And welcome to the longest blog post ever! I didn't hang out at the blog much this year, and now I'm making up for it with one epic post of supreme longness.
It's time for one of my favorite moments of the year, the making of New Year's goals. (I don't do resolutions, I'm more of a follow-through kind of girl).
Last year I made some really big promises to myself, and I confess I fell short of achieving many of my goals, but I'm okay with that. I didn't know exactly where I wanted to go this time last year. I'd spent the previous 18 months writing constantly and I'd forgotten what to do with free time. Thankfully, I rediscovered free time (and what to do with it) this year. And because I was willing to go with the flow and pounce on the opportunities the universe offered, I think I had a much more interesting year than if I'd stuck to my list of resolutions.
My adventures included:
Adventure one: Training for and completing my very first 5k. And not just any 5k, but a zombie infested 5k through a muddy obstacle course. An obstacle course that included a zombie infested maze (most terrifying thing ever ever ever) and an electrified fence (which I confirmed was live when I accidentally touched it with my tennis shoe and received a zap).
(Images from the RUN FOR YOUR LIVES Facebook page, various photographers.)
I ended up walking and sprinting rather than jogging the whole thing, and my girlfriend and I both had our flags taken and crossed the finish line zombified, but it was a weekend I will never forget. It was so much fun, and a great experience to share with a dear friend I've been happy to reconnect with this year.
Adventure 2: I learned to sew like woah.
I went from not knowing how to operate a sewing machine to making things like this:
Not pictured are the fully lined swing coat I made for my mother for Christmas, the VW bus pillow I appliqued, the overalls I could never convince 3 to put on his body, or all the Halloween costumes for my kids (because the pictures didn't turn out, but I can't talk about that or I will fall into despair. There is nothing sadder than a Halloween without pictures.)
I have always wanted to learn to sew and when the opportunity arose after a chance meeting at Trader Joe's, I discovered it was just as amazing as I'd always imagined it would be and cursed myself for letting a goal remain an imagining for so long. (I also met a wonderful teacher and friend. She is adorable, as is her family, and I really hope she won't be moving away!)
Adventure 3: Not only did I honor my goal to get back to ballet class, I decided to get back into my toe shoes and audition for The Nutcracker.
This was, by far, the hardest of my adventures this year. When I first returned to ballet class, I couldn't turn without getting terrible vertigo, I had lost almost all of my former flexibility, and was terribly frustrated by the loss of control over my body. And even when my skills started to return, I had a HELLISH time getting back in toe shoes. I weigh about 20 pounds more than a did when I used to dance and I swear my foot is a different shape. I was in pain unlike anything I've felt since childbirth, pain I never experienced when dancing on toe as a younger person. I almost quit more than once, but I had determined that I would dance in The Nutcracker if it killed me, and so I kept pushing and pushing and pushing, even when I felt like a fool auditioning with girls half my age (and nearly half my size, many of them) and discovered I have arthritis in my hip and maybe tendonitis as well (we'll see how my meeting with the ortho goes next month).
And a few weeks ago I danced onstage for the first time in fifteen years. It was wonderful and terrifying. Wonderful because dancing for an audience and being part of a show with people who are excited about the same thing you're excited about is as much fun as I remember, and terrifying because getting onstage was scary for the first time in my life. I'm not as steady on my toe shoes as I once was, and I was legitimately afraid that I was going to slip and fall and injure myself during the show.
Even more strangely, the people watching me scared me. I mean, nearly petrifying terror, which I confess shocked the hell out of me. I used to make my living as a performer, I never imagined I could be so vulnerable to stage fright. But thankfully, with the help of some of the other dancers, I remembered that I needed to create a character to hide behind. I spent a night imagining what my character did in her spare time when she wasn't dancing for Clara (it involved lounging it hot tubs and eating chocolates brought to her by handsome Spanish men and practicing her fan dancing) and I got a handle on my nerves. And in the end I was pleased with my performances, especially considering I was just getting back into the swing of things after so long.
Still, I cried while I was driving home after the last show. It was just so hard, but also amazing to be dancing again when I was sure I was too old to ever experience ballet this way again. I ended up a little overwhelmed. Which was also awesome. You're not living unless you're overwhelmed once and awhile, right?
Other assorted adventures: I made it to Hawaii with my husband (not quite out of the country, but it sort of felt like it while driving up to Hana). Went red head the way I've always wanted to. Made a paper mache Lumpy Space Princess with my boys. Went to Disneyland and rode all the roller coasters with my speed obsessed offspring. Became a soccer mom. Saw both my babies learn how to ride a bike without training wheels (sniff! they are getting so big!). And had pin-up photos taken in a 1950's style bathing suit (for my husband's birthday present) and felt pretty even though, according to our culture, I'm not nearly skinny enough to be attractive in a bathing suit anymore.
It was a great year. A truly wonderful, adventurous, scary, thrilling year even if I didn't learn to speak Spanish or play the ukulele.
