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  • Writer's pictureElaine Marie Carnegie

Moving Into A New Decade

Moving into a new decade, I have been reflecting on the past year and what goals I want to set for this momentous year. On New Year’s Eve 2019, I set three goals. At the time, I didn’t necessarily think they were lofty goals, but I had no idea the struggles I would face when I made them.

What I considered my most important task for the year was to finish and query my Manuscript, The Gaia Factor Part I. This is going to be a trilogy that has unfolded in my mind and kept me up at night. I am passionate about writing. I promised myself to write every day. Yeah! Writing every day is hard. Some days are not meant for writing, but I sat down and wrote for at least two hours, every single day. (Except when my mother was in the hospital)

Most days I found myself warming up and being productive, but not every day. For those days, I worked for at least two hours or edited two hours and I had met my goal so that even on “non-writing” days I succeeded in feeling accomplished. I found this one thing to be the highest hurdle... meeting my own expectations. Feeling productive and as if I was moving forward. Polished and edited, in November of 2019, I began my queries! I was so proud of myself. It took real commitment and some days it was difficult... but now, I have developed a habit and I write every day.

My second most important goal was self-care. I stopped smoking in 2017 and gained weight. In 2019 I set a goal to lose a set amount of weight. I did not accomplish the entire weight loss goal I set for myself, however, I did accomplish something much more important. I learned “how” to set small daily goals and keep them. At that point, the weight began to come off and I am more than halfway to my goal as December 2019 fades away. I believe this one little victory improved my life overall... definitely my writing.

I found this second resolution to be the most difficult part of writing from home. Instead of getting up and moving into my day... I wanted to get up and get back into my story. Bad move! It was difficult for me to set even the most rudimentary of goals to do every single morning... I began small with breakfast on time and actually getting dressed instead of PJ’s all day. That might seem funny, even ludicrous, but after getting up at 5 am for a lifetime and going to the office, testifying in Court and chasing bad guys, it was easy to slip into the mindset of... “Now, I get to relax!”

Like I said, bad move for me. I gained even more weight and felt like crap most of the time. I was at a loss. It is uncharacteristic of me not caring about my health... I was overwhelmed.

I found this little meme and it said: “Start by doing one push up, drinking one cup of water, walking one lap.” It was inspiring... and it worked. I let myself flow into a routine that eventually took 20 pounds from my body. Blood pressure and sugar levels stabilized, and I was happy with more energy and feeling great about my accomplishments. I tried to force myself to meet specific goals and I always failed and felt terrible about my failures. It became a vicious cycle.

Who knew? I didn’t realize that I crippled myself with my own strict expectations. The effort of squeezing my mind into a little box that I didn’t want to be in caused me to fail miserably. I would do well for a week and then fall off to two or three days and then any little excuse to keep from having to exercise or diet was enough to stop me dead cold!

When I walked one lap, I realized I could walk three and enjoy it. When I placed one bottle of water on the table where I was working and just replaced it when it was empty. Soon I was drinking five or six. Truthfully, I was just amazed. On self-reflection, I realized I had been putting too much pressure on myself. When I chose to be satisfied with small accomplishments and not demand perfection, I found it easy to do more. Even though I did not lose the entire goal weight, I still count this as a success. I learned a secret about myself that helped in all aspects of my life.

My third goal and not the easiest to achieve was a quiet time. I have one of those minds that is constantly churning. I am not a big procrastinator, I make decisions quickly and rarely change them. I like my own company and I have been this way my entire life, even as a child. Yet, this takes its own toll. Even when I would like to sit and reflect or pray or meditate... that analytical mind is my enemy. Always seeking, always searching... After several months, I found a meditation practice that worked... somewhat.

When unbidden thoughts fluttered into my mind, I let them. I let them come and then I let them go without giving them my full attention. Instead of fighting them, or getting frustrated, I just let them pass. I count myself successful in this endeavor because I can sit for approximately 20 minutes in control of my thoughts. Up from about two minutes this time last year. I will continue to work on it. Again, who knew?

The lesson I have taken away from the year 2019 is a valuable one. I realized how much strict and inflexible self-expectation hurt me. Attempting to reach these three goals, I had to stop and examine that character flaw from many angles. The answer was the same in all three. It is how I feel about myself that matters most and slowing down to listen to myself helped me be successful in moving toward my goals and to live a more present moment.

Life. It is a process and one I am living with fullness and joy, getting better all the time.

Now for 2020, what will it be? Part II of the Gaia Factor Trilogy... The Unfolding finished, polished, and queried. The remainder of my weight loss goal and to enhance my social media presence. I’ll let you know next year how that went!

Happy New Year Everyone!!

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