New Year’s Resolutions 2020
Christmas was wonderful, overflowing with “energies” (granddaughter Lydia’s latest word).
Christmas, and 2019, are now history.
When the house gets quiet again,
my spirit searches for poetry.
“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord,
and our heart is restless
until it finds its rest in thee.”
–Augustine of Hippo
Here on this New Years Day of 2020, we will take down the ornaments on the tree,
take a nice long walk outside on a sunny day
reflect on both our past and our future
and make resolutions.
Last year’s theme was Jubilee, bringing with it our golden anniversary and no resolutions.
This year, I choose the word Resolution itself!
- To remember this vision statement: My life is focused on becoming an elder, serving rising elders and future generations, learning from them all that I can about the nature of love.
- To spend the first half hour of each new day in quiet, spiritual reading, prayer, and meditation.
- To write the next three hours without interruption from the internet.
- To spend another half hour a day doing nothing.
I would LOVE to know how you are spending your first hours and days of 2020.
Have you made resolutions? Or do you resolve NOT to resolve?
Happy New Year, Shirley! Beautiful grandkids! “Spend the next half hour doing nothing??!” That’s hard for the likes of us!! I think you and I are accustomed to being “doers” but I know how much I also enjoy “not doing” when I can make myself “do it”!!
Grandson Ivan spotted a mouse in our basement on Christmas Day (I’m sure the kids scared it out of its hiding place when they played down there). Couldn’t spot it or catch it for a few days, but it wanted to celebrate New Year’s Eve too so this morning Hardy greeted me with a dead mouse as Happy New Year’s gift!
Thanks for starting off this conversation with a laugh-out-loud chuckle, Elfrieda. Happy New Year to you and Hardy.
Yes, doing nothing is hard for me also. And I will have to decide if walking counts for this. I think it does if I really pay attention to the world around me, don’t listen to my music or podcasts, and just stop, look, and listen to what is. Jenny Odell, in the (highly recommended) video above, is a bird watcher. I love to look out my window. Just now a buzzard swooped past my view, looking for a meal. A few days ago, I watched a deer jump over a fence from a standing position!
I’m pleased to share with you (since you were the one to introduce me to this fine place) that I’m starting my 2020 near a Caribbean beach with balmy breezes to soothe me and enough cultural differences to keep my mind engaged. I’m not revealing where I am until I return home, but I do truly thank you. I’m writing again, continuing to sit each day and listen to what the world has to teach me. And yes indeed, walking can be a most instructive form of meditation. One of my favorites, though I now must watch my steps more consciously. HappyNew Year, Shirley.
Oh, I think I can picture you in this place, Janet. And I am glad if I helped you find it. Have a morning cappuccino by the ocean for me.
Your days in a different culture are just peaceful enough and challenging enough to seep into that writing you are picking up again. Wonderful.
Thanks for checking in, and all best in the new year!
Muchas gracias, mi amiga.
Our Christmas continues as we celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas through 1/5! Our tree remains up as we all await the arrival of Wise Men who currently are preparing for their most strenuous section of their journey from our upstairs bookshelf down the “mountainous” steps to arrive to the creche.
The star still guiding them. My three growth items will inform each other creating a circle. These are reading, writing and walking….perhaps not in that order each day but the goal is to be about each one each day.
Appreciate your words and writings. Your time with Encountering Silence still supplies me with musings and brought a change to my spirit that I am grateful for.
Blessings in this day!!
Thank you so much for this good Epiphany message.
Reading, writing, and walking were three things Wordsworth did every day too.
I am so glad that something I said on the Encountering Silence podcast brought blessing to your life. Thank you for letting me know that. I am a big fan of Carl, and Cassidy, and Kevin.
Please do continue into the last of the Twelve Days, a wonderful tradition. And blessings back to you!
Happy New Year, Shirley! I am still in my buffalo plaid PJs which signals “doing nothing.” We, too, find New Year’s Day an opportunity for reflection and anticipation.
Thanks for sharing your word and the verse from Augustine of Hippo. My word for 2020 is Remember as in Henri Nouwen’s reflection: “Remember you are held safe. You are loved. You are protected. You are in communion with God and with those whom God has sent you. What is of God will last. It belongs to the eternal life. Choose it, and it will be yours.” Psalm 103 says “forget not.” That’s close enough!
Off to hike Big Schloss on this gorgeous Valley day. Enjoy your walk!
