Sustainability

Happy New Year to you all! Thank you for being here and for including me in your life as we begin this year together. I so deeply appreciate the time you share with me out of your full lives and I strive to make this blog a place worthy of you.

How do you approach the new year? Do you set a laundry list of resolutions? Do you do some careful reflection and goal setting? Do you see January 1st as the same as February 1st or August 1st- simply another new month in the ongoing rotation? Or have you let go of all such notions and find yourself liberated from the yearly ritual? I’m honestly curious…what works for you?

Over the years, I’ve arrived at some kind of new-year-new-you middle ground. I admit that I relish a sparkly new calendar and the sense of “clean slate” that comes with one year sliding into the next. As I said recently, I like to mark time, to bring my awareness to the days and months and years as they pass. And I like ritual, whether it’s taking a few moments to cup a steaming mug in the mornings or lighting a candle and pausing to say thank you when I sit down to meditate each day. And piled on top of both of those things is my inherent and fervent belief in our ability to begin again and again and again, that we are always able to start fresh whenever we are ready and willing to take on the work. This applies, of course, to any day of the year, but I can’t help but believe there is a natural inclination toward new beginnings in this season in particular. After all, in addition to it being a new calendar year, we’ve also just celebrated the solstice, meaning that the days are growing incrementally longer and the promise of spring and growth lies ahead. These long mid-winter days and that promise would lend themselves to reflection and planning even without the turn of the calendar, but the fledgling year just begs us to to take stock and think about what we want.

I mentioned a few years ago that I don’t really do resolutions anymore, but that I choose a “word of the year” instead (btw, that post has some great resources at the end if you are looking for some extra tools...). That’s not entirely true. I do set resolutions…I resolve once again to do my work-  to continue to strive toward greater kindness and compassion, greater understanding and openness, less fear (and certainly fear-based decision-making), to be fierce in my love and my passion and my honesty and my integrity, to find humor and lightness tucked in with heaviness and pain. These are standing resolutions and I will always have work to do here. I also set goals for the year, both personal and professional, as well as review what worked and what didn’t in the year behind us, where I grew and where I stalled. But the “word of the year” continues to be a cornerstone of my approach to the coming year. 

I love the process of figuring out my word. Trying to find a single, succinct, encompassing word that will act as a filter in each decision I make. I’ve used Susannah Conway’s word-finding tool in the past, but I find that I haven’t needed it lately. When I allow myself a little time and space, it seems that the word I need most tends to present itself (or, you know, scream at me from my subconscious at the top of its lungs). As you may have guessed by now, this year, my word is SUSTAINABILITY.

Sustainability.

With every decision I make, from how I approach my work to the energy I give to relationships to whether or not I make time for my run in the woods, I will ask myself, “Is this sustainable? Am I creating sustainable habits and practices?” To proceed, the answer must be yes. I find myself decidedly uninterested in short-term results, in superficial band-aids. I want to build a life that is sustainable over time, that has a strong foundation of intentional decision making, clear and reasonable boundaries, and that prioritizes the truly important things in my life (as opposed to the simply “urgent”). This means being okay with things taking time. This means being okay with people sometimes being disappointed or irritated with me. This means being okay with saying no to projects and opportunities that don’t move my life and work in the direction I’m going, even when they are appealing or I could use the money.

This also means choosing to trust in the idea of abundance and to continue to let go of the fear that comes from a scarcity mindset. The life I build is only sustainable if I recognize that I have enough (food, friends, love, money, talent, ideas, etc etc etc) and that I am enough. It’s that last part that is a doozy for me. But I am. And you are. And when we really and truly let go and believe that, whoa nelly- hold on to your hats because magic happens. And work, of course- so much work- but work that is thrilling and energizing, work that fills your tank and lights you on fire. I’m not just talking about professional work, I’m talking about life work. The work of relationships, the work of self-care, the work of growth and adventure and dream chasing. We have it within us. We are enough and we have enough to make the necessary choices to build truly sustainable lives.

So that’s what I want as I move into this sparkling new year. That's my primary goal. That's my word.

Sustainability. 

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Can you guys believe I'm still sharing photos from our trip east from Reno? A few more will be heading your way (Glacier and Wind Cave and Badlands National Parks after these last few from Yellowstone!)...just think, by the time you see all of these, I'll have more for you from the next leg! Ain't traveling grand?!?

I'll Take The Reminder

There is a grackle on our little deck who, by the sounds of it, is quite upset by something. His angry caws compete with the constant cheerful song of the passel of white-winged doves that have taken to spending their mornings in the skinny, gnarled live oak tree next to our camper. Someone is cooking bacon outside and the salty smokiness is making my mouth water as I take another sip of my coffee and think about my own breakfast. Behind the birdsong, I can hear a train whistle and the subtle ceaseless hum of I-35 and people talking to one another around the RV park we are calling home for these eight weeks.

Tessie and I have crawled back into bed and I’ve taken up my pen to jot down these early morning noticings. Justin is off at work and I think of him with more gratitude and appreciation than I can begin to articulate. It takes a lot of courage to agree to a lifestyle that requires you to face being “the new kid” every 2-3 months and he’s done it with his usual good humor and openness. This life on the road wouldn’t be possible right now without this and as I work to transition my business more entirely into destination and lifestyle work and submit more and more of my writing for publication, I am reminded daily of just how fortunate I am to have a partner who believes in what I have to offer this world and is willing to make sacrifices alongside me to help me build and grow.

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day and as I’ve said before, it’s simply not a holiday that particularly resonates with me in the traditional way. The idea that love looks like red roses and chocolate and fancy dinner out seems so…I don’t know…wrong, somehow. It seems to miss the very best parts of what deep and abiding love gives. Beyond the sexy (which is great, don’t get me wrong!), there is the not-so-sexy, the plain ol’ day-to-day partnership and life-building. To be seen and heard, to have a home in another person that is so rooted in trust it liberates you to explore and risk and grow and challenge every notion you have of your own limitations…how can Hallmark possibly capture that on a card?

But I’ve come to appreciate any day that honors love. Lord knows, the world can sure use as many expressions of love as we can throw at it right now and far be it from me to disparage a single one of them. And I can always use an extra reminder to tell the people in my life how much they mean to me, how grateful I am to them for all that they bring to my little corner of the world, how much my life is improved for the simple knowing of them.

So I’ll take it, this little “Hallmark holiday” of ours, and I’ll continue every year to embrace the very best of what it stands for. And I will do my best to apply its lesson to the other 364 days a year and share my appreciation for the love I am so lucky to have in my life, even when things are “un-sexy” or routine or less-than-perfect. I will continue to spend my mornings noticing the sounds outside my windows and the scents that waft on the air and how sweet our dog’s little face is when squished in sleep and how beautiful this damn life is even in the torn, ugly spots.

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I wanted to share a few last snapshots of our drive from Maine to Texas…we took a little side trip to the New River Gorge Bridge in WV, hit up a slew of bourbon distilleries in Kentucky, explored the wondrous Mammoth Cave National Park, wandered around Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas (not at all what you might expect!) and sampled a bit of craft brew, and had our first couple of nights “camping” in Walmart parking lots as we started to get crunched for time. I will share a bit of our Texas home next week…the impossible-to-remove astro-turf on our deck really classes the place up!