For FALL 2010's delicious offerings of books, art, food, film, and unique travel--check out the NEW ISSUE of our online magazine FEAST--you will not go away hungry-- http://www.feastofbooks.com/

Between issues, read our blog posts as we and our special guests share thoughts, ideas, and recommendations about books, art, food, film, and travel. We love to hear from our readers, so please post a comment! Thanks-- Rosemary Carstens, editor

SNAX ONLINE is moving during the first quarter of 2011 -- stay tuned!

Snax Online is undergoing a redesign and will be moving to a new location. Check back from time to time for a link. In its new format, this blog will cover a wider range of topics but also its usual five. In the meantime, keep up with what's happening in the world of books, art, food, film, and travel at http://www.FEASTofBooks.com --

See you in 2011!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ride on, Rosie, ride on . . .Keeping the rubber side down

The last couple of weeks in December each year are a time of looking back over the past year and figuring out what I’d like to happen in the new one. A lot of people tell me they don’t make new year’s resolutions, but I’ve always found it’s a way to keep on track with my personal, spiritual, and career goals, so I don’t mind it.

I think people often feel they are probably not going to be able to keep their resolutions, so why do it and then just feel like they’ve failed. I look at it more as a continuum—I’m headed in a certain direction, here’s what it’ll likely take to get there, if I don’t get the whole journey in this year, there will at least be some progress along the way. I try to feel good about the progress, the way points, and not worry about exactly when I’ll arrive at the destination. For me, in many ways, it’s like riding cross-country on my motorcycle. Each day I continue in my chosen direction, but each is a special adventure all its own. Maybe it’ll be a glorious one—sun blazing in a hot summer sky, a good breakfast under my belt as I saddle up, no wind, no rain, no crazed motorists, only the blue highway unwinding before me like a promise of good times. On the other hand, it may be one of those days plagued by heavy traffic, hail and lightning storms, switchback after switchback, mile after mile bulked up in rain gear, suffering waves of water in the face as semis roll past. You just never know—when you ride a motorcycle, weather is fate. It shapes your days.

Right now, fate seems to be taking the form of a bad economy, something we will have to try to ride out safely, to weather the storm. Thinking now about some strategies for doing that could help us feel more prepared and less worried. Among my resolutions for 2009 is to first figure out how I can diversify as much as possible, so that all my work efforts aren’t tied to one industry, then devise a plan and work it, day by day. An important part of that plan will be to reinforce my work relationships with present clients and look for opportunities with new ones, always asking myself the question: What do THEY need? What can I do to ease THEIR problems? I think that’ll yield some new contracts. If not now, then later.

But I’m not just thinking about career resolutions in the year ahead. Since I know it may be a stressful time, I’ll need to set and keep some physical fitness, general nutrition, and recreational/social goals. Those things will help me keep my life in balance. What kinds of goals would you like to accomplish in the months ahead? It has been said that telling someone else your goals and dreams is one way to keep on track. Here’s a place where you can do that—share what your plans are to deal with your finances, your relationships, your health needs, and to tell us what you plan to do for pure joy in 2009. FEAST is about books, art, food, film, and travel—do you have plans next year to feed your heart and soul with any of these?

-- Rosemary Carstens


Donna D said...

I just have personal fitness goals for next year. I usually focus on one thing per year. Last year it was writing. The year before was marketing. Everything else will have to take care of itself. I have three books due to publishers, and I'm not starting any new projects until at least 2010. But my attention will be on health and fitness.

Anonymous said...

I feel like the end of the year provides a wonderful opportunity to evaluate. I enjoy looking back over the last year and projecting into my future.

I admit, it's easy for me to bog down and focus on the negatives: what I didn't do right, when I blew it, when I allowed entropy to carry me along in a direction that I don't want to be going.

So, right here, right now, I'm going to pat myself on the back for some of the wonderful things I accomplished this year!

In February, I journeyed to Guatemala for a creative writing and yoga retreat in February as a way to renew myself after being laid off from my job.

I initiated a trip (with my brother!) to my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, which we hadn't visited in 30 years. What a blast from the past...and it feeds my novel too, which is set there.

I launched a website with the help of a dear friend who is a graphic designer. It was a huge feat, but we did it, and now I have a wonderful new venue to promote my writing and photography.

I volunteered for the Democratic National Convention, and saw many political figures. I also shook Jimmy Carter's and Bill Clinton's hands. (Read about it on my blog!)

