Two years ago, instead of making specific New Year’s Resolutions as I had done in the past, I decided to choose a word. A mantra, of sorts. I had just left my beloved job to be a full time mom, moved across the country from a big city to a small town, and given birth to my second child. To say that 2013 was going to be a year of transition would be an understatement, and I wasn’t feeling up to giving myself a list of goals I wasn’t sure I would actually be able to accomplish. My motivation was at an all-time low. So were my spirits. I just couldn’t manage more than a word to begin the journey of that new year.
I chose the word Courage, based on this quote from Susan Sontag.
It ended up being a constant source of encouragement to me as the days and months wore on. I thought about it as my toddler threw tantrums and my baby needed to be at my breast for hours and hours. I repeated it to myself as I entered, for the first time in my life as a cook, the kitchen. I missed my colleagues, I missed waking up with somewhere to go, and I felt incredibly lonely. It seems now almost telepathic. How had I known, so early on in that tumultuous year, that I was going to need gallons of courage?
After my experience with Courage, I chose another word the following new year, hoping it would again guide me in moments of solitude, boredom, joy and frustration.
I chose the word Story, based on this quote from Joan Didion.
In honor of that ideal, and because I missed reading, I made a resolution to read 50 new books throughout the course of 2014. This month, I celebrated the accomplishment of that goal by reading my 50th book. What Didion says is true, these stories have helped me live. It’s been a fuller, more complex, more complicated, and happier year.
I’m considering my new word for 2015. I have a few ideas, but I am waiting for a long walk in a beautiful place to settle on one, or a few. It’s exciting to think about where I can go, and I know from experience that something as simple as a single word can serve as a motivator and guide.
I am constantly amazed how possible it is for us, as people, to steer our lives. There is so much uncertainty in this world and so much beyond and outside of our control. And yet, we can push ourselves to be more than we are in this moment today.
I am endlessly invigorated by that.
Here are my favorite books from October ::
1. Not That Kind of Girl, Lena Dunham :: This is more than a funny collection of vignettes from a comedian. This is a legitimate memoir, and I felt motivated and empowered by it. It forced me to consider my own past in a new light, especially in regards to my romantic relationships. I know that Dunham is a controversial figure (her show contains nudity and drunken slovenliness), but I think this book makes a point about self-love and self-respect when it comes to how women approach dating and love.
2. Me Before You, Jojo Moyes :: It was fascinating to read this book in light of the Brittany Maynard controversy happening at the time I was reading it. Additionally, I met a woman who volunteers for Compassion & Choices here in Portland, and her stories were emotional and riveting. Maybe you believe the issue of euthanasia is not complicated, and you feel completely sure of your opinion. If so, I urge you to read this book with a friend and discuss.
3. The Boys in the Boat :: Nine Americans and their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Daniel James Brown :: This was my 50th book and it could not have been more apropos. This is one of the top five books I have read all year. How this book got me excited about a sport I have never done or even been interested in is beyond me. The writing is superb, and the story is unabashedly heroic.
4. A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from my Kitchen Table, Molly Wizenberg :: In my quest to heal my relationship with the kitchen, this book was inspiring and helpful. The recipes are intertwined with the story of her father’s death, the beginning of her popular blog, and the courtship of her now husband. I’ve used several of the recipes from the book, and they have all been keepers. I like her no fuss, happy relationship with food. I’m aspiring to it.
If you were to choose a Word for 2015, what would it be? I’d love to hear.
Lisa’s tumbler HERE