2017 Spinning The Plates

Well, I know it’s like… half way through January, but dang, how did that happen??? 2017, I mean, it’s like I looked up and the year was over, and the new one had begun. That isn’t meant to happen when you are trying to live a ‘slow’ life.

I’m about to head off camping for a week so thought I’d jot down a few musings for 2017. I’ve done the whole ‘choose a word’ thing for each new year for the past couple of years, but like past resolutions, the word was quickly forgotten. I can’t even remember my last year’s word, and given 2016 finished only two weeks ago, I’m thinking that the ‘word’ thing doesn’t work for me.

I know that that particular exercise is inspired by that lovely feeling of possibility that comes with the start of a new year, and I completely embrace those possibilities. There is something so wonderful and energising about possibilities.

But I want to start as I mean to go on.

And I want to mean it. 

I’ve found what most inspires me is hope. Which can include ambition, and professional goals. But I think there is so much more to life than this limited framework. For me, hope includes plans for travel; working towards more meaningful interactions: with my family, with my friends, with my clients and work peers, and within the community that I live in.

Those connections are so important. Call me a cynic, or perhaps a little bit jaded, but there seems to be a lot of grabbing going on, in insidious ways. People ‘reaching out’ with the sole intention of trying to sell you something, sign you up to something, to get you follow them to increase their stats or numbers…

This year, 2017, is about looking for hope, enjoying what I’ve created, hoping it continues, investing myself in projects, and people and family so all the beauty does continue.

Finding joy in the small things and continuing my slow journey is a central focus. I feel lucky to be able to say that mostly I’ve got the ‘work/life balance’ right in my life. That’s partly due to committing to a slower lifestyle; you actually need less when you live slowly and intentionally. I know. A revelation.

 I’m looking for things that are bigger than me. The world is shrinking into the tiny social media connections of Facebook and Instagram and I don’t want to shrink with it.

Last year, I was in a client meeting and a team member was introduced and one of her ‘achievements’ was growing her Instagram followers to over 50,000. This was one of the reasons for having her on board. I left that meeting feeling a little disillusioned.

I’d gone back to uni to do my Masters’ in Editing & Communications. During the time that I was studying I gave birth to two of my three children. Visited the Mother & Baby Sleep Unit with both of them, sold our house, bought another and moved across the other side of the city, and in my final semester of uni I joined the Marketing and Communications department of a top tier law firm. It was a struggle to say the least. To hear that someone was on board the project because they grew their Instagram followers to 50,000 left me wondering if I’d wasted my time, energy and money on study.

When I say that the world is shrinking into our social media connections, I fear for struggle and the pain and the energy that people put in to doing work that has depth and real meaning. When someone can appear with a large Instagram following and be hired on the strength of that… Social media is the way of the world, I get that, but I live in hope that there is movement beyond this flakey imaginary world. I know now that my MA could never be wasted, because it was so personally enriching. That’s what I’m coming back to. Enriching my life, my family’s life, my friends’ lives.

This is why I took the month of December off Facebook and I rediscovered life before social media. Time to read, watch great TV (although there was no Netflix back then!). Don’t get me wrong I’ve actually made some lovely friends online, through blogging, who I’ve never met in person but definitely have a connection with. So YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, they all have a place, but rightfully, they should only take up a small space in our lives.

On my month off I discovered an embroidery in a box that my mother-in-law gave me so many years ago, when we still lived in England – before we were married. I had done one corner and started the second, put it away and forgot it ever existed. I’ve come back to that, I’ve done a little bit more on it. I’m rusty, that’s for sure.

When I started I had my mother-in-law to defer to, but now we live on opposite sides of the planet. I had forgotten how to do a french knot. When I realised I couldn’t remember how to do this, she would have been asleep so I couldn’t even Skype to ask. Thank goodness for YouTube (see, not all bad!). I’m still rusty, but at least I know how to do it now.

These are the little things that I speak of. Having projects, making plans, investing in my lovely community and friends and family. Rumi offers advice for those who have lost hope in life:

“Look as long as you can at the friend that you love.”

Friendships can nourish us. Strong relationships can nourish us.

Retreat in equal measure is just as important, which I experienced with my Facebook break. But it is also part of a living a slow and intentional life. Retreat provides sustenance. I’m still learning how to spin all the plates and keep things ticking over, but setting out with the intention to go gently means I look forward to the new year, whatever it may hold, with a simple recipe up my sleeve.

Retreat, hope, love, kindness and repeat. Practise one at a time, or all together.

Do you have a plan for your 2017?

Comments

  1. says

    I too enjoy doing some of the things in life more slowly – planning out a menu and cooking in Sunday afternoons have moved from being a chore to a pleasure, walking down to the fruit and vege shop instead of buying everything from the supermarket, attending the local Sunday market, spending (not quite enough) time with my parents, starting projects even if they look really big. And yes, i also spend wasted hours on Facebook, but i am slowly culling the ‘like’ culture and just sticking with the real people i know, not getting into half-arsed political/philosophical/values discussions with trolls, and refraining from passing judgement on some of the really stupid things other people say! (I would never). So yes, there are loads of distractions – shiny things – in life, but true gold comes from the relationships we build, our sense of self-worth and living with integrity, whatever that looks like at any given time. So enjoy your ‘slow’ camping, while i work on my Blog pages – must look out my notes from that really good Blog tutor i had last year!

    • collette says

      The challenge will be in the follow through – it’s so easy to get caught up in all the things! But start as I mean to go on. xx

  2. Jo says

    Really enjoyed reading this Collette. I have found myself in a battle between the thought that I need to grow a social media following whilst at the same time completely happing and fulfilled by where my business and direction is at. I often remind myself that there are people living happy, joyful, enriching lives out there that don’t even have a Facebook account. It’s a way of thinking and just requires a change of thought. Would love to hear more about your slow living and different ways you do this. I think it is something I would like to embrace.
    Enjoying the camping. x

  3. rachelfaithcox says

    No plans for me yet. The year got started before I was ready and seems already to be up to full speed… only I am not! I intend to celebrate the New Year this weekend, reflect a bit, hope a bit, come up with some intentions beyond ‘not drowning’! I totally hear you about the size these digital platforms should assume in our lives. I wish I knew how to move forward without finding it all overwhelming. Retreat does sound good… I shall have to find my retreat in little pieces, gather them up and find repose in the collective moments! Happy New Year to you Collette, I hope that it will be very fulfilling for you, and selfishly, I hope you won’t leave us in the online world… I like your company!

    • collette says

      Thanks Rachel, I’m back on FB, but much more limited use. Retreat in little pieces is a good start, if that’s all you have room for now. Best wishes to you also. xx

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