2023 is upon me…I’m ready

2023 seemed to come quickly.

Although every year has the very same 365 days – or 366 days when we “leap. It sure seems that some years pass more quickly than others – especially as I mature.

I understand why 2022 in particular seem to pass in a blur – I had a lot going on!

I moved my professional life from one Midwestern location to another – although the move of my personal and social lives have not fully followed (a story for another day).

This move was one that entailed packing up my liberal-arts infused science career at a research institution that resulted in my producing work spanning from lessons on the biochemistry of plants to lessons from plants (#LessonsFromPlants) on how to thrive as humans, individually and in community.

This is a move that I described as moving from ethos alone to ethos and place.

Cover of the book Lessons from Plants (2021, Harvard University Press) by Beronda L. Montgomery

I’m still processing and writing through my reflections of my first 6 months in this new professional phase. I’m sure I’ll share some here, in published essays, and these reflections may even influence some portions of my next long-form project-in-progress (more on the latter soon!).

The greatest victory is that I’ve re-established my writing practice that experienced some significant disruptions in the first couple of months after my move in late June 2022. This re-establishment involves a new BELOVED plant-laden writing studio, and as of last week’s end-of-year writing retreat, a writing plan and schedule for 2023. As always my writing retreat involved reflecting on my writing progress (and challenges) for last year. I wrote both before, during, and after the move even if the pace was slower and sporadic.

I’m excited about the writing journey ahead for me in 2023. I’ve got solo and joint writing retreats on the calendar – with room for more!

2023 is here…and I’m ready for it!

I generally end each post with “As always, if you have thoughts on this or other posts, you can find me on Twitter at @BerondaM“. While this is currently true, it could change given *waves hand all around*, but you can always find me by adding yourself to my list here on this site: www.berondamontgomery.com

I hope each of you is ready for all that 2023 has in store for you.

Unpacking…thoughts more so than boxes

I’m about 3 weeks into my professional transition from more than two decades researching, teaching, and leading at research-intensive institutions to a new post at a small liberal arts college.

I must say that I’ve been diligently unpacking, but I’d be less than honest if I said that the diligence was focused on unpacking boxes. I’m focused on unpacking my transition and reflecting on new opportunities.

As a part of this unpacking focus, I’ve been finding and getting accustomed to new rivers and lakes so that I can stick to the rivers and the lakes that I’m used to…if you know you know…for periods of reflection and writing.

Left: A picture with grass, trees, sky, and a lake ; Right: A picture containing sky, grass, and an arched bridge over a river.

I’m enjoying all I’m learning about a new community and institution, as well as about new colleagues and neighbors.

I’m also thrilled to have selectively spent time unpacking and setting up my new writing studio. While the other unpacking can wait, I’m re-establishing my writing practice after moving-related (and anticipated and planned for) gaps in my regular writing process.

I’m finding new “pre-writing” contemplation walking trails and paths.

I’m forgoing new place-based writing rituals and routines

I’m settling in at work, home, and play…and focused on possibilities.

Even as I walk by unpacked and/or tucked away boxes, I’m thrilled to be unpacking new thoughts and plans for opportunities in writing, leading, contributing in new spaces and places.

As always, if you have thoughts on this or other posts, you can find me on Twitter at @BerondaM…even when I should be unpacking!!

Processing and proceeding

I generally write mostly outside of my home, apart from early morning sessions in a home writing space, that is.

I have routinely written on planes, in airline lounges, in coffee shops around the nation and world and more…my life rhythm generally drove my writing rhythm and productivity.

Writing….in Deutschland…Ein kaffee in meine hand

COVID-19 and the associated coronavirus pandemic has literally grounded me and through my own “process and proceed” reflections I have also been grounding myself in this time and space figuratively.

Initially, I grounded myself in the continuation of my writing practice through “forcing” myself to write more at home in my “morning space”, but my mind struggled to convert this treasured space to an everyday and “all-day space” for writing. So, after urgent deadlines were filled and no longer served as the motivation to “stick and stay” in my home writing space, I tried relocating to other places in my home—with variable and limited success.

This only served as a short-term solution.

As spring has slowly emerged in mid-Michigan, I have found a new seasonal solution…finding deserted spaces with a bench—even just a large stone or clearing will do—to write in nature. A self-made tea or coffee in hand, I’m finding inspiration, new words, and new motivations in these sacred spaces among the songs of birds, comfort of a gentle breeze, and gratefully receiving gifts of oxygen and occasionally shade of the plants surrounding me.

A quiet writing space by the water

My “writing space” and time are different, as dictated by a different time and different challenges in the face of COVID-19.

Whereas I can no longer be “alone together” to write in public spaces surrounded by the energy and sounds of other humans that I treasure in places such as cafes, in nature I’m able to be “alone together” with other beings, including my plant and bird kin.

A quiet writing corner under trees in bloom in spring

Today, between writing bursts, I listened to the birds in their song-based conversations. I listened to the trees “speak” through the rustling of branches and emerging leaves. I didn’t capture all that they were saying to each other and perhaps to me; yet, I listened intensely in hopes of capturing some seed of wisdom, of kinship, of shared understanding of our changing world.

Just as I have had to learn to “be different” in this time, I will likewise have to be different after, because the world itself undoubtedly will be different.

At least I am learning more about the flexibility I can—and must—demonstrate by providing avenues and searching out spaces for being with other beings to facilitate continuing my work—my conversations with the world.

We will all have to emerge from this pandemic different. I have specific hopes about the ways in which we will be different.

May we be with each other differently.

May we be with other beings differently.

May we truly emerge different and better.

May we emerge more thoughtful, more aware, more humble, more “grace-full”, more “grace-giving”.

I’d love to hear more about the ways you are processing and proceeding in this unique moment in time. You can find me as always on Twitter—@BerondaM.