Art, Blogging, Creativity, Encouragement, Family, Forgiveness, Gratitude, Inspiration, poetry, Writing

Five Reasons to do a Year End Review

by Martina Rathgens, flickr.com CC
by Martina Rathgens, flickr.com CC

“Out with the old, in with the new.” I don’t like that saying for several reasons, mainly because many old things have value.

But, there is also truth to the phrase. Making room for the new is worthwhile.

A year end review (let’s give this an acronym: YER) is all about looking back. Not to criticize or judge yourself and not necessarily to reflect on what you accomplished but to look back and see what you did and did not do.

A YER applies to any facet of your life: writing, drawing, poetry, cooking, crafting, (insert passion here).

For me, it’s about reflecting on what I’ve done in my writing life.

Here are my reasons for doing a YER:

1. Discovery- If my writing life is contained in a garage, I envision stepping in and searching through the shelves, opening file cabinets, investigating boxes, and poking about the dark corners.

What did I actually do? Is it what I wanted to spend my time on? Did this satisfy me?

I find notes of support, several manuscript rejection emails, a writing conference receipt, a writing fellowship rejection, numerous blog posts, two books on writing craft, 15 fiction books, several poems and an acceptance letter into a mentorship program.

There’s some valuable stuff in that garage. There’s also some dog poop and pee.

2. Appreciation-Look over what you’ve done this past twelve months, close to 365 days, not with a critic’s eye, but with an awareness of what you’ve done.

Highlight some of your favorite sentences, poems, art. “Oh yeah, I did that,” you can say. Post these items on your bulletin board, computer, or wherever you can remind yourself that you did some good stuff-not that this was easy, but you worked at making good stuff. You persevered.

Appreciate the high points and not so favorite parts of your art. Tell yourself: “I took that risk, didn’t work out, but I learned something.”

Recognize that you committed to something. You pushed the envelope. You took action.

3. Motivation-Where did your motivation come from this past year? Are there common themes or images? Why do you think you delved into these areas this past year? Are you still driven to spend your passion on these areas? What inspires you now?

4. Service- Who did you help or what did you bring to light with your passion? Did you share information, resources, increase awareness, touch someone’s heart, or contribute to a community?

Could you do more? (That’s a loaded question, we know we can always do a bit more).

5. Gratitude-What are you thankful for?

I’m encouraged by your thoughtful blog post comments, for allowing me into your life for a glimpse of your world, for sharing your passion and helping me to fuel my own.

I’m amazed when someone subscribes to my blog, comments, or clicks “like.” Thank you for your time. I know it’s valuable.

Our passions are many times a solitary venture so I’m grateful to have a close knit group of writing friends-women who support, encourage, and critique my fiction writing and efforts.

I’m grateful for the patience my family shows me when they know I need quiet in the mornings, when I don’t answer texts or phone calls before 10 a.m., or when I’m spending time away from my home to write.

By going through this exercise, I found I could pat myself on the back (it’s really okay to do that), gently kick myself for wasting time (social media), and feel motivated to continue on with my writing.

I have big plans for 2015 and I’m excited to get started on new adventures.

 

What are your plans?

 

 

Blogging, Family, Female Offenders, Mothers, Parenting, Parenting our Parents, Travel

Travels with Mom

 

Gingko tree in autumn-flickr
Gingko tree in autumn-flickr

I arrived back to Oxnard, California from Denver yesterday evening from a visit with my daughter. Rain fell the night before, puddling the deck with water. My mother and I stood outside in the cool morning breeze to smell rain and touch the droplets pooled on the banister. California is in a drought and it’s been several months since we’ve had any rain.

The trip provided a look into the fall season with the brilliant yellow Gingko tree leaves, golden hues of Aspen’s and the russet blazes on other trees. I have no idea what kind of trees they are since I was born and raised on the coast.

Traveling with my elderly mom (she would hate that I used that word for her) also provided a look into our coming season. The child is now the mom and the elderly mom is like a child. Before anyone feels miffed about this description, it was said by my mother.

Mom can no longer see, walk, hear or smell very well anymore. She uses a cane and needs a wheelchair at the airport. She hates that she burns tortillas on the stove and can’t see or hear the television unless she sits within a few inches of it and has it on 45 volume.

Her decline in abilities has been in the last three years and for the last two years she’s been saying “This is my last trip, I’m becoming a burden.” 

The inability to do everything for herself is foreign to her, being such an independent woman all her life, and something she struggles against. (I talk about this part of her life here.)

The two things she misses the most? Driving and reading. The freedom to travel anywhere she wants whenever she wants. She is keeping up with progress of the Google Self-Driving Car. I can’t bear to tell her that the commercial sale of these cars is still about five years out. 

Google Self Driving Car

But with the reading loss, Mom is still able to read large print, albeit slowly, with her thick glasses that hurt her nose if she reads more than 30 minutes.

Before we left to Denver, Mom implored me to give her my manuscript to read (Strong Women Grow Here which is about an immigrant teenaged girl in prison). Mom used that “I might not be around to see it published.” Sad, but true.

Given that Mom is legally blind, 12 font on paper is not an option. But, I did figure out how to place the manuscript on my Kindle Fire and enlarge the font so she could see the print.

She read every available minute. Hearing her laugh, or frown, or say, “Ay, that Jester,” (the antagonist) touched me to the heart. We had conversations about prison life for female offenders, effects of abuse, faith and people’s ability to change.

“You have to get this published. It’s important, people will really like the story,” she said.

I love that she is my cheerleader. 

The above led to Mom’s musings about technological changes and how these do not favor the elderly except for her Jitterbug, which she can operate half the time. “They should think about the old people, we want to know what’s going on.”

She’s still waiting to find a computer she can use, because “No one prints photos on paper anymore. They put everything on that ‘Facepage.'” (She calls FaceBook everything but it’s correct name).

“And I want to read your blogging thing. I hear you write poems, is that true?”

So, I’ll see what I can do to find her an easy to use computer with a large lettered keyboard, so she can visit ‘facepage’ and my ‘blogging thing,’ because now her travels will be through a computer screen and her memory.