May the coming year be one of courage and growth for us all!

Jerrie Hurd said...

I believe that taking an assessment of ourselves is a good thing and like end of year because it gives us the excuse to do that. Good post. Pushes me to get on with my resolutions.

Suzanne said...

New Year Resolutions...hmmmm. I agree with you Rosemary that most of us hesitate to make resolutions because of the fear that they are not going to be able to keep them. I like your thoughts that if you don't get the whole journey that year...that at least there will be some progress along the way. Nicely expressed. For me, I ask myself - if I can't do a whole year's resolution why not a New Day Resolution? This is how it would go. To start each day reflecting on my commitment to myself on how to expend the precious gift of time. To take a moment to think about the attitude I wish to hold in my heart for that day. To respect that whatever unfolds and presents itself to me that day is exactly what it is meant to be and a gift of opportunity for growth. This reflection of each day is not so much about what I can accomplish, as it is about how I feel I honored myself, my beliefs, my body, my health and my mind. I think that I can reach that type of resolution because it will change each day.

Anonymous said...


I love your notion of using resolutions as directional markers. I'm one of those people who usually disdains the idea of resolutions, but I can embrace them as you have expressed them.

I can second the idea of diversification in one's work. When the editing work slows down for me, sometimes the writing jobs pick up--or the shamanic work, or the Psych-K work, or the spiritual coaching. Diversification has worked for me.

In 2009, I want to give more attention to play. I work: business, household and garden, blog, and the other things in which I am involved. Time goes by and I look in the rearview mirror, only to realize that it has been work (even when done in a playful way, as I often approach the work) with little or no play. Play is connected to creativity and juiciness. I plan to keep that in mind and set my internal equivalent of your motorcycle on a road that has places to stop and play on it.

I also plan to carve out some room for my writing. I am very responsible when it comes to serving my clients' writing projects and I often treat my own like bastard step-children. So another place on the road this year is that cool, rich spring of personal renewal that, for me, is very much related to writing. Maybe I will actually make progress on my second book this year!


ClaireWalter said...

Love your essay and your analogy, Rosemary, but I've come to think that the best-laid plans are bound to be messed up. I suppose that I have become a discredit to my Virgo star sign, because I am no longer uber-organized or obsessed with picky details (except when I'm setting a table!) -- and I don't start the New Year with plans I surely won't adhere to.

Over the years, to my amazement, I have become much more of with a roll-with-the-punches type. Now and then, the fates or random acts of existence continue to throw us all curves (economic, career, personal, health, whatever). I don't believe that I have a fear of failure as much as a dislike of it, so why set myself up?

My modus operandi now is to chase after opportunities when I can, grab them when they come my way, and deal with today, not the hazy and unknowable future. As a corollary, I don't view every little accomplishment as a praiseworthy triumph. I believe in taking responsibility for my actions, but not in beating myself up over something that I didn't do or didn't do as well as I intended -- or something over which I have no control.

I have come to think of PLAN as a four-letter word. By not doing much in-depth planning, the issue of succeeding or failing doesn't come up. Saves wear and tear on the psyche and preserves an optimistic mood. Bottom line is that my eggs are generally sunnyside up -- and I don't break a lot of yolks. And I no longer make resolutions.

Happy '09 to all, and may those of you who DO make resolutions manage to keep them.

Rosemary Carstens said...

Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts on this topic. As we can all see, there's a range of ways people deal with making plans, or not. What I see overall with your comments is that you are active, enjoying your lives, and making the most of all the stops for refueling along the way--

Anonymous said...

I have travel plans - climb in turkey, Italy, spain, and hope to get to Australia as well. since we'll camp in a tent, our main expense is the air fare.

Anonymous said...

I love the new year for its obvious focus on "new" and the feeling I have that I can recommit - no shame, no blame. So thank you for your look at the opportunities this time of year offers.

I was talking with a friend recently about something I had wanted to do that hadn't worked out and I couldn't understand why. She said, "Sounds like you were pushing the river." She shared her analogy this way: when things just feel right and happen effortlessly, we are stepping into the river; when everything feels hard and we can't seem to get something going, we're pushing the river. I've been paying closer attention to how this works in my own life and in the lives of people around me. I see that the trick is to pay attention so that we can step into the river of opportunity that is available to us.

And so, Rosemary, I wish you good flow and and an even current as you enter a new year. And I thank you for all the riches you so generously share with your fellow travelers.

