It hasn’t been the happiest week at Lewis Lodge. Two days ago we said goodbye to our lovely cat, Mattie. She was 16 and for the last four months the vet has been trying to stabilize her over-active thyroid. Despite throwing everything at it, for some reason the meds didn’t work and she continued to deteriorate. Finally, on Thursday, I realised that she was too weak to do things that she would have done with ease just two weeks ago, so we took the decision that enough was enough. I never wanted to have to make the decision to end my cat’s life, but she was fading away in front of me and wasn’t receiving any benefit from the treatment.
It’s not just been a tough week, it’s been a tough few months. My own health took a battering, but I’ve got some treatment for that and now feel more like myself again. My writing output has slowed to a trickle as I battled a lack of self-confidence and temporarily lost my way. Not only has my writing been one of the greatest sources of pleasure during 2014, it’s also been my biggest regret. It saddens me that I did not deliver on what I set out at the start of the year to achieve and I am not going to provide a list of excuses why.
New Year is traditionally a time to set goals and make a commitment to change something about your life that isn’t functioning as well as you want it to. Because my life is heavily influenced by the academic year, I have usually done this in September rather than January, because I find that when the days are lighter and longer it’s easier to make commitments that involve my health. But as the last four months have been so busy and disrupted, I have not had the opportunity to set mine for this year. The turning of the year is an ideal opportunity to do that, but why allow things to slide any more than they have done? Why not start now?
So I will. My goal for 2015 is to stop doing the things that distract me from my goals. I’m not actually talking commitments here. Nothing I do – work, church, Literary Festival, book group, Bible study group or Writers’ group, is causing me not to achieve. In fact, things such as Writers’ group actively contribute to those goals, because I am with like-minded people who can support me. The distraction is the pernicious mindset that infects my head. Rightly, it reminds me that I am nothing special, I am not the great I AM and I am hardly an undiscovered genius. But that reality check also morphs into something which subtly undermines my potential. It has me fretting about what I CAN’T DO instead of focusing on what I CAN DO. True, there is a gap between where I am now and what I need to do to be successful. But, I am never going to close it if I focus on all the invented reasons why I won’t – or even worse, shouldn’t – get there.
The passion to write still burns within me, but it’s been allowed to gutter. The flame needs oxygen to shine strongly and constantly. If I allow myself to hear the message ‘you’re not good enough,’ then I will not work at my writing until I am good enough. So that’s my goal, to stop this mindset from holding me back. In this I ask for your help. Please hold me accountable to it. If you hear me (or see me posting) words that suggests I’m back believing the lie, then I ask you to tell me to stop it. I need to focus on the truth that hard work + determination = success and there’s no reason why I shouldn’t achieve it.