Friday, January 8, 2010

Slow down. Pay attention. Have fun!

My goals for the new year? Slow down. Pay attention. Have fun!

I didn’t plan to use this six-word format until I read my blogmates’ inspiring posts. I began preparing for this post the same way I always do: by making a list of my good intentions. And, oh! What a list! Impossible stuff! Become a whole new (kinder, smarter, healthier, more productive, etc.) person. Tear my entire house apart and reorganize. Catch up with everything once and for all.


So I decided to simplify—not only this post but also my expectations. I think these six words encompass everything on my list: Slow down. Pay attention. Have fun! I’ve been giving this advice to my students for years. I need to follow it myself.

To me, slowing down means being conscious of priorities and recognizing the difference between urgent and important instead of getting sidetracked into tasks that eat up time without making real progress. As Esther says, putting my own work first not only gets it done faster but also enables me to enjoy the process and gives me the satisfaction of seeing a finished piece of writing. Slowing down gives ideas time to percolate, ripen, evolve. Slowing down means making time to plan ahead, striving for that elusive balance, and avoiding frantic last-minute scrambles before deadlines.

To pay attention is to open up to possibilities: ideas to ponder and write about, of course, and also opportunities to learn about people and places, the world with its wonders and intricacies, anyone and anything that could use my help. April’s touching New Year poem shows the kinds of specific, amazing details we notice when we pay attention. When I pay attention, I’m not only inspired but also grateful.

Having fun doesn’t—or shouldn’t—need any explanation. My own mother once called me too serious. My kids are always telling me to lighten up. I need to allow myself to let go once in awhile—to enjoy a well crafted book, a delicious meal, a movie, a walk in the woods, a crossword puzzle, and certainly my writing. As Jeanne Marie points out, filling the well is not only fun but necessary. I need to remember that not all writing is serious work—some of it has to be play. I vow to spend more time playing!

No one can make me laugh like my sisters do.
Here I am with five of the six. Our cousin Nancy is in the middle. 

* * *

Remember to post your own six-word resolution and enter to win a copy of April Halprin Wayland’s award-winning picture book New Year at the Pier. (U.S. residents only, please.)

(1) Provide your e-mail address or a link to your blog in your comment so we can contact you.     

(2) Entries must be posted by 11 p.m. Wednesday, January 13, 2010 (Central Standard Time).

(3) The winner will be announced by 11 p.m., Friday, January 15, 2010.

Good Luck!


Heather Hedin Singh said...

What a fun idea!

Write. Create. Revise. Complete Enjoy.

Carmela Martino said...

Terrific post, JoAnne. I can definitely relate. And I LOVE your resolution.

Carol Coven Grannick said...

I love the idea of "mindful" writing and living, JoAnne...slowing down, paying attention and taking pleasure in the moments we're in. The positivity that's created by doing that does tend to open us up to even more possibilities. Thanks for inspiring!

mbpbooks said...

I always pity women who don't have sisters when I laugh with mine. Thanks for this reminder to pay attention.

Lori W. said...

Found your blog via comment-fest. What a treat. I also teach writing (at a community college) and write when I'm not teaching or hanging out w/my children.

I'm looking forward to checking out your writing prompts, and your children's book recommendations -- hooray!

Thank you for the reminder to slow down and play.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post and I am going to think of 6 words for my resolutions.

Amy said...

This is hard! No wonder you are good at crosswords...
Stay centered. Reach Dreams. Share Joy.

Irene Latham said...

Celebrate. Create. Inspire. Plot. Enjoy. Finish.

This reminds me of the six word biography.. also the contest at my own blog, for ONE little word for 2010.

Wishing us all luck in achieving these six words! :)

Rawley said...

I was nodding my head in agreement while reading your entire post. Why is letting go once in a while so gosh-darn hard?? Thank you for this inspiring entry.

Anonymous said...

Love this advice! Life often gets so hectic and frenzied for me, as I'm sure it does for most, that I don't feel like I get to really experience the fullness of it. By slowing down and giving myself the opportunity to truly experience what is happening, will not only make life more meaningful, it will undoubtedly make my writing more meaningful.

Jaymie said...

Found your blog thanks to the comment-challenge. What a find! I am a writer who started leading a writing club for elementary students this school year. I have S is for Story on my list of books to get as resources for our club. Can't wait to spend more time with your blog.

Carmela Martino said...

Lori and Jaymie, isn't the Comment Challenge fun? I've been discovering some great blogs, too. I hope you and our other new readers keep coming back. :-)

Kelly Polark said...

Revise, submit, complete more, be happy!

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Wow! What wonderful resolutions! I'm inspired all over again--thank you!

Lori Degman said...

JoAnn, I love your resolution - I'm going to steal it! Actually, it fits nicely with my previous 6-word resolution - Embrace the changes that are coming - if I slow down and pay attention to the changes, I'll have more fun!

I love the picture of you and your sisters! I have two myself and they make me laugh like nobody else - except my mom :-)

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Help yourself to the resolution, Lori! And have fun with your family!