Woah – 2015 is coming to an end, in just a few short hours. And I think I’m glad to be putting this year behind me and looking ahead! It’s been a rough one, perhaps the roughest since I was sixteen and my parents divorced, I got braces (on my 16th birthday because my mom didn’t realize what day it was when she made my appointment – okay she was in the midst of a divorce but still), my sister moved out, and my dog died.

Yeah, that was a brutal year too.

I usually spend an afternoon or two at this time of the year looking back and reflecting on what I achieved. This year? Not so much! I had a huge list of goals for WTW and my writing and what happened?

Uh, not a lot of goal completion.

I spent the first half of the year being a mom and helping my daughter get ready for college and life and then the next half of the year in the hospital with my husband where all my brain could handle was endless games of Spider Solitaire on my phone.

Hopefully you haven’t had to deal with massive life changes and a dramatic crisis that sucks the creative life and energy right (write) on out of you.

It’s NOT fun.

But as I look back, I realize that I learned a TON about myself, about my creative process, and about being gentle with myself. This isn’t to say I’m not a bit bummed that my three AMAZING courses aren’t already up on WTW, but they will be.

Or that I didn’t finish the revision on my YA murder mystery, but I will.

I have a pretty clear set of goals for this new year – finish last year’s goals!

But perhaps my biggest focus this year will be JOY and CREATIVE EXPRESSION. I spent all day on Sunday making a small mandala quilt. I’ve also done some brainstorming, dreaming, and research for a new novel idea that’s been brewing.

And you know what? Those two projects make me happy. My heart sang all day cutting random pieces of fabric and gluing it together (yeah – it was not a traditional quilt but I had a blast). And my little stack of notecards with ideas and notes is growing.

This past year, when I had time, I spent lots of my time on “shoulds.” This year, I’m NOT going to make a big, ugly TO DO list filled with SHOULDS that will merely make me feel guilty.

Nope – not this girl. I’ve had enough of that business. This year, it’s all about choosing to work on those projects and ideas that feed my soul. When I get inspired, I’m running with it, not setting the inspiration aside for something that I “should” be doing.

I’ll be asking myself two questions as I approach any project:

1) Does this bring me JOY?

2) Does this allow me to creatively express myself?

If the answer is not just a yes, but a soul soaring “I’m gonna start dancing right now” YES, then, and only then will it go on my list.

But it won’t go at the bottom of my list. It’s gonna go on top because I always do my best work when I’m excited and inspired.

What about you? Will you be making resolutions or setting goals for 2016 and your writing? Or are you approaching the year a little more “loosely” like I am? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.