New Year’s Resolution: Wrap a Fast Year in Slowness

Red tomato-shaped pin cushion with strawberry needle sharpener

There's a reason my pin cushion looks like something from my garden

As you know, I like tootling along in the slow lane, making jam, planting onions, reading books made of trees.  Just this past weekend, I sewed up a satchel for my laptop. And if that’s not an emblem for the coming year, I can’t think of one that is. On the outside, you’ve got something hand-crafted. On the inside, a machine that’s a sign of the times: speed, connection, information, and oh that monkey, monkey mind.

Because 2011 is the year of the book. My book, which comes out in March. So while books usually take me to the slow side, this book means crankin’ things up.  My Ruby Slippers: The Road Back to Kansas is going on tour.  Ten weeks on the road starting in June, from California to Indiana and parts in between.  And having just spent the last of my trust fund, I am become my own publicist.  Let’s not even get into the details of such a chore except to say it’s composed of a million little pieces that could well fritter away my brain.

So my challenge in the midst of the whirl is to do something slow every day, to bring it all back to the ground of stillness and contemplation.

New Year’s Resolution #1:  Take a tip from that satchel with the laptop inside: Wrap each day in slowness.  To start with, on waking, give an hour to writing.  Sit for awhile and breathe.  In.  Out.  And before tucking myself in for the night, have a nice, slow read.

fat, black question markWhat slow resolutions have you made for the year?  And what’s on your reading pile?

Links: If you’re new to the blog and wonder about monkey mind, read here.  If you want the scoop on My Ruby Slippers, start here.


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26 Responses to “New Year’s Resolution: Wrap a Fast Year in Slowness”

  1. Tracy Seeley Says:

    So what’s up in your New Year?

  2. Colette Hayes Says:

    Walks. Lots of slow walks. Sauntering. Thanks for the post, Tracy!

  3. Mary Zawadzki Says:

    Since I just passed my Oral Exams in art history, my 2011 will consist of research, writing, research, begging for grants, etc. etc. It’s dissertation time!!! I’m actually looking forward to this process — I LOVE how time drags while researching, how time utterly stops while digging deep in an archive. I can’t help but smile when I think about hiding in a library where no one can contact me, forget about find me. Intellectual freedom!!!

    My book “dance card” is quite full of the above … I do want to get to the Mark Twain Autobiography though.

  4. annie q. syed Says:

    This made me smile: “Because 2011 is the year of the book.” A little differently for me given I plan on finishing the first draft and editing and ready for the next steps this year but it i is indeed the year of the book. : ) doesn’t that sound like a book too?!

    And as you know from my still sundays posts—once I week at least I just melt into stillness. And I am thinking of incorporating that more by breathing more slowly throughout the week, if that makes sense.

    Also, I think it is a great idea you are going to be doing a book tour! yaaay! So inspired. That is how it should be. Moreover, double joy at learning that you will be your own publicist! : ) I think perhaps the writing you do in this stillness should be shared with your readers via this blog and twitter so we can come closer and closer to finally ‘meeting’ you in person when you do the book tour.

    Congratulations and wishing you all the best.


    • Tracy Seeley Says:

      Annie–I’d love to know more about your own year of the book. And yes, it makes sense to breathe more slowly during the week, not only on Sundays. Breathing brings us back to the body, the moment, the world. When I feel the anxiety creep in, I remember to breathe.

      Glad to know you’re out there. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. poetpeteet Says:

    Ah, idle times and sauntering;someone wrote that the word came from the words for holy land and applied to the Crusaders.I certainly don’t think of myself as on a crusade but must admit to liking the idea of every day,and the earth in all it’s parts being holy.Certainly selling it all ,day after day, for pieces of silver seems very wrong.
    Today is a snow day in Atl.,most of the ten messages awaiting me at work begin with”I know you aren’t there today”so I feel free;once a little bookwork is done I will be back out into the snow.
    Even my reading is unambitious at the moment-mostly poems-lately Mary Oliver’s “Swan”.A time for every purpose-and so many of my “purposes”do not now involve building with(as Towns Van Zant sings) “stones that stand and shine”;”heaven’s where you find it,and you can’t take too much with you”.Happy New Year!

    • Tracy Seeley Says:

      Yes, poetpeteet, there is a season for everything. Even Virginia Woolf, voracious reader, wrote in her diary that among her New Year’s resolutions in 1931, she would “Sometimes read, sometimes not read.”

