opening up a new year

every year about this time, i become paralyzed. people share their plans and rituals for mapping out the new year, and they all sound so elegant, so elevated, so evolved that i just shut right down and limp through new year’s day, relying on my blackeyed peas and pork and turnipgreens to do their job so all will be well. last year, i vowed to craft my plan for 2011 in september, admonishing myself to let the satisfaction of early completion outweigh – in fact, shut down – any dreaded (and perhaps inevitable) second-guessing.

though it wasn’t in september, i did start earlier this year. and i spent a goodly part of last week talking about my plans with my chicklets, alison and kipp, and my friends angela kelsey, julie daley, and sally gentle. spent even more time making notes – one item per index card to allow for shuffling and flexibility and all that jazz. and yes, i inevitably read about the invitations and visualizations and resolutions, goals, dreams, plans, strategies, stepping stones, big rocks, quadrants, etc. other people use. i even allowed myself 20 minutes to look at (okay, drool over) paper planners cause though i haven’t added to my vast collection in the past three years, i am not too proud to admit my lingering addiction to time management systems (complete with pages of teensy little ole’ lines that i can hardly see, let alone write anything on) encased in colorful, conveniently pocketed-on-the-inside binders. though i’ve tried enough products to know otherwise, i’m here to tell you: when i hold a binder in my hands, i have no trouble imagining my life playing out smoothly, efficiently, and According To Plan. i can taste it, i tell you, and it is powerful.

2011 will be fueled by my participation (and ultimate win, i’m tickled to say) in NaNoWriMo. after 3-4 years of tire kicking, i signed on the digital dotted line and publicly professed (to more than a few non-writers, admittedly, to provide a safe escape hatch should i not finish) my intention to write not the generally prescribed 1667 words a day but 2000 words a day. and though i’m not ashamed to tell you that i upped the ante on account of the fact that the over-achiever (aka teacher’s pet syndrome) in me runs deep, i am proud to say that i wrote more than 2k words every single day. which turned out to be a good thing because i lost the week of thanksgiving and still managed to finish a day early with more than 50k words. and the thing is, it felt so good – the structure, the repetition, the end-in-sight of it all – that i use that i bank on that satisfaction to lay down my tracks for 2011.

so with complete disregard for the the rightness or consideration for whether it’s noble and lofty enough, in 2011 i will:

1. move more. (not anything that involves large trucks complaining about getting in and out of our driveway, mind you. i’m talking about walking and dancing.)
2. become fluent in yoga. (one pose at a time. okay, maybe two to keep it interesting.)
3. read alice in wonderland. aloud. to myself. (starting in january)
4. finish the primary source interviews for the bank robbery book. (by 4/31/11)
5. complete (or at least cease) contextual research for the bank robbery book. (fourth quarter)
6. write 3 children’s books with my daughter. (first quarter)
7. edit the fictional book penned during nanowrimo. (second quarter)
8. attend blogher. (august)
9. meditate a minute at a time (cause let’s face it: i’ve had that beautiful silk zafu – black with golden dragons – for months now, and i just took the plastic off. which means that 20 minutes every day is highly unlikely.)
10. finish volume 1 of the book i’m compiling with my daughter. (third quarter)
11. get that new blog up. (check back tomorrow for details and a viewing!) change of plan
12. further investigate that idea i have for a digital community.
13. quit handing over my personal power.
14. get that broken tooth fixed.
15. uncover (recover?) my muchiness. (warning: this will likely involve unleashing my non-malicious irreverent self more often.)
16. look into completing certification in death education and counseling.
17. remodel our bedroom and create a guest space in nc.
18. learn more about the electronic gizmos i have (iphone 4, ipad, powerbook pro, flip camera, sony camera, livescribe echo pen) (remember apple’s newton? i had one.) and software i own so i can make my life easier through better use of technology.
19. cross-pollinate my creativity by enjoying bouts of making collages, slow cloth, and even playing the piano.
20. attend the storytelling festival in jonesborough, tn. (october)
21. trek to merion, pa to see the barnes collection in its natural and rightful habitat. (april)
22. finish papering the nc laundry room in photos (scanning each one before tacking it to the wall).
23. spend a day (or 3) in milledgeville, ga doing book research and visiting flannery o’conner’s place. (september)
24. be fiercely feminist and fiercely feminine. (there. i’ve said it out loud.) (no ned to quirm cause i’m just the And to Thelma and Louise.)
25. enjoy a monthly massage without feeling i have to earn it.
26. stop spending so many words just for the sake of saying something. (obviously, that starts tomorrow.)
27. write every. single. day. (format subject to change on a monthly basis to keep it interesting.)
28. conjure six impossible things daily before bedtime.
29. create full moon collages with jamie ridler. (jamie calls them dreamboards, but i’ll be doing them in my special collage journal cause i have authority issues, you know.)
30. pen a thank you note a day.
31. reorganize my studio in ga.
32. create walls i can write on.
33. conjure and share more stories (pronounced STO rees) of my altar girls.
34. finish up that production team handbook and the director’s checklist. (january)
35. call many of you sugar to your face.
36. sing out loud without clearing the room. (alison, this one has your name written all over it.)
37. create new e-digs for alison. (january)
38. develop a rhythm of 1 day a week or 1 week a month tending to the inevitable and necessary deskwork. (january, then maintenance throughout the year)
39. book and enjoy creative retreats with selected gal pals. (if interested, let me know.)
40. let go of those stories that just don’t fit me any more. (note: the old paper-tied-to-a-balloon trick just doesn’t work for me, so, shoot, how ’bout i invite you to my (digital) campfire and tell ’em to ya?)

