Resolved or Go with the Flow?

NeFireworksw Year’s Resolutions definitions:

  • Dictionary definition of a Resolution: 1) a firm decision to do or not to do something; 2) the action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter.
  • Mark Twain’s definition, “New Year’s Day now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”

Which definition applies to you? For me, most of the times I fall in line with Mark Twain. On occasions, I have made New Year’s Resolutions and more times than I care to admit I have failed to keep these resolutions. But that doesn’t stop me from thinking about new goals for the year. This exercise in goal setting is beneficial even if I fail to reach the goal. Looking at where I want to be, helps me formulate steps to get there. Now taking the steps is where the truth comes out about my resolve to change.

I set the goals, map out the steps for success and begin. Sometimes I am successful, and at other times, I take only a couple of steps towards the goal before abandoning it. But by abandoning the goal, I have decided it’s not worth my time or energy. If that goal is health related and I choose not to follow the steps, then I have decided that my health isn’t a big priority or that I’m OK as I am, but I have decided not to improve.

New Year’s Resolutions help focus us but when we choose to ignore our own good advice and plans are we doing the best for ourselves?

Happy New Year to all.

Searching for The Star

A children’s story I wrote several years ago. Hope it brightens your Christmas.Star

“Wake up Ahmad!  Bring me the big star chart!  Ahmad!”  Ahmad rolled out of the bedroll and stumbled to the shelf where the scrolls were stored.  He hurried back to his master carrying the star chart.

His master fumbled with the scroll, spreading it on the ground.  He looked at the scroll, then back to the stars.  He was every excited.  “I found it again – just where it was last night,” cried his master, Melchior.  Ahmad was told to load up the camel they were going on a trip.

Ahmad worked all the next day packing for the journey.  He packed a tent, food, clothes, star scrolls, quills, ink, and gold.  As the sun was setting Ahmad and his master set out on their trip.  They traveled all night and rested during the day with his master writing notes along the way.

The second day was like the first, traveling at night, stopping to make notes, and more walking.  They spent the night at an inn where many people were staying.  Ahmad was so tired that all he could think about was getting some sleep, but first he had to make sure the pack animals were taken care of and their things stored.  Then it would be time to rest.

His master was sitting at a long table talking with two other travelers, their servants standing nearby.  Like Ahmad, their servants looked tired.  Ahmad took his place near his master.

All Melchior and the other travelers talked about were the stars.  While his master finished eating Ahmad stood quietly waiting so they could get some rest; he heard them talking about the very different star they had just discovered.  The star did not move like the other stars in the heavens.  It stayed in the same place day after day as if it marked the spot of something important.  The travelers were going to where the star was pointing to see what was there.  Ahmad’s master and the two travelers were all going to the same place and decided to travel together.  After more conversation, they decided to rest and then they would leave as the sun set.  Finally, Ahmad could get some sleep.

Ahmad was still sleeping when his master called him and asked if the camels were ready to go.  Ahmad hurried out to prepare to leave.  Outside the other servants were getting their camels ready to go also.  Ahmad introduced himself, and they said their names were Dawud and Hanif.  They had been traveling for four days.

The servants helped their masters onto the camels, and then they were off.  Heading westward, just like the last few days.  As they walked along, the masters talked about the star.  Sharing information about when they first saw it and wondering what could it mean.  They agreed it had to be something very important.  On they traveled.

Ten days later, they neared Jerusalem.  The star seemed to be very close, but it was not standing over Jerusalem.  The travelers decided they would go to Jerusalem, the home of the king of the Jews, and ask what the star meant.

Ahmad was sent to the king’s palace to deliver a note requesting a time the travelers could visit the king.  He waited for a reply and was told to come back tomorrow.  The next day they went to the palace.  The king of the Jews, Herod, was delighted to have distinguished visitors.  He prepared a feast for them.  After they had eaten, Herod asked what he could do for them.  They explained about seeing the star and how they believed it meant something important was nearby.  They wondered if Herod knew what the new star meant.

Herod sent for his kingdom’s wise men.  They thought a moment and then said that the prophets of old had written in the town of Bethlehem the king of the Jews would be born.  Herod told the travelers what his wise men had told him about Bethlehem.  And he asked if they found the new king, to please come back and tell him so he could go see.

The next evening there was the star, brighter and bigger than ever.  The travelers started towards Bethlehem.  When they arrived, there was the star standing over at a small inn.  The travelers went in to find that a couple was there with a baby boy.  Ahmad watched in disbelief as his master, a man of wealth and power, bowed down on his knees in front of the child and then the other travelers did the same thing.

