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A lot of people I know choose a word or three words to use as a focus for their year ahead. Focus was the word I chose for myself in 2015 although I had to shift that focus a few times through that year. I didn’t choose a word in 2016, but instead made a promise to live “openly, authentically, and to the fullest” — and that promise persists.
So, for 2017, one word or three? I do love triumvirates but I think ultimately a single word serves as a better focus. I threw around about a dozen words — all good, some better, some that work best as part of a trio. Ultimately I decided on a single word with a double meaning: complete.
I chose complete because there are some projects I want to see finished this year, including: getting Undead revised and to a publisher; seeing the successful opening of the Victoria Tool Library; and getting across the finish line for a collaborative haiku project I started last summer. In both short and long term, I really enjoy crossing things off lists. I use a kids’ IKEA easel as my visual reminder board and bought a refill roll of paper last time I was in Vancouver. I will post a daily and weekly checklist somewhere obvious in addition to the big ongoing list. Every evening I can ask myself, “what did I complete today?” and each month I will ask myself what I completed in the previous month. This means I will have to focus and be organized, but I can look ahead to the relief I will feel as each of these projects crosses a finish line.
The other meaning of complete is to make whole, so that’s appropriate. Basically an extension of last year’s promise about how to live my life, being my whole self: imperfections, quirks, and all!
What do you think? Do you have a word or words of the year?
There are a lot of complaints about the lack of diversity in film. In part, this is because there is a cycle of creation and consumption and, basically, we need to be putting our money where our mouth is — if we demand these films, then we need to support them. So this year, I am going to make an effort to see 52 movies by women — an average of one a week. I doubt there will be that many in theatres (though I will keep my eye out for them) so I am planning some back-catalog viewing.
In Canada, we measure the “Canadian Content” (eg CanCon) of music through the MAPL system (Music Artist Performance and Lyrics) whereby a song must qualify under two or more headings to be deemed CanCon. I wanted to do the same for “movies by women” and I initially came up with four key roles of Director, Editor, Writer, and Director of Photography (or Cinematographer) which spells DEWD, which made me giggle. I considered Producer but I’m not sure that role always has a notable impact on the tone of the finished project (just the overall quality by making sure there is enough money to finish it) and in the end it is that different tone or voice that I am seeking.
When I put it out on FB, I got a flurry of recommendations from the Hurt Locker to Sita Sings the Blues. I decided to start a spreadsheet so I can track potential films and note when I watch them; I also made it sharable so that you can leave comments!
Thanks to my friend Janis, I learned of the Canadian Women Film Directors Database (created by a librarian at the University of Toronto — thank you, Margaret Fulford!) which will, doubtless come in handy. I also found the following list of Essential Films By Women to mine for ideas — though in both cases I am facing a fair number of subtitled films.
Of course I also read a fair bit; I’ve revised my goal for 2017 back to 36 books (I managed 35 this year; my goal of 40 was out of reach) and I am going to try for at least 18 books by women authors. I’m also going to be looking for books that feature diverse characters — race, religion, gender, orientation — because it is important to not only consume these stories but also share them. Glancing at my bookshelves I know it is an achievable goal — I pulled off an even dozen in a rough first pass:
Let me know, though, if there is a book you think I really need to read that falls into one of these categories!
My biggest take-away from Carl Sagan’s Cosmos all those years ago was just how brief human existence really is.
My life thus far has included some great years and some shitty years and as much as 2016 has included some big downer moments on the global stage (yes, I am casting a stink-eye at the outcome of the US election), it has also been a really great year for me personally and seems to be continuing on an upward trend.
Seeing Kiddo grow and mature fills me with pride and joy so often. Going “back to school” and taking a course was frustrating but ultimately gratifying. Getting the Victoria Tool Library ever-closer to opening has been satisfying. Watching my best friend find a new love at the close of the year has been surprisingly touching and heartwarming.Speaking of love… these days, I feel ridiculously loved.
I am surrounded by people who push me forward, not down; who lift my spirits, and make me feel worthy and valued. I have amazing partners and my friend circles continue to expand and overlap as I open myself to new connections. This has happened through a conscious effort on my own part to not be a jerk.
In the past I spent time and energy defaulting to “no,” being negative, condescending, exclusionary, petty, impatient, combative, and so on. In short, completely toxic. I am embarrassed by the prejudices I once held about so many people for so many (stupid) reasons. Shedding those shitty classist and elitist attitudes has brought into my life some of the kindest, most giving people I’ve ever known.
Some of those toxic behaviors and shitty attitudes still bubble to the surface when I am stressed out and I am thankful to have people around me who will call me on it when they see it. I’m also happy that I can often recognize when I am being a dick and can own it now, and apologize, rather than let things fester.
I’m not so focused on Year of Yes anymore — defaulting to “yes” has just become part of me (which I think is kind of the point of a Year of Yes anyhow). I am showing more love to more people and just being positive in as many ways as possible. Gratitude is also a big shift for me, and patience — which is a work in progress (and progressing slower when I am behind the wheel).
I have also been giving more — charity, volunteerism, paying it forward — and finding that the world is just so much better this way. And I am not even criticizing myself for taking so long to get to this point, just thankful I am here now.
So, despite an ever-depressing news cycle, I’m not “happy to see the end” of 2016 because life is, ultimately, short. By my math I am statistically past my half-way mark although none of us ever knows for sure how many more circles around the sun we each have. However, at this point, I am in full-on carpe diem mode, living as fully and boldly and happily as I possibly can.Thank you for being part of my life.
Twas the night before Christmas in my little flat
That I share with my kid and a wee skittish cat
I purchased new stockings and put up a tree
But decor’s at a minimum this year for me
It still doesn’t feel like it’s Christmas just yet
This year’s been like Jell-o that didn’t quite set
My schedule so busy time dragged as it flew
And now it’s December, the year’s almost through.
But rather than panic, I shrugged and moved on
I’m visiting family and friends ‘fore they’re gone
With laughter and love there is not much more needed
The joy of the season cannot be exceeded
It’s chilly outside but it’s warmer in here
And it’s harder to notice while drinking this beer
There’s a full week to come of this holiday fun
Christmas Eve is the start New Year’s day we’ll be done
Now I’ve gone off the rails with this holiday rhyme
It’s already Christmas I’ve gone overtime
I’m sure I had more witty things left to say
But I’m betting you’d like to get on with your day
Now EGGNOG, now FRUITCAKE, now SHORTBREAD and COFFEE
On BACON, on STUFFING, on TURKEY and GRAVY!
Get into our bellies, get in there right now!
We need a food coma from rich Christmas chow.
And after it’s settled, and everyone’s fed,
We can all get some rest curled up in our beds
I hope you all know that you’re loved through the year
But for now I am wishing you seasonal cheer!