A New Year's Pause

I can't even count how many journals I have owned in my life. When you wear red-rimmed, perfectly round,  gold-framed glasses at the age of seven because  you read under the covers with a flash light after bedtime and offer poems as Christmas presents to family members, you inevitably receive a lot of journals. In spite of my wealth of  notebooks and diaries and long history of journal writing, it's been a love/hate relationship over the years. Words written to oneself in a diary can be uncovered, read and exposed in the most horrific and traumatic of scenarios (second grade love notes exposed by Dad at the dinner table. True story.). And of course we have the power to contort the truth and deceive future readers (namely ourselves) in hyperbole,  denial, or just pure fantasy.  But the beauty of this intimate space makes up for all of its dangers. 

The holiday and new year season is my favorite time of year for self-reflection and journal writing. I love looking over past journal writings; it's like reaching a high place in a journey and being able to finally see the winding trail you've climbed. There is always going to be more hiking ahead, but I appreciate and praise the pause. Inevitably, the resolutions I set for the past year are a mixed bag of successes and utter failures. Some will be grandfathered into my resolutions for the new year. Some, the repeat failures, may be dropped altogether. But no matter my state of stagnation or progress, I do still write down new year's resolutions in my journal. As with life, some things are written just to get you to the next page. Here, a gift from last year's journal pages.

Resolution for Year 2012

They say the world may end this year
according to Mayan prophecy.
I only hope to live each day
realizing the fine line between
adapting to one's environment
and letting it control you.
This year I will not be controlled.
I will be awake, vibrant, free.
And if the Mayans were right, so let it be.

- by Courtney Keene ©

One trick I've learned about new year's resolutions (or 'intentions' as I prefer to call them), is that much like any policy or self-regulation, increasing transparency increases accountability. In this vein, here are some of my initial intentions for 2013:
  • Be well! Attend dance classes, run often and eat well.
  • Spend and save consciously! Keep future needs and projects in mind.
  • Write! Write anything, but remember what you know to be true is always the most powerful. Flex writing muscles and exercise imagination regularly.
  • Disconnect! Enjoy a 'blackout' at least once a month reading, writing, eating, talking, playing by candlelight without the use of lights/power or electronics. 
The last resolution/intention occurred to me after one of several conversations with the hubby, who is from Senegal, about how dependent Americans are on electricity for everything. To those of you readers who were born and raised in the U.S., this may seem like a 'duh' statement, but it is not the norm in many parts of the world. In Senegal frequent black outs are the norm and you quickly adapt to darkness, candle light, and that medieval form of entertainment, conversation. Of course these moments are not to be romanticized; for the most part they are disruptive and harmful to the economic well being of people, businesses and countries. But there is something to be said about the social benefits of disconnecting from our various devices and reconnecting to each other, by candlelight. 


moments like this are rare
it caught me by surprise
to even be thinking these thoughts
like recognizing a dream within a dream
a moment of clarity
of seeing things from a great distance 
a high place
a lens suddenly twisted
into focus precisely capturing
the vague movements of life
in one clear frame
it feels like my soul 
has come up for air
breaking some unseen surface
between clamor and silence
obligation and freedom
stress and peace
I savor it
finding words to wrap around it
like banana leaves
to marinate and simmer
soaking ink in paper
to archive its passing.

- by Courtney Keene © 

So this being one of the last moments of 2012, some reflection may be in order. What has this year meant to me and what significance do I want to create for the following one? This year has been one full of drastic transitions: settling into married life, finishing grad school, moving, and starting a new job. But the moments I will treasure most are those calm, introspective pauses, scattered like jewels throughout the year. I hope to create more of these moments for myself and inspire them for others more frequently in 2013. 

What are your intentions for the new year? Whatever they may be, I wish you peace, love, and many moments of pause in your undoubtedly busy lives. Happy New Year from WYHWTM!

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