The end of 2016 was difficult for me (as I know it was for many people). I was distracted (and scared) by politics, I was caught up in the general busyness of the season, and I was not writing (or even reading much). As I thought about the closing year, the things that stood out for me were all negative: the election; my step-brother’s death; the staggering number of celebrity deaths. It seemed the list went on and on.
But then I thought about all the positives from 2016: lots of time with loved ones; my daughters, who are growing into such wonderful young women and who continue to amaze me with their generosity of spirit; my marriage, which is strong and loving; my improved health beginning last spring (something I do not take lightly); my dear friends and family; my ability to run again; a growing editing business; my teaching and students, who are doing amazing work; and last, but not least, my bass guitar. (I’m still taking lessons, just had my bass “set-up,” and am practicing for an hour most days. I’m a little addicted, actually. More on that in another post.)
Taking stock of all the positives from last year has helped me shift my attitude. That is not to say I’m not still terrified by the state of the union and world or that I plan to be complacent about any of it. I will petition and protest and speak out for human rights, for equality, for the environment, for education, for compassion and understanding. But I know that I also need to take care of myself by doing the things that make me feel more balanced: getting plenty of sleep; feeding my body with healthful foods and drinks; getting lots of exercise; and reading and writing, daily.
As I’ve learned many times (yet apparently need to learn again), I’m not myself if I’m not writing. I used to be very strict with myself about not logging onto any social media or news sites until after I’d done my writing, but I’ve gotten lazy about that. And it’s almost impossible for me to write after social media splinters my attention. So I’m going to reinstate my ban on social media (and news and petitions) until after I’ve done my own writing. I’ve also realized that I need more than an hour a day to really dive into my work. When I’m on deadline with an essay (which hasn’t happened in a while), I hunker down on the couch with my computer and books until I find my way through the mess of words. I miss doing that (and maybe I miss short creative nonfiction, too; again, another post).
I’m a freelancer, so I should be able to set aside out a whole day (or at least four hours) for my own writing, but somehow I don’t do that. It’s true that I’m busy and my work days are short, but my goal for this year is to carve out a large chunk of time for my own writing each week. Somehow I know this will help me stay grounded as I move into this uncertain new year.
What will help you stay balanced in this new year?