Category Archives: Life

Setting achievable goals for 2013

This article will print on Friday, December 28, 2012 in the Press Democrat.

You know what I love about the new year? It’s a chance to start over, to create something huge, to make a difference in at least one life, even if that life is merely yours — especially if that life is yours.

It’s a fresh start, a clean slate, a time when we can say all those cupcakes we indulged in don’t count because it’s the first day of a new year and better eating habits start today!

The beginning of a new year can mean anything, because there is no baggage tied to it. OK, maybe there is, but for one day you can pretend that nothing stands in your way as you plan out the next 12 months and promise that this is the year to make something happen.

The world is your oyster, and you, my friend, are the pearl.

This might be the year that you write that book you’ve been holding inside you. It could mean that you save that huge sum of money meant for the down payment on a computer, or a car, or even a new house. Perhaps this is the year that you get your grown kids out of your house, or maybe the year that you conceive your first child. This is the year that you can do something so impactful that it changes your life forever. And you know what? I hope you do.

But it takes more than hope to make things happen. You can hope for the things you want as hard as you can, but nothing is going to happen unless you put the work in. Trust me, I’ve been hoping for rock hard abs and buns of steel for years, and well…  A popular saying puts it bluntly by defining insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

If you expect change, you are going to have to change your ways. But how?

First off, no one is perfect. Got that? Now memorize it. You’ve had a lifetime to engrave all your bad habits into your way of life. Erasing those engravings is not going to be an overnight process. It’s going to take a lot of time and dedication to exchange your bad habits for good ones. It may even be a struggle you have to deal with for the rest of your life. But it’s not impossible.

The first step is to become an expert in the goal you have set. Writing a book? Research everything you can about your subject through other books that fall in the same category and through people who have experienced what your characters are going through. Learning a new language? Watch movies, read books, and subscribe to a newspaper that is in the language you are studying. Preparing for your first marathon? Surround yourself with people who have the same goal and can give you tips on how to succeed. Whatever your dream, immerse yourself in it fully, allowing it to become your biggest interest so that failing is not an option.

Next, set reachable, incremental goals for yourself. Let’s say you want to lose 50 pounds in 2013. OK, that can definitely be achieved in 12 months’ time. But if you look at that weight as a whole 50 pounds, it becomes a daunting task. Instead, break that number up into steps, like 5 pounds a month, adjusting as time goes on, if necessary, and you’ll feel like “Yes, I can.”

The third step is to create a plan. You’ve set a goal, now how do you plan to achieve it? Most resolutions fail in the first month of a new year because there was never a plan that spelled out how to achieve it.

If you’re writing a book, set aside a specific time every day to sit down and write. If you’re trying to lose weight, start out slow with diet and exercise, increasing your efforts as your stamina and nutritional needs change. If you’re trying to save money, decide on a specific amount from each paycheck and set it aside as soon as you get paid.

When the going gets hard, remind yourself why you set this goal in the first place. Write it down so you can read your reasons whenever you feel it’s an impossible dream to accomplish. Create a cover for the book you’re writing, or set up a “dream board” that includes an image of the object you’re saving money for. Use these objects to visualize the end result of all your hard work so that you can feel what it’s like to actually achieve your goal.

Finally, believe in yourself. You can do this. You deserve this.

Let’s make 2013 the year to realize our dreams!

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Life at 35

Well, the worst is over.  I turned 35 today and I didn’t die in my sleep from old age.  Happy birthday to me.

Here’s what 35 looks like:

I always struggle with my birthday before it happens, usually ending up a pathetic mess of tears on the night before or the morning of my birthday. Each number I increase in is one more number away from the time I had less crow’s feet around my eyes, less sparklers in my hair, and less sag in my behind. You know, that age when I took it all for granted. The time before the big day, I spend it in a constant state of mourning. In fact, Shawn almost laughed at me in my misery last night, telling me he couldn’t understand how someone who professed so strongly about the power of positive thinking ala Wayne Dyer was actually focusing so intently on getting older and withering away. I had to remind him that he was a rather big baby when he didn’t get enough sleep or his bank account was lacking, and that he really should be more gentle with me because I was in a rather fragile state of mind.

Of course, once my birthday is actually under way, I’m able to get out of my self-induced misery and enjoy a day that’s all about me. Each text, Facebook comment, and phone call has made my day so incredibly special, how could I even be depressed? Besides, there are tons of really great bonuses to turning 35. Like, I can now be president of the United States!