Ahmad’s master sent him to get the gold they carried.  Ahmad brought in the gold.  His master took the gold and gave it to the parents of the baby.  It was obvious this couple was very poor and had never seen this much gold.  The other travelers gave valuable gifts also, frankincense and myrrh.  The couple thanked them.  They spent the next few days at the inn.

Ahmad was bringing in some water for his master when he heard the baby crying.  He looked and saw that no one was in the room with the baby.  He went into the room quietly to look at the baby.  As he approached the baby’s bed, the baby stopped crying and smiled.  Ahmad stood there looking at the baby and realized he was looking at a very special child – a child different than any before.  Like his master, Ahmad fell to his knees and bowed his head to the ground.  He didn’t understand why he should do this but knew that he was in the room with a king and should show respect.  Shortly the child’s mother came in the room.  He was afraid she would be angry, but she smiled and said thank you for watching over Jesus while she was away.

Jesus, so that was the baby’s name.  That would be a name he would never forget.

 

Growth is Not Comfortable

Schemeekly Path“A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.” Unknown.

Be honest for a moment, you prefer to be in your comfort zone. We all do. Where is your comfort zone? It is the place, the activity, the time when you feel you can relax and handle whatever comes your way.

This zone is many things – security, reaffirming, peaceful, etc. – but what it isn’t is growth. When we accept (or are pushed) a new challenge, we grow. This growth is uncomfortable, it can challenge your perceptions and causes you to wonder if you are up to handling the task or wonder why you accepted it.

The growth process is scary; it is much easier to stay in the comfort zone where you know what is going to happen. But once you start the process it can be exhilarating. The thought you don’t know what is going to happen, that you are changing the way you think and act, trying new things, and the admiration others share with you for being so brave. Wow! It’s like a “Superman” high.

When you finally complete the task, you find several things. First, you aren’t the same.  Whether it was a good or bad experience, you are changed by it. Second, you have confidence that you can handle the task, and it can become part of your comfort zone.

A couple of times when I got out of my zone were entering the NaNoWriMo and publishing my book Canyon Riddle. The scary part of the NaNoWriMo was the question of whether or not I could write 50,000 words in 30 days. I found I can. Canyon Riddle is a novel for adults (or at least not a young child). I am comfortable writing children stories, Bible studies, and such but a novel for adults? That was scary. But since then I have written three more adult stories, and I know that I can do it again.

One of my latest growth opportunities is I am learning to knit. That may not sound scary to anyone but at my age (I remember when the Beach Boys were young) learning a new skill that you have spent most of your life avoiding, is not easy and certainly is not in my wheelhouse. But as I knit, purl, and unravel over and over, I see small glimpses that I can do this, and my comfort zone is expanding.

Every time I step into an unknown situation, I grow. Not all the experiences are pleasant, but I do learn from them. Where there is an unpleasant outcome, I try not to repeat it. That is also growth.

So the next time opportunity presents itself to take on something new, give it a whirl. Keep those brain cells active and grow your comfort zone.

How I Won NaNoWriMo 2015

nano-2015-winner-badge-large-squareNaNoWriMo is officially over for 2015. How did you do? Me? I wrote over 52,000 words during the month of November but didn’t finish the story until December 2.

The experience this year was very different than previous years. The common thread was the push to write every day. The reality was I wrote fewer days but wrote more each day. And I didn’t feel anxious about not writing every day. No nagging feelings that I shouldn’t be out with friends when I need to write a thousand words. Not sure why this change but I believe it has to do with my confidence that I could write enough words to be a “Winner.” This was the fourth year for me to participate in NaNoWriMo.

In previous years I had a lot of uncertainty about having enough words to meet the goal. My writing style is a “pantser.” I don’t outline, write a story brief, or anything that organized. I set down with the roughest of ideas for the start of a story and then I write. Characters grow as the story progresses and when I reach a point that I’m not sure what is going to happen next, I have one of the characters do something. It may be something as small as calling a friend to talk, or taking a walk, or looking through a photo album. From this action, I create a situation of what happens, what they learn, etc. and then work the story from this new information.

The ending of the story came as a surprise to me. I was writing but didn’t know how to end the story. As I wrote about what was learned through a phone call one of the characters made, the ending just appeared. And it’s a great ending! (No false modesty here.)

Thanks NaNoWriMo for helping me develop as a writer.