One Word 2017: When The Words Don’t Seem Right, What Do You Do?

{ File this under: NEVER TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY }

me

 A FEW WEEKS AGO WHEN I began to think about what my One Word for this year would be I was sure it’d be SMART.  My egotistical little brain that craves attention told me that this word was a good one.  But after The Orange One made reference to Putin being smart I could not, in good conscience, use the now tainted word “smart” as my one word.

 THEN WHILE READING A CHRISTMAS GIFT, a wonderful book of essays called I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual by Luvvie Ajayi, the word BETTER seemed like it’d be my One Word.  But the more I thought about this word the less applicable it seemed to my overall mind-set right now.

It’s not that I don’t want to strive to be a better version of me, I do;  it’s just that I feel that “better” could be anxiety-producing for me, a reformed semi-perfectionist who has finally become comfortable with the concept of good enough.

 WELL, ON NEW YEAR’S EVE I still had not decided on a word for 2017.  In a last-ditch effort to discern what my One Word would be, I approached the problem in a less cerebral, more spiritual way.  That is, as I drifted off to sleep I intentionally put the question into my mind, so that when I awakened the next morning the first thing I thought about would be my answer.

And my spirit didn’t let me down.  No, thanks to it I had a word for 2017 that allows me to creatively incorporate the essence of smartness with the desire for betterment.  Yes, my whole being told me in no uncertain terms to: RELAX.

So I think I will.  😉

Question of the Day

DO YOU PICK ONE WORD TO BE YOUR THEME FOR EACH YEAR?  

If so, what’s this year’s word and how did you come by it?  

If not, what do you do instead? Resolutions? Goals? Nothing?

Well It Goes Like This, I Shredded My Past. Hallelujah!

dscn7915
Bifocal glasses, not mine, left on a picnic table in the park. Someone is not reading the fine print today.

• • •

SO LAST WEEK while stuck at home because of this, I decided to go through all the writing ditherage I’ve kept over the years.

Much of it was in boxes in the basement.

Lots of it was spiral notebooks from the late 90s to mid-2003 filled with my handwritten Morning Pages a la The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

I was diligent about my daily 3 page writing practice for a while there.

Just about all the notebooks contained a repetitive selection of whiny, self-absorbed, humdrum scribblings that suggest to me now I was stuck and unhappy during those years.

My inner muse had not caught my attention yet.  

• • •

AFTER SAVING THE few good or funny thoughts I’d captured years ago in these notebooks, I had an epiphany.  I thanked the writing practice for guiding me to today, then as a way of making my life lighter I shredded these notebooks.

Every last one of them gone.

Thus I’ve freed myself, literally and spiritually, from a bunch of heavy negativity that I’d been saving in boxes in the basement for over a decade.

I tell ‘ya, if you’re feeling burdened by life I recommend shredding outdated thoughts.  It may sound corny, but doing so has lifted a weight from me.  And I feel free to get on with that which needs to be written now.

Muse, lead the way.

• • •

The Iceberg Illusion: Reflections Upon The Occasion Of My Return To The Blogosphere

screen-shot-2016-07-12-at-8-59-46-am
{ source }

~ ~ ~ ~

WELL… I’m back.

August turned out to be every bit as hot and humid and hateful as I anticipated it would be.  Just a miserable excuse of a month during which I did not do much of anything except think about what I will be doing in the future.

Planning?  Or procrastinating?  You decide.

Whatevs.

Bottom line?  I’m here now with a renewed sense of purpose.

To wit, I’ve decided that blogging gives my weeks a bit of much-needed structure, provides me with a way to process the details of my life, and overall it’s fun.

Plus I’ve concluded that I’m doing something right and helpful here, considering how many people follow me and make the effort to comment.  Thank you.

So I’m going to keep on keeping a blog.

~ ~

BUT… I’ve also realized that writing a quirky personal blog, such as The Spectacled Bean, has morphed from a hobby into an unpaid part-time job that has a certain work-y-ness to it that you, my gentle readers, don’t see.

Rather like an iceberg.  Much going on below the water line to make this blog engrossing and twaddle-y, so to speak.

I’m not complaining, mind you.  Just explaining that if I disappear from the blogosphere from time-to-time, it’s not that I don’t love you all to pieces.  I do.

It’s just that I’m an introvert who occasionally doesn’t know what to say.  About anything.  Here.

Or in real life.

~ ~ ~ ~

Of Sloth And Grit: A Slacker Laments

Sloth is my favorite cardinal sin.

I’m a natural-born slacker, so maybe it’s unfair of me to choose sloth as my #1 deadly sin because it comes so easily to me, but it is the one I like the best.  It’s not that I dislike all the other cardinal sins, it’s just that I have a preference.

So imagine my disappointment when…

I’m reading one of my favorite websites, Smithsonian.com.  I see an article geared toward self-improvement, a subject that intrigues a lazybones such as myself.  The article is: If Grit Breeds Success, How Can I Get Grittier?

Reading this article I come upon a link to Angela Duckworth’s Grit Scale.  Following the link, I find and take a 10 question quiz.  My score, baffling and disheartening as it is, you can see in the image below.

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 6.45.07 AM

 This number does not please me.

Grit suggests spunk, courage, resolve.  It shows perseverance and a strength of character that a sloth-y person such as myself believes she does not have.

Then to find out that I’m grittier than 80% of American adults– well… I. am. bummed.

And it is on that point that I’m going to leave this topic today, my gentle readers.  Clearly I need to re-assess all that I think I know about myself, examine in-depth my heretofore hidden strength of grittiness, and set about figuring out what is my new favorite deadly sin.

Perhaps gluttony? Maybe envy? Suggestions anyone?!

