The Year Ahead: Reading, Writing, Living

It's been a quiet little blogosphere around these parts of late. While I'm tempted to apologize for that, one of my goals for the year is to be less sorry and more thankful... and so I'm not going to say I'm sorry I've been distracted, but instead observe that I am thankful that you, whoever you may be, are still here, reading whatever strange musings I fling out into the interwebs, sparse as they may be.

Which brings me to resolutions, focus, and my lack thereof for 2016.

My word of focus for 2016 was "savor." At the end of 2015, feeling burnt out from a year of too much yes, too much joining, and far, far too many to-dos, I wrote,

I will savor the moments that bring me joy, and the people and activities that are part of that.

I failed miserably at this focus. I continued to say yes--travel! weddings! presentations! volunteering!--and did not create the space I needed to be able to sit back and savor the moments I so craved. I got hung up on small disasters, allowing them to derail my sense of purpose. I focused on large disasters--of which there are many, many many--and found myself paralyzed by the horror of it all. I tried to move my life away from lists and to-dos by refusing to mark pleasure activities (reading, hiking, day trips, dates) on a list of "Things to Accomplish." Unable to move completely away from lists and to-dos (my brain can't hold everything, after all), my list of "Things to Accomplish" became little more than household chores and business tasks, and drained the savoring right out of my everything.

Some of this was due to the unique stressors of 2016, of course: the campaign; the loss of two wonderful, strong women who inspired me to be more, do more, push more; the back-to-back-to-back-to-back travel over the summer and early fall that left me craving my bed, my house, my walls, my routine.

But that was my point, really, in pushing myself to savor in the first place. Because there's no such thing as a stress-free life (and really, anyone who thinks 2017 will be less stressful than 2016, at least politically and globally, needs to do some rethinking). Because even among the stressors, among the chaos and hatred and unkindnesses and challenges that I knew to expect, I wanted to remember that there are little things worth savoring. I wanted to relearn the joy of baking, cooking slowly and for no reason other than pure pleasure. I wanted to remember how to spend an hour, an afternoon, a day, just being. I wanted to recall, amidst the horrors of the daily headlines thrown in our faces, that there are small moments of great mercy that warrant celebration. I wanted to savor reading for pleasure again, and writing because I wanted to, and take time to feel the sun on my face, and power up to find the energy to fight the battles that most need fighting.

So this year I have a list again. I have resolutions--specific ones and general ones and serious ones and fun ones. I plan to build better habits. I plan to run further, read harder, be kinder. I plan to embrace my love of lists, of planners and notebooks and calendars and written scraps of paper tucked into the corners of unused purses to capture the things that need saving, but don't need to be saved right now. I plan to spend less time on my phone and more time in my life.

And I plan to again urge myself to savor, remembering to find the highlights as we fight for a better world for today and for tomorrow. Instead of expecting the space for this savoring to happen naturally, as I did in 2016, I embrace the fact that this is work. All of it. Even the good stuff.

Per aspera, ad astra, my friends. 

May your 2017 be even better than you imagine it can be. I look forward to hearing all about it.

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