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Review, Reflect & Renew December 31, 2009

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“The object of goals is getting there… the object of dreams is the journey.” Delle Jacobs

New Year’s Eve has arrived and once again I am sitting down to review, to reflect and to renew my personal life map. I prefer to think of setting goals as making a map.

My goals aren’t immovable objects I must reach. They are check points along life’s highway. Sometimes they are easy hills to climb and conquer. Other times they are not. Occasionally, life throws me a curveball, and I have to take a detour which leads to unexpected places. And then my life journey’s GPS signal has to recalculate the route.

All along the way, I bring out my map and see where I’ve gone before I move forward. I adjust my schedule and I set other goals based on the surprises I encounter.

I have a process I use every year which I refined about five years ago when I started a year long journey with three other women who had reached a crossroads with me. We all came from different backgrounds, had different pressures facing us, and we all wanted to take control of our energy and refocus it in a positive way.

We stumbled upon a book called LIFE MAKEOVERS by Cheryl Richardson and decided to embark on going through the book together. By the time I had finished the journey with my friends, I had clarified my need to write and had written my first book. We all benefitted from the book so much, we revisited it again. Now I draw it out to start my new year and cover the chapters that helped me solidify my goals and map out my journey.

So, with all respect and thanks to Cheryl Richardson, here is part one of my goal setting, map making journey. Before I make a new map, I review my past year. I don’t focus on what I didn’t check off the list. I focus on what I accomplished. I write down 25 things I accomplished during the year. The accomplishments are not limited to my writing. They include my life as a mom and as a wife and as a friend. The first year I wrote down this accomplishment: I drove my daughter to school every day. Seems small, but that drive gave us valuable bonding time. And I treasure those moments with her.
Subsequent years have seen more and more writing accomplishments on the list of 25. And that shows I am growing as a writer who is actively pursuing her career.

Second, I narrow down the accomplishments to the top five achievements. Based on the book, I ask myself what qualities they showed in me. How did I grow as a human being? What strengths did they demonstrate? Third, I make a focus statement based on where I want to go on my journey. Yes, I do this every year. This year’s focus statement will probably be very similar to last year’s: I enjoy being bold, courageous and focused as I pursue my dream of becoming published writer. On a personal level, I also write a focus statement: I enjoy being a physically, spiritually and mentally strong person.


Next, again this is based on the LIFE MAKEOVER BOOK, I come up with a top five priority YES list. I usually tweak it every quarter to reflect changes in the family needs and my professional life. This list is vital (and I must admit I needed to review it more often this past year) because it solidifies for me where I absolutely will say NO to outside requests. No explanation. No reasons as to why not. And no guilt. If the request doesn’t fit into my Top 5 Yes Priority List, I simply say, “No.” Try it. Saying no is a heady experience. Sometimes, based on my list, I say, “Yes, but here is what is coming up and I need to know if you are okay with me bowing out should it become necessary.”

Once I have clarified where I’ve been, what I’ve learned and how I want to shine internally, I sit down and make my goal list for the following year. First I write down the top things I want to accomplish based on my focus statement. I do this for my writing and for my personal family life. Then I make a spread sheet and break down my goals into bite size pieces. The spread sheet has each month along the left hand side, a section for writing goals and family needs/goals along the top. This way I can visually see what events are coming. If I have a due date, I add that to the list. I usually tweak this spread sheet every couple of months or quarter of the year.

Now that I’ve told you how I go about setting goals, I want to add a codicil. These are my methods. They work for me. I formulated them over time. And they are bound to ideas learned and culled from other, much smarter people than I. Ultimately, how a YOU assess your life and create your goals for your journey toward your dreams is up to you.

The most important thing to learn from me is Have A Plan. Know where you are going. How we get there will vary. Another important lesson I’ve learned is I need to incorporate WIGGLE ROOM in my personal journey. I need to have a space that’s empty that leaves room for surprises, positive and negative, that might change the direction of my journey.

In 2009, I surprised myself by learning how to Pitch and I went to the RWA National Conference where I practiced my skill. Wow, I got requests. New life path. New little detour. I also surprised myself with adding blogging as a guest blogger as part of the Southern Magic Romance Magicians blog. I started my own, almost daily blog, and I became a writing contest judge. Those items weren’t on my “goal list.” But by allowing myself time to wiggle, I could add them. I also added some items and tasks that I regretted later. But one cannot learn one’s strengths until one learns her weaknesses as well. Now I know what NOT to try next year. Not a bad lesson.

I know 2010 will not be easy to navigate already based on my Father in Law’s illness. There will be unexpected travels, difficult situations to maneuver, and the heartbreak emotionally of seeing a good man felled by cancer. I must allow for wiggle room to bend and flow with those waves. I also know I have a husband who is going to undergo hip replacement surgery in February 2010. I must clear the docks for that event. At the same time I must also continue pursuing my professional goals whenever I can. I must prepare.

And those are only the expected life events. I know much more will happen. Some will be negative, but many other life events will be positive. I want to be ready for them. And the best way I can prepare for the way my journey might detour is to focus on my goals, be prepared for change, and carry a flexible attitude.

