The Heroine Of My Own Story

By the time you read this, it would be New Year’s Eve, and I would be preparing for a party somewhere, dressed up to celebrate the arrival of 2018. Before we toast the new year, however, I want to share one last reflection on the past year.

A few months ago, I posted this picture on Instagram as part of the #DaretoShare Challenge. Back then I thought that this was the takeaway for my “brand”—that I wanted my readers to come away from my books and my social media presence feeling like they, too, can conquer the world. Here’s what I wrote back then:

Whether you’re going for a makeover, asking for a raise, or reaching out to the people you love, your decisions will serve as a guide to a journey that can challenge your life, even if you have to face the challenges along the way.

So go ahead. Set your goals. Ask the tough questions. Be brave enough to speak up for what you deserve. It won’t be easy, but trust me—you’ll be a stronger person for it.

A lot of things happened since I wrote those words, but the most glaring thing that happened was that I’d fallen out of love with writing. Even while I was grinding away at countless revisions for my next book, I was losing some of the heart that had made writing so exhilirating for me. (The fact that I’m using the words “grinding away” to describe what was going on should be a sign.) And while part of the challenge of writing was showing up, I faced the rest of December on the verge of burnout.

Then I remembered: I had forgotten to be the heroine of my own life. That is, I had poured so much of my efforts into writing that I had forgotten what it meant to live.

Around the same time, I was also paying attention to some of the physical manifestations of stress in my life. I had gained more weight than I did in the past, and my knees have started to lose their flexibility. Since I wasn’t getting any younger, I cut down on the stressful workouts and started doing yoga on a regular basis. I didn’t exactly become an expert yogi master (as of this writing, it’s too soon to talk about results) but as I pushed myself physically through every stretch, my mind started achieving clarity–something that I hadn’t had in the months that I’d been writing nonstop. And the more I continued with my yoga practice, the less I indulged in navel-gazing avoidance behavior.

With that clarity, I started reckoning with some of the things that had given me stress: my mental health, my social media addiction, my failure to reconcile what I’m doing now with everything that I had ever known about writing in the last twenty years. I had to face the fact that I needed to take care of my family as well as myself.

So many revelations.

I eventually started writing again, though not at the same intensity which I pursued it in the past few months. And I started planning for the future: workshops, travels, family matters. I needed to pull my life out of chaos and restore a sense of order that hadn’t been there for a long time.

In a way, I had to rescue myself, to be the dashing prince to my own damsel in distress. And in order to do that, I had to let go of all the past notions I had about myself–all the outdated possessions and beliefs that I hung on to for so long. I didn’t just start all over again; I had to reboot my whole life.

So where does this leave me in 2018? For one thing, I’ll be working on better goals for myself and my writing, with an emphasis on taking better care of myself. I’ll maintain the balance that I’d had between working on my writing and spending time with my family. And for sanity’s sake, I may have to go off-line once in a while, if only to get my sanity back. (I’ll talk about this more during my Bimonthly Goals post next week, so watch out for that.)

Until next time, let’s welcome the New Year with a healthy dose of joy and good cheer. See you in 2018!

Love, Stella

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Stella Torres

is the author of the adult contemporary romances Save the Cake, Crushingly Close, and Nine Years Away, as well as the short story “Be Creative” in the anthology Kids These Days: Stories from Luna East Vol. 1.

In her previous life, she has worked in public relations, taught English as a second language, and even attended graduate school (twice!). She has lived in Indonesia, Honolulu, and Quezon City before moving back to her hometown of Los Banos, a few hours’ drive (with traffic) from the heart of Manila.

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