People who’ve known me for a while know that I gave up New Year’s Resolutions years ago.
So a few years back, I opted to give up resolutions and instead choose a word of the year. One word that would give my year focus. Words like Stop, Moment, Awareness, Optimism and Change. So this last week, I started to think about my word for 2014.
My husband gave me a FitBit Flex. I didn’t even know they existed until I opened the box. If you didn’t either, it’s a little gum bracelet that tracks your steps (it also will let you track your meals and your sleep). And when you reach 10,000 steps it gives you a lovely little buzz on your wrist. Maybe it’s Pavlovian, but I find I’m enjoying the little reward! I've decided that this year will be my year of 10,000 steps…which led to my word of 2014.
I was thinking about a new word for 2014 yesterday as I walked, step by step, getting closer and closer to that goal. I realized that my husband hadn’t just given me a geek toy he thought would give me glee and help me meet my exercise goals, but he’d given me my work for the coming year. Step.
I’ll confess, it’s a good word for me. I love setting goals and reaching them (which is why my husband's gift was perfect for me!). When I write, I tend to have a page goal per day and a page goal per week. If I can’t make my daily pages, I try to make them up over the rest of the week so that I ultimately make my weekly pages. That way, a messed up a day can be fixed for the week. One step—or page—at a time.
This year is going to be a year of change for me. The steps I'm taking started last year. Last June I took a giant step and introduced a new series that wasn’t a romance. Thankfully, readers have embraced my Maid in LA Mysteries and its heroine, Quincy Mac. I'll be releasing her fourth book, Swept Up, in the new year.
In 2014, I’m taking another work related step. It’s a big one. I started to work with Montlake Romance when they bought Avalon Book’s backlist. They were such a joy to work with as they released my older books as eBooks and introduced Everything But series’s Nana Vancy to a whole group of new readers. I took another step last year when I sent a proposal for something new. And it was a big scary step…I sent them a book-of-my-heart. It was a book I’d written on weekends just for me (so I guess ultimately that was the first step…the writing). I didn’t write with a publisher in mind…I wrote it just for the joy of writing it. And Montlake saw that joy and Just One Thing will hit the shelves in June! It’s a new step for me. It is a romance, but it’s also so much more. It’s the most mainstream fiction I’ve ever done. And it’s also the most lyrical writing I’ve ever attempted. It’s a giant step. Now you might argue, that I took the step in 2013 when I sent it in, or even before that when I wrote the book. You wouldn't be wrong. But that's the thing about steps…one leads to the next. There's no way to point to one specific step and say…this is it. This is where it all started. Because really, I can go back to when I first read The Hobbit in grade school and was transported. But now, even that first book that really captured my heart wasn't the first step…the first step was learning to read. No, no, it was… Let's not argue steps…one leads to the next and every one sets you on a new course.
And the wonderful thing is, each new step can change the course. It can point you somewhere new, it can retrace your old steps. Each step comes with a whole world of future steps ahead of you. All those earlier steps will lead to each of this year's steps.
My year of steps doesn’t just involve work. Every year my family changes and grows. The kids get older…my husband and I do as well. New jobs, new family members, new homes…the entire family takes steps into the unknown, but there’s a reassurance that when we take those steps, the rest of the family is there, supporting us…stepping with us! It's amazing to see my kids grow…to see my steps, my husband's steps influence their steps.
One leads to the next, and the one after that, and...
As 2014 begins and unfolds, I hope to use the word Step as a reminder…as a focal point. Sometimes I can get so focused on my goals that I don’t take time to enjoy the steps that take me there.
I want to relish my 10,000 steps each day. Whether they’re steps for pleasure or steps with a purpose. I plan to celebrate for a moment every day when my bracelet buzzes, letting me know I've reached that goal.
But I have other goals as well.
I’ve got new book ideas that need developed, step by step. I want to really pay attention to the journey from idea to book to bookshelf. If you think about it, it’s a rather miraculous thing…taking the kernel of an idea and nurturing it along until it’s a book.
I want to really enjoy and focus on the steps my family and friends takes. New members, new jobs, new homes. Getting older. Each of those steps are made easier knowing we all are there supporting each other. Caring about each other. Loving each other.
So 2014 is my year of the Step! You don't have to see the finish line to get to the end…you just have to start, you have to take a step. That's my plan. I'll finish new books…one step at a time. I'll watch my family and friends change and grow…one step at a time. It's going to be an exciting year!
As 2013 comes to a close, I hope you take a moment to reflect, to count your blessings and that the new year brings you new challenges, new steps…new glee! And I hope some of you find your own word for the year and when you do, I hope you embrace it and take your own first step!