So, in a nutshell here’s my process for setting up my journey through each year:

*reflect upon past accomplishments
*make a focus statement that brings you into the new year
*establish a top 5 priority list
*write your goals down and have a plan
*break down your goals into bite size pieces
*review your goals on a quarterly basis
*leave wiggle room for life’s interesting surprises

Life is journey. Enjoy it. Live it. Flow with it. Mark Twain said it best: Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. EXPLORE. DREAM. DISCOVER.


All the best to you as you set your map’s check points for 2010!

 

Catching Up December 29, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — christineglover @ 1:34 pm
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This Christmas break has been busy for me in that we had to travel to Texas and we usually don’t go anywhere during the holidays. While there, I managed to get a lot of work done during the early morning hours. When we returned home, I focused on one thing: my family. This is Christmas and we’re usually busy scrambling all over the place as we run from home, to school, to dance, to voice, to shopping, to friends, to home, to malls, to school, to meetings, to …. to…. to … you name it, and we’re there.

But this is a time to regroup for all three of us. We’re all busy and seriously need time to catch up on our sleep, our time together as a family and on our little this’s and thats that we put off during the busy days.

That’s what I mean by “catching up.” How are you all catching your breaths? Spending more time with family and friends? Reviewing and reflecting on goals accomplished? Reading? Cooking real meals? Fixing little things around the house? Playing games and doing puzzles? This is a season for renewal. And I use it for exactly that one thing.

I know I’ll be busy again and running all over the place in my little truck with Darling Daughter in the passenger seat. I’ll be scrambling to meet my new goals, working toward gathering information for my husband’s upcoming hip replacement, girding myself for my FIL’s upcoming health problems escalating, fortifying my mind for the days ahead, and focusing on generating more words in my writing.

So now, Catch Up Time is very much appreciated.

 

Tis the Day after Christmas and All Through the House…. December 26, 2009

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…. only I am up. I am the early bird of the family and I treasure this time alone. I catch up on emails, forums and blogs. I love the quiet cool air and the hush of the halls. It’s great solitary time to work as well. I am looking forward to using the time wisely in the days ahead as I edge toward the new year.

While we were in Texas, I managed to work on my current WIP. I finished cutting and pasting my last half of the WIP! Amazing what having a hotel room with space, two sleepy family members and being an early riser will do for one’s ability to get work accomplished. So, despite the very sad reasons we were there, I did manage to work, too.

We drove back on the 23rd. That was a very long day. But then we were home and ensconced in our house by 5:30PM. On Christmas Eve I went shopping for food and did laundry (the bane of my existence). We brought down all of our presents and set them under the tree. After cookies and milk and tossing Reindeer Food (my fifteen year old believes in tradition), we were off to bed.

Santa arrived and we all reaped a mighty stash of presents. Woohoo! Then we went off to the movie theater and watched SHERLOCK HOLMES. Oh my, Robert D. is adorable. They did a great job of retooling the old icon. Loved the film. Then it was home to chillax, eat dinner, work puzzles, read, do nothing.

I love this time of year!

I love having time to sleep and do nothing and relax.

I love knowing that when the New Year arrives, I’ll be ready to roll with the current WIP because I committed to writing a little every day, more on some and none on others, but I managed to work a lot in. That’s the key. I will know my peeps when I start up the new year.

I hope you all know your peeps, too! I hope you have a wonderful break, and I hope you have a fabulous new year celebration.

 

Christmas Fun While I’m in Texas December 23, 2009

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I’m pretty busy dealing with family stuff, but even though I am in Texas, I want to say “hi” to all my friends in blog land.

First up, a funny beer band:

Bowen Beer Band does a Christmas Carol

I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas

And a good one, Carol of the Bells, Mannheim Steamroller.

Enjoy!

 

A Little Bit Goes a Long Way December 21, 2009

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I’m in Texas visiting my father in law. He looked much better than I had expected, and was very happy to see us. Fortunately, he is letting DH and his brother drive him to Shreveport to the VA Hospital for his appointment on the 22nd. We’re glad we’re here to help and we know what his plans are for the future. A relief. We shared a photo book I had made for him and gave him a few things like a super comfy track suit and he’s happy to wear it. I always think of Bill as a guy who just knows how to have fun and he’s pretty miffed that this happened, but he’s still got spirit.

Before we went to see him, I managed to work on my current WIP yesterday morning. One of the advantages of being an early riser is having time to work while everyone sleeps. We’re lucky because my DH travels so much we have a free upgrade on our hotel room. So we have two rooms and privacy. I can work without disturbing DD who is a teen and sleeping a lot (their brains grow so much during this time, they have to catch up when they can).

It was good seeing my niece, nephew, his wife and his little girl yesterday. It has been a long time since I have stepped foot in Texas. I had good reasons for avoiding the state, but now I am prepared to come here a minimum of once a year. DD needs to know her Texas cousins. She is their ONLY cousin and now that she is getting older, I think it is important for her to know them. She can already discern why and how we’re different. I think the biggest thing she noticed was the quick judgment they reserve for others. This comes, I believe, from parenting styles and also untapped world view. My DD has a lot of experiences in which she’s traveled to different countries, different states and participated in different cultures. I think this expands her ability to empathize and accept other people’s choices.

