Personal Stories

My Yearly Mantra for Writing, Travel & Life in 2023

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Here we are, at the start of another year. If you’re reading this, first off: thank you. You’ve joined me once again on this journey we’re all making through life and I’m glad to have you along the way – whether that’s just this one post or another one about traveling to Alaska (or somewhere else).

I’ll be honest: I wrote this post at the end of January and back-dated it to January 1st. I thought I had chosen my mantra at the end of 2022 but it just didn’t feel right; I let it sit (as I advise you to do at the end of this post if you also decide to choose a mantra for the year), and ended up coming up with a word that feels much better to me. The intention behind that unchosen word – “complete” – is still in the back of my mind, but this year’s chosen word feels like the direction I want my energy to focus.

2023 Yearly Mantra Hero
This is the first year I have photos from Cleveland to mark the year – it’s a very different look than Seattle/California in years past!

As I do each year, I’m posting this particular blog post on January 1st to mark the new year; setting a yearly mantra is an annual tradition that I started focusing on back in 2016. Since then, life has changed a lot – obviously! But I still find value in considering, choosing, and committing to a specific word each year to focus my energies and efforts. The year never goes as I imagine it will when I sit down to write this post, but the exercise is still valuable. After all, if you don’t have an idea in mind where you’re going, how will you get there – or know when (if) you do?

Many people wiser and more successful than I have abandoned the idea of New Year’s Resolutions in favor of choosing words or phrases to focus on instead. I find this practice to be more productive and flexible than New Year’s Resolutions, though I do set goals and have things I want to accomplish. If you enjoy reading today’s post, I hope you’ll join me in choosing a word to focus on this year – and share yours in the comments so I can follow your journey too.

The History of My Yearly Mantras

To give credit where it’s due, the idea for a yearly mantra comes from my blogger friend Malia from Shoyu Sugar; she introduced me to this topic over six years ago. It’s hard to believe it’s now been eight years of choosing a word to focus my intentions for the year!

Here are my past mantras:

While each year, my yearly mantra hasn’t exactly taken the form I’d expect, it’s been an interesting hallmark of the year. For example, in 2017, I thought muse would guide my creative efforts and endeavors; in reality, I learned to surrender to my creative curiosity and accept more structured projects (like my job) when they presented themselves to me. Sometimes, I was in control of the muse, and sometimes she exerted more control over me.

Despite the fact that it (and life) never works out as planned, I like to set my word on January 1st. It allows me to check in throughout the year and look back at the year’s end to see how far I’ve come and how wonderfully meandering my life has been.

Looking Back on My 2022 Yearly Mantra: Release

Each year, I set forward a few intentions surrounding my mantra and what I think it will mean. Here’s how things turned out for my 2022 mantra.

I will release thoughts, people, and experiences that create negative energy.

I think this is probably something I will struggle with/work on throughout my life, as I don’t really feel like I did as good of a job as I could have at just deciding when to let stuff go out of my life forever.

I will focus on the release phase as much as the exertion phase.

I originally set this part of my intention both related to fitness and life; I certainly struggled more with my health than I have in years past, but have found my way back again as the new year begins. I also can certainly get better at releasing parts of my work in 2023; this is one of those mantras that I think will stick with me for a while.

I will publish more, produce more, share more, etc. without worrying about the outcome.

I absolutely was able to release my expectations about the work I do in 2022, especially in the second half of the year. I’ve been able to produce some things I never would have thought of in the past, and they have done well – a delightful surprise.

My Yearly Mantra for 2023: Magic

For 2023, I’ve chosen the word ‘magic’ to focus my intentions for the year. Like many of my mantras, ‘magic’ has many meanings:

  • noun: the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.
  • verb: move, change, or create by or as if by magic.
  • adjective:
    • used in magic or working by magic; having or apparently having supernatural powers.
    • wonderful; exciting.

While all three of these definitions sort of apply, it’s this last one – as an adjective – that I think most accurately describes what I’m hoping 2023 will bring.

What I Predict ‘Magic’ Will Mean in 2023

Like past mantras, I want to make a few assertions about how I hope ‘magic’ will play out in my life.

I will continue to explore my interest in Wicca.

It probably helps to get this one out of the way first, since you might be wondering what I meant by the actual magic applying to my year.

In late 2022, I became interested in learning about the Wicca religion; even though I don’t really like the idea of identifying as Wicca, I like a lot of what it stands for, and it feels much more aligned with my personal beliefs than any other religion I’ve explored.

I don’t intend to become a “skyclad” (naked) person dancing in the woods casting spells kind of witch, but I think there are some aspects of the practice that could help me be a better human on this planet and live in better alignment with the environment. I want to learn more and figure out how that fits into my life.

I plan to continue playing a lot more Dungeons & Dragons.

Independent of the above point about Wicca, I’ve gotten into D&D this year – it feels long overdue if you know anything about my history and love of fantasy like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.

I’ve actually become really attached to the group I play with, and have begun the role as “DM” (dungeon master, aka game leader) in our latest campaign. While there isn’t magic in any literal sense, it is fun to play in a fantasy world with new friends (especially after a long pandemic and moving cross-country without a community here in Cleveland!).

2023 Yearly Mantra

I want to let things – especially work – become easier (as if by magic).

Those of you who know me know that I am a workaholic; that’s another term I’m coming to integrate into my identity (though again, I don’t really like it!). It’s my goal in 2023 to get better at outsourcing, grow my business, and let the sticking points become easier to help my business grow and reach more people.

I want to look back on 2023 with gratitude for all the wonderful and exciting things it has brought into my life.

Leaning on that last definition of magic as “wonderful, exciting” (an “informal, British” use of the word, appropriately), that’s what I want 2023 to feel like when I sit down in 2024 to choose my next mantra. I think, as I’ve become older, I’ve lost a bit of the glimmer in my eye about the world – I certainly am happy with my life, but lack the effusive joy that old age, bills, and responsibilities suck away.

Excuse my language, but fuck that. My 2023 can be magical if I want it to be – and so can yours. I hope you’ll stick with me on the journey.

Want to Set Your Own Yearly Mantra for 2023?

Like what you’ve read so far? If you want to set your own 2023 mantra, it’s easy! Here are the steps I follow each year:

  1. Make a list of words or phrases you might think will represent and inspire you this year.
  2. Pin the list up or add it somewhere you’ll see it at least once a day.
  3. Give yourself 1-2 weeks to consider all of the words on your list.
  4. Choose one word that stands out to you, and give yourself 1-2 days to see if it feels “right.”
  5. Once you’ve chosen your word, share it with me in the comments.

I can’t wait to hear what mantra you have chosen for the coming year – share it in the comments, please, and I’ll remember to follow up at the end of the year to see how yours has gone. Happy New Year, friends!

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I was born on the East Coast and currently live in the Midwest – but my heart will always be out West. I lived for 15 years in Alaska, as well as four years each in California and Washington. I share travel resources and stories based on my personal experience and knowledge.

2 Comments

  • Rose Grumbine

    Creation. I thought I was settling in last year to coast the next decade toward retirement only to find my plans tossed. (56 years old and “released” from my job for the first time.) Too young to want to retire now. Too old to start completely anew. Now what? Time to create something amazing and new from what I have.

    • Valerie

      I love it, Rose! It is never to late to create – I have a magnet on my fridge that reads “Life is not about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself.”

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