Monday, January 7, 2013

Taking Stock

It's a new year. First Monday of the year, most people are back at work. I'm taking stock of where I've been and getting a little more concrete about where I'm going. Over the past year, I've:
  • rested and recovered from a stressful job
  • educated myself about making a living as a self-employed person
  • read several books on discovering and pursuing one's bliss
  • attended seminars and programs related to possible directions for my career
  • read several well-written novels -- for enjoyment and to see how it's done
  • gotten into the habit of daily walks and twice-weekly yoga classes
  • lost enough weight to drop one full jeans size
  • decluttered my kitchen and done several small maintenance projects around my home
  • completed a small mosaic tabletop and a tapestry toss pillow
  • started making a small table out of my old college textbooks
  • started the design on my next tapestry
  • discovered a couple dozen online friends from around the world who share a common interest in the ongoing saga of Andrew De Leon
  • bought a guitar and started relearning my notes and chords
  • published two short stories
  • written a feature story on science careers (will be published soon)
  • learned to use Twitter and become a lot more proficient in using Facebook
  • kept up this blog and a daily journal, and begun putting these together as a book
  • completely redesigned and updated my website, with a lot of help from my sister Linda, a talented graphic designer
  • rediscovered the joy of spontaneous day trips, local musicians, and three-hour lunches with friends
Last March, I posted that I felt unfocused and directionless, like a river that had overflowed its channel and spread all over the place. Since then, I've started carving out some new channels for myself. I spend some time each day writing and doing physical exercise. I am still a member of the discussion group that's been meeting twice a month for the last ten years. My eating and sleeping habits are much healthier. Several of my friends have commented that I look happier and more relaxed. Someone even told me that I look ten years younger! (The top picture is me in January 2012, and the bottom picture is from November 2012.)

Over the next several months, I will be contacting several organizations that I have identified as potential outlets for my writing. I'm checking out several agencies that specialize in writers and other creative people. I'm signed up for a six-week writing workshop, and I bought a book on "how to blog a book".

I'm also paying more attention to friendships and spending time with people I enjoy. I'm more receptive to going out and doing things now than when I started this adventure a year ago.

I'm currently conducting an impromptu survey of friends from my various social circles asking them to complete the sentence: "Nancy is my go-to person for _____." Interestingly, none of the responses so far mention my technical knowledge, editing skills, time management abilities, or any of the other talents that were so useful in my previous career. Instead, the responses mention wit, insight, humor, creativity, rationality, carefully considered opinions, and the like. I'm taking this as a sign that I need to build these elements into the line of work that I pursue. If people are already looking to me for these things, then shouldn't I be including them in the efforts where I spend most of my time and energy?

If 2012 was a year of healing and exploration, then 2013 will focus on love and money, and how best to integrate the two. I need to make a living, but I also need the dear people and passionate pursuits in my life. I can't call my book "Eat, Pray, Love" -- that title is already taken. Perhaps I should call it "Heal, Explore, Thrive". That seems to capture the adventure so far.


  1. I like knowing you've found a much more healthy, enjoyable and fulfilling track. I guess now you get to look around and see exactly where it's led. That will be fun!

    Maybe we both need to track down this book "Switch" that I mentioned over on Facebook. They talk about picking your Three Words for the year, and I like the way they present it: the elephant, the rider and the path:

    "Think of three words that sum up what you want to work actionably on changing/improving in the coming year. It works best when the words are positive in spirit and not negative. For instance: “Fat” isn’t exactly a great word, but “Fit” would be better. Think of words that give you more than just a simple goal. For instance, instead of “fit,” I’d look to go with “athlete” or “marathon runner” or some person that connects you to those goals.

    The idea is to look deeper than a single goal and try to give you an entire mindset to contemplate. The Heath Brothers in their book, Switch, talked about needing three elements to bring about change: a rider (your plans and intents), the elephant (what your mood will do no matter what your plans say), and the path (the environment within which you intend to implement those changes). The concept of the three words is like the path. Think of a word that gives you the HUGE picture, not the small picture."

    I've read some of the excerpts of this book on Amazon and I definitely want to track it down. It looks to have some really good insights on motivation, and how failing to accomplish something by willpower isn't because of laziness, it's because willpower is a finite and depletable resource -- and depending on what else you've had to do all day, you may or may not have any left for something else. (Which is, I think, why I have a hard time accomplishing anything after a full day at work!)

  2. I love the book title. I have often thought through the year that we have interacted on FB that I admire your ability to self-structure to do the things that you want to do and feel are important. I admit that I use my work to structure me, and have even felt relieved to return to work after a weekend because I wasted the weekend sleeping or doing little to nothing that I hoped to do. I use needing rest as an excuse. From looking at your before and after pictures, I realize that I often look more like the first. With my husband working in Italy this year, I have taken four vacations (first time ever that I have used all my leave time in a year). He always comments at the end of each trip that he can tell that I am relaxed because he can see it in my face. I am sure that this is only the beginning of what it could be. Thank you for opening up your life to friends and sharing your experience. I really admire your willingness to jump of the merry-go-round, and will pray for your next steps.

  3. I'm getting so much affirmation, from the blog comments here, via email, and from people talking to me directly. Your encouragement keeps me going. I'm not through this thing by any means, but I'm starting to get some specific ideas about what direction I will be going in over the coming year. Becoming self directed feels a little like being a toddler learning to walk. It's not especially graceful, but the more I do it, the better I get.

  4. And... a delicious little piece of serendipity. My friend Kathy sent me this link to a half-hour video on creativity by John Cleese. The text on this page contains some jewels of wisdom extracted from the video, if you don't have a half hour to watch the whole thing. (If you don't have that half hour, maybe you should rearrange your schedule so that you do.)

  5. You'll get through it, I'm sure. It's not the Bataan Death March or the Cherokee Trail of Tears.

  6. I just found your blog and want to say thank you! What an enjoyable time looking through so many sites. It is really nice post thanks for sharing and just keep up the good work!
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