As the new year begins, so do we. Life or bust, baby. Those are our only options.
Like many, I aspire to live a good life. An important life. An honest one. A life makes me stretch and reach and grow and feel proud. And also, like many of us, I often feel like I am falling short. Daily. And that begins this strange stretch and pull of what matters, and what doesn't. But once that struggle starts, I don't remember which way is which.
I've been thinking long and hard about what I want to focus on this year. It's so easy for me to forget when the merry go round is spinning. I need a focal point so I don't get dizzy. We plan all the great things we want to do, see and accomplish when we go on vacation, why not do the same for life? When we add them up, the life days completely outnumber the vacations days anyway.
This is my third year of hand picking three words to help guide my actions and my heart for the new year. They are my intentions and I want to share them with you. If you decide to play along I'd love to hear yours too.
1. I intend to let go. (Shew).
This is a hard one. This is a big one. This is a good one. And one that can take the shape of so many things for so many people. I think one part of this for me, is forgiveness. It's taken me a long ass time, but I'm realizing you can forgive people, without keeping them in your life. Without saying- what you did is ok and I'm fine.
Sometimes when I can't sleep, or I'm stuck in traffic, or on a way too often thinking marathon- I think about something or someone that has hurt me. Maybe it was a friendship gone wrong. Maybe it was something bigger and more painful. People are hard. Relationships are hard. Sometimes it's so hard to be a human. While I stir those mucky memories, I feel...sick. I feel just as angry and just as let down as I did the first time. That's SO MUCH pain and junk to hold onto. I don't want to be angry- I want to let go. But that means- I have to actually let go. Right now my prayer is simply: God, help me really be ready to let go. Then when I am ready, I will take a person or thought at a time and tell it goodbye. Maybe I'll write it a letter. Maybe I will simply whisper it into the wind.
I also intend to work on letting go of what my life isn't. Of what my marriage isn't. Of where my expectations about life fall short- or just fall different. I now take a moment to think about how it would feel if that anger and sadness simply didn't exist. It would feel...light. Happy. Content.
2. I intend to do more things that make my hands shake.
I think of the instances that have made my heart pound, my voice quiver and my hands shake. Most of them are the epitome of awfulness. Like that whole "your son fits the diagnostic criteria for autism." (TWICE.) But some, well, some of those hand shaking moments have been awesome. I mean- awful and scary at first, but mostly AWESOME. But boy do I avoid those things. The big things. The things I tell myself I can't do. I like predictable and new things are NOT predicable in the slightest.
This year I want to be physically and mentally challenged. I'm not totally sure what that will look like, but currently, I'm exploring.
I take classes at a place called The Bar Method. One day several months ago there was a teacher in training teaching a small portion of the class. I vividly recall her putting the microphone on her first day. Her voice was quivering. I thought- She's so nervous! I'm so glad that isn't me! For the first couple of classes the drill was the same- she taught a small portion of the one hour class. At first her voice was quiet, she would sometimes fumble over her words. I thought again- I'm so glad isn't me. And before I knew it- she was teaching more of the class. And as the nerves melted away, she began to bloom. She was good, and sweet and funny and an encourager. She wasn't afraid to mess up-and if she did- she just kept going.
And as chance often has it- I was there on her final training day - her day of certification. After months of practicing and learning and studying and test taking and video-taped evaluations and a hundred other things I'm sure, she was finally official. And on this particular day she was teaching her very first class all on her own as a certified instructor. For 60 minutes she owned that room, and I was inspired. On our final stretch, as we bowed our head down, the doors opened up and the other teachers walked in, cheering and carrying flowers. The entire class exploded into applause. Tears started to jump out of my eyes, I was so moved. I was so incredibly inspired by this transformation. My thought changed into, I wish that was me.
So that- my friends. I want that feeling of fear and doubt and triumph more.
3. I intend to be more awake.
Awake is not the opposite of sleep in this case- it simply means more present. I want to notice all the gifts that God lays out just for me, daily. I want to slow down when I don't need to be in a hurry. I want to look people in the eye. I want to meet children at eye level when I talk to them. I want to try seasonal ripe fruits and smell gardenias and notice happy trees. I want to light candles and use a fancy glass for no reason at all. Sometimes I get too busy or distracted that I forget how much I love the details of life. I want to shhhh my inner asshole so I can focus on each moment as it comes along. I've been practicing because it's really, really hard. That voice tries to be my constant companion, my wingman. Why did you say that? A good Mom would do this. If you were a good friend/wife/mom you wouldn't/would have done that. Your face looks fat and your hair is awful. You should have left earlier.
I used to think that voice was me. I used to think it was helpful- so I wouldn't forget things (drycleaning! groceries! empty dishwasher!), but that's a lie that voice that isn't me- told me. That voice is mean. Boy is it a bully!!! It tells me lies about myself and my children. It tells me I'm not enough. That it's my fault. That I am wrong and broken and a bad person.
That voice isn't me. It's the anxiety of my mind. Anxiety is not me, it's something I struggle with. Some days I kick it's ass. Some days it kicks mine. Lately I've been telling it, "Shhhhhh. I don't need you here right now. I've got this", whenever it pitches in.
Super cute hand painted frame found here
Spiritual guru, Deepak Chopra says, "An intention is a directed impulse of consciousness that contains the seed form of that which you aim to create. Like real seeds, intentions can’t grow if you hold on to them. Only when you release your intentions into the fertile depths of your consciousness can they grow and flourish.
I've written down my intentions, and they now hang in my closet so I can see them every day. They keep tabs on me, and I on them. My happiness and life is worth it, and so is yours. And here I am now, throwing my seeds out into the world, hoping that with proper water and nutrition, they will bloom.
Now your turn, friend. To borrow from poet Mary Oliver, "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" Or at least with your one wild and precious 2016?