Personal Stories

My Yearly Mantra for Writing, Travel & Life in 2024

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I’ll admit it: I’m a total nerd about the rituals of celebrating the New Year. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved looking back on the year ending, setting resolutions, and planning my year ahead. I’ve done that many different ways over the years, but for almost as long as I’ve had this blog (10 years!), I’ve been setting a yearly “mantra” instead of a resolution.

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 – and there are big changes to come in 2024, as you may know, if you’ve followed me for a while (Mr. V and I are expecting our first child in early February!).

Even as each 365-day year (or in the case of 2024, 366-day year) never turns out exactly as I imagine it will on this, the first of those days, I still find value in considering, choosing, and committing to a specific word each year to focus my energies and efforts. 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. Thank you for joining me on this journey for another year!

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. It’s hard to believe it’s now been nine 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 my intention for my mantra (and life as a whole!) never works out as planned, I still 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 2023 Yearly Mantra: Magic

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 2023 mantra, based on the predictions I had:

I will continue to explore my interest in Wicca.

2023 kicked off with a new interest in my life, the practice of Wicca. I didn’t stay engaged with that subject long, though I am grateful for the chapter of education and experimentation this interest brought to my life.

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

My Cleveland-based group and I played pretty often – though summer travels, autumn cold season, and the winter holidays, plus two of our crew moving to Greece certainly affected our consistency. I still love playing D&D and will definitely miss it during the few months I’ll be taking off early in the year to spend time with Baby V.

I also tried my hand at DMing (running the game) several times. It’s exhausting and exhilarating to help build a world with my players, and I look forward to getting back to that at some point in 2024 too. (We’re partway through The Curse of Strahd which I want them to finish!)

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

As someone who loves the work I do, I think I have a lot of resistance to letting things in life be easy; “work” means work – like effort, energy, etc., right? I set this intention with the goal of letting go of that need to push hard to achieve success.

To be honest, I don’t know if I feel I accomplished this or not, but I like that I was trying to make life easier for myself!

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

This is always a good reminder; even though 2023 brought one HUGE ‘wonderful and exciting thing’ into my life, there were lots of other, smaller, gratitude-worthy experiences and souvenirs that this year has left me with.

My Yearly Mantra for 2024: Embrace

For 2024, I’ve deliberated long and hard; this year brings huge changes to my life (and the life of Mr. V) as we eagerly await the arrival of Baby V in our little adventuring crew. Having a sense of foreknowledge for what’s to come in the majority of our year in this major part of life, I wanted to pick a word that might help guide me all year long… from frustrated 4am feedings to memorable moments with the new member of our family.

In the end, I settled on embrace, which (as all of my mantras have done), has several definitions:

  • verb
    • hold (someone) closely in one’s arms, especially as a sign of affection
    • accept or support (a belief, theory, or change) willingly and enthusiastically
  • noun
    • an act of holding someone closely in one’s arms
    • an act of accepting or supporting something willingly or enthusiastically

Now, some of you might be moms, and some of you might remember that time while you were waiting for your first child’s birth; it’s a bit different for us moms than for dads, simply because we’re so intimately tied to the process of bringing new life into the world. On the whole, I’m excited for Baby V to make her debut… but I’m also nervous about all the changes it will bring to my life (I’m still adjusting to the ones she’s already brought!).

For this reason, I thought embrace was the perfect verb to repeat in my mind: I am ready to embrace Baby V in our lives, both physically – which I’m sure she will need a lot of! – and personally/spiritually. Having a child is a huge change… and a huge adventure. Luckily, Mr. V and I love adventures!

What I Predict ‘Embrace’ Will Mean in 2024

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

Lots and lots of snuggles, comfort-giving, and comfort-receiving.

Mr. V and I have spent a lot of time talking about the newborn phase, reclaiming our marriage within our family, and how we want to try and parent Baby V. Through all of this runs a current of physical connection that is integral to getting through this big transition together.

And of course, baby snuggles!! We gotta enjoy them while we can this year, as by the time I sit down to write my 2024 recap/2025 mantra posts, we may well have an early-stage toddler on our hands!

An ongoing process of accepting motherhood and the changes it brings.

As someone who was more ambivalent than enthusiastic about parenthood, I have thought frequently about how much of my life I have to “give up” to bring a new life into this world – and I don’t just mean the foods I’ve missed out on eating the last eight months and the lack of mulled wine this holiday season…

My relationship with the whole world is about to change, because I have a new relationship with this one little human whose job I now have to keep happy and healthy… and that means learning to let go of what has been and working to accept the new things that will be.

A grateful acceptance of the other changes that happen this year.

“The only constant is change,” of course, and every year has brought change to my life. In addition to one for-sure monumental change, there will be other changes, adventures, and adversities in store in 2024.

It is my goal to continue working to roll with the punches better, to see more silver linings, and to continue growing into what I hope Baby V will look back on as one really cool mama and mentor.

Want to Set Your Own Yearly Mantra for 2024?

2024 Mantra Hero
Last year was *very* cold on New Year’s Day!

Like what you’ve read so far? If you want to set your own 2024 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.

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