A Word of Resolution for 2017

ra·di·ate verb ˈrādēˌāt/
  1. emit (energy, especially light or heat) in the form of rays or waves. To shine brightly.
  2. diverge or spread from or as if from a central point.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you may recall that in lieu of making resolutions to ring in the New Year, I’ve selected a word to center myself for the months to come. Here’s a look back at 2015 and 2016. I haven’t mustered the courage to reread these posts, but I’m not certain it matters. The intention is the journey, no? Looking back to see if you’ve made it to the point, the self, the outcome you’d imagined just seems an exercise in disappointment and regret.

 

But I do see that I chose “embrace” to define 2016. Had I known what the Universe had in store for the year, I may well have chosen “reject”, instead.

 

This year. This achingly difficult, beautiful, complicated, change-ridden year.  A year when life turned itself inside-out. When the world stopped making sense for so many on a bewildering November night. Yet, as much as I welcome an end to 2016, I know that it defines much of what is to come.

 

I ran into a friend in a pub the other night. A new friend, a writer, whom I met at a joyous occasion a few weeks ago, something I’ll tell you more about in a moment. He complimented me on my author website and mentioned reading the page where I cross-post this blog. He expressed admiration for how I lay it all out here, how vulnerable and real I allow myself to be. How ironic, given that I’ve kept so much on the down low these past months, hinting at but never revealing the divergent path I’ve been stumbling down, seeking, but never quite finding secure footing. As a writer. As a woman.

 

My first novel launched on February 2. A novel about grief, rebirth, reincarnation and the muddled line between history and the past, debuting on the day we shrink from shadows, and from a mindless repetition of the mundane. An extraordinary day for me, to be sure. And as the weeks and months unfolded in a celebration of this joyous accomplishment, behind the scenes a twenty-five year marriage was coming to an end. Quietly. With great sadness and bewilderment. More than half my life, defined by partnership with another. And suddenly that which I took for granted, a word, wife, was no longer mine.

 

But other words remained. Woman. Writer.

Local Authors' Night, The Writers' Workshoppe & Imprint Books, Port Townsend, WA, December 3, 2016. Photo Courtesy of Anna & Peter Quinn, Owners.
Local Author’s Night, The Writers’ Workshoppe & Imprint Books, Port Townsend, WA, December 3, 2016. Photo Courtesy of Anna & Peter Quinn, Owners.

Yet, it often felt as though I’d lost sight of even those. The fundamentals of who I am, my place in the world. But looking back on these months, I realize I have never lived more fully as a woman, as a writer, than I have in 2016.

 

Betwixt and between the mind-blowing joy of launching a novel into the world was the agony of divorce. The stress of being a very public “author” vs. the solace and creative growth of being a writer; the delight in sharing my book with readers coming up against the inability to step away to nurture my muse; the heart-quickening embrace of new love meeting the reality of stepping into a traditional “day” job to support myself, thereby letting go of precious writing time… it’s all been so much. So glorious. So painful.

 

In early December, my LBS (aka Local BookStore, you know, those beloved indies that have survived and thrived by connecting dedicated readers with beautiful works of art, one book at a time), hosted a Local Author’s Night. For the first time in months, I was surrounded by readers and authors alike, friends I hadn’t seen in far too long, others I had never met, such as the new friend I mentioned above, who lives across the street, as it so happens. It was a celebration, a coming together of a beloved community, a return to my heart and intellect, a precious reminder of who I am and what I am meant to do.

 

It was also a reminder in this time of political turmoil—as many of us mourn what has been lost and fear what is to come—what role artists play in lifting up, exposing, bringing together, voicing, and providing moments of escape, connection, entertainment, joy, and compassion to our communities. How very important it is to engage and contribute, to be present, not only in one’s own life, but in the world.

 

And so I choose for 2017 the word Radiate. For I am determined that in this new year, which will see the release of my second novel, The Crows of Beara, my work, my words will emit light and energy, will spread from a central point—my soul—to serve a greater purpose.

 

New Year’s Eve day I came across these lines by one of my favorite poets, W.S. Merwin. Here’s an excerpt:

 

“… so this is the sound of you
here and now whether or not
anyone hears it this is
where we have come with our age
our knowledge such as it is
and our hopes such as they are
invisible before us
untouched and still possible.”

From ‘To the New Year’

 

Isn’t that extraordinary?

 

Love and hope to everyone for a blessed 2017. Let’s please just do this, all of it, better.

18 thoughts on “A Word of Resolution for 2017

  1. Ah Julie – to good things in the future. Life…is…and change often brings good things with it. May it be so.

    I’m very excited to read your news about The Crows of Beara this morning – and looking forward to reading and reviewing it. You are very much a real-world inspiration!

