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Monday, January 1, 2018

Resolve: 2018 Edition

As those of you who follow me on social media, my blog, and/or in real life know, last year at this time, I laid out a blueprint for how I was going to improve myself in the coming year—mind, body, and soul. Happily, by sticking to my plan, I successfully enhanced all three spheres: my mind (by limiting news sources and cutting out some TV hours that were redirected back to reading); my body (by re-joining Weight Watchers and losing 50 pounds over the course of the year); and my soul (by reflecting on one thing I am grateful for each day, without fail, and posting it to social media).

While I was successful with all three aspects of my self-improvement plan, the latter was particularly so. As I noted on Facebook yesterday, by focusing on what I have instead of what I want, I changed my whole outlook for the better—it helped me cope far better with the occasional disappointments or frustrations that came along during the year. Interestingly, much of what I wanted just came along during the ride and slid in effortlessly. I also found was a direct correlation between my mental state at the time I sat down to compose my daily post and the ease with which I was able to think of something for which I was grateful. On days that I was tired or cranky, the gratitude came slower than days on which I felt rested and upbeat. But by coaxing the gratitude out, it had an almost pheromonal, positive effect and helped energize me. That reinforced for me the strength of our mind-body-soul connection.

So, now 2018 has arrived and it’s time to set upon a new set of resolutions. I’m going to again eschew an ordered list in favor of the more holistic approach that seemed to work well for me last year. Why tinker with what worked? That’s the set-up; granted it’s nowhere near as compelling a preamble as last year’s with the then-current state of politics adding gravitas and a tidy, broader perspective in which to frame my resolutions. Alas, not all introductions are created equal.

I. Mind

Piggybacking on last year’s resolution to read more (which was accomplished by cutting several hours of television time out of my weekly scheduled), this year’s mind-related resolution will be to read more than last year (goodbye, GOTHAM and MADAM SECRETARY…) and—more importantly—to read more widely. It’s no secret that I’m fairly well-read in my chosen genre of speculative fiction, but I’ve found over the years that in a bid to “keep up” with all the new books published in horror that I’ve sacrificed other genres I equally enjoy. So, this year, it’s back to literary fiction, mysteries, LGBT fiction, and at least one non-fiction book that strikes my fancy (I’ve got my eye on the Armistead Maupin biography that’s been staring at me from the bookshelf).

II. Body

This one’s easy. I’m going to continue on my current weight loss trajectory and resolve to lose another fifty pounds. I swerved a little at the end of last year—in fairness, Oprah’s tinkering with the successful SmartPoints program by adding the nonsensical “freestyle” element didn’t help one iota—and January will be my month to recalibrate and get back on the proverbial wagon.

I’m also going to decrease my psychological reliance on Starbucks. Although I did successfully lose last year’s weight while indulging in a daily stop at the coffeehouse, I don’t like the fact that I “need” my Starbucks. Plus, the 18 SmartPoints I use every morning is now more than half my daily allotment under O’s re-tooled “freestyle” program so cutting back is also practical. I’m shooting for the stars here with a dramatic decrease from a daily stop (seven per week) to just two—either weekends or once on Saturday following weigh-in and one mid-week pick-me-up. Less sugar, less daily SmartPoints used, less money given to Mr. Schultz and company, although by all accounts they’re lovely folks.

III. Soul (Spirit)

Last year, I experienced my greatest resolution-related success with my daily gratitude postings. Not only did they reframe my own perspective, they also seemed to connect with folks who follow me on social media—an unintended but welcome altruistic twist on what’s essentially a bid for self-improvement. This year, I’m again going to aspiringly set out with two resolutions to enhance my spiritual well-being.

First, I’m once again to consciously devote more time to my writing. Last year, I was able to complete two short stories and submit them to editors, resumed writing book reviews for my online DARK SCRIBE MAGAZINE, (finally) finished editing the long-gestating UNPEAKABLE HORROR 2 anthology and saw that published, and rather unexpectedly discovered an affinity for writing poetry. This year, I resolve to return to one of my (three!) unfinished novels and make significant headway with one. If I find myself unmotivated to work on the novel, I resolve to write something—review, short story, or poem—to keep the forward momentum.

Second, in perhaps a quest to help foster the first, I’m going to look for inspiration. Just as I committed to reflecting on something that I was grateful for and documenting my gratitude last year, this year I’m going to seek out something that inspires me—a quote, a piece of art, a person, a place, a photograph, a book or film, a historical figure, a motivational article, a clever meme, a current events story reported in the media—and post it to Facebook each day. The idea is to refocus my perspective on all the inspiring people, places, and things that surround me and use those as inspiration to be the best possible version of myself and motivation to do the work required to do so. So, there you have it: 2018 is the year of inspiration!

I’d like to extend heartfelt wishes to all my friends and readers everywhere for much happiness, success, and a personally satisfying year of the highest order ahead. As I said last year: Irrespective of what resolutions you make this January 1st, remember—above all else—to be kinder to yourself in 2018.

With love, light, and inspiration



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