How did your first month of New Year's Resolutions go? Mine were spotty, which was expected, and some of them I know will be works-in-progress. I don't know about you, but I have some resolves that I've made for ten, twenty, thirty years in a row and they're still ongoing.
Here's one I'd love some inspiration for: the small daily artistic practice. One time, for several months, I read Emily Dickinson every day and made a list of cool words from her poems. The next day I would write a poem using those words that had been swirling around in my head for twenty-four hours. The process was fast and I didn't allow myself to edit, scrutinize or critique; many of the poems were not great. I'm still revising and culling from that manuscript of poems, but it gave me a lot of material and it was very calming to have a discrete task I knew I could finish every day. And then that practice ran it's course and I couldn't do it any more.
During another period of time, I submitted poems to two journals a day. I did get a lot of publications from that period, but got very little writing done. Although the submission process didn't take long, I only have a sliver of time to write every day, so anything that takes away from actual writing needs to be really important. The jury is still out on how important publication is to me. Journal submission is a practice I'll probably revive soon, but I don't want to do it when I'm not writing much because it feels like I'm focusing on a poetry career, which is a ludicrous and disheartening endeavor, rather than focusing on writing poems, which is a ludicrous but heartening endeavor.
I'd love to hear about people's daily practices. I feel the need to change mine regularly because I get bored and distracted easily. I'm still working towards doing those ten sun salutations each day. What works for you?
So here's how the other resolves went:
1) Be more aware and observant. Be present with people and don't let what you think should be happening get in the way of what is. I don't know why this is so hard for me. I had some great moments during January trying to do this, especially during family dinner time, but overall, my tendency to drift away from the moment prevailed. Any tricks for this?
2) Go for a walk once a week. Yes, for three of the first five weeks. The most memorable walk was through the marshland by Utah lake with C. and my sister Hilary on a beautiful, sunny, bright white Sunday afternoon.
3) Formally express gratitude once a week. Did this once.
4) Read the New Testament. Sort of started. . . .
5) Finish libretto started in 2010. Nope.
6) Limit screen time. Yes! This has been fantastic, though some screen time has been creeping back in for "homework." I've been making the rule that the kids can't watch t.v. or play on the computer during the week, and they've been much happier, more imaginative, and much more fun to be around. I need to deal with the "homework" thing. Sometimes they do need to do work online for school, and then the creep towards "educational games" sets in, and pretty soon they're playing Webkinz. Any suggestions?
7) In order to read more family novels. Momo and Cecy and I have almost finished The Tale of Despereaux and are about to start The Magician's Elephant. Thanks for that suggestion, Mark. I'll be working through the suggestions that other readers posted as well.
8) Go to Salt Lake once a month. The spirit and the letter of this law has been fulfilled. The letter because we took the kids to Hogle Zoo the last weekend of January. Hogle Zoo is in Salt Lake. So check off the "Go to SLC" goal.
It was freezing, so we were mostly in the extremely smelly indoor exhibits, but we saw so many active animals. It was one of the best zoo days ever in terms of animal sightings, especially the breathtaking tigers. The spirit of this law, however, was not to go to the zoo with the kids, but to get more challenging and inspiring artistic and cultural experiences in my life, as opposed to weekend after weekend of movies at the multiplex. On that front, we saw two screenings at the Sundance Film Festival, How to Die in Oregon and Kinyarwanda , and two screenings at International Cinema, Fados and Yi Yi. I especially loved Fados--the picture at the top of this post is a still from the film. So those film screenings were not actually in Salt Lake, but rather of Salt Lake, so I'm going to count Resolution Number 8 as one of the biggest successes of the year so far.
9) Work on duo with Christian. He's been mixing and editing our live Sonarchy show and it's sounding really good. We've been talking about new stuff to do, but talk is cheap. Need more doing. Fados gave me some ideas.
10) Small daily artistic practice. See above.
The yogis always say if a pose isn't working, change something small. I'm going to try to make little adjustments to my life throughout 2011 and see what happens.
Some of the most profound changes come from the suggestions and examples of the people around me, so in a formal expression of gratitude, thank you people who read this blog and who spend time with me in real life for your excellent spirits, lives, and work.