Winter #3: Themes for 2023
Sharing my monthly themes for the next year – and an invitation to share your own!
Welcome to Winter, Issue #3 of Making Time. Each week, I share a seasonal perspective on the creative process. This month, my theme is Structure. If you’d like to follow along on this year-long experiment, you can subscribe for free.
[Poinsettia, my first complete drawing in Procreate]
One of the structures for living I’m experimenting with this year is monthly themes.
I tend to get overwhelmed by all the different priorities and facets of life I’d like to pay attention to, and end up neglecting things that matter. So I’ve developed a theme for each month this year to help me shift my focus to something new each month, so that I can really give it what it needs.
What I like best about this idea is that it gives me permission to not focus on particular projects or aspects of life, knowing that I have time set aside later in the year.
Here are my themes this year. If you want to join along, feel free to come up with some for yourself and share them with all of us in the comments. Or, if you have an annual theme, word, or some other method you’re using to focus on what matters, I’d love to hear it.
I also want to take a moment to thank everyone who has been leaving such thoughtful comments lately. Joining in the discussion with you all is really my favorite part of publishing this each week, and you always spark new perspectives for me.
This month, I’ll put the structures for living in place, schedule important rituals, and make sure I have what I need. I wrote about this last week, but the important thing here is that the structure is in service of something meaningful and not simply a method for getting more done for the sake of productivity.
One of my biggest projects this year is learning to get better at storytelling through video, specifically through the Seamwork YouTube channel. This month, I’ll focus on creating more personal, thoughtful narratives both in video and in other media I get to work in.
March: A Space to Create
One of my dreams is to build a backyard studio this year. No idea when the project will happen, but at least I want to plan it out and organize the creative space I already have. Environment is critical for me when it comes to creating, and there’s a lot in my current environment that gets in my way.
I have big plans for our vegetable garden this year, and it’s going to take a lot of work to get everything going and finish all the planting and hardscaping I’ve left half-done. April will be the perfect month, while it’s still cool and before most things get planted out for the summer.
I’m hoping to travel outside the US for the first time since 2019 (how has it been that long?). This month is all about breaking out of my humble little world for a while.
Relationships are a big focus for me this year, and this month I really want to focus on friendships of all kinds, new and old, close and distant. It can be a bit lonely living out here in the country, and I’d love to meet some new people.
I’m hoping to take a long break/sabatical in July, something I haven’t done in 14 years of running a business. I’m planning to use that time to do a lot of making.
I’d like to go backpacking at least once this summer, hopefully more. But August is the perfect time to get out and enjoy some longer hikes and time in nature.
September: Rest and Reset
Summers are wonderful but they can be taxing. September will be a time to take stock and reflect. There’s always a lot of change happening in September, so it seems like the ideal time to take stock.
There are so many little projects to do around the home, and I seem to put them off endlessly. It’ll be nice to have time set aside for the home, especially in October as fall comes around. There’s something soothing about working on your home base.
It’s so easy to put off repairing the things you already have. Thanksgiving seems the perfect time to show love to the things that need them most, by fixing them, polishing them, making them whole.
I want to use the holidays as an opportunity to celebrate and love the people around me. It’s an obvious theme for the month, but I think the sense of celebration can be expanded even more. Let’s celebrate all that makes our lives worthwhile, and all we’ve done this year.
Of course, these themes may change as life changes. No one knows what awaits them in the future, and these could fly out the window with one big event, but let’s try it and see how it goes.
I created the illustration at the top of this issue with my new Apple pencil and Procreate, which I took a class on over the holiday break.
This honestly took me quite a long time and I made some pretty amateurish mistakes (like forgetting to put the original outline/sketch on a separate layer, etc), but it’s been so fun to learn.
It’s interesting to transfer a set of skills (analog drawing/painting) to a different medium. There’s always so much you learn from a creative pursuit that you don’t even recognize until you have an opportunity to apply it elsewhere.
Head, Heart, Hands
Things to make us think, feel, and do.
Seeing the gift, one of those things that’s simple but difficult.
Why our stuff is so poorly made these days, one of many reasons to invest in making things for yourself.
Ok, this piece on the turnaround of Barnes & Noble fascinated me and actually made me want to go to one and check it out.
This beautiful Swedish “library house” reminded me of a passage I read in Helen and Scott Nearing’s book The Good Life about having no need in their house for decoration apart from a tapestry of books on the walls.
I’m not totally sure what The Kō Strategies is, but I signed up.
This sweater pattern is really cool. (I’m currently working on a sweater that has about 1% left to go and I just can’t seem to finish it.)
I’m adding another NY resolution: eat more pizza. I’m going to try this one out this week.
I love this. Productivity Blocker is a Chrome extension for blocking your access to any productive app. Found viawho also wrote a great piece in the NYT about Why Clutter is Good for You.
Have a great week, and let me know your thoughts about themes for this year, if you’re implementing them in any way!
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12 themes seems very ambitious to me because I am terrible at remembering all the promises I make to myself at the beginning of the year. I stick with one theme or word for the year which I can manage returning to. 2023 is Making Do, which I am making a bit of a project out of. I'm still thinking about the parameters of this, but will definitely include a focus on using what I have in my creative space, and not purchasing more weaving, knitting, sewing materials. I'm thinking of an outright shopping ban for non-essentials starting in mid-February (just after my birthday) to facilitate this.
Your themes seem very well-placed with the months of the year though, some of them very naturally flowing from the season you are in - I look forward to hearing more as you encounter them this year.
I like your monthly themes. Right now I have one theme which may take me through the entire year; actually it's more like a five year plan -- FINISH! Finish reading the books I have waiting patiently in piles around my house. I forgot to mention the magazines that need to be read also. Finish all the needlework projects that have been started and not completed. Finish revising the poems and stories I have written. Finish doing the research for a non-fiction book I would like to write. Finish a memoir. So much to FINISH! Good luck with your themes. Cheryl