Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year's Day: Looking forward and back

Somehow another year has gone and I find myself sitting by the fire reviewing the past year and looking to the year ahead.  As some of you may remember, my word for 2013 was "create" and my resolutions for the year focused on "creating a more creative life" - one filled with new experiences, new challenges and new people.

Looking back, I'm reasonably pleased with what I managed to accomplish - though a bit dismayed by how little progress I made in some areas.

The year had many high points, including a long weekend in Prince Edward Island in March, three weeks in Malta and France in June, lots of company through the summer months, and a long weekend in Newfoundland in October. Running achievements included:
I didn't manage a PB in any of these races but that wasn't the point. Given that I participated in so many, my goal was simply to finish them "upright and smiling", as they say.

One of the things I set as a goal this year was to become more fearless by doing things that scared me. To that end, I spent as much time as possible riding my motorcycle, tackled Cape to Cabot, and generated two new projects at work that forced me outside my comfort zone. I can't say that I always enjoyed the experience but it certainly made me less fearful.

I also managed to spend more time on creative activities in 2013. I spent hundreds of hours taking and editing photographs, drafted a second novel in November, and completed a Christmas quilting project.

Finally, I put lots of time and energy into engaging with other people - former classmates, family, colleagues, neighbours, fellow runners and photographers - which, though often challenging (given my introverted nature), was definitely worth the effort.

In terms of disappointments, the three things that stand out are that I didn't reduce my consumption of alcohol much or read many more books, and haven't done as much as I'd like to take my day job in new directions. Hopefully, I'll make some progress on the first item in the coming year given that Husband and I are "on the wagon" for January. (I should add that in fact I don't drink all that much compared to most people - just a little more than is good for me.) My reading habits improved toward the end of 2013 so I'll try to continue that trend into 2014. On the work front, change may be forced upon me by an organizational review now underway so I'll have to wait and assess the situation oncefinal decisions are made. In the meantime, I'm determined to be positive and open-minded about whatever happens.

All in all, then, not a bad year but I find myself at the starting line for 2014 feeling a bit lost and confused. Where should I go from here? What would help me get out of bed feeling happy and excited about the day ahead ahead?  I've been saying I'm going to run less in 2014 in order to make time for other activities but what do I mean by that?

I realized over the past few weeks that running less than 3 or 4 times a week isn't really an option. I can shorten long runs on weekends and perhaps reschedule work day runs but I can't run less frequently and still be happy. Running is my refuge and inspiration. I need to run - in the same way, I need to sleep and eat. It's non-negotiable.

How then to make time for other things? Better planning might help. Husband suggested I schedule creative time so it doesn't get squeezed out by more mundane activities. I may also need to create a separate work space for myself with better lighting. It's hard to focus on reading or creative activities when I'm constantly interrupted by Husband and the cats, and my eyes are almost useless in low light. Most importantly, I'll need to spend less time on the internet. Much as I enjoy Facebook and other social media, I waste an extraordinary amount of time on them every day and that has to change if I'm going to have time for everything else I want to do.

None of which gets me any closer to picking a word for 2014. I thought it might be "consistency" but that doesn't have much of a ring to it. I also thought about "service" since I'd like to spend more time contributing to the well-being of others in 2014. Maybe "explore" is the way to go. I'd certainly like to do more exploration of my creative side, as well as new professional and volunteer opportunities. And I'd be interested in knowing what my true limits are in terms of time and energy. My sense is I could accomplish more if only I shifted the balance so I was doing more of the things that energize and inspire me.

Given that I feel so unsure of where I want to go from here, perhaps "explore" is the right word for me this year but, at the risk of jinxing it, I think I'll take another night to mull it over. The words I chose the last two years played a powerful role in keeping me on track and I'd like whatever word I choose for 2014 to do the same.

Until tomorrow, here are a few pictures from my walks and runs over the past couple of weeks. Husband and I spent Christmas in Ottawa this year. However, the day before we left, I managed to squeeze in a terrific long run that started at the Halifax Farmer's Market and took me through Point Pleasant Park en route back to Dartmouth. It was mild and foggy which made for treacherous footing at times but also provided some lovely scenes to photograph.

