Late in 2020, when we were staying home because Covid was infecting and killing us at a staggering rate, I chose the word Radical to guide me in 2021. I knew that it was going to be a radical year for everyone without even trying, but I also recognized an opportunity to push myself, and explore actions and feelings that scared me. I dug up definitions, mapped out my feelings quadrant, and then didn’t set aside much time for working on my word throughout the year. But somehow it still worked for me. #iykyk
In no particular order, here is a list of some of the Radical actions I took in 2021:
- Epilepsy diagnosis
- Made some friends on the Bus
- Visited my Pa in his long-term care home
- Stared therapy
- Met Amy from IG in real life, and Tabitha from IG in Zoom-life
- Events through NLL Community (National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Full Moon Picnic, Holiday Lights meetup)
- I got back into scrapbooking, and started a daily creative habit
- Attended a weekend online conference
- More working out and taking better care of my body
- Completed 9 out of 12 home projects
- Celebrated my 41st birthday with a party at Elk Island Park
- Ended Art Night
- Climbed a few mountains
- Volunteered for a political campaign
- Had an amazing summer and documented it in a great scrapbook
- Tracked my grocery spending every month
- Practiced resting
- I had tough conversations and I asked for help
- I understand myself a little better
- I have been using my voice more
- Called out my racist uncle
DOCUMENTING MY WORD WORK
As a companion for my word work, I like to build a special scrapbook album. This year I picked out a precious vintage ledger book, and I am sad to write that this documentation did not go as planned. And as I build my 2022 book, I have been thinking about why so I can make different decisions and find more success with the documentation aspect of my word in the future.
- Too much writing and photos. The amount of writing (journaling) and photos I expected was difficult for me to keep up with. So once I fell behind for a month or two, I was never able to catch up. It made documenting feel like a chore.
- Black pages. I front loaded the book with a bunch of blank pages with no firm plan for content and I never came back to them. And then I ran out of space later in the book.
- Formula. I needed a formula or a theme to follow and replicate. It’s not boring, it’s soothing and it would have made each page much easier to follow through on.
- Time. I never dedicated time to work on it, to make it a habit and an intricate part of how I was exploring my word. Stacking it with other creative work would have been ideal, and this lesson has already come into play for 2022.
Radical was a completely appropriate work for 2021 and for me. I know I could have explored it more thoroughly, and a lot of that is reflected in my scrapbook. But that book is still filled with significant memories and growth moments despite my less than best efforts. I also fully comprehend that simply staying afloat in this pandemic is a huge victory. Even the little things start feeling radical when you consider the terrifying state of our world, the ineptitude of our neoliberal governments, and the collective grief experience that we are grappling with on a daily basis. As of the first draft of this post, I hadn’t found my 2022 word but I know that Radical will continue to be present in one of my feelings goals/quadrants (or map as I am calling it now).
This exercise of discovering a guiding word, exploring its meaning and building a feelings quadrant is integral to me in this time of my life. Even if I half-ass it, I always learn something about myself. I don’t use it as growth for growth’s sake, or to increase my productivity as a human being or any of that capitalist self-help nonsense. But I have successfully used the growth inherent in self exploration to pursue my life’s purpose and fuel my goals. Radical means root, and these roots make a strong foundation for life.