Now, before I go into next year's goals, I wanted to touch briefly on the one resolution I excelled at last year. I promised I'd write fewer books and was hoping to finish only 2 books in 2012 (instead of 5-6). Now, 12 months later, I find that I only finished 1 book in 2012. I started about five others, but only finished 1. Still, that one is a book I am so pleased with.
I really pushed myself writing OF BEAST AND BEAUTY, and the result is the first book in my career that moves me no matter how many times I reread it for edits and copyedits and line edits and etc, a book that I love though, at times, it was misery to write (pushing yourself is rarely a fun thing, I've discovered, at least not at the beginning of the process). I love this book so much. I know in my heart it's the best book I've written so far and I am so satisfied with it and so proud of this story. Really, I can't emphasize how rare and wonderful this feeling is. I am very hard on myself when it comes to um...everything, so to be at peace with something I've finished is truly a blessing.
Still, I think I'm ready to get back into the swing of things and pick up speed again with my word count, and so my first goal of the year is:
Goal one: Finish at least three manuscripts in 2013
Finish my 2014 young adult fantasy for Delacorte.
Finish one of the three middle grade projects I started this past fall.
Finish one manuscript of my choice (this may end up being a Megan Berry novel I started last fall. I've got 20k of an anticipated 80k finished, but I have to see if my schedule allows time for all the work involved in self-publishing.)
Goal two: Push myself harder in ballet class.
Okay, I confess it, I want to be the snow queen in The Nutcracker next year. I've always loved that number, and my husband is dying to see me in a tutu (he's a dirty old man, but he's mine, and I love him) and I'm going to see if I can make it happen before my toes give out.
Goal three: Make play clothes.
I want to make myself the clothes I always imagined I was wearing when I would play dress up when I was a little kid. (I used to dress up in what I believed to be historically correct costumes to read my favorite classic fiction books. I was a strange child, but I entertained myself, so...)
I'm going to make fun dresses with long skirts that sweep the floor and at least one completely historically accurate costume--from the petticoats to the corset and etc. (Though I may skimp on the shoes. Historically correct shoes sound like a pain in the ass. Or the heels. Ha!)
And I'm going to wear these clothes around my house, and maybe outside the house if I am of the mind to. I figure its never too early to start practicing to be an eccentric old lady.
Goal four: Limit the internet.
I love and hate the internet. Mostly I love it, like when I get to touch base with friends and find sewing tutorials, but there was a time this year when the internet contributed to making me pretty damned depressed. I don't need that crap. Life's too short. And so I'm going to be limiting my internet time to one hour on work days and two hours on the weekend. This will help me keep my time on the internet productive instead of self-destructive. I think it will also help me meet goal number one through three. Less time on the net means more time to write, sew, and ballet!
Goal five: Be more romantic
I have the best husband in the world. I want to make sure he knows how special he is to me. I used to make more of an effort to write love notes and surprise him with little treats. I want to start doing those things more often again this year. Being together for 7 years is no excuse for slacking in the romanticizing department.
Goal six: Keep honoring the weekend
Our family dynamic has been much more satisfying since I started taking two days off in a row. It's good for our morale and no one should have to work six days a week, anyway. Bunk that.
Goal seven: Stop being a dumbass.
I've always been the type to assume that people who don't care for me/my work are probably right and people who adore me/my work must be sweetly, lovably out of their minds. It has recently come to my attention (I'm a slow learner, forgive me) that this mindset is unfair to me and, more importantly, unfair to the wonderful, intelligent, and not-at-all-out-of-their-minds people who write me daily to tell me they enjoy my books. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize with all my heart for being this kind of dumbass and I promise not to be a dumbass in this particular way anymore. (Though I will probably be a dumbass in some other way. If getting older has taught me one thing, it's that I'm way dumber than my early scholastic achievements led me to believe.)
Goal eight: Learn to play the ukulele. For real.
This should be made easier by virtue of my holiday present, this little beauty:
She's an electric ukulele. (The only thing more fun that a normal ukulele! Squee!) I can't wait to start learning her ways.
Goal Nine: Go back to school.
I've enrolled in one college class for next semester, which is the most I can carry with work and family and etc. I'm on the wait list and will need a pre-requisite waiver, but I'm crossing my fingers I get in. It's a pattern-making class. I'm going to major in fashion design. I'm a sucker for impossible professions, what can I say? Life's too short to shoot for only the possible things.
Goal Ten: Find a way to make a difference.
My heart broke for this country more than once this year--from all the "legitimate rape" crap from the politicians, to the general lack of compassion for the poor in our country, to the insistence that guns are the only way to deal with our country's out-of-control gun problem, to young people killing themselves to escape being bullied, and a hundred other darts to the soul. I can't stand it anymore. I need to do more than I'm doing to make this insanity stop. I have no idea what that is at the moment--I'm still reeling from the Newtown shootings to be honest, I don't know how long it will take before I stop hurting for those people--but I need to do something. If you've got any good plans of insanity-defense, let me know.
Goal Eleven: Remember to relax and go with the flow.
It worked out okay this year.
Happy New Year to you all. Let's make 2013 full of adventure and sparkle and kindness,