“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind.”
— Henry David Thoreau

Footpath at Green Lake in Seattle

Gravel footpath -- an alternative to the paved path around Green Lake

A crow on the beaten path, Green Lake

The less-travelled route, a footpath at Green Lake

“To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”
— Henry David Thoreau

“Every thought that passes through the mind helps to wear and tear it and to deepen the ruts which as in the streets of Pompeii evince how much it has been used.”
— Henry David Thoreau, July 7, 1851 journal entry

Today’s quotes are not from Walden, but from Thoreau’s other writings. His observations seem timely, as we look forward to the New Year and think about resolutions for the year ahead.

Habits are interesting.  Sometimes you feel like you are in a rut and want to make a change, to feel energized by bringing something new into your life.  Other habits make life efficient — so efficient, in fact, that we breeze through our days without stopping for conscious thought.  That’s the opposite of awareness, really living and appreciating each moment.  I have a few “bad” habits that I’d like to change — eating too-large portions, eating on the run, eating a sweet treat with coffee, etc.

Like anything, you can outgrow your habits.  It may be time to make some changes, to adopt some new habits, to carve new pathways in your brain.

I like what Leo Babauta says about how to become successful making lasting changes in life.  He’s narrowed it down to four steps:

1. Start very small.
2. Do only one change at a time.
3. Be present and enjoy the activity (don’t focus on results).
4. Be grateful for every step you take.

Happy New Year, and I wish you success with your resolutions!



Antelope Canyon, Arizona (April 2008)

From the myriad bits and pieces of all the reading I did this year, my mind keeps returning to a story about a woman who gave up New Year’s resolutions in favor of choosing just one “theme” to guide her year.  I wish I could remember the source of this story so that I could give the author credit for this idea, because I find myself musing about it as we approach another new year.

I can’t remember what theme the author selected as the focus for her year, but I have spent some time imagining what “mantra” I should choose for 2011. . . Creativity?  Generosity?  Frugality?  Quest?  Friendship?  Service?  Personal growth is important to me.  What might help me to become a more authentic and better person?

I’ve decided that my theme for 2011 will be “Depth.”  This can become my guiding light for the coming year – in my thoughts; in reflections on my reading; in my writing, art and photography; in my activities and actions, both ordinary and less ordinary; in my relationships with family and friends.  This one word encompasses the attentiveness with which I wish to live my life.  I believe a little more depth will enrich my life.