Introduced by Holly King
January is the month of resetting: resolutions, starting a new year, a new you, a new future. Yet it’s never made much sense to me, because the calendar year is an external construct. You can’t reset in any literal way, and I’ve never been able to keep a resolution I’ve set in January. Instead, I find the moments where my life truly changed happened when I was ready – like four o’clock on some idle Tuesday afternoon.
So, what makes January different, other than no more tinsel or mince pies or wearing Christmas jumpers (I managed to wear one every day of December, a new record thanks to working from home)? Why do we feel the need to reset ourselves, beyond the significance of a ‘new’ year? Every moment is new, and, actually, I couldn’t build on who I am and what I’ve achieved if I reset. I need to look back, to remember, to make choices based on the experiences that have made me who I am.
And time? It marches ever onwards – a popular quote demonstrating the necessity to continue, to not defer to the evening what morning may accomplish. We make our futures by our actions today.
This January, I think we would benefit from shifting our focus from resetting (trying to leave behind last year’s baggage, unhealthy choices, missed opportunities, wasted hours, unspoken words, inaction due to fear, unasked questions, untapped potential), and adopt a mindset of continuance. Push ourselves further into defining what our strengths are, what our purpose is, what we value. By knowing who we are, we can transmute what, in the past, would have caused us fear and apprehension and turn it into something positive.
Our lives are made up of choices – every minute of every day of every month of the year – meaning that, right now, we have the opportunity to act, the chance to enact change, to feel better, to create more, to choose ways that will lead us to greater acceptance, stronger relationships and truer drive.
One of those changes could be to submit something for my February page on the theme of Storytelling. Email me your writing, art, poetry or music at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
My first contributor is Lucy Kaufman, who has written something that we could all do with reflecting on during this drab start to the year:
I don’t make new year’s resolutions. As a child, I made one resolution every year, although I never stuck to it for longer than a week. By my twenties, when I was into goal-setting and self-improvement, my one resolution became ten; all of which had fizzled out by the end of January.
In recent years, I tried the SMART goal method: creating Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic Targets, but goals such as ‘Go to the gym twice a week’ are too easy to cheat or avoid, and they, too, tend to fall by the wayside. As a therapist for 18 years, I frown on systems which set us up for failure. There is far too much guilt around already, without piling on more every January 1st.
The last three years, I have tried something new. I do ‘Find Your Word’, which not only brings about long-lasting change, but also extends for the whole year, fitting seamlessly into one’s life journey as a whole. It is impossible to cheat or fail at this method, as there are no ‘shoulds’ or ‘musts’ built in. It doesn’t even have to start in January, but whenever you need a new focus or change in direction. ‘Find Your Word’ is more than a reset, but builds on who you are already and what you have done to get here: a natural progression in the evolution of You.
So, how does this method work? You find one word which will be your focus and guide for the coming months. Staying open to the idea that anything is possible, see where this word takes you. For the word to do its magic, it’s best to choose a word which encompasses all you could do with more of, such as ‘joy’ or ‘connection’, or a word which reminds you of how to approach your goals in the coming year, such as ‘flow’ or ‘balance’. You may feel you need an active, doing word such as ‘venture’, or a passive, being word such as ‘serene’ or ‘heal’. (Do check out my feature re My Experiment In Writing from last Friday, where I share some of my own words.)
But how do you find your word? Begin by meditating on your ideal day, visualising the entire day from the moment of waking to the moment of sleeping. Write this out, picking on any words which jump out, or anything in your ideal day you currently lack or don’t feel. The next step is to find synonyms of these words in an online thesaurus, noting any that excite you. Look for connections between your words, or new words which encapsulate many on your list, eliminating those which don’t speak to you.
By now, one word may feel more exhilarating than others. You may be getting goosebumps or feel that you can’t wait to get started. Many people insist their word finds them, others that their word takes a while to emerge; both ways are OK. The important thing is, the word is yours, it comes from you and has meaning; it challenges you but feels ‘right’. Only you know where you are on your journey, what you are recovering from and where you still need to go.
Once you have your word, return to your shortlist. You may find two or three words which feel like good supporting words for your own. You can create a mood board, wear a bracelet with the word engraved, or display a visual reminder of your word. As the year progresses, keep a notebook and watch as the word focusses, challenges and guides you. You may add additional words, or even change your word. There are no rules. At the end of each month, and then, at the end of the year, review and reflect on the changes the word has helped you to bring about.
