Used Ideas are Good Ideas

choose your own word
I like things that others have used – books, clothes & furniture, houses, paths, words, ideas. Last year I borrowed an idea from a friend and loved it so much I’m using it again. The idea is this: throughout the year write down  your celebrations, successes and happy moments on scraps of paper and place them in a jar. You may decorate the jar ( I did). On new year’s eve celebrate the year that was by reading aloud what’s written on each scrap. You may do this while drinking a bottle of bubbles (I did). Then burn the paper, thus making way for new riches in the year ahead. That’s it. So simple, so good. Here are some of my 2014 celebrations: Received bag of fresh, sweet home-grown peaches from a friend; took a voice class; did excellent job of chairing forum for Adelaide Writer’s Week; cried at Nick Cave concert; laughed at Miley Cyrus concert; signed up for yoga classes; Nonu (my dog) had his first play date at the beach … you get the idea.

 While it’s brilliant to revisit the year on n.y.e., don’t be fooled – there is something bigger at work in the execution of this little idea. Writing down moments throughout the year is powerful. It resulted in me being more mindful and grateful for the things, opportunities and people I encountered on a daily basis. I also noticed myself looking for the good stuff more frequently and that included trying to discover the silver linings in the not-so-good stuff. Once upon a time I thought that kind of sentiment was soppy, hippy shit but to be human is to change and, at 46, I’ve noticed a kind of looseness that’s crept into me, a softness towards myself and, ergo, the world. This is no small thing when your genetic heritage is fiery Irish and red-headed Welsh. I believe this change has come about because of the creative life I have chosen (or did it choose me?) and the people I’ve met (or did they meet me?) It could just be that I’m getting older and we naturally mellow with age but where’s the fun in believing that? And take a look around at some of the grumpy oldies who righteously lecture you about having control of your dog on the beach at all times, who get you so riled you have no option but to tell them to fuck off (ok, I’m not always compassionate & it took me a while to find the silver lining in that encounter).  

But seriously, don’t we have more control of our destinies than waiting around for our flesh to get saggy and wrinkled before we are able to show compassion towards ourselves & others?

So, I choose to believe that all of the creative pursuits that I’ve engaged in – writing, painting, craft, music, colouring in – have enabled me to seek answers to the questions ‘who are you and how do you want to live your life?’ I haven’t answered them fully but exploring has become a lot more fun and much more interesting post age 40.

If family history is anything to go by, then I’ve passed the half-way mark of years on this planet and that is humbling and has also helped me chill-the-fuck-out (minus beach encounters with grumpy oldies) while also imbuing me with a sense of urgency. Not the frantic ‘I’m so busy I don’t have time to scratch my arse’ kind of urgency but in an internal way. It’s a quiet urgency, an urge to go deeper.

And so, with the encouragement of my writing mentor, in 2014 I applied for and was accepted to a do a Master of Philosophy (Creative Writing) at Adelaide University. That was a super happy jar moment and one of the biggest achievements in my life so far (yes – simply applying was an enormous achievement, never mind how happy I’m going to be when I succeed in completing it!) It’s really something to be given the opportunity to go back to study after 23 years, which is how long ago I completed my undergraduate Bachelor of Arts degree. I am excited! Two years of reading and writing and thinking to look forward to and it all begins in earnest in March.

Before I disappear into the Australian summer of 2015 I want to float another used idea by you. I also borrowed this idea from a (different) friend & that is to choose a word for the year. I’ve been doing this for a number of years. In 2013 my word was ‘Flourish’ (which I did), and in 2014 it was ‘Faith’ (which I have developed, though not of the religious kind). This year I’m doing away with the F words, and have settled on ‘Play’. Play is important for everyone, for artists especially. Maybe I’ll bark at the grumpy oldies on the beach the next time I encounter them. Or toss them Nonu's red ball and yell ‘go fetch!’ Whatever. These words I choose (or do they choose me?) I like to apply them across every aspect of my life. They are personal. Only you can choose your word. It depends on what your focus is and what you want for yourself. My partner is choosing a word for the first time in 2015 and he picked ‘Expand’. I like that word, I can see that it really fits with him right now. I like to think of choosing a word as a new year’s resolution, one with a positive spin rather than being prohibitive. ‘Why so serious?’ I said as I walked along the beach. ‘Be more playful.’ ‘Okay,’ I replied and threw the red ball. ‘Go fetch.’

Happy New (on) Y(our) 

C x


Anonymous said…
Love this. Love play.

I was inspired to do a one word thing too after reading Maxabella's Hello 2015 post. She has an active link-up happening if you wanted to share this post there too, I think other people would enjoy reading it. :)

My post is here:

*cheat sheet if you don't feel like reading it, I chose the word 'gentle'.

I've also been thinking about getting my 12 year old to do the jar thing. He tends to focus on the negative things in life and I feel like it would be a good daily reminder for him to write something everyday and that he'd enjoy the keepsake at the end of the year.

Also yay on the Masters! I will be following to hear how it goes.

Caroline said…
Good to hear from you, Alysha!

Gentle. I like that very much. I hope 2015 will be much gentler on you. Sounds like many people could use a gentler year.

I also visited Maxabella Love and linked up my post, thank you for sending that my way. It feels good to be part of a bigger movement (could we call it a one word movement?)

Yes, the jar is treasured in our house and sits in the kitchen, visible and a constant reminder of all we have to be grateful for. Might I suggest once a week for a 12 yr old? Every day may become a little onerous. Gently does it :)

I look forward to hearing of your projects throughout the year.

C x
Maxabella said…
Thanks for linking up your rather FABULOUS word, Caroline. You are so right (write?) about the value of play for creativity. With your wonderful course starting this year, things are going to get busy, so your word will be a good reminder to stop and chill. Congratulations on being accepted! It's very inspiring. x

PS - just thought I'd share a link to another blogger who has chosen 'play' as her word: Alana is a fellow-wordsmith and a good egg.
Caroline said…
Hi Bron,

Good to hear from you - what a great idea to share other people's words on your pg, I love that. I've passed your Maxabella Loves blog onto a friend of mine who became parent to triplets a few months ago. Hectic! I think she could use some inspiration and your blog is certainly that. I've just joined your list so look forward to being more connected with your world. And thanks for the congrats. I am super excited about this new departure, well it's an extension of what I'm already doing, and it feels like it's going to be a rich and rewarding experience.

ps Thanks for the wofandword share, another wonderful woman doing good shit :)