So, I usually do a recap of the previous year every December/January–a blog post where I try to wrap my head around what I’ve learned over the past twelve months. You might have noticed that I haven’t written about 2013 yet.
There’s a reason for that.
2013 was a rough year. The first six or seven months were dominated by stress: I managed to finish Book 3 on time, but only barely. I was worried until I turned it in to copy-editing. So worried that I worked crazy, unhealthy hours. So worried that I literally started losing my hair.
(For those of you imagining a bald Shelby, don’t fret: I didn’t lose that much of it, and what I lost grew back. But gray.)
During the last chunk of 2013, I wasn’t as busy, but I was filled with a sort of bone-deep sadness I couldn’t shake. I think it had to do with my great-grandmother’s death, and how I threw myself into writing Book 3 instead of processing the loss. I think it also had to do with dealing with a lot of change, both the good and the bad. (I didn’t blog about it much at the time, maybe just here and here.)
So, here’s what I learned from it all:
Painful periods are unavoidable. Life is going to scar you, no matter how much you plan or how well you juggle your life. It happens to everyone at one time or another. It doesn’t mean that you did anything wrong. It means that hard things happen sometimes.
But it’s just a period of your life, and it carves out rooms inside you that you didn’t realize you had–places where joy can come in and compassion can fill up. You’ll notice them when the gray clears and happier times arrives.
You can see why I’ve been avoiding talking about it. A little bit depressing, huh?
As you can probably guess, I would really rather not spend this year like I spent 2013. I don’t feel like I need to learn that lesson twice.
So, late in December and early in January, I talked about with people I love and brainstormed during intense journaling sessions, and I made an EPIC PLAN–one that I’m finally going to share with you guys:
In 2014, I want to find a sustainable way to live and work, one that will give me the resources* I need to make good books** and help me live a healthy life,*** so that I can have a long, fruitful writing career.****
*By resources, I mostly mean time and energy and creative fun that feeds book-making. And the emotional reserves and support that’ll help me through rough times like last year.
**The fourth and final installment in The Ever Afters counts as the first of these. I hope that the books will be good; honestly, I don’t know.
***By and large, the first four years of my writing career have been riddled with sinus infections, late hours, and lack of exercise. In other words, NOT healthy.
****We’re talking about not the Ten Year Plan, but the Seven Decade Plan.
(That was a lot of asterisks. Hmmmmm. It might be confusing. Sorry! Skip those bits if they throw you. The important part is the bolded part.
Now, we’re almost two months into 2014. It’s taken me this long to actually get around to discussing my goals for this year. That should give you an idea of how the whole sustainable lifestyle thing is going.
Frankly (and most unfortunately), not awesomely.
I started off pretty well! I was going to the gym regularly! I was writing a lot, but not in the middle of the night! Then January 18 brought a cold into my life, and I’ve been sick in varying degrees since then–I’ve had lots of sleep, lots of fluid, and even a round of antibiotics.
I’m still not better, and because I’ve tried so hard to get well, I’m started to think that my body is trying to tell something. It’s basically going on strike until I listen.
My best guess? It’s trying to say, Shelby, you’re trying to do too much. Slow down, and restructure so you can go at a healthier pace. Trying to handle ALL the things in a short amount of time isn’t sustainable. I’ll need to reassess and plan to do what is humanly possible (instead of what is superhumanly possible/makes my hair fall out).
So, even though I would like to do more, I’m going to have make some changes.
And some of those changes are going to happen here on this website.
This saddens and scares me, because I hate disappointing people. I’m deeply afraid of disappointing you guys. You readers are some of my favorite people in the world.
But the idea of being sick all year long and doing permanent damage to my body scares me more. So, I’m afraid the change must come.
More on that tomorrow.