The Ponder Effect | What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life…
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What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life…

…starting with this new year?

Resolutions—like flossing more—are not without merit. Resolving to do this, that, or the other is an important element of personal progress. But so often we make resolutions without first engaging in reflection. Resolution without reflection is likely to result in an empty list of have-tos or can’t-dos that don’t last past March.

Rather than draw up a list of resolutions for the year, I am rallying the tribe for a commitment to reflection: to thinking seriously and deeply and honestly about ourselves and our lives. And in doing so, working to create a domino effect of intentionality that has the power to enrich us personally and collectively. This, I am calling the Ponder Effect. To facilitate this effect, I am committing to pos(t)ing a weekly question. This question is an invitation for people to ponder on their own and also to post and share their thinking.

I am afraid to do this. I am afraid that I won’t meet my own commitment. I am afraid to put myself out there. I am afraid no one will participate or care. But I know that being afraid is never a reason to not do something, so, if you would like, please join me on this journey and invite others to come along. Opt in or out whenever.

What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life, starting this year? I plan to ponder and discover the effect.

*This week’s question is pulled from Mary Oliver’s striking poem, The Summer Day. Those of you who know me know I love this poem.


Share your thoughts [All posts are 100% anonymous]

11 Ponderings
  • Anonymous

    January 1, 2018 at 8:27 pm

    I really love this line from Mary Oliver’s poem and in the past have used it as a freewrite prompt to begin the school year with my students. It is resonating with me particularly right now because I have been treating my life as wild or precious this fall. Starting a new job this past July has been exciting and fulfilling in many ways, but in taking care of it I have not been the best at taking care of myself. The last two weeks of December have been a chance to slow down, to shift into a lower gear. In the slowness, life has felt wild and precious again, and I want to sustain that feeling into 2018, even as I prepare to head back to work tomorrow. I’ve been reading simultaneously A Year of Living Danishly and Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time. I’ve enjoyed both, and the author of the latter argues that women have to actively work at creating space in their days for leisure. It is historically not in our DNA (unless you are someone who enjoys sewing or quilting, and sadly, I am not). I’ve never thought of leisure this way before, but perhaps this explains why I am not great at intentionally creating room for it. So my plan for this year and my life in general is to intentionally find that lower gear more often. To slow down and create more room for play and leisure. I coerced a dear friend to go to a Justin Timberlake-themed yoga class today as a start!

  • Anonymous

    January 2, 2018 at 3:06 am

    I often feel like my life is on auto pilot. Get up. Brush teeth. Shower. Kiss my children. Kiss my hubby. Rush out of the house by 7:20 to get my son to the bus on time–which somehow always takes me by surprise. I rush to work, I rush around at work, and rush home to pick up my kids at the end of the day. All this rushing leaves me feeling exhausted and not exactly enjoying the day to day moments. These moments, while sometimes routine or seemingly mundane, are the only moments I have on this earth. In 2018, I plan to make the most of these moments. My son once wrote in a card to me “I love you because you play basketball with me when you get home from work.” Sadly, I can probably count on one hand the times that happens. I don’t want my kids to think back on their mother as a stress ball. I don’t want them to see work as bad. I want them to be inspired to find work they love and make a difference in the world. I want them to know they are truly loved. I want to be present in these moments. My kids are counting on it. This is my wild and precious life.

  • Anonymous

    January 2, 2018 at 4:08 am

    Each year and each season the answer to this question shifts. As we ended 2017 my husband and I sat down to reconnect with what we hold to be our family values and how these will guide our actions in 2018. What I realized when I finally stepped back from the list was that this year will be much less about doing and much more about being. As the other two posts already alluded to, it is in the space between activities and in quiet morning solitude that I am able to reconnect with what makes me really want to live this one wild and precious life. It is the sweet feeling while reading bedtime stories with my kiddos, the smell of morning coffee curled up with my husband on those rare lazy weekend mornings, a winter walk with a dear friend to share our hearts…. it is these small and precious moments that fill my life with such richness. So this year I choose to focus on spending more time in a community of people who value simplicity and living from the heart, I choose to go on a meditation retreat with my husband so we can sit in silence and BE together, I choose to make my environment peaceful and spacious, and I choose to be of service in this world that needs so much extra love right now.

  • Anonymous

    January 2, 2018 at 2:31 pm

    First off, proud of you for jumping in. Just do it, right? Easier said than done. But you’re right you should never say no because of fear. I’m also proud of you for copping to the fact that your fear is real. It drives more than most admit. Favorite quote of mine is, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” A engraved paperweight with those words sits on my desk and stares back everyday.

    On that note, last year I said on January 1st I wanted to write a book. If I couldn’t do it in one year, I wanted to at least try and get down that path. To stop talking and create actual action. And, I did. I did it! It was a feat, but I’m thrilled to say I got published. It also exhausted me in multiple ways. So this year I’m trying for lower-hanging fruit on the Tree of Life. I want to remember there is no such thing as balance – I am NEVER 50-50 on life and work – but there is juggling lots of balls, and sometimes life demands you let certain balls drop.

