Sustainability: The 2018 Word of The Year
by Sica Schmitz | Posted on December 04 2017
Yes, we’ve all eaten and drunk our way through December, and now it’s time for remorse, regrouping, and resolutions. We’re going to lose weight, stop smoking, exercise regularly and learn Spanish or Mandarin, all while cutting down on the cocktails and only driving ten miles over the speed limit. There’s one big flaw in this logic that no one ever mentions, though, and it’s timing. If we were making resolutions on Memorial Day or the 4th of July, our chances of success would skyrocket. Warm weather and blue skies encourage happiness, and happiness encourages success. Trying to improve ourselves in January is just silly. In January, we should be sitting in front of the fire reading books or dozing, like the big mammals we are. Attempting to change ingrained habits when our brains are sluggish and it’s snowing is a set-up for abject failure.
My friend Jane has a better idea: pick a word for the year. This is something you can ruminate on curled under your blankets just before you fall asleep. Turn it over in your mind while stacking firewood. Choosing a word doesn’t go against the seasonal requirements of your inner Grizzly...
Choosing a word gives you something to explore, to look forward to and pay attention to as the weeks roll by. Sometimes you’ll forget your word and need to be reminded. But it’s working on you nonetheless, whether you pay careful attention or not. You’re in a relationship with it that will unfold, as opposed to a resolution, which is more of a chore to be done.
I started practicing this in 2012 and recommend it to everyone (though if you ever get the word "Release," my sincerest apologies).
My word for the new year usually finds me near the end of the current year, but this year mine found me a bit early, almost 2 months ago: Sustainability.
At first I thought, "Oh how cute! I have a Sustainable business and am already so Sustainable in so many ways, this will be so easy"... as the Universe loudly chuckled something about famous last words.
I quickly realized that there are a lot ways I want to be more Sustainable in 2018; giving up pre-packaged foods, actually bringing my metal straw and to-go containers with me to restaurants, and reducing my food waste. But then it hit me: those are great, and I can definitely work on them (and will!), but for 2018, Sustainability isn't actually asking me to be better about consumption or disposal, it's asking me to be better about being.
A quick and terrifying life review led me to realize there is a lot that is not Sustainable in my life:
- Working 100 hours per week
- Working 100 hours per week and not getting paid for most of it
- Being too busy with work to focus on my health, my grief, or my spirituality
- Living in Los Angeles
- Running my business from my home (or, living in my business?)
- Yet never wanting to leave my home because I can't handle the traffic and the crowds
- So basically just being anxious outside in the busy city and inside in my busy home/office and therefore just always anxious
So, you're probably not going to be super surprised when I announce: I decided it's time for me to move.
I've been wanting to leave LA for a long time - years, in fact. And I always had a lot of excuses for why I couldn't, which all seemed to boil down to: I didn't have a reason to leave. I moved to New York City for school, and then left for love. I moved to LA for work, and then stayed for love. School, work, love: those are good, acceptable reasons to uproot your life, right? But moving just for myself? That's not something I've ever done before.
I started to daydream about where I would go, if I could, and thought about what I really want right now: nature, space, quiet, genuine relationships, slowing down, financial ease, a space for yoga and grief, being able to separate my business and home, and cats. And while most of this is not available to me often or at all in Los Angeles, there is somewhere that I can find all of it: my hometown in rural Washington.
(the Universe inserts an even louder chuckle here, since this was not the romantic conclusion I wanted)
My ego instantly decided against this idea. I'm a city girl now, I run an award winning business, I created the Fair Trade Fashion Show, I can't possibly move back to a town of 7,000 people, trade a million opportunities for a million acre national park. It would look weak. Like failure! Like I couldn't make it in the big city, or worse, didn't want to make it in the big city. It would be admitting that unlike most entrepreneurs in my position, I don't have a husband or a part-time job or a full-time job supplementing my business (and then admitting that I'm not willing to have any of those right now). All this, and there's not even a single vegan restaurant within hours of my hometown.
But I kept coming back to my word - my focus - for 2018 and decided to put my silly worries about image or "shoulds" or expectations aside and instead choose Sustainability. Choose happiness, and peacefulness. Choose to spend 2018 with days off, and people I love, and drink tea in my gazebo, and write about loss against the backdrop of rain, and do yoga at sunrise overlooking the water clear across to the mountains, and have the time and the space to create a life and a business that is both Sustainable and enjoyable. The current hours and stresses and costs of what I am doing now are unSustainable, and I need to stop before my health or life or anything else suffers too much more from it. So I'm moving, downsizing, releasing many of my LA obligations, and starting in January, I'm going to get to walk to Bead & Reel's new office, instead of live in it.
So what does this mean for Bead & Reel in 2018?
Not much is going to change for you, my readers and visitors and customers. Orders will continue to ship (just from a new address), blogs will continue to post, and I will continue doing my very best to help grow the Sustainable fashion movement (in between napping with my cats, and gardening, and spending time at the lakes/mountains/rivers pictured in this post, of course!). The Fair Trade Fashion Show will continue in LA in 2018, along with a few more events I'll be excited to share more about next year, so I'll be back in the city every few months. And instead of trying to do everything and be a part of every Sustainable organization and project, I will be focusing on just a few things like my company, my non-profit, and my grief project. My word for 2017 is Trust, and I am going to Trust that there are enough amazing people doing enough amazing work that I can let go of all the other things I've been so busy trying to do. I'm going to Trust that I can leave. And then in 2019, we'll see where my new word takes me.
But for now, I'm slowing down, and turning inward, and excited to discover what Sustainability means in my own life, not just in my goals for the world.
The reason I wanted to share this kind of long story with you is:
- I know a lot of people follow along with me and with Bead & Reel, and I want to keep you involved in our journeys.
- I want to encourage you to think about what 2018 has in store for you (and maybe even your word for the year! If one comes to you, please share it in the comments!).
- I want to encourage you - especially you ladies - to think about what you want to do with your life and time on this planet, and then do it. Society puts so much pressure on us to be a certain way, live a certain way, and that might not be what's right for you. So, if you weren't worried about how it would look to others or who it might disappoint: where would you live, and what would you do?
I will be setting myself up for a Sustainable new year at a silent meditation retreat for the second half of December, and look forward to reconnecting with everyone in the new year, from my new home.
Photos of where I'll be, courtesy of Jace Real Estate Company
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