The Super Soul Sunday podcast has not one, but TWO recent episodes featuring Elizabeth Gilbert. The presence of Oprah + the writer of Big Magic? Yes and YES. Gilbert names January 1 as her favorite day of the year, and details a ritual she has invented to commemorate the day. We can make up our own rituals! Somehow that has never occurred to me before. I left behind all sorts of rituals bestowed by organized religion and never thought to be deliberate about filling in the space with my own.
Here I am, setting intentions at the beginning of the year and dreaming up resolutions. I hadn’t thought about it that way but it is a ritual of some kind. As we turn the corner after Christmas and sprint toward the New Year I am filled with hope that I can make my life and my Self better. I sit down and write a post about what comes next, I post it here, I mostly do not achieve. It’s not what anyone would call a successful ritual, but it’s mine and the older I get the closer I come to fully accepting myself as I am. Let’s meet here again next year and do it all again, m’kay?
My first resolution for this year is to swear off of self-help books for all of 2018. There are a few from the past year that made a real difference in my life – Essentialism, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Big Magic – but for the most part these books act as a crutch, propping up my own self-doubt. If I fill my head with other people’s ideas about what’s wrong with me I never have to stand all on my own, take a step back, and honestly assess what I see before me. My reading list this year will focus largely on memoirs. I’ve found that it’s hard to feel sorry for yourself if you’re immersed in the complicated, varied lives of others. (If you’re looking for a memoir to read, Born A Crime by Trevor Noah is an excellent place to start.)
I don’t have any firm plans yet for how I’m going to address this, but two concepts that come to mind when I think about the next year are self love and purpose. Those are my intentions. Self-love, not self-care. Self-care is the method not the destination (I’m grateful 2017 provided me the space to understand that). Purpose is having something that you feel excited to get out of bed for. Hard work that fills you up. I’m finding it hard to look past my responsibilities and personal struggles to see the larger picture over the arc of my life. I don’t want to coast. I have been coasting, and I feel soft and heavy because of it. I have the opportunity to make and be so much more than I am right now. Props to a life partner who recognizes, validates, and supports this exploration and journey of mine.
I set several photography goals at the start of 2017; now I can’t even tell you what they were. I’ll blame that on the fact that our family lived in and moved between four different houses last year. (What am I going to do when I can’t blame things on moving anymore?) This year I have one goal – I will only be using black-and-white film for my personal photography work throughout 2018 (If you are a photography client of Jenna Cole do not worry about this, I’ll be using color film for my portrait sessions the way I always have). I anticipate several byproducts as a result of this goal. I’ll be forced to study contrast, texture, and light in entirely new ways. This might also be the thing that forces me to learn how to develop and scan my own film at home. Bummer for my film lab and bounty for my bank account.
I will also be running the second iteration of my Living Happy project. This year it has been completely revamped based on my experience from last year and the feedback I got from those who participated. It’s a flexible and inclusive set-up aimed at accommodating a variety of lifestyles and schedules. Most of the content and interaction will be in the Living Happy Facebook group, although I’ll be sending out a monthly newsletter, writing updates for the blog, and talking about it on my Instagram account as well. Click here and request an add to the FB group to join us!