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  2. Dear Julie,
    It seems both of us have had a year in 2016 that has forever altered our direction, changed us. Firstly I’m so sorry for your heartache. I cannot imagine what you must have gone through this year and I’m sorry for your pain.
    But I do love your Word of the Year for 2017. I have chosen to a Word of the Year for 5 years, or rather it has chosen me and each time it has surprised me. My word of the Year for 2016 was RISE, and unfortunately most of 2016 had me drowning and falling BUT this very drowning gave me a reason to want to Rise.
    This year my Word is something a little different, because I am different, changed, altered. I’m going to be doing a post on what my Word of the Year is over the next few days.

    Beautiful words by WS Merwin… A poet just newly discovered for me this week.

    I leave you with these words I heard today:

    The Uses of Sorrow | Mary Oliver

    (In my sleep I dreamed this poem)

    Someone I loved once gave me
    a box full of darkness.

    It took me years to understand
    that this, too, was a gift.

    May much love, joy and light Radiate towards and from you this year!

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    1. My kindred spirit across the Big Drink. You are in my thoughts, as we both seek to rise in 2017 and meet the waves that roll toward us, inexorable in their power and force. Some will sweep us back to shore, others will lift us high and we will swim like dolphins, dancing in the sealight.

      Go gently, Kim. I look forward to your word, your words, watching you grow and glow.

      All love and peace, Julie

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Julie,

        “we both seek to rise in 2017 and meet the waves that roll toward us, inexorable in their power and force. Some will sweep us back to shore, others will lift us high and we will swim like dolphins, dancing in the sealight. ”
        … what a stunning blessing to utter. And so significant to read these words – they tie in beautifully with my Word for this year…

        Hugs my friend!!

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  3. Thank you so much for taking the time to share this list. I’ve only read a few of your 2016 listings but will seek out the others, as I’ve come to value your keen suggestions and you’ve never steered me wrong..yet! Your comment on how some books just hit you at the right time resonates so completely. For me, Ms Smith’s M Train was such a book this year. One particular passage has been my meditation mantra for many months: (conversation with statue of Tesla) “I’m off balance, not sure what’s wrong.” “You have misplaced joy, he said without hesitation. Without joy, we are as dead.” “How do I find it again?” “Find those who have it and bathe in their perfection.” You have been candid about your difficult year and I’m truly sorry. May you bathe again in joy unbridled; your writing is a source of joy (?bath) for me.

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  4. I ended my reading year with Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things. It was the perfect note to end 2016 on, as it filled me with such hope. It caused me to reflect on the many bewildering, frustrating, and disappointing things that I’ve experienced this year (both personally and beyond, as on that surreal November night) and see them in a new light. I didn’t choose a word for the year, but radiate is such a good one. It embodies much of what I’ve felt compelled to be as we enter 2017. To radiate hope and light as much as I can, to others and to myself. To do it all better. I’ve said it before here, but your voice and your words are truly inspiring to me. I look forward to your next novel and I hope you find every opportunity in the coming year, even when times seem dark, to shine bright.

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    1. Oh, that book. Naia, it tore me apart and yet gave me so much to hold on to. Truly a source of grace and inspiration. I’m so glad it touched you as well.

      Thank you for your beautiful words of support and encouragement. Thank you. All love, Julie

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  5. Oh my dear, I was afraid this was the case. I’m sorry for your heartache and that your incredible accomplishment had such a devastating counterweight. If you can write this at all, you will be — you are — okay. Keep writing and be in touch. Much love.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It amazes me, when I sit back and look around, at my now, at this past year, how much has and continues to surround me. There is so much grace in the world, and so much available to me, I just have to do a better job of embracing and accepting it, and then radiating it out in kind. Thank you. I miss you. I’m here.

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  6. So much love for you Julie – You mentioned woman, writer and forgot warrior. Your spirit is strong. I cannot wait for your new work and will continue to watch you radiate. Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Julie, given that November did indeed nearly drop me into an abyss, as well as so many others, I appreciate your uplifting assessment of what is possible.

    You have chosen a perfect word to express your desires and your goals – best to you in 2017 as you work to achieve your own personal best, to stabilize your life, and to expand all possibilities.

    Radiate. I will try. Thank you for the encouragement.

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  8. Beautiful reflections, Julie. It’s a joy to be your LBS. I loved the Local Author’s evening as well—absolutely a night of love and light. And I have a feeling your words, your books, will continue to emit light energy for many, many years to come. Thank you for all you do to make things better.

    Liked by 1 person

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