New Year, New Wisdom

7th February 2023
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I love Christmas – all the twinkly lights, sparkles and get-togethers. New Year has always made me feel rather melancholy. All the looking back, self-reflection and hoping. Done during that weird, disorientating time between Christmas and New Year. Discombobulating. And almost always a bit depressing. So I shut myself off from all the New Year missives from everyone – one big ostrich move!

Photo by Alex Shute on Unsplash

But this year, I find myself with a better outlook. At least not afraid to see what everyone else is saying. And I’ve learned some stuff I thought I’d share. Others’ wisdom.

This is a summary of the useful New Year things I’ve learned, in the order they arrived in my inbox.

Just one word

Lizzy Dening writes an excellent newsletter called Out Of Office. Her January issue suggested a “word of the year”, rather than a resolution. As she explains, “This is basically an intention, a goal of sorts, or at least a direction you’re keen to move into.”

Hmmmm, an interesting idea.

She went on to give an example of her word last year.

“The best words, IMO, have a double meaning, and can work in your professional and personal life. Last year, mine was ‘create’, which both meant embracing my more artistic side work-wise, and embarking on IVF. I wrote it childishly big in felt tip pen and pinned it above my desk to keep it in mind.”

Lizzy Denning

Now she’s off on maternity leave!

Megan Markle talked about the same idea. (Yes, I watched it.) She said that she had a friend who, at her New Year’s Eve dinner party, would go round and ask everyone for their word for the coming year.

To be honest, if you asked me this at a New Year’s Eve party, my word would most likely be “gin” or “chips” – depending on what stage of the night we’re at.

I’ve been pondering a word for this year…

‘Healing’, maybe. The fright of my accident and the long road to fixing my broken bones has been difficult to deal with. I was not good at being totally reliant on my husband for everything. I was not happy with only having one hand to type with for a few weeks. I was not very patient with myself at all.

The bones are healed. But my muscles and tendons are still being slowly awakened with regular exercise under the direction of a good physio.

Still healing.

‘Momentum’ – another word that popped into my head as a potential. Business wise I need to regroup, replan and build up the momentum I’ve lost over the last few months. To me, this means consistency and risk.

Still thinking about this one.

Thanks, Lizzy x

Fulfillment and Gratitude

This is from Cole Shafer’s Sticky Notes:

“Goals are good. Resolutions are good. Desires are good. But, like anything, they come with a great cost. When we desire something, we are making a deal with ourselves that we will be unfulfilled until we achieve that which we desire.

(After all, if all of us were completely fulfilled, we would have no goals or resolutions or desires…)

This is the price we pay for desire: fulfillment.”

Cole SHafer

I’ve never thought about the connection between desire and fulfilment before. And what that can get in the way of. I’m not a particularly ambitious person, in the traditional sense. In my previous career, I didn’t want to move up through the ladder to management and beyond. I did want to be the best I could be at what I was doing. I guess I’ve always been more into measuring myself against my own previous performance. And I was never the best, never 100%, so never fulfilled? I’ve got some new filters for my past here people!

Cole then goes on to relate this lack of fulfilment, generated by desire, to gratitude.

“I’ve become so focused and obsessed with achieving my desired outcome––and with it filling some hole in myself I’ve cut out to pay the debt of such desire––that I forget to phone in and say “thank you”.”

cole shafer

‘Gratitude’ could easily be my word of 2023. Gratitude that it could’ve been worse, but it wasn’t. Gratitude for the care I received. And I’m worried that I haven’t expressed this properly as I’ve been going along.

Thanks, Cole x

Embrace the weird

Dave Harland’s The Word always induces some chuckling. In this issue, he talks about the creativity he elicits from his Cranial Chasm of Chaos, just by posing the question ‘What would happen if…?’ The examples are, quite simply, magnificent. And should be how we define what the best adverts are.

They remind me of the best tradition of silly children’s books. Like Nick Sharratt’s ‘Don’t Put Your Finger in the Jelly, Nelly!’ Or any number of flip flap books. (Where the pages are spilt in half to create hilarious combinations of things.) They all function on the idea of ‘imagine if…’. It’s where the humour comes from.

I think I need to apply this ‘what would happen if…?’ principle to my general life. Not just my writing. Seek more creativity, fun and new perspectives.

Thanks, Dave x

Always be human

I love Nick Parker’s ‘The Notices’ newsletter. It’s full of interesting things and thoughts. In his first missive of 2023, he references Thomas Sharp’s examples of slightly off-beat resolutions. including:

“‘Try not to use the word “I” for a week’ and ‘Commit to including a sentence of beauty in every prosaic email you send’– eg: confirm sign-off of the designs, but also mention you have an infinity of warm yearning inside you that particular afternoon.”

Nick Parker and Thomas Sharp

Now, a sentence of beauty is an unachievable goal for me. But I have been including lots of ‘wishing you a weekend of marshmallowy hot chocolates’ in my sign offs recently. And this stuck with me.

I could definitely commit to a ‘sentence of doom’, or ‘sentence of sarcasm’ per email. But I really don’t want to add to the sum of negativity in the world and sarcasm can be misinterpreted on the page.

