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Monday, January 13, 2014

Some Resolutions for the Over-Scheduled

How does it feel to be a multi-published author, a mother of a whole sports team (pick one), grandmother to a small army, and president of a busy local women's group? Don't ask me; I don't have time to think about it--or time to think about much of anything for that matter.

Like most women I know (and many men), I'm programmed by the American work ethic: push, push, push, do, do, do. Be organized; be efficient; be productive! More than once I've wondered about the efficacy of the ethic we all seem to value so highly. Is it making us healthier? wiser? happier? I could be wrong, but I'm not seeing it. So, on the assumption that we can use some perspective in this hectic world where better is more, I propose some resolutions for 2014. If you like them, you are welcome to adopt them as your own:

1.  Take Time to Be Still -- and Not Feel Guilty
A favorite scriptural snippet says, "Be still and know that I am God." How can we contemplate the enormity of the infinite (or even how best to remove that ugly stain from a favorite sweater) if we never take time to think? We do not live to do; we do to live. In 2014 I promise, at least once in a rare while, to take time just to ponder, to wonder at the magnificence of all that surrounds me. If I lose my capacity for wonder, how can I inspire it in readers? (See? I've even found a way to make it productive. Oh, how programmed I am!)

2.  Enjoy the People, Not Just the Task
In my family, my writing, my church, my neighborhood, I am surrounded by lovely people, beautiful people who inspire me to do and be a better human being, not just a more efficient one. In 2014 I promise to keep reminding myself that the people around me aren't on my checklist of Things To Do. They are my soulmate, my children, my grandbabies, my sisters and brothers and friends. They deserve more of me than the few minutes we spend working together, and frankly, I deserve some quality time with them.

3.  Take Care of Me
If you're like me (and I'm guessing you are), you've spent years on the family, the writing, the work. Self-care has fallen by the wayside or been managed with a lick and a promise. As the years pass, each  takes a toll, but to quote Indiana Jones, "It's not just the years; it's the mileage." In 2014 I promise to make some time for me: for the exercise I know I need (and for which my body always thanks me), for preparing healthful meals (at least most of the time), and for an occasional pedicure or massage. (Okay, maybe not many, but some!)

4.  Single-Task Now and Then
The downside to multi-tasking is the lack of focus. Sometimes a task (a talk with a child in pain, a final edit of a cherished manuscript, a date with my sweetheart) is worthy of total 100% dedicated focus. In 2014 I promise each day to do at least one thing of value that gets my full attention--at least for a little while.

5.  Unplug--and Like It
Do I have a new email from my agent? Has my cover artist responded to the request I sent an hour ago? Did I get an answer to my text? If you're like me, you have fallen into the ubiquitous 21st century habit of being plugged in and turned on (at least electronically) during almost every waking minute. I've become so attached (I'm avoiding the word 'addicted') to my various electronic brains that I sometimes fail to use the one in my head. In 2014 I promise to unplug completely--from everything, even the TV--for at least an hour a day. Well, most days anyway. And I promise to do it without getting the shakes.

Those are a few of my resolutions for the new year. As I write, it is almost the middle of January and I've only broken five of them a few times so far. But resolutions are to help us with the things we don't already do well, right? Misquoting Robert Browning, "A woman's dreams must exceed her grasp or what's a resolution for?" (Hmmm. Better leave the literature to the masters.) I wish you all the best with your new goals and aspirations. May your new year be blessed.

Susan Aylworth is the author of 11 published novels now available for ebook readers. A 12th is scheduled for publication in June. She lives in northern California with her husband of 43 years, a devoted old dog and two quirky cats. Her 22nd and 23rd grandchildren are expected next spring. She loves to hear from readers. Find her at www.susanaylworth.com (sign up for the newsletter too)susan.aylworth.author@gmail.com or @SusanAylworth.