One word

Do I have a word for 2015?  No resolutions, although I have had fun with resolutions for years. Mind you, some do tend to recur rather: less food, more exercise, less wine.  Nothing too exciting there then and clearly they don't work or they wouldn't keep coming round again like a wooden horse on a roundabout at an old fashioned fair.

But a word.  I like the idea of a word.  I came across it first on Exmoorjane's blog.  Her word is "light".  Then it cropped up again on a new discovery for me, The linen cloud, where the word is "grow" and on another new to me blog, Mitenska, with her word "brave".  I like all of these.  I am living very much in the now.  My father's health casts a long shadow over 2015 so I had not intended to do anything which involved any sort of looking ahead.  What would be the point?  Be here, now.  But as I read the last of these blogs a word formed in my mind, suddenly, sweetly, like a bubble blown by a child: free.

I have been mulling about "free" for a day or so now.  It is an odd word for me with my many, beloved ties.  I do not wish in any way to be free of my ties to my husband, my children and stepchildren, my grandchildren, my father, my wider family and my friends.  My ties to these people, which I suppose do constrain me in many ways, make me the person I am.  They are the warp and weft which make up the fabric of my life.  They give my life shape and meaning and sense.  Yes, there are times when I feel all of my energy running outward to others and know that I need to pull back inside myself for a day or two but there are also times when their energy lifts and supports me and keeps me afloat.  I do not want to be free of my wonderful, sustaining ties.  So what is all this about "free"?

It has slowly grown on me that the wish to be free seems to be connected to two things: having less and doing more.  Having less, owning fewer things, living with less stuff, is an interesting one.  I don't think we are paid up members of the consumer society.   I could not truthfully say that we live frugally but I do think we live quite carefully, quite thoughtfully, trying not to waste, making food from scratch - our own bread, our own jams and preserves.  We don't shop as a recreation.  We mend and re-use.  We are not, I don't think, acquisitive.  Yet still our house and our outbuildings are full of stuff.  It washes in through the door.  Paper piles up on desks and in trays. Books accumulate in leaning towers by the bed.  CDs and videos which we rarely listen to or watch fill drawers and shelves.  Outside the outbuildings heave with tools and materials.  Clearly we have chosen to live a life where the responsibilities for things both outside and in require an armoury of equipment which we would never need in a two bedroomed flat in the city.  We can never return to our eighteen year old selves with possessions that fitted into a rucksack and a battered trunk.  But we have envelopes and notepads and biros you could open a stationery shop with, files of papers going back to the years before we moved here, seeds we never sow, clothes we never wear.

I need to be free of some of it.  Some is mine, some is Ian's, some is no-one -in-particular's.  I shall start by looking at my things and see if empty files and clutter free wardrobes give me more room to breathe.

Of course the problem with getting rid of stuff is that it takes time but I shall find some, even if only a little.  Perhaps a little every day will make a difference and still leave me with time for the other face of freedom.  Because some of being free is to do with doing more of the things I love and less of the things that weigh me down:

More walking.
More colour.
More drinking tea.
More laughing.
More reading with grandchildren.
More sitting on a hillside watching the sun come up.
More yoga.
More reading.
More singing.
More holding hands.
More freedom.

Comments

  1. Oh yes, this I can relate to. I was close to choosing something like this as my word, but it felt as if it might be too much to live up to this year -- might be better to save for my retirement next year. But I'm thinking and feeling my way towards this and I'll happily be inspired by whatever you have to write here on your own letting go over 2015.

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    1. I see what you mean about saving this word! It is a big word and my own response seems very ,uch like baby steps.

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  2. Free is a good word. It's what I value most about not working anymore. Freedom (within some constraints) to plan my own day and do with it what I will. It's the prize that I've been working for for most of my life. Will I use it wisely, that's the question.

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    1. I agree so much about not working. I think I have become quite incapable of working for someone else after five years of dancing to my own tune. I am not sure I make the best use of that freedom but I feel my way towards it.

