10 Tips to Keeping Those New Year’s Resolutions by Christina Knowles

img_1314Reflecting on life is common this time of year. Some feel as though another year has gone by and wonder where the time went and feel disappointed and unaccomplished. Not me. I like to reflect on the year in order to make plans for the coming year. I see each new year as a fresh start, a chance to stop and take stock, decide what’s really important to me right now, and to make sure I don’t waste a whole year without even realizing it. I reevaluate my goals and adjust accordingly.

 

Yet there are those who look upon New Year’s resolutions with disdain, suggesting that failure in realizing these goals is inevitable and merely contributes to frustration and disappointment. I don’t see it that way. I like to make lots of resolutions because I usually keep at least half of them, so the more I have, the more I keep. This year, I started a second blog, published a collection of poetry, gained a basic proficiency with Photoshop, and reduced the amount of work I take home in addition to several personal things I won’t mention. Did I complete all my goals? No, but I’m perfectly satisfied with what I did accomplish.

 

So, because I’m pretty successful in this area, I thought I’d offer a few tips that help me in keeping my New Year’s resolutions.

 

  1. Make sure your resolutions are things that you really want to do, not just what you think you should do, or what someone else suggests you do. It’s human nature to be inspired to work for something when you really want it. Sometimes, we try to force our desires to fit things that we think are good for us, but our heart is not in it. If your heart is not in it, you probably won’t do it.
  2. Make realistic resolutions for the things that you are slightly less enthusiastic about. Instead of saying, “I’m going to lose 40 lbs.,” say, “I’m going to completely stop eating at fast food restaurants.” A change like this may inadvertently get you closer to the more difficult goal.
  3. Make small incremental changes throughout the year, rather than jumping in full speed. Start slow and create habits without burning yourself out. Committing to doing yoga twice a week for a year is better, in the long run, than spending five days a week in the gym for one month and quitting.
  4. Celebrate small successes and let them encourage you to think bigger. Instead of deciding to write your first novel after several years of not writing, start journaling or blogging or writing short stories. Practice writing short things and get used to expressing yourself regularly. Not only will the task of writing a novel seem less daunting after a while, but your writing ability and creativity will have grown, so your novel will be better. This concept can be applied to all kinds of goals. This sounds like the same thing as number 3, but here I am talking more about practicing something to improve proficiency and build confidence.
  5. Put your resolutions somewhere you will see them regularly. Re-read them at least once a month to remind yourself of your goals, to adjust your methods, and to get yourself back on track if necessary, or hopefully, to check off goals that you have met early. Checking things off your resolution list is not only gratifying, but inspires us to tackle the next goal. As the year-end nears, I find myself gaining a renewed determination to knock things off that list. It feels great!
  6. Tell someone else about your goals/resolutions and ask them to check in with you periodically to ask you how you are doing with them. Be sure they understand that you don’t want to be nagged. That’s different than just a friendly check-in, which leads to number 7.
  7. Do not ask someone to hold you accountable. A friendly check-in should be framed as interest, not accountability. It’s my understanding of human nature, that as soon as someone appears to be telling us to do something, we react by not wanting to do it at all.
  8. Reward yourself for every goal you complete, or for larger goals, you should treat yourself for completing significant steps toward the goal.
  9. Make sure these rewards don’t sabotage your goals. The reward should not be taking a break from the good habits you are forming, but should be something unrelated that you enjoy. Building a habit or routine that helps you reach your goals can be derailed quickly by associating reward with stopping or taking a break from working toward your goal.
  10. Don’t feel bad or criticize yourself for the resolutions you don’t keep. Praise yourself for the ones you do keep. At the end of the year, count up how many successes you had, re-evaluate the rest, and if you feel like you still want to meet the goals you didn’t succeed in, add them to your next New Year’s resolution list, knowing that you are bound to meet some of them, so you’re better off than not making resolutions at all.

 

Why risk feeling like you let a whole year slip unconsciously by, regretting inaction, and missing out on the things that are most important to you? Don’t let your life slide by, lost in the hypnosis of everyday life. Take the necessary steps to move toward accomplishing what really matters to you.—Christina Knowles

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Signs of Life, A Memoir in Poems

I have always wanted to write my memoirs, the story of how I got from there to here. Perhaps, I just need to explain it to myself or to those I love. Perhaps, I need to leave a legacy for those who knew me after I’m gone. At any rate, I find that whenever I try to express my deepest feelings and my most profound experiences, I do it through poetry, so here it is, my memoir in poems.

This collection of eighty-one poems is a series of reflections of moments throughout a life lived. Some are joyful, some tragic, but all are heartfelt and real.

“Christina Knowles is a poet who is not afraid of delving into the inner world of symbolism, emotion, and dream imagery. Signs of Life is a revealing journey into the soul, a look at the inner self to which we can all relate.”

