The end of the year is only weeks away. It amazes me how quickly 2014 flew by, As I grow older, that seems the case; I am careening towards the inevitable, In any event, at this time of the year, I find myself thinking of the coming year, and how I’d choose to be better. In years past, I dutifully made my list of “resolutions” or “to-dos” for the coming year.
Largely, they were the same each year: exercise more, eat more healthfully, listen to my bodies’ needs, and on and on. The thing is, by late January/early February of the new year, my resolutions were in the junk pile with all the resolutions that had gone before. As with many people who I know, the act of making resolutions had become a mindless tradition of to-do lists, that eventually brought self-flagellation and disappointment. The making was easy, it was the doing that brought the challenge.
While I respect those who favor list-making for their resolutions, I learned that it does not suit me. So, last year, I sought another alternative. I decided to do away with my former to-do list, in favor of choosing a word that I would focus on for the new year. Now, this is not a new concept and many had already made the change. Nevertheless, I’d come to believe that the list-making had become a holiday to-do, yet another expection. When I scrutinized them, I discovered they had become a list of what I should already be doing, not a list of the deeper aspirations that I choose to live. Although, there is no doubt that they were worthwhile, they lacked the substance and intention that I sought to live a better and more authentic life.
Primarily, they were a list of to-dos, instead of the deep changes that I wanted to make in my life. I mean, while eating healthfully, exercising and drinking more water are noble endeavors, they did not strengthen what I refer to as the “soul’ qualities — those qualities that affect me at a core level. They fell short of the coveted inner qualities like compassion, creativity, lovingkindnes , generosity, courage, and other goals like letting go, self-love and forgiveness, living in the moment and acceptance of what is. I could go on, but I expect that you get my point. I longed to spend the year being, instead of doing.
While I’d previously chosen with my head, I knew that, in my case, I needed introspection which allowed me to listen to my heart. In 2013, I actually chose two words, “courage ” and “meraki.” I am not going to bore you with my reasons for doing so, but if it interests you, I urge you to read this post. In it, I discuss my reasons for choosing the word “courage.”) I chose “courage” first, and “meraki” came later.
I have no doubt that I need not define the word “courage” for you, except to say that I choose it for its original definition, instead of the common one that we bring to mind today. (I invite you to either read my post or to listen to this excellent TED talk by Brené Brown.) Although I will not discuss it further in this post, “meraki” is a noun which means “the soul, creativity, or love put into something; the essence of yourself that is put into your work.”
As I ended last year’s post, I explained that I chose the word courage, to “continue the task of telling the story of who I am, but in a more open and honest way. I seek the courage to tell it all, the good, the bad and the ugly. In all honesty, I [often] feel overwhelmed with fear, doubts about failure, and questions about my sanity. [:)], but every day I vow that I will imbue each interaction, each post, and each encounter, with the courage to be true to myself and others. I will pray for the courage to be vulnerable, whatever the result, and to be compassionate with myself when I inevitably fall, which I surely will. Yet, I will all pray for the courage to get up, and simply, begin again. By practicing “courage,” I hope to make “vulnerability” a way of life, a way of acknowledging that I am enough.”
As I reread this paragraph, the use of the word “vow” strikes me. It occurs to me that it forms the crux of what I’ve tried to say, albeit not very skillfully. It is what makes my one (or two) word choice differ from my former ‘to-do” list. By using the word “vow” I am not merely calling on my determination and resolve. No, with that said, I invite and call upon my faith in my higher power to join with me in helping to live my day-to-day life with the chosen intention and purpose. I invoke the sacred, which calls for a deeper commitment to meet my goal. I seek to acknowledge those qualities in my life where I fall short. In choosing a word, I do so with the intention to embrace it as a part of who I am and aspire to become.
The choice cannot be scheduled on a calendar. It is a contract with myself to live each moment of each day with that goal in mind. As I mentioned last year, there will be times when I fall short of my goal, for I am human and innately imperfect. The thing is that I am not required to be perfect, All that it requires of me is to live my life with conscious intention as I strive to move toward my best and highest self. “Every journey begins with the first step of articulating the intention, and then becoming the intention.” ~ Bryant McGill, Voice of Reason. Thus, ever the seeker, my journey begins.