My last two weeks of December have been… not at all what I expected. My elderly parents came down with COVID right before Christmas, and I have been scrambling, along with my brother and others in their community, to get them through that without exposing ourselves.
They seem to be on the road to recovery, at least from this acute phase, but the experience exposed all of the weaknesses in their support systems, and pretty much took over our lives.
This left me no time for all the reflection and writing I’d intended to do in this last couple of weeks. So I was enormously grateful to get an email from my friend and fellow-musician, Kristin George, with the most lovely approach to inviting and supporting change I’ve seen in a long time.
I asked her if I could share it with you, and she said yes. So here are her wise and inspiring words...
Choosing a Theme to Steer By
“Instead of New Year resolutions, my husband has introduced me to the idea of choosing a theme to honor. Last year was Tom's “Year of Style,” which led to all sorts of small and large changes in our home. Paintings were re-positioned, a wall was built, rooms were painted and now we each have work spaces in the house. “Continuing this idea, but being less committal, we’re trying out seasonal themes. I'm trying out "bravery" as a theme for this winter.
“Here are a few specific ideas I’ve had in mind:
“Brave enough to be bored. Instead of turning on a podcast or an audiobook, I'm planning to be alone with my thoughts more, especially when I go for a walk or do the dishes.
“Brave enough to do a little bit today. I am often guilty of letting my fear of failure keep me from making slow steady progress towards a goal, especially one that would benefit from my continuous preparation and attention. Regular practice, early and often, is something I teach, but I am definitely capable of ignoring my own good advice!
“Brave enough to let myself be seen. The music I’ve been writing over the past few years is dear to me, and I want these songs to have a chance to live in the world, in people's ears and minds. For better or for worse, I think this means being a person who engages more deeply in the world.
“All of this feels intimidating, but as Elizabeth Gilbert says, the fear can come with you on the road trip, just don’t let it drive!
“If you've got a theme planned for the new year, I'd love to hear about it. I'm grateful for all of you! May your curiosity take you on fulfilling journeys, and may you have good company for the road!”
📌 Tom says he got the idea for year or seasonal themes from this video by CPG Grey: Your Theme. It’s a fun and useful resource.
✍️ You can read Tom’s reflections on his 2023 “Year of Style” in his Daily Ostrich article on Substack: https://thedailyostrich.substack.com/p/so-long-to-my-year-of-style
🎼 And you can find Kristin’s music on her Patreon site: https://www.patreon.com/kristingordon
I’m still sorting out what my theme for 2024, or maybe for this winter, will be. Flexibility? Feeling? Gratitude? Writing? Quiet? Order? Calm? Going with the flow?
Maybe I’ll figure it out as part of teaching my Creating Your New Year workshop at PCC, which starts January 18th.
In the meanwhile, I’ll echo Kristin’s invitation; if you've got a theme identified for the new year, or the winter season, I'd love to hear about it in the comments!