Wednesday, January 13, 2010

You will go in the direction you are looking.

Though January is already half gone (huh? whuuuh?), I've only just been able to think over the coming year and my hopes for it. I'm not calling my thoughts "resolutions," not that I think there is anything wrong with resolutions. They get a bad rap. So many people make fun of New Year's resolutions as pointless and made to be broken, but I say it's not so. It's good to be mindful about your life. Your life can be something that happens to you, or it can be something you build, consciously and conscientiously. There's a great piece of advice -- can't remember where I heard it, but it originated with someone's German ski instructor, Horst. It was this:

"You will go in the direction you are looking."

Isn't that fabulous? So simple and true -- not just of skiing, but of life. That's what New Year's *mindfulness* is all about. To get yourself looking in the direction you want to go, so your body can follow.

So, me. It's pretty much the basics, really.

-- Health and well-being and baby weight and feeling good in my skin.

-- Writing every day and finishing, in a timely manner, my novel in progress.

Those are the two things that are ALWAYS my "resolutions" every year. One year, one magical year, after not doing them and not doing them, I finally did them. Both. I finished my first novel AND lost the weight I wanted to lose (healthily) in one terrific year. Let 2010 be another such year!

In addition to the old stand-byes, there's this:

Live a beautiful and memorable life with my family. Do things. Make things. Go places. Have fun. Take pictures. Keep a journal.

My new mission statement:

Love family.

Write books.

Make art.

Enjoy the world.

Have a beautiful life.

There are some specifics attached to those, like: go camping; have a warm beach holiday (maybe Mexico?); cook more new things; get back to journaling!!!!

JOURNALING! I haven't been a consistent journal-keeper in years. Years. And I'm kicking myself now for not starting again when Clementine was born. What was I thinking? You think you'll remember everything, how you felt putting a tiny little onesie on your tiny little newborn for the first time, and what nights were like those first few weeks, and the little lamb-like newborn cry, and the first real smile, and all the marvels, day by day. I've taken lots and lots of pictures, and that's good, but the words. The thoughts. Missing. And never to come again.

It's the same with my relationship with Jim. I met him at the start of art school, and various things in my life conspired against journaling then, which I had done consistently up until that point and I STOPPED. So I don't have a record of our first months and years (now 11 years!!) and I wish I did. I wish I could go back in time and put a pen in that younger self's hand and say, "Listen, you. Write."

Thinking about these lost times -- remembered, but not as fully as they could be, it really brings home the "once-ness" of life. Life is once, and it is irretrievable. Living it fully is the first and most important thing, and if there's only time for that, and no time for recording it, so be it, but if you can do BOTH, both live it, and record it, you should. Words and pictures and movies and art and even music, all the ways of capturing life as it flies by, capturing the imprint of it on the page -- like capturing the shadow of a bird in flight, the way Magpie does in Blackbringer.

So, I'm getting back to journaling. Clementine is 5 months and I want to remember it all, as well as possible, so I'm going to start a new journal. I've been thinking this for a few days, and being me, I of course envision an ELABORATE arty journal full of collage and color and stuff (if there's one thing I do consistently in all areas of my creative life, it's: make things more complicated than they need to be), but the elaborateness of the vision is intimidating. Who ever has time to begin something like that? Never. So instead of starting something you CAN get your hands around, at midnight perhaps, after everything else is done, you just never do it. Ugh. So this morning I grabbed one of my many cute waiting-for-content blank journals from the shelf and started writing in it. So simple.

Also ... unsatisfying. I still want that color and collage and pictures pasted in and little drawings and paper doll people and scraps and string and magic ... So. I'm going to the art store later and see if I can't make that happen. But the humble journal will be sitting by, just in case.

So there's that. Do you journal?

Oh, and by the way. Clementine made the shift from bassinet to crib last night, sniff sniff. She's outgrown the bassinet. She looked so teeny in the crib by comparison, instead of filling up the bassinet. So now she's about 10 feet away at night instead of 2, which is still very near! Her little nursery is adjacent to our bedroom through an open archway, so it's not even really like she's in another room (I don't think I could take that), but still. It was weird having her even in that other space. I lit the nursery with her ladybug star-projecting nightlight (cool) and her weird and awesome glowing dinosaur light that turns rainbow colors, so it was kind of disco in there. She slept soundly until about 2:30 and then I could finally bring her in our bed to nurse. I missed her :-)

And then, this morning, as if to prove she's truly outgrown the bassinet, when I set her in it to make the bed, she was grabbing the cover off the shade and yanking it down. Yeah, she shouldn't be able to reach that. Bassinet, finis. Until the next time :-) (That's another plan for the coming year -- to *start* another baby. If it's in the cards.)

