Shiny New Years Sans Resolutions

It’s here, that Shiny New Year, full of promise. Full of resolutions, goals, dreams, whatever you want the New Year to become. I’ve never been big on New Year’s Resolutions, so it was with tongue in cheek when I offered a winter ride called “New Year’s Resolution Ride” (NYRR) the first Saturday after the New Year, followed by “New Year’s Resolution Reinforcement Rides” (NYRRR) two or three days in January. As a winter ride leader, I offered these rides several years–until last year, when I realized I needed to lead fewer rides, and focus more on riding while writing.

A tiny slice of forest, trees bare of leaves.

My spring-summer-fall writing view awaits winter’s end. Still pretty, but too cold to write out here.

I contemplated New Year’s Eve invitations, my traditional New Years Day participation in the Westerville Bike Club’s ride, and my writing. This year, writing and a shorter workout won out. I haven’t resolved to work out more in 2017, but I have been working on finding the precarious, difficult balance of writing/riding/running/gardening + all the other “adulting” tasks. I hadn’t run since Thanksgiving, so I decided that this year I’d begin it with a run rather than a ride, and spend even more time writing now that the chaos of Christmas had ended.  I write because I love it, it’s in my blood, and I have dreams of seeing my books enjoyed by readers across the world. It takes hard work to make any dream a reality. Good thing I come from a family where hard work serves as the foundation of everything we do.

“Aim for the stars,” as one of my favorite bookmarks says. “You may not reach them, but you’ll fly far higher than if you had never aimed.” So long as I’m having fun writing, despite the added pressure of the day job, I’ll continue to write, and chase that dream of seeing my name in print; of smiles, tears, and laughter from readers.

I suited up for the low thirties, grabbed the freshly charged Garmin, and set a modest goal of running and walking two miles. Out I went. On the third interval of six minutes running, the lack of fitness base showed. Out came my first trick: ok, run thirty more seconds.  That goal met, and I still hadn’t had a form break big enough to feel, my lungs burning, I set the next goal: the mailbox a hundred yards upstream. That met, the traffic light another sixty yards away.

Shari stands in her bicycling jersey before the forest

I’m back from my bracing NYD run/walk.

Gasping, huffing warm air that fogged my glasses, I made the turn for home. I knew I didn’t have another six minute-interval in me given the last set, but maybe I could do a shorter run/walk interval if I gave myself two minutes to recover. I set the plan: run one hundred paces, walk one hundred, borrowing from what I’d learned training up to seven miles in the spring. With extra walking for the cooldown, my shiny New Year’s Day exercise finished at a pleasing 2.3 miles.  I welcomed this shiny New Year with endorphins from my run, got to cooking a chicken noodle soup, and hunkered down to write.

 

Find Your Tribe

Writing may be lonely, solitary work, but it takes a tribe to produce a kick-butt piece. Introvert though I am, I’m taking the advice of the published authors who have talked at Westerville Public Library, Upper Arlington Library, Worthington Public Library: find your tribe, the writers who “get” you, your type of writing, our challenges. We’re stronger for that tribe.

A fantastic writing friend, Kim D. Bailey, invited me to join a private Facebook group to track our fitness, committing to a healthier 2017.  A bunch of us are writers, all struggling to re-find that balance of looking out for our own physical well-being while we chase our dreams that have us so sedentary. Writer S.C. McCole then invited us to set goals for fitness. I’m committing to a realistic four workouts a week the first two weeks; then I’ll set the next goal after I see how I’m doing.

To help me in that, I borrowed a page from another writer friend, paranormal romance writer Karin Shah. She’s adjusted the mantra BISHOK (or something like that—butt in seat, hands on keyboard) to log treadmill time while writing. She’s covered distances up to seven miles at a time, hammering out the stories of the Mara brothers who star in her Chimera Chronicles.

treadmill with boxes bungie corded to make a platform for keyboard. Computer on a DVD holder.

Jury-rigging the solution to see the computer, type on the wireless keyboard, and get in a workout.

My jury-rig requires two bungie cords, a banana box, and a deconstructed box. It’s not the best solution, but it is one that allows me to walk at a reasonable rate and type. The attempt to use my Dragon Naturally Speaking to dictate while walking, however, didn’t work. The software picked up the old treadmill’s hum as endless repetitions of “him” and one word from the sentence I said about how MILC  (A government division chasing Magic, incantations, legends, and curses) camouflages their entrance in a dump. The word it caught, “stench,” made me laugh.

Thanks to the treadmill time, I also met one more goal, carving out more time for agent research. This weekend, I submitted to Caitlin Blasdell of Liza Dawson Associates (and, now I’m a fangirl of Sarah Prineas, check out her young adult books Ash & Bramble and Rose & Thorn). My dream is to find an agent who represents fantasy across adult, young adult, and middle grade. Ideally, the agent represents women’s fiction. The picture I form of the agent in reading her or his bio, interviews, client list, and tweets must make me feel like our personalities would mesh.

 

Roll With the Setbacks

Not every shiny New Year’s plan or resolution goes off without a hitch. If it did, where would the fun be? And gyms wouldn’t see a crush of participation the first week that falls off in the second week, and plummets in the third and fourth weeks. A handful survive their resolutions long enough to make them a new habit.

The joint goal of exercise and finishing the rough draft of Solve for x by April 30 met the first setback at yesterday’s regularly schedule massage therapy appointment. Therapist Christine Graham found all sorts of muscle tightness I didn’t realize had started, and the only new thing in the routine was the treadmill typing.  Until I find a successful way to dictate, I’ll leave the “writing” behind when I step foot on the treadmill. This means I must stay diligent in hitting the workout first thing in the door, before dinner, and therefore before I set fingers to keyboard.

small creek lined with large rocks protecting the creek banks

The calming beauty of the creek, flowing with the above-freezing temperatures

That setback aside, a week and a half into my shiny new year, and I’m feeling grand sans resolutions, but with goals and actionable plans. The trick, I know, is to re-establish this workout habit while writing and editing, and not letting the house chores slide. With my online group, I’m accountable, and that’ll help keep me honest and on track.

How shiny is your new year? Have you set goals, made resolutions, or done anything else to keep you on a path to happiness? What is it? I’d love to hear your story.

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