Katherine Mayfield's Blog: On Writing and The Meaning of Life (or Lack Thereof)

January 17, 2012

In 2012, I resolve to start taking care of myself. Really taking care of myself.
I’ve tried the new diets; I’ve sweated through the “no pain, no gain” exercise programs. I’ve even exorcised my clutter. But this year, I resolve to take care of myself the way I want to be taken care of. I resolve to nurture myself emotionally.

I solemnly pledge that I will not let anyone put me down or walk all over me, and I vow to put my own needs first, at least some of the time. I want to let go of feeding other people’s expectations, so I can finally learn how to nourish myself and enjoy my life.

This kind of thinking always makes my guilt monster growl. When I hear that snarl in my mind, I start doubting myself, and fretfully fall back into the old, familiar rut of pushing my own needs aside and trying to please everyone else. But this time, I’m determined to get around the guilt monster and change my ways.

I’ve noticed that I usually feel less guilty about something if I can manage to find out that other people do the same thing. So I did a little research on the web: What kinds of resolutions have other people made?

Here’s one: “Part of my New Year’s resolution is to become a superhuman, achieving perfection in both mind and body.” Wow! And that was only part of the resolution! I’m sure that by now, I’d be wallowing in a stupor of shame and mediocrity, unable to even figure out how to start.

Here’s another possibility: The Babylonians, who lived around 2000 BC, had as their most popular resolution a promise to return borrowed farm equipment – now that’s more my style. I can do that! I haven’t borrowed any farm equipment!

I’ve come to the conclusion after years of experience that if I’m going to stick to a resolution, it has to be something simple, something I can commit to with every fiber of my being. I’ve been pushing myself to do things I don’t want to do for so many decades now – and it has never worked! – that the only option left is to try something kinder, gentler, easier. That’s the only way I’ll be able to start building a history of success. And what’s easier than being myself?

So this is the year I resolve to take back my life from the Good-Little-Girl persona that I was trained to hide my real self behind. I don’t want to conform any longer. I don’t want People magazine to tell me who I should emulate. I don’t want to listen to the media tell me how I should eat, how much I should weigh, how I should dress, or what I need to change about myself to become a state-of-the-art human being. I don’t like cell phones; I don’t know how to work an iPod, and I don’t want Cosmo to advise me on how to be sexier. I want to live life my way!

I know that the Good-Little-Girl inside of me is very strong. She’s been ruling my life for fifty years, in spite of my occasional escapades into authenticity. She drags me into doing things I don’t want to do; she makes me clean when I’d rather be playing. She sets the alarm I have to wake up to. She nags me about keeping up appearances. She makes me smile and nod when I want to get angry or walk away. She spoils my fun by constantly reminding me of the 1,347 things I should be doing instead of enjoying myself, and she doesn’t let me have potato chips.

In 2012, I will have potato chips! I will talk back to the Good-Little-Girl, and tell her that she can go…do the cleaning herself, because I am going out! I will yell at her if necessary, and tell her in no uncertain terms that I am in charge now. I will ignore the 1,347 things I should be doing while I explore who I really am. I will stop worrying about what other people think. I resolve to do things my way, and I will not let the Good-Little-Girl stand in my way, make me talk with people I don’t like, eat food I don’t want, or buy things that everybody has but that I have no real use for. I’m taking my life back, and she can just go away.

I read somewhere once that we can only give truly from the heart when we’ve given to ourselves first. That’s a theory I’d like to put to the test, though I have to shush the inner voice that says women should always give to others first and patiently wait their turn. In 2012, I’m taking my turn, and trusting that when my own heart is full, it will overflow and spill its gifts to the rest of the world.

www.TheBoxofDaughter.com

The Box of Daughter
The Box of Daughter by Katherine Mayfield
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Published on January 17, 2012 06:20 • 317 views • Tags: emotion, feeling, katherine-mayfield, new-year-s-resolution, the-box-of-daughter

September 27, 2011

I went to a writing conference last weekend, and thoroughly enjoyed listening to Carla Neggers, the featured speaker. Ms. Neggers offered a warning about "creative vampires" -- people who steal your time, your energy, and your focus, and leave you feeling drained. Martha Beck wrote about the same situation in her book "Steering by Starlight," and called it "Spider Love."

Having been a victim of Spider Love for the first five decades of my life, I know how hard it can be to get away from a troublesome relationship. And I want to suggest to aspiring (and professional) writers that if you're in a critique group, you need to examine whether or not the comments are helping or harming you.

Writing critique groups can be a boon for a writer: you can get a fresh look at your work, and find out how others perceive your characters and story. But beware -- some writers will find ways to chop down a writer's self-esteem with their comments.

One good way to figure out if the group is positive for you is to notice whether you feel like jumping back into the writing after a critique, or whether you'd rather put it away and clean the refrigerator. In the first case, you've probably got a good group. In the second, you might want to rethink your involvement with them.

Read more about writing groups in an interview with me on InkDrop Interviews at http://inkdropinterviews.wordpress.co....

Happy writing!
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Published on September 27, 2011 12:01 • 105 views • Tags: carla-neggers, martha-beck, relationships, writing, writing-critique-groups

On Writing and The Meaning of Life (or Lack Thereof)

Katherine Mayfield
Thoughts on writing, reflections on life, and musings on the meaning behind it all.
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