A few months ago I read a touching post on Facebook about the JAR OF HAPPINESS. The author had vowed to jot down the happiest moment of every day on whatever scrap paper she had handy and save it.
I loved the idea so much I ran out and bought a jar. Here it is. Pretty isn't it? Empty too.
Not because I'm sad or that nothing good happens, after all, every day has at least one something that brings a smile to your face. But because I let the days get away from me. There's always tomorrow to start.
Every once in a while something happens that reminds us there isn't always a tomorrow. Those events make us look around at what we have with a new appreciation.
And a week or a month later, we're back to running full tilt ahead, annoyed at the person who cut us off in the parking lot or the person who's taking too long to order a drink or frustrated about work or annoyed with the mess around the house or something. Always something. And those somethings are rarely ever worth the negative energy.
So my 2013 resolution - maybe I should call it a promise instead of resolution - is to fill my jar with the happy moments of every day.
In whatever order …
1) There really may actually be such a thing as too much caffeine.
2) How to peel a pomegranate without leaving the entire kitchen - and myself - covered in red splotches.
3) It doesn't matter how many things I still need to do after picking up my son from school, the most important thing is listening to him talk about his day.
4) Sometimes unplugging from email and social media is the best thing you can do.
5) It's good to be serious but don't take yourself too seriously.
6) It's okay to be scared of something. It's not okay to hide from it.
7) I can get through a day without a to-do list (two days is pushing it though).
8) You can try to hide in the bathroom but they'll still find you and talk at you (or meow) through the door.
9) I thought I'd like writing because it's a solitary career for the most part. But I love writing because of the friends I've made.
10) Patience doesn't come with maturity.
11) The 'I can't do this" spiral of self-doubt? I have the power to stop it.
12) I don't have to feel guilty about taking the time to curl up and read.
I finished the manuscript I was working on a week or so ago and sent it out to make the query rounds. I've been working on that particular story for about 8 months and the characters in that book have become my friends. We've spent a lot of time together.
So on the one hand, I'm really excited to see it done and hope that one of the agents reading it will fall in love with Maia and Hank like I did. On the other hand, I'm sad not to have Maia and Hank with me every day.
The common advice you'll get in the writing circles is to start a new project immediately. It helps keep the brain focused on something other than the pinging of incoming emails. But when you've spent so much time developing the world your characters live in, the conflicts they face, the discussions they have, the bathrooms they renovate (you'll have to wait until the book is out for that bit of insight), it's not always easy to switch to something new.
A few story ideas have been rolling around in my head but nothing that I could really grab onto and say "oouuu, that's good." My tired braincells were starting to feel pretty crampy and cranky with the whole "brainstorming" process that wasn't very brainstormy at all. Until today.
I was on twitter in the middle of an exchange about personalizing holiday cards. I got up to switch a load of laundry and there it was … the brilliant little idea that's been dodging me. And it has nothing to do with either of the ideas I'd been desperately trying to coax out of my brain. And suddenly the mood of the last week has lifted and my Post Manuscript Syndrome mood has shifted to Pre Manuscript Syndrome. Luckily that version of PMS doesn't include the cramps and bloating. But it does include a mood swing or two.
Who knew laundry and twitter were such a fabulous brainstorming combination. Where do you get your ideas?