December reflections

On December 6, my doctor told me to go home and not use my brain for at least 2 weeks. No reading, no writing, no driving, and–especially–no screens.

“Just rest,” she said.

“But what am I supposed to do all day?” I asked. She suggested walks in nature, meditation, long baths, relaxing music. I felt a little panicky. I remembered my son, age 3, telling me that his imagination was his best toy because he could never lose it or break it. I realized I’d broken my best toy, one I’ve always taken for granted.

That night, I slept for 10 hours. A few hours after waking from that sleep, I took a 3-hour nap. The doctor had told me that my brain needed rest to mend itself, and when I woke from that nap I made a decision to surrender to its need.

A multitude of lessons, realizations, and gifts have come with necessary stillness during what are usually the busiest weeks of this busy season. I hope I will remember them when I am able to really write again. Normally, I would capture them, process them, interrogate them, and share them through words, but words have been mostly off-limits. I began capturing images with my phone camera, hoping they will help me remember as much as words have always done.

I’m sharing them here, without commentary. Make of them what you will, make of them something that is meaningful to you. I have been learning how true it is that, often, less truly is more.

I know it’s a common practice to choose a word for the year at the beginning of it, as a way of setting intentions. Reflection has always more useful to me than resolution, so I have been looking backward rather than forward, thinking about what might be a fitting word for the year 2023. I’ve landed upon breaking. This, of course, includes breaking down or apart or up, but also: breaking in, breaking out, breaking open. So much breaking open in the past 12 months.

Please keep me company in this quiet space by telling me what word you’d choose as your 2023 word of the year. (It may take me a bit to respond. I’m still on limited screen-time rations. But I really would love to hear from you.)

6 thoughts on “December reflections

  1. Kari says:

    I love your home. I wish I could be in your space with you. Before I found out about my dad’s news, I chose the word zen as my word of the year. I wish I could go back in time to the girl who chose the word zen as her word of the year.

    • Rita says:

      Oh, Kari. You have been so much on my mind this past week. I wish we could share some IRL physical space, too. I’d give you the best hug I’ve got. I wish I could make it all better. All of it. I’m going to make a case for zen, and for that girl. It’s a practice, right? We practice things we haven’t mastered. Some things we never master, so we get to practice our whole lives. (Ask me how I know.) Sending you love and wishes for comfort.

  2. Kate says:

    Every single one of the pictures brings me joy. I love them. I haven’t used my camera this way in months (probably since July). I hope to be able to “see” this way again soon. And I’m so grateful to you for sharing. I needed it. So much warmth and cozy.

    Breaking is a good word for 2023. I think mine would be commitment – at least in the second half of the year. Life got really, really small. I found myself unwilling to pour into people or things that didn’t pour into me because I don’t have extra to spill.

    Happy holidays, Rita. I hope you continue to rest and heal in 2024.

    • Rita says:

      Thank you, Kate. I hadn’t used my camera that way in months, either. Life got pretty small for me in the first half of 2023, and it was because of a commitment. I know at least some of what you mean. I so wish we could be together in person and have a long talk about it all. The pouring and spilling part, too. I hope I can write about it all before I forget.

      Sending you wishes for peace and comfort and whatever happiness you can find in the holidays and the days to come. And that you are able to fill up again in 2024.

  3. Marian says:

    I love your photos, Rita—and your cozy home. I’m not generally a word-of-the-year person, but the first word that came to mind as I read your post and thought back on my 2023 was “try.” Like Kate, I have a very small life, and I’m mostly happy about that, but I did worry that when our youngest went to university this fall, my life would feel more claustrophobic than small. So I’ve been doing my best to try—to beat back my anxiety and to put myself out there in ways that are meaningful to me and for things that matter to me.

    Wishing you all the best for 2024, Rita. May you mend in full and be able to get back to the things you love.

    • Rita says:

      I think “try” is an admirable word of the year, and your comment (which I saw a day or two ago) has had me thinking about the concept of a small life. I appreciate the language you use. I think there’s much to be said for a small life, having had mine shrink considerably recently.

      I have been wondering how you were doing with the transition of your youngest; that’s such a big change, I know. I hope you’ve felt successful in your endeavors and that you are finding gifts in this version of your life.

      Wishing you all the best, too. Thank you for the kind wishes.

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