As I’ve gotten older (and perhaps wiser), I’ve come to see the advent of the new year as a time to avoid rather than to make resolutions. Who needs one more thing to be self-critical of when it doesn’t happen? And it won’t, for most of us. I started calling whatever I was contemplating on January 1, intentions. That was better, it gave me an out when they didn’t happen. And usually they didn’t. I’m trying a new thing this year: a clean canvas approach. Letting go of what needs to be set free and then seeing what rises up. You can be sure I don’t know today what color paint or size brush I will use; or even what medium.
I thought there would be a post on the blog first thing on Day 1, 2023, having written it on Day 365, 2022. But, alas, I have a cold, and words did not get to the page. It’s the first time I’ve been sick since a cold took me down in December of 2019. I remember that cold because it came right before . . . well, you know. I will say, it’s startling to be sick after three years of good health. (My decongestants are five years past expiration.) I’m feeling no better this morning, so this post may not get published on January 1 at all. I guess that is the first lesson of the year in letting an intention go; and it’s only 6:30am. What I get for setting an intention when I said I wasn’t going to.
Last year, on the other hand, was full of plans, intentions, happenings. My book was published on October 18, and I’m proud of the job I did preparing the way for its birth and then supporting it post Pub Day. I created a website and established a newsletter to support caregivers in whatever way I can, not wanting 2022 and the coming years to be only about the book. In the midst of that, I turned seventy. I had plenty of goals for my Year of Seventy, and I met all but one. But the year isn’t over until June, when I add another one to my age. It was a most excellent personal year.
Now it’s a brand new slate for things to happen in. I have ideas. They are not plans. The biggest one is an autumn road trip. It’s a long way off, and it will take a good bit of preparation to pull it off. But not today.
For the eight years before I left Raleigh, early every Saturday I drove to Café Carolina with the blueberry scone I had purchased at The Fresh Market the day before. (I had a standing order, so they wouldn’t sell out before I got there.) I walked in with my journal and later laptop, and often the barista had my half-caff coffee ready for me by the time I got from the front door to the counter at the back. Sometimes I was greeted with, “It’s on me today.” There were familiar patrons at the tables every week, and we greeted each other. I sat down at my usual table and over the next two hours or so, I journaled. For the last three years, I wrote a blog post about the garden—always the garden was the soil from which a story bloomed—and hit “publish” without agonizing over excessively editing it. I think I became a better writer over those years.
But the thing is, when I walked into that space every week, I felt something. A rush of emotion. A familiarity. A “this is what I do and who I am” knowing. This is home. I haven’t felt that since I left that garden and that “home.” After trying different spots in my hometown, and finding a yoga studio thirty miles away, I settled on Panera Bread in Olympia for my writing place before yoga class. (For some reason I prefer cafés to coffee shops for this activity. Maybe trying to find that home I left behind.)
I did find the regulars (interrupted by the Pandemic and yoga changing days a few times); and Clara, the not-young counter person, knows my order now. But until last week, when there was no yoga and I went only for the café time, I have not had the rush of the familiar when I walked in the door. But last Thursday—a different day and a different agenda—there it was. It was only a moment, but Clara was at the counter, the gas fire was burning, my table was waiting for me. Whoosh. All was well with the world.
It got me wondering what I have been missing. For the past years, once my Daughter On Duty blog started calling to be a book, my café time was spent editing the book. These past months, I’ve been creating social media graphics in support of the book. And then there were the months I spent researching WWII events and excerpting and compiling my family’s letters home during the war. There hasn’t been any reflective writing for a long time. Is that it? I miss writing. Even my adventure posts have been merely travel logs without much reflection. Can I get it back? Should I? I don’t know the answer, but the canvas is blank. Anything could happen.
It’s like those coloring books my grandsons had, where the page is blank until you rub the magic pen over it and a picture shows up. However, someone has to draw the picture to be uncovered. I’m looking forward to letting ideas form without prejudice then see what emerges. Maybe the tarot spread for the new year will help spark a picture of the future. Then I will do a mind map, and write down everything I can think of that I might want to do.
First I need to get over this cold. Today I will just do what you do when you are sick: rest, fluids, movies.
Later this same day: Well, it isn’t brilliant, but it is a post on the first day of the new year. And I might feel a little better too. In the meantime, the two memes above came up in my Facebook feed that speak exactly to the theme of a blank slate. You just can’t make anything up any more! But I will take it as affirmation from beyond that I am on the right track.
Happy New Year, my friends! Thank you for meeting me here on the page. Your continuing presence over the years and your comments mean the world to me.
Here’s a fun thing! If you’ve read Mother Lode, you are invited to participate in the Golden Crown Awards, coincidentally coinciding with the Golden Globe Awards. Vote for your favorites in ten categories (it takes about a minute). It’s all in fun, use whatever criteria you want. Golden Crown SurveyMonkey Ballot. Winners will be posted on January 10, during the Golden Globes.
Oh, and a few photos of Christmas 2022. (I unloaded art supplies on the littlest Little: beads and polymer clay and accessories!) We made cookies, went for a walk in the cemetery and looked for the oldest stones (1800-something), and did pretend stories with Lucy the patient dog in Seattle, and they all come to my house for Boxing Day.