Available in paperback and Kindle Edition on Amazon.com. 

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“No one can destroy you like a child” by Christina Knowles

anime-woman-cryingNo one can destroy you like a child

Born out of your flesh, birth of the sacred

Adored

Loved unconditionally, while

You stand spurned, shorn

Of all aspect of affection

Unjust deflection, dejection unending

Saturated, consumed, unbending

Rending nights of mourning

Hours of scorning

Heights of sorrow, teetering

On a glimmer of tomorrow

Tears adorning the lifeless

The helpless, bought and owned

By your own blood

How else could

You be destroyed by a child?

No one else can slice you in half

With a word or a smile, put you on trial

For trying

What’s left of you dying

Doomed to go on amending

Defending the right to hope

A press to tamp down the hurting

Until you’re cut fresh

Veins spurting, you lay broken

Crumpled in a heap, racked with grief

Burning hollows weep

No relief, no light

Appears, calling me to go

Forced to remain, it’s worse

Worse than you ever feared

Because who knew?

The pain you accrue

The depth of the blow

It’s an effort to stand and smile

When you’ve been destroyed by a child. —Christina Knowles (2015)

Photo via Pinterest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Obsessed with Youth & Beauty? You’ll Get Over It by Christina Knowles

Recently I was tagged in a social media challenge to post five pictures in which I felt beautiful. Normally, I ignore such challenges, but this one got me thinking. Our society is obviously obsessed with beauty, not just any beauty, but the beauty of youth and thinness. Millions of dollars are spent annually on trying get thin, stay thin, look younger, and reversing the clock. Men are influenced by this as well, but I think it’s safe to say that it affects women in greater numbers. Many women feel low self-esteem when it comes to the idea of aging or with their body image, in general. However, many women report a gain in self-esteem and confidence as they age. Why? I mean, according to societal pressure, they should be worried about trying to reverse, or at least, stay the aging process. So, why do so many women feel better about themselves at 50 than they do at 25?

I am not a social psychologist, and I haven’t done any studies, so I can only speak for myself and what I’ve heard other women over 50 say about this topic. I’ve never been overly concerned with my looks. I grew up in a family of scholars, so I was much more conscious of excelling intellectually and took my appearance for granted. I was often complimented on my appearance, but what I wanted to be known for was my brains. I think this has helped me ignore the cultural pressure of being thin or worrying about wrinkles.

But as I aged, a curious thing happened. My few youthful insecurities (I’ve never really had a self-esteem problem) were disappearing. It seemed the older I got, the less I cared what anyone else thought about me, and the more I accepted and loved myself exactly as I am. From what I hear, this is common. Entering my early fifties has been wonderful. People aren’t joking when they say it’s the best time of your life. In your fifties, you are probably at the top of your career, secure in your skills and knowledge with a lot of experience under your belt, not worried anymore about advancing, and you are probably making more money than you ever have before.

Better yet, you start feeling good about yourself on a level that was previously unknown. You no longer worry about knowing enough, seeming smart enough, or even about competing with anyone. Your friendships are real—you’ve eliminated people from your life that aren’t. You don’t have the time or inclination to deal with drama or competition, so you just don’t. You wear what you want, do what you want, and most of the time, say what you want—and you get away with it!

And I’m not suggesting we don’t eat healthy foods and take care of our bodies as we age. I’m just saying we don’t do it to impress anyone. We do it to feel good and to allow us to do all the things we were too afraid to do when we were younger. That’s the only shame about getting older–now that I finally know what kind of life I want to live, I don’t have tons of  time left to live it. But maybe that’s one of the things that makes me uninhibited and willing to do whatever I really want to do without caring what others think.

So, when confronted with iconic question of “What if you could go back in time and do it all over again?” I am repelled by the idea. I don’t want to do it again. I am enjoying now way too much to trade it for smooth skin and a firm body. That should be saved for the youth who need it until they grow into the confidence of loving who they are without it. Don’t worry; you’ll get there. Just give it twenty or thirty years. The best is still to come.—Christina Knowles

 

graduation
College graduation 1986: A little insecure and not sure who I am.

 

camping
1988: Trying to figure out who I am.
Scan 24 - Version 2
2006: Almost figured out.
laugh-lines
2013-I’m proud of these lines. I’ve earned them!
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2016: Loving myself more than ever before! I know exactly who I am, and I like me.
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Someday, I will look like my mother does here, and I will be so proud of that!

Book Review: Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep by Christina Knowles

Doctor_SleepI finally read Doctor Sleep, Stephen King’s eagerly awaited sequel to The Shining, published thirty-six years after the first, with a mixture of anxiety and anticipation. The Shining is one of my favorite novels, and how could a sequel live up to something revered as one of the all-time best horror novels ever published? I decided it didn’t have to. I would read it and enjoy it on its own merits. So how did it fare, in my humble opinion?

