I wrote this for the January, 2014 LARA Confidential Newsletter, and I liked it so much, I decided to put it up here with a few changes because I always change my work.

So, It’s 2014. January.

A brand new year.  Here we all are, still full of hope that THIS year, we’ll do everything we failed to do LAST year.  All that burden on January. It doesn’t seem fair, does it? So I’m taking this time to point out that maybe it’s not just a once-a-year thing to do – take stock of our lives – but that maybe it should be a daily thing. You know, slow and steady.

My feet haven't changed.

My form of physical health. It’s working for me.

I am resolved to have a healthier year this year, but I’m also very aware that “health” means more than “physical health”.  Mental and emotional health is important, too. Physical, mental, and emotional health are the three legs of our life that we rest on – they are what give us energy to do everything we want and need to do in our life.

When we start from a place of wholeness, we know who and what we are and what, exactly, we want out of our life. When one of the three legs is lacking – say, you’re ill, or you have emotional stresses – it is very hard to compensate for that missing leg. Our work ends up lacking something, and often it can’t be fixed even in rewrites.

Some people can and do write through all the storms of their lives. It is part of what fuels them; it is part of their process.  But I can’t believe that’s healthy, and many of those successful writers often flag as they get older, as the stresses multiply, as their issues (be they mental, physical, or emotional) get so big the issues drown out their writer’s voice.

Writing from a place of wholeness in mind, body and spirit is one of the greatest gifts I’ve decided to give myself this year.  Here is my three-legged approach to a healthy and balanced life.

Physical Health This one, believe it or not, is easy. Eat in moderation. Drink in moderation (if you’re a drinker, that is). Get some regular exercise, even if it’s just parking far from the door of the grocery store. Move the body every 20 minutes if stuck behind a desk. Drink Water!!!

Pay attention to your body. Write down any aches and pains that stick with you for more than a day or so.  Slather your body with lotion after every shower or bath. Smile at your reflection in the mirror, and appreciate the fact that you can walk, talk, think, see, hear, laugh, cry, hold your loved ones. Enjoy your age, because none of us are getting any younger.

Our camp kitchen, and the back end of the pop-up trailer.

Sometimes, mental health calls for getting away from all the electronics in our lives.

Mental Health  Keep optimistic about everything, as much as possible. (If this means ignoring the news, by all means ignore!) Focus on the good in your life. Flush gossip out of your brain.  If troubled about those you love, talk to them and say those worries out loud. In doing so, many of them fade.  Don’t let worries get big by hiding from them. Instead, tackle big issues head-on, such as: pay bills on time (less stress); discuss that difficult issue with your boss; ask your agent for a contract change. Know how much money is in the account so you don’t overspend.  Schedule doctor and eye doctor and dentist appointments ahead of time whenever possible.  Keep a calendar and note important dates on it.

Revel in your accomplishments, and never, ever, talk bad about yourself. Give yourself your BEST self, every day. Then don’t let yourself down. Hell, I know we’re all human.  So forgive yourself for mistakes, for everyone makes mistakes. When you can, put your focus on other people. Smile at strangers, laugh with friends, hug your pets. Never take those in your life for granted.

Emotional Health  Refill the well. Be silent with yourself; or call it meditation. Spend even

A painting of one of the costumes/dancers of The Rite of Spring

A painting of one of the costumes/dancers of The Rite of Spring, shown at the Music Center in Los Angeles February, 2013

ten breaths in quietness, once or twice a day, and allow yourself to fill with love. Read everything, from the philosophers to pulp fiction to the daily news, for everything is fodder for the muse. Visit museums, walk along the beach at sunrise, breathe in the mountain air. Paint, draw, make music even if you’re not an expert at painting or drawing or making music. See live theater or music or go to comedy clubs, for seeing work live brings something to you that a movie or a recording just can’t.  Visit with friends.

Take vacations, even if they’re short. Go places you’ve never been. Go alone. Go with a friend or a significant other.  Forgive anyone you hold a grudge against. Woo your own heart. Let me say that again. Woo Your Own Heart. For you are worthy of wooing. Always.

The truth of the matter is, we can’t go back and relive our youth. We can only move through this life at the age we’re at, and accept and love the person we’ve become.  If you put time into your own physical, mental and emotional health every day, your relationships will blossom. Your heart will fill. And your writing will come from the Passionate You that started writing, and that Passionate You will enjoy it again as much as you did the first time, when you wrote that manuscript and you didn’t have a clue as to what you were doing, and your heart overflowed and your soul expanded and you knew you had just Done Something Wonderful.

I don’t believe in writing “the book of your heart”. I actually loathe that saying. But I do believe that if you’re not passionate about what you write, it won’t strike the chord in your reader that you want it to strike. If you’re not passionate about your work, how can you expect others to be? And if you’re not passionate about your work, then why are you writing?

So this year, take it slow. Focus on all three parts of your health – physical, mental, and emotional, and get as centered as you can. Yes, life will throw you curve balls. No, those curve balls aren’t always pleasant (some find their way to your gut, stealing your breath). But if you keep what matters first and foremost in your heart and your mind, if you remember to be gentle with your body and soul, then you’ll weather the storms Fate has in store for you.  And if you need help, know that there are hands and hearts out there, just waiting to help when asked. But you have to ask.

The daffodils under my apple tree. A happy surprise every Spring!

The daffodils under my apple tree. A happy surprise every Spring!

I truly believe that if you expect the best, or the worst, you’ll get it. So why not expect the best?

May your 2014 be bright with blessings, good friends, and love, always.