9Jan

Move It (Metaphorically Speaking)

Last weekend, we drove to an outlet mall a little ways out of town. I’d intended to use the opportunity for a nap, still feeling every bit a shadow wraith after our 4 a.m. New Year’s Eve, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the scenery. Winter in Umbria is an unconventional beauty. They call this the Green Heart of Italy because of its evergreens—spruces nodding their tufted heads in time with junipers, cypresses straight-backed and regal—but I’m captivated by the deciduous trees as well, their line-drawn latticework against the blue, each birds’ nest the silhouette of a secret. White-tipped mountains smudge the horizon. In the foreground, tilled fields and olive groves follow the eccentric lilt of the landscape. Each town has a way of looking like it was grown here, stone towers and archways hugging the hilltops and the low winter sun fanning through. The general effect is that of a Van Gogh painting.

“Why don’t we go out exploring more often?” Dan asked me.

“Because we never have it on our schedule.”

As I answered, I thought about how easily a schedule can function as blinders, the parameters of my day confined to whatever I’ve planned out beforehand. I appreciate having a schedule, just as I appreciate lists and goal outlines and brainstorming diagrams and all manner of ISTJ-happy organizational strategies. I actually put “Apply makeup” on my to-do list for this morning, if that gives you an idea of how much satisfaction I find in mapping out every last moment. (Yes, I have problems.)

It’s easy to get stuck in a perpetual state of planning though. My focus can be so narrow and unaccepting of deviation that waking up in the morning can feel like staring down a ski chute. Did you see the “Best Ski Line of 2014” video going around a few weeks ago? Like that. The precision of it all has a way of paralyzing me, and it’s easier to keep refining my plan, adding more items to the list, and maybe going back to my brainstorming pages than it is to kick off.

Not getting things done, of course, leads to profound dissatisfaction at the end of a day, and not having space to maneuver beyond my schedule—going out with my family to explore the winter landscape, for instance—crushes. As I’ve been thinking this week about how to beat both the paralysis and the inflexibility in this new year, two words have come to mind: “Move it.” It’s a mantra, a motto, a ridiculously catchy children’s song, and a reminder. “Move it” means taking action, doing the things that I’m liable to keep putting off forever. It also means shaking a little, shimmying a lot, cultivating the art of wiggle room in my life.

I hadn’t really planned on coming up with a word (or, uh, a phrase) for 2015, but it seems like one found me all the same, my direction for the year now pirouetting like Van Gogh hills toward the horizon.

Winter in Umbria 4

P.S. – Have you picked a word or a phrase for the new year? I’d love to hear it!

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10 comments

  1. I love your thoughts on moving. One book I’ve found inspirational for getting up and outside with my kids even on the yucky days, is this one http://www.amazon.com/Fifteen-Minutes-Outside-House-Connect/dp/1402254369/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1420837937&sr=8-1&keywords=15+minutes+outside we still don’t get outside EVERY day, lol! But I like to sit down and plan idea in the early part of each month, and this book keeps me at it. 🙂 For me, The word I keep seeing everywhere and thinking about a lot, is “Connect” I want to connect more with myself, my wife, and my kids.

    • Thanks for the book recommendation! It looks right up our alley too and definitely like something that could help this year feel a little less claustrophobic. I love your word for the year as well, especially that you included yourself in the list. ::fist bump::

  2. I love the idea of scheduling exploring. 🙂 It’s my hope to get my own car this year, and exploring will be at the very top of my to-do list. 🙂

    • Exploring without a car definitely takes extra determination… and energy… and time… and patience. 😀 You have such a knack for it even where you are though; it’s one of the things inspiring me to get to know my own neighborhood and region better!

  3. Man, I have done no work on my New Year stuff this year. I have no word, no good direction, nothing. I haven’t walked yet…it has been REALLY cold and my bed in the morning is so WARM and COZY. I haven’t really prepared for my new semester either, and school begins TOMORROW. So, maybe my word is turning out to be “procrastinate”? It will be easy for me to follow! It is my natural state, after all.

    • I don’t blame you about staying under the covers. I’ve completely given up on ever working out first thing in the morning for that reason. 🙂 Oh, and maybe your word is going to come to you this year by roundabout means. Keep us posted!

  4. Bethany, I’m so glad I found your site. I have a weird fascination with Italy, although I’ve only been there once. Please include a scenery picture in every post 🙂 Anyway, I never choose words for the year or a season or what have you. But they certainly seem to find me anyway. The phrase for now is “hands open.” There’s a post brewing about this one but it’s not ready. I enjoyed your post.

    • Hi Traci! I’m so glad to connect with you. “Hands open” is a wonderful phrase and also kind of… well, open-ended. 🙂 I’ll be looking forward to seeing where you go with that!

  5. Be. Here. Now. Kinda sums it up for me.

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