Last night I ventured forth, alone, into a crowded and chilly London bedecked in lights and evergreen, holly and other seasonal decorations to seek out The Walrus & The Carpenter Pub. As it takes the name of a Lewis Carol poem, I could think of no finer place for a holiday get-together of children’s book authors and illustrators. And so I resolved to go, even though I could claim to know only two of the 30-40 attendees.

The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright—
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.

It was with considerable trepidation (further inflamed by my getting lost on the wrong branch of the Northern Line and arriving 30 minutes late) that I compelled the introverted me to pull away from the computer – and a 2014 To-Do List still 10 items long – to go mingle with a bunch of strangers.

The moon was shining sulkily,
Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
After the day was done—
’It’s very rude of him,’ she said,
’To come and spoil the fun!’

Though late, I arrived to open arms and a saved seat, a glass of chilled Prosecco and an unopened Cracker, which produced a purple party hat and a bad joke. This was followed by much laughter, happy conversation, and questions back and forth among new friends.

‘The time has come,’ the Walrus said,
’To talk of many things:
Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax—
Of cabbages—and kings—
And why the sea is boiling hot—
And whether pigs have wings.’

As I heard myself introducing my work and life to the welcoming and interested party guests, two thoughts occurred to me:

  • I should get out more often, and

  • it really is amazing how far this journey from solo author to entrepreneur has taken me.

Now is it just me, or do we all tend to forget what we have accomplished as we focus so obsessively on what’s still left to do? Do you also forget to take in, from time to time, the life that’s being lived right in front of you?

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Were walking close at hand;
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand:
’If this were only cleared away,’
They said, ‘it would be grand!’

In the last year, alone, I supported my daughter in getting through her baccalaureate studies and into the university of her choice; I finessed an international move from Paris to London; I lost dear Gryffindog, and then found him again by sheer grit and determination; I completed a story manuscript that is now in submission, and nearly completed a second; I spoke at a couple of conferences, made numerous school visits, and helped run a creative writing festival; I sang in several concerts, made a few dozen new friends, and built the foundations of a business venture that I hope will launch by mid-2015.

So in this post, I’m announcing my first New Year’s Resolutions:

To stop, change the date on the To-Do List to 2015, and spend the rest of this year reflecting on the successes of 2104;

To enjoy the life that is being lived right in front of me and revel in some down time in my new home city in the company of my dear husband and best friend, our amazing daughter, and our devoted four-legged companion;

To create a bit of “white space,” as my colleague Dan Blank calls it, in order start the new year fresh and ready to take on another 12 months.

“A loaf of bread,” the Walrus said,
”Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed—
Now if you’re ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed.”

Let the Holiday Season begin! Bring on the latkes and the hot-mulled wine; the dreidels and tinsel and scented candles; the friends-and-family get-togethers with glorious food and copious music!

May your season be merry and bright,
and devoid of bad weather and traffic delays.
May you enjoy the life being lived right in front of you.
And may all our dreams come true in 2015.


Support the right to literacy this holiday season.
My choices:
Room To Read
and the
Uganda Community Libraries Association.

Share your resolutions in the comments section!