Last year, I had goals for this blog, even if I didn’t state them out loud. It was my life raft from my corporate job, and I still harbored high hopes that it would save me from intellectual oblivion and possibly launch my career as a writer.

This year is different.

Last year, I treated this blog like a business (albeit a beloved business), and like a business it grew and changed, but not in the ways I thought it would. I advertised it, I went to a blogging conference, I tried this technique, tried that one. Some of this experience was rewarding, some of it wasn’t.

Then, mid-year, something began changing in me.

The blog began to feel forced. Very un-me. I was trying to control again, to not let my original vision develop into something new. Maintaining a kung-fu grip on my own universe, which by its very nature is uncontrollable, is a very me-thing to do. An old behavior from my alcoholic days that creeps back in and catches me unawares.

After a few panic attacks and some serious introspection, I let go. Let it be, let what may happen, happen, not fight the growth.

And that’s when things started to get crazy.

Last year I wanted more from life and creativity; and by God, once I let go, that’s exactly what I got.

lake

I got laid off, which afforded me time to go on a mini-retreat with my husband, where I did a ton of soul-searching and resume updating. After some encouragement from friends and colleagues (whom I met through this blog), I threw together a website and started pursuing a career as a freelance editor and writer.

And damned if it didn’t work out for the best.

brushes

In addition to going from a desk jockey to an actual writer, I discovered a writing community that has stretched and challenged my work. I worked my way through The Artist’s Way and took my painting to the next level. I read many books on creativity and writing, from Bird by Bird, to On Writing, to Writing Down the Bones, to How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead, etc. During the autumn, I wrote a poem a day, a habit to which I’d like to return.

In July I was fortunate enough to attend BlogHer, where I met many friends, new or just new-in-person. I participated in NaNoWriMo for half the month of November before just not having enough time each day, the writing assignments kept coming at me. How strange, to watch your hopes manifest before your eyes when you’ve been used to hardship. It’s like an out-of-body experience.

Chicago

Chicago

So this year, I don’t have any goals for my blog other than it continue to be a space of creativity and community. That’s it. No grand hopes of viral posts and off the charts stats. I don’t even really check my stats anymore, and whenever I do, I’m pleasantly surprised. It’s much better than the weeping and gnashing of teeth I’d do before.

This blog has opened up avenues I’d have never thought possible. Of course it didn’t happen the way I thought it would, so I’m just going to continue on and see where it takes me.

Despite not having goals for the blog, I’ve thought long and hard about goals for myself. I’d like to not live so much of my life in fear of other people not liking me. I’d like to learn to be kinder to myself, inviting more grace into my life. I’d like to keep discovering who I am, what my purpose is, and how to recover from my past.

Most of the blessings of this year have been the result of opportunities I didn’t manufacture. I worked very hard in the meantime, searching and keeping the old nose to the proverbial grindstone, but ultimately the best parts about the year were not manipulated by yours truly.

So this year, I’ve decided I need a mantra. Something to cling to when I get all spazzy and play a million rounds of merry-go-round in my head.

Discovery. Joy. Creativity.

That’s going to be my mantra. I’ll say it when I’m wondering what the frack I’m doing, staying home and writing part-time, hoping it will turn into more? When I put myself down because who do I think I am, trying to live my dream and be a writer? That’s when I’ll need something to cling to.

Discovery. Joy. Creativity.

That’s what I’m cultivating this year.

How about you?

Finish the Sentence Friday
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Comments

Resolutions? Naw. — 57 Comments

  1. Oh, that is an excellent mantra! I hope it becomes super-powerful and pulls you through all the year!

    Blogs are funny things, aren’t they? I found I wanted to write things to entertain others, to get attention, to be a big, ol’ storyteller and that pissed me off since I’d started the whole thing to entertain me, to practice my writing, and as a creative outlet where I didn’t have to feel constrained or stifled.
    I like that you’re Que Sera Sera-ing yours. That sounds like a good idea. I might something similar.
    Erica O recently posted…To find holiday joyMy Profile

    • It was a process, believe me! My creative space became a prison of doing what I thought would please others. Once I stopped jumping through hoops it became much more enjoyable. And isn’t that the point? 🙂

  2. I’ve never set a goal for my blog… maybe that’s left over from my alcoholic days… it’s just something that will happen and evolve. Writing groups and the friends I meet, like The Cat Lady, are the biggest influence and have helped shape my writing progress. Keep dreaming and writing.
    tedstrutz recently posted…New Staff Member at TedBookMy Profile

  3. I’m proud of you. Is that maudlin and condescending? I mean that I admire your character.

    This is why I wanted to do lefty pop with you. Your passion, talent, and humor are terrific and inspiring.

