It may be a cliché to think of January as a time of fresh starts and new beginnings, but I'm okay with that, because I like the idea of taking time to reflect over the last year and look ahead to the next one, to recommit myself to big plans and goals, to reset my feet on the path that I want them to be taking, when they may have wandered off onto trails of less resistance or have even stopped altogether and settled at a resting spot.
I began the month with giving myself a word (or in this case words) of the year: pay attention. Last year my word was intention, and it had so little influence on how I went about 2022 that I didn't even remember what it was by the year's end. I figured that in order to understand better what I want my intentions to be in each day and action and scenario, I should maybe start with paying attention to what I do with my time and why, to how I feel, and to what's going on around me in the natural world and among the humans I'm in contact with.
Also this month, with my creativity group, I made a vision board. It has a lot of warm coral-orange-pinky colors and a lot of flight and upward movement and words like creativity, vitality, and joy. It's meant to serve as a reminder to bring those qualities to my writing and my daily living, to pay attention to those things. And I made lists--lists of projects big and small, for writing, art, crafts, travel, and life; lists of all the things I want to incorporate into my days: writing, art, exercise, professional development.
January began with a feeling of expansiveness. I didn't have much on the calendar, and the early days of the month felt long and luxurious with plenty of time in them to accommodate anything I could dream up. I thought I could accomplish everything on those daily lists. But, as it usually does, time often got away from me. I'd get to the end of my day with several boxes left unchecked. That's the trouble with an expansive feeling--everything expands to fill it. I didn't do any professional development, but I did luxuriate in reading two very long books, I didn't do any of the illustrations for Book #2, but I did knit a hat (which I need to re-knit because I cast on the wrong number of stitches), I didn't take up pilates, but I did more nature journaling than I've done in a long time.
Whether due to poor time management or my eyes being bigger than my stomach (metaphorically) or just getting plain tired before I got to everything, I had to let some of those list items go. But I stuck to the most important ones for me: writing every day on a novel (more on that next month), doing a short yoga routine every weekday morning, taking a long walk (or snowshoe) on our trail, jotting a quick recap of the day in my 5-year journal. On a day-to-day basis, I tended to focus on the the things I didn't get done and the time I wasted, but looking back, I'm happy with what I did get done.
As January nears its end, that expansive feeling is beginning to contract, as appointments appear on my calendar and I my focus turns away from reading big fat books and writing a novel just for fun and more toward work I need to do for or in conjunction with others. It's part of the natural rhythm of our days and months and years--expand, contract, expand, contract. And having spent a month exploring and luxuriating in expansiveness, I feel rested and ready to move into a time with more deadlines and obligations.