Blank Slate

Every end-of-year and start of a new one brings the same thing for most: Resolutions. Goals.

The glorious Blank Slate.

The proclamation from the rooftops (or maybe a subtle, silent one known only to yourself), that this coming year, 2019, will be different.

And by 2020, I will have:

Gained something…

Prioritized something…

Lost something…


Achieved/Accomplished something…

Mostly, we just want to have


Whatever part of our lives is most uncomfortable—that part that bugs us, bothers us, hurts us, keeps us up at night—tends to get a good looking-at near the end of December.

But February rolls around, and most of our haughty proclamations or silent promises have been replaced with distractions, work, life, or simply maintaining the status of our comfort zones.

Or, sometimes, just surviving a crisis will knock us off course.

And then we stay off course.

Our blank slate of hope becomes muddied, marred and mundane.

And the calendar is merciless, flipping page after page until there’s only one page left. That last one with its red and green title signaling happy holiday parties, family gatherings, end-of-semester activities, and OH! That last week of December. Lets take a good look at…

Then comes the guilt at the end of 2019 when you realize you’ve let yourself down again. Or maybe let someone else down.

I got tired of that roller coaster years ago, and haven’t made a New Year’s resolution in quite some time. I have goals, dreams, etc., I just tend to map them out when the urge hits and go from there, no matter what the calendar says.

The OCD part of me would like to start all of these activities at least on the first of any given month, but I gave that up too.

Sometimes I don’t even start on a Monday. (Three of my well-placed ducks just flew off the pond…)

Case in point: I started healthier eating on November 5th. Stupid month to do a major diet change with the holidays and birthdays barreling down, but I couldn’t take it anymore. All the running and stress and fast food during the weeks prior with my grandma’s crisis had made me physically miserable. At the time of this posting, I’m down several pounds, tugging at my jeans to keep them put, and have I have more energy.

I’m glad I didn’t wait another 57 days to coincide with January 1. I’m that much “further ahead” than if I’d waited for the infamous Times Square Ball Drop.

Another stupid timing case in point?

That dead-in-the-water challenge I failed back in September due to “bumpy” times? I’m attempting it again starting this month with a few tweaks to match the “new” normal of “nothing is normal, and the day flips on its head every time the phone rings” status of our family. And I’m giving myself a little extra buffer to allow for edits on my WIP. Still a challenge, but not unreachable given life at the moment.

Orange fountain pen on the line and all.

By March 1st, I’m shooting for 50,000 new fiction words to include three shorts (with covers) and a DONE WIP middle-grade novel first draft. (And here I just heard my very loud inner critic shouting, “Get on with it, Beth. Stop screwing around with it. You know how the dumb story ends, just FINISH, already!”)

With more energy, healthier eating, and the majority of footwork for banks, lawyers, and insurance portions of caretaking done, my thinking was much clearer at the end of November, and I didn’t want to wait for January 1 to start the challenge. I’m starting sometime this week (as I write this, it’s the week of 12/10).

I’ll post weekly updates on Facebook if you’d like to see how this one goes. About 80 days at 625 words per day average. I produce more words than that through the day making lists and reminders for myself…surely to goodness I can handle 625 a day.

Why not just wait until after the holidays? Start on January 1 like any sane person? Because that’s too much pressure to put on January 1. And because I left sanity a while back. And…

My blank slate starts when I say it starts.

Not when the calendar says it does.

And so does yours, quite frankly.

Thank you for hanging out for a bit. Check back on Mondays for a new blog and the first Friday of every month for a free fictional short, and be sure to visit my Amazon page.