in my twenties i did the new year’s resolution thing.

some years with more success than others. one year i vowed not to punch my friend zari in the arm anymore – that was my traditional greeting. i haven’t done it once since.

around that time i also resolved to always return my shopping cart to the corral or back into the store. being a californian, i sometimes left it in the parking lot – always tucked carefully away, of course. that was another successful resolution -since then i’ve never once left a cart unreturned.

i’ve never enjoyed cooking. one year i resolved to bake one pie a month. that resolution lasted through january. i made a lemon meringue pie and haven’t made once since. that pie was probably 12 years ago.

in 2012 i'll try making my grandma's pecan pie recipe.

soon before my medical drama, my friend harriet introduced me to the idea of picking a theme word for the year instead of making a resolution. i really like having a word as a theme – it seems to lead more towards mindfulness and away from feeling bad about not making pies. it’s a way of choosing what you want to be aware of in your life. what you want to be tuned into.

i’ve done this for each year post-stroke. my new year starts on august 7th, the anniversary of the beginning of my surgeries, so i won’t be putting a new word into effect tomorrow. but two of my friends might be.

emily’s word for 2011 was “ready” – and boy was she! this year she met jeremy and they got engaged and just this week closed on a house. their wedding is in february. emily’s thinking that “trust” will be her word for 2012.

riding the tram in portland with emily, summer 2011.

my friend t.a./bucko is also thinking about a word theme for 2012: “connect” – partially to challenge himself to look for and take opportunities to connect with folks.

bucko has the duck, i'm in the black dress.

i really like both of those words. i just might share one with them when it’s time for me to choose word 4 this summer.

year one, my word was “new” – it was an excellent choice for a year with a lot of changes. it helped remind me not to think of things as bad or good, but as new. i feel like it kept me on a positive path, observing the things around me for what they were, then moving forward.

year two my word was “gratitude” – and it was another excellent choice. that word reminded me to be appreciative of the things i have, and maybe more importantly it reminded me to verbalize my gratitude. all of which certainly helped make for a good year.

i like words, and when i started this theme-word tradition i spent some time thinking over how i might visually collect these words. i decided that on august 7th, as one word was traded out for the next, i’d get the outgoing word tattooed on my back, centered under my tattoo of lafcadio (from my favorite children’s book). i decided that i’d ask someone who was really involved in how that word played out to write it for me and then i’d get it tattooed in their handwriting. i asked emily to write “new” and my former foster daughter’s grandma vickie wrote “gratitude” for me. i like the idea of having a map on my back of the road i’ve taken since my medical drama.

it’s year 3 and my word is “experience” – i chose that word for a few reasons. the first two years were really focused on recovery, and because of all the work that went into those two years i’m now able to do so much more, to have experiences. also, around the time of my 20 year high school reunion this year i realized that i really value people who have experience. the jury’s still out on who will write “experience” for me – over 8 months left.

someone recently asked me what will happen once my back is filled with words. my answer was that at some point i won’t feel compelled to do it anymore and i’ll stop. now it occurs to me that maybe my theme calendar will be like the chinese zodiac and after whatever year 12 is it’ll be the year of the new again. time will tell.

if you’re making a resolution this year, i wish you success. if you’re picking a theme word, i’d love to hear what it is and how it works for you. i’m always looking for inspiration for year 4.

above all, i hope for a great 2012 for all of us.

6 responses to “resolutions

  1. I love the word idea. I’m trying to figure out what my theme is for 2012. I haven’t gotten very far yet, but so far everything that comes to mind is a verb – decide and connect. I’m trying to be more intentional about how I live my life.

    • during the year, i keep a list of words that cross my mind as good theme words. right now i’m really liking the word “look” – yeah, verbs are good. thank you for reading my blog!

  2. Neat. I like what you were saying about your word “new”. This past year I have been using the phrase “thank you”, or just a conscious attitude of gratitude in a similar way that you were using “new”. It also kind of ties in with “experience” for me. All three of your words. They seem to say, “this experience may be painful or not. But it is a new one. Thank you, experience, for showing yourself to me.”

  3. I think this choosing of resolutions/words/themes may be the best holiday thing we do. And thanks giving – but with both, only when taken with some thought. Hil and I have been doing theme slogans for a few years. They’re good for breaking out of grooves. Some sound harsh but sometimes you need a bit of a boot-camp-yeller-guy (what’s s/he called again?) to get yourself to remember and focus. “Not my problem.” “Stop acting so old.” There was one that rhymed with ‘oh8 but I can’t remember it now. This year I’m going with a slogan and a word and maybe that will build into a sentence or paragraph or a series. The word might be “stay.” Sort of a reminder that I’ve made a lot of solid changes and progress over the years and it might be appropriate to sit with them in the present, on my foundations. The slogan might be “in god’s hands.” There was a great surf movie by that name about a dozen years ago and I remember it made me think about that phrase a lot. Also from that film, “it’s been a beautiful journey.” Then, the other night, we watched “Everything Must Go,” with Will Ferrell and it was strangely satisfying. Stay in god’s hands through this beautiful journey from which everything must go. Combing all of that into one unnamed beacon of energy in my heart might be the way I’m steering this life for a while. It sounds a little zen-ish to me, which I’m fine with as long as it’s not capitalized. nez. At the very least, it should help keep me out of the main flow of traffic for a while longer – letting me find my own way.

    • bob –

      you just made me realize that i had a slogan the year before my medical drama. i was really drawn to the idea of “fear less” – not fearless, but fearing less. i had a bumper sticker made that said it. i just had another one made and it’s on my cane, since that’s my bumper now that i’m carless.

      stay is such a cool word.

      i hope chat over a beverage in 2012.

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