A Word and a Winner

Happy New Year’s everyone, and yes, I’ll get to the “word” portion of this post, but first – a winner for my first ever giveaway!

Completely random fishbowl drawing.

Completely random fishbowl drawing.

Kath from the fabulous blog, Minuscule Moments of Inspiration, is the lucky recipient of our random drawing for the book, Gluten-Free Me! A book about celiac for kids, which I reviewed the other week.

Gotta love the mismatched Hello Kitty pjs.

Gotta love the mismatched Hello Kitty pjs.

Please try not to notice how I misspelled my abbreviation of "minuscule."

Please try not to notice my misspelled abbreviation. Handwriting doesn’t come with spellcheck, unfortunately.

Congrats to Kath, but also a huge and genuine THANK YOU to all who entered. After reading everyone’s comments, I really wanted to give everyone a copy. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do more reviews and giveaways in the future. Stay tuned.

Now, for the word… Or rather, many words leading up to the word…

Last year I decided instead of making a resolution I’d chose one word (inspired by this blog) to define and inspire my new year. The word I picked was, nurture. When I was first thinking about this post, it didn’t seem like I had made much of a dent in my goal. After all, one salon hair cut, a handful of manicures, and one Sephora.com make up order didn’t seem like much. But when I gave it more thought, I realized I had done a better job than I gave myself credit for. (Typical.)

What had initially come to mind was the superficial kind of nurture (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but I also made time to nurture my dreams and goals. For example, in the fall of 2013 I attended a writer’s conference where I didn’t know a single person and spent two days immersing myself into a world I had been afraid to reenter.

lwcnyc

I spoke with literary agents about my novel manuscript (hiding in a safe, oh the irony!) for over five years and even read the first page of it during a panel. I was absolutely taken aback when I received some positive comments. And later, after an agent gave me her card I went into a bathroom stall and did a silent scream/happy dance. When I got home, I felt giddy, invigorated, determined, scared, and excited. I pulled out the manuscript and read it through for the first time.

I read Dani Shspiro’s inspiring book, Still Writing (I can’t recommend this enough) and felt like she was speaking to me. There is a passage in the book about procrastination, ah you old false friend, that hit a nerve for me. I didn’t want to procrastinate anymore. I started to feel an urgency that had escaped me before. Time was passing by and if I didn’t start taking my writing life seriously now, when would I?

During this time I decided to work with a life coach – something I never thought I’d do, but I’m so glad I did. Brainstorming ways to improve ME.

If all that isn’t the definition of nurture I don’t know what is.

So, what could be my word for 2014? I thought about balance because I’m struggling to find that right now between mothering and writing. But balance didn’t feel quite right. That word evoked a scale, a shifting of weights, an unevenness, the impossible task of making everything come out even. But most times in life it doesn’t. One side will always tip higher or lower. Since I’ve never been good at multi-tasking, I started to feel anxious. How could I do both? But then I realized something obvious and freeing: I can do both – just not at the same time.

As Kath wrote in her poignant New Year’s post, I See You, I’m a mother first and a creative second. I can’t afford to be lost in my head thinking of plot points or researching dialogue techniques while my children vie for my attention. Both of us lose if I try to multi-task. I’m resentful for being interrupted and my children are resentful at being seen as interruptions.

What Bunky and I can do when I'm present.

What Bunky and I can do when I’m present.

I just read Joan Didion’s wrenching memoir, Blue Nights, a follow up to her equally gutting and flawless, The Year of Magical Thinking. Spoiler alert – kind of, while the first book is about the sudden death of her husband and the illness of her daughter, the second is about her daughter’s death and Didion’s own mortality. She spends much of the book in the past, exploring and dissecting memories of her daughter, Quintana. Part of her wonder and pain revolves around how much time she spent working (i.e. writing) during her daughter’s young life. It’s not so much about regret, but about lost chances. The lost chances of not having been as present as she might have liked for her daughter. Here’s a quote from the book that struck me (italics are hers):

Brush your teeth, brush your hair, shush I’m working.

I get it. I do it. I want to think about my writing, I want to jot down some notes. And sometimes I do. But often at a cost.

What a tug of war us mothers go through.

All this aside, what about the word? I considered perseverance, which is something I will need to finish the edit of my novel and keep writing. But again, no. Too cumbersome, too bulky in the mouth, in my mind. I know, I’m nuts. It’s an English major thing.

Then while helping Little Guy go down for a nap, a time when I’m alone with my thoughts (unless I reach for my cell phone) I figured it out.

open

I imagined what my word should look like, and I saw myself standing with my arms wide open, reaching as if to embrace my children, reaching for the sky. I want to be open to being a present mother, to being a present writer, open to all the possibilities of life.

What do you think your word might be? What does it look like to you?

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23 thoughts on “A Word and a Winner

  1. Dana what an awesome word to live by in 2014, I love it. Wow you sound like you are on the right track with your writing I wish you every success and look forward in receiving my prize. Made my day. Thanks for the link too, its going to be an exciting year of balancing family along with pushing onwards with our hopes and dreams, so glad I found your site.