American Me

I don’t know, President Crissi has kind of a nice ring to it. Nevermind that I don’t have any experience in government. Look at the mess those WITH experience are creating? I might just be the answer to turning things around. First order of business? Declare Mondays a mandatory day off with pay. That should turn the economy around.

But seriously, this upcoming year has some exciting things coming my way. And it will be interesting to see if it can overcome the greatness of 34 – when I got married to my best friend! But 35? There are lots of things to look forward to.

And in Top TEN fashion, here are my favorites of things I can’t wait for, and things I resolve to accomplish before 36 rears its ugly little head:

10. It’s the year of the story book. You guys, I am in love with this latest craze of taking childhood storybooks and twisting them into something dark and so rock & roll. I love the TV show Once Upon a Time (in spite of the absolutely horrendous acting). And same with every other movie that’s been created from fables and stories. Of course, we’ll just ignore the fact that all of them have been bombs, ok? Because HANSEL & GRETEL is going to be expanded upon in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. I can thank my lovely daughter for alerting me to this fact just this morning, before we proceeded to drool over the epicness of the trailer. Besides the fact that is freaking awesome and totally kickass, you just can’t go wrong with Jeremy Renner. This movie is going to be awesome.

9. And on the movie note, we also have the 2nd book of the HUNGER GAMES (omg!), Les Miserables, The Great Gatsby, Beautiful Creatures, Oz The Great and Powerful (below), and Warm Bodies to look forward to.

8. Getting back on the wagon. Ok, I have whined about it enough. This is the year I get back out to pound the pavement and get back in the shape I was in just a few months ago. It’s not like I have much to make up for. I can do this!

runner

7. Excelling at work. My job is pretty cool. I get to manage the websites for both SantaRosaMom.com and 707.pressdemocrat.com. I get to write both parenting and entertainment articles. I get to peruse the internet for material. I am in charge of our events calendar and of any contest that rolls our way. I have a lot of responsibility. But you know what? Almost all of it is really fun. I’ve come a long way from where I once was. And this year I see myself making even more leaps and bounds professionally. That makes me really excited about this next year.

6. Read more.  That’s right, along with #8 of getting rock hard abs, I also plan to sit on my ass more and put my nose in a book.  With my new eReader (a Nook), this shouldn’t be too hard.  Currently I’m breezing through The Life of Pi (loving it).  Next up, by recommendation from another blogger, is The House of Mirth.

5.  Write another book.  Because why stop at 3 rough drafts?  As I finish editing my latest novel, I already have a few ideas hitting me from all directions.  It might be at next year’s NaNo, or it might be sooner.  But writing books is about to not just be a thing I’ve done, but a thing I DO.

typewriter

4. Celebrate one year of marriage on October 13, 2013.   🙂

(photo by Lisa Baylacq)
(photo by Lisa Baylacq)

3. Take tons of vacation time! Joining the Writer’s Guild this year gave me a few added benefits in my job, and that included upping my vacation time. Now I will be able to accompany my son on his 6th grade camp, be a chaperone at my kids’ summer camp, and even have a little time left over to visit my sister for an extended weekend in San Diego. And that brings me to #2…

2. Hawaii! This year, Shawn and I have plans to take the whole family to Hawaii. Since we are still paying off the honeymoon, it might be a little bit of a stretch. But we’re still bound and determined to make it happen. And you know what? I really can’t see any reason why we shouldn’t be able to.

1. And, of course, my book HAS to be #1. This is the year. I am almost through with the 2nd set of edits on A Symphony of Cicadas, and it’s coming together beautifully. I can’t wait to see it on bookshelves – both online and in stores. But mostly, I can’t wait to be able to share it with you! I have tentatively slated May 2013 for the release date, though with all the progress I’ve made, it may be even sooner. We’ll see!

Today is a good day to be 35.  Here’s to making it the best year of my life so far.  🙂

Haunted by a good thing

Have you ever been on the cusp of some very great things, experiencing life exactly as you’ve always wanted to, only to have it also raise in you an unfounded fear that any wrong step will kill you before you reap the rewards?

I have a secret fear of dying right now.

This all started months ago as I planned my wedding, not sure how I got so lucky that I found someone like Shawn and that he actually wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. I became so fearful of dying in a car crash or falling and breaking my neck before the wedding actually happened, I began having nightmares about it. One was so vivid, it became the topic of the novel I’m actually working on now, which I guess is a good thing.

Except I’m still haunted.

This week I was asked to join the Writer’s Guild at work. With the invitation came a promise of job security, decent benefits, an addition to my vacation and sick pay, and a pretty decent pay raise.  It’s just in time, too, because after a wedding we still owe for, Christmas was looking a little grim this year. It answered all my prayers.

