Tuesday, December 31, 2013

One-word Resolution

The wonderful Laura Lippman, author of the Tess Monaghan novels and others, posts that she has a 7-year tradition of setting a one-word resolution for the new year.  (In case you’re curious, as I was, her seven resolutions to date were Stretch, Maintain, Venture, Be, Execute, Repurpose and for 2014, Appreciate.) She challenged readers to come up with their own one-word resolution and after some thought, I have done so. 
My one-word resolution for 2014 is Integrate.  The definitions, from Dictionary.com:

in·te·grate [in-ti-greyt]; verb (used with object), in·te·grat·ed, in·te·grat·ing.
1. to bring together or incorporate (parts) into a whole.
2. to make up, combine, or complete to produce a whole or a larger unit, as parts do.
3. to unite or combine.
So why is that my resolution? 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a wide array of interests and because of that, a wide array of different people in my life, often with very different lifestyles.  Being the non-confrontational sort, I don’t have much trouble living peacefully with these different groups.  In fact, I very much value the diversity they bring to my life.  But I often feel that my life is very subdivided, with certain things shared in one place and others shared in another, and never the twain shall meet. For example, it pleases me that I have extreme conservatives and extreme progressives, straights and gays, black and white, Christians of various sorts, Jews, a Moslem and a Druid as well as some who are avidly anti-organized-religion among my Facebook friends, and I quite sincerely “Like” a lot of posts from all, but it creates a real quandary, a second-guessing, when I think about things I might want to post.
Similarly, for the past 20 years or more, I have always felt like various roles that I play in life, while each very important to me, tend toward conflict with each other.  At the very least, they live together in some tension.  Not only does professional life conflict with wife and mother, but sometimes even wife and mother coexist less peacefully than one might think.  To say nothing of the balancing act between mothering my actual son and my added-on son of the past few years. I have a regular “day job” that provides much satisfaction as well as stability, but at the same time I have the strong desire to do more with my writing. So I spend most of my time feeling pulled between competing roles.

Finally, I just had my double-nickel birthday and somehow much more than my 50th birthday, the number brought me up short.  If I let it, it makes me feel old.  Or perhaps more accurately, it makes me acutely aware that I risk becoming old.  I am aware that my body is beginning to impose some limitations but at the same time also keenly aware that the more I do physically, the more I will be able to do and the longer I will be able to do it.  The same is true in my thinking.  One doesn’t live 55 years without amassing a great deal of experience, but it is always a challenge to keep the positive learning and not fall into complacency or become a curmudgeon. And there are still so many new experiences I long to try! So many books to read, so many places to visit!

So my resolution is to integrate.  To try to figure out what actually matters to me and do those things, and those things only. To focus less on my roles and how I will be received by anyone else and more on just doing what seems right and best. To make sure I continue to fill my life with new experiences while also retaining all the lessons learned from the old ones.  To really bring together the various parts of my life into a complete unit, united and whole, at peace with myself. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Deborah Crombie Reading Challenge

After a long hiatus, I had already decided it was time to resume blogging.  Now I have a wonderful impetus to move on that resolution.

The blogger JoAnne Isgro at http://litlequeenrules.blogspot.com  has issued a reading challenge for 2014.  She has invited her readers to read (or in my case, re-read) the entire 15-book series of Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James mysteries by Deborah Crombie and comment upon them.  Deborah Crombie has been one of my favorite authors for a long time, so going back and re-reading her entire series will be pure pleasure for me.  I look forward to watching the growth of the characters over time with the omniscient view of one who has already seen many of the twists life will hand them.

I know that series like this one aren't everyone's cup of tea, but they are actually my favorite type of novel.  While I like mysteries because of the enforced structure (you start with a problem and end soon after the mystery is solved) I am drawn to series because in them, unlike some other mysteries, authors really can't cut corners on character development.  If a series is going to be any good, the characters have to be multi-dimensional and they have to grow and change over time in believable ways.  

I don't own the earlier books in this series, so I had ordered the first two from my local library.  They just arrived and are now sitting on my kitchen counter.  I can hardly wait to dive into them!