In the spirit of Joni Mitchell, it’s coming on New Year’s. This year, more than ever, I’m overwhelmed by a desire for personal change and improvement. In former years, I never really took stock of the past year nor looked forward to what I wanted to accomplish in the coming twelve months. This time last year I gave it a go and produced fairly predictable goals with little to no accountability or commitment. The end result, 12 months later, was a list without ticks next to each To Do item.
Discipline disappeared, focus lost its way, inspiration evaporated and the number on my scale better reflected the IQ of a highly intelligent individual. Add to all of that a growing sense of melancholy and emotional heaviness. I have to admit that 2021 was rather a bit lacklustre. Don’t get me wrong, there were definite highlights. There were.
Last night I created a new list, for 2022. A list of new habits; better habits. Habits that, if all goes according to plan, will feed my soul. Actually, it’s a list for January with the hope that once new behaviours develop, the list will no longer be needed!
Top of the list is: Find beauty every day … and take a photograph of it. This will help to accomplish more items on the list, such as getting outside every day. Between my iPhone and my Nikon camera, I will get outside for my (minimum) 30-minute dose of fresh air and capture it through the lens of a camera. I love seeking out small signs of beauty, the details that others may not notice. By seeing the small stuff, the big stuff becomes that much more grand.
This reminds me of how, in one way, I did manage to feed my soul in 2021.
While staying at a friend’s place near Invermere, BC, at the end of the summer, I explored the main street and shops. Two establishments quickly became my favourites: the local tea shop and the gallery displaying the wears and crafts of many local artisans.
I am a tea lover (I really only drink coffee when I’m camping, and that is simply a finger of instant coffee with powdered milk and sugar). Entering the tea shop, one is instantly welcomed by the dozens of big glass jars, stacked floor to ceiling on the shelves, brimming with different dried teas and ingredients. There were tea pots and mugs and tea accessories, and a friendly-looking woman behind the counter. I left that day with five 50-gram sealable manila pouches full of new teas. The purpose of staying in this area for a month was to focus on writing my memoir. For this, tea was required … and lots of it! I even placed an order at Christmas (a gift to myself) and stocked up with even more varieties to enjoy throughout the winter.
Further along, on the opposite side of the street, up two concrete steps and through a wood and glass door, I found my next favourite shop. For the past several years, I’ve split my time between working at home in coastal BC and working out in the Rockies. My job is casual, in the tourism sector, and does not demand a fancy wardrobe. When at home, jeans and hiking pants are the norm. When in the Rockies, it’s shorts and hiking pants! I have not had to ‘dress up’ for work for quite a long time. While great on the budget, it had me feeling less feminine than I liked. What better and easier way to doll up an outfit (even if it is jeans and a sweater) than with a pair of earrings?
Sitting there, on the counter at the gallery shop, after walking through the front door, was a non-descript display rack of delicately designed and colourful glass earrings. By the end of the summer, after going into the shop every time I was in town to see if there was anything new, I’d collected at least 6 new pairs of earrings! One pair is white, another green, others red, blue and silver. Oh yes, and small dangling triangles of turquoise. I also bought a pair for a girlfriend’s birthday present. Every day feels that much more fancy and feminine with a beautifully crafted pair of earrings dangling down from my lobes.
What did these small and seemingly insignificant purchases provide? They provided me with small and highly satisfying ways to feed my soul. Loose leaf tea and earrings bring a smile to my face. They make me feel good, both about life and about myself.
This simple reminder, that smalls things make a big difference, needs to be carried into the new year. It is the message I will carry into 2022, to help guide me and keep me focused on what matters most. As the mission is to make myself feel good, then all items on my list make complete sense. Discipline (hopefully) will come easily because, in the end, it is meant to put a smile on my face, a spring in my step and warm my heart and mind.
Here’s to all the versions of loose leaf tea and earrings out there. May you find yours in the coming new year.