January, no matter where you are in the world, is a fresh start.
Resolutions have never worked for me. In University, I wouldn’t even make it half way through January before calling it quits on my commitment to the gym; and writing goals have never panned out unless they come from a place of truth or I have a deadline. In lieu of resolution, choosing a word to live by for a year sets a different tone. It becomes a personal theme, and works as a reminder of the rules you have chosen to live by for a time. It has proven to be fun and challenging, and something I can commit to.
“Do I take this risk, or don’t I?
Well, yes, you do because it’s the year to “Jump In.”
Choosing your word is a simple and genius way to help in decision making, to truly listen to the self, and get in touch with instinct when it is too far drowned out by all that goes on around us on a daily basis.
My past ‘words’ have included “Grace,” “Youth,” and, yes, “Jump In.” Last year was “Unfamiliar.” It played out in several ways, including trying my hand at writing a play, and then producing it for the Edmonton Fringe Festival. (Here is the Edmonton Journal story).
Our family then solidified a school year away in Costa Rica. We rented our home in Edmonton, and took off on a midnight flight for a foreign place to dive into a new language, new community, and new pace of life.
This year’s word, “Solitude,” came to me after coming across a quote written by French mathematician, Blaise Pascal, in his book Pensées:
“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
It’s a bit of a big statement, but this quote got me thinking about solitude and silence, and how little of it we have. I’ve always admired people who cannot only attain solitude, but can be comfortable with it. It often feels elusive and hard to come by. Even here, in a new country, where we know virtually no one, we were quickly invited into the folds of a new community at the school and began making plans with new friends, all of which fulfilled important social needs, but quickly removed the chance of establishing regular solitude.
Thus far, choosing “Solitude” has given me permission to be choosy with social obligations and engagements, saying ‘no’ more often than ‘yes,’ and giving myself a chance to explore things that I may not have found time for before. Strangely, it has also been a chance to test and work past that age-old feeling from grade school—FOMO (fear-of-missing-out).
So, where will “Solitude” get me?
Obviously, I am not out to experience a “Waldenesque” type of solitude—I still have a family to look after and a community of teachers, instructors and friends that require attention and communication.
All of my other “words” have been about the pursuit of something—In my year of “youth” I returned to dance classes after 20 years, hoping to feel young and rejuvenated. (Instead, I injured myself several times and felt older than ever.) The “Jump In” year was about being courageous, letting fear ride along, but only in the back seat. (That year involved a LOT of self-talk.)
This year will not be about moving toward something, but reflecting back. I predict ‘Solitude’ will be about listening. It will be about giving myself permission to be silent, even if it seems like an out-of-the-ordinary or socially awkward thing to do. Maybe more than anything, it will be about self-acceptance.
Question I have been pondering:
What is your theme this year, and how will you live it?
Quote for the day
Book I am reading
Michelle Obama’s Becoming. This book arouses so many questions, such as “How is there so much good in the world, but still so much evil?” I love her voice—she is a confident, no-nonsense woman, but also humorous and painfully honest about what she observed and experienced over the course of her life, thus far. Definitely a worthwhile read.