Travel expands the mind in much the same way reading expands the soul.

I think that’s why I love to travel myself. And writing is like traveling into other people’s lives and bringing them to the surface. As a writer, I believe I have to be open to differences in others. And I have to be open to accepting their choices. This brings color and depth into my writing. In fact, having lived a lot of different experiences, I believe makes me yearn to write.

Writing is an extension of wanting to understand, accept and bring to light other peoples’ truths.

 

Christmas Reading & Treats December 19, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — christineglover @ 1:39 pm
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The past week has been busy. I’ve been battling another rezoning issue in the real world, helping my teen get through finals week, making and taking goodies to friends, getting ready to leave for TX, shopping for Christmas and wrapping the presents and keeping up with dozens of emails about the rezoning as well as attending the meeting.

But despite all of the hoopla, I’ve managed to do something I haven’t done in a long time. I’ve been reading or pleasure every night this week. While DD finished up her chemistry and pre-calculus homework after studying for her finals, I read and finished one book. Then I started another. For the most part, I was absorbed in the books. And it dawned on me, I do have time to read if I have no noise, TV on and other clacking on their lap computers around me, and my own fingers not doing the same as I try to catch up on my cyber world reading.

Lesson learned. Limit cyber space time to fit in reading time. It’s just that the cyber community is my community of writers. It’s where I tend to go to socialize after I’m done writing. But now that I am taking a bit of a break from writing, I find I am drawn to reading. In fact, I’m reluctant to start up again on the writing because it is so fun to be read and chillax. I know once I start revising, my brain will kick into editor mode and I’ll start dissecting my pleasure books again.

I will have to stop indulging in this pleasure and start writing again. Before I do, let me share the two books I’ve read and am reading.

One is called THE ACCIDENTAL BESTSELLER by WENDY WAX. I bought this women’s fiction book from her at the MOONLIGHT & MAGNOLIA’S conference. She and another author gave a “humor in your writing” workshop. I learned a lot from them. Her book is about mid-list author who is about to lose it all (her contract with her publishing house, her marriage, herself) when her three writing critique partners and friends swoop in to help her fulfill her contract.

The story is well-written, witty and will open your eyes to the world of publishing in new ways. All the writing and publishing industry is rewrapped with new titles, but you’ll recognize them as you read. In a way it’s kind of depressing to read how difficult the publishing world is to navigate, but then it’s great to learn that the friendships made through writing are bonds that aren’t easily broken.

Great book!

Currently, I am reading Christie Craig’s funny, romantic suspense single title, WEDDINGS CAN BE MURDER. I met Christie at the M&M as well. She gave a wonderful workshop about writing and then she shared all her rejections. A mini suitcase of them! She is very inspirational and her life story is incredible. She’s not come to this the easy way and she doesn’t have the background of many other published writers, but she has the chutzpah and the perseverance to make it in this industry. She got a four book deal from Dorchester publishing in ONE DAY.

Now that’s cool.

I like her writing. It’s gritty, fun and keeps you on your toes. Her characters are real, normal and interesting. And her romantic suspense elements are spot on.

Now this post would not be complete with out the treat. Here is my recipe for PRALINE PECANS.

4 cups pecan halves
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 cups dried cranberries or cherries

(I usually double the recipe–if you live in the states, you can go to COSTCO and get the big bag of pecans–it’s exactly 8 cups of pecan halves).

1: preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Grease a 13×9 inch baking pan and set aside. Cover a large cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray; set aside.

2: spread pecans in baking dish

3: combine corn syrup, brown sugar and butter in a small microwaveable bowl (I use my 2 cup measuring cup if I double the recipe). Microwave at high for a minute. Stir. Microwave an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute until boiling rapidly (it’ll bubble up fast ). Stir in vanilla and baking soda until well-blended. Drizzle evenly over the pecans; stir until evenly coated (doesn’t have to be perfect).

4: Bake 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes with a wooden spoon. Immediately transfer mixture to foil lined baking sheet, spreading pecans evenly over foil with lightly greased spatula (I just dump them on there and press them around with the dirty wooden spoon).

5: cool completely. Break with wooden spoon (I use my hands–clean). Combine pecans and cranberries in a bowl and stir well. Divide evenly between tins.

I put mine into cellophane bags and tie with a ribbon. I usually do two double batches (big popular treat here).

Enjoy!

 

AACK Attack of the Busies December 18, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — christineglover @ 10:05 pm
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Due to too  many items on my plate, I must keep this post brief.
Yes, I’ve managed to get through most of the items on my to-do list. Yes, I managed to add another item to it that I really wanted to avoid adding (more trouble). Yes, I think my head is still connected to my body.

No. I haven’t written. No. I haven’t prepared to write. No. I’m not sure what I will accomplish when I do head to Texas.

But I am bringing my work with me and catching up after an insanely busy week filled with internal conflicts and external adventures.

Meanwhile, for your viewing pleasure, I give you The Chipmunks…