conceptually speaking, in 2011 there will be:
less mass, more movement.
less accommodating, more truth telling.
less talking, more doing.
less squirming, more smiling.
less explanation, more full, deep, satisfyingly content experiencing.
less justification, more justbecause.

and because i’m such a sucker, here are my collages for 2011:



(note at the bottom of the page: “If we’re not supposed to dance, why all this music?” from Gregory Orr’s poem “To Be Alive“)

and my color (pay no attention to the part that says 2010). (and hey, thanks, bridget.)

and my tangible totem:


and last, but definitely not least, my word: ship. (thanks, kipp.)


  1. Karen Sharp

    May all your worthy plans find rich and splendid fulfillment in this new years time that we are blessed with. I’m so excited to see what’s in store. I know that we will all be all the more rich and splendid ourselves, for what you will be bringing forth into the world.

    And may the eggs that I spy in your first collage hatch into birds of light and color richer than our eyes even know how to see. We’ll fly with them all the same, simply feeling our way, just knowing our way through the sky, deeper than sight and higher than air. It’ll be wild, it already is.

    I’m so proud to know you, Jeanne, you who are wholly who you are, you who encourage me to be wholly who I am, for the sake of what we all wholly can be.

    Love you, Jeanne.

  2. Sebastian Marshall

    Very cool post. I love having a big list of things to check off and get all those wins. Also –

    > 2011 will be fueled by my participation (and ultimate win, i’m tickled to say) in NaNoWriMo.

    Very exciting. Books are way cool.

    Please drop a line if I can ever be of service. Here’s wishing godspeed, much prosperity, and many shippings and wins this year 🙂

  3. Laura

    I am impressed with how well thought out you are! I am sure you’ll have a great 2011.

  4. Jean Burman

    Wow Jeanne… you’re going to be busy. And now you’ve prompted me to sit down and pen my noble list. Your list will be a hard act to follow and I wouldn’t dare… but I have a couple of my own dreams that definitely need hatching out this year and hopefully [not make that determinedly] intend to get on with it.

    Thanks for this list. It’s an inspiring statement of intent… and I’m sure you are more than up to the task of delivering. Happy New Year… and may all your dreams come true in 2011

  5. Jean Burman

    Um… that should be [no] not [not] and looks like I’m already shooting myself in the foot! (((chuckles))) All the best!

  6. Anonymous

    First things first – me please (re – face to face, creative retreat thingie). Secondly – you are gonna kick some sweet tea a## this year Ms. Jeanne. Third – I love you, Happy New Year, and call me sugar to my face soon, ‘k?

  7. Sally G.

    Show off!! (Kidding, of course.)

    You know how everyone we meet and connect to holds a gift of some kind ~ and to truly immerse in the richness of the connection, we’re to see what that person is reflecting to us and then get on with becoming the bestest version of ourselves that we can create ourselves to be? (Okay, maybe this ISN’T common knowledge – but it IS one of my crazy theories, and so far – it’s working for me.)

    Well, you often embody all the wonder I can create my Self to be, if I Love and Trust my Self enough to do so. And the times that you’re not mirroring Magnificent Potential – then you are reflecting paths I’ve travelled, strengths I’ve grown, humour I’ve cultivated and love I’ve been smart enough to accept.

    Meeting you in real life would be such a gift. May my own small steps for 2011 generate an income that will allow me to find my way to you at some point. I’m pretty sure it’s inevitable – it is the timing that eludes me.

    Happy New Year ~ and thank you for being such a beautiful and significant mirror …

  8. Elizabeth Marie

    How did I miss you all this month! Oops. I mean last month. You have such an amazing, fun, ALIVE voice. Your lists don’t make me feel bad about my lack of (public) lists.

  9. Noel

    I get New Year’s anxiety too — January 1 arrives and I have so many things that I want to do and I feel like I have to start them all rightnow or they will never get done!

    Your list is amazing (will you please talk to my boyfriend about #14, as he has a tooth that’s been half-missing for six weeks now …) and I can’t wait to hear more, especially about all these books! (!)

    I love too that you divide your deadlines into quarters. I like to think of each season as a mini “new year,” a time to restart and refresh and evaluate what’s going on in your life. (I wrote about that here: )

    Can’t wait to read and see more of you in 2011!

  10. Aloveaffairwithpaper

    I am still drooling over everyone’s planners & haven’t found one I want to use yet…time is dwindling so I need to get a move on. This is unheard of for me to not have a planner yet. I’ve got goals. I’ve got plans. But none of it feels real yet without my planner…love your list!

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