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  3. half of our stuff is in boxes, till after the renovation.
    It's an interesting experience, to realise, that those boxes of stuff are mostly not needed for comfortable daily life. And so? Must continue to sort and move on clutter.

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    1. I am wondering if part of my sense of owning too much, keeping too much is to do with the fact that we have lived here for over nine years. This is the longest we have lived in one house and it might have something to do with things accumulating!

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  4. Goodness, your 4th paragraph is a mirror, are you sure you're not really in my house, and perhaps a little in my head too? I wish I had written it, beautiful words.

    I chose a word this year, for the first time: Simplify. You have summed up my aim perfectly. Good luck, I hope we both succeed :}

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    1. We shall have to check up on each other Jayne! I read your blog about this and we do indeed seem to be feeling something very similar.

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  5. 'More holding hands'
    This little phrase has given me a burst of happiness this morning. Thankyou Elizabeth

    xx

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  6. It is rather as I am looking in a mirror now ~ your 'be free of' and 'have more of' lists, both. I add more colouring in too ~ very relaxing pastime often overlooked by adults. I have seen this One Word often and maybe should give it more attention.

    I cannot say loudly enough how much better I feel, how much clearer the energies in the cottage become once they have time to circulate properly. Time to reclaim that feeling again, I think.

    Yes, it does take time, and in my particular case I must first break the habit of seeing a use for everything that, in truth, no longer has practical value in my life and space. I have asked the Red Cross to drop off a dozen or so bags with me. I will fill, then phone them again and they will collect.

    Best wishes for your new free life ~~~Deborah

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    1. oh! now there's a slip of the tongue! Surely I mean "more *space*" to circulate?

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    2. I do know just what you mean. I can very happily give things away that will find a new use, via a charity shop or something like that. I am not so good at simply throwing away!

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  7. Hello Elizabeth,

    As a New Year stretches ahead, it is, perhaps, inevitable that there should be some taking stock in our minds if not in reality. And whilst one should and you clearly do give thanks for the many blessings that one has in life, there is always room for change.

    We have to say that we find change quite exhilarating although as one gets older it becomes more of a challenge to leap into the unknown. So, we wish you well with the changes you wish to bring in. Yes, create space so that there is time for the ones you love or for simply doing nothing. It will be good.

    Wishing you and your family peace, joy and prosperity for 2015.

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    1. Time and space for doing nothing! Now that would be something special. And so glad to see you back.

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  8. Hi Elizabeth,

    I like your more list! A word that I like the most is " enjoy "! My own list has some different words, but always "enjoy " . Have a lovely week!

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    1. Enjoy is a good word. As is joy, and fun.

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  9. I've come across the concept of a word for the year on several blogs and think that it's a great alternative to resolutions which can become a bind. I had to laugh at your comment on the subject of opening a stationary shop. Snap! I've just been throwing some envelopes that have been around so long that they've lost their stick. Have fun being free Elizabeth.

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    1. Ah yes, envelopes that have lost their stick! I am sure we have some of those.

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  10. Another strange meeting across the ether! I spent a lot of December tidying, clearing and making space - both physical and mental and feel much more clear-sighted for it. (I also understand your need to fill the well from time to time!)

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    1. Interesting that the space seems to be both physical and mental Chris. I think that is part of what I wish for.

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  11. After days of reading of "words", I have decided upon ENHANCE. It will be about actually sowing those packets of seeds, painting the battered garden furniture, makeing things sparkle where they need it, and really enjoying those things in life which are pratcially free. I've repositioned tables so I can read while sitting in the sun with my coffee, made lists of paint to make garden furniture look right in their settings. It will be about clearing spaces so they can be used for their intended purposes, and realising that as we grow older, we are allowed to make every moment count! Having been medically-retired, I realise that I have spent years feeling quilty about this, but I'm now coming up to what would have been my proper retirement age, and have developed some determination to make the most of it!!!

