New Year

Celebrating Christmas

Kate's Choice   

Kate's Choice

 

Christmas is here in less than two days. Every year I think about where I've been during the year and where I might be headed in the coming year. I prefer to leave my goal planning for after Christmas though when all the reminiscing about the past year has settled down with family and friends. The Christmas celebration for me is the culmination of the year's activity and time to unwind and let it go.

As an ex-army spouse, Christmas was usually associated with posting time. We would pack up our home early in December and our belongings would be sent to our new posting and then into storage while we waited for our new home. So Christmas was usually spent with extended family or friends while we travelled to our new location. That's army life.

When my then husband left the service we celebrated Christmas at home. It was a lot of fun preparing by baking, buying presents and decorating the tree with my son. We had my sister and her family over for Christmas Day and had a great time reminiscing about the year behind us. Somehow, we never wanted to talk about the year ahead and that is probably why I don't think about the coming year until after Christmas. In the army days there was always the settling in to our new home to be done and learning as much as we could about our new location.

After eleven years of marriage, my characters in Kate's Choice, Kate and Dusty understand the stress separation puts on a marriage and how living away from family can leave a hole deep inside that feels as though it will never be filled. It can be especially difficult at this time of year when the soldiers are serving overseas. My first wedding anniversary and Christmas was spent alone in Brisbane. It was the first year I lived in the city and I found it difficult to make friends. I had to change a few things about myself in order for me to meet new people. I joined as many interest groups as I could and this helped immensely. From then every time we were posted, joining interest groups and looking for work were my priorities.

Kate and Dusty's Christmas after Dusty came back from Afghanistan was difficult. Both had much to deal with personally, and in their relationships. This is the fallout of army life and it puts so much strain on a marriage. If you are with a service family this year extend patience and grace toward them. If they exhibit unpleasant behaviour, it is because there is something deep inside them that they are battling and are not sure how to deal with it. Emotionally they could be fragile. Take the time to listen to them and hear what they are saying. They could be calling out for help. I have been in the pressure cooker and said and done things I wished I hadn't. It was a call for help that those around me understood and I am so glad they practised forgiveness toward me to help me get through that difficult time.

We all make mistakes. Sometimes all we need is a listening ear. Take the time and you might just make a friend or save a life.

Have a wonderful Christmas break wherever you are and whatever you are doing. See you the other side of Christmas. By the way, if you haven't already liked my Facebook page, click here: https://www.facebook.com/authorLauraOConnell/

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Happy New Year

The first week of January is an exciting time for me as I reflect on the year that's closed and the one that's opening up before me. It's a time to think about whether I achieved my goals last year and why I may not have achieved them and what I want to achieve in the 360 plus days ahead.

2010 was a great year with my goals achieved, ie., African Hearts contracted, meeting many new friends, and my next book, Behind The Masks, working title, well on the way to completion. Also, surprisingly, one of my dreams was realised: we bought a caravan and we're now travelling around Australia; and my son became independent and moved in with friends. These last two were surprises, but nice surprises. Dan is managing very well, and so are Frank and I as we travel throughout Victoria.

My goals always include my writing goals and how I can improve my writing. This year, as I reflect on the mentorship I did last October, I want to continue to improve my plotting structure and my characters' motivations for acting as they do. By asking many more questions of my characters I believe I will get to know them at a deeper level in all facets of their lives. Questions like what makes them angry; who are the people who annoy them most and why; why do they like the particular genre of music they listen to; or read the books they read; and if they could have any occupation in the world what would it be; and many more questions to get to know them better. With getting to know the characters at a deep level makes them real three dimensional characters that my reader will be able to relate to and hopefully see them in the same way that I do.

Also on my list of goals for this year is encouraging others to reach their goals. During our travels around Australia I hope to come across others who have a passion they want to see fulfilled. Walking the journey with others in their chosen field to reach their goal is a passion of mine, although sometimes I can come across as a hard taskmaster. I have high standards for myself and I expect that high standard from others, too.

Sometimes we underestimate what it will take to achieve our goals, and it's so easy to become disheartened when the going gets tough. When the hill seems too steep, it's important to persevere no matter how slow the progress is. Believing what we are doing is the right thing for us is what will carry us through the dark moments as we strive for our goal. Everyone has these moments of doubt that sneak up on us when we least expect. We can be working well toward the goals when doubt hits us broadside leaving us disillusioned and wondering if we're meant to be going in that direction.

Hold fast when this happens! Don't be discouraged, and don't listen to negative comments that seem to come at you from all directions. For various reasons there are people in this world who may not want to see you succeed. Ignore those people. Instead, set you mind on the goal with greater determination than before, say no to distractions, and work until the goal is reached.

You are not alone in reaching for your dreams. Every person who wants to achieve faces highs and lows, it's how you deal with the highs and lows that helps you achieve your goals. During the next few months, I'll be blogging on how to overcome the patches of doubt that creep up when we least expect. Until then write to me and let me know when you're feeling lost on your journey to goaldom, and I hope I can encourage you to step out and continue to look forward.