New year, new energy, new beginnings. Seasonal rhythms invite reflections on the past and visions for the future. Sometimes the best-laid plans go awry. Case in point—2020. Even in light of what is beyond our control, the new year brings opportunity to muse, plan, and focus intention on what we’d like to create and bring into being in the new year. This year finds me reflecting on learnings from the past and visions for the future, conveying these in word and image in my journal. I love learning of others’ creative and planning processes and share mine here, in case you may share this passion.
Energy and Intention
I am fairly protective about where I spend my energy and intention when it is within the realm of my control. There’s so much beyond our control that demands our energy, so I take the time and energy within my control seriously. I try my best to focus the time and energy that I have on people and projects that I love and on what I want to create in my life.
Key for my own energy and intentions are two essential rhythms of life— 1) waking early for solitude with candlelight, journal, and coffee in the morning, and 2) running. These are two foundational rhythms that I’ve discovered make a world of difference for all else.
Intentions for 2021
Scribbled in prose, webs, and lists in my journals with intentions for 2021 include:
Dissertation: 2020 began with me still immersed in my breast cancer journey. Then came the pandemic and all three 20-something kids moved home. Gifts and challenges came with all. Once I was on the other side of the health intensity, what truly scared me was that between the breast cancer, the pandemic full house, and a overflowing work life due all happening in the field of education because of the pandemic, I found myself with no emotional energy or space for my dissertation.
I know what can happen here—this is how people do not finish. The thought of this scared me. So, in May, I decided that come-what-may I needed to throw myself back into the PhD journey. I sat down with my family to tell them of this, that I had to carve our time to focus on my dissertation. Somehow. I threw intention and energy toward this journey again, completed and defended my proposal (“Exploring Stories at the Intersection of Landscape and Linguistic Literatures through Wildness, Beauty, and Imagination: A Narrative Inquiry”) and am now focused on my dissertation. My primary intention for 2021 is to complete my dissertation.
Reading widely and deeply: Like so many of us, I live surrounded by shelves and piles of books. My heart is content when nestled within a literary nest, both figurative and physical. Fiction and non-fiction line my nest. Through both my writing and academic lives, I organize these readings through bibliographies, papers, notes, publication, and journals. Another of my intentions for the upcoming year is to weave Goodreads back into my literary life. I am reading so many incredible books for my studies and diving into luscious fiction at night before bed, my intention is to engage with this reading community through books review on what I’m reading and learning more about what others are reading and recommend.
“Lift it up”: I am such a believer in this. I learned this lesson through life, especially those chapters of life that simply did not make any sense. For those events and chapters that no matter how hard I try, either don’t make sense or I cannot seem to make right, I’ve learned to tell myself to, “Lift it up.” I do this both literally and emotionally. I may be known along my running trails as the runner who out of nowhere often throws her arms up in the air. I’m okay with that. When my mind returns to difficult terrains, I do my best to “Lift it up,” and channel that negative energy into something positive. Again and again and again, until like a river bed, the re-directed waters form new paths.
We shall see what happens within the narrative arc of this year. Come what may, it feels good right now to both lift and ground myself in these intentions.
We brought last year to a close on New Year’s Eve by smudging with sage what we wanted to release from the past months and focusing our intentions and energy on what we want to bring into this year. A new tradition.
New Year’s Day, during my early morning solitude, I continued letting go and setting intentions with the sage smudge stick. I unwound the twine and allowed more oxygen into the bundle of sage. Over the course of the next hour, immersed in my thoughts and writing, my writing room filled with the purifying smoke. A LOT of purifying smoke, I suddenly realized.
I put the bundle outside in my kitchen garden, where it continued to smoke. I smudged all of our own home, as well most of the surrounding area. The pungent smoke hung in the air. I texted our neighbor to say, “When you step outside and wonder how you were suddenly transported to Woodstock, it is because I’ve been smudging over here. Smudging, not smoking!”
She wrote back, “We need all the smudging possible…good job.” Suffice it to say my writing room is now permanently purified, even after leaving the door open all day!
I stumbled across this poem and it resonates deeply. A gift.
i am running into a new year
by Lucille Clifton
i am running into a new year
and the old years blow back
like a wind
that i catch in my hair
like strong fingers like
all my old promises and it will be hard to let go
of what i said to myself
when i was sixteen and
twentysix and thirtysix
even thirtysix but
i am running into a new year
and i beg what i love and
i leave to forgive me
May you run into the New Year and may the full moon usher in your dreams.