It’s December 30, which means 2015 will last for just two more days: today and tomorrow.
Personally, I’m looking forward to the change.
For me, the new year represents a chance to put behind me the many missteps I’ve made this year and start over. A chance for another new beginning,
This is not the first time I’ve made a new beginning in my 67 years. But it is the first time I’ll be blogging about it.
I’ve had a full year of bad decisions. Mistakes. Regrets.
For someone who prides herself on her willingness to jump off the high dive and “figure it out on the way down,” I expect a few bad landings.
But as I look back on 2015, I made the same bad decisions in February and March that I made in November and December. Did I learn nothing? My missteps are bookends to my year. And I can’t wait for it to be over.
I’m not looking for the high points of 2015. Those are easy to find but they don’t teach me much. Instead, I want to understand the low points, the decisions I wish I could do over.
I believe it’s OK to make bad decisions. Really.
Lucille Ball once said, “I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done.”
It’s a preference I’ve had too, for many decades.
I’m a jumper. I climb the high dive ladders, I look around (more so since my years in Kazakhstan, as those of you who’ve read my book can attest) and I enjoy the view. I make sure there is water down below — I’m not suicidal — and then I jump.
If I’m going to make a mistake, it’s going to be because I went ahead and jumped, not because I climbed back down.
We’ve all had to fall when learning to walk. Imagine where we would be if we’d never tried!
We’ve all given a really bad speech at some point, or been caught in a really embarrassing moment, or struck out at bat. The game goes on. There’ll be other times at bat, other embarrassing moments. And we’ll survive them all.
Without bad decisions, without mistakes, without regrets, how can we be sure we’ve lived life to the fullest?
How would we know how competent we are, what we’re fully capable of ? We have to push on, test our limits, try, and yes, fail sometimes too. Then try again.
Now I’m not advocating we dwell on our regrets. Not at all. That’s a waste of energy. See them, own them, learn from them. Maybe write a story about them. Then move on.
They seemed like such good ideas at the time.
Isn’t that usually the way with regrets? They seem to be the right thing in the moment. I’ve never met anyone who charges into a regret saying, “Let’s see how badly this turns out.” No, we tell ourselves what a good idea such and such is …
My regrets have evolved over the years.
Maybe yours have too. I’ll summarize what I’ve learned from mine.
Ages 0 – 19 The mistakes of early childhood simply don’t count, for anyone. We’d all better make mistakes then. We’re expected to make mistakes, certainly through adolescence. My real regrets from this era, the ones I remember, stem from a lack of self-confidence. And that’s OK too; if I’d made different decisions back then I’d not be here in my little stone house in rural Vermont writing this blog. I love where I am today. And my mistakes helped get me here.
Ages 20 – 39 These were the years when my hormones ruled my brain. Mix that with a continued lack of self-confidence and you get a wealth of mistakes, a torrent of regrets. Lots of stories to tell, too. Published postumously of course.
Ages 40 – 59 I grew up during these years. And I learned to love myself. But I did it in a whirl of activity. My mistakes here are linked to my inability to sit still. “God grant me patience and grant it to me now” would have made the perfect bumper sticker for me during those years.
Ages 60 — present The mistakes I’m making now are generally connected to the assumptions I’m making, the expectations I’m holding, and belief in things that simply aren’t true. And when I look even closer, they all involve technology and my print book’s availability to be sold.
- I expect I will be able to figure out whatever the new technology is.
- I believe my brain is up to the task. And
- I assume it is going to be intuitive.
2015 was a year that began and ended with the poor choices I made in the technical aspects of editing, formating, and publishing my book. Or should I say, “reediting, reformatting, and republishing” my book?
Throughout the year, I found myself faced with choices about
- when to give up and hire a professional,
- which professional to hire,
- how much to pay for that help,
- whether or not the job was done right, and
- how to determine when “good enough” was good enough.
From last February — when I took over the publication rights from Ant Press without fully understanding what I needed to know — to early December — when I added three additional pages of review excerpts, throwing off the pagination in the front matter — 2015 has been filled with technological challenges the likes of which I hope to never see again.
I’ve been brought to tears on three occasions. I’ve thrown up my hands and declared defeat twice. And I’ve spent every dollar of profit I’ve made and then some.
I was my own worst enemy. And some day I’ll find the humor in it all and write about it. If I can remember any of it by then.
Today, as I look back over 2015, I know that the changes in technology are happening at a pace I am unable and unwilling to keep up with.
I’m tired of reading the “how to” articles and books, only to find that a new one comes out three months later with newer information.