Judith, I imagine you have sloughed off the PJs and donned the hiking boots by now and are happily doing nothing more than putting one foot in front of another, watching the view slip past you as you move. Another quote for you, this one from Tennyson’s “Ulysses.”
“Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.”
I love your word Remember and the Nouwen quote from which it came. Let’s Resolve to keep Remembering.
Shirley, I love the rhythm of your planned days!
At the end of 2019, I wrote about the elderly in our society, whom we sadly treat as invisible and voiceless in our society.
Here’s the other side of this: I have been given a voice, and yet, too often I’ve failed to raise it to speak up for what I deeply believe:
• I believe we all have the capacity to learn and grow.
• I believe authenticity is an essential foundation for growth.
• I believe we are meant to be connected – to help one another along the way.
I intend to keep raising my voice. In the past, I’ve done this primarily through writing – books, blogs, newsletters, articles and essays. Although I’ll continue to write, I’ve found an additional medium that I believe lends itself especially well to a community wishing to foster authentic growth and learning: I’ve resolved to start a podcast!
On a less happy note, my husband and I are on our way to Australia to do tai chi for two weeks with our master there – and yesterday I sprained my ankle quite badly. I’m at the airport in a wheelchair. Just a reminder that sometimes our resolutions don’t turn out as we anticipate.
Blessings for 2020!
Oh my, Marlena. May your wheelchair take you to your destination safely and in great shape to learn no matter what! Tai chi will keep you centered.
I am intrigued by your goal of podcasting. I need to go check out what you wrote about that.
Thank you for sharing your three beliefs. I share all of them!
Happy New Year down under!
My resolutions have almost always been abject failures; every year I resolve to drink less diet coke and stretch more after exercise, and those always fail. The only one that has stuck is writing 250 words a day, which I’ve done consistently for 10 years now! Your intentions–and those of your commenters above–are inspiring. I’m still trying to figure out what I want to focus on this year, and your post gives me grist for consideration. Can’t wait to read whatever you’re working on next!
Even our failures teach us something, Melanie. Or at least they give us a lovely wry humor like you exhibit above. If you have done 250 words/day for a long time, you have accomplished a great deal! You make me wonder whether I should shoot for words rather than time. Hmm. I may give both a try and then compare them.
I find all these intentions inspiring also. Our reach often exceeds our grasp, of course, but that’s what heaven is for. So I heard. 🙂
I’m touched that you want to read the next thing. I will say more on that anon.
If your greatest failings are drinking Diet Coke and not stretching, I won’t waste my time worrying about you.
I love the idea of spending the first 1/2 hour in quiet spiritual reading, etc. I like to start my day with swimming, yoga, or a strengthening class, but I often then go to a coffee shop with a book and read. I’m going to make it a priority – as you have. It’s amazing how little time I have to read, but obviously—I DO have the time. Where am I spending it instead?
I spend an inordinate amount of time getting through my emails. I’ve spent a good deal of time the last three years building an audience for and marketing my book, “Redlined.” But I’m really trying to back off a lot of that now. I’ve found the social media aspect just burdensome. Time to move on. I’ll always remember the inspiration I took from your 100 Memoirs blog and how our online friendship helped me to move forward with my book to publication. Thank you!
In 2020, I’ll resolve to:
— read first thing every morning for at least 1/2 an hour.
—I also resolve to see more national parks and do adventure travel as long as we can still do so (e.g., hiking, biking, somewhere beautiful in the world).
—I resolve to take advantage more of the amazing cultural possibilities in this great city of Chicago.
—I resolve to continue to advocate for fair housing and make Americans aware of the heinour practice of redlining, which, I’ve discovered, few people realize was a FEDERAL GOV’T policy that legally denied African Americans home ownership for decades and still discriminates in a more subtle manner.
—I resolve to see more movies (!) – I hardly ever take time for this.
—I resolve to explore meditation.
—I resolve to get back to writing on a regular basis.
—I resolve to start the process of turning my two blogs into books.
—I resolve to try to be more “present” in the moment and enjoy the beauty of each day and treasure my time with my husband as we never know what the future holds.
Happy New Year! I wish you all the best life can bring in 2020.
Thanks for this long and thoughtful response, Linda. We do go back a very long way, and you have been helpful to me, too. We must meet in person some day. Chicago is now a direct flight from our little Shenandoah Valley airport, and we have taken advantage of it several times. I will let you know if we can arrange a weekend sometime. And you could come here also. Same easy United airlines flight.
