A Word for 2017

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This morning as I browsed some favourite bloggers, I noticed that Lindseay Mead of A Design So Vast had written a post about her word for 2017.. She writes that sometimes, if a particular word presents itself in the days and weeks leading up to the new year, she’ll choose it as something to guide her in the coming year. I like this idea because it seems simpler and more general than listing resolutions and trying to stick to them all. I like to think of choosing a word as a touchstone, something to come back to again and again. A way of checking in with yourself.

Last year, I chose the word “connect”. I’m not sure how I did at connecting, overall. It was meant to encompass my self, my children, my partner, the present moment. In looking back through my blog, I see there were days where I absolutely chose to connect with those around me, and also days when I made a very concious choice to disconnect. I don’t feel like I’ve succeeded or failed. Rather, I set an intention and came back to it when I needed to.

In the final weeks of 2016, there was a word that popped into my mind over and over. An idea that intrigued me. I wrote about it here and here: daily practice. Or, for the purpose of this exercise, just “practice” will do.

This has to do with my writing, first of all. I’ve wondered how a daily writing practice would change me. I’ve been inspired by Sarah Bousquet of One Blue Sail and her daily blogging, as well as blogger Elan Morgan and their daily poetry practice. I’ve toyed with the idea of doing either of those things, but in the end, I feel like life with three kids is a little too hectic for me to commit to any one specific form. So instead I would like to practice my craft, somehow, every day for the next year. Just practice coming to the page every day, even if it’s just a 10 minute freewrite in my journal.

I’d also like to practice showing up for myself. Practice coming back to the present moment as many times as I have to in a day. Practice self-care. There are so many things that I wish I just had perfect right out of the gate, and it’s my nature to give up when they’re not. So I’d like to let this word remind me to be gentle with myself and to keep at it, whatever it may be, doggedly, even when it feels messy or lame.

What about you? Have you ever chosen a word for your year? What word would you choose for 2017?

P.S. I had to Google how to spell “practice”. The internet says that as a Canadian, should be using “practice” for the noun and “practise” for the verb. It also notes that Americans use “practice” for both noun and verb and so I’m going to stick with that for ease!

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In the Toilet

Well, my month of blogging every day is pretty much in the toilet. I’m not beating myself up over it, I just feel a bit sheepish. But the point of this space is honesty and accountability, right? So here I am, being honest and accountable. I’ve been feeling sick the last few days, both a cold and my period hitting me with a one-two punch yesterday. All I’ve wanted to do is sleep. And I have been doing a lot of that, when I can.

I have still been writing daily, just not here. I’ve been writing with my two-week writing group, a ten minute prompted freewrite every day. There are some beautiful, brave women in this group. I read their free writes and in awe, I think: “this is your first draft?” And I feel small and insignificant but the point is just to write in spite of the inner critic, and I’ve been doing that, at least.

If I were to attempt a daily poetry practice, as I’ve been contemplating these past few weeks, I would have to make provisions for sickness and for monthly cycles. I would have to be sure to honour myself when my mind is foggy, find a way to still come to the page without much pressure on those days. Ten minute free writes are good, manageable. It’s something to think about, or maybe I should just leap and trust the net of inspiration will catch me.

We’re off to Vancouver for a two nights, to take both the boys to see specialists at the children’s hospital (for routine things that we just can’t do in the territory). I will try to make my way here over the next few days. I’m not promising anything, though.

Daily Practice, again

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I didn’t write anything yesterday that I feel like sharing here, and so I’ve missed my second day of posting this month. I’m a little more than halfway through my commitment to post daily, and I’ve been thinking a lot about daily practice and what I’d like it to be, for me.

This daily writing practice taunts my inner critic and causes me to challenge that nasty voice constantly. Right now, even, it whispers “delete, delete, delete. Nobody cares.” But here I am, showing up anyway and it’s like pulling teeth, as the cliche goes.

The 4:30 am wake up calls since the clocks went back are sapping me. It feels as though I’m trying to dredge these thoughts and words up from a great depth through some viscous sludge. All I can do is hope this passes. Keep showing up anyway. Because this will pass, and all that will remain will be the habit. The words will flow again and I’ll be grateful. Am grateful right now, to the sleepy baby, the quietly playing 3 year old, the kindergarten teacher. To myself, I suppose, if I have to, for being here.

I contemplate a daily poetry practice. As it coalesces in my mind, it would be writing something new, even a few lines, each day. For a year. Without trying to pin down when I would actually do that. Just doing it. And I also think about not submitting my poems anywhere for that year. I want to see where that steady, single-pointed practice might take me. Like being in school: an immersion in poetry, my own and others’. In craft books, in taking in interviews and podcasts with poets, about poetry and process. I wonder if I could do it, really. Through travel and ever-changing schedules, through moves and work and summer vacation, could I find the time every day for 365 in a row?

I want to find out.

Image via Flickr user Dafne Cholet

Daily Practice

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I spend a lot of time thinking about daily practices: how to fit them in and how they might change me. If I practiced something every day for one year, how would my experience of that thing be at the end of the year? How would it be going forward? I first experimented with a daily practice when I was learning about photography a few years ago. I made several attempts at a daily photo project. I don’t think I ever made it to 100 consecutive days. But even after those 40 or 50 days, I was a better photographer than when I’d begun.

What is important enough to me to practice every day? I think about a daily meditation practice, a daily practice of moving my body, a daily practice of writing. And they all feel important to me. Do I have to choose just one, at this point in my life? Truthfully, the only things I have done every day without fail for the last five years have to do with keeping babies alive and well. My own well-being is an afterthought. But it’s time to return myself to the foreground, time to find my way back to a daily practice, or to several daily practices. Because I’m intrigued by the idea of how I might be changed if I did something every day for a whole year. The discipline involved, the deep commitment to myself and my goals, is unfamiliar territory.

I want to prioritize a daily writing practice. Because I can practice mindfulness as I go about my regular day, and isn’t that one of the end goals of meditation? To be more mindful, more present with whatever arises? I practice that in real time. And I do move my body, though often at a toddler’s pace. The maximum weight I lift is that of my baby. But writing is a muscle that I feel I need to keep flexing if I’m ever going to go somewhere with it. I feel an urgency there, too, that I don’t necessarily feel with the other things. I know that in a few years I’ll have so much more free time (right?) but I feel like I’ve already wasted so much time in not writing. When that time magically opens up in the near future, I want to be further along, as a writer, than I am now. So I think about what a daily writing practice could look like for me. I keep trying, and then losing the thread, because life changes, schedules change, naps change, we move and move again. It’s hard to maintain such a focused routine as writing, through all that. I make excuses; it falters and dies and I begin to worry the Muse will forget where to find me.

This month, I’m going to try something a bit different. This month is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, where very eager and well prepared people try to write a draft of a novel over the course of 30 days. I am not ready for that. But coinciding with this month is National Blog Posting Month, or NaBloPoMo. That is something I can do. I like the idea of blogging daily as opposed to, say, writing a poem a day, because I typically write a post and hit publish with little editing. The focus is on just coming to the page and writing. I’m going to post here every day for the next month, as a way of showing up for myself and my craft. I hope it will be a way for me to jumpstart a daily practice. There are others doing this very thing this month, and I hope that community coupled with the fact that there are people (10’s of people!) who read my blog will keep me accountable.

I’m not sure what will come out of it, or who I might be at the end of the month. I’ll at least be a person who has blogged every day for 30 days, right? If I keep showing up, the words will find me.

Image via Flickr user Anonymous Account