For a couple years now, I've been choosing a word of the year. I usually take a day off, most often the 31st, to reflect on the year that's coming to an end and think about what I want to see come to fruition in the next one.
2020 has been different though. Work, life, protests, politics, a global pandemic and a general urge to see a dreadful year come to an end did not induce the peace and quiet I usually long for at the end of December. But, somehow, a word still came to me when I tried to imagine what I would want 2021 to look like.
I started choosing themes for the new year in 2016.
My theme for 2017 was ROUTINE. I had been living in Portland for a couple months and needed to find my rhythm, balancing many freelance projects and working from home.
My theme for 2018 was LEARN. I had identified a number of stumbling blocks while building a routine and wanted to make sure I was self-sufficient while also reaching out to others to learn from them in areas that were not necessarily useful but would also spark my creativity.
I did not chose a word for 2019... but I think my theme could have been LET IT GO. It is pretty crazy how many times I've said this to myself (and to other people) and I have to say that it has really helped me embrace the ebb and flow of life.
My theme for 2020 was GROUNDED. I had spent the previous year between 2 continents, 2 homes, 2 families and felt a strong need to settle down. Although I knew this was not likely to happen I still wanted to feel supported, like I belonged somewhere and was in the process of growing.
For 2021, my word is PREPARE.
After months of coping and being in emergency mode, I want to take the time to take a step back and reassess basic aspects of my life.
I would have imagined that I would have longed for more whimsy and lightness after a year of basically trying to survive and was surprised that I channeled such a pedestrian theme.
But I also know that I cannot function unless I know that my basic needs are met.
So how does the my word translate into action?
Here are a some of the ways I imagine being prepared:
I've written a list of all the things I want to learn to achieve and learn this year and divided them into 3 categories:
I will then choose from that list according to the time of the year. I really want to keep the idea I had in 2020 to feel GROUNDED and respect the rhythms of the seasons. This will naturally translate into cooking what's in season, canning at the end of the summer, signing up for avalanche training in the winter.
Here's a non exhaustive list of recipes and skills I'd love to try and acquire in the cooking department: tomato sauce, pizza dough, chai mix, jam, preserves, pickles, vegan cheese, fire cider, apple cider vinegar, taffee, vegan burger, ginger beer, syrups, scones, kimchi.
For my home, I'd love to try new DIYs. I stockpiled supplies during the pandemic which means I have my work cut out for me. I really want to make soap and lip balm, learn how to properly sharpen knives, carve wood, paint with natural and foraged pigments, maybe even plant an herb and a dye garden. Will I finally have the patience to learn (again) how to knit and crochet? Also, I'd love to put into practice the skills I acquired during a basket weaving class a couple year ago...
And lastly, I'd like to brush up on basic survival skills, because I'm spending a lot of time in the wild now that I live in the woods, so building a fire, first-aid and avalanche training are on my to-do list.
And as for my day to day life, I just want to be and feel prepared, whether it's having a backpack that's always ready for adventures or making sure that I pay off my credit card on time.
I'm sure more ideas and "resolutions" will come up as the year unfolds, but I'm already feeling excited for what's to come.
As shown by the theme I had chosen in 2018, I do love learning from other people, taking classes and attending workshops. But our new reality will prevent me from making new friends in real life in my new hometown.
But I'm lucky to have a dear and wonderful friend who has agreed to indulge me and meet up via Facetime once a week(-ish) to learn new tricks. So far I've tried to teach her how to make natural laundry detergent and she's taught me how to make ghee, fire cider and fudge. We keep a shared Google Doc and add recipes and DIYs we want to try as we find them!
So this is my intention for 2021. I hope you'll follow me on this journey and share your own "words of the year" with me along the way.
Now, it's your turn, if you had to choose one word, or a short phrase, to sum up what you want to focus on in the new year, what would it be?