It’s that time of year again, when I feel like I’ve got one foot planted in the previous year and one foot reaching towards the next, and there’s nothing but rushing water below me. It’s comforting to know that we’re all straddling the same two ice floes and many of us are spending the last few days of 2009 reflecting. In that vein, before I do a bit of my own reflecting, I’d like to highlight some of the blog posts that I’ve found to be especially helpful in my thinking:
- Joy at What I Weigh Today suggested that resolutions should reflect what we want more of in our lives, rather than less.
- Andrea at Superhero Designs offered a end-of-year completion ritual, to put a seal on the year before staring the new one.
- Julochka at Moments of Perfect Clarity summarized her year by reading through her blog posts and pulling the threads of her year together for her readers.
- Jennifer Lee at wishstudio lists a variety of ways to commemorate the year.
I’m sure as we get closer to the new year, there will be more posts that shine a new light on my year’s end thinking. But I thought it important to mark what I’m thinking now. During this week of convalescence , I’ve been thinking a lot about what I achieved (and didn’t achieve) last year and what I hope for 2010.
I don’t know if 2009 turned out the way I thought it would. While it’s hard for me to tell from this vantage point, I think this may be the year that I can point to as a time of refocusing and re-evaluating. At the beginning of the year, I chose the word “essential” as part of the One Little Word practice. That word forced me to make a lot of choices about how I spend my time. I ended up slashing and burning, removing the things that felt more like chores and less like essential responsibilities. I also bought and saved less things, which was liberating.
Thanks to that slash-and-burn, I’ve undergone a big transition in 2009. Obviously, I transitioned from my old blog (9 to 5 Poet) to this new blog. More significantly, I’ve moved from thinking of myself as a poet who has to work as a teacher to an educator engaged in her work who is also a poet/artist on the side. For me, this was the most difficult transition. It’s an enormous (but I think necessary) transition in my identity. I found myself asking, if I’m not a poet first, am I still a writer? Am I still a writer if I’m not writing that often? Despite these questions, I’m learning that if I take away the goal of publishing a book of poetry and replace it with living an engaged and creative life, then I am widening both my creative life and my work life.
Of course, I also transitioned back to being a student, this time as a graduate student in leadership studies. I’ve really enjoyed the way that my first class inspired me, but schooling is a significant time commitment. I have to remember that even though classes are every other weekend, the reading and papers need attention every single day.
As I integrate these shifts into my life in 2010, I’m left wondering what kind of creative life I want to lead. The danger is that I often neglect my creative life for other easier stress breaking pursuits. To be blunt, after working a long day in the office or writing a 10-page paper, I would much rather plop my butt on the couch and surf channels than make a collage or write a poem. While there will always be a place for my precious precious television, I think I need to re-evaluate how much time I spend in front of the flickering screen.
With that in mind, I’ve chosen “resource” as my One Little Word for 2010. (Ali hasn’t posted her 2010 One Little Word blog post yet, but I’ll link back once she does.) Now that I have pared down my life to the essentials and kicked out much of the clutter, I want to focus on feeding the essentials with my collective resources of free time, creative energy, and money. These resources are finite and I want to ensure that I am using them wisely. When using these resources this year, I’d like to ask myself:
- Am I spending time in a way that feeds my creativity? If not, am I spending my time in an essential activity?
- Am I using my creative energy to write and create when I can? If not, am I consciously finding ways to re-energize creatively?
- Am I supporting other artists and small/local/ethical/sustainable businesses with my money?
Last year, I chose the word and three small goals. The word, for me, was a driving force and the goals were less central. After reviewing my goals, I found that I actually did pretty well. While I didn’t write 3 poems a month (or even come close), I did shift my eating habits quite considerably to veggies/fruits/whole grains, and I think I tried to be kinder to myself. (That’s a really more of a life goal.) Since I would like to use the same format, here are my goals for 2010:
- Spend at least one hour per week on a non-work/non-school creative project. Rather than focusing on the product this year (3 poems – random number), I’ve picked a finite (and small) amount of time to build from. But it’s an easily obtainable and easy to track goal.I’d like to note that this number is a minimum, not a maximum. As another note, blogging and tweeting does not count. I use my blogging and tweeting primarily to track my process and chronicle my creative interests.
- Track my creative pursuits on a weekly basis. I found that I was most successful in changing my eating habits once I began accurately tracking what I ate. I could look back at the day and say yes, I did eat at least 5 fruits of veggies today, but oops, I didn’t have any dairy. Once I began that habit, I was able to notice my eating trends and make significant and positive changes.
- Reconnect to my body. Thanks to my very unexpected year of knee injury, I feel I’ve disconnected from my body. Of course, almost anyone would check out physically if they’ve had a traumatic knee injury, followed by a major knee surgery, and had to wear 3 different knee braces within 6 months. But I think that these traumas have exacerbated my tendencies to be more intellectual than physical. So, as my body heals and gets stronger, I want to engage in the things that remind me that I have a body that enjoys moving.
There it is – 2010 will be my Year of Resources. I’m hoping that I can keep this focus and my goals up front. But I also know that the real work happens when I forget them, at least a little bit, and begin evolving on my own. It’ll be interesting to stand back here at the same time next year and see how focusing on my resources changed me.