The Winter Stretch
Out with the old, in with the new
Every year around this time, as the fall colours start to fade, and the days get colder, I become acutely aware of the fact that the year is almost done and that a clean slate of a year is about to begin. It puts me in Spring Cleaning mode, for lack of a better way to explain it. It’s my Winter Stretch, and during this time I start tying up loose ends from the current year, and planning for the next. It’s a time of organizing, planning, list making, dreaming, renewal, introspection, and most importantly, excitement. I mean come on, I can’t be the only person who loves a fresh start; whether it be a new year, new notebook (all those clean pages!), a new daily planner, a new adventure, or just a chance to move forward. It’s all great!
And yeah, I’m that person who loves making lists, planning, and organizing. I truly thrive on that kind of structure. That’s not to say I can’t be spontaneous or that I can’t roll with the punches that life throws at me, but a well thought out plan simply can’t be beat, in my humble opinion. But I digress…
Winter Stretch is most definitely an exciting time for me, and I feel my creative juices really start flowing this time of year. But there is also a part of me that loathes it. Simply put, I strongly dislike Canadian winters, with a passion. So, even though I’m excited for the prospect of a new year and all that it brings, I’m dreading the months upon months of frigid temperatures and snow. The grey, gloomy, cold days have SAD rearing its ugly head, and seem to trigger my anxiety much more often than I’d like. So yeah, I have a love hate relationship with winter. But for now, I’m focusing on the new & exciting aspects of it.
2022 has been a year of change and letting go for me, and I’ve let go of a lot, but I still have some work to do. So, I’ll be carrying that mantra forward, and adding a bit more to it for the new year ahead. The biggest thing I let go this year was alcohol, and though I have given myself permission to partake in alcoholic beverages after my one year of sobriety, I really don’t find myself wanting to do so. So, it looks as if that may just become the new normal for me, and I’m absolutely ok with that.
This year also saw us begin traveling again, albeit only in North America. Even though we limited ourselves to this continent, it was amazing to get back out there after COVID had confined us all to our homes & local areas for so many years. I mean yeah, it was only two years, but it felt like ten! So, of course, we plan to do as much traveling in 2023 as we can afford to do. Which means I’ll be keeping an eye out for deals on flights, hotels, and the like. We’ll also be doing road trips because we want to explore as much within driving distance as possible, to help us keep within our budget. But I am hopeful that we can do at least one transatlantic trip this year. Perhaps we’ll finally even visit Ireland? Fingers crossed!
In the new year I plan to move forward with my need to not take my photography so seriously. To reprogram my brain to be creative simply because I want to be, and not because I need a banger image for Instagram. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating, social media has a way of killing creativity, and I’m not ok with that. So, this year I will work to get back to viewing my photography for what it has always been to me, which is a way for me to capture the world as I see it, through my lens (TisheyeLens). I will use it as a way to document my travels and everyday life, and I won’t concern myself so much with the technical shit that people tend to get caught up in. In the end, it’s not only a way for me to express my creativity, but also a way for me to capture moments and memories so that I can gaze upon them for years to come. Because, I’m a photographer and that’s what I do.
And to tie in with that… my social media accounts will be on probation in 2023. Well, those that are left anyway. My online presence has already been whittled down to my website & blog, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
Honestly, my interest in Instagram has been waning for quite sometime now, but I keep it simply because it’s difficult to let go of things sometimes. Even when those things no longer serve you, it can be a process to say goodbye. I feel I’ve started that process already, so it’s really only a matter of time before it’s gone the way of Facebook for me.
Then you have Twitter, which I’ve had since 2009, but it currently seems to be a train wreck about to happen, as the world watches on, unable to do anything about it. Elon Musk has gotten his grubby hands on it and has started dismantling it, so there may not be anything left to hang on to soon. I suppose we shall see how it plays out.
YouTube has basically become a streaming platform for me and my husband, as we are subscribed to a few dozen channels there that we watch each week, and generally it’s better than Netflix. Also, I post a few videos there from time to time, as I’m playing around with my video making & editing skills. So yeah, It’s fun and entertaining, and that’s enough of a reason to keep it. So, I doubt I get rid of it anytime soon.
That leaves my website, which is basically just a links page to all the stuff mentioned above, and to my blog here. This is my place to write about whatever the heck I feel like writing about, without worrying about who reads it or likes it. Don’t get wrong, I’m glad you’re here, but I’d still be writing if you weren’t. Because, I’m a writer and that’s what I do.
This Winter Stretch is also seeing me reconsider some of the ways in which I organize and plan my days, weeks, months, and year. Basically, I’m getting rid of some of the apps I use, because I’ve lost faith in the companies that make them, and I’m replacing them with apps I can trust, for as much as any app can be trusted. Or, I’m replacing the app with something less tech based, and cutting out the need for tech altogether. It’s a learning curve in some instances, but that’s why I keep YouTube around, right? Tutorial videos for days!
I’m also reflecting on my self care needs. The last three years have been tough, and the last half of those has seen me put a priority on taking care my myself, both physically and mentally. I plan to carry that forward and I’m implementing new ways for me to do so, whether that be a new mediation app, or the use of CBT to help me work through “stuff”. But obviously it isn’t all about apps, and I’m also preparing myself to be a better advocate for me when it comes to my doctors and specialists, and to better be able to express when I need time to myself to recharge.
And for those of you who have followed me for a while, you know I read a lot. In the last few years I’ve read about 80 books, and this year so far, another 30+. And beyond that, I never bothered to keep track, so who knows. That means I’ve purchased a lot of books, and they aren’t cheap, unless you manage to find them on clearance. So, in 2023 I plan to finish reading everything in my Kindle library and my iBooks library, if there is anything left in those by the end of the year. Once that’s accomplished I will start reading the books on my bookshelves that I haven’t read or that I can’t remember reading. I will only purchase books in 2023 is they are on my wish list and on sale (below $5), and will only read them once everything else has been read. Basically, I have a barebones budget for books this year, so I am going to make the most of what’s already available to me first.
I’ve covered a lot of the things I’m thinking about and planning for in 2023, but there is so much more than I can’t possibly type out here. And really, more than I need to type out here. Nobody needs to read me go into detail about my new budgeting tools and how excited I get about lists and spread sheets. For sure! And I think this post has gone a bit off the rails and I need to rein it back in.
So yeah, I’m feeling excited and creative about the new year to come. I’m hoping and planning to make it a great year, filled with adventures near and far, and a new outlook on my photography and writing. I’m looking forward to letting go of more things that don’t serve me and gaining new skills and knowledge to fuel my future.
Do you experience a Winter Stretch? If so, what does it look like for you? Let me know in the comments below. And until next time… be loving, be kind, be better!
This is a pretty good list of goals for the coming year. I'm trying to figure out how I can best keep communicating with family and friends and step more away from social media. The other trick is trying to write and promote my writing without the use of social media, but I guess we're seeing some good changes here at Substack, so I'm hoping that will help me grow both an audience and as a writer.
A good plan for 2023. Looking forward to some “us” time and a chance for you to really take charge of your presence on Soc. med. for too long that stuff has chained us to a reality that does really exist.
I’m with you all the way ❤️