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.
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.
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.
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.