No more “How To” books. I’m going to be satisfied with what I’ve got, where I am, and that I’ve put out a book I can be proud of.
And so, in 2016, I will walk away from it all… Once I finish this last print proof and upload it to Create Space.
2015 has also been a year filled with speaking engagements and book signings, serenity and singing, gratitude and glee. But those stories fail to teach me much that is new. I’m grateful, I say “thank you,” and then I look around for another high dive to climb.
2016, here I come. What have you got to teach me? I hope it’ll have nothing to do with technology.
How about you? As you look back on 2015, what do you see?
I’ve noticed that most people prefer to hear horror stories about your travels rather than how wonderful it was. So bad is good.
Not looking back. It was a working hard year. Looking forward to new fresh moments. Happy New Year to you and yours!
Thanks, Susan. And you’re starting off the new year with a fresh new blog look. I”ve been enjoying the chapters you’ve been posting. And eager for the book to come out. And yes, our bad moments can (eventually) turn into good stories. Tension. The good stuff just doesn’t yield the narrative tension, I guess. I send you Happy New Year from Vermont, USA to Uraguay.
I go to a different drummer, not embodying a strong, goal-centered discipline, so I cannot empathize with you, but feel for you trying to tell your story and deal with all the details of publishing and marketing. I was in the marketing field much of my career and could only sustain it if i totally believed in “my story”. You and Susan believe and push through, and I admire you both for that energy. When I’m on, creatively, I’m ON, and otherwise things get done but without the creative drive that lights my fire.
Regrets? To me they equate with intent.
Now, that I am reflecting on this, I realize that I, too, have determination, but a different sort comes to mind.
I can only celebrate 2015 in that I did work hard to strengthen my back so I could dare to go to GB and FR. I accommodated myself at airports with wheelchair assistance, and pushed myself just enough, ahead of time with weekly chiropractor appointments and water aerobics 2x a week, big push for me, a sloth, generally. Long ago, I learned to let go to my gut, and stop the mind-dancing that only resulted in circling and no action.
On this trip, I was so happy, despite being in a car accident, near the end of my journey. My strength from water aerobics helped me, there, and my general attitude got me through the pain and aggravation, resultant, eventually. I would have regretted NOT taking the risk, and not listening to my gut, hearing it was OK to go. What will she (my gut) encourage me to accomplish this year? Weight loss? Publishing w/o fear of the annoying technicalities? I think if I do write enough to publish, I will hire most of it out, after hearing of your frustrations. You both are wind beneath my wings.
Hi Nancy, If your writing is anywhere close to showing the joie de vivre that your paintings express, it will be a delight to read. Thank you for stopping by. See you next year.
joan Z. Rough
For me, regrets are things I don’t like with to carry around with me. If I did I’d be in a constant state of beating myself up. I also jump from the high dive, but where ever I land I figure that’s where I’m supposed to be. I learn lots from my mistakes and missteps and thankfully I also learn from all of the great things I accomplish all of the way.
I hope the coming year will be filled with lots of good things for you, including technology and the sale of your book.
Thank you, Joan. You’re looking at the release of your book this coming year I believe. May the force be with you. (Guess which movie I just saw?) Happy New Year to you and Bill.
Kelly Boyer Sagert
It’s been a year of significant change,
Kelly Boyer Sagert
Not sure how my comment got published already! But 2015 was a year of significant change, for sure. I’ve wanted to be a 100% fulltime freelancer for so long and began to think it would never happen. But, it has. I’ve also published a book that’s been percolating and so much more. Scary, exciting, crazy, fun. Insane.
Oh Kelly, that IS exciting news. And “scary, exciting, crazy, fun, and insane” has its upside too. May the Force be with you. (It seems I can’t help myself. The Force is too strong.)
Kelly Boyer Sagert
Thanks! Lots of upsides, for sure . . . and 100% sanity has never been my strong suit.
Shirley Hershey Showalter
Oh Janet, I felt with you as you described the agony of trying to learn book technology on your own. I had three months of downtime on my blog as I converted to a new WordPress theme. I know a little of how you feel.
I am in the midst of doing my 2015 review and started writing about my ritual today. It will take at least one more week to finish the ritual.
The idea of describing regrets is a good one. They do make the best stories — eventually!
May you never have to learn new software in 2016!!
You always know just the right thing to say, Shirley. Thank you. I pray your blessing holds true. 🙂 And that very important word, “eventually,” that’s a biggy. Time, distance, perspective. Even my major meltdown of a few weeks ago seems to be put in its rightful place with the advent of those three. I look forward to your 2015 recap with eagerness. Happy New Year to you and Stuart and your brood.