Hello, Inspiration {2}: One Word

I had a revelation on December 29 about the one word I had chosen for 2014. It took me 363 days to get there, but once I did a whole bunch of things made sense.

Early last year, I intended to choose another word to focus on for the year. Having done it in 2011, 2012, and 2013 with what I considered satisfying results, I figured it would be a no-brainer. The problem was I put too much of my brain into it.

The first time I did this in 2011, someone suggested I let the word come to me. Sort of hokey, I thought, but was open to it. And came it did. Same with the next two years. And then last year my funk got in the way and I didn’t just sit with it as I had previously and instead I chose a word. It was a word that was connected to things I wanted to do – mostly self-centred things that had less to do with what I needed and more to do with what I thought would make me happy.

I never revealed the word here because it didn’t stick. And I was disappointed that it didn’t stick but I was also unmotivated and never actually considered why it didn’t feel right. And then, two days before the end of the year, I was talking to a colleague and friend at work who also, I discovered, happens to do this one-word thing and it all made sense. Suddenly I was back in the same headspace from the beginning of the year and I realized that my deliberately choosing the word rather than being open to whatever might come to me had thoroughly defeated the purpose.

Funny how something you didn’t realize you weren’t aware of can suddenly make a lot of the unarticulated frustrations from the past year dissipate.

So this year, I went back to letting my word identify itself to me.

Soar - one word 2105

I tried to force one with a particular meaning (act? choose?) but I realized that was me layering expectations onto a sentiment that I needed to just accept. I don’t need the pressure of being on the hook for certain things I think I should do. I need to do what I feel is right and let come what may.

Soar.

We’ll see where it takes me.

hello inspiration

Look to the Sky

I left work late tonight, as is often the case these days. But I guess the days are indeed getting longer, because instead of being dark the sky was full of brilliant tiger stripes of colour – pink and red and orange and wisps of blue. The city skyline was a barely lit silhouette, and at the end of the wash of colour was the outline of the mountains and a brilliant, golden glare as the sun started to sink behind the horizon. It was incredible. Stop-to-take-a-picture incredible. (But of course no picture I could take would ever do it justice.)

I breathe deeply when I see sunsets like that (even if I’m in my car). And in doing so I pause, sometimes just figuratively and often just for a moment, and think about something other than what I have to do next.

brick wall

Your comments on my post about missing inspiration were interesting. Good interesting, even though I don’t agree with many of you, including my mother. (Sorry, mom.)

Here’s the thing: I like that wide open space of a new year. I love the anything-is-possible feeling. I thrive on change and possibility and new. Day-to-day life gets boring pretty fast, and if I don’t have something to jolt me into a new perspective I will blink and 20 years will have gone by and my small boys will be big and all I will remember is how much laundry I did.

That is not how I wish to live my life.

I realized, upon reading (and railing against) some of those comments on that last post, that I don’t necessarily want some huge, gigantic goal and I’m not really looking for change. But I also don’t want to let life just happen. I prefer living with intention.

That’s why I’ve chosen one word as a guide post for the last few years. It’s why I have a life list and why I breathe in sunsets.

Northern lights in night sky

So where does that leave me? I’m not sure yet. I will probably start by committing to my one word for 2014 (and sharing it here). I’m going to make some changes to my day-to-day focus and schedule. I’m going to move away from feeling stuck in the everydayness of wake/feed children/commute/work/commute/feed children/put children to bed/walk dog/do dishes/fold laundry/repeat.

I’m going to look to the sky. And see where it takes me.

Missing: Inspiration

The new year is normally soaked with inspiration for me, like a path laid down just waiting for me to walk it.

I never quite found that path this year.

snowy path

I looked for it. I waited. I read the usual things and saw the usual references to potential and opportunity and new. But by the time the new year came it seemed like the path had been walked by everyone else already.

This time last year I was pursuing my goal of exercising for 30 days straight and looking forward to a year of adventure and exploration. This time last year, not incidentally, I was on mat leave.

Maybe the path is always well-worn and maybe it’s up to us to find our own footsteps or our own way to walk it. Or maybe my path is just filled with other things right now.

Every other year, it seems, I have felt like I can do anything. Anything! I just have to decide what to aim for. And then of course the inevitable everydayness sneaks in and turns that anything into well, maybe something and eventually it’s more like at least I can do a few things, but it has always started as a wide open space.

This year that wide open space is filled with laundry.

