It’s taken me a while to get going this year but I am finally ready to embrace January with, ahem, eight days to go! But it’s really been about getting my head around 2018 – how to approach its challenges and how to make it work for me. So far I’ve felt pretty ambivalent and pretty stressed. It’s a toughie, January. It’s not only the weight of new beginnings and the responsibility of resolutions but two poignant family anniversaries tug at my heart strings in the first month of the year: my brother-in-law’s death and my late mom’s birthday.
So I always face January with half-hearted enthusiasm and some sadness. I often feel edgy and unprepared, and mildly irked by the jolliness of those around me who are raring to go.
Added to the pile this year was waiting for the Matric results (it certainly coloured our Christmas!) to be released in the first week …. is there ANYTHING more stressful? The day before. The night before. The actual morning. The driving to the school. The handing over of the envelope with the results tucked inside. The knowing smiles. The jubilation. It was thrilling in the end (#SevenDistinctions), but it also wiped me out.
But it doesn’t end there! This week we’re gearing up for another tear-jerker as Kate flies the coop to start life as a student at Stellies. There have been tears. Secret ones and more companionable (and healing) ones. Today I asked one of my best friends how her daughter’s departure went yesterday. “She was a bit anxious … and I sobbed all the way to work!” came the reply. Gulp. A mother’s lot.
But to get back to my determination to find my January mojo.
Two years ago I realised that resolutions were ridiculous. I struggled to take them seriously and come February could hardly remember what they were (and if I had, in fact, made any at all!). And so I decided to pick a word to define my year. Surely I could remember one word, I thought. And act on it.
My first word was JOY. But 2016 was anything but joyous, no matter how hard I tried. And so last year I decided to give JOY another chance, this time not expecting great chunks of it, but by appreciating the small slices that came my way, and consciously creating others. I put up subtle reminders – as I type I can see a wire, beaded heart with the word “Joy” in the middle. And so on. (As an aside, this book is truly joyous.)
This year, after toying with BEGIN, CREATE, DO, EXPLORE, INVEST, MINDFUL, I chose POSSIBILITY. I liked that it held challenge and promise in equal measure. It seemed active but not intimidating. It fitted perfectly with my work status (having abandoned a corporate career last year so that I could pursue new and rewarding professional challenges as a freelance editor and writer) and my emotional state of mind (being excited, nervous, feeling vulnerable yet empowered …). But somehow POSSIBILITY didn’t stick and this week I realised that the word that’s been bubbling up the whole month is FOCUS.
Quite by accident, I opened a Facebook post this morning by Brené Brown (just simply love her!) and this year is all about FOCUS for her, too. I took it as a sign. Brené reminded me of Ali Edwards’ “One Little Word” movement. In 2006 Ali began a tradition of choosing one word for herself every January – “a word to focus on, meditate on, and reflect upon as I go about my daily life”.
Her words have included VITALITY, NURTURE, THRIVE, GIVE … and she says they have become a part of her life, imbedded into who she is and into who she is becoming. “They’ve been what I’ve needed most (and didn’t know I needed). They’ve helped me to breathe deeper, to see clearer, to navigate challenges and to grow.”
Her passion for her “One Little Word” has led to a remarkable business (check it out here). The message for me is that I need to reconnect with my word every month, and get in touch with my intentions. This is what Ali encourages people to do and she sees it as a valuable gift to yourself.
How inspiring is that? My intention is to FOCUS on the things that matter the most this year (I’ll be revealing more as I go along), to thrive, to grow and embrace the POSSIBILITY that all of this entails. So finally. Here’s to what’s left of January – and may 2018 be the best year ever.