This may sound simple, but I finally decided after a lifetime of not knowing when to stand up for myself that I would change this for my own sake and my daughter’s. I started small, with a passive aggressive frenemy, and moved all the way up to changing the way I interact with family. It wasn’t easy, but this major change was simpler than I thought it would be and already has brought dividends in happiness and much more open relationships with my sisters.
Setting boundaries also meant finally deciding to live in a way that didn’t cause me to burn out every couple years. (This is the final major step to find balance, by the way: it has been a long road to find a workable energy output that doesn’t wreck my body with my ambitious goals.) I not only found myself more in sync with my creativity because I was respecting my instincts, but found my communication with my husband improved as he called me on owning my own decisions and I realized he didn’t need me to make excuses for what I wanted. He wanted to support me in doing what I wanted because he takes my dreams seriously. Seriously awesome discovery there.
2) I finished my first novel & started my second.
Editing my first novel is still in process, delayed by the new job I took as Transportation Editor for Inhabitat in April, but I finished writing all three parts of this 75,000-word novel in August and will start the editing process in two weeks. I promised myself I would push through the whole first project before I started the second novel, but the first scene of my second novel just appeared in my head on vacation in July, when I also wrote an entire section of my first novel. Suddenly I find myself knee deep in fascinating research to prepare myself for writing. This is going to be a busy year, but I hope to get the first novel out to agents in a couple of months and at least have the second novel written in rough form by the end of this year. This is a whopper of a goal with a kid that no longer takes naps and still needs my full attention, but I seem to be speeding up even as things get more challenging, so I think it might just happen.
3) I started a new job and then quit it!
The opportunity to join my favorite green design blog Inhabitat as Transportation Editor in April was too great to pass up. As of this morning I have written 300 articles for Inhabitat, working very part-time between baby girl’s naps and early in the morning. In September my schedule seemed to start collapsing, however, with my husband taking night classes and baby girl giving up all her naps. My schedule was not working for daily paid writing anymore, but it would work for novel writing. Aha! An opportunity not to be passed up. This new setup is a unique opportunity to take my writing seriously and give myself a chance, so this year is going to be very exciting for me as I attempt to prove I really can hack it as a novelist. Maybe this blogging has just been another baby step toward my big goal.
The Year of Blessings
I’m calling 2011 the year of blessings because everything worked out for the good. My husband’s job continued to be stable, our finances worked out so that I could take this leap of faith, and this essential boundary-setting skill I learned allowed me to make space for myself in so many ways. Things were tough, to be sure, because I had to hang in there with a stressful schedule for a few months while I worked out the details of how this transition would work, but I truly couldn’t be happier with how this year has turned out. We have had so many wonderful experiences this year, as well. My husband took his first real vacation in years, I got to take my husband and baby girl for a test drive and photo shoot in a Tesla Roadster in Palo Alto, we got a full week in June in a guest house in Los Gatos, a tony suburb of Silicon Valley, and we just had a wonderful holiday that also worked because I planned ahead to reduce my stress. I am truly blessed to be able to take a stab at such an unlikely career as novelist, but I’m learning how important it is that I participate with these blessings to turn them into the life I want.
Can I manage to slow down enough to do this work well? That’s the challenge facing me now. While some of this acceleration is just me shifting into a lower gear to operate at higher speeds effortlessly, I know some of it is fear. I feel the need to prove I can make this work within a couple years, before I feel the need to go back to daily paid work to contribute to our household. These boundaries I have set have some pressure on them, even from me, so I will need to hold my ground this year and give myself long enough to make this work. I only get one life, and this is something I have wanted to do since I was 8 years old, so I’m working hard to make space for this opportunity. Here goes!