By Lisabet Sarai
When New Year's comes rolling around once again, and every blogger begins to ponder his or her resolutions, I try to ignore the trend. For one thing, why should anyone else care about my goals or commitments for the year ahead? For another, I don't really like the concept or the timing. If I'm focused on self-improvement, what's so special about January first? I'll be making decisions, working on adjusting my life objectives, all year long. It's not as though the New Year offers me the only chance to reflect on my status and my progress.
Still, Garce has invited all of the Grippers to address the issue of resolutions, and I don't want to be a spoil sport. So here's my one and only resolution:
During 2012, I resolve to maintain the quality of my inner space.
When I look back over the past year, I remember a lot of tension. I've been feeling pressured by the combination of job demands, relationship demands and the demands of my writing career (such as it is). Even the Grip contributed to that uncomfortable sense that I'd never be able to satisfy all my commitments. I love this blog, but lately I've been feeling as though it's just one more deadline hanging over me, week after week. To an alarming degree, the joy has melted away.
Now it's true that I've been busy in 2011. My course load has been double the usual. I've had a variety of special projects and proposals to address. I'm mentoring several graduate students by email, on top of supervising my own students' research.
I've been blogging here once a week, at Beyond Romance at least three times a week (plus posting articles by my many guests), and producing at least two or three guest posts for other blogs each month. I finished a novel and several short stories, and just put together a new collection that will be out in a few days. And now I have a new commitment: starting in February, I'll be writing a monthly column in the Author Resources section of the Erotica Readers & Writers Association, called "The Erotogeek's Guide for Technologically Challenged Authors". In fact, I have to work on my first installment today...
I find myself getting panicky even as I list all these tasks (and think about the many other more ephemeral items on my to-do list which I haven't bothered to mention - correspondence, blogs to check, quizzes to grade, etc.). When I'm stressed like this, I take it out on the people around me, most notably my husband. And yes, I do think our relationship has suffered over the past year because I've been so focused on all the tasks I have to complete. I've been unwilling to take time off just for fun - I can't forget all the stuff that will be waiting for me when we get back.
Now, you might be thinking, "Well, she should make a resolution to cut back on her commitments." But honestly, that's not the problem. Kristina (just to pick a random person!) has far more commitments than I do. On top of writing, editing, promoting, blogging, and making a living, she has to care for two young children. Aside from my highly capable husband, the only person I have to take care of is myself.
No, the real problem is my inner space. It's not what I'm doing or not doing. It's how I'm looking at things, and how I'm allowing myself to react.
I recently had a reminder of a truth that I've known for a long time. Everything comes from inside. My physical and emotional state depend primarily on how I'm viewing the world.
I might not be happy with my behavior. For instance, I feel guilty for slacking off on exercise, and for drinking too much. But I'm not going to change those things by resolutions. That will just increase the overall level of stress. On the contrary, I have to start work inside. I have to feel healthy and strong - then I can demonstrate those qualities in the physical world. I need to remind myself that I have all the intelligence, energy and creativity I need to follow through with the tasks I've chosen.
And yes, I need to recollect that I did choose this life - and for the most part I love it. Nobody held a gun to my head and said "You're going to take over management of the Oh Get A Grip blog, or else." I agreed to accept the extra course load, the students, the projects, because I felt I could learn something and make a contribution. Heck, I volunteered to do the ERWA column, knowing that it would be fun as well as an opportunity to get my name out in cyberspace.
In 2012 I vow that I'll try to live up to my core philosophy, namely, that our minds create the reality we experience. I believe that each of us has at our core a well of Spirit - love, compassion, joy, intelligence, creativity. The secret to happiness is letting that inner light shine. When we do, the outside world, no matter dark, will brighten.
This year, I resolve to keep the windows of my soul clean, and to allow what's inside out.