I haven't blogged much in the past year, despite the fact I'm retired now and should have more time for writing. I'd like to think 2020 will be different but, honestly, I'm doubtful it will.
Still, I've decided to try writing something to kick the year off. After all, I used to enjoy blogging and it's a good way to exercise my writing muscles.
Over the past couple of weeks, I've spent a lot of time thinking about what I've been up to since I retired the end of January. In some ways, retirement's exactly what I expected. My retired friends told me I'd feel a bit lost and confused for a few months at least, and that's certainly been true.
It's also true that I've been far busier than I expected. I've picked up a larger share of household tasks, spent more time with the dog, completed a couple of short consulting gigs, tackled some long-postponed projects (such as sorting photos and other memorabilia, started a couple of new ones (including the Nanny Project), joined a local choir and a photography club, began swimming again, read a bunch of books, and volunteered time to work on environmental justice projects - all things I hoped to do when I retired from working full-time.
But there are a few things I really wanted to do that just haven't happened - for example, running and blogging regularly, editing the novels I drafted a few years back, playing my guitar, knitting, quilting and getting back in shape.
Running has been a challenge because my body got really cranky last winter and it's taken awhile to figure out what it needed to feel better. I haven't figured it out totally yet but regular chiropractic treatments, gentle yoga, and closer attention to my diet seems to help, so I'm hoping I'll feel up to running more regularly in the year ahead.
When I stopped to think about why I haven't written much, I was surprised to realize it wasn't that I had too little to write about, but rather that I had too much! I think about writing nearly every day and compose countless stories and articles in my head, but somehow I never get round to writing them down - mostly because I have no idea where to start.
There's another issue around writing for me these days, which is that many of the topics that interest me are damned depressing. I desperately want to participate in ongoing conversations about climate change, political populism, democracy, and inter-generational tensions, for example, but I'm only rarely able to summon the necessary emotional and psychological energy to do so.
So, then... where to go from here?
I'm not starting this new year feeling especially optimistic or upbeat. It's hard to feel good about the future with so much bad news coming out of Australia, the Middle East and elsewhere.
That said, I don't see much point in despair. It won't get us to be where we need to be to overcome the environmental and other challenges we face. As George Monbiot noted in a recent piece published in the Guardian, those already dealing with the impacts of climate change haven't the luxury of despair and soon we won't either. The same is true of cynicism.
Given all that, I've decided to adopt "lift" as my word for 2020. Lift as in "raise up", "brighten", "improve", "move to a higher/better place". My intention is to try lifting my own spirits and those of others so that we feel more hopeful about the future.
I'm still figuring out what I mean by that but I think it includes sharing good news about efforts underway to tackle climate change, being patient and supportive with those who are - consciously or unconsciously - dealing with their own environmental grief, finding things to celebrate amidst the deluge of bad news, taking and inspiring action, and filling my own cup so that I don't run out of energy before the job is done.
Here's a little doodle I made while meditating on the word "lift". I don't think it's finished yet, but it highlights many of the activities, interests and attitudes I intend to make a bigger part of my life in the coming year.