A deserted walkway in the Public Gardens
The old MacDonald Bridge to Dartmouth
We arrived in Ottawa to much colder weather and were caretakers of a lovely English sheep dog for a couple of days. Willow was an extraordinarily good companion - easy going, obedient, energetic and fun. The best part was that she loved the snowy, cold weather. Here are a few pics of our walks along the river.

Once Willow had gone to her grandmother's for Christmas, I had more freedom to run and take photos. Though the weather was quite cold for much of the time we were in Ottawa, I loved being able to run through the New Edinburgh neighbourhood where we stayed - particularly on those days when we had lots of fresh snow and sunshine.

Entrance to Rideau Hall
The gates at 24 Sussex Drive
A view of Parliament Hill from the grounds of Rideau Hall

Old City Hall, Ottawa
Oops. 10:30. It's time I headed off to sleep. Husband and I are planning an early morning run tomorrow so I need to tuck in early.

If you have any thoughts on what my word should be for 2014, I'd love to hear them. I'll try to post an update re what I decide sometime in the next couple of days.

Happy running and writing, friends. And Happy New Year!!


  1. A single word to capture the spirit of a new year? A lofty goal, but could it be too confining? Or so broad as to become meaningless? Since it's all in fun, mine could be "purity": of intentions, of effort, of emotions, of relationships. I like its nobility and its aspirational quality, it exhorts us to seek the essence of creation and experience, and brush aside all else that's not important.

    1. Love it, Maurizio. Your word does exactly what it a good word of the year should do - focus and inspire! Thanks for reading and providing your thoughts!

  2. I don't see Stephen Harper standing there to invite you in for a coffee. That's too bad. Very nice photos! Were you carrying around a big camera? I've been musing about that, wondering how much better the photos would be with a "real" camera.
    I've been musing about the time on FB, Twitter, and such. I don't think it's a waste, or doesn't have to be a waste. Even an electronic connection to people is better than no connection. But like so much else, I guess it depends on exactly how you use it. Like some runs are serious training runs, and some are 'junk' miles. I"ve found the only thing that's always good is cat cuddling.

    1. Nope. Don't expect I'll ever make it on to Harper's guest list. Oh, well...

      Thanks for the kudos on the photos. In fact, all these were taken with my BB. I still don't like it but I am getting a bit more adept at using it. I only got to use my proper camera to take indoor photos while we were in Ottawa.

      You're right about social media. How one uses it does matter, and I do my best to use it mindfully. Nevertheless, I too often find myself reading stuff that doesn't really interest me just because it's there. A certain amount of that is okay but...

      You're also completely right about cat cuddling. As I was giving Nemmie her morning snuggles today, I said something very much the same to Luke. She never tires of being petted and somehow it always seems like the very best use of my time.

      Thanks for taking time to read and comment on all this! And best wishes for a bright and happy New Year!

  3. Happy New Year, Janice! Fabulous photos - I love the one with the bridge disappearing into the fog :)

    Good luck discovering your word - given some meditation, it will come to you. Read a fabulous blog post today about one woman waiting for her word - she truly believed that if she were quiet and contemplative, it would eventually whisper in her ear.

    I love the idea of scheduling creative time - Me Time - but since I am trying very hard this year to NOT schedule/over-organize, I can't go there. But you can! And perhaps that time will be what inspires you every morning to dace the day - the excitement of that time which will allow you to explore your creative side.

    Looking forward to hearing your word!

    1. Thanks, Janet. That photos my favourite too ... though I also like the ones of old city hall in Ottawa.

      Good idea to meditate on this. It's also been really helpful having other people's input. Apparently, my friends think a little more self-care is in order so I'll be sure to remember that as plans for 2014 develop. :-)

      Thanks, BTW, for all you've done to encourage me to explore my creativity in the past couple of years. Come to think of it, maybe social media isn't such a bad thing. If I didn't blog, I'd never have met you!

      Happy New Year, my friend. My wish for you is that 2013 is full of the "presence" you desire. :-)

    2. Perhaps your word is MEDITATE - 'to think deeply or focus one's mind for a period of time' & 'to intend'!

      And I agree - every time I think of hanging up the blogging 'pen', I think of all those, including you, I've met through my blog!