I guess I can muster a ‘sentence that acknowledges we’re all humans’. Yes, I know everyone’s all ‘rush, rush, rush, get to the point, I’m a busy, busy bee.’ And I’ve worked hard on eliminating all the unnecessary British politeness I was including in my email comms.

But it’s also nice to be a person, too. Especially when I work by myself, well apart from morale manager Lola (the dog).  I don’t mean ‘oh God, my womb’s trying to kill me with these cramps’. Or revelations about any ‘warm yearnings’ –unless we’re talking about snacks/lunch/dinner.

I sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that I should be more ‘business’ and less ‘person’. But, as with most ‘shoulds’, that’s really not staying true to myself. It’s also not very healthy to have a big discrepancy between who you are and who you are at work. Been there, done that, don’t fancy the fallout again.

I like the idea of expressing that little bit of me, in amongst the ‘please find ‘x’ attached’. It feels natural and, importantly, do-able.

Thanks, Nick x

Just bloody do it!

Nick Cave’s ‘The Red Hand Files’ is always an entertaining read. It’s a simple premise – people email their questions and Nick provides answers.

January 2023, Issue #217, starts with two questions from Fred in Ireland: “What’s it like to wake up and know you have written so many wonderful songs? What are your plans for 2023?” And the answer is a look into his song writing process for the new Bad Seeds album he’s embarked on at the start of the year.

Not a ‘I get up at 6, do some yoga, eat fruit, and sit in my purpose-built studio for the next 8 hours’ kind of process. But a description of the pure emotion involved in creation.

“It’s the same with every record, I feel that familiar feeling of lack, like I’m a big, dumb blank thing in a suit. I’m grumpy as fuck and Susie has decamped for a week. Anything that resembles a creative impulse is burrowed way down in some mossy, froggy hole, asleep, I hope, not dead. I have to call it forth, provoke it from its slumber. It becomes a nasty, punishing, baggy-eyed business. I’m starting to get an infuriating sing-song voice in my head that actually rhymes, like a madness. Like sadness.”

Nick cave

It’s amazing…the honest truth of the thing.

Now I’m definitely not comparing myself to Nick Cave’s brilliance. Just to be 100% clear on that.

But this description of how messy, effortful and frustrating it is to create something is another kick up my own butt. If Nick Cave describes it like this, then it’s fine if I find ‘my stuff’ difficult.

‘My stuff’ means the writing I do that’s not for clients. Which I’ve allowed to simmer in the shadows for way too long. Partly because I need to earn money, as a first priority. Partly because it’s hard. I love it, but it’s hard. It needs the energy to wrestle thoughts from emotions and ideas, and then to wrangle them into actual words other people will understand. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try.

2023 – I’ve got no excuse not to try. And I’m printing Nick’s words out so that they’re there to kick me up the butt every time I try to wriggle out of it. Just bloody do it.

Thanks, Nick x

Adding joy

Emma Cossey’s Freelance Lifestyle newsletter is a weekly To Do list that’s 3 manageable tasks in 3 different categories. It’s great to focus the mind on ‘that one thing’ and reminds you of previously successful things you might have forgotten about. She also adds in handy resources, helpful advice and her experiences of being a freelancer herself. She’s also a great coach – if anyone’s looking for another mind on their business.

Anyway…this was one of the tasks in her first newsletter of 2023:

“☑️ Self-Development Task: A simple task this week. Write down a list of all the things that give you joy. Can you add more of them into your daily life?”

Emma Cossey

Such a good aim. Very important to remember that we can plan in joy to our lives. Not just wait for moments to appear. I want to carry this through the year with me.

Thanks, Emma x

What will be, will be…

I’m so glad I didn’t just delete all these new year emails without opening them, like I usually do. All this wisdom landed at just the right time.

I’m at a point where ‘what will be, will be’ seems a philosophy that protects my sanity. I don’t have total control over making my plans come to life. I don’t even have total control over making it down the stairs in one piece! But there’s no reason for me to take a negative outlook.

My summary of 2023 is now quite the opposite:

  • Words of the year: Healing and momentum
  • Question: What would happen if…?
  • Continue to embrace my weird
  • Keep fulfilment in balance with gratitude, and away from perfectionism
  • Be a human, even in the most everyday emails
  • Just bloody do it! (Little strapline adaptation there!) Give energy and time to my own ‘stuff’. It’s going to be tricky, just bloody do it anyway.
  • Plan joy (don’t just wait for it)

That’s looking quite hopeful! I’ll find some more difficult than others. And some are a bit on the vague side. But not everything has to be a SMART target! I just need to check in on myself every so often and make sure I haven’t abandoned anything I’ve considered important.

I must mention one other wonderful newsletter by Emma Cownley – ‘The Copy Coven’, which brings the magick to my inbox. In her January issue she describes how to take your intentions for the new year and create your own magick sigil to represent them. I’m definitely going to do this, now I’ve got my thoughts in order. Why wouldn’t you?!

Thanks, Emma x

I initially filed all these emails into one ‘January 2023 blog’ folder. And going through them all to put my post together has really clarified my thinking. Actually writing this down is a commitment to myself. Sending it out into the world is a sign of hope

Thanks, lovely reader x


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