Other years, I’ve thought about choosing a guiding word for the year the same way I think about drafting a fantasy sports team or having birds as pets: good for you, not for me, as Amy Poehler would say. I preferred an extensive list of specific goals and resolutions and Things to Do for an Excellent Year. I haven’t abandoned that approach, but for 2015, I’m adding a word. And three weeks into 2015, I’ve decided that I’m committed enough to it to make it public.
It’s a reminder to avoid distractions and focus on actions that support my core goals and values, a reminder, in fact, that I have core goals and values: developing and maintaining strong relationships, focusing on health, continuing to build the business, supporting and producing good design. I have a weekly resolutions chart with such goody-two-shoes-y entries as “dust,” “use slow cooker,” and “bring breakfast & lunch to work 4+ days” that seem a little dull/dreary, but support my larger goals of living in a clean, orderly home, making and using a meal plan, eating healthfully, and spending less on unimportant crap.
CORE is a reminder to keep plugging away at knitting projects I’ve chosen because I really, really want the finished item, and not to cast on for things that would be quick or easy or a good way to use up some yarn I have on hand. It’s also a reminder about paring down. I don’t have a way to quantify getting rid of stuff, so don’t really consider it a goal as such, but it’s basically my favorite activity at the moment. I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up recently and her approach, to discard everything you own that doesn’t “spark joy” and to assign a specific location in your home for every item you own, resonated very strongly. My other guiding principles include William Morris’s admonition not to have anything in your home you don’t know to be useful or believe to be beautiful and the idea, whose source I don’t remember, that my home is not a museum of my (our) life. One or all of those will address pretty much any item under consideration; I can’t say for sure that a container of baking powder sparks joy necessarily, but I know it’s useful. The not-a-museum principle is particularly helpful when I’m confronting things like a frog-shaped perfume bottle that I loved when I was little and have been hanging onto without considering whether I care about it now. (I don’t.) I’ve gotten rid of a lot of clothing and shoes too. I’m not officially doing Project 333 or a capsule wardrobe, but that’s the direction I’m leaning.
We’re likely going to move out of the city within the next two years, maybe sooner, and I’d like to jettison as much as possible before then. Plus, we have a pretty great apartment and we’ll enjoy the rest of our time in it a lot more if it’s filled only with things we love. It can be hard though. Things can develop so much emotional weight that it can be really hard to shift them. I love Rachael’s thoughts about what to do with gifts; there’s a lot of stuff in our place that falls into the category of Items Given With Love That I/We Do Not Love.
But the core is not a hollow space and my focus on it is not all about less. I’m focusing just as much on making room for more in some areas: seeing friends more (I have brunch plans this weekend with a friend I haven’t seen in a year), learning more (tonight is the first in a planned series of weekly dinner-and-Photoshop-tutorial get-togethers with another friend I haven’t seen much lately; figuring out how to use the loom that’s, uh, looming over my bedroom; getting more comfortable with bookkeeping), traveling more (we’re headed to Florida for a long weekend next month to visit Rob’s dad and stepmother and to Los Angeles for a week in March to kick around the city—ideas welcomed!—and spend a couple of days hiking and hanging out at the Ace Hotel pool in Palm Springs), putting more thoughtful energy into my full-time job, and physically moving more (packing those breakfasts and lunches has already saved me enough money for weekly yoga and dance classes).
It’s going to be a good year, guys.