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    1. "Enhance" is a lovely word and I loved your very practical examples of how it works. That is very much about living well in your space.

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  12. It must be the time of year. We are looking forward to lengthening days ad letting in light; making space is an almost inevitable desire at this time. I have been looking at wardrobes and china cabinets. Books and music and all sorts of things which will never again be of use to us. I know all this and it would be wonderful to shed the clutter of years.

    Perhaps I’ll have the strength of mind to make a start.

    My word is kindness, to myself and to others. I am not always kind.

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    1. The older I get the more I come to feel that kindness is one of the greatest of the virtues, along with courage. Odd to think that it can take courage to be kind but I think it can. It takes courage to trust and to shed some of the carapace of our world view. Great word.

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  13. It seems there are a number of us resolving to declutter in the new year. I've taken up My Zero Waste's challenge and am Dumping my Junk in January. One item on day one, two on day two, three on day three ... and so on. By the end of the month I shall have 396 less things in my house. It's quite an exhilarating experience.

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    1. That sounds like quite a challenge. Very best of luck. Exhilarating is an interesting word for it!

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  14. Dear Elizabeth,

    Having read your list I very much wish I could pop in for one of those cups of tea and talk. As my youngest child approaches her fifth birthday, with the eldest at a fairly comfortable almost nineteen years of age, I feel I am able to relax a wee bit more and LAUGH. I was always a bit of a giggler and chatterbox at school and have found with the passing years and growing responsibilities (which I wouldn't wish to be without, just like you) that I have become more serious and introverted. Now, I am delighted to catch myself laughing so much more with the children. Being silly even. There's nothing better than that for releasing tension.

    And, on the subject of wine, I have given up wine and many alcohols. I am prone to migraines and have found them to heighten my chances of having headaches. I feel good about this decision. A form of decluttering of sorts!

    Warmest wishes,

    Stephanie

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    1. It would be good to sit and drink tea and laugh with you. Maybe one day you will have to come north to Wales instead of going South to the sun! And I am interested in the idea that giving up wine may be a form of decluttering. That's intriguing.

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  15. Ah yes, having less and doing more. We were fortunate enough to move from a city life to a rural (as in on-the-other-side-of-nowhere) one and so had the opportunity to "ditch it all" more than 10 years ago. Most of it was given away and we have not missed a thing. It was liberating!

    As you said, rural life does require more tools but as long as it is used I am fine with it. So interesting to see how clever and inventive you get when a problem arises and the store is 75 miles away.

    I have been thinking about the one word as I like the idea. Tending towards "now" and "slow down". Oh dear :).

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  16. Free seems to be a wonderful word to start a new year with. Particularly as applied to getting rid of the accumulation of stuff. We are much like you, I think, living thoughtfully, not shopping as a recreation, and yes also able to open a stationery store. Though also never able to find the particular sort of pen/folder/notebook that is actually required... Good luck getting rid of stuff, it can be amazingly cathartic. I'm rubbish at it because I so often chuck stuff out in a fit of enthusiasm and then find myself roaming the house searching for it months later... Please find a way to do it and then tell me!!

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    1. I am pretty good at getting rid of stuff but am married to someone who is by nature a hoarder, an "in case it comes in useful" man. Once I have thrown something away I tend to forget I ever had it, but is quite useful!

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    2. Ah, yes, I have one of those too. And he's often right, drat him! But it is a little nuts at the moment. We had an Air Source Heat Pump fitted, which meant clearing a large area in the garage. Now we need another garage to accommodate the resulting clobber, most of which is annoyingly useful, so that we can use the conservatory again. Not least for starting off the tomatoes...

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  17. What a great idea, so much more constructive than pointless resolutions. I am going to do the same and come up with a word for the year, at the moment I like 'more' when related doing stuff. (Oh and decluttering is one of the constantly recurring resolutions of mine - one that I shall still strive towards for another year).

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    1. More is nice, in relation to doing things. Do more, have less is probably my aspiration!

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