    Great idea, V.-


  • Anonymous

    January 2, 2018 at 9:30 pm

    Because I am older I feel like my “resolutions” are not so much resolutions as a “continuum” from year to year. I no longer think in terms of getting in shape, cleaning out the attic, carving out a quiet time, listening more closely to my husband, being more patient with my children. I would still like to do some of those. And some of those aren’t very applicable now. The focus of my “continuum” or what I want to do wth is the rest of my crazy, precious life falls into distinct areas: to try to listen to, and for, God, not always asking, asking, ….to appreciate, really appreciate, every day, every minute of every day, and every moment I have with those I love…to remember every time that everyone who crosses my path is at least as important to God as I am and to try to brighten their day…to laugh as often as possible and stop to stare at the stars every night.

  • Anonymous

    January 3, 2018 at 3:14 am

    I will work hard at life and love. I will be grateful for grace and luck. I will never give up.

  • Anonymous

    January 4, 2018 at 12:14 am

    I was thinking of the quote today “….the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!
    Jack Kerouac, On the Road. This is what I am after – I think I’d like to let myself be one of the mad ones.

  • Anonymous

    January 4, 2018 at 2:49 pm

    I hope to listen and let go…and never stop discovering.

  • Anonymous

    January 4, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    I plan to punch my ego in the throat. When my ego tells me I need some “thing” or I need to be some “one” or tries to identify me with some form, I will float up above it, smile and wag my finger at it, and then punch it in the throat. Hiee-yaa!!!

  • Anonymous

    January 4, 2018 at 5:12 pm

    This year instead of a resolution, I decided to try and come up with a theme…The Year of —-…(fill in the blank). This is harder than it sounds. It is difficult to find one word that encompasses all the good stuff. I want to feel happy! Duh. But what does this look like? I heard it stated recently that “happiness is the joy we feel while moving towards our potential”. I love this. It states that we can make a mistake or encounter hardships but still feel joy if we know we are moving towards whatever fills us up. This was a good starting point for me. But when I thought about the journey towards my purpose in life, I discovered I didn’t even know what that is! I’m 43, and I don’t know my life’s purpose. This seemed sad and scary and BIG! But instead of turning to fear, I decided to start asking myself what it is that fills me up? Family, children. Next… What do I like to do during Me Time? Yoga, scour Pinterest for design ideas, make kid crafts with preschoolers, walk, have “lazy contests” with my family, share meals and ideas…. Hmmmm…it had me thinking for sure.

    I don’t know today, Jan 4, 2018, what my ultimate purpose is or what God has in store for the rest of my life and that is ok. I’m not sure what my theme will even be for this year. And that is ok too. I do know that I want to wake up each day and either write down or at least think of 3 specific and unique things for which I am grateful. I want to take 3 deep breaths several times a day. I want to foster more friendships by reaching out more. I want to find a community. I want to lay down at night and be able to replay at least one meaningful interaction I had that day. I want to look ahead and move. I want to keep doing the next right thing. I want to be in my body in this moment. Really present. But mostly, I want to get out of my own head! (This, I say, as I have just written the word “I” close to a dozen times in just a few lines. )

    Perhaps “The year of Compassion” is a good theme to start with. I know for sure that in giving to others, we receive joy. I am grateful I have this capacity to give, to love fully. Perhaps, in giving, I may find my tribe too. Maybe I’ll find my breath. Stillness. I’m sure to find meaningful interactions. Joy seems inevitable.

    Part of the reason why I love yoga so much is the link between breath and movement. A flowing meditation that takes me out of my own mind. It is hard. It can be uncomfortable. It can make me sweat, and even cry. But it always bring joy. When I practice in community of others, I feel lifted by the strength and love of the others around me. For this too I am grateful.

    The search for my theme may flow and change throughout the year and I hope it does. If it flows, if it breathes, it is alive and moving in joy towards fulfilling my potential. That makes me happy.
    Thanks V—I thought and wrote this while in a hot bath. Self-care. Yay! And I just heard that hot baths can burn as many calories as a 30 min walk. So, that is a bonus! ?

  • Anonymous

    January 8, 2018 at 2:48 am

    Oh, I love Mary Oliver, and, particularly, this line from “The Summer Day.” It’s always held such wonder and anticipation for me. Lately, I’ve felt a little nudge to BE PRESENT as best I can – something that, for an introvert with three children and a VERY extroverted spouse, can feel overwhelming. Yet, when I choose to be alive in the moment, there’s so much life and joy to be found. It connects me to this beautiful time with children who still (and, I know, temporarily) revere me, spurs me on to live with gratitude, and binds me a bit closer to my husband.

    Something about being present, too, breathes life into the margins … because as I receive life from being/acting/doing, I find I am often able to give more joyfully, and, perhaps more to the point, simply BE more joyful.

    But, also, I’m in search of finding a better rhythm in 2018, and one better suited to the life I actually want to live. I’m going to make room for the person I know myself to be and work hard to nurture the best of who she is, rather than aspire to be someone else entirely. I’m going to stop feeling quite so apologetic for the things that make me different, maybe, even, a little less sheepish about what I’d like to accomplish.

    That sounds like enough, right?

    I love this whole thing, V! Thank you for including me!