    I can’t wait to hang in san jose and watch our spouses eyes roll while we talk writing, politics and stuff all night.

    I have no goals for my own blog, except to work harder, smarter.

    Happy New Year
    Lance recently posted…One Piece At A TimeMy Profile

  4. It’s always so interesting to me what happens we we just let go. Profound. I’ve heard so many people mention “The Artist’s Way” recently that I’m becoming very intrigued. Great post. Thanks for sharing from your heart 🙂

  5. Love your mantra! Excellent choice, especially for those slow months that make you doubt yourself.

    And isn’t it amazing how embracing who you really are makes all that other crap melt away?
    Suzanne recently posted…ResolutionMy Profile

  6. I. Love. This.

    I notice that so much in life, that things work out amazing when I’m not trying to manipulate or control the outcome. I had no idea you were editing(?) That’s incredible! I’m happy for you. I’m a total believer in letting things happen the way they’re supposed to. kismet. All that. My VERY FIRST post on my blog said something to that extent. I love when things start coming together – exactly when I’m not at the steering wheel – and it all seems so “meant to be”.

    I have similar goals for my blog this year. The past 5 months of blogging as been surprising, educational, and incredible. I love blogging, but am still trying to learn it, figure out what my blog *is*, and discover the amazing community and support within the blogosphere. So many things have happened since I started 5 months ago and my eyes are just wide with it all! Can’t wait to see what 2014 brings!!
    You’re awesome, Natalie. xoxo
    Beth Teliho recently posted…NAPS, ZOMBIES, AND SUNSHINE.My Profile

    • So are you, Beth. I always enjoy reading your blog.
      It took me a while to get what you stressed in your first post, lol.
      And I’m learning my blog doesn’t have to “be” anything. In fact, it’s better that way. 🙂

  7. This post could have been written by me if only I was able to express myself as beautifully. I rely on humor because I’m so afraid to open up. Anyway, all the best to you, and enjoy what is certain to be a fantastic 2014 with the peaceful and graceful state with which you are embracing it.

    • Thank you. For the first six months of my blog, I relied on humor to hide how I truly felt. How ironic, to start a personal blog and not have it be personal? Anyway, thank you for the compliment.

  8. Your new mantra is perfect and inspiring, and I love it. I think that letting go and allowing your creativity take you where it will is exactly the way to go. Isn’t it freeing, to not worry about stats?? I got a bit psycho about them for a while too, and then I just let go. I’m so much more relaxed about it! I hope 2014 is truly wonderful for you!!
    Kristi Campbell recently posted…2014 Blogging Goals. What they May Be, and What They Should Be.My Profile

  9. Wow, Natalie – you have accomplished so much this year in terms of figuring out what you want out of this writing thing. I wish you much success with your freelance career (already checked out your website!), and look forward to reading more here as well. Happy new year!
    Dana recently posted…Oh, what a yearMy Profile

  10. I’m so happy for how well things worked out for you! You have a great perspective. I like your mantra too. For me, this year, I am feeling pretty directionless and am going to just see where things take me. (Not that I really feel laid back about it, but I’m trying…)
    Marcy recently posted…Abstract lightsMy Profile

  11. Sounds like a great year for you! Congrats. I hope this year will bring you continued growth and success.

    I too started last year with goals for my blog but they didn’t really work out at all. I’m hoping to put more effort into making my dreams for my blog become reality this year.

  12. That was a nice post to read. I am heading over to the books you have mentioned in here. I am assuming that once I read them, I ll be a great writer like you 😉 Your mantra seems to be the best ! Hope you have a beautiful year 🙂

  13. Beautiful! I started reading your blog late summer and I’ve enjoyed hearing about your journey.
    I’m so happy that good things are coming your way. Your insights are wonderful to read.

    Happy New Year!
    This year I’m cultivating peace- spiritually and mentally.
    Pam Huggins recently posted…HARRY’S SIGNMy Profile

  14. What a great reflection on the year and how you’ve grown (or more simply “let go”). As a long time friend it’s wonderful to see you embrace life and your passions, wherever they may lead and be content and comfortable just being YOU (Because that’s the girl I know and love- and I know it’s inevitable that everyone who meets her will love her too!). I also want to say how proud I am of you, doing what you love and being susceptible to whatever opportunities that come your way~ it’s inspiring, so keep soaring and riding that momentum! 😉

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