Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Blueprint for Life

I don't generally make New Year's Resolutions because I very seldom keep them. However, I use this time of year to evaluate where I am in my life, where I want to be and what I need to do to get from one point to the other. I look at several areas-- physical fitness, financial, family, career, writing, and values.

This year as I look at my physical fitness I see that I am making strides toward increasing my fitness. In October I set a goal for myself of adding one fitness action each week-- for instance, eat one fruit item daily, work out 3 times a week, cut back on sweets and sugar. The only one that I have been able to keep consistently is working out 3 times per week-- I've joined Curves, signed up for their computerized individualized Curves Smart program and go and subject myself to the torture chamber three times a week. The only week I missed was Thanksgiving week, but I planned that in advance as a skip week. I was really proud of myself for going back to Curves the Monday after Thanksgiving.

I don't do quite as good at adding an additional item every week-- I've tried to add things such as walk up the stairs at work once a day or add a vegetable serving but I haven't been able to sustain that.

Now switching to financial issues-- my finances are a mess. In the last two and a half years I've been unemployed, started my own business, had a daughter get married, dealt with medical expenses and had to purchase two new cars. My credit is in the toilet, and I barely am able to meet my expenses. It's an area that needs a lot of work, and I need to force myself to make it a priority. Unfortunately, since it is such a big mess, I just don't want to deal with it so I mostly ignore financial issues. That is not good so I am evaluating some ways to improve my financial situation and trying to come up with a plan.

As I look at family issues, my priorities in those areas have really changed over the years. My family has always been my top priority, but as the years have passed, we've found different ways of meeting their needs. As the girls have gown into adulthood, they no longer needed Mom to be available quite as much as when they were younger, so I was able to start focusing more on my career and my education. However, now that the girls have left home, my husband and I are rediscovering each other. That's an area where I want to focus more attention-- on enjoying life with the man I love.

As far as my career goes, I'm in a real quandary right now. I have a day job as an HR Manager in the public sector, and want to continue to advance in that field. However I get more satisfaction and joy out of my night and weekend job of being a publisher. I really LOVE being the publisher of Swimming Kangaroo and wish I made enough money at it to quit the day job. But there is still an ambitious part of me that wants to be a major decision maker in an organization. Perhaps being the Publisher/Owner/CEO of Swimming Kangaroo will satisfy that need if we get big enough. Perhaps not. I just don't know for sure.

So what I'm trying to do is sort out the factors that I want in a job, the things I like to do and the things I am good at and combine them all into my perfect job. This requires a lot of introspection and a lot of just plain hard thinking. Once I figure out what I want to be when I grow up, I have to figure out how to achieve that. I need to be more active in networking organizations-- but first I need to figure out which organizations will help me get what I need.

Then there is my writing, which I've been trying to pick up again after taking several years off to focus on family/education/career. I have lots of ideas for books and stories I'd like to tell, but time is an issue. And I'm actually finding that I derive more satisfaction from publishing than I do from writing. So I have a major conflict that I am still trying to decide how to resolve.

Now the Values area is a broad area that includes such things as public service, volunteer service, personal growth and self improvement. I try to think before I talk, try to be nice to everyone. I don't really have time to volunteer, and I'm not much of a joiner but I feel like I would like to serve on an advisory board or commission. I want to make a contribution to the world and I have to figure out how best to do so in the limited time and resources I have available. I also have to decide where to focus my efforts because there are so many areas of need. I have to decide which areas speak to me-- and increasingly the areas I am focusing on are animal issues and church/state issues.

So my blueprint for the upcoming is to continue to work on my fitness goals, to get my finances in order and to decide what I want to be when I grow up. I'll check in with you next year and let you know where I stand on each area.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Holiday Blues

The holiday season isn't necessarily a happy one for many people. I know, I am one of them. There are many reasons. The shorter days are often overcast and gray rather than sunny. Snowy or ice-covered sidewalks and roads make it difficult to get around, plus having to don all that extra gear... besides it’s cold. Other reasons include Christmas is coming and I can’t give all the things I would love to gift my favorite people, there are those who are gone from my life whom I miss, and it is all too stressful. Many people have more compelling reasons for depression, such as loneliness, isolation, failing health, and family or financial problems.

While mine is a mild case of the blues, others are more severely afflicted. If your depression affects your daily life and work, please get professional help. Even if only mild like mine, you might want to seek help.

There are also things you can do to help yourself and others in your family get through the holidays. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or depression caused by seasonal changes in day length, can be helped by mild exercise and getting outside even for a few minutes every day. There are full spectrum lamps that can provide relief. If your problem is with family members who upset you, don’t feel guilty about keeping face-to-face occasions limited. Be with people you like and who like you for the holidays. Don’t over plan entertainment and family get-togethers. Before shopping, have a sensible spending limit set for holiday gifts. Lastly, don't try to achieve the ‘perfect’ holiday, keep your expectations within realistic anticipation.

So, what you do to make your holiday more enjoyable? I'm always looking for better ways to survive the season.


