Where I spray-paint my thoughts…

I wouldn’t call them resolutions as such …


Maybe, I don’t know, goals? Aspirations? Things I want to do?

My actual New Year’s resolutions, like most people’s, are boringly predictable from year to year. Exercise more regularly. Pray and read my Bible more. Eat more vegetables. Be more patient with my kids. They’re not even worth mentioning on New Year’s Day because they’re really life resolutions, things I strive towards all the time, with varying degrees of success.

But I also enjoy setting random challenges for myself, although I don’t intend to write a book about any of them. Setting challenges and goals makes life interesting and forces me to stretch myself, to do things I wouldn’t normally do. In 2011, the things I’m challenging myself to do all have a sort of similar theme of rediscovering lost arts … things that maybe we don’t do enough, or at least I don’t do enough, in our wired, technological, sound-bite age.

In 2011, I’m going to …


1. Write Letters. At least once a week, I’m going to write an actual, physical, on-paper note or letter to someone in my life, and I’m going to put it in an envelope, put a stamp on it, and mail it.  If I achieve my goal of sending 52 actual letters this year, not only will friends and family have tangible evidence of how much they mean to me, but Canada Post will love me.

2. Read Poetry. I think everyone knows I love to read. I voraciously devour novels and memoirs, but one of my guilty little secrets, as a writer, English teacher, and person with an B.A. and an M.A. in English, is that I haven’t read much poetry in my life, except things I had to read for class in university. This year, I plan to remedy that, and I will be looking for recommendations, both of classic poetry and contemporary poems (I’m particularly interested in things I wouldn’t have had to read for a university class).

3. Memorize Scripture. I’m always impressed by people who can memorize and I believe it’s good for the brain as well as the spirit. This year, between now and Easter, I’m joining an online challenge with people who want to  memorize the entire book of Philippians (it’s a great website, although the person hosting it seems awfully dedicated to wanting you to buy a Moleskine … shares in the company perhaps? I just put my memorizing notes in a notebook I already had around the house, though of course you could do it just as easily with nothing but a Bible in your hand). I haven’t made a serious attempt at memorizing Scripture since I tried to memorize Psalm 119 some years ago, and depending on how the Philippians project goes, I might try some more … or I might slink away in silent shame, a memorizing failure.

I’ll blog about all these things from time to time throughout the next months and let you know how it’s going. Like I said,  I won’t get a book deal out of any of these, but setting specific and measurable challenges gives me a sense of accomplishment, as opposed the ongoing effort to simply Be A Better Person, which can often make me feel a little like Sisyphus. Happy New Year … what challenges do you have in mind for yourself?


9 thoughts on “I wouldn’t call them resolutions as such …

  1. Some poets I want to get into this year are Edwin Morgan (Scotland’s first national poet, who died last year), and Norman McCaig (also a Scot). I wonder given Canada’s rich Scottish heritage whether they might be worth you giving a go?

  2. Our family theme for 2010 was thankfulness – we needed some practice! This year we’ve chosen Biblical literacy and I’m going to be learning my kid’s memory verses together with her in addition to reading through the Bible systematically.

    Much joy with your challenges/resolutions!

  3. Hi Trudy. Our family is very fond of the American poet Billy Collins. This Christmas my mom gave David his latest collection “Ballistics.” His poetry is full of elegant and witty observations of himself and the people around him. Collins does not take himself too seriously. Another poet who I think you’d enjoy is St. John’s first poet laureate Agnes Walsh. I think you’d really like her collection “Going Around with Bachelors.” Agnes’ poems include many of the conventions of novels, especially in her character descriptions. Another person who’s poems include wonderful storytelling and character description is Michael Crummey. I would recommend his collection “Salvage.” Geri Rubia’s best collection, in my opinion, is “Skating Among the Graves” she writes pithy poems, often with domestic insights. My last poet who we can claim as local, since he’s settled here, is Don McKay. I really enjoyed “Strike/Slip” and found it very accessible because he includes a very helpful glossary in the back explaining all the geological terms he is using. Don’s writings aren’t about people or community like Agnes and Michael, but he is delving into masses of geology, and finding words for the movements of stone over the ages. When you get into what he’s doing, it’s really wonderful writing.

  4. Hey Trudy,
    I like your resolution that you will write a physical letter once a week. So if you just happen to write one to 1295 Kirkland Ave, Pennsylvania (PA) 19380 USA, then I might just answer with a physical letter. I always enjoyed my penmanship with the Sharpies my kids still send me for Chrstmas. They ask, “Dad what do you want for Christmas this year?” And they ask knowing full well I will say “Oh, a Sharpie.” But it sure keeps me in Sharpies, makes them spend less, and the postage is less cruel than a big gift.
    Happy New Year! ~Mike (mike_madigan@yahoo.com)
    P.S The web site above is the one for the Irish town of Askeaton, Co Limerick, Ireland. Both my grandfather John Madigan and Maggie Madigan (Titanic survivor) came from there. Her story is there too!

  5. i love writing letters, and seldom get letters in return. it’s a little disheartening, but if you decided to write a real, live, snail-mail letter to me, i’ll send you one right back. 🙂

  6. Oh, I’m getting so many good suggestions … poets to read AND people to write letters to! Anyone else have anything to suggest?

  7. My contribution to your resolution to read more poetry (and a poetic contribution to your Death be not Proud article)

    And this one, which has been a favorite for years…

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