Divorce. Custody. Finances. Taxes. Children. Writing. Business. Anxiety. Migraines. PTSD. Politics. Trauma. Weight. Meds. Social Media. Joy. Sorrow. Work. Sleep. Homework. Therapy. Insurance. Making Dinner. Burning Dinner.
This is my life. Well, a snippet, anyway. These are also distractions, to an extent. We all live like this in some way or another, and live through this. But is that how we want to live — surviving day by day, getting by, with occasional glimpses of serenity. It’s too scattered. I know I want more from my life. I want to be in it, to be mindful, joyful, my core melting with emotion.
Can we control how all this stuff comes at us? No, not if we’re being realistic. The only thing we can control is our reaction to it.
Each year, I choose a watchword; something to help keep me focused when times are challenging. I’ve chosen courage, compassion, and passion for past years, as a way to center myself. This year the word that I’ve chosen to help me focus is..
Last Year’s Word: Compassion
I usually don’t struggle to find my word each year. In fact, my word finds me, enveloping me with its willful rhythm. Compassion was easy last year, given that I focused on sexual abuse survivors, starting the year writing Broken People (more on that in a moment), directing the Gravity Imprint for Booktrope (more on that, too), and sharing Broken People (my second Broken book in the series).
As the election cycle ramped up and people tore each other down, focusing on compassion and looking out for my fellow survivor community became necessary as I fiercely defended my people when needed.
It was needed a lot.
So much happened this past year that needed defending, my gosh. (If I start a running commentary here of all that happened with regard to survivors and women, I will lose the focus of this post, so let’s just say, Google that shit if somehow you don’t know — here’s a great article that references much of it, though.)
Then, come the end of April, my publisher Booktrope shut down, and that was the end of bringing two dozen or so amazingly talented authors and survivors of various kinds of traumas stories to life. Boom, over. The incredible efforts, books, and camaraderie most of my Gravity group had developed over that year or so was — poof! — gone. Many of us have stayed in touch however, and you’ll find us madly supporting and sharing one another’s posts on #MondayBlogs weekly, reading each other’s new releases, and generally being spazzy cheerleaders for one another — a divine benefit of a business going under. How about that?!?!
Regardless, the entire year created one big lack of focus for me.
How Did I Move From Compassion To Focus?
Many authors were angry at the closure of Booktrope, and I understood completely and felt compassion for them, but I couldn’t deny that I felt free. Directing an imprint was a great, if burdensome, responsibility, with varying degrees of immense satisfaction and frustration. I wasn’t an employee of Booktrope itself, merely a freelancer, but that didn’t seem to get through to most of the authors. Being put in the position of ‘fall guy’ wasn’t comfortable for me, so letting that part of my life go was a relief.
I could breathe.
I started my own business (BadRedhead Media) back in 2011 for the sole reason that I hated corporate culture — I’d spent seventeen years in it — and here I was somehow stuck in it again! How did I allow myself to get sucked back in? And for little to no money? Oy.
(I’ll tell you how: because it appealed to my sense of compassion, not my bank account. I wanted to bring stories of survival to life; to share and highlight survivor stories that deserved to be told. That’s the sense of satisfaction I spoke of above. I have zero regret about my experiences with Booktrope, and own incredible pride for what the Gravity Imprint accomplished. For anyone else who has grievances with them, those are their issues.)
The good news is that I was immediately signed by literary agent Lisa Hagan and publisher ShadowTeams NYC, who re-published Broken Pieces, Broken Places, and just released my first business book, The BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge, which is selling great! I’m so thankful. (For $5, you get thirty days of easy assignments that will energize your books sales, or help you set up your entire author platform.)
Add to all of that, my divorce became final (a good thing), and I ended up going from shared custody of my two children (ages 17 and 11) to full custody in August when their dad moved five-hundred miles south, my business growing exponentially, and there you have an intense lack of focus.
I’m not too hard on myself though: I still managed to have my best year business-wise, publish a new book, get signed by an agent and new publisher, and take care of my kids full-time.
Why My Watchword is Focus This Year
It’s obvious by now, but I still struggled to find my word. With so much going on in the world, it’s hard to ignore American politics, particularly as it affects women and abuse survivors. I could spend all day, every day, debating with people about the state of misogyny and sexism in the U.S., but I don’t. It does no good, and it only frustrates me. I thought of making my watchword SEXISM but that would be a negative, rocky road for me, and my goal is to refocus when I’m scattered. Sexism as a way to focus would only piss me off.
I thought about RESPECT, something that’s sorely lacking right now in most facets of society, whether you’re discussing politics, issues, online or real life. But it didn’t quite resonate with me, as respect is one of my driving forces at all times anyway.
What is my criteria for a watchword? Simple: it needs to make me mindful when I find myself overthinking or multi-tasking, to center me.
This why I chose focus this year. With so much going on, this is how I’m consciously making an effort to focus:
- No politics. I’m disregarding political discussions, unless I feel my voice can make a difference with regard to survivor issues.
- Less Facebook. I’m not participating in as many Facebook discussions. I’d rather spend that time elsewhere (writing!). FB is great for building relationships but the negativity is sometimes, whoa. From an SEO standpoint, chatting on our personal FB walls does jack for Google Rank anyway (use your Page for that).
- No trolls. I’ve had a one-response rule with trolls for awhile now on social media, particularly Twitter. Now? Block. Not worth it.
- Less personal social media check-ins. With the exception of checking on client accounts, I am turning off social media completely for two-hour chunks to focus on business and writing tasks.
- Less availability to weirdos. I’ve tightened up my already tight privacy controls because well, people are weird. No, you can’t have my address. No, I won’t testify on your behalf (or your best friends’s niece’s cousin) when I don’t even know you. No, I won’t tell you if the carpet matches the drapes. And no, you can’t sew my eyes into your quilt (all real requests).
- Less answering of questions I’ve already answered. I’ve created #BookMarketingChat (every Wednesday at 6pm pst/9pm est on Twitter) where I share knowledge and have amazing experts share theirs and then I share each summary on the public Facebook page I also created. I wrote an easy-to-follow book that’s available for five bucks. I write articles on BadRedheadMedia.com weekly that are free for you and anyone else. If you Google me, I’m pretty much everywhere answering pretty much anything about book marketing, social, and branding.
Plus, there are tons more people smarter than me who can help you. Ask them.
More writing, more business, more mom, more me. These are the essentials for me this year. To focus on doing what I love. I don’t have to give anyone rationale as to why I’m working and living my life the way I feel I need to, except me.
Do you have a watchword or phrase for the year? Please share below!