January: Reflecting on CULTIVATE

As mentioned in our respective 2019 introductory posts, Sis and I will be focusing on different verbs each month, each with a focus on exploring our individual One Words for the year.

For Steph, January is SCRIBBLE (coming soon!)
For me, January is CULTIVATE.

cul-ti-vate (v): to acquire or develop a quality, sentiment, or skill; try to win the friendship or favor of someone; apply oneself to improving or developing one’s mind or manners.

During mine and Josh’s end of year trip to the beach, I devoured Gretchen Rubin’s modern classic The Happiness Project. I’ve read it a few times now and each time I find myself incredibly motivated by her endeavor. Gretchen has become increasingly interested in what drives our habits – how do we create them? How do we improve them? What do they say about us personally?

While we fully randomize our annual VOW list, I was thrilled when CULTIVATE appeared as my first for the year. With the fresh start, I decided to focus on strengthening the routines in my life, which need to be strong during a year which revolves around INCUBATION. To successfully create and quietly build myself up, I want to ensure the foundation is sturdy.

Mostly, this surrounds religiously updating my planner and various habit trackers. I placed reminders to floss, sneak in a quickie ab workout, and times to meditation during my workday. I was diligent about writing in my 5 Year One Line journal Sister gifted me for Xmas. I readjusted my monthly budgets and researched some unique professional development opportunities.

I met Sister’s fella, a relationship I look forward to CULTIVATING deeper in the coming years.

I presented at a regional conference and was chosen to present at another out of state. Despite all my belly-aching about my job, I know that getting my face in front of colleagues has the potential to catapult my career. I also planted the seeds for the inevitable transition to Savannah.

And even though I completed it several weeks late, I made my very first vision board to help me harness all the feelings I seek this year. A confident sexiness, a friendly authority, a fierce dissention, a chasmic love, a jubilant freedom, a quiet creativity, a vulnerable introspection, a restorative ritual. Because I was so delayed completing it, I nearly skipped the entire thing. But I reminded myself this perfectionistic impulse would serve me no better than simply missing a self-imposed deadline.

And frankly, it wound up being my favorite thing of the whole month:


In February, I will ENSHROUD while Steph CATALOGS.

2019: WRITE What Happened. (#VOWrecord)

My grandpa used to write things down. Every night. In this daily planner of sorts. It had a faux leather cover. The year was in gold. On the front. Near a corner. He sat in that rust red chair a lot of nights writing in it. I don’t think I ever dared to open one. Though I’ve always been curious. I hope they are in a box somewhere. I should ask my grandma.

My grandma…I keep thinking about her. That I don’t call enough. That when I do, it is always hard to talk like we used to. I know she is tired. She always has one eye on my grandpa, making sure he is okay. I feel guilty too…for not being there. I don’t want her to be reminded that I am not. To be in pain. But I have so many things to tell her. She used to be my best friend. I stopped treating her like that when their life changed. I didn’t want to be a burden. I wonder if I inadvertently was anyway. I have things to ask her too. I’m going to try letters.

I want to pass things on. The things I want to know from her…I want to give those to someone one day. I want to be able to recall when I remember, even if I need some help to do it. I want to have a way to check back in. With myself.

I want to write what happened.

In as many ways and formats as I can.

So, in 2019, I am RECORDing.

Pomodoro Prompt: Reflecting on INFORM, LISTEN, & NARROW in 10 Minutes.

I’m months behind on posts.

I had intentions to post. I even had ideas about what I wanted to post.
But I left things unwritten.

It felt daunting.

I should have set myself a timer and wrote a damn post.
Should have just gotten it done.

I’m doing it this year.
My 30th year.
If something takes less than a minute, do it right then.
If something seems daunting, set a ten-minute timer and make as much progress as you can.

So here is ten minutes.
On INFORM (November 2018).
LISTEN (2018).
NARROW (2018 One-Word).

