Writing in the New Decade: January Write from Your Life
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Listen to a podcast of this column by clicking here! Ten years ago, I had a four-year-old instead of a household of teens, all the original appliances we bought with our house, and my father, step-father and father-in-law were still alive. I didn’t know the new decade would bring a cancer diagnosis, a writing project about the Holocaust, an ability to fill out a FAFSA form in a flash, and a profound love for yoga. Life is like that. Or as one of my friends put it — after adopting one child, and a year later getting a phone message that simply said, “Would you like the brother?” (she would, in turn, and now has 12 and 13-year-old siblings) — “life has more imagination than we do.” As we enter a new year and a new decade, I invite you to inventory your life. Begin by making a list of all that has changed for you in the last decade. Maybe you moved, got a couch, got therapy, got fed up with one job and found another. Maybe you went back to school or finished school. Feel free to list the big things (your mother passing on) and the little things (singing in the shower more). Keep adding to the list over several days. You might find it useful to divide up changes into categories, such as work, family, finances, passions, losses, community, marriage, art. When you’re done, look it over, and see if you can name this decade. I named my last 10 years, “Sorting: The Decade of Prioritizing” although I realized I could call the decade before the last one, “Exhaustion: The Decade of Too Much to Do.” Find a name that fits for you and allows you to see more of where you’ve been. Now make a list of all you want to invite into your life in the next decade in terms of family, marriage or partnership, work, art, finances, community, etc. Be lavish but precise, and consider if all on this list is what you truly want (remember also the old standby: if you ask for it, you might just get it). This can be your wish list for the next decade, and because you’re the boss of you, you can revise this whenever needed. From here, you can do any/all of the following: * Write about what difference it will make in your life to have something on your wish list. How might this change you seek give you greater freedom, strength, creativity, time, or whatever else it could bring? * Write a letter from yourself ten years ago to yourself now, and then write back to your younger self. In doing so, you’ll see what shining coins of wisdom you’ve found. * Correspond with yourself ten years older than you now. You could also write this as a dialogue. * Pluck anything off your list from the last ten years, and write the story of this change in your life. Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is the poet laureate of Kansas, and the author of ten books, most recently THE SKY BEGINS AT YOUR FEET: A MEMOIR ON CANCER, COMMUNITY AND COMING HOME TO THE BODY and LANDED. See her website: CarynMirriamGoldberg.com and blog, CarynMirriamGoldberg.wordpress.com, and learn more about Goddard College, where Caryn coordinated Transformative Language Arts -- a MA program on making a living through writing workshop facilitation and more

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