And while I'm rambling about Clementine, can I just say that 5 months is awesome? She's sitting up, eating little nibbles of rice porridge, babbling like a brook (she says mama! But it's just a coincidence. It's just the sound she makes: mah-mah-mah, etc), rolling around, grabbing everything, laughing, trying to drink out of my coffee cup, playing peekaboo, and all kinds of other stuff. Wow. It's the coolest.

Okay. That's it. New Year's mindfulness and journaling and Clementine at 5 months. More later (hopefully) on the progress of fun, colorful journaling and more art-making!!!


Anonymous said...

I don't jounal well, I get bored, and it is so much of a chore that I just don't do it, although I think I ought to.

I know that it's not entirely the same thing, but you have kept a journal through your blog, perhaps not as intimate and detailed as a private paper diary, but it is still a record of your life.


Laini Taylor said...

Yes, you're right QZQ -- and I think that blogging takes over, replaces journaling, and it's kind of sad. I mean, I love blogs and they are MORE than a journal in so many ways, but ideally there would be room for both. For the real, physcial thing, a beautiful handwritten book, to sit down with when I'm old. And yes, the blog isn't as personal as an actual journal would be, and I don't want to "over-Clementine" it, so there's a lot I don't put down here.


Alysa said...

Oh yes I journal! And I love it! My favorite part is reading back over days gone by.

When I get a hankering for color or image in my journal, I doodle or use a purple pen instead of black or blue. Some things just need pictures -- I drew our awesome halloween mowhawks.

But I keep it pretty simple and make sure to jot something down each night. If I open up the next night and find I forgot to write the night before, I don't beat myself up either. Most times yesterday was just another day in the life. I've been journaling daily now since 2005 I guess. Wow! And I feel super lucky that I've got those pages.

Myrna Foster said...

I had to run into a fence a few times, when I was learning to ride a bike, before I realized the bike went wherever I looked.

And I've been terrible about keeping a journal since my mom died almost ten years ago. I didn't want to write about what had happened and how I felt about it, so I quit. Now, I'm out of the habit, and I wish I'd written the last ten years down too.

Great post!

anne said...

Awesome, inspiring words, as always! your take on the once-ness of things is spot-on. Best of luck w/the journaling again, and keep up the wonderful blog for us to read and learn from!

Abigail said...

Ha! I journaled pretty consistently until Brian and I got together. Maybe there's a relationship between being single and journaling?

Shelf Elf said...

The "once-ness" of life.

I love that.

I have been inspired this week to act on that "once-ness." I've decided not to wait on a dream I've had. I'm going to try. Tired of putting off.

You post captures a lot of what I've been thinking about life and what matters in it.

Thanks Laini!

Heather said...

AS usual you are an inspiration to me! And yay! The dinosaur light! I had hoped it would be weird and wonderful at the same time!

Lisa Nowak said...

When I was studying graphic design one of my teachers told me that my hand would follow my eye, so I should look ahead on the page to where I wanted my hand to go. Same concept, basically, as what Horst said.

I can't be bothered to keep a journal because I feel like I'm not finishing the process of communication. For that to happen there has to be someone on the other end, reading my words. But I often record the important things that happen to me in my daily emails to my friends, so I cut and paste all of them into a Word document and call that my journal. Then I can keep a record and give myself points for killing two birds with one stone. :)

Debbie (Nerd Goddess) said...

Aww, so much fun! I'm excited to make the step to motherhood sometime in the nearish future.

As for journaling... I've always been pretty bad at it. And I, too, regret that I've only written in my journal a handful of times since I met my husband. I have a few sappy love poems from our first few months of dating, but that's about it.

For my resolutions this year, I'm going for a month-by-month basis. Each month I add a new goal! That way I don't get overwhelmed. This month was writing and scripture reading. I'm not sure what to do next month, but since I'm still getting used to writing every day, I'll probably put off journaling daily until March or April. Fun stuff!

Susan said...

