Reflections on 2018 and My Keyword for 2019

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.

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The Creativity Corner: Spring 2018

I’m having a hard time finding the right word to describe this past spring. “Rollercoaster” would be… appropriate, but exaggerated? April was turbulent in terms of stress and emotions, and the beginning of May was busy mostly because of vacation. But for the most part, May and June were much calmer. And regardless of what was going on, I continued making progress on different creative projects… except for one.

Yeah. Unfortunately I lost some momentum (and confidence) with Draft #1 of my new manuscript. But I shouldn’t focus so much on the one hiccup, because the highlights (including a certain cookbook that is now out in the world!!) were fantastic. In fact, let’s kick off this post with…

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What’s Making Me Happy: April and May 2018

Um…. Hi everyone. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

The short story is, I had to take about 2 months off from blogging here. It was unexpected, to say the least, and I feel badly that I disappeared unexpectedly like that. But don’t we all go through periods when life offline goes a little… well, nuts, and we have to rearrange our priorities temporarily? And now that things appear to be smoothing out, I think I’m ready to make a comeback.

And what an appropriate post to return with, right? I really do love this What’s Making Me Happy series, and for so many reasons. So let me share some of the things that brought much-needed joy and lightness despite the stress of the past two months. Feel free to share what’s made you happy recently in your comments. 🙂

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Reflections on 2017, and What Matters More than Having the “Best Year Ever”

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

More Poetry News

Two literary magazines have accepted my work for publication later this year!

First, Soul-Lit, a Massachusetts-based online journal that focuses on spiritual poetry, will feature my new poem “Elegy” in its Summer 2012 issue. If you read my recent report on the 2013 Massachusetts Poetry Festival, Soul-Lit may sound familiar. Its editors put on the “Soul-Lit: A Panel on Spiritual Poetry” event that had resonated with me. I even mentioned in the blog entry that I was planning to submit work to the journal after attending that event.

Second, three previously unpublished poems – “The Critic And The Muse,” “Nightmusic,” and “Eve Of Spring” – will be included in The Curry Arts Journal’s 40th anniversary issue this fall. The Curry Arts Journal (also known as CAJ) is the student literary magazine of Curry College (my alma mater) in Milton, Massachusetts. As part of the upcoming milestone, CAJ’s faculty advisor invited alumni who had published poetry, short stories, essays, and artwork in the journal as students to submit new work. The CAJ editorial staff is also planning on-campus activities to celebrate the anniversary.

I can’t express how grateful and ecstatic I am to be a part of both publications. I also recommend you check out both Soul-Lit and CAJ if you have a chance. You can read past issues of Soul-Lit here and find more information about CAJ on Facebook and at Curry College’s website.

Soul-Lit’s Summer 2012 issue will be online in July, and the 40th Anniversary Issue of The Curry Arts Journal should be published in September. I’ll share any links here as soon as they’re available.

Coming Soon: My review of Edenbridge’s The Bonding should be online at Sonic Cathedral by this weekend. Plus, as I’ve promised, a new “Chronicling The Craft” article will be posted after I’ve reached the 10,000-word mark in my novel-in-progress.

Field Trip: 2013 Massachusetts Poetry Festival

2013 Mass Poetry Festival

Attending local literary events has become one of my favorite ways of pursuing and nurturing my writing passion. I’ve gone to the Boston Book Festival every year since its inception in 2009, and also to the AWP Conference in Boston this past March. These have all been immensely enjoyable learning experiences that convince me to return the following year. So, for this reason, I finally made plans to go to the 2013 Massachusetts Poetry Festival. This year’s edition was held in Salem, Massachusetts from Friday, May 3 through Sunday, May 5. I was only able to go on Saturday, but what a nourishing – and gorgeous! – day it turned out to be. Continue reading