Posts Tagged ‘New Year’

Word

Posted: January 3, 2017 in Uncategorized
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By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver

Another new year, another new strategy to improve my one wild life: everyone should be so fortunate.

Over the holidays, I spent time in Cleveland, concluded with an evening drinking with friends, Emily and Holly. Holly shared her plan to take on the “My One Word” challenge of selecting one word as her guiding principle for 2017, a yearly mantra, encapsulating the entirety of her intentions to live her best life. Naturally, Holly’s idea invited me to join in the important work of living well, beginning with  reflection and reaffirmation.

Having recently reviewed the contents of my 2016 Happiness Jar, I am keenly aware of the experiences that make my life meaningfully good.

inspiration

Motivation and inspiration

In class this morning, January 3, 2017, I sought a strategy to energize reluctant returning students. I began with an honest confession of my own negative feelings about January (wake me when it’s over?). Then I reminded my students that although we can’t change January, we can change our response to it. We can spend more time snuggled up with a good book, or loved ones. We can recommit to our fitness regimen, “summer bodies are made in the winter,”  after all. We can enjoy seasonal treats, too; hot chocolate with marshmallows makes the greyest January day more tolerable.

16-marshmallows

I use precisely this many too many marshmallows

Ultimately, we must find ways to inspire ourselves and each other, or being willing to accept an uninspired string of moments that add up to not really living at all.

Autonomy and agency

I value the time and space and freedom that I am capable of providing for myself. I understand the absolute gift this is, especially when compared to what unmarried women my age would have endured in the past. I make my own living, and am therefore able to make my own life.

Community and engagement

My neighborhood, my city, my nation, my world. Everywhere I go, I seek out the manifold, magnificent expressions of a place and a people, articulated through the arts, and in the many arenas of public life, parks and markets, and every other good thing that brings people together. My love of festivals and parades is well-documented.

Connection and celebration

Relationships with family and friends rule. Spending time with people I love is of paramount importance. Luckily, my friends regularly make time for each other to get together to eat, talk, and most importantly, laugh!

Thus inspired, I considered what one word could inform the many aspects of my life that I’m actively trying to invest in throughout the next 52 weeks. Words could be a thousand pictures, too.

In 2017, a year that promises numerous challenges, when far too many will allow themselves to be distracted by what things cost, or how much people make, I will remain undeterred, pausing to consider the fundamental nature of all things, knowing that lasting value has less to do with money and far more to do with worth.

worth

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By Paul Gaszak, English Faculty

 When I was growing up, it was a weekly tradition to hear my dad make the same weekend proclamation: “Starting Monday, I’m going on a diet!” It was always Monday. Never “tomorrow” or “after this meal” or “as of right now!” The diet always started Monday. And, inevitably, the diet never actually started Monday.

 I can’t criticize him, though, for a few reasons. First, because when he finally decided to lose weight, he did so with seemingly no effort and without exercising more or eating differently. Either he has a superhuman metabolism, a tapeworm, or a pact with the Devil.

 Secondly, I can’t criticize, because most of us fall prey to the same thinking. We want our fresh start to correspond neatly with the fresh start to some period of time, like a week, or as many people are doing right now, a year.

 ImageNew Year’s  Resolutions are largely laughable, as we all know. They are mostly clichéd (“I want to lose weight!”) and  quickly discarded. This article from Forbes points out some of the most common – and broken – resolutions.

 I don’t usually make New Year’s Resolutions, but I sort of did this year. With less than two hours left to go in 2012, I wrote myself a list of life changes/improvements to make it the next 365 days. The list was 11 items long, with none being particularly easy. I thought about tacking on something easy like “Get my car’s oil changed” but I’ve already failed to do that for over 20,000 miles at this point, so even that isn’t a gimme.

 One of the problems with resolutions is that they often don’t carry any immediate consequences. If the resolution, for example, is to lose weight and a person doesn’t start immediately, there is always next week, next month, next year.

 So, to motivate myself, I decided to impose a consequence. If I do not accomplish all 11 items by December 31, 2013, I will purchase a little rowboat and some rations, and push myself out into Lake Michigan until I find either enlightenment or hypothermia.

 (I reserve the right to balk at that punishment as the date draws nearer.)

 I do love the spirit of resolutions, though. When people make resolutions, they’re always (or usually?) positive, and it’s always nice to hear that people are striving to make themselves and the world around them better. We could probably use an injection of that spirit far more often than just once a year…especially a week or two into the new year when we are already slacking on our resolutions.