The end of December and beginning of January is a thoughtful time of year for me. I think back on the previous year, the highlights and achievements, the setbacks and lessons learned. Then I turn to the year that’s beginning to unfold. I ask myself, “What can I accomplish by the end of the year? What do I want to do? How can I continue to embrace the projects and ideals that matter most to me?”
This year, I’m taking that goal-setting to a new level by trying a New Year’s ritual that my friend Leanne Sowul practices. Every January, she chooses a word to guide her decisions, intentions, and actions for the next 12 months. In that way, it becomes a sort of theme for her year. And knowing what I’ll be up to in the near future, I’ve chosen my own word to be my touchstone for 2019.
Before I share that word, let’s put 2018 into perspective.
Last January, a friend gave me this New Year’s party hat. The timing for this sparkling “gift” couldn’t have been more appropriate: I was ready to send a YA fantasy novel to beta-readers, and 3 weeks into a crowdfunding campaign to help me afford a trip to the Iceland Writers Retreat. Not to mention I had a whole list of goals and plans for 2017, and if things worked out the way I’d hoped, maybe I’d be closer to my dream of being published by year’s end – a pretty good “best year ever.”
Today, that hat still sits in my writing space (a.k.a. my dining room table), and I’m no closer to being published than I was a year ago. But that doesn’t mean 2017 was “not the best year ever.” Rather, it turned out much differently than I thought it would.
Was it challenging? Absolutely. Discouraging? At times, yes. But it was also one of the most exciting, inspiring, and humbling years I’ve had the privilege of living.
For all those reasons, I can’t write this annual reflection post in the same way I’ve written those of past years. Instead of focusing on milestones, blog statistics, and defined plans that could change in a few months, I’d like to share what I learned this past year. How certain events sent my mental health spiraling and shook my faith and self-confidence. How other events and important choices helped me heal and made me look at life – even why I write – from a different perspective. How it all, in the end, reminded me that I’m intelligent, creative, and determined enough to rebound from setbacks. Continue reading
(Look for this week’s #ThursdayThoughtfulness questions after the jump.)
Happy New Year! I hope everyone enjoyed the December holidays and had a fun, safe end to 2016. 🙂
Looking back on the year, one of the words that comes to mind is “growth.” This site especially was booming. Thanks to all your shares, likes, and comments, 2016’s stats in terms of page views and visitors doubled 2015’s. And that’s despite the fact that I slowed my blogging schedule to once a week. I may be the one who writes and runs this site, but you, the readers, deserve much of the credit.
So, thank you for stopping by and coming back, for sharing your thoughts and offering feedback, for spreading the word and celebrating milestones with me. But most of all, thank you for encouraging and inspiring me. Yes. You inspire me to be not only the best writer I can be, but also my best and fullest self. And for that, I’m truly grateful.
So, let’s get to the annual year-end wrap-up, along with some quotes that reflect my feelings about 2016 and my hopes for 2017.
Starting next Monday, July 21st, the Music Monday Reviews series will be replaced with simple Music Monday postings featuring a song I’ve recently discovered or been listening to. The review series itself will be suspended indefinitely.
What’s the reason behind this change? Even though the reviews have helped improve my writing, I’ve felt like I’ve been pushing myself to write the last few. It reminds me of the reason why I left Sonic Cathedral a few months ago, except now I’ve lost the desire to write music reviews in general. Why force yourself to write something when it doesn’t inspire you?
I do want to thank everyone who has enjoyed and shared my past Music Monday Reviews. Your support is deeply appreciated, as is your willingness to share your excitement or offer your own opinions. I hope you’ll follow the new Music Monday series and continue to chime in and share if you like what you hear. 🙂
All the best,
Agharti may be a relatively young band, but their music already shows great promise. The Croatian band’s upcoming debut album, Change, introduces listeners to a melodic alternative style that’s accessible, dynamic, and thematically balanced between personal experiences and social observations. Other defining elements include a wide array of keyboard / synthesizer sounds (including violin-like complements that could pass for the real instrument) and dual vocals (male and female) on some songs that’s reminiscent of Lacuna Coil. This is one of the few instances where, in my opinion, an up-and-coming band’s first release deserves the hype invented by its record label. So I’ve decided to call Change “one of the best ‘femme metal’ surprises of 2013.”
Click here to read my review of Agharti’s Change.
Here’s a video montage of Agharti promo photos set to “Lost,” one of the songs from Change. “Lost” is an adrenaline-filled track with hurtling rhythms, bobbing keys, and “tag-team” style vocals during the chorus that make it one of the album’s highlights.
Coming Soon: Soul-Lit’s Summer issue, which includes one of my newest poems, should be published online any day now. I’ll share the link as soon as it’s available. As for my projects, I’m continuing to work on my fantasy novel (and recently passed 13,000 words!), and I already have my next review ready for Sonic Cathedral. Speaking of Sonic Cathedral, next month marks my fifth anniversary as a staff writer there! I’m planning to celebrate with retrospects here and at my Facebook page. So stay tuned!