As some of you may know from previous posts on my blog, this year I participated in Ali Edwards‘ workshop One Little Word. The idea is to adopt one word/concept to live through for your year. I chose the word revise, but others chose words such as give, joy, create, and gratitude. You see where this is going; it’s a way to carry your year with intent. This is not something I do with my life, and that is why I decided to take on the challenge. I thought it would be interesting to see not only how well I could keep up with it, but also what effects it would have if I actually set my mind to it.
I would pretty much call this a success, insofar as I actually did it to the best of my capacity. (Note: I don’t have a large capacity for long-term challenges and intentions, so the fact that I kept this in back of my mind for over half the year is pretty stunning.) Sure, I didn’t keep up with every monthly challenge, but I sat down to take part in at least nine of them. I made eight posts (and a a few more related ones) in the online journal specifically on the monthly prompts, and several entries in my notebook. I set out to Make Changes and that’s what I ended up doing.
A few of my accomplishments, (I’d claim) directly related to the concept of revise:
- I started grad school.
- I listen to audio books a lot more in the car now.
- I attempt (at least) to keep a routine at the gym.
- I joined Weight Watchers and learned how to maintain good eating habits. (I didn’t stick with it, but I didn’t need to.)
- I began looking out for myself, rather than putting every single other person ahead of me. This resulted in dismissing a few greedy friends and becoming closer to a few others.
- I started and closed and started and closed [etc] blog and website projects, but the difference between this year and the past is that I didn’t regret or feel guilty about closing any of them. I’m still open to trying new things, in other words, and I’m even more open to accepting it if they don’t work out.
- I also ended up reopening Busy Weekends in a format that works for me and doesn’t require a lot of maintenance, thus turning it into a project with longer term potential.
- I write a lot more because I want to, and because I have things to say–revise helped me conquer the loss of this treasured habit.
- I started (and kept up with) a photo journal of sorts to document the ordinariness of everyday life.
- I read more again.
- I started writing a book. Maybe.
- I began to reevaluate the role content can play in my life and rebuild an understanding of the type of content I want to produce (mostly for Busy Weekends, but also here).
- A handful of other things as detailed in this post.
I certainly feel a profound difference between who I am now and who I was at the beginning of the year. I think that would probably be true regardless of challenges, because I am still a firm believer that every experience changes you even if it doesn’t seem significant at the time.
I’m not sure I’d do this again as a project, but I have lately been reflecting on the more concise idea of doing one or two single projects per year, rather than dedicating months of unfocused time to one, forgetting about it as I adopt another, repeating the pattern, and ending up with several unfinished ideas and a general lack of that sense of accomplishment we all love so much.
This and in part last year, I focused a lot on how I want to spend my time in terms of social things such as the care & keeping of friendships and other relationships, and other external but basic ways to improve the quality of my existence such as exercise and healthy eating. Have I perfected these things? No, of course not. I’m still eating pints of ice cream late at night and preferring sitting on the couch to enjoying the impossibly warm winter days we’ve been having… but I know where my weaknesses are and I know how to conquer them. It’s just a matter of gathering the effort for maintenance, and I don’t want to spend another year focusing solely on this.
Next year, I think I want to focus more on routines and habits, including how I interpret my creative impulse. Of course, I don’t expect myself to learn how to control creative expression, but life would be nicer if my brain wasn’t so disorganized. My current medication combination causes me to completely lose focus and removes the ability to think straight. This is my new reality. It’s time to accept it and work with it. If I were doing a one little word for next year, I think I’d focus on tension. See where it lives and find ways to eliminate it wherever possible, because tension leads to anxiety and anxiety leads to stress and stress leads me down paths I don’t want to return.