Anonymous said...

I like your metaphor of riding your motorcycle and seeing each day as a new journey. I usually think of life as a path, covered one step at a time, sometimes mindfully and other times without awareness. My over-arching resolution is to be present in the moment, taking that daily step with eyes and mind wide open. Thanks for getting my thoughts aimed at real new year's resolutions. Keep riding, babe.
Carol Grever

Anonymous said...

New Year's resolution for my writing: because I'm writing a suspense novel that involves a complicated mystery, I resolve to keep a tighter rein on my story line (via evolving outlines) rather than having more of a seat-of-the-pants approach as I've used in the past with my general women's fiction. Karen Lin

Anonymous said...

Great Topic Rosemary!

For years I found specific resolutions a source of frustration - because they were too specific!

These days, (or years) I set a broad intention for the year, and a few simple goals. I find that these bring joy and inspiration into my life.

Last year's intention was: "Try Something New." It gave me a framework for the year. Each time there was a choice to be made, I'd think, "Well, what's business as usual, and what's trying something new?"

This intention gave me the impetus to really go for it - to try new experiences, and to keep attracting new things into my life. It made for a rich and interesting year.

With an intention, there's no guilt and failure. If I tried ONE new thing this year, then I've succeeded.
Like any goal, they only work if they're achievable.

I'm in the process of forming an intention for 2009 - not sure what it is yet, but I'll keep you posted!

Happy 2009 Everyone,


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the blog, Rosemary. It's thought-provoking, even though I don't formally make resolutions or goals. Maybe I should, so that I recognize all that I do accomplish. So perhaps that is my formal resolution: to recognize what I do accomplish. Last year, I finished my novel, sent it out, got in better shape, trained for then did a fully-loaded bike tour (a long-time dream, btw), managed my $, reignited my bodywork practice, made new friends, ate healthfully, rode my bike as much as possible, grew my mind and soul . . . wow. I feel better already. And it's not even the new year! Thanks for inspiring me to look at this . . .

Lynda Hilburn said...

Wonderful post, Rosemary. I don't create New Year resolutions anymore (I used to make half-hearted efforts in the past). January 1 holds no particular juice for me, but I do enjoy utilizing the power of certain other days/events (i.e., the solstices and equinoxes)to set new intentions. I look back at the roads I've taken and I'm baffled about which part of me was driving my bus. Happy solstice!

Anonymous said...

Last year I came upon a blog that introduced the idea of having a "word" for the year instead of a resolution. I liked the idea of having a word that I could resonate with, a word that I could think about and ponder through the twelve months and not feel directed by.

Trust became my word for 2008. It wasn’t my first choice–that was ACTION. I felt like I needed to take action, be active, like I was too introspective, too thoughtful. But after living with ACTION for a couple of days, thinking about it, praying with it, I realized that the real word I should choose for the new year was TRUST. I realized that with ACTION, I was trying to take control of things that were not mine to control. What I really needed to do was to do my best to make things happen but let God in, let God do his part; I had to TRUST him.

TRUST felt good. A few days later I was conducting the group session of my Education for Ministry class and decided to offer a basket of words to the group so that each of my colleagues could choose a word to resonate on. I was the last to reach in and pull out a word…and there were a lot to choose from. When I pulled the slip out and opened it, I whooped out loud! I had chosen the word TRUST!!

I knew then that it was the right word for me for this year. I’ve paid attention to the many times I read or hear it, keeping at least a partial list for my reflection.

The end of the year is getting closer and my ability to trust is improving. I’ll keep you posted…

All good wishes–


P.S. I have posted a list of words that you can ponder if you like. To get to it, go to http://attentiontolife.wordpress.com and look for "resonating" in the list of Other Sites. Feel free to leave a comment along the way if you like.

Andrea Meyer said...

Thanks for your post and for your blog and Feast ezine, they're a joy to read. Inspired by you and other BMW members (and following your advice that telling someone your resolution helps you stay on track), I'll add that my resolution is to start a blog. (Well, actually, more than just start -- continue adding to it, too!)

Anonymous said...

I'm with you Rosemary! I need those goals to keep me moving in the direction I want to go in. Without them it would be easy for me to spend my time doing busy stuff - like cleaning my house - ha!ha! Like Andi said though "resolution" is a rather grand word - I like goals - I set them frequently and especially when I've hit a bump and am trying to decide how to respond.

My main goal right now is getting my blog up and running so I'm diving in .....