Beginnings

road-sunset.jpg

A new book, an open road, a fresh pen, a bare page…

Though I’m now officially two months into this yearlong adventure, in many ways I feel like I’m still on the wobbly first legs of it.

I’m writing this from Kansas City, with the cold blue dark falling outside and a thinning slick of snow on the ground. December has involved a lot of travel, already; and I’ve landed here for a few whirlwind days to unpack, repack and catch my breath for the next leg of the journey: Los Angeles (a pretty great place to kick off the new year, no?). In an hour or so I’ll pick up my dear friend Christina and her daughter Cora — my lovely travel companions for the drive out to LA — and set off on the 1,600 miles that will carry us from here to there.

I love the full-on newness of January, the stretched-out horizon of a year; the chance to say farewell to what has come and gone, and hello to what may be. It feels right to begin the year with a road trip: driving westward from winter, over rivers and deserts and the changing earth, toward the sun and the sea.

Back in September, I wrote myself a list of "Rules for the Journey" — guidelines and encouragements, of sorts, to help remind me of the way I want to live and engage in this year of far-flung places. Then, in the swirl of moving and traveling, I forgot about it. A few weeks ago I rediscovered this list on an index card, tucked away in a folder. And the items on it still ring true; they still feel right. They capture how I want to step forward into the new year (and also represent some ways to combat the familiar and nagging bullies of busyness, perfectionism, control, and fear). So, in the spirit of resolutions and revelations, here are my guideposts for the year ahead:

1. Done is better than perfect.

2. Think, but not too much.

3. Let it happen.

4. Remember what makes a good story.

5. Find the connection (there is one).

6. See the beauty (it’s there).

7. Share whenever possible.

8. Take a deep breath. Have a cup of tea.

9. Change what needs to change.

10. People first, always.

11. Freely receive, and freely give.

12. Choose the things that spark joy. Discard the rest.

13. Feel the fear. Do it anyway.

14. Try a different route.

15. There is enough.

16. Live the questions.

17. Practice being comfortable with being uncomfortable.

18. Be here now.

Here's to a new year, full of things that have never been! May we step forward into it with compassion, generosity, kindness, courage, and hopeful expectation.

Want to receive 12 Places Project updates right in your inbox? Sign up here!