this to me. Her answer was very vague…she gave a tepid “I’m sorry if you thought I did something wrong” kind of apology. I waited for more. More never came. Oy! So frustrating!
But maybe worse than that was my embarrassment with myself. I felt like I should’ve known better. Like I was stupid to spend so much time and effort on a friend who didn’t reciprocate the same way. How I kept hoping things would change back to how they used to be, when we really had fun together. I like to think I have good judgment with people, but from time to time, I’m wrong.
Obviously, things were never the same. In my weaker moments, I still think about it, because I never got closure.
Closure is just what it sounds like. You close the door on that aspect of your life and are at peace. It has been dealt with. It’s over. You move forward.
In a book, the friend would say, “Look, I’m sorry. You were a great friend, and I stabbed you in the back, and I’ve regretted it ever since.” That’s what happened in THE PERFECT MATCH and FOOLS RUSH IN and UNTIL THERE WAS YOU, after all, those times when fiction is infinitely more satisfying than reality.
So here are some tips I picked up over the years. If you need closure, I hope they help!
Acknowledge the fact that you were hurt. We don’t need closure on wonderful situations, after all.
Understand that you won’t get closure from this person, because she cannot admit she’s wrong.
Understand you can get closure without her, all by yourself. Hooray! How, you ask?
- Write a letter (but don’t send it!) or have an imaginary conversation with the person. Tell her everything—your sadness, your grief, your anger. It’s good to put those feelings into words. Say aloud in an empty room: “I know what you did, and it’s not okay.”
- Do something symbolic. When I realized I wouldn’t ever have the apology I wanted, I threw away a photo of the two of us, as well as a gift she gave me. I felt cleansed, really. Never again would I see those things and be reminded of her.
- Understand that it’s not personal, no matter how personal it feels. Chances are extraordinarily high that you are not the first to get this treatment, and you won’t be the last. It’s not that you weren’t a good friend, or you were stupid. This is just how she operates.
- Spend time with better people. People who treat you well, reciprocate, enjoy life, laugh. Sometimes, you can almost forget how great friendship is when you’ve gone through something like this.
- Acknowledge (and forgive) your own role in the situation. I knew my friend wasn’t as great as I thought she was. I knew that our friendship was lopsided. I saw the signs, and I ignored them, or figured I was exempt from that side of her. I was a dope that way, and I hope not to be again. I have a trusting nature. That’s not always a bad thing, but it does get me into trouble every five years or so.
- And finally, when you find yourself going over the same old material regarding that person, stop. Open a book. Call a true blue friend. Eat a cookie. You’ve dealt with this. It’s time to move forward.
Any situations in which you wanted closure but couldn’t get it? Any times you DID get it? How did you feel?
Please email me your snail mail addy and I’ll get the book in the mail.
Thanks to everyone who commented!
In the past I’ve listened to motivational speakers talk about giving whatever you’re doing 110%. Often they toss out familiar sayings such as: Do more than is required or Go the extra mile.
While I do give 110% sometimes, I admit there are times when I’m very content to simply muddle along.
Take for example, Pinterest. There are lots of things an author can do on Pinterest. Last year at the Romance Writers of America conference I attended a session that focused on fully utilizing Pinterest. Because I took the notes on my phone, I still have them. Occasionally I think about trying one or two of the things suggested but just haven’t gotten around to it.
Do I go on Pinterest? Yes. Here are some of the ways I use it for my books:
To get ideas about party decorations
Clothing ideas for my characters
Home decor and exterior home ideas
I set up boards on Pinterest for my books where I “sometimes” post pics of who I think my hero and heroine look like, their homes or places of business, clothing etc. Am I consistent in doing this? No. Do I think these boards could be better organized? Yes
The thing is, if I had to give 110% of effort to Pinterest, I’d probably not do it at all. Yet, using it in a way that works for me, allows me to enjoy it.
I’m curious. Is there something you enjoy doing, specifically because you can muddle and not feel as if you have to give it your all?
Everyone who comments will be entered into a drawing to win a copy of the next book in my RX of Love to be released next month.
This story received a stellar (4 1/2 stars) from RT and a lovely review. Here’s a snippet– “this book excels with amazing characters–none better than the star-crossed couple with palpable chemistry. The hero’s mother’s transformation from termagant to kindhearted is unforgettable.”
Please comment and let me know I’m not the only one who muddles…then check back on Sunday to see if you’re a winner!
The MD’s Unexpected Family.