Anyway, I could talk about each of these points but will just select your feeling of being burned out on social media book marketing. I have seen your heroic Twitter feed and some of your blog posts and see how often you have speaking engagements. Brava! AND it’s totally understandable that you have gotten to the place where you need to cut back. Energy and health now are our most valuable resources. We can’t afford to expend them when our heart is no longer in the work.
My interracial book club just read The Water Dance by Ta Nahesi Coates, the writer who exposed the unfair federal housing policies that have led to intergenerational accumulation among whites and lack of it among blacks.
May you and yours find just the right balance between challenge and rest in 2020!
I so often find your posts will lead me into reflection, provoke thoughts, and add to my (or suggest alternatives to) thinking. Thank you for that.
I am in the midst of revisiting my mission and vision statements (personal and professional). I want to continue to give my energy to advocacy (women and aging and related inequities, is one of my arenas of interest), writing (finally finishing my memoir), and coaching (I love the process and interconnection). My practices will me increased faithfulness to meditation; attention to physical well being; and in-depth work on presence and attention (being present; presence-based coaching; engaging in presence).
I will be giving more thought to Jenny Odell’s presentation. Many of my corporate clients over the years have suffered under the tyranny of excessive demands for productivity. It takes a toll. Jenny is on the other end of the continuum in a very deep way. I will be interested in you experiences with 1/2 hour most days “doing nothing.”
Happy New Year! Audrey
One of the things I have enjoyed about our conversations both in person and online, Audrey, is that you seek clarity and purpose in everything you do. I can imagine your clients appreciate this gift and that it will strengthen your memoir.
Glad you found the Odell presentation helpful. I found the talk because President Obama had the book on his recommended reading list from 2019.
Knowing that you are interested, I will try to remember to report out on my experience after several months. Remind me if I don’t. I don’t want my resolution to end up in a black hole, where many others have lingered.
Happy New Year to you also!
Listening to Jenny Odell, I have the feeling she describes the lifestyle I grew up with…may the “quiet in the land” return.
Thanks for finding a great talk from one who lives in my city (but I’ve not heard of her before).
Happy New Year Shirley to you and your family.
Dolores, thank you for reminding me of the modern application of the “quiet in the land” concept. Will you be writing or speaking more about that? I could see you doing a sermon or even a book. We Mennonites spent lots of time in the 70s and thereafter imagining that the concept was totally dated. Now you could take every word of it and start a revolution!
Maybe you will get to meet Jenny Odell in 2020. I’m sure she will be speaking in many places.
Happy New Year to you and yours also.
My book on that is mostly on hold because my 6 month old grandson now lives with us and my daughter (again), so my focus is more on baby Hokala. I would love to do a sermon or other talk on this subject. I will pursue that suggestion. Thank you.
Shirley — I love Lydia’s new word, “energies,” and the photograph of Stuart and The Grands is fantastic!
I started this New Year’s day waking up in my granddaughter’s home, as we’d watched her overnight while her folks had a New Year’s Eve getaway.
I enjoyed reading your resolves.
I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but I plan to keep focusing on my daily resolve. That is, to be a channel for grace (the immediate presence of Spirit).
Happy New Year!
By the way, for some reason, I can’t “Like” this post. It simply won’t let me. Hmmm…
What a great way to begin the New Year, Laurie! I love seeing pictures of you and Luna.
The simplicity and profundity of your daily resolve encompasses the resolutions and my vision statement. Thank you for being a channel of grace for so many, including how to be a social media maven without either losing your soul or your stamina. So impressive.
May this year of transition to full-time writing, speaking, and grandmothering be a deeply rewarding one. I love your new website and look forward to seeing your series unfold.
Have no idea why you can’t “like” but others can. I wonder if it might have something to do with how we both are using WordPress now! Help! I have run out of both knowledge and speculation. Will put it on my “consultant Clay” list.
Cliff walked by as I opened your post and exclaimed, “Those are cute grandkids!” They are adorable, I agree.
And I remember the cuddly stage and what follows. Oh, my! Now we plan bowling dates and an excursion to the “escape” game room.
Your posts are inspirational and thought-provoking, always. The comments as well.
I’ll be brief here as I just hosted a pork and sauerkraut dinner for my sister and husband on a bright, sunny Florida day. Yes, I always spend the first half hour of every day in quietness with my Bible and thoughts, often just staring out into the lake and preserve, enjoying solitude. I don’t think that counts as doing nothing.
