Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sunday Salon: December 29, 2013

Well, it is hard to believe that this is the last Sunday Salon of 2013.  The holidays have come and gone; out-of-town family members have returned home after a nice long visit; and we are now mentally preparing for the start of a new year - deciding what we should "let go" in order to free space for new goals and adventures.

I do not make New Year's resolutions, per se, but I do believe that this week is a time for reflection - to review the previous year and decide what went well (and therefore focus more on that in the coming year) and what did not go so well (and therefore focus on change in the coming months).  I already know one significant change in 2014:  I will retire.  And I want to gain a firm understanding of what that means:  discover new interests and set new goals that will proactively fill the void that will certainly be felt when I leave the classroom for the last time.

I also know that I want to focus more on health - not in a lose-weight sort of a way, but rather in a lifetime change way.  I would like to eat more organic fruits and vegetables and less processed food; I would like to pay attention to the diet of the meat I consume; I want to drink more water (and have discovered that water flavored with orange slices is a tasty way to accomplish that goal) and I would like to add moderate exercise to my weekly schedule.  I thoroughly enjoyed the few weeks last summer when I was walking a 5K four times a week, and I would like to make that a regular routine.

A first step in this week of reflection included a re-read of the book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller.  This was the third time I read it (the last time about three years ago) and I will probably read it again before the end of this holiday break (I plan to review it in English Comp).

For those who are unfamiliar with this non-fiction book, here is a brief summary:  a publishing company has decided to make the author's previous bestseller, Blue Like Jazz (a book I have not yet read) into a movie.  The problem, however, is that the book is a collection of personal essays which does not translate well into narrative film.  They must write a screen play that includes the essence of the essays while maintaining a proper narrative arc to hold the interest of the audience.

While working on the screen play Donald Miller discovers that we are in fact characters in our own narrative story.  And if we do not like our current story, we have the agency to change it.  The point of narrative is to transform character:  giving the character something they want desperately enough to overcome conflict in order to get it.

The book begs the reader to consider his or her own life:  are you living the story you want to live?  Are you living the better life that God desires you to live?  When your life is over, will your story be meaningful and memorable?  If not, what can you begin to do now (the inciting incident) to set a new story in place?

As a writer-to-be, it is fascinating to think of my own life as a story.  And while I do believe that God is the ultimate author, I have a responsibility as His character to make the most of this story:  to be willing to dream dreams that require risk (and therefore character transformation) in order to make those dreams come true.

In life we are destined to play a variety of roles.  For me, those roles might include:  mother - grandmother - wife - friend - teacher - writer - traveler - photographer - dog lover.  And each of those roles has its own character arc - its own set of dreams/goals/desires.  What story do I wish each of those characters to tell --- so that at the end of my life here on earth I can leave knowing that I was indeed a "good and faithful servant" with the talents and gifts that I was given.

So in this week of reflection and consideration of the future, I hope to brainstorm some life stories for each of these characters (and I may use the author's interactive website, My Subplot to help me do that).  I hope to develop some dreams that will require some risk and sacrifice in order to achieve them.  I hope to institute some inciting incidents that set the story in place - that require me to dive into the story and live - rather than sit on the sidelines and observe.  As the author notes in the book, characters in movies must act.... no one wants to watch a protagonist sit and think.

A rather deep Sunday Salon ... not my original intent... but I suppose it is what I needed to write.

I wish all of you a relaxing end to 2013 and a joyous beginning to 2014... filled with love, hope, and peace.


  1. Health does seem to matter more as we get older. I started walking this year and it has made such a big difference in everything - including my energy levels.

  2. Good luck with your retirement in 2014 and all the new (good) things that that will bring!

  3. Sounds like a great book for ringing out the old year and ringing in the new!

    Joy's Book Blog

  4. I thought of you when I saw this group working through The Artist's Way at the rate of a chapter a month in 2014: I just signed up.

    Joy's Book Blog

  5. Joy --- thank you SO much for thinking of me! This is a perfect challenge and I have already requested to become a member of the Facebook group :)

  6. I agree a focus on health, whether weight, movement, diet, or de-stressing is such a good goal.

  7. 2014 will be full of adventure, and a truly life-changing year. I guarantee it. I think you will love retirement. Best--