I like to pick a word of the year. Most people use aspirational modifiers. I love to choose solid single nouns. I first participated in this exercise in 2018 when I had just returned from a magical Christmas in England and my word was TEA. It was simple, I wanted to make a habit of stopping in the afternoon to refresh and reboot my day. My 2020 word of the year is similarly literal and tangible.
I am still trying to do that at about 2 PM every day. I love it, I miss it when I don’t get to it because life is hard and busy. In 2019 my word was CHOPSTICKS. That is an oddly uninspired word to choose. But it is exactly how I felt about writing this blog. It was like learning to eat with chopsticks in public. Very messy! I chose it to remind myself that it is ok not to be good at everything all at once. I am often tempted to hide the messy bits of life and pretend everything is ok. This word was a reminder to me that it is ok to learn something new, publically and imperfectly. I actually intend to get some writing practice with my word in 2020.
In this modern world, I want to be a woman of LETTERS. One who writes and reads old fashion letters, written on stationary and sent with a stamp. I want to send cards to my friends, encouragement to my pastors and fan mail to my heroes. I want to read the collected correspondence of great people from the past to listen in on their conversations and learn what was important to them and what they were going to do about those things.
In a world where almost everything can be done electronically or virtually, I want to put pen to paper, stamp to envelope and mail real things to real people in the real world. I am craving more and more of the real world. Last year I started a garden as my effort to push back on the virtual world. This year I am going to the mailbox and the library to participate in the realness of the world. So my word of the year is LETTERS.
Here are some books of compiled letters that I already own and plan to read this year:
Letters To His Son Lucien by Camille Pissarro
I love everything I have ever seen from the hand of Camille Pissaro. He was an impressionist artist, friends and contemporary of Monet, Renoir, Degas, Cassat, Van Gogh. Thie letters in this book span 20 years. No matter what museum I find myself in I will eventually find myself standing in front of a painting that makes my heart leap. I look at the plaque next to the painting and see that it was painted by Camille Pissaro. This happened over and over again over many years and now when it happens I just smile and nod no longer surprised. I want to know more of his work and his life. I clearly have a connection with him, I want to understand it. I may understand it best in his own words to his son who was also an artist.
The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Conner
I can’t say that I love Flannery O’Conner’s stories. They are disturbing and veiled, but so important. I want to read this collection as a way of getting to know her better in order to gain a better understanding of her stories. It takes me days and a long discussion to really get to the bottom of what she is saying and when I do, I marvel at the way she tells me what is true about this world I live in.
The Letters of Beatrice Potter a selection by Judy Taylor
Beatrice Potter is one of my heroes. She lived in a way that was consistent with what was important. She was a writer, an artist, and a farmer. I want to be all of those things too! I want to learn all I can from her.
We chose these two titles as a book club and it just occurred to me that they are a story told through letters. I am pretty excited about how this works with my word of the year. They tell the story of a book lover in America and bookseller in England.
84 Charing Cross by Helene Hanff
The Duchess of Bloomsbury by Helene Hanff
I am quite sure I will be making a list of more volumes of compiled letters and sharing them on my social media. Go follow me to keep up with what makes the expanded list.