So, there’s this website called Reverb 10 that, kindly and fascinatingly, is freely spewing out creative prompts. What they say about themselves and why they’re happy to act as inspiration brokers is the following, found in their explanation as to what, exactly, Reverb 1o is.
It’s an open online initiative that encourages participants to reflect on this year and manifest what’s next. It’s an opportunity to retreat and consider the reverberations of your year past, and those that you’d like to create in the year ahead. We’re connected by the belief that sharing our stories has the power to change us. We look forward to reading yours.
The project began in December of last year with a daily prompt, the idea being to elicit reflection and direction via guided questioning. It’s since grown into a monthly invitation to creatively express the question or theme posited through whatever creative filter best suits you: images, videos, words or sounds. Being as words are (or used to be) my medium, that’s the one in which I’ll be working. I’m hoping that doing so will reinstill in me the good habit of writing regularly (living in a foreign country and teaching seems to have thrust it out of me), work some warmth and fluidity back into my talent, and, in truth, help me make sense of the past 10-12 months, because lord, they’ve been doozies. And so, without further ado and despite the fact that it is certainly no longer December of 2010, I’m starting at the very beginning, December 1st.
December 1 – One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you? (Author: Gwen Bell)
2010, my one word for you would be extreme.
Spring, 2010: I was running 5-7 miles every day (frequently more at weekends), and training for my first ever 10K, to be run in Madrid. I still remember the feeling of the cool, damp morning air on April 26th. I still remember my amazement at the relative quietness of thousands of footfalls and their human producers on Spanish cement. I remember that traffic had been stopped along the course, and marveling at Paseo de la Castellana’s sheer emptiness. I remember smiling as I approached Nuevos Ministerios, music bearing me along as I wove through, past, other runners. I distinctly recall thinking, “this is the best year of my life.”
That was also the best year–or perhaps the best period–of my life because I fell head over heels, can’t-think-can’t read-can’t sleep-can’t function kind of in love with someone really, truly special, with someone who loves me boundlessly back. I’m still in love with him, and he’s still as exceedingly good, kind and swoon-worthy as he was in the spring of 2010. It was all so new then, though, and I was still amazed by how good love could feel. I barely slept. I didn’t have to; I was running on love, endorphins and the thrill of a future with the best man I’d ever met by my side.
Summer, 2010: Mexico, Master’s degree in hand. Spanish, as flawless as it’ll probably ever be. Me, tan, thin, accomplished, beloved. University teaching job lined up for the Fall. Boyfriend in Deutschland still wholly, besottedly in love. 10K in the States. World: on top of it.
Fall, 2010: And then came the fall, pretty literally. I went from a personal pinnacle the likes of which I’d never before experienced to a ravine, full of rocks and snakes and darkness. There were three herniated discs that took months and months to diagnose. Quite simply, all those years of obesity and of later rowing, running, and beating my body ragged to be healthy, to be athletic–to be thin!–caught up with me. I have never before experienced pain like that, and this is coming from a girl who one day awakened to find her leg immobile and on fire thanks to lacerated hip cartilage. It’s awfully dramatic when people say this, but here it goes, anyhow: my life was changed forever. I can no longer lift anything more than a few pounds. I can’t pull up my own jeans without pain. I can’t sleep without waking multiple times in the night, all feeling in my leg and hands gone, and replaced by pins and needles or deep, nauseating pain between my shoulder blades. I don’t run anymore, and I certainly don’t row. I am lucky if I can get dressed and make the bed without further maiming my ailing sack of a corpus. This is all so very lame, in more ways than two. There is not a moment that I am allowed to forget what’s wrong, there is not a moment I’m not in pain. I wake up in the morning and I pray it won’t be a bad day, the kind during which I take multiple muscle relaxants and sit and cry. I am a changed woman.
However, I’m still ambulatory, I can still write, and Niels, bless his enormous German heart, has stayed hopeful steady, and by my side through all of the meltdowns, all of the tears and all of the despair. If there’s one thing I’ve gained from my body having fallen apart, it’s truly knowing the depths of the generousness of soul of the person I’m with and being able to trust in him intuitively and completely. That really is a gift, and one I’m not sure I could’ve ever unwrapped, let alone accepted, if fate hadn’t forced me.
Phew. I hope nobody read all that. This is fast going totally Oprah.
Anyhow, I believe it’s time I select a word for 2011, and though we’re already half way through it, in some ways I feel like it isn’t such a bad time for attempting to manifest a fresh start. My health has of late been better, I’m learning a new language in preparation for a future with Niels in Germany, and I’m feeling hopeful (or hoffnungsvoll, auf Deutsch).
My word for 2011 is rather boring, but I think it works: improve. The descriptor applies to nearly every aspect I’m working on now, language learning, weight loss (as you can imagine, 10 months of relative stillness isn’t kind to the figure and I’m still up at least 15 lbs from this time last year), and most importantly, health. It’s time to heal, and it’s time to put my energy into doing so. I’m ready, 2011 part II. I’m hopeful and I’m willing. Let’s do this. Please, let me do this.