A Look At Archetypes: Who Are Your Friends?

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 8.00.45 AM
Laverne & Shirley: Back in the day one friend was all you needed! { Source }

This is something fun to think about.

I was listening to Sorta Awesome, a podcast I enjoy.  The conversation topic of Episode 54 was how every woman needs a variety of friends in her life because each friend serves a different, but necessary, role in your life.

They were talking about archetypes, not specific names of people. This wasn’t gossip.

As the show went on I started thinking about who I need in my life. The women on the program believed they needed 10 friends, but I decided that at this point in my life I need 5 friends.

Call me a minimalist.  Or an introvert.

Below you’ll find my list of the five friends who I need to keep me grateful, connected, grounded, hopeful, and happy.

[A digression.  Yesterday in The Guardian I read an article: “Why don’t I have any friends?”

~ ~ ~ ~

The Biographer is the friend who knows all the nuances + details of your life, meaning that any problem you take to her needs no background story because she knows it, she knows you, and she knows what you need to do.

~ ~

The Oprah Fan is the friend who knows what’s on-trend, whether it be spiritual or sartorial, funny or frowned-upon, healthy or home-y, and she is willing to share her knowledge so you’ll be on-trend, too.

~ ~

The Loyal Opposition is the friend who, like you, pays attention to the events in the world, but often comes to a different conclusion about what’s going on and why it is happening.

~ ~

The Cheerleader is the friend who is on your side, without any need for you to explain or justify, in-depth, what you are up to;  she’s your own personal pep squad.

~ ~

The Snarkologist is the friend who makes me laugh out loud because she is unfiltered, truthful, and willing to skewer, in a most wonderful way, anything or anyone who deserves to be taken down a peg.

~ ~ ~ ~

How about you, my gentle readers?  Who are your friends?

March Is The Do-Over Month: Happy New Year 2.0

• I ALWAYS FEEL LIKE January and February are practice months.

It’s during these months that I flesh out how I’m going to do whatever lofty word I’ve chosen for my one word of the year [this year’s word here].  I make my mistakes in the cold of winter when no one will notice.

Or so I think.

THEN ON MARCH 1, which happens to be today, I start all over again, relying on the wisdom I’ve gained through fiddle-farting my days away failure, marching toward being a better bean.

If you know what I mean.

• THIS IS HOW MY wack-a-doodle mind works, so when I found the following simple Workplace Thinking Style Graph [details here] that leads me to believe I am not alone in the way I do things, I was thrilled.

Coolness.  I love straightforward explanations.

Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 7.34.32 AMACCORDING TO THIS CHART, I am an Optimizer.  That is because, no matter what I do, my focus is on process;  and, despite wanting to be less of a micro-manager, my orientation is on details.

This describes me perfectly.  [Read beginning of this post to confirm.]

So it is with this insight, as I move FORWARD into the rest of 2016, that I leave you, my gentle readers, today.  Later kids, I’ve got some New Years celebrating to do.  😉

If We Were Having Coffee On This December Morning…

THE SETTING:  

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 8.49.28 AM

We’d be sitting in my dining room, marveling about how warm December is this year, wearing clothes in colors & styles that scream early autumn more than almost Christmas. 

We’d be drinking oolong black tea, steeped in my blue teapot, served with milk and sugar, because while coffee is wonderful, occasionally everyone needs a cup of tea [and sympathy].

We’d be listening to an old Eric Clapton CD that I found in the glove box of Zen-Den’s SUV.  Why?  Because it’s Christmastime and Clapton is God. 😉

THE CONVERSATION:

 We’d be chatting… about how this week, for the first time, at Susie Lindau‘s urging I watched Elf.  Or more accurately, I watched the first half of Elf and decided that while the story is cute, there’s too much Will Ferrell in it for my taste.  It’s not for me, but all of you other wackos people enjoy it.  Please.

 We’d be sharing… our latest accomplishments.  I’d be saying that I’ve been sober for three months now.  Considering how I started down this road by accident, I’m finding the experience enlightening.  I’m not missing cocktails or wine AT ALL, although I wouldn’t mind a beer every so often.  And maybe a shot of bourbon once in a great while.  But overall I’ve come to realize that at this point in my life I don’t care about alcohol all that much.  Who knew?

 We’d be talking… about how Jon Stewart’s various appearances this week on late night TV [here and here] have brought attention to Congress’s indifference to extending the Zadroga Act, which, if reauthorized next week, will continue to give financial help to the 9/11 first responders.  I’d mention that given my druthers I’d vote for Stewart for president because… SMART + HONEST– not to mention looking good with that graying beard.  

 We’d be discussing… whether this year we’ll be making a list of specific New Year’s Resolutions OR if we’ll go with a more general one word approach to self-improvement.  Having tried both ways in the past, I’d tell you that, as an English major, my best successes have come from adopting one word as my theme for the year, thereby avoiding all ways to quantify my life– which for me only leads to defeat & despair.  Keep it simple, keep it going, I say.

THE CONCLUSION:

We’d finish driScreen Shot 2015-12-10 at 9.08.58 AMnking our tea, notice the time, and realize that we both needed to get to certain stores on the other side of town before noon.  So with a sigh that comes from being a responsible adult, we’d each get in our cars and go our own way.  

But before we parted we’d hug and thank each other for the best gift there is, the gift of sincere undivided attention & conversation.  Given to those people who make your heart happy and your life full.  Like friends, followers, family & fans.  In real life– and in the blogosphere, too.

• • •

Idea for this post came from Diana at Part-Time Monster.

• • •

[Make your own plaids, checks &/or stripes, in any color combination, like those featured above, by using Patternizer. It’s free. It’s fun.]