2016: Attention & Definition

photo by Stephanie Yu
Full disclosure: this picture of Jack is only here to draw people into reading this post. Photo by Stephanie Yu
The new year is here (and somehow we’re already nearly two weeks in) and I’m happy to report that with it I have resolutions I wish to share here on the blog. But first: creating resolutions (not to mention keeping them) has never really been my thing. This has likely been more out of laziness than some heroically intelligent critique upon the efficacy and/or relevancy of making New Year’s resolutions. The way I see it, the fact that I’ve taken the time to come up with these goals for 2016 is reason enough for mentioning them here. Here they are:

  1. blog weekly
  2. read 3-4 books a month
  3. limit myself to a maximum of 15 leisure minutes on my smartphone each day.

OK, maybe these seem ambitious. Or strange. The smartphone one is certainly strange. But I promise, they don’t come out of nowhere. How these goals came about stems from an activity that a group of friends and I have been participating in since 2012. The idea is to come to New Year’s eve having prayed, thought, and readied oneself to present two words to the group. The words are to be like signs or themes for the year to come. They ought to shape what one hopes the year will hold, and therefore lead the way into the new year.

Last year (2015), my words were Surrender and Peace. I’ll be sharing more about these words and how well they actually did shape my 2015 later. For this year, I shared that my words will be: Attention and Definition. And from these I’ve decided I’ll measure how well I’ve kept my words by assessing how well I’ve kept my goals.

So why Attention and Definition?

Attention. I have to admit, I’m very aware of how distracted I am by my phone. How’s that for irony? No other “thing” consumes more of my downtime than my phone. And to make it worse, my phone even consumes my uptime, like when I’m driving, when I’m shopping for food, or when I’m at lunch with friends. Gone are the days when standing in line means looking at pictures on the wall or (God forbid!) talking to the person next to me. I don’t even have to be bored anymore. Nor do I have to sit with my thoughts, or my emotions. Many of my waking moments, whether filled by activity or not, go accompanied by the blue glow of my phone.

I believe God put “Attention” on my mind when I asked for words for 2016. But I also believe my conscience and my desire to be more present among others did too.

Definition. The way this came to mind was less formal than “attention”. By that I mean, “definition” came to mind like coming up with an answer after pondering a question. After several minutes of mining my heart and mind, it was there. Truth be told, I’m not sure why it’s a word I came upon. Maybe it’ll mean defining my occupation more? Or defining my writing voice more? Or my faith? Or all of the above. Regardless, I know I can use it like a tool to help me craft my year, so I’m going to go with it.

Back to my goals (blogging, reading, & less phone): they’re not the holy grail. I’m not going to judge myself if I don’t follow through with them perfectly. But with many goals I’ve made in my life, I intend to fulfill them. Meaning I hope they happen, and I hope I can report the benefits that aiming for them has reaped this time next year.

And I look forward to more writing, reading, and engagement with what’s going on in the real world! I’m even planning to publish here about the books I read, the fiction and nonfiction I’m working on, the musings about faith I may be having, and ideas I think are worth sharing. This much you should expect.

So, here we go!

Restrictions, Boundaries, Deadlines: I love you, I hate you [Free-flow Friday]

December 5, 2012

Today, I finally got around to opening up an email from Carl. It held an article hailing all the way back from 2006 entitled, “13 ways of seeing nature,” by a girl named Jenny Price. 

This all coming after a message I received from a fiery, five-six frame of wit in Marketing (who also writes) with a name befitting her peculiar style: Ananda. In her message she wrote, “writers who don’t read aren’t real writers.”

Ah yes, old reality. How can a craftsman craft anything with only a hammer and a handful of screws? 

Back to the article. Jenny Price writes fantastically, and she knows herself to be a writer too. My hunch is that she knows herself a reader as well. Perhaps even more the latter. 

I am an unconventional writer, probably picking up diamonds every time I walk and getting to turn them in for cash. But I am certainly no miner. Again, I only have a tool belt and have gotten literarily lucky more times than I can count.

My downfall? I hate restriction, deadlines, and boundaries. But I need them, especially if I ever want to get anything done. I need a line, something I’m not allowed to cross until it’s been pinned down with nails and twine.

I love it, and I hate it, this conventionality. I am an impressionable writer, which means I’ll create another note right after this one with a grand plan to read more than I write for the next year. This ambition far precedes me, but I’m still going to do it. I really hope I do it.