Lately things have been standing in my way of my goals, objectives and dreams. I’ve felt like curling up in ball, crying and drowning myself in a pool of chocolate. Fortunately, I haven’t been able to find a vat of chocolate big enough in which to submerge myself. Also, my mama taught me that the only real thing standing between me and a dream is me. In order to achieve what you set out to do, you have to take steps toward that goal.
A friend asked me the other day how I was able to get the things done I say I’m going to do. It’s been a long road of discovery. The first and hardest lesson was not to over commit myself. When I was a kid, my brother dated a girl who always told me she was going to do things with me, take me to lunch, go see a movie, cut my hair, etc. She NEVER followed through. It hurt me to the core. I remember talking to Mama about it and I told her that I would never promise someone that I would do something and not do it. That’s been a hard oath to fulfill, but I try. One thing is for certain, if I tell a kid I’m going to do something, I do it.
When I was teaching high school, I would promise my class that if everyone passed the test, I’d make them cookies. I can’t tell you how many times I was up at 3 AM baking. I’d made a bargain. The students studied (or cheated, who knows?) and everyone passed the test. I had to hold up my end of the bargain.
Over the years, I’ve come to understand my limitations. I learned not to give all the classes tests on the same day, or the same week for that matter. I learned to make cookie dough on the weekend when I had free time. I’d freeze the dough and bake the cookies when I needed them.
I’ve also learned to set realistic goals. For example, the likelihood of me climbing Mount Everest, or the hill to my upper field, is nonexistent. The likelihood of me cooking a four-course, gourmet dinner for my mother’s birthday is very high. I know my skills. I know my abilities and I know my willingness to do certain things. There’s no way in the world I’m going to read the owner’s manual of my new camera. Just not going to happen. I will take the camera out, play with it and learn how to use it. Will I know everything it is capable of doing? Nope. Do I care? Nope. I’m not going to be taking action shots at a football game anytime soon. I’ll use it for things I want to use it for. If the need arises for those action shots, then I’ll read up on how to use the camera for them.
What is a realistic goal for me, isn’t realistic for others. When I told my parents that I wanted to write a book, my dad smiled and my mother gasped in horror. I had no idea how to write a novel, but I knew how to write. I’d taught English for years and written scores of grant applications (great works of fiction.) This was a realistic goal for me. For my mother? No way. She can’t even write a sentiment on a birthday card. If she’s feeling particularly effusive, she’ll write: happy, happy birthday.
My current goal is to finish the urban fantasy I’m writing, Loch Lonnie. My 14 year old cat got cancer and required a great deal of care. Then, he died. (Yes, I’m still in mourning.) My computer crashed and I lost 2 weeks of work. (No lectures of backing up documents, please. I’m an idiot and didn’t do it as often as i should have.) I broke my kneecap, which is now probably going to result in the need for surgery. Livestock has gotten ill and required a great deal of care. Other farm issues have required attention. Organizations I belong to have had a great deal of infighting and drama. I haven’t written in weeks. But you know what? Even though all those things have happened, the only reason that book isn’t finished is because I haven’t written. It’s me standing in my own way, nothing else.
Sure, those are legitimate excuses, but the bottom line is the only way Loch Lonnie is going to be finished is if I sit down and write. Mama was right. I’m determined to get the first draft of the book finished by the end of this year. And you know what? I will.
If it is to be, it is up to me.
Simple as that.