One Little Word: Illuminate

One Little Word 2023: Where There Is Light

Ahhh, I remember what it was like being warm…it’s been in the 20s for like 2 weeks now here! Brr!

Welcome back to Mukashi no Sewing and Happy New Year 2023! I don’t really do “resolutions,” per se, but since 2011 I’ve taken part, more or less, in a project started by scrapbooker Ali Edwards called “One Little Word.

Here’s a retrospective of some of Ali’s albums to get an idea of what the scrapbooking project is like.

In 2006 Ali began the tradition of choosing one word for herself each January – a word she could focus on + get curious about as she went about her daily life over the course of a year. Her words have included play, peace, vitality, nurture, story, light, up, open, thrive, give, whole, connect, space, habit, less, heart, pause, and joy (2023). Each word has become an individual thread that weaves together stories of her life. They’ve been imbedded into who she is + into who she is becoming. They’ve helped her to breathe deeper, to see clearer, to embrace mistakes, and to grow.

Ali Edwards –

I don’t scrapbook anymore, and I typically find that other peoples’ writing prompts don’t work well for me, so I haven’t participated in her workshop for many years. But I do still pick a word every year to be my guiding star, as it were, and I thought you might enjoy hearing a bit about how I use it to inform my goals for the coming year!

Goal #1: more hummingbirds. 😀 (I just bought 2 more feeders, so I’m well on my way!)

“Wait a minute,” I hear you saying. “You just said you don’t do resolutions – so what’s all this about goals?” Here, someone else explained it exactly how I would have, so I’ll just quote her:

A resolution is a statement of what you want to change. For example, saving money. A goal is a statement of what you want to achieve; the steps you need to take to achieve it; and when you want to achieve it by. For example, saving 10 percent of each paycheck for the next six months, so you can take a family vacation in August.

Goals take longer to frame because they involve planning. But, this preparation provides you with a clear direction to follow to reach your desired outcome. By rephrasing your New Year’s resolutions to goals, you make them stronger and more likely to be achieved.

Stacy McCall

Anyone who’s talked to me for more than a few minutes knows how goal-oriented I am. 🙂 Also, I find vague statements about what I’d maybe like to do someday to be very demotivating since I need a plan to execute and a deadline to respect in order to accomplish just about any task. It’s not that I don’t have anything I want to change, but I’m already working on all those things. So for me it’s more like “keep working on these things I’m already doing and don’t lose sight of my goals.” 😀 I really love using the One Little Word framework for this because it gives all my goals a connected purpose.

Lovers from a fourteenth-century edition of Le Roman de la Rose, BNF MS Français 1572, f. 3r.

Here’s what I mean! My word for this year is “illuminate.” I actually picked a similar word (“shine”) in 2013 – the difference in my intention is that shine was about personal achievement, whereas illuminate is that and much more. It’s about putting a spotlight on things in my life and examining them more fully (externally imposed narratives! relationships!), about learning more about particular topics (sewing! Iaido! Japanese!), and about bringing more beauty and color to my life. (Think Illuminated manuscripts!) And it’s about turning that light outward as well, and thinking about how I can be a beacon for others.

Obviously, with more strawberries! My incredible friend Puff drew this picture of me and it makes me so happy every time I look at it! ❤

I won’t go into every one of my goals here (and some of them are personal), but here are some that I look forward to illuminating in 2023!

  • Obviously, keep posting here every week! I learn SO much from doing these projects, and I hope you are also illuminated by them! ❤ This year I want to take on some bigger challenges including sewing a yukata and restoring my Victorian dress (more on this later in the month!).
  • Attend all my local Iaido seminars and at least one “away” seminar. Of course I love my time at my home dojo! However, getting different perspectives and becoming part of the wider Iaido community is a way that I can shine a light on my practice and improve it even more.
  • Take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (N4) at the end of the year. I passed the N5 a few years ago, and I’d really like to push myself to learn more grammar and improve my listening and speaking skills. As you can see, learning/becoming illuminated is a huge theme for me. 🙂
  • Dress in a way that makes my heart sing at least once a week. It brings light into the world – not to mention my life – to dress fabulously! It’s very easy to fall into the habit of wearing athleisure all day because it’s easier to do care tasks/exercise in, but I’m so much happier when I dress up! And it’s easy to see how happy it makes other people too – I always get stopped when I’m out and about by smiling people who are delighted to see something gorgeous and different. ❤
VNV Nation is still one of my favorite bands of all time. I’ve seen them at least seven times in concert! ❤

I really hope I can illuminate both my life, and the lives of all of you in 2023! If you want to pick a word for yourself for the year, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. And if you enjoyed reading this please subscribe below to get a notification each week about my latest post — I look forward to seeing you next week here on Mukashi no Sewing! ❤

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