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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Wherever You Go, There You Are

My mother turned 80 today. A benchmark year. She and two aunts are all I have living from the generation before me. She's in good health, spry, and still has a keen mind--all things I hope she's passed on to me!

It got me to thinking about all our benchmark years. Not just the decade tabs, but life events. The year your first child was born. The year of a divorce, marriage, or infidelity. The year you got the job that turned the corner for you financially. The year loved ones died. All these things define us--imprinting us with memories and deep emotions.

When I was a kid I used to make life goals; things I was determined to accomplish by a certain age. Oddly enough, marriage was never on the list. LOL! Yet it was the first thing I did as soon as I turned legal age.

Looking back, none of the things I planned ever came about--at least not the way I planned. I started university late, but graduated in three years. My dream job came and went before I realized how perfect it was for me. There were other, better-paying jobs, but none that gave me the personal satisfaction of that first job.

Writing was never on my list. Not ever. Yet here I am, with ten books under my belt.

If I did anything right in my life it's that I wasn't afraid to take the road less traveled. And I was lucky that I found a guy who felt the same way. We've never done things the easy way, and that's okay. It's only made the journey more interesting.

My mother scolded me once for working too hard. She said I needed to enjoy my life more. She said I needed to have more fun.

...I thought I was. ;o)

What are your benchmarks? Did they come about the way you planned? Or do you prefer to let life carry you where it wills?

My world is in flux until Greg is officially retired and moved, but I've been madly planning my goals for the next ten years. It's exciting and a lot of work--but a lot of fun. 

See, Ma. I took your advice.


And here's a little sample of unexpected goals. I wrote Mistress of the Stone because I wanted to try my hand at a historical with a paranormal twist. I learned yesterday that Bitten By Paranormal Romance named it a Top Pick for August. Just goes to show you never know where those whims can take you.


Anne Gallagher said...

I remember my list, and sad to say, I never got to any of my goals. However, I started a new list when I turned 50 and I DID actually manage to get everything done on that one. So I made another one, and I'm working on it.

I must say, I never ever thought I'd have a child, nor ever publish books for a living. And looking back I wouldn't change the way I've lived any part of my unconventional life for anything.

Maria Zannini said...

Anne: You bring up a good point. Whether we plan all our steps or go with the flow, it's important to travel through life with as few regrets as possible.

Renee Miller said...

I've been thinking about the same things a lot lately. I had goals as a child, but nothing concrete. I think I spent most of my life wandering, not really sure what I wanted to do. I've always written. I just didn't know what I could do with what I wrote.

When I had my youngest daughter, things changed. Her first year of life was a huge benchmark because it's influenced a lot of my decisions since. We almost lost her more than once and it was during that time that I asked myself if I was happy. I started evaluating my job, my life choices, family, friends, etc.

Writing was the single thing that always felt right and good. It got me through sad times, kept me sane when I thought I would seriously lose my shit, and it entertained me when life got so boring I thought I might implode.

When my youngest was 3 years old, I made the decision to turn writing into my job. That choice started me on a really long path I'm glad I took. I've still got miles ahead of me, but it feels like I'm heading toward the place I need to be, finally. I've met amazing people and learned so much about myself that even if it doesn't pan out as a career, the journey has been worthwhile.

I am incapable of a short comment. I've accepted this reality. ;)

Maria Zannini said...

Renee: Exactly! Things happen (often out of our control) and it changes us, redirects us to do things we might not have considered.

Life takes our goals and turns them into origami.

Re: I am incapable of a short comment...
That's why I love your comments so much. :)

Renee Miller said...

Sometimes I wish Life would get into knitting. ;)

B.E. Sanderson said...

I never had life goals. Most of this has been going wherever events took me. Riding the river, hitting the rapids, trying not to capsize my little boat. Then I met my husband, who's very goal oriented. He takes care of the planning and the river has been so much smoother ever since. And together we're hitting the goals so much sooner. =o)

Funny that writing was never part of the plan for you. I never envisioned it myself, but here we both are. Congratulations on your success. =o)

Angela Brown said...

If my life were anything like I'd planned back when I was in high school, I would not have been married, wouldn't have Chipmunk and no book titles to call my own.

As it is, life involves twists and turns, things unexpected, things no amount of planning can prepare you for.

I'm where I am and blessed to be here. I only pray that each step forward is a step with this same smile on my my face. People don't see it often because I tend to drift into deep thoughts and look focused or intimidating.

Mistress of the Stone deserves every accolade and more. I loved it and am glad so many others do to :-)

Ted Cross said...

I'm hitting a benchmark this month as I hit the midpoint of my forties. Time is flying by so fast, as the cliche goes. I have met most of the goals I set for my life, so I keep adding new ones. The current ones I have yet to achieve are beating a grandmaster at chess and having a bestselling novel.

Maria Zannini said...

Renee: Re: knitting
Yes, but think of all the cussing you'd miss out. Wrong turns and idiots are what keeps our minds sharp.

Mike Keyton said...

In the words of John Lennon:

'Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.'

I've never had any great plan or even a series of little ones, just an opportunist streak.

Maria Zannini said...

BE: You bring up an interesting point about mates. Sometimes we don't have to be the goal-makers. But we instinctively seem to gravitate to those who complete us.

Mike Keyton said...

PS I'm delighted for you ref Mistress of the Stone. Huzzah!

Maria Zannini said...

Re: People don't see it often because I tend to drift into deep thoughts and look focused or intimidating.People don't see it often because I tend to drift into deep thoughts and look focused or intimidating.

