The self-imposed rigour of currency.
Well, the twelve days of Christmas are now over, and we are already more than a week into 2020. Following a conversation (and much thought) in the dying breaths of 2019, I have decided that my phrase for this fresh, new year is ‘Taking Stock’. I’ve been having quite the time recently, with the last eighteen months seeing all manner of changes, not to mention the background noise of a world on fire (sadly, even literally, as I type). It’s time for a change, and so I have gifted myself a year of Taking Stock.
More than ever before, I feel a shifting of approach and priorities this year. Things seem different. After a delightfully crazy 2019, filled with many visits to and from family and friends, we are taking our collective foot off the pedal this year and hunkering down at home for most of the year, with only a handful of trips planned.
Throughout January, I’ll be dusting off my Digital Footprint and tidying my internet presence, potentially archiving or shelving some projects which as recently as November were quite important to me. Footprints of a different type: we are committing to (at least) once a month going out on a big(ish) walk. We’re talking hot chocolate in flasks, here. A grand romp in The Great Outdoors. Later this year, late spring or early summer, we plan to undertake our first Family Munro (Euan has done many, many – but I haven’t done any yet, with a hike up Beinn Eighe (though not to one of the Munro summits) being the highest I’ve climbed in years (there was somewhere in the Lakes many moons ago, too, but I can’t even remember where that was)).
There are other minor ideas and notions for 2020, but the one concrete (granite? marble?) plan I have is to pass my driving test this year. Apart from ten hours of lessons about fifteen years ago, I have never really driven. Let’s see how this goes.
What and Where
Christmas was spent in Wick and New Year in Cumbria, with only an overnight stop at home in between. It was Auri’s first Christmas, and we had such a wonderful time, but we were under the weather the whole time which did have a bit of an effect in terms of energy levels. The only two trips out we had planned were a trip to the pub in the afternoon on Christmas Eve and a trip to see Star Wars. Both times, Auri was either unwell or unhappy, meaning I missed out. Naturally, hours later, she was chuckling and merry again. Still, we managed a visit to the local on Hogmanay, so that’s something. And the main events were spending time with family, so it is hard to begrudge missing out on the intended added bonuses. Ah, motherhood.
To round off the Under-The-Weather-Ness, my body has thrown all toys out the pram this week, and I’ve spent the last two days on antibiotics, laid up at home, and trying (mostly failing) to sleep it all off. Weekend plans have been cancelled, and I have accepted that, after one hell of a year, I just need to rest.
On the Bookshelf and In the Inkwell
In the past, I have set myself target after target in terms of what I want to write and what I want to achieve, and by when. This year, I’m hoping to spend a bit more time thinking about which project feels right at any given time. That’s not to say I will shelve something as soon as I hit a block, or as soon as another idea raises its head (they do, all the time): I just want to let my writing breathe a little. To persevere, yes, but also to introduce a bit more flexibility into proceedings, and see where it takes me.
In addition to this, I want to cut out some of those bad habits that we all accrue through sheer exhaustion. Over the last year, I have often found myself scrolling through Twitter or news sites for far longer than intended. It was so easy to pick up my smartphone, my fingers hovering over the apps before I even really properly registered what I was doing. And then, later, I would lament the fact I didn’t have the time to read properly: not just books, but the many interesting newsletters that I accumulate to read When I Have Time.
Since I joined Twitter, I have sent nearly 35k tweets. Even at a conservative estimate, that is over one million words. In and of itself, there’s nothing wrong with this. I enjoy Twitter, and have ‘met’ several really interesting individuals on the platform. But, recently, I have found myself wishing I could flesh out some of my thoughts and ideas a bit more, and start to write longer essays on a variety of subjects. The problem with Twitter, though, is that I have a tendency to throw these ideas out there, hoping to revisit them at some point, but never seem to get round to it.
So, I have shaken things up a bit. On my smartphone home-screen, where my Twitter app used to sit, I have added Evernote; and, whenever I think of something I want to throw out there into the void, I am instead making a note of my thoughts in my Evernote app and tagging them appropriately so I can revisit them when I have time to jot down a few more related thoughts. So far, this is working well; but we will see how it progresses throughout the year. As an addition to this, I have unsubscribed from several newsletters to try and manage my inbox better. I plan to keep this under review and subscribe or unsubscribe throughout the year as necessary.
What I found interesting when I was thinking about this, was that I realised that it was more important to me that I made a note of something – that I recorded it somehow – than I communicated it in real-time via social media. This might not seem like much, but it actually reshapes how I found myself thinking about records and written legacies, and even social media as a whole.
I have started to note some thoughts on all this. Here are some excerpts:
“For me, the realisation was that I wanted to create quality rather than maintain consistency. And to enable myself to do this, I need to free myself from the self-imposed rigour of currency.”
“I am intrigued by the psychology of why I like to announce what I’m doing, and what I plan to do. And why, now, it has suddenly stopped being so important.”
So: less Twitter, more Evernote. For now.
Here’s hoping that 2020 brings you much joy and delight, that sees you through the darker moments of the year. Fight for the world in which you believe we should live. Aim high, but cut yourself some slack if you fall short. We all do, at times. Don’t let a single disappointment derail everything: keep going.
And be honest with yourself about who you are and who you want to be. Personally, I suspect this year will be difficult for many people. The only way to thrive (and we should aim to thrive, not just survive) is to live as honestly as we can.
‘til next time,
11th January 2020
Croy, Highlands, Scotland