My Focus for 2014

by Donna McLaughlin Schwender

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As my first year of blogging comes to an end, I can’t help but look back and notice that I “only” made twenty-two posts, including this one. Instead of being disappointed though, I’m choosing to focus on the fact that I posted throughout the entire year, regardless of the final count.

If 2013 has taught me anything, it’s that I’m done with synopsizing my accomplishments with the use of such words and phrases as “only,” “at least,” and “yes, but….” In fact, I’m quite proud of and honored by the fact that in 2013 – the first year I spread my writing wings – I managed to get four flash fiction pieces, two poems, and two short stories published. I simply refuse to let the dozen or so rejections I also received to taint my thinking otherwise. And by the way – I prefer to think in terms of the other publishers “declining” my offers, not outrightly rejecting them.

As for the purpose of this last blog post for 2013 – for the last few weeks, my Facebook news feed has had quite a few posts from people talking about their “chosen word” for 2014. I had never really heard of such a concept, but I liked the sound of it. I spent a lot of time thinking about what word I might like to focus on for the upcoming year and the word that kept whispering in my ear – no matter how hard I tried to ignore it – was actually “focus.” It seemed too intense for what I had in mind, but it finally dawned on me that it only had to be that way if that’s what I CHOSE to focus on.

I’m not sure why, but once I “had” my word, I went on a Pinterest quest to search for inspiration. I was pleasantly surprised at how much my focus expanded (no pun intended) on that one word. I ended up with 87 pins on my Pinterest Focus board and I’m certain there will be plenty more throughout 2014.

But why choose “focus,” you might wonder? For me, it’s primarily a shift in my writing about everything and anything, to defining a short list of what I’d like to focus on writing. But it extends far beyond just my writing. It’s about focusing on my dreams – not on my doubts; on what I can do – not on what I can’t do; on what I have to gain – not on what I have to lose; on how far I’ve come – not on how far I still have to go; on living – not just on surviving. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg (again a matter of focus).

There truly are layers upon layers to much of what our days present us with. It’s up to each one of us to decide what we need and/or want to focus on. And while we might never solve Edgar Allen Poe’s riddle of why a raven is like a writing desk, we can enjoy the journey of discovery, even if it “only” leads us to more layers vying for our attention and focus.

I’d LOVE to hear what word you might have chosen for yourself to focus on in 2014. I’d also REALLY like to hear your thoughts on the actual word “focus.” Until then, as 2013 fades into the rearview mirror and as 2014 comes into focus above the horizon, may each of you be filled with the joy of peaceful possibilities that patiently await your gaze.

Addendum: For anyone who might be curious about what had my attention for the last month or so, it was my Flash Cards Project, something I might expand – and continue to focus on – in 2014. You can see pictures of the completed project on my Flash Cards Project Pinterest board.

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