  2. How great that you were able to really embrace your word for 2013! I hope you are able to do the same this year 🙂 I think choosing a single word as opposed to a resolution is a great concept, because it can be as broad, narrow, literal or symbolic as you like. I’ll have to start thinking of a word for myself this year (Definitely something to ponder!). Good luck with your new word – Niki x

  3. Happy New Year my friend! It sounds like you know what you want and you are going to get it, which to me is half the battle. Being able to take a step back now and then and regroup is something not everyone can do. I know that you will be amazing in all that you tackle, and I will be following along in everyone of your footsteps. Let me know if ever there is something I can do to make the process any easier. So now to my word, which you have made me ponder. I think CONTENTMENT is what I am striving for. Unfortunately being a Gemini (that’s what I’m blaming it all on) I have a hard time sitting back and enjoying the moment. I often need to have 20 projects going all at once, bitching the entire time about how busy I am 🙂 When I get the chance to sit back and relax I feel like I’m not doing enough. This will be hard for me to achieve, but I will do my best! Happy 2014 Dana….jenny

    • Hey Jenny! Thanks so much for your sweet and supportive comment. I hope I can keep up my momentum and make my goals, but it sure is hard balancing it all, as you know. I like your possible word, contentment, but I know a few Geminis and I can see why that might be a tricky one 🙂 In a way, it’s great to have so many things going on – I struggle with that as a Cancer crab, since we’re talking astrology, I’m more of the plod along one thing at a time – but maybe trimming your list will help you out. Surrender is another word I think about a lot, like trying to surrender to the quieter moments of life, the stillness, which is tough for me, too.

      I’m happy to do whatever I can to support you, too! It’s wonderful knowing you’re out there in the world and one of these days I will actually write you a proper email response 🙂

  4. I’ve been thinking on this since I read your post yesterday morning and I haven’t come up with my word yet, but I think “open” is a pretty great choice. I’m not sure what I want out of 2014, on a whole, but realistically I know there’ll be a lot of “diligence” and “persistence” and other not-so-fun words. Still, I think there’s not much of a better way to enter a new year than with an open mind to all its possibilities. So, for now, happy new year, and congrats on coming up with such a great word to start it off. I’ll have to keep you posted on mine. 🙂

    • Hey Molly,

      Thanks for the word support! It’s funny, I’ve been wondering the past few days if I picked the right one. I read on a writing blog about the word, “resolve,” and I really liked it. But I figure “open” is rather open, as you say, so it can work in a variety of ways. As a natural born cynic, open is probably my best bet.

      Definitely keep me posted on your word! Hope you had a great GF New Year 🙂

      • Thanks! I had a kind of “meh” New Year’s Eve (par for the course) but a great time on New Year’s Day, so I’m happy. 🙂 Stay warm!

      • I feel like back in the “old” days (before I had kids and actually went out for New Year’s), I was often disappointed with the reality of whatever party or plan I made. There’s just so much build up, you know? Glad to hear your New Year’s Day was fun, though! All that delicious southern good luck food, yum 🙂

  5. Happy New Year! It sounds like last year was a busy one for you! And I am SO impressed that you had the guts to go to a literary conference. I see one that comes to Salt Lake each year- and I cut the ad out of the paper. I look at it a lot. And then I let the date pass by… all because I’m a chicken. There’s always next year right? Wait… you said something about procrastination… 🙂

    I’m so glad you didn’t forget about us- it literally made my morning to see a post from you on the blog- I’ve kind of been AWOL for a few months.

    I love the idea of one word being your new years resolution- I did that last year too. This year- my word is HEALTH. Not diet or lose weight… but health. I want to feel good from the inside out! I’ll be following your blog closely- I love your dinner ideas!

    • Hey Jess! Did you write all those posts at once? For some reason, they all showed up just the other day on my Bloglovin account, where I follow you 🙂

      Next time that literary conference comes around in Salt Lake, you should totally go! It was the best thing I’ve done for myself in a loooong time. And before I went I coached myself to NOT compare myself to any other writers, to go there solely for ME without any pressure or confidence shrinkage. That I can only compare myself to me, not to anyone else. It worked, mostly, and I had an incredible time.

      Love your word for this year. Health is more important than pretty much anything else.

      Looking forward to reading more about your adorable family! Your kids are SO big…

  6. Happy new Year Dana. I love that you are excited about your manuscript and want to push it forward. I have a book half written sitting on my hard-drive and I often think, I should just finish it. I think the New Year is a good time to reflect and focus on the things that matter. Wishing you and your family a successful and healthy 2014.

    • Oh, thanks so much! I’m trying very hard to work on it as close to every (school) day as is possible in my crazy stay at home mom life, and all the support I’m getting from my readers really does help. It’s funny, more of my online friends and contacts know about my goals than my in person friends and family 🙂

      I think 2014 is a great year to pull out your half written book and finish it up! There is nothing like the feeling of printing out your novel and carrying it around and hugging it. Just don’t put it in a safe for five years like I did, ha.

      Soon, I’ll be writing a very non-celiac-related post about all these great and really helpful writing blogs I’ve come across recently, so stay tuned!

  7. Pingback: End of Kindergarten and end of… | celiac kiddo

  8. Pingback: Word Up 2015 | writing at the table

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