Happy New Year to you all! I hope the first days of the year have been bright and inspired in each of your worlds. :)
Over the years I've had quite a few people ask about the words I choose each New Year as my focus words for the coming 365 days. Thinking of it again of late, I have been more focused on exactly how that process works and the answers were a bit surprising to me, so I thought I would share them here with you as well as the words that I've chosen for 2018.
I tend to not spend too much time choosing the words each year. At least, not right at the end. I start thinking of them early in December and by the last days of the Year, I pretty much have the new words settled on.
What I discovered this last week or so as I thought about 2017's words was that the words really reveal themselves to me and I learn the most about them in relation to myself at the END of the year!
All year I DO see them above my calendar or on my desktop and I take time with them all at some point, maybe picking one for a day to really focus on or apply. But it is at the end of the year, when I am looking back, that I seem to find how those words worked for me or what I learned over that year as it pertains to them.
Last year, one of the words I chose was "Vagary". Strange word, right? It is. . . and I chose it for it's more archaic definition which I only discovered as it was Merriam Webster's word of the day sometime before and it just sort of stuck with me in the back of my mind.
"In the 16th century, if you "made a vagary" you took a wandering journey, or you figuratively wandered from a correct path by committing some minor offense. If you spoke or wrote vagaries, you wandered from a main subject. These senses hadn't strayed far from their origin, as vagary is probably based on Latin vagari, meaning "to wander." Indeed, in the 16th and 17th centuries there was even an English verb vagary that meant "to wander." Nowadays, the noun vagary is mostly used in its plural form, and vagaries have more to do with unpredictability than with wandering."
I chose the word hoping that it's own wandering in the sense of it's definition over the years might help remind me to wander in my creative journey. To stray from the well worn path. To pay attention to, or think back on, my own wandering journeys in life. Maybe even to be a little more unpredictable creatively. So how it affected me on any given day I cannot recall BUT I know that as I spent time over this last week of the year looking back, I DID practice and invoke vagary and I can see how the wandering I did in my creative work paid off.
My life, I came to see, has been one great adventure in vagary. Changing careers four times, each by choice even when things were just fine in the previous ones. Striking out on the cusp of 40 years old to begin an art practice/Etsy shop by taking up a new medium of polymer clay. Moving across the country on a gut feeling just before I turned 24. Living in a big city til then, then a small town, then onto another big city and now a small town again.
Yes, I've wandered. Strayed from the path. Practiced vagary before I even knew the word had that older meaning.
So in realizing that these words seem to etch themselves deepest at the end of the year, I decided to choose five words for 2018 and went with simpler, less archaic choices. lol
Because these are words I might easily overlook in that search for a little pizazz. (Ooooooh wait. . . pizazz. . . hello word for 2019!)
For 2018, I chose these five words:
Challenge - challenge myself to try new creative ideas, follow inspirations, push forward on my bigger long term goals, stretch my comfort zone into the difficult and uncertain creatively and challenge myself to venture into realms not yet explored in myth, fantasy and sci-fi reading.
Value - Value my work and my time. I have often undercharged for just about everything I've done in life at some point or another. I forget, when say we are speaking of custom orders, to factor in the time spent communicating, planning, looking for materials I need and trying and retrying techniques etc. Maybe it's meant to show me how to value my time by accepting fewer commissions so I can do even more of the work my heart wants to do. I've also recently begun donating to funding art projects on kickstarter. I'm learning to discern value of what I give to there as well since I cannot donate to everyone I would like to.
Whimsy - Sofie laughed at this one because, really, do I need a reminder of this? lol But yes, I do, and in this case I am thinking most of my writing. Finding the balance between a good, emotive and large scale story and the magic of a fantasy world. A small example: It's all well and good that I've included the plausible use of messenger birds for long a distance/expedient message delivery system but where's the whimsy? Ahhhh, so then I decide that these are "honey guides", birds who find their way home or to another location based on a particular scent/strain of honey that they are conditioned to seek out and identify. And they have small quivers on their backs to carry the messages. There are real "honey guide" birds in our world though they are not messengers. . . all I did was stretch the truth a bit there to make them more homing pigeon-like if one could train them to discern the various scents of the honey over distances. :) So yes, finding whimsy around every corner in the year to come.
Organization - OK, yes. . . Boring! But boy could I use a bit more of this. Work space, packing room, notes and ideas, recipes, you name it. I tend to let things get a bit too in disarray before I tackle them and that's never fun.
Routine - As in a more monastic sense of the word. Monasteries have always fascinated me no matter the type or the belief. I've spent time in a Zen monastery here in the NW though I am also drawn to the Benedictine rule and Franciscan sects and the schedules they keep. Now if the pslams and vespers were say, writing and creating time instead, I'd be in a robe faster than you could blink an eye!! The simplicity of the life and the repetition of it is what draws me. I need it to be my most productive. Work periods, meal periods, end of day etc. Not so regimented that there is no room for spontaneity but certainly most days, most weeks, and most hours are best filled with that scheduled intent for me.
So what will those all bring? Well I hope to share anything along the way if it pops up but it will likely be the end of 2018 before I can look back and assess all the little things that came to pass under each heading. Once, in the Zen monastery, I was sent out into the world after a weekend retreat with a task. To pick a location and watch the entry door of said place for a few hours. Just to observe how people reacted and related to that door. It seemed pretty Zen and I expected to not "get it" because, you know. . . Zen.
None of the openings of the door were memorable in and of their own BUT, at the end of the day, the cumulative effect was very striking. I saw such a variety of ways people approached the door, how close they got before grabbing the door knob, if they were regulars I could tell because the door had a "hitch" to it, the doorknob was rickety and lower down on the frame than normal. Also, the door opened in and not out as most non-regulars seemed to expect it to. I saw how some people held the door for others while some were so in their own heads they didn't notice the person right behind them. I noticed people approach confidently or with a strong step and others cautiously and tentative as if the door might bite. . . And on and on. All of that from observing a door over a period of time.
So that's how I find the words work best. Over the long haul. I don't expect an enlightening occurrence any one time I choose to focus on a word. But 12 months from now? We'll see. ;)
Next month I will be back to my usual First Friday post showing new work.
Thank you for coming by, as always,