Resolutions? I resolve to log steps on my Fitbit every day, go to Pilates classes so I can maintain balance in mind and body, and continue blogging. A Type-A like you and many in your tribe, I can aspire “to enjoy doing nothing,” which is really something. Finally, continued involvement in my grandchildren’s lives. I hear time’s chariot whizzing by . . . three in high school and one in junior high. Whee!
Great post, Shirley! You have clear 2020 vision going into this brand new decade.
Tell Cliff he knows just what to say to a Grandma! We will be starting the day in similar ways. I am hoping to combine my morning meditation time with the readings for our church themes this year. I am the chair of the worship commission and hope to keep the ministers, the text, and the needs of the congregation in mind as I begin each day. And of course pray for my loved ones and our troubled world.
The do nothing resolution, especially for a whole half hour, might be the hardest of all. I will have to define it in somehow. And, yes, it will not come naturally! Just looking out the window, however, is one of my favorite things.
We did not eat pork and sauerkraut today. We’ll have to muster our good luck from that meal on January 10, the day we host Stuart’s colleagues from EMU to celebrate the January birthdays in his office, including his.
Much joy to you as you engage your near-grown-up grandchildren. They look like just the kinds of students any high school teacher/college professor would want to teach. And they are still cute. 🙂
Happy New Year! ? I haven’t yet listened to the video above, but I just started Jenny Odell’s book “How to Do Nothing.” I haven’t gotten far—just the intro— but I’m excited about the read.
I find myself wanting to DO more. I am not suited well to spending hours each day writing and not doing much of anything else. So I am resolving to get more involved in gardening and nature, painting, and my needlework. And writing more book reviews and reading more broadly. I still have writing goals for this year, including revising my mystery novel and querying that.
My word for this year is strength. I resolve to work on becoming stronger physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Tina, I return your warm wishes! And I look that you both want to read a book about doing nothing and retain skepticism about whether it is right for you. I think you’ll like the video, especially after reading the book.
I admire your desire to use your hands and go outside.
You have a whole novel written! Good for you. I hope you will find a receptive agent/publisher.
And what an excellent, clear, Resolution statement. Power to you!
Hi Shirley – You have such a gift in offering a window on your life that invites others to reflect and share their own. Thank you! I haven’t made any particular new year resolutions (yet), but have been thinking about my one word for 2020 which I’m saving to share on my blog. I’m enjoying listening to Jenny Odell’s talk–and appreciate the irony of my multi-tasking as I write this comment while also listening to a talk on doing nothing! I’ve put her book on my to-read list. Have a wonderful new year!
April, it is good to touch base with you again. I have noted your many new books since we published our 2013 ones. Congratulations on DOING so much, including multi-tasking while you listen to a video about doing nothing. 🙂 Love it. Resolutions are serious, but we need to hold ourselves lightly. Like an angel. I’ll look for your word on your blog soon! Happy New Year.
Hearty New Year greetings, Shirley! I appreciate your intention in setting these goals to words. The first hour or so of my day is spent with scripture and in prayer and meditation, and often scratching out a few words in my journal. Too often, I turn to social media soon after. I am going to join you in concentrated writing time instead. It is the better thing.
“It is the better thing.” I sense that many of us are recognizing this fact and will continue to help each other find the better things. I will hold your time in my heart along with all the others here, and the many who didn’t write but who also seek to be more intentional and centered in their lives.
Thank you, Linda, and may you go deep into 2020.
I greatly admire your planned schedule for the days to come in 2020. I have tried such resolves before and have experienced myself long enough to know that I could not do that! So much of my time is spent attending to the random needs of the moment. I also know your life has had those moments, too. If we were to walk together again, we could remember such times with laughter.
So it is, that I am choosing the word, intention. It feels like it gives me a little more wiggle room. However, I do resolve to keep that word in front of me. I have just started a small “intentions-to- do what” list that starts like this:
I intend to
* spend a minimum of 30 minutes per day reading scripture or other spiritual writing, centering, prayer/meditation.
* clear my desk every day.
* add to this list as clarity comes.
Clearing my desk daily may not seem like a lofty intention, but I can think better when it is not cluttered. Added to that, it made my husband smile when I told him of my intention to do this.
You made me smile too, Shirley. I love how you choose “wiggle room” for your intentions, knowing yourself. And yes, we all fall off the wagon of our great goals as random, unanticipated needs crop up. It’s wise to remember and give ourselves grace, even when we set the intentions in the first place!