      It was Thoreau, actually, who wrote about the word sauntering in his beautiful essay “Walking.” The word comes from ‘sainte terre’–holy land. For him, too, the reference had nothing to do with Crusades or Christianity, but everything to do with rescuing the world from infidels of the materialistic kind. Enjoy your quiet snow day. Maybe there’s even time in there for a walk.

  6. PJ Says:

    Good luck on the book tour!

    I don’t make resolutions generally, but I like your idea of wrapping each frantic day in slowness.

    I have been trying to make my way through The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova for the last month. I’ve loved it but things have been frantic. :-/ I ordered Xavier de Maistre’s Journey Around My Room after reading about it on your blog, but it hasn’t arrived from Amazon yet. I’m trying to appreciate the slowness of the delivery.

    • Tracy Seeley Says:

      PJ-Ha! Those books sometimes can’t come fast enough. Hope you enjoy de Maistre. It’s a perfect book for a slow read. After all, he had days and days and days to spend making his one room interesting. No reason to rush about.

  7. Sue Diplock Says:

    Dear Tracy – please tell your publisher to put your book on Kindle!

    2011 in the UK is the year of the King James Bible – it’s 400 year anniversary – now there’s a book to be read slowly – preferably aloud: there are podcasts to download of it’s being read by various actors on the BBC – great to just sit and shut your eyes and listen to!

    Enjoy your weeks on the road – tell us all about them!

    • Tracy Seeley Says:

      Hi Sue–My publisher’s not keen on putting out an e-book version yet; I’ve asked. (The paper version should be available via Amazon UK). The King James Bible year sounds great–and to hear that prose read by great actors…terrific! I will be blogging from the road, both here and on the My Ruby Slippers blog, which is currently very tiny (

  8. John Latham Says:

    Best wishes with the book- I loved the video on it. Happy New Year! I hope to become positively sluggish myself. Your blog is consistently a source of intellectual stimulation, but it stimulates slower and therefore deeper thoughts. Take care and be lucky in 2011, Jon.

    • Tracy Seeley Says:

      Hello Jon–By now I feel that you’re an old friend. So it’s lovely as always to have you stop by. Sluggish sound so nice. I’m about to rush off to meet a friend for a slow lunch. Cheers in your new year. Tracy

  9. Daniel Says:

    Hi Tracy
    I’m new here (qed) and delighted with your writting, your ideas and good vibes. From times to times I enjoy reading Thoreau, probably he’s the best author , alongside the poets, to practice slow reading.
    If you permit, from now on i´ll visit your blog.
    Have a nice 2011.

    • Tracy Seeley Says:

      Hi Daniel–You’re welcome here any time. In fact, welcome now! I also love reading Thoreau, though I also have my quarrels with him. Which poets are on your list?

  10. Annick Says:

    2011 is the year of the book for me too… as you know. But it’s also the year I want to be a little better at taking care of myself and to have more fun in the process. So – I hope we are meeting to knit soon and often.

  11. Daniel Says:

    Pessoa calls Whitman “my comrade” and adds “i´m with you from the singing of my feet to the nausea of my dreams” (…)
    But Pessoa is complex and dense and multilayered with all the heronyms, so he’s bucolic, neurotic, modern, deist and atheist, demophobic and demophilic, a pragmatist and a dreamer.
    (sorry, don’t mean to lecture you)

    I don’t know how many souls I have.
    I’ve changed at every moment.
    I always feel like a stranger.
    I’ve never seen or found myself.
    From being so much, I have only soul.
    A man who has soul has no calm.
    A man who sees is just what he sees.
    A man who feels is not who he is.

    Attentive to what I am and see,
    I become them and stop being I.
    Each of my dreams and each desire
    Belongs to whoever had it, not me.
    I am my own landscape,
    I watch myself journey –
    Various, mobile, and alone.
    Here where I am I can’t feel myself.

    That’s why I read, as a stranger,
    My being as if it were pages.
    Not knowing what will come
    And forgetting what has passed,
    I note in the margin of my reading
    What I thought I felt.
    Rereading, I wonder: “Was that me?”
    God knows, because he wrote it.

    © 1930, Fernando Pessoa (himself)
    From: Poesia
    Publisher: Assírio & Alvim, Lisbon, 2005
    ISBN: 972-37-1071-4

    © Translation: 1998, Richard Zenith
    From: Fernando Pessoa & Co. – Selected Poems
    Publisher: Grove Press, New York, 1998
    ISBN: 0-8021-3627-3

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