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2018: A Review

I’m a little late in getting this posted, because the end of 2018 was a whirlwind. But I’m making the time here and now, so let’s do this.

My 2018 word for the year was “Centered.” More than any of the words I’ve chosen over the past few years, this one stuck with me all year long. I reminded myself of it often—almost daily, when things got out of hand. It helped me stay focused and forced me to prioritize. Here’s an in-depth look at how it did that, in each area I set for myself:

Writing: I'll be launching two new books this year (LIGHTS, CAMERA, DISASTER comes out March 29, and CAPTAIN'S LOG: SNOWBOUND hits stores November 6). While I promote those, I need to stay centered on writing new work and maintaining my momentum. I'll be revising a 2019 middle grade, a 2019 picture book, and drafting a 2020 middle grade novel. Plus, I'm working on a super-fun project with a friend. So firmly centering on and stoking creativity is a must this year!

Results:I am most proud of this category. Both books came out and were fun to promote. I produced more work this year than I have since I became a published writer, and although I didn’t finish the novel that I hope will come out in 2020 (or early 2021), I made huge headway on it. I also wrote a chapter book, and that super-fun project with a friend has taken me in an unexpected direction. Taking a victory lap on this one! Reading: I'm centering my reading on writers of color and underrepresented narratives this year. Using Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge as my guide, I am aiming for more than 60% of books read to fall in these categories.

Results:This is my second weakest category, for lots of reasons. I only read 21 novels (I don’t keep track of the picture books, but it was over 60) and about 30% of them were by writers of color/fulfilled the Read Harder Challenge categories. I will try to do better this year. Health: This year I'm going to try meditation as a centering element. I've added an app on my phone (Stop, Breathe, & Think) and set a reminder to meditate 3 days a week. I'm also planning to keep up with the healthy eating of 2017.

Results:I struggle with this category Every. Year. I’m terrible at taking care of myself and getting my own needs met. Several times my Stop, Breathe, Think reminder would pop up and I’d swear at it, say “who has time to breathe?!”, and close it. So, renewed focus in this area for 2019.

Family: I've loved the "take the kids someplace new every month" that I've been doing for the past two years, so I'm carrying that over. I am also going to make sure that family is at the center of things as the demands on our time increase and days get busier.

Results:We had a great year as a family. Our kids get along and their personalities are fun to be around. We had lots of adventures on our monthly excursions, and I watched both kids deepen their love of reading. So this one is a win.

Financial: I'm keeping our financial goals at the center of our planning. We're making great progress and I want that to continue.

Results:We hit a major goal that we’d been working towards, and I’m proud of the teamwork that Husband and I have employed in meeting the benchmarks we set. Politically: 2017 had me much more engaged politically than I've ever been. Our town is transitioning to a city, with a new form of government. I'm going to look for opportunities to participate locally, centered on community, as well as to continue doing the work I've done on the federal level (calls, writing, marching, etc).

Results:I had to make a hard decision on the town government line. I was tempted to sign up for an open public service spot (one on the library committee, which I would have loved), but I realized that I would have been stretched more thinly than I could possibly bear. So I didn’t. Maybe that, in its own way, is a win? I kept up with my federal engagement, making calls, writing to my elected officials, and also donated to causes that matter to me. Civic involvement is the new normal for me.

Overall, I can’t complain about how 2018 worked out. It was hard—especially the fall, which was packed with book events, family stuff, and job-stuff—and there were times when I was awash in too much of everything. But using “centered” as my guide helped steer me through. Let’s hope my 2019 motto, LIVE DELIBERATELY, will do just as well by me.

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