It’s hard to make new goals and seize opportunities when it’s all I can do to remember which day we need to put the bins out and when I’ve been carrying cheques in my wallet for weeks (months?) because I can’t figure out how to get into the bank to deposit them (because cheques in US funds need to be deposited in person and do you ever find yourself in a situation like this where you wonder if it’s really worth the 30 bucks?).

So I haven’t found my 2014 inspiration. I’ve chosen my one word for the year—or, I suppose, it chose me—but I haven’t quite managed to commit to it. I haven’t spoken it out loud.

Maybe this year, this time – maybe right now I need a different path. Maybe inspiration will only come in small doses.

Think small instead of big and a month instead of a year at a time. Chase moments instead of mountains.

It’s a different path forward, but it will be okay, I guess.

It’s an okay path.

I’m trying to believe that.

How is your new year going?

 

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Explore: Life in Pictures, Vol. 6

The end of 2013 whipped by. Last time I did a photo update on my word for last year we were finishing summer and transitioning into kindergarten and I was getting ready to go back to work. And now it’s 2014. January 7 already. Before I know it May will be here again and the snow will be gone and 2013 will seem very far away. So here’s the end of the year in pictures.

I didn’t do much in the way of exploring, at least not in the traditional sense. But we hit some milestones and had some fun, and I guess that’s what it’s supposed to be about anyway.

Someone turned one.

eating-cake

You would think he didn’t like his birthday cake.

cake-ick

But you’d be wrong. He devoured that piece.

cake-bite

It was a good birthday. The last first.

birthday-paper

Christmas came even though I wasn’t ready, as predicted.

Christmas-cards

It was fairly low-key – a rare thing in my family. But we did the obligatory (and enjoyable) things. Now I just need to clear the detritus from my living room. (I did mention that it’s January 7, didn’t I?)

zoolights

We had a cold snap in there too. A very, very cold snap. Did you know you could get ice an inch thick on the inside of your windows? In Alberta you can.

ice-window

But winter is beautiful. At least I think so.

winter-sun

So we took advantage of it.

green-coats

We walked, and found signs of beauty and love.

bridge-locks

Winter lasts for a long time here, but sometimes you just have to throw yourself into it and become one with the snow. (Literally, even.)

sledding

He looks like he’s not enjoying himself (or maybe he just thinks the hat is goofy) but he had a blast. Deep snow is apparently quite fun when you’re one.

snowsuit

We had some losses…

lost-tooth

…but many more wins.

sunset

And so ended 2013.

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Explore: Summer in Pictures (Vol. 5)

We had rain last week, cool after what seems like endless hot summer days. The water park in our community closed has closed. Fall is here.

But, oh, the summer was good.

Through no actual intent or forethought on my part, I planned my maternity leave perfectly. Going back to work in October (one more week! Already! How can that be?) is a beautiful thing. I had the summer to explore, play, and travel with my family. I think we made the most of it, and now I’ve had September to help with the transition to Kindergarten.

(And speaking of exploring, I’ve given up my Yummy Mummy Club blog. I just decided it’s time to focus elsewhere.)

In any case, I realized it’s been a while since my last one-word update and what I’ve been exploring, so this is a bit of a photo dump to share some parts of our summer.

We did a few different trips over the last few months.

rocky-mountain-lake

We went to the mountains. We looked way up at them, and we looked down at the world from their peaks.

Jasper-mountain

Finally, after much anticipation, we went to San Diego. We dipped our toes in the water.

san-diego-ocean

We played in the sand. (This is his “beach face.”)

Connor-beach-Coronado

Oh yes, we went there.

Legoland

And it was a hit.

Lego-car

San Diego is such a beautiful place.

lifeguard-station

One night after Ethan was asleep Connor and I went for a walk along the boardwalk. Well, I walked. He wanted to go in the stroller, which he very much does not fit in anymore, but we managed to get him all tucked in there. He hunched beneath the canopy, so quiet I hardly knew he was there. We walked, all along the boardwalk and out to the end of the pier. We got ice cream. It was lovely. The perfect evening.

san-diego-pier-sunset

Below is the view from our room on our last night. I wasn’t awake nearly late enough to fully appreciate it. (I love marinas.)

Yes, San Diego was great. (We even got to visit Tonya.)

san-diego-marina

We also visited our best friends.

best-buds

And got in touch with dinosaurs.

dinosaur-hand

We went Stampeding.

stampede-barrel-race

And even dressed the part.

stampede-with-Ethan

We camped. (This is his “hi!” face.)

Ethan-camping

And we went to farmers’ markets.

Fruit1

Lots of ‘em.

fruit2

Yes, it was good.

baby-sunglasses

How was your summer?

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