Your approach seems so wise. Our white hairs have brought us some benefits. 🙂
From Richard Kauffmann’s Facebook:
“If I were to make any resolutions, it would be the same old ones—no need to make them—they have been made. No need to reflect on them—it doesn’t take much concentration to see how I keep them. I struggle along. It is useless to break your head over the same old details week after week and year after year, pruning the same ten twigs off the top of the tree. Get at the root: union with God. On these days of recollection drop everything and hide in yourself to find Him in the silence where He is hidden within you, and listen to what He has to say. There is only one thing to live for: love. There is only one unhappiness: not to love God.”
—Thomas Merton, Journals
Before reading your post (yes, late to the game), I sent out this paragraph in my weekly newspaper column:
I still love the early morning hours for quiet thinking, reading, and yes—writing.
That’s not too profound, but on the same wave length. I’ll add that I usually stay in bed for 15-20 minutes after waking, remembering a few folks in prayer.
No resolutions or theme for the year but in my column I’m using 10 words from my favorite cereal box, Kashi, as themes for my first 10 columns of the year. We’ll see where they go! Rise, Play, Spark, Flow, Crush, Defy, Love, Wander, Shine, and Go.
Love this, Melodie. I too stayed in bed, wondering if that counts as “doing nothing.” Perhaps. But I like the idea of horizontal prayer instead. 🙂 Sometimes our whole inner landscape changes when we re-frame our reality from random rumination to Merton’s “find Him in the silence where He is hidden within you.”
Inspired idea to blog themes from a cereal box. Better than a Dick Tracy decoder!
Happy New Year. Thanks for coming to the party.
Shirley, I have been a lurker to your writings for quite a long time but this one has disturbed me, in a good way. I read every response and each reply. I have never been one to make resolutions but maybe this is the year to begin. I don’t journal although I’ve always wished I did. I liked that my pastor said the other Sunday that she tries to do it well for all of us! But here are my resolves as I enter my 75th year (maybe it is a reflection on the age).
1) To at least hold the pencil to the paper and see what happens
2) To read something by Thomas Merton ( I do not know him as an author but his name has come up twice in the past month (Richard Kauffmann’s post above and in the book I’m reading, On the Brink of Everything.
3) To set aside time for meditation
Loved the pictures of the grandchildren.
You touched my heart with this comment, Roveen. I am glad you read the comments, because there is so much wisdom in them. I will think of you holding pencil to paper this morning. (I’ve had to rearrange afternoon for morning time today. Hence this response on the internet. 🙂
There is a book of daily meditations from Thomas Merton that I have loved. A sampling of his profound writings: https://www.amazon.com/Year-Thomas-Merton-Meditations-Journals/dp/0060754729. It might help you with two resolutions!
All best and thanks for joining us.
I love your resolutions. One of mine this year–though it will not all happen in a year–is to become a woman of prayer.
Wonderful, Lucinda. Thank you for acknowledging the difficulty and complexity of becoming a woman of prayer. Sending you Light to hold you in that resolve. Good to hear from you!
My first thing in the morning meditation has been demolished by adopting a rescue pup in October. She’s sweet, growing, and needs lots of training, structure, and action. She’s full of energy as soon as we wake up and not interested in quiet meditation. It was a nutty thing to do, but I don’t regret it. It was my move toward joy. Meditation happens during her naps and walking meditation/prayer on our forest walks–me with the pup and with my older dog Willow. My on-going hope is to be more grateful for what is and fret less. The world is full of destruction and grief, so I will keep tending that, too, as I can.
You know, Elaine, I think there might be more spiritual gifts in a puppy than in quiet time. For you. I have never broken in a puppy except for playing with one outside on the farm. But I love that you took a “nutty” risk and followed your heart. You know how to quiet yourself internally, after many years of practice. The world keeps getting more destructive, even as we write these words. We must tend our gardens . Thank you for your blessings, and I return them to you!
Plus…Blessed and Peaceful New Year to you and your family. Eldering is so needed.
Shirley, I’m grateful today for Judith, who pointed me to your blog. Your word for the year strikes a chord with me – and, as a musician, resolution sometimes feels and sounds really good. And, at other times, unresolved chords need to leave the listener hanging. Over the last few years, I have also chosen a word on which to meditate, reflect and ponder. This year, I chose the word ‘resolve,’ I resolve to: increase compassion capacity for those without financial resources, take more time in the woods and take time with family.
Les, I just love this reminder from the music world that the word “resolve” means to find harmony after dissonance. It reminded me of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”
“Well I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
Well it goes like this:
The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah
Your resolves are beautiful. Blessings in the new year. We can salute each other with the word, “resolve,” next time we are together.