Tuesdays with Ana: Saying Goodbye to Superwoman

First, a few items of business.

It’s not too late to contribute to Ana’s Advent Calendar 2013! I’ve been adding new books and prizes to the list almost every day since the announcement. The sign-up sheet for participants will go up soon. Even if you donate a prize, you can still play! The first official post (when your comments count as entries to the prize drawings) will go up bright and early on December 1st.

Second, I am not the elf.

Third, please say thank you to Tara Finnegan, Emily Tilton, Penelope Hasler, and Kathryn Blake. They’ve offered to serve as helper elves for the Advent Calendar to make sure everything runs smoothly. With nearly 70 contributors, 120 books, $160 in gift certificates, and $400 in prizes (including a Kindle Fire/Nook HD donated by Blushing), it will be huge!

Psst. Mrs. Claus likes helper elves. Just saying. 😉

Fourth, Quiet Sara chose Becoming Clissine as her book prize for Donor Sabbath, so I’ve sent it off to her. Hope you like it, Sara!

There! These days, I’m running around trying to take care of business, interpersonal things, work, and (ahem) writing. Word on the street is that I’m due a spanking for not finishing the Soris and Karielle short story yet.

Harumph.

In the midst of all the craziness, a few events in the past days have made me sit down, take a moment, and reflect on all my activity.

How much of what I do is necessary?

How much is keeping busy for the sake of being busy?

How does my perpetual busy-ness keep me from taking care of what I need most?

How much of my clutter/chatter is just an attempt at distraction?

I’ve dealt with a surprising issue recently:

I don’t want to write.

Or, maybe more accurately, I can’t write.

In the past, my fingers would fly over the keyboard faster than I could think. Stories poured out from me as if some alien force possessed my body, leaving me exhausted but satisfied.

Now that writing means publication and editing deadlines, it’s become a work obligation instead of a labor of love.

Don’t get me wrong. I love being an author. I love publishing, and I love meeting readers I wouldn’t get to talk to otherwise. But one of the most rewarding writing endeavors of the past few weeks was writing a new Kat and Natalie story for their blog. The responses delighted me, right down to Cat’s detailed anti-cockroach advice.

However, I’ve found each time I sit down to write that the thoughts crowd into my brain.

  • You haven’t done this promo yet!
  • Don’t forget this article!
  • You should check out this marketing site first!
  • You missed the deadline to submit a pitch!
  • Don’t forget to get some groceries!
  • Where did I put that check?
  • I can’t forget that upcoming day-job deadline!
  • My friend’s new baby is growing up faster than I can visit him. When can I go over next?
  • Where is my roadside assistance card?
  • How can I get that stain off my kitchen floor?
  • Isn’t it time to take down the Halloween tree decorations?
  • Will the neighbors hate me if I put up my Christmas lights now?
  • Wait! One more person to add to the Advent Calendar list.
  • Just exactly what skills would Kat practice for her CNA exams?

And so on.

I’ve done a few things in the last day or two.

I’ve taken the time to re-connect with friends both on and offline. Online, I’ve visited some blogs I hadn’t seen in a long time, gone back to some new blogs I found on LOL Day, and sent an email or two.

It’s for me, really. I like feeling connected, enjoy knowing what’s happening in the corners of our blogosphere, and think of Bas each time I meet someone new. He wanted us to welcome each new member and to encourage him/her to blog. When I say hello, not always sure whether I’m welcome (it’s always a bit scary to say hi to someone we don’t know very well, isn’t it?), I look upward and send a silent message. If you were here, I think you’d do this. Since you’re not, I will. You’ve left some awfully big shoes to fill.

It’s funny. For so long I’ve been “too busy” to catch up online, but I miss the connections. If you find my comments on your blog and don’t want me to intrude, just tell me nicely. I’ll go away. But I keep remembering how nice it felt when new people found my blog, and I hope I can pass that feeling along.

I’ve also taken time to sort out the people in my life. Seems as if the people who deserve most of my attention get the least, and vice versa.

A long time ago, an older woman took me aside for some advice. She’d watched me spinning trying to keep everyone happy, and she’d had enough.

“People try to make you do what they want,” she said. “And it’s the people who are unhappiest who have the most power over you.”

I was too young then to understand the wisdom of her words, but I’ve grown into them.

As small children, girls are socialized to delight adults with smiles, kisses, dances, pretty dresses, and doll-like behaviors. As school-age children, young girls learn to be pretty, neat, studious, and well-behaved in order to earn praise from teachers. As young adults, we are taught to keep the peace and make everyone happy. As adults, we are the constant negotiators in many of our relationships. Parents, partners, children, friends, in-laws, neighbors…women are taught to be the peace-keepers, and harmony comes at a price.

From the very beginning, I’ve always wanted Governing Ana to be a safe place where people can gather for discussion, support, and community. As I’m preparing for the wonderfully chaotic season of the Advent Calendar online and Advent offline, I’ve found myself remembering those wise words.

In preparing for Christmas, I will focus on the people I can make happy, rather than feeling bad about those I cannot.

For right now, that person is myself. When I am at peace with myself and truly secure in the decisions I have made, this peace radiates outward and touches those around me. But when I try to make others happy without coming to an inner resolution first, bad things happen. Energy clashes in unproductive ways and causes stress, hurt feelings, and resentment.

I’m learning to let go. To say goodbye to Superwoman, a mythical creature who can accomplish all tasks and keep everyone happy while doing so.

Instead, I’ll clear out the distractions and work on creating peace on earth, one heart at a time.

Starting with mine. How else can change happen in this world, if not first with me?

What will you do today to pass on the peace?