Monday, January 6, 2014

A Word for 2014 and a Feed Your Fire Giveaway

Photo © Wildfeuer
I don’t listen to A Prairie Home Companion so bear with me if you do. Recently, I learned of a weekly feature, “The View from Mrs. Sundberg’s Window,” which appears on the radio program’s website. Maybe you’re already familiar with her work, but for those of you to whom she is new, “Mrs. Sundberg” begins her post each week by talking about the most recent episode of A Prairie Home Companion—which is to say, she uses the line “Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad” as a springboard for reflections on the larger topics of life, loss, love, and that inevitable call at year’s end to make resolutions.

As it turns out, “Mrs. Sundberg” is not a resolution-maker; she chooses instead one word for the year and strives, for that year, to make the word—its definition and its meaning—a bigger part of her life.  “I would recommend the whole choose-a-word-for-a-year exercise over a New Year’s resolution any day. It’s a manageable endeavor, and you don’t set yourself up. There’s really no way you can fail.

When I first heard about this idea, I thought about my grandmother’s African violets. I’ve never been terribly skilled at caring for houseplants—certainly not those as finicky as the ones my grandmother tended. But I inherited six potted and long-blooming beauties from her in December, and since loading them into a box and driving them from Philadelphia to Massachusetts, I’ve been like a nervous mother, constantly checking the soil and fretting over the fact that the room with the best light is also the coldest. I want them to someday thrive for me, the way they did for her, to continue her legacy of care and pride in enabling beauty, even if in a small way.

This month, Storey’s newsletter is dedicated to the idea of feeding your passion. I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea in the context of my grandmother’s violets and the word I’ve chosen for myself for 2014: nurture. While violets in the abstract sense are not my first love, honoring the care my grandmother lavished on her violets occupies a sudden and central place in my life. Recognizing this, I also recognize that when we talk about feeding our passions, we’re not talking about merely setting aside time to do what we love. We’re talking about the larger acts of observation and patience, of listening and learning, of knowing when to sit still and when to give attention, and how and when to feed in all the different ways that any living thing requires, whether that living thing is a fellow human, animal, plant, idea or feeling.

I love the idea that another definition of “nurture” is to hold an idea or strong feeling in your mind for a long time. That, to me, speaks to the nature of standing at the start of a new year and looking forward, while honoring the year just come to a close.

What is your word for 2014? What ideas and feelings will you nurture this year? What nurtures you?

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Each month, Storey gives away something great. In January, we’re offering a $100 gift certificate and 3 Storey titles of choice (Grand Prize) and 3 Storey titles of choice to two runners-up, to feed your fire. 


sista said...

What a great idea. A friend of mine gave me one of those signs with a saying on it for thanksgiving. We talked about how that saying could have several meanings and as a result that little sign is seen and thought of every day. It sits in my kitchen and I guess I am nurturing it as an idea for living life. It says "Live within your harvest". It can mean everything from something tangible such as learning to live within the harvest of your own garden to something ethereal such as learning to live without always wanting or coveting something you can't have. Like a huge home or a million dollars. I find there are as many meanings as there are people. What does it mean to you?

Emily Spiegelman said...

I love that story, sista, and the saying that's inspired conversation and reflection beyond a first reading. Thank you for sharing it.

My own interpretation of the sign is in line with yours: it speaks to the idea of living within one's means, but also learning to find the riches (the harvest) that are quietly growing there already. Certainly something to live by, and to continue to think about.