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Making and Keeping New Year's Resolutions

*****This article ppeared in Fredericksburg Parent, Jan 2005.*****

Tips for Making—and Keeping—New Year’s Resolutions
by Karina L. Fabian

New Year’s resolution-making is a tradition over four thousand years old. The ancient Babylonians made resolutions as part of their New Year’s celebrations, according to Charles Panati, author of Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things. The favorite resolutions of this ancient people were to get out of debt and to return all tools and household utensils they had borrowed the year before. (Remember that rake I borrowed…?)

Getting out of debt aside, modern New Year’s resolutions seem to have gotten more complex. We want to lose weight, have a calmer family life, find new success in our careers, write a best seller--or all of the above. Is it any wonder so many resolutions flag after a month?

The bad news is that many of us make and break goals, in the form of New Year’s resolutions and otherwise, throughout our lives. The good news is that the problem often lies in the resolution itself. It may be unrealistic, unclear or somehow at odds with another life goal we’ve set for ourselves.

If you’re willing to try a resolution or two, consider these tips:
• Set attainable goals. Goals must reflect your abilities and resources, not someone else’s idea of what you “should” do. That woman in the magazine might lose 50 pounds in 3 months, but unless you have the time and will (personal trainers, organic garden, etc.) she had, perhaps losing 15 pounds in 4 months and keeping it off all year would be more realistic. When you determine your resolution, examine your life: what changes will you need to make to meet this goal? Are you willing to make those changes? If not, find a new goal.
• Set clear, measurable goals. A nebulous goal like “play more with the kids” is easy to set aside. “Spend one afternoon a week just playing with the kids” is something you can schedule, plan for—and meet. State your goal in terms of time, deadlines, measurements, or other concrete details.
• Expect setbacks. No one learns to run or read or balance a checkbook perfectly the first time, yet we continue trying until we have some mastery. The same goes for resolutions; remember that two steps forward and one back is still progress.
• Examine failure. If you constantly break your resolution, particularly if you’ve made and broken the same one over years, examine what’s keeping you from your goal. Does some other goal conflict with it, such as spending more time with your family conflict with your goal of becoming sales manager of the year? Is the goal contrary to your purpose in life—you find you can’t make yourself clean house every day because you’d rather make Play Dough sculptures with your child? If you find a conflict, re-set your goals to something more realistic, or, if the goal is more important than what it conflicts with, make some changes.
Sometimes, we have a subconscious reason for breaking our resolutions. Psychologists and communicators Richard Bandler and John Grinder assert that every aspect of our personality, even our bad habits, exists for some positive purpose. For example, a married woman may subconsciously believe that if she works out, she’ll draw the attention of other men--and attract the jealousy of her husband. Subconsciously, then, she believes that by staying out of shape, she is preventing conflict in her marriage. In such cases, the person needs to find some other way to meet that subconscious goal—in this example, if jealousy is an issue, they may need to resolve with marriage counseling, or she may convince him to join her in a her work-out program, so that they build their relationship along with their muscles.
• Get help. Resolutions are easier to keep when someone else helps you keep them. Instead of vowing to work out at home, make a deal with a friend to walk on certain days, or get a personal trainer at the Y. If you’re writing that best-seller, recruit a friend, co-worker, someone involved in the topic to read it—and deliver them a certain number of pages each week. Then you have a promise to an outside party to motivate you, as well as a person to get you moving again if you stall.

If you’re not a person for resolutions, don’t worry; you’re in good company--though giving back that rake wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

My November writing

This year, I decided to opt out of NaNoWriMo and instead join my Guild's 30K for Christ project. 30K is more open-ended, so I could work on my last book in the Miscria Trilogy: Savior Psychic. it's been on my back burner for a year at least, and I'd felt both guilty and stubborn about it. After all, Miscria I: Asylum Psychic still hadn't sold; why bother? (Yes, the answer is "Bother because the story is in you," but some days, that's hard to remember, isn't it?)

At any rate, I didn't make the 30K goal, but I do think I won in a lot of ways:

Above all: I prayed about my writing more.

1. Once I made myself write, my characters led me out of a lot of plot problems I was having when I was just imagining things. It always amazes me how getting it on paper can make the problems seem easier to solve.

2. I pushed through some of my self-doubt demons. They will return again, I know. For now, however, I've conquered them, and each time I do that, they get weaker.

3. I dedicated some of my writing time to re-crafting my agent letter. It's much stronger thanks to some wonderful critiques, so I'll be ready to send it on in December.

4. And, hey--I'm 21K farther than I was on Nov 1!

That's really the goal of a writing month like this: to push past blocks, to face our fears and to learn that yes, we can do this. We've only to set our minds to our craft.

I'll have to slow down again, as I need to catch up on stuff I let slide, but I intend to keep forging ahead. I hope all who participated in write-ons like this continue to do so as well

So, to everyone who did NaNoWriMo or 30K for Christ, I salute you. We're all winners, regardless of how many words we wrote. Congratulations to all who participated!

Karina Fabian