Journaling... a perennial topic of discussion among writers and non-writers alike. While in Israel this summer, a non-writer friend lamented the fact that she wasn't keeping track of enough of the experience in her journal. I (veteran keeper of journals of all sorts, some more journal-ish than others), suggested that if lovely prose seemed too overwheleming, she should try jotting down phrases, impressions, colors, smells ... any associations at all - no pressure to be articulate or complete. When I saw her a few weeks ago, months after we returned from the trip, she was all smiles. She said that reading back over her random scribbles, everything came back to her, vivid and complete.

If more of us could relax into our journals, we would probably enjoy them more. My latest one is a sort of daily list of things I'm grateful for, five or so each day. They have to be very specific, and I can't repeat topics. Some examples: black dog in yellow leaves; farmer's market strawberries from the freezer in January; Sammy's square-root wristwatch, too big for his slender wrist. One day I'll write lots of sentences and paragraphs again. That's another journal, another time. This one is for moments grabbed here and there - a busy mom/writer/business-owner's attempt to put a few personal words on paper, as many days as possible.

Megsie said...

This is so weird. I just finished the book The Art of Racing in the Rain and this image of looking where you want to go came up again and again, in race-car terms, and how that applies to life. Then I come here and there it is again...ok universe, I am taking notice!

I also love my journals. I am not as consistent as I would like to be, but at least I am getting something down. I gave up the all or nothing mentality a while ago because the nothing part was winning that stand off.

Elena said...

I keep a journal every day. It is great way to clear your mind, by writing the previous day down and forgetting about it.

Vijaya said...

Great post. I never thought I'd forget some things, but I am appalled to discover how much I've forgotten ...

Natalie Goldberg's exercise on writing: I remember ... followed by I don't remember ... is so telling. And I grieve for those lost memories.

I made baby books for both my kids. I write letters to them periodically, which I tuck into their books. They will not get these until they are settled with their own babies :)

To live a beautiful life ... YES!

Marissa said...

Here's to 2010- I'll be hoping for a great start to this year for you on Monday morning when the Printz award and honors are announced! Lets keep the LIPS TOUCH love flowing ...

Tammy said...

The journal I keep for my son is in letter form. Somehow it flows better and I journal in it more often if I think of it as a long letter to him, a record of his young life. Journals Unlimited has a very cool vacation journal that I keep as well, but there not much room for art in the format of that journal.

Amber Lough said...

I have been the worst mother as far as recording anything goes. I had a baby book for Elizabeth, but I don't know where it is now. And I think I only wrote in it up till she was about four months old. Henry doesn't even have a baby book! (I keep meaning to get one.)

I used to journal every single night. I have a shelf full of old journals. But I haven't journaled seriously since I started writing novels. It's as if my energy for it has waned.

Henry doesn't say Mama yet. Whenever I say, "Can you say Mama?" he replied, "Dada." Ever time! His words are coming more frequently now, though. Everything BUT Mama. His newest, favorite word is "trash." Go figure.

Clementine is growing so fast! Does she like the Sophie giraffe? Henry still plays with his, sometimes.

Riley said...

I've journaled since I was fourteen. I have stacks and stacks of the things. I don't feel like anything in my life has really happened unless I write it down.

The book Journalution by Sandi Grayson is fantastic! Lots of writing prompts, inspiration and ideas.

jckandy said...

I got a journal for my tenth birthday, and I've made a sort of tradition to fill up and get a new one every birthday. So I'm thirteen now, on my fourth book. I'm not an every-night person, but I fill up a few pages now and then. Lately I've been writing more thoughts and stories and stuff than actual events of my day. Sometimes I write accounts of things that happened, if they're worth remembering, sometimes I write what I think are worthwhile thoughts, and sometimes I vent. An exercise I do sometimes is make up a totally random story. I write a sentence of whatever comes to mind and fill up with a few pages of events. It's a fun, no-pressure writing practice!

Anonymous said...

Maybe though blogging would be a good way to start, and kick my lazy butt into gear. :)

-QZQ (Sequoia)

Melissa said...

Can I just tell you how much I love this? I've just been thinking along the same lines; I miss journaling and wish I'd done so much more when my kids were tiny. I have the journals of one of my great-grandmas, and although she only wrote about the normal day-to-day things in her life, it is an absolute treasure to me. Especially since I never had the chance to know her. Okay, so that's my resolution: Journal, and more art & wonder. Thank you! (And BTW, I love, love, love your books! Never stop writing. :)