I started listening to Up First, the NPR podcast. I started it, because one of my yoga teachers mentioned in her Instagram story that it is part of her morning routine. I realized I had been slacking as a citizen, despite my service as a public servant. I wasn’t staying current (with good reason sometimes).

I set a goal to do a sun salutation every day. I didn’t succeed, but I did a lot more than I would have otherwise. I realized that I like sun salutations. That they can seem like a gratitude prayer.

I just strung together that the same yoga teacher mentioned that to me. Worth noting.

I took in information. Some of it just through observing myself. Noting a lot of what makes me not feel so good and when and why I don’t—be it physically, emotionally, or just authentically.

I picked up patterns. What happens. When I don’t exercise. When we don’t touch.

I learned a lot this year that I didn’t know I needed to learn.

Things were taken away. I realize I like less.
That I can still do without more.

I figured out what I don’t want to do with my life—another thing anyway.

I learned who I want by my side.
Who it is okay to let watch from the sidelines.

Here’s to 2019.
To RECORDing what happened.
Because we should write that shit down.

#Incubate2019

My 2018 word was chosen during a tarot reading; I was told my 32nd year would bring for many opportunities for EXPANSION.

This year, INCUBATE similarly revealed itself. Frankly, I was thisclose to selecting Sister’s word (RECORD). I used to be an avid journaler but since moving to Birmingham, I’d fallen out of the habit. This blog, while an activity I love, was often pushed aside while more “pressing” requirements fought for my time. (Rule of Adulthood that always brought me back to posting — make the time and do just a little).

Finals were stressful and I had less time to devote towards reflecting on the past year. It’s my favorite thing to do. When Spotify unveils its Top 100 Songs playlist I feel the buzz of excitement for a new year. The fresh tracks you get to lay. The unknown promise of what is to come. 2019 might be a festering dumpster fire of a year for all I know, but there’s just something about the anticipation of the unknown. The passing of phases. The chance to look back and detect how things have changed since last time.

Goddamn, I love this time of year.

Chani Nicholas is an astrologer I came to about two years ago; her new moon horoscopes and rituals have become an essential expense item in my monthly budget. She, along with Susan Miller, another astro giant, discussed Jupiter’s arrival into my 12th house and the opportunity the benefic planet provides to the deepest layers of my psyche. It’s a time to unravel old knots, to heal ancient wounds, to cocoon before 2020 which is destined to be a great year for me.

It was a passing sentence during Chani’s New Moon in Scorpio session that planted the idea. Jupiter transitioned into Sagittarius in November (then retrograded out, and just re-entered). She said the aspect created an incubation period with the gift of making deep wounds heal and mark a moment of turning inward before big things start to happen.

It all makes sense for the trajectory my life is currently taking. I didn’t get the promotion at work I earned. It was a disappointment and frustration but one I also sort of saw coming. Completing my Master’s creates a sort of purgatory where I need to stay in my job until graduation (pretty much nothing would get in the way of free tuition). With degree in hand, a whole world of opportunity opens up. I hope a path will reveal itself clearly in the coming year (professionally, personally, creatively).

Sister and I are doing VOWs a little differently (again). We both agreed on wanting to focus more on our OneWords for the year. So rather than do random monthly verbs, we each have chosen synonyms for our words. Ergo, in 2019 I will be posting on the following:

January: CULTIVATE

February: ENSHROUD

March: NURTURE

April: PLANT

May: MARINATE

June: PREPARE

July: ENCOURAGE

August: MANIFEST

September: FOSTER

October: NOURISH

November: DEVISE

December: SCHEME

When Sister asked what I hoped to gain from my INCUBATION, I shared my focus was doing behind-the-scenes preparation. Not needing a gold star at work. Not chasing a big dream. Keeping my head down, focusing on the seeds that need to be planted so I can reap the benefits in coming seasons. To poke around the soft spots of my heart and give them proper care so I can make space for more goodness to come my way. To purge what no longer serves.