Sunday, January 8, 2017

A New Year: The Gift of Opportunity

The new year provides a welcome gift: opportunity.  I've never liked the concept of beginning the new year with a list of goals, largely because they often feel like burdens.  When the novelty of the new beginning wears off, I'm often left in much the same place I was at the start of the year.  New Year's Resolutions can feel oppressive, unsustainable.  So I didn't set New Year's Resolutions, but I've made a commitment to trying to center and balance with a monthly actionable step, all rooted in one thing: writing.

I kept a journal, faithfully, for the bulk of my adolescence and into young adulthood.  It was a cornerstone for understanding myself.  As I began my career, got married, and began a family, written reflection is something that's fallen away. Perhaps part of it is because of the accessibility of digital formats.  Through Facebook, I often feel like I'm writing and reflecting, but it's not the same as a sustained piece. So I'm committing to more paper and pen.  I need that grounding.  I need a path to return to.

I've bought in -- hook, line, and sinker -- to the world of bullet journaling.  I'll share some pages along the way, I'm sure.  I'm hoping it will help me keep record of things that matter to me, that it will be a source for brainstorming that will develop into longer (digital) pieces, and that it will help to build the habit of daily writing and reflection.  As I mentioned, I've chosen a monthly focus.  January's focus is on centering (quieting the noise, being mindful of breath, reflection, and finding calm).  I'm sure I'll have much to say about that. So part of centering is clearing distraction, finding quiet, and writing.  This quote is scrawled across my January page: "There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you... only in the winter... can you have longer quiet stretches where you can savor belonging to yourself" (Ruth Stout).  That is what January will be for me -- a turning inward, a time of reflection, of centering.  I'm making a concerted effort to do so.

I'm striving, too, to write more for a broader audience. I need that accountability.  I'd be lying if I said it didn't scare me a little bit.  I'm out of practice, so the words don't come terribly easily, they often falter and fall flat.  The message is dull. But I know that the writing will improve with practice. The reflection, too.  I am not a naturally confident person, so putting words out into the void can make me feel incredibly vulnerable and exposed.  I'm putting my thoughts out into the world, hoping something I say resonates with someone -- that someone hears me.

Much of the writing I read is digital. We are in the habit of consuming material, rather than communicating about it.  I have to be okay with knowing that my readership may not feel compelled to respond about what they've read.  If feedback is important to me, I need to cultivate communities that will provide it. I'm working to build communities of writers who will provide me with the kind of feedback I need to both grow as a writer and to feel valued as a writer.  Digital formats are likely not going to provide that.  Why am I writing to share?  How will I react if that writing doesn't garner response?  These are the questions I must ask myself.

I've made some commitments to something I know is healthy for me.  Writing helps me know what I believe.  It offers clarity.  Most importantly, it feels manageable. I am grateful for the opportunity to use it to settle in, center, reflect, and grow.


  1. Love the picture of your bullet journal. I use one too, but am not quite so creative when putting together pages.

    Have you ever chosen a One Little Word instead of writing resolutions? Whether you did it purposefully or not, it seems like "commit" has chosen you :) Or maybe opportunity?

    I look forward to this opportunity for sharing. I've been lazy when it comes to writing in my blog, though in the last couple of weeks, I've been trying to be more consistent. I think another group helping me be more accountable is going to be just the thing.

    1. I've never done One Little Word, but checked out the blog you mentioned on the ICTE page and saw some. What a cool concept! Accountability for writing is helpful, isn't it? Glad we're taking this plunge together.

  2. Haley, thank you for writing. And for sharing openly about your writing vulnerabilities. Your honesty is appealing.

    I found your "Much of the writing I read is digital" paragraph to be a thoughtful extension of what we talked about at Liz's wedding: the tree in the forest: If no one responds, have we WRITTEN?!

    I'm sincerely looking forward to writing with you this year.