Last year, my word was VENTURE, and it took me to some great new breadths and heights. After a year of fear and uncertainty, this year feels about going inward and creating inner contentment and wellbeing. My word for 2021 is BLISS: finding bliss in the everyday; creating time and space for bliss in my life. My word BLISS gives me tingles. I didn’t wait for January. I already got started.
Good luck with finding your word. I look forward to hearing where it takes you.
Lucy Kaufman is a playwright and author. She teaches Playwriting and Screenwriting for Pen to Print.
You can find her on Twitter: @lucykaufman
Next up, we have a poem by Palak Tewary. She tells us:
The poetry format is Glosa/Glose, which is a Spanish form that quotes four lines (a quatrain) of poetry from another poet. The poem I chose was I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud by William Wordsworth and the four lines (which are the last lines of my four stanzas) are:
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
This poem reflects upon how one can attain peace and happiness through finding joy within oneself. You don’t have to wait for a specific time or place – you can start anytime, anywhere.
In the centre of my home,
I find there is an immense blue,
that fills with my essence with glee
as the voices of the open terrain
echo against the blank walls,
telling yarns, they had seen in awry
footsteps of travellers that walked
through the same trail, before me;
the reflections, as clear as the sky,
they flash upon that inward eye.
The air was as pure as the love
of a mother for her child and
the water that cascaded from
the peak as translucent as the
spirit of a being that had attained
nirvana. As the journey renewed
inside the mind space, I reached
Elysium, where I was the lone
and distinct victor, an attitude
which is the bliss of solitude.
Within the barriers of my confined
chair, where I only have the recall
of expanse pieces of heavens, the
strong arms of the vast mountains
cradle me in my despair, and when
I close my eyes, I can feel the chills
of the cool ether against my hot skin,
calming my unease in our man-made
cage, with phenomenal unseen skills
and then my heart, with pleasure, fills.
As I step into the garden, for
my piece of land under the
clouds, I find that it is within
my grasp, no matter where I am
to bring the mountains to me.
I call to the protector of the hills
and the seas and carry myself
into me to the locale I was the
happiest and my glum soul stills
and dances with the daffodils.
© Palak Tewary, 2021
You can connect with Palak on Twitter: @palaktewary or through her blog: https://palaktewary.com
Ending on a positive (or 27), we have a poem by Matthew Wixey:
27 Reasons To Be Cheerful
- Watch people when they talk about something they love;
see them come alive with joy.
- Cows have best friends.
- Rats laugh when they’re tickled.
- Dolphins sing to their babies.
- The actors who voiced Mickey and Minnie Mouse
were married in real life.
- In 1914, British and German soldiers
played football at Christmas.
- All matter is made of stars
- we drink the same water
the dinosaurs did.
everything is a part of everything else.
- A man in Australia had a rare blood type.
He donated blood every 3 weeks for 64 years and
saved the lives of
2.4 million people.
Can you imagine
a love like that.
- A woman called Marie Robinson
sat at her son’s grave and
a robin hopped on to her hand
and stayed there for minutes
until it flew away.
- Window-cleaners dress up like Spiderman
to cheer up sick kids in hospital.
- An astronaut wrote his daughter’s initials on the moon.
The newsreader said they’ll be there
for 50,000 years.
- The Russian word for astronaut
means ‘star sailor’.
- Cats purr to themselves
when they’re worried
- bring their catches to us
because they think we don’t know how to hunt.
- Being kind releases endorphins
- we want to share good news
more than bad and
- people blind from birth smile,
even though they’ve never seen one.
we are all meant to be happy.
- I saw a video where someone
fed sugar water to a dying bumblebee
until it recovered.
Just because they could.
- We are all miracles.
Links in a chain of 4 billion years.
The chances of you being you
are almost zero.
Yet here you are.
- If you are reading this,
you have survived everything.
- Bob Ross said:
“However you think it should be,
that’s exactly how it should be.”
- There are so many more
than branches of McDonald’s.
- The kid with the stutter
from Educating Yorkshire
is now a motivational speaker.
So is a man who was almost
a school shooter.
the world is full of people who said:
- Recently, I need to tell you,
recently, I’ve been reading about sea otters.
They sleep on their backs
in the water, and hold hands,
so they don’t drift apart and
- When they have pups,
they do the same for them.
A scientist said:
They embrace their young with
an affection that is barely credible.
©Matt Wixey, 2021
Connect with Matt on Twitter: @wixeywrites and his website wixeywrites.com
Let me know what word you’ve chosen by tagging @pen_to_print on Twitter, and remember that issue seven of our magazine is out on the 22nd January to give you an additional creative boost.
This year, we’ve all revaluated what’s really important, and it isn’t things, it’s people. People are the real gift I’ve been missing this year.