Well, it was wonderful getting to know grown up Danny Torrance, now known as Dan, or to his co-workers at the hospice where he is now employed, as Doctor Sleep because of his uncanny ability to calm dying residents and guide them to the great beyond in a peaceful and pleasant way.

Yes, Dan has some problems, and at first he was a little less than likable. I was, initially, repelled by what Dan had become, an apple fallen a little too close to the family tree, but he soon won my heart with his remorse, selflessness, and compassion.

I also adored the little girl whom Dan befriends, Abra Stone. In fact, I marveled at King’s ability to write from the perspective of a pre-teen girl, but it was superb.

This novel, although strange and fascinating, was not at all scary like The Shining, and it didn’t need to be. It was so much more than that. It was about recovery and redemption, realistically told in an insanely surreal world. It continued the main story in The Shining, the story of alcoholism and facing the worst demon of all, our weakest and unlovely selves. I reconsider. Maybe it was a little scary.

But mostly, it was heartfelt, poignant even. More than once I teared up during this novel. I find that I like this new softer side of King, the King of the post near-death “accident” seems to create characters that feel a little deeper, are more expressive, kinder. Perhaps, it was the experience, or maybe he is mellowing with age, but I’m fine with it. Doctor Sleep delivers on weird with his descriptive immersion into horrifyingly evil minds, at the same time as showing us that there are still really good people out there, even in the midst of evil, and that even when the evil is in us, we can overcome it. Five out of five stars.—Christina Knowles

Read my review of The Shining.

Book Tribe by Christina Knowles

BookClubCabin (2)A collective of common interests

An intellectual pursuit

Brought together by the simplest

A shared attribute

But in our group we found

A complex amity

The thread by which we’re bound

Is not the latest read

An unexpected mingling

A mélange of fine wines

In laughter with glasses clinking

A friendship is forged over time

A kaleidoscope of voices

Diverse personalities

Apparent in our choices

Or when one disagrees

These differences don’t chill

Our friendship,

The warmth we feel is real

The kinship

The bond of our group

Is refreshingly compassionate

For such a varied troupe

Drama-free protagonists

Because conflict is no good

Encouragement is our shibboleth

Our alliance understood

Destroying the feminine myth

Trust is our apothegm

We’d rather spend our time

On worthier whims

Or expanding of the mind

Whether interpreting the written word

Or sunning by the pool

Companionship is served

Gathered by the Yule

In winter or mineral springs in fall

On a weekend trip to the cabin

Or a movie at the mall

Whatever may happen

Whatever fate may decide

I’m glad I have this motley crew I affectionately call my tribe (2016)

 

 

Fickle by Christina Knowles

thinker-close“Fickle”

I’ve heard the shaming speech

“She’s fickle”

Because I am ever learning

Reading books and reaching

Thinking, incessantly they teach me

I talk it out with others

Explorers discovering

Ideas, vast and illuminating

Amassed in dusty volumes innumerable

The spectres of a thousand dead thinkers

They linger; searchers speak

They are my kin

I listen, the voices in them swirling

I examine each to each, intuit

every chasmic breach

Still I’m open to believing

Receiving, their insight

Perception, just a glimmer

In the blackness of the sky

It remembers the light

A million light years away

Does that make me fickle?

Easily led astray?

No, I am not gullible

but logical, rational in the extreme

Reasoning through the proofs

Evidence supreme while Wonder plays her part

Mysterious and elusive

Deleterious to the unknown

As the wisdom of the ancients

Mingles in the understanding of the present

A common endeavor—truth

So I may reconsider

I guess I am fickle

Or should I shut my mind up tight?

Refuse to see the light?

Hang on to a fantasy

And close my eyes after glimpsing reality?

Unswerving and blind

Comfortably stable

No, I’ll be fickle

Reliably capricious

Always acknowledging

For some, life is a path toward enlightenment

A journey that has no clear destination

No deterministic end

A winding path, a road with a bend

Even a switchback or two

Just a rest stop here and there

A place to catch your breath

To be aware

That knowledge is an adventure

Spreading out before me

A road measured in years rather than miles

And wisdom is a temporary state of mind

I won’t be shamed for being fickle

My mind is mine to change

And the path I choose so fine

 

 

Stop the World by Christina Knowles

“Stop the World”

Earth orbit

You still my world and stop the turn

Of this manic swirl

Mesmerized and taciturn

Rescued from the tilt and whirl

The distractions of a life filled

To excess with nothingness

All at once is stilled

a quiet catalyst to reassess

the curious calm of standing still

You still my world and stop the turn

A gentle discovery of a pearl

Reflectively, I adjourn

From the spinning of the world

–Christina Knowles

Photo via all4desktop.com

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