Twenty-Eighteen, Baby

I feel different. How about you?

Twenty-seventeen was a jarring blur most of the time. It was a year of grand opportunities resulting in grand failures that rocked me to my core. Life lessons burst[ed] (is that a word?) forth like flowers blooming in one of those time-lapse videos.

If my life last year were in a line chart it would show a series of peaks and valleys.

I think I feel different because I am. And because I want this new year, this fresh start to continue to be and feel different.

It’s amazing how we collectively create these beginnings and ends, celebrations and vacation times. I suppose it’s because we’ve needed them over time…but even ‘Christmas’ felt very different this year. Like it was more an ending – of traditions, of meanings, of food – than anything else. It’s both scary and exhilarating to divert from this globally shared time we call Christmas and New Year’s Eve. But I feel that I’m on the path to re-defining it all – for myself, and for our children.

I don’t want to repeat anything that happened in 2017. I want to continue to reflect on it – and learn from the lessons that smacked me outta my skin. I learned so much about myself and I want to accept this knew knowledge (or an older knowledge that I’m still bringing into my daily life), and use it to power my writing and mothering life.

So many of my dreams came to life or came so very close to coming to life in 2017 that I am now doing a Dream Inventory. Isn’t that just a wonderful term? I read it in my Oracle cards. One of them that I pulled used this in its description and I just about fell out of my chair when I read it. Yes! Yes! I will update my dream inventory!

My year-end/new-year card pulls. Wisdom of the Oracle cards by Colette Baron-Reid.

I enjoy my tradition of pulling cards and writing about the year. I enjoy the reflection and introspection. I want to do it more and more. I want to see all that I do and have done and then decide what to do to change it – and see how these changes feel. I don’t want to rush. I want to be quiet and thoughtful. I want to be emotional and daring…and I want to do it in my home while I’m wearing my pjs and my ta-tas are resting freely on my chest.

I magically ended a journal just before Christmas. Gosh that timing was divine. So, above is a photo of my new journal. It is large. On the cover it says: THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF ANYTHING YOU WANT. Man, I believe it. I started this beauty on December 21. I’ve filled 39 pages already, and it feels amazing. I’ve been writing in journals since I was 9 years old. Sometimes I choose a journal. Sometimes a journal chooses me. This one was a bit of both. My previous journal was about half the size. But I was ready for something bigger. Because size is part of it when it comes to journals. It’s like – I’m feeling bigger so my journal needs to reflect that…to be able to hold that. This one does. It’s lined, which I like because I feel I also need the guidance of the lines. So, this journal and I have engaged in some intense and beautiful entries already.

One entry was all about my writing life. I made a list because lists are so pleasing and also so definitive and helpful when planning!

     

The results:

  • 10 current writing projects (old and new)
  • 1 potential birthday event (I turn 40 this year!)
  • 1 on-going live event (Mouth Piece Storytelling)
  • 2 on-going writing commitments with the League of Canadian Poets
  • 1 personal blog
  • continue submitting (only to free places that I’ve never submitted to before)

Here’s where the scary yet exhilarating changes come in though:

  • No organizing readings or workshops or guest speaking
  • No reviewing/editing projects (but completing the ones that have spilled into 2018)
  • No buying new books
  • No jury work

EEEP. My tummy rolled over just typing that out.

The thing is…if I’m really committed to my writing – to finishing projects, to submitting, and to beginning new projects I’ve been dreaming of starting for years – then I must drastically change how I’ve been doing things.

I must be disciplined with my time and use it to write. Not to plan events. Not to read other people’s work. Not to promote my own events. It feels wrong and selfish….but beneath that…it feels like I’ve reached that bright light at the end of so many tunnels.

I do not have a new book coming out this year. No launch or book tour. No reading dates or guest lectures. There are voices with hands squeezing my neck – are you sure about this, Vanessa? They ask. People will think less of you. How can you abandon your community like that? What will they say about you – about your lack of participation? About giving up on them? What if a friend asks for you to read her book and write a review? How will you continually say no? You’re not good at saying No, Vanessa.

This. Shit. Is. Real. People.

These voices – yowza. They are relentless. But here’s the thing: I am really good at saying no. To myself. To the characters in my mind needing to escape. To the poems that weep in waiting. I mean, writers write, right? Writers read? It’s our jobs. I want to go full-time, baby. Full-time on the writing front.

Yes, I’ll miss out on things. And that will be really hard. But…maybe I’ll attend that open mic I’ve been wanting to attend for years now. Or maybe I’ll save up money to attend a writing retreat next year…like I’ve always dreamed of doing. The time is NOW to change.

How many books do you have on your shelf that you haven’t read? I’ve got so many. I received these incredible gifts – eight books that I know will help me keep these changes going…thicken my soul, deal with the voices in my head, make me laugh, make me cry, make me scared, make me want to write.

This year I will not buy a new book. *Insert SCREAM here*

I’ve been telling myself to do this for years. I feel the time is NOW to make it happen.

I’ve already finished reading ‘Ready Player One’. It was a wild ride! The hubby and kids got it for me for Christmas. Jett read it already and we’ve had some great conversations about it. Plus, the film is coming out this year, so we’ll see it together and have a discussion of book-to-film comparisons. 

Jett showed me how to make a bitmoji of myself. Soooo fun. I think it looks like me! I think that things on the social media front will change too. They have been already. I haven’t been on Facebook in a while. I’ve barely retweeted or tweeted. I’ve done some instagramming. I feel okay with this. Lately, social media makes my heart rate increase and my cheeks and neck burn. It takes time and energy to play, post and ponder social media…so if I’m not around to ‘like’ something on your Facebook page or give you a retweet – don’t take it personally. I’ll probably miss your birthday. I love email. Always have. Always will. So, if you wanna connect, can we just agree to do it via email? (shieldsvanessa@gmail.com). I need a break from social media. That’s not to say I’ll never use it. I will. But, it’ll be limited.

My torn MCL on my right knee is still healing. I see the specialist in a couple of weeks. I do hope that I can start physio and find out what exercising I can do. I’m missing ballet tremendously. And I finally feel motivated to exercise – which I haven’t felt in a long time – so I want to heed this motivation.

Did you know I *love* taking photos? It’s literally been years since I’ve taken out my camera and looked at the world through her lens. Earlier this week, I took her out. Dusted her off. Fixed her settings. Charged her batteries. And I took some photos. It felt…like I found my secret home. So, I’m dedicated to taking photos this year as part of my creative juice flow. To capture what I see so I can see over and over. So I can use it to inspire writing. So I can hold history in my hands.

And so…this is me, baby. Writer. Mother. Photographer. Lover. I cut all my hair off. Got rid of the dye. I’m an all-natural woman now – watch out! Embrace it, I’m telling myself. Embrace the wrinkles. The grey. The chins. The chub. Just. Embrace. It. Forty is a hop-skip-and Beyonce song away, baby. I want to embrace it. And write about it. I will. I am.

Let’s close with Rumi:

This is how sweet and free of fear

I feel now in myself. 

Beyond opinion and judgement, undistracted by guilt,

I am walking strong and steadily home,

not timid or uncertain,

with my eyes splendidly clear,

all one pearl of gratefulness, no fear. 

WOW. I opened to a random page and started reading. That’s what I saw. Goosebumps anyone? WOW.

This is how sweet and free of fear

I feel now in myself.

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