This time last year (almost to the day), I came to terms with the fluctuating nature of life and have since been attempting to embrace that notion, failing along the way.

Several conversations lately have revolved around the New Year. Two questions presented to me in the last several weeks: “What are your goals for this year?” and “What word describes your outlook for 2009?”

My answer? I’m resolved to remain indefinitely unresolved. Sure, there’s an inkling trying to tell me that some of the seeds planted in 2008 will take root and maybe even sprout to see the light of 2009 days. Sure, I’m excited and somewhat expectant. But the realist in me (some may call it the pessimist) aims to temper that expectancy with a healthy dose of skepticism, or caution.

Hence, the list of items officially, and maybe indefinitely, unresolved for 2009:

Unresolved: My schedule. For the life of me, I cannot seem to maintain a consistent schedule – something vital to my productivity. Inconsistency aside, there’s also a Grand-Canyon-sized crater missing in the fluidity of my time (read: highly fragmented). Most days, I work an office gig in the mornings until noon, which leaves the rest of the day wide open for me to focus on my own myriad of projects, writing and otherwise. Sounds like an ideal situation, does it not? Problem is that, as I have bemoaned on this blog before, I don’t have a dedicated work space, which means that I usually head home, change clothes, eat lunch and maybe, if I’m lucky, end up at the dining room table in front of my laptop. Or at the Weatherstone in front of my laptop. Getting back into the groove of working, though, gets thwarted with little effort by things like laundry, dishes in the sink, litter box that hasn’t been cleaned for a week (yes, I admit it). Will I ever develop those ever-elusive writerly habits and/or the willpower to never check my email in the morning?

Unresolved: My teaching. I haven’t quite figured out if teaching is for me. I have a fairly keen sense of self-awareness that has taught me to be careful of high expectations – they only lead to disappointment. Admittedly, I probably expected way too much from teaching in terms of imagining myself whimsically guiding eager students down a path of enlightenment to their creative destiny. Most students I’ve encountered so far simply want to pass, a C being perfectly acceptable. What I’ve come to realize is that I get far more gratification from offering my feedback to peers – other writers who appreciate my comments because they value the time I put into evaluating their work, which is something I’m not sure that I’m going to find in the classroom.

Unresolved: My writing. I’m a writer. I’m a writer. I’m a writer. Maybe if I just keep telling myself that, it will sink in and stick. Some of my daily/weekly/monthly activities make me feel like a writer: I read and/or talk about writing almost every day; I teach writing this semester twice a week; I participate in a monthly writer’s group; and every so often (it was three times last year), I read some of my work in front of a large-ish audience. But the amount of actual, physical writing I do? That’s debatable. If you count email, I write every day. If you don’t count email, well, that’s where it gets tricky. See the whole “unresolved: my schedule” section above? Um, yeah, that kind of affects whether or not I’ve set aside dedicated writing time. I think what I need is a constant: one thing in my schedule that can be a regular appointment of sorts around which I can begin to build a more consistent routine.

Unresolved: My business. Er, so-called business. I did establish a business in 2008. Got a license and business checking account to boot. It’s called jms ink. I even had some steady business for a while. Imagine that, establish a business and actually get some. What a concept. That, however, has dwindled, along with my paychecks and meager income that I start with on a monthly basis. So before last semester ended, I sat down and wrote up a list of goals for winter break, which included actually finishing a business plan for jms ink and a strategy for drumming up some more, uh, business. Well, the bad news is that the business plan didn’t quite get finished yet (and spring semester starts in less than a week), and the strategy hasn’t quite been implemented. But the good news is that with spring semester comes a, shall we say, revised schedule that has me working for jms ink still part-time (amidst the myriad other things I do to eek out a living), but for a full two days a week.

Unresolved: My relationships. Not just dating/romantic relationships, but relationships with friends, family, roommates, colleagues and even peripheral acquaintances. Someone asked me recently if I “schedule my friends.” I was taken aback for a moment because I’d never really stopped to think about it that way. But, as strange as owning up to it sounded, I had to answer, yes. Then myself and I had to agree that maybe scheduling friends is a bit sterile, but it’s no more sterile than scheduling time for one’s self – and how many of us should do that, but don’t? People don’t often talk about how managing and maintaining relationships are hard things to do, and requires deliberate effort – we choose how much time to spend with whom and when. And if we don’t choose consciously to spend time with people that we actually want to spend time with, we still choose subconsciously because not choosing in and of itself is a choice. Maybe all that sounds esoteric, but what I am getting at is that my network is full of valuable contacts, with whom I don’t spend enough time maintaining relationships, and I’ve lost touch with a lot of folks that I wish I hadn’t.

Unresolved: My spirituality. A relatively new topic for this blogspace, but I must admit that it’s hardly new to the Life and Times of Janna Marlies Santoro. The thing is that I don’t want to be labeled a “religious” writer or a “Christian” writer, and so I tend to resist writing about faith and spirituality all together. At least in a public forum. But lately I am beginning to see how closely faith relates to every aspect of life – even for folks who say they don’t have any. The truth that I’m learning is that everything matters: a person’s spiritually, or lack thereof, affects the way she lives, her priorities, how she spends her time, the decisions she makes, how she treats others, how she spends her money, what kind of food she buys. For what it’s worth, I grew up in a non-denomination Bible-believing Christian church. I do believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the sinless human incarnation of God. But my journey over the past several years has brought me to a point of disillusionment with mainstream Christianity and especially with the contemporary church. I don’t like the negative connotation that the label “Christian” has earned in history because of those who claim it, and when people ask, I say that I am a follower of Jesus. Besides that, as a writer, I never warmed up to the idea of alienating a good chunk of readership by marketing the fact that, among other “religious” practices, I pray regularly. Still, figuring out how to write about all of this is a mystery that I may never solve. In the meantime, though, I plan to continue writing about real life experiences that I know other real life women (spiritual or not) can relate to. After all, I’m just one of many women in progress.

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