Side note: Speaking of prayers, I recently began tithing again, an act of worship I turned away from when the wedding bills were adding up. I got the news about the raise this week, my 2nd week into tithing. Seems I’m always blessed more when I remember the money isn’t mine, but God’s.

Third good thing – the novel. It’s flowing, at times, faster than I can type it. When I stop thinking and just let it happen, the whole thing starts writing itself. I’m at 30,000 words on Day 12, and I love the way it’s going. Waking up at 4am every morning has been effortless so I can type for 3 hours before getting on with the rest of my day. I’m so motivated, I can’t wait to finish writing this so I can start editing last year’s novel and finally get it published.

I’m on fire. My heart feels like it’s about to jump out of my chest over all the exciting things going on in my life, although it might also be the massive amount of caffeine I’m consuming these days. Life is good.

And I better not die before I’ve gotten my fill of it all!

Warm fuzzy feelings

I was the last one to leave the house this morning, taking my time to call for my kitty that has been missing the past few days. I’m trying not to worry. It’s more than likely a neighbor is offering him their couch and a bowl full of food in exchange for a little bit of petting time. Lucci is an incredibly lovable cat, and I have no doubt he would cheat on me for a belly rub. But I miss him terribly and want him home.

He never did come when I called him, so I eventually had to leave. I started to take a different route to work, but felt compelled to go the same route I always go. Before I even hit the freeway I came across a car blocking the roadway with their emergency lights on. I made room for the cars trying to get around it, slowing as I passed to see if everything was ok. In the front seat was an elderly man just sitting behind the wheel. In the back was a man rocking back and forth from his mental handicap.

Normally I would keep driving. I admit it. Almost everyone has cell phones and access to some kind of help. And I don’t know how much help I could offer. So I just keep going. But something was screaming inside of me that this man needed MY help.

I had seen them driving around earlier in the week, the familiar rocking in the back seat giving them away. I remember thinking just how patient the older man must be with that kind of distracting scene going on while he was driving. I think I noticed them earlier this week for a reason because, today, there was no way I could keep on driving.

I made a U-turn the first chance I got, passing them by before I could make another U-Turn and pull up behind them and put my emergency lights on.

“Is everything ok?” I asked him when I reached his window.

“No, thank goodness you stopped! My car broke down and I don’t have my cell phone. I need to call the tow company.”

“How long have you been here?” I asked him.

“15 minutes.”

15 minutes, and not one person stopped. What if I had kept on driving? Even as I pulled out my phone to call the tow company, cars whizzed by us, barely slowing.

The tow company didn’t have a driver, so we were still stuck. I ended up calling the police station to get some assistance and they promised help was on its way. I learned that the man in the back seat was autistic, as the older man told me when I said hello. His son wouldn’t even look at me, but he had stopped rocking.

I left a message with the man’s wife to tell her what was going on, and as I did a young man in his early 20s pulled up behind us. At this point we had been there another 20 minutes. He helped me to push the car around the corner so we weren’t blocking traffic, and then both of us sprinted back to our cars to get them out of the roadway. I pulled up near the man, promising him I would stay close until everything was resolved. His car was still just on the side of a busy road, no longer blocking traffic but still in a precarious position. So I told him I would help him to push it further into the gravel parking lot just down the road. Just as I was wondering how I would have the strength to do it, I heard a voice behind me.

“Do you guys need help?”

I turned around and there was my pastor from church! He recognized me instantly and gave me a huge hug. Then we helped the man push his car into the lot. Before I left, the man’s wife was finally able to reach him. Their daughter was on her way to help him out and drive the man’s son to school, where they were going in the first place. And an officer pulled up next to the man.

I left with a warm fuzzy feeling inside, and a thought: What if I could do something like this more often?

I hold no judgment for those that drove by. I’ve passed by many in their time of need.

The old man and his dog I see every day looking for a few dollars. The hungry and homeless near my workplace who could use a bite to eat. The friend who needs assistance in moving. The mother next door with a colicky baby who could surely use a few hours peace and quiet.

I tell myself that someone will stop or that my help is unnecessary. But what if they don’t?  What if it’s MY help they are waiting for?

Besides, this warm fuzzy feeling is incredibly addicting. While that is my worthy reward for helping someone who was in need, I do hope that a little bit of karma comes my way in the form of my kitty coming home. Just to help it along, I’ve already created the missing posters to place around my neighborhood…