This made me laugh only because I always look confused. LOL. I'd rather have your game face.

But then I always remember you as smiling. :o)

Maria Zannini said...

Ted: I think the mid-forties were the most intense for me. So much happened and had to happen to get all my ducks in a row. It was an exciting time.

And I know you'll hit your benchmarks. You have the determination.

Maria Zannini said...

Mike: Greg's an opportunist too. LOL. I know the breed well.

Re: Mistress of the Stone
I couldn't have done it without my resident expert in all things British and historical. :) Thanks, Mike.

Stacy McKitrick said...

The only goal/dream I remember making was when I was 18, getting ready to join the Army and thinking I'd retire and only be 38! I never dreamed I'd get marriage and have kids - really!

I will say, the kids were planned (I wanted them three years apart and they are), but other than that, I leave the planning to my husband (since mine never pan out anyway - haha!). I just live one day at a time and enjoy the ride!

Maria Zannini said...

Stacy: When you're 18, 38 seems like a long way away. But now it seems a drop in the bucket.

I didn't know you had planned on making the Army a career.

Jackie Burris said...

Life plans, what are those? Seriously Maria one day at a time for us as life happens and then you roll with it so plans never work out anyway.

Funny thing just like you no plan to graduate and then get married anytime in the future, no plans actually to get married ever but 1 year and 6 months later there we were standing before the minister exchanging vows and now 31 years and 8 months later we are still together and still not making concrete plans of any kind.

MOTS well deserved Top Pick, August or any other month!

Don't worry about those plans for the next 10 years as when Greg is home full time those plans are going to change anyway Maria. :-)

Barbara Ann Wright said...

I worked for years to get published, so it finally happening was a big milestone for me. Then the Ross (my husband) pointed out out that it hasn't even been a year yet, and I was stunned. Feels like longer! I hope that keeps happening. ^_^

Maria Zannini said...

Jackie: If Greg has anything to say about it, I'm sure they will. LOL. He doesn't care much for my plans if they involve physical labor. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Barbara: Hard work always feel longer. LOL.

Gwen Gardner said...

Congratulations, Maria. That's so cool that Mistress of the Stone was picked.

I've never done anything the easy way, either. I definitely never made plans as a kid. I knew that IF I finished high school that I was going to work. Any kind of work. That's all. So imagine the delight when I was in my late twenties that I learned it was okay to dream! Yep, I'm a late bloomer.

Jennifer Shirk said...

My mom is turning 80 this year too!

Writing was definitely NOT on my benchmark either. LOL

CONGRATS on Mistress of the Stone. I need to pick up that book!

Maria Zannini said...

Gwen: And yet some people spend their whole lives without blooming. So glad you found your bliss. If there's one thing I've learned, you have to love what you do in this life.

Maria Zannini said...

Jennifer: 1933 was a good year. :) I have a lot of respect for the people of our moms' generation. They knew what it was to work hard and not complain.

Shelley Munro said...

Eighty is such a great age. Hubby and I have one parent each and they're both in their 80s and doing pretty well.
I always wanted to travel from a young age. I thought I'd have children. The travel part happened, and it's a passion my hubby shares with me. The children didn't happen, but as it happens we're fine with that. I think if you can look back and say you wouldn't do much different, then you're doing okay.

Congrats on the best book, Maria. I have that one on my Kindle :)

Karen Jones Gowen said...

Happy birthday to your mom! I'd listen to her, she must surely have a lot of wisdom from all those years of living and learning. When my mom was in her 80s I surprised her by telling her I wished I'd listened to her more. I never saw such a big smile LOL.

Sarah Ahiers said...

I really thought i'd be married and have kids by now. But i'm happy. I still want kids, though. ;)

Maria Zannini said...

Shelley: I think too many people live with regrets. One of the benefits of planning ahead is being in control of your life--or trying to anyway. It provides fewer opportunities for regrets.

Maria Zannini said...

Sarah: You still have plenty of time ahead for both.

Maria Zannini said...

Karen: Thanks, Karen. We are a country that doesn't revere our elders like they do in other countries. I think that's sad. They know so much. All you have to do is ask.

Anonymous said...

We were supposed to have a plan? Well, damn, I missed that memo.


I've never been a big goal setter. I'd rather take life as it comes. Projects, now that's a different matter and I do set goals to achieve the end result. However, I'm certainly not where I thought I might be at this stage of my life yet I can't say I have many regrets either. So, like Angela said, I am where I'm supposed to be and blessed for it.

Darke Conteur said...

I don't make plans. Schedules and I just don't get along, but as much as I search to learn what the universe does have in store for me, I try to let things flow.

I can honestly say that an important milestone has happened every five years since I was fifteen. No milestones yet this year, but the year is still young for me. :D

Maria Zannini said...

Raelyn: Nah. It's just me and my obsessive-compulsive self. LOL.

I know plenty of people who do fine without any plan whatsoever. And they're less stressed than I am. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Darke: Every five years is a good barometer. At least you know something's on the wind.

James Garcia Jr. said...

Hmm? Can't say I envisioned things happening this way in my life either, Maria. I never thought I'd ever have a girlfriend during those teenage long-haired years. Yet we've just hit the 23 married/25 altogether. You picture what your kids may be like, but little do you know. Mine are talented as hell and well-liked - and healthy and well, which was all I really prayed for. Lastly, I never thought people would ever be reading my writing, and yet, here I am. It's crazy! *grins*


Maria Zannini said...

Jimmy: Your kids are amazing